Archive for September, 2008

Who needs sleep?

“Well, you’re never gonna get it! Who needs sleep– tell me what is that for?”  BNL

Boy, oh boy do I understand that. I never realized that I could (more or less) function on 4-5 hours of sleep a night. I’m hoping that this gets better before I have to return to work…

Here’s the scenario: all is well, family goes upstairs to watch Law & Order at 9 PM. Grace sleeps like a champ. 10 PM, show’s over and it’s time to change her diaper and put in her into PJs. All goes well with the cooing and wide eyed wonder that we’ve come to love and appreciate in her. I take her into our bedroom to sleep and she goes down easily. She wakes up at 12:30 or so to eat and again, things go well– she eats and then goes right back to sleep. Then 2:30 or 3 AM rolls around and she wakes up hungry again.

This time, there is no easy answer. She’s fussy as she eats, but changing her diaper doesn’t help, rocking doesn’t help, singing doesn’t help (even the Hostile Baby Rocking song), a story doesn’t help, burping doesn’t help and even more nursing doesn’t really help (I can safely say this after 45 minutes of trying something then trying to nurse, trying something new, coming back to nursing). So I try the nasal aspirator– it sucks, but not literally. I end up using a bunched up Kleenex to try to clear her nasal passage, but all this does is end some of the snuffling and make her cry more clear.

By this time, we have moved from the fussy “I’m unhappy” cries into full fledged three six time cries (Uh – Waa – Uh – Waaa) with a very red face indicating that she is no longer just unhappy but wants to report me to Child Protective Services. At this point, I’ve tried everything and it’s 5 AM. I grab a blanket and swaddle her so tightly that I’m impressed that she can still breathe (but she can, as her crying attests) and I put a pacifier in her mouth and hold it there as if I am plugging a dam with my finger. We go downstairs to the jiggly chair and I sit in front of it, holding the pacifier in for dear life and watching as her eyes finally grow droopy and she quiets. I don’t trust picking her up at that point in case we start all over, so I begin looking online for short hair cuts (she has started grabbing my hair when we nurse, and she’s really strong!) and at Locks of Love. I quit in disgust after I measure my hair and realize that I only have 7 of the required 10 inches, even if I go for super short cuts.

By now, she’s been quiet for 20 minutes continuously, so I take my chances and carry her back upstairs to bed (it’s 5:30 AM). She wakes up again about 45 minutes later, hungry (sigh). Fortunately for me, she goes back to sleep pretty readily, but I don’t trust it, so I doze until 7:30 AM fitfully checking in on her periodically. At that point we feed again, and I give up on getting a good night’s sleep. Ah, the rewards of motherhood.

Fortunately, during the day, she naps some, so I am hoping that after lunch I’ll be able to catch a few Z’s while the laundry washes and she’s sleeping. So who needs sleep anyway?

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Today is Boat Day!

Heading out with Grandpa and Uncle Mike on Grandpa’s motorboat.  Erin’s dad got Grace a bright yellow lifejacket.  We’ve got Sunblock of infinite strength available.  I’ll let Erin post the best photographs as documentation for our trip.

Baby in a lifejacket

Baby in a lifejacket

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Temperament: (noun): the combination of mental, physical, and emotional traits of a person; natural predisposition.

Personality: (noun): a person as an embodiment of a collection of qualities.  Existence as a self-conscious human being; personal identity.

I figure that each of these words reflects a person’s nature.  Organizational patterns of behaviors; cognitive transparencies; social constructs; and even interpersonal dynamics.  Which definition is more appropriate now that Grace is nearly three weeks old? She’s pretty much a well tempered baby.  She cries when she’s hungry, she needs new diapers, or she needs to burp.  Otherwise, she’s sleeping or generally chilling.  Gurgling and stuff.

She won’t always be just like this.  We all continue to be hungry, and most of us need to burp now and again.  Gradually each of us forms our our own personality.  What color toothbrush will she want, what kind of pizza will she prefer, or would she rather play freeze tag, Simon says, or kick the can?  Will she pull for Davidson, Duke, Wake Forest, NC State, or Carolina?  I guess we’ll have to stay tuned.

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So today Grace is wearing her first pair of shoes.  This is a milestone in an odd way because at our baby shower my godmother Wanda gave her several pairs of shoes, saying that no grandchild of Vicki Peterson’s could start life without at least 12 pairs of shoes.  So while Grace is still quite a ways from walking, she is taking today as an opportunity to wear her first pair of shoes– something that I am sure is making her grandmother quite happy from whichever corner of Heaven she’s watching from.

Here is the array of shoes provided by Wanda:

Wanda is showing off Grace's cowboy boots

Wanda is showing off Grace's cowgirl boots

The array of shoes

The array of shoes

In order to get a clear shot of Grace wearing her shoes, I had to wait for a nap, because she likes to move her arms and legs around when she’s not sleeping.  Here is a shot of her wearing her first pair of shoes– a practical pair that will match most anything (particularly today’s outfit, which I’ll try to get a shot of before she spits up on it & post that too).

She's such a cutie pie! (OK, we're nerds)

She's such a cutie pie! (OK, we're nerds)

First Shoes

First Shoes

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Not sure if we’ve mentioned this, but Grace has a bunch of hiccups.  They come and go, as hiccups tend to do.  At first, we were either surprised or concerned, but now it seems like it’s part of the breastfeeding ball game.  Personally, I hate hiccups – since they’re involuntary and disruptive spasms.  I suppose nobody likes them.  If you’re around 23 inches tall, it pretty much rocks your world.  Are there cures?  Maybe.  Not for a 3.5 week old though.  I now understand at the smallest scale how parents want to prevent problems for their kids and absorb their suffering.

If we’re talking about hiccups this way, wait until I teach her how to ride a bike.  Skinned knees are pretty much unavoidable.  — and Bactine is usually NOT welcomed by kids.

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Quoting a Parenting magazine, Erin explains that a baby puts her hands close to her face when she’s hungry.  I think I’ve noticed that, but it’s not easy to confirm, especially difficult of late.  Why?  The slighly colder weather has prompted Grace to wear pajamas for much of the day.  (oh, how lucky she is)  I say pajamas, but that includes the “one-sies” and ambiguously formed outfits usually worn by babies.

Anyway, these garments have folds over the hands, so essentially, she wears mittens.  Erin tells me that this prevents her from scratching her face.  When I think of it, I’ll take a picture as documentation.

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Bye-bye Aunt Jenny

We have been so very fortunate to have lots of support from Erin’s family, specifically in the persons of Erin’s grandma, aunt and brother Mike over the past few weeks.  Today Aunt Jenny had to return home to her family and Grace will very much miss her jiggly Aunt Jenny who can make all bubbles come out and who never tired of rocking her.  Fortunately for us, Aunt Jenny is willing to come again soon, but for now, Grace is trying to nap with Daddy and finding him a reasonable but not perfect substitute.

Snuggling with Aunt Jenny

Snuggling with Aunt Jenny

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Grace now has a belly button.  For those who haven’t gone through this from the parenting side: Belly buttons are like opinions.  Everybody has one, right?  The question is how these arrive.  Grace and Erin were connected by the umbillical cord, and I got to cut the cord during childbirth.  Boy, I was nervous with those scissors.  I got double confirmation from the midwife when to cut it – asif they’d given me scissors before they were needed.  By the way, we donated the cord blood to the Carolinas Cord Blood Bank over at the Duke Hospital Cancer Center.  They use cord blood for bone marrow transplants, cancer research, and other important purposes.  It was just as important to us as being organ donors.

Anyway, back to Grace’s button.  After the cut, the newborn’s wound needs to heal.  The hospital pinches it, and parents need to keep an eye on infection.  We used qtips and alcohol to clean the sides of it.  Eventually, it dries out, and the tiny stump dries out and falls off. Voila, a belly button.

It’s slightly smaller than the average belly button, as judged by Erin’s and mine.  We’ll post a picture once it completely heals.  In the meantime, feel free to mail us pictures of your own.  Or don’t.

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Two weeks today

So today she is two weeks old…  how strange that as I type this, we approach 11:09– the moment we met our daughter for the first time.  Somehow, as everyone told us, our lives have transformed to be parents to this wonderful new person and she has captivated our hearts like no other could.

Now comes the hard part– to chose a cute picture for her birth announcement and a poem that somehow captures the awe of her birth as well as the depth of our hope for her life– that there may be as few tears as possible, as much joy as she can hold and enough love that she will never question the presence of God.

I return to my birth announcement– a poem that has meant so much to me throughout my life and wonder if I can find something nearly as meaningful…

“May the long time sun shine on you
All love surround you
and the pure light within you
guide you all the way on”

I don’t want to reuse, but I do want to find something that gathers up what we know of her and what we hope for her and presents it in a way that lets her know how much we love and believe in her even though we barely know her.  In some ways, I wonder if my birth announcement didn’t shape a little bit of who I am– someone who would characterize myself as having a pure light within that can serve as my guide.  Of course, perhaps everyone does…

Ah well, back to the internet search while Grace quietly naps…

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So we knew the time would come when the 2 weeks that Greg took off would be over, but somehow I kept thinking that it couldn’t be over yet!  Well it is, and Grace and I are sitting here, enjoying the quiet and I know that she’s wondering where her bouncy Daddy is.  She was so distressed not to have her Daddy to spit up on that she projectile spit up down my back and onto the floor to show her displeasure.  Boo on work says Grace.

Here’s a cute picture to show how angelic she looks after she worked out the spit ups.

Sweet napping baby

Sweet napping baby

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Earlier this morning, I got up to change her diaper.  I unwrapped her from her pajamas and checked her diapers.  Definitely dirty.  I now think it’s safe to assume that it will /always/ be dirty in the morning.  I partially pulled down the diaper and reached for the wipe.  Remembering the last two days, I paused to see if anything else would happen.  (See earlier posts for two identical circumstances.)  Yep, she started peeing on me.

Ha!  I carefully kept the old diaper underneath her parts to catch the waterfall.  Waited and waited.  I felt like I was at a gas pump.  She eventually ran out of fuel.  Then I carefully removed and sealed the soaked diaper.  Popped a fresh one on.  Problem solved.

See, you can teach a new daddy new tricks.

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While I cleaned her diaper again this am, she actively peed all over the changing table.  I’m sensing a pattern here.  Baby poops. Daddy carries Baby to changing table.  Daddy removes diaper.  Daddy holds Baby up to wipe her.  Baby immediately pees all over the place.

Well, at least she’s not a little boy.  They have squirt guns.

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So because we are planning to exclusively breast feed Grace, we purchased a baby scale in order to make sure that she’s gaining weight as she should.  Today after her bath (a word which she has begun to associate with torture if you listen to her cries) we placed our dear daughter on the scale to see if she’s gaining as she should be.  What we didn’t bargain for was the fact that she was wet and angry and *very* squirmy.  So my best guess is that she’s somewhere between 9 and 1/2 and 10 lbs, but where precisely, I have no clue.  I’m guessing more towards the 9 and 1/2 side of things, but I can’t be sure.  In whatever case, that’s better than Monday at the doctors when she was 9 lbs 1 oz.; they said that once she started gaining that we should look for her to gain about an ounce a day.  Basically while I’m not super reassured, it seems that she’s growing as she should and we’re not starving her (although if you talk with her just before a feeding, you might get a different story….)

Speaking of feeding, our Grace calls…

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Many folks mentioned that breast feeding was going to be a challenge, so I expected it.  What I didn’t expect was the horror of finding blood (from me) in my daughter’s spit up.  The initial challenge of latch presented itself, and most of the time, I think that we’re doing okay.  However, after two nights of epic feeding sessions to try to get her to sleep (i.e. two hours of 20 minutes of feeding, lay her down, she screams, I feed her again, rinse & repeat) I decided that I needed to get some suggestions from veteran Moms.

We drove up to North Raleigh this morning and met in an Episcopal church’s nursery discussing the benefits of breastfeeding and then any questions from the group.  I was very reassured that as long as she’s having sufficient wet/dirty diapers that means that she’s eating enough.  I was also reassured that when they say that she should have 3 bowel movements a day that anything in her diaper the size of a quarter or larger counts.

All in all it was useful to find out that I shouldn’t try pumping until she’s 6 weeks old in order to avoid nipple confusion.  They even referred me to a group of nursing Moms who work and meet in the evenings.  I hope that the reassurances that I got today that just because there is initial discomfort when she latches doesn’t mean that we’re ‘doing it wrong’.  I look forward to the time when we’ve got a few weeks under our belt and she’s gaining steadily and there are no more tears during latch & I know that she’s getting what she needs from me.  ‘Cause there is nothing more sweet in this world than her deep blue eyes staring up at me as she nurses and makes her sweet contented baby noises.

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Multiple Hull Breach

So, Erin and I wake up this morning, and Erin mentions that Grace needs a new diaper.  Okay, I can handle that.  I picked her up, carried her over to the nursery changing table, and started the process of changing.  I always first inspect to confirm status.  Rather than stick any fingers anywhere (as it’s been suggested I do), I take the extra time to take the diaper off and peek.

Okay, soiled diaper.  The kind that takes more time to clean up.  No problem.  We’re both getting used to this.   I get the wipes to clean things up before replacement.  I hold her ankles in the air to lift her, wipe everything clean (front to back, of course), I drop the wipe in the soiled diaper, and I place it aside.

Usually, I have the clean diaper in reach, so I can immediately wrap her up.  I hadn’t this time, and the stash was empty.  (Before chastising me for lack of preparation, remember this is early in the morning.  Cut me some slack.)  I continue holding her ankles in the air while I lean over and fumble in the drawers.  After glancing down to find one, I look back and suddenly notice this pool of pee surging across the changing table.  Ugh.  Double trouble.  I swear she smiled at me.

For those who haven’t done this, changing a diaper in mid pee isn’t too easy.  It’s already too late to whisk her to a towel.  Of course, you don’t want to patch the flood.  Urgent pleas and profanity wouldn’t work.  Yelling STOP wouldn’t help.  All you can do is watch and wait.  – Ahh, the fountain of youth.

At this point, the changing table is soaked.  My hands are warm and wet.  The baby is crying big time.  I dropped the diaper out of reach.  I need to clean her bottom again, so she won’t get a rash.  Could things get worse?

Yes, they can.

You know how I mentioned Grace was crying?  Well, screaming and kicking actually.  Thank goodness she stopped.  Back to calm baby noises.  Gurgle, hum, gurgle.  “Good girl.  Let Daddy change your diaper now.  Okay, loop around the leg, fasten the left side, wrap the right side.  How you doing otherwise this morning, Sunshine?”  — COUGH, COUGH, VOMIT!

Oh, great.  Seriously, how can a person this small manage to spew three times in a matter of minutes?  Through every means possible, she’s successfully wet her pajamas, her britches, the changing table, and her Daddy.  Multiple hull breach.  A true three point shot.

What now?  Okay, first lift her to make sure the vomit doesn’t choke her.  She’s fine.  Her windpipe is definitely clear, a process facilitated by her yelling and screaming.   Next, wipe her — all over.  Dribble is rolling off her cheek and gosh knows what’s happening down low.  Procure and administer some dryness.  I somehow take comfort knowing that she’s out of ammo.

Erin says that she smells a blog post.  I imagine that’s not all she smells.  Thanks for reading.  Parents, I’m betting that you’ve had an experience similar to this.  Perhaps not as rich.  My mom tells me that projectile vomiting adds another dimension to this.  Oh, great.  That’ll give me something else to share with you.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to do some laundry.

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