Monday, February 4, 2013

Transitions

We have obviously had a lot of change around here lately. While Brad and I knew what to expect, Charlie obviously did not and I consider everything to have impacted him the most.

He loves his little sister so much. He has ever since the first time he met her. When he is frustrated with his life being upside down or Mommy and Daddy being tired, preoccupied, boring, inattentive, he never takes it out on her or blames her. He has been nothing but sweet to her.

Sometimes this results in misguided attempts to help: Being too forceful with replacing the binky or trying to pick her up. But mostly it's just very sweet to see and all very loving.

When Charlie gets frustrated, it is Brad and me that are on the receiving end. And that's fine - it's how I want it. I wish Charlie could verbalize what bothers him, but he is not even 4 and just can't. So instead he acts out.

He misbehaves in ways he knows will get our attention: intentionally spilling things, putting on clothes he knows I won't let him out of the house in (shorts in 30 degree weather mostly), throwing toys and being very loud.

Can I tell you how guilty this makes me feel? I have to continually repeat the mantra that this is all temporary and when she gets a little older and takes regular naps, he can have time that is just for him again. Babies are such little narcissists like that! It's all about her.

I also feel guilty a lot because when you are very sleep deprived, it is extremely challenging to handle this kind of behavior the way you want to. It pushes me to my edge and makes me feel like I want to snap. I have had to apologize to Charlie a few times because I lost my cool. He always forgives me immediately. And then I go cry because wow, I didn't deserve that. Children are beautiful creatures like that.

The reason I know that this acting out behavior is just for our benefit is that it is not popping up at school. His teachers say he has been extremely well behaved this past month. They sensed some anxiousness on his part in December, but that has gone away and he has a blast at school.

He does the after school programs and stays for lunch each day. I think the routine is very comforting. I wish they had school Friday, too, as that day is always crazy around here. School has structure that we can't entirely have at home right now, though his morning and evening routines are mostly set and happen on time.

Because Brad mainly works with people in the central time zone and frequently has last minute work projects pop up in the evenings, I have a babysitter who comes to help me with the evening routine and give Charlie some play time. When I hired her, it was with the thought that Brad would be traveling by now, but it is nice to have them with him so busy and needing to stay on top of work.

Since I am usually exhausted from the night time, I use some of the time after the sitter first arrives to take a nap if Eleanor will cooperate. The sitter helps with dinner and getting Charlie fed. I usually bring the baby down and sit at the table with them. Then Charlie will have his bath, pajamas, vitamins and last tv show with the sitter's assistance.

When it's time to go upstairs, I usually have the sitter hold Eleanor for a little while. I like to be the one that helps Charlie brush his teeth and read him books and tuck him in. She's not terribly familiar with babies and is better with the older kids, but is happy to hold Eleanor for 30 minutes so I can get that much needed time with Charlie.

I have also decided that I'm going to try and take some time each Saturday to spend some one on one time with Charlie. We did this past weekend, going to the Lollipops kids concert that the Richmond Symphony puts on and had a great time. He really loved getting some undivided attention. I've started coming up with other ideas of things for us to do.

It's a 180 from Charlie going off for one on one time with Daddy each Saturday morning in London since Brad worked so late all the time that he never got much time with Charlie apart from the weekends. Brad has been great about taking Charlie off to do stuff recently, so it's really me who isn't getting enough time with him.

Charlie turns 4 in a few weeks and has been talking about his birthday pretty much since his last birthday! I'm looking forward to making a big deal out of it and really making him feel special. He loves birthdays.... and is actually already talking about his 5th birthday!

I hope by then that things will have started to settle down schedule-wise with the baby. When she is doing regular naps and willing to sleep in her crib, this is going to feel so much easier. Until then we are just hobbling through.

The One About Milk

Limited Male Readership: this post is about breast feeding. I don't mind if you stick around, but totes understand if you'd like to mozey on over to your second favorite blog now.

I wasn't able to breast feed Charlie for as long as I wanted. I had supply issues from the beginning and never seemed to make enough to satisfy him. I supplemented, which hurt my supply, got some bad advice, used some bad bottles and by the time I went back to work it went quickly downhill. I was breast feeding a little at the 5 month mark and then just stopped. I was sad when it was over.

With Eleanor, I am determined to go longer. I did more research when I was pregnant and felt prepared when she got here. I got a free pump through my health insurance (thanks Obama!) and I did everything right in establishing my supply. So you can imagine how disheartening it was to hear at her 2nd weight check that she hadn't gained anything in a week. And then only half an ounce a few days later.

From my session with the lactation consultant (our pediatrician has 3 on staff) it seemed like Eleanor was getting plenty when she ate. They weighed her before and after a nurse. She was eating frequently and having plenty of diapers. So there was no explanation. The LC suggested perhaps she just got taller that week and didn't add any weight. Maybe I'm just tired, but that didn't seem right to me.

It was frustrating, but I wasn't going to stop. I started a pumping schedule after feedings, ate oatmeal like it was my job, drank special tea that does not really taste good and nursed nursed nursed. I think we're in a good place now, supply-wise, though I get freaked out easily that something will cause it to drop. A slow nursing day for example.

I continue to do the tea, the oatmeal, the occasional pumping. It's nice to have a bottle or two for night time, as she is a sloooooow eater. Some of these nursing sessions take forever and at 3am, I really just want to get her back to sleep. But I have not really needed to supplement and that feels like a huge achievement for me.

As a side note: since leaving the tangible rewards of the working world, I find that I don't really pat myself on the back for much. Parenting seems to range from acceptable days to beating yourself up, but rarely do I say to myself Hey Kara, awesome job with the kids today! For some reason, though, being able to successfully breast feed this time feels like an achievement, especially given the frustrations of last time. I'm proud of myself. That almost never happens! Though I did get a kick out of the whole Apartment Therapy thing.

Anyways, back to the program:

We hit 6 weeks later this week and seem to be going strong. I'm nursing on demand and since she's not yet 10 pounds, there is frequent demand. I don't mind during the day, though it makes it hard to go anywhere.

Even if I nurse right before leaving the house, she may be hungry again by the time we get there or a little while later. While sitting down and feeding her in public is not a big deal a lot of places, you're kind of in a world of hurt in the middle of Target with a full shopping cart. I do love my super cute Bebe au Lait nursing cover I got on Amazon, though, and any excuse to use it. I always tried to make do with a blanket last time. That was dumb.

The one who really pays the price for not being able to leave is Charlie. I feel like I can't make many plans for him or do any classes in the afternoons until there is a better feeding schedule established. We meet friends out occasionally at places I can feed Eleanor. Even that wasn't doable until she stopped screaming all the time from the reflux.

At night it is obviously hard because she is waking me up frequently. She sleeps with me so we can get as much sleep as possible, but still - nobody wants a cluster feeder at 2am, 3am, 4am and 5am! And we have had nights like that. I don't know if it is because she can smell my milk when she is right next to me, but I never can get her to go into the deep sleep that Brad can get her to do.

I do have to brag on Brad a minute here. He has been working from home the past couple of months and even though he has stressful deadlines, demanding clients and conference calls and all that stuff, he helps me out so much every night with her feeding. I pump a bottle or two during the day and he takes her until 1:30 or 2am, sometimes later and then passes her off and goes to get some shut eye in the guest room.

A couple of nights when I've gotten frustrated that she wouldn't go back to sleep, he has come to get her again between feedings. As a result of all of this help, I believe he has determined the Starbucks concoction with the most caffeine in it and gets one every day after taking Charlie to preschool in the morning. It has the phrase "red eye" in it.

Seriously, though, he has been a life saver. I don't know what I would do if he wasn't here. I hope we have a few more weeks before he has to start traveling regularly. Because the schedule is so willy nilly and tiring, I get really scared when I think of him being gone.

So that's kind of where we are in our breastfeeding journey. Maybe after a few more weeks I won't be so nervous about all of it turning on a dime. I'll feel - dare I say it - established? We'll see.

Eleanor's One Month Appointment

This morning was Eleanor's one month appointment and it felt like an important one. We just started the reflux meds on Friday and this appointment doubled as a follow up for that. With as much as she spit up over the weekend, I was very worried she had not gained any more weight.

Turns out I am a bad judge of how much food she is getting and keeping down. Even though she's been soaking her clothes with what looks like straight milk, she gained 3 ounces since Friday. Excellent work E!

The doctor was also kind enough to take the time to average out her weight gain since coming home from the hospital. They like to see the newborns gaining 1/2 to 1 ounce per day. She averages out at around 3/4, so she's doing well. HUGE relief for me - I was having visions of having to supplement like we did with Charlie.

I talked to the doctor about all the spit up, too and he said there will be plenty of spit up with Zantac - she should just be more comfortable. And she really seems to be. The screaming fits of last week are over for the most part. When she gets fussy while nursing I usually realize we are overdue to give her the next dose.

We talked about her sleeping and wanting to be held throughout the night. He suggested giving swaddling another try now that the reflux was medicated. And, of course, to elevate her head. Other than that, it's probably just an age thing. Fourth trimester and all that.

He suggested she would be uncomfortable during tummy time, being on her stomach with reflux, so to only do it when she's in a good mood. Sounds like a great way to get her in a bad mood! But she will not be a tummy sleeper like her brother it sounds like. At least until she grows out of the reflux. He has, after all, slept on his back most of his childhood after starting off on his tummy.

Here are the stats:

Height: 22 inches (75th)
Weight: 8lbs, 10oz (25th)
Head circumference: I can't remember. 25th% so not really noteworthy.

Next appointment is March 7 - the same day and time as Charlie's 4 year appointment. That might turn out to be a huge strategic mistake on my part. I'm going to need to pack a flask for it; it is going to be so stressful. Lots of shots for both of them. Charlie in particular will probably cause me to age 5 years when he realizes he is getting shots. Hopefully I can find a nice nurse to hold my second baby while I hold my first baby. How can he be 4?? Oh well, that's another post.

One Month of Eleanor

I think these monthly updates for Eleanor are going to have to be written on the fly. I am on a short break from darling baby girl, who is just as screamy as her brother was (*** this was written before we found out she had reflux). Maybe more so. I guess we just make demanding, screamy children. Brad tells her she is very much like her name, London: exciting but difficult. 

Eleanor is like Charlie was as a baby in so many ways. They look so much alike, especially their eyes. She appears to have been blessed with Brad's eyelashes - she has a few, and they are very long. Charlie had dark hair when he was born that turned blond. Hers seems to be doing the same. 

Like her brother she hates being swaddled. Major bummer there. She hates her infant car seat, I think it makes her gassy hurt. She strongly dislikes taking a bath. Or being put down. EVER. 

I remember going back to work at 16 weeks after Charlie was born and it feeling so odd not to be holding him all the time. I mean, it was ALL. THE. TIME. In fact, I have already strained the same muscle in my right shoulder that I did after Charlie was born. 

I try not to think about how much easier this all would be if she would nap somewhere else. Because boy would it be. I wouldn't feel nearly as overwhelmed. 

I bought a carrier to use around the house and when we go out so I can be hands free to wrangle Charlie. She acts all kinds of ticked off when I first put her in, but then she falls asleep very quickly and doesn't wake up until I take her out. It hurts my back after a while, though. Stupid scoliosis. 

As far as differences between she and Charlie... well, there aren't many so far. She's slightly less demanding. And she seems more sensitive. Like her little feelings get hurt sometimes and she has a specific cry for that. She has really big feet and very long fingers - he didn't have those. 

Even though I have all the food, Brad appears to be her favorite person. She will calm down for him and fall asleep in his arms in no time. They take naps together and you will never find her more content then that. This is very odd for me, as Charlie was all about me, all of the time. I'm the mom, I carried her, I should be the favorite! But alas. 

Likewise, she has Brad wrapped around her finger. He doesn't worry in the least about holding her all night or spoiling her in any way. He refers to himself as The Holder Person. He's in charge of holding her. In fact, that's what he's doing right now, which is how I'm able to type. 

She's a good little eater, though not as ravenous as Charlie, who could never get enough. In fact, sometimes she is kind of a lazy eater. The first couple of weeks home from the hospital she didn't gain any weight, despite me having a good supply of milk. We've worked on that, though and she seems to be doing fine. 

As far as sleeping, we are not on any kind of schedule yet, but she never really had her days and nights mixed up. For that I am eternally grateful. She will start sleeping heavily in the evening and wake up - or stay up! - to eat every 2 to 3 hours. Seems to be 10 or 11pm, 1:30/2am and 5/6am most nights. It's the 2am to 5am period that she is very challenging to get back to sleep. Brad usually takes that first feeding so I go to bed early and get up for the 2am one. 

She is usually pretty awake at 5 or 6am and just kind of dozes off and on and squirms while I hold her until Charlie gets up around 7. Then she falls into a nice deep sleep for a morning nap! That's probably what kills me the most - those early mornings just wear me out. And is part of what is so challenging of having a newborn and another child. 

We had some luck with her sleeping in her Rock and Play sleeper, but now she gets really mad if she gets put in there and wants to get up really quickly. She wants to sleep with one of us. We transitioned Charlie around 5 weeks to his crib and are trying with her but she is having none of it. 

Eleanor hasn't really acquired many nicknames yet, though I'm sure she will. Since Charlie was The Munch, she is The Munchette. Occasionally Charlie calls her Ellie. We'll see what sticks as time goes by. 

We have her one month appointment on February 4. It has to be at least one month from the first visit after coming home from the hospital because of the spacing of the shots. I'm anxious to see what she weighs since she was slow in the beginning to gain weight. 

Well, that's life right now with our one month old! As I've typed this out I have realized how many other posts I need to write. More to come!