Monday, March 18, 2013

Lessons learned

Lesson 1: The best place to get dirty is in the shower.
We've gotten in the habit of family showers. All three of us jump in and we have it down to an art. I clean up with hot water while Dan and Jax hang out, then we turn down pressure and temp and the boys jump under the water to clean the baby. We hand off the baby, Dan turns the pressure and temp back up and he gets clean while Jackson gets a snack. Then the boys get out first, dry off, get dressed, and play while I do the same and do all of my bedtime preps. Then Jax and I nurse while Dan and Wally have cuddle time. It's a random routine, but it works for our family and our fur baby and actual baby enjoy it each time. Now, Dan and I have each taken our turn being peed on in the shower. Sometimes it's before we've gotten clean, sometimes after. Either way we're already in the shower. There's been blowout diapers, golden showers, and vomit sessions that lead to repeat bathing for one or all of us. Dan has been pooped on, and I've put my hand in a blowout. But never, I mean never, did I expect what happened the other night. As we're finishing up the shower, Jax is just nursing away and Dan is cleaning up. Jax has been really gassy lately, and I'm not sure if anyone has ever had gas in the shower--- but it's like heavier than the steam or something because it just seems to sit right at nose level. So Jax will have gas in the shower and it smells so awful! Well, not this time. Nope. He shot out poop all over the shower! Breastfed babies have soft, mustard or green colored poops and this came out like a cannon. It actually made noise, as he filled up my hand and arm. It was on the shower wall, the curtain, the tub, my hand, my arm, everywhere. And it smelled awful. Dan of course is just laughing at me as I am saying, "turn down the temperature so I can put him under! Oh my gosh this is so gross! Dan, it's not funny. I can't believe he just had butt cannon all over. gross. Stop laughing and help!" Needless to say, the best place to get dirty is when you're already in the shower. We finished up and the boys jumped out like normal while I did a repeat body clean and cleaned the shower, wall, tub and curtain. What a night. 

Lesson 2: Murphy's Law is real.
If it CAN go wrong, it will. If you schedule an appointment/ errand for baby's naptime expecting him to sleep through it, he will inevitable be awake and fussy the whole time. If you throw in the laundry, you will of course immediately dirty something that could've gone in with that load. If you put clean sheets/ clothes/ diapers on a baby- he will dirty them all together. If you plan to have time to yourself, your child and/or puppy will be particularly needy. It's a wonderful life, but such a mess! 

Lesson 3: Breastmilk is amazing.
Warning: Do not read on if you won't want to about unconventional benefits of bf. I thought I knew all the perks of breastfeeding. Flat tummy, big boobs, healthy baby, no period, better smelling poops. But then, I learn more. Breastmilk is a living thing, not just something babies eat. It's full of immune boosters, healthy bacteria, and lots of other beneficial components that cannot be duplicated in formula. Formula feeding is adequate for nutrition when necessary, but I would strongly urge any new mother to at least try bf- even for a few days, the benefits for your child are irreplaceable. So, unconventional benefits: those immune booster in breastmilk can have healing properties. I'd heard of applying breastmilk to cuts, rashes, acne, etc to help clear up skin. I've even heard of using the milk to treat soreness related to early bf. But I had never heard of breastmilk as a natural antibiotic. Lately Jackson has had a cold, and Sunday night it spread to his eye- yes his eye. Apparently it's quite common in little ones. It can either be the congestion clogging the tear duct, congestion backing up from the sinuses, or the virus/ bacteria that caused the cold can actually move into the eye and wreak havoc. Poor Jackson had Quasimodo eye that was swollen, red, and crusted shut with green goup. At his 2am feeding I was reading more about this eye irritation when I cam across a recommendation: Put breastmilk in his eye. Say what? Yes, according to this recommendation the immunoglobulin A in breastmilk helps combat the infection. Also, it recommended massaging the undereye/ tearduct to possibly unclog it. I figure he eats it, it can't hurt. And he had an appointment scheduled for the am. His eye was just so crusty and gross, poor baby. So I tried it. I dropped some on the outside of his eye to wipe away the dried goop, and dropped some into his eye to flush out the green. I did this a few times during his feeding. Then at 6am, his eye looked amazing so I did it again! By his 9am appointment you could barely tell a difference in the two eyes!!! AMAZING. Of course now I look like two different people. 1. A mom who goes in for every little thing. and 2.  A crazy woman who uses breastmilk to treat eye infections. I feel like such a hippy, crazy mom. But, if it's working and not harming him, how can I not offer to help? We got antibiotic eye drops to administer a few times per day, but I am torn given the amazing transformation mama's milk has already done. We'll end up using the doctor prescribed treatment, but I can't help but wonder if the breastmilk made a difference. 

Lesson 4: I cannot do it all.
"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways." 1 Corinthians 13:11. This verse is so fitting for comparing pre-baby and post-baby life. The verse discusses the maturity we experience as believers when we grow in the Word, well, it also applies as we've grown as parents. Pre-baby, pre-marriage I would occasionally be overwhelmed with the balance of housework, work, and relaxation time but felt like I generally had it together. I had lots of leisure time to organize and re-organize closets, shop, cook for fun, keep up the laundry, etc. Then came our puppy Wally, and leisure time went down. Then came my husband, which brought twice the workload for groceries, cooking, and laundry- but thankfully twice the help too! Now, with baby, it is all but impossible to do it all. We've managed to work out system so far of rotating chores and taking care of Jackson. I know look back to my days of living husband, baby and puppy free and wonder where my freetime and extra money went in those days? Now, all of my decisions are based on those factors. The biggest adjustment for me is to let the housework go. Now our house is not messy by any means, but I am an organized quasi-neat freak and leaving the dishes in the sink has taken some work to allow to happen. Again, before I thought like a child- now I think like a mom. I can do the dishes, or go spend a few minutes with my husband before the baby wakes up. I can vacuum the house or play with my baby. Your scale for problem solving and reasoning totally shifts. My priorities have shifted to mom duties, wife duties, house duties, then work duties. However, as we all know too well, often time life doesn't go by our priorities. Occasionally they get juggled around, and that still bothers me. If housework it put off too long, I have a cleaning spree and get anxiety about it. It's a work in progress and I have a helpful, understanding, patient husband by my side to help through it all. Without his partnership there is no way I could do any of this! 

Lesson 5: What's right for your family may not be right for all families.
Some of us are stay at home moms; some of us work twice as hard as career women and moms. Some of us are organic and all natural; some of us are just happy to get some fruits and veggies on the table. Some of us are conventional, doctor's orders types; some of us have more natural remedies. Some of us have our babies sleep with us, others aren't even in the same room. We are all different, but one thing unites us as parents: we want the best for our children. The most interesting thing to me is realizing that not only is every family different, but even in the family what works for one child may not work for them all. Granted, I am mommy to an only child, but I can read the dynamics in our adult families and see the differences between us all that make us all the same. 

Lesson 6: Good friends are like priceless.
I cannot imagine doing any of this without my girlfriends. My single, married, parent and non parent friends all have such different perspectives on things that I cannot imagine ever not having their support! Of all of them, friends that are in the same stage of life have been the most valuable recently. My married friends have been great for support and insight! Parent friend of kiddos the same age are great for support and encouragement. Friends with older kiddos are great for insight in to the future and for sharing lessons learned. And my favorite: single, non parent friends are great for reminding me to let loose while I can give them insight into the future. Such a wonderful circle of balances- I love all of them and thank God for sending them to me. 

These are just some of the lessons learned. I know more will come, but thought I'd share for those of you looking at this stage of life as something for your future, something from your past, or something you're in now. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Two-ish Months Old: A New Normal

Just when we think we've got it, everything changes again...

Size: Jackson is growing by leaps and bounds lately! He is wearing 0-3mo size clothes, which I don't think he will in for long! He's still in size 1 diapers, but daddy and I agree that we will likely be donating the rest of this box and moving on to size 2 diapers very soon. We had our two month well baby check and Jackson is right on track- a much better report than the last visit (grumble grumble). For uncorrected percentiles (those based on his actual birth day) Jackson averages between the 50-60%iles for height and weight. BUT... if we correct my growing boy to his due date (and account for the three weeks prematurity and compare him to other babies born early) Jackson is measuring between the 90-95%iles!! We are so proud of our little monkey. So many premies have trouble nursing, growing, and putting on weight so we are so very blessed to have such a healthy boy. And a big boy! He takes after his daddy :)

Health: Like most breastfed babies, Jax is very healthy. The week after we started daycare, the whole family came down with a cold. This is not uncommon once exposed to new germs, but we're still struggling with this cold- so we're starting to think it's allergies. Lots of trees and other plants in bloom here in sunny PC, so we're thinking that may be it. Whatever the cause, Jackson has had lots of nasal congestion. We use the nasal aspirator whenever we can, but we just can't seem to get all of the congestion, although saline drops, chest PT, and sitting in the steamy bathroom seem to help break up the mucus. We did learn something new- saline drops can be inhaled and cause congestion to drop to the chest, as is the case with our sweet Jackson. Now he has nasal congestion along with this rattling, chest congestion. We feel so awful for our monkey when he sniffles, and coughs and gags. :(

In addition to the congestion, Jax has been drooling alot. I know this is common with teething, but I don't think that's the culprit at 2 months old. Maybe due to his cold? Who knows.

Perhaps the biggest change with his health comes from his changed BMs. We figured out in the first month or so that me drinking lots of milk causes green stools and a fussy baby, so I've really reigned it in. For a whole month we had healthy, mustard colored, medium and small sized BM's, all signs of a healthy bf baby. But now, in the last week, boy have we had a change! Apparently it's normal for bf babies to only have 1 BM/ week. As long as they're not fussy or seem to be uncomfortable or gassy- then it's normal. That said, Jackson is now averaging 1 BM every 1-2 days, versus his usual multiple/day. But, when that BM comes- woo wee it comes!!

Story: We went to the home and garden expo this past weekend. We had planned to run around town for a good part of the day, so we brought the diaper bag packed with multiple diapers, nursing cover, pacifier, change of clothes, baby bjorn, etc. Well- Jax definitely used that change of clothes! Before heading into the expo, we decided to change his diaper and top him off nursing so we won't have to worry for awhile. Nursing went fine, diaper change- surprise!!! Not only did we have a dirty diaper (it'd been about 36 hours since the last one at this point), but we had a blowout! It was everywhere! Up the back, on the pants, on the shirt, all over the changing pad, even on his socks- his socks?! Normally we have a 1-2 wiper, no, this diaper took like 10 wipes! haha. So we get Jax all changed and clean, and put him the Baby Bjorn to walk around, then we think- what if he'd had that diaper in the Bjorn? I couldn't stop laughing. Then it'd be all over that, and Dan, and the baby, and everywhere. Oh man, the joys of parenthood.

Jackson's first outfit before the expo.
Shirt is fitting for spring break here in Panama City Beach 
Sleep: Prior to starting daycare, Jackson was going down for the night at 10pm, nursing at 2am, then sleeping until 6am. Daycare changed all of that. His feedings started changing times and he'd wake up at 1230 or 1, then again at 430 or 530- just late enough to not let me get back to sleep, but early enough to be awful. Also, the first week of daycare Jax was exhausted and slept all evening/ nights. Then he was awake all evening/ night because he was so well rested at daycare. This past week our sweet baby has been battling a head/ chest cold and has been sleeping more than ever- even through some feedings!

Our sweet boy takes after his daddy as far as sleep talking. He coos and ahhs in his sleep all the time. He'll get a big sad face and whimper/ cry, then in the next breath he'll be giggling. Granted, we've only heard sleep giggles so far, but it is the best sound ever. I can't wait to hear my sweet baby's giggles when he's awake. So far Jax is definitely a side sleeper, which he really only gets to do in the bed with me when he can prop up. He gets so comfy and will stay on his side all night. We try not to let him sleep in the bed with us, but at the 3am feeding, I'll do whatever I can to get a few more hours of decent sleep before we wake up for the day.

Sleeping in Daddy's lap
Story: One of my favorite sleep stories of Jax was on our recent trip to Sarasota for the wedding of some dear friends. While we were at the ceremony, Jackson was hanging out with my mother in law getting lots of cuddle time. He fell asleep in the very middle of the King Size bed, with the sun shining on his face (one of his favorite things). In attempt to make him more comfortable, she went to move him to the pack and play- well he started fussing and made it very clear he wanted to be back in the bed, so she put him back. Next she went to close the blinds of the window so at least the sun wouldn't be in his eyes. Yet again he fussed an squirmed, making it very clear that he wanted the sun on his face. So here is a picture of him, in the very middle of the bed, with the sun on his face, happy as a clam.

Schedule: Jackson's ideal schedule is a 6:00am wake up, nurse til 6:30, again at 7:30, then bottles at 10, 1, and 4, nurse at 6, 8:30 and 1030pm. My ideal schedule is the same, but with only pumping at 10 and 2. I've been lucky so far that two pumping breaks gives me enough supply for his 3 feedings. In reality, our schedule is anything from this ideal time table, to awake for three hours at night, to sleeping all day through feedings. We're still working on it, but at least he's in a routine, even if the times change up some. One of my favorite parts of the routine is family shower time. We get all three of us in the shower at a baby safe temperature, and we get everyone clean at one time. It is so much faster and easier! Jackson loves the water running over him, especially over his head before and after shampooing. He's usually wide awake after a shower and has crazy hair all over the place.

Alert baby after a shower
Social: Jax talks alot theses days, mostly when he's sleeping and eating. He hums and looks all over. One of my favorite things while he's nursing is he kicks his feet and crosses/ uncrosses his legs. The last week or so he's become very aware of his hands and grabs at everything. So often times when we're holding him, or if he's nursing, he grips your shirt/ hair/ arm over and over again. Opening his hand and closing it- it's the cutest thing. He also has had a huge improvement of his visual focal point and can not only see Dan and I, but he recognizes us. When he does, he just smiles and laughs- apparently daddy and I are hilarious.

Chubby legs crossing, uncrossing, and kicking while eating.

Smiling at mommy. No doubt in the middle of the night. 

Lots of smiles until he saw the camera, then he looked at me like I was crazy.

Diet: Still exclusively breastfed baby boy! He's growing great and I've been so blessed not to have supply problems yet. Often times when women return to work their supply will go down and they have to give up breastfeeding. Not only have I been able to maintain enough for Jax for the next day (12 oz), but I've been able to add to our freezer stash on most days- aka I'm pumping more than the needed 12 oz. This is an extra blessing because every additional amount to the freezer stash is more that Jackson can have if for some reason I am unable to produce. So far we're up to 260 oz- that's 65 4oz bottles, or almost 22 days of daycare feedings- a whole month's worth! Again, such a blessing!

Jackson has had bouts of cluster feeding, but by far the worst has been lately with this cold he's fighting. He can't breathe as well while he's eating, so he doesn't eat as well. When he doesn't eat as well, he wants to eat more often and for less time, resulting in a very exhausted mommy! Recently, Jackson's BM have changed to being less frequent, which is ok by this mama. The funny thing is when he does go, he makes up for the long breaks between them. Last weekend we had a family day long outing and Jackson's blowout was the biggest yet! I already mentioned that, but still it was hilarious.

Crying: More than before, but he's still not a big crier, which we're thankful for. But, when you do get him mad enough, Jackson will definitely cry and let you know he is NOT happy. Bless his little heart. The biggest thing is when he is sick, tired, or generally uncomfortable he will be fussy. This half whimper/ cry noise. Otherwise, we have a very observant, content baby.

Milestones: Jackson is holding his head up great! We're working on tummy time, which is going just so-so. Jackson's point of focus has improved and he is starting to watch us and interact with us even more. In the past week or so he's decided he likes to laugh and smile at us when we say his name, or when we play peek-a-boo. We haven't heard his giggles yet, but his smiles are big so I know the giggles are coming soon. I can't wait to hear those sweet noises :) One of the most exciting things that happened recently: Jackson rolled over!! He was practicing tummy time and rolled from his stomach right over onto his back. He hasn't done it since, but it was very exciting!

We took our first road trip a few weeks ago and Jackson did great! He cried the first 90 minutes we were on the road and wouldn't settle down- not with a diaper change, nursing, or being held. Finally we pulled over at a truck stop and walked him around outside with the breeze and sunshine on his face; he settled right down and did great the rest of the weekend.

All dressed up and nowhere to go! (It was too cold at the outdoor reception for our sweet boy to join us)
Jackson and Mrs. Robyn Pigozzi
Mommy and Daddy time without baby