our wee home

musings by michelle

Two toddlers

20140806-133922.jpgI blinked and it’s suddenly been a year since Hope was born.  Life in our house is busy.  Busy and beautiful and adorable and frustrating and hilarious and infuriating and lovely.  Our two girls change every day… Hope has transitioned from a crawler to a walker in the last three days, it seems; and Norah is saying new things and understanding new concepts and asking new questions every day.

Everyone who meets Hope says, “She’s so happy!” and asks, “Does she ever cry?”  The answer is yes, of course, but not often.  Though the last few weeks have been a bit different as she’s been growing neurons and muscles to walk, growing like a weed, and sprouting FIVE teeth at the same time.  After sleeping solidly all through the night for the last six months (how lucky are we???), she’s been waking up once or twice a night hungry for a couple of weeks.

Hope’s favorite thing continues to be her big sister.  Any time Norah gives Hope some attention, Hope just glows.  She thinks Norah is hilarious and will simply crack up if she even looks at her.  It’s just about the best sound in the world when they both get into a giggle fit together.  Even Norah is impressed with Hope’s newest skills, and we often hear Norah say, “LOOK! Hope’s walking!”  She seems thrilled by this development and seems excited to learn that Hope will one day be able to run and talk, too.  It’s in these moments that we are so glad that the girls are so close together in age.
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Then there are the moments when we’re not so glad.  When Hope is fussy and clingy because her gums hurt, and Norah is throwing her 18th tantrum of the day for some reason like she doesn’t like the socks she picked out, and we’re just trying to make some dinner that both of them will eat, and at this point they’re so hangry that they won’t eat anything anyway.

Perhaps the most difficult part of the day, for me, is bedtime.  Norah is in a stage where she cries and screams for about an hour every night in her bed.  She wants us to sing another song, or turn on/off her fan, or find X toy to come to bed with her, or JUST DON’T LEAVE!  Internet searches reassure me because so many other parents experience the same thing at this age, but frustrate me because we’ve done all the recommendations… we have a solid bedtime routine, we let her make small choices at bedtime (What toothbrush do you want to use? Which jammies do you want?), and we stick to the same bedtime every night.  After a full day of toddler wrangling and a full-time job, I need to sit down and do some reading and assignments for a class I’m taking, and all I can hear is her screaming.  Agony! And we wonder… do we let her cry? Should we go to her and sing another song?  What’s the right thing to do?  How do we make this stop???!  It’s a very difficult way to end every day.  I know… this too shall pass.  But not soon enough.

20140806-134042.jpgWe’ve made efforts to fully enjoy this summer — camping trips around Colorado, and visits to the pool.  Hope still hates getting in a pool, but Norah has fully warmed up to it.  Norah loves playing with two little girls that live across the street, Natalie and Josie, and will beg to go out and play if she sees that they’re home.  20140806-134739.jpgThe backyard also gets lots of use for outdoor play time.  They both love their water table, Norah loves the kiddie pool, and they both love the little swing that hangs from a tree.  Norah “helps” in the garden and so far she’s the only one who has tasted our strawberries.  They must be good!

 

 

 

 

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August 6, 2014 Posted by | Just Life, Parenting | , , , | Leave a comment

Hope, almost 6 months old!

The past couple of weeks have brought dramatic changes to our little Hope.  She has started sitting with us at the table (in her little high chair that attaches to the table), rolling over, giggling, grabbing at and holding things, drooling, and putting things in her mouth.  She is very aware of her surroundings, observing it all!

She has spent the last six months in my care, or in the care of her grandparents… but starting on Thursday, she will be joining her older sister at her small in-home daycare.  I’m so grateful that my in-laws have watched her for the past few months – she is such a sweet and tiny baby, and I’m glad she got so many cuddles while she was so small.  But she has become much more interactive and watches Norah constantly, so I think this transition to daycare comes at the perfect time.  She will absolutely adore being around the other kids.

She ate her first couple of bites of real food last night… sweet potatoes!  She seemed to like it.  We’ll be trying to feed her some food in the evenings from here on out.

She was such a good sleeper early on, but for the last few weeks she has been waking up every 2-4 hours again.  I’m sure she is in a growth spurt, and all these developmental changes have happened too… but it’s taking a toll on mama!  I’ve had a break from work for the holidays, but will be returning on Thursday.  Hence starting her on food — I’m hoping it may help her sleep longer???  We will likely also start her on one bottle of formula (given by daddy), late night, to also see if it helps her sleep longer.

She’s still our little nugget!  She weighs in around 12 pounds.

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She remains to be considered “the happiest baby EVER,” not only by her adoring parents, but by just about everyone who meets her.  Just talk to her, and she will beam at you!  She literally wakes up happy.  I can only hope that she will always be like that!  What a great way to go through life, right?

December 31, 2013 Posted by | Just Life, Parenting | Leave a comment

Back to work

I’m a week away from returning to work, and that reality is once again a bit tough to swallow. I’m sitting here, in the nursery, snuggling my sweet babe, and shedding some tears. I already miss her.

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October 4, 2013 Posted by | Just Life, Parenting | | Leave a comment

Lists, and maternity leave

The time of life right after having a baby is so… weird.  It is a mix of so many opposites and extremes, and sometimes it’s hard to make sense of it all.  Please forgive me if this blog post (and many of the others during this time) are the ramblings of a half-crazy person.

I am considered very lucky, as an employed U.S. American woman, to have ten full paid weeks of maternity leave.  While paid maternity leave is guaranteed in many other countries (don’t get me started), it is certainly not here in the U.S.  While we do have a federal law that gives us the right to take up to 12 weeks off after having a baby and not be fired for it, employers are not required to pay you during that time.

I took ten weeks off when I had Norah, and will do the same this time.  However, my post-partum experience is proving to be quite different this time.  Last time, I was a weepy, sleep-deprived, and hormonal mess.  That’s pretty normal, right?  This time, it has certainly seemed easier in many respects.  I think it’s a combination of knowing what to expect AND lowering my expectations for myself during this time.  What do I mean by that?  Let me give you an example.

I tend to use lists a lot in life.  At work, I have a note pad where I keep weekly and monthly to-do items I need to tackle.  And usually, I keep a separate DAILY to-do list on a separate scrap of paper.  This daily list is written in a sharpie marker: one color to list the items, and another color to cross them off.  I find it incredibly satisfying to cross things off a list with a sharpie.  In fact, sometimes I’ll write an item on there that I’ve already done just to cross it off.

Anyway, speaking of lowering my expectations for myself during maternity leave… I have found that the only way I am able to function is to use the dry-erase board on my refrigerator and write every single thing on there that I want to accomplish that day (though it doesn’t guarantee I’ll get it done — just that I won’t forget it).  Here’s an example of a list for one day:

  • empty dishwasher
  • shower
  • water plants
  • nap
  • walk

Seriously. If I don’t make a list, I could end up spending the whole day on the couch feeding the baby and watching episode after episode of Lost on Netflix.  (Of course, this written list is separate from the un-written unspoken items of bathe the baby, rock the baby, feed the baby, change the baby’s diapers, etc.) To keep me even more on-task, I have set recurring daily reminders on my phone for walk (9am) and nap (2pm), just in case I’ve gotten distracted by then.  I also have an iphone app (ShopShop) for items I need to pick up at the store.

If I do not put something on my list I will most certainly forget it (though I may remember it during a 3am feeding a few nights later).  THIS is why maternity leave is awesome.  I’m really not sure that I could function outside my home right now, let alone in a professional capacity.  I mean, I actually have to remind myself in two separate ways each day to take a nap, even though my primary state of being is pure exhaustion.  Ironic, huh?

Not long ago, I read an article about the final days of Michael Jackson — symptoms of severe sleep deprivation, according to sleep expert:  “Depriving someone of REM sleep for a long period of time makes them paranoid, anxiety-filled, depressed, unable to learn, distracted and sloppy, Czeisler testified. They lose their balance and appetite while their physical reflexes get 10 times slower and their emotional responses 10 times stronger, he said.”  I read this article while I was still pregnant, and chuckled, because I knew this was waiting for me on the other side.

I’d love to get back a few IQ points before I need to interact with the public in a professional capacity.  The great news is that Hope slept for just shy of seven consecutive hours last night…!  She was eating every three hours up until a couple of nights ago. Here’s to hoping I can get it together during the next month!

September 3, 2013 Posted by | Parenting | Leave a comment

The best and worst of newborns

The best things of having a newborn (again):
1. When you put them down, they’re still there when you go back later. Nuff said.
2. The happy Buddha face when they’ve got a full belly.
3. You get to snuggle them as much as you want… They can’t yet squirm away (nor do they want to)!

The worst things about having a newborn (again):
1. The razor sharp fingernails. Add sore nipples and flailing baby limbs to this, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
2. Lets address the elephant in the room: sleep deprivation. This special part of parental torture means that you are always one small mishap away from cracking. The yogurt container that jumps out of the fridge when you open the door now becomes an expletive-laced sob-inducing event, as opposed to just, “oops!” I guess it’s “irritability” on steroids.
3. Nursing loneliness. You spend several hours a day, sitting, alone with your newborn, feeding them. Depending on the day, or the hour, this item could also be on the “best” list. Sometimes you feel like you’re a spectator in life, because everyone else gets to carry on, doing things.

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August 25, 2013 Posted by | Parenting | 1 Comment

Hope’s birth

Today my daughter, Hope, is a month old.  Yet her due date was just four days ago.  I want to write down her birth story before it gets lost in the blur.  Having a newborn, I am fully in the blur right now.

Due to the bleeding episodes that I had due to a low-lying placenta during my pregnancy, I was hospitalized once at 26 weeks (for four days) and then again at 32 weeks (for four weeks).  The plan during my 2nd hospitalization was to stay put in the hospital until delivery.  I actually wrote a blog post about hospital bed rest, but it was such a pity party that I did not publish it on here.  Maybe I will someday.

The fact that I continued to have bleeding episodes throughout the end of the pregnancy indicated a danger of a major hemorrhage (also known as a placental abruption) that would have put my life and baby’s life in danger.  The perinatologists (high-risk OB’s) suggested that we deliver the baby at 37 weeks gestation.  I had been given steroids for the baby’s development, and overall, the outlook for a 37-gestation little girl was not risky…

However, during the 35th week, I had two more bleeding episodes, so the doctors recommended that we deliver at 36 weeks.  So, on July 17th, the doctors scheduled me for a cesarean for Friday, July 19th.  I asked for one more ultrasound to determine the location of the placenta; and after all this time of barely budging, the placenta was finally over 2 centimeters from the cervix, which was the minimum “required” by the doctors to try for a vaginal birth for a low placenta.  So just a couple hours before my scheduled cesarean, the plan changed and I opted for an induction instead.

While in some respects, this was a scarier option (risk of hemorrhaging and an emergency c-section), I still wanted to try.  I wanted to be spared the surgery and recovery, if possible.

The induction started around 1pm on July 19th.  I opted to have an epidural pretty early in the process, because I wanted to be awake if I needed an emergency c-section.  This meant I was stuck, horizontal, in bed through all of it.  I also was apparently pretty sensitive to the epidural, and it caused my normally low blood pressure to drop even further.  So I was woozy and weak off and on.  It felt awful.

Quite a difference from the unmedicated birth I had with Norah! I had regular contractions through all of it, but was not dilating much.  By 7am the following morning I was still only 2cm dilated.  They broke my bag of waters shortly thereafter, and I finally managed to doze for a couple of hours after that.  This is when my paranoia was hard to manage, because having amniotic fluid leak out of you feels exactly like the scary bleeds I had been having for weeks.  I kept needing to be reassured that it was amniotic fluid, and not blood (since I couldn’t see over my belly!).

Sometime before 11am, they checked my progress, and I was fully dialated!  They immediately started to get the room prepped, and I continued to be a basket case about bleeding.  They kept reassuring me that it was a normal amount of blood for a birth.  I pushed for maybe 10 minutes, and Hope was born.  She, like her older sister, had the umbilical cord around her neck twice… but once again, the docs simply unwound it, and she was fine.  In fact, she screamed and recovered from birth much quicker and better than Norah did.  Her first Apgar score was 8, amazingly.  She was so teeny tiny, but so strong.  She weighed 5 pounds 8 ounces and was 18 3/4 inches long.  She nursed within minutes of being born.

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She is named after her great-great-grandmother.  And her middle name, Victoria, is after her grandfather, Victor.

I am so grateful that everything turned out so perfectly, especially after such a scary pregnancy.  And strangely, I am actually really glad that I got to experience both an unmedicated birth, and a full-on medicated birth.  They were such incredibly different experiences!  While I hated the feeling of the epidural (both the numb legs and the low blood pressure wooziness), being stuck in bed with so many tubes going in and out of me, and just overall the medical nature of it… the positives were that I would say that overall I experienced discomfort, not pain — and because of that, I felt so much more present for this birth.  Because I was not lost in the pain, I have a clearer memory of Hope’s arrival and I got to experience the emotions of giving birth.  I cried tears of joy when I got to hold her for the first time.  With Norah’s birth, I was still in incredible pain and just in shock, I think, when she was born.

Because Hope was so strong, and I think they took pity on me having been in the hospital for four weeks; we were released to go home the next day.  Luckily my insurance provides for an in-home visit from the nurse, so that we could go home, but still have Hope checked 48 hours after birth.

Hope received donor breast milk for the first few days of life, until my own milk came in.  The reason for this is that they don’t want such small babies to lose too much of their birth weight.  She has proven to be a great eater and is growing very well so far.

I am so happy that I have two healthy little girls.  And I am ecstatic that I never plan to be pregnant again!  =)

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August 20, 2013 Posted by | Just Life, Parenting | Leave a comment

Mother’s Day, 2013

I haven’t gotten personal on my blog since I wrote about my unmedicated birth experience when Norah was born, or my panic about the impending end of nursing her…  but this month gave me a life experience that I guess I need to write about.

On May 10th, at around 2pm, I was at co-presenting an orientation to about 20 people at work.  We had reached a point of question-and-answer, and I stood up to answer a question. When I stood up, I felt three gushes of liquid come out of me and I thought my water had broken.  I was 26 weeks pregnant, NOT a good time for my waters to be breaking.  I walked straight out of the presentation (luckily, the other presenter was talking and it wasn’t conspicuous that I left) and rushed to the bathroom.  Then things got surreal:  it was blood.  Lots of it.

I tried to clean myself up enough to leave the bathroom to get help.  Luckily a coworker was in her office just a few feet from the bathroom.  I just told her, “I need an ambulance.  I’m bleeding.  A lot.”  I went back in the bathroom and went between not knowing what to do and just losing it.  I threw my soaked underwear in the trash.  My coworker came in a minute later to tell me they were on their way.  I remember sobbing and telling her, “I don’t want to lose this baby!”  It all seemed surreal to me.  In that moment, in my mind, there was no room for hope.  Whatever was happening to me was bad.  It could not end well.

I got my cell phone and called Matt.  “Babe, I’m bleeding heavily and the paramedics are on their way.”  I don’t know how, but he barely missed a beat.  “Where are they taking you?” he asked.  “I don’t know, they haven’t gotten here yet!”  My coworker brought me a towel to wrap around myself and I just sat on the floor in my office to wait.

As a side note, I am so grateful there are people in the world who want to be paramedics.  I don’t know how they do what they do.  They must see some really freaky stuff.  While I was having the most terrifying moments of my life, they were just going about their job, business as usual.  They arrived, asked me questions (How old are you?  How many weeks pregnant are you?  Is the baby moving now?  When was the last time you felt the baby move?…), took my blood pressure, put me on a gurney, and wheeled me through my office building (sooo embarassing), out the front door, and into the ambulance.  All while encouraging me to be calm, that was the best thing I could do for my baby in that moment.

During the short ambulance ride, they put an IV in each arm (inside each elbow) and put me on oxygen.  The paramedic told the ER folks that the “most exciting” thing that had happened since they picked me up was that my blood pressure had dropped 40 points.  I guess that’s why I felt like I was going to pass out in the ambulance.

I spent all of 30 seconds in the ER and they took me directly to the Labor and Delivery floor.  I remember asking a man as I was leaving if my husband would be able to find me (I had texted him the hospital name from the ambulance).  He asked for Matt’s last name and told me not to worry, they’d send him up.

As another side note, Labor and Delivery nurses are the absolute best!  Once I got there, things felt much calmer, less urgent, and I was able to calm down a bit.  They weren’t rushing around acting like this was an emergency, so I guess I figured they knew best.  Instead they were bringing me warm blankets and saying things like, “Oh, you poor thing, you got blood in your shoes!  That must have been scary.”   They hooked me up to a baby monitor and that little heartbeat was the absolute best sound I have ever heard.

I don’t know how much time passed, but it was such a relief when the door of my room opened and Matt appeared.

So what had happened?  At my ultrasound at 18 weeks (the one where you can find out if it’s a boy or girl), they discovered that I had marginal placenta previa.  Basically it means that the placenta is low and is blocking the exit for the baby, so if it doesn’t “resolve,” then you have to have a c-section.  When they told me this, they said that I would need to have another ultrasound at 32 weeks to see if the placenta had moved out of the way, and to let them know immediately if I had any bleeding.  I don’t recall them telling me that I was at a higher risk for bleeding, nor did they describe what they meant by “bleeding.”  Perhaps they don’t want to needlessly scare expectant mothers…

So I had experienced a “bleed” typical of mamas with placenta previa.  Luckily, it wasn’t bad enough to put me into preterm labor, or too significant of a hemorrhage to put me or baby in danger.  So I was fine, and baby was fine.  But basically as long as my placenta remains “low,” I continue to be at a higher risk for bleeding.  When they first told me about placenta previa, I thought my biggest fear was a c-section; now I just want baby to keep cooking as long as possible so that she’s healthy.  I really don’t care how she arrives anymore.

They kept me in the hospital for 4 days (including Mother’s Day), gave me steroid shots to help baby’s lungs be more ready for the outside world “just in case,” and then I was on bed rest at home for another week.  By the time I saw my regular doctor, she gave me the go-ahead to ease back into life… but taking it easy as much as possible, no heavy lifting, etc…  So that’s where I am now.  In limbo, hoping it won’t happen again, not sure how “easy” I have to take things, and counting down until my next ultrasound (and of course hoping for good news) in late June.

One doctor put it well, when I told her we were having a girl: “Looks like you’ve already got a diva on your hands.”

May 30, 2013 Posted by | Just Life, Parenting | , , , , | 2 Comments

Norah at 14 months

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Her favorite things:

  • Eating. She really likes to eat about anything, but she is starting to make it clear when she is not in “the mood” for a particular item.
  • Walking (with assistance). She’s not walking on her own yet, but loves to stroll around holding on to one of our fingers or pushing a push toy.
  • Baths. ‘Nuff said.
  • Hanging out in her diaper. Seriously, what baby likes to wear clothes?  20130412-083403.jpg
  • Being outside. She gets outside with her daycare a lot, and loves to go on walks to the park.
  • Talking. Or really, babbling. She only says a few words, but she’s made it clear that she is going to be a
    talker. She’s constantly babbling or singing or just making noise in general. She is also extremely social and just loves the other kiddos at daycare. She loves to tell everyone, “HI!”
  • Luci (the dog). She is starting to pet Luci from time to time. It’s too cute.
  • Playing in her crib. Now that we’ve taken down her baby gates, we will sometimes plop her in her crib if we need a few minutes without supervising her. She is completely content in there!
  • Being tossed in the air or spinning.
  • Rolling around on the couch.
  • Stuffed animals. She wasn’t into them until recently, but now she loves to hug and cuddle them.

My favorite things about her:

  • She’s happy. Most of the time. Her giggles are awesome.
  • Asking her, “Donde esta la nariz?” Where is your nose? And she points to her nose.
  • The increasingly rare moments when she likes to cuddle and be rocked.

Her least favorite things:

  • Not being allowed to touch the phone or computer when we are skyping.20130412-083428.jpg
  • Being helped to brush her (5) teeth.
  • When Luci knocks her over.
  • When we are too slow bringing her milk in the morning.

April 12, 2013 Posted by | Just Life, Parenting | Leave a comment

Pre-toddling

Norah is 13 months old and we are seeing more and more of her personality every day.  I am so grateful that she is still such a happy person most of the time!  She is good-natured, and turning into a bit of a ham.  She’s developing a “silly streak,” and of course we are starting to get small glimmers of a more willful side.  Every once in a while while she’s fussing or upset, we start to see glimpses of MAD. From what a hear, this could peak at the age of 18 months, right around the time we are expecting wee one #2.  =)  Good times.

Her favorite activity these days are taking things out and putting things in.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  Every few days we just find a new vessel: a basket, a bag, a box… and she’ll put toys in and take them out.  Over and over again.  She’s very observant and aware of changes in her environment and exploring new things.  We have slowly been “expanding her world” at home by removing baby gates to give her more room to explore.

She’s still a good eater, for the most part.  And she’s very good at communicating what foods she wants more of (pointing, and if we’re not fast enough, screaming), and which foods she is done with (throwing it on the floor for Luci).  She eats all kinds of fruit, tomatoes, turkey, hummus, broccoli (plain, even!), beets, cauliflower, raisins & prunes, bread (toast, egg salad sandwiches), eggs (poached are her favorite), chicken, salmon.  We learned when she was around 5 months old that she has a peanut allergy, so she doesn’t eat any nuts or nut products.  We have also not given her any shellfish (like shrimp) since that is another common food allergy.  We’ve had one episode of hives that we couldn’t explain, so we will likely take her for more extensive allergy testing.

Now prepare yourself for a Norah-photo-bomb.  Here’s an outtake from her 13-month-photo session.

13-month photo outtake

13-month photo outtake

She’s cruising all over the place, and pulling up even  on walls.  Still not walking, but she’s close!

Who's that?

Who’s that?

Let us in!

She loves her buddy, Luci!

This is MY bed.

This is MY bed.

There’s been a lot of gnashing-of-teeth around here…

Nom nom nom

Nom nom nom

peek

peek

Looking at the geese and ducks on the Platte River.

Looking at the geese and ducks on the Platte River.

March 18, 2013 Posted by | Just Life, Parenting | , , , , | Leave a comment

Update on cloth diapering

We’ve been using cloth diapers on Norah since she was just a couple months old.  She’s now nearly 13 months old, and I thought I’d share an update on how things are going and what we think of the whole thing.  My first post on cloth diapers gives info on our stash, if you’re interested.

Overall we’ve been really pleased with cloth diapers, but It took us a while to figure out our washing routine — if you look up advice on washing cloth diapers, you can get lost in the interwebs for a few years, I think!  What ended up being the magic bullet for us was bleach.  As much as I wanted to “stay natural” and use green cleaners, using bleach once in a while definitely solved all of our problems (ammonia build-up and some staining, mostly).

I do use disposables when we’re out and about, running errands, etc.  Or when we haven’t kept up on laundry and we run out.  I’d say we’ve had fewer blowouts with cloth diapers, but more soak-throughs (although we should probably be putting an extra insert in now that she’s older).

I’m so glad that our diaper stash will serve us all the way through toddlerhood until she’s potty trained – we have saved so much money this way!

March 6, 2013 Posted by | On the cheap, Parenting | , , , , | Leave a comment