Thursday, December 31, 2009

Rhinoceros Knock On Our Door?

Our collection of books is extensive ... fiction and non-fiction alike.  Recently, Natalie has shown a lot of interest in a book called Mammals.  Sounds educational and delightful, right?  One animal in particular has caught her attention ... and caused great concern ... 




Upon seeing the photos of this admittedly unattractive animal and asking, "Watts dat aneemal called?" she developed a concern that a rhinoceros would come to our house.  Daddy assured her that wouldn't happen.  He even got a globe and showed her where we live and where most rhinoceroses live.  I am fairly certain that concept went way over her head, but it was a good effort.

Over the next few days, Natalie continued to ask, with a certain about of fear in her voice, "R-eye-nos-ris come to our how-se?"  And we assured her that wouldn't happen.  Somehow she even got the idea that a rhino would knock on our door ... I am guessing it would be more likely that a rhino would knock down our door, but whatever.  She now says, "R-eye-nos-ris no knock on our door?"

This little story takes a bit of a turn ...

Natalie has been jumping on the couch lately, and none of our discipline tactics are curbing her enthusiasm for the joy of the jump.  Time outs are hilarious ... she puts herself in time out, sits there all proud and triumphant, says she's sorry and tells us that she loves us.  And, well, we just don't have the extra energy right now to develop a new discipline strategy ... which has led to some serious improvisation.

Which takes us back to the Rhinoceros ...

As Natalie rebelliously jumped on the couch, Chad requested that she stop several times and told her she would be in trouble.  Our two year old did little more than ignore him ... until ... daddy upped the ante a bit and said, "Natalie, did you know that a rhinoceros scoops up little boys and girls who jump on couches?"

Her reaction was immediate.  She stopped jumping and starting making sure that "a r-eye-nos-ris no knock on our door."  For the next two days, Natalie did not even think about jumping on the couch.   It seemed CPV had found our new strategy ... or not ...

We've also discovered that Natalie doesn't want to play in the front room, nearest the door, anymore.  She doesn't even want to run laps from the kitchen to the living room to the dining room because that path leads her too near the door ... the door that she fears a rhinoceros will knock on!  And she doesn't want to sit at her seat for dinner because it puts her back to the door.  We have assured her over and over again that a rhinoceros will not knock on our door.  That rhinoceros only live at the zoo in cages or far away from our house.

It is so sad to see her so afraid ... illogically afraid ... but very much afraid nonetheless.  We are continuing to reassure her, and hopefully her parents are learning from our mistakes ;)

Life with a Newborn


A little size comparison ... CJV versus NHV's size 5 diaper ... potty training - the two year old, not the newborn - is currently on hold until I can get more than two hours of sleep at a time ;)  I'm choosing my battles ... and changing a lot of diapers, apparently!


Sleeping and swaddle-breaching ... Charlotte is a great sleeper ... during the day ... at night, not so much.  She is also giving Houdini a run for his money ... she loves that hand up by her face ... and she can work it out of just about any swaddle ... but she does look peaceful, doesn't she?



Oh, and I just love the newborn "touchdown" ...


Snuggling (and movie-watching) ... I love to hold Charlotte while she sleeps.  I have a hard time putting her down ... especially knowing that this is my last chance to love up on a newborn of my own.  Natalie loves to be near her baby sister (and her mommy), which is just fine with me ... it makes for really good snuggles :)  And, if I am being honest, we've been watching DVDs more frequently these days ... as we were when CPV snapped this photo.



Oh, and here's a photo I snapped of CPV and CJV ... a fairly typical scene since Santa delivered an X-Box to the 35-year old kid in the house!  Chad figured out the cradle-and-controller move within the first hour, which is paying big dividends for me ... he stays up late to play and then does the midnight feeding while I catch a few extra zzzzz's.  Yes, we are skilled in the art of compromise ;)

Giggle:  Doesn't this look like Clark Kent wearing a Superman t-shirt?!

Photos of the Bump




My dear friend - and fellow new momma - Deann ... of Photos by Deann ... happens to be a great and very generous photographer.  She asked if she could "practice" taking maternity photos, and I jumped at the chance ... because a) I regret not doing this when I was pregnant with NHV and b) my friend Chitown Momma assured me that I would regret it again and c) in all likelihood this was my last pregnancy and the last chance to capture the beauty of a bump.

Finding the time between doctor's appointments and nesting-a-plenty proved to be a bit of a challenge, but I am so glad that we did!  And I can't thank Deann enough for sharing her talents with me :)  I am not accustomed to being in front of the camera, and the background and lighting made it feel so official ... like a scene right out of American's Next Pregnant Model!  Once we got started, Deann - very pregnant herself - and I managed to have a very good time ... and, well, the photos are turned out even better than I expected ... considering the model not the photographer.

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I also have an admission to make ... a bit of an apology ... to all of those strangers and friends-of-friends out there who thought it appropriate to comment on the small size of my belly ... well, I see it now, and I guess it wasn't all that crazy for you to take notice of my tiny bump.  I may have been somewhat harsh in my reaction to your observations.  Because, no, in fact, I did not look 35 weeks pregnant in those photographs.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Santa, Baby

Despite my strong feelings against it, there were some major advantages to an induction ... like the fact that we were able to squeeze in a visit with Santa ... on the day of my scheduled induction, which makes this post about three weeks late, but who's counting?!

Once I had a date, I was getting done everything I could, especially those things related to the holiday season ... things I knew we would be hard-pressed to accomplish once our lives were invaded by a newborn ... things that were important to Natalie as a two-year old and to memory-making (and photo-taking) as a family. A Christmas celebration isn't complete without a visit with Santa.

Once again this year we avoided the mall (a four-letter word, in my book, because I hate it with a passion anytime of year but especially during the holidays) ... and instead had a delightful and authentic experience at our local zoo.  For the first 10 minutes, Natalie didn't want to have anything to do with Santa ... but that all changed.

We saw reindeer grazing ... well, there aren't actually any reindeer in that photo of me and NHV, but trust me that enclosure was full of reindeer, and their antlers were huge!  I love this photo because I know under my red pea coat is a cute little baby bump ... and it was taken just about 24 hours before CJV was born!




After our visit with Santa*, NHV also enjoyed a candy cane ... with much concentration and enthusiasm and stickiness.  While she devoured her cane, daddy helped her write a letter to Santa reminding him of her wish list*.

When we arrived at Santa's House, he was no where to be found.  A little note explained that he was "checking on his reindeer" and would be back shortly.  We took the time to get acquainted with Santa's decorations, including lots of stuffed animals and two trees full of ornaments.  Natalie pointed to almost every ornament and asked, "Wat's dat? and Wat's dis one?"  As much as I enjoyed that game, I was certainly glad to see Santa just a later.  He walked in, took his seat, and invited Natalie to sit on his lap.   Our once not-so-sure-about-this-whole-Santa-thing toddler, climbed right up but never got completely comfortable.  You can see how her arms are just slightly outstretched ... as if she may reach out for mommy and daddy or make a run for it at any moment.

But she did great and looked pretty darn cute, too!







When Santa asked what presents she was hoping to get this year, she quickly listed these three things ...
a ba-bee dowl,  yittle pe-pole, and a toof-brush.  Apparently, dental hygiene is very important to this two year old!


Merry Christmas!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ode to the Grandmas

Where do I even begin?
How can I possibly thank them?
What would we have done without them?
I can't begin to imagine!

Once the induction date was set, we frantically make travel arrangements for, first, my mom - Grammy, and then CPV's mom - Mimi. Both were unbelievably gracious about the short notice and leaving town during holiday preparations ... all to come here to be at our beck-and-call ... while sleeping on an air mattress on the floor in the nursery (because NHV's big girl room was once the guest room that is no more).  Oh, and during both weeks, we had the coldest temperatures on record here in the NW.  Aside from a newborn and their two year old granddaughter, we really didn't have much to offer!

My mom arrived that day after Charlotte was born. She arrived to find her new grandbaby still in the NICU. Chad picked her up from the airport and dropped her off at the hospital to spend the afternoon and evening with me. She brought gifts. We chatted and watched talk shows. We walked to the NICU every hour to check on my tiny baby. We cried just looking at her.

I was discharged that night, but had to leave Charlotte in the NICU ... much heartbreak. Instead of cuddling a newborn, Grammy's main responsibility was to occupy, entertain, distract Natalie while CPV and I made multiple trips to the hospital ... for four days.

Natalie had a great time, and I didn't have to worry about her - not even for a minute. I could focus all my energy on resting and visiting Charlotte. What a relief!


My mom left the following Thursday ... amidst lots and lots of tears.  Thankfully, Chad's mom arrived that very same day and took over where Grammy left off ... it was a seamless transition.  Again, Natalie was thoroughly entertained with countless story readings and games of hide-and-seek.

Just as my mom had, Mimi took care of Natalie's morning routine while Charlotte and I slept away the morning - trying to catch up on the sleep we didn't get the night before.  And Mimi made sure I was resting and hydrated.  What a blessing!


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I can't imagine how we would've made it through those first two weeks without the help of Grammy and Mimi.  We are so grateful that they were both willing and able to drop everything and fly to our rescue.

We love you, Grammy and Mimi!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

10:30 am

It's 10:30 am, and I am just now rolling out of bed.

Sounds so decadent, right?  Like something reserved for high schoolers and college kids.  At the very least it seems like something done on an occasional Saturday ... before starting a family.

Well, I am feeling somewhat rested, but it's not nearly as luxurious as it sounds.

At 7:30 am, I was feeding a "starving" newborn ... and then holding her upright while those two ounces of breastmilk digested.

At 8:30 am, I was eating a yummy scrambled egg and toast breakfast prepared by my awesome husband.

At just before 9:00 am, I was waving good-bye to my husband and two-year old as they left for a visit to the local kid's museum.

Back in bed just after 9:00 am and managed to sleep until the next "scheduled" feeding time ... 10:30 am.

I am living life in 3-hour chunks.  If half that time is spent sleeping (can that small amount of time even be called sleeping?), then, hey, life is good!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

ESP - Two Weeks Old

Babies are good for three things ...

Eating -- Sleeping -- Pooping

And so, as Charlotte meets the milestone of being two weeks old, here's my ESP Report.

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Birth Weight: 4 pounds 9 ounces

Current Weight: 5 pounds 5 ounces
As of Monday, when she was 12 days old,  my little nugget has gained 12 ounces ... and I figure that's an ounce a day!

Length: a little over 17 inches

Overall Growth Percentile (based on gestational age): still hovering between the 3rd and 5th percentile

Disposition: calm, patient, mellow 

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Eating - Because of her small size, most of the decisions about CJ's nutrition have been made by the NICU doctor and her pediatrician.  She's been - primarily - bottle-fed on a schedule;  first formula and then breastmilk fortified with small amounts of calorie powder.  This means that every three hours, she gets a bottle of about an ounce to two ounces of breastmilk.  After she's fed, her immature digestive system requires that she be held upright for about 30 minutes - or risk a traumatic spit-up-choking episode, which happened four times at the hospital ... and CJ stopped breathing all four times - yeah, no thanks.

And since the breastmilk is supplied by my hardworking "girls," I have to sit and pump for 15 to 20 minutes.  Including time to clean the pumping accessories, this process takes about an hour and a half.  Thankfully I've had help from the grandmas because this schedule was quickly becoming a huge source of frustration and exhaustion for me.  And I'll let you in on a little secret ... I detest pumping.

After Monday's weigh-in and Charlotte's continued progress, the decision was made to start getting serious about getting her to nurse on a regular basis.  You can visualize a little happy dance right about here.  Now every other feeding is a calming, relaxing, all-natural nursing session ... no pumping required!  We are two full days into this new schedule, and I must say that I am a much happier mama ... and most importantly, Charlotte is doing great ... her latch could use some improvement, but she continues to be flexible and calm and amazing!

Sleeping - As with most pre-term babies, Charlotte sleeps ... a lot ... and she sleeps just about anywhere.  If she had her way, she'd probably prefer to be held while snoozing.  And since maintaining her own body temperature continues to be tough (with so little body fat) and to burn lots of calories, the grandmas and I have been happy to oblige her.  At night she sleeps in a bassinet right next to my bed, and  love having her so close.

It is very rare to hear her cry, but this little girl is a noisy sleeper ... she grunts, honks, (like a goose, not a car) squeaks, beeps, and sighs ... all the time.  I certainly don't remember NHV being this noisy!  I am very tempted to record what she sounds like because it is just so darn funny!  Thankfully I am getting to know her noises ... which ones I can ignore and which ones require me to check on her.

Pooping - I am sure this falls under the TMI category, so I will spare you the gory details ... but this little girl doesn't have a problem with making the poopies (unfortunately, her big sister suffers that infliction).  With that said, we've only had one blow-out ... and it was more of a diaper malfunction than a quantity issue.  Sidenote:  Preemie diapers are a complete rip-off.  They are essentially the same size as a Newborn diaper - maybe a few millimeters difference, but they cost twice as much ... about 30 cents each!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Together, a Birthday Greeting




This is my very best friend, Missy.  My other half; sometimes we honestly share a brain ... even though we live in separate states!  She is an incredible person and mother ...  


And that adorable little guy there in the middle ... that's her amazing, strong-willed, almost-two-year-old son.  He just had open heart surgery - the second one of his short life.  His bravery and strength at such a young age brings tears to my eyes and a smile to my face.


Oh, and that's Joe ... Missy's husband.  Emmett's daddy.  His sense of humor sometimes makes me scratch my head.

I am so glad the three of them are together ... even if they are celebrating from an ICU room in a Children's Hospital.  They are together.  And they are celebrating not one, but two birthdays.


Happy, Happy Birthday ...
MISSY and JOE!

Hope you've planned a trip to the yummy cupcake shop around the corner from the hospital :)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sighs of Relief

I think my sweet husband put it best when he said, "It's so good to have YOU back."

After a drama-filled, worrisome, painful, stressful pregnancy, I finally feel like I can breath many, many sighs of relief.

Aaaaaaahhhhhhh!

My beautiful BGV was born healthy and as close to perfect as any parent has the right to dream.  Yes, she's tiny, but she's also mighty!  While she/we did endure a stay in the NICU, medical intervention was minimal ... it was really all about monitoring her ... and giving her the chance to figure out suck-swallow-breath ... and being in awe of this tiny 36 week-er who proved that gestational age is just a number ;)


Aaaaaaahhhhhhh!

After dreading an induction, I can honestly say it was the best labor experience I can imagine.  I have a great relationship with my OB, and she cleared her entire schedule to be with me at the hospital all day.  She graciously took into account my feelings about natural labor and helped me to manage my pain (and motivate my cervix) without Pitocin or an epidural.  In addition to the best doctor in the world, I also had an amazing nurse who made sure I was comfortable and empowered.  And I fell in love - all over again - with my husband who coached me and kept me focused on the prize :) 

With a dose of "steel-melting" gel on my cervix-o-steel, my uterus stayed true to its grumpy disposition and contracted like a champ. I was able to trust my body to do what it already knows how to do, and I had that all-important "control" over the situation.

Aaaaaaahhhhhhh!

My post-partum recovery has been a piece of cake in comparison to the physical demands of a contraction-filled pregnancy.  Physically, I feel great; I've all but forgotten that I even have a uterus!  Birthing such a tiny baby had the advantage of no tearing in the nether-regions.  And with around-the-clock pumping, engorgement (the worst part when I had NHV) wasn't even that bad.  Don't get me wrong, I am exhausted, and I am definitely feeling the hormone surges and dips.  But overall, I am in a much better place physically! 

Of course, the twice-a-week doctor's appointments continue ... but no more non-stress tests or ultrasounds ... just weigh-ins for CJV!

Aaaaaaahhhhhhh!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Daddy's Little Girl


Less is More

I just got schooled by my one week old.

Charlotte has her days and nights a little confused.  Seems appropriate considering the fact that she should still be tucked in my uterus for another few weeks.  During the day, she falls right to sleep after a feeding ... even with the noise of a two year old filling the background.  At night, when our world is so much more quiet, she's alert - love seeing her eyes open - and even a little restless.  Of course, I am ready for bed, so this presents a bit of a dilemma. 

I've been enjoying Charlotte's alertness but watching closely for signs of over-stimulation, a lesson I learned from NHV ... back in the day.  Tonight, CJV offered me a refresher course in this concept.

After several big yawns, the most classic newborn "I'm tired" sign, I took Charlotte upstairs, changed her poo-filled diaper (a task usually preformed just before feeding), and proceeded to rock, sing, and pat her to sleep.  I brought out my signature shushing.  In response, she squirmed and grimaced and seemed miserable. Twenty minutes later, I couldn't figure out what was "wrong" with her; she just wouldn't go to sleep. 

I got up from the glider, sat on the edge of the bed, and cuddled her close.  I stopped moving.  I stopped singing.  I stopped shushing.  I took a few deep breaths and allowed my mind to wonder.

Within two minutes, Charlotte was blissfully, completely ... asleep.




Clearly, when helping a newborn fall asleep, less is more.

Sidenote: In regards to this momma getting enough SLEEP, less is definitely NOT more!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sisters



Oh, that first meeting.
Words cannot express.

NHV has taken to big sisterhood with much enthusiasm and love.
She giggled and smiled and just gazed with such awe.

She must've said the words, "babee sistah" at least a dozen times.

"Babee sistah grew in mommy's be-yy-y."
"Babee sistah ... Charlotte." 


"See babee sistah's tootsies."
"Babee sistah's tootsies ... t-I-ny."
She then counted her toes and leaned in for a tootsie kiss.

"Dat babee sistah's naket (blanket)."

And her best observation ...
"Mommy work hard ... get babee sistah out her tummy."

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I cried.  I smiled.  I suddenly understand ...

A mother's love is infinite.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Home is ...

... where the heart is.

Well, I'm home.  Have been for almost 24 hours now.  The hospital takes its 24-hour discharge policy pretty darn seriously.  And really, I slept better in my own bed than I ever would've there.


But a big chunk of my heart is not here with me.

Charlotte is staying in the NICU for now, and I know it's the best place for her.  She is receiving around-the-clock monitoring and exceptional care.  Wish that made it easier to leave her.  Makes me a little weepy just thinking about it now. 

Knowing her gestational age and small size, I expected a NICU stay.  Most importantly, her symptoms are all typical.  She's healthy but immature.  Her systems - respiratory, digestive, nervous - are being required to take care of a lot of things that my womb should be providing for another 3-4 weeks.

She's still having a tough time regulating body temperature, but the nurses  just moved her from the heated incubator to an open bassinet.  This will give her the chance to provide her own heat ... along with help from three swaddle blankets and the tiniest sleeper I've ever seen.  Hoping for good news tomorrow morning.  The problem is that providing her own heat also uses a lot of calories.

The feeds are getting better (suck, swallow, breath is a tough combination) and she's taking a few more mL each time.  I am doing my best to pump a milk supply into existence.  In the meantime, she's drinking high-caloric formula in order to off-set the calories burned during a feeding - as well as whatever meager amount I pump.  She cannot afford to lose any weight ... so far she's only lost about 2 ounces.

So CJV needs to take in enough calories to gain weight ... but those calories also have to help her stay warm and give her the energy to effectively feed.  Seems like a lot to ask such a sweet, little nugget.

CPV and I visited with her for two hours this morning, and Grammy came back with me during NHV's naptime.  I am trying to maximize my time with each of my girls.  The nurse insisted that I don't come back for a third feeding today.  She wants me to rest, pump every three hours, and "take advantage of the most expensive babysitting money can buy."

Now I am counting the hours until the morning feed when I'll get to hold my baby again.



1st Day Photos

Many requests for photos ... can't disappoint the masses ...

Here is a little glimpse of Charlotte's 1st Day:




Not sure these photos really capture just how tiny she is ... she is one teeny, tiny little nugget!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Announcing the Arrival of CJV


Hurray!

Charlotte Jane

arrived December 2 at 6:55 pm

She weighs a teeny, tiny 4 pounds 9 ounces
and measures just 15 3/4 inches long!

The induction was actually a wonderful experience. 
Everything went just as smoothly as possible.

My awesome doctor was here all day.
The nurse took such good care of us.
Hubby was an amazing labor coach.

CJV is spending time in the NICU to monitor her blood sugar,
ability to regulate body temperature,
and oxygen saturation levels during feedings. 

She's been extremely cooperative through it all. 


I am feeling great ... aside from being very hungry and a little sore.

I am the momma of two beautiful daughters. 
How very blessed I am!
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