Monday, November 4, 2013

Elijah's First Birthday!

Our little pumpkin turned 1 on October 21, 2013. My mom came down from Iowa to celebrate, as well as we had a bunch of our Austin friends (second family ;)) over to the house for a fall birthday party. The weather was perfect. My mom and I had fun cooking and decorating for a few days leading up to the party. All-in-all, we had a wonderful party hosting 30 guests on a $175 budget!

The Menu: cupcakes, ginger spice cake, apples with fruit dip, fruit kebabs, beef and white chicken chili, and beer bread and corn bread

old school 20-somethings represent

swinging amongst the "pumpkins" in the tree

Iowa crew

work peeps


crazy Scott making faces :P

Smokey and Elijah eating lunch

"what's that?"

month-by-month growing

opening presents

Friday, June 14, 2013

Life is Great!

 We are doing SO much better!  March/April were the months of going downhill with Elijah's reflux+sleeplessness and all of our well-being.  May was the recovery month.  Now we are doing great!

A typical day in the months of March and April consisted of me holding Elijah all day and much of the night, to get him to either sleep or not cry.  My back and neck ached, I would get the bare minimum done around the house and I had NO time for myself.  Andrew and I didn't have much of a relationship either, other than small talk and him listening to my crying and complaining.  I did not get any break during the day and was sleeping only 2 hours at a time for a total of 4-6 hours per night.  Andrew would help where he could but it seemed that the crying could only be consoled by me and my milk jugs.  I was at the end of my sanity.  I would get out of the house to go shopping because I knew that I could wear Elijah in the Ergo and he would sleep.  When we had friends over I was on edge all the time because I didn't know when Elijah would have a meltdown and I would have to excuse myself for 30 minutes to an hour to be able to put him down to sleep.

If he wasn't sleeping he was fussy.  Most of the fussiness and sleeplessness was due to "reflux."  After multiple visits to the pediatrician, a GI specialist, an allergist, a chiropractor, and a lactation consultant...things were better.  He was on baby omperazole, Andrew built a ramp to elevate his mattress, he was getting a bottle of milk with rice cereal in the middle of the night, and I was making sure to breastfeed him properly.  It wasn't until I totally committed to eliminating all dairy from my diet (he was reacting to the dairy that I ate passing through the breast milk) that things really improved and Elijah was back to sleeping better overnight and got 4 thirty minute naps during the day (at one point before the March/April craziness he was sleeping through the night and a happy camper, so I didn't think the dairy that I was eating was the issue).  If I even had a little bit of butter or a piece of cheese, he would have his fussy and sleepless symptoms again.

Andrew and I were exhausted by the end of the day (9-10pm) when we could finally "bounce" Elijah to sleep using a theraball.  One of us would always sleep in his room with him, so that if he needed to be "bounced" back to sleep, the other parent would not wake up.  We took shifts, Andrew usually slept with him starting out at night, so that he could get back to sleep before work.  I would get up with him if he woke up a second time, usually at 4-5am.  I was still not getting much sleep at all, and still spending all my energy during the day to get him to sleep.  I still had issues.  So Andrew insisted that I go see my doctor.  Dr. K strongly recommended sleep training Elijah, which I had read a lot about and was very against because most methods of sleep training instruct the parents to let the baby "cry it out."  With the advice of Dr. K who I trust and who did this with his kiddos, I read the sleep training book by Ferber.  The way the book explained the method and how babies need to learn to fall asleep on their own made sense to me and was definitely not as harsh as I had expected.  After 2 nights of performing the formula that this book recommends by letting him cry (it was really more fuss and he would have been crying or fussing if we were bouncing him anyway!) and learn how to fall asleep, he was sleeping through the night, Andrew and I were sleeping together in the same bed, and he was taking 2 two hour naps during the day.  He was so ready to be put down to sleep without us "bouncing" him.  I feel totally at peace with letting him fuss because he wasn't uncomfortable from "reflux" symptoms, and he is old enough developmentally to be able to fall asleep on his own by 7 months. 

So that was my cross to bear for a couple of months.  We have always had a curious, friendly, active little boy who gives everyone he meets a smile, and I feel so blessed for that.  BUT the unhappiness dragged on for WAY too long and now seeing at how happy we all are, I can definitely say that we were miserable.  I am now enjoying staying home with Elijah and I love our routine and that he has predictable nap and bed times.  I have time to be a good wife and mom, exercise, cook, clean, sew, craft, and meet other moms and babies without worrying about when Elijah will be fussy or when and how he will sleep.  Looking back I think all of our problems stemmed from me eating dairy causing Elijah's gut to be upset.  Also, we are new parents trying to figure this baby thing out.  He has grown and developed out of some old bad habits too.  I have no regrets for not doing the sleep training sooner, because Elijah was always in pain/upset gut.  Add sleep training to the list of "things that I will not judge other parents for." 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

"Blue Bonnet" Pictures

"Blue bonnets" in quotation because we attempted to take pictures in the blue bonnets, but we were told that the weather has not been hot enough (what?!) to produce many blue bonnets yet.  We still got some lovely family pictures out at Our Lady of the Rosary Cemetery and Prayer Gardens.  This was what I chose to do for my special birthday treat!  To our surprise, there was also a professional photographer out there taking pictures for FREE! 

First, here are Andrew and my photography skills...

And here are the ones from the photographer on site...


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Baby's Nursery

When deciding on a nursery theme for our baby, we had to go neutral because we did not find out if we were having a boy or a girl.  I love the way the nursery turned out.  Because I found some "dog" printed fabric and "Doggie" was my childhood stuffed animal (seen resting on the bed), the nursery took on a slight "doggie" theme!  The colors are bright orange (Tennessee represent), yellow/"old gold" (Iowa represent), and green (Austin-y!) with a neutral gray walls.  I feel like it's relaxing yet cheery.

Before - chair rail removed, light blue and dark blue paint.  This room served as a nursery for a baby boy for the previous home owners

Elijah's Nursery

An Overview - we wanted to keep this room as a guest room too, so the trundle bed stayed.  I simply placed fabric in the embroidery hoops over the bed.  I made the pillow cases on the bed.  Note the baby half swaddled.  This is the only way to take pictures - in the liveable moment

changing table and dresser - the dresser is a CraigsList find.  I painted it white and added these adorable hand painted knobs found on Etsy.  We also have knobs on the closet door, though I didn't get a good picture of them. 
LOVE these dog butt hooks from IKEA

After the first night of changing diapers in Elijah's room, both Andrew and Elijah did not enjoy the bright overhead light illuminating the room and burning their retinas in the darkness of the night.  Andrew went to IKEA the next day and found this great lantern to give the perfect soft glow for those special diaper changing times.  The framed owl is a gift tag from Baby Gap, I believe.  
Nursing Nook - shelves from IKEA.  My mom made the slip covers for the rocking chair (she is very talented!).  Andrew made the little table out of a plant stand (CraigsList find) and piece of painted plywood.  Great Aunt Martha made the sweet yellow blanket.  We enjoy many hours of rocking to sleep and nursing in this comfy chair. (closet doors as seen in the "Before" are to the right of the chair)

Gift from Auntie Beth - Story People hail from Decorah, Iowa.  The lovely quote states "For a long time there were only your footprints & laughter in our dreams & even from such small things, we know we could not wait to love you forever."

Grandma Brown adds her loving touch with a quilted piece

Crib from IKEA - I know, I know there shouldn't be animals in the crib for risk of SIDS.  Elijah doesn't sleep here yet.  I made the crib skirt!

Monday, March 4, 2013

What I've Learned So Far

I started this post when Elijah turned 3 months he's 4 months old and I suppose I can continue to add to the list "What I've Learned", but I will end the list at 5 far.  
How much a baby changes - since he was born 4 months ago, Elijah has grown 5 inches in length and gained 8 pounds (over doubling his birth weight!).  We are able to leave him alone in a room for several minutes without him crying (ie I can go pee without needing to take him in the bathroom with me).  He has found his feet and hands.  He can lay on his tummy and making crawling motions.  He grasps and holds objects.  He puts everything in his mouth.  His personality is starting to shine through.  So neat to see all of the changes since he was a squishy, wrinkly newborn.

Never ever judge a fellow parent for his or her parenting skills, techniques, or crazy quirky tricks - Parenting is hard work (says the mom of a four month old - and I'm sure it just keeps getting more challenging the older the kids are.  A 4 year old with a pacifier.  A teenager playing with an iPhone in church. Using a jogging stroller in the grocery store.  Watching TV.  Eating habits.  Disciplining.  I'm hoping that all of these scenarios and parenting techniques which annoy me have explanations behind them, and the parents are truly doing the best with what they have. 

Babies need to be put to sleep because they don't know how to do that themselves - This is definitely my biggest challenge.  I expected that when Elijah is tired, I would be able to put him in his crib and he would go to sleep.  Just like on TV right?!  Not really.  We now have figured out the perfect combination of soothing remedies to sway him into "la la land" - tight swaddle, white noise (there's an App for that!), dark room (blackout curtains), and a little bit of jiggling.  I have been tempted to use "sleep training methods" to get Elijah to sleep on his own, but for now I will happily hold my baby until he is in a deep sleep knowing that someday soon I will miss these moments. 

That I would sleep so much less - It comes with the territory of being a parent, right? Sleep deprivation makes us physically, mentally, and emotionally fatigued, right? Loss of sleep for me is a sacrifice for my baby who needs me during the night, and have become OK with that.  I think that my body is adapting to functioning on less sleep.  I have a daily morning cup of coffee, and sometimes a chocolate treat in the afternoons to keep me going.  I hear that the sleep deprivation does not end until the kids are 18?!

 My life would change SO much - So true on many levels.  I don't work as a physical therapist everyday.  I'm not as social as I once was.  I don't exercise or eat as healthily as I once did.  I don't have time to do the things that I want to during the day and night.  And just like sleeping less, I've become OK with the above.  Though I was not prepared for this major life change of having a child, I would change or trade any of it for the world.  By parenting and raising Elijah, I feel as though I am making myself and the world a better place.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Just Another Manic Monday

I document this day not so much as a vent or a pity party or a reason for you to laugh at me, but as a way to document the days of raising an infant so that I can look back and remember what it was like and how far we've come.  Here we go...

February 18, 2013

6:00am - Elijah wakes up an hour earlier than usual and will not soothe or nurse back to sleep.  I guess we're up for today!

6:30am - Me to Andrew, "No I don't want any coffee, when Elijah goes down for his nap, I'll sleep with him."  Ba, hahahahaha!

7:30am - the one part of our day that is routine is the "hour after awaking nap."  Elijah gets fussy so I put him down for a morning nap.  I nurse him and soothe him then put him down for a nap.

7:35am - Elijah wakes up

8:00am - trying to soothe Elijah back to sleep without success, let's carry on with our day and try again later

8:30am - already time to try another nap - rocking, white noise, soothing...Elijah is off to sleep in about 30 minutes

9:00am - Elijah wakes up...try to put him down again with rocking and soothing and nursing

9:30am - Elijah goes from seemingly sleeping to waking again.  I have a melt down.  I resolve to have no more melt downs today no matter what!  I realize that I am trying too hard to make him sleep...

10:00am - I actually got a shower!  My new trick is to bring the gym in the bathroom so he can play while I'm showering.

10:30am - Elijah is actively grabbing the rings on the gym; he grabbed them at least 5 times and of course they went straight for his mouth.  I gave him a break from being on his back and put him on his tummy and lo-and-behold he rolled over to his back!  It only took a second so I'm glad I was watching - the best part of my day!

11:00am - after all that working out he was tired so we tried to go down for a nap again.  He went down pretty easily.  I went in to the kitchen after he had go to sleep and Smokey left me a "present" - two poop logs!  It's this new little game he plays while I'm in the nursery.

11:15am - before I could clean up the poop, Elijah awoke.  He got to prop up on the Boppy while I cleaned up poop and then fixed my lunch (doesn't that sound appetizing).

11:30am - Elijah, now frustrated because I have been ignoring him, is crying, so I hold him while I eat my leftover ravioli, and leftover peas mixed with leftover noodles. 

11:45am - Elijah is still fussing, so he must be hungry.  I nurse him while simultaneously eating my yummy leftovers

12:30pm - time to go to the grocery store!  Elijah plays so cutely & quietly in the car now.  Rarely do we have crying spells unless he's hungry or needs a diaper change.

12:45pm - after 5 minutes of being carried in the Erog, Elijah is zonked out - he musta been tired.  I decided I needed chocolate covered coffee beans while shopping.  What a treat.

1:15pm - Elijah wakes up after around half of an hour, I almost buy hazelnuts instead of Brazil nuts for a recipe, whew.  Somehow Nutella found its way into my basket too.

1:45pm - I get out to my car and there's two big scratches on the back panel from my next door parking spot neighbor opening his door into me, grrr.  I wait around for around 20 minutes to confront him, not really knowing what I would say but figuring the words would come to me in the moment of confrontation. No one ever came and Andrew said he can probably buff the scratches out.

2:15pm - Elijah is drowsy on the drive home so I smoothly let Smokey outside and slip Elijah out of his car seat and into the crib when I get home.  Success!  He is deeply, contently asleep.  Forgetting about Smokey, I hear him barking incessantly demanding to be let in.  Barking also means baby wakes up.  As Smokey snuck in, the door slammed behind him because the wind blew it shut. 

2:20pm - Baby Elijah wakes up.

3:00pm - I go in the nursery to comfort Elijah & try to woo him back to sleep.  While bending down to pick up my pillow that I prop under my arm while sitting in the rocking chair, I bump poor little baby's head on the corner of the chair arm :(  He screamed one of those silent screams that stabs your heart.  Whoa is me. 

3:30pm - Elijah and I fall asleep in the rocking chair (I actually fall asleep and get a nap!). 

4:00pm - I am awakened by Smokey incessantly barking again.  No one knocked on the door.  I sneak Elijah (again) into his crib to go make sure no one has snuck in and is robbing the house.  Nope.  Someone (God forbid) must have been walking down the sidewalk to spur the barking. 

4:05pm - Elijah wakes up (again).

4:15pm - I take Elijah outside for some fresh air - he's still crying, I would be too if I couldn't get any naps in!
5:30pm - Andrew comes home to take over because I teach yoga on Monday evenings. 

6:00pm - Andrew and Elijah go on a nice walk then come home.  While carrying Elijah into the kitchen Andrew feels something wet running down his arm.  Diaper blow out!  Diarrhea leakage!  Smokey pooped in the kitchen, and Elijah peed in the kitchen all in one day!

6:30pm - Elijah has a bottle

7:10pm - Andrew texts me "losing control"

7:30pm - I nurse Elijah, he is in control and content drifting off to sleep

7:45pm - I hold him for awhile longer to make sure he is asleep, then put him in his crib

8:00pm - Baby wakes up

8:15pm - Andrew can't console him, so mama nurses him again.  This time he is asleep.  Now I finish fixing dinner

8:30pm - We sit down to dinner and finally have some time alone.

9:00pm - Andrew goes into the kitchen to get us a piece of Valentine's red velvet cake and drops a knife on the floor

9:05pm - Elijah wakes up

9:30pm - Andrew soothes Elijah to sleep

The End - for that day.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Our Holidays 2012


Grandma "Nana" Wooster and Uncle Howard came down to Austin for Thanksgiving to meet Elijah.  Elijah (and Nana) enjoyed great sleeping in grandma's arms and being spoiled with Christmas gifts and kisses.  I got a treat also, as I got to cook all day while Nana babysat.  We had a yummy Thanksgiving meal with all the fixin's!  My best dish and favorite of all the family is consistently Sweet Potato Casserole (Cooking Light, November 2008).   


 We braved the normally 6 hour (but 7-8 with a newborn) drive down to The Valley to spend Christmas with The Brown's.  They originally met Elijah when he was just 2 weeks old.  Now being 2 months old he had really changed - filled out face, smiles, and of course BIGGER.  We had fun taking Elijah for a walk in the state park, sitting around the fire, and getting a mini-date night as Andrew and I went to the hot tub while Grandma Brown babysat.  We ate very well during our trip and of course Elijah was again spoiled with more Christmas presents. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Birth Story

I got very busy with my work at the clinic the beginning of the last month of my pregnancy. My plan was to have a couple of weeks off from my PT job to do some needed last minute preparations for having a baby. However, this little baby was ready to come out 2 weeks before his due date - the day after I stopped working at the PT clinic!

Here's how the story goes:  I went to yoga on Saturday morning for some zen time for me and my baby and remedy a little back ache.  [Side note - at the yoga class I won a LuLuLemon tank top, whoo!]  After yoga I went to the grocery store to stock up on groceries to make some casseroles for a  stock pile. I was SO tired by the time I got home, I couldn't unload the car, so I went straight to bed. After half an hour passed, I came to the realization that this was not normal tiredness nor a normal returning back ache. I told Andrew that this could be "it," and "it" was!  I couldn't sleep Saturday night.  I couldn't stomach any foot.  Warm baths relieved my back ache.  I timed the contractions all night until my labor progressed to be able to head to the hospital at 2am Sunday early morning.

When you finally reach the benchmark of GOING to the hospital, AT the hospital they tell you "oh you might not be in labor so we'll "wait another hour and see"." I COULD NOT go home at this point. Even though I wouldn't say I was in pain now, I still wasn't able to sleep and I didn't feel like eating.  I guess we did good because I got to stay at the hospital. Now it's probably 4-5am. I was advised by our doula to take a medication which side effect is drowsiness so that I could get a nap (I had not slept since Friday).  That, my friends, was good advice. I got a short nap in which really helped.

My awesome OB, Dr. K, arrived to check on me at 6am, and I think I was 3cm dilated. He came back in a couple of hours, my membranes had not broken - so he broke them.  Immediately the dilation increased to 6cm.  From then on as my labor intensified, I spent a total of 4 hours in the shower where Andrew and Christine (our doula) would spray my back with warm water - oh so relaxing!  Elijah came on a Sunday, and we didn't make or to mass, so communion was brought to us at around noon on Sunday. This was very special and I definitely felt spiritually energized to continue the laborious task ahead of me.

From here on out was the most physically and mentally exhausting experience I've ever been through.  As many women describe the sensation of labor, it's not really pain.  I agree.  I felt intense pressure with each contraction as well as a back ache which was relieved by Andrew and Christine applying pressure to the outsides of my pelvic bones.  I continued to enjoy and get relief by being in the shower.  At this point, I couldn't really talk in sentences, so when a contraction came on I would yell to Andrew, "Go!" cuing him to press my pelvis, and then "stop" translated to "Quit touching me!"  Now, my baby and I needed monitoring, so we had to hop out of the sanctuary that was the shower every 30 minutes or so, which I was not happy about.  I needed to lie down in bed to be accurately monitored, which was oh so uncomfortable!  When I was probably 8cm dilated, my baby's heart rate was dipping lower than Dr. K was comfortable with so I needed to remain in bed.  We tried different positions of side lying, on my back, and kneeling in order to relieve the pressure on the umbilical cord that was possibly causing the heart rate fluctuations.  I was NOT COMFORTABLE.  Being confined to the bed, I feel like I didn't have the freedom to be in the position that I wanted to, to naturally get the baby moving down.  But after a little pitocin to stimulate the last little bit of dilation, it was time to push!!!  Well, up until this point the contractions were the most intense sensation that I have ever felt - pushing trumped contractions!  I was so tired and sweaty but the urge I felt made me so ready to push.  Because the baby's heart rate was dipping so low, the NICU was alerted to come to our room, just-in-case.  It was like the whole NICU team was transplated from their waiting post to our room - within seconds our room went in attendance from 5 people to about 15.  Our doula described this as our baby's birthday party complete with everybody wearing funny hats.  After about 20 minutes of bearing down with each contraction, and with the assistance of a vacuum (to keep the baby from moving back UP with each contraction) out popped a little baby!  I remember for about 10 seconds not knowing if we had a boy or girl and after what seemed like a long time Andrew told me it was a boy!  Andrew stood there, jaw dropped, in awe of how my body "did that."  He was dumbfounded and I remember a few people yelling at him, "dad, dad, cut the cord!" so that he would pay attention.

Andrew and I were overwhelmed with love for this tiny human being from the moment we laid eyes on him.  I got to hold his gooey, purple little body for some immediate skin to skin time after Andrew cut the umbilical cord.  After a few minutes he was taken to get washed off, weighed, tested and then returned to me.  We just couldn't stop looking at him!  Instinctively he found my nipple and nursed - the human body is simply amazing.

I am very proud of myself that I went through labor without pain medication.  Most of the challenge was mental, especially toward the end of labor when I did not have the freedom to move into the positions that were comfortable.  I was wearing an oxygen mask and was hooked up to an IV, which made me feel like a "patient in a hospital" rather than a mother able to naturally let her body know what it was made to do - give birth.  I wonder what the birth would have been like if we were at a birthing center or did a home birth, but I am thankful that we were in a hospital due to the baby's heart rate fluctuations.  We adore our OB, Dr. K and doula, Christine and thank them for the support and encouragement throughout my pregnancy.

photo credits to Christine Mesich