Friday, August 31, 2007

Diagnosis: Acid Reflux

I finally called the pediatrician yesterday about Landon's discomfort. I spoke with the triage nurse and after describing his symptoms she told us we needed to come into the office today. I was thinking she'd just recommend a new formula, so the urgency with which she made our appointment made me think we probably should have called the doctor sooner. I'm not a worrier and never have been- my most frequently uttered phrase is probably "It'll be fine." I wondered if being a new mom would change that, but it didn't, I'm still generally convinced that everything will be fine. But now I think I need to turn up the worry a little. Landon can't tell me what's wrong and two weeks ago when I thought he had signs of acid reflux I should have called the doctor rather than thinking every parent worries and it's usually nothing so I'll just wait. When we told our doctor about the episode two days ago where he screamed so hard he stopped breathing she gave us a kind, but stern order to go to an emergency room anytime he stops breathing. I'm sure that most parents would be properly alarmed if their baby stopped breathing and they'd rush off to the ER without having to be told, but we saw Landon stop and restart breathing so many times in the NICU that the event has lost some of its shock value.

Anyway, besides from making us feel like neglectful parents, the visit accomplished something else- Landon has been diagnosed with acid reflux and is now on Zantac. His colic-like symptoms combined with his post-bottle coughing and nasal congestion all add up to classic GERD. I'm so glad it is something that can be helped. The Zantac doesn't make the reflux stop, it just stops the stomach acid from being produced so the reflux doesn't hurt any more and his esophagus can heal. The sphincter that's allowing the formula to come back up should tighten up over time. We're looking forward to being the better rested parents of a much happier baby.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Little Cowboy

The Other Side of the Baby Coin

Thanks for the nice, helpful comments on my previous point. Sunday was definitely a low point- I was just so tired. Things have improved. I don't think it's so much that Landon's gas pains are better, we're just better at comforting him. I've also managed to get some sleep; the world is much brighter when you're (almost) well-rested. Now that I can think clearly, I think he just has colic. The crying is definitely confined mostly to the evenings and when I read a list of colic symptoms, they describe him perfectly. So unless things get worse or change, we'll keep comforting him and wait it out.

The sleep has brought a renewed attitude of appreciation for all the fantastic things about having a newborn in the apartment. For one, he's adorable. He's so cute, it's hard to stop myself from squeezing him too tight. He's started babbling- just little coos and noises so far, but it's the first time he's made noises that aren't just angry/unhappy sounds. Before, happiness meant silence- it's nice to feel like he can respond when he's feeling content. He has a big time batting at his toys in the play gym- he definitely has greater control over his bodily movements, you can see him try to reach for certain toys. Sleeping on his stomach is by far the most comfortable position for him, and I love when he's stretched across my chest or lap taking a nap. His arms stretch out around me and he makes little sleepy sighs of contentment. And even though I hate when he's screaming, it does feel good to know that I can calm him. When I pick him up and hold him close and bounce or rock him and his crying quiets until he's just calmly looking around the room- that's when I really feel like a mother. And it's wonderful.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Gas Pains, Parenting Pains

For a while I thought the sleep thing wasn't so bad- yes, it was broken up into lots of pieces, but the pieces usually added up to an acceptable amount. For several weeks Landon obligingly drank his bottle and went right back to sleep. This ended about 10 days ago. Now he gets terrible gas pains after drinking his bottle (and sometimes during)- he writhes and screams and shrieks for 30-45 minutes. He doesn't do it after every feeding- some of them remain peaceful and calm, and others just have a few moments of discomforts, but at least two a day involve pain for everyone (sadly, one of those two is always the 3-4am feeding). Supposedly gas pains peak between 3-6 weeks. Landon is 6 weeks old today, but he was 4 weeks early so he could be a little behind on these types of developments. We've finally figured out a few things that comfort him and make the screaming stop, but we've been unsuccessful in preventing the gas pains themselves. Frequent burping, keeping his head elevated, bottles with collapsible liners, mylicon drops etc. seem to have little to no effect. It's awful to see him in so much pain- he screams so much he can barely breathe. It's awful to be this exhausted. And it's probably awful for those living in neighboring apartments.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Target & a Tornado

Landon and I had a big adventure today. I try to plan a little outing each day to make me feel like I'm still a member of the human race- a stroll in the park, a walk to Walgreens to pick up more pictures I've taken of him, a short drive to Target, etc. Today was a Target day because we needed more diapers and mylicon drops (a godsend for the gas that seems to take over his little body multiple times a day). The weather was beautiful when we pulled into the parking lot. Less than ten minutes later the entire store goes black- and stays black for a solid 2 minutes. The generator lights turn on and I look out the windows at the front of the store to see what appears to be a hurricane. It's raining so hard I can't see the cars in the parking lot. Then all the employees start herding people to the back of the store because a tornado has touched down nearby and we have to be away from the windows. No one is allowed to open the doors to leave (not that you'd want to), the air conditioning is off, and it's getting hot and panicky inside the darkened Target aisles. After about 15 minutes of me rocking Landon back and forth in the cart and praying he doesn't wake up, the tornado warning was changed to a severe thunderstorm warning and we're allowed to leave. It was definitely a bigger adventure then I had planned, and I'm starting to understand my mom's advice to never leave the house without a bottle and multiple diapers because you just never know what could happen while you're gone.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Getting Back to Normal

It's amazing what the female body can go through and then bounce back from. 5.5 weeks ago I was hugely pregnant, +40 pounds, swollen, and about to push a 7 lb. 7 oz. baby out of me. Now I've lost 33 lbs, can see my ankles, wear my wedding rings, and have my period and sex life back (I only missed one of those). It's really pretty incredible, but I suppose it makes sense if women were made to do this before modern medicine and conveniences showed up.

Speaking of getting back to normal, I'm trying to figure out my birth control options before my 6-week check up with my midwife. I was on the pill for 6 years which worked just fine, but I'm intrigued by the IUD/Implant options. They're so big in Europe and Asia and so not big here. I wonder why- it seems like it would be nice to have a relatively foolproof and maintenance free birth control option until we want baby #2 (2-3 years off). I'm about to do some google research, but if anyone has any explanations/comments/experiences/friend's experiences, I'd welcome them!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Spa Day

My in-laws flew into town 1 hour after my mom flew out (I was so sad to see her go- we had so much fun together last week). They drive me crazy for lots of reasons- some of them not so minor- but I must admit they are quite generous and have good intentions. They gave me gift certificates to the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa for a signature massage, manicure, and pedicure as a baby shower gift. I was supposed to use them before the baby was born, and I actually scheduled the prenatal massage for July 21st, but Landon showed up on the 15th and I had to cancel.

Today they came over to babysit their first grandchild and I spent the afternoon downtown shopping and being pampered. It was fantastic. The massage was perfect- just the right amount of pressure (due to being a former swimmer my back is still really muscular and many massage therapists don't press hard enough) and just the right amount of chatting (very little). I felt like I was floating above the table by the end. Someday, if BigLaw works out for me and I'm rolling in money, I'm getting weekly massages- or at least bi-weekly. It can really change your perspective on life. I exited the Red Door feeling refreshed, revived, and ready for more late nights with Landon.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Tired

I am so tired. I don't think I've ever felt this run down. It's the kind of tired where you can still function and most of the time you feel fine, but when you sit and let yourself relax the exhaustion just starts washing over you in waves. I know I'm supposed to take naps and "sleep when the baby sleeps" and I think that is a great idea- it just never ends up happening. I'm not a napper and never have been. I had a severe case of mono my freshman year and I didn't even take naps then. It's really hard for me to unwind at night and fall asleep- it's nearly impossible to do that in the middle of the afternoon. There's always stuff to do, someone to talk to, a book to read- and I really value my baby-free productive time. The times when Landon is sleeping also seem to be the moments I feel the least tired. It's when he wakes up and wants to be held that I remember how exhausted I am. I don't want to wish away his babyhood, but it's going to be really nice when he sleeps more than 3-4 hours at a time.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

1 Month Check-Up

Vitals:
  • Weight: 9 lb. 3 oz, up from 7 lb. 7 oz at birth; stayed in 25-50th percentile
  • Length: 21 inches, up from 20.5; went down from the 50th to the 25th percentile
  • Head Circumference: grew from 25th to 50th percentile
The doctor was very pleased with his weight and I am pleased that he waited for his head to grow up to the 50th percentile until after he was born.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Grandma Time

My mom flew in to Chicago on Saturday for 7 full days of Grandma time. (This was her original flight for Landon's birth. It was nonrefundable, so even though she came in July after he was born, she got to fly up again for a bonus trip). It's been so great to have her back. Landon is a good baby in general- he goes right to sleep after each of his nighttime feedings and takes a few naps during the day, but I was going stir crazy in the apartment all day while JP was at work and the fractured sleep was starting to wear on me. My mom takes the 7am feeding so I can sleep in and that has made a big difference- I feel almost fully recharged. JP babysat Sunday so my mom and I could shop- so fun! It was fun to shop for and try on normal clothes for the first time in many months. I got a very "hot mama" dress that she talked me in to with phrases like: "you're 24!" and "Just because you had a baby doesn't mean you have to dress like you're 40!" "You can at least wear it around the house for JP." Then she babysat that night so that JP and I could go on a date. We ate at a fantastic restaurant near our apartment and then saw the Bourne Ultimatum (great movie!). I wore the hot mama dress and we had a wonderful time.

Tomorrow Landon goes to the pediatrician for his 1-month check up. I can't believe he's already that old! Mom and I have lots of other adventures planned for the week: the pediatrician, a trip to visit JP for lunch, and a trip to Chicago Firm to return their Blackberry and other items that I still have from my unexpected last day of work. My mom is lots of help and I love her for it, but on this trip what I'm most appreciative of is her company. It's way more fun to hang out with a baby when you have someone to admire his cuteness with you.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

D-Day

Today was Landon's due date.

As I sit here staring at my perfectly-formed, fully-functioning, rather large (and finally sleeping) baby, I'm amazed that he could still have been in my belly- and despite the drama and heartache of the NICU, I'm very glad we got to meet him a few weeks early.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Classic Struggles

During the past 12 hours, I have experienced a few classic parent-of-a-newborn-moments:

Landon decided at about 10pm last night that he no longer needed sleep. He needed to be played with, entertained, fed, bounced, rocked, and held. But sleep? That's for sissies. So JP and I traded off 3-hour shifts of doing all the above. If we stopped doing any of it and tried something crazy like putting him in his papasan chair to sleep, he would scream. Not cry. Shriek. But as long as we were following the rules and entertaining him, he was quite adorable.


He finally "fell asleep" at 10am and I knew, based on his new sleep pattern, I had about 30 minutes to get something done. The options: call tech support because my internet went down at some point last night, call my midwife to schedule my postpartum appointment, take a shower (or at least change clothes), brush my teeth, and make something to eat. I picked tech support- I could do without food or a shower, but I couldn't handle a whole day in the apartment* without internet. So I made the call. Each time the tech support person said "try your internet now ma'am" I prayed it would work because we were getting dangerously close to baby-shrieking time. Sure enough, after 20 min. the internet still wasn't working and the baby was shrieking at 60 seconds intervals. Because I knew that he really was fine, I let him do that for a few minutes and when I finally went in his room, the cat was stationed by his crib and looking at me like "Will you PLEASE do something about this." It's tough having your parenting skills questioned by a somewhat psychotic cat. I scooped Landon up and managed to bounce him in my left arm, while cradling the phone on my right shoulder, and using one hand to type the commands as dictated by tech support. He only screamed twice and each time the poor tech guy was startled. After 10 minutes of that balancing act, my internet was fixed.

Later, Landon decided he could entertain himself for a little while in the play gym. I threw something together for breakfast (even though it's now 1pm)- frozen whole grain waffles and scrambled eggs. The minute my plate was prepared and I picked up my fork, he screamed. Since cold eggs are worse than cold waffles, I scarfed down the eggs and then bounce him while eating my waffles.


So it's been an interesting morning. He's so ridiculously cute when he's playing- despite the lack of sleep, he's in a great mood. He just likes to insert some shrieks every now and then to keep me on my toes. I actually think he had a series of tummy aches last night- he kept squirming and pulling up his feet and then stretching out again. He's been sleeping peacefully now for an entire hour, so hopefully he's feeling better. The funny thing about having a new baby is that once he is finally asleep, I want him to wake up again so I can see his face light up when his hand happens to make contact with one of his toys or watch his brow furrow in concentration while watching my mouth move when I read to him. But when he's screaming, I'm pretty sure he's at his cutest when he's snuggled and sleeping in his papasan chair.


*While it's true that it's the easiest to travel and shop with in his newborn state, because of his prematurity the pediatrician strongly recommended we keep him away from places with a lot of people until he's two months old. Since he's inheriting a generally shitty immune system from both of his parents, and JP and I both had pneumonia before we were 2 months old (and several more times after that), we're inclined to take her advice. And walks are out for the time being because the weather is so hot, humid, and muggy that it's miserable for him to be in his carseat.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Landon's Terry Cloth Ensemble

1pm, Still in PJs

At 1:30 today I was still wearing the t-shirt I slept in and a terry cloth robe, now untied, flapping behind me as I bounced Landon around our apartment. I was reminded, for the hundredth time, that I am no longer in control of my life. I'm used to schedules, to-do lists, neatness, and organization. Landon is now pretty much in charge of my schedule, my to-do list gets checked of a little slower, and the neatness/organization has taken a back seat to sleep. I've learned to make important decisions as soon as he falls asleep- what matters more to me, making something to eat or taking a shower? Would I rather write a blog post or answer email? Because whichever one I do first may be the only one I get to do until he falls asleep again.

For those first few days of his life I wondered why people thought babies were so hard. He would eat, fall asleep practically before he was even burped, and stay that way until he woke up a few hours later to eat again. But then he started staying awake after I fed him. I was flummoxed- what do you do with a 3-week old when he's awake? He's staying awake a little longer each day. This past weekend was the first time he stayed entirely awake for the 3 hours between feedings. Now I understand why you can't get much done with a baby. I'm not complaining- it's really not too bad. My schedule is totally cleared for him until school starts the last week of September. JP is an enormous help whenever he is home and we have lots of visits lined up to help me and keep me company. And of course, his flickers of a smile, his snuggles on my chest, and the way he relaxes in my arms eliminate any care I might have for the fact that my bath robe is now my most frequently worn piece of clothing.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Baby Gear Reviews

Magic Cookie did a post about baby products after her son was born and I found it (and others) very helpful, so I figured I'd add my 2 cents to the blogging community. Most of the links are from target.com, but I know Babies R Us also carried most of these items and I'm sure lots of other stores do too.

Gear

  1. Storkcraft Rochester Crib w/ Drawer: it's cheap, looks expensive, and went together pretty easily for something that arrived in so many parts
  2. Ikea Trofast Storage System: also inexpensive and suits our needs perfectly. All of Landon's clothes, accessories, and toys are in there and the tubs' bright colors liven up his room. Someday we'll buy him a real bedroom set and just use the system for toys.
  3. Simple changing table from Target: there's no web link anymore, but it's your traditional table with rails on the top and 2 shelves. I really like having the table- it stores a lot of stuff and the sides make me feel like Landon is more secure. We also bought one of those thick 4-sided pads to put on top- it's all quite plush
  4. Graco Snugride Infant Car Seat: one of the less expensive, but very safe infant car seats. He seems to like it and I love that it snaps in and out of its base so easily. We have a base in each car and use the Graco Car Seat Frame Stroller. I love the stroller- the handles adjust for your height, it folds up/down very easily, the wheels roll smoothly, and the basket underneath fits my diaper bag.
  5. Chicco C6 Umbrella Stroller: We haven't actually put Landon in here yet, but this will be our stroller once he can sit up and doesn't fit in the car seat anymore. We've wheeled it around the apartment and like how light, yet sturdy it is.
  6. Fisher Price Baby Papasan Chair: love this- it's very cozy and soft and he's slept in it since we got home from the NICU. We didn't get a bassinet or co-sleeper b/c our master bedroom is too small, but I think his crib feels too big after being in the isolette. We just stuck the papasan chair in his crib and he sleeps really well. During the day I take the papasan chair out to the livingroom and put it in his pack 'n play for naptime (we have a cat, so I don't like just leaving him out in the chair when I'm doing things in other rooms). I took off the mirror/toy bar because he didn't seem interested, and once he's active we'll probably use the more interactive bouncer, but this one has already been invaluable.
  7. Diaper Genie II: works great, glad we have it.
  8. Sure Comfort Deluxe Tub: wonderful tub- the newborn sling keeps him feeling safe and secure. I would highly recommend this one.

Toys

  1. Symphony-in-Motion Geometric Shapes Mobile: love this! It looks bizarre, but he's transfixed by it. I also like the music- it's not annoying or too fake sounding, and it plays for a full 15 minutes.
  2. Gymini Total Playground Activity Mat: he's only been in here twice but he remained entertained and content for over 30 minutes both times. He also had his first tummy time experience on here and it went quite well. The reviews for it are phenomenal so I'm looking forward to using it more. I like that it folds up, is washable, and the toys can be switched around.
  3. Lamaze First Mirror: great mirror- he's already fascinated with his reflection and we like how soft and bright this mirror is. I'm sure he'll find lots of ways to play with it as he gets older. I actually love all the Lamaze brand toys- he has the soft sorter, an elephant, and the multi-sensory clutch cube. They're all soft, bright, simple, and interactive.
  4. Fisher Price Infant-to-Toddler Rocker: a playtime chair to go along with his sleepy time papasan seat. He's been in here a few times and already enjoys looking up at the toys. He's accidentally batted a few and seems delighted every time his arms make contact. I like that it has a "kickstand" that keeps it still and reclined back for him now, but later he can actually sit and rock in it.
  5. Lamaze Spin & Explore Garden Gym: we haven't used this yet, but I love the concept and how bright and interactive the mat is. A friend told me her sister's baby adored this thing, so I'm looking forward to him getting a little bigger so we can try it out.
  6. Fisher Price Waterfall Soother: we haven't used this yet either and I'm trying to decide if we will. His mobile is all he needs in the crib now, but we got this as a gift and perhaps someday I'll be glad we have it- the online reviews are all very good.

Clothes

  1. I was totally overwhelmed by the quantity and variety of newborn clothes out there. So far all we've been all about the onesie and the receiving blanket. He hangs out in the onesie and socks and we swaddle him up in a blanket when we're holding him or when he's sleeping in his chair. We've also used the Carter sleeping gowns from Target and we like them a lot. The NICU kept all babies in kimono-style long-sleeved t-shirts and those were great. If I could find more of them, I'd buy some, but luckily Landon doesn't seem to object too much to stuff being pulled over his head as long as you're quick about it.
  2. Bibs: you'll want lots of these if you're bottle feeding. Landon's a sloppy drinker and every time I forget to put a bib on him I'm quite sorry for it.
  3. Cloth diapers: the best burp rags. I got a pack of 12 from Target and they've been great.
  4. Terry cloth robe: a friend got me this at a baby shower and so far it's all we've used for his bath time. Baby hooded towels are so thin- they really don't seem to absorb much or keep him very warm, so right when we take him out of the tub we wrap him up in his robe and it dries him off and keeps him much warmer. Plus it's adorable on him.
  5. Halo Sleep Sack: I think I'm going to love these once he's a little bigger. Right now the size small is so big that when he wiggles around it rides up over his face (definitely not SIDS safe, which is what the sack is designed to be). Anyway, they're soft and will keep him warm in the winter- once his head and neck are big enough to stop being swallowed up.

Bottle-feeding

  1. There's way too many bottle varieties on the market and it's hard to buy much before your baby gets a chance to try them out. Here was our experience, but every baby is definitely different. One bit of advice: don't get too many of the small bottles because it won't be very long before your baby wants more than 4 ounces and you can always put a smaller amount in a bigger bottle.
  2. Playtex Ventaire: I loved these, but Landon did not. The stage 1 nipple was so small that he couldn't get anything out and would fall asleep exhausted after half an ounce. The stage 2 nipple nearly choked him.
  3. Playtex Premium Nurser w/ Drop-ins: Landon eats great with these. I like the convenience of the drop-in system- there are very few parts to clean (just the nipple).
  4. You'll also want some sort of bottle drying system- we have the munchkin dishwasher basket and drying rack. They're both working out quite well.

Books

  1. I haven't bought any "parenting books", but I did get two reference-type books that I've found helpful.
  2. Baby 411: practical, not overly opinionated (I actually like an author to have some opinion about things. I'm a new mother, I'd like to know what someone with experience thinks. If I don't like it, I won't follow it), and well-organized. I've already looked at it several times since bringing Landon home.
  3. Caring for Your Baby and Young Child from the American Academy of Pediatrics: you can get this free from Statefarm, I don't even think you have to be a client. It's a good reference book.

Announcements

  1. Hello Little One: I started looking at baby announcements almost the moment I found out I was pregnant. I knew I wanted to include a photo, I wanted the size to be 5x7, I wanted cardstock rather than photo paper, and I wanted to be able to personalize it. I discovered Hello Little One and loved the designs- very clean, good color combinations, and unique. I was able to order the envelopes in advance and the whole process was very fast. I emailed the designer my photo on Sunday night, she had the proof to me Monday, and I just got the box of printed announcements today (Friday). I absolutely love the finished product- it looks beautiful and we were able to add a design on the back that includes our new address and phone number. There are lots of options out there, but I have to say I'm very very happy with this company.

Please feel free to add your own comments, reviews, and suggestions to other parents!

Why You Need a Lot of Baby Clothes

By 10am Landon was already on his fourth outfit of the day. The first one he spit up All Over during one of his early morning feedings. He initially just covered his bib and sleeping gown, but then as JP was carrying him back to the nursery to change him, he spit up again and left a nice trail of formula from the livingroom back to his bedroom. When I got up with him around 8am he had a dirty diaper that somehow managed to fill the entire diaper, go up his back, and ensure that he needed another outfit. While I was cleaning him off the changing pad cover also got dirty and was added to the was as well. Then about 15 minutes after that outfit change, he spit up again all over his "Instructions Not Included" onesie.

He's now sleeping like an angel in his race car onesie and I'm hoping that's what he'll wear until we put him to bed tonight!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Fractured Sleep and Other Observations

Everyone knows that parents of newborns are supposed to be exhausted. One of the attorneys at Chicago Firm put it this way, "You know the first two months are going to be miserable right?". Several of his close friends had all just had their first child, so I don't think he was trying to be overly negative, he was just relating what he'd been hearing from them.

So far the sleep thing hasn't really been that bad. Yes, the eight hours of uninterrupted time in dreamland is gone, but if you add together our chunks of sleep it totals at least seven and that's more than adequate. We trade off who gets up at night: JP does the last feeding at 10:30pm after Landon's bath, I do the next one, usually at around 2:30am, and then he does the morning one at 6:30 before he goes to work. I go to sleep after Landon's bath time and then sleep in after JP goes to work because Landon doesn't wake up again until about 10am. These times are very approximate- sometimes he sleeps for closer to three hours rather than four and then last night he surprised us by sleeping a solid five, but in general, as long as we alternate, we manage to keep the dark bags under our eyes at bay. And hopefully by the time school starts on Sept. 24th he'll be sleeping 6+ hour stretches at night.

In general having a newborn has been lots of fun. He's still sleeping most of the time- after all, he was supposed to be in my belly for another 8 days- and when he's awake he's so adorable! We spend a lot of time just holding him, smiling at him, and exclaiming over every cute thing he does (and we find pretty much everything he does cute). So far he seems pretty good natured. I walked by his room this morning and saw that he was awake, so I was expecting to hear him cry any minute. Thirty minutes later I walked by again, thinking maybe he'd fallen back to sleep, but I saw that he was still awake and just hanging out looking at his mobile. He contentedly tolerates diaper changes, clothing changes, and my dragging him to Walgreens every other day to by formula and pick up more pictures I've taken of him. I do wonder what I'll do with him when he's awake more- so far we've hung out in the infant-to-toddler rocker, play gym, and spent lots of time looking in the mirror, but how long will those be entertaining?
I did catch myself looking wistfully at my Securities Regulation casebook. I love being with Landon, but I miss using my brain and interacting with adults. Our fall course schedule was finally posted (UC does everything late) and I got all excited about picking out law classes. Being home with a baby has made me appreciate school more, and I know that once school starts I'll appreciate my time with Landon even more.