Saturday, July 31, 2010

L'Enfant Terrible

First of all, it is a terrible idea to give me a baby and a camera.

We just got back from a week at the beach, and as far as I can tell with a six-week-old baby, Calvin really enjoyed himself. We took him out on the beach in his little chair one day, and he sat under the umbrella and slept. We also took him for an evening walk along the beach in his front pack. It's an Infantino EasyRider that I picked up at Walmart. Again: slept the whole time. One day we took him to the aquarium at Fort Fisher, and guess what he did? Yup. Slept in his stroller. But we enjoyed the fish.

The walk on the beach was nice. As we were coming back we saw a bunch of people gathered around this walled-off lane in the sand, and one of the men there told us that there was a sea turtle nest and the babies would be hatching soon! We sat out there for about an hour and a half in the dark waiting to see if they'd come out, but they never did. They hadn't by Thursday afternoon, but I imagine they made it safely to the ocean--they had people helping to guide them down the lane into the water. Apparently they'll just head for the brightest light they see, and with artificial lights along the beach that could send them anywhere.

I've learned that Calvin sleeps much better when he wears his pajamas with feet, probably because they keep him warm. He cries pretty much only when he's hungry or wants attention, and if it's not one of those two things it will stop on its own eventually. On the whole, he's a wonderful baby, and so cute that I can't be mad at him for anything. If he doesn't sleep well at night, putting him in our bed generally works, even though we aren't supposed to. He has the most wonderful baby smell, especially after he's had a bath. I adore Johnson's Baby Shampoo and am using it on all six of his hairs. I also finally wised up and bought the giant box of diapers today. He's up to 7lb 10oz, which means the next diapers I buy will probably be size 1 instead of Newborn OH MY GOD MY BABY IS GROWING. I see six-month-old kids in the store and think they're giant, and one day that will be him. It will seriously freak me out when that happens.

Unfortunately, he does have his moments...there have been a couple of nights when he hasn't slept worth a crap, or has been making little noises that keep me awake, and then I'm just tired and cranky. Mostly, I've adapted pretty well to 3 hour shifts, and it's only when he deviates from that schedule that I feel like crap. He has slept for up to 4 hours at a time, and that's almost a luxury. I can't wait til he sleeps through the night.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

July 22, 2010

Dear Calvin,

Today you are one month old. Congratulations! You've managed to survive your father and me for a whole month. And since we've both been off our heads with packing and trying to cram in as much visiting as we can before the move, that's a pretty big accomplishment.

You have been eating like a champ these last two weeks since you've been home. At the doctor's office today they weighed and measured you and you've gained two pounds and two inches! This is not entirely unexpected, since you've been eating more than your little tummy can tolerate and spitting up all over everything, including your clothes, blankets, bibs, and mommy.

We love putting you in the bed with us at night even though we're not supposed to. You get all warm and cozy and it's so hard to put you back in your bassinet, because there you're squirmy and make strange noises. I don't even mind waking up every three to four hours to feed you; you wave your arms around and make the best faces. You really do make some great faces, and I've gotten some on camera.

We are so happy to have you at home. Those first two weeks when you were in the hospital were really rough on the whole family. I'm so proud of you every time you eat or poop or burp, simply because everything is an accomplishment and the fact that you're here and healthy is a blessing. I hope I continue to marvel at you as much as I have these last few weeks, because you're pretty amazing.

This week we have noticed that you look at things and turn toward sounds. Your grandma noticed that you perked up and listened when she was singing to you, and you've been staring at your mobiles, especially the one with the bears in your Pack 'N Play. I was changing your diaper and you were just watching those bears go around in a circle like it was the most engrossing thing ever. You also held on to your bottle last night when I was feeding you, and held it up all by yourself! That, plus your incredible head control, makes me think that you are destined for greatness.

We love you so much!

Love, Mama

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Well...this is awkward.

Now for the part of the story that has nothing to do with the baby.

The first time I was in the hospital, Brandon had a phone interview with a company in Bellingham, MA. He had a follow-up phone interview a couple of days later, while we were still at the hospital. The day before I went into labor, he finished his PhD thesis defense. Two days after Calvin was born, he flew up for an interview and was offered the job. Which means that the name of my blog will no longer be correct. I'm not going to change it or anything; it isn't worth it. There's also a good chance that we'll come back to Raleigh in the future (or at least to North Carolina). That's what I want, and I think Brandon wants it too. We're agreed on the idea that we don't want our child to have a Yankee accent. But it's really reassuring to know that he has a job, I can stay home with the baby for a little while, and we're not going to have to be dependent on my parents.

Real Housewife of Bellingham doesn't have the same ring to it, does it? But it's going to be my new title, and I guess it's 50% accurate, same as "of Raleigh" was. I was in Raleigh and not a housewife; but now I'll be a housewife outside of Raleigh. I'm just SO EXCITED about getting to decorate a nursery...I think I might swing by Home Depot tomorrow and look at paint chips :) Is it normal to love paint chips? Because I do.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Part Two: My baby! In someone else's house!

As I previously mentioned, Calvin was six weeks early, which I didn't fully understand until he was taken to the special care nursery five minutes after being born. Special care is a step up from the NICU and handles babies who are 30+ weeks. When we moved to the third floor after delivery, we stopped in to check him out. He was receiving IV fluids and on constant monitors, but he was maintaining his body temperature and had not indicated that he needed a feeding tube. His breathing was great and he didn't need antibiotics. All good signs!

I was in the hospital until Thursday. When you have a baby you think you'll leave the hospital with your child in a car seat and go home and get started on the sleep deprivation and breastfeeding and all that immediately. I left the hospital, not pregnant anymore and without a baby. It was extremely weird.

The next two weeks were marked by visits back and forth to the hospital. Thank God that we live so close, or I couldn't have done it, and I think I'd have gone insane. I needed to see that child.

The third day or so that he was in special care, he had developed some jaundice. He was orange. I kind of expected that--my brother and I both had jaundice when we were born--and the light they put him under was like a little baby tanning bed. It was warm and I think he enjoyed it. The only drawbacks were (1) trying to change a diaper through the windows on the incubator and (2) we couldn't keep him out for more than an hour at a time. It's hard to describe how weird it is to go see your child, take him out of a box for an hour, then have to put him back. But again, I didn't mind it too much.

By the end of the first week I was exhausted, and things seemed to be looking up. He got his IV out, finished his phototherapy and was no longer a pumpkin. The only thing remaining was to get him to eat, which he had been doing with varying success. I was having trouble getting him to latch on with breastfeeding, but I was pumping enough that it was pretty much exclusively his diet. Unfortunately, when we came in one night to visit, he had a feeding tube. No one had called to tell me that this was happening; I was already under enough stress recovering from the birth and dealing with his being in the hospital. I may have cried. If I had been prepared for it--if someone had called and said "Calvin isn't eating as much as he needs to, and we need to put in a feeding tube," it would have been fine. But there was no warning. So for the next week I hated that feeding tube. I held it against the hospital as a symbol that they didn't think my baby was capable of eating enough on his own. Not only that, but "eating enough" was defined by the hospital as a certain number of milliliters. The only way of measuring that, in their estimation, was to give him a bottle containing the appropriate amount. Breastfeeding didn't count toward his minimums because "we have no way of knowing how much he gets."

I'm going to take a second to say, this is my first child and my first experience dealing with a premature infant. I have no idea how things "should" go in these situations or what I should have expected. But the way they handled feeding, especially with the emphasis on numbers and my inability to exclusively breastfeed, discouraged me from breastfeeding my child. I am not gung-ho about breastfeeding, and to be honest my main motivation for doing so was that it would be cheap as free. Unfortunately, the circumstances prevented me from being able to do it the way I planned. Throughout that week I began to realize that the only way that I would be able to get him out of the hospital was to ensure that he ate all of his bottles on his own, and if I took the time and energy to attempt to breastfeed him, he wouldn't do that. At this point, I'm doing a combination of breastfeeding and formula, but moving more toward formula because my supply is dwindling. Pumping all the time hurts and often he isn't interested in breastfeeding, so I'm sort of moving toward the easy alternative. I hope that doesn't make me a bad mother.

By the end of week two he was eating everything and he was switched to an on-demand feeding schedule, which was GREAT. He could eat what he wanted when he wanted; the damn feeding tube came out; and best of all, we brought in his car seat to make sure his oxygen levels stayed up while he sat in it. We did that on the 4th of July, and he passed. The next day, he was circumcised and that night we did "room-in" on the pediatrics floor. That means we stayed in a hospital room with the baby--the way we could have if he'd been full term and A-OK from the beginning. It was a rough night, but it got me prepared for what was coming.

On Tuesday, exactly two weeks after he was born, we brought Calvin home.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Part One: Even in labor, there are vuvuzelas

Tuesday morning (June 22) I woke up to an unpleasant sensation that, quite honestly, felt like I had peed myself. Except I haven't wet the bed in years and years, and believe that I have pretty decent bladder control. I called the doctor's office to ask what was going on, and they had me come in, at which point my doctor checked things out and said that my water had broken and I needed to check in to the hospital. Which I did.

We got situated in a labor and delivery room and just kind of sat around for awhile. There wasn't much on TV and I was STARVING. I hadn't eaten anything for breakfast since I thought this would be a quick visit to the doctor and I would just get something after, but THEN they told me I wasn't allowed to eat anything! NOOOOOO. So I got started on my Pitocin drip and turned on Food Network because if I couldn't eat food, I was at least going to look at it. Tyler Florence made some excellent looking Swedish meatballs.

Argentina and Greece were playing in the World Cup, but the only channel showing it that was available in the room was Univision. I had some fun translating the commentary, and Spanish announcers get REALLY excited about soccer. And may I just say one more time: the sound of vuvuzelas in the background of anything is like having a mosquito embedded in your eardrum.

So around 2 or 3 I started having some serious contractions and pain, and my doctor came by and started telling me how he doesn't believe in epidurals (WHAT NO I WANT MY DRUGS) which was a joke (thank God). The anesthesiologist came by a little while later and shot me up, which was the best thing that happened to me all day because within a matter of minutes I went from moaning into Brandon's shirt from the sheer pain of the contractions to sitting up and talking about how this wasn't so bad! I could totally do this!

My parents came after I got the epidural, which was a small mercy, given that I was an utter mess until I got it.

Sometime around 8:15PM or so they announced that I was ready to start pushing. The nurse got the bed set up and brought in the cart with all the medical supplies, and the doctor came in and just...kind of stood there. Because nothing was happening yet. Once things really did get underway, I pushed until the baby got where he needed to be, and then the doctor set up and started working on getting him out. This was a lot less difficult than I thought it would be. It was a matter of waiting for a contraction, pushing like crazy while Brandon counted to 10, then relaxing. That is, until he started actually coming out, at which point the counting was irrelevant and I just pushed as much as I wanted to.

Calvin was born at 9:03PM and weighed 4 pounds 15 ounces. He was 18 inches long and had a giant bruise on his head where he had been shoved against my pelvic bones for over a week. The first thing he did was open his eyes, and once they got him cleaned up I got to hold him for a few minutes before they whisked him off to special care.

After the hell that has been my pregnancy, labor itself was surprisingly not bad. The worst part was the pain before the epidural kicked in, which was pretty miserable, but even that wasn't too bad. I didn't sustain any major damage from the labor process, and what I did I won't detail here because no one wants to hear about that. I was really happy with the delivery process and how it was handled by the hospital; I don't think it could have been any better. Now the aftermath of the delivery, specifically the ramifications of having a baby six weeks early, was less pleasant.

Part two will detail the two weeks of visiting my own child at the hospital.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

There is a baby, and it is real

So I guess that since I've actually had the baby now, I need to get started on the backlog of posts I should have started making three weeks ago. After the false alarms and bed rest, labor itself was such a non-event that I wasn't too worried about writing about it, and then the two weeks after were spent going back and forth to the special care nursery (where he resided until he was eating enough)...I've been kind of neglecting this. Therefore, I'll break it up into a few posts as I get to them. Right now, my brother is feeding Calvin, who is now eating A LOT. This means I have a few minutes to update, although this one isn't substantial, just a note that I haven't forgotten about this thing and will make my updates as I have the time.

He's the coolest baby ever.