Thursday, July 31, 2008

Not a Happy Helper

In the time it took to grab the camera, the happy baby turned into a sweat bee right before my eyes.
This is now the wallpaper on my computer desktop. I was trying to catch a smile, but she wouldn't do it for me. She was too busy trying to figure out the camera.

This is the picture I've been waiting for - not of my double chin, but of her sweet chunky cheeks resting on her crossed arms. This is how she falls asleep after the morning feeding. Sometimes she purses her lips together and looks even cuter.

And, this is the reason I have time to blog. As I write, she is passed out in the swing. I took this picture minutes ago.
I was reading my baby reference book this morning and realized that she is practicing some movements and actions that babies aren't supposed to start doing until they are 3 - 4 months old. I'm going to have my hands full with this one.

Monday, July 28, 2008

One of These Things is Not Like The Other

I guess Boppy pillows aren't just for babies; it's perfect for snuggling sweet kittens, too.

Doesn't Ella Grace look like she's thinking hard in that picture? Dave always puts her in the Boppy and talks to her after he feeds her. I'm sure she was deep in thought during their conversation.

I took that picture of her a couple of weeks ago and she has really chunked up since then. Dave commented last night that she's turning into a fat baby. She does have a double chin now and fatter cheeks - more like I had when I was a baby. I explained to him that she will probably get chunky for a while until she starts crawling, then she'll slim right down. I'm not worried about overfeeding at this point because breastfed babies know when they are full and stop eating. It's when you override that instinct and make them finish a bottle that they start getting too fat.

She has a lot more control over her hands these days. She frequently comforts herself by sucking on her fist. It's so cute. She can see a lot better, too. I have definitely seen her looking at the animals and I've caught her watching the TV a couple of times. I'm sure it's amazing to her with all that color and movement. She has been to church for three weeks in a row now, and last week she was awake the whole time. She LOVES the music. I was holding her while we were singing and she was leaning back, watching my face the whole time. She made it to the last ten minutes of the sermon before I had to take her out because she was finished sitting quietly. She needed to play. I took her to the foyer and laid her on the couch and she was a happy, smiley baby.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Daddies and Daughters

Dave finally got the chance to sing Ella to sleep the other night. Most nights I have to nurse her to sleep, but this night she ate before her bath so she was ready for bed. Although he knows the words to a vast repertoire of songs - some not so appropriate for tiny babies - he was singing songs that are typically learned in Sunday school or Bible school. In the true spirit of faith, he was really getting into it while singing "Father Abraham had many sons..." Each time he sang the words "right hand, left hand" he got more and more enthusiastic so that the tiny baby eyes would pop open again. I had to remind him that the goal was to sing her to sleep; we can instill an appropriate praise and worship attitude at a time other than bed time. Have I mentioned that I love this man?
This is a picture from her first bath as a real baby. I blacked out her girlie parts so as not to be accused of putting kiddie porn on the Internet. I'm sure she'll thank me for it one day, too. :) She really enjoys the bath; she kicks her legs the whole time and she doesn't cry at all when she gets water in her face. Our only issue is keeping her from slipping too deep into the water. Wet babies are slippery little boogers. In related Dave silliness, Ella and I were sitting in the living room in the middle of the night having a snack when Dave came in. It isn't unusual for us to pass each other in the wee hours of the morning because he has worse sleep habits than a baby; however, this time he was carrying his pillow and he said, "Oh, you've got her." I agreed; I did indeed have her. He said, "I thought I had her. She needed an incline." Huh? At the time, I thought he meant that she needed to be propped up in her little bed but he later told me he meant in the bath tub. Apparently in his dream, she was slipping down into the water and needed to be propped up again. :) Some of our funniest conversations happen when he's asleep.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Oh the Places We Have Eaten

My daughter is a piggy piglet. She LOVES to eat.

Because I am breastfeeding, feeding her is very convenient for me. She just eats where ever we may be and I don't have to worry about making bottles. There is always milk available and it's always the right temperature. It seems that when she smells grown up food, she gets hungry and needs to eat, too. I think this because I have now fed her in the Olive Garden, in Cracker Barrel, and in McDonalds. Every time I am out to lunch, I have to feed her while we are there or right after. I think it's funny. I have also fed her in the pediatrician's office, in my doctor's office, at church, at both sets of parents' houses, and at my sister's house. Our list of new places she has eaten is steadily growing.

When I decided I would breastfeed, I wasn't sure how I would feel about nursing in public. I really didn't know if I would have the guts to do it or if I would just pump and take bottles when we left the house. Well, suffice it to say that after three days in the hospital of feeding her while the entire world streamed in and out of my room, I realized that I am completely comfortable pulling out a boob to feed my child when she's hungry and it doesn't matter who is around to see it. Yes, I'm proud to say I am one of those women who will feed my child in the grocery store if she happens to be hungry while we are there. For anyone who has issue with women who nurse their children in public, I'll say these two things. Number one, the state of Alabama protects my right to breastfeed my child where ever I am allowed to be. Number two, you can see more boob on TV, magazine covers, and the Internet than you will see when I am feeding my baby, so put on your big girl panties and deal with it.

I love breastfeeding. I love that she loves it. I love the convenience, and I love knowing that I have the secret fix when nothing else will calm my crying baby. I love it when she smiles at me and sighs tiny baby sighs while she's eating. I love the snuggle time - especially in the middle of the night and early in the morning when she's so cute in her pajamas. Let's face it, she's going to grow up fast and she won't always want to be snuggly with me, and I won't always be able to fix her hurts, and she won't always need me. So, I'm going to soak up every minute that I get to hold and feed and cuddle her, even if I have to leave my own plate of food to get cold because I'm the only one that will do.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Real Baby

According to Dave, we now have a real baby. Think Pinnochio losing his strings. Ella's cord stump finally fell off yesterday at exactly three weeks old. We were going to celebrate with a real bath last night, but that didn't work out so we'll celebrate tonight.

Ella had the ultrasound on her hips yesterday and while they are not dislocated (which we knew) they seem to be a little under developed. We are waiting on a referral to an orthopedist to find out what we need to do next. Hopefully, we will have an appointment to see one next week. I am not going to worry about this because I am faithfully praying that her hips will be normal the next time they look at them. She just seems too normal for there to be much of a problem. She already has strong legs - she pushes off of things and stands on them when you put her feet on a flat surface while you are holding her. We will wait in faith on this one - what else can I do?

Like her mother, she is quickly becoming a creature of habit. Bath time is between 8 and 8:30 p.m. and if she isn't having a bath during that time she is ticked. The other night, we were late bathing her and she was being a sweat bee (that's what we call a fussy baby). Dave had her lying on the counter, undressing her and as soon as she heard the water turn on she quit crying. It was hilarious. He said, "You already have your mother's timing issues." I guess this means she may have inherited my inflexible nature. Joy. So as it goes right now, we have bath time in the 8 o'clock hour, then nursing, then bed and usually she'll sleep until 2:30 or 3:00. I love it. :)

I almost forgot - apparently breastmilk tastes like a milkshake. We know this because the bottle was leaking when Dave was feeding her the other night and he licked his fingers. Now, when she's finished with her bottle and looking at him with goofy eyes, he tells her she is "milkshake drunk" and it's no wonder she wants to eat all the time. I haven't tasted it myself, so I cannot confirm.

Monday, July 14, 2008

I should be napping..

But, I'm updating this blog instead. We had our two week check ups last week. My incision is healing nicely and I have to go back in three months for the complete follow up appointment. In four more weeks, I'm free to do whatever I want, but until then I still have some restrictions on lifting, exercise, etc.

Ella Grace went to the doctor twice last week. Once because she had a virus - one that I'm now convinced she got from me and passed to Dave, but I don't know where I got it. It wasn't severe and we are all doing better now, but we did have a couple of rough nights. She seems to still be really congested right now, so I'm constantly sucking out her nose. Luckily, she doesn't hate it as much as I remember hating it when I was little. We had her two week check up on Friday and she weighed 8 lbs. Considering she was supposed to be back to her birth weight of 7 lbs. 13 oz., we are doing great! She did not grow any longer this time, but I'm not surprised. Really, she is destined to be a shortie like Dave and myself. Her hips still seem to be fine, but we have an ultrasound scheduled this week to check them. This is standard procedure for a frank breech baby. Because she sat in a V position in the womb with her butt down, they want to make sure her hips are developing normally. She goes back to the doctor in 6 weeks for the two month visit - let's hope we don't have to go again before then for an illness.
She's doing great as far as acting interested in things. She loves to play on her mat in the floor and Dave has been trying to teach her to roll over. She has done it a few times when he gives her leverage to push off of with her feet. She holds her head up a lot and pushes off of me with her arms, so I'm expecting her to have good head control any time now. We are getting some nights with 5 straight hours of sleep, so I'm really hoping that becomes a habit. I would love to have a baby who sleeps through the night early, but I'm not counting on that yet.

Anyway, here are a few new pictures of life around the house.

Sleeping in the Touchdown pose. This is her favorite, and she gets it from her dad.

After a bath and using her new Anne Geddes-like towel. Surprisingly, Dave thought this was cute, but he HATES Anne Geddes's work.

Playing with her own tiny baby doll. She got a good grip on this doll and was slinging it all around.

Finally, ready for her first day at church. She was mad. We don't know why. She did great at church though. We made it through Sunday school and half the service before I had to take her out to feed her. Then we stayed for lunch and she slept through it.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Art of Swaddling

It was good enough for the baby Jesus, so it's good enough for Ella Grace. This is my "pod-child" all swaddled for her nap.

We get some grumbling about not being able to see her limbs and such, but let me tell you, there is nothing like a good swaddle to calm a fussy baby. I've started leaving her unswaddled more during the day now that she's stretching out her arms and legs, but she gets swaddled for naps and bedtime and any time that she seems fussy or over-stimulated. It generally calms her right down. The other night, she was fussing for reasons I could not discern and Dave suggested I swaddle her. That solved the problem and she was good to go. It's amazing. We learned how to do it in the childbirth class, but I didn't realize I would be such a believer.

What else have we been up to? Mostly eating, sleeping, and pooping. The kid is still quite the pooper. Oh, and now we've added spitting up to our list of accomplishments. I have been peed on, spit up on, and as of today, pooped on. And I love every minute of this - it's so weird. I've nearly decoded her cues that signal when she is about to pee on me during a diaper change so I have quick hands, but this poop thing is brand new. I'll have to start working on that one now.

She is twelve days old today, and she is already showing interest in things around her besides Dave and myself. I'm not sure, but it seems too soon for her to be ready to play with toys, but she is trying. Over the weekend, she realized that there is a mobile hanging over her changing table. I asked Dave if she was looking at the animals, and she was! We wound it up for her and she loved lying there watching it sing and dance for her. It makes changing time more bearable since she HATES being naked - except for when Dave rubs baby lotion on her after her bath, she stretches out and acts like that is a spa treatment. The musical animals just make it all the better, it seems. She also started playing on her play mat yesterday. Dave put her under it and fixed the toys so that she could reach them and she was already trying to hit them - and getting mad when she couldn't. It's amazing to see her growing so quickly. When Dave is in charge, I often find her bouncing in her seat while he plays the keyboard for her. I knew she was going to love music from the way she moved and kicked inside me, and now I have confirmation that she does. She likes singing, too. Dave makes up songs for her all the time and I sing to her at bedtime. It's so funny to watch her stop and listen when you start singing.

Dave, having never been around babies before Ella Grace, is shaping up to be a very hands-on father. He loves feeding her a bottle in the evening and giving her a bath and dressing her. He even picked out her clothes himself yesterday. I love watching him while he cares for her. I'm so proud of him. He comes in from work in the evenings, washes his hands, and takes the baby because he misses her while he is gone. It's so cool and it makes me love him even more.

That's enough rambling for now. I'll try not to dedicate this blog entirely to Ella Grace, but it will be filled with her for a while I'm sure.

Oh, for balance, here is a recent picture of Georgia. She is doing wonderfully around Ella Grace. We haven't had any pouting, and she seems to hold herself responsible for the baby. She lies near her and checks on her whenever someone new holds her. She greets her in the mornings and when she's been away from her for a while with snuffles. I think they will be great friends one of these days.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

A Few Tiny Baby Pictures

I just thought I'd share a few of my favorite pictures of Ella Grace's birthday and the days after.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Birth Story of Ella Grace

The Birth Story of Ella Grace

June 25, 2008 at 7:50 a.m.
7 lbs. 13 oz.
20 ½ inches

We arrived at the hospital at 5:30 a.m. on the 25th of June. I knew she was still in breech position, so we were there for a surgical delivery. We signed in and were shown to the pre-op/recovery room where we met our nurse. I went to change into a gown while Dave handled some admitting stuff and moved our car to the parking deck. While he was gone, the nurse shaved and scrubbed my belly and pubic area. He came back and sat with me while I got the IV in my hand and they did an ultrasound to check the baby’s position. Of course, she was still breech. The doctor stopped by for a few minutes to see if we had any questions, but at this point we pretty much knew what was going to happen.

The anesthesiologist came to start my epidural and Dave had to leave the room. This was the first time I used my hypnotic breathing to relax myself. The epidural was the scariest part for me. It’s a giant needle that is inserted within millimeters of the spinal cord. All kinds of things could go wrong – but they didn’t, praise the Lord. I had to sit up on the edge of the bed while he scrubbed my back, then they told me to lean forward and stick my back out. The nurse had warned me that this would be the hardest part because of my huge belly. She held my hands and I breathed four counts in and eight counts out the way I had been practicing for weeks. I leaned forward so far that they were amazed at how flexible I still was at 10 months pregnant (thanks to all the walking, I’m sure). I felt three little pricks as he numbed the area with a local anesthesia. Then he inserted the tube and put in the test dose of medicine – this is the dose they use to make sure that the needle is actually in the epidural space and not too close to the spinal cord. I had to tell him if I felt ringing in my ears or coldness or tingles in one side of my body; I felt none of those things. Then he said, “You are going to feel a tingle” and POW! An electric shock went down my right leg. I said, “That was more than a tingle!” The medicine was started and he taped up my back so the tube would stay in place. They helped me lie back in bed and I waited as my body started to go numb. He had explained to me that I would feel heavy and that it might feel like I couldn’t breathe, but I would still be breathing. I’m glad we talked about that part because when the numbness got to my chest I really felt like I couldn’t catch my breath. Feeling my body slowly go numb was one of the most bizarre feelings I’ve ever experienced. I did not like it at all. Periodically I had to try to move my toes and bend my knees, and it was just really disconcerting to gradually lose all control of my legs. The more numb I got, the more I shivered – it’s a side effect of the epidural that lasted an hour or so after the surgery was finished, though it was most intense at the beginning. They put warm blankets over me, but it didn’t help much. By the time I got to the operating room, maybe 30 minutes later, my jaw was tired and sore from clenching it against the shivers. I had to make a conscious effort to breathe deeply and relax my jaw, and that seemed to help the shivers some.

After my body was numb from the chest down, the nurse put in my catheter. This was the other thing I was really nervous about, but thanks to the epidural, I didn’t really feel anything. It took about two minutes and she was finished. I was pretty much ready to go, just waiting for them to roll me into the OR. Dave had his sterile outfit and had already put on his shoes and hat. They put a hat on me, too. I know he’ll forgive me for sharing this because he is that kind of man, but he was scared for me and crying before I even went in there. I kept telling him, “It’s going to be okay. I will be okay, the baby will be okay.” He saved the tissue that came with his gown so I can put it in the baby book.

When it was time, they rolled me into the OR and Dave had to wait until they told him to come in. They rolled my bed right up to the table and three people were there to transfer me to the operating table. I said, “This is going to be interesting.” They rolled me onto my side – with me feeling nothing and completely trusting that they would not drop me on the floor – and stuck a roller board under me. They then lifted and rolled me onto the operating table. As I lay there wondering if I was naked yet, because I couldn’t see past my chest, which would remain covered the whole time, I noticed that I could see myself in the mirrored part of the lights above me. I was indeed naked from the chest down. Amazingly, I didn’t even care. I just remember thinking, “I hope that curtain they put up blocks those lights because I’m not going to be able to stop myself from looking and I don’t want to see them cutting me open.” The curtain did block everything, though it fell at one point during the surgery and someone quickly caught it and put it back up.

They told me they were going to lean me to the left, and then they did – so far that I thought I might fall off the table. Then someone said, “You are wearing a seatbelt so you won’t fall off.” That’s good to know. The scrub nurse came in and scrubbed me while the nurse anesthesiologist got my arms positioned correctly and hooked me up to the monitors. I know that my blood pressure got a little low at some point because after the fact he said he would slow down my fluid drip since it was back up again. I don’t know how low it went, but I didn’t feel anything. I’ve always been told how cold it is in the OR, and it was, but I didn’t feel like I was freezing to death.

The doctors came in and they asked if I had someone coming with me and I told them that my husband was waiting outside. Someone got him and the minute he stepped into the room, the doctor said, “We’ve started.” Dave stood at my head and petted me and talked to me. He said to the nurse, “I want to watch him pull her out.” The nurse said, “You better stand up now, because she’s about to be born.” He couldn’t have been in the room more than five minutes at this point. He stood up and watched as the doctor pulled her out of my abdomen. He was crying and he said, “She looks like a chicken.” I started laughing, but then they held her up so I could see her. She was all pink and screaming and beautiful, and I said to Dave, “Oh my God, she looks just like you!” It was unbelievable how much the child looked like him.

At that point, they turned on the TV and took her to the warming table in the corner. Dave went with her to watch and take pictures as they wiped her off and weighed her. I was watching on the TV and crying while they sewed me up. Once she was all wrapped up, they brought her to me and put her on my chest so I could hold her. She stopped crying immediately and just looked at me. It was amazing. I heard them say her APGAR scores were 8 and 9 at birth and five minutes after. That means she was almost perfect when she was born. I cried and cried while I held her and talked to her. Too soon, they took her to the nursery to bathe her. Dave went with her to hold her up for the family to see and take pictures of her first bath. The doctors finished with me and the nurses transferred my back onto my bed. The whole process probably took 45 minutes, at the most.

When I got back to my cubicle in the recovery room, Dave and Ella Grace were already there waiting for me. They sat my bed up so I could see what the nurse was doing to her. Another nurse came to hook up my morphine pump and show me how to use it and when and how often. The baby nurse tested Ella’s sugar and it was well above the range they want to see for a healthy baby. I got to hold her and start nursing her right there. The nurse wasn’t available to help me with the nursing, so I just started on my own using the knowledge I had been storing up for months. She latched right on and nursed and nursed while we waited in recovery. The time seemed to fly and soon my nurse was getting me cleaned up so they could move me upstairs to my room. I got to ride in the bed and hold the baby in my arms while Dave and my nurse pushed us to our room on the second floor.

When we got up there, I met the nurse who would be caring for me during the day. Somehow, they got me into the regular hospital bed. I think I helped some, but I had to ask Dave later how I got into that bed. I had used my hands and arms to scoot my torso over while someone else moved my legs. I was all settled in with all my tubes and wires and most importantly, my baby. I had to have the IV, the catheter, and the leg cuffs for 24 hours. The leg cuffs were to prevent blood clots and they would inflate and deflate periodically – sort of like a blood pressure cuff but not as tight. I liked it at first because it felt good, but I was soon tired of them because my legs kept getting tangled up in the cords. Very soon, my room was flooded with family and I found myself able to allow Ella to be passed around. There were presents to open and the button on the morphine pump to push every ten minutes, so I was okay. By the end of the evening, I was so tired and loopy that I barely remember who came to visit me. I know at one point there were so many people packed in the room that they were standing single file. I can remember thinking to myself that all those people were there looking at me and talking about me and to me, and I couldn’t focus on anything.

Our stay in the hospital was great. I love Brookwood. The lactation nurses helped us through some difficulty in the beginning because Ella Grace was so sleepy, and by the time we left she was already regaining the weight she had lost. Breastfeeding is going very well at this point.

She is a week old today, and I can hardly believe it. We had a weight check this morning and she has gained an ounce and a half since we’ve been home – this is right on track for what they expect a breastfed baby to gain. We go back next week for another weight check and the second round of newborn screenings.

She is absolutely wonderful. Now that I have her, I can’t imagine my life without her. I didn’t know it was possible to love someone this much. It brings me to tears sometimes, and I’m not a crier.

God is so good. We have been so richly blessed with a beautiful, healthy daughter. My c-section experience and recovery could not have been any better. I know this is due to the all the prayers that so many people have been praying for us. Thanks to all of you for that.