Tuesday, January 29, 2008

New Leaf?

My friend Rosemary (who was honored with a million Thea smiles during our visit yesterday morning in exchange for a hand-knitted doll that Thea already stares at forever) said while watching the baby sleep for several hours as we chatted that she surely was turning over a new leaf. Thea's been sleeping better - nursing just as much but dozing right back off afterward and once in a while, she's doing a four-hour stretch, like 9 pm-1am.
Two days ago, she had her fit while I went to the gym, then slumbered the afternoon away. In fact, I had to wake her up to nurse and she was in such a deep sleep, I had to undress her to get her to wake. It kinda freaked me out, she was so unresponsive. I will always have SIDSon my mind after it struck one of my very best friend's child. With Liam, I put him to sleep on his belly, never bothering with all the warnings, but not this time. So to see her sleep so deeply worried me. Ironic, eh?
But her pattern does seem to be mellowing a bit- she hangs out more, smiles more, sleeps more and screams less. That's not to say the yells are gone. She had two big fits yesterday - one while I was at a garage getting my windshield whiper fixed (it made an amazing screeching sound because of a bent lever that would have surely made us all go nuts by the end of our trip to Anchorage. )
The other fit was at 8 pm when I had just settled into a nice, warm bath. Matt came in after a while and said "I know you are trying to have a nice bath, but she's purple and sweating and there is nothing I can do." I stuck my head under the water and counted to ten .... twice.
I'm getting better at dealing with the screams, though. And friends are reassuring me that it will pass. One noted she thought at first she had given birth to "an enraged pterodactyl, but somehow she has metamorphosed into a very giggly person, with only occasional lapses into air raid siren." Words to repeat over and over.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

bottles and smiles

Well, Thea must have sensed my border-line insanity, because yesterday she treated me to two wonderful things - One you can see above: The biggest, toothless grin a 3-week-old girl is not supposed to be able to give yet. Much like her crying, Thea doesn't just smile a little, she smiles a lot. Her whole face lights up in joy. It's amazing to see from someone who seems to do little more than sleep and scream, but she must be picking up a thing or two during those rare moments when she is doing neither.
The other thing she did was equally amazing - she took a bottle from Matt last night after I had gone to bed. Actually, she took two bottles. Actually, she takes all she can get. I'm not sure "full" registers with her. But after Liam's long process of finding the ideal nipple type, and several days of refusal to take a bottle when I went back to work at 2.5 months, this was a breeze. She latched on, sucked away, and consumed large quantities without the bat of an eyelash.
So today I got to go to the gym for an hour and a half while Matt and Liam held down the fort. Unfortunately, the only part of that plan that didn't work was the amount of milk I left. She drank every drop he had and got mighty annoyed when that ran out. So I came home to a similar screaming scene as last week's attempted jailbreak, but at least now she's sleeping like a log while the boys go into town for a mint steamer. I'm still glad I went, though. I can handle 90 percent of the screaming when I've been to the gym or gotten some exercise - without it, it's more like 60 percent, and that's not so good. Plus, I need to capitalize on this insane metabolism I've got right now. Dropped another pound in the past couple days putting me five pounds from my prepregnancy weight. I've got a feeling at this rate I'm going to end up in a good place as long as I sew my mouth shut when Thea stops breastfeeding.
I had a wonderful moment with the little girl this morning when we got up. The house was quiet, I had my coffee and it was still dark out (suprise suprise.) Thea and I just sat there oogling at each other. Her eyes just have this amazing sparkle to them. And more smiles. Makes my heart sing and makes me feel like I can handle whatever life throws at me. In the words of a good friend of mine, "Spring it on me, kid."

Saturday, January 26, 2008

i hate the night

I'm posting this one-handed while nursing after yet another long, long night. I realized at around 8 p.m. the other night that despite being dog tired, I was dreading going to bed. I didn't want to face another night of nursing every hour, sometimes more, punctuated somewhere in the night by an hour or two when Thea won't sleep at all and wails or nurses or plays spit-the-binkey (my personal favorite.) So here I am at 7 a.m. having just survived another nursing marathon and I've got to say, it is pretty tough. It's now been three weeks since I've had more than three hour's sleep in a shot and I totally see why this is a torture technique.
I went to a friend's house yesterday and watched in awe as her 1-month-old happily hung out in her crib for 1/2-hour stretches. it must be something in the air there because Thea hung out on the couch for at least 15 minutes watching sun beams. She did demonstrate her true colours for everyone, though, when I changed her- doing her trademark holler-and-gag routine. Eyebrows were raised for sure.
On the plus side, I got two smiles yesterday. And the cooing is developing nicely - all signs that I gave birth to a being who will one day do more than holler, binge, poop and pass out. And her eyelashes are unfurling like fiddleheads in the spring.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

2 lbs, 2 weeks in the house of sick

It is a week since Liam got sick, and today is the first day I've felt he's back to some sort of normal. First there was the fever, then the deep cough that woke him up at night. And by the end of it, there was a bit of stomach problems, too. Enough already! 10,000 glasses of juice, special snacks, movies and tissues later, I'm wiped out.
So after the Week of Sick, we are all ready for Hawaii in a big way. Matt has already started packing things up, and the countdown is on. Hopefully this week will go nice and smoothly and we'll be on that plane in no time.
Meanwhile, Thea has managed (knocking on wood) to avoid this bug, and has continued to stuff her gut 24/7, gaining a confirmed 2 pounds in 2 weeks, topping out at an even 10 pounds. Her cheeks are bigger than ever, and those little legs are filling out nicely. I figure she would have been an 8 or 9-pound baby if she hadn't had issues, and she's now just made up for lost time. A nice side effect of it all is that I am returning to "normal" at record speed, with only 8 pounds extra from my prepregnancy weight. Of course, I went to the gym the other day and tried to do sit ups and could only do about 10 before conking out, but you've got to start somewhere, right? We won't even talk about how bad my legs felt after doing lunges and squats. But it could be a lot worse, and I am thankful, especially with the bathing suit days coming up. Now if I could just get to the tanning parlor a couple times and reduce the dayglo color of my skin a bit, I'd be set.
Thea has gotten quite a bit stronger in the last few days. She can hold her head up pretty well now and is starting to be able to stand on her little legs. We're pretty sure we've gotten a couple genuine smiles out of her, and she's starting to make cooing noises. It's so amazing to see her develop. I can't wait to see what's next.

Friday, January 18, 2008


OK, let me preface this post by saying that I love my baby, and I love my 4-year-old, too. But the past 48 hours have been the kind that you read about in the paper after some woman has driven herself off a cliff. And it shows no signs of stopping soon.
Liam came down with a flu on Wednesday, and by Thursday morning, had a fever of 103. So he lay on the couch all day watching a steady stream of videos and sleeping. Matt is also sick, but is a couple days ahead of Liam, so he's doing better, but is still not fully functioning, especially in the evening. Then Thea kicks in. She has stomach trouble of some sort. She's eating so much, I think she fills her belly, then has to work hard to get it all through her new system. The result is crying stints that last as long as a 1/2 hour (not colic, but not easy, either).
And Thea, as I may have mentioned before, doesn't just cry. She screams. (see photo exhibit A above) She screams so loud she kind of gags. She just goes for it. Finally, after two hours of bouncing, nursing, changing, pacifying and the like, I put her in her crib and let her go for it. It took 15 minutes or so, but she finally wore herself out and passed out. Holy smokes. And in the morning, it started afresh. By afternoon, I ventured out of the house, in a desperate attempt at sanity. I got an hour in a local coffee shop reading my book - bliss. Then I went to the grocery store. Thea screamed, choked, and blew her stack for the entire 1/2 hour shopping venture. People everywhere made little supportive comments, and while I am better than the first time around, I still wanted to stick my head in the freezer section and never come out. Hard to believe something so small can make so much noise and create so much drama. All over a little poop.
So now I'm looking at everything I'm eating. I'm not giving up my morning coffee, darn it, but I'm going to try avoiding dairy, chocolate, onions, etc for a couple days and see what happens. I don't need all those extra calories, anyway. It had better work because I'm not sure life without chocolate is worth living.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

sleep, baths and walks in the snow

Yesterday morning I went to the coffee shop and drank a coffee while feeding Thea - and she didn't sleep all day. Consequently, she treated us to our first night of relative calm - feeding every couple hours then falling right back to sleep. I woke around 6 a.m. in shock that I wasn't being woken by a small cry, grunt or wimper.
Unfortunately, the rest of the day didn't keep up to the beginning. Matt has been sick for a couple days with a cold I battled last week, only he got it much worse than I. This morning, 4-year-old Liam woke with a cough, but swore he was fine to go to school. And two hours later, his teacher called to say he wanted to come home. By this afternoon, he had a temperature. So now I've got two sickies and a newborn. But Matt is doing what he can, between sneezes.
I salvaged the day by going for a walk in the sunshine with Thea in the Baby Bjorn, a lovely little invention that keeps even the wobbly head of a newborn steady and strapped in place while the momma gets to go for a walk. The temp was a balmy 24 degrees, and we bundled up for the walk. Only got stopped by two passing neighbors who wanted to see the baby.
When we got home, Thea was in a decent mood, so I decided it was time for her first bath. Her hair was in need of a wash, as were other parts of her. So off came the clothes and I did the world's fastest wash in the sink. Then I put her on a towel, where she screamed her head off, of course. And when I finally got her settled down, she immediately pooped all over the towel. So back into the water she went. Isnt' that just like parenting? One step forward, 20 or so back.
After we got her bundled up and dry, she conked out and has been asleep ever since. I'll have to remember that one for future reference.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Thea arrives

It's true what they say - kids grow up way too fast. So I'm hoping to write in this blog from time to time to record some of the amazing developments in the life of Thea Hope James. She arrived on Jan. 4, 2008 at 11:08 a.m. after a quick but tense delivery punctuated by drops in her heart rate, meconium in her water, and a cord wrapped around her neck three times.
Once she arrived, however, she made her presence known right away - by hollering bloody murder for almost an hour straight. The midwive, Sonja, said she had lost weight in the womb in the last weeks, and now, she had some making up to do. The only time she stopped crying was when a nurse put her finger in her mouth, and Thea latched on like it was the best thing since sliced bread. So it came as no surprise that she had no problem latching on to the real thing when it was presented to her.
We were going to go home the next day - Saturday - but just as we were getting ready to go, they checked her temp and it was 99.7, so they decided we needed to stay another night. I can't say I didn't get upset about it all - worrying that our amazing new baby might be sick was too much for my sleep-deprived state. But by 8 p.m. the temp had dropped right back down, and I enjoyed another night of top-notch service from the South Peninsula Hospital team.
Our first week was all about getting to know our new daughter and our new family unit - Liam spent a couple days being a little jangly - lots of crashing cars and the like. But soon enough he settled down, and now even asks to hold her and gave her a good-night kiss last night. Matt is smitten, of course, and I'm just amazed she is here after so much waiting. It seems like she's getting her nights and days more sorted out, but she still nurses every two hours or so through the night, with a period of wakefullness at around 3 a.m.
Our first trip to the doctor's office explained that, however. Thea had gained almost a whole pound since leaving the hospital - now weighing in at 8 pounds, 6 ounces. She is making up for lost time, I guess, and it made me feel a whole lot better about it all. I guess there is a purpose to all that feeding other than testing my ability to function on 3 hours sleep.
The past few days, we got a test of another kind. The Alaska winter threw us a big curve ball and dumped three or four feet of snow on our doorstep through two days. Matt spent huge amounts of time snowblowing to try to keep up with it all, and we all hunkered down and waited for it to pass. Can't say we weren't all excited to see some sunshine today. Cabin fever was starting to set in. Still, now it is super cold, so you trade one thing for another.
As for Thea, she's adjusting well to life outside Mom - lots of gurgles, and has no problem telling us all when she isn't pleased with the way things are going, loudly. But mostly, she's a very mellow baby right now, sleeping most of the day and night away and enjoying cuddles with her family. Let the journey begin!