February 12, 2018

Dana at One Month

Dear Dana,

You are the very definition of itty bity. When we brought you home you were under 6th pounds, and in the 7th percentile. You were swimming in your newborn sized going home outfit. Your legs were so skinny that your footed sleepers might as well have been a blanket. Whenever you pulled your legs up into the newborn balled position they’d come right out of the sleeper legs. Your newborn sized diapers kept falling off. We’d unwrap you from the blankets and find the diaper hanging off your butt or by your knees. You were 9 days overdue and in need of premie diapers and we still needed to fold them down so they wouldn’t disturb your umbilical cord stump! In fact, you wore premie diapers for almost two weeks!

It’s a super Dana! Tiny but mighty.

Sleep is going great, even without considering the derailment from the cold. Last night you went seven hours between feeds, and the night before you went seven and a half hours. I got to tell you, I feel like a new woman. We tried a nap in the crib for the first time yesterday and not a moment too soon. I noticed you put your legs up, just like Nicole did when transitioning to the crib from the rock n play, but at least you didn’t wake up. I’ve also put you down awake several times and watched you shut your eyes, drifting off to sleep on your own. It will be hard not to rock you through every naptime but I want to encourage these good sleeping habits of yours.

This looks familiar. You sure do like getting on your side.

You’re starting to get interested in the world around you. You’re not grabbing yet, but should something reach your palm you will bring it to your mouth. You’re tracking with your eyes, and sometimes move your head as well.
You also enjoy watching your big sisters. Speaking of whom, you’re big sisters adore you. They love to hold you, hug you, and show you toys. They bring your picture to their respective schools to show off “their” baby.

Birth Anoucement Photo

I can tell you’re going to keep Daddy and I on our toes. Nicole and Alexis had so many similarities, I expected you to take after them. In many ways you do, but in others you are clearing marching to the beat of your own drum. One surprising difference? You could take or leave the binkie.

Love Always,
Mommy and Daddy

February 7, 2018

Courage and Confidence

I’d be lying if I said there were never times when the prospect of 3 kids didn’t overwhelm me. Pregnancy is 9 months, and no matter how on top and in control I feel when we start trying for another baby, inevitably there are moments that make me question my sanity. When I was pregnant with Alexis, Nicole went through a very difficult sleep phase, which meant no sleep for any of us. This time around it was coordinating two different school schedules that made the prospect of another child feel completely unmanageable. How in the world was I going to make this work?

Someone told me that while the three can seem overwhelming since the adults are out number, in practice you’re so experienced by this point that it’s no big deal. That is proving true for us. Domingo is back at work (kind of, he’s home sick) and my parents have flown back to their home. It’s just me and Dana during the day.

The first time Domingo returned to work leaving me home alone with a baby I remember being overwhelmed. I was unsure of myself and my abilities. When Alexis was born I was nervous about the first time watching both a toddler and a baby by myself. What if they both needed me at the same exact moment? Even when I was more sure of myself I still relied on a helping hand from Domingo on days he’d work from home.

This time around has been very different. Whether it’s Dana and I hiding out on the weekend to (unsuccessfully) avoid the family cold, the middle of the night wakings wakings for food and diaper changes, or just Dana and me during the week, I got this. I am the master of one handed sponge baths. Domingo can work from home without fear of frequent interruptions. Today I even managed to take footprints on my own. The trick, I found, was not facing baby’s feet. When I did that, I had to hold the paper in front of me and pull her feet towards it. It’s awkward, difficult to see and leads to a lot of smearing. It was far easier to sit parallel to baby so I could see what I was doing. We’re still working on handprints. I have no idea how I managed them with Alexis, even with the extra help.

Here are my tips for saving your sanity when adding another baby to the mix:

  • Buy gear in duplicates, overstock. Yes, I know it seems wasteful, especially if this is your last baby, but you can’t put a price on sanity. I have a rock n play, pile of burp cloths and binkies, diapers and changing pads by the upstairs and downstairs rocking chairs. (Yes, I have multiple rocking chairs – 3 to be exact.) If I need to go upstairs because it’s big kid movie time, or downstairs because it’s big kid bath time I know I will have everything I need. As a first time mom it makes sense to prefer quality over quantity. Beyond, my advice is to go the other way – buy cheaper if it means you can have multiple. Gently used stuff can always be resold or donated for a tax write off.
  • Get ride of anything that wasn’t used the last time. Yes those hideous onesies from great aunt Edna’s dentist are in great shape. They’ve been holding up well since they’ve never been worn. What makes you think you’ll put them on this baby if you didn’t put them on the last one? They’re just clutter at this point. The more you have, the more time is wasted looking for the ones you are willing to put on the baby. Save yourself the effort, give them to someone who will use them. Same goes for any baby item you haven’t used yet, no matter how expensive.
  • When it comes to time and attention, quality beats quantity. When kids are old enough to hold on to their jealousy, rather than just feel it in the moment I really like our one-in-one special time to be things they can do that the baby can’t to reiterate how much fun it is to be big. Currently I’m working on a treasure hunt we’re the final clue leads them to my little pony lip gloss.
February 4, 2018

Neonate’s First Cold

A couple days after bringing Dana home from the hospital, the Alexis’ cold crested. I called the advice nurse wanting to get ahead of the germs and spare my 6-day-old her first cold. It may have been overkill, but with all the news articles about the worst flu in decades, and associated deaths, I was not about to chance it. Not to worry, the nurse assured me, neonates rarely get colds. To steady my nerves and as a precaution, she gave me some tips and warning signs to watch out for.

The week passed, Domingo and my mom caught the cold but Dana, Nicki and I avoided it.

Then, on Saturday morning I noticed some of the funny rapid breath breathing sounds coming from Dana I had been warned to watch out for. The episode was short lived. Her breathing quickly returned to normal, and she otherwise seemed fine. No nasal discharge, no cough. At noon, each breath became audible as they were forced through the now obvious congestion. My baby was sick. The moment that realization struck me, as if on cue, she cried and everything got so much worse.

Dana couldn’t both breath and cry at the simultaneously, so each cry was punctuated by a grunting snort which made her even madder, which then made the breathing sound that much more labored. I couldn’t calm her, not with singing or rocking, couldn’t get her to latch or take the binky.

My not yet two weeker had her first cold, and it was terrifying.

While juggling the phone to call the pediatrician I somehow managed to get her calm enough to stop crying, and while the snorting temporarily subsided I watched her clavicle rise and fall with each breath as she struggled against the congestion.

Since Dana was so young, and I had reported fussiness while nursing, the pediatrician wanted to see her to rule out possible dehydration and confirm no fluid in the lungs. When babies are so tiny small problems can develop into big ones fast. Little passageways can become blocked easily. Thankfully everything checked out well. Her lungs were clear, oxygen level was fine. The pediatrician even confirmed it is just a cold and the scary flu. Just a cold. Dana will be fine in a couple of weeks. We are just going to be in for some long, sleepless and stress filled nights in the meantime.

January saw a 10% rise in audience size and a 13% drop in revenue. All total I earned $508.95, which is not to shabby given the shopping season has ended and ad clicks are typically worth less. Time Until continues to be the most popular app, and has a higher growth rate than the miscarriage apps which continues to surprise me. Overall growth was pretty uniform across all apps. The only top visited app that had a measurable (1.8%) decrease in users was the Passive Voice Detector.

There isn’t much progress to report. I had decided to stay the decision on maternity leave until Dana was born so I would have a better idea what expectations are reasonable. Now that she’s here it’s clear I need to be on a reduced work schedule while I heal. For now my work load is primarily responding to emails (January was a surprisingly busy month in that regard), fixing minor bugs, and possibly addressing critical issues if they rise to the level of interfering with revenue.

Something I need to give some thought to is how best to silo my sites. I recently was contacted by someone with a serious offer to acquire Datayze. I declined (I doubt I’d ever be interested in selling Datayze.) I do want to branch out into multiple sites and it may be worth selling off some off those other properties in the future. For that to be feasible, I need to give serious consideration to how I operate.

Currently I reuse code across my personal and professional sites. Why reinvent the wheel? The purchase agreement would need to address ownership of shared code to avoid ambiguity. A cleaner approach would be to create each site as an independent silo, with it’s own version of a wheel. I’ve already been considering moving Datayze to its own VM/instance so I don’t risk its uptime when working on my other sites. I think I may make it a policy of each website being completely self contained and running separately once they get big enough.

Usually I love being the family photographer. I get the pride of showing off my camera skills, and exactly the photos I want, rather than to anyone else’s artistic vision. I’ve never really cared much about being in the photos myself, so having more of D with the girls and less of me was never that big a drawback. This month, however, I’m experiencing another drawback to being the family photographer: sometimes you get injured. Without a back up, that’s it. Be prepared to go without.

When my labor went sideways, so did my chance of hospital photos. Domingo usually takes the birth photos, the ones of our girls being weighed and checked over the first time, and of me holding each one moments after birth. Even if he wasn’t preoccupied supporting me through Dana’s birth, there wasn’t the opportunity this time around. Afterwards I spent Dana’s first day mostly in bed and didn’t pick up my camera at all until her second day of life. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t do much physically or mentally. I was too sore and tired. I did “fake it” by taking photos of her pediatric check up right before discharge that looked like they might have been from the delivery room (if you ignore her post-bath cleaned up look, and different weight)

Now that we’re home I’m picking my camera up more, but I still can’t do all I want to do. I had bought wraps and rugs with the anticipation of having full range of motion. Most of my newborn photo ideas involve sitting or lying on the floor, but I just can’t do that.

If there is a silver lining I am getting stronger by the day, and I know from past experiences I’ll still be able to get the “newborn” look, even a few weeks down the line. With Dana starting off so small I may get a little extra wiggle room for her to still appear newborn after she sheds that title. I also know myself well enough to know that I’d rather push the envelope and risk setting back my recovery than not having the photos at all. Photography is therapeutic for me, and the photos will last a life time, whereas this little bump in the road will not.

I will overcome. And if not, a local photography studio I’ve used in the past just sent out a flier for a free newborn session. Heck, maybe I’ll overcome and sign up for that session. One can never have too many photos.

January 25, 2018

Tiny but Mighty

Dana is my smallest baby. She was 6 lbs, 4 oz at birth, exactly a lbs less than Nicole, and a lbs and change less than Alexis. But don’t let her small size full you. She may be tiny, but she is mighty!

At the hospital the staff checked her bilirubin levels to rule out jaundice by pricking her heal and collecting the blood. Dana wasn’t having it. She kept pulling her foot away, denying the nurse a sample. She even used her other foot to push against the nurse’s hand for additional leverage. After the fourth or fifth time Dana pulled herself free the nurse remarked on Dana’s strength and, turning to me said “how are your ribs, mama?”

Dana has also been able to propel herself forward by pushing off on objects with her feet. She already made it off the changing pad a couple of times (which was thankfully on the floor) by using her feet to push her away from us. It’s something she’s down out of frustration, and unlikely to be a coordinated effort, but still impressive.

Now, just shy of two weeks old she’s even able to hold her head upright, and can get it up on her own when lying on an incline (ie on mommy). The above photo is real, not a trick of the angle. I have the video to prove it! She’s a bit wobbly keeping the head up. It is 98th percentile after all. Proportionally, it’s a large part of her body mass.

Like her big sisters, Dana seems capable of focusing on objects far away. At home it’s the ceiling fan. At the hospital it was the computer screen. She also seems to focus on me when she’s looking to eat, something that amazed my nurse during my recovery.

So far no early smiles like Alexis, but we are seeing the start of some happy faces. Like Alexis Dana can furor her brow has mastered ‘concern face’. She’s regained her birth weight and just last night went 5 hours between feeds, so I have hope she’ll master baby sleep early like Nicole.

I just wish my kids weren’t always in such a hurry to grow up fast. Except for the sleep thing. The sooner they get that down, the happier I am.

January 17, 2018

Welcoming Dana!

Look who finally arrived! I say “finally” even though she was just 9 days late (Nicole and Alexis were 10 and 11 days late) because I was convinced she would come on her own, and possibly before her due date. The week leading up to the induction I kept having bouts of contractions that would last for a few hours, and grew closer together before stopping completely. The day prior to the induction contractions lasted 13 hours, starting 20 minutes apart and growing to just five minutes apart. In the end, Dana decided she’d rather be an induction baby, just like her big sisters.

I can’t really say that her birth didn’t go as planned since our plan was literately “have baby”, and have a baby we did. Still there were a few unexpected hurtles. She’s doing great, but I have a longer recovery ahead of me. The added stress of it all also meant very few photos were taken at the hospital since I wasn’t in much of a state to use my camera. The one above is from my cell phone.

The girls were very excited to meet their little sister. They have been waiting for this moment almost as long as I have.

For weeks now Nicole has been asking when Dana was going to come out of my tummy, and has been whispering into my belly how much fun the two of them will have together when she comes out. Nicole thought Dana was going to come out my mouth and would occasionally push up on my belly to get her little sister started.

I’m surprised Alexis has shown as much interest in the baby as she has, given she’s only 3. She has been eagerly telling everyone at school that she was getting a brother, and would even correct me if I said the baby in my tummy was a girl. Now that Dana is her she seems to accept that Dana is a girl. Alexis internalized “use soft touches” as “softing” and keeps asking to “soft the baby.” She also desperately wants to hold Dana, but has a bit of a cold so we’re holding off. For now it’s just Purell and softing.

The kids are back at school, and I have a lot of help to get through the next to weeks. I’m supposed to take it easy, but I’m eager to pick up my camera again.

January 5, 2018

3 for 3 in Extra Innings

This pregnancy continues to keep me on my toes. I’ve had a number of pre-labor symptoms, including some short bouts of prodromal labor this past week. According to the pregnancy websites I read most of my current pregnancy symptoms are signs that “things are moving in the right direction” and “labor will likely start in two to three weeks.” I would hope so! Today is my due date. I was convinced something was happening yesterday, that labor would officially start and I’d be having a baby on my due date. Nothing materialized, and now we’re heading to extra innings.

At my last OB appointment we discovered I have made more progress than I had with either of the two previous pregnancies before going into the induction, which confirmed that the prodromal labor is I’ve been experiencing has not been completely false starts and something is happening, albeit slowly.

One of the differences I’ve noticed this week is a return of nesting energy. Or maybe ‘nesting desire’ is the better phrase since I’m feeling rather run down an energyless lately. I have a number of smaller tasks on my to-do list that I really want to get crossed off before our littlest one’s arrival:

– I have end tables that need to be assembled (which I plan to keep by the rocking chair.)
– The Datayze website needs to be backed up (waiting for my host to resolve an issue first.)
– Baby clothes are all washed, but some have stiffened over time and I’d like to see if a liberal dosing of fabric softer can help.
– Put the new registration sticker on the car

All total there are just nine things left on my to-do list, three center on getting the nursery ready. None of those things should take much time, once I find the energy to get up and do them. I’ll probably try and tackle a few mid morning, when I’m usually feeling the best, from her until this girl decides to make her appearance. Should she keep me waiting a while, I’ll hopefully finish off my list. If not, well I won’t complain.

Last month followed the predictable pattern laid out from the previous December: strong first half of the month, abysmal second half. The majority of my December income, $588.04, was earned in the first three weeks, then everything slowed to a crawl through the holiday. Users were up 13.5%, again due to a strong first half of the month performance. This time I knew what to expect, and didn’t let my dropping numbers discourage me too much.

Overall this puts my total income for 2017 at $3,456.27. Not where it needs to be, but not to shabby, especially compared to last year. That’s about a 7x year-over-year growth. Another 7x growth would put me at ~$24,000 for the year, equivalent to minimum wage in California.

One of the neat things was watching my stats around midnight new years eve. I just happened to have my analytics page open around 9 PM PST (midnight for East Coasters) and I watched the the hits to my Time Until app climb sharply until they reached 4X normal traffic volume. I had initially designed my app to be more of a long range count down over multiple days, so I was surprised by the interest, but I’ll gladly take it! I couldn’t resist staying up to see how my apps did as midnight approached Central time, Mountain Time and Pacific time. I was sure the west coast numbers would be equally strong, but to my surprise I had far more users in the Central Time Zone.

Time Until is one of the apps that’s going to get a serious redesign in the new year. I hope my audience likes it!

Moving forward, January was the month I intended to start pushing updates again, however I’m running into challenges with my webhost. They recently made changes to their text editing tool, and now I can’t save files. I have a walk around, but I want them to fix their issue first since their editing tool has become a part of my standard work flow. There are also two other pending potential issues with the host that could throw a hiccup into any update I push, and with the pending arrival I’m wearing of doing anything that might leave the site in a bad state while I’m out of commission for a few days. We’ll see what January brings, but as of now I’m expecting minimal updates to trickle out.

December 29, 2017

Toward A Better Heating System

Our nest went haywire again last night. It only happens when in heat mode, and hasn’t happened since we got the replacement a year ago, but it’s still exceedingly disappointing to be happening again. The problem? Nest’s temperature sensor gets confused. As a result, Nest sometimes forgets to turn the furnace off. We woke up in the middle of the night to 80 degree temperatures and the heater still running. That’s wasted energy (and money) not to mentioned a lost night of sleep for no reason.

Part of the challenge of heating our house is that it’s a dual zone system. Both thermostats are in relatively the same location (the hallway by the stairs), just on different floors. Heat rises, so how often the downstairs zone is running effects how warm the upstairs hallway is, which in turn effects how frequently the upstairs zone runs. The upstairs zone is the only zone that effects the bedroom. There’s a lot of guess work involved to figure out the optimal settings so the bedrooms remain comfortable overnight. (Quite frankly, the goal is the kids room. I’m happy to suffer if it means the kids sleep through the room.) It reminds me of how the first refrigerators with freezers were designed.

When I first heard about Keen Home Smart Vents over a year ago I thought it was the answer to our problems. If the vents open and close automatically, then we in theory won’t cook the kids over night. Problem was “smart” at that point meant automatically opening and closing based on a predefined schedule or the app on your phone, not the current temperature of the room. Since we usually don’t wake up until it’s too late, that wouldn’t work for us.

Since our heater went haywire last night I decided to look into smart vents again. Keen is now coming out with temperature sensors! Even better, there are competitors in the smart vent space. In another year or so the technology will mature and we may finally be able to get a more temperature balanced house!

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