Archive for the ‘Family Life’ Category

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.

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.

December 25, 2017

Not A Christmas Baby Afterall

For a brief moment, it looked like we were going to have a Christmas baby.

I had finished nearly all of my Christmas prep work early: tree trimmed, presents purchased and all but one wrapped (it was a last minute addition by a family member). I’m trying to stay off my off my feet as much as possible, feeling what could be the start of contractions since early to mid December. That meant no baking for me. Instead of making Grandma’s Cinnamon rolls from scratch we bought the Pillsbury kind which turned out pretty reasonable, especially given the effort to end product trade off. After the kids went to sleep on Christmas Eve the only thing left was for Santa to stuff the stockings and put out the special presents, and then (of course) to take the last photographs of everything finished and done.

I went to bed shortly after 11. I had been uncomfortable all day, with lower back pain, but no measurable cramping or contractions to speak of. By around 11:30 I was still awake and tossing uncomfortably, noting the back pain was now radiating down into my legs in waves like it did when I was contracting with Nicole. That’s when I noticed the discomfort I was feeling was not the baby moving, but a tightening in my abdomen. For a moment I thought this was it. Fortunately by 11:45 everything stopped and I was able to finally fall asleep.

By morning everything was back to normal. I am still uncomfortable, but no signs of early labor. I was even able to get up early with the kids and take some photos of them with their stockings. I’m still getting used to my new camera in low light situations, but I walked away with at least one really nice shot and I always treasure those.

A mild cold has been making it’s rounds through our house, and by mid day it was clear it was my turn. So it’s contractions and a cough for me for Christmas this year! So far it’s just a dry cough and a sore throat.

Domingo is insisting I spent even less time on my feet than I already was. We’re hoping to make it at least to 39 weeks, which will be Friday. I’d prefer January, but logistically things get a lot easier if we could make it to at least Friday. It’d also be nice if I can go into labor at full strength, so I’m resting, running the humidifier and drinking as much hot tea as possible.

Now watch as I go all the way to induction day again. Wouldn’t that be ironic?

December 21, 2017

Sarah Brain

Whether it’s lack of sleep, seasonal stress or the mythical “mommy brain” my cognitive functions appear to be lacking I’m making some really epic level of mistakes lately. Let me count the ways in just the last couple of weeks:

  • I very carefully measured out the single portion of the home made chili I’m allowed to eat per my pregnancy gestational diabetics diet, put the rest in the microwave and my portion back in the fridge.
  • Fat fingered not just my account number, but also the bill amount while paying online. Still trying to get that resolved.
  • Lost my phone and the *first* place I look, without thinking, is the refrigerator. (Thankfully it was not there.)
  • Forgot about my ~38 week appointment until the end of the day when Domingo got home from work and asked how it went.


At least we are continuing to make good progress through our to-do list.

The infant car seat has been checked over for any weak spots in the plastic, cleaned and installed in the car. I even found the newborn insert for it! The rocking chair is assembled and upstairs. The nursery is still a disheveled mess, but we have a rock n’ play that the baby will likely sleep in for the first couple weeks or months anyway.

One source of stress during both Alexis’ and Nicole’s first year was the baby book. There were many, many months struggled to find a workable onesie for the monthly photo in time for the photo shoot, often settling for something that was over priced that I didn’t really like. I decided to do things a little differently this time around. I took advantage of a year end sale, found a onesie that would have matched both girls’ complexion and purchased it in all-the-sizes, that is from newborn to 18 months! I plan to keep them separate from all the other baby clothes so there’s little change it’ll get stained before it’s needed. At the end of the year, they’ll be very gently used and I can easily donate them at close to their full value.

I also decided to purchase both girls a new dress for newborn/sibling photos, again taking advantage of the year end sales.

Hospital bag is not packed, but was also not really used either previous delivery. I am slowly gathering a few things (e.g. going home shirt/blanket). It’ll be easy enough to throw those things in a plastic shopping bag on our way out the door, and in an emergency I can send Domingo home to pick them up if we forget them. The only other thing of importance is my camera, but I plan to use it between now and then so pre-packing it makes no sense.

My modus operandi these days is whatever reduces stress and makes my life easier. Can you tell?

December 15, 2017

Staying in

This pregnancy continues to be vastly different from my other two. With both Nicole and Alexis I used being hours away from my induction as an excuse to walk around the mall. I felt annoyingly fine, and was anxious for things to started. This pregnancy? Moving at all has been a struggle for weeks.

Z3 is super low. I feel her in my hips as I walk, pushing against my pelvic bone. By the time I get to the store from the parking lot I’m usually in need of sitting down. Yesterday I thought I’d preserve and power through for the last of my holiday shopping least Domingo be left picking out nail polish colors for the girl’s stockings.

When I was nearly done the discomfort started to intensify into undeniable pain. The kind of pain where I wasn’t sure I could physically make it out of the store. I leaned against my cart, breathing deep and slow waiting for the feeling to pass. My spare hand was resting on my 8.5 month pregnant belly.

All of a sudden my cart was pulled out from under me. I nearly hit the ground, but luckily my grip on the card was strong enough that I was able to stay up right. I glanced over to see an older woman with her hand still on my cart. She gestured that I was blocking the merchandise. No “excuse me” or “I’m sorry.” Thanks lady. I would have moved out of your way had you given me the chance.

I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she didn’t notice my big pregnant belly under my T-shirt. Even so, moving an object someone is leaning against is still a jerky thing to do, even if they’re physically fine.

Nail polish was not acquired. I left as soon as I felt able.

Domingo and I decided that, jerks aside, it would probably be best that I not tax myself like that again in the future. Especially by myself. I’m still going to do daycare/school drop-offs solo, partially out of necessity and partially because I usually feel the best in the morning. We’ll stick to reheating meals in the evening so Domingo can help me with pick-ups. Even if that means cooking them the night before, after the kids are asleep.

One more week until vacation starts. Two more weeks until we have family in town to help out. Five more weeks at most of pregnancy. According to my Labor Probability Calculator, there’s a 10.5% Z3 will come before vacation starts, a 14.1% she’ll be here before Christmas and a 30.6% chance she’ll be born in December. Fingers crossed we make it to January. We can do this.

At least Santa was able to finish the shopping online.

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