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.

January 29, 2018

Positive Thinking

It dawned on me recently….

I miss my bed, but I can’t beat that view.

My view

Don’t worry, the blanket is only there during nap time when I’m sitting right next to her.

Stairs are no longer proving to be the challenge they once were, but climbing into bed is still difficult and the bed too soft for me. Instead, I’ve set up shop downstairs on the cheap Ikea couch which is both low to the ground and firm. From here, I need only to look over at the rock ‘n play to see Dana. Best part? She need only to look over to see me! The rock ‘n play is too short when next to the bed for the occupant to see anyone who isn’t leaning over them. I like to think that she sees me, and knows I’m close to her, even in the middle of the night.

The ironic thing about this situation is that the old Ikea couch was never intended to be kept beyond the apartment. It was supposed to be a cheap stop gap, since we didn’t know what the layout of our eventual home would be, or what color would match the new place. All of our other couches are way to soft. This is the only place I can comfortably rest. I am always happy my frugal tendencies prove useful.

I hated the diet, but I love the results

My official weight gain at my final appointment was 5.5 lbs, less than any other pregnancy and less than Dana at birth. I’ve lost so much weight since then that she and I can now stand on the scale together and still weigh less than my pre-pregnancy weight. That rocks.

I may not be at full strength, but my family is

I feel like I’ve been shirking on my responsibilities. I’m no longer driving the girls to school/daycare, no longer picking Nicole up early from her after school program to do homework or helping with the bed time routine. And, it’s ok. While I’ve been recovering my family is still thriving. Domingo and my mom were able to work with Nicole so she mastered her numbers and sight words well enough to pass her kindergarten requirements for the year. She’s also moved up a grade in readers. I couldn’t be more proud of her, or grateful for my family.

It’s amazing how well things tend to work out.

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 21, 2018

Complete

We knew Dana would be out last, even before she was conceived.

I expected another pregnancy like the other two, but it wasn’t anything but. Morning sickness combined with the gestational diabetes diet made meal time and meal planning a chore. Increased physical discomfort made me feel as though I could barely walk or function through the last couple of months. And yet, when we were in the car driving to the hospital for the induction there was a part of me that was a little sad that this was it. The last moments of my last pregnancy.

Embarrassing change has always been a challenge for me. As excited as I am to move forward, I always get a little nostalgic for the chapter that is ending. Even as I gaze fondly backwards, remembering the excitement of getting that first positive pregnancy test, eagerly awaiting to find out the gender, or the feel of those first belly kicks and somersaults, there’s one thing I know for certain: our family is complete.

Since my first days as a mom, cuddling my first born, this is the family I started to dream about. Three kids. Three sisters. I tried not to hope too much on that last part, as it’s not something we could control, but deep in my heart a wish started to flicker, growing stronger in the days leading up to Alexis’ anatomy scan. I had visions of three girls playing together, three stockings hanging by the fire place. I’d envision what our photo collage would look like with another tiny face added to it, and would purchase an extra frame just in case. Sometimes, not always. Three kids. Three daughters.

I am not sure how I got so lucky to have my wish come true. Watching them together has been a true joy. Nicole and Alexis are so caring with their little sister, I know they’ll have as strong a bond with her as they do each other. I may be sad that the pregnancy chapter has closed, but I am so thrilled to have this wonderful family of mine.

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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