May 27, 2015

Cai Alexander: Six Months

So it's a week late, but here is Cai's six month update:

New Things: I can't believe how fast Cai is learning. He seems to change every time I turn around.

  • Roll over both ways, consistently. 
  • Grab things without difficulty and throw them (occasionally).
  • Touch things gently, for a few seconds. My favorites are when he gently runs his fingers through someone's hair (not mine...he's never gentle with mine, but his daddy's and Aunt Katie's) or pet the dog.
  • Get up on his hands and knees and even more often on his hands and feet like he's planking. He is so close to crawling. He does this stair climbing move, but he can't figure out that he needs to move his hands too. 
  • Stomp his feet.
  • Scream and whine. He does a lot of whining right now. He sounds like a morning dove.
  • Eat. He loves food. We are doing Baby Led Weaning and he loves it. He doesn't swallow all that much of it, but he enjoys every food we've given him. So far he has had:
    • Peppers: red, yellow, and green, roasted and raw
    • Onions, roasted
    • Lasagna
    • Pierogies
    • Carrots, steamed
    • Asparagus, roasted
    • Green beans, steamed, roasted
    • Celery, raw
    • Grilled cheese fingers
    • Grilled chicken leg
    • Apples
    • Bananas
    • Avocado
    • Baked oatmeal, made with steel cut oats, breast milk, apple sauce, and an egg
    • Potatoes, roasted with herbs
    • Mango
    • Strawberries
    • Celery
    • Ice cream and raspberry sherbet
    • Pancakes
    • Garlic bread
    • Oranges and clementines
  • Splash in the bathtub or pool.

Sleep: Cai is still napping pretty wonderfully. Most naps are between and hour and two and a half hours. If one is shorter, he usually takes and extra fourth nap. We are still struggling with weaning him from the swaddle though.
Nights are a different story. He is waking up frequently, usually to eat. He eats for about twenty minutes and will not go back down unless he passes out fully first. The past two nights have been especially hard. He woke up five or six times to eat both nights and a few other times without eating. It pretty much sucks. I have to keep reminding myself that this doesn't last long, for good or for bad, and that he's not doing it to make my life miserable. I'm doing my best to treasure these moments while they last. 
I'm pretty sure this lack of sleep phase is because of the fifth leap or wonder week or whatever it's called. The timing is exactly what it should be for that. If that's the case, it should get better in the next day or two.

Likes: Cai's favorite things right now are:
  • His dog. Not all dog's, but his dog. When we got home from vacation, Cai lit up when he saw Finn again.
  • His star mobile over his crib. It's been there since he came home with us, but he just seems to have noticed it. He likes to touch it when we're laying him down for a nap. Sometimes spinning it before we leave the room after laying him down helps him to fall asleep watching it.
  • Peek-a-boo. This is new this week, so technically I guess it should go on the next update.
  • His lion teething toy (the cheap version of Sophie Giraffe because we couldn't justify spending TWENTY DOLLARS on a teether, a blue rubber ducky, and a wooden teething ring.
  • Animal noises. I've been "teaching" him what noises different animals make and he loves it. It's a way to distract him when he's whiny.
  • Reaching for EVERYTHING. 
  • Trying to drink water from Mama and Daddy's water bottles and cups.
  • Rolling all over the floor. It's amazing to me how mobile he is without crawling yet. We've actually moved the coffee table and temporarily made it an end table (my idea, but it kills my sense of style) because the area rug in the center of the room is the only comfortable place for him to try to crawl.
  • Being tickled.


We went on our first family vacation as a family of three last week (which is the reason I didn't post right away). We had the privilege of going with Steve's parents, my parents, my grandparents, and Steve's grandfather, as well as both of our sisters and brothers. It was such a neat thing to be able to do. In some ways, it was a great break because there were other people to hold Cai when he gets restless and whiny, but in other ways it was difficult for me. Nobody said or did anything to criticize our parenting (except maybe Granddad who was amazed that we picked things up off the floor and gave them back to Cai without washing them :o) but it is so easy to feel like everyone has a different opinion than me or thinks
there's a better way for us to do things (even if they don't really). I was also hormonal at the time and didn't get as much sleep as I needed. It's just a weird feeling when Cai starts fussing and instead of just dealing with it like I would normally (most likely by letting him cry for a bit) and everybody jumps up to hold him or stands around watching to see what you will do, haha. I'm sure I'm not the only super sensitive first time mama around.

May 10, 2015

Overwhelmed

I started writing this post last night and just deleted everything I wrote. It amazes me how difficult it is to get out my feelings on Mother's Day this year.  I still feel strongly about the things I said last year,  but there's so much more to it now. I've spent this morning crying off and on;  tears of joy and sorrow. It doesn't help that I'm overtired; two of the worst nights of sleep Cai has had since the week we brought him home, plus planning a wedding shower, and being on the news (more on that at the bottom of the page), plus some really weird pain in my boob (yay breastfeeding, you wonderful terrible beast). I'm having a hard time sorting through the joy and the pain this year, especially when I didn't expect to feel any pain.

Joy 
I am rejoicing in my son. Yes,  he was fussy today after a rough night, but shortly before his second nap, the only position he was happy in was standing on my lap with his arms wrapped around my neck. We laughed and played together, and I cried. Sometimes the love is so great it hurts.

Thankfulness
There are no words to express how thankful I am that the Lord filled that emptiness I felt for so many years with the most amazing little boy.

Sorrow and Guilt
It's almost like survivor's guilt.  I know so many women who are in pain today; because they have no children; because they've lost a child or children; because they're waiting for their child. My heart aches for them.
 I scrolled through Facebook yesterday and today and saw post after post about motherhood. Mother's rejoicing in their children, bragging about them, thanking the Lord for them, thanking their children for making them mothers. I want to do that, but I can't because I know the pain it brings when you don't have that.

Frustration
I want to shout from the rooftops that being a mama is everything I wanted it to be and more, that it is fulfilling, that now that I'm a stay at home mom, I feel like I'm doing exactly what I was always meant to do (that statement is for me personally; I'm not trying to say that all moms should be stay at home moms). I don't want to feel like shouting that out is selfish.  I want to be oblivious to other people's feelings and focus on the wonder of my own.

Exhaustion and Inadequacy
Last night was one of the hardest nights of parenthood yet. I was already overtired and wanted to go to bed early, and then Cai made it worse.  After sleeping for an hour; he decided sleep wasn't worth it and alternated between crying inconsolably and laughing hysterically. We tried everything;  swaddling and not swaddling  (that's a battle I'll blog about another time), nursing him (my go-to for comfort that either works magically or pissess him off more), teething tablets, playing with him, reading to him, and bringing him into bed with me. Things worked and then they didn't.  At one point I sat on my bed and held my screaming baby and cried myself. I didn't know what to do. Then my amazing husband came in and took him and got him  finally to sleep (this is not to say I had been trying alone to that point; it's just for some reason,  this particular time that Steve took him worked). In contrast to my crying and frustration,  Steve took him with a smile and enjoyed coforting him. God knew what he was doing when He gave me Steve because we handle stress so differently (did I mention he lost his job a few weeks ago and is still handling everything with a smile and kindness? ). As thankful as I was, it reminded me that I am not Super Mom and never will be, and the sooner I learn to be okay with that, the better.

All of this to say that Mother's Day is not as painless as I thought it would be;  it's just different.  In a good way.  And that's okay.  It will always be different for me (Hopefully. May I never take it for granted.), and that's okay.
And those who are hurting today, for many reasons, secretly or publicly, know that I am asking for you and praying for you, for comfort and joy.

Also. ..
 I was interviewed on a local news program yesterday morning about my first Mother's Day after years of infertility. I was asked to be on the program through Sher Institute, my fertility clinic. It was a pretty neat experience. Of course there are things I wanted to say and didn't, and things I wish I hadn't said, or at least said differently, but overall, I'm pleased with how it went. You can watch it here: First time moms celebrate Mother's Day.

April 18, 2015

Cai Alexander: Five Months

New Things: Cai is doing SO MANY new things. It seems he learns something new every day. He can:

  • Roll over from back to belly (he has also gone from belly to back but only two or three times.
  • Reach for and grab almost any object.
  • Reach out to touch the dog.
  • Blow raspberries. 
  • Stand up with very little support.
  • Laugh, squeal, grunt as a complaint, 
  • Creep...sort of...he does this inch worm thing, pushing his butt up in the air and scooting forward.
  • Grab the fingers of anyone holding him and shoving them in his mouth.
  • Pull his pacifier out of his mouth and stick it back in (about 7 times out of 10)
  • Chew on his toes.

Growth: Cai now weighs 15 lbs. 5 oz., keeping him right around the 45-50th percentile where he has been. He is now 26.5 inches long (2.5 inches of growth), jumping him from the 50th percentile to the 75th. Not that percentile really matters, it's just kind of cool. The ladies at the doctor's office were surprised at how big he had gotten since his three month well baby visit.

Sleep: Cai naps beautifully, most of the time. As long as we stick to our routine, Cai usually falls asleep very quickly. Our only problem with naps lately is that when he wakes up, even only half way, he immediately rolls over then gets upset because he's stuck on his belly. This week he started to be able to fall back to sleep on his belly or back, but usually one of us has to flip him back over and give him his pacifier. Usually he'll go back to sleep, but not always. We still swaddle him with one arm out, but we are slowly trying to phase out the swaddle. It's slow going; I had stopped swaddling both arms for a week or so and he went from sleep an hour and a half at a time to thirty to forty five minutes. It took me awhile to make the connection, but once I started swaddling on arm again, his naps got longer; he even took a two and a half hour nap this week.

Nighttime sleeping has changed quite a bit. He wakes fairly often, but usually just needs someone to put his pacifier in, and he goes right back to sleep. This week he has consistently been waking to nurse between 4:30 and 5:30. I'm not really loving having to wake up at that time, but he also has been sleeping half an hour later. I think the change is a combination of teething and the "four month sleep regression". 

Breastfeeding: For the most part I feel like we have this whole breastfeeding thing down pat now. We seem to be past any issues of oversupply, engorgement, dairy intolerance, and latch issues. Our only issue right now is this weird thing he does during his last feeding before bedtime. Not every night, but many nights, he seems hungry then starts crying after a few minutes of nursing. I can't pin down a reason for it. First I thought tummy issues, but that doesn't seem to fit. Then I thought maybe my supply is just low at night, but I seem to still be pretty full, although it could just not be coming out fast enough? Sometimes it seems to be due to teething; if we give him some Hylands Teething Tablets, he calms down and eats. Other times he just needs to stop an do something else, like have his diaper change, and then he eats without a problem. And still other times, he just refuses to eat altogether, and we put him to bed.
Overall, he nurses between five and seven times a day. The days he eats more often are usually days when he cluster feeds because he gets distracted and doesn't finish a normal feeding.

Likes: In addition to learning new things, Cai enjoys doing new things. His favorite things right now are:
Singing "Jesse's Girl" with Daddy
  • Playing in his activity center. He likes to try to chew on everything and gets made when he can't get all of the toys in his mouth. He has really started to bounce in it. A lot.
  • Watching Finn. Finn is the funniest thing in our house right now. Everything he does is hilarious. At least to Cai.
  • Singing. Cai likes it when Mama or Daddy sing with him or to him, particularly songs like "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "Head and Shoulders, Knees, and Toes," but this week he also really loved it when I loudly sang "Good Morning" from Singing in the Rain.
  • Chewing on everything. Sometimes frantically. He has at least one bottom tooth getting ready to pop through. And the drool. It's ridiculous. This kid is constantly soaked.
    Greg (Aunt Katie named him)
  • Stuffed animals. Cai really seems to enjoy plush. He sleeps with either Greg, a little Garanimals brand "lovey," or a stuffed puppy he has. He likes to snuggle them, play with them, and mostly chew on them.
  • The Wind Up. Cai apparently likes anticipation. He likes to be thrown in the air, but more than that he likes if you count to three and lift him just a little on each number before  you throw him. He also likes to be tickled, but mostly he likes when you start by wiggling your fingers in the air high above him and making them creep toward him.
    Reaching for Mama's p
  • Sticking out his tongue.
  • Reaching for Mama or Daddy's phones, which he is not allowed to have.
  • Watching TV. Ugh. We do not want him to watch TV, but this kid is attracted to it. I am one who enjoys having the TV on as background noise when I am doing things around the house, but I have to be careful now.



April 08, 2015

Five Favorite Apps for New Mamas

I know our mothers and grandmothers survived being mothers without the technology we have today, but I have to say that I have really appreciated some of the apps I've been able to use as a new mom. I thought I'd share some of them and what I like about them, especially because I know quite a few other new mamas right now. All of the apps I'm listing are Android apps. Not sure if they're available for the iphone.

  Feed Baby Pro
I started out with just the Feed Baby Free and upgraded when the free trial of the paid app expired. I honestly don't remember why I felt the need to upgrade, but I think the paid app was $1.99. I have found this app incredibly useful, especially in the beginning. I remember coming home from the hospital and thinking, "If I'm feeding on demand, why do I even need to keep track of feedings." I quickly learned how important it was, at least for me. This app can keep track of almost any information you put into it; feedings, pumping sessions, diaper changes, sleep, baths, medications, and growth. It also has a section where you can journal. I use it mainly to keep track of feedings and sleep.


You can use it on multiple devices and sync them together. I use it on my phone and my Nook tablet. In the picture above, I hadn't hit the sync button, so it hadn't pulled the info from my phone which is why it says that it had been 126 hrs. since the last feeding. :) But you can see that it helps me keep track of which side I last fed from, how long each feeding was, and how long it has been since the last feeding. The buttons at the top allow you to enter different types of feeds; left breast, right breast, bottle, and solids.
It also give you some useful summaries. I can see how long he has fed throughout the day. I like that because I can see when growth spurts have started (feed times double) and also get an idea as to whether or not he will wake up in the night to eat (if he spends less than an hour and half eating right now, I can be pretty sure he'll wake up in the night to eat).
Right now, I use this page a ton. It's basically a timeline of whatever options you want to put in. This was really helpful as I tried to get Cai on a napping schedule. You can see that right now, most days he takes three naps. He goes down for the first between 8:30 and 9:30, the second between 12:00 and 1:00 and the last between 3:00 and 4:00. You can also see that some days I don't keep perfect track, or we are out and about and our routine gets a little messed up. 

This app has a lot more uses than what I use it for, and I highly recommend it, especially for first time moms. Although I didn't use it for keeping track of diaper changes, I can see how it would be extremely helpful in the beginning (especially for breastfeeding mamas when you can't see how much milk baby is getting) so you can see that baby is having enough output and getting enough food.

White Noise Baby

I only used this app for a short time when Cai was a newborn, but it was helpful. I used the doppler ultrasound option and would put it on at nap times. It helped disguise any loud or sudden noises. I also used it overnight when we had friends or family with children spend the night in hopes that it would disguise any crying the other children might do in the middle of the night. It has a good variety of noises. I didn't bother getting the paid version of this app because the free was enough.
It also has a baby mode which is basically like airplane mode on your phone, so that baby doesn't get woken up by texts, phone calls, etc. Oh, and I never used it, but it has a "rattle" button so that baby can use your phone as a rattle. Crazy. 


The Wonder Weeks App

I only recently discovered this app when it was recommended to me, and I wish I had gotten it earlier. I think I paid like two dollars for it. Basically, it's based on the book The Wonder Weeks, and it tells you when (based on your baby's due date) you can expect fussiness due to your baby making a "leap" which is basically a jump in cognitive ability. Cai is currently in his fourth leap, and he definitely became more fussy almost on cue when the leap started. I'm anxious to see how he changes when this leap is over.

It gives tips on ways to help your baby through the leap as well as what abilities your baby will probably gain by the end of the leap. It's pretty cool.
You can see Cai is 18 weeks past his due date and has six days left in this leap.

Cozi
I think I've talked about Cozi on the blog before, but I love the calendar, to do list, and shopping list functions of this app. I use the free version, but you can subscrive and upgrade to Gold for a monthly fee. I can schedule appointments, mark them as for me, Steve, or all of us, and even set it up to text us a reminder from an hour to a week before the appointment. I can also create a shopping list, and Steve can access it from his phone, which is super convenient because he manages a grocery store. I use it even more now that we have Cai because otherwise I would not be able to keep track of all of our appointments (I missed one of my doctor's appointments in the beginning), and I need reminders--so does Steve! 

Groovebook

I LOVE this app! If you watch Shark Tank, you've seen heard about this app. The creators just made a deal with Shutterfly for like 17 million dollars! Basically, it's a photo subscription service. or $2.99 a month you can choose 100 photos from your phone and they will be printed in the perfect size for cell phone photos in a little paper back album, with perforation so that you can easily tear out the photos. You can pick which photos and how many copies of each one you want. You have all month to upload them and make changes. If you have more than 100 photos that month (a problem I've been having because of all the pictures I take of Cai), you can close the book early and get charged an extra $2.99 that month. If you don't upload a full 100 photos, they will send you double copies of some of yours to fill up your full 100. You can even send extra Groovebooks to family and friends. The albums are super cute too, although I tear mine out and put them in Cai's baby album or our family photo album. It's so nice to be able to get all of those photos off of my phone. 



Basically these apps cover all of the important things for me right now (or in the first few weeks with a baby); feeding, sleeping, surviving, organizing, and recording all of the awesome memories!

April 03, 2015

Baby's First Easter Basket

I know there's no real point in giving my four and a half month old an Easter basket (is there really much of point in giving anyone an Easter basket?), just like there wasn't much point in giving my one month old Christmas presents. Except that it makes me happy. 

Obviously I'm not going to be giving him any candy, but I did buy a little basket and put four things in it. I was inspired by Logan's post from With Great Expectation on Easter basket ideas for baby girls and this post from The Humbled Homemaker with 65+ Spiritual Gift Ideas for Kids.

So, in Cai's basket I included...

Fisher Price Soothe and Glow Seahorse

It plays music and glows. It has absolutely no spiritual significance at all, and I wouldn't normally buy something like this, but a) I got it 70% off at Kohls (marked 40% off and had a 30% off coupon) and b) Cai is starting to enjoy playing and cuddling with things in his crib, so I thought he might enjoy this.


The Bunny Rabbit Show by Sandra Boynton

Again, no spiritual significance, but I like having more books. Sandra Boynton's are cute and sh          h nap time. Even doing that though, I still feel like I've just read all of them and get bored super fast, so adding a new one is great. 


The Tale of Three Trees, a folktale

This one does have spiritual significance. It's a story of three trees who all want to grow up to do something great. The first is cut down and made into the manger that holds Jesus, the second is made into the boat Jesus is on when He calms the storm, and the third is made into Jesus's cross. It's pretty neat. I will enjoy reading it to Cai. 

Stuffed Dog

Ha! I can't find a picture online for this one, but you know those The Dog greeting cards and stuff that are pictures of a dog that are focused on the nose, so it looks bigger than the rest of him? Well, they have stuffed dog versions. I got the French bulldog. It was on clearance. :P

I put it all in a basket I bought at Walmart that was blue with a multi-color striped fabric lining. I figured it could have multiple uses in his bedroom down the road.

Anybody else get their little ones an Easter basket? What did you put in it? Do you think I'm nuts for making one for Cai?

April 01, 2015

I'm Loving

I have been neglecting my blog as of late. I have several posts I want to write, but haven't sat down to write them.  I totally missed writing Cai's four month post, but at this point I'm going to just skip it and write the five month post in two weeks. He has started so many new things since writing his three month post, and I can't remember which he started when! Anyway, today is a post of things I'm loving right now.

Cai
I cannot say enough how much I love this kid. Today especially was a wonderful today. We visited our fertility clinic  and introduced Cai to Dr. Peters and basically everybody there. When we mentioned that we were also there to visit my dad in the offices downstairs, one of the ladies who posts to the Sher Fertility Facebook page ran downstairs and grabbed my dad and took some pictures of him to upload to Facebook. Cai posed for some additional pictures and even grinned on cue.

Just generally though, Cai is a lot of fun right now. He's able to do new things every day, and I'm loving watching him learn! Steve and I spent a lot of time just marveling at him today. He's so smiley and joyful. He's so interactive, not only with us, but with the dog too. He LOVES Finn! He lights up when Finn comes near him, reaches out to pet him (we've been teaching him "gentle"), tracks him when he walks around the room, and seems to appreciate it when Finn licks up his puke. :/

I'm loving being a mom right now.

A bathing suit that actually fits my boobs
I'm a freaking 38G cup size. Finding a bathing suit that fits over them has been nearly impossible. Even at stores like Lane Bryant I've had a hard time, but this last week I finally took a risk and bought one online from Figleaves.com. I bought a Curvy Kate tankini top, and I'm super happy with it. I cut off the bow between the boobs though, haha. What kills me though, is that Curvy Kate designs for curvy girls --they make bras and swimsuits for D-K cup sizes-- but most websites that carry their suits, have pictures of skinny girls in them (the picture to the left comes from herroom.com, the only site I could find that markets it with a "bigger" sized girl). Seriously? Anyway, the suit top fits (I paired it with a black skirt bottom I already own) and I actually feel kind of cute in it which is saying a lot because I'm still learning to embrace my post pregnancy belly (eight more pounds to pre-pregnancy weight and thirty+ to a healthy weight, but my goal is to like myself at every weight). I'm super excited about wearing it on vacation.

Longer days
I love everything about more sunlight. It gives me more energy and makes me so excited for warm days ahead.

Hylands Teething Tablets
They're seriously like magic. When it's clear that chomping on a teether is actually making things worse not better, some teething tablets (usually) work in literally minutes. We're not comfortable with using Advil or Tylenol on Cai, so it's super comforting to know that something natural works.

Five Kids is a Lot of Kids
I stumbled across this blog when I saw that she let her eight year old boys guest post on her blog. I started browsing around and ending up laughing out loud at some of her posts like when she pooped her closet, how her husband offers to support her, and how she lets her kids ask her questions about sex. I haven't read many more posts than that, but her writing style definitely had me in stitches.

My plan to make a teepee
I'm so excited about making a tepee. I'll blog about it when I do. I want something that we can use outside all summer to protect Cai from too much sunlight, but something that we can use while camping and in his bedroom down the road. I'm so excited about doing it, and hope to shop for the supplies tomorrow or Friday.

Spring Cleaning
Now don't get me wrong, I am not one who usually enjoys cleaning. I am a major procrastinator. But spring cleaning is different. I make huge lists. Like, seriously, I made six pages of lists this year. So far I've only checked off about four or five items, but I really love having a list and cleaning all of the little details that we don't normally pay attention to. I spent some time this week making a "command center" in our kitchen. Hopefully it helps us to be a little bit more organized. If not, I still like the way it looks. :)


March 17, 2015

A Year Ago Today...

A year ago today, around this same time in the evening, Steve and I sat on the couch in our living room and listened to a voice mail. The original call had come around two early that day, but I refused to listen to it until we were together. We snuggled on the couch, held each other's hands and listened.

Our nurse Kristine's voice rang out,  "Hello, Lorena..." I didn't really have to hear the rest, her tone of voice was enough, but just to be sure, I listened on. "We got the results of your beta back. You are pregnant! Congratulations!" We hugged each other and cried, and our world changed forever.

Five and half years of waiting was finally over.


And the past year has been filled with ups and downs, like any year (IVF, Steve's promotion to Philly, Steve's being moved to Reading, selling our house, not selling our house, leaving my job to be a mom, Steve taking a new job, HAVING A BABY), but I can honestly say that it has probably been the best year of my life. I think I can even say that it has been the best year of our life. Steve and I have grown even closer and our marriage has become even stronger.

Our little Cai turns four months old tomorrow, and he certainly fits the meaning of his name, "rejoice", both because he makes us rejoice and because he is such a joyful baby.

I've been mentally writing another post about infertility and the continuing effects it still has on us, but right now, I just want to rejoice.

Thank you , Lord, for all that you have given.

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