Friday, June 30, 2017

Family Fun

My family takes an annual trip to the beach in June, but this year with the baby they came to visit us instead.  My out of town family rented a house on the lake.  Monday was the only day we were all together as a group and took a boat ride (turns out my husband is an excellent "driver" of boats!) and then played a game back at the lake house.  After that there were schedules to contend with:  my husband and brother's work schedules, my teenage niece and nephew's sleep schedule (noon wake up) and Isabella's nap/bedtime schedule (naps were ok out and about, but had to be home by 8 for bed and frankly she started getting cranky around 6).  So while it was a different type of vacation then we have experienced in the past it was wonderful being able to see my family without leaving town.


Game. Changer.

So Isabella continues to eat and gain weight, but she continues to demonstrate an aversion to eating.   It's like she really wants to but she hates it when she actually does it:(.

We have noticed she will only eat when drowsy/sleeping. Upon awaking from a nap she will only eat about an ounce and is then cranky (crying, nothing seems to satisfy her-food, paci, being held, etc.) about 20 minutes later. I am wondering if she is hungry, but she will not eat anything until she is falling back to sleep when she will take another 1-2 ounces.

Overnight she has been waking up once or twice and will usually eat 1-3 ounces upon waking but then is very fidgety and stays awake for about an hour. Toward the end of those hours she is willing to take 1-2 more ounces.

We still have her on the soy and she is taking Zantac but it seems to only help for a day or so.  We are at a point where if I can get 20 ounces of formula in this kid within a 24 hour period I feel we have really accomplished something.  And I stress myself out until we hit the 20 oz. threshold.  Even with her gaining weight I am still so worried because eating is, ya know, kind a important.

So we went back to the doctor and this time she prescribed Nexium.  It is not cheap, even with insurance we are closing in on triple digits.  BUT given how well she is responding I will gladly pay it!  It has been a little over a week and while we are still not eating a ton more, she is able to eat more at one time and eat without my trying to sneak it to her while she's conking out. 

Yay!!!!!!   Hoping this continues to be the answer to our eating prayers!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Small Great Things

While Isabella is definitely small and great, she is not the "thing" to which I am referring:). 

I just finished my first book post baby.  Being someone who generally reads an average of a book a week, I have been going through some reading withdrawal.  For my comeback I definitely picked a winner. 

I love how Jodi Picoult books take on different character perspectives and this book was no exception.  It is the story of a Black nurse who crosses paths with a White Supremacist and their interaction changes their lives forever.  I don't want to give anything away, but have been recommended to all.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Adjustment Period

I was going to title this post "Identity Crisis", but that felt a bit more dramatic than how I actual feel so I went with adjustment period instead.

After 6.5 loooong years in the making I am getting to do exactly what I set out to do:  I am a mom who is blessed with the opportunity to stay at home with her child (with a general game plan for still contributing to the family finances and finish my doctorate).

The first month, despite the ups and downs of being a new mom, I was perfectly content to stay very close to home and begin to traverse this new role of being a mom and to be honest that is all I had the time and energy to focus on.  The second month, while still grappling to find my bearings as a new mom, was fraught with health issues (mine, Isabella's and J.T.'s) so again all of my time, energy and thoughts were spoken for.  However, as we have begun moving into month three, many of the health and brand new mom hiccups are subsiding and I am beginning to focus more on what lies ahead in the big rather than simply putting one foot in front of the other for the day to day stuff...and it feels...well...weird...

Adjustment #1--It's a small world after all
My world has become so very small.  For my whole adult life I have (whether I should have or not) been focused on the needs/wants/concerns of dozens (as a teacher) and hundreds (as a principal) people most of the days of the year.  These needs/wants/concerns filled most of my work days and thoughts and I needed the rest of time time to unwind from it all.

Now for the first time I am only focused on the needs/wants/concerns of two people.  Going from hundreds to two is strangely overwhelming in that I seem to have taken the energy that was once given to lots and lots of needs/wants/concerns and am now pumping that same level of energy into my tiny family.  Um, yeah, that's not going to work in the long run as both J.T. and my mom have begun to gently point out that I am essentially making mountains out of mole hills.  They are not wrong, but how do I reprogram this part of myself? 

Adjustment #2--Work/Life Balance
Since about my third year of teaching I began to try to have work/life balance.  As an educator this has always been a real challenge (ask any teacher you know and they will tell you the struggle is real!).  Over the last five years or so I have been pretty successful in working my 50 or so hour work week and then leaving it behind (for the most part) once I left campus.

Well now I have a new challenge in that my new work IS my life.  TGIF no longer means the same thing because Saturdays and Sundays strongly resemble Mondays-Fridays.  Do I get days "off"?  Though I suspect some would argue as a mom who is home I am always off, it definitely feels like the concept of "free time" is nearly a distant memory as any time I am not directly caring for my child (which is only when she is sleeping) I am working on my house, finances, health, future endeavors, etc.    This blog is one of my few personal outlets and it seems I only get to it about once a week and crank out multiple posts that have been lingering around my brain for days but I couldn't get to (though I should probably have used this time to try to sleep considering I got less than four hours of sleep last night!).

Also there is no physical boundary as I now work and live in the same space and there is no beginning or end to my workday (as evidenced by being awoken by my tiny boss every hour past midnight last night!).  I am getting 100% what I asked for, but what is a work/life balance supposed to look like when you are a mom who works/stays home?

Adjustment #3--Into the great wide open
As a teacher and even as a principal I have experienced summer breaks.  Once upon a time I used to work during my summer breaks but for about the last 10 years I have taken my summers off (be it 10 weeks as a teacher or 4 weeks as a principal), so a part of me feels like I am currently on summer break.  The catch that causes me to nearly break out in hives when I think about it?  In the past there was a return date, schedule, and game plan when my summer break ended, but now the return date/schedule/game plan for my new wage earning work life falls 100% on my shoulders and for now is almost totally wide open.

I will continue to be a full time student in the fall, so that date in August is concrete.  It has also been my plan that I would begin earning money again in August.  I have begun advertising my home child care services and have met with two moms who each need part time care come August/September. While this is a good start, it only fills 4-6 (one mom is still trying to decide whether she wants one day or two) of the 10 slots I need filled each week to hit my magic budgeting number.   I am continuing to find new ways to get the word out and it is still very early.  Also I continue to look at other sources of income (for instance online teaching), so feel confident that the magic number will somehow be reached.  However,  the fact that I do not know with certainty what I will be doing day to day come August is more than a little unnerving.  That same part of me that lets me know things are all going to work out the way they are supposed to is as confident as ever, but the tiny nagging voice that appears from time to time that asks "what if it doesn't?" seems to be a bit louder these can I make him shut up?!?!?

Some food for thought as I let the above sink in:

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

2 Month Appointment

Starting with the positives:

This little girl is sleeping 5/6 hour stretches (followed by a 2/3 hour stretch) most nights of the week-yay!  J.T. will continue to do Saturday nights, but after this week the TA will no longer come to do a weekly overnight (though last night I somehow slept through her 2:30 feeding and woke up at 4:30 with equal parts panic and relief at having gotten 6 solid hours of sleep!).  She is at the 89th percentile for height, 86th for her big ole head and 78th for weight.  She got her 2 month shots (thankfully two were oral, which left "only" one injection per leg).  The doctor declared her strong and overall healthy.

I say overall because we are still dealing with eating aversions most likely due to the reflux not being completely under control.  The pedi is changing her meds to Nexium so hopefully that will lead to long term relief.  She is still eating (though mostly when drowsy) and is gaining weight, but I just can't stand her still being in pain when she eats:(.

We have also entered camp colic.  My child defies logic in that when she sleeps well at night she is more cranky during the day and when she is up more often at night she is more pleasant during the day.  Apparently when you compound this with the fact that she needs white noise and/or paci and swaddling to calm down, she is not able to "self-sooth" when there is no actual issue AND that one of her parents had colic (not it!) this all adds up to a colicky baby.  The good news is that I handle things better when there is a reason for them (even a vague one like colic-though I draw the line at the too vague "unexplained" infertility-but I digress).  The even better news is that she is likely to grow out of it by 4 months so we are in the 6 week home stretch.  The bad news is that I kept telling J.T. it wasn't colic because she doesn't cry in long stretches (rather it's lots of crying over the course of the day), so I was wrong and he was right and I could have had my reason before today...darn Dr. Google!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Return to Land of Crickets

You may recall that in September we were given a 9 month freeze from our adoption professional I have nicknamed Land of Crickets Adoption.  Take our 2 year without-a-peep-wait, multiply it by the two other couples we know who are signed up with them who are/were in an identical boat, and add to it the numerous NC couples who just seem to wait (as determined by stalking the company website), they continue to deserve this name.

We were supposed to be ready to roll with the final 6 months of our contract (for which we had to fight!) on June 1, but not surprisingly given how the spring turned out that didn't happen.  I should note that we were not the only ones to have been lagging; however, we had a good excuse.  Their only excuse in incompetence.  Below you will find an email I sent to them summarizing our interactions over the last two weeks and, as you can see by my pointed questions, they are as wonderful as ever (insert eye roll!).

Good afternoon~

My delayed response is the result of having to take time to process our interaction.  Below you will find my understanding of what has transpired over the last week and a half, the answers to the questions you posed over voicemail and a few questions we have:

1.  I updated our website on Monday, May, 29 in an effort to begin to prepare for our re-activitation in June.
2.  I received an email response from K on Tuesday, May 30, letting us know when our hold is officially removed she would review our website.  
3.  I follow up on Friday, June 2 via email having not heard anything from K.
4.  You called me on Monday, June 5 ready to accept our payment of $250 for a termination date that you understood to be June 12.  Can you help us understand why your organization would accept $250 for less than 7 days of reactivation? You noted that you would willing to take our file to the "review board".
5.  I explained that we had received notification from you in the fall that the "review board" had already granted us a 6 month extension to which you seemed to have no knowledge.  We ended the call so you could "look in to it" and I could find the documentation I knew I had.
6.  I forwarded the email that had been sent in October stating the "review board" had granted us an additional 6 months on our contract.
7.  You call back leaving a message stating you had also found this information in our file (Can you help us understand why it hadn't been there when you initially called?) and asking for our daughter's name and DOB.  Her name is Isabella Grace and her DOB is 4/13.
8.  You note that once you have our check for $250 K will be able to continue her work with us.  The check was mailed today.  Can you help us understand why $250 is needed in addition to the kajillion dollars we paid two years ago?
8.  You then send this letter for us to sign and return (which we will do by the end of the week via scanning and email).  Can you help us understand why the letter was not sent in October when the extension was granted?

Thank you in advance for helping us better understand this process.  Given the monetary, time, and emotional investment we have in your organization we are finding it critical to fully understand all of its components.

As per usual her answers were vague and trite, though interestingly she failed to respond to the question in #4.

So we are still working on finishing our updated homestudy, profile, and video.  It will be closer to July 1 that we will be ready to roll.  Which I am sure they will point out when they are unable to match us by the end of November and want to terminate our contract.

So either God has in His plans for us to have Irish twins (or whatever you call siblings even closer or in age) OR in the event they terminate the contract without a match He wants me to help others see these adoption "professionals" for who they truly are.  Stay tuned...I am as interested in finding out how this turns out as anyone!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Let Her Sleep

Just as soon as I thought I had figured out Isabella's routine she flipped the switch on me on Monday! I tried to let her take the lead, but by Wednesday afternoon we were both cranky during the day and realized that wasn't working either.  The good news is she was sleeping well (for her!) at night, but the daytime/nap time/eating routine was not exactly going swimmingly:(.

Thursday night she didn't sleep very well and today we had our weekly "play"date with my friend Amy.  Upon arriving, Isabella was asleep and I asked Amy where I could put her out of the way since a demon had overtaken her when she woke up from her last nap and I needed the demon to vanish by the end of this one!  I tucked her away in their spare bedroom and hung out with Amy and her girls.

A little while later, I was going to go wake Isabella to try to feed her before we headed to our next destination when Amy suggested I just let her sleep.  Let her sleep and when she wakes up wait for her to let me know she was hungry.  I was hesitant, but trust Amy so gave it a shot.

So for the rest of the day when she would fall asleep I would let her sleep until she woke up.  While the amount she ate did not increase wouldn't you know that kid slept from 8:00-2:30 and then again from 3-5:30 and then AGAIN from 5:50-7:00.  Who is this kid?!?!  She can spend the night every night!  On the eating front I am beginning to wonder if the first few weeks of eating on the higher end of the continuum may be the result of the reflux.  I have read that silent reflux babies can be "overweight" due to eating as a form of soothing from the pain, so maybe eating around 20 oz. is the true norm for Isabella.  She still seems to be gaining weight so maybe I just need to chill on the eating front.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Feel Like Myself Again!

I had my second counseling appointment today and I was proud to have completed almost all of the assignments she had sent me home with.

J.T. took bedtime and Isabella's first feeding on Saturday night.  While I did wake up when she cried for the feeding it felt luxurious to stay in bed.  I ended up getting about 5-6 hours of basically uninterrupted sleep and it was amazing.  The next day I had some brainstorms on various topic.  I had not had a brainstorm in months and it felt so good!

Tonight, our "night nurse" (a TA from my school who took the job when her college aged daughter and friends declined) is coming and I will-gasp-get to sleep from 10-6.  It's almost too good to be true!

Added to all of that Isabella is hitting some longer stretches (4 hours or so) and more consistently getting up twice, I feel like myself again.

I also went prepared to discuss the possibility of an "as needed" medication and whether what I am experiencing is really PPD or Postpartum Stress Disorder.

Immediately she could see/feel a difference in me.  She noted that as needed medication can be more habit forming so we agreed to table the idea of medication for now.  She also feels based on all we have discussed that if we were going to name what I had experienced she feels it is one of PPDs other off-shoots-Postpartum Anxiety.

We also discussed the potential adoption.  She had understood that the 6 months was a freeze period and that we would casually foray back in at that point.  When she realized that it was our hope/intention/plan to match and potentially bring home another newborn in 6 months she noted she was very concerned.

Feeling like myself again, I straight up told her:

"If our roles were reversed and I was sitting in your chair I would feel exactly the same way.   Here you have a woman you are treating for Postpartum mental health needs who is telling you that she is possibly looking at adding another newborn to her family ASAP--that seems crazy!  That being said there are three factors that will be different.  Number one-I have spent almost three decades working with little kids, but having a newborn knocked me on my ass.  I was totally unprepared and even thought this next baby's needs will be different I will not undergo the shock factor I just experienced.  

Two-the physical complications of actually giving birth and recovering also took a major toll on me. My previous major health issues had been infertility (which was basically a void), the removal of my wisdom teeth, and hypothyroidism, so three hospital visits and over a week's worth of hospital stays was not easy to say the least.  Again, not going to come into play with adoption.  

Finally, in the event of two newborns/infants I am asking my mom to stay with us for a month!"

This little speech seemed to put the counselor at ease and I think gave her greater insight into the real me.  We decided that we wouldn't schedule another appointment and that I would just reach back out should the need arise.

As we were wrapping up, we also discussed that while I am out and about and getting to interact with other moms, there aren't a lot of SAHM that were school leaders or are in the process of pursuing a doctorate so when meeting potential new mom friends there's not always much of a connection beyond the fact that we are both moms.  The counselor explained that she had experienced this herself, as had a client, and that I needed to be flexible and willing to accept that, should the time come that I realize that I am not cut out to be a SAHM, and that it is ok if my game plan changes.

I needed to hear this.  I had made a lot of progress in recent years in regard to loosening my tight fist on control and having a plan and expecting that plan to lay out exactly as I foresaw them; however, since being pregnant and having Isabella I have re-entered some dangerous territory in that regard.

God must have whispered into this counselor's ear because I needed to hear it as I move forward into this next stage of my life and for that I am thankful.

2 Months

Likes:  going for walks, riding in the car (most of the time!), going places and seeing new things and people, LOVES music and being sung too (sometimes she even "sings" along herself), dancing and being held up on our laps so she can "walk"/bounce, and having her diaper changed (you will note that this was on the dislike list for month one-she can be a fickle little thing!).
Dislikes:  Eating a lot at one time (darn reflux!), napping anywhere except for her stroller, being awake for longer than 75 minutes
Milestones:  Smiles, coos and if we didn't have to keep her elevated so much I swear she would be about ready to roll over.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Turning a Corner?

Today was the last day of school.  It was so weird that for the first time in 16 years it was the last day of school and I wasn't at a school!  The new principal invited me to participate in kindergarten "graduation", but I declined.  Last year on the last day of school I was looking ahead at an uncertain summer hoping against hope that DE IVF would be the answer to our prayers and I continued to be in awe that it was!

I am also in awe at the changes I have seen over the last couple of days.  Isabella is still hesitant to eat large amounts at one time, so I have adjusted things during the day so that she eats about every two hours instead of every three.  This has helped get more into her system.

We also (finally!) seem to be mastering the art of "eat, play, sleep".  Wednesday I tried having her nap in her crib (since she sleeps better there at night than anywhere else-other than on me-during the day).  That did not go well (I am assuming it's because she could see the wide expanse that is her crib that she cannot see in the dark of night) and potentially led to the first bedtime routine fail we have had in weeks.  She did not go down until almost 11..after she and I both totally melted down:(

Thursday after she would finish eating I would rotate her through "centers" (bouncy chair, walk around and look at things, activity mat, swing, singing) each of which would hold her attention for about 5 minutes max.  I then began to make my peace with the fact that she gets tired after only about 45 minutes at which point I swaddle her, turn on the white noise and sit with her (medusa style of course) until she drifts off.  I then put her in the bassinet of her pack and play (which she is about to bust out of, but works for now) where she naps for about an hour or so and then we rinse and repeat.

I have also made my peace with our day officially beginning somewhere in the 5-6am range (as dictated by Isabella).  Heck I've gotten up at this time for work for years I should be used to it!  Throw in an early morning walk with nap in stroller after wake up and an evening walk with nap in stroller and though it's early yet, I think we may be stumbling onto a routine!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

8 Weeks Old

Our baby is almost 2 months old!  She is becoming more and more her own little person every day:). 

Today also marks what will, God willing, be my final postpartum doctors appointment.   The bleeding finally stopped-hallelujah!  I am also super excited that after a year (between IVF, pregnancy, delivery and recover) of being regularly asked to undress from the waist down, as the nurse practitioner put it my vagina is no longer on display-yay!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

PPD Counseling

Yesterday I went and met with the (free) postpartum counselor at the hospital.  It felt good talking to someone about what I was experiencing and to walk away with some constructive to do items.

The first is that I need to find a way to get more sleep.  That would be great-but how?  My husband works full time and I am not having my 70 year old parents get up with her (they have already paid their dues in this department).  Every suggestion she gave I batted away, but after taking Isabella for a walk this morning I came up with three viable options.  First, asking J.T. to take bedtime and the first one to two night feedings on Saturday nights.  This would give me a 6 hour block of uninterrupted sleep.  Second, look for an overnight babysitter (colleague's college age kid? one week night a week for the next four weeks.  Third, looking at improving the quality of Isabella's sleep.  She is sooo restless and her napping is still so erratic (unless she is sleeping on me!).  Maybe if we got that figured out we could both get longer stretches of sleep at night.

The second thing we discussed was medication.  I am still opposed to medication (not for other people, just for me for some reason); however, could not articulate a good reason as to why I am opposed.  I kept going back to assuming these feelings would be short term, but as she pointed out a number of stressors (family health concerns, possible adoption placement, transitioning to single income again, etc.) are not going anywhere.  While she is right, I still hesitate to strap myself to a daily mood altering medication.  We said we would come back to the topic next week when we meet.  A friend pointed out that some meds such as Xanax are taken only as needed, I feel much better about something like that so will ask the counselor about as needed medication options.

The counselor also recommended a book (see below) which I was able to download on my phone's Kindle app and in reading the first chapter have come to see that there are multiple postpartum mood "disorders" and that I more identify with Postpartum Stress Disorder than Postpartum Depression.  I will be interested in seeing what the counselor says when I share these thoughts with her next week.

I continue to be so thankful for the hospital and affiliated medical practice we selected.  They have been such a blessing.  I think it is awesome that they offer this free service and hope other hospitals provide a similar support and that women in need are aware it exists.

Reflux Strikes Back

Eating struggles have returned:(.  Last Wednesday/Thursday she had a few screaming fits while eating so I called the pedi and they upped her dose of meds from 0.5 to 0.8 mL.  It seemed to help on the screaming front but then I realized last night that over the last week she had gone from eating 25-30 ounces a day to eating closer to 20 and most feedings consist of only 1-2 ounces.  I weighed her and while she still was gaining it was only 3 ounces over the course of the last week versus the ounce a day she had been gaining.  This time when I called the pedi they had us come right in (there was an opening in the doctor's schedule).

We discussed the reflux and the soy formula.  The pedi wanted us to stay on soy and she doubled her meds to 1.5 mL.  She said she had started conservatively and would be comfortable increasing up to a total of 2 mL.  If we are still struggling at that point we would explore other meds.  Hopefully, it won't come to that and any other increases would be the result of weigh gain.

Poor baby...while the screaming was traumatic the sticking out the tongue when we try to give her a bottle is almost more heartbreaking:(.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Medusa Moment

It rained every time I went to mow this weekend, so tonight it finally cleared and I was able to go out once J.T. got home from work.  I had fed Isabella and it was time to transition to a nap (still such a struggle).  It got to the point where I would never get out to mow if I waited for her to go sleep so I told him to just hold her and let her cry until she fell asleep (which she normally does in five minutes or less).  I'm not completely hard hearted in that I am tots cool with my daughter wailing, but sometimes it seems like she just needs that as a stress reliever once all other possibilities have been exhausted and I feel like if we hold her it's not as cold-hearted as cry it out.  Maybe I'm just justifying it, but anyway...

I went out to mow and about 10-15 minutes later J.T. comes out to the deck and gets my attention. She had not yet settled down:(.  I was at a loss so I came back in and sat with them.  She continued to cry and then I realized J.T. was doing what good dads do, but what doesn't work when we want our baby girl to go to sleep...he was watching her!  I whispered, "Don't look at her!".  He averted his eyes and she was out cold within one minute.  He looked at me whispered "I didn't know she was Medusa!".

What can I say, kids are weird man.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

All Around the Town

We have had a pretty good week.  It turns out Isabella likes to be out and about and does a really good job!

Mondays are our stroller exercise class, but since it was a holiday we went Tuesday instead.  I am definitely taking full advantage of the modifications as I struggled with planks and burpees even before I was pregnant!  I am thinking I will try running again in July, so for now I am just glad to be doing something.  So far Isabella has pretty much slept through both classes.

Tuesday night we went out to dinner with some friends and Isabella was perfect.  We sat on the patio and she looked around for a little before going to sleep.  I found a baby white noise track on Amazon prime this past weekend and that seems to work wonders.  Of course it also means she hogs my phone, but she is so calm when it's on that I don't even care!

Wednesday we did baby story hour which is for 0-18 months.  I know it seems ridiculous to take my not yet 7 week old to a story hour, but one it's free and two it gets us out of the house!  Again, Isabella was so good.  She just sat in my lap and looked around.  It was fun watching the older babies and I think it's hysterical when they point to Isabella and say some variation of "baby".  It's as though they see themselves as somehow older and wiser:).

Thursday we walk with my friend Stacy.  Friday we had our first "play date" with my friend Amy's two girls (17 months and 4 weeks) and met up with two colleagues for drinks after school (again white noise for the win!).  

Doesn't Isabella look like a giant compared to her new friend, Emma?

When we are out and about Isabella is so good.  When we are at home; however, we still have numerous moments of struggle (fussy, fighting sleep, etc.).  I think she likes the activity, noise, sights, etc. when we are out.  Still trying to figure out some sort of routine.  I like the word routine better than schedule because I think if we just had an order to our day I would feel better.  Right now we have a bedtime routine (change, pajamas, sleep sack, eat, white noise and rock) and our daily outing routine and that's it.  It is definitely a good start, but after 16 years as an educator I will feel so much better when more of our day follows some sort of structure.