Sunday, May 31, 2009

Finding Normal

After three months of chaos: the bedrest, the NICU, the maternity leave we are starting to come to a sense of a new "normal" in our lives. This week I went back to work and even though I can't say I want to be there it has re-shaped our schedules in such a way that it seems Edward is an aspect of our schedule and not necessarily the driving force. (Although admittedly he is the main component still).

This weekend we found time to take the whole family to a HS open house for a brief period of time during which people actually met the fabled baby goat. I realized as I observed people fawning, rightfully, over my dear babe that this is another aspect of motherhood that the NICU changes. Just now are we getting into the celebration aspect of having a baby. Oh sure, our parents and siblings have been over the moon and fighting for rights to hold him, but so few of our friends have been able to meet him. Much of this is schedules and the fact that we've had to be cautious, but it has hurt not to be able to properly show baby goat off. Thank goodness for the blog.

Finally we are at the point where we can start going out into the world with baby goat and meet others. There is still much cause to be cautious but with cold and flu season on the outs and the sunshine and fresh air on the rise we can start to re-enter the real world. I would do anything for baby goat, including being a hermit if necessary, but this re-emergence is so life giving too.

This weekend was Pentecost. At church/work baby goat was much asked for and it seems apparent that it will only be a matter of time before he makes his debut there. He is already much loved there and it is nice to see how many people care. It makes it worth some of the trouble that seems inherent in church work.

We are seeking out our new normal - work, exercise, church, baby, marriage, but suddenly we seem a bit more in sync with it all. Now if baby goat will keep on the positive sleeping trend we are on the cusp of we may just find a new normal just in time for it to change again!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Accountablity

Here is a post about me right now, it is so easy to get into the habit of posting about all things baby so I want to make sure I find some balance in my life and on my blog. Naturally most of my world is not seen through mommy-lenses but I want to take time to work on myself as an idividual and not just a mom.

One of the things I want to work on is my health. The saga of Edward's birth was a bit rattling (to say the least) and I don't want my health to get in the way of being the best Mrs. Goat and Mommy Goat I can be. So that means I need to commit some time to exercise and nutrition in hopes of losing some weight and being healthier.

And in a way this seems like a good time to start as I seem to be mostly healed from my c-section and have already lost some weight. I know that breastfeeding doesn't necessarily mean weight loss for all people but it seems to be having that effect on me. In the 3 months since Edward was born I am down a total of 88 pounds, and 40 pounds down from my prepregnancy weight. (Keep in mind that I had a LOT of water weight/swelling because of the pre-eclampsia but still.) I am worried that this is only going to last as long as I breastfeed so I want to get on the weight loss bandwagon and keep this trend going.

So I am talking about it here in an effort to get some accountability. We've had to cancel the gym but I did the first day of Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred today and wow, that is a challenge. I may have lost some weight but my body definitely lost some of its ablities in the pregnancy and c-section. Now is the time to get it going.

I am also hoping to start walking in the evenings with baby goat and Mr. Goat. Now that it is summer and beautiful I hope this will work and we can fit it in between feedings, our own dinner and work stuff. And if you have good ideas for workouts that can be done at home that would be good. I don't have the Wii Fit but am looking at the EA Sports Active game to use as it is a bit more cardio and a little less balance but I am not sure I can spend the $ right now. Maybe for my birthday in August.

I am thrilled with the 40 lbs I've lost so far, even though I can take very little credit for it as it seems to be boob driven. Nevertheless this is the largest drop in weight I've had in many many years of effort and I really enjoyed buying pants 2 sizes smaller (I had to get at least one pair for going back to work but my wardrobe is in sad (good but sad) shape right now).

Let me know if you have any suggestions for good workout options at home and if you want to go walking, golfing or tennis playing sometime this summer. I want to make a change for baby goat, Mr. Goat, and for me!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Updates.

Memorial Day weekend: On Sunday of Memorial Day weekend we took a day trip to visit the grandparents house and spend some time. It was sort of a last minute decision as my SIL had had a cold and we weren't sure if we should go but she was over it by Sunday. Baby goat got to play in the garage with his dad and grandpa doing manly things and making manly noises. (I wouldn't be surprised if farting was involved.) Here baby goat is doing his best-baseball-playing-pirate-stealing-a-motorcycle impression.

My First Day Back at Work: Today was my first day back at work. It went fine... I guess... I am anxious about it and a bit jealous that Mr. Goat gets to stay home, although I imagine he is a little jealous that I get to leave. Baby goat didn't start the day off well by having a rough night and it has been a challenge but manageable. I worry that Edward won't feel so connected to me. I already worry about this because breastfeeding hasn't worked and now I'll be gone more often. Still, I take great comfort in knowing that Mr. Goat and baby goat are so good together. Observe:

Meeting Great Grandma: This evening Mr. Goat's Grandma flew in from NC. She was coming for 2 weeks for Sister Goat's HS graduation and she had yet to meet baby goat. She was quite taken with him and the feeling was mutual. Below are Great "Gan" and baby goat hanging out and the obligatory 4 generation shot: Mr. Goat's Mom and Grandma, Mr. Goat and baby goat. Aren't they cute?

Three Months Old: As if today was not interesting enough with Mama Goat going back to work and meeting our Great Grandma, baby goat also turned 3 months old today. Technically, his "adjusted age" is 6 weeks old, so he doesn't have quite the development of a 3 month old. Still, he is doing very well: growing, eating, and paying more and more attention to things around us. I did take some pictures today (see above) but I also like these shots from yesterday when we tried out our playmate (and one in the bouncy). You can tell he is starting to examine things more closely.
He is smiling more and "talking" regularly now and is fascinated by the world around us. He is changing so quickly now that he seems different everyday. This is one of the other reasons that my heart just aches to leave for work, but it must be done. Bills need paying afterall, but it seems like an unfair trade. I love the 100 kids I work with but it pains me to leave this one behind.


Monday, May 25, 2009

What I wish I'd Known - Maternity Leave Edition

Well blogland, I go back to work tomorrow. *sob* I am not really looking forward to it for a wide variety of reasons but I take comfort in knowing that Mr. Goat will be home with the boy for the foreseeable future. However this does lead to a dilemma of schedules and such for us and I thought I'd pick your brain to see how you balance the baby (particularly at night) when one spouse is working and one is not.

Baby Goat is starting to sleep for a 5 hour stretch some nights but it can be variable, unreliable and he can still be up all night sometimes too. I am mindful that I'll need to be supportive of Mr. Goat needing baby breaks as well as my own need to sleep to maintain work/baby schedules.

So do you guys have any advice for us? What do you remember about heading back to work with a baby? Was there a care balance that you guys discovered that worked for you? Any tips or thoughts are helpful! Thanks!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Preemie Paradox: A matter of perspective

From my point of view baby goat is becoming just huge. The doctor's appointment today confirmed it. He weighed in at 10 lbs 1 oz today. He gained 25 oz in 18 days. The doctor gave him an A+ and said he's just thriving. In fact we had to up his reflux med since he's growing so well.
And to us he is huge. He's grown by leaps and bounds.

But then we went down to the lab to get his hemoglobin checked and all of the nurses and a few other patients all said "Oooooh, He's so cute and tiny." When I mentioned proudly that he was up to 10 lbs a nurse said, "That's how much mine weighed when he was born."

And then I realize just how small he still is and how much more he has to grow.

Somehow these two facts work in conjunction.

Either way, big or small, he is definitely cute. Observe:

Monday, May 18, 2009

Scraped away

I wish I could find the words to describe life with a newborn. If you've done it you know and sympathize and know that ultimately you get through it. When you are in it you have powerful I-am-MOM! type days and others that are mind-numbingly awful. If you aren't there yet you don't fully understand what you are up against.

I think one of things that is surprising to me is how quick I am to feel emotion now. All emotion. There is joy of course. Moments when you stare at your child - sleeping or awake and feel so much joy and bliss that you think your heart might burst because there isn't enough room for it all in there. This is an emotion that all new parents know. And you want to share this with the world. Nothing is a balm to a new mom quite like hearing others espouse your baby's unwavering cuteness!

What I didn't expect was that on the other side. I am just as quick to feel anger, frustration and sadness as well. It as though my emotional guard that you develop to function in the world has been scraped away. Your emotional skin is suddenly thin and rubbed raw. Most times this rage isn't really against the small tiny being that has completely changed your life but at small details and frustrations that suddenly become more than you can handle.

You overslept and can't meet your friend for lunch for that much needed mom-break = hide under the covers sadness.

You spill the just-pumped milk on the counter trying to pour it bleary eyed into a bottle = kick the cabinet frustration.

You discover that someone moved your laundry and now it needs to be done again = blinding rage.

And a thousand other examples everyday - everyday things like food, weather and tv shows. One minute may find yourself growling angrily at the television because of yet another Yankee walk of victory and the next minute you are enraptured because you are pretty certain your son boo-ed the Yankees right along with you. As a new parent you oscillate wildly from extreme to extreme like some crazed pinball. Baby sleeps 4 hours - 1000 points. Baby screams the moment before you fall asleep - TILT.

I think some of the biggest struggle of being a new parent is reestablishing some emotional normalcy. Your thick skin is gone and you have to replace it slowly over time. But will it come with losses too? Will the overwhelming joy you feel be tempered somewhat, or can you maintain some of that extreme emotional openness? But you have to rebalance somehow or forever feel disconnected and on edge.

Everyone assures me that this time doesn't continue. Sleep helps. Learning the routines help. Letting your hormones balance again helps. Already a month after he has come home we are better off than we were. Most days seem fine, but then you are still up to see the sunrise for your 4th day in a row and you have to start over.

Thank God for those moments of joy and love because if it was just the anger, frustration and sadness we'd all be locked up. And there is a joy in this whole experience too, even the bad. To experience the wonder of new life in your son, a new capacity of responsiblity for yourself and a new and deepening love for your partner. It is worth it in every respect.

But be careful not to piss a new parent off - you have been warned.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Baby Goat and the Cats

I have to admit, on of my concerns as my pregnancy progressed was how the cats would take to a small, loud intrusion in their lives. Afterall, they were used to being the heads of the household. They are pretty docile cats as a rule but they can still be needy, Doppler in particular (see left).

I wasn't sure if they would take to a bassinett or crib, or the crying or the small grabby hands. Added to this concern was the fact that delivering as early as I did meant that we didn't have time to try any means of preparing them. And once baby goat was born we spent most of our time at the NICU and I knew that they were feeling neglected.

But it turns out that I needn't have worried. The cats have taken to the new family member in a surprisingly mellow way. Doppler is still needy but doesn't seem to thing the baby is much competition. He is happy to come find is own place on my lap to share it with baby goat. He is even tolerant of our picture taking and attempts at kitty riding. :)

His new favorite spot in the house is the changing table with its indentation and the lovely fuzzy cover. He often naps there and while he finds it extremely rude when I kick him off to change E he takes it with grace. The fact that we haven't had to kick him out of our bedroom also has made his transition easy.

Tsunami has taken to the baby as well. At first we were concerned because she discovered a deep affinity for sleeping in the crib (with or without baby) but she takes being ousted well and I have never once caught her sleeping too near the baby (he's in a sling so doesn't move around in the crib).

She is fairly fond of him and when she feels she isn't getting petted enough she will come lick his foot or nudge it with her head. She likes when we pet her together (see left). She is very gentile with him and almost motherly coming near when he is upset and looking concerned. She will come to watch over him when he cries and seems to get annoyed when we don't get to comforting fast enough for her liking.

She is also thrilled with the influx of toys in the household. Her favorite? The pacifier. We have several lost in the house as she snatches them from tables and cribs and bats them around when she gets bored.

They are both extremely gentle with him and protective. And they are surprisingly patient with us when we don't get to feed them quite as fast as we used too. I know they are still in for a shock as he becomes mobile and grabby but they have accepted this addition to the family very well.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Children's Book Week

I discovered today that it is Children's Book Week. (It is also Food Allergy Awareness week but Missy is handling that topic far better than I could). I am a big fan of literature in general but kids books are a favorite of mine. I routinely pick up children's books for my own personal enjoyment with the Chronicles of Narnia, Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quartet and the Harry Potter series being top on the list.

And those are the chapter books, I'm just as fond of picture books too. I'm sure we all have our favorites from our own childhood and I'm really looking forward to introducing baby goat to my favorites and to find new favorites as well.

As the daughter of a children's book author (see one her books here under a pen name) I know that a LOT of work goes into making a good children's book. Many people think "I could write a picture book" and sadly the editors of publishing houses have to go through many many bad books to find some good ones. Knowing the process it makes the good books out there all the more precious.

It is no doubt to me that the roots of my reading began and continue with kid's books. From Reading Rainbow, to the Pizza Hut Book-It program my childhood was filled with books. I only hope to provide the same love to my son.

So reminisce with me: What are your favorite kids books? What books do you love to read to your children? What books do you remember from your childhood?

And then go visit the library and read a good kid's book for me!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Only two more weeks

I realize I haven't really given a proper update about how things are going lately so here goes:

Aaaahhh! Aaaack! Eeeepp! Eeeewww! Waaahhh! OhNoooo! Oooooo! Woohoooo! Zzzzzz! Repeat...

Does that help?

Oh, you want real sentences. Well, I suppose it will be good practice since my leave is up in less that two weeks.

Really, things are going very well. Edward is growing and thriving, despite our blundering attempts at parenthood. He eats from the bottle like a champ and has been slowly increasing his feeding amounts. He continues to gain weight, and while we don't go back for a weight check until next week so I'm not sure where he'll end up.

He'll be 11 weeks old tomorrow, but his adjusted age is just under a month old. This provides great confusion for me as I'm constantly trying to figure out where he is developmentally. There are days when it seems like he's working on smiling as smiling and not just gas but then I doubt it other days. His head is surprisingly strong and there are times when it seems like he is just short of rolling over on his own which is much too early. Maybe it is just the random movements that continue to get stronger but I find it hard to really nail down what age he seems to be.

He sleeps well most days, but that is part of the problem - days. Really it seems like he has a 36 hour calendar so every 3-4 days we get a good night where his long stretch of 4-5 hours ends up between 1-6am. That happened last night so I'm sure we are in for a long night tonight.

Mr. Goat and I are splitting tasks well right now. He's just had some freelance stuff but still no full time employment which is both good and bad. Bad for the finances and medical bills, good for caring for the baby. As it stands right now I take the longest part of the night - midnight to about 7am and he takes the morning 7am -1pm so I can get a good continues stretch of sleep. It works now but I'm not certain what will happen when I go back to work. We'll just have to figure that out soon. He sleeps in his crib in a little sling so he can sleep on an angle. This seems to help his reflux but isn't always great for keeping him asleep as he can jerk himself awake easily. But the sling doesn't lend itself to swaddling so we make the most of what we've got!

Baby Goat still hasn't taken to breastfeeding and honestly I've sort of given up trying to get him to latch on and take enough. He doesn't have any patience for it and his suck mechanism is such that it shuts off my supply and hurts so I don't feel too badly about not forcing the issue. We do try every so often to see if he's outgrown his issues and figured it out but no luck yet. Still he gets breastmilk, fortified, and while it adds time to my routine to pump it is still worth it. I do wonder if we are missing a magical breastfeeding bonding but I can't worry about something that isn't working for him or me, at least not right now. Still, it is easy to feel guilty about not breastfeeding...but then I remember that we sort of are, after a fashion at least.

Um...I'm sure there is more but my brain ran out of words just now. If you have anything you want to know leave me a question in the comments and I'll get to it. Also, if you know me IRL (in real life) and you want to meet him give me a call. I'd like to do some of that before I go back to work and get really busy, but only come if you are feeling 100% well. He is looking tougher everyday but we still need to avoid unnecessary germs.

Also, I'm sure I'll have more questions soon as I think of them so keep watching the blog!

Wordless Wednesday: Going, Going, Gone...


Monday, May 11, 2009

Lucky to know better bloggers than I...

As I am struggling to scrap out full sentences here in my newborn-at-home delirium I am priviledged to be friends with some great women bloggers. And I just found out that one of them (Missy at The Marketing Mama) had her blog nominated as a nominated for Best Local Blog in Nickelodeon's Parents' Picks Awards! And she needs your help to win!

You can vote for her blog once a day, every day, from now until July 15 by clicking here. Simply select the button next to The Marketing Mama and click VOTE. Help my friend win this honor! She has a great blog and you all should read it.

She is just one of the good blogs my friends have. I am honored to be among them with all my randomness. Good Luck Missy!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the wise women in my life. Thank you for everything you do and for helping me be a better mother myself.

I had a good day. My MIL came last night to babysit so I could go to Mr. Goat's concert and then spent the night to give us a night off. Heaven.

Then my mom and dad drove from Chicago where they'd been dealing with some family drama and my mom and I went to see the Star Trek movie.

I'm pretty lucky to have those mothers in my life and to have my boys - Mr. Goat and baby Goat too!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Birth Saga Part 3 - the immediate aftermath

At the end of our last segment (found here) the c-section had been successfully completed, baby goat had been whisked away and I was stitched back up...

After the c-section the next 24 hours are a series of foggy memories. Some have been brought back with Mr. Goat's help and reminding, others are vivid with huge chunks of time being gone before and after them. This is, I believe, due to the fact that I was much sicker than I knew, that I have a strong reaction to medications and that I was on a very strong anti-seizure/stroke med because of my blood pressure (Magnesium Sulfate). Nevertheless, I will do my best to share what I do remember.

I have virtually no recollection of the end of the c-section and getting back into a labor and delivery room. I vaguely remember someone (maybe even Mr. Goat) coming and telling me that everything was fine, baby goat was on some oxygen but doing well and that I was doing fine.

At some point after we were both stablized I was wheeled down in my bed to see baby goat. I didn't actually remember this until Mr. Goat told me about it, though I do have a memory of the NICU and seeing my parents and my ILs (and SIL). I am sure I must have seen baby goat but I don't have a distinct memory of that instance seperate from others. I remember him more from the glimpse in the c-section itself.

Most of the evening was a total blur. I remember being insanely hot and kept demanding that the nurses turn down the heat. Still it kept getting warmer. I am told this was a side effect of the drugs but I didn't know it at the time.

I was aware enough at one point to make sure that Mr. Goat was going to spend the night with me. You see, for the 6 previous days in the hospital Mr. Goat would go home to sleep since we were only 10 minutes away and he could be better rested than on those pull out chair/beds in the hospital. But that night I asked him to stay.

As evening turned to night I remember starting to feel very panicked and worried. I was having strange pains in my abdomen, cramps and more concerningly trouble breathing. The nurses were concerned enough to call for an immediate chest x-ray, some oxygen for me (I was at 91% not the normal 95%+) and the doctor. I remember feeling guilty for dragging my doctor out of bed in the middle of a snow storm but felt worried enough that I was glad she was coming. She checked me out and declared me in no immediate danger and so at about 2am Mr. Goat and I settled down to try to get some sleep.

Now I am not sure how well I slept. I was hot from the meds, still cramping and had the oxygen thing in my nose. It turned out later that the cramping was really contractions. You see they put me on pitocin after the surgery to help shrink my uterus back to size since I had never actually gone into labor. This makes total sense and I'm sure someone must have mentioned that I was on pitocin and yet I didn't put two and two together for days after surgery. Big DUH on my part.

Anyway, we went to bed: myself with one light blanket, sweating and cursing the neverending heat, Mr. Goat fully clothed, wearing my bathrobe and three hospital blankets cursing the fact that my medicine induced hot flash made me insist that the thermostat be set as low as possible. It turns out that is 59 degrees. So Mr. Goat went to bed sleeping next to the window, with a snow storm outside in the 59 degree room. I was still cursing the heat.

At 4 am or so the nurse came in to check my stats and blood pressure. Mr. Goat woke up and rolled over to observe when suddenly:

"F*&^! *&^$! *&^$! %$@#! <#^@! &^%#! &^@&! "

And Mr. Goat sprinted from the room and I heard him swearing all down the hallway.

Eventually Mr. Goat returned to the room looking exhausted and in pain and I was able to learn what happened. Apparently upon turning over in the frigid room he got the worst charlie horse ever in his hamstring. At the same time he got another one in his opposite shin.

Luckily he was able to walk it off in the warm hallway. The 15 extra degrees helped his muscles relax again. Still it was 4:30am at this point so I told him to go home and get some sleep. I was ok and he had been taking care of me for about a week by that point and he was just as run down as I was (minus the incision).

It was fine to send him home by that point as I was starting to feel marginally better and my parents would be coming by soon enough anyway. Still, I find it immensely amusing that of all of the health concerns of that week - surgery, preeclampsia, premature son - what really felled my husband was tandem charlie horses.

The rest of the night/morning consisted of a few BP checks and some more meds and early that afternoon I was taken off the magnesium sulfate and wheeled down to a postpartum room.

I think I'll stop the story here for now. I will get to the rest of the tale sometime soon but it is easier to take it in small portions. I really do want to take the time to document the events of baby goat's birth - crazy as it was. So stay tuned, part four will come soon!

As much as I love watching the sunrise...

...does anyone have any tips on convincing baby goat that day is for playing and night is for sleeping? Techniques, books or failsafe miracles would be helpful.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Monday, May 04, 2009

Dear Laundry Jerk,

Dear Laundry Jerk,

While I realize as a new mom I did not get down to get my laundry out of the dryers as soon as you would have liked. I am sorry to have delayed you. However, this does not give you an excuse to remove my clothes and place them on top of some muddy boots someone else left on the counter. Now I have to find another hour and a half and $6 to do those loads again. I would like to assume that this was merely an oversight on your part and not a passive-aggressive act of spite.

Now as a hormonal woman I am sorely tempted to leave a nasty note or knock on every door until I track you down and demand you pay to redo my laundry but ultimately my new-mom-exhaustion is keeping me from that. Consider this your lucky day.

Sincerely,

Mrs. Goat

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Regarding Healthcare

I have always been in favor of radically changing our healthcare system in this country and ensuring that ALL people have access to the healthcare they need. I don't claim to know enough about how to bring that about but I do believe there should be insurance or something similar offered to every person in the USA.

This feeling has only intensified lately. As I'm sure my small, faithful blog readers know I reciently delivered my son 7 weeks early after a week in the hospital. Baby goat spent 46 days in the NICU.

Thank goodness we are insured. Even with our insurance our bills are a significant and panic causing amount, but without insurance...I shudder to think what might have happened.

You see, our combined medical cost totals (baby goat and myself) are in excess of Two hundred fifty thousand dollars and bills are still coming in. Let's just get this straight. My non-elective medical costs are more than many houses.

What would we have done if we hadn't been insured? Would I have even had the prenatal care to catch the preeclampsia that threatened baby goat's and my life?

I know people aren't turned away from healthcare but what bills are our poor left with and how many people avoid the doctor because of it?

I hope and pray that we can soon come up with a solution to the healthcare in this country. I don't pretend to know what it might look like but I assure you that people can only benefit by ensure that ALL people can afford healthcare!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Day with the doctor

Well, baby goat had a check up at the doctor today. His current weight 8 lbs 7.5 oz. Which means he's gained 4 pounds since he was born. Not too shabby!

It also was time for some vaccines. I know there is so much contraversy about vaccines now but I really believe that they are mostly a positive thing and I don't want baby goat to suffer through more germs than he needs to.

Still, he didn't like the shots too much...