14 October 2013

Baby Ruth

This post is going to be all about Baby Ruth (and I am NOT talking about the candy bar) and our family's adjustment to having two children.  Baby Ruth was born on September 5th, exactly 1 week after her due date and it has been an exciting first 5.5 weeks so far!

I am going to compare our experiences with Ruth to our experiences with Samuel a lot, just to keep it in my perspective.  Most people experience what we did with Ruth or something similar, but since Samuel was our first born and did not follow the norm, it was exciting to learn what the "norm" is (granted each labor and delivery happen a bit differently, but all in all they are a lot more similar to each other when the baby is term than when the baby is 3 months early).  So here are some ways that Ruth and Samuel have been very different:

1. First off, we were excited for labor!  In fact we were waiting (im)patiently and praying for it to start for a few weeks by the time I was in labor.  This is a big difference from when Samuel was born.  You see, when you reach term and labor is supposed to be happening instead of being in the throes of labor all of a sudden, 3 months early, you can view it as a good thing.  When I was in labor with Samuel it came on suddenly and I labored through the night all the while thinking that this should not be happening (and it should not have, but did).  Samuel is the reason I cannot in good conscience say that babies come when they are ready, he came early and was clearly not ready.  Ruth was a completely different story!  I was having contractions that were getting more regular and intense the night before her due date.  We were ready to head into the hospital when labor stopped.  For the next week I waited (im)patiently for labor to start again and all I got were random contractions periodically.  When labor finally started (with the help of the doctor breaking my water) I was ready and excited for it!

During labor, which was hard, but fairly quick for me, I was able to look at the pain as a good thing.  Granted I was really tired, as the off and on labor of the last week of pregnancy and inability to get comfortable made sleep very tricky, but labor was a good thing.  Contractions really picked up around 3pm and she was born at 6:22pm.

2. When Ruth was born it seemed like she was immediately put in my arms (which she wasn't immediately, there was some fear that she swallowed meconium, but it was within minutes).  That was the plan that she would be given to me right away, but after Samuel I wasn't ready for it.  Of course I was happy to hold her and would not have wanted it any other way, but mentally I wasn't prepared for them to just give her to me.  Samuel went straight from the doctor's hands to the NICU doctor.  He was immediately covered up to keep him warm (as he was unable to control his own body temperature and would remain unable for a while) and the NICU team went to work making sure he was breathing.  With Ruth all they did was a quick check over for the meconium and she was mine.  It seemed too easy.

3. I actually had to recover from the birth.  Both births were vaginal, but with Samuel I did not understand what all the fuss was.  I stopped taking pain medications pretty much immediately with him and did not understand why people though I would be in any pain postpartum.  Sure I was sore, but pain?  Let's just say a 7# 15oz baby leaves a little more of a mark on her way out than a 2.5# baby.  For a full two weeks I was more than simply sore, I definitely had pain.  Granted as the 2 weeks went on the pain lessened and I tried to not do things that would make it hurt, but it was a full 2 weeks before I started feeling "normal" again.  For those having babies now, invest in a boppy.  It's not for nursing and it isn't to put the baby in, it's for you to sit on.  Trust me, you'll probably want it.

4. Nursing Ruth has felt like a breeze compared to Samuel.  In fact Samuel was about 6 or 7 weeks old before we latched him for the first time to try to nurse for himself.  Up until then the pump and I were best buds.  Anyone who thinks pumping is easy, hasn't probably done it to boost their supply or keep going (granted for some it is easier than others).  Every time I pumped it was like 30 minutes + of time and I did that 10-12 times a day most of the time Samuel wasn't able to nurse for himself.  I am really enjoying that I can simply just nurse my baby.  This is part of why I believe a full-term baby is easier to care for than a preemie.  Even when Samuel came home from the hospital and was eating for himself, I was still pumping 4-6 times a day.  Now, if I feel like pumping I can, but I don't have to for fear of losing my supply.  Another thing I have noticed is I sometimes leak when she cries.  I never did that with Samuel and I have to believe that is due to how I built my supply with them.  Ruth was an active part of that process whereas Samuel was not.

5. Ruth and Samuel have VERY different cries.  Granted this does not necessarily have anything to do with Samuel being preemie, but still.  Samuel's cry was way more subdued than Ruth's.  Ruth is a loud squeaky shrieky crier.  When she cries, you know it and so does just about everyone in a 5 block radius (ok maybe I am exaggerating on the 5 block radius).

6. Ruth is HUGE!  Ok, not really.  She's actually quite average when it comes to size I am told, but still she is HUGE!  I guess your size reference gets skewed a little when big brother was only 2.5# at birth...  I don't know how big Ruth is right now, but she fits 0-3 months sized clothes very nicely and I bet she'll be in 3-6 month sized clothes within a few weeks.  Samuel could wear 0-3 month when he was 6 months old (granted he had probably been wearing them for a month by then, but still, Ruth started fitting in them at only a month of age).  I have had to stop myself from thinking Ruth is "behind" developmentally because Samuel was doing so much more than she is when he was her size.  :-)  I have to remember Ruth is "normal" Samuel was not!

7. Bonding with my baby is so different.  I did not comment on this much when Samuel was in the NICU, but it took me quite a while to process emotionally that Samuel was my son.  I knew he was, but his birth and early infancy was anything but "normal" and definitely not what I pictured when we found out we were expecting with him.  I try not to build up too many expectations because each situation is a little different, but I never expected to have a preemie.  Even though I knew he was my baby and I would eventually take him home and I spent a TON of time in his room at the NICU (went home to sleep almost every night though), it took me a while to emotionally make that connection.  That tiny baby in his giraffe bed, hooked up to all the equipment was mine and is mine.  As I got to hold him more and as he came home and became more and more interactive that emotional connection happened, but it took more time.  With Ruth, I feel like that connection happened much more immediately.  That brings me to my last point:

8.  When I was discharged from the hospital, so was Ruth!  Oh and we did not set up visiting nurse appointments for when she was home (except for 1, they have a nurse come to your house, or you go into the hospital or they have a nurse call you a few days after discharge, but that is standard procedure).  There has been no need thus far to closely monitor Ruth in any way.  She was born, she was (and is) healthy and they sent us home, nothing to it.  I actually had the thought of they just send babies home like this?  Would I have been ready for Samuel to be home so soon after his birth if he were term?  This is way too simple!  Again I have the more involved process of being in the NICU as my point of comparison, not really fair, I know.  We did not even visit with a doctor or a nurse again until her 2 week check-up (and Samuel got to have his 1.5 year check-up then too) and her doctor told us that he did not need to see her again until 2 months.  That is approximately 6 whole weeks of zero monitoring!  That has been so nice though.  When Samuel came home we had a nurse at our house twice a week for check-ups, we had more frequent doctor visits and he had to see an ophthalmologist for his ROP (that thankfully went away on its own).  It's been nice to just go home and be a family!

Lastly I want to comment quickly on the question that everyone has, "What does Samuel think of his sister?"  Well, he's intrigued by her.  He does not seem to understand what is happening, but he seems somewhat intrigued.  When she first came home Samuel had sustained a minor injury that took him off his feet for almost 2 full weeks and was super grumpy, he wanted nothing to do with her then, he was in his own form of misery.  But as he has felt better he is showing interest.  We are practicing gentle touches when he's around her.  He also acts somewhat concerned when she is close by and fussing.  He has put together that we give her a pacifier at times to help calm her and will sometimes bring us a pacifier to give her when she is crying.  Other than that he pretty much ignores her and does his own thing.  His own thing lately includes wandering the house with some sort of kitchen utensil in his hands.  Some of his favorites are the potato masher and the grill spatula.

Samuel practicing his gentle touches.

Ruth is one whole month old!

Samuel likes to try to hang with Ruth and I on the couch.

Daddy with both kids!  Samuel's trying to escape.

22 July 2013

34.5 Weeks and Counting

So I haven't written in a while.  I don't know if I was subconsciously trying to not jinx this pregnancy or what, but it was not on purpose!  However, we are currently almost 35 weeks along and 37 weeks is technically considered term (though ask any NICU nurse and they'll tell you that it really kind of depends on the baby if that act full-term or not, so 37 weeks does not necessarily mean you are in the clear).

We have been quite busy over the last months!  So I will keep this pretty brief and focus on what is happening now, we'll start with pregnancy and baby prep.  Recently we went to a family reunion in South Dakota and I got to meet a lot of Ben's extended family that I had not had opportunity to meet before.  I also got to meet his cousin who has twins!  There were lots of little guys there about Samuel's size, so he had a great time hanging with them.

From the family perspective, it was an awesome trip!  We even stayed at my parents on the way out and got to see Ben's Grandma, which is always good too.  From the car ride perspective the trip was killer to my back!  Between being in the third trimester, the car ride and twisting to help Samuel with stuff, my back was pretty well screaming in pain by the time we got home...

So I went to the chiropractor.  I felt improvement after that, but it still hurt pretty bad.  So off I went to get a massage and boy did that make a difference!  Of course all of it has been helped by my husband, who has graciously been giving me nightly back rubs to attack the two spots that make it hurt.  He is such a loving husband, playing along with my pain so nicely.  I really don't know how to get to sleep without him rubbing my back.  And yet, he's gone to the National LCMS Convention and sleep has definitely not come easy!  I need my back rubber home again...  Oh, well, tomorrow I'm getting another massage so hopefully that will help me get to the end of the week a little better!

Please do not read my back pain story as complaining, because I am far from truly complaining about the back pain.  Yes, it is quite annoying and frustrating, but despite that my baby is growing.  Right now my baby staying inside and growing is vastly more important than the back pain I have been having.  So while it is not fun having back pain, I would take the back pain any day over a preemie.  So in a sense I am thankful for it because it means that my baby is still inside me and growing.

This baby is going to have a way more organized and better decorated room than Samuel ever had!  I suppose it helps that a) we have pretty much everything already and b) the baby hasn't been born yet!  If this baby can as early as Samuel we would have been equally disorganized!  Right now the baby has the crib all set up (no sheets on the mattress yet though, that shall be remedied soon though), a dresser (clothes aren't in it yet, but I am working on sorting them, yeah if we have a girl I'll probably end up pulling some of it out, but I'll put it all in for now for the little sizes, but there are bibs, burp cloths and swaddlers all ready to go), diapers are ready (we still have a pack or newborn and size 1 diapers from the baby showers for Samuel and I have all the newborn cloth diapers prepped, sorted and ready to go) and we have some decorations up with matching curtains.  I'll post photos once we get things a little more set, but we are getting really close!

Samuel is doing great!  He had a double ear infection in May and has one again, but otherwise he has been very healthy and keeps growing and learning new tricks.  He has become quite proficient at scootching on his butt and army crawling.  He has loved walking around, holding tightly onto our hands with both his hands and currently is getting more adventurous with walking the furniture.  I don't think he will meet my deadly of being a very able walker by the time the baby is born, but he is getting much closer.  I guess I will probably have to carry two babes around for a while...

Finally I have been working on lots of projects this summer and making slow progress on all of them.  The first one to finish is a photo book I am making for my Grandma's 90th birthday!  We are unfortunately going to miss out on the party as it is soo close to our due date, but maybe we'll give her a great-grandchild for her birthday instead!

I am also working on curriculum for the two classes I am teaching with the Wittenburg Academy.  This is a classical Lutheran online high school.  This next school year will be our second school year.  We learned a lot from the first school year I think.  We know more about things to avoid and things that are really good to do in that environment.  I will be teaching German I and German II this next school year during the Christmas Term and Easter Term.  Originally I was going to teach during the Michaelmas Term, but with baby coming about the time that term starts, I decided to opt out of that term.  So only 2 levels of German this year, hopefully next year we can add German III.  The faculty and staff recently had a retreat in conjunction with the Consortium on Classical Lutheran Education's Conference.  Unfortunately I was unable to attend physically, but was able to join some of the sessions virtually.  We talked about a lot of great stuff and I cannot wait to use some of the resources they pointed us to as I prepare my courses.

With all of this going on Ben has been quite busy too!  He spent a week at guard training in June.  It was quite entertaining when he came home.  Samuel I think was afraid he was going to leave him again, so every time Ben left his site, he freaked out, even if he just left his sight for a few seconds.  Then Ben brought some youth from our Church to the National Youth Gathering at the beginning of this month, came home and got VBS ready and had VBS and now is gone to the National LCMS Convention.  I have not seen nearly enough of my husband!  I am excited for him to be home soon, there is only 1 guard drill between now and our due date, so I will hopefully be seeing much more of him!

I'll just leave you with, we are getting excited about the baby's arrival (though it is not time for baby to come yet) and we are keeping quite busy with all our activities and jobs!

15 April 2013

Samuel's Due Date

I suppose there are many ways people think about the day their child was supposed to be born as opposed to the day they were actually born.  This is something only a preemie parent could think about!   Some do not do anything for that day others celebrate it in different ways.  For this first year we incidentally are walking with March of Dimes on the day of his due date.

Samuel's due date was supposed to be April 28th, so being born any time close to that would have been fine, however he was born on January 27th.  He joined the ranks of preemies and on April 2nd last year he became a NICU grad!  He had a pretty uneventful stay in the NICU, there mainly as a grower and a feeder.

During the first (almost) 15 months of Samuel's life we have had lots of things to rejoice about!  He is not as far developmentally as his actual age peers, but he is advancing at an appropriate rate for his prematurity.  Many people had commented in the earlier months that all preemies catch up within 1 year.  These people were not very experienced with preemies and it is sometimes true.  Our son, is not caught up within a year, but he is doing very well.  What the professionals told us is to expect him pretty much caught up in 2 years.  It is my personal belief that he will remain small compared to his peers for even longer.

All that said, what does this have to do with walking with March of Dimes on April 28th?  March of Dimes is an organization committed to reducing premature births in our country.  They provide many helpful resources to families going through the NICU.  These resources educate families on preemies and provide preemie specific baby materials such as a NICU baby book.

If you would like to donate to help the cause please click on this link: Michelle's Page.  I'm looking forward to the walk and can't wait to show you photos of us walking with his nurses and other NICU grads.  :-)

28 March 2013

Samuel's Birthday Party!

We delayed and finally got there!  We celebrated Sam's birthday last Saturday evening.  I think he had fun too!  Here are some photos to see some of the festivities:

The cake that everyone got to eat.

Samuel was sort of indifferent during gift opening, but don't let that fool you, he's loved playing with them!  Especially clapping the pieces of this wooden puzzles together!

Again indifferent, but he does enjoy the camera, when we pull it out for him.  :-)

I think we did most of the wrapping paper work, but sometimes he'd grab a piece of paper and throw it to the side.

It took a few tries, but he eventually pulled this gift out.
Sitting under his pile of goodies.
So...  What are we doing now he wonders.

Getting reading for his smash cake!

Ok, so I have this cake in front of me, what do you expect me to do with it?

Ahh!  I have frosting on my fingers!

And it won't come off!  (He kept trying to shake the frosting off his hands...)

Now to dig in...

Yup, I pretty much demolished it!

Except for 1st, it was my first birthday and you shouldn't forget!

So that was a lot of photos, but I figured it would tell the story of his birthday party better than me.  We had some pork loin for supper with some fruit salads and veggie tray.  We also printed off monkey coloring sheets to be colored, we will be putting those in a little book for Samuel.

We decided to celebrate his birthday late (he's about 14 months old now, but only 11 adjusted) because his birthday (January 27th) is super close to Christmas and he just didn't act like a one year old at all.  He definitely acts older now and it isn't even his should have been due date yet!  In the future we do not plan on celebrating his birthday 2 months late, it just fit our situation really well this year!

We had fun and are thankful to everyone who came and made his 1st Birthday Party a good one!

21 March 2013

To Have a Preemie or to Not Have a Preemie...

This is a question I have received a lot regarding my current pregnancy, "Are you expecting a preemie again?" or something to that effect.  The answer is a resounding NO, however that would have been the same answer I would have given the day I went into labor with Samuel!  So the answer is, no, we are not expecting another preemie, but you just never really know.  At this point though we have NO reason to anticipate a preemie.  Here's maybe a little more detailed explanation:

When I went to my OB history appointment they ask us a ton of health history questions regarding both sides of the family and of ourselves, including past pregnancies.  One question that I was never asked was if my family had a history of preemies.  We would get asked if we had a history of high-blood pressure, heart attacks, asthma, iron deficiencies, well, really anything health related, but not preemies.

This is because sometimes preemies can seem totally random with no clear reason for why a person had a preemie.  That is the case for us with Samuel and actually for Ben when he was born!  My husband was born 2 months premature and if you asked his parents, they were never given a reason why.  In fact, as the oldest of 3, his brothers came pretty much on their due dates or after their due dates.  We think (as opposed to know) Samuel was 3 months premature because his blood work showed that he had an infection (I had no infection, just him) and it is not uncommon for Mom's body to go into labor to rid itself of the infection.  That is why we think he was early, but again we don't really know for sure.

There are a lot of things that can lead to premature birth when it comes to the health of the mother.  My husband being early could have dealt with something his Mom was dealing with (but I am definitely not saying she was, just speculating), but what happens with her body does not have impact on what happens with my body, because I got mine from my family, not my husband's.  I do have a cousin that was born 3 months early, but again her Mother is not blood relation (married to my blood Uncle), so my cousin being early also has no impact on family health history (and in fact, I don't know why she was early either, or if they even know...).

So Samuel being born early is not a connection to his Dad being born early and also did not necessarily deal with any complications in the pregnancy (which we had none that we know of until I went into labor, which that would be considered a major complication I think!).  Sometimes preemies happen to the least likely candidate and even if a person is at risk for premature labor, no one actually thinks it could happen to them.

I'm not trying to scare anyone (as most pregnancies end completely normally at roughly 40 weeks), just letting you know some of the facts behind what causes premature births.  Sometimes we know why and sometimes we don't.  At this point in this pregnancy (and we're at 17 weeks today) we have no reason to believe that we will have another preemie.  Only time will tell if that will be true or not, but for now I'm not going to worry about something that might happen.  Besides if we have another preemie, at least I kind of know what I'm in for in the NICU (though each preemie can have a vastly different experience in the NICU depending on their own struggles and issues) and I know that the NICU staff at our hospital is first rate and I would be happy to know that they would be taking care another one of my babies.  Until that happens, I'm just going to plan on a long hot summer until August 29th for this Momma!

15 March 2013

Due Dates

WOW!  I cannot hardly believe it's been since November since I posted last!  I guess that makes me the slacker, ha!  Anyways...

Due Dates are REALLY important, even though babies are generally not born on them!  Samuel turned 1 year old (is that really possible?!?!) on January 27th, however we have not reached his due date yet, which makes him just over 10.5 months adjusted now.

He's doing great though!  During the day he likes to keep busy grabbing any papers/keys within reach, watching Momma work out and just generally causing any mischief he can get his hands on.  The music set and little car Oma and Opa gave him last weekend have been great for funneling his energy!

That said he's not mobile.... yet.  I truly believe he is able to crawl, just doesn't.  He does LOVE being on his tummy and goes in circles like it's nobody's business and eventually makes it a few feet across the floor.  He is increasingly enjoying standing (with support), but is definitely not interested in taking any steps at this point.  My only request is that he is fully mobile by August (more on that below if you haven't heard our news).

Currently he is also experimenting with dropping his morning nap, which means he will only have 1 afternoon nap.  I'm saddened by that because I love having 2 nap times to do things or nap myself, but alas I'll adjust to only 1 nap time!

So I really want him mobile in the next few months because...  I want to deal with the challenges that come with a mobile child before we have a newborn!  Samuel's baby brother or sister (don't even bother asking if we know the gender, we don't and we're going to keep it that way until birth) is due August 29th.  Samuel's due date was April 28th, so I guess we are trying our hand at the other A month.

So far this pregnancy has been easier on my than Samuel's.  I believe I had more morning sickness problems (which were still more naseau than actual sickness) this time, but overal my energy level has been much higher.  With Samuel I was simply exhausted and everyone would tell me that that is just the way it is when you're pregnant.  I really wanted to start asking people if they'd borrow my level of exhaustion for a few days and then tell me that it's normal.  It was not normal, I was more tired than most pregnant women and it only went away when Samuel was born.

A contributing factor to my exhaustion level might have been allergies.  Due to getting sick a lot last fall I switched doctor's, went on allergy meds and have had more energy than I have had in years.  In fact Ben told me one night that he had no idea what to do with me having all of that energy (that was just before we got pregnant).  I was definitely tired during first trimester, but it wasn't anything a nap couldn't help.  With Samuel sleep did not help my level of tiredness, I was simply tired all the time.

Right now everything is going completely normal with this pregnancy (and other than exhaustion, it did at this point with Samuel as well).  At the last check-up our baby was definitely hiding from the doctor and it took her quite a while to find him/her so she could get a decent read for herself (and so I could hear well too of course).  So this child is also proving to be quite active in the womb just like big brother.  My doctor asked me if I could feel the baby move already, well I hadn't at that point.  Since that appointment I think I have felt somethings that felt like it did when Samuel moved, but I am not 100% certain.  I'm sure I'll feel the baby in the near future!

That is the big update for now!  Hopefully I will not forget about my blog in the future and keep everyone updated!  We have been quite busy this winter and the coming months do not appear to be slowing down at all!  I'm loving my time home with Samuel!