Friday, October 31, 2008

Six Weeks

Evie just gets cuter every day and it keeps getting easier to deal with taking care of her and doing other things at the same time (i.e. my ambitious plan to mop floors tomorrow). I'm starting to relax into my new role and understand why I'm going to miss this time when she's crawling/walking/in school/etc. I'm breathing a sigh of relief that we've probably dodged the colic bullet with this baby. YESSSSS!!!! But. Tonight I am brooding on the dark side. I need reassurance that I'm a good mother, because sometimes, like tonight, I don't feel like a good mother.

Evidence against me:
  • I feel as though Evie is fussier with me than with other people. My theory about this is that she is A. bored with me because she sees me all the time or B. hates me because I am the "baby torturer" (i.e. I'm the one who does 90% of the diaper changes, which she only tolerates because Rabbit is there, 100% of washing her hair, which she hates, and 90% of clothing changes, which she also dislikes.
  • I feel as though Evie looks at other people more than she looks at me. She's definitely not an autistic baby because she likes to stare at faces, just not mine. Frequently I catch her looking at me when I'm looking elsewhere, but if I put her right in front of me and talk to her and try to interact and coax out a smile, she stubbornly looks away into thin air or at the ceiling. Argh.
  • All of the books encourage me to talk and sing to her, introduce toys, give her tummy time, etc. I feel so much pressure to make good use of every minute she is awake and happy to "stimulate" her. I know I'm being hyper about this, but I feel like I'm doing a crappy job of it. Often I'm just too tired in the morning to be chatty with her. I'm so not a morning person. When I do try to play with her or interact with her, often she reacts by fussing or crying. Thanks a lot, Evie. She also hates tummy time and either wails or just goes to sleep. The only way I can do tummy time with her is on my own chest. Then she does push back/up and practice her head control. But again, she looks around the room, not at my beautiful mommy face right in front of her. She's happy in her play gym for a few minutes at a time, but if I'm there talking to her it makes her fussy. She just wants to be alone with her toys and her singing star, thank you very much.
  • I feel judged! She's happy in my arms until I pick up the telephone or sit down at the computer. Then she fusses and cries as if trying to tell me "You're a bad mommy! Stop paying attention to those electronic gadgets and pay attention to me! Don't you love me?" I know I'm being paranoid, but it's ridiculous how predictable this is. She even fusses when J or I pick up the remote, for goodness' sake!
  • She fusses or wails at some point of almost every meal I've eaten in the past few weeks. It's as if she's my personal trainer, trying to bully me into cutting back my calories. "No food for mommy!!" This is the time when I am the most frustrated with her because I am hungry and she is crying for "no reason" (meaning that I'm not trying to eat when I know that she is hungry or needs to be changed, I make sure she's taken care of first). But really, it feels as though she wakes up from naps just to torment my mealtimes. Then I feel guilty for being upset with her because, of course, she's just a baby and not really trying to be mean to me and for heaven's sake it's only a bagel and coffee; it's not the end of the world to eat/drink them cold. But I'm not a morning person! I need my coffee!
  • I feel like I am being lazy because I spend so much time watching TV these days while I feed, burp and rock her. It's useful, really, because rocking in the leather rocking armchair in front of the TV calms her down and it's a comfy place to feed and burp her. If I sit in that chair long enough with her, rocking and patting, she will quiet down and fall asleep 100% of the time. So, she's conditioned me to seek out that chair many times per day. I've been watching a lot of CNN (I know it's a late night when I start to watch Larry King for the second time. Doh.), "The Daily Show" and random TiVo suggestions like "The Baby Diaries" (good show to watch as a new mom; it makes you feel good about your own marriage in comparison, if nothing else) and "An Adoption Story" on TLC. Interestingly, my TiVO has not yet recorded an episode of that show with an adoption like ours. They are all older children/international/special needs adoptions so far. Hmmm.
  • I feel guilty when she's napping and starts to fuss and I hurry over to "press the baby snooze button" by popping in a pacifier so that I can finish whatever I was doing (loading the dishwasher, typing an e-mail, sleeping), instead of putting her needs before my own and just leave the half-folded laundry basket to change her diaper and feed her right away.

As I was pondering these things, the thought crossed my mind that maybe I'm not fully bonded with her yet? Possible, since I've never experienced bonding with my own baby before, but I certainly feel as though I'm bonded to her! I think more of the problem is that I feel she's not bonded to me. Even though she gives the occasional smile, I feel sad that I can't coax a smile out of her whenever I want to by smiling and cooing at her. It hurts my feelings! I know she can do it, so why won't she do it for me? Pout.

I know intellectually that everything is fine, that I'm a good mom and she loves me and that in a week when she's smiling like crazy all of this will be a hazy memory. I'm aware of the fact that I'm putting too much pressure on myself. But knowing doesn't change the feelings.

I am grateful every day for what a gift Evie is and I feel so blessed that J and I have finally ended our long voyage toward parenthood (for now). I love Evie like crazy and wouldn't trade her for the world. I don't want to sound like I'm whining because I realize how lucky I am to have these issues to deal with! I remember how annoyed I once was with new moms who complained about a baby keeping them up all night. I used to think "hey I'll trade you your sleepless nights for my endometriosis!"

So, I'm truly sorry if I'm being annoying to those of you who are still trying/waiting/hoping/praying/frustrated/angry/disappointed. I do know how that feels. But. I don't want to make this blog all happiness and light and ignore the dark side just because I'm supposed to be loving every single moment of motherhood after surviving infertility. Motherhood after infertility is still motherhood and it is still hard.

I am coming to terms with not being super-mom even though I've been training and preparing for the job for months. Now that is something I know for sure many/most/all mothers have to go through. The process started on day two when Evie began telling me that she hates my nipples and would rather have an intimate, loving relationship with a bottle. And am I really coming to terms with not being super-mom just by writing it all out in a big long post, or am I going to continue to let my own insecurities and perfectionism torture me throughout her childhood? On that bleak note...

More about Evie this week:

  • She is pretty consistently sleeping at least one 5-6 hour stretch at night and I am pretty consistently not taking advantage of it to sleep myself because she starts her "big sleep" somewhere between 8-11 pm and my late owl nature has not yet submitted to my new reality. I'll get there eventually, I think.
  • She's started noticing the dogs more. Just the beginning of a cute relationship among them, I hope.
  • Her head and neck control are getting better every day and she seems to enjoy being held in a sitting position so that she can bob her head around to look wherever she likes (just not at me).
  • Today she let out her first coughs that weren't the "cough cry," (you know, the ugh, ugh, ugh cry) and weren't choking coughs when she tries to drink too much formula at once. They were just coughs, and only two of them. I'm not going to call the doctor about it unless she has a fever/runny nose/other symptoms. I'm assuming it's just because I haven't dusted the house since we brought her home and it's getting cold and the air is drier. People cough. It's only in the movies that it means you're dying.
  • She's starting to recognize her bottle at a distance for what it is. Yum!
  • She's starting to look at things (toys, mobiles) with a more alert, focused, interested gaze. She seems to prefer looking at white, black, red and orange (not a surprise, as all of the baby books predict this). She also seems to like looking in the mirror on her play gym and she loves to look into windows when it's dark outside and they take on mirror qualities.
  • When I hold her to my chest and she doesn't want to be comforted, she scratches me. Ouch.
  • She quiets to new environments and sits still to look around for awhile. That's useful as it buys me time to get dressed/brush my teeth/fold laundry while she's propped up in a place where she can look at different and fascinating things like our headboard, a drying rack or hand towels.
  • She still hates getting fastened into her car seat, but she is officially a good baby in the car and usually passes out cold for the trip. This will make our trips to Minnesota and Texas for Thanksgiving and Christmas, respectively, much, much easier.

Tomorrow, all four grandparents arrive for Evie's baptism weekend. It will be busy, but I have set up a couple of automatic posts because of NaBloPoMo. I'll be back in person next week and I'll put up pictures from the baptism.

NaBloPoMo

I'm going to try to join Safire and many other bloggers this November in the NaBloPoMo: National Blog Posting Month. The goal is to post every day and there is a raffle of prizes at the end of the month to reward bloggers who manage to do it. I think there will be a theme, but I'm not sure if I'll follow the theme or not. I don't think I have to in order to participate and be eligible for prizes.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Department Store Portraits

These were done at exactly 5 weeks old. She was fussy in her dress but happy during the naked shots. Can you tell? :) In some of the photos you can tell from her wet lip/chin and pursed lips that she was sucking on her pacifier and I had just pulled it out one second before the picture was taken!

In this one she was wiggling and "crawling" on the velvet backdrop:
Is anyone else disturbed by the beheaded baby trapped in the ornament? I am:


Again, isn't it child abuse to trap a baby in a snow globe?


This would be cute except that I can tell she'd been crying in the picture on the right and they want to charge $24.99 for a print of this:


I love this one, except, again, that the two righthand pictures are of unhappy Evie:


Wait, where's my paci? --


Love this one, but they want to charge $29.99 for it:


Again with the unhappiness:


Oh how I wish I'd had black patent leather Mary Janes on her for this one. (slap forehead):


I think we're going to have to fork over the $$$ to make this our Christmas card:

I got this one as my free 8x10:


I also ordered some prints of this one:

Diagnosis?

Here is the rash I was talking about. Is it enough to call the pediatrician about, or just wait until my dad (a doc) comes on Friday and he can look at it?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How Much Does Domestic Infant Adoption Cost?

When my friend Deanna was going through infertility treatment, she decided to post on her blog exactly how much she and her husband were paying for each part of the process. She did this because she had so much difficulty finding information online about how much various treatment options cost. She wanted to provide a resource for anxious women googling "how much does an IUI cost?"

I talked with J about it, and neither one of us feels that there is any reason why I shouldn't do the same on this blog. I certainly don't want Evie to see this post before she is 18 and has the legal right to do so, because I don't want her to think about herself as being some type of commodity that we purchased, but I'll deal with that when she's 16 and I finally let her online for the first time. Ha ha. I know that some people still consider it rude to discuss money in any context and if you feel that way, just skip this post. But, I hope that this information will be useful to people who stumble upon my blog from a google search for "how much does domestic infant adoption (DIA) cost?" I hope that it demystifies some of the process and gives couples confidence that they can build their family through domestic adoption.

Disclaimer: our experience is not necessarily the "norm" and, of course, we cannot guarantee that your own DIA will have similar costs. The important variables here involve the birth mother's health insurance, your geographic distance from the birth mother and child (i.e. travel costs), varying state laws and whether or not the birth father is identified and reachable. A birth mother without health insurance and without Medicaid can dramatically inflate adoption costs, especially if there are complications during delivery or a C-Section. State laws also vary, and some adoptive parents end up spending a lot of money traveling to and from their home state and the birth mother's state, as well as extensive lodging bills. When paternity is in question or a birth father is AWOL, there are all kinds of legal complications and, as you will see below, legal=expensive. We were lucky that R ended up obtaining Medicaid benefits, we live fairly close to R & G and G was in the picture and cooperative. Also, the adoption was officiated in the state of Kansas, which has very straightforward and "gentle" adoption laws, which required less time and effort from our lawyers = cheaper.

Part I: Pre-match

Cost of our initial homestudy in June of 2007: $1,300
Cost of our homestudy update in June of 2008: $500
Cost of homestudies for R & G, as well as counseling for both of them: $2,645
Cost of our social worker's assistant typing up all home studies, etc.: $244.60

Part II: Those bloodsucking lawyers

Cost of retaining a lawyer ($180 per hour) to represent R throughout the process: $1,487.59
Cost of retaining our lawyer ($195 per hour) and her paralegal ($90 per hour) throughout the process: $2,689.50
Cost for our lawyer to change Evie's birth certificate to our last name: $800
Filing fee to the court: $50.50
FedEx costs for our ICPC paperwork: TBD
Postage, photocopies and long distance calls: $166.06

Part III: Court-approved assistance to R (& G somewhat)

Money for groceries, maternity clothing, cell phone and gas for R (& G): $805

Total: $10,688.25

This is a lot of money, but doesn't come close to the amount of money we were told DIA would cost when we first began looking into it. People warned us to go overseas because DIA is so expensive and risky. We found the opposite to be true, but again, that is just our experience. More to come on that in a separate post. Additionally, we expect to receive every single penny of that money back from the government.

Expenses covered by the IRS's adoption tax credit: $11,390

Difference between our official expenses and the IRS's allowable expenses: $701.75

So, we'll be able to additionally claim gas mileage for driving to and from Kansas frequently for adoption-related matters and the costs we incurred while creating our profile books during the spring and summer of 2007. We'll end up getting a check from the IRS next spring for an amount close to $11,000. That money will go right back in the bank to fund our next adoption, whenever that is (haven't decided yet). ***NB: in order to receive the adoption tax credit you must have paid the federal government as much or more in income tax! If you have paid $8,000 or so in income tax during the year you claim the tax credit, you will receive $8,000 back, not the full $11,390 allowable. Also, if your joint family income is above $170,000 or so, you are not eligible to receive the full $11,390 back.***

Thank goodness I was a private school English teacher, right? :)

One final note: the tax credit is per child, not per year. For domestic adoptions, the IRS allows claims for failed adoptions (it doesn't allow claims for failed international adoptions). So, we will also receive a tax credit for the costs associated with Lucy's failed adoption, as long as it doesn't all add up to more than J and I paid together in income tax for 2008.

Do I need to mention that parenthood is worth every red cent, even if we weren't going to get any of it back in the spring? I didn't think so.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Forever Family

We're official! Evie slept through the whole proceeding, which consisted of us being sworn in and then answering "yes" or "no" to a long string of questions from our lawyer, such as: "Do you realize that after this final declaration Evelyn will be yours forever and you can't give her back?" This made both J and me want to laugh and answer sarcastically "really? crap." But we restrained our natures and simply answered "yes." Basically all of the questions were geared toward establishing for the record that we are who we appear to be, that there was no coercion of birthparents involved and that we will provide Evie with health insurance, education and a stable family. The judge was very nice and wished us congratulations afterward.

I know, this post was pathetically short compared to my usual verbosity. Never fear, I have a couple of doozies planned for the next couple of days. Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Five Weeks

***Sorry this post is soooo long. Blame Evie for taking a really good afternoon nap.***

Evie was five weeks old this past Friday. On Tuesday morning, at approximately one month old, J and I put her back in her Baby N@y Pink and Chocolate Floral one size diaper from Mutt@qin Baby and took some pictures:

This one was the best because of the attitude! I don't have a specific weight for her at 5 weeks, but look at her in the same diaper at 3 weeks and tell me she isn't growing like a weed! We now have a master plan to take her picture in this black microsuede chair in this diaper every month until she's two. Yes, this diaper is advertised to adjust and fit from 8-35 lbs. Yowzers. This is why Evie is officially out of newborn clothes, because her one size diapers are too fluffy to fit under them anymore!

(We might keep taking pictures of her in the chair for a lot longer than 2 years, if the chair survives that long, but I think we'll resist the urge to make her wear the diaper in the pictures beyond potty training. Ha ha.)

Speaking of diapers, cloth diapering is going well. I have finally figured out that my washing difficulties were caused by the difference between formula poo and breast milk poo. I hadn't realized they were so different and needed different treatment. Now we are good to go. E-mail me if you desire the gory details. We are officially choosing to go with one size fitted diapers for daytime and one-size pocket diapers for nighttime. I am getting rid of my prefolds except for the preemie size which are still used as burp cloths and the pretty dyed and embellished infant size prefolds which get used for things like this:


(i.e. protecting the boppy from spit up) Reason: they just aren't absorbent enough. We are happy with the absorbency of hemp, microfiber pocket inserts and bamboo diapers, but the cotton prefolds aren't cutting it at our house. If any of my readers desire 12 infant size unbleached prefolds for a bargain price, shoot me an e-mail. They make great burp cloths! We're using one size diapers, even though they're bulky on her right now, because they'll grow with her and we won't have to keep selling the old and buying new each time she grows into a bigger size.


Something else we've been loving for the past couple of weeks is Evie's wubbanub.




It's basically the S**thie pacifier that she loves with a be@nie baby sewn securely to the back. Most be@nie babies are ages 3+, but this pacifier is for ages 0-6 months and it is great. Evie loves to hold onto the froggie and we love that when she unlatches for whatever reason the pacifier doesn't roll onto the floor. The online reviews say that in a few weeks she'll even be able to put the pacifier back in her own mouth because the frog keeps it in the right place and position. It's also easy to spot across the room when we need a paci ASAP and easy to find in a dark room and replace in her mouth without turning on the lights and waking her all the way up. We also have the ducky version, which you can see in the car seat with her here:


Speaking of the car seat, this picture illustrates why we bought the swing we did. It has a seat that comes with it, pictured here, but it also works with any Gr@co car seat, so that if she falls asleep in the car we can bring her inside, latch the car seat into the swing base and keep her asleep for hours. Literally. One evening after we had her out for our wine club meeting she slept just like this, swinging, until 1:30 AM.

This week Evie has become more patient (sometimes) while waiting for us to fix her bottle. I've had success with putting her in her bouncy seat in the kitchen so that she can see me working. I think she's starting to catch on that what I'm doing is making her bottle, not procrastinating and torturing her empty tum. However, you can tell by the scowl on her face that she isn't completely happy with my expediency. Especially the whole stopping to take a picture thing. Evie is looking at the bottle I just finished making and thinking "GET IN MY BELLY!"

Making her bottle is about to get a lot easier because today we are exhausting the last of our frozen breast milk. We've gone through about 300 oz. of donated breast milk in the past month! At this point we aren't sure whether we'll be able to get much more donated without forking over huge shipping costs, but I'm OK with it because of something I read recently. Apparently, the cells in breast milk (i.e. antibodies) are killed by the freezing and thawing process. So, the number one reason I've been excited about feeding Evie breast milk is a big failure. She hasn't been getting many, if any, antibodies. However, she also hasn't been sick with the exception of one afternoon when her temperature was 99. So, oh well. I'm still happy about the breast milk she's gotten and extremely grateful to our wonderful milk mommies, but disappointed that working to supply her with more frozen breast milk through the winter isn't going to help her stay healthy for cold and flu season.


I am, however, going to go get a flu shot (and nag J to get one, too) so that we don't catch it and give it to her. I was supposed to get the shot yesterday but completely forgot about my appointment until five minutes after I was supposed to be there. The office is only five minutes away, so I could have been a few minutes late, except that I was still in my pajamas, J was out running errands and it would have taken 15 minutes to get Evie ready to go. So, I'll reschedule. I also didn't make it to baby yoga on Friday morning because my week as a single mom was he!!ish. I did ask for help from some local friends but ended up not getting any. By the end of the week I was just beyond exhausted and resorting to carb loading and caffeine highs to stay functional. It doesn't help that I was/am PMSing at the same time. PMS is especially hard on me right now because of the dread that accompanies it; some of my symptoms returned last cycle. The symptoms that led to my two laproscopic surgeries. Two years separated my first and second surgeries, with about a year of relief from my symptoms. This time I only got four months of symptom relief. I'm seriously considering just asking for a hysterectomy this time, although that might be the PMS talking. Argh.

Hopefully I'll feel better tomorrow, the big day. From now on, October 27th will be celebrated as our "Forever Family Day," the day a judge awards us final custody and gives us permission to change Evie's last name to our own. We'll probably give her a present every year on this day, and celebrate with a fun family outing. She'll be able to brag about having "two birthdays" because she's adopted. Tomorrow we'll go to court at 3 pm and then take Evie with us out to dinner to celebrate. We'll continue the celebration next weekend, when all four grandparents will come to visit at once for Evie's baptism. It'll be a full house and I'm sure it will be funny to watch them all squabbling about who gets to hold Evie next. :) G will be at the baptism at our church next Sunday, and he's bringing along his parents and his teenage son. We're not sure whether or not R will be there, but we hope she is. After the service we'll take pictures all together and serve cupcakes. J's mom and I are making some with the M@gnolia Bakery recipe featured on Opr@h this past Friday. They are going to be delish. J's mom and I went shopping last weekend and bought Evie a traditional Christening gown. I'm sure the pictures will be as sweet as the cupcakes.

Speaking of pictures, I took Evie in to a department store portrait studio on Friday afternoon because we got coupons in the hospital for some free sitting fees and free 8x10s. I dressed her in her Christmas dress and some of the shots are adorable. I paid the extra $4.99 for them to send me an e-mail with proofs that I can post online, so when I get them I'll put them up here.

Anecdotes about this week:
  • Evie is smiling about once a day. I guess she has to save up the energy? On Thursday she saved it up and gave her big smile of the day to Rabbit. No fair! Every other time the smile has gone to me, J, my mom or J's mom. The photographer on Friday did manage to capture a partial smile and it turned out to be an adorable shot (I ordered it as an 8x10. That adorable.)

  • Evie has started noticing more of her bedroom mural and stares at it quite a bit when she's awake in her room, which is not very often. Most of her awake time in her room is on the changing table, so Rabbit is still her best friend.

  • A few times I've caught her staring at doorjambs as I walk with her from one room into another. The look on her face seems to convey that she feels as though she's passing through a portal into another world. It's very funny. On Thursday I spent about five minutes just swaying back and forth across the threshold leading from the entryway into the TV room and watching her eyes sway back and forth in wonder. Heehee.

  • Her neck control is getting better and better and she's started enjoying throwing her entire body backward or to the side with no notice. Freaks me out. Especially when I'm in the kitchen next to the basement stairs and she throws herself toward them. Note to self: must keep both hands on baby while standing up.

  • On a related note, I can't be the only new mom who's obsessed with morbid paranoia, right? I can't stop thinking about all of the various ways she can die: SIDS, viruses, falls, car wrecks, dog mauling, CO, bacteria in her bottles/formula/breast milk, baby snatchers, etc. It doesn't help that I hydroplaned while holding her on Wednesday because I didn't notice a puddle of water on the kitchen floor and I've almost tripped on our stairs while holding her a couple of times. We are clumsy people. Evie is doomed. Then my mom told me about hearing that sometimes the family dog will maul a baby to death even if they've never shown signs of violence before. Great. I was thinking about it this week and have a new understanding of women with PPD. I've always heard that moms with PPD picture themselves hurting their babies and now I realize that it's only a short leap of logic from the type of paranoia I have to the type of thoughts they have. The only difference is accident vs. purposeful and that's not a huge leap to make if you're depressed and feeling like a bad person. (Disclaimer: I'm not saying I'm depressed, people, I'm fine.) Anyhow, I think the reason I am having these paranoid thoughts is because Evie dying is the absolute worst possible thing that could ever happen to me/us. The paranoia must be a survival strategy to prevent that from happening? Before Evie was born I swore I wouldn't be "one of those overprotective new moms." Joke's on me.

  • This week she's started making vocalizations that aren't crying, but I also wouldn't call them "coos," "grunts," or "sighs." I'd say they are pre-babbling? They are cute.

  • We've given her three baths in the big bathtub, with me in the tub with her to hold and wash her. When I rinse her body, I submerge everything but her head and she wiggles around in obvious delight, although she still isn't smiling during bath time.

  • She still has some baby acne (you can see it in the second picture above) and also now has a rash on the back of her head, back of her neck and top of her back. Cradle cap, right? Even though it extends onto her back? Could she be allergic to the velcro on her bibs? It's not scaly like cradle cap, though. She has the scalies around her eyebrows because we try to wash her gently around her eyes and don't get them as clean, but no scales in her hair yet.

  • Her birthmark has grown in the past 2 weeks but is only about 0.25 cm in diameter and the pediatrician predicts it will be 1 cm diameter at its biggest, sometime in the next several months. It was about 1/8 cm when we first noticed it.

  • Evie is pretty consistently (knock on wood) sleeping at least one 5-6 hour stretch each night, but it's hard right now to predict when that stretch will begin. A couple of times we've missed it and have put her down to nap after dinner in her boppy, wearing daytime clothes (not warm enough for nighttime) and a daytime diaper (not absorbent enough for 6 hours) and then realized that we should have put her in a blanket sleeper and pocket diaper in her crib. Darn it! She'll teach us eventually.

This post is long enough, especially since I'll probably post tomorrow about our court experience. I'll leave you with another shot from last Tuesday, just because it makes me laugh:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

One Month

I wasn't going to post for one month, but I wanted to say that Evie rolled from her stomach to her back for the first time today! She was in "tummy time" on her play mat and I had fun playing with her for over 20 minutes, the longest she's ever had the patience for it. While I'm hear, I might as well continue with a few things...

Tomorrow we have our final interview with our SW before Evie's adoption is finalized next week. I think she's just going to be asking us how it's going and make sure we don't want to back out of the deal in order to regain our sleep. Yeah, right.
Here's our little bug in her ladybug Halloween costume that we tried on her a couple of nights ago. This is the only picture in which you can't quite tell how angry she was! Speaking of angry, Evie has started pulling my hair (unintentionally I think) when she gets worked up while I'm holding her. More ponytails for me. She also frequently scratches J when he's holding her in his bathrobe. Such a violent little girl! :)
I appreciate the comments I got on my last post(s) about wearing her in order to get things done while J is gone. I was loving my wraps and sling while we were still at the hospital and hotel, but there are some limitations to that as a solution while at home:
  • Evie doesn't stay happy for long unless she's being patted and rocked while she's held, so I'm still one-handed even with a carrier.
  • She often spits out her pacifier while upright in a wrap and I find myself spending a lot of time replacing it in her mouth or retrieving it from the floor and washing it, or finding a new one.
  • She doesn't want me to sit down with her in a carrier anymore (she didn't mind during the first week), so I can't check e-mail, work on writing thank-you notes and addressing birth announcements, eat or make phone calls (I am hating the crick in my neck from talking on the phone while trying to keep her happy).
  • I can't quite figure out how to do laundry with her in a carrier, especially leaning down into the washer and carrying a heavy basket of wet laundry.
  • Unloading and loading the dishwasher is also difficult because of the bending involved.
  • Wearing her in a carrier makes us both sweaty sometimes and it's a time of year when we are conserving energy with neither heat nor air running in the house. During the day it can get a bit warm in the house even without a little furnace baby riding around with me.
  • Finally, she's just not as happy in my wraps and sling as she was at first. She loves the BabyBj√∂rn for taking walks, but the weather is going to be too cold for that soon and that's beside the point because taking a walk doesn't get the laundry done (although the dogs are happy!).
Despite my complaints and objections, I will try to use my wraps and sling this week and see how much I can get done. Now if only I could wear one in the shower...


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Weight Check

According to our bathroom scale and our method of measurement (described in the previous post), Evie is 9 lbs. She still fits into her newborn sleepers. So there, doc.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Four Weeks

Evie is four weeks old tomorrow! I decided to post now instead of doing a "one month" post on the 19th because she had a doctor's appointment today. See these pudgy cheeks? Evie weighed in at a whopping 9 lbs. 12 oz. today (up from 8 lbs. 2 oz. 2 weeks ago)! I am in disbelief. Yes, she eats 4 oz. at a time and sometimes seems as though she'd like a little more. Yes, sometimes she wants to eat more frequently than every 3 hours. Yes, she's been waking up at pretty regular 3 hour intervals during the night, wanting to eat. We have been feeding on demand and rationalizing that 4 oz. is the amount recommended by out pediatrician at her one week appointment and that because of the donated breast milk (which babies digest more quickly than formula) she'll want to eat more frequently. Turns out we've been overfeeding?

Our pediatrician is concerned because she was right at the 50th percentile for height and weight at her 2 week appointment, but is now still at the 50th percentile for height and has jumped to the 75th percentile for weight. The pediatrician was quick to assure me that she's not accusing me of trying to raise an obese child but concerned because sometimes overeating indicates acid reflux in the baby. Supposedly, some infants want to eat more because it makes their upset tummies feel better. I have two problems with this theory. One, we have not noticed Evie indicating that she is in pain from reflux. She does sometimes scream with gas pain, but we just haven't seen symptoms of pain from reflux. She doesn't seem uncomfortable during feeding (except when she chokes a little by drinking too fast) and she doesn't seem upset or uncomfortable when she spits up. Also, the spitting up has gotten much better in the past couple of days (we suddenly realized that she'd been wearing the same outfit all day and that there weren't as many bibs in the hamper!). The fact that it improved spontaneously (not the result of a formula change) indicates that the spitting up was physiological and that now her esophagus and stomach have grown into an arrangement that keeps more food in her stomach.

I'm confused. So, now we are going to try a little more scheduling and a little less feeding on demand, since we might not be able to fully trust her hunger cues actually indicate hunger. I'm conflicted about this, because I believe in on-demand feeding, but I also don't want to overfeed her because I've read some things that say overfed formula babies can become obese adults. I'm wondering if the scale was wrong. After all, the height measurement at birth was obviously wrong. Maybe I'll try the "weigh myself and then myself + baby" method tomorrow and see what I get. I've had her in 3 month clothes mostly, so perhaps I should try to put some newborn clothes on her and see if she's busting out of the seams?

The other thing I discussed with the pediatrician was a red spot on Evie's back. You can see it in this picture if you look closely or enlarge it. It's on the left side of her lower back:

It appeared "out of nowhere" and we noticed it first while Becca was doing her portraits. The doctor says its a birth mark called a hemangioma and will continue to grow in size during her first year of life, then probably disappear gradually as she gets older. No biggie, I'm just glad it's not on her face. The doc says it's normal for them to be so small they are invisible at birth and then grow to visibility during the first weeks of life. Strange. Speaking of spots, Evie has some baby acne going on right now. My poor little pizza face. Actually, she doesn't seem to care about it at all (unlike her Mommy; I had perfect skin in high school but have been struggling with adult acne since my college years...when will it end?!?! Yes, I've tried Pro@ctive...).

This morning was stressful; we had a rough night and then I had to get Evie and myself out of the door for her doctor's appointment in the morning. This was my first time doing that alone. After all of the drama of trying to eat breakfast and brush my teeth, etc., while Evie was screaming (turned out she was "hungry" only 2 hours after eating 4 oz. of formula), we had to wait for 40 minutes to see the doctor. Grrrrr. Next time I'm getting an 8 AM appointment so that I'm not the victim of a backlog. Thank goodness my mother-in-law arrived this afternoon and so we have some help for the weekend. Unfortunately, both J and his mom are leaving next week. His mom is going home and J is going on his first post-Evie business trip. I am in complete denial and shock about this. I have no idea how I am going to survive for four full days and nights alone. To my friends who live nearby: help!!! To those of you who are still waiting for your little bundles of joy: for my sake, don't take for granted your ability to take a shower and change your shirt whenever you want to.

About Evie this week:

She has frequently been fussy about being put down in her moses basket or crib unless she's completely asleep, but we could always count on the boppy to lull her into a deep nap for a few hours in the morning, afternoon and evening. Now she is less willing to nap in the boppy. Here's how she insists on napping recently: That was complaining, yes, because it is impossible to get anything done during the day when I'm home alone with her and constantly holding her. However, I have to temper the whining and admit that we are extremely lucky that she is still in an appropriate day/night pattern and sleeps well in her crib at night, especially now that she's not spitting up as much when laid flat. We're putting her in the crib more than in the moses basket because J has a hard time sleeping through her baby clucks, sighs and dream fussing (what everyone says is true; babies are loud sleepers). She wakes up every three hours at night, but *usually* goes right back to sleep after a diaper change and bottle.

Evie continues to increase her awake/alert time and seems to have better and better vision, staring at things across the room and tracking things like her mobiles with her eyes:

She's also more and more willing to spend some time in her bouncy seat looking at toys and around the room while we eat dinner. I'm learning that I need to eat really fast, though, to finish before her patience runs out. We've tried the swing during meals, but so far she doesn't like to swing when she's alert, only when she's sleepy. And she's usually alert around dinner time.

Evie continues to enjoy her baths (as far as we can tell) and likes to stare at the kitchen window, where we think she sees us and the kitchen lights reflected, since it's nighttime when she gets a bath. Here she is this week, in a hooded towel made by a church friend. It is the most adorable towel in the world, with her name embroidered on the hood and 3D fabric butterflies. You can see one on her head in this picture: She loves to stick out her tongue and has begun sucking her hands and fingers more and more this week.

I know there is more to say, but it's late and I'm too tired to remember. And, this post is long enough. I'll close with a few observations about the reality of motherhood:

  • Before motherhood, I would never expect to glance down at my hand on the steering wheel of the car and realize that my cuticle is stained with baby poop. Luckily a wipe from the diaper bag remedied my problem quickly.
  • No matter how much I love Evie, patience is hard to come by at 3 AM. I told myself and others before Evie was born that I would be grateful for every single moment with my daughter, after all of the pain and heartbreak of our story leading up to parenthood. Ummm...nope. Not grateful for 3 AM crying Evie. That makes me feel SO guilty.
  • Mother love is extremely tactile. My favorite things are smothering her little face with kisses, rubbing my cheek across the top of her head to feel her soft hair tickle me, breathing in the scent of her hair, neck and breath, playing with her little fingers and toes and sharing body heat with her. It is similar to the impulse I've had for years as a dog owner to pet, pat or scritch my dogs whenever we cross paths, but about a million times stronger.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Sound of Music

"Our house is alive, with the sound of music...la la la la..."

J's mom is a hummer; she hums to herself as she goes about her day and it's one of the things J remembers fondly from his childhood. I also noticed how much Jen sings to Eric and decided that I want to be a "singing Mommy" even though I have a terrible voice. No, really.

So, since day one I've been singing to Evie while feeding her, changing her, during her awake time and especially when soothing her. At first I went with standards like "Rock a bye, baby" and "Lullaby and Good Night," etc. Then on my first night alone with her in the hospital (I sent J home to get rest because the couch in the hospital room was terrible), I found myself making up a cheer/song for her that went:

Hip, hip, hooray
Three cheers for Evie Bea
'Cuz she is the baby they all want to see

Ra, ra, ra
Three cheers for Evie Bea
Here in my arms is where she'll always be

etc.

Yes, corny, but it was very late and she liked the beat.

After that, I felt comfortable ad-libbing all kinds of ditties. One thing I noticed when visiting Jen is that she has a song ritual for feeding Eric. She sings "chugga, chugga, chugga, chugga, chugga, chugga, choo" as she's about to feed him and he responds eagerly to the cue. I decided to do the same thing, and although Evie doesn't seem to recognize it yet, I hope that soon she'll understand that when we sing it she should calm down and realize that yes, we do understand her and yes, we are making her bottle as fast as we can! The song goes:

Daddy's gonna make you a bottle (can be substituted with Mommy or anyone else)
Daddy's gonna make you a bottle
Daddy's gonna make you a bottle
Because he loves his Evie Bea.

I sing it to a tune that I know from somewhere but I can't place it. I think it has something to do with old fashioned movies for some reason? Anyhow...

Finally, I have a new favorite song to sing to Evie. I love Peter, Paul and Mary and realized that I can substitute "Evie Bea" into their song "Lemon Tree" and it works perfectly:

Evie Bea very pretty
And the Evie flower is sweet
But the fruit of the poor Evie
Is impossible to eat
Evie Bea, Evie Bea, Evie Bea, oh Evie Bea...

and then because "Stewball" is the next track on the Best of Peter, Paul and Mary CD, I start into:

Oh, Evie was a racehorse
And I wish she were mine
She never drank water
She always drank wine
(it's just a song, people)

Her cradle is silver,
Her rattle is gold
And the worth of her wardrobe has never been told...
:)

Finally, on a more serious note, the music during our church worship services has been particularly significant to me in the past two weeks. Our good friend Will, husband to Holly, whom I've mentioned before, is the worship leader at our church, but I know he wasn't "aiming" these songs at me, it just is what it is...a God thing. First, last week Will led worship on solo guitar and one of the songs he chose was "It is Well," which I wrote about back in July on the day we lost Lucy. I couldn't sing along because I was too busy trying not to break down in sobs as I stood there holding Evie, standing between J and my mom and in the same room with my church congregation, which has been amazingly supportive of J and I through everything. It was a full-circle moment for me and made me 100% aware of just how blessed I am.

Then today at church the band started into "Trading My Sorrows." This was another important song for me right after losing Lucy, although I didn't write about it at the time. It is a very upbeat and optimistic tune, and yet I found it running through my head over and over on the day after we lost her. It was driving me crazy because it is such a happy song and I was so miserable! I prayed to God that day "stop putting that song in my head because I am mad at you!" But the song stayed and wouldn't leave my mind until I had released my anger and bitterness (temporarily, of course) and found a place of peace and hope for the future. I firmly believe that it wasn't just God putting the lyrics in my brain, it was the onslaught of friends, relatives and complete strangers who were praying for me at that time. Over the past few months I've gradually learned of how many people knew about what happened and were praying for us; it is immensely humbling. Then something really eerie happened. That same day the song had been dogging me, a blog reader sent me an e-mail and one of her sentences was a line from the song: "His joy comes in the morning" (Psalms 30:5). I freaked out upon reading that line on my computer screen after having it in my head all day and went downstairs to J's "office" to tell him about it. A look of awe crossed his face as he admitted that the exact same song had been going through his head that day. The thought crossed my mind that M & T might call us the next morning and tell us they were letting us have Lucy, but in the end "the morning" came on July 18th. Nowadays, my "morning" experiences are those times when I let myself be still and fully appreciate the gift that Evie is. Once again this morning at church I had difficulty holding back my tears as we sang:

I'm trading my sorrow
I'm trading my shame
I'm laying it down for the joy of the Lord

I'm trading my sickness
I'm trading my pain
I'm laying it down for the joy of the Lord

Chorus:
And we say
yes Lord yes Lord
yes yes Lord
Yes Lord yes Lord
yes yes Lord
Yes Lord yes Lord
yes yes Lord Amen

I'm pressed but not crushed
persecuted not abandoned
Struck down but not destroyed
I'm blessed beyond the curse
for his promise will endure
And his joy's gonna be my strength

Though the sorrow may last for the night
His joy comes with the morning

To return to the title of this post in a corny way, "Mother Superior always says, 'whenever God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.'"

Off topic, here are some photos I'd like to share! This is my mom with Evie, right before a bath. She's doing the smiling thing I told you about and nobody believed. Yes, she's a genius. Accept it. She was also batting at toys today even though "the books" says she can't until she's 3 months or older. I'm going to contact Harvard immediately. Here she is enjoying her bath. We keep the water at 98 degrees and she loves it! Yes, I realize the water level is too high in this pic. Don't call social services, we had 3 adults there to make sure she didn't drown.
Here is a "behind the scenes" shot of our friend Becca capturing those adorable tutu pics:
Finally, here is another tutu pic I'd like to share with you. It's one of my favorites from the shoot because she looks like she's in first position! Awwwww! Makes me want to break out into "Hold me closer, tiny dancer..."

So, what songs do you sing to your little ones if you have them? Which songs do you want to sing to future babies? Any suggestions for me?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Three Weeks

First, huge congratulations to my good friend, Deanna, on the birth of her beautiful baby boy! I am so excited for her and her husband, since we have had parallel TTC and infertility journeys. What a blessing that Evie and her son be born within a month of each other. Please visit her and offer congratulations. In other friend news, Jen has a new blog. Go over and read about her life raising my 9-month-old godson while pregnant with #2.

This morning, Evie turned three weeks old. It feels like yesterday that I posted her two week information. Yikes. My mom has been here for almost two weeks and left yesterday morning, so now J and I are on our own and trying to figure out how to be parents and still get laundry done. It didn't help that Evie chose the first day without grandma to be awake for almost 4 hours straight (I didn't think that was possible) in the afternoon/evening and then refuse to go to bed until an hour past her normal time. Do I need to mention that babies who are awake for 4 hours get really fussy? I didn't think so.

What I want to remember about this week:
  • Now, instead of making barnyard sounds, Evie makes ferret noises during feedings to tell us she's happy/hungry/not finished yet/done burping. I simply cannot describe the chittering, laughing sound of a happy, playing ferret. You'll just need to go to a pet store and play with one, or come visit us during bottle time, to understand what I'm saying. Jen and I used to own two ferrets, named Cricket and Bina, when we were in college at U.Va. and living together during our third year. So, Jen knows exactly what I mean. Anyone else own ferrets? We ended up giving Cricket and Bina to a kind, crazy old lady in the local area because neither one of us could keep them (Jen found herself to be allergic to them and J refused to allow them when we got married). This old lady had turned her house into a ferret paradise and let them run wild and play together 24/7. I digress...

  • I love the new awake Evie. (When she's been awake for more than an hour, I'm not fond of fussy Evie.) However, awake Evie who communicates with me through her dark gray/blue eyes and sticks out her tiny tongue at me is more fun to watch than a new Project Runway episode. Seriously. Unfortunately, I can't take advantage of her awake times to play very much because usually they come right after a feeding and if I play with her too much she gets so excited that she spits up everywhere. On the rare occasions that she is awake and happy right before a feeding I immediately take advantage of the situation by putting her in her play gym for tummy time. I lie down on the floor with my face about 15 inches from hers (since the books say that's her best seeing distance), talk and sing to her and show her toys. So fun! But usually her awake time is right after eating and so I just cuddle her and talk to her while she lies propped up on my chest or cradled at a 45 degree angle in my arms.

  • I've started noticing her react to the sound of my voice by looking in my direction when I come into a room and someone else is holding her.

  • When she's upright in a "hug hold" on my chest, she's started practicing her neck control quite a bit. Before, her head motions at my shoulder were always the "peck, peck" of baby rooting, but now she holds her head steadyish an inch or two from my shoulder and looks around the room. I am so proud.

  • She's more patient when she wakes up. A few times I've walked by her P@ck 'N' Pl@y and found her lying there awake, happily gazing at her mobile.

  • She still "talks" to Rabbit when she's being changed. In the middle of the night when she's sleepy she'll keep her eyes closed for part of the change, but then at some point her eyes will shoot open and she'll quickly turn her head to the wall to make sure Rabbit is still there. She's also started looking at other parts of the mural; specifically, she likes to look at the trees. She also has an overhead light shaped like a sun (from Ike@) that she looks at quite a bit.

  • Evie doesn't like it when adults eat. She always fusses, wants to eat or needs a change when we're sitting down to dinner.

  • I'm not really a super-punctual person and have to make an effort to be on time even without a baby (although I'm not that bad; I'm not always late), but Evie exacerbates my nature by frequently deciding that just when we're walking out the door is the perfect time to spit up or poop.

  • Cloth diapering is going well; I'm still struggling with poop stains, but other than that I'm happy. I tried soaking overnight in Oxycle@n but it didn't work as well as I'd hoped. Now I'm trying a wet pail with vinegar and washing poopy diapers every other day; we'll see if that works. In general, we're using "All-in-Ones" when we go out of the house, "pocket" diapers for nighttime and prefolds with various types of covers ("plastic," fleece and wool) during the day. I put her pretty one-size fitted diapers on when she's wearing a dress, since they are too bulky to fit under onesies or pants, and when J changes her he tends to put her into a "pre-fitted" since the snaps are simpler and he isn't intimidated by them. :) Here's her prettiest diaper, a "3SR" from Muttaqin Baby:

  • Evie is quickly drinking her way through the breast milk donated from our second "milk mommy" as she is still drinking 1/2 formula, 1/2 breast milk bottles during the day and all formula at night. We picked up about 100 oz. of breast milk from our third donor this past week and that should see her through a few more weeks. I thought the breast milk would go further, but she is drinking about 10 oz. of it a day. I've decided just to be grateful for the benefits she's getting and not stress out about how well we'll be able to keep this up.
  • We've set a date for Evie to be baptized at our church: November 2. My parents, J's parents and Evie's birth family will be there. I called G yesterday to invite him and he sounded eager to come. He also mentioned that his mother and perhaps other members of his family would like to attend. He said that R might come, too. Great! I'm looking forward to getting some pictures of the group of us. My mom and I tried to shop for a christening gown while she was here, but didn't have much luck finding what we wanted. With only a few weeks until the baptism, my mom is going to look into patterns and might make one. Although it would be a lot of work, it would be wonderful to have a handmade gown that can become an heirloom piece.

  • Finally, our friend Becca finished Evie's portrait shoot on Wednesday and dropped off a CD of all of the pics today. I'm going to post a few, but there are 141 total. If anyone wants to see more, send me an e-mail with your e-mail address (my e-mail is over on the left sidebar) and I'll send you an invitation to our Snapfish group room for Evie. (The pictures with Rabbit and in her Muttaqin diaper, above, were also taken by Becca.)

She was a cute little "angry fairy" for this one and had to have her pacifier:


In honor of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month:
***ETA: Almost forgot to mention, we went to our first baby yoga class this morning, in which I held Evie during the beginning and ending stretches and gave her a massage. It was a good workout for me and she seemed to enjoy it, too. I bought a 10-session pass and plan to go every week if I can.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Portrait Session

Our friend Becca, who has a photography business, was wonderful to offer us a free session and came by on Friday afternoon. Here are some of the many shots she captured. She'll be back tomorrow afternoon to finish the shoot and I'll post more pics when I can. Enjoy!

During this part of the shoot she peed on her nursery couch...
The tutu I made!
I had to curl my fingers under because my nails are SO not done right now.
She stayed awake (and happy!) for most of the shoot, even though Becca wanted her asleep for some shots.
(in our hammock with Daddy)

Cuteness

With Daddy: Cuddling with Grandma in a fleece cover I made for her:

My Shelfari Bookshelf

Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog