Monday, October 24, 2011

Changes in Mom & Baby

It was really eager to go back to the hospital recently to drop off a tray of baked goods and a thank you card for the NICU staff. Picture this: first-time Mom lugging her "compact" stroller out of the trunk; strapping her six-week-old in his car seat to the stroller, then trying to balance a big plastic tray of baked goods in her left hand while pushing the stroller with her right hand. All the while carrying a diaper bag and purse. I trekked from the parking lot up to the main entrance where a group of elderly folks lined the walkway and gawked at the goodies and my little man before one gentleman grabbed the door for us. If I thought I was a multi-tasking guru before, I’m an Olympian now. Although I probably looked more like a circus clown than an athlete.

In some way, this thank you was my closure for the whole experience. And like I said before, I hope I never have to see these people again (unless we happen to run into them at the grocery store; just not on the 4th floor at Aultman). Naturally, none of our favorite nurses or doctors was there when we stopped by, but some of them had shifts that night.  

AJ and I ventured out again the following day for my six-week post-partum checkup. I have to tell you that this was a bit of a frustrating excursion. AJ ate at a perfect time that morning and then fell asleep before we got in the car. This meant he would likely be out (quiet) for the projected appointment at 10. They ask you to be 15 minutes early, and because AJ was so good we were there at 9:45 on the nose. Unfortunately, we weren't called back until after 10:30 and didn’t see the doctor until about 10:45. He was quiet the entire time we were in the waiting room, but started getting fussy when we were in the exam room. Then, with hilarious timing (can you see how this is starting to be a trend with him?), he pooped right as the doctor walked in and was admiring him. And I mean POOPED. You could have heard it down the hall! I left the diaper bag in the car because I didn't think I'd need it. Think again. Typical first-time parent mistake ;) Everything worked out, it was just frustrating to do everything they ask you to do and still have to wait forever … with a newborn nonetheless. While I thought these “mishaps” would be embarrassing, this is what every kid (and Mom) goes through right? And honestly, every time we’ve had an appointment somewhere he seems to have the perfect body clock that allows us plenty of time before and after. So I can’t complain. I just better knock on wood—his two-month appointment at the Pediatrician’s is just a week away!

Never thought I’d say this, but the most exciting part of my checkup was getting weighed. I hadn’t been on a scale since the day before Austin was born. I hit the 33 lb mark that day. To my amazement, I had managed to lose all but 10 of these pounds. I’m not sure what the average weight loss is after giving birth, but I was pretty happy with this. Since we’ve been home, the clothes don’t exactly fit like they did before, and I’ve been spending most of my time in pajamas or warm-up pants and a hoodie. Needless to say, it’s been hard to feel pretty at times. Of course it wasn’t going to be easy, but I had to start somewhere. Now I am working on cutting out pop and sweets and managing portions so I can try to get rid of these 10 or more.

I also started the couch-to-5K training plan mentioned in my last post. I’ve got to tell you—while it felt good to get back out there, I couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of having completed the Indy half-marathon in May 2010. This body did 13.1 miles? HA. The first three outings require a rotation of 60 seconds jogging and 90 seconds walking for a total of 20 minutes. While you would expect each set of 60 to become easier, they actually made me more winded. I felt some mild chest pain and a bit of a stomach cramp with each rotation. The funniest part of this whole ordeal? Discovering that gravity is selective. When I was pregnant, that belly was HIGH. Don’t you think a 6.5 lb, 5-week preemie would have dropped before his arrival?! It was definitely a haul around work and the house with that belly, but it felt like nothing compared to what I was trying to cart around the streets of North Canton for 60 measly seconds! Long story short, I’m feeling quite out of shape. But with the help of an upbeat playlist on my ipod (including everything from Justin Timberlake to Broadway hits to Brad Paisley) and memories of the enormous emotion I felt while circling the 2.5 mile Indy 500 track and crossing the finish line, I completed the first two sessions in no time. They really do go by quickly, but I know it will take some time to build up my mileage again. And that’s ok.

Me, Emily, Benn, Kristin, Daniel and Mike after the Indy 1/2 Marathon
Me crossing the finish line!
Another pastime I need to slowly work back into is drinking wine. Seriously. I enthusiastically uncorked the bottle of Riesling from our dear friend Megan and woke up with a headache that lasted the entire next day. It wasn’t until after lunch that I realized it was likely from the wine, and quite comically, was my first post-pregnancy hangover! That’s what you get for ignoring your wine glasses for 10 months. I want to finish that bottle, but maybe I’ll wait until a weekend when Jim is on night duty with the kiddo and I can sleep in ;)

Speaking of weekends, we were really excited to get back to the theatre and have a date night! Although I have to admit I was yawning in the first act. It’s hard to believe I designed props for a show in April when I was 15-20 weeks along, and now I could barely stay awake! This was no fault of the production—called “Shakespeare in Hollywood,” as it was hilarious. I just hadn’t been out that “late” in so long! Jim even called his parents, the babysitters, to check in at intermission. And we were more than eager to show off cell phone or wallet pics of the little guy to our theatre friends all night. Yep, we are THOSE people now. And it cracks me up.

The highlight of the last week was definitely Ashland’s Homecoming. Dressed in his purple and yellow Tuffy the Eagle sleeper and cap, Austin made his first “out of belly” appearance on campus and got to meet lots of our college friends and some of my co-workers. He may have stolen the show. Especially after making quite a large poo when our friend Kevin was holding him! It was certainly an odd experience to be walking into a campus restroom looking for a changing table. This was there the whole time I’ve worked at AU, but not something I ever noticed until now. Funny how that works, isn’t it?!

Ashland University Homecoming - October 15, 2011

Speaking of Ashland, It's been a bittersweet couple of days after I announced that I would not be returning to work. This was a very tough decision for our family, but right now, I just can't fathom making the hour commute each way, especially when I usually work more than eight hours each day. I really loved my job (and my Mac laptop!!), but I have an even more important job now. And there are exciting opportunities much closer to home for me to explore in the coming weeks. Jim helped me clean out my office Sunday but I'll be back on campus to go to lunch with my former colleagues one last time. Many of them want to meet Austin, so he'll be along for the ride too. Employed or not, I still hold a special place in my heart for AU. I spent four fabulous undergrad years there and met my hubby and some amazing friends. That will never go away.

Well, today Austin is eight weeks old, and we are officially out of newborn sized clothes and diapers! All 0-3 and even some 3-6 month clothing has been washed and is ready to wear. It's been surprising how well some of this stuff fits already - rather, how quickly babies grow out of things. And I’m happy to report (knock on wood) that I think he really understands the difference between night and day, and even more exciting, his nighttime feedings are becoming smaller in ounces and shorter in time. He’s not as hungry—which means he’s sleeping longer unless he needs a diaper change. He also seems to have fallen asleep for us faster than in recent weeks. That’s not true for our daytime rituals though—he’s a spoiled little monkey that always seems to need Mommy to hold him. It means I don’t get as much done around the house, but I can’t say no to him!

Before I go, I had to share a photo of Austin with his youngest cousin, Joel, born June 3. They technically met for the first time last weekend, although, they were next to each other a few times in their mommies’ bellies before that. Can’t wait to see them grow up together. Next on the “meet the cousins” list is my Godson, Justin, born Feb. 1. So excited Austin has cousins close in age on both sides of the family.

Austin's first meeting with his cousin, Joel

Next time I’ll have updates on Austin’s two-month pediatrician appointment on Halloween (with a frightening four shots!), plus stories from family parties Halloween weekend and possible news on our cat Jordan, who hasn’t been loving the new kid on the block. Since Austin has been home, Jordan has been really lethargic and is puking more and more. If you remember a few years ago, he had separation anxiety when Jim went back to work in August, and we think a similar anxiety thing is happening now. Plus he’s on multiple (expensive) pills, special kidney food, and is pushing 17 or 18 years old. I just don’t know if he can stick it out; and the kid isn’t going anywhere, so we may need to make a tough decision if you know what I mean. Vet appointment is tomorrow afternoon.  

Until then, adios from Austintown!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Three weeks and counting

It's hard to believe Tuesday was Austin's original due date, but I'm so thankful we've been able to spend five amazing weeks with him. It's funny how things works out... and everything happens for a reason.

Throughout this entire journey, the theme has been "It's hard to believe __________." Hard to believe we're trying to have a baby; hard to believe we are pregnant; hard to believe we're 12 weeks or 20 weeks along; hard to believe we're having a boy; and my personal favorite--it's hard to believe he was five weeks early. This is nothing you haven't heard from me before.

But it's still holding true even after Austin's arrival. I see him, feel him, hear him and even smell him but can't quite believe that he's my baby and that he was in my belly until just five weeks ago. And five weeks? Where did those 35 days go? The two weeks we spent in the NICU seem so long ago, yet they felt like forever when we were there. I think I'll be in this state of disbelief until the little guy graduates from high school. And then I'll be in disbelief about how old I am by then.

In the three weeks we've been home, here are a few things we've learned:

1. AJ isn't a fan of his bassinette, but will usually sleep in the pack & play portable bassinette (i.e. Jen was sleeping more on the couch than in her bed). We quickly moved to the crib, and he's doing better there.

2. For a kid who couldn't eat in the NICU, he's eating like a champ now! He's nearly doubled his intake per feeding from two to four ounces.

3. Because he eats like a champ, man does he burp like one too!

4. Day and night--we still don't know the difference.

5. The kid loves his hands, and as early as a week or two ago, he started occasionally putting them on the bottle when I'd feed him. I didn't think newborns were this coordinated this early.

6. Daytime TV needs some help. Who's idea was it to give Jerry Springer's bodyguard his own trashy talk show?!

Speaking of daytime TV, one thing I'm embarrassed to admit I've been watching is "A Baby Story" on TLC. I hate to admit it, but sometimes these stories make me feel better about my delivery experience. These women are crying, screaming and sometimes unmedicated. Many of them are in labor for hours upon hours. Their husbands or families are off the wall (and not having to do any of the work!). When I compare it to my experience, often I am thankful that I was drugged and didn't have to hear or feel much. The idea of my insides being exposed on the other side of a curtain and the doctors telling me what they are doing is just odd. So I'm glad I didn't have to deal with that. On the other hand, I tear up every time the babies come out and the moms are immediately embracing them. That was not something I was able to enjoy until nearly six hours after Austin was born. Before I got to even see him, I spent two hours in a recovery room, then was wheeled to my hospital room to get settled, and later had to painfully get out of bed and into a wheelchair to be carted over to the NICU for the visit. The other difference in my experience was that Jim and I were separated for most of the ordeal instead of being able to enjoy it together. We didn't get to have that emotional moment together as a family when the baby was delivered.

Most other daytime TV is hideous, so I'm learning to multitask while holding to baby in order to get away from the TV. I like to hold him when he's awake, but I also want to feel like I accomplished something other than watching "A Baby Story" between bottles and diapers each day! A great example is that I'll cradle Austin in my left hand while using my right hand to paint a giraffe canvas decoration I plan to hang in the nursery. The final product is pictured below. I am by no means a painter, but have enjoyed this creative outlet. Other than this, the only time I get to be creative is when picking out Austin's outfits :)

And speaking of nursery decor, we received some pretty neat gifts in the mail this week. My dad made and painted this giraffe and the AJD initials shown below. The giraffe was designed around the one his girlfriend, Candel, stitched into an animal quilt she sent a week earlier. She also sent a ton of burp cloths, receiving blankets and other gifts with Austin's initials or name embroidered into them. I've never been so excited about burp cloths! We seem to be going through these the fastest, so it's great to have them on hand. Not to mention personalized for my little guy!

I don't have anything hung up on the walls yet, but I'll definitely take a picture of the room when it's complete. I can't wait to see it all come together, and I can't believe my dad made these things. They are perfect!

My new creative outlet... until I mess it up! Still need to add the spots, but you get the idea.

Dad's project - can't believe he made these!
Quilt by Candel Russell - adorable!

Last Friday we were able to get out of the house again for our second trip to the pediatrician--this was Austin's one month appointment. I'm thrilled to report that there were no peeing on the wall (or nurse) incidents this time! AND, my guy has gained two pounds since we were there two weeks ago--he's up to 8 lb, 10 oz! I couldn't believe that, but based on everything he's eating, it shouldn't be a surprise. The best news of the trip was that the doc said we can expect him to start cooing and socially smiling in the next few weeks. Right now he really only smiles after he poops or farts, so this is very exciting, HAHA!

As if I didn't have enough reasons to celebrate, next week is my six-week follow-up appointment with the doctor, where I expect to be cleared to start "living" again.  I am itching to get back out there and try to build up my running mileage again. It's obviously been quite some time since I ran, so I'm considering using the Couch-to-5K training plan. If you have used this, let me know what you think. And does anyone know if there is a similar training plan for those wishing to enjoy a glass of wine for the first time in about a year?! Our friend Megan stopped by to visit last week, and to my surprise brought a bottle of my favorite wine, reisling! I'm eager to uncork that bottle, but wondering how much of a "light-weight" I've become!

Thank you again to all of the friends and family that are still stopping by to meet our new addition. Especially those who traveled far distances, including Aunt Mary and Uncle David from Columbus; Megan and Cory from Orrville; Melissa from Elyria, and my work friends, Kathleen, Kathy, Jennifer and Katie from AU (pictured below).

I also want to send a HUGE thank you to my sister and brother-in-law, Steph and Scott, for all of the hand-me-downs they've sent us, including tons of clothes, and most recently, a swing, bouncy seat, Bumbo seat and more. I found out I was pregnant the day before their youngest son (my Godson!) Justin was born, and it's crazy to think that he's eight months old, and that his cousin is already here. As you can see, Austin is already in love with the seat. I cannot thank you enough Steph and Scott--you have done so much for us, not to mention setting a terrific example of what model parents are. I have so much respect for you guys.

I'll leave you with another baby commercial, this one much more emotionally captivating than the first one I shared weeks ago (I believe the catch phrase was "Poop there it is" for Luvs diapers, LOL). This is also a diapers brand, but Pampers delivers a touching message that often brings me to tears each time it airs during "A Baby Story" commercials. I know, I need to get away from the TV and get a hobby. Perhaps after my painting bug ends, I'll start brainstorming new diaper designs.

And for any soon-to-be moms out there, take my advice and do not buy Babies-R-Us brand diapers. Even if you have a coupon! Trust me :)