Saturday, July 27, 2013


12 a.m.
My family peacefully sleeps around me as I think to myself, "This would be a perfect blogging snapshot." Dad is home from a company day at the races.  He even won a Trifecta! Baby is full and content; snuggled up in his Pack and Play at the foot of the bed.  I got to hang out with my sister all day sans nephew which we never get to do anymore.  Even doggie is resting in her makeshift bed of blankets and the body pillow it was too hot to ever use when I was pregnant.  Everything feels perfect and peaceful even though Stella just had knee surgery yesterday.  Although I figure sleep is better than blogging at 12am, I write this post in my head anyway.

2 a.m. 
Stella is up and whining to get up on the bed.  Have I really only been asleep for two hours?  Luckily it feels longer.  I move her bed and blankets to a different part of the room.  Dad gets up to take her outside just in case.  Dylan rustles in his bed.  We settle in again.  No Stella!  Lay down!  She lays down.  Her bright pink full-leg cast underneath her.  Dylan lets out a huge, loud, angry cry.  I groan.  We're fucked, I think.  Maybe he's going to have to sleep all by himself in his crib earlier than planned.  He goes back to sleep without actually waking up.  I go get Stella the extra sedative I was to give in case of emergency.  Stella's up and down and up and down and making little circles to try to get herself comfortable.  And minutes before 3am.  We are all back asleep.  (Now the blog post in my head is turning ironic...or maybe just realistic.)

8 a.m.
Dad has already left for golf.  (He could have reminded me that he had a day at the races and a two-day golf tournament during the three days following Stella's surgery which could have been scheduled for next week, but I won't mention it here.) Stella is happily asleep in the living room on her new pet bed, wrapped in a red fleece blanket.  Dylan is already down for his morning nap.  I've already fed him a bottle and a mix of oatmeal and peaches, eaten my breakfast, picked up half of the house because a friend is coming over to keep me company while I'm on doggie house-arrest and now I'm drinking my coffee and blogging.

It's grey and damp outside.  Not very typical weather for the end of the July.  The palm trees in my back yard lightly sway in the breeze.  I thought about wearing yoga pants today to change it up a bit, but I settled on the same purple sweat pants I've worn every other day this week.  MrGG asked where the regular hairbrush is.  I said it's still in the suitcase.  Nope...I haven't brushed my hair this week.  (I can get away with not brushing it and still look pretty much ok - definitely good enough for my sweat pants.)

But don't think I would change a thing.  I love my sweat pants.  I wear my hair up every day.  I like being at home as long as I have company sometimes and it's not a forever thing.  Sure...I wish Stella did not need a second surgery in 5 months.  It was beyond a bitch last time.  And we're still in the easy part.  When the cast comes off on Monday and she "feels" like her old self, she will try to act like her old self which commonly includes running quick laps in the living room, backstopping off the couch on one of her turns.  Apparently that can hurt the healing process for knee surgery.  Go figure.

I need to pump. and continue picking up the house (which will never look even as close to nice and clean and organized as my friend's house). and get Dylan's next bottles ready.

But for right now, I'm enjoying my coffee and the quiet early morning.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Our first vacation!

I was literally dreading our Kauai vacation. It was a perk work trip with 5 families, all with small children. Three babies under one, one toddler (17 months), a 3 year-old, an 8 year old, a 10 year old and a teenager.

We were super spoiled and got to fly on a private jet. Dylan says he'll never fly commercial :). I had visions of 5 children all screaming at the same time. But miraculously, Dylan took two naps each way and only one child had a meltdown (both flights).

Dylan slept wherever he wanted the pool. He was by far the easiest kid on the trip.

He LOVED the water. Mostly he liked looking at it and wanted to stick his face in it. (Btw, I used California Baby sunscreen and really liked it.) he was in the water every day, mostly pool, but he even played in the ocean a bit. And no poop in his swim diaper! They don't make actual swim diapers in size 2 which I think is discrimination against the little ones! But he was fine in his fabric swim diaper.

The hotel provided a pack and play type thing and they even had an infant tub which was extremely helpful. The pack and play came with sheets and a blanket and I also got a Johnson's sample pack with shampoo, body wash, lotion, powder, and desitin. I brought my own sheet anyway, but it was nice to have everything covered.

I brought our car seat which was good because Dylan felt safe and comfortable in it when we were out and about.

MrGG and I got engaged at a waterfall in Kauai 4 years ago and we were able to bring Dylan back to the spot and take some pictures which was really cool!

We had a couple of nights with adults only dinners so we used a sitter service. My first sitter was fantastic, the second not so much, but I felt really comfortable with the company and they partner with the hotel we were at.

Oh. And I dropped my cell phone down the elevator shaft. 6 stories! It fell off the stroller just as I walked in. I thought it was a goner, but after shutting down the elevators to search, the hotel engineers found it, intact, without a scratch! I couldn't believe it.

The time difference is three hours ahead and it was really confusing trying to figure out when to get Dylan to sleep so we kind of just followed his lead. He seemed to follow the sun like he does here and so his bedtime kept getting later each night. The last night was 11:30pm Pacific time! We thought we would be in for it when we got back, but he's almost sleeping better now! Kind of crazy!

So overall I would say that traveling with a 6 month old was not bad at all. The only kid who really had trouble was the toddler. She did not like being off her schedule.

I don't think MrGG will agree to another trip anytime soon, but Dylan's first was one to remember!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Book Review: Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

Sleep is going pretty well over here, except when it's not.  So I'm continuing to read the sleep books I borrowed from a friend.  Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, by Marc Weissbluth, M.D. took me about 4 hours to read (during two days of naps) with some skimming and skipping all sections past Dylan's current age-range.

Based on research, children who sleep better are happier, less hyper-active, and perform better in school.  The average child needs about 14 hours of sleep.  In the newborn stage, this sleep will occur in short bursts throughout a 24 hour period.  By around 6 weeks, babies start to organize their night-time sleep and sleep longer periods.  By about 4 months, naps start becoming more organized with most babies taking 3 naps.  Between 5 and 8 months, most babies take 2 naps. The last nap falls off sometime after a year.

Total sleep need does not change significantly during the span of the first few years, so when a child drops a nap, bedtime often must be moved earlier.  Dr. Weissbluth says that most babies should be going to bed between 6 and 8 pm and waking around 7 am (with 1-2 night wakings for feeding up to 9 months).  The first nap should occur sometime between 9 and 10, the second between 1 and 3, and the third between 3 and 5. (Starting during that range, not sleeping through the entire range.)

His major focus is advocating the merits of "cry it out." He prefers the extinction method where you do not go back in the room.  You let your child cry for up to 1 hour at nap-time and as long as necessary at night.  He argues that if you do not do this, you will be teaching the baby to cry for the period of time it takes you to come in and give comfort.

He advocates putting the child down when tired, but before yawning and eye-rubbing.  He says to use whatever soothing routine you like including nursing to sleep and does not see the need to wake the baby as you put them down (as Dr. Karp recommends in Happiest Baby on the Block).  But he does not agree with any type of motion during sleep and is at best ambivalent about white noise.  He says to put them down when you finish the soothing routine whether they are awake or asleep.

My Opinion:
Dr. Weissbluth is very blunt and he might make some people angry.  He, like the authors of Babywise, also spends a good deal of time explaining that research does not support attachment parenting (in that the child will not feel abandoned and it can often disrupt good sleep).  But overall I liked his heavily research-based information and he did acknowledge common practices like the "family bed."

Although he believes in CIO, he also explains "Graduated Extinction" and other methods of reacting to a baby's cries.

He often talks about two working parents keeping their baby up too late so that they can play with him after work.  That got a little old and annoying.  I agree that the sleep times that he advocates are most common, but if a family has to shift the schedule a bit on both ends to have time together, I think that can work long as you're not actively playing at 8:00.

My Take Aways:
Dylan has been sleeping until about 6 am, but mostly that is because I needed to feed him them when I went back to work. (He is currently 6 1/2 months adjusted, 9 months actual.)  So I'm going to leave him a little longer and try to get to 7 or 7:30 (he's usually just happily babbling at this time). I'm currently at home for summer break and will have a nanny in the home in the Fall.

I've been trying to find a pattern in Dylan's naps for ever now, but I like the times that Dr. Weissbluth recommends so I am going to try to stick to them.  He's been pretty consistent in frequency and duration of naps, they just always occur at different times.  I think it will be pretty easy to get closer to standard times.  It's not really different from what I'm already's just that I think by working on the wake-up time, the nap times will be a little bit more consistent.  And Dylan is definitely a 3 time napper (sometimes more).  He still also wakes up at 35 minutes or so, but doesn't get really upset and has been able to put himself back to sleep within 10 minutes (usually just 2-5).

Lastly, I'm going to try to keep pushing bedtime earlier.  Overall bedtime has ranged from 6:30 to after 8:30 with a mean of right around 8:00.  I'm not sure if it's the light or what, but it seems that however tired he is, he won't sleep until 8.  (I could buy black out shades, but I'm not sure if it's necessary right now.)  I have a nice little routine of bath, lotion, pjs, bottle, walk (and sometimes a book if he's less tired) that seems to be working well.  Then I turn on his white noise and his mobile with the light, but no sound and if I put him down just right after the walk...

We are so close to having everything be good.  Bedtime is difficult every other day or a little less than that and very seldom does he get into a full-blow freak out cry, so I'm still not willing to CIO.  My peanut needs his precious calories.  And I kind of did it the other day when he was a bit congested and I couldn't stand to hear his labored breathing. : (

So hopefully if I stay really consistent during the day - not in time, but in making sure he gets enough nap-time - and I keep a good soothing routine, we'll be okay without more formal sleep training.

So overall, I liked the book.  I ignored his tone a lot of the time (as well as most of the case studies), but paid close attention to the sleep research and his sleep routine suggestions and agree with just about all of it.  But I will definitely keep Dr. Karp's white noise!  Dylan prefers rain.  It definitely helps him sleep through gardeners and garbage trucks and barking dogs.  (I use it for all naps and for his first night-time stretch in his crib.  When I transfer him upstairs to the pack and play, it's off.  So far that hasn't been a problem, but we've had some night-waking the past few nights so I might have to re-evaluate.)

How is sleep going for everyone else?

This is what Dylan's actual sleep looks like for the past couple of weeks.

And here's a picture of him sleeping for good measure.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pre-term Labor (Part 1)

Dylan was born over 9 months ago.  It really feels like a mini-lifetime.  But I'm still not over my labor experience.  For those of you that are pregnant, most people would say "Don't read this post. It'll only scare you." But I actually think you should read it, knowing that the odds of this happening to you are very very small.  I was following one blogger who had gone into pre-term labor and was hospitalized and just knowing that she was out there and had been there was really helpful.  @amiracleintheworks, thanks!  I even told nurses about all the things your cool hospital did for the antepartum patients that my hospital totally did not.

I'm basically over not being able to breastfeed (due to baby's reflux).  I'm pretty much over the NICU experience.  It was very difficult, but the outcome was good and Dylan made progress just about each and every day.  But I'm not over my labor experience.  Not even slightly.  I think about my hospitalization on a nearly daily basis.  (It doesn't help that I stalk Hellobee all day long.)  I'm not depressed.  I do have some PTSD-type triggers and flashbacks.  But most of all I'm just very bitter.

I'm a bright-side kind of person.  I know that bad things can happen, but I don't obsessively worry, I deal with things when they happen.  And during my pregnancy, I was scared of losing it all the time.  I knew that "24 weeks" was the magic viability time (I know much more know...24 weeks is still really, really scary, but babies are also born at 23 weeks every day.)

(This post is going to be very stream of consciousness because I have a lot to say and it's hard to organize, so I hope you don't mind!)

Every time I went in for a check-up, I would get the literature saying how the baby was developing that week.  I'm pretty sure at some point the hand-outs mention the signs of pre-term labor, but I never got there.  That was really one of the scariest parts, I was absolutely, completely un-prepared for pre-term labor (not that anyone is prepared).  I barely knew it existed.

When I started bleeding and contracting at 23 weeks, I had absolutely no clue where Labor and Delivery was.  I vaguely remembered seeing a sign when I had driven by before, but I actually had my friend drop me off in front of the hospital at the totally wrong spot.  I was wandering around the first floor, knowing I wasn't really supposed to go to the ER, (bleeding), crying (duh), until another pregnant woman took me where I needed to be.  I wish I had toured L&D immediately upon getting pregnant.  I wish someone had told me what to do if I started bleeding.

When I was on the way to the hospital, I thought that Dylan might be gone.  But when I heard his heart beat in triage, I was so relieved.  I truly thought they'd send me home and that was it.  (This was Friday night.)  They dosed me with magnesium to stem my contractions.  But I'm pretty sure I had 14 an hour over that first night (but I wasn't dilated).  14 contractions an hour is a lot and, by mid-morning, I had gotten enough information to realize that I was going to have to stay...forever.  It was September 22st.  I was due January 17th.  I had just finished teaching the third week of the school year.  I had just told the kids I would be there almost through the first semester.  And I couldn't go back even to say good-bye.   That day was the single hardest day for me personally.

I was alone a lot that day.  Actually, I think my mom was there, but it's very blurry (Magnesium does that.) I was in this tiny little room with no windows.  The IV in my wrist hurt really bad.  I felt so isolated and so confused.  I can't remember really getting to talk to doctors.

But I'm really proud of how I handled it too.  My entire life came to a standstill.  I literally made a list of all of the things that I wouldn't be able to do for the rest of my pregnancy.  Teach.  Have a baby shower.  Wear all of the clothes I had just bought for when I was big.  And I "let go" of each one of them, one by one.  I'm not the kind of person who can really let go when I'm upset about something.  And I'm obviously still not over everything in general.  But that day, I did what I had to do to not completely crack up.

Then I started Googling.  It was really hard to find good information about contractions at 23 weeks.  I found that some people contract from then throughout the rest of their pregnancy and everything is essentially normal.  I think they call it "irritable uterus."  Funny.  I hoped this was me.  I found a site called that was okay.  It had message boards and preemie success stories.  The very best online community is the Preemie Parenting group on BabyCenter.  Somehow I didn't find it until we were well into our NICU stay.

***This next part is a little rough to might want to skip it if you pregnant or sensitive.***

The Neonatologist first came to visit in that little tiny room.  Let's call is "Room 1."  There are 6 rooms total if you want to keep a tally.  She brought paper work describing the odds if Dylan was born at 23 weeks, 24 weeks, etc.  She said that I would need to get steroid shots to help develop his lungs more quickly, but that I had to decide when to get them.  Basically she said the odds are really bad for 23-weekers and that I had two options: to have doctors intervene, put the baby on a ventilator, etc. or they could "give comfort" to the baby.  I think that's what she called it.  Every time she mentioned it, I completely broke down and I could not even discuss it.  This is the first time I've said it "aloud." I still think it's the most horrible thing ever.  I'm so so sorry if you'd ever had to go through it yourself.

These were discussions that Mr. GG and I did not want to have but had to have.  It was difficult to even use words.  He was absolutely terrified of brain damage or severe issues.  We eventually decided to get the steroid shots at 24 weeks.  I believe the odds are about 50/50 for survival at that point.  Mr. GG wanted to wait even longer, but I knew that I could never live with the idea of not knowing if my child could have survived.  This is the among the worst decisions any parent will every have to make.

Ok, sorry for the really super sad stuff.

***Ok, back to the regularly scheduled program.

After about a day and a half I think, I was moved to my new room in actual L&D. (I was in Triage before.)  I scored on this one!  The nurses all called it the Penthouse.  I had an entire bank of windows on the wall by my bed with a view of trees and the room was gigantic.  Bigger than my living room.  I was even able to pull a curtain to hide the newborn warming thing in the corner.  But I could not not hear the lullaby that played every time a normal term baby was born.

A special Antepartum Unit opened 2 weeks after Dylan was born.  Most of the difficulties and stress of my 17 day hospital stay would have been avoided (I imagine) if that unit was already open.  Sadface.  No one every thinks they will need an Antepartum Unit.  But if your hospital has one or your have the choice of a hospital that has one, you're lucky.

This is getting a little long, so let's call it episode 1.  More to follow...