Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Sarah & Mika (early May)
Sam & Suzanne (late June)
We're letting them practice with Sidney.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Truthfully, our first weeks after bringing Sidney home from the hospital were really tough and I struggled to keep it together. I've already talked about the breastfeeding ordeal which had a lot to do with that, but the hormonal fluctuation and the sleep deprivation were also intense. (This is expected for new moms and not what is considered post-partum depression. That is much more severe and you usually can't lift out of it like I was eventually able to do.) But at week two, I commented on Facebook that I couldn't believe it had only been a few weeks with Sidney and that it felt like much longer. My co-worker Dave said it was because I was awake for so much of it.
I like to pride myself in being pretty steady and level emotionally. I also like to think of myself as rational and thoughtful. But my god in the first weeks, I didn't recognize myself. I would start crying when I thought about my mom having return to Portland, when I would see puppies in commercials or when veering into territory regarding my feelings about ANYTHING. And unlike college all-nighters, the consecutive nights of sleep deprivation with a baby make you delirious or at least chronically absent-minded. I couldn't remember anything and there are lots of appointments in the first weeks--and especially with Sidney's jaundice, we had people coming and going here at the house. I could take nothing for granted so everything had to be written down or the information would evaporate into the ether.
I realized too that I had to give it all (emotionally, physically, mentally, intellectually) to fulfill her every need. Her fragility and dependence weighed so heavily--I thought then it might be more than I could bear. But I remembered something my co-worker Craig said a few years ago to me: "Having kids is like cutting out a piece of your heart and putting it out in the world. You have no control over it and it can get hurt." I guess as a parent you are always trying to balance protecting your child versus preparing them to deal with harsh realities of life. It's like you're slowly letting the rope out. When you're a kid, all you want to do it push the limits and as a parent all you want to do is protect that little being as long as possible. (I'm sure toddler-hood will be fun.)
I no longer feel the level of anxiety I had at the beginning where I felt constantly unsure of myself. But I can see why some parents can seem over-bearing and over-protective. That trap of wanting to do everything right and what the books say can make you crazy. Instincts (as muted and suppressed in our hi-tech world as they are) count for something.
No one really told me any of this or maybe as a non-parent you can't quite grasp the intensity. The only frame of reference you have is being someone's kid and it's hard to appreciate all that parents do from that perspective. Personally all of the effort we put into getting pregnant, staying pregnant, eating right, not learning how to deliver vaginally and taking all the classes, still left the "after the baby arrives" part a little abstract. Once I gave birth I actually thought: Whew, that's over. Now I can relax. (Cue hysterical laughter.)
Monday, November 23, 2009
Prior to Sidney's arrival, Ken and I already had a ravenous, excreting, 11-pound bundle of joy named Oliver. Anyone who's been here can tell you he's a little bit off. Not mean or spasmodic but sort of compulsive and distant. He has dealt with the new addition to the family by eating alot and acting slightly more friendly to us & visitors since he gets so little interaction from us now. But he never was a very affectionate cat to be begin with so it's hard to know how much his life has really changed.
He usually regards Sidney as a strange, noisy object to be avoided or ignored.
He's only sitting here because I am dangling the end of my robe tie for him to play with.
It doesn't appear that Sidney really knows what to think of Oliver but one day that tail is going to be quite grab-worthy.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Monday, November 09, 2009
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Ever since Ms. Sidney came into our lives, Ken and I have made a growing discovery that we live aboard a 17th century sailing ship that creaks like the dickens. We had no idea how squeaky our floors were until walking around in the wee-hours of the night to get to the baby's room, get to the kitchen to warm bottles or go to the bathroom--all without disturbing our newest family member. And for those of you who have been to the house, we're not talking alot of distance. Ken thought he might get out some painter's tape and put marks on the floor where the squeaks are so we could avoid them but then he might as well just put a big X across the whole thing. There is nothing that can be done for us unfortunately. You can fix squeaks in a wood floor by drilling screws or nailing the floor boards up from the bottom but you need an unfinished basement to do that and we don't have one of those.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
- Bibs: At first, I thought they were just cute accessories. But for a baby that gets fed from a bottle, it can help minimize the wet collar that inevitably happens as milk runs down their chin. And for both formula and breastfed baby, they are the first line of defense against spit-up and hence decrease the number of outfit changes.
- White board: As a new parent, you're constantly keeping track of feedings, diaper changes, pumping schedule, dr. appts, medicine dosages (if app) and stuff like that. When one is majorly sleep deprived, your memory is questionable so write it down and if you want to relay something to the other caregivers in the house (but don't have them right in front of you) this is an invaluable communication tool.
- DVDs to view: "Happiest Baby on the Block" & "Dunstan Baby Language" Both of these are extremely helpful in giving guidance about how to help your baby feel comforted and understood. "Happiest" gives 5 solid ways to soothe a baby and "Dunstan" interprets 5 distinct cries and what they mean. Rent or borrow first and then decide if you need to own a copy.
- Books to own: "Baby 411" & "What to Expect in the First Year" My bible was "Baby 411" in the first days/weeks. I was constantly referring it. I love the way it is organized by topic and the layout is easy to read with lots of bullet points (my favorite way to intake information). In contrast, "What To Expect" is organized by months of age, so you can see everything that should be happening within the monthly intervals. It's nice to be able to cross reference by topic and time frame.
- Drying rack If you bottle feed and/or use a breast pump, there are parts that constantly need washing. There are cages you can put certain parts in for the dishwasher but if you aren't running the dishwasher multiple times a day, you'll still need to hand wash a bunch of things. A rack will also be invaluable for storage and minimizing the impact to your counter space.
- Kiddopotamus Swaddle Me Wraps (cotton or fleece depending on season) New babies like to be swaddled and while you can do this with a blanket, these wraps are better because they contain the arms and legs separately. That means you don't have to undo the entire swaddle to change a diaper--this is key.
- Burp cloths shaped like a peanut, like THESE. For a spitty baby like ours, we use lots of burp cloths and these stay on your shoulder better.
- VIPP Diaper Pail This is a totally indulgent item that most people could do without, but if you've ever smelled the diaper of a formula fed baby--oh yeah--we needed this. In the book "Baby Bargains," (one of the best resources for baby things) they actually gave the VIPP diaper pail an "F" because 1) it's expensive and 2) the reviewer had some trouble getting the bag of used diapers out of the can. But I don't agree with this. It's not that hard to pull it out and honestly for the foot petal, soft close top, minimal use of plastic and *no* odor--that's pretty much why we bought it. Feel free to get something cheaper or just use the kitchen trash but since we still use disposable diapers enough of the time, it was worth it to us.
- Medela Symphony Breast Pump (as a rental): It's a hospital-grade unit and called the "Cadillac of Breastpumps." It's modulated by a computer that mimics the rhythms of a baby's suckle and it's quite powerful so you can spend half the time attached to it as compared to a consumer grade pump. Even though I owned my own home pump, I had to rent this one to increase my milk supply (when I was briefly trying to breast feed) and relieve engorgement that neither the baby nor my pump were able to. Regarding the rubber membranes that make this pump work--buy extra ones because they are fragile and use a teaball to wash them so they don't get lost down the drain.
- Cloud and Stars Crib Zipper Sheets: Simply the fastest & best solution for changing crib sheets--ever.
- Robe and slippers: Get some warm, comfortable ones. You'll be spending lots of time in them and need something wear as you shuffle into the baby's room for late night feedings. A robe can also act as a body-sized spit-up shield in a pinch.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Ron Faulkner 1/2009
Auntie Michiko 7/2009
Nation & Politics:
Iron Jawed Angels 10/2008
Obama Wins 11/2008
Understanding the Economic Crisis 4/2009
Sewer Pipes and Basement Water Damage, Update, Aftermath 11/2008
Wii Theremin plus Dr. Who and Santa Claus is coming on NPR 12/2008
Kali's Birthday Rap 3/2009
San Juan Islands part one & part two plus music video 1/2009
DC & the East Coast 6/2009
Ken’s Motorcycle Trip 7/2009
Manzanita Beach, part one & part two 7/2009
Salish Lodge 8/2009
@ 18 Weeks, 21 Weeks, 23 Weeks, 25 Weeks, 29 Weeks, 33 Weeks, 35 Weeks
Pregnancy Advice, Lists and Ruminations:
Mantooth hypothetical tweets 3/2009
Mantooth's advice for expectant fathers 3/2009
Questions People Ask 3/2009
Baby Room Themes 4/2009
About our Doula 5/2009
Building a registry 5/2009
Media and resources for pregnancy 6/2009
Media not recommended for Pregnancy 6/2009
Wetus chat 8/2009
Sidney Arrives 9/2009
Sidney’s Birth Story 10/2009
Breastfeeding Woes 10/2009
Friday, October 09, 2009
Sunday, October 04, 2009
I’d say 99% of my conversations these days with fellow mothers hit on the topic of breastfeeding. As a new mom, your life can be consumed by it. The schedule, the technique, the accessories, the whole process...
As they say “breast is best” and any breastfeeding you can do is highly encouraged. Enough medical evidence and social pressure exist to support breast milk as the best food for baby which is a shift from a generation or two ago, where formula was the modern and best way to go. We certainly agree that breast milk is optimum but why do so many women find it unintuitive and confounding to breastfeed? To put this in perspective, think of the most frustrating experience you’ve ever had where you didn’t accomplish your goal--now multiply that feeling by 10. That’s breastfeeding for team Moore-Sakai.
Sidney and I just could not even get out of the starting blocks on this one. Here’s the full story on our experience of breast feeding.
When I gave birth, the 2 mounds of flesh on my chest finally had a purpose and I was looking forward to this ability to produce something within my own body that could completely and efficiently nurture our child. And that’s where my enthusiasm for the process began and ended. Several issues contributed to our consummate failure at nursing/breastfeeding…
was born 3 weeks early, she was very tired so her sucking was under-powered. This didn’t allow her to get the hang of how much effort she’d need to put out to get milk from the breast. Sidney
- We used nipple shields (plastic sheaths that go over your nipples that have holes in them) to give her something more defined to latch onto since her lower jaw was slightly recessed and limited her range of opening. From the outset, her latch was bad.
- As the days went on, we found out she needed to be treated for jaundice and the amount of hydration she was getting from the scanty colostrum I was stranded with before my milk came in was not flushing the bad stuff out. Not only did she have to be put on a light box to help dissipate the toxins, the doctors also recommended that we give her formula to start flushing out her system. So within days of her arrival and well before breastfeeding was established, she was sucking down formula from a bottle.
- Since breast milk works as a supply & demand phenomenon, the fact that she wasn’t adequately demanding meant my body wasn’t supplying so the amount of milk I was creating was not keeping pace with her need for it. We had to supplement with formula anyway.
But we soldiered on. We consulted a lactation specialist, our doula, rented a hospital grade pump and attempted to use SNS (supplemental nursing systems) which mimicked feeding from the breast. This included a tube and syringe that was precariously placed within the nipple shield that pushed liquid into her mouth or “finger feeding” where Ken would use that same tube and syringe but use put his finger into her mouth to ensure that she was sucking and latching somewhat correctly. So it took 2 of us to feed her every 3 hours and it was so tedious yet we hung in there.
At her 2 week check up, she gained back her birth weight plus 4 extra ounces so the doctor suggested we try removing the supplemental systems at SOME of the feedings. I, in my sleep deprived and eager state, heard “let’s cut over to nursing for all of the feedings.” At the time, she needed 2 ounces at each feeding so we supplemented ½ oz. of formula just to give her a safety net. We assumed she’d get the other 75% of her meal from the breast herself. We started this on a Tuesday night and noticed that while she would be fussy after most feedings, she seemed to be “doing it.” (Note: For the night feedings, we straight up gave her 2 oz of formula from a bottle per the doctor’s recommendation.)
We decided to be on the safe side and rent a highly calibrated scale where we could weigh her before and after feedings to see how much breast milk she was actually pulling. The scale did not arrive until Saturday, 4.5 days after we switched over to Sidney-powered nursing. You know what I said in the previous blog about her “latching and nursing pretty well”—yeah, not so much. To our horror, we realized that
I was traumatized by this turn of events. Despite our best efforts, there were so many obstacles in our way to make nursing successful. Our pediatrician was very empathetic and supportive of us. She commended our dedication to try to make breastfeeding work but glad that we had discovered & corrected the supply problem. She said many families would not have stuck with it as long as we had or gone to the lengths we did to try to make it work. So at that point, we decided we were done. Done struggling with a process that was supposed to be natural but was anything but for us. With my supply stagnating, her demand per feeding increasing and so much of her feedings being formula any way, we decided that we’d be weaning from breast milk entirely around 5 weeks.
She would already have received the vital antibodies at the 3 week mark which our pediatrician advised us was important and we’d know that for all of our efforts, we had really tried. It would also eliminate a huge piece of anxiety that surrounded all feedings. I know there is a very adamant and vocal community who would condemn our decision. Perhaps they would call us selfish or not committed enough to our daughter’s well being and welfare. But we really tried and it was heartily disappointing. Ultimately though you have to do what is best for everyone involved. Being raised on formula isn’t the end of the world though. So many of our generation were and thankfully there is that option when the breastfeeding just doesn’t work.My advice to all soon-to-be and new moms who want to breast feed is to line up resources and contacts as soon a possible. Don’t be afraid to reach out immediately when you have questions or things don’t seem to be going right. Hospitals usually have programs that can assist and there are doulas & consultants ready to help in-home as well. If you want to try to make breastfeeding work, there are the tools and folks out there. I will say the breast feeding is definitely worth trying even if it doesn’t become the long-term feeding solution.
Sunday, September 06, 2009
The hospital system where we are delivering (Swedish) has an extensive "curriculum" that soon-to-be-parents can attend. They even have a grandparents class that sadly none of the Wetus grands will get to take. (But I know the Testas are going to do this so perhaps we will get a report...) If you are eager to learn and interact, it's best to get the Welcome package for a lump sum of $250/couple. That let's you sign up for almost all of the flagship classes and keeps the transactions quite easy. Once you sign up and pay your fee, you just use a code to register online for the classes/times of your choice.
- Childbirth Preparation class--Planned Cesarean Birth w/Hospital Tour: It's good to know what to expect and some of the nitty-gritty details of this type of deliver. Though they don't tell you "everything." You have to consult close girlfriends for those gems.
- Postpartum Preparation: How it's normal to feel overwhelmed and under the control of "aliens" right after baby is born. But really it has to do with hormones, sleep deprivation and a brand new creature who relies on you for its very survival. Coping skills.
- Newborn Care: Swaddling, diapering, bathing, warning signs and more.
- Breastfeeding: There is a lot more to know about this than you may think. Especially if you want to do this with some level of success.
- Infant Safety & CPR: A very empowering class. To know how to do CPR-- and on an infant even, you feel pretty tough and prepared.
Still to take in the next few weeks:
- Conscious Fathering (Ken only): We've heard many dads enjoyed this one.
- Car-Seat Installation and Safety: 80+% of car seats are installed incorrectly. I know we both have college degrees and astute minds but this is something we have to get right.
But one of the most rewarding classes which is not included in the Welcome package is a 2-day workshop designed by John & Julie Gottman of the Gottman Institute @ UW. It's called Bringing Baby Home. It's taught in the Swedish system and is more about how your marriage or relationship is affected by the new baby. You work on tools and skills to help you stay connected with your partner when you are both sleep-deprived, emotionally drained and vulnerable to high relationship dissatisfaction--all of this due to the new addition. Even if you have rock solid relationship, it's a good way to arm yourself with tools and understanding that the challenge of parenthood will place a strain on a marriage. How you deal with that affects not only the couple but the children. We highly recommend it.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Pics by Cindy, Sue & Lori.