Thursday, December 30, 2010

...of my first full day

"What can I do to make Mom's first day really hard... Hmmm..."

Abram was born on November 17th, 2010. It is now January 2nd, 2011 (that's very strange to type). 46 days later and I have yet to spend a full one completely by myself with him. I have been so blessed... and spoiled. I was talking to a friend before Abram was born, telling her how much time Quinn's work was giving him off for the baby. Her response was: "Wow. I think Ryan got that Friday off".

Not only has my husband been around, but he's been an incredible help. I have heard stories of men who never changed their child's diaper. Well, Quinn's got that one down. Actually, that is probably where he will be missed the most. Everytime I am feeding Abram and he falls asleep half way through, I call for Quinn. I mean, it's really hard to hoist yourself out of a chair with a sleeping baby and breastfeeding pillow strapped around your waist. But, alas, I must learn to do it and my only hope is that I might be working my butt muscles... but probably not.

The last 3-4 days have been filled with crying. A lot of crying. I have heard that "fussiness" peaks at 6 weeks. I'm not sure where the line is between fussiness and colic, but Abram may have crossed it. I mean, this kid spends 50% of his time sleeping, 20% eating, 25% crying, and 5% awake and content.

This happened in the span of about 10 minutes.

I don't know if this is normal. And his crying is, like, for real crying: screaming, reddness, tears, back of the throat kind of crying. The only thing that stops it is 1. eating (and sometimes he will even do it then) and 2. the Moby wrap. This is not a very good picture (of the Moby or myself), but hopefully you get the idea.
It's an absurdly long piece of a stretch cotton fabric that, when wrapped a certain way around you and your baby, creates the closest thing I've felt to being pregnant since being pregnant. This is mildly uncomfortable, but ultimately wonderful, as it puts the baby to sleep and frees up both of your hands. Thank you to my friend, Channing, for recommending it. Quinn still prefers the Baby Bjorn, but I think the Moby is much for comfortable for me and Abram. So, I'm sure he will be living in that thing quite a bit in the days and weeks to come. Oh, and the guitar is like a magic wand, too. Play three songs when that kid is tired and crying and he'll be out by the end. We had to pull it out on Christmas so that the rest of us could enjoy ourselves.

The last 46 days have been filled with holidays and visitors and food. We spent Christmas Day with my parents, grandparents, sister, and brother-in-law. Quinn finally bought me a Wii. There is a funny story about him buying me a Wii two Christmases ago and then returning it before he gave it to me, and then telling me that he bought it, getting me excited, and then telling me he returned it, but I won't go into all that detail... he had his reasons... kind of... Anyway, I finally talked him into it this year and he brought it down to my sister's house so that we could hook it up and show the game to everyone. We did that and it was a bit too overwhelming for my parents and grandparents to play. So we Wii bowled instead. All of us. Even my almost 80 year old grandparents. Proof that the Wii really is "fun for the whole family". My mom's form was definitely the best. Look at that follow through! :)

We also got some family photos before everyone left:
The parents
The grandparents
The great-grandparents

He actually has a Great-Great Grandmother who is still alive in her 100th year in Poteau, OK. We would love to get up there in the next few months and get a picture with her. It would be amazing.

As far as the food goes, we have also been blessed by many friends bringing us things that we had as leftovers and Thanksgiving and Christmas and more leftovers. So I really haven't had to flex my cooking muscles at all over the last 6 weeks. So I thought I would give it a try last night. I got halfway through the preparation of a chicken pot pie with stuffing crust, when Abram woke up and wanted to be fed. So everything sat there for 45 minutes while he ate until I could get back to it. Luckily this recipe was condusive to long, unexpected nursing breaks.
Most recipes will not be. I am worried about this as I think about my new career as a stay at home mom who takes care of the baby and prepares lovely meals for the dad to come home to everyday. We'll see how lovely they really end up being.

Well, I should stop now. Everyone else is in bed preparing for the reintroduction to "normal" life tomorrow and I am sitting here typing about being worried about the reintroduction to "normal" life. I should be sleeping, I have no idea when this baby is going to wake up and want to be fed. Oh, Abram, go easy on me buddy, I'm a little frightened.
"We shall see, Mom, we shall see..."

Friday, December 17, 2010

... of corporate endorsement

The past month has been lived in 3-6 hour increments. Due to the fact that nursing did not come naturally for the Babram or the Mom, feeding times were especially stressful and time-consuming. This lead to nights turning into days turning into nights, fussy, gassy baby soothing and rocking, and little to nothing getting accomplished in the Smith home. Throughout these last four weeks, we have all grown and developed and learned. Yet we have only begun to find our groove. However, there have been a few life changing items that have proven themselves invaluable and worthy of Smith family endorsement. Here are a few:

The iPhone. This high tech gadget that, only a month ago, was a luxury possession, is now an absolute necessity. I do not go anywhere without it (even from room to room). This little guy has become my primary computer and my best friend. Due to the fact that nursing took up/takes up so much time and one is almost completely immobilized while doing it, I cannot imagine not having a palm sized computer to get things done and entertain myself during an otherwise completely useless 7 or so hours a day. I can check and send email, check facebook, keep track of feeding times, read books, listen to music, or even write blogs! I cannot give this wondrous little machine any higher praise.

The SwaddleMe. In the first few months of their lives, babies generally like to be swaddled. They show you how to do this with a blanket at the hospital and the nurse will make it look as easy as wrapping leftover pizza in tin foil. Then you will try it and the baby will bust out within the minute, leaving you wondering if they even want to be swaddled in the first place. Well, if you have seen the video of my son in my stomach at 8 months, you can kind of see how they seemingly attempt to bust out of that cozy place as well.

So really it's just needing to wrap them tight enough and secure enough to create that womb like experience for them where they can wiggle but not break free. Enter the SwaddleMe, a marvelous Velcro contraption where you just drop the baby in a pocket and strap their arms down to create the perfect, no mess swaddle. This thing has saved us incredible amounts of time we may have lost in swaddling and reswaddling with a blanket, arguing about how to swaddle correctly, and consoling the melt down that can happen when he breaks free. They also come in different weights, so if they already have enough layers of clotjing on, you don't have to undress them to put them in a warm blanket or vice versa. Muy fantastico. Almost every picture we have of Abram these past 4 weeks has captured him in his trusted SwaddleMes.
All cozy in a SwaddleMe

PlayTex Nursers bottles. If you are going to use a bottle and breastfeed, take it from the people who have a large bag full of about ten different kinds of bottles just sitting out in the garage: Playtex Nurser drop in bottles are the slowest flow, one of the cheapest, and the easiest to clean up. We used the Breastflow bottles for awhile, but they had too many parts to clean and were too expensive. Also take it from the people who are just now kind of getting the hang of nursing... Don't give the baby a bottle until you are positive they have caught on. If they haven't, you will have a lot of backtracking to do when they don't seem to want to nurse any more. Or maybe it's just my kid.

Playtex Pacifiers. Also not a good idea to use until they are nursing well. But when we he really wants to go to sleep, but he really wants to suck on something, a pacifier is like a magic wand. We like the Playtex kind that looks like he has a butterfly glued to his face because he seems to get the least amount of air while sucking.

Baby gas drops. These have changed our nights. He used to be inconsolable right after he ate and before he could go to sleep because of gas. He would lift up his legs and wail and we could tell he just needed to get something out. He also has a bit of a constipation problem. As in: doesn't go poop for 2-3 days at a time and when he does it's an absolute blow out. So that's part of the problem as well. BUT the gas drops have greatly reduced the fussiness after eating. So wonderful.

Fisher Price iSwing. This swing was loaned to us by my friend, Channing, whose son had colic when he was a few months old (he's a big 'ol 6 months now and doesn't need the swing anymore). But this has also changed our lives. Channing told me that it was a relatively pricey purchase, but that after seeing how it worked, she would have bought two. I'm with ya, Channing. If, for some reason, she needed it back right now I would be in the store buying one for Abram within the hour. It is amazing how the combination of the swing and the passie has allowed the 1:00 am feeding to finish up so much more smoothly and quietly.
Abram in motion in the swing of wonder.

Pampers Swaddlers diapers. These are the diapers that were given to us by the hospital when they sent us home. We did not have them in our house (although we had about 5 other kinds given to us by various people). But once we ran out, we tried the Huggies newborn ones and they were way too big on him. So from that point on, we've been getting the Pampers. We ran out yesterday and while Quinn was at the store getting more, I had to put the Huggies on him while he nursed. I ended up with pee all over my cashmere sweater. I do have a reason why I was wearing a cashmere sweater while nursing a one month old, but it's not really worth explaining, because it's not that good. Lesson learned, ok? About the Pampers and the cashmere.

So those are the main items that we just couldn't imagine living life without. I know every baby is different and some people may love Huggies and hate Pampers or never use a bottle or have a different brand of swing that they love or wear cashmere all of the time, but this is my kid and these are the items that I would absolutely do a commercial for if they asked me to. I'm sure we will have many more that will reveal themselves as he gets older. I'm just glad that which car is the safest and smartest to let him drive is many, many years away from making it on this list.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

... of one whole month!

Quinn-Dad: "Abram. You're almost one month old!"
Abram: " Whaaaaat?!"

Yup, we've nearly made it. Through all of the struggles of the last four weeks, we were encouraged by many friends that sometimes it takes almost a month for babies to catch on to eating and settle in to more of a schedule. I wanted to believe them. I really did. But as I sat in bed every night around 3:00am with Abram on his second hour of feeding without seeming to get anything, I have to admit that I was skeptical. There were many times that I wanted to give up and just give him formula. But for some reason, I really felt like we were supposed to stick it out.

Babies his age should be getting about 560 ml of milk/formula and gaining about an ounce a day. Abram is little and has never gotten that 560 (more like 460 ml on average), BUT he gained 11 ounces in 7 days. So he was obviously getting enough. The big problem was that it was taking him a long time to get even the minimal amount of food. But we just kept it up and hoped that he would eventually get the hang of it.

And yesterday, it seems that he did! We just decided to let him wake himself up to eat rather than forcing him and that may have been the key. He slept for almost 4 hour stretches last night (which means almost a full night of sleep for us) and when he ate, he ATE! So he's eating less often, but he eats better and more when he does eat. This is such a blessing and an answer to many people's prayers. So, thank you, if you were praying. God is so faithful.

As long as he keeps it up for the rest of the day, we will be able to take him to our community group Christmas party tonight! I will be sure to post pictures of that.

But for now, here are some pictures of milestones and visitors. Because I know that's what you REALLY came here to see.

Abram's first real bath with dad. He actually slept through most of it... that is until we took him out of the tub and then he lost it. But we bundled him up and he was a happy, clean, little clam.

Friends from our community group, Isaac and Adriana who joined us for dinner one night. It was really good to see them and have them get to meet the Babram.

This is our neighbors' 6 month old, 24 pound son, Blake. His mom passed him to me to compare to Abram. I have to admit that I didn't make it very long before I had to pass him back.

Our friend, Danny.

Danny's wife, Abby. Amazingly wonderful friends who brought is chic-fil-a and hung out for awhile.

We have been lighting an advent candle every Sunday in preparation for Christmas. Quinn spent a lot of thought and time on finding the right nativity scene/statue to become part of our Christmas decor. This is the one he got. It was a good choice.

More community groupies: Newlyweds, Sean and Melissa Hutchinson.

My grandpa, Roy Shockley, flew in from Denver for a few hours to see his first great grandchild. (He flies free because my uncle is a pilot for Frontier... just thought I should explain why it was only a few hours.)

He brought a picture of his dad, my Great Grandpa Shockley holding me when I was about a month. Pretty cool comparison.

There is a picture in my baby scrapbook of my tiny hand on my Great Grandpa's huge hand. so we wanted to recreate with Abram and Roy. Abe's hand is a bit bigger than mine and Roy's is a bit smaller than his dad's. But it's still a sweet shot.

Our friend, Tiffany, brought us great food from Central Market (one of our favorite places to eat) and got to meet Abram. Her cute little 5 month old was at home "eating solids" with his dad :)

So, we are almost parents of a one month old. It feels like it's been forever, since we rarely leave the house. But hopefully being on the verge of one month, and on the verge of sleeping well, and on the verge of eating well means that we are also on the verge of ending this very long month and finally coming out of hibernation. Here's hoping!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

... of a birth announcement

We got a bunch of wonderful photos from our session with Kelli Hindman. The session was pretty early in the morning and Quinn and I were both exhausted. I hadn't showered in... well, I'm not going to say, but it had been longer than it should have been. And Quinn was in a rare, grumpy mood. Abram had just eaten, but had gas or was still hungry or something, because he kept waking up crying. But all of these obstacles notwithstanding, Kelli got some really cool shots. Here are a few more:

We were planning on using one of these shots for Abram's birth announcement, but when it came down to it, we really wanted a picture that showed a bit of his personality. Because these were all sleeping shots, they were cute, but not necessarily representative of our Babram. So even though we got some shots that are definitely blow-up and hang up in the house worthy, we went with a picture Quinn took of him today for the birth announcement.

I know, you are saying: "So... what's it look like?" Well, my friends, you are just going to have to check your mail in a few weeks to find out. And for those of you that are following the blog and aren't on our mass mail out list, I will put it up after we've sent them out. That way everyone can see it. We really like it. Quinn and I did it in photoshop together today. It was a team effort. Much like feeding Abram...

And that leads me to my final thought for this late night: What on earth would I do without having the most amazing husband in the world helping me with every little thing I need? Quinn is fantastic. He is willing to do whatever needs to be done to get everyone taken care of as quickly as possible. He is a huge help and I thank God for his heart and for the blessing we got of having him home for over a month. Praise the Lord! So, now he is washing out my pump pieces and we are about to head to bed for a few hours, if Abram will allow it. Good night and we will see you on the flip side.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

... of doing it on our own

Quinn's mom leaves tomorrow. It's been such a blessing to have such amazing mothers who are so willing to help with whatever needs to be done around the house and with the baby. I've gotten too used to being able to pass the baby off to be weighed in the middle of a feeding or having my water bottle and my stomach constantly filled by someone other than myself. We are going to have a bit of a rude awakening when we have to do all of this officially on our own. But I have faith that if we made it a few days between parents, we will make it a few more.

The thing that's made it the hardest is the whole nursing thing. He's not very good at it, because he's kind of lazy. He's also a bit of a hard-gainer, like his parents. We have to force a certain amount of food in him to make sure that he's putting on weight. So we rented a baby scale from the lactation consultant, so that we know what he's getting. We weighed him naked today to see his actual weight and he is about 7 lbs 2 oz!! That means that, even if we are having a hard time getting food into him, it's getting there and doing it's job.

And people don't tell you how hard nursing is until you are balling in the middle of the night as your baby lays asleep in front of you and you can't get him to do anything. Then, all of a sudden, every mother you talk to has a story about how hard nursing was for them and their child for the first month or so. I talked to a friend today who said that nursing was harder for her than childbirth. I would have to concur. The epidural made the actual childbirth the cake walk of this whole situation. The after math has been so much harder. When you take into account the recovery pain in multiple areas, the nursing troubles, the lack of sleep, and the raging hormones, getting the baby out of my body seems relatively easy.

Well, enough about nursing (Although if you are a parent-to-be and you are reading this, I would highly suggest talking to someone and potentially taking classes about breast feeding before the baby comes. It's something I didn't think was that important and I totally regret not doing it now. Just saying...)

Now, really, enough about nursing. You probably came here to see some cute Babram pictures. Well, I am happy to deliver.

Grandma Gae (GG) and Abram being hungry.

Abram's recent visitors:
Cort Hascall. Abram was getting a little fussy at this point.
Cort's wife, Anna. Abram was a LOT of fussy at this point. Poor Anna. He was just very hungry.
Quinn's friend, Luis; who was best man in our wedding. Now he is holding our son!

Quinn sure loves his little guy. We are both so so glad that we are all over our sickness so that we can snuggle him a lot more :)
Side time to prevent flat head... although, flat head is still occuring...

My friend Kelli of Kelli Hindman Photography came to take his newborn photos yesterday. It was really early in the morning and we were very tired from a long night. Unfortunately, Abram was the least tired of all of us and didn't cooperate to the best of his abilities. But, I think we got some good shots. A lot of them were, selfishly, poses of him in things that I had made so that I might be able to sell them in my etsy shop. She got some of them edited so that I could share them and the rest will come to me soon (because she is amazing!) So I'll have more to post later, I'm sure. Here are two cute ones:

That's all for now. I only have an hour or so before this kid will probably want to eat again. Can't wait for that part of this cute little stage to be over. But I know it will go faster than I ever imagined and I should savor every moment, right? Well... I'll work on it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

... of a big happy birthday!

... of exactly two weeks!

Abram says: "What? I'm two weeks already?".

Quinn and I were talking this morning and it's weird to think back to our life before this guy. We feel like we've known him forever. We don't ACT like we've known him forever, though. This is evidenced by the fact that we are still worried about every little thing he does. His cough seems to have diminished in frequency, which is a huge answer to prayer. It sounds so rattly and sad when he does it, so hearing it less often has made my heart a little lighter.

At this point he should be back to or surpassing his birth weight. However, this is not the case with our little man. He was 6 lbs 14 oz when he was born, 6 lbs 7 oz when we left the hospital, 6 lbs 9 oz at 4 days, and 6 lbs 10 oz yesterday. The doctor and the lactation consultant were very worried about this, which made me cry, because they said that he just wasn't getting enough to eat. It's hard to tell how much they are getting from you when you breast feed, so you just assume that they are going to stay awake until they aren't hungry anymore. Maybe it's my baby, or maybe it's all babies, but this one falls asleep about five minutes after starting. We try everything to wake him up and often resort to stripping him down to his diaper. :( But we started giving him a bottle yesterday and he took all he was supposed to. So, apparently, it's my fault. Makes me feel like a failure. BUT, on the bright side, it seems like it's making him a better feeder when I do it AND Quinn gets to take over some of the late night shifts almost completely! This is very awesome, as my dark circles have become an inextinguishable part of my appearance. When Quinn's done feeding him, he almost always reaches for the camera and gets a sweet picture.

At any rate, he's still cute, he's just too little.
"Who are you calling little?"

Our friend, Sarah, brought us an excellent dinner and got to be a nice healthy-holder reprieve for the Babram. We hope to be more healthy-holders for him within a day or so. Definitely on the uphill from the colds. Just praying that he's not on the downhill... Wouldn't mind some prayer support. We'll let you know when it's answered!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

... of regaining our health!

This is going to be a picture heavy blog. Just to be honest from the get-go. No creative, witty writing for this sleep deprived new mom. I just don't have it in me. Maybe once this Babram is on more of a schedule (as far as feeding and sleeping is concerned), I will be able to get back to my clever and witty self. Let's hope so; for your sake and mine. And who wants to read my silly, rambly words anyway, when you can see fun pictures of a cute baby and some awesome people?

We are at eleven days with the baby (nine at home). My parents have come and gone for Thanksgiving and baby viewing. My mom is in love. And very helpful. We got spoiled with the food preparation, laundry, diaper changing, and burping. My dad did some much needed chores around the house and I was so very thankful to have them here. Quinn's mom gets here in four days. While we are enjoying a (relatively) quiet night at home alone for pretty much the first time, by tonight we are going to be counting the hours until she gets here.

Here are some highlights from the last few days:

Quinn-Dad sturggled through trying to be helpful AND sick at the same time. We think he has a virus. I might have the same thing, although my throat has never felt like his. Mine's more like allergies. But we are both coughing and sniffling and constantly washing our hands. They are actually cracked and bleeding (all four of them) from the washing. So we are also constantly praying that Abram will be protected from our sickness. I am breastfeeding, which is supposed to be really good for his immune system. So pray for us, if you think about it.

We get some gas smiles sometimes. Even though they are not technically real smiles, we still like them.

Abram went for his first walk around the block. It wasn't extremely cold outside, but we bundled him up enough that he is a bit difficult to see. Sorry.

Aunt Liesl and Uncle Eric came up to visit the day after Thanksgiving. We wish they lived closer, but San Antonio isn't TOO far away...

Some of my former students came to visit Abes this weekend. I think all teenaged girls are excited about all tiny babies, but these girls were beside themselves. There were a lot of choral responses to cute faces and farts. This is Chelsea.
This is Tara.
This is Kelsey.

Our neighbors, Bryan and Norma and their two year old, Ryan, came to visit. Ryan is very good at focusing on cameras for pictures, but he doesn't actually smile until after the picture is taken :) Super cute.

So essencially, we still have a healthy, snuggly baby and we feel so blessed! He IS have some bowel movement issues. Like, he used to have them regularly and now he is going days without having one. We've taken him to the doctor to figure something out, but they say it's just that he's not eating enough. I fee like he's eating enough and he acts like he is trying really hard to get something out sometimes. I feel for him, ya know? And it makes me very sad when he is unhappy. Again, more prayer would be greatly appreciated.

There ya go. Some cute baby pictures and some pictures of random people. Just what you always wanted! Merry Christmas.