Friday, February 25, 2011

Bad Colleague; Good Mother

One of my colleagues invited me out to lunch today.  It seems like about half of my coworkers took the day off, and the other half all decided to go out to lunch together.  It was very sweet that they reached out to me and asked me to join them, but I told them that I was going to see Ella.

This has been a crazy busy week (actually, it's been a crazy busy month!), and I didn't get to spend my normal lunch hour with Ella on Wednesday or Thursday.  If I had missed just one day or the other, perhaps I would have taken my colleague up on the offer, but I wanted to see my baby!

The  colleague graciously understood, and promised to invite me along next time.  When I was lamenting to my closest friend in the office that I feel like a bad colleague for not hanging out with others in the office, she sweetly pointed out that I'm being a good mother (and assured me that I'm not a bad colleague).  But I can't help but feel a bit bad.  We hired three new staff members right before I went on maternity leave, and I haven't really had a chance to truly bond with them.  And I admit that I kind of miss the break-room conversations that I enjoyed on a nearly-daily basis.  But I want to be a good mother, first and foremost, and for me, that means spending my lunch break with Ella whenever I can.

Today's blessing was the chance to leave work early (though I'm sure it also contributes to my feelings of being a bad colleague).  I worked almost a full day on Saturday, came in early all week, left late two nights, and worked through most of my lunch break on two days, so I think that I definitely earned the right to leave two hours early today.  It feels so nice to come home and not feel rushed for once.  Once my husband gets home, we're heading back into town to meet up with some friends for happy hour (yes, I will be "that person" with a baby in a bar...though they tell me it's a "family-friendly establishment"...and my very-dear friend will also be there with her baby boy).  No drinks for me, but it will still be a blessing to visit with our friends. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Yep...Spoke Too Soon

Okay, so the last two nights have not been nearly as glorious as the two weeks or so that led up to them. Ella has woken up with more than a whimper, and therefore so have I. 

I want to believe that she's teething, but I just don't know.  She drools constantly and puts just about everything in her mouth.  I can't feel anything that definitely feels like a tooth, and trying to look inside is proving to be more challenging than I had initially imagined (you try examining the gums of a five-month old who is blowing bubbles, wiggling her tongue, and sucking).  I think I noticed two little white spots where her bottom center teeth would be, so we'll see what happens. 

It's tough to figure out if she is indeed teething.  I've read that the average baby gets teeth at 7 months, though they can come sooner or later.  Ella is a week shy of 5 months, so it is a little on the early side.  She's been pulling at her ears when she is upset as well, which could be an ear infection...but could also be another symptom of teething since the nerves run up towards the ear.  (She's nursing just fine, whereas it would be expected that she would be fussy when nursing if it were an ear infection because of the pressure...but again, it's just so hard to tell).

So, I guess things aren't perfect in terms of consistently sleeping through the night...but I know that she has it in her!

Today's blessing is the chance to celebrate my birthday at home with my husband and my baby.  I'm now 32, which isn't any sort of significant year.  But it dawned on me this morning that I should probably call my parents and wish them a "Happy Birthday" as well.  Sure, the anniversary of my birth is significant for me; but really, if you think about it, it's just as special for my parents...just as Ella's birthday is always going to be a special day for me.  God has given me a pretty amazing life, and the best gift I could ask for is this opportunity to be a mom.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sleep, Glorious Sleep

Dare I say it?  I don't exactly believe in "jinxes", but I do know that I sometimes have a tendency of speaking too soon.  Let's hope nothing changes...

Ella has successfully slept all the way through the night.  (Or at least we think that she has).

There!  I said it!  (Please Lord, don't let me be speaking too soon!)...(and I feel bad for sharing this when other blogging friends have recently shared their struggles with sleep patterns, but this is just where we are in our lives).

This whole process of getting her to sleep through the night actually started about a month ago when we transitioned her to her crib (and by "transitioned", I simply mean "we kicked her out of the cradle in our room").  For the first couple of nights, I would nurse her when she cried in the middle of the night.  But then her middle-of-the-night cries turned into simply middle-of-the-night whimpers.  They were enough to wake me up, but they were mild enough that she was able to go back to sleep on her own.  We are leaving a night-light on in her nursery, and we initially turned a humidifier on to help with her cold and to act as white noise.  But her cold has gotten (mostly) better, and she seems to be doing fine without the noise. 

I thought she had made it all the way through the night last Thursday, but my husband had fallen asleep on the couch and admitted that he heard her whimper a bit around 3:00 am before falling back to sleep on her own.  The same thing happened Friday night.  But we *think* that she made it all the way through the night without a sound on Saturday night, and again on Sunday night (though I admit that she did wake up around 3:45 am last night/this we're not perfectly there quite yet). 

I'm thrilled that she's getting such good sleep...but I admit that I'm waking up in the middle of the night to pump.  For one, I usually wake up after about six hours feeling engorged (or even leaking).  So I pump to relieve the fullness.  But I'm also trying to keep my supply up--both internally and externally--so I feel obligated to make this sacrifice (but I admit that it sure isn't easy some nights).  Even so, 15 minutes of pumping in the dark is about the third of the time that it would take to nurse her.  It's not nearly as enjoyable, but it is more efficient. 

I know that her sleep patterns will probably change as she goes through growth spurts and teething...and later on we'll deal with potty-training and nightmares.  But for now, I'm just so proud of her for getting to the point where she can sleep for extended periods of time.

Yesterday's and today's blessings are the chance to celebrate the birthdays of two of my really good friends.  My maid-of-honor (who painted the butterflies in Ella's room and drove home with me for my shower) celebrated her birthday yesterday, and another bridesmaid (who is 39 weeks pregnant) celebrated her birthday today.  What these friends offer in friendship is so vastly different, but I can't imagine my life without either one of them.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

We Took The Plunge!

We did it!  We took the plunge and bought a dozen cloth diapers!

We decided to go with BumGenius (4.0), and we're very pleased with them so far.  My mom had gotten us two of the earlier versions when Ella was born, and although it took us four months to finally decide to invest in more, I'm very glad that we did.  And Ella seems perfectly happy in them--which is what really matters.  She's even sleeping wonderfully in them (more on that later).

For now, we're using them at home at night and on the weekends, but it sounds like daycare will entertain the idea of using them there during the day as well.  We're still working out some of the details, but it looks like it might happen.  I don't want to push the topic too much if the caregivers don't feel comfortable with them, but it would be great if they did embrace them like we have.

Today's blessing was getting through a long and busy day of work.  We had a huge event that I was in charge of coordinating, and everything went really well (aside from just a handful of little glitches that I think I can fix).  I'm very blessed to work with some awesome colleagues and students who helped everything go so smoothly.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I Said "Please"!

Just a quick funny story tonight...

I had a long day, so I was thrilled when my husband offered to get Ella undressed and hand her to me in the shower so that I could have a few moments to myself.  But I apparently was taking just a little too long, because I was washing my face when he showed up with a naked baby in his arms.  From under the water, I heard him say "Okay Baby Girl...please don't pee on Daddy"...followed almost immediately with "Oh Baby Girl!  I said 'Please'"!

Yep!  Ella peed on her daddy.  And my husband is totally and completely squeamish about anything and everything related to bodily fluids.  Needless to say, he then opted to take a shower after us.  I admit that after the long day I had, I definitely needed that little laugh. 

I was blessed yesterday to visit with a former colleague and friend before she moves to Portland next week.  This is the friend who spent a year in Scotland, and we had intended to visit her...but then I got pregnant.  She has been such a great friend and sounding board--both professionally and personally--and I'm really going to miss her.  But I'm very excited for her and her husband as they embark on this new adventure.

Monday, February 14, 2011


I brought home my first arts and crafts project from Ella today as a Valentine's Day gift.  At daycare, they made each mom a little flower with a heart in the center that had their baby's footprints in it.  They gave it to me when I went at lunch to feed her, and as I drove away, it occurred to me that this is just the first of many arts and crafts projects to come.  I need to find a good keepsake box for all of them.

I got my construction paper heart this year, but it was around this time last year that I was anxiously awaiting my first ultrasound and praying that I would see a real heart.  My appointment with the RE was scheduled for February 16th, and I may have even told my husband that all I wanted for Valentine's Day was to see a heartbeat.  God answered my prayers, and I'll never forget the relief that came when I saw that little flicker of Ella's beating heart.

We all know that the heart has come to symbolize "love", but those of us who have survived losses recognize that the heart truly symbolizes "life".  My heart broke time and time and time again with each loss, but God helped me to find the strength to piece it back together.  And in doing so, I think that my own capacity to love and appreciate life grew.  God is so good in giving me the desires of my heart.  Even now, I am overwhelmed with emotion when I feel Ella's little heart beating or when I put my ear to her chest and listen to the tiny "thump-thump; thump-thump". 

As for my blessing, it would be too cliche to say that my husband is my Valentine's Day blessing.  Rather, a very sweet friend surprised me at work this afternoon to bring me a little bag of candy.  It was very thoughtful, totally unexpected, and was really the highlight of my busy afternoon.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A New Cousin!

I'm so very excited to share that my brother and sister-in-law welcomed their own baby girl into the world this morning!  After her previous late-term loss, my sister-in-law was scheduled to be induced at 6:30 this morning, just one day shy of 39 weeks.  But the baby had other plans, and labor started at 3:30 am.  Brooke Elliott arrived at 9:03, and both mommy and baby (and daddy) are doing well.  We're all so excited that Ella now has a new cousin!

What a blessing that God answered my prayers for a "boring, uneventful, uncomplicated" labor and delivery for my sister-in-law.  I absolutely adore my sister-in-law, and think I would be good friends with her even if she weren't married to my brother, but even she will tell you that she's a worrier.  God really provided in blessing her with a pretty "easy" experience (as easy as labor and delivery can be, of course). 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

All The Credit Goes To Ella

I fit into my size 4 pants again this morning!  This was the pair that I bought right before I got pregnant...or maybe right after I found out I was pregnant and figured I wanted to look good if this pregnancy ended up like the others.  Sure, perhaps they were a little on the snugger side when I first put them on, but they looked good by the time I walked out the door.

But I can't take any of the credit for losing my pregnancy weight.  Really, all of the credit goes to Ella.  Breastfeeding is by far the most enjoyable "workout" that I've ever experienced. 

To be honest, I've still got a bit of a pooch in the belly.  And if I wear a tighter shirt, I admit that I've got a little "muffin top" that's visible.  But overall, I'm pretty happy with how I look and feel these days.  And the funny thing is--I've never actually been a size 4.  You see, I wore a back-brace for Scoliosis for three years during Junior High and my Freshman year of High School (talk about some formative years!), so it seems like I went from shopping in the Girls section to a Junior size 9 over night.  I missed out on a lot of opportunities to walk by and check myself out in a mirror and think "I look good!". 

But it's not just the looking good--it's the feeling good as well.  Sure, we're now on our second cold of the season (this one is not nearly as bad as the first), and I'm not getting my full eight hours of beauty sleep each night, but I'm absolutely loving being a mom.  I may not always know the perfect thing to do, but it does feel so right.

Today's blessing was the chance to eat lunch with my colleagues.  I've been going over to feed Ella pretty much every day, but I volunteered to help out a colleague today, which meant I had a shortened lunch.  So I ate in the breakroom--like I had for the last three years before Ella entered my life.  I missed my usual lunch visit with her, but I think that it's also valuable to spend time with my colleagues.

Friday, February 4, 2011

So Fortunate

I've been going over to the daycare center to feed Ella during my lunch break every chance I get.  The other day, a new mom came in with her 8-week old baby to check out the facility.  The main care provider in the infant room went through the standard procedures, which includes bringing in enough clean and sterile bottles for the day (they recommend five).  For babies who take formula, the care providers will prepare the bottles, but they don't clean or sterilize the bottles.  The new mom appeared visibly distressed when she heard that she would need five bottles.  She whipped out her cell phone and called someone and asked them if they could get $10-$20 for her so that she could buy more bottles, explaining that she only had two bottles at home.

Two bottles.  Two bottles for a formula-fed baby.  Even with nursing Ella, I've got to have more than a dozen bottles between the feeding bottles and the pumping bottles.  My husband even suggested that we buy more so that we wouldn't have to sterilize them every night (which I turned down--if we're going to be sterilizing the pump parts, we might as well sterilize the bottles and nipples).

I wanted to offer to run out to my car and get the $20 bill that's hidden away for emergencies, but I didn't think that it was my place.  I had the same urge when I saw her and her baby waiting at the bus stop down the road when I was driving back to work.  My heart goes out to her, and I'm reminded that I am so incredibly fortunate to have the means to provide for Ella.  She might not have every single gadget available to a newborn, but we definitely have more than enough.

(The next day, the new mom apparently showed up with her two bottles, claiming that no one told her that she needed more.  She hasn't come back since.)

Today's blessing was that Ella slept well again last night.  She woke up around 3:00 to eat, but then right back to sleep.  Thank you so much for your kind words and wisdom about sleep regression.  Let's hope that she can move on now.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What Happened?

For the last two weeks or so, I've been wondering what happened to my sweet baby girl who woke up once in the middle of the night to feed and went right back to peaceful sleep.  I don't know why, but Ella has not been sleeping well lately. 

There was one night where we put her down at 8:30ish, and she woke up at 10:00 pm, midnight, 2:00 am, and 4:00 am.  She would eat when I offered her the breast, but she would fall asleep halfway through...but then wake up and fuss when I put her back down.  I needed my sleep, so I started to just bring her into bed with us to nurse so that I could snooze a bit too, but I hated that I was reinforcing bad habits and putting her at risk to be in our bed with us (I still have nightmares from time to time about losing her in the blankets).  I felt like I was handling the interrupted sleep decently, but my husband started to get rather snappy as the nights wore on.

Ella has been in the cradle in our room, but my (tired) husband put his foot down and said that she needed to go to her crib.  I shouldn't say it like that--it wasn't in a forceful way; rather, he's just very logical and matter-of-fact in his approach and thinks it's time.  He also thinks it's time to let her fuss, and the pediatrician agrees that there is value in helping a baby learn to self-soothe (assuming that all of her other needs are met).  And they're probably right.  I've noticed that there is a distinct difference between Ella's "fuss" and her "cry".  It breaks my heart, but I can tolerate the little fussing and whimpering...but I draw the line and intervene when it escalates to a true cry.

I've been racking my brain to see if there is anything else that could be bothering her.  Perhaps it's a growth spurt, or maybe she's teething.  She was in a cloth diaper the first three nights, so I considered that maybe she didn't like that.  And then I realized that I've been sneaking chocolates from the candy tray at work.  I was so good at abstaining when I was trying to get pregnant and then was pregnant, but I've let myself indulge in the occasional piece from time to time (okay, maybe it's more frequent than I'd like to admit).  But I stayed away yesterday, and what do you know--Ella was back to her one feeding!  I can't pin all the blame on chocolate just quite after only one night, but I resisted the urge to eat any today as well to further put my theory to test.  I sure enjoy my sweets, but I think I value sleep a little more--not only for me, but for Ella as well.

It was wonderful to wake up once last night.  If anything, I guess I can say that the relapse into waking every couple of hours made me appreciate that singular feeding so much more.  I think that the middle-of-the-night feeding is also helping to keep my supply up, which is important to me, so I'm genuinely trying to embrace it in that regard.  We'll eventually need her to sleep all the way through the night, but what we have is so much better than the alternative.  And besides--I like my time with her. 

Today's blessing is recognizing that my husband and I make a pretty good team.  Our pipes froze overnight, but yet we somehow got them working and both made it out the door on time (without forgetting anything).  And with frozen pipes and gas outages nearby, I'm reminded of just how blessed I am to have a home and utilities.