Monday, August 22, 2011

March 2011

I think of March as a transition toward easier times until I stumble across an email in my drafts box like this one:

"Harper is getting worse again.  We are wondering if this liquid prevacid is not working as well as the solutabs.  She has had screaming fits the past couple of nights... also tougher to get her to sleep.  Thurs night she screamed at 8:45 and last night it was all of the sudden at 11:45 then all throughout the night - like she couldn't get settled.  We unswaddled her so she didn't sleep as well and I've been up since 6 with her.  I just want her to feel better.  I feel like if this isn't working, then what?!  I can't imagine if we have to switch to that expensive formula :("

My heart aches as I remember that again.  It was a special kind of hell.  3 months of trying to soothe Harper as she screamed.  By March she had stopped screaming every night.  She was still fussy, cried a lot, and had some screaming fits but she didn't seem to be in as much pain as previous months.  The dairy and soy should have been FULLY out of her system, her digestive tract was likely continuing to heal, and she was on consistent reflux meds.

In March we took Harper to Johns Hopkins.  The doctor switched her to a liquid Prevacid and at first it didn't seem like it was working.  The doctor also prescribed Zantac for use before bedtime because some studies show Prevacid doesn't work in the middle of the night.  We didn't notice a difference in Harper's (lack of) sleep if she had the Zantac or not so we stopped giving it to her.  We tried it out of desperation during screaming fits some nights but still, there was no difference.  The doctor also prescribed Erythromycin to see if helped to have Harper's stomach emptied faster.  We discussed this medication with her doctor.  Matt and I never felt comfortable giving it to her.  It is an old antibiotic that is no longer used as an antibiotic but used for the side effects it caused - emptying the stomach.  The doctor said that it wasn't necessary to use so we didn't.

Mornings continued to be Harper's happiest time.  Throughout the day she napped in her swing, swaddled, with her pacifier, and hairdryer running or in the car or while I wore her.  We continued to try putting her down while asleep in an elevated bassinet, bouncer seat, or cosleeper but she woke after only a few minutes.  At night she slept next to me and nursed usually every hour.  If we tried to give her the pacifier at night she screeched and cried.  And she's a princess so I gave her what she wanted.
 Harper's first tiara, 3 months old.
Kidding (well, sort of.  I didn't let her continue to screech so I nursed her).  Her grandmother gave her this little tiara. 

During March Harper's cry turned from sounding like a newborn to an infant.  She weighed over 14 pounds.  She giggled for the first time, started chewing on her hands a lot, and started blowing raspberries/spitting.  We took her to the chiropractor that I saw during my pregnancy.  He was incredibly helpful to me.  Unfortunately, we didn't see similar results with Harper.  Actually, Harper seemed to be even more upset in the days following the appointments so we stopped taking her. 

Some photos from March.
Harper enjoyed bath time.  She relaxed until you tried to wash under her neck rolls, then she cried.
Ethan loves bath time too. He requests bubble bath and blowing bubbles.
Relaxing, watching Mickey after nap.
Grabbing and batting at toys for the first time.
3 Month photo with cute shoes.
"I thought things were supposed to get better after 3 months/the fourth trimester?!".
Still doing newborn-like leg lifts and keeping her hands and feet clenched closed most of the time.  A quick stretch here to reveal she's still storing lint in between her toes.
Fussy or not, Ethan adored his sister.  He was trying to help her put her sock back on here.
Do you see that SUPER long single eyelash?  It nearly touched her eyebrow when she had her eyes wide open.  Crazy long and Matt probably thinks it's crazy that I took a picture of it.  I used to show it to him all the time.  
When Ethan's love of matchbox cars began.  Have you ever stepped on one of those bad boys?  They are EVERYWHERE!
Both Matt and I think one of the cutest sights to see is Ethan eating. 
 Ethan mimicking Harper putting her hands in her mouth.
And wanting to be just like Daddy.
A favorite outfit
Another (so much so that she has those pants in size 12 months too)
And another.
 My heart could burst. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Staying home

Look at these two.  Don't they look like they are sharing secrets only siblings could understand?
I love these photos.  Dreamy moments with my babies.
Things (moods) can change as quickly as Ethan's expressions did here.
And believe me, they did.  I should have taken Ethan's expression in the photo above as a precaution to how things would go this particular afternoon.  He refused to nap, both kids were screaming, I resorted to driving to get them to sleep (when gas was over $4/gallon) and still, more crying once they woke up.  I thought I was going to lose my mind.  It was the most difficult afternoon.  I felt everything was crashing down on me.  Ethan tantrumed and cried.  Harper screamed.  I went back and forth trying to soothe each of them but that only led to more crying.  Finally, at 4:45pm when I was trying to soothe Harper, Ethan said "no, Ethan crying".  He was showing how difficult it was to adjust to being a sibling, to share our attention, and how he was dealing with Harper's crying.  During Harper's first check up, our pediatrician had suggested tending to the toddler first before the baby because the toddler will remember.  I held Ethan in my arms and he finally stopped sobbing and held a pacifier in Harper's mouth while I shhhed and reassured both of them (and myself).  It was going to be okay.  I was going to make sure of that.  Did I mention that this was the morning after Matt and I had decided I would stay at home full time?  What a first official day as a stay at home mom!  It was like they were hazing me during initiation. 
Harper doesn't smile for just anyone and she saves special ones for Ethan.
She thinks he is fun.  I do too.  And I love how squinty her eyes get when she smiles.
She also gets this look that we like to describe as her "how did I get stuck with this family?" look.  She's completely bored with us.
He loves her so.
He loved to hold her hand when she was this little.  
She always had her hands and feet clenched.  I had to pry them apart to wash the lint out from between her fingers and toes.

See the lint?
I remember this day so clearly. 

Staying at home...Harper was still very difficult and needed me.  We visited the daycare to try it out but we knew it wasn't going to work out even with my flexible, part time schedule.  The daycare we chose for Ethan is fantastic.  I knew they would love and care for Harper the same way they did for Ethan, even though she was a challenge, but Harper had needs that they couldn't meet.  At this point she had requirements of being swaddled, with a pacifier, in the swing, with the hairdryer running - just to nap for 20-30 minutes (she is not a sleeper!).  How was I going to ask the daycare to run a hairdryer?  I still had to wear her and do "the walk" for some naps in the afternoon.  One day my aunt came to visit to help and give me a break.  She tried everything but couldn't get Harper settled for more than a few minutes.  My aunt was working so hard and Harper was showing how our days usually go.  My aunt looked at me, knowing I had decided to stay at home, and said "she can't go to childcare".  It was clear to me but to have someone else see it was reassuring.

We decided to continue Ethan's "school" program but instead of 3 days a week he would attend 2 half days.  I knew I could socialize Ethan with our friends' children, but he enjoyed the structure and activities of school.  We thought it would be best to keep Ethan in the practice of attending a program so that hopefully the transition to preschool in the Fall would be easier.  He was doing much better with separation anxiety (we still have moments of that) and he was benefiting from his time at school.  It also provided me one on one time with Harper.

The agency I work for offered to keep me on staff on an "as needed" basis.  If there is a waiting list of clients, evening clients, or a class comes up, they can call me to pick up some work.  It sounds like a win-win because I do love my job as a parent educator.  As with any job, there are good days and bad days.  Same goes for being stay at home parent!  It is not a party all the time!  

It turns out work has been slow.  Referrals aren't coming in and there are budget cuts.  It's such a shame that families are still struggling but funds are being cut so there aren't as many services available to help.  I miss seeing clients.  I miss those "ah ha" moments where I felt like I really helped a parent/child/family.  I miss that inspiration and motivation.  I do not miss the frustrations, paperwork, and the other negatives of being an in-home service provider.  The good usually outweighed the bad but nothing beats being at home with these two:
The decision to stay at home came with it's own challenges ... money.  Most of my income was going to go to childcare but still, there was a loss of income.  We are making it work.  We have had to cut back in areas.  We won't be able to update our house as quickly.  We won't be able to take expensive trips/vacations.  But we're okay with that.  We knew those things going into this and made the decision that was best for our family (not for everyone).  I've joked that we were given a difficult baby to force us to make the decision for me to stay at home full time.  There is truth in that.  I am really enjoying being at home (admittedly it's the hardest work I've ever done) and I feel it was meant to be.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ethan turns TWO!

At his 2nd birthday party, with cake and icing on his face - just as it should be when you're 2.

Two!  I can hardly believe it (and at this point he's two and a half)!!

By two years old, Ethan was counting to ten, identifying colors, and shapes.  By two and a half, Ethan counts to twenty, identifies colors beyond primary colors, and more shapes (as we were driving this past Spring he saved me from running a stop sign by saying "there's an octagon!".  He didn't know it meant stop but I'm thankful he recognized the shape!).  His memory amazes us every day.  From recognizing landmarks, knowing which direction to go, memories of events and people, his books, and everything in between.  I can't believe how much his speech has developed in the past few months.  He is forming 9 word sentences, changing present/past tense of words all on his own, and making us laugh with the funny things he says.  I recently overheard him telling Harper "Mommy is freaking out." after I told him that I just needed two seconds to go to the bathroom by myself.  This statement left me in hysterics and he knew it.  He loves to make us laugh.

The love he has for his sister is undeniable.  When she was under 3 months old I told him that Harper had a tough day and was fussy.  He went to her and said "aww, sweetheart".  He liked when she started cooing and would proclaim "she talking to me!".  When she would cry in the car he would tell her "I know baby, I know.".  Eventually when he  was tired of her crying he asked her to "turn off her tears", which is a statement that we have used very successfully with him when he is melting down or having a tantrum.  We ask/tell him to turn off his tears and use his words.  Speaking of tantrums... they still occur but have decreased in frequency.  I think we can attribute his ability to verbally express himself, changes in diet, and consistency at home to the successful decrease in negative behaviors. 

Every drive in the car is an adventure to spot dump trucks, tractor-trailers, mowers, diggers, cranes, buses -- you get the idea :)  Ethan loves them all and wants to find more!  He enjoys chatting while we drive... about his day, about what we're going to do next, and all the things we see along the way.

He continues to enjoy music and we have properly exposed (brainwashed) him into liking Pearl Jam.  At first he thought Just Breathe was Pearl Jam.  He only wanted to listen to that song, over and over and over again.  In the car, during nap, and during dinner.  He would ask to listen to Pearl Jam but would say "this is not Pearl Jam" if we put any of their songs on other than Just Breathe.   We love the song but after the 5th time in a row, we were ready for a change.  He also enjoys listening to John Mayer, some country music, and all the songs from the Music Together class that we took.  I highly recommend the class as well. 

Ethan has become more cuddly and affectionate lately and I am soaking it up!  He has been using both hands to squeeze our faces as he gives us kisses.  A few weeks ago he proclaimed "I love you, Mommy" and they very well might be the sweetest words I've ever heard.  I know these cuddly moments are fleeting.  He is a boy on the go... racing cars, running, swinging his golf clubs (all of which are broken and duct taped back together, showing how much/hard they are played with).  

He loves our routines, talking about our plans for each day, and recalling it all when we share during dinner about how our day was.  Ethan loves coming home and I love how comfortable, confident, and happy home makes him feel.  I can't tell you how happy that makes us feel. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

World Breastfeeding Week

As World Breastfeeding Week comes to a close, I want to post a photo from our most recent photo session with Elaine Gates.  I will always treasure this photo.  It makes me think of the special time I spent nursing Ethan and now Harper.  I am very proud and feel so privileged to be their mom.