Wednesday, April 29, 2009

4 weeks old

Hard to believe it's been 4 weeks already. It's flown by.

Here's his 4 weeks old picture.

And here's one of him with the booties that a friend of Joan's made. He wasn't in a good mood at the time, though.

Big Days

Declan's had some big days lately. Yesterday, I met some of my coworkers for lunch, and he got passed around from person to person the entire lunch. Then this morning, I took him into work to meet the rest of my coworkers. I figure it's good for him to see different faces and be in different places. I want him to be adaptable, as my friend put it.

He had a very rough time coming home, though, and it made it hard for me. He was getting hungry before we left, so I gave him his pacifier and put him in the truck. About halfway home, he decides he wants to eat NOW. He starts crying, but I can't do anything, since I'm driving. Then he starts screaming. I heard so many different kinds of screams from him on the way home, and it broke my heart. He sounded so pitiful (and angry), and there wasn't anything I could do to make him feel better. He cried so much he had tears running down his cheeks. Poor baby. Then when I finally got him home, I couldn't get him to take his whole bottle, so now he's a stinker.

Tonight, I want to get to a studio to get some pictures done of him. And we may do our evening walk inside tonight, at the mall, because the mosquitoes are so very, very bad now with all the rain we've had. I have a mosquito netting for his stroller, but I need some Off for myself.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Grandmommy Page goes home

Daniel's mom very generously offered to come back to help us for a week. She left to fly back home on Friday, and I already miss her. More than anything, I think it was having someone else in the household to watch Declan if Daniel and I needed to run a quick errand, or catch a nap or even do a bit of housework, like laundry, or dishes. That's about the only housework that's still getting done around here, and only because we don't have an infinite supply of clothes or dishes, even if we use paper plates.

She was always ready to change a diaper or give a bottle or just soothe him, and I think the last was the most important. We're still trying to figure out what all his little cries mean and how to soothe him when he's upset.

Thanks, Joan. We'll miss you and look forward to you visiting again.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Medical Followups for both Declan and Michelle

Well, Declan is doing better 3 weeks after birth than his mother. We went to the pedi on Monday, and he weighs 10 lbs, 4 oz and he's 21 inches long. That's an increase of nearly 2 pounds and an inch and a half from birth. You can really tell how he's grown. The pedi said he was doing well, and to try to up his bottles to 4-5 oz per feeding, or whatever will get him 3-4 hours or more between feedings. We're trying, but he's being difficult. He gets hungry in 2 hours, but only drinks 3 of the 5 ounces we prepare for him. Then he's hungry again in 2 hours. I guess he didn't understand the pedi. He also got his heel stuck for a blood test, and boy did he howl. Poor Daniel. He was holding Declan right next to his ear. I think he went a little deaf for a while.

Meanwhile, I've not done so well. The only big positive is that I've already lost 30 pounds of the 45 that I put on during pregnancy. The last 15 is probably from me eating too much junk food while pregnant and will take a long time to get rid of. The bad part is that my blood pressure has skyrocketed from 105/65 to 150/90. I'm also battling post partum depression.

It got so bad after my parents and my in-laws left, that I was crying several times a day and couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, and when I did, I had nightmare. Finally, Saturday before last, I called the after-hours nurse, and she told me I really should go to the emergency room, because she didn't think I should wait until Monday to go to a clinic. I felt foolish, but I went. They prescribed me an anti-depressant and it worked great. Within 30 minutes of taking it, I ate a granola bar, a bottle of juice, started feeling sleepy, and on the way home, told Daniel to stop at McDonalds, where I got 2 cheeseburgers and a large fry, and I ate it all. Plus I was able to sleep for 8 hours that night. I felt so much better.

I managed to make it until my post-op appointment on Tuesday, but my BP was still sky high, and I couldn't talk without crying. They were concerned so they told me to see a therapist and get some friends to visit. My OB told me, "Everybody loves a baby," and she was right. I have great friends who've volunteered to come visit and help.

The biggest help so far is my mother-in-law. She offered to fly back from North Carolina for a week to help, and it's been wonderful. She flew, even though she hates flying. She's been happy to change diapers, feed him a bottle, calm him down, play with him, and everything. She's even done laundry and made us dinner one night. She's the best!

She leaves on Friday morning, and I hope that I'm up to the task of taking care of Declan on my own again. I'm feeling much better, if I can just get my BP down and chill out, I'll be doing great.

Monday, April 20, 2009

More Declan Pictures

I realized I haven't put up many pictures recently. Need to take advantage of the time my mother-in-law is here.

2 weeks old:

Tiny toes and fingers:

Napping with grandmommy Page after eating:

He always looks so confused when he's getting burped in this position.


3 weeks old:

Declan and Mommy:

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Trial by Extreme Rain

Everyone from my mother to my friends to my doctors have been telling me to get out of the house with the baby. Well, up until yesterday, I had no car I could trust. So yesterday, Daniel said lets go to north Houston and do some window shopping. It'll get us out of the house and we'll eat lunch somewhere nice.

It took forever to get ready, including a last minute dash back inside to change a dirty diaper just as we were ready to pull out of the driveway. It was starting to rain, and I asked Daniel if we should really go out. After all, driving in the rain is bad enough, but now we've got a new car to deal with.

Turns out I was right. We drove through some of the worst rain I have ever seen in my life going north into downtown Houston. We made it downtown, did a bit of shopping and had lunch. We came back a couple of hours later, thinking the worst of the rain was over. That was true, but the flooding had just begun.

Houston received between 7-11 inches of rain yesterday afternoon. In one place, we got 1 inch in 12 minutes. The local airport got 6-7 inches in 3 hours.

As we drove home, the frontage roads on the interstate were flooded out, in some places the water was 2-3 feet deep and running fast. I saw so many cars stuck in the water. In some places, I saw cars turned around and going backward on the frontage road because they couldn't go forward. So many parking lots were underwater, and there were so many cars that had parked in the wrong place, and they were underwater up to or over the hoods. Lots of people had stopped on the interstate to rubberneck the flooding.

As we got closer to our exit, it was still flooded bad, so we got worried. we've never seen it flood around our house, but it turned out the exit we use was flooded out. We drove past it to the next one down. It was flooded, but not as badly. We watched the other cars and SUVs go through to judge if we could make it.

If we had been in our old car, we never would have made it home through those roads. The new SUV got us past all the flooding and we made it home safely, but it was truly terrifying in some places.

Here's a link to a local news channel's slideshow. Doesn't show any interstate flooding though. Just neighborhood.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

So my car ended up being a very expensive fix

Yesterday we bought a new battery. Today, we bought a new car! :)

We ended up buying a 2009 Toyota Rav4. It only has 23 miles on it. I liked test driving it. It's got a V6 and still manages to have the gas mileage of a V4 like the CRV. We were debating between the Rav4 and the CRV, and we stopped at the Toyota place first today because it was closer to our house than the Honda shop. The Rav4 has some nice acceleration, and the interior isn't bad at all. It's a heck of a lot nicer than my old Ford Contour! And after this morning with the check engine light coming on, I was determined to buy a new car today. I didn't want to be stranded somewhere in Houston with a broken car.

... (continued the next morning since I had to go take care of the little tyke)

It's still weird to look out in the driveway and see this big car/SUV in the driveway and realize it's ours now. I admit, I'm rather jealous of Daniel. He'll be the one primarily driving it since he's the one staying home with the kiddo. Oh well, in 5 more years, maybe we can buy a car for me.

Assuming the weather isn't as bad as it was yesterday, we're planning a little expedition to get out of the house and take my mother-in-law to do some shopping.

Friday, April 17, 2009

So much for the easy fix

Went to the airport this morning to pick up my mother-in-law. She volunteered to come back for a week to give us some help. I made it to the airport okay, but on the way back home, the "check engine" light came back on. So it's more than the battery. I suspect the alternator, damnit. I think Daniel and I are going to buy a new car this very afternoon. I can't afford not to have a car that can hold a car seat.

But hey, I managed to get out of the house all on my own this morning. It was scary, but we did it.

And now that my MIL is here, I can take some time to catch up on pictures, charge all my electronics, maybe read the latest News and World Report, and have a leisurely cup of coffee. Declan tends to fuss all morning long, only quieting down if we go for a long walk. So this is a nice relief.

Hopefully it was a simple fix

We jumped the car and drove it to Wal-Mart for a new battery. I think it was the 3rd time we've taken Declan out of the house, and it's still scary. But we walked around Wal-Mart for a little bit until my car was fixed, and we all survived the trip. I might even get brave enough to do it again on my own soon.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Check Engine Light

My check engine light came on a couple of days ago. No biggie, I thought. I need to take it in for an oil change anyway, so I'll have them look at the engine to see what's wrong.

That was good and fine until Tuesday afternoon. I had a post-op doctor appointment, so I put Declan in the car seat, turned on the engine, and it went click-click-click. Grrrr. So Declan went back in the house with Daniel and I took Daniel's 2 seater to the doctor. We have only one car, and we can't put the car seat in that one. So this afternoon, we're going to jump the car and take it to Wal-Mart to get a new battery. Hopefully that will fix the problem, at least long enough for us to get a new car.

We'd talked about getting a new car anyway, but we thought it wouldn't be a good idea to go to the dealership when I was 9 months pregnant. Not sure it'll be any better with an infant in tow, but what can you do?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter and more pictures

We got through Easter. Dinner ended up being Chinese delivery. I had minced chicken in lettuce wraps (and it was very good), and Daniel had his favorite, beef fried rice.

We even had time to finally give Declan another real bath, instead of just trying to wash his little face and hands every so often. He shocked us both when he didn't scream through the whole thing. Seemed like he kind of liked it. He's got a diaper rash, so we tried letting his bum get some fresh air, and Daniel came up with the idea of using my hair dryer on the lowest warm setting and waving it over him. He didn't scream or fuss at it, so maybe he liked it. Then he got his Easter clothes and present. It's rather hard to pose a 12 day old infant; they're rather floppy. But we tried.

On Saturday, I asked my friend, Rita, to come over and help for a bit. She got him changed and settled onto the couch like the pro she is. She's got 3 kids of her own and is taking care of her granddaughter.

Big yawn:

Deep thoughts:

Here are some grandma pictures:

My mom:

Daniel's mom:

And here's one of our first walks outside when we all got home. I was still recovering from the c-section, and was in a fair amount of pain, but the doctor told me the best way to recover faster was to walk around. I think I made it to the stop sign in the distance and a little bit further before I had to come back. The reason I'm pushing the stroller is because it gave me something to hold onto. Daniel's playing peek-a-boo, and that's my dad next to us.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Still alive. Another day down.

I just keep telling myself we've made it through another day and nothing major has gone wrong. I even did some laundry and paperwork today, plus we got out of the house and walked up and down the street a few times since the weather was so nice. Hopefully we'll get out again tonight in the evening when the sun is down a little bit.

When I talked to my mom this morning, she asked if we were going to have a special Easter dinner. Daniel's mom asked him if we had a ham in the oven. We both just laughed and the same answer: Hell, no. Dinner will probably be a hot pocket or lean cuisine. If we get really fancy, we may order Chinese or fix hamburger helper. I did get a chocolate Easter bunny when Daniel went to the drug store today though. Does that count for anything?

Declan's been home a week now. I can already see some changes in his face. His lower lip isn't sucked in as much as it used to be. I hate it when he screams , but sometimes I just have to laugh . He has the most amusing little, old man face when he scrunches it up before he cries. I tried to take a picture last night. If I get more time today, I'll see if I can post it. He's going to need his dinner before long.

Thanks for all the posts and emails. It really helps. :)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Baby Blues

Baby blues: A common temporary psychological state right after childbirth when a new mother may have sudden mood swings, feeling very happy, then very sad, cry for no apparent reason, feel impatient, unusually irritable, restless, anxious, lonely and sad.

Let's see how many symptoms I have...

Lack of sleep: Check (Who doesn't have lack of sleep with a newborn?)
Lethargy (no energy): Check
Loss of appetite: Check
Unusual cravings: Nope.
Feeling unrested even after sleeping: Check
Anxiety and worry: Check. Big time
Feeling overwhelmed: Check. Another big time.
Confusion and nervousness: Check. I can't even remember what day it is or where I put my water glass
Lack of confidence: Check. They gave me this baby and expect me to know what to do with it?
Sadness: Check
Unusual concern over physical changes: Nope
Not feeling like one's self: Check
Crying more than usual: Check
Hyperactivity or excitability: Nope
Unusual Irritability: Check. Lack of sleep does that.
Poor bonding with baby: Nope.

My new mantra: Survive

One day at a time, one feeding at a time. Yesterday was pretty bad. Last night we had some mixed success. This morning, we're doing a little bit better. I got a good 5 hours of sleep during the day yesterday. It meant sleeping through lunch, but that was fine with me. Lunch, breakfast...those are arbitrary terms with no more meaning right now.

Daniel's parents are here now, and it's so wonderful to finish feeding him and and hand him to his grandma to burp and rock to sleep. I'm eating leftover General Tso's chicken now at 10:30. Is it lunch? Is it breakfast? Who knows. I don't care.

The surgery pain is finally starting to recede a little bit. I don't double over in pain anymore if I miss a pain pill on schedule. And yesterday, we took a walk and I made it 10 minutes without excruciating stomach pain.

I know it's just gas, and not a real smile. But when he really does smile, it's going to be wonderful. It's a great smile. Unfortantely, it doesn't happen much. And he's such a little rag doll when I burp him. He'll collapse and wobble all over the place.

Just for fun, here's a couple of pictures we took yesterday before my parents left.
Me and Daniel, looking very sleep deprived.

A picture of his little hand on my finger. So cute. :)

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Declan is one week old today

They do say time flies. It's hard to believe a week ago I was in the hospital and he had just been born. Here's his one week picture.

We went to the lactation consultant today and he finally picked up on breastfeeding! Hurray! We've successfully fed 3 times so far today, and he only needed a little bit of supplementation.

To all the people who emailed me, thank you so much! I love reading the emails, but it's hard to find time to respond. I'll try, I promise.

Declan loves sleeping on his granddad's chest. See?

That first week really is hell

And we've only had 3 days of it, technically, since he was in the NICU for 5 days.

So far, we've dealt with screaming temper tantrums when we change his diaper. He really hates that. I'm starting to learn what his angry cry is because I hear it so much. He loves being carried in the sling. That makes him quiet right down. Parents (mine) are a godsend because I can hand him to my mom when he's screaming and go to the other room. I can also get her up at 4:00 am to watch him so I can get some sleep. I really wish I lived closer to them. I envy my brother, who lives a half mile from their house.

Breastfeeding is a big chore. He hasn't got the concept of latching on. I thought he was eating enough over the weekend, but it turned out he wasn't. He went over 9 hours without a wet/dirty diaper, and when he did go, it was pinkish with crystals, meaning he was dehydrated. We finally started bottle feeding him and I'm pumping, but I can't keep up with his demands. We're going to see a lactation consultant today to try and get him on track. He's getting a bit of breastmilk and more and more formula. Not ideal, but right now, we just need to make sure he's eating.

We saw the pediatrician yesterday, and she told us to make sure he's eating 2-3 ounces every 3 hours. Again, thank goodness for grandparents.

I'm also learning about diapers. The cloth diapers I have contain the dirty blowouts, but they leak the wetness more. Maybe I'll go to disposables for the next couple weeks til I figure this out.

Alright, off to the lactation consultants. I'm learning it takes twice as long to get ready to go with a baby.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Declan Connor Page Has Arrived!

It was a very crazy, stressful, exhausting and exhilarating journey.

Short story and stats: He was born at noon exactly on March 31. He weighed 8 pounds, 8 ounces, and was 19.5 inches long.

I went into the hospital Sunday night to be induced, and I was 10 days overdue. They started Cervadil at 6:30 that night, and I started having contractions at 8 pm. Monday morning, I was still not dilated and still hard and tight, so instead of pitocin, they gave me Cytodex at 8 and again at 12. My contractions were coming every 3-5 minutes and they HURT! By the afternoon, I was finally getting soft, but still only fingertip dilated. In the evening, I hurt so much that I asked for a painkiller, and got a shot of Staydol, a narcotic. It let me sleep between contractions, but I woke up in pain for each contraction. It didn't seem like it really gave much pain relief. The only thing I could eat was ice chips.

Monday morning, the doctor finally started the pitocin and broke my water. I got on a birthing ball to try and ease the pain, but it didn't help much either. The very next contraction, all my water broke onto the floor. It looked just like in the movies with this huge gush of water. (this was between contractions, when I actually paid attention to the world around me)

Once the pit kicked in and the water broke, the contractions got even more painful, and it felt like my abdomen was being ripped apart. They gave me another narcotic shot at 8, but again, it didn't do much.

At 9 am, I had reached 3 cm, and they finally let me have an epidural. After 36 hours of labor, I'd had enough pain, and I only wanted some relief. Usually they wait until you reach 4 cm, but they let me have it early. The hardest part was having to stay completely still and relaxed through a contraction as the anesthesiologst put in the epidural. It worked for a few minutes, then the pain came back worse than ever before. I think at this point, I was screaming for them to do something about the pain, and what the hell was wrong with the g**-d**med epidural. The anesthesiologist came back and doubled the dosage and FINALLY I got some relief. I couldn't move my legs at all, but I didn't feel anything, and I went to sleep for a couple of hours.

At 11:30, I woke up to a whole bunch of people running around my room and telling me his heart rate was dropping too low, and the baby was in too much distress to last until I reached 10 cm. At this point, I was still only 4 cm dilated, and I wasn't making any progress. They needed the pit to increase the dilation, but the pit was slowing down his heart rate.

I was still groggy from the narcotics, and it took me a couple minutes to understand that an emergency c-section wasn't an option. They were taking me to the OR right now. They threw some scrubs at Daniel, who was scared to death, and wheeled me into the OR.

The c/s wasn't as bad as I was afraid of. I was completely numb and paralyzed from the chest down. All I could see was the blue sheet in front of my face, and I was shaking uncontrollably from the epi. They were good at telling me to expect pressure, where and when. Declan was born exactly at noon on Tuesday, 15 minutes after we got into the OR. I got to kiss his cheek before they took him away.

It took them about 45 minutes to stitch me up and get me back to my room. I didn't realize for a couple of hours that they'd had to take him to the NICU, though. He wasn't breathing well on his own, and his oxygen saturation levels were really low, like 40 percent. So they took him to NICU and put him on a CPAP, a forced air, oxygen enriched flow, to push his O2 levels up. I felt so bad for him, and I couldn't even get out of my room to see him.

He was only on the CPAP for 24 hours, then he graduated to a nasal canula, or regular O2 line. He had to get an IV, and a feeding tube because it would have been too much work for him to try and breathe and eat from a bottle at the same time. On Wed morning, I was allowed out of bed, and they took me to the NICU in a wheelchair so I could finally see him. I got to hold him for a little bit.

I finally got to eat (a clear liquid diet), and it tasted so good, even if it was fruit juice, tea and a protein drink. I did well enough that I got to go to a regular diet by Wed evening. My parents arrived on Wednesday, and they got to spend some time with Declan too. Here's grandma: and grandpa:

By Wed evening, I was even able to walk myself down to the NICU to see him. It's terrible to see your little baby with all those tubes and wires, but I know he was getting great care. The NICU nurses all loved him and spoiled him rotten. I went in one night, and the nurse had him out of his bassinet and on her shoulder while she was reading a book.

Here's our family picture. Not quite your typical newborn pictures.

Many thanks to my office mates for the beautiful flowers and chocolates.

On Thursday, they took all his tubes and IVs out to give him a bath, so Daniel got this picture. I love it. He looks like he's saying, "Peace out."

They took him off his O2 line Thursday at noon, but he didn't keep his oxygen levels up on his own, so they had to put it back in a couple of hours later. When I went down that evening, they were doing an EKG on him because his heart rate was on the slow end of normal. I didn't know that, or the fact that they were giving him an EKG, so I got really upset and depressed Thursday night. I went down there just to hold him for an hour or so that night, and the NICU nurse was really sweet and talked to me for a long time.

Friday morning, I got discharged after 5 days in the hospital. I was so ready to go home, but it was very hard to leave my baby in the NICU. We got home and it felt weird. I was expecting to come home to a house turned upside down, and instead, it was almost...normal. I kept pumping all evening so I could take breastmilk in for him to use in his feedings. Friday at noon, they took the O2 line out again, and this time he kept his oxygen saturation levels up on his own! I also got to try a non-nutrative breast feeding to teach him how to nurse.

The lactation consultant, Lori, was fabulous. I never could have managed without her. She showed me how to hold him and position him. I had just pumped and he had just eaten, so it was supposed to be just a teaching experience for both of us, but by the end, he was actually eating. It was very hard, though. He kept screaming, and she'd jam his mouth up against me anyway. I never could have been so forceful on my own. He's got a lot of nipple confusion because they've given him a pacifier while they fed him through the tube, then a bottle, where he got his milk right away. Breast feeding takes longer, and he gets frustrated very easily when he can't eat right away.

But by the end, we had some success, and it was a great feeling.

Here's Lori, who was so helpful.

Saturday morning, we went back to drop off his milk for the morning and to give him a bath. The pedi on duty shocked us when he said that he thought Declan could go home today. His O2 levels had been fine for 24 hours, his heart rate was holding steady, and he was eating like a champ from the bottle, so the pedi said there was no need for him to stay in the NICU!

We stayed long enough to practice breastfeeding again with the nurse, to change his diaper and to give him a bath. Wow, he did not like his bath. He streamed bloody murder the entire time, but he quited right down when Daniel washed his hair.

When the nurse asked us what we wanted him to wear for the trip home, Daniel and I looked at each other and laughed. We didn't expect to take him home today, so we didn't have any clothes or blankets for him. The nurse gave us a hospital shirt and blanket, helped us get him in the car seat and took us downstairs. She had to verify that we had a car seat and it was installed correctly before we could leave.

We spent longer at the hospital than we planned, and we were hungry. so we stopped at McD's on the way home. We laughed because we'd not had a kid in the car for 2 minutes and we were already eating fast food drive through. This parenting thing could be tough.

But he's home now, and he loves sleeping on Granddad's chest. The breastfeeding is still difficult, but getting better. I'm taking everyone's advice and sleeping when he sleeps, and so far it's managable, but I'm still confused, tired and worried about every little thing. I need to write down when to take my pain pills because I can never remember which one I took last.