Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I can do this.

Okay, I'm sorry!! I've been gone for a ridiculously long time... which means this is going to be a rather ridiculously long post. Sorry for the long hiatus-- one of my New Years' resolutions is to not be such a blogger-slacker.

So, Caroline and I left North Dakota two weeks early. There were several reasons for this. I realized several nights into the trip that I couldn’t book patients from off-campus. Which stressed me out to no end. Also, a month is a really long time to stay in your in-laws’ house. Like, a really long time. Finally, Tyler just didn’t have any time for us because he was working on his thesis around the clock (all his specimens are out there). So we came back home to Connecticut.

I went in to school to meet with my clinic leader and she told me I needed to meet with the dean. The dean told me to email all the course directors and ask what they wanted me to do in order to get caught up before my return. They all asked for stuff like, you know, drill some fake teeth, whatever whatever. Except for one, who wanted me to take…

A four-hour exam.

That’s what I said. A four-hour exam.

Also? This was for the hardest course I took as a third-year. I seriously almost pooped myself when I read that email. I immediately panicked (if you read this blog regularly, you know I am a panicker) and started studying my butt off, with a side of “I don’t want to go back to school.”

Okay… it was more than a “side”. I seriously started this downward spiral into an existential crisis. After a whole year at home with my little girl, I kind of felt like my heart just wasn’t in the dentistry thing anymore. The thought of studying and going to clinic and classes was just exhausting.

I’ll be completely honest here. I wasn’t thrilled with motherhood for awhile. The first few months are so, so very hard. I wanted my old life back. I wanted to go back to school. I missed my friends and my career and my freedom. I felt chained to my tiny apartment and my crying baby. I was deep in postpartum depression, I hated my body, I felt stuck and lonely and sad. That’s horrible to say, and I feel horrible saying it. (Well… a tiny part of me feels relieved to admit it, and I am positive that I’m not the only one who’s ever felt that way.) But motherhood, and especially stay-at-home-motherhood, isn’t always the picture-perfect dream it can seem like from the outside.

But things started to get better around 4 months. And then they got a lot better around 6 months. By 8 months or so, I was loving staying at home. I miss Caroline so much when I’m not around her. I can’t imagine handing her over to her daycare every day. I started to feel like it might not be my “calling” to go in to dentistry after all. Dental school is so difficult that it’s not something you can do if your heart isn’t in it… and I was feeling like the only thing my “heart” was in, was being a mom.

I knew this was going to happen. See my New Year’s post from last year. I was afraid of this. I suspected that once I got to know my baby and got used to being out of the loop from school, I wasn’t going to want to go back to the chaos and the stress. It doesn’t help, ironically, that Tyler is 100% supportive of whatever I want to do. He’s offered to pay off my student loans (which, thankfully, are minimal) so that I can stay home with Caroline, if that’s what truly makes me happy. He reminds me of this every time I mention going back to school… not really helping my motivation!

Anyway, after a lot of obsessing, I decided to do what I feel is the “right” thing-- I’m going to finish this degree. Even if it’s awful, even if every single day is awful, I can do this for a year and a half. I want to have that degree and license that no one can take from me, even if I never use it. I want to prove everybody wrong who thinks I can’t do it, because I’m sure there are a lot of them at my school. I want to set a good example for my daughter, not get pregnant and drop out of grad school. And I just want to do it for me. I wanted this really badly, once. And I think that once I get back into the swing of things, I will want it again.

I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.

Oh, and that four-hour exam? I took it this morning. I got an 87. While I was still in the class, over a year ago? I got an 85.

I can do this.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Pickled WHAT in a jar?

So, feeding Caroline is a whole new experience out here in North Dakota. When we were here this summer, she hadn't really started solids yet, but now that she's almost 10 months old, "real food" is a much bigger part of her diet.

And it's kind of difficult to do out here.

I'm pretty neurotic about what she eats, because I'm a little bit of a health nut and always try to think about what kind of eating habits I'm helping her create for later in life. I don't know if I've mentioned this here before, but I make all of her food. This is mainly driven by grad-student poverty and extra stay-at-home-mom time, with a little bit of "gray meat and fluorescent veggies squick me out" thrown in there.

So I went to the nearest grocery store, which I just have to point out is almost 30 miles away and is actually in Montana. I knew I was in trouble when I saw the teeny little fresh produce section next to the rows and rows of frozen aisles, but I guess that's the way it goes when you live in a very remote area where things would spoil before they ever get sold. Here's a list of just a few of the things Caroline eats all the time that you CANNOT find at said grocery store:

  1. Whole milk dairy products like yogurt, ricotta, cottage cheese, etc.
  2. Anything organic. I try not to get too spastic about eating all-organic because it's so expensive, but I do have a lot of vague and rather arbitrary food categories that I prefer to be organic, such as "things you don't peel before eating" and "things that seem kinda dirty".
  3. Any kind of antibiotic- or hormone-free meats or eggs.

You can, however, find things like:

  1. Pickled pigs' feet in a jar (organic status unknown, but questionable).
  2. Any cut of beef or type of wild game you can imagine.
  3. The biggest variety of frozen pizzas, TV dinners, and fish sticks that I've ever seen.

You can see that it's kind of a challenge. I finally left with a lot of frozen fruit and veggies, some cheese, and some sweet potatoes and squash. Luckily I had suspected ahead of time that feeding would be problematic, so I had sent non-spoilable things like organic black beans, oatmeal, and dried fruit with Tyler in his car.

Mainly I've just had to get over the fact that she won't be eating much fresh food for the next month. Really it's no big deal for such a short period of time, but like I said, I'm neurotic. The upside: you can't get fresher beef than the stuff my in-laws get straight from their rancher relatives, so I think it might be time Caroline had her first baby hamburger!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Well, we've made it to North Dakota, where we'll be until December 20. We're having a great time with the family, and Caroline's cousins are very excited that she's here to play again. (Caroline is having a lot of trouble adjusting to the time change, or is getting her top teeth, or both... Tyler and I got up 12, count 'em, 12 times last night-- but that is not in keeping with my post title so I will refrain from further complaints.)

I was thinking a lot during my plane trip out here about last year's trip. I was 20-something weeks pregnant and puking my guts out on the plane, and this year I had a sleeping 9-month old on my lap. My youngest niece was a three-month-old blob, and now she's 15 months and walking and talking. I just can't believe a whole year has gone by and how much has changed. And, I knew I was in for an adventure with a baby coming during dental school, but I didn't know exactly how (or if) that was going to work out.

Since it's Thanksgiving and I'm feeling a little grouchy due to my (complete) lack of sleep last night, I thought it might be a good idea to pretend I'm at home, around my parents' Thanksgiving table, and list all the things I am thankful for. Because really, this year, the list is very long... and I shouldn't forget that, regardless of how many (or few) hours of sleep I've gotten in the past week.

  1. My loving husband and my beautiful, smart little baby girl. My mother-in-law was watching me play with her yesterday and she said "it's impossible to imagine how you're going to feel about your own children until you actually have them, isn't it?" And she was so right.
  2. The fact that I've gotten to spend almost Caroline's entire first year at home with her. Sure, it's going to be difficult to transition to daycare and to get back into things at school, but there really wouldn't have been any other time in my life when I could as easily have taken this much time off to be a mom. Related to this, I guess, is the fact that Tyler and I have always been so careful with our money that we didn't take a huge hit financially, even without my student loan income. I am so lucky that it was possible to do that without putting a strain on our family.
  3. My career that I love is waiting for me to pick up where I left off, even after taking a yearlong "vacation".
  4. Both of my wonderful families-- mine, and Tyler's. I love coming here for holidays, even though I miss my parents when I do. He has that big, happy, crazy family full of kids running around that I have always wanted. My family loves each other, of course, but there are only six of us, including my grandparents.... so it's always nice to come here and experience a little joyful chaos.
  5. My sweet Caroline. I have to list her again, because whenever I think about it, I can't believe that there was a time (even if only a few weeks, way back in the beginning) when I didn't want her. She is the light of my life.
There you have it-- sappy post #2738789 since becoming a mom. I can't help it. It's good to acknowledge how lucky you are so that you don't ever take it for granted, you know?

Happy Thankgiving!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I have a lot of things to report, mostly because I haven't blogged in a couple of weeks. I was thinking today that I fear for my blog when I go back to school, because I've hardly found the time to write while I've been staying at home. And then I thought that I actually blogged more while I was in school, so maybe it won't die out after all. And then I thought that I should probably just go write a post since I am wasting all this time thinking about blogging.

First: Caroline's 9 month appointment. It wasn't fantastic. (Someday, I will be able to come on here and brag that we had an amazing appointment and it went perfectly and I did not have to spend the entire rest of the day on the phone trying to get specialist appointments. Unfortunately, that day was not last Friday.) The pediatrician decided that since she hasn't been at least trying to sit up, creep, crawl, or pull up to stand, she has a slight gross motor delay that we needed to get evaluated. She also is still making this loud raspy noise when she inhales due to her laryngomalacia (floppy airway-- common in preemies). She really should have outgrown this and her snoring by now, but since she hasn't, we need to get her in to see a pediatric ear/nose/throat specialist.

So, last week a teacher and a physical therapist from a Birth to Three program came to our apartment to check out Caroline's skillz. They said that she was fine in all areas except gross motor, in which she falls into the 16th percentile (for an 8 month old, her adjusted age). She didn't qualify for services, which was great news, but we need to really push the tummy time and call back if she isn't crawling in a couple more months.

I also set up an appointment with an ENT at the children's hospital for December 22. Sigh... we were just about to get released from the GI there and I was really looking forward to not going back. Oh well-- I will try not to complain as long as she doesn't need surgery, which is really the only treatment for laryngomalacia other than time. They'll do a scope to see what the problem is and to decide whether or not surgery will be necessary. I am trying very hard not to imagine my little baby knocked out on an operating table... or even sedated for a scope. Poor thing. And poor me, a little bit, because I am going to be a freaking basket case and no one needs to deal with that insanity.

Moving on.

Even though she may not be crawling, my baby has awesome communication skills :) She now signs "more", "milk", and "drink", and says "done", "all done", "dada", and... my favorite... "mama"!! Prepare yourself for extreme sappiness because this was seriously one of the highlights of my entire life. (Is that sad? I think it might be, a little, but nonetheless--)

This past weekend, Caroline was sitting in her highchair and eating while Tyler and I ate our lunches and talked to her. She was looking at him saying "da da da" and smiling, and I got jealous and said "Caroline, why don't you ever say 'mama' to me??" She looked right at me, reached out her arms, and said "ma ma ma!" I teared up and gave her a big hug. It was so sweet. Tyler said, "No, get her to say it again, she's going to get confused because you're crying!"

Sigh. Just thinking about it makes me smile. I am so in love with this chubby little thing and her silly parted hair.

(Edited) I forgot to add that yesterday was National Prematurity Awareness Day. Here's a link from the March of Dimes if you are interested in becoming more informed about prematurity and how to prevent preterm birth. Even late pretermers like Caroline can deal with health consequences months down the road. Hopefully soon, researchers will be able to determine more about the causes for premature birth, and more effective ways to prevent it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A huge milestone

So, Caroline's 9th monthday is tomorrow. (Insert obligatory "I can't believe my baybeh is so big!!") And she still isn't crawling, or really mobile in any way. She scoots around a little on her butt, but that's it. I'm getting pretty tired of people asking if she is crawling and then looking disappointed/concerned/whatever when I say no.

I know that she will get there when she's ready, but it does worry me a little. She doesn't get herself into a sitting position either, and she still topples over once in awhile while she's sitting. My real concern is that I took terbutaline while pregnant with her, and I know that can cause gross motor delays. Sigh. Luckily we're seeing the pediatrician for her 9 month visit on Friday, so I can ask about it then.

BUT. LISTEN. Just yesterday, Caroline was chowing down on her lunch (an egg yolk omelette with peas and brown rice). She started to slow down and play with her food like she does when she gets full, and I said what I usually say at that point: "are you all done?" She looked up at me and yelled "done!!"

I squealed so loudly that the poor thing jumped and screwed up her face like she was going to cry. HER FIRST WORD!!! I scooped her up and whirled her around and praised her. I was so excited. I wasn't entirely sure that it was a real word... until dinnertime, when she did the same thing!

My baby is talking! Ahhh!!

This means she's a genius... right? (Humor me, people.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Green Parenting

Just a quick note to let you know I've written a post on green parenting on The Baby Standard, for those who are interested.

Short and sweet!

Monday, October 26, 2009

I'm having one of those mornings

You know the kind I mean. The bad mommy mornings. The kind where you only slept 3 hours the night before, and you dragged your husband out of bed at 5 am to give you just a couple hours of sleep, please, for the love of God. You stumble out of bed when he leaves for work at 8 and your child won't stop crying because she is teething, and the highchair she's in is filthy, the dog is barking nonstop, all the bottles are dirty, and every last diaper you own is in the wash so she has to wear a dishtowel fastened with a safety pin. Suddenly you remember that you were supposed to go visit a friend today, but there's no way that's happening any time soon, so you call and apologize profusely and she's very nice about it, but she doesn't have kids so you are pretty sure she just thinks you are being lazy.

You finally get the baby down for a nap and are too worked up from all your failures of various kinds to go to sleep yourself. So here you are, blogging, when you should be sleeping, or at least working on one of the 89 loads of dirty laundry lying piled on the bedroom floor. It's okay, you rationalize to yourself, I probably need ten minutes to myself more than I need ten minutes of sleep anyway.

You know what I mean, right?

Sigh. We all have those days. I hope. I admit that I am writing this mostly so I can look back on it when I am back in school and think, "well, at least daycare is dealing with that today". I doubt it will help much, since I am already in full-on "I don't want to leave my baybeeeeeee!!" mode.

Anyway, in other Caroline news... drumroll please... she has her first tooth! I've been waiting and waiting for it. Pretty much every time she was fussy starting at around 5 months, Tyler and I would say to each other, "she's just teething." And this week, it was finally true! I was changing her diaper and she was grinning at me and I saw a little white ridge. (It was tooth #P, FYI. ;) I am ridiculously excited about this development, for obvious reasons. I can't wait to brush it!!

We also went to a pumpkin patch yesterday to pick Caroline her first pumpkin:

We had a fantastic time, as you can see. Fall has always been my favorite season. I think it's the same for everyone who lives in New England. Summers are humid, springs are rainy, and winters are damp and cold... but the fall is gorgeous and sunny and the leaves are beautiful.

Not much else to report, other than the fact that we have booked another trip to spend a month in North Dakota before I go back to school. I'm so excited! I can't wait to spend more time with my sister-in-law and her girls. We'll leave right before Thanksgiving and get back just in time for Christmas. That also means that Caroline will spend her first Christmas here with my family, and that makes me happy too.

Now, to just get through this morning...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Happy Halloween!

A little early... from Caroline! I made that pumpkin hat for her, and the peapod costume was her cousin's first Halloween costume too.

Mom, I don't know about this outfit...

I don't want to be a peapod!!

If I pout, will you take me out of here??

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Single-mom'ing it

That's pretty much what I've been up to since we got back from North Dakota.

I love my husband, but I hate his job. I've complained about this before, long ago, but I think it's time for another round. I used to dread him leaving even before we had Caroline, but now that she is here, it's a whole different ballgame.

He's been away for most of the time we've been back... usually internationally, so I can't even call him. I'm so tired and lonely. I start to forget what it was like to do anything other than take care of Caroline, because that is literally all I do. I wonder all the time how single or military parents do it-- I cannot even imagine doing this as a permanent thing!

That said, I am grateful for two things...

  1. The internet. My mom friends are always here to keep me company! And I actually relate far better to these people who I've (mostly) never met than I do to my old friends, who have no idea what my life is like now and who are too busy for me anyway.
  2. That I've been able to stay home with Caroline all this time-- it allowed us to go to North Dakota with Tyler so that we wouldn't be here alone all summer, and it's probably saved my sanity... because if I had to go to school all day and then come home and single-mom it, I might die.
I feel badly for Tyler because I know it's hard on him not to see Caroline that much, but it's hard on me too. When we got married, we decided not to have kids until he would be able to spend more time at home, but... that didn't go as planned. I knew he would be traveling a lot these next few years. It was one of the reasons I was so worked up about being pregnant-- not just because I didn't feel ready for the experience, but because I knew I would be going it alone for a lot of the time.

But, hey, life goes on. I feel really competent and confident when it comes to taking care of her now, because I've done it alone so much. (Tyler, on the other hand, I would worry about-- he has literally never been alone with her for more than an hour or two at a time!) And now that my return to school is rapidly approaching, I try to remind myself every day to just soak up the time with her. That is usually enough to snap me out of my self-pity.

New topic: Caroline is 36 weeks old today-- so she has been alive outside me for as long as she was alive inside me. So strange... it went by so quickly, but it seems like I have known her forever. I went through her closet today, which is always an experience that brings out the crazy in me: "this is probably too small, I should put it away. Oh my God... I remember when she wore this and we did X. I can't believe she's never going to wear this again. She's growing up so fast. Too fast. I can't believe she used to be this small AHHHH MY BABY IS GOING TO LEEEEAVE ME!!!" Annnd, repeat. With every single article of clothing. I told you I was crazy. I used to be afraid that I had no maternal instincts, but it turns out I do have them, and they are on crack.

Don't get me wrong, though, I don't really miss the newborn stages. I don't miss her seeming so breakable and sick... and she is so much more interactive now. I think I have more and more fun with her every day, and I am so excited for all the milestones ahead (she still isn't mobile)! And now that she is over 17 pounds and has continued to gain well, the GI says we are officially out of the woods as far as her reflux goes. We're down to one medication and we don't have to go back until she is one year old! It's all good news-- but I'm still allowed to be a little sad about my baby growing up, right? ;)

(Photo courtesy of the lovely eris1995, with whom we had a wonderful get-together last week! Her son Mason is adorable.)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Guilt trippin'

Can we discuss mommy guilt for a sec?

After you have a baby (and before, a little bit, but mostly after), it can be really hard to avoid feeling guilty about everything you do, no matter what you do. You constantly wonder, "am I doing enough? Did I do that right? Did I make the right choice? Am I doing what's best?" Right? I know I'm not alone in this.

First, there are the parenting decisions that you have to make that you just don't know the "right" answers to. Which vaccination schedule? When to start solids? Do I call the pediatrician for this (insert random baffling baby symptom here)? You do your research, but your time and energy is limited, and sometimes you just have to go with your gut and hope that you made the right choice.

Then there are the decisions you have to make that involve balancing your baby's best interests and your best interests. Those are the ones that really suck. Do I quit breastfeeding/pumping because it's making me lose my sanity? Do I go back to work full-time because I love my job, even though it means very little time with my baby? Do I sleep train her so that I can get just a couple hours of sleep, please, for the love of God? In these cases, I have found it's best to consider both sides, but remind yourself repeatedly that a happy baby means a happy mama, and if you are miserable doing something just because you think it's best, your baby is going to pick up on that, and that's no good for her either. (Of course, you will still feel guilty no matter what you choose. That's part of the job description.)

Aside from the big decisions, there is just the day-to-day guilt that you can't really escape no matter what you do. "Am I doing enough to stimulate her? Am I hovering over her too much? I should read to her more... I feel like I never read to her. Oh no. She's going to grow up to be illiterate and hate school and will never succeed in life." (When really, let's be honest-- at this point, she thinks books are for teething.) Maybe this is just a new-mom thing, or maybe I way-overthink every little thing and I'm a crazy person, but I think it's freaking exhausting.

So tell me, what gives you mommy guilt? And more importantly, how do you let go of it in order to keep your sanity?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The highlights.

FYI: this post is going to be disgustingly cliche and sappy. You've been warned! (Hey, I'm a mom now... I've got to get a little mushy from time to time.)

Sometimes I have these moments with Caroline that make me think about all the amazing little things about being a parent. I mean, there are the big things that totally change your life, of course, but I think it's those little moments that sneak up on you out of nowhere that are the sweetest... and I worry that I am going to forget about them because they don't come with as much fanfare as things like "firsts" and milestones. You know? They don't get written down in the baby book. (Which reminds me-- update the baby book, you slacker!)

I wanted to list these highlights, if only for myself down the road...

  1. Walking in to see Tyler carefully brushing her fuzzy newborn hair (after he once laughed at me for brushing it).
  2. Watching her sleep next to me in our bed as I doze off.
  3. Holding her up to a mirror-- she looks at herself, squeals, and hides her face in my chest as she hugs me.
  4. When the dog licks the front of her overalls, she laughs and laughs like it's the funniest thing she's ever seen.
  5. Picking her up to put her in the crib for a nap, when she sleepily lays her head on my shoulder.
  6. Bathtime extravaganzas... you know, putting every possible toy into the tub, getting in there with her, and splashing until the entire room is wet... and how happy it makes her.
  7. Listening to Tyler read her a book about dinosaurs-- complete with his commentary about how, for example, "dimetrodons aren't really dinosaurs, Caroline."
  8. Blowing on her belly while changing her and making her shriek with laughter.
  9. Seeing the expressions on her face when she tries a new food: shock, surprise, disgust, intrigue, and finally-- GIVE ME MORE!!
  10. Bringing her into our bed on weekend mornings and snuggling up as a cozy family of three.
It's the moments like these... they make it worth all the screaming, the pooping, the worrying, the getting up five times a night for teething. Every time.

Friday, September 18, 2009

6 (okay, 7) month pics!

While we were in Baltimore, we had Kari from Life, Exposed Photography take Caroline's pictures. I love how they came out! I can't wait to get some printed and framed.

Here are some of my favorites:

Tummy time! The diaper she's wearing is a Bumgenius onesize.

Mommy and me

Yawn! Time for a nap yet?

Seriously, I really need a nap!

Tiny toes


What the...

Happy baby

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Back from Baltimore

Caroline and I accompanied Tyler on a work trip to Baltimore this past week, but we're back now! I'll update shortly with the rest of the answers to my Q&A, but until then, here's a post I guest-wrote for Kari's blog, The Baby Standard, on what to expect if your baby is admitted to the NICU.

Sorry for the slowdown in posts, but I promise that a lot of cute pictures are coming from our week away!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ask, and you shall receive

Well, my dear readers, here are my answers to your questions! Thanks so much for your interest in how our little family is doing.

A lot of people wanted to know what the dealio is with dental school. (God, I hate when people say "dealio". Count your blessings, though, I could have said "dizzle".) I am most definitely going back. I plan to start auditing some classes this fall-- hopefully over the internet and not in person, so that I can still care for Caroline until I start back up in clinic. I will start officially in early January, right where I left off when I took my leave of absence due to preterm contractions. So, I will graduate with the class of 2011 rather than the class of 2010. The idea of being a year "behind" honestly doesn't bother me anymore. It did at first, when I was still pregnant, but now that I have Caroline? Doesn't even register on the scale of Stuff That Bugs Me. Having and raising her is a far bigger accomplishment than my DMD will be. And yes, that sappy statement would have totally made me gag before I had her, but I didn't even blink typing it just now.

While I was pregnant, one of my biggest worries was that having a baby would make me not want to be a dentist anymore, because I suspected that parenthood would change my priorities. And while the idea of sending her to daycare and missing out on her smiles does get me all choked up, I really and truly do still want to finish dental school and go to work afterwards. I will always treasure this year that I was given to spend with her, but I want to be able to provide things for her that I could never give her as a stay-at-home mom-- international travel, private schooling if she needs it, any kind of lessons or activities she wants, a paid-for college education. Besides, I've racked up so much student loan debt and worked so hard towards this goal that it just wouldn't be practical or desirable for me to stay at home. I can definitely see why some moms choose to stay home with their babies, because that is just as a precious of a gift in its own way. I just don't think that it's the right choice for me, personally, to be one of them.

Others wanted to know how my relationship with Tyler has changed. I had to think long and hard about this one. It was definitely difficult during my pregnancy. It took him a long time to get excited about it... at times, I wondered whether he ever would. But once Caroline arrived, and especially while she was in the NICU, he was my rock. He loves that little girl so much. One of the best part of becoming parents, I think, is watching each other be parents. I have never felt so in love with him as I have watching him sing to Caroline, or tickle her, or rock her when she cries.

But, I don't know that I can really say our relationship is any weaker or stronger now that she is here. Life changes 2000% when you have a child, but we are still who we are, and we love each other in the same way. I hope that doesn't seem like a cop-out answer, because I don't know how else to articulate it. Our day-to-day life and priorities have changed completely, but we still lean on each other and laugh together just exactly like we always did. All the external things are different, but internally, our relationship is still fundamentally the same, know what I mean? We always wanted to have children someday, so I guess the fact that Caroline came much sooner than we planned didn't cause any long-term problems between us. We both accepted my pregnancy in our own time, and now she's here, and it's hard to remember what it was like when it was just the two of us, because we are so happy as three. Aside from her prematurity and reflux, she has been an incredibly easy baby, so I'm sure that has played a big part in our relatively smooth adjustment to parenthood.

Do we still have moments where we long for our old life, or feel that we weren't quite ready for all this responsibility? Do we occasionally wish that we'd had more time as just the two of us before we'd added to our family? Sure we do. Maybe I'm not supposed to admit that out loud. But in any case, those moments are few and far between, because now that we have Caroline, imagining a life where she had never existed is unthinkable. And it might help that we both feel that way and don't feel uncomfortable telling each other so. There are no misunderstandings or hard feelings there-- we were thrown into this together, and we are both doing the best we can.

I'm not saying we haven't had some hard times. Having a baby can be difficult on the best of marriages, and I sometimes resented the fact that my life was completely turned upside down as far as my career goes, while Tyler's went on relatively undisturbed. It was tough to adjust to suddenly going from the whirlwind of clinic to the quiet of our apartment, and then the isolation of new motherhood. And sometimes I've probably taken it out on him, and he has been impatient with my resistance to the change, but he's taken it in stride and done his best to help me out, and in the end, I see in him the wonderful father that I knew he would be.

If there is anything that has made our relationship stronger, I would say it hasn't been parenting itself, but rather the NICU experience. We were handed a huge challenge right off the bat, and we really had to support each other just so that we could get through it. Tyler was strong and comforted me while I struggled for days, and then the night she was transferred, he reached his breaking point and it was my turn to step up for him. We made it through together, because of each other. Any parent who has had a child hospitalized will tell you that there is a lot of potential for misunderstandings and hurt feelings and disagreements, but we managed to get by without a single problem between us. Those two weeks probably strengthened us more than eight months of pregnancy and the past seven months of parenting ever could.

As for our future plans, I will be done with dental school in June of 2011, and Tyler will be done with his PhD in June of 2012. I will probably do a one-year residency in general dentistry somewhere near New Haven, where he is in school, and then we will go wherever his career takes us after he graduates. It's looking like Denver is the most promising prospect for him to get a post-doc and then a job, but since it's a few years away we are not entirely sure yet. He is pretty famous in his field (you may have seen him before on his National Geographic special!), so he shouldn't have trouble finding work-- several institutions have already contacted him about possibilities for the future. And of course, I can be a dentist anywhere, so I have always planned to follow him wherever he chooses to go.

Top 10 things that happened this summer

Since we were gone for about two months, I'd bore you to death if I went into everything in detail. So, here's a rundown on what we were up to in the great state of North Dakota:
  1. I lived only two blocks away from my in-laws... and survived! I really do love them and I know I'm lucky to have them, because they don't even compare to some of the in-law horror stories I've heard. However. My mother-in-law can be a tad bit overbearing when it comes to her grandkids, especially one who normally lives 2,000 miles away. And by overbearing, I don't mean the "oh give me the baby again" type... I mean the "if you don't come over by noon I will drive by your house repeatedly and peer in the windows to see what is taking you so long" type. Yeeeeah.
  2. I fell head over heels in love with the rural-ness of it all. For reals. By the end of the summer we were looking at land to buy and someday build a house on. It probably won't happen because Tyler would like to be a professor or museum curator, but the beautiful badlands in the summertime had me dreaming of packing up our apartment and never looking back.
  3. My sister-in-law and I became great friends. She is my first and only "mommy friend" so far... none of my friends here in Connecticut are even close to thinking about having kids. I never knew how important it is to have a mommy friend until I actually had one-- it makes such a big difference. We hung out almost every day, talked about everything, and played with our babies. It was heaven. We even had a half-birthday party for Caroline and her cousin, since they share a birthday but we are never together in February. I really enjoyed finally getting to know my nieces, too, since we live so far apart. My 2 1/2-year old niece sobbed when we left ("I-- don't-- want-- Joo-ah-- to-- GO!!!!")... and so did I. :(
  4. Caroline started solid food (avocado!) and learned to tripod and then sit on her own. I felt like I took a teeny baby out there who was content to be carried around all day, and returned with a much bigger baby who is now squirming to get out of my arms so she can wriggle around on the floor. Sniff.

  5. Speaking of baby food, making it for Caroline is so much fun and saves tons of cash. I made sweet potatoes for one of her first foods, but they gave her a rash. Since I didn't want to waste them, I gave the rest of them to Tyler at dinner one night. He loved them. After he ate it, I remembered that I made it using my breastmilk. I didn't tell him. (If you're reading this... love you, honey! Sorry!)
  6. In case you can't tell by everything I've already said, my post-partum depression really seemed to lift out there. I was technically in the middle of nowhere, but I was much less isolated than I am here in the middle of civilization, because Tyler's family was all around. The constant sunlight streaming into our big, gorgeous rental house helped me a lot too. Even though I was sad to leave North Dakota, I still feel about a million times happier than I did when we left Connecticut. Here's our bright and sunny living room:
  7. I quit pumping entirely a few weeks after we got there, and just nursed twice a day until my milk supply ran out. I was so, so upset to stop nursing... but at the same time, it was such a relief to have the whole drama finally be over with. Caroline is formula-fed now, and even though I never wanted that for her, I can't deny that it has made me a better mother on the whole-- now that I am not torturing myself with a plastic pump eight times a day.
  8. I cheated on my husband with a cowboy. WHAT THE WHAT?! Just kidding. Wanted to see if you were still paying attention. Bet that caught Tyler's eye, if he's reading. (Between this and #5, he might be initiating a come-to-Jesus chat with me tonight. Wish me luck.)
  9. Caroline's reflux has definitely improved, although she does still have occasional choking episodes where solids come out her nose and we both freak the freak out. Sometimes I still feel frustrated with all her spitting up, but I try to put it in perspective-- it can be measured in terms of tablespoons now, rather than square feet of couch. And, at her six-month appointment she weighed 15 pounds 10 ounces, which is almost in the 50th percentile! I have never, ever in my life been so happy to achieve average-ness. :)
  10. On the plane trip back, Caroline and I sat next to an elderly man who was not interested in babies and didn't give Caroline the attention she thought she deserved. When I woke up after dozing off for a minute, she was leaning over and stroking his arm. He was not amused. I was.
So, that's about it! As you can see, we had a fantastic time overall. It's too bad Caroline won't remember this summer, because I will always look back on it with fond memories as one of the best summers of my life. I couldn't have asked for a better two months.

Enough about me... who are YOU?

I know, I know... the audacity is appalling. Who does she think she is?? She doesn't blog all summer and then she comes back all "hey, tell me about yourself"?!

I'll discuss everything that went down in the middle of nowhere shortly, I promise. Here, does this entice you? You can't resist this face. Go ahead... just try!

So, here's the thing: I always see all the visits on the sitemeter-thingy at the bottom of my page (getting close to 50,000!) but I don't know anything about you. So tell me (if you feel like it)--

1) Who are you?
2) How did you find my blog?
3) What stage of "baby life" are you at? (Thinking about having a baby, trying to conceive, pregnant, parent, just interested in people who over-share about their lives on the interwebz...)
4) Anything else you care to share about yourself!
5) If you have any questions for me or things you'd like to see me write about, feel free to tell me that too.

I look forward to "meeting" you, and so does Caroline! :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cloth diaper info and reviews

Wow, it's been forever since I blogged! We're back in Connecticut, Caroline is 6 months old, she's eating solid food, she's sitting up unassisted... I have a million things to talk about. But tonight I will just link you to my friend Kari's blog, The Baby Standard, where I just wrote a guest blogger post about cloth diapers. Several of you have asked me for info on this, so I hope it is helpful!

Good to be back, and I promise I'll update soon, and more frequently!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

We made it, and Caroline's first Fourth!

Well, we made it to the middle of nowhere! (Tyler hates when I call his hometown that ;) The flight was uneventful-- Caroline didn't cry at all, which was a welcome surprise. We even met a nice lady on the first flight who let us into Delta's comfy VIP area during our long layover.

I absolutely love the house that we're renting here. Voila la maison:

It has huge bright windows, nice wood floors, two bedrooms upstairs, and an open floor plan on the ground floor with a big kitchen and a screened-in porch. LOVE IT. I don't want to go back to our tiny dark apartment in Connecticut... I'm going to be so spoiled here. We even have internet because the schoolhouse across the street (ah, I mean, dirt strip) has unsecured wireless. Don't tell on me, now.

So, we spend our days hanging out with my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law and her two little girls. Living about two feet away from the in-laws is a little close for comfort sometimes, but otherwise, I am in heaven here. We're in the middle of the beautiful badlands, it's sunny and warm, I have a mommy friend, and I hang my cloth diapers on a clothesline outside:

What more could you ask for, really??

Yesterday was Caroline's first Fourth of July. The Fourth is always a big event here-- I am pretty sure the town's population (normally around 100) increases by about 5-fold because they have a parade, a rodeo, a dance, and fireworks. Caroline napped through the parade, but she looked awfully cute in her little Fourth of July outfit, which matched her cousins:

We ate good food and hung out with all the other family babies at my SIL's house. After Caroline was in bed, MIL watched her so that Tyler and I could drive out in the badlands with BIL and SIL and watch the fireworks from above the town. The lack of law enforcement here meant that our neighbors were setting off enormous fireworks directly above our roof all night long, but somehow Caroline slept through it all.

Speaking of lack of law enforcement, I'm about 90% sure there is a squatter living in the abandoned school bus in our backyard. (We have another abandoned school bus in our front yard, of course, but that one appears to be squatter-free.)

Otherwise, not much to report. Hope your summers are going as well as ours!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Goodbye for now

Well, Caroline and I leave for North Dakota tomorrow afternoon! I'm a little nervous about flying for the first time with her alone, but it has to be better than making the drive would have been. I'm not sure how often I'll be blogging this summer, but I'll try to post updates from time to time.

Enjoy your summers, everyone!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Quitting time

Well, I finally made the decision. I'm quitting pumping!

I knew that I needed to quit. It was making me crazy. I was pumping eight times a day, for 15-20 minutes each-- that's between 2 and 3 hours of pumping a day. It was uncomfortable and mechanical and to tell you the truth, I was starting to resent my baby a little bit. I was measuring my worth as a mother in ounces pumped. It was kind of a sickness. And I'm done with it.

Since I've made the decision, I'd say I feel about 90% relief and 10% guilt. Making the decision was the hardest part. I was just hanging on because I was hoping that she might grow out of her reflux enough that I would be able to nurse her again, but the GI has told me that is unlikely. And, I needed to wait until I could feel more relieved than guilty. If I could have kept nursing, I would have gone the full year. And I know some moms keep pumping if their babies can't nurse for whatever reason. But I've come to terms with the fact that I just am not one of those moms. I'm okay with that now.

So, I've dropped down to three pumps per day, and over the next two weeks I'll drop the other two. I'm hoping to be done by the time she's five months old. I need to go slowly since I am so prone to mastitis-- I've already had it three times. (The last pump to go will actually be our early morning nursing session, which I am really not supposed to be doing anyway... that is the one I will really miss.) I feel a little bit sad, but mostly I just feel free. No more hooking myself up to a machine. No more trying desperately to keep up with her demand. I just started weaning yesterday, and I already feel like I am enjoying her more.

Some of my friends told me I should smash my pump, Office Space-style. Haha. If I had quit anytime before now, I probably would have wanted to. But now I just feel good about it. I did the best I possibly could have done, and I'm at peace with it.

Thank you to all who have offered me support since my last post. I can't tell you how much it has meant to me.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I debated about whether or not I should blog about this, because I know that some people I know in real life read my blog. But I guess I've blogged about every other aspect of my pregnancy/motherhood, and what I'm about to say really isn't anything to be ashamed of, so, here goes.

I've been feeling really crappy lately. I'm not sure when it started. I was feeling okay for awhile, or maybe I was just too busy and worried about Caroline to notice. I also kind of assumed that it was just a situational thing, because I had to make such a big adjustment in moving from school to staying at home, and all the other changes having a baby brings to your life. And, you know, it's pretty isolating to stay at home with a baby when all of your friends are either far away or in an intense dental program... and none of them are even thinking about having babies of their own.

It wasn't just that, though... ever since we brought Caroline home from the NICU, I've been having nightmares. Horrible dreams that she's dead in the bed with me. I wake up several times a night from the same dream, digging frantically in the blankets for her because I'm convinced that she's in there. And I think about the NICU and the midnight transfer in the ambulance all the time. I still cry about it every day. It was a traumatic experience, for sure, but still feeling like this just doesn't seem normal to me. I was hoping that all this would go away with time, but it just... hasn't.

So, I was going to my OB today anyway because I was having an issue with my IUD. I brought up my concerns with the nurse practitioner and she left the room for a long time. When she came back, she told me that the OB on call wanted me to go to a psychiatrist across the street, and that they could see me immediately. I went over there, feeling kind of like I had done something wrong and lost my recess.

I talked to the psychiatrist for a long time, over an hour. When she was done asking me questions (questions that included things like "can you tell me today's date" and "what do apples and oranges have in common"... ummm... I'm not that far gone, lady), she put her clipboard down and said:

"I think you have post-traumatic stress disorder, and moderate to severe postpartum depression. You went through a very traumatic experience, what with having your new baby in the hospital in uncertain condition, right in the middle of a mess of postpartum hormones and physical pain. You've had to continue struggling with her health and weight gain, and to give up breastfeeding for a much more mechanical, demanding way of feeding her. You're continuing to torture yourself with all this pumping in order to try to live up to this unattainable ideal that our society has of the perfect mother, who gives her baby breastmilk, no matter what. You had to suddenly leave your program and all its activity and human interaction to stay at home with your baby, with no friends who understand what your new life is like. On top of it all, your pregnancy was unexpected, you say you were an anxious person to begin with, and depression runs in your family. How could you not be depressed?"

Well. I have to say, she heard me. It felt like a huge weight was lifted, that somebody understood me. I've sort of brought it up with Tyler and my mom, but Tyler just said "she's healthy now, why is it still bothering you?" and my mom just gave me a look that I couldn't quite read. So, it was such a relief just to have someone tell me that it was okay to feel sad. In general, I try not to think about any of that, because I don't have time for self-pity and it doesn't do anything for me anyway. But clearly ignoring it isn't helping, so I have to try something else.

She suggested that I start two medications, check in with her over the phone while we're in ND, start counseling once we get back, and quit pumping. I told her I was fine with all of that except the pumping, and that I just can't quite do that yet, I'd feel too guilty. She went over to her desk, handed me a picture of a really pretty girl about my age, and said "this is my baby. I had to quit breastfeeding her after one month. And you know what? She's fine. She's great. How you feed your baby is just one tiny part of being a good mother. You've done everything you can for four months... do what's best for you, but also know that maybe it's time to give it up in order to focus on all the other very important pieces of the puzzle."

So, that might be happening in the near future, I haven't decided yet. All in all, I'm so glad that I said something to the nurse at the OB. Maybe the medication will help me feel more like myself. All I can do is try it, right? So... wish me luck!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A few quick updates

I am the worst blogger around lately. I've been keeping you all in the dark about the following important pieces of info:
  1. Caroline had her 4 month appointment and she is back on the growth curve! 23.5 inches (25th percentile), 11 lbs 6 oz (10th percentile), something-or-other for her head (50th percentile... I had the mumbly nurse and couldn't understand her). We also had a GI appointment in preparation for leaving for the summer, and they decided that even though she's back on the curve and doing well, we're going to keep her on the high-cal bottles.
  2. Latest developments: she's rolling both ways, laughing, and putting everything into her mouth. Including her feet, which makes diaper changes rather challenging. I also just put all her newborn and 3-month clothes away and got a little choked up over her teeny tiny sleepers. Here she is, with her funny patchy hair, at the pool a couple weeks ago:
  1. We're leaving in a week for North Dakota and we won't be back until mid-August. If you've been reading for awhile, you know that Tyler is a grad student in paleontology and he does his field work out there. This year Caroline and I will be accompanying him. We're renting a house down the street from where Tyler's parents live. I'm excited to spend time with my sister-in-law and my two nieces, since I have zero mommy friends here.
  2. #3 means, of course, that this summer I will be even more of a slacker blogger than I usually am. We'll have internet at the in-laws' house, but otherwise we'll have no access to technology. Cell phones don't even work out there!
I want to write a longer and more fun post about my newest obsession (cloth diapering!) but I'm too tired tonight. Hopefully I will get to it tomorrow-- just wanted to post a couple of updates and let you all know that I am still alive and kicking.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Good news and bad news

We went back to the GI today... always a fun experience. Let's split it up into the good news and the bad news.

Good news: We only had to wait about 5 minutes before the nurse called us in. Last time we waited over an hour and a half.

Bad news: Some lady in the waiting room asked if I was there for me, or for Caroline. It's a children's hospital. BURN!!!

Good news: Caroline is almost two pounds up from when we first were referred to the GI! The doctor said she had even exceeded their expectations for her weight gain.

Bad news: I still have to keep waking her to feed and forcing as many ounces as I can into her poor little belly. I am freaking exhausted and haven't slept more than a couple hours at a time in weeks. Also, I am permanently bruised from my pump. You're welcome for that mental image if you know me in real life.

Good news: The nutritionist gave me new, higher-calorie recipes for her bottles so that I can skip a nighttime feeding.

Bad news: I'm not allowed to add more nursing sessions in place of pumping sessions. I asked if I could, and the doctor told me that she considered my nursing sessions to be "comfort only", since Caroline's reflux is so severe that literally everything comes back up unless it's pumped, thickened with rice cereal, and bottle-fed to her.

Seriously? It sucked a lot to hear that. I worked insanely hard at breastfeeding for many weeks because I thought it was best for her. Turns out it doesn't even count towards her nutrition in the doctor's eyes.

So I guess that's pretty much it for nursing. I'm sad about it, but I'm trying to look at it this way: at this point, my desire to nurse is really just selfish. It's easier and more convenient than pumping, and I enjoy that closeness with her. But it's obviously NOT what is best for her. So, I just have to pump for as long as I can to give her as much breastmilk as I can... and beyond that, it'll be formula. I definitely want to reach at least six months (just two more), and then I'll reevaluate after I meet that goal.

And honestly, I am just happy that her issues are this easily solved, and that she's doing so well. So I guess that's the best news of all. [:)]

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Putting on the pounds!

It's been awhile since I last posted! But in my defense, I had a bazillion people visiting this week for Caroline's baptism, and they kept me pretty busy.

First of all, Caroline's weight gain has been awesome since I switched to pumping to thicken her feeds and started waking her up to eat. At her last weight check (almost a week ago), she was 10 lbs 1 oz! So she gained over a pound in just one week. I was so incredibly relieved. I think I might have lost it in front of the pediatrician (again) if she hadn't gained anything after working so hard at it all week long.

This has been pretty hard on me, I'm not going to lie. I worry so much about her, and Tyler has been gone for most of this month (he's gone again as of yesterday, but will be back tomorrow). I was pumping every 3 hours around the clock for awhile, which is exhausting. I used everyone's tips on how to increase my supply (thank you all so much!)... I did end up bringing my supply up enough that I've reduced the amount of formula she needs by about half. I'm hoping that the GI will let us add more nursing sessions (right now we're at 2 per day) if her weight gain still looks good when we go for our follow-up this week. It's definitely nice not to have to change both of our outfits every time she eats!

Then, in the middle of all this, we had Caroline's baptism. Tyler's parents, brother, sister-in-law, and their two little girls came out for it. Everyone except his parents stayed with us in our tiny apartment... it was very chaotic. They left yesterday, and I am still tired. It's just kind of stressful to have to do all that pumping while trying to be a good host/wife/mom to 6 adults, a toddler, and two babies-- all in a very small space. Especially when the toddler keeps busting in on you while you're pumping and then runs away, leaving the door wide open for your father-in-law to walk by and check out the dairy-farm action. Sweet.

Well, that's about all I have to report for now. It's a relief to have things seem to be looking up for my little one. I'll leave you with a picture of her after her baptism, on her great-grandma's lap:

Check out that (newly) chubby arm!! [:)]

Friday, May 15, 2009

UGH!! x 10000

Caroline went for a weight check yesterday, which revealed that she only gained 5 oz in the past month. UGH. That puts her somewhere awfully far below her growth curve. I literally felt sick when I saw the scale. Her pediatrician was concerned about this, to which I say, hello?!? Did I not tell you that there was a problem like a month ago?? And also:

He asked me to switch to pumping so that I can add cereal to her bottles to thicken them (so that they'll stay down better), and to start waking her every 3-4 hours at night to feed her. UGH. She usually sleeps at least 10 hours straight at night.

He sent us to the hospital to get bloodwork done, which thankfully turned out mostly normal. He also called the GI specialist to get us in right away, and warned me that they might ask me to wean her completely to put her on a very expensive hypoallergenic formula (UGH). He suspected that there might be something wrong in addition to her reflux (UGH UGH UGH).

Honestly, hearing him say "wean her completely" was like a punch to the gut. I hadn't realized how attached I'd gotten to nursing her, now that it's become so easy for us. (In fact, I cried in front of him after he said it. UGH.) The feeling reminded me vaguely of her birth day, when I went to the NICU and the nurses told me I couldn't hold her.

So today we visited the GI, after many frustrating hours of trying to pump enough to feed her while she howled in her bouncy seat, and trying to bottlefeed her while she swatted the bottle aside and lunged at my boob for a mouthful of shirt. The doctor and nutritionist thought it was just severe reflux, but recommended we put formula powder and cereal in my breastmilk to increase its caloric value and keep waking her to feed, at least until she reaches a more normal weight.

Side note: by "we", I mean "me", because Tyler is gone yet again on a dinosaur job. He always happens to be gone when Caroline's reflux blows up in my face. Sigh. I don't know which one of them is planning this. Maybe they are conspiring against me.

Anyway. I am relieved that nothing other than the reflux is probably wrong. But I am sad about two things:

  1. Losing my full night of sleep. I'm worried that even once she gets up to a good weight, she will still want to wake several times a night to eat.
  2. I will definitely have to supplement with formula, because there's no way I can pump enough for her to eat 4 oz every 3 hours around the clock.
I know that's whiny. I know I have to do what's best for her. But her reflux is so difficult to deal with all day alone that I need the sleep at night. And I worked so hard to exclusively breastfeed. It's so hard to do that for a NICU baby who was unable to nurse and had tons of bottles right after birth. I beat myself into the ground for over six weeks to be able to do that for her. And after all that, she still isn't growing, so I'm not allowed to do that anymore. I know that supplementing is going to damage my supply, probably to the point where I won't ever be able to exclusively breastfeed her again.

And, I just don't want to give her formula. I hope that's not offensive to those who formula-feed. But I made that decision early on and stuck to it through a whole lot of obstacles, and I really believe in the benefits of breastfeeding, especially for a preemie who is disadvantaged from the start. I was so excited the night I finally pumped enough to replace all of her formula that I went back to bed after feeding her and couldn't sleep.

So, life isn't fair. We all know that. I don't want to give her formula, but then again I didn't want her to be born prematurely, and I didn't want her to spend weeks in the NICU, and if you want to be really technical and cruel about it, I didn't initially want to have a baby at all. Things just happen and it's not always fair, and you just have to get over the parts you don't like as best you can.

So that's the latest. If anyone has tips on how to increase milk supply aside from the obvious fenugreek, lots of water, and frequent pumping, please post in comments below.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Baby product reviews

I know a lot of moms, moms-to-be, and future moms read my blog, so I thought I'd write a post on our favorite (and not-so-favorite) baby items. If you recall, when I first got pregnant I had absolutely no idea what to do with a child... even looking at those "suggested registry" lists made me break out in a cold sweat, because I didn't even know what half of the things on the list WERE. So I researched every single thing we bought to death! And here's the product of my experience so far.


1. Boppy pillow. This has been absolutely critical to me every time I nurse. I have zero arm strength and no motivation to get any, so I NEED this to prop her up to my boob. It saves my back, too... and you spend a zillion hours a day nursing if you end up exclusively breastfeeding. You can also put the baby on it for playtime and tummy time. I used it to bottle feed in the beginning when I was pumping a lot, so formula feeders can get use out of it too.

2. Dr. Brown's bottles. Everyone has a different opinion on bottles, but I love these. They have extra parts which are kind of a pain to clean, but it's worth it for the reduction in gas and spit-up. I have a reflux baby. I would know.

3. Lansinoh double electric pump. Half the price of the Medela pumps, but I actually got better output with this pump than with my Medela hospital rental. Probably because I wasn't howling in pain the entire time I was hooked up to the thing.

4. Boppy bouncy seat. Half the time I just use it when I need to put her down. Even more important, we've had the same batteries in it since she was born (and we turn it on many times a day) and they are still going strong! Plus, it has catchy music.

5. As far as diapers go, we liked Pampers for disposables. We are currently in the process of switching to cloth, and for those we use BumGenius organic one-size (with the snaps). I'll be discussing my unlikely transformation into crunchy-hippie mama in a future post. Stay tuned.

6. Baby Bjorn or some other front carrier. 90% of the time I use this rather than a stroller. Also great for around the house when they are fussy in the evenings!

7. Fisher Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium. We've attached this to her cradle and she cannot fall asleep without it. She will even put herself to sleep without crying while she stares at it... enough said, right?

8. AngelCare movement monitor. We received this as a gift, but even if we hadn't, it would still absolutely have been worth the $100 or whatever it costs. We were so anxious about her breathing when we left the NICU that this literally saved our sanity. Even if your baby isn't in the NICU, you will probably waste a lot of YOUR sleep time constantly checking on their breathing. This gives you the peace of mind that everything is okay... and if it isn't, you'll know about it right away. And we've never had a single false alarm (although it does go off if we lift her out of the cradle and forget to turn it off, so I feel confident it would go off if she stopped breathing).

9. Halo sleepsacks and Kiddopotamus SwaddleMes. Swaddling is key to sleeping long stretches... otherwise, baby whacks him/herself in the face and wakes up. Receiving blankets don't work for very long-- baby busts out of them pretty easily, and the SwaddleMes have velcro tabs to hold the swaddle tight all night long. The sleepsacks are key if you worry about the SIDS risk of having loose blankets in baby's bed.


1. Nursing glider. I rarely sit in it, but it's a nice luxury. Sometimes it will calm her when I rock in it, but not always. If you have a recliner or rocking chair already, I'd say skip the expense.

2. Swing. It seems to me that everyone else's baby loves to sleep in it, but Caroline will only sit in it for a couple minutes with a pouty look on her face before she starts screaming. Not all babies like them, so I'd recommend waiting until you actually have your baby and then go test one out at Babies R Us to see if you have a swing baby.

3. Snuggle Nest. Even if you don't want to cosleep, chances are you will at one time or another in the beginning, just so you can get a little sleep! The snuggle nest lets the baby be close to you (some even have a little night light and an incline for reflux/congestion) but keeps him or her away from covers and pillows, which is much safer and gives you peace of mind. Not totally necessary, but nice to have. Also useful for transitioning to the crib from a bassinet or cradle (baby still feels secure in a smaller space within the bigger crib).


1. Huggies diapers: blowout central. (Although I have heard this depends on the baby.) Unless you have stock in stain remover, in which case hey, go for it.

2. Dreft laundry detergent. You don't need it, and the fragrance ingredients can actually irritate some babies' skin. Just use a "free and clear" detergent-- Caroline has super sensitive skin, and this has worked fine for us so far.

3. Travel system. ALERT! DO NOT get this. I ignored lots of advice and got one because I didn't want to buy the Snap 'n Go frame for the carseat and then have to buy another stroller later on... but they are HEAVY and awful and I just don't use mine because it's too much of a struggle. Get the infant carseat, Snap 'n Go, and later on get a lightweight stroller like a Maclaren.

So, there you go! I hope it's somewhat helpful to someone out there. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments, I will try to remember to answer them!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


3 months ago today... before all the tubes and wires...

One of only two pictures I have of me holding her on her birth day. I didn't know my dad had taken it until he showed it to me just last week... it makes me tear up every time I look at it.

I was so lucky to get to hold her right after she was born, even for just a few minutes. So many NICU mommies don't get that chance. I'll always be grateful that I did.

Happy 3 month birthday, Caroline!

Friday, May 1, 2009

My body, postpartum (dun dun dunnn)

You knew this was coming from me eventually!

I expected having a baby to totally trash my body. I mean, it sounds horrible, right? Growing a 7ish-pound person in there and then pushing it out your vag, or having it pulled out through a cut in your belly? (Some days I still can't believe I actually did that and lived to tell about it. It's all very Alien.) I've never been good about weight gain. I tend to get very upset, so this was one of the things I was really worried about.

But I came through it pretty much unscathed, in the long run. I obsessed over my weight gain the entire pregnancy, but from the day I found out I was pregnant to the day I delivered, I gained an unexciting 28 pounds. (Keep in mind, though, that I delivered at exactly 8 months pregnant.) I somehow didn't get any stretch marks, even though I have some from puberty so I know I'm predisposed to them. I'm still kind of chubby-looking, but most of the weight has come off without doing anything more than breastfeeding, eating reasonably, and halfheartedly jogging from time to time. (I'm about 5 pounds up from my pre-pregnancy weight, although I've lost a lot of muscle tone so that number sounds a lot better than it looks.)

A lot of the weight comes off directly after giving birth, and then it kind of stalls. I swear, at least 10 pounds of my weight must have been water, because about a week after giving birth I looked at my ankles in the shower and they were THERE again. I almost fell over in shock. They looked like sticks to me. I hadn't seen them in so long.

Even with weight loss, though, your body ends up being shaped totally differently. Your hips spread, at least if you deliver vaginally (I can't speak for the C-section mommas). Weight seems to be distributed differently. Your old jeans don't have a prayer of fitting. I've also still got that sweet linea nigra running down my belly, along with an attractive little kangaroo pouch due to stretching of skin and muscle. Probably nothing that about a thousand situps couldn't fix, if I ever had the motivation or energy to do them (I do not), although my belly button will probably always look slightly weird.

Overall, it wasn't nearly as bad as I imagined it to be. Which is good, because I am very vain and selfish like that. I'm hoping that by summertime I should be able to fit into my old clothes, because I really don't want to have to buy a new wardrobe! (Well, okay, I do, but not because I'm too large for my old stuff.)

Still-- it doesn't help when "friends" say things like "Oh look! You have a butt now! You never used to have a butt." (Insert Death Stare here. I'm getting a lot of use out of that thing lately.)

I'd post a "belly" picture, but Caroline is sleeping in the room that has the full-length mirror, and I don't want to wake the beast. I can tell you, though, that it looks absolutely nothing like this... (Quit sucking it in, you bitch.)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hitting the panic button

So, I don't know if you've heard, but there's this swine flu thing going around.

Are you sick of hearing about it yet?? I know I am. It is not helping that I have this paranoid freakness left over from when Caroline was in the NICU. I'm absolutely terrified of her getting sick, going back to the hospital, or worst of all, losing her. Really, I couldn't care less if I get this stupid pig flu, except that then I wouldn't be able to care for her. This is a terrible thing about being a mom, I am discovering. Reading the news and hearing about it nonstop just gives me this sick feeling in my stomach and makes me feel all shaky, thinking about something like that happening to my baby.

Tyler thinks I'm totally nuts. (Chances are, you do too, at this point... but hey, it's my blog and I'll freak out if I want to!) Our phone conversation from this morning, after I read the news about the toddler in Texas who died:

Me: We're not taking Caroline anywhere unnecessary until this whole thing is over with.
Tyler: Okay, fine, but I think you're going a little overboard here.
Me: I don't care, I'd rather be safe than sorry.
Tyler: Should I also pick up a shovel on my way home, so we can dig ourselves a bunker?
Me: Yes. But wear a mask at the shovel store.

Clearly, I need to step away from the CNN. It's scary, though, you have to admit! I definitely learned way too much in college about flu pandemics and how we're overdue for one. I had this one particular evolution professor who was obsessed with the idea. There are also three suspected cases in CT as of right now (all people who just traveled to Mexico), one right down the road from us. Still, I almost feel ashamed posting about it, because there's already enough propaganda about this flu out there on the internet.

And on that note, I will quit writing about it and try to stop obsessing! Luckily I have America's Next Top Model to distract me! Love this show...

Monday, April 27, 2009

And now for Caroline's latest trick!

Blood in her spit-up! Wahooo!

Sigh. I woke up to this lovely new development the other night, and rushed to the pediatrician in the morning for the third time in a week. I think they're about as sick of me as I am of them.

They said it was due to irritation of her stomach or esophageal lining from the reflux. They called the GI specialist for me, whose advice was to put her on two new medications, get rid of one of her old medications, and have me give up dairy in case she has a sensitivity. We'll be going to see the specialist in early June, which was their first available appointment. These suggestions seem to have helped... at least, I haven't seen any more blood and she hasn't had any more choking episodes.

So, I'm glad I don't have to switch to pumping or formula to thicken her feeds. BUT. It really stinks to have to give up dairy. I love my ice cream, cheese, chocolate, etc... and constantly checking labels for crap like "lactulose" is not especially fun. I was hoping that the excess lipase thing would be the last hurdle, but apparently not. I should be happy that I get to keep breastfeeding after I worked so hard to do it... but instead I am sulking about my dairy. Sulk. Sulk. Sulk.

The other breastfeeding issue du jour: I have mastitis. (That's a boob infection, for those lucky enough to not know anything about it.) Tyler was in Canada all last week so I didn't get enough sleep, and I was totally stressed by all Caroline's health problems, both of which can contribute to getting an infection. The worst part-- it's the kind of infection that starts way at the end of the nipple with a blister, and the milk gets all the way backed up to your armpit. (You're welcome.) The solution? Going to the doctor and having them stick a needle in your boob.

That is correct. I said stick a needle in your boob. Sonofabitch. Wish me luck with that one.

But somehow despite all her reflux issues and her cranky sick mommy, Caroline is still the happiest baby around:

How cute is that!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Whose leg do I have to hump to get a referral around here?

I took Caroline in to the pediatrician yesterday to discuss her recent flare-up of le reflux. It did not go especially well. First I put her on the scale and discovered that she had lost three ounces since Friday. (In case you were unclear on this, the only person who's supposed to be losing weight around here is me.) I silently panicked until the doctor came in, but when I pointed it out to him, he said "oh, well, that isn't that much weight." I ignored this nonsense and told him about the airway issues she's been having. His response, in a nutshell: "Sometimes that happens with kids who have reflux."

I'll take "Bitches I'd Like to Slap" for 800, Alex.

Seriously, what in the hell? I tell you that my two-month-old, who has previously been hospitalized in intensive care for this very reason, cannot breathe and is losing weight and you think it's no big deal?! (This was a different doctor from the one we saw last week.) I fixed him with my Death Stare (which I have been perfecting in preparation for Caroline's first boyfriend) and told him I'd like a referral to a pediatric GI specialist, thanks very much. He gave it to me. The Death Stare cannot be denied.

So we will be going to a specialist, hopefully ASAP. I'm really not looking forward to the process-- I know they will be running lots of tests and she may even be admitted to the hospital for them-- but with any luck they will have some kind of solution.

Although if they ask me to switch to exclusively pumping or formula-feeding (so that we can thicken her feeds to help them stay down), I will flip my shit. I'll do whatever they ask, of course. But wouldn't that be ironic, after all our struggles to ditch the bottle? I'm just warning you guys, be prepared for a very whiny post if that is their solution. (You can skip it. I'd never know.)

So now we play the waiting game... hopefully it doesn't take too long to get an appointment. Fingers crossed!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Reflux: 1 billion. Me: zero.

Okay, this will teach me to brag about how well things are going! I think that's just how life goes with a baby, though-- you get the hang of one thing and another thing pops up.

Poor Caroline's reflux is totally out of control. If you remember, her reflux was the reason she was in the NICU for so long, because she got aspiration pneumonia from it. Well, it's been sort of up and down ever since, but lately I feel like it's taken over our lives! She spits up multiple times at every feeding. We go through at least 8 outfits per day. Often I can't even get her from my boob to my shoulder to burp her before she's spewed at least half an ounce all over herself, me, the couch, and the dog. Her medications (Prevacid and Zantac) have made her more comfortable with the spitting up-- it doesn't burn her little esophagus anymore-- but they don't reduce the sheer volume of it. I would be okay with it... I mean, I can do more laundry without a problem, and she seems comfortable... but she went in for her 2-month appointment on Friday and this is how it went:

Doctor: Is she nursing well?
Me: Yes, she nurses really well, but she does spit up a huge amount.
Doctor: Well, she's in the 5th percentile for weight, but that might just be her growth curve.
Me: ...I'm sorry, the what?
Doctor: The 5th percentile.

Okay, no, I didn't drop an F-bomb on the pediatrician. But I wanted to. Because AARRGHH!! I worked so hard to breastfeed exclusively, and don't get me wrong, I'm glad I do it-- but it's so hard not to feel like it's your fault when you're the sole source of nutrition and your child isn't gaining weight. (When she was born, she was somewhere around the 40th percentile. A drop to the 5th is no bueno.) The pediatrician didn't seem that concerned at the time since she had gained over a pound since her last visit, but then later in the day she called me back and interrupted my obsessing to tell me that she wanted Caroline back on weight checks to "make sure she's on the right track".

It's never what you expect it to be, you know? I used to be afraid of losing my supply or some other common problem, but my supply is super-awesome-- she just can't keep any of it down.

And as if that wasn't enough...

The very next morning, I was holding Caroline in bed and passed her to Tyler to reach for my Boppy. This was maybe 2 hours after a feeding. Suddenly, I heard Tyler say in a terrified voice "what's wrong with her??" I looked over and spit-up was coming out her nose and mouth and she had such a scared look in her eyes, and she wasn't breathing, and she had a bluish tinge around her lips. I FREAKED OUT. I flew out of bed and down the hall to get her booger sucker and suctioned her little nose and mouth like crazy until she was breathing again, while Tyler whacked her on the back.

There is nothing more terrifying than having your child not be able to breathe. I swear. Nothing can possibly compare to it. You can't breathe, you can barely see, you can't think, you feel like you're drowning. It seemed like it took hours to get her airway clear... I'm sure it was under a minute. I'm certified in infant CPR but that does not matter in that situation because you are too petrified to even remember your own name, let alone the sequence of CPR.

So now I am afraid to go to sleep because I'm scared that she will choke on spit-up and I'll wake up to the unthinkable. And of course Tyler is in Canada this week-- awesome. I'm taking her to the doctor today and demanding a referral to a pediatric GI specialist because clearly this reflux is not under control. I'm also contemplating demanding a monitor, even though I hated the monitor in the NICU. I suspect they will put her on one even if I don't ask, because airway issues are so serious.

I just want my little girl to be safe and feel better. Oh, and reflux? I hate you.