October 22, 2012

Mother knows best...

It is really hard for me to believe that today begins my final week of maternity leave. In some ways it feels like I left work just a few weeks ago but when I look back over the past three months it seems as though I have been gone for an eternity.

When I left for lunch on June 28 I let the receptionist know that I would most likely not be back before 1:00 because I was planning to have lunch with my cousin. And as I headed out the door I remember turning around and saying, "See you later." That was 12 weeks ago.

I have mixed emotions about returning to work. I'm really not cut out to be a stay at home mom and I'm looking forward to getting back to my office, my job, and conversations that don't include words like "diaper", "bottle", "pacifier" and "crying". However, on the other hand, I don't feel ready just yet to leave my son. My entire life has centered around him and his every move for three months and I'm not sure that I remember how to function without him. Ryan's arrival brought with it so many emotions- joy, frustration, fear, peace- that it seems almost impossible to suddenly change directions and go back to life as it was BR- "Before Ryan."

A few thoughts...

1. When I left for maternity leave the Summer Olympics was just beginning, it was still 100 degrees outside and had not rained in several weeks, and back-to-school shopping was in full swing.

2. We spent the majority of the month of August in the hospital so August was pretty much a blur. During almost the entire month of September Ryan was absolutely miserable and I spent most of my time feeding him and trying to find little things to make my day a bit more enjoyable. I really have no idea where October has gone.

3. I cannot wait for my hands to have the opportunity to go back to normal. Because I am forever washing my hands and making bottles they have become extremely dry and I have cracked and bleeding knuckles.

4. This maternity leave has taught me a lot of things but I would have to say that the most valuable lesson that I learned is to never give up, never accept an answer you do not agree with, and to always stay the course.

Before Ryan was even born we learned the importance of refusing to accept, "I don't know" for an answer. We had almost a dozen doctors following my case and almost every single one of them had a theory as to what was going on and what should be done. And through it all Ryan's heartbeat continued to be healthy and strong so I believe that he too was learning to fight for his need to be heard.

New, expecting, or not so new parents- Listen. To. These. Words.
If you think that something is wrong with you or your child do not let someone try to convince you that you are wrong and never allow someone, even a highly respected doctor, to encourage you to give up and accept your circumstances as normal or something that will just have to be weathered until it passes.

I spent the majority of my maternity leave fighting for Ryan's health and comfort and our family's sanity. I absolutely knew that something was wrong with him (not just colic) when he refused to eat more than 1-2 ounces at a time, cried during and after feedings, screamed through every bowel movement, and went only 60-90 minutes in between feedings (and for those of you who may have forgotten, that is 60-90 mintes from the start of one feeding until the start of the next). It took me countless visits to the doctor, numerous phone calls and emails, several trips to the store for new formula and bottles, and hours of research before I believed that my beautiful and perfect son was again the happy baby that I know I brought into this world.

He now takes medication twice daily for acid reflux, gets gas relief drops after every bottle, is on a mixture of regular and low iron formula (which can only be found online or special ordered through a grocery store), uses special bottles (Dr. Brown's) that help to reduce the amount of air he takes in while eating, sleeps either in his bouncy seat or is laid down in an elevated position to help control the acid reflux, and does bicycle kicks to help with bowel movements.

And it only took us 12 weeks to get all of this figured out.

I will be the first to admit that he certainly isn't happy every single day and things are not always flowers and rainbows and unicorns around our house but since we started this entire regimen two weeks ago we have had a completely different baby living at our house. Ryan now sleeps in his crib instead of next to the couch (we were taking turns sleeping downstairs with him because he woke up so many times during the night that it wasn't even worth trying to go to bed), wakes up 1-2 times per night (once he even slept through the night and didn't wake up until almost 5:00), eats about 3-5 ounces each feeding, and no longer screams in pain during or after feedings or while he is trying to have a BM.

I don't call that perfect but I do call that progress. And progress makes everyone a bit happier.

And so today, rather than taking my baby out into the rain to get groceries, I am going to stay home and enjoy the last few days that I get to be alone with my son. The grocery store will still be there tomorrow.

October 19, 2012

The great pumpkin...

A few weeks ago we got to take Rachel and Ryan on their first trip to a local pumpkin patch.

It was like Heaven to Rachel, who apparently watches way too much TV, and was thrilled to be trekking across the countryside with her map, in search of treasure. Does this scenario sound familiar to anyone else? Enter Dora and Jake and the Neverland Pirates...now does it sound familiar?


Anyway, lucky for us Rachel loves maps and the outdoors and pumpkins and was very excited to be at the pumpkin patch.

First we had to stop here...

then it was off to the pumpkin patch.

The adventure begins...must find the perfect pumpkin.

Grandma Marcia showed Rachel just what to look for.
Daddy was along to carry the treasure back up the huge hill (not pictured, which is a shame because it really was a big hill to have to carry a pumpkin back up).

We told Rachel that she could pick any pumpkin that she wanted...

and she picked this one.

While hiking back up the HUGE hill we noticed that another young family was also trying to carry their special find back. The father, who was carrying their prized position, was gasping for air and when I saw the size of the pumpkin he had I could tell why- it was probably one of the largest ones in the field. His young son, who was about Rachel's age, was skipping along beside him and grinning from ear to ear. I just couldn't resist the opportunity to chat with them and said, "We told our daughter that she could pick any pumpkin she wanted, and she got this one," which I then pointed to in Jake's hand. He replied, "(gasp) We told (gasp) our son he could (gasp) choose any pumpkin (gasp) that he wanted (gasp) and he picked (gasp) THIS one (gasp)." To that I responded with, "Yikes, shucks for you."

Maybe next year Ryan will be able to help pick out a pumpkin.

A few days later it was time to learn how to carve a pumpkin. Rachel didn't want to cut into her's so we had to buy another one that was worthy of going under the knife.

A beautiful fall day in our backyard

The finished product. Perfection.

October 12, 2012

The day Rachel taught me to read my Bible...

I hate to say this but I have kind of been dreading today for awhile. Why? Because today our daycare provider is on vacation and since I'm still on maternity leave we couldn't justify the expense of taking Rachel somewhere else for the day. And so we had a mommy and kids day today.

And, to my surprise, it has actually been quite enjoyable (does that make me sound like a monster?)...right up to the moment that Rachel's excessive chatter during nap time woke up her little brother.

Honestly though, with all that we have been going through with Ryan I have to admit that sometimes it is hard to find joy in our daily activities. So when I noticed that I would be home with a crabby newborn and a defiant two-year-old all day by myself I could feel myself sinking into a puddle of despair.

Will I ever learn that God is always listening and watching and waiting to help me?

Yesterday we started Ryan on a low iron formula and early signs are pointing towards a positive change for the little guy. He has been sleeping better, eating less frequent but larger meals, and crying less when trying to create a stinky diaper. That alone would have made today a better day so it was made almost perfect when I combined that with the fact that Rachel kept her same pull-up on all morning (and is super excited about the toy she will get once she opts to go number two in the potty) and legitimately beat me in a game of Memory.

Actually, you know what? There was a cherry on top of it all. Rachel found our Bibles and insisted on "reading" through one while I read the other. And while doing so I came across a verse in Proverbs 31 (the "how to be a good wife and mother" chapter), and it made me smile... because it was just what I needed to hear today (and tomorrow and probably the next day and most likely the day after that and...).

Proverbs 31:25
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.

And all of the tired mothers of newborns said, "Amen!"

October 2, 2012

The thrill of the hunt...

Ryan is a good baby but it is becoming more and more obvious that he was born too soon; he wasn't ready to enter the world on August 5th. I have been told that babies who are born early often have trouble adjusting to life outside the womb (I believe this is often referred to as the 4th trimester). They tend to be fussy and often have problems sleeping, which is exactly what Ryan has been up to. We keep switching formula but I'm starting to feel hopeless and helpless and I'm afraid that we might have, gasp, a colicky baby on our hands.

Dear Lord please help us.

He doesn't cry all of the time but instead is forever grunting and screaming in what we can only guess to be a cry of pain, especially after he eats. Formula is expensive enough without having to purchase a million different kinds in hopes that we will find the right one for him.

And so we will continue our hunt for that magic formula, the one that finally makes him stop grunting and squirming and screeching, but until then....here are a few pictures of our little pumpkins.


Oh yeah...please pray for us and our sanity and our wallets.

Here he is... our little pumpkin

My other little pumpkin, Rachel, with daddy and the pumpkin they carved together this past weekend.