What we did and when we did it. Sometimes.

What we did and when we did it. Sometimes. People, places and events to remember.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ben Update - 8 weeks

Ben is 8 weeks old today. How did that happen? I know I sound like every other mom when I say "They grow up so fast!"

He's doing great. First of all, he's adorable.* Ben loves to be held and snuggle. He only gets squirmy and complaining when he's got gas or needs to poop. Otherwise, he's perfectly content to peer over my shoulder at the world.

He's also gaining weight. At the cardiologist's appointment when Ben was 6 weeks old, he weighed 10 pounds. Yay, Ben! It makes all the pumping seem worthwhile. Speaking of pumping, we are still pumping and nursing. Praise God, we have gotten into some semblance of a routine. I'm trying to pump at least 7 times a day, but the timing varies.

As far as Ben's health is concerned, he's now on medication to help his heart. The hole has not gotten any smaller, and the left side of his heart is beginning to dilate in response to the additional blood flow. The cardiologist prescribed two medications (diuretics) that will help Ben's body process fluids. The meds don't do anything for the heart directly, but they do lower the blood volume that is passing through, so his heart doesn't have to work as hard. The doctors haven't given us any indications about when surgery might be. We're supposed to keep an eye on his eating and his breathing.

Ben also got to see the Early Childhood Intervention case manager and speech therapist this week. We have a few tongue and cheek exercises to do - hopefully they will help with nursing and eventual speech. Ben's been cooing - just a little - sooooo sweet.

He sleeps 6-8 hours at night. He's usually sleepy in the mornings, but has more awake periods later in the day (especially in the afternoon when Evan and Corrie are home from school). His eyes are tracking more; he likes looking at toys and people for short bursts.

We're enjoying the little guy!

* I know I need to post pictures - here and on facebook. I have a lot of them on my camera, but haven't taken the time to download them on the computer. That's one of my goals for the weekend. For now, you'll just have to believe me when I say he's cute ... and handsome ... and delightful in every way. :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Best Dog Ever

Rosalani. Rosy-Dosy. Rosabelle. Rosie.

Our sweet Rosie died on Sunday, August 28th, in the afternoon. She was 13 years old, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, and our first child.

Rosie joined our family a couple years after we got married. Emmett's parents' dog Josie had puppies; one of them was Rosie. My in-laws kept Rosie for 2 years, but then had another litter of puppies and needed to downsize their dog population. They asked if we would like her, and we cautiously agreed. They gave Rosie a tranquilizer, put her in her crate, and stuck her on a plane to Chicago. Poor dog! She avoided her crate forever after.

Some of our favorite Rosie memories:
  • Snoring. She slept on our bed in the wintertime, and in our room all year long. Her snoring was distracting at first, but we grew to appreciate the sound.
  • Whining. Emmett's dad taught her to whine when he kissed her cheek. When we came home from work, we'd sit on the floor with her, and she would "talk" to us. When she was young, her whole body would wag when she was happy.
  • Comfort. Rosie was a lap dog ... a large lap dog, but a lap dog nonetheless. She was lonely after being home by herself all day. As soon as I would sit on the couch, she'd hop up, flop on my lap and settle in for lots of petting.
  • Eating. Rosie's stomach was made of iron, and her hunger had no limit. She could clean out her dog bowl in less than a minute. Woe to any visiting dog who liked to take his time eating; Rosie would lurk nearby to gulp unguarded food. She would also eat any food that we left out. Over her lifetime, she ate a bag of snack-sized Kit Kats, several loaves of bread, dry salad dressing packets, carrots, popcorn, and more. She turned her nose up at mushrooms, but that may have been the only food I ever saw her refuse.
  • Thunder and fireworks frightened her. Many times Emmett would wake up in the middle of a stormy night to find Rosie standing on his chest, breathing heavily into his face.
  • She was gentle and tolerant with the kids. Even when our toddlers were at their grabbiest - yanking her ears and tail mercilessly - Rosie would roll her big brown eyes over at us to ask, "Why do you let them do this?" and then she would carefully get up and move to a kid-free corner.
  • Rosie liked to think she was tough, but we knew better. Once, she found a dead moth on the sidewalk. She stopped a few feet away, pointed her nose right at it, and growled, but wouldn't get any closer. Another time, she cornered a large cat in our apartment's backyard. Rosie growled and hovered, but didn't know what to do. Finally, Emmett picked her up to bring her inside. He said that if he let her stay there, the cat was going to get impatient and claw Rosie in the nose.
  • When she lived in Hawaii, she would chase racquetballs with the other dogs. In Chicago, she would run to where the ball landed, then casually walk away, leaving the ball untouched in the grass. Instead, she liked to run up and down our hallway, chasing a rope or a bone.
By the end of her life, Rosie had slowed down a lot. She still loved to eat, but she spent most of her time snoring on the tile floor in the kitchen. We had decided that when she stopped eating, we would consider having her put to sleep.

On the morning of the 28th, she didn't eat her breakfast. That afternoon, she went outside and lay down in the yard. Emmett carried her in; he and I sat with her and petted her as she quietly stopped breathing. And then we cried.

We miss our sweet girl.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Funny Kids

Evan: I ain't like dancing. And I ain't like kissing.
Me: We don't say "ain't." It's not a real word.
Evan: Yes, it is. That's how cowboys talk.
Me: Are you a cowboy?
Evan: No, but we do live in Texas.

Feeding Ben ... the first 6 weeks

I'm typing this one-handed, with a baby snuggled on my shoulder. Please forgive any spelling or capitalization errors. :)

Ben will be 6 weeks old tomorrow! He's a pretty typical newborn. He's super-snuggly and still likes to tuck his feet up so he's in a little ball when you hold him. He's mellow - only fusses when he has gas or needs to poop. He has the most adorable gummy grin, but I've only been able to see it when he's sleeping. Evan insists that Ben smiled at him - twice - yesterday, but I missed it. Hopefully we'll get some real smiles soon.

The hardest part of this whole shebang - so far - has been breastfeeding. I nursed both of my other kids for at least 18 months, and it was a precious part of my mothering experience. When we found out we were pregnant with Ben, one of my first reactions was to celebrate that I would be able to breastfeed again. I've realized that I value breastfeeding not for the milk itself, but for that guaranteed intimate time with my baby.

Ben's first week was rough. He latched fine, but was sooooooo very tired - I think because of the jaundice and because of his heart. He'd nurse for a couple of minutes, then he'd totally knock out. I kept having to wake him up (not an easy feat!) and I got worried that my milk supply was dwindling. He was getting some milk, but he wasn't peeing or pooping as much as he was supposed to, and I didn't want my little boy to end up back in the hospital for dehydration. I rented a hospital pump and called all the La Leche League people and lactation consultants that I could find. I also did some research about nursing babies with Down Syndrome. It turns out that breastfeeding can sometimes be difficult - cardiac problems can mean low energy, and D.S. babies often have low muscle tone, so their mouths and cheeks aren't strong enough to stimulate milk supply and get enough to eat. Breastfeeding is supposed to be particularly beneficial for D.S. babies because they need the immunity boost from breast milk AND the act of nursing is good exercise for their facial muscles.

I have been using the breast pump and feeding him breast milk in a bottle for the last 6 weeks. On the one hand, the milk is really good for him. On the other hand, I'm spending a lot of time hooked up to a machine instead of snuggling with my baby. We still try nursing a couple of times a day, and Ben seems to enjoy it ... but he isn't getting a whole lot (as far as I can tell).

I know a few women who pumped exclusively for 6 months to a year, and my admiration for them has grown by leaps and bounds. It is hard work. I haven't figured out a schedule yet, so I try to plan outings in 90 minute intervals, because I have to pump every 2-3 hours. No longer can I do several errands at once.

Emmett has also had to sacrifice additional time and energy while I pump. I can't do many other things while I'm pumping, so he's stepped up in every way - getting dinner, doing baths and bedtime with the older kids, and running assorted errands. He would have had to do some of that anyway, but he's gone above and beyond the call of duty. It also helped to have family in town for a few weeks. My mom and Emmett's parents took turns visiting. They entertained Evan and Corrie, fed Ben bottles while I was pumping, and did multiple loads of laundry and dishes.

Not being able to breastfeed has been ... humbling. I didn't realize how proud I was of my ability to feed my babies! The first Sunday back at church, Emmett pulled out a bottle to feed Ben, while I felt self-conscious. I don't think anyone at church cares - at all - about how I feed my children, but evidently, I do.

I'm pleased that we've made it through the first month, and I'm committed to pumping through the end of month two. We'll decide on a monthly basis what our family can manage. Fortunately, I've been able to store lots of milk in the freezer, so that will help if I do need to stop pumping. And I'm holding out hope that as Ben gets older - and his heart improves - we'll be able to establish a regular nursing relationship.