Thursday, May 26, 2011

Where we've been...

Things have been CRAZY busy!!

Samantha is 6 months old, close to 7 months and growing like crazy!  Kaitlyn just celebrated her half birthday with some spaghetti tacos and is super close to being a 2nd grader!  She had her open house at school today and then only has 3 days next week before she is done.  She's reading at a 4th grade level and just doing swell.

Early this month we took Samantha on her first road trip.  We headed to Las Vegas for my sister's wedding.  Everything was just absolutely gorgeous.  We had so much fun and the drive down was so easy and fun.  Samantha did awesome.  Don't ask about the drive back though :P  I swear, the kid does not like driving in the dark for anything.

I've been sewing like crazy, working on DVDs like crazy, trying to get caught up on everything around here and just plain staying busy!  We leave for Texas a week from tomorrow, and after that it will be time to rest and relax.  I'm so looking forward to Texas, maybe not the drive, but really looking forward to all San Antonio has to offer :)

Co-Sleeping vs. Bed Sharing

In the United States, Co-Sleeping gets a really bad wrap.  If you happen to co-sleep and lose a baby to SIDS, the autopsy cause of death will read "SIDS while Co-sleeping" even though most studies show that co-sleeping lessens the risk of SIDS.

We are a co-sleeping household.  Which does not mean we are a bed sharing household.  With Kaitlyn, we did bed share.  It was just so easy.  And comfy.  And cozy.  With Matthew, we co-slept with a bassinet.  With Samantha we co-sleep with a co-sleeper.  Sometimes in the wee hours of the morning, when she is hungry, won't sleep and I'm tired, we bed share while she nurses.

There have been many studies done in regards to babies and their sleeping habits.  When babies in Britain went through sleep training and slept alone, their stress hormones increased.  Other studies have shown that babies who are comforted through the night grow up to be more independent (but then, I would argue how can we be sure that isn't just the kid's personality?) and confident.

The United States has the lowest instance of co-sleeping, yet one of the highest instances of infant mortality.  In China, where co-sleeping is the norm, there are so few SIDS cases that it isn't even discussed.  In the UK, there are fewer than 500 SIDS cases a year, and they co-sleep on the norm.

I wish co-sleeping wasn't considered so taboo.  I wish co-sleeping wasn't always put into the same category as bed sharing.  I wish in America we could learn that what works for one family doesn't work for another, and just because one doesn't feel that co-sleeping is good for their family wouldn't knock it for another.  And I do wish that those who practice co-sleeping make sure they are practicing safe co-sleeping.  

The first time parent. Again.

Anyone that has two children knows the difference between the second and the first.

With the first you're just so unsure.  Even if you have researched like crazy you still constantly second guess yourself, every decision you make, every fever and the course of action, every time you discipline or don't discipline.  You worry about whether you are making the right/wrong decision about everything.  You call the doctor for everything.  You worry about poop in ways you never thought you would before.

With your second, it's just different.  You feel more relaxed.  You feel more confident in what you do, you have a been there done that attitude.  You have found your stride, you don't feel like you need to consult the books or the doctor for every single decision you make.

Then, your second dies.  And you lose so much more than just your baby, so much more than your hopes and dreams for them, so much more than you ever thought you could possibly lose.  In addition, you lose your confidence, your stride, your everything.

I have found with Samantha I am way more paranoid.  I call the doctor more than I ever did even with Kaitlyn.  I read way more, I question everything more, I examine everything constantly.  This poor kid is probably way over having her temperature done so regularly or her poop stared at.  Everything is just different.  Every sneeze, every wheeze, every breath that sounds a tiny bit out of order, you question.

As Samantha gets closer to her birthday, I feel some of it coming back.  A little less questioning.  A little less worry.  A little more "just go with it" kind of attitude.  A little less of that first time parent feeling.  And I like it.

Sleeping Through the night is overrated

At Samantha's six month appointment, I asked when we should start night weaning, when I should let her sleep through the night and got the "uh, 2 months ago" answer with some printouts on how to help.

Samantha was nursing every 2 hours through the day, eating about 1/2 a jar of baby food twice a day and about an ounce or two of prune juice every other day.  She was also nursing every 2 hours at night.  Oh boy was I tired.

The read out suggested a few things and made some awesome points.  One was to start stretching out her feeds to every 3-4 hours during the day so she wouldn't "graze" so much and then go longer stretches through the night.  Ok.  Sounds good.  I tried that.  I got her to go about every 3-4 hours during the day, one 4 hour stretch at night and then she was up every 2 hours or so.

Not bad really.  It also said that we should start letting her put herself to sleep.  Yes, this meant allowing her to cry or fuss for a bit to learn how to sooth herself.  When I know a baby's needs are met, I do not mind letting them fuss some.  Especially if I'm in the room with her, shushing her and keeping my hand on her chest to show her mommy's there.  But, it's tiring.  After 3 weeks, she could fall asleep during naps in about 30 minutes.  The problem is that the 30 minutes of crying would result in maybe an hour long nap.  Maybe.  On a good day.  Twice a day.  At night, it would take about the same and get a 4 hour stretch in.

It suggested I cuddle with her at least 3-4 times when not feeding her so she could still feel that closeness.  I already do that, I hold this baby all the time, just snuggling her in before she's too big.

Yesterday, I gave it up.  Really, it was just frustrating.  She would want to eat and I felt like I was denying her.  I hated the stress of her crying herself to sleep.  I hated how long it took.  I hated how long she didn't stay asleep.  And really, I didn't feel anymore rested.

So, I decided to just enjoy this time.  Enjoy the constant nursing.  Relish in the cuddling.  Take pride in the snuggling in bed and nursing in the wee hours in the morning.  And to be honest, I think I feel more rested the last two days than I did the last few weeks.  When she's ready to sleep on her own, and I'm ready for her to have the independence of her own room, we'll get there.  For now, I'm going to enjoy having her snuggled up in the bed next to me and listening to her cute little baby sleeping noises.

A paper cut

Comparing Pain

You hear it all the time “it could be worse” and it’s true, it could be.  Many times that statement is followed up with the things you still have or people who do maybe have it worse than you do right now.

The problem is in the comparison.  Many times people forget that it’s all relative.

If you take the worst pain you’ve ever felt in your life, no matter what it was, that would be the worst pain you ever felt.  For me, it would be an un-medicated cesarean, but I’m sure if you asked someone who had their arms slowly severed off they would say that my pain was nothing in comparison, that I didn’t know what real pain was.  Just as it would be easy for me to tell someone that had never had anything more than a paper cut that they had no idea what real pain was.  But, I would be wrong, just as the armless person would be wrong in telling me that I didn’t know what pain was.  It’s all about what you have to compare it to.

I think the same is true about loss.  It shouldn’t be a competition between who has experienced more or worse loss.  And I won’t be as cavalier as to say loss is loss, because I don’t believe that. 

I think that what it comes down to is pain is pain.  Hurt is hurt.  It is so important for us to be there for one another as human beings, as mothers, as people.

I think there are times when it’s really hard to step back and remember that when the worst pain you’ve ever had is a paper cut, that paper cut is going to hurt like heck and even through our own pain and hurt it’s important to practice empathy for those suffering with a paper cut.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Moving Forward

I can recall in the first year after Matthew died, going to the cemetery several times a week.  Not only would I visit and tend to his grave, but I would also tend to the ones around him and the ones that looked neglected in Baby land.  There are markers from as far back as the late 1800s for little ones born too soon, or too sick.  I remember at least once a month I would see this elderly couple visiting the same marker.  They would prune it, clean it and sit with it for just a brief moment, holding hands, lost in thought.  One day, I walked over after they had left, just out of curiosity if nothing else.  The marker was for a baby girl.  She passed away at a month old in 1962.  And that made my heart hurt.  Here it was, 50 years later and they still visited their little girl every month. I think it hit me really hard then that we didn't just lose our baby for today or for tomorrow, but for a lifetime.  A lifetime of mourning, a lifetime of missing, a lifetime with part of our heart gone.  And my heart hurt for them and knowing the pain they were experiencing.

In the past year, I don't go to the cemetery as much.  Kaitlyn was growing to hate it, it's about 45 minutes away now and I've reached this point where it doesn't matter.  Me going or not going, us going and tending or not tending doesn't change anything.  It doesn't prove our love, it doesn't mean we've forgotten, it doesn't change anything.  It is nice to have a place to take things to his body, a place that is truly his, a place to think only of him, but that doesn't mean it's the only place that any of that is done.

There are pictures of Matthew in every room in our house, I wear his picture around my neck every day (although the necklace is in poor shape and I need to come up with something different and a tattoo design, but that's another story for another day), we talk about him frequently.  In the backyard we have a memory garden for him.  He is always on my mind and in my heart.  A place doesn't change that.

I remember talking to a friend a couple years ago about the thought of having another baby and how much it scared me to think that a new baby would bring new memories and I would lose precious memories of my baby boy, just as his memories kinda pushed out some of Kaitlyn's.  It's inevitable really.  There isn't much you can do to stop it.  And I do work hard to keep not just the memory of him alive, but my memories of my time with him.  Of our times together as a family of 4.  Of the times in the NICU, him coming home so teeny tiny weighing as much as a sack of flour, of the first time Kaitlyn held him, of the times daddy held him, of his loud cry, defying the world that he had weak lungs, of the times we just spent together in bed staring at one another, of that almost smile he would give, keeping his smile to himself forever.  Of so much I remember.

Lessening our trips to the cemetery doesn't mean we've moved on.  I don't think you can move on from the death of a child.  I just don't think it's possible.  But, as a family we have moved forward.  We've moved forward towards what is our now future.  We've moved forward as a family of 5  missing one.  We've learned to accept (most days) that there will always be an empty space, a missing chair, a missing little boy and that is sadly just how life is going to be for us.  We cannot change that.

And that brings me back to the couple who still visit the cemetery every month for their little girl.  I believe that they too have move forward, but in a different way.  50 years ago we didn't have digital cameras and camcorders like how we do now or did nearly 4 years ago.  The cemetery might be the only place that they have to honor their daughter.  While I don't know the circumstances of her passing, it is very possible that they do not have so much as 1 photograph of their little one.  We have been blessed with so much more.  Anytime I feel like I'm forgetting any tiny detail of his perfect face, I have over 600 pictures to look at.  If I ever crave hearing his voice, I have video that I can watch over and over again.  And while it may be short, it's something.

I feel as though because of modern technology, we are able to move forward in a way that a generation ago wasn't possible.  For that, I am thankful.  I am thankful that we live in a time where we can have pictures, videos and the like to help lessen the pain.  And I'm thankful that we can both, love, miss and mourn Matthew with so much of our hearts, we can also move forward.

Being Mean

I have been really fortunate to have some amazing and awesome friends.  I mean, over the top, there for me for anything, fun to hang out with, understanding, sympathetic, empathetic, there through the rough times and smiling through the good times kind of friends.

I also have a great, um, variety? of friends.  Friends that are into different things, different activities, who like different stuff.  And that's totally awesome.  I like that.  I enjoy that there are different thoughts on different aspects of parenting and all that it entails.  I enjoy hearing different aspects and opinions on parenting, life, marriage, movies and of course 90210 ;).

Because of the diversity amongst my friends, I don't expect everyone to be BFFs.  It just isn't realistic and if nothing else, I am a realist (with a dreamer's heart ;)  ).  However, I think there is a huge difference in not liking or caring for another and just being downright mean.

I do not understand why one hopes to be mean.  I don't get why a person sets out to be mean.  I do not understand the thought process behind it.  I do not understand what they hope to accomplish.  I could never understand feeling good about making someone else feel bad?

In the past I've been mean.  And really, I didn't like how it made me feel.  So, I changed.  Life is so short and the world can be so cruel, I would rather be one making each day brighter not being that nagging annoying part that someone looks at and sees red.

What really, really hurts is when friends are mean to another or really, when one person is just pure mean to another without being attacked or committing a wrong doing.  I guess I just think that out of nothing more than respect for me, people would be nice to one another.  Maybe I live in a fantasy world of puppy dogs and rainbows, but I hate knowing that a person is hurting because of the choices another made in their actions.  And while I hate to judge a person, I just can't help it in situations like that.

I really do hope that as we progress as human beings, we learn empathy.  And not only learn it, but practice it and teach it to our children.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Happy Half Birthday Miss Samantha

If I would have blinked for even a moment longer, I would have missed it.

Time has flown by.  I mean, really, really flown by.  Samantha turned 6 months old yesterday and has grown by leaps and bounds since this time last year.  Especially considering that at this time last year I was writing this at 13 weeks pregnant and we had no idea if we were going to have a little girl or a little boy.  What a difference a year can make!

I know I've been slacking on the blogging, things have been crazy, but to catch up, I'm going to probably be posting one a day all week :)

Samantha had her doctor's appointment today.  She is 17 lbs and 4 ounces and came in at 80%, she is 26 inches which was 60% and her head circumference was 42 3/4 cm which was 60% as well.  At Kaitlyn's 6 month appt she was 16 lbs 4 oz and 27 inches, which I thought was chubby, but Samantha has truly shown me what chubby is lol.

Samantha is sitting up completely on her own, for quite some time. Usually she only topples over when trying to reach something out of reach and just can't do it or when she is trying to watch what is going on behind her lol.  She is rolling over front to back and back to front all the time.  Sometimes she refuses to do it from tummy to back, but if there is something she wants, she'll do it.  And if you walk away for a minute or two and leave her alone on her tummy blanket, when you come back she will be across the room.  She can crawl in circles and a couple times made like a half inch progress forward.  I bet she'll get it really quickly and then just take off everywhere.  She so badly wants to be wherever Kaitlyn is doing whatever Kaitlyn is doing.  She is doing sit-ups like crazy if she is on her back to try and sit up.  She can get a good 4 inches off the ground.

Samantha is eating pretty much everything baby food wise.  She is kinda bored by the boring flavors though.  We have used her mesh feeder a lot in the past week and she loves it.  Her favorites have been banana, watermelon and of course pickles. We've tried apples and grapes but she wasn't as impressed with them.  She is also starting on some of the puffs, which she likes.  She wants to chew on everything.  I think she just wants to hurry up and get to real food.  She is still nursing every 2 hours around the clock, and to be honest, I'm tired.  I did get in trouble for this though.  Her ped wants to see her night weaned by now.  He said if we wait too much longer she will not start sleeping through the night until 3-4 years old and he doesn't want that for us.  So, guess what we get to start today!

She is playing with her toys a lot more now.  Her feet touch the ground in her activity center and she loves anything with lights and buttons.  And mirrors.  Boy does this baby like mirrors.  She still finds Kaitlyn hysterical and loves cuddling with Dusty.  She says dadadadadadada all the time when she's upset.  He can get her to sleep in 10 minutes flat just by giving her light kisses on the head.

Cloth diapering is going great!  I've added to our collection, but I am officially done buying diapers.  I promise.  Unless I see something to cute to resist!  We just got back from Las Vegas (Samantha's first road trip!) and used disposables, but other than that we use Cloth around the clock and LOVE it!

Overall, Samantha is doing great, growing like crazy and seriously one of the happiest babies I've ever met.