Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Sneak Peak

Today was the boys' School Halloween Celebration. I haven't uploaded our photos, but got some sent to me by their teacher. I couldn't resist but post a sneak peak.

I am not one who readily jumps on the opportunity to have my boys "match," but the chef/sushi combo was too delicious to pass up. Thanks to another crafty mother on Etsy. com for Miles's garb, and my mother for Felix's!
From Halloween 2010
From Halloween 2010
From Halloween 2010

I think he had one too many Saki Bombs...
From Halloween 2010

(Could my eternally happy baby look any more solemn? Perhaps it was the Wasabi/Ginger headband...)

More to follow!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Totally Tubular

My absence in the blog-o-sphere has been driven by an overwhelmingly busy fall. I'm pretty sure this has been the busiest one on tap...even compared to last year when I started my hospital "stints" with contractions at 24 weeks.

My lack of posting has also been punctuated by a tragic incident with a mandolin, organic sweet potato, and my right thumb.

Opposable thumbs rock.

Don't ever underestimate the value of your dominant hand's thumb. Especially if your professional job requires you to type 90% of the time. And don't even begin to ask about how involved your thumb is with kids. (Don't they always find a way to bump you where you hurt?)

I cut off the tip a few days ago while making sweet potato chips. I'm not talking about a slight nick or sheering off of the top dermal layers. We are talking about full on chunk hanging off, drowning in blood while I distribute apple pieces to my boys in their high chairs to occupy their own hands...at the same time inventing a dance to make them laugh that allows me to keep the shredded thumb above the head hoping that the hour run my husband just left for will only last all of 10 minutes. I prayed no one would download in a diaper or scream to be picked up, because those boys could not be maneuvered until Mr Reinforcement got back to help them and allow me to properly dress my wound.

Typing has not been on my list of priorities recently.

And then we've been preparing for Felix to get ear tubes, which really just involved a few doctor appointments, hearing tests, and me spending my nights obsessing about researching myringotomies.

There is no question the tubes are warranted...we were on our last antibiotic option, and he still was not responding to the medication. My concern really rested in the idea of anesthesia. And I also had this unfounded concern that this was somehow my fault...poor nursing positioning? It didn't help that my co-worker told me this week: "I told my husband how I thought it was ironic that you are like earth mother, breastfeeding guru, non-toxic patrol...and your kids have all of these problems. That's why my kids are going to eat dirt." I wanted to first tell her that Felix ate a leaf in the car the other day and that I didn't care, but I just smiled. It's true that breastfeeding and breast milk can help mitigate myriad infant problems, but I'm pretty sure this is just an anatomy imperfection.

So--how was the surgery? Totally fine. And all of 3 minutes.

The worst part? The night before when Felix wasn't allowed to have anything by mouth after midnight and was up pretty much all night screaming at Eric to get him some boob. I wore ear plugs, but my mammary glands and heart can hear my children scream from miles away. Eric took Felix duty 100% of the time so that Felix didn't think I was imposing my own nursing strike, but all I wanted to do was go in and help out. He finally settled around 5am...and then I had to wake the poor child at 6am and toss him into the car, PJs and all. And then the hour at the Children's hospital waiting to go back to the OR was delightful. It's tough to distract a 9 month old. I finally brought him into the OR and then put him on the table and had to hold him down while they put the anesthesia gas mask on his face. They warned me he would scream and perhaps squeak, and in about a minute, he was dreaming of milk and avocado mash. I walked out, was brought to the recovery room with Eric...turned my head, and the surgeon was back in the room.

All done! No ear infection, but they suctioned out lots of mucus.

What? All done? That was it. And then we waited for what they warned us to be a screaming, disoriented baby wheeled back from the OR. Great, seeing him scream in the mask was enough to make me want to puke. We had seen a few previous babies wailing on their way to recovery, and I was ready. But Felix came back completely asleep, spread out on an adult sized gurney, as peaceful as can be. And he stayed that way for over 10 minutes...until the nurse and I sort of disrupted his sleep by moving his blood pressure cuff. I swooped him up, waiting for the screaming...

...and he smiled and laughed. Leave it to Felix. The nurse told us to buy a lottery ticket on the way home because we were incredibly lucky that he didn't react at all. (Except he threw up the pedialyte on Eric in the elevator on the way out).

The rest of the day, he was completely normal. Not even a bit of discharge. And Eric and I are convinced he can hear better and that he is vocalizing more. COMPLETELY imagined, but we are acting like he couldn't hear more than his own thoughts before the surgery, and now hears our voices for the first time.

We both stayed home, and it was a nice day with just Felix. Was it really that quiet with only 1 child? You don't realize how "noisy" life is until you have more than one child, and get the rare occasion to spend extended time with just one (of course, the non-verbal one). It doesn't help that Miles's new favorite word is "WHYYY-EEE???" (Repeat ad nauseum)

I'm hoping our time with ear infections is over. Or at least reduced. And now we can combat them with topical ear drops.

I'm hoping this might help his crooked neck. Torticollis is still raging, but I've convinced myself the ear infections have exacerbated it.

I'm hoping he starts sleeping from 7pm-7am. Okay, that's wishful thinking, but I'll take 7pm to 5am on most nights--please?

I'm also hoping this is our last ENT surgery. At least we can say that we have worked with some of Atlanta's best adult and now best pediatric ENT surgeons. (And strangely, Eric's doctor and Felix's doctor look alike).

Here's to better hearing, straight necks, restful nights, clear middle ears...and fully functioning opposable thumbs.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Giggle Dolls

video

Tonight's menu: laughter!
Typical night at our house. 
Miles without a shirt.
Felix going nutty. 
Veggies strewn about the table.
Mommy flanked by 2 of the cutest boys on the planet.
And lots...and lots...of laughter. 
(And then a little Felix flirting just because his smile melts me. The baby adores his older brother.) 


These are my moments. Why I love being a mother.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Strike Be Gone!

From Mid-October 2010
I think God was on his lactation arbiter rotation. After some serious negotiation, "a come to Jesus meeting" (or four) between Felix and my breasts (Yup. I went there.), we are back in business.

Eric relied on the inherited 6th sense from his mother to promise me that Felix would nurse starting Saturday. He left for his all day XC meet at 5:30am with some infectious confidence. If he was wrong, I was going to have to pump and single parent all day.

But apparently his 6th sense was right. That, or he moonlights as a lactation consultant. You know, he'd be pretty good at this point.

In total, the strike was almost 48 hours. It was awful. You think you know, but unless you have been a victim of a strike, you have no idea. Frustration. Engorgement. Disappointment. Fear. Sadness.

Eric is not convinced it was that single knee jerk reaction to Felix channeling Mike Tyson that one night. But it was. He wasn't there to see a 9 month old cry and pull away like someone just kicked him in the knees, called him a wuss, told him his teeth aren't straight, and then made fun of his mother. (Though, she deserves it some days.) And I've read enough anecdotal "evidence" from La Leche League, breast feeding list serves, kellymom.com, and friends' personal stories to feel confident that I truly scared him. Skinner's conditioning.

Remember. I'm a Google doctor. And that trumps Eric's lactation consultancy.

Now I can resume the normal chaos of our lives.

And start spelling "lose" correctly (previous post's grammar gaffe).
And start properly using possessives/apostrophes (ditto).

And continue to revel in life as innocently as these two boys.
From Mid-October 2010
(This picture reminds me so much of me as a baby--and of my oldest brother)
From Mid-October 2010
(Yup. It's not just a rumor. Miles DOES have top teeth. Still working on our cheese face.)

And in total non sequitor, I promised some family I would post a picture of our growing "picture wall." There was no way I could get a direct shot without capturing the table light. There is still some real estate available. To be filled in the coming years...
From Mid-October 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

Strike One

Dust off your tonsils. This isn't one of those pretty posts with delicious photos of the boys...remember that blogger who would spare any decorum and post content that made you read with one eye open? (You know, a little too personal that you want to look away, but also a little too exciting that you had to read even if for a little bit).

I'm baaaack!

And I'm pretty sure today's entry will provide you enough material to create your own mental pictures.

People, there is a strike going on in my household. It's a nursing strike--36 hours for the first strike. And I am totally to blame.

Let's set the stage: Felix has had, what is essentially, a chronic ear infection for 5 months. That's more than 1/2 of his life. This week, after numerous tests and a consult with a pediatric ENT, we scheduled a myringotomy (tube placement) for the 26th. Five minute surgery, but there was mention of "mask" and "anesthesia" that had me in a tizzy. But I think it is going to be life changing...really.

And felix's gums are errupting left and right.

Where does that leave us? With a teething, ear infected baby...who also happens to have a crooked neck (which has nothing to do with anything except I like to add it to the laundry list). And a credit card that has posted $40 and $50 co-pays more than I can count over the past few weeks. But let me just say, this baby is about the happiest thing alive during the hours of 7am to about 5pm. Which is why when the Doctor asks me at each appointment if I think he has an ear infection, I say: "Yes. Only based on history. And what happens at night. Outside of that, he's just delightful." 

What this also means is that lying down sometimes bothers him...so does nursing and taking a bottle. That, we've been dealing with for months. Nothing I cannot handle. Add that to the fact that he is a social butterfly, nursing can be this long, drawn out game of latch on, latch off, giggle, laugh at Miles, latch on, play with your hair, make Mommy play with my feet, etc. But things are really pretty good. In fact, his only taking about 10-12oz of milk at childcare has done wonders for my supply! I still pump 15 oz during the day, so am constantly squirreling away extra for the fridge. And then I just nurse at home. Unless he is on an antibiotic, which he always seems to be, and I give 1 bottle on the weekend full of a probiotic to help his tummy from the medicine tearing up his intestinal lining.

Yadda, yadda. I already know we are in the "stinks to be you" category when it comes to sleeping through the night, and just about all of my friends with babies boast 7+ hours a night of uninterrupted sleep (my one friend R, love you dear, has a 1+ week old who gets up 1 time a night. But she paid her dues with months of bed rest. Wait, didn't I? Ha!). But I just keep convincing myself that the cuteness factor of my kids will outweigh the long lasting effect of 2 years of sleep deprivation. And, I've talked about this with my friend CD before, but I think my kids really fall victim to the "reverse cycling." I don't see them all day, and at night, they want to be with me--save eating until they can have an all you can eat buffet at the breastaurant. Heck, I want to be with them! And nursing from 1-4am really does wonders for my supply. We all have our battles and struggles; but after 2 kids, what I have realized is that the barometer of a "good parent" is not measured by the hours your child sleeps.

So, Felix has been averaging 1-2 night wakings, and usually up for good around 6:20-7am. Luckily, he goes down by 7pm pretty easily. When his ear infections are raging, he can be up a lot more than that. But we have a system; and the system has been working well:

Dinner
March in a "parade" to the bathroom
Miles plays in the sink or sits on the potty while Felix gets bathed
Teeth brushing
Felix gets a story and naked Miles sits on the guest bed with me as I nurse and sing "ABCs" or gets a bath with Dad. Naked, because I won't keep him on the potty in the bathroom alone if it is just me and the 2 boys. Some nights, I have to put one of Felix's cloth diapers on the bed in case he has an accident on the covers. We're classy here at our joint.
Felix goes down
Miles's bedtime routine continues

Two nights ago, all was going well until the whole nursing and singing ABCs. The concert was a solo-an ABC aria provided by just Mom as Dad was bathing Miles. (Isn't it fun when you have kids and you can just experiment with your singing? They don't judge!) So, I was doing all this kind of yodeling, glissando kinda vocal gymnastics when:

CHOMP!

He bit me. Like, I'm not talking nibble, nibble...I'm talking Michael Vick pit bull dog vice grasp onto my nipple. What do I do? Immediately suffocate his face in my chest and scream OUCH!

And then he ripped off, taking a good few layers of skin with him, and bawled.

He was totally insulted. Hurt. Angry. Confused.

And then refused to nurse.

Was it my singing??

My reaction was not calculated, just instinct. But apparently that set the stage, because he's began a nursing strike. For the first time, I know what a true nursing strike is.

I went to put him back on. Uh-oh. He cried. I couldn't soothe him, so I put him in his crib, and he fell asleep without finishing nursing. Up at 3:44am that night (yup. Remember the exact time.). Pushed me away. Wanted nothing to do with nursing, but I knew he was hungry--or looking for milk. 5:30am, same thing. And I was ENGORGED. Bring on the Medela. Pump it up, and pump out the baby food.

Childcare yesterday--low and behold, he drank all 3 bottles. Dang kid was hungry. 5pm when we got home? Pushed me away. 7pm at bedtime? Pushed me away. 12:48am? Pushed me away. 5:11am? Pushed me away.

Let's go back to 12:48am last night. After battling for 20 minutes, I put him in his crib, and let him cry for a few minutes until he fell asleep. And then I remembered:

I'm a Google Doctor! And just got a new smart phone, which let's me be a Doctor in bed, in the middle of the night, when I'm most vulnerable. After reading how self-weaning before a year is rare, I hyper focused on the stories of moms who recounted remembering the last time they nursed. Could my last time be me shoving Felix's button nose to my breast and screaming "Ouch!"? No...but at 1am last night, I was convinced. Truly, everything I read validated the strike--his age, his teething, his ability to respond to conditioning...and that it could go on for a WEEK or more...but it isn't forever.

Strategies? Patience, and lots of skin-skin. And pumping (UGH!) at the times he doesn't nurse. Who the heck wants to pump at 5am or in the middle of the night at 9 months? Now, if I was an exclusive pumper, that would be one thing, but I never pump in the middle of the night, and starting now sounds so unappetizing. But if it must be, I will.

(Here is when the mental images portion of today's programming comes in. Leave now...or at least patch one eye.).

So, this morning I walked into the room a little past 5am, totally armed with, well, armed with nothing (read: no shirt on). Picked him up, and then held him in the cradle hold with the "tap" just at mouth level. And I started singing the ABCs. This time, no frills, just standard ABCs. I was tired, and stressed. And we bounced. And I moved him from side to side. And I told him how yummy nursing is. And probably said some other delusional things. Felix wailed, and flailed...and I started to realize this was some serious footage for both a bizarre playboy spread and an addendum to the Happiest Baby on the Block DVD as I was employing "4th trimester" techniques while topless.

Nothing.

I haven't switched soaps. Could it be hormonal? Some say that a shift in hormones can affect the taste of milk. There is no reason for there to be a dramatic shift in my hormones right now. Like, no reason AT ALL. Could it really be he is just afraid I am going to suffocate him again?

I had no idea what to do. I started trying to get drops in his mouth--in the pitch dark--while employing my crazy swaying and singing. I actually laughed. I was topless, hand expressing, with a 19lb baby flailing around while Eric and Miles were sound asleep.  I thought if he could just get a taste, he would be more apt to latch again.

And then I had a crazy idea and got out teething tablets. I cuddled with him, gave him 2, which he took no problem, and then balanced another one right at the tap. See if he would take it AND latch at the same time. Tablet #3 didn't work. But tablet #4? He latched. But he was so tired, I think he didn't realize he was latched. And he nursed. And then fell asleep 5 minutes later.

Positives: the strike has officially been broken--even if only once. And I didn't have to pump this morning at 5am.
Negatives: the strike continued at 7:15am when he got up. And now I am convinced it will be a battle again when I pick him up.

Eric reminded me that my first priority is to have him exclusively breast milk fed for at least a year. If that means I pump more, so be it. I truly don't think this is the end of the road for us, but this is certainly a challenge I am not used to.

And the truth is, unlike Miles, who is the KING of rallying when we need him to be on point, Felix is not pulling through at the best of times.

Life's a little stressful right now--I'm certainly not feeling on top of my Mommy game, and this "rejection" has added to my list of things to overcome.

But--even if Felix and my boobs have it out for the next week or more, I really do have confidence we'll come out okay and that he'll get back to his old nursing ways. My hair may be grayer...I may loose a little more weight that I don't need to loose...and I might spend a good portion of my waking hours at home auditioning for a topless show, but isn't that what mother's do?

Monday, October 11, 2010

He crawls!

Finally.  Sit 'n reach just wasn't cutting it anymore. What was the secret?

video

Hair, of course. These ARE my children. Utterly obsessed with hair.

Miles's hair to Felix? Like a carrot to a donkey...

(Excuse the poor, lengthy cell phone video footage. You may need some dramamine to view.) 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

pumpkin...pumpkin...round and FAT!

Turn into a jack-o-lantern just...like...that...RARRRR!!! 
(Make a scary jack-o-lantern face)
From Pumpkin Patch 2010
From Pumpkin Patch 2010
From Pumpkin Patch 2010
From Pumpkin Patch 2010
From Pumpkin Patch 2010
From Pumpkin Patch 2010

What do 80 degree Sundays remind you of? Pumpkins and tractors of course. Don't let the long sleeves fool you. It was hot. And everyone needed a nap. But there is something about the advent of fall that makes me giddy.

That, and toddler love.
From Pumpkin Patch 2010
From Pumpkin Patch 2010
First they were holding hands, and then "Ah-Ha" shared her popcorn with Miles. Sweetness.

Last year, it was freezing at the patch. And I was 24 weeks pregnant (just about to enter the hospital for the first time with contractions). And Miles, who I thought looked so old, looked like a baby.
From Pumpkin Patch 2010
From Pumpkin Patch 2010
From Pumpkin Patch 2010
And we came home with 2 parent pumpkins, and 2 baby pumpkins to represent our family.

This year we have 2 parent pumpkins, 2 baby pumpkins...and a pimply gourd.

As Eric commented...I wonder what the gourd represents?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Father, Son, and a "But-Pie" Kite

These guys melt my heart every.single.day.
From October 2010
From October 2010
From October 2010
From October 2010
From October 2010

(Even with hats that are too small, weepy eyes, an unclaimed hair on the lip at childcare, and a crusty nose. Love 'em even more.)
From October 2010
From October 2010
From October 2010
From October 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Double, Double, Toil, and Trouble

From October 2010
More like double bubble! 
From October 2010
From October 2010

And yes. That is, in fact, a snot goatee. The whole photo shoot I let it sit there. But doesn't it work like vaseline and prevent a chapped face? It is getting rather frigid here in Atlanta now...like less than 80 degrees. Bring out the parkas.

Thanks to the chronic runny nose, we are now the proud owners of another double ear infection. Felix's 9 month appointment went swimmingly until the otoscope emerged. And we've almost exhausted all of our antibiotic options, so I had to call a new antibiotic into a compounding pharmacy and soon we'll start doping him up 3x a day, for 10 days. Next week we meet with a pediatric ENT. I'm tempted to shoot breast milk down his eustachian tubes. Or squirt it up his nose. It worked wonders on Miles's plugged tear duct when he was a baby. No, really.

I find it rather coincidental that this is the second journey with a head and neck doctor this year...luckily, this time it's just chronic ear infections and not cancer. (Speaking of, we got another "all is clear" at Eric's last every 8 week check-up!)

Mr. chubba bubba slipped into the 30th percentile for weight (19lbs), but made up for it with head circumference--70th percentile. What is it about my boys and their big heads? I am thankful that they didn't blow up the charts at the time of birth. There was enough destruction at 4lbs and 5lbs respectively. 

The only thing Felix is not doing is crawling. We waited (agonized) for 11 months with Miles. What's the rush? The only trouble is Felix emotionally wants to crawl. He just cannot figure it out. But he is impossible to hold now as he wriggle, jiggles free (10 pts to anyone who can name that book!). Until then, it's sit 'n reach.
From October 2010
And before you think I am just a bad mother for letting her kid inch around with snot on his face while she takes pictures of him, add this to my Mommy Dossier: she let's her little boy play with lipstick. He was interested. It was 5pm and I was being suffocated by my couches full of laundry screaming to be folded. And besides, we are pretty much overwhelmed by estrogen when you look at all of our friends' children...and he needs to teach his soon to be new baby girl cousin what make-up is all about!
From October 2010
From October 2010

We just need to work on execution. The color goes great with his Justin Bieber hair...he just missed the lips.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Don't cry over spilled milk...

...unless it is breast milk.
...and 15oz to boot.

What better way to christen (my kitchen sink) the occasion of Felix's 9 month "birthday" than with 15 oz of spoiled breast milk?

Eric kindly finished making Miles's lunch last night, but left the entire lunch box full of breast milk and perishable lunch treats to stand guard over our kitchen, staving off any intruders who might want to take a stab at our dirty dishes, or sweep our floor.

Almost 12 hours on the counter, I couldn't justify sending the bottles in to school. So, I opened each bottle, and poured 5 oz a piece down the drain. I was too furious to cry. The worst was when I had to painstakingly scrape out the "cream" (i.e. fatty deliciousness that makes Felix so healthy and chubb-able) with a kiddie spoon so I could quickly rinse and re-use the bottles. Insult to injury.

 And then I had to go lightning speed and crack into the freezer stash to defrost before we all had to leave before work and school.

I've spilled 6oz on my keyboard at work, but 15oz was like...heart wrenching.

And on the heels of the notorious 9 month supply drop (which I think I started experiencing 3 weeks ago).

I'm fortunate to have a moderate supply in my freezer, but not sure I can make up those 15oz at this point.

Good thing Eric looked cute in his bow tie this morning...and that he finally apologized while dragging the kids out the door as I finished the milk funeral procession.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Chinese Gooseberries

From Kiwi!
From Kiwi!
From Kiwi!

Somebody has an obsession with Chinese Gooseberries. And he strategically extracts out the tiny kiwi seeds and ejects them from his mouth. Not like he couldn't chew them with 6 teeth and 2 pushing through the gums. Yeah, 8 teeth in 8 months. Watch out--he'll grab anything that he thinks is within grasping distance and shove it in his mouth...and then tell you about it in loud, protesting cries when he gets up all night.

Felix's Go-Go gadget arms have kept us on our toes. I'm not sure where this latent "sit 'n reach" gene comes from. Sit and reach was the only element to the Presidential Fitness test I couldn't claim the 85th percentile in (I didn't even get the red 50th percentile standing). Shuttle run? Owned it. Pull-ups or fixed arm hang? Bring it on. Sit and reach? I think I was the only girl who couldn't even touch the measuring device; I just stared at my toes and tried to use Matilda-like telekinesis. I'm pretty sure Felix's reach is currently measured in "wing span" and not centimeters. Unfortunately, it makes the incentive to crawl even less. He may just be tempting Miles's 11 month mark for crawling...

...or may skip it altogether. Ms. B at school said he pulled to stand yesterday!

If only we could skip that 9 month sleep regression we just invited into his bedroom.

But how can you be mad at a face like that?