Friday, June 24, 2011

Senility already?

I had an idea for a post yesterday.  I wanted to talk about my frustrations with juggling TWO children now.  I started to type out--one-handed--my thoughts on the subject, but the needs of a newborn took over and the entry was left unfinished.

I sat down a moment ago and tried to recapture my thoughts.  I got nothing.  Could only recall in vague brush strokes the point that I was trying to make.  I'd had a definite direction that I wanted to take my post--lost that direction almost entirely.  Cripes.  I was left only with the continued frustration and guilt that I feel about not being able to adequately balance my duties to my daughter and my duties to my son.  THOSE FEELINGS I still have in abundance.  Ugh.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Noticed this morning that Declan had a milky coating on his tongue. Yeah, he's got thrush.

Naturally he'd get it the day that his doctor only does a half day.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dx: GERD--Follow-up Appointment

We had a follow-up appointment with Declan's pediatrician this past Tuesday.  Never have I been so pleased to see an increase on the scale--but Declan put on almost a full pound!  This is terrific news as it's the first time at the doctor's office that his weight has gone up and not down.

As for his GERD, we have still be seeing improvements.  Most days, Declan eats very well and keeps most of the food down.  Last week we did have a day of chronic spit-ups.  It seemed that after every meal, he "blurped" it all right back up.  It was messy and so frustrating.  But, thankfully, that day has proven to be a rarity.

Here he is--making faces in the car.  Big Sis calls this his Blue Steel face.

The doctor renewed Declan's prescription, plus wrote a prescription to hopefully help get insurance to pay for a hospital-grade breast pump rental.  The doctor would much rather have Declan supplemented with breast milk instead of formula--something that we'd all like very much, too.  But the Medela pump that I was generously given by a friend just is not cutting it.  I can pump for twenty minutes each side and barely produce 3/4 of an ounce.  We're hoping that a hospital-grade pump will be more efficient.

Looks so much like daddy

Otherwise, Declan did so well at the appointment that his doctor scheduled his next follow-up to be a month from now.

Yesterday, Declan was invited to accompany us to a friend's party.  Several of our friends remarked on how much chubbier our little lad was.  It was so heartwarming to hear that people are noticing that he is gaining back his weight.

He loves making faces.
Each day, we continue to try to pack on the pounds and help Declan keep his food down.  It's proving to be a slow process, but we're trucking along as best as we can.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Happy Hour: CotW--Sidecar

Being the parent of a new baby, my life is pretty much on HIS schedule now--not mine.  So, it should be no surprise that I'm late with the Cocktail of the Week this week.

I decided to choose a cocktail that IS often available in well-stocked bars these days--the Sidecar.  Plus, it's a cocktail for which we already had all the ingredients on hand.  Since I was not able to pop by the liquor store, if I wanted a Cocktail of the Week--it had to be one we could make with what we already had.

The Sidecar

1/3 brandy
1/3 Cointreau
1/3 lemon juice (fresh)

Easy, eh?  Plus, it is easily tailored to one's palate.  Want it sweeter?  Add more Cointreau.  More tart?  Go heavier on the lemon.

The husband and I invited a friend over last night and whipped up a few Sidecars for everyone.  The verdict was unanimous--we all LOVED them.  For such a potent beverage, it is very drinkable.  Especially for today's palate.  Not a syrupy-sweet as so many common cocktails today, it's a good introduction to the more potent vintage cocktail.

Do let me know if you give this one a try, whether at home or at a bar.  Oh, and insist on Cointreau, not Triple Sec. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Declan's birth story

On Friday, 29 April 2011, my family was blessed with a new addition--Declan Rhys Philip.  Below is the story of his actual birth.  I chose to use hypnosis to help me manage my comfort, so some of the terminology may be a bit foreign.  To help, where first mentioned, I have added a “translation” in parenthesis.
I was convinced that I would have an early baby.  His father was born early, as were all of his siblings and nephews.  It just seemed appropriate that Declan, too, would be a 36 or 38 week-er.  But when week 36 turned into 37, soon followed by 38 with no signs of labor, I did begin to feel a bit disappointed.  Granted, I wanted a fully-formed, ready-to-birth baby.  THAT was always most important to me.
By week 38, though, I was really uncomfortable.  Nothing extreme, I confess, just normal pregnancy discomfort; but my patience--already in short supply at the best of times--was running dangerously low.  I downloaded a new hypnosis track to help encourage baby to come out just incase he was ready.  I began pumping my breasts at least once a day.  I pestered my poor husband for uh... “service.”  But week 39 came along just the same without change.  This baby was going to be born on HIS schedule, so while I may have complained a bit about my continuing pregnancy, I was certainly going to accommodate the baby’s schedule.
Towards the end of week 39, on Thursday, I awoke to mild pressure waves (contractions).  Perfectly manageable, but regular at about six minutes apart.  Our midwifery asked to be informed when pressure waves were at six minutes, so my husband paged the midwife on duty at about 7:30am.  Since I already had a prenatal appointment scheduled for 10:30am, we decided to keep with the plan, and check out our options at the appointment.
By the time we made it to the midwifery for the appointment, my pressure waves had slowed and were still mild in intensity.  The midwife suggested that she strip my membranes, something that I had previous thought I would decline.  As I was now getting concerned about the possibility of having a late baby (which could put me at risk for a hospital birth), I agreed to the procedure.  
I had heard that membrane stripping was very uncomfortable, so I allowed myself to ease into a mildly hypnotic state.  When the midwife was finished, I was honestly a bit shocked the lack of discomfort that I felt.  Hypnosis success!
While there, she had checked my cervix.  It was quite favorable, being more anterior, thin, and about two centimeters dilated.  All good signs that my body was preparing for my birthing time (labor).  
After the appointment, I did not want to head straight home just incase the membrane stripping kicked things into gear.  We decided to take advantage of the discount movie house nearby and saw Tangled: 3D.  (Cute movie, by the way.)  But my pressure waves never resumed a steady, predictable pace.  After the film, we grabbed lunch and headed home to relax.
For the rest of the day, I experienced mild and random pressure waves.  I went to bed hoping that again I would wake to something more productive.  I wouldn’t be disappointed.
At about 3:30am Friday morning (baby’s guess date), I awoke to that now all-familiar pressure wave sensation.  Still mild, though a bit stronger than the previous morning.  For the next hour, I timed the waves and found that again they were about six minutes apart.  Unfortunately, they were only averaging six minutes.  Some were as few as two or three minutes apart, others are far as eight or nine.  I stopped timing, and went back to a light sleep.
I was partially awake at about 6:00am when I “heard” a “pop” in my lower abdomen.  I immediately thought, “Did my water just break?”  Sure enough, I started to feel a tell-tale trickle.  
I woke my sleeping husband.  Poor guy seemed somewhat in shock at the news--probably because he was still so asleep.  But the adrenaline must have kicked into gear for him quickly as he sprung out of bed to fetch towels and the telephone.
Our midwifery had instructed that, in the case of membrane rupture, to lie down and remain still until the midwife was notified.  I did my very best, but was feeling a mix of excitement and fear.  Excitement from knowing that I’d meet my baby soon.  Fear at knowing that now we were on a time schedule.  If birth did not occur within twelve hours or so, I might have to be transferred to a hospital.  Thankfully, this mix of emotion was easily overcome as I had to focus on getting ready while not leaving a trail of fluid.
My husband phoned the midwife and we were given clearance to allow me to move again.  I will save the reader from the laughable description of how I managed to get to myself into the bathroom.  Let’s just say that I waddle in a rather amusing fashion when trying to walk with a towel stuffed between my legs.
After packing up the car, I decided that it was worth heading south towards the midwifery.  It was about 7:30am at this point and I wanted to miss commuter traffic.  I figured that if we arrived and were not allowed to be admitted, we could just check into a local hotel.  
We arrived at the midwifery just prior to opening.  It was about 8:00am and my pressure waves were averaging about four minutes apart and had increased in intensity to the point where I was actively using my hypnosis techniques to relax.  In particular, my sacral area was uncomfortable--suggesting that the baby may have turned from occiput anterior to occiput posterior.  
My hypnosis must have been working well, though, as our midwife suggested that we still had a few hours before we should check into the center.  (Hindsight being what it is, I now realize that here is where I should have insisted that we stay.)  
We left the center and headed over to a local hotel to relax until our birthing time progressed to the point where we needed the center.  Our doula and my sister-in-law joined us there and I spent most of the time in the shower (midwife said no tub yet).  By about 10:00, I knew that we should head back to the center.
Once back at the center, the midwife checked again for “progress.”  I was dilated to about 4 centimeters and given clearance to get into the tub at about 10:30.  (Hallelujah!)  The warm water felt terrific and I was able to deeply relax and just give in to what my body needed to do.

Finally in the tub!

At this point, the passage of time became rather fuzzy.  I was very well attended by my husband and doula.  I did my best to relax through each pressure wave.  As they grew in intensity, this became more difficult, but in between the waves I felt terrific.  My difficulty in maintaining a relaxed state, I believe, was due to all the hustle and change caused by leaving the center to go to the hotel.  
Eventually, my body began to contract and push.  The midwife asked to check my cervix to verify readiness.  I was still only dilated to about a 7, but felt so pushy that she held open my cervix and allowed me to push.  This certainly put my hypnosis to the test and certainly did feel uncomfortable--however I was still able to focus on the task at hand and breath my baby down.

Cheesy little baby

While pushing felt like it took longer, I later learned that I was in second-stage labor for only two minutes!  While the midwife held my cervix, I pushed with each pressure wave.  I never felt any significant discomfort, nor any “ring of fire.”  I was simply focused on tuning in to my body and allowing it to do its job.  I found it much more comfortable to push on hands and knees, so was unable to see the birth, but once Declan was out at 12:17pm, I was able to recline and take him immediately to my belly.  We then delicately moved from tub to the bed to easily birth the placenta while my son began to nurse.  


While we waited for the cord to stop pulsing, the midwife and staff left the room to allow our new family to bond.  We had a blissful hour all to ourselves to catch our breath, snack, and--of course--admire Declan.  When the staff returned, they weighed and measured Declan (8lbs 9oz, 19.5in long)  I did end up with two or three minor tears, but these were easily stitched up.  The rest of the visit was spent cleaning up, finalizing paperwork, and toasting our little lad with a bit of Guinness.

Chubby cheeks

Declan meets Big Sis' approval


We were able to leave by about 3:15pm.
In short:
6:00am--Membranes ruptured
10:15am--Admitted to birth center
12:15pm--Pushing stage
12:17pm--Declan Rhys born
3:15pm--Allowed to leave birth center
Pretty spectacular!  

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dx: GERD--one week

It's been one full week since we had to start dealing with Declan's reflux and supplementation.  I am very pleased to report that things have improved.

Last Wednesday was a nightmare.  We had to feed Declan more than he usually eats which caused his reflux to flare up which lead to a most unhappy little boy.  It was a nasty cycle of feed--spit-up--feed--spit-up.  He was in such pain that he was practically screaming whenever he was not actively eating.  By the end of the day, everyone in the house had shed tears.

Since that day, we've only had one teensy relapse--and that was for about an hour today.  After a nap this afternoon, he decided that he was starving, but not interested in breastfeeding.  As I am no lactation expert, I'm not at all sure why he was fighting nursing, but he would nurse for a bit, stop, and then start screaming in hunger.  We eventually just gave him a bottle of breast milk.

As I've mentioned, aside from the incident today, he has been terrific.  Sure, the reflux still brings about several spit-ups a day, but they are much more manageable and do not appear to be quite as painful.  Additionally, I can very happily report that Declan has gained about a pound this week.  Not quite, but almost.  Our in-home scale is not very sophisticated, so we cannot  be certain as to exactly how many ounces he's gained, but we are all very pleased to see him heavier.

In the coming week, we are going to continue with the current regimen and hope that he can put on even more weight.  I have continued pumping and am seeing that while not as efficient as hand-expression (though far more practical), my supply is increasing.  Declan has a follow-up appointment as well, so we are very hopeful to be able to report significant improvements.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Happy Hour: CotW--Satan's Whiskers

Satan's Whiskers (Straight) by woesis
Satan's Whiskers (Straight), a photo by woesis on Flickr.
Just a few days before I got pregnant with my sweet little boy, I celebrated another birthday. A dear friend gifted me with a fantastic book that--until know--I was not able to fully appreciate: Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh aka Dr. Cocktail.

The book is lovely. Not just for its terrific recipes, but for the stories, history, and gorgeous photographs of both cocktails and vintage bar paraphernalia. But there is no better way to appreciate the book than to whip up the cocktails therein. My husband and I decided to do so by declaring a “Cocktail of the Week.”

Our first ever such cocktail, chosen for it’s fantastic name and relatively easy to come by ingredients is the Satan’s Whiskers cocktail. Haigh’s book lists two versions: curled or straight. Below is the recipe for curled. We’ve tried both and I think that I prefer the beverage straight, but that could be due to less than excellent curacao in the curled version.

Yields two vintage-sized cocktails.

Gin--1 jigger
Dry vermouth--1 jigger
Sweet vermouth--1 jigger
Orange juice--1 jigger
Orange curacao--4 teaspoons
Orange bitters--2 teaspoons

Mix in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into glass to serve. Garnish with an orange twist.

To try the drink straight, substitute Grand Marnier for curacao.

When first made, my husband and I shared the drink with a couple of friends. Everyone seemed to enjoy the beverage a great deal. The first comment on the drink was, “It’s a lot like an orange soda,” and frankly they’re right. It does evoke the taste of an orange soda pop. The vermouth gives the beverage an almost grapefruit juice-like finish.

I think that for people not used to the strength and flavor of old fashioned cocktails, Satan’s Whiskers is a great entry-level beverage to try.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ah, the lessons learned from working hastily... A few corrections

In my haste to hammer out a post yesterday, I managed to generate a fair amount of confusion. I hope to clarify and correct a few incorrect assumptions.

#1: At this point we have no reason to believe that Declan's pediatrician is in error with his diagnosis. Nor do we feel the need to replace him. He is both very supportive of breastfeeding and of alternate vaccine schedules. In fact, he would prefer that Declan be supplemented not with formula, but with my breast milk. The problem, however, is that I cannot express/pump enough milk to adequately supplement; hence the recommendation to add formula to Declan's diet. A recommendation, I should add, that was initiated by the lactation consultant, not the doctor. Doctor would, again, prefer breast milk for Declan.

#2: Declan's pain and discomfort are being treated with anti-reflux medication. Like all medications, it takes some time to work. Declan's horrible day yesterday was due in large part to his increased food intake. Once his meds kick in, his pain should dissipate. His misery (and ours) is only temporary. For now, we really cannot lessen his intake as he is way too under weight.

I had a miserable day yesterday, but I do know that this current situation shall improve. Declan's reflux will get better. So long as we continue to supplement, he will also gain weight. For now, it sucks, but it's for the best.

This morning we had a bit of a relapse of tears and fussiness, but we also saw some serious improvement. Declan and I are learning the delicate balance of feeding just enough and often enough to pack on the pounds while keeping down the food. It'll take time, but we will master this crazy dance.

I do very much appreciate all the kind words and unwavering support. And I apologize for giving anyone the impression that Declan is not receiving top quality care. Rest assured that should we feel that Declan needs a change in care we will certainly see that he gets it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dx: GERD (reflux)

So, imagine that you have terrible reflux--particularly when you eat a certain food.  Now, imagine that your doctor is ordering you to eat more of that offensive food.  This is the exact scenario that I am facing with my newborn son.

Yesterday was his one month follow-up appointment with his pediatrician.  At the weigh-in we learned that Declan had lost even more weight.  He is now under 7 pounds.  He was born at over 8.  Declan's doctor ordered us to increase Declan's calorie intake by mixing up a concentrated formula (the food that causes the most flare-ups for the little guy) and supplementing it after every feeding.

We explained to the doctor that Declan spit ups much more after formula, and that after two days of almost nothing but breastmilk he hardly spit up at all.  My husband and I had just assumed that Declan was allergic or sensitive to the formula, but the doctor disagreed.  Based on several symptoms, the pediatrician diagnosed Declan with reflux.

The doctor gave us a prescription for the reflux, but we've also been asked to increase supplementation as noted above.  We're scheduled to return to the doctor in two weeks.

Well, after one full day of the doctor's plan--we're all miserable.  Poor Declan has been spitting up copiously after each supplementation.  In addition, he has been crying all day.  It's obvious that the reflux is causing him pain and it's to the point where he is even struggling to breastfeed.  It's just that uncomfortable for him--even when we trying reclining feeding.  Poor little man.

As for me, my nerves are shot.  Declan hasn't been the only one crying today as I am going mad at not being able to soothe his tears.  I just do not know if I can take another full day of this.

Well-meaning friends and relations have all weighed in with their suggestions.  I should just start giving him honey water.  Or goat's milk.  Or rice.  I've even been told to just give him whole milk.  Or just formula.  I've been told that he should be on cereal.  In short--everyone has their own bit of advice.  All anecdotal, none scientific, but all also very well-meaning.

For now, we're going to give Declan an ultrasound tomorrow (just one advantage of having a husband who works in medical imaging--the scan will be at his work and cost us nothing) to rule out pyloric stenosis, and will otherwise continue as directed by the doctor.  But if by late afternoon I'm spied picking up goat's milk from Whole Foods, don't judge.  It'll likely be in an attempt to save all our sanities.


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