Wednesday, April 29, 2009

One Month

Dear Joseph,

Today, you turned one month old. It is incredible to me how much you have grown and changed, and how much you have changed our lives. Sometimes you change so much from day to day that just when I think I have you figured out, you surprise me with something new. Like yesterday, you were very fussy. I thought I had tried everything to comfort you, but then I thought I would try something you had decided you didn't like during your second week home - I swaddled you tight in a blanket, and you went right to sleep. That's how you slept last night, too, all wrapped up like a burrito, and you slept the best you have yet.

Some of your favorite things these days are daddy (your first "real" smile came when daddy got home from work one morning and bent over to say hello to you in your bouncy chair and your face just lit up), sitting in your bouncy chair (although you are slowly deciding you don't like being strapped in anymore), riding in the car or your stroller (you almost always fall right to sleep when we get moving), eating (you have put on 3 pounds and grown 2 inches since you were born), looking at the picture that hangs above the dining table, and watching the ceiling fan (we have decided you are totally going to be the kid that plays with the boxes on Christmas, and not the toys). You have begun to make sounds (other than crying), but you don't really "coo," mostly you squeak, grunt, and growl (oh, and fart, but that is involuntary, and totally hilarious).

The day you were born, you were surrounded by people who love you very much, and you have met even more since that day. Everyone that sees you, even strangers, tells us you are such a pretty baby (and then asks us if it's OK to call our little boy "pretty" - I think it's just fine). We named you Joseph Michael - Joseph after your late great grandfather, Milton Joseph Sr., and your great uncle, Milton Joseph Jr.; and Michael after your dad. Carry your names proudly, Joey, and know you were named after great men.

We only want the best for you. I have already found myself looking at girls in the grocery store wearing cut off jeans, bikini tops, and cowboy boots, and telling you never to bring home girls like that! Believe me though, that is the least of my worries. I hope daily that we will be successful in giving you the tools to make good decisions, to be compassionate towards others, to live your life honestly and with great integrity, and that you are always surrounded by people that love you and have your best interests in mind.

There are parts of me that want you to stay little forever, and other parts of me that can't wait to see you grow and develop (not to mention get a full night's sleep!). I never expected that I would learn so much from you. You are teaching me to be more patient, and to use my time wisely and not procrastinate - every moment is valuable. The changes you have brought to our lives have been overwhelming at times, and your dad and I are doing our best to not only give you the attention you need, but also attention to our relationship with each other. Understand that the relationship your dad and I have with each other is one of the most important things in your life, and we will do our best to keep it strong and set a good example for you.

We love you, little man.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Bringing Home Baby

Two weeks ago, I was laying in the hospital blissfully unaware of what the coming weeks would bring. Although it was hospital food, I was being served 3 meals a day, and if I needed help with breastfeeding or wanted to take a shower, brush my teeth, or use the restroom, all I had to do was push the call button and a nurse would promptly be at my bedside to help me or take over baby care for a short while. The next day, we would be on our own - here's your baby, good luck!

On Tuesday afternoon, Mike and I changed Joey out of his hospital-provided getup, strapped him in his car seat, and packed up my bag. I had been so ready to leave the hospital so we could go back home and begin our new life, but when I looked down and saw Joey strapped in his little seat, I started to cry. I was scared to death. What was I going to do with this helpless little person when we got home? What if he had trouble eating? How should I dress him for bed? My head was spinning. Mike took me in his arms and comforted me, "Oh babe, what's wrong? Don't cry. This is what you wanted, remember?" I pulled myself together, and we headed out to the nurse's station to have the car seat checked. The nursing assistant walked us down to the car to make sure Joey was properly secured in the back seat, and we were ready given the OK to head home. I sat in the back seat with the baby as we made our way back to Morro Bay. He slept the whole ride home.

When we pulled in the driveway, Mike's mom and grandparents were here to greet us. To say I was overwhelmed would probably be the understatement of the year. We had dinner with Mike's family, and then tried to settle in. That was the night Joey showed us his true lung capacity. Mike was wondering if the hospital would possibly take him back, and I was totally lost - I had no idea how to comfort this screaming infant. He was crying, I was crying, it was a mess. After trying just about everything, and even though I said I wouldn't do it, we decided to try giving him a bottle of formula. It worked. He finished a 2oz bottle in what seemed like 3 gulps, and fell asleep. Plans change, lesson learned. The next night wasn't much better, but my milk had finally started to come in, and Joey was beginning to eat better.

On Thursday morning, we had an appointment with a lactation consultant, and in true Joey fashion, he put on a show and ate amazingly well. (On a side note, the lactation consultant noticed what looked like a scab on Joey's head. Instead of saying, "Yes, it's a scab," I told her that it was indeed not a scab, but poop that had dried on his head from a particularly messy blow-out that required an outfit change the night before. Apparently I had missed a spot when I cleaned him up. Mike said he would have lied, and I have been nominated for Mother of the Year.) That afternoon, we took him to his first pediatrician's appointment, and were amazed to learn that he was already weighing in at one ounce over his birth weight (and then the nurse left the room, and he pooped... twice). I was relieved to know that he was getting enough to eat, and the doctor said everything else looked perfect, too.

As the days pass, Joey is getting used to his new world. Although he hasn't quite got it down that we are awake during the day, and we sleep at night, he is getting better. He is changing every day, and I already find myself looking at the pictures from the day he was born amazed at how quickly these changes are taking place. He has started to make new noises - squeaks and grunts mostly - and although people say babies this young don't really smile ("It's just gas") I am convinced that he does. I am changing, too - learning what his sounds and cries mean, knowing when he needs to be held, and when he is just having a dream and can be allowed to continue sleeping. I watch his face as he sleeps, wondering what could possibly be troubling his mind and making him furrow his brow, or what is delighting him so much when he smiles and his face relaxes. I can't believe that something so small can produce so much poop, and I can't help but laugh when he farts (and he farts a lot).

I am starting to get back to the "real world," although sometimes I'm not quite sure what day of the week it is. I took Joey to visit his grandma and grandpa (and Ruby dog) yesterday, and with Mike back at work, it took me three hours to get out of the house. I now understand fully why moms often leave the house in their PJs, sometimes haven't found time to shower or brush their teeth for a few days at a time. So far, people have been right about one thing though - it is getting better every day.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Welcome to the World, Little Man

Well, as you can probably assume by the title of this post, I did not make it to prenatal visit #14. Baby Joseph made his way into the world one week ago, and what a week it has been. On Saturday the 28th, Mike and I headed to Costco to stock up on a few things, and I started having contractions. Real ones. They were pretty far apart, but they were more painful than any that I had experienced (although I had no idea how bad they would get as the night wore on). We made our way home, and I knew that Joey would probably be arriving soon, if not within the next 24 hours. When we got home, we made sure our bags were in order and settled down for what would prove to be a long night (and subsequent day). My contractions became regular enough to start timing at about 10:00 that night, and just after midnight we decided to call Connie, our doula, to let her know that things were starting to move along rapidly. By quarter after 1, we called her again to let her know that we would be leaving for the hospital. I will expand more on this later on, but long story short, by the time we got to the hospital, my contractions had spaced back out to about 10 minutes apart, and I was still only 1cm dilated. I had a lot of work yet to do. I was informed that I could go home if I wanted to. After a little back and forth, we all decided I would be more comfortable at home and headed back to Morro Bay.

We got back home at about 3am, and Mike and Connie were by my side coaching me through some tough back labor, walking with me around the house, helping me move and get comfortable through it all. By about 9:30, I decided I was ready to go back to the hospital. When we arrived, there was no one at the front desk. Mike ran inside and swiped a wheelchair. He was getting me in there and up to the L&D ward no matter what! Connie came shortly after and wheeled me in and took me upstairs. We hadn't even checked in, but Connie was awesome, she told the nurse on the floor that I had already been there earlier in the moring, and I was ready to go! The nurse did not seem too happy to have to handle the admissions paperwork, but there wasn't much she could do at that point. They got me in bed, hooked up to the fetal monitor, and it was time to check and see how much progress I had made. I tried not to get my heart fixed on a high number, and I expected the nurse (by the way, we ended up with a different L&D nurse, not the one who seemed angry about the paperwork, and she was AWESOME!!) to tell me I was 3cms. I was 8. It was 10am, and Joey arrived 4 hours later. I had been in labor for roughly 23 hours, and pushed for the last 2 of those.

Mike was the most amazing coach. He never left my side and constantly reminded me to breathe. If I didn't breathe, I wouldn't get anywhere. Connie helped me throught the worst of my pain, modifying my breathing technique to keep me from pushing before it was time. Together, they made an incredible team. Even when I second guessed myself and thought I needed something to take the edge off, they were able to talk me through my pain, and talk me out of it. I had made it so far already, and my body was doing exactly what it was supposed to do. Each contraction was doing "good work" as Connie repeated to me again and again. And she was right. I did it. It hurt more than I expected, and I don't think I'll ever really forget that pain, but after it was over, it was over, and the person we had waited so long to meet had finally arrived. He was beautiful. And after a little bit of a scare, hearing him cry was the sweetest sound.

Our lives have been forever changed, and there is so much more to share about Joey's arrival... more to come!