Sunday, June 07, 2015

Four months with Silas...

"Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."
-Elizabeth Stone

Considering the last post I wrote was called "Three months with Silas...", I'm guessing you have a pretty good idea of what we've been up to lately. :)

Believe it or not though, Silas is four months old. It's so crazy to think that he's the same age my nephew was when we saw him at Thanksgiving.

What is Silas up to?
Silas doesn't look like a little newborn anymore. Sometimes I even see glimpses of what he'll look like as a little boy. He's solidly in size 3 month clothes, but still fits into some 0-3 months, yet also some 3-6 months. He's built up some good rolls on his arms and his thighs, and his daddy alternates between the nicknames "Pudgeball" and "Plumpkin."

This month he has gotten really good at holding his neck up; he really enjoys to "sit" and "stand" like a big boy, with help of course. He often clasps his hands together which looks so deliberate and poised that it makes me laugh. And, after several days of almost, Silas is now turning over from his back to his tummy almost as soon as you lay him down. In the mornings, we find him rolled over with his bottom in the air. He can't always figure out how to roll back though, and when he gets tired of holding his head up, he just buries it in the floor. However, I know that the days are numbered when I can lay him on the floor and he stays there. See evidence below: 3... 2... 1.

Each time Silas sleeps through the night feels like a miraculous gift! For most of the month, Silas was on a pretty consistent schedule of waking once in the night (usually between 3:00 and 4:00 am) to nurse. Most recently though, he seems to have hit the 4-month sleep regression, waking also at 12:30 am. We're hoping to nip this little bad habit in the bud by encouraging him to put himself back to sleep.

Silas gets easily distracted while nursing these days, especially if Daddy is around. His wide eyes, little smile, and cute expressions as he looks around are some of my favorites though. To help him focus, he often grabs a hold of the edge of my bra or my necklace and pumps his fist up and down. Those little fingers... so sweet!!

From Mama's perspective...
I'm back in the work routine, which means a lot of pumping milk at work. Pumping at work sucks... literally and figuratively. But it's one way that I can be present with Silas when I can't physically be with him during the day. My office-mate is kind and swears she doesn't mind the noise, but three times a day my "Pump Mama, pump" alarm goes off, I hang my curtain between our cubicles, and the chug-a-chug-a-chug-a begins.

Wednesday mornings are hard. I don't know what it is about Wednesdays in particular. Maybe because it's the halfway point of the week, I am completely overwhelmed by the number of things left on my to do list, and yet can't see how they'll possibly get done by the end of the week either. It also seems to be the morning when Silas goes through three outfits before we even leave the house. Then of course we're running late. I feel so guilty for getting so frustrated with Silas when he's just being a baby, doing baby things. Needless to say, many a tear has been shed on Wednesday mornings lately (and maybe one sobbing phone call to my mom, crying that I didn't want to go to work... thanks for talking me down, Mama!).

But, the thing that I'm most proud of and excited about is the daily centering prayer ritual that I've started with Silas. No matter how crazy the morning was, when we arrive at the daycare parking lot, I climb in the backseat and grab a hold of Silas' little hands. I say a prayer over him, asking that he be surrounded by grace, peace, and love throughout the day. These few minutes to soak him in before we go our separate ways for the day fill my soul until we're reunited in the evening.

A few of Silas' favorites... 
  1. IKEA ÖMTÅLIG bibs Oh the drool! Oh the spit up! Sometimes it's just easier to keep him in a bib all day long. I love these bibs from IKEA... they're cheap, and they're absorbent. I especially love that they're small enough to accessorize his outfit rather than completely cover his body.
  2. Fisher-Price Easy Stack 'n Sounds Blocks These are Silas' favorite toys right now. He's just getting good at grabbing toys, and the holes in these blocks make them easy to hold. We were concerned at first that he might get his hand stuck between the ball and the block, but that hasn't happened (and none of the Amazon reviews mention this). Curiously the Amazon reviews mention that it's a negative that the balls can't be removed, but that hasn't been an issue for us.
  3. Arden All in One Nursing and Handsfree Pumping Bra : If I'm going to be pumping at work for months upon months (which is my goal), I decided to treat myself to a pumping bra that both looks pretty and functions better than anything else I've seen. Although pricier than I usually spend on stuff like this, I have been more than pleased. It's truly hands-free, but I can wear it all day long.
  4. Medela Pump in Style Advanced : This is the workhorse of my life right now! Although I hate washing and gathering all of the parts each day, I've only left a piece behind once. My insurance paid for the pump itself (no special bag like the retail product), but I just carry it back and forth in a totebag, which is more my style anyway. I'm thinking a Mama Says post about pumping may be coming in the future... so be on the lookout!
  5. SleepSack Swaddle : Silas has been breaking the swaddle for awhile now, but I think that he still likes to be wrap up tightly. The SleepSack Swaddle has been perfect. We swaddle him up with his arms out, and then keep our fingers crossed that he sleeps through the night!
  6. B-Safe 35: I mentioned this one in passing last month when I listed the stroller as a fave. But, our infant car seat has sure gotten a workout this month. We held our breath hoping that the new model would be released before Baby B was born, and we're glad we waited. We have no doubt that he's safe back there!

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Three months with Silas...

"The world is as many times new as there are children in our lives."
-Robert Brault

 We began the month with a wonderful visit from Lovey, Aunt Callie, and cousin Luke for Easter. Not only was it invigorating for Mama to be surrounded by her tribe, but the cousins were able to meet for the first time. (Although I'm not sure that Silas realized Luke was there.) It was really neat to see what milestones Luke had reached (he's six months older) and know that Silas would be reaching them in just a few months. Lovey spoiled us with Easter baskets, a shopping trip, and handmade baby shorts. And, the conversations between Callie and I are always so authentic and energizing. We can't wait until we see them again... hopefully this summer!

The excitement for the month... Silas started running a high fever late on Sunday night. With doctors' offices closed, we had no choice but to take him to the ER, where his temperature was measured to be 102.6°. Because he was just shy of 3 months old, they had to do the full work-up, including taking chest x-rays, drawing tubes of blood, inserting an IV port and giving him fluids, inserting an in-and-out catheter for urinalysis, and admitting him for two nights on the pediatric floor of the hospital. Watching him get poked and prodded hurt this mama's heart, but he was such a trooper. Turns out it was just a cold virus, but better safe than sorry. By the time we were discharged on Tuesday evening, he was almost back to his normal smiley self; although a cough and snotty nose still linger, and he was nice enough to share his cold with Mama. Hopefully that was a once-in-a-lifetime experience... we could do without another hospital stay ever!

What is Silas up to?
The spit up... oh my goodness, the spit up!! The most memorable quote from Aunt Callie while she was visiting: "wow, he really does spit up a lot!" This month Rob and I noticed a pattern of it happening most often when his stomach is compressed, so we cut down on tummy time for a few weeks and stopped throwing him over our shoulder to burp or carry him. Although it hasn't totally eliminate the mess, it does seem to help.

As hinted at in the 2nd month summary, Silas slept the whole night through for the first time on the first night of his third month. Mama was thrilled!! Although this still isn't yet the norm, I really can't complain about his sleep routine: it could be much worse! His usual pattern is to go to bed around 8:30 pm, wake to nurse for a few minutes sometime between 3:00 and 4:30 am, and then I wake him for the day around 6:30 am. The hospital stay and cold messed with his routine for the few days following, but we have been graced with a few more all-nighters here and there.

We have been swaddling Silas at night since he was born, most recently with the Velcro swaddle blankets from Summer Infant or Kiddopotamus. When his hands are wrapped inside, he expends a lot of energy trying to break the swaddle and free them. We have started just leaving his arms out. Lately he has also been spinning himself around during the night. When I come in to wake him in the morning, he has rotated 180 degrees around.

We knew early on that Silas was going to be a thumbsucker, but until just recently his lack of coordination usually kept him from getting it to his mouth. It was so funny to watch him miss his aim, hitting his forehead or cheek. But then all of a sudden, this month he started hitting the target! Sometimes he will prop his other hand up to keep it in his mouth... which is just about the cutest thing ever! When the thumb hits the mouth, it's a sure sign that a nap is soon to follow.

This month Silas started officially giggling. The first time was in the backseat while Lovey made silly faces. He is a often smiley, happy baby, but that little laugh is the best! Kissing just under his ears or moving his arms along with a song is a surefire way to get a cackle.

From Mama's perspective...
When Silas was almost 10 weeks old, I returned to work part-time and started full-time a week and a half later. As expected, I have struggled a little bit with the idea of going back to work and leaving Silas with other people. It's the strangest oxymoron... I don't want him to know that I've left him with strangers for the day, but I also kind of want him to miss me while I am away.

It's been especially difficult, given my choice of "present" as my One Little Word for this year. Although I chose that word hoping to make the most of all the time I'm with my little guy, it makes me sad that it's not possible for me to be physically present with Silas for much of the day. I hate that our time together has to be squeezed into 30 minutes in the morning and a couple of hours at night.

Despite all of my reservations and feelings, returning to work/leaving him at day care has actually gone better than I envisioned. I have always been comfortable with the childcare facility that we chose, which has helped ease my mind. I am also glad that we are beginning these routines early before he is really aware that I'm leaving him.

Transitioning into it by working half-days was the way to go. (I would totally recommend this to other new moms!) At first I told myself that I could go pick him up in "just four hours," and on the first full day, the morning routine felt just like the half-days. Now I am just counting down until the weekends!

A few of Silas's favorites...
  1. Aveeno Baby Lotion : The latest skin care regimen for Mr. Silas. At his two-month appointment, his pediatrician recommended Aveeno for his dry skin. I've been giving him mini massages with the lotion every morning and night which he loves... And, his skin is getting softer and less scaly!
  2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Teether Rattle : Silas is just beginning to hold onto toys, and one of his favorites is this caterpillar rattle. It makes a crunchy sound when it flexes and jingles when you rattle it, but Silas's favorite part is the soft felt legs that he likes to put in his mouth. 
  3. Helium balloons : The highlight of Silas' hospital stay was the helium balloon he received to wish him well. We lightly tied it around his ankle, and he was entertained for a long time. I'm not sure that he ever realized he was controlling it, but because he kicks his legs so much, it was constantly bobbing around.
  4. NoseFrida : Even after he was discharged from the hospital, Silas battled (and still is battling!) a cough and snotty nose. So twice a day we have to hold him down to suction his nose, which he HATES! Luckily the NoseFrida Snotsucker sucks up the mucus much better than those darn nasal bulbs. Unfortunately I haven't yet figured out how to use it solo: I have to hold his hands and position the funnel at his nostril, while Rob holds his head and sucks through the mouthpiece. But because it's more efficient, the "trauma" doesn't last very long.
  5. Britax B-Agile 4 : Rob and I fell in love with this stroller when planning our registry. (It's manufactured just down the road in Fort Mill, SC.) We paired it with the brand new B-Safe 35 infant car seat model, and Silas is riding in style. The nice spring weather has been perfect for long neighborhood walks or spectating a bike race.
  6. Boken Every Day Bag : I wanted to find a super functional diaper bag (read: backpack straps) that didn't scream diaper bag and didn't cost an arm and a leg. The Boken bag meets all of those qualifications and more. It is made of out a lightweight windbreaker fabric that looks a bit wrinkled, which may not be everyone's style, but I love it. It has been quite the workhorse going back and forth to daycare... bottles in the side pocket and several changes of clothes (did I mention he spits up a lot!) in one of the interior pockets.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Pants for years to come...

"Babies are always more trouble than you thought, and more wonderful."
-Charles Osgood

In my last post I mentioned my struggle to find brown pants for babies. After looking at several local stores with no luck, I wondered if I could make some for Silas. In my search online for a tutorial, I discovered the treasure that is Brindille and Twig sewing patterns... so many cute clothes for little people.

After much debate, I chose the Cuff Pants pattern as my first purchase. At 3/4 yard per pair, it didn't take much fabric. So I stopped by JoAnn's to pick up a few different knit options.

There were only five pieces to cut out per pair, and the photographs that Brindille and Twig provides in the directions made piecing them together a breeze. I could have completed a pair in a single sitting if it wasn't for a baby boy who seemed to always wake up from his nap right before I sewed the ankle cuffs in. The ankle cuffs in the little baby sizes were so small; it took all of my concentration to attach without sewing each cuff to itself.

After completing the first two, I went digging through my fabric stash for more knit fabric. I was excited to find some red fabric leftover from a failed Superman costume in college (don't ask!). I probably wouldn't have chosen red at the store, but it turns out that Silas has several cute onesies that match.

I'm one proud mama when Silas wears his new pants. And, what's even better is that because the pattern is sized up to 6T, he can have custom pants for years to come!

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Two Months with Silas...

“A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for."

Where did this month go?? With Rob back at work full-time, Silas and I spent the days (and usually part of the nights!) together. We have established a morning routine, and then we often ventured out in the afternoons... there were groceries to buy, friends to meet for lunch, and even a tooth filling to be replaced.

What Silas is up to?
Silas is still nursing well... and is gaining weight each week when we weigh in at our breastfeeding moms' meet-up, despite the fact that he spits up after every meal. We have burp rags stashed all over the house and go through them like they're candy.

A couple of weeks ago we noticed a number of red bumps on Silas' face. After asking Dr. Google, I "diagnosed" it as baby acne and tried not to worry about it. But mamas are really good at worrying, and when his earlobe swelled up, I decided to bring him to the pediatrician. She officially diagnosed him with dermatitis (not super helpful), but said she thought it was a combination of acne and cradle cap that had spread to his face. So I attacked it with daily baths, the Mustela regimen, and Head and Shoulders shampoo. Each day we scrutinized it, hoping it looked a little better, and then all of a sudden, one day it did!

Rob and I had gotten used to a few 4-hour stretches of sleep at night, but at 6.5 weeks, Silas reverted back to 2-hour cycles. Wondering if we were just waking up to his noises (he is a loud sleeper, in addition to being a loud eater!), we decided to try moving him to his room to sleep at night. Two nights later, he only woke once in the night!! Coincidentally, the next week at my moms' meet-up, the other moms were discussing a 6-week sleep regression, which sounded exactly like what we experienced. (SPOILER! On the night he turned two months old, he slept all the way through the night!!)

Silas is much more alert this month, tracking a toy with his eyes and finding himself in a mirror. He loves when we sing or make funny faces right in his face. This boy likes to move... he loves when we rock him hard, sway the stroller back and forth, or bounce him up and down.

From Mama's perspective...
I almost lost it one night as Silas woke up every two hours to eat. I was feeling completely overwhelmed and at a loss about his rash, the spit up, and the lack of sleep. And, then on top of that, I felt guilty about leaving Silas "on his own" while I tried to get something accomplished during the day. As the tears flowed, Rob reassured me that I'm "a great mom, and there's no doubt that I'm spending quality time with him." Just hearing someone else say that seemed to pull me from my funk.

I'm spending my last few uninterrupted days as a stay-at-home mom before I go back to work. Although I know that I am going to miss Silas during the day, I'm telling myself that a piece of me is ready to go back. Right now my head is so overwhelmed by the logistics (how in the world will we ever get out of the house by 7:15?!?!) that I have barely had a chance to think about the emotional challenges. But occasionally in the last couple of days, I find myself also wondering/hoping/worrying if his teachers will know/notice/care about all of his little routines/preferences/dislikes.

I love that I am learning what calms Silas down when he gets worked up... usually holding him sideways, belly to belly while bouncing him with a little twist and patting his back. However, it's still a little surreal that he is here to stay. One night I told Rob that it feels like we're just baby-sitting for an extended stay and that a part of me thinks he is going to leave. Rob joked, "where do you think he's going to go? He hasn't learned to open his thumb from his fist. He won't be hitchhiking anytime soon."

A few of Silas' favorites...

  1. Gerber Pre-fold Diapers : With all of the spit up, we needed to bring out the big guns. I bought two packs of cloth diapers to give us a little more time between loads of laundry. These guys are super absorbent and more functional than fancy, so there's no hesitation to get them dirty.
  2. Mustela Cradle Cap Regimen Duo and Head & Shoulders Medicated Shampoo : To fight Silas' wicked case of cradle cap, I attacked it with daily baths with the Mustela Foam shampoo and nightly massages with the Stelaker cream. The combination of that and Head & Shoulders shampoos every other morning seemed to do the trick!
  3. Brindille & Twig Cuff Pants : Silas is officially out of newborn clothes this month. He has several cute onesies, but needed brown pants to match. The stores seemed to have black, gray, and navy, but no brown. But I am my mother's daughter, so I bought this pdf sewing pattern, a couple of yards of knit fabric, and made my own. And, the best part about these patterns is that they can be sized up to 6T. I suspect many more pants for years to come!
  4. Gulliver Crib : This month Silas started sleeping in his own room, in his own bed. We are quite happy with this affordable and modern-looking crib from IKEA, and Silas doesn't seem to mind that he's not sleeping in a designer crib.
  5. 4moms Infant Tub : Silas loves taking baths with the 4moms tub. And, that's a good thing because he took many baths this month as we treated his cradle cap. I love that the tub has a temperature sensor so that I don't have to worry about neither freezing nor scalding my baby. I also love how the water flows through the tub to drain the dirty water.
  6. Infantino Activity Gym/Playmat : While I clean, sew, or am otherwise engaged around the house, I often set Silas down on this mat to play for a few minutes. He loves talking to the "baby in the mirror" and occasionally he catches his hand on the toy rings which makes the gym wiggle and the "baby" dance.

    Thursday, April 02, 2015

    Second labor of love... my pregnancy journal/scrapbook

    "Whether your pregnancy was meticulously planned, medically coaxed, or happened by surprise, one thing is certain – your life will never be the same."
    -Catherine Jones

    In the last year, I've not only been growing a baby, but also a second labor of love. Starting in the early morning hours of a Saturday in May 2014, I curled beneath the sheets in the light of my phone to record my excitement of seeing two lines on a pregnancy test. For the next nine months I jotted down my notes, memories, and feelings about my journey to motherhood in an Evernote document. And, for the last couple of weeks I have brought those words to life in a most treasured scrapbook album, "Expecting Baby B..."

    I had a bold and graphic 3-ring binder from Target and a variety of Bo Bunny page protectors waiting in the wings for the perfect project. Using that as my framework, I first designed the album in Adobe InDesign... the words from my journal illustrated by photos and ephemera from along the way.

    Last year's One Little Word was "authentic," and I gave myself permission to feel all of the feelings. The entries in my journal include it all: the excitement, the joy, the fear, the surreal. While it is ultimately the story of me and my journey, someday when Silas reads it, I hope he feels the love that we had for him since the very beginning.

    A pack of three coordinating file folders became section dividers for the three trimesters.

    I used a combination of full-size (8.5"x11") page protectors and smaller (8"x9") page protectors, depending on the length of the stories. The 3"x4" pockets were perfect for iPhone photos, including screenshots of text messages as shown above.

    I included swatches of the fabrics along with the receipt from our trip to Mary Jo's to tell the the story of how the nursery came together.

    I slipped the ultrasound photos into the pockets and even saved the "It's a Boy" flag that we stuck in our doughnut to celebrate.

    The album is told chronologically for the most part. I included reports from each doctor's visit and interspersed letters written to Baby B throughout.

    I also saved brochures and important paperwork from doctor's visits.

    We were so grateful for all of the thoughtful gifts from friends and family, and the slips of paper in the pockets above can be removed and unfolded to see the entire gift list.

    I concluded the journal with my three-page birth story and a few of Silas' first photos.

    But, of course the journey has just begun... I hope to continue Silas' story in a similar baby book/book about his first year.

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