5 months old

Time is flying. This will be the last monthly post I write while on maternity leave, as I return to work on Monday. I know it’s time to get back to the real world, but it’s going to be hard to leave my boys again, after getting used to spending every day with them. At least I won’t have to send them to daycare just yet, as D will be taking the next 4 weeks off to stay home with them.

Here’s what’s going on with Mr. E at five months…

Adjusted age: two months.

Stats: 10 lbs 13 oz and 21.5 inches long.

Milestones: Smiling and cooing! The best. He is such a happy little guy and quite talkative too. I’m really looking forward to those first laughs next.

Sleeping: Dare I say it? I think we may have gotten a good sleeper this time. Or at least compared to Theo. He wakes up one or two times per night, but lately it’s usually just one time. And he slept completely through the night twice! Of course, T was only up 2-3 times per night until he hit the four-month sleep regression, and then he was up practically hourly until he was about nine months old. So I don’t fully trust E’s sleep habits just yet. Naps are pretty inconsistent — sometimes he’ll sleep almost all day and just wake up to eat. Other days he barely sleeps at all. I had hoped to be on a little more of a schedule by the time I went back to work. I guess D will have to figure it out himself.

Eating: This continues to be the area where we struggle most, but has finally turned a corner and we’re doing more nursing than bottles. We’re down to about 3-4 bottles per day (3 oz each) and nursing the rest. Nursing is going better, most of the time, though there are some frustrating days where I can’t seem to get him composed or focused enough to stay latched. When we’re home alone we can usually work through it with a little patience, and I have the option to go make a bottle if he gets too frustrated. But when we’re out in public it’s harder to get him focused. He doesn’t always like the nursing cover, especially when he’s  frustrated, and his frequent unlatching and flailing make it impossible to nurse discreetly sans cover without flashing everyone around me. But if I give a bottle, I have to pump to make up that feed to keep my supply up — which is even more inconvenient in public. When I go back to work I’ll obviously need to pump while I’m away from him, but my ultimate goal is to only pump when we’re apart, and always nurse when we’re home together. I think we’re getting closer.

Personality: So sweet and happy. Even on his fussy days, “fussy” is about as escalated as he gets. He rarely even full-on cries. And now that he’s smiling and cooing, his happy personality is showing through even more.

Likes: Bath time! I’ve started putting the boys in the tub together (well, I put E’s baby tub in the big tub) and they both just love it. E kicks and talks to big brother, who loves to help me wash him. He also loves having his diaper changed. T was like that too. We called it his “reset button.” If he was fussy and we changed him he’d suddenly get so focused on what we were doing that soon he was smiling and talking and forgot why he was upset. So far E is the same.

Dislikes: Still reflux. We’ve got the head of his bed elevated, we keep him upright after feeds and he’s on Prevacid, but he’s still so grunty and arches his back in pain often. I’m really hoping he grows out of it soon.

Mama: Still shedding like crazy, though it seems like it may finally be slowing. I’m surprised I have any hair left. I’m chopping my hair tomorrow and am hoping that makes everything more manageable.

I’m feeling kind of sad about my maternity leave coming to an end, since this is the last time we’re doing this, and I wish I had done more with the time I had. I had visions of taking the boys on frequent outings, having dinner made every night, and doing all the things around the house I never have time for when I’m working. Instead, there were more days than I’d care to admit where I managed to squander my entire morning juggling the very different needs of an infant and a three year-old, and by the time I finally cleaned up the breakfast dishes and reheated my coffee for the eighth time, it was time to start lunch, followed by nap and then we were stuck at home until T woke up, and then it was time to start dinner. Entire days simultaneously dragged on and passed in the blink of an eye. Yesterday, my last day of maternity leave, I felt like I managed to do things “right” – I took the boys to the zoo, took Theo out to ice cream, and then nursed Emmett in the park while Theo played. It was a day full of the things I imaged maternity leave would be… of course, I skipped my shower and we missed Theo’s nap, so something had to give! But it truly was a great day, and I ended my leave on a high note.

Onto month six…(!)

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T loves his brother so.

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Tummy time.

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Shots!!

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Lazy morning snuggles.

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Cousins!

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He loves his birdies.

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More snuggles.

Bath time!

Party at 3 a.m.!

Zoo day.

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4 months old

I had drafted the following post weeks ago – on his actual 4 month birthday- but never got around to finishing it until now. You could say life has been a little busy. 

I can’t even describe how good it feels to be writing this update from home. I know I keep saying this, but the NICU really does feel worlds away, and life at home is pretty normal for a newborn, if he were an actual newborn, that is. I go back and forth on how detailed I get on the “how old is he” questions when out in public. I’ve never been more aware of just how often this question gets asked! I’ve kind of fallen into a habit of quickly triaging the situation: what’s the likelihood I’ll see or interact with the person again? If slim, I just tell them his adjusted age. If I’m likely to see them again or we have friends in common, I say he’s four months old but was born three months early, so he’s more like a one month-old. Of course, this usually prompts a million questions. Some days I feel like a bit of a freak show with all the questions and shocked expressions. Other days I don’t mind telling the story. And some days I even feel downright proud. Why yes, he is a miracle! Yes, I am superwoman!

With that, here’s what our little miracle is up to at four months…

Adjusted age: One month.

Stats: 8 lbs 13 oz and 20 inches long.

Milestones: E lifts his head up and shows pretty good neck control for the most part — though he will occasionally slam his face into us or throw his head back while we’re holding him, usually when we least expect it. I’m terrified he’s going to backflip out of our arms.

Sleeping: He wakes pretty consistently every three hours to eat but has given us a few four-hour stretches. We’re still dealing with some reflux, which prevents him from falling back asleep sometimes, and for about a week there he was regularly awake and fussing between 3 and 6 a.m. Just in time for Theo to wake for the day. We have learned keeping him upright or inclined for a bit after eating helps some, so we’ve fallen into a routine where D will give him a bottle at night while I pump, and then since he usually finishes before I’m done, he’ll prop him up on a pillow in front of me while I finish pumping. By the time I’m done and have rinsed out all my parts, he’s usually sound asleep and his tummy has settled enough for us to put him down. During the day he mostly naps in his swing, which is inclined. We borrowed a Rock n Play from some friends, thinking he might like to sleep in that at night, but for some reason he hates it. He’s back on Prevacid, which seems to help some.

Eating: We’re still struggling a bit here. After the pediatrician had us increase the number of fortified bottles from four to six, we were given permission to drop down to five after he had some better gains. So I’m getting to breastfeed two to three times per day and then pumping and bottle feeding for the rest. It’s pretty time consuming. He still isn’t a great nurser and with us having to give so many bottles doesn’t give us much opportunity to practice. I’ve seen a lactation consultant and have started attending a weekly breastfeeding group where I can weigh him before and after nursing so I can see how much he’s getting. He is slowly getting better. It’s really an uphill battle, though, and I’ve been tempted to throw in the towel on nursing on numerous occasions.

Personality: He is still very snuggly. He’s also starting to show a bit more of his spunky side. When he’s hungry, he doesn’t usually cry; he yells! He really sounds quite demanding. I’m looking forward to seeing his personality develop more as he gets older.

Likes: Snuggles with mom, the sound of big brother’s voice.

Dislikes: Reflux and gas. This baby is like a whoopie cushion with the impressive amount of gas he can produce. It’s not just a little toot; it just keeeeeps going. I swear he farts out twice his body volume. No wonder he gets so agitated.

Mama: I’m feeling pretty good, though I’m still shedding hair like crazy, which is really annoying. My hair is longer than it’s been in a while but it’s permanently in a top knot so I don’t have to deal with pulling hair off my clothes all day. Washing my hair is frightening and I’m always surprised I have anything left by the time I’m done. The weight is still falling off, thanks to breastfeeding. Other than that, I’m beyond tired, but not feeling too overwhelmed.

I’ll wrap this with a few photos from the past month and will feebly vow to be more timely with his five-month update. How do I almost have a five month-old?!

Squishy snuggles.

Brother helper.

So tired.

NICU day 92 and 3 months old

I had really hoped we’d be out of the NICU by the time his three-month birthday came. But here we are. Actually, we had a really interesting conversation with Dr. L today at rounds. He asked us if we were tired of being here (duh) and said while they don’t like to do this, if we were interested, we could learn how to insert a feeding tube and we could go home on the NG tube while we continued to work on feeding.

I was shocked. He was basically putting the decision in our hands when to go home. I feel really conflicted. I want him home so bad. But I want him home healthy. And bringing him home on a feeding tube would mean multiple follow-ups with specialists, possible g-tube surgery, and the intimidating chore of changing his tube ourselves (which comes with the risk of accidentally inserting it into his lungs instead of his stomach – yikes.) It would be one thing if we were facing a long-term feeding issue. But all the doctors and nurses say this is textbook for an early preemie and that he’ll grow out of it. He just needs time. I just wish I knew how much time we were looking at. Another week, two weeks? Let’s wait it out and bring him home wireless. Another month, two months? Let’s just get him home already and stop wasting time in the hospital. So after talking it over with D and the rest of the medical team, I think we have a plan: give him until 42 weeks gestation (he’ll be 40 weeks on Monday) to lose the tube. His team thinks he’ll probably figure it out before then anyway, but if not, we’ll bring him home with a feeding tube at 42 weeks. If nothing else, it’s nice to have a hard stop.

Feeds went okay today. He’s taken more feeds by gavage than usual (three today, compared to his usual one a day), but the feeds he has done have been nearly full volume. It seems whether he takes a half feed every time or a full feed every other time, he’s still stuck at around 50-60 percent of his volume orally right now.

Anyway, with that daily update done, here’s what’s going on at three months…

Adjusted age: 39 weeks 3 days

Stats: 7 lbs 10 oz and 18.9 inches.

Milestones: As of August 1st we are off oxygen! Starting to do tummy time a few times per day.

Sleeping: Still sleeps pretty well, but I think that has more to do with him spending all his energy trying to eat. Though I still have hope we got a good sleeper this time since Theo was horrible!

Eating: The bane of my existence and obsession of every waking moment? In other words, we’re working on it. 65 ml of breastmilk plus 24 kcal of Neosure to fortify my milk, every three hours. Combination of breastfeeding and bottle feeding pumped milk (about 50/50 currently).

Personality: Is it too soon to say he is an affectionate baby? Theo was always so busy and not much of a snuggler. Even when he was an infant he was constantly moving and trying to see everything. E seems much more content to snuggle up against me. Part of that could be his prematurity. We’ll see…

Likes: Snuggling, being held. When he cries he calms down instantly when you pick him up.

Dislikes: Gas, reflux, having his temperature taken and his NG tube. Tries to pull it out often and hates having it put back in.

Mama: Still hating pumping. Still going into the office twice a week. It’s been hard to plan for things, knowing I’ll be out soon, but not knowing exactly when that will be. Starting to drop a bit below my pre-pregnancy weight, which is nice. I lost quite a bit of weight while breastfeeding T, but then gained it back, and then some, after I weaned. I’ll have to be more aware of that this time around. I’ve started losing my hair lately — I had completely forgotten about that fun postpartum side effect. When you’re pregnant you often stop losing hair (which is why pregnant women usually have great hair), but then a couple months postpartum you lose all that hair you should have been gradually losing during pregnancy. The human body is weird. Yesterday during barre I kept having that sensation that a hair was tickling my arms and I must have pulled about 10 strands of hairs off myself throughout an hour long class. At this rate I’m expecting to be completely bald in a few weeks.