Monday, September 26, 2016

Josie's 4 Month Update

Today truly feels like the first day of fall.  The temperature has finally dropped from the humid 80's to the cool and breezy lower 70's.  I have the windows open and a gentle breeze is flowing through our house.  It gives me hope that a new season will bring some most welcome changes in our household.  Because to put it mildly, Spring and Summer plain sucked the wind right out of my sails.  It's been rough and unfortunately last month wasn't any better.  Thank God for my beautiful girls despite such tough times.
Sneaking outside for some playtime and bubbles!
What We've Been Up To:

This month we really didn't get out much.  It was a tough one.  We attempted a 5K, but it was rainy and Josie screamed almost the entire time, so we headed home right after the race.  She has decided on top of everything else that she is going to be terribly afraid of anyone other than Mark, me, and Stella.  It seems to be getting a tad better in the past week, but she screams when we have to send her to the Grandparents (only twice this past month because I feel bad asking anyone to watch her!) or when a stranger looks at her.  Stella never went through this, and it's hopefully a phase that will pass soon.  I love my baby but she's pretty high-maintenance and mama needs a BREAK sometimes!! 
Daddy and his girls. 

Last Sunday we finally managed to celebrate our 5 year anniversary (3 months late, but to get it done at all was an accomplishment this summer!)  We took the girls to Walnut Grove Pioneer Village in Iowa where we got married.  It's a cute old-fashioned town with a church and buildings set up as they were in the Pioneer days.  Mark and I fell in love with it and are so happy we got married there.  It was a beautiful day and since it was later in the year it wasn't very busy.  Stella had a few meltdowns (to be expected lately) but given the circumstances it was a great day.  The church was locked up but when we peaked inside Stella got upset because she thought the alter was the Carebear Castle and wanted to go see it haha!  We got a picture out front, something we plan to do every 5 years.

Stella enjoyed sitting in the train and swinging with mama and Josie, and she especially liked having ice cream in the parlor.  She didn't care for going in the buildings, confined spaces scare her right now.  So we just walked while Mark looked around :) 

We thought about having lunch at the Golf Course down the road where our rehearsal dinner was held but the girls were fussy so we headed back to the Quad Cities.  Maybe next time.  They were tearing down the building where our reception was held the very next day, so we drove by and I caught one last picture of it.  It was The Lodge, an old rustic hotel.  It really deteriorated in the last few years, so sad to see.  After that we stopped at Panera for lunch.  When they called names over the loud speaker Stella yelled "coffee light ice" like we were in the McDonalds drive through!  So hilarious!  (mama needs to lay off the iced coffee I think!)  We headed home after that so Mark could do some yard work and the girls could get to bed.  It was a fun day, just as I'd hoped.  I'm such a sucker for traditions.  Mark and I really hope things calm down this winter so we can take a quick relaxing vacation, just the two of us, to really celebrate our 5 year anniversary.  He's not a huge fan of vacations but I am, and I know it really is hard to get away with kids and a busy job.  So an every 5 year anniversary trip is a great compromise :)

The only other outings we did this month were separate so one of us could stay home with the kids.  Mark went to an antique tractor show one day and I went out for a delicious supper with my mom and sister to celebrate her birthday.  We planned on doing the zoo last week but it rained.  Such a rainy summer!  Hopefully this weekend we can go...

Josie loves watching Kaiser, and he tries to sneak in kisses for Josie when we're not looking!

The Routine:
We ended up pulling the AR medicine again.  I swore it was causing her constipation.  She went 3 or 4 days without pooping when I started it back up, and when I pulled it again she finally pooped!  But I was wrong.  She has been off the medicine for about a month and she is constipated again.  It's been about 4 days this time too.  I'm doing gas drops a few times a day and still nothing.  I did buy infant suppositories to have on hand, so might have to give her one tomorrow if she doesn't poop today.  Must just be something with her digestive system.  She does still have acid reflux, but I don't want to start the meds back up unless I have to.  She does spit-up a lot and often, but she isn't fussy so I want to avoid them for now.  She is taking 6oz about every 3 hours, so we are still doing ok.  Just have to change clothes (hers and mine!) a few times a day.

So the sleeping.  She has slept through the night since about 8 weeks, but a few weeks ago she started waking up multiple times a night.  She just was sleeping horribly.  Finally I asked Mark if he thought she outgrew her bassinet.  She always tried to turn sideways and I wondered if being contained was waking her up.  We had Stella in the bassinet until around 6 months I believe, but it never bothered her.  We lost a nephew to SIDS at 3 and a half months, so I am more paranoid of moving to the crib than most.  Especially since Josie started rolling over already!!  But she wasn't sleeping and neither were we, plus we do have the AngelCare monitor, so we decided to give it a try.  It was the answer!  Once we moved her to the crib she started sleeping from about 6:30pm until about 7:30 am, not waking up once!  And some mornings she even sleeps until 8:30am!  Such a blessing.  Naps are still another story...she won't take them ANYWHERE, except in the car or her bouncy chair if you are bouncing her.  I think she just doesn't want to miss out, she's a very alert baby.  It gets to be a LONG day when a 4 month old refuses to nap for 11 hours.  During Stella's nap I used to get so much done, and she still naps every afternoon so it's been hard for me to give up that chunk of time.  I am working on making better use of my mornings and evenings now that Josie sleeps so good at night, and will just set aside nap time for reading or computer work while I bounce her.  Adapt and adjust.  Story of a parent's life, right?

Last day in bassinet/first night in crib.  So tiny!
Every once and a while Josie will nap in the swing.  Heaven!

We had her 4 month check-up this month.  She got 3 shots and an oral vaccine.  Handled them like a champ!  She was 23" (4%, guess she's short like me) and 13 lbs 9.8 oz (36%).  So for being a big newborn she's kinda a peanut now.  In fact I just changed her clothes over to the 3-6 months last week as well as started her in size 2 diapers.  Maybe it's because she's so active and spits up so much I don't know.  Still in the healthy range so I'm not worried.  Just different because Stella was such a little chub!  Gotta say I miss those baby rolls :)

A Few of Josie's Favorite Things:
  • Again, attention!  She has the warmest, biggest baby smile I've ever seen.  She just lights up when mommy, daddy, and Stella talk to her and play with her.  She's not too vocal, but she does babble and squeal with delight in the late afternoons.
  • She loves to reach out and touch our faces.  She already shows preference for certain toys and looks for them after she drops them.  She's a smart baby!
  • She has already figured out how to push and pull her musical toys.  She plays much better on her mat now, but still prefers the Bumbo and her bouncy chair.
  • Rolling over!  She first did it at 3.5 months but we missed it.  We looked down and she was on her tummy on her mat!  But after doing it once we now can't keep her on her back.  I don't even have to do tummy time anymore, she does it herself!  She prefers it!  Still working on rolling from tummy to back though.
  • "Exercise" time with mama.  After Stella's developmental delays I like to keep an eye on Josie.  So far she is well above average.  She can already keep her head level when pulled to sitting and bear weight on her legs.  I prop her up with pillows and I don't think she's too far from sitting on her own!
  • Babywearing!  I invested in an Ergo baby carrier.  I never bought one with Stella, I tried the hand-me-down Bjorn from my sister-in-law and didn't really care for it.  This one was a tad pricey but SO worth it.  I did lots of research and this seemed the best.  Safer for babies, tons of positions to wear them in, and can be used from birth up to toddler.  Plus so easy to put on myself!  I have to use it when we go shopping or run errands.  She doesn't like to be cooped up in her seat in the cart.  It's so hard taking my girls out in public so splurging on the perfect carrier was one of the best decisions I've made!  Now I look forward to taking her out, she loves to be snuggled up against me taking the world in.  Hopefully helping her social anxiety too...
    Puppy always has to do what sister Josie is doing!
    Huge fan of the Bumbo...even fell asleep in it!
1st day rolling over!
Sisters and best friends!  Even both thumb suckers!!  Stella always shares puppy, her most prized toy.  She sure loves sister Josie!

Around the House:
  • Just like after I had Stella, my back was completely out of whack this month.  I could barely get out of bed in the mornings.  So we decided to break down and head to the chiropractor again.  He said I was really out of alignment but was able to straighten me out.  He also adjusted Mark's hip, which was giving him trouble when he took up running again.  Now that I am back in alignment I am really hoping I can start taking better care of myself.  I am hanging onto this baby weight for dear life once again.  The sickness, all Stella's therapy, and Josie's extreme colic have left me drained.  I love my girls but it'd be a lie if I said I wasn't overwhelmed with motherhood right now.  I am pouring from an empty cup though, so I know I must take better care of myself to be the mommy my girls need and deserve.  That is my number one priority this month.  Fall is my favorite time of year, so I know it will bring some new motivation and breathe life into me once again. 
  • Harvest is right around the corner, so Mark has been working to get things wrapped up around the yard.  Once harvest ends it seems winter approaches, and we haven't been ready the past few years.  This winter is rumored to be a bad one so we're starting early!
  • And miss Stella.  Poor Stella.  After my last post her cold took a turn for the worse and we ended up at the doctors.  She had a double ear infection.  Stella REFUSES medicine with a passion so he prescribed chewable amoxicilan.  Thankfully we could break them in half and hide them in Reece's peanut butter cup minis, so she got over that with the help of the medicine.  But she did miss a week  of daycare.  I'd like to say that was the end of it, but after about a week of being healthy she got sick again a few days ago.  Just seems to be a cold, and she is at daycare today, but she was coughing so we will see how this pans out.  Give this girl a damn break already!  I'm so angry.  She's been sick since July 4th.  ENOUGH. 
  • I still plan to do a post on Stella soon.  There is so much to update on.  I'm just trying really hard right now to grasp everything that's going on with her and make sense of it myself before I share her struggles.  So I will just say for now that we had her transition meeting at the end of August to decide the gameplan for Pre-K.  When she turns 3 she will be done with Early Intervention and move to public schooling.  We decided to put moving on hold until next summer.  I desperately wanted her in Annawan or Geneseo school district when she started school, so much that we even contemplated buying a place in town to move into while we wait for our dream country house.  But then we realized the timing is wrong.  We are so busy and stressed and harvest is here, so it would only make things worse.  I observed Stark County's Pre-K (we are in Bradford district but they don't do IEPs in Pre-K because it's so small, so they bus their IEP preschoolers to Start County Grade School in Wyoming).  I loved what I saw.  I think the teacher, aide, and program will be a great fit for Stella this year.  Truly an answered prayer, thanks be to God.  We will have the IEP meeting closer to her birthday.  She will go Monday-Friday afternoons, which is a lot and will take away her nap, but she is READY.  She will do great.  I'm just not ready to let her go yet, but it's for the best.  And we will still have lazy and relaxing mornings together, I'm thankful for that.
And that's a wrap for now.  I'm sorry every post seems so negative lately.  I do count my blessings and love my girls, and we are enjoying our time together.  Just been a challenging few months.  Praying fall brings the end to the sickness and some positive changes around here.  Going to do my best to make it happen!  Be back next month with a post on Josie's routine and her 5 month update!  Enjoy the best month ever :)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Josie's 3 Month Update

Well so much for getting this post done closer to her monthly "birthday" (the 11th)!  I think this is my latest post yet.  I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear it's because things are crazy around here and we are sick!  Just the norm around here this summer :)

What We've Been Up To:

We did have a few weeks of calm between sicknesses, so we tried to have as much summer fun as we could.  We kept it pretty simple and enjoyed some pool time, yummy food, and family.  We changed up the location so the kids wouldn't get bored.  At this age it's pretty simple to keep them entertained thankfully, because to be honest my mind was pretty drained this month from all the craziness!
First play day at Grandma's!  Tried to get a picture of all 3 cousins you can see how that turned out.  Torpedoes for lunch and late afternoon deliciousness from the Coop of course!
Play day #2 at Jeff & Jenny's, complete with their awesome pool, a cookout at night including our home grown corn on the cob, and popcorn and a movie for the kids at night (although Stella insisted on staying up until 11pm when we left, go figure!)
Third play date at Abby and Ryder's.  Fun day of feeding the fish, enjoying the pool and sprinkler, going for a Gator ride and eating apples from their tree, riding bikes, chalk, "pretend" napping in Ryder's bed, and treats with Grandma!
4th play day at our house.  Enjoyed donuts and Play Doh, time in the pool, and stickers and apple snacks in the afternoon.
Superhero birthday party we attempted to attend in Cedar Rapids.  Loaded up the car for an overnight trip only to come home after a few hours and unload it.  Josie SCREAMED the entire time, wouldn't even eat.  No idea what was up with her.  Stella fell down the stairs and was a little irritable, but not terrible.  Still glad we tried it but boy are events hard with little ones!
The Routine:

Josie set the pace for a routine this month.  As soon as we can go a while without sickness or extreme fussiness I will establish a better routine and post on it.  But for now we wing it :)  With that being said Josie has fallen into a decent routine on her own, which I think a baby-led routine is your best bet anyway.  No sense in going against the grain!  Eating has been a little weird for Josie.  Right at 3 months I pulled her AR medicine.  I thought it was just a milk allergy that made her colicky, and I didn't want her on meds for no reason.  We made it two weeks and I started seeing changes.  She would thrash in our arms while she ate like she was in pain, often leaving most of her formula behind.  She went from eating 5oz at at time (at 3 months in big Dr Browns bottles) to struggling to get 3 down.  She was also puking up formula a lot again.  And then she started to get fussy about 2 weeks after I pulled it, so last week Mark and I decided acid reflux has got to be at play in addition to the milk allergy.  We put her back on the medicine and within a few days she is back to taking 5oz at a time no problem.  She eats every 2-3 hours during the day.  Still lots of spit up, but that may not go away for a while. 

She is still in a size 1 diaper, and still in disposables.  Again when things calm down I will go to cloth.  Just gotta get my mind back first :-)  She was in a pretty good potty schedule, pooping once every morning, but a few days ago she became constipated.  It started when we started the medicine back up.  We have tried the gas drops every day but they don't seem to help.  Looks like I'll be putting a call back into her doctor on that. 

Josie maintained her sleep schedule until last week.  She was going to bed between 7:00 and 8:00 and waking up between 5:00 and 6:00 every morning to eat, then back to bed until around 9: 00.  Awesome!  But last week she started waking up every 3 hours or so in the night wanting to eat and crying.  A few times I fed her, a few times I just rocked her back to sleep.  Not sure what was going on there, but after a few days back on the AR medicine she's sleeping well at night again.  Naps are a different story.  She fights sleep HARD during the day.  I don't think she likes to go to a room by herself, but she's a light sleeper and won't sleep in the living room with Stella and I awake.  She used to take a quick morning nap, a 2-3 hour afternoon nap in her swing, and a quick evening nap.  Now she fights them all and will only fall asleep to the vacuum.  Not a vacuum app, just the actual vacuum.  Fine at home but can't take that thing in public!  So working on letting her "cry it out" when we can at home, but that's been hard lately with Stella and I being so sick (more on that in a minute).  Naps are a work in progress at this point, when everyone is better we are going to move Josie to her crib.  Hopefully that helps her sleeping.

She is still in 0-3 month clothes, although I did put the newborn stuff away at 2.5 months.  She is pretty tiny but getting taller.  We didn't have a check-up this month but go in a few weeks so I will know more on her size rankings then.  I will switch out clothes pretty soon to 3-6 month.
Isn't she beautiful?!!
A Few of Josie's Favorite Things:
  •  Attention!  She is much more social than Stella was.  Josie loves being talked to and sang to, she is always smiling at us and laughs a lot when you talk to her.  Although she doesn't "talk" as often as Stella used to.
  • Keeping her hands busy.  She loves holding her toes, blankies, and toys.
  • Sitting up.  Although she plays sometimes on her mat, she really doesn't like laying down.  Probably the acid reflux.  She had good neck strength though, so we already brought out her Bumbo and put her in it for short periods at a time (since she's still a bit of a bobble head!)
  • Bouncing in her chair.  Just like her big sister!  Josie is already sort of figuring out how to use her leg to bounce the chair herself (Stella did too, just when she was almost a year old).
Working on that neck strength!
Loves playing with her feet!
 Around the House:
  • I am currently sick with a nasty sinus infection.  Right when I was finally ready to start the 21 Day Fix again too.  Just accepting crazy is the new normal around here and powering though!
  • So far Mark hasn't gotten sick this round, but he did break his phone again.  See any recurring themes around our house?
  • Stella had about 2 weeks of feeling good before she got a bad cold and cough.  Thankfully no fever this time and she was only down a few days.  Still has the cold but really not feeling too bad, so still sent her to daycare today.  She was SO CRABBY last month that I really wonder if she ever felt good.  The virus she had last month never really came cough or anything...until she got the bloody noses and a bit of diarrhea a few weeks back.  Now that she's sneezing and coughing with more diarrhea she's actually a little happier, so I'm hoping all those nasty germs are finally leaving her!!  Kinda to be expected with starting daycare for the first time...
  • Speaking of daycare, we did increase her to 2 days a week this month.  She goes every Monday and Tuesday.  She LOVES it!  Every morning she asks me "I have school today?  I see kids?"  Makes my heart happy although I miss her dearly.  Her speech is really improving with exposure to the kids, and I know it is helping her social skills as well.  We also added OT back into the therapy mix this month, as recommended by her developmental specialist.  She will come to our house twice a month to help with some of Stella's quirks.  That's about as good a description as I can give right now.
  • Still house hunting.  Looked at a place last weekend but it was a big no.  We really had our hopes up for it too.  Just nothing out there and we've been looking for so long!  Maybe it's a blessing right now though, moving at this ridiculously crazy period in our lives would be really stressful.  Praying things calm down soon and we can find our forever home!
Pizza picnic in the living room.  Despite the hectic and stressful pace lately, we always make the most of it and despite all that's going on in our family we are doing well.  

Be back in a few weeks with Josie's 4 month update!  (or you know in a month after more sickness, fussiness and broken phones, whatever...)   Looking Forward to Fall!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Josie's 2 Month Update

Month 2 brought some good news and some bad news.  Since everything was all over the place (AGAIN!) I am just going to wing this post as well, since we are nowhere near in a routine.  Might as well carry that theme over to my blog!

At the end of June I tried my best to get the house put back together and cleaned and do some grocery shopping in the hopes of a better July.  Nope.  The chaos just wasn't ready to leave yet.  We encountered another run of craziness.  It began when I burned my face.  I have super sensitive skin and sometime it just reacts funny with products I'm using.  I don't even have to try something new, one day my face just decides it doesn't like what I'm using and it actually burns.  Like I got a chemical peel or something!  On the plus side it happened the night before I had a dentist appointment, so my awesome dentist gave me a sample of some expensive cream and it cleared up in about 5 days.  But for those 5 days I could barely talk or go out in public so that was fun!

We had a fun weekend planned for the 4th of July, just lots of stuff around home and with family.  Josie was still screaming everyday but we decided to try and fight through it rather than letting it keep us behind closed doors every weekend.  So Saturday I packed up the kids and headed to my sister's while Mark tried to get the yard work done so we could spend the rest of the weekend together.  Well I no sooner got to town and Stella was sick.  Watery eyes, 102 fever, and runny nose.  I turned back around and headed home, hoping it was just a quick summer cold.  Josie was more unhappy than ever, so I headed to Wal Mart to grab some "sick snacks" (usually Stella eats super healthy so when she's sick I stock up on the good stuff to make sure she eats and drinks).  I decided to try a different formula for Josie too.  I was a desperate woman!  We'd been through Newborn, Gentlease, and AR (too thick to drink through her Dr Browns bottles and made her constipated), so I decided to give Nutramigen a try.  A few friends suggested a milk allergy on Facebook when I put up a post asking for suggestions, and Nutramigen was the most recommended dairy-free formula.  I grabbed a can hoping it would work in 48 hours like the can claimed!  Wouldn't that be nice!  To my complete and utter surprise, after a miserable 4th of July weekend with a screaming baby and SUPER sick Stella (she didn't eat, drink, or talk all weekend!), our prayers were answered almost exactly 48 hours later.  By Monday Josie was a completely different baby!  Just in time too because Stella didn't get much better after the weekend.  Monday I took her into the ER since Mark had the day off.  They ran tests for RSV, strep, influenza, and did chest x-rays.  They also tested her blood and gave her fluids through an IV.  We were there all afternoon and it was pure torture for Stella, and everything came back negative.  Just a nasty virus.  I was happy but frustrated to put her through that for "nothing".  But as a parent you just have to.  She was so so sick.  For 5 full days she didn't eat, drink or talk.  Her fever hung around 102 that entire time.  Thursday I called the doctor to see if I should take her back to the ER for more fluids since she was so dehydrated and he said yes.  But that morning she had some luck:  the fever broke and she started to eat!  Tons of fruit and applesauce.  By Friday she was drinking and talking again, and even though she was still sick most of the next week we didn't have to return to the ER thankfully!
A very brief 4th of July celebration this year.

That week Josie was so good, it was such a change.  I soaked in the quiet and her baby smiles, it was the first calm I'd experienced since she was born!  But Mark got really sick and then so did I, so the calm didn't last long.  Thankfully mine was only a 3 day thing, because just like we knew she would, Josie eventually got sick.  To see a 2 month old cough and sneeze so much was heartbreaking.  She only got to be free from stomach pain for a week before the virus hit.  Life can be so cruel sometimes.  During this time Mark had to go on 2 trips for work.  Taking care of two miserable kids by yourself is NOT FUN!  And just when Stella got completely better, about 4 days later she relapsed and got a runny and bloody nose.  A sick Stella is the worst.  She is SO stubborn and won't take medicine.  She fought us so hard she bit through her lip, so we had no choice but to give up.  I think she would have healed better if she would have taken the Tylenol, but what can you do.  So we had one sick and miserable house ALL MONTH!  Thankfully (knock on wood) I think we are all pretty much healed!
Thank you Nutramigen for giving me my baby back! 

My poor little sick family!

But the bad luck didn't stop with the sickness.  Mark ran into some stress at work and broke his phone AGAIN, plus our dishwasher broke last weekend.  Just one thing after another I tell ya!

We did manage to finally sneak in a date night last Sunday.  We went out for pizza and to see Jim Gaffigan live in the Quad Cities.  That's always been on my bucket list, I was so happy to go.  The girls stayed with Grandma while we went, and thankfully it wasn't too late of a night since it was a Sunday.
Date night to Jim Gaffigan!

OK, so that was the "bad news".  I always like to get that out of the way first so there's something to look forward to.  As July comes to a close I am hoping August brings a fresh start for us.  But that's exactly how I ended last month, so we shall see!  Let's do a quick "where we're at" check-in:

My incision is healed.  It is no longer seeping, but it doesn't look pretty like after Stella.  It is still really red and bruised.  Not sure if that will ever go away.  But I am healed and free from pain so I am a happy camper!  I ordered a new at-home fitness program and I am super excited for it to arrive!  Hoping to have a good update on that next post!

Stella still has a bit of a runny nose, but I'm thinking it's allergies.  She feels pretty good, but the sickness made her very ornery.  I think she just got cabin fever and I can't blame her for acting out.  Being stuck in an 800 sq ft house all summer just stinks.  Hoping to change that next month!  We did decide to put her in a daycare center where her cousin goes once a week.  Just to get some social skills and help her speech along.  Today is her second day.  Last week she LOVED it and did so well.  Mark was gone so I took her and picked her up, but it's in Geneseo so normally every Tuesday he will take her before work and get her after.  I think it is going to be so good for her, and it will help me get some things done too.  That's how I'm finally finishing this post today in fact!  We also decided to up her Speech Therapy to once a week rather than twice a month.  This month she was sick her first session and her therapist was on vacation during her second.  Her therapist is AMAZING, but is so booked solid we can't make up missed sessions.  She does such a great job and I want to take advantage of her before Stella is done with EI (they are done when they turn 3).  I'd also like to hit everything full throttle before she turns 3 and gets sent to PRE-K.  We have a meeting for that coming up soon!  Yesterday I took Stella for her ADOS evaluation (we were supposed to go at the beginning of the month but had to re-schedule because she was so sick).  This is basically a test to determine if enough Autism signs are present to warrant the full diagnostic test.  A lady just played with her and took notes.  Stella seemed to do well, only had meltdowns in the restroom and elevator (big surprise!)  I will do an update on Stella after we meet with her pediatric developmental specialist next week to discuss the results.  Don't want her to steal Josie's blog post :)  But we made some nice changes this month and now that the girls are better we can get out and about more!  Regardless of the test outcome, I'm pleased with the direction she's headed (although I am super nervous).
Sisterly love!  Stella is such a good big sister.  She always shares puppy and enjoys helping burp and feed Josie.  She always says "she's so cute" and "she's talking" when she's happy or "Josie sad" when she cries.  So in tuned with Josie!

OK, now to the star of my post, Miss Josie Mae.  We started calling her Josephine as her colicky alter-ego, and now that's all Stella calls her.  It's super cute but I know we gotta work on that!  Nutramigen formula is stinky, pricey, and doesn't mix well.  But it is a BLESSING!  Josie is now the happiest baby I've ever seen.  Constantly smiling at people and starting to coo.  It breaks my heart to think of how bad her tummy must have hurt all those weeks.  But only looking ahead from here.  She's finally pooping normally, not spitting up as much, and burping after eating.  She is using the Dr Browns bottles and is still on 0.8 mL of her AR medicine.  We aren't pulling that until 3 months just in case she does have some acid reflux too.  I don't want her to hurt anymore.  She is able to take 4oz of formula at a time consistently now!  I kept raising and lowering the amount until we got on Nutramigen because she was never content, but this formula allowed her to get herself on somewhat of a "schedule"  She goes to bed every night around 8:00 and sleeps until about 5:00am.  Wonderful sleeper, just like her sister!  She eats at 5:00 and goes back to sleep until about 8:30ish.  So great!  Then she eats roughly every 2 hours throughout the day.  Probably more often than most babies, but she cluster feeds because she doesn't eat through the night.  She also takes about a 3 hour nap most afternoons, around the same time as Stella.  I fully believe in routines and will do an updated baby routine post soon (when it's a little more established).  Stella's baby routine post is my most popular post (find it HERE).  It provoked quite the debate, but I stand by my words that you should do your best to get your kids in a sleep routine from an early age.  Anyways.  After Josie started feeling better we moved back to the bedroom at night.  She still slept in her rock n play by the bed at first, but I really wanted her on a flat surface as soon as possible to avoid wearing a helmet.  I don't know if that's what causes mis-shaped heads, but I have heard it might so why risk it.  Just my opinion.  So she is now in her bassinet (thankful we can finally use the Angelcare Monitor for her!) during the night.  We put her to bed in it around 8:00, but after her 5am feeding she doesn't want to go back in there so I put her in the rock n play for her morning "nap".  I'm OK with that. 
Just love clean baby snuggles!  Josie loves the bath!

Josie can already hold her head up for quite a while.  We have done some tummy time, but not as structured as I did with Stella.  Mainly laying on my chest and practicing holding her head up on my lap.  She also loves to grasp toys and hold blankies while she sleeps.  And we already have another thumb sucker!  She never did take the pacifier, I don't even try anymore.  She jams her thumb in her mouth but is super awkward with the other 4 fingers.  She usually ends up poking herself in the eye, and she gouged her cheek up last week.  I tried mittens but the little stinker can get her thumb out of them!  I remember Stella going through that phase too.  She still sucks her thumb when she's tired or upset.  I'm not one to complain, I like that they can self-soothe and I HATE pacifiers.  Personal preference.  Josie was 22" (24%), and 11.7 lbs (51%) at her 2 month check-up.  She also got her shots, but it was when she didn't feel good so that added to the misery!  But happy to report she is now a healthy, happy, absolutely beautiful baby girl!  I can't wait to start doing more with her now that she feels good!  Don't ever take that for granted moms, and if your newborn screams all day every day don't believe that it is "just colic", even if that's what the doctor tells you.  Please consider acid reflux and/or a milk allergy from the beginning, and don't quit until your baby's happy!  I am so glad I didn't!
Puppy getting in on tummy time!

Mark is mostly better too, just has a little cough left.  He's swamped at work right now with paperwork, but that should draw to a close as the month ends.  I am also SUPER happy to report that I took Kaiser in this morning for a half-way check-up from his ACL surgery.  I can't believe it's been 3 months.  He was still limping quite a bit so I was worried he snapped the line or tore the other one (happens often because they bear all weight on the good leg while the other one heals).  The vet said he is healing beautifully.  Very little arthritis in the torn knee, and the other one isn't swollen at all.  3 more months of taking it easy and he should be back to his old self!  (we won't ever stop worrying about tearing the other one, but at least the recovery will be over and he will be as healed as he can be)  He has made himself quite comfortable inside and keeps busy watching over his sisters, and when he's in his kennel outside (when weather permits it's been humid and miserable lately) he enjoys watching and barking at all our chickens.
Always lays by the girls or outside their doors when they sleep!

So there you go.  Super long and probably boring post.  But now we are all caught up.  I have high hopes for August.  We are all healed and healthy.  We have some nice changes coming our way.  Fall is right around the corner, my absolute favorite time of year!  I will be back with Josie's 3 month update soon (hopefully closer to her actual monthly anniversary -the 11th- now that things are looking up!)  Enjoy the rest of your summer, I know we will!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Josie's 1 Month Update

I'm not sure how to begin this post, or what format to follow, or even what to write.  So I will just wing it, which is exactly how we've been living life this past month!

My last blog post wrapped up when Josie was 2 weeks old, and the first 2 weeks had went pretty smoothly.  She was adjusting well, as was Stella, and I was feeling good.  And honestly the first week after Mark went back to work wasn't too bad.  Granted I didn't get much done except care for the girls, and we mostly stayed home as my incision was still healing, but I expected all of that and enjoyed a pretty peaceful week as May came to a close.

Everything changed when June began and Josie hit the 3 week mark.  I remember clearly the first outing I went on with both girls...just a simple trip to Brimfield for Stella's return to speech therapy.  Josie didn't sleep at all that day.  And not only did she not sleep, she cried and fussed the ENTIRE DAY!  I had never experienced such a thing with Stella.  She wouldn't even calm down for the car ride!  I remember telling Mark about it when he got home (also very irritated since he managed to run his phone over that day!) and I was just in disbelief and ready to start a new day!  That weekend we had plans of attending our town's yearly Fun Days.  It is something we always look forward to, and even though we knew it wouldn't be a "night out" I was really excited to take the girls.  It was beautiful weather and we were so ready to get out of the house!  But Thursday was not a fluke.  It became our way of life for the past 3 weeks.  I know that doesn't sound like long, but after hour upon hour of crying it feels like years.  Perhaps even an eternity.  Needless to say we stayed home that weekend and attended to our colicky baby.  We did run to Bradford Sunday night to take the new double stroller for a spin and let Stella play at the park. 
Stella helping Josie try to take the pacifier!

Week 4 was much the same.  The crying and fussing would begin around 6:00am and continue until 10:00pm.  I only wish I was exaggerating.  She would sleep from 10:00pm until about 4:00am every night, wake to eat, and go back to sleep until 6:00.  I think this was only out of sheer exhaustion from the day's work (all that fussing must be hard, plus she doesn't nap more than a few minutes at a time and will wake at the drop of a hat...although baby girl can snore!), but I am grateful nonetheless, it has been my only saving grace (apart from my husband, Paw Patrol, iced coffee and Moscato of course!)  I did take her into the doctor and he sent me home with a packet on colic.  All suggestions that I had already tried.  I attempted to just accept that she was an unhappy baby, but colic is defined as "crying or fussing for 3 or more hours at least 3 days a week" (according to the handout from my doctor).  Josie cried about 15 hours a day at least 6 days a week.  I couldn't shake the feeling that something else was up, especially with the problems she had in the hospital when she was born (all those air pockets and throwing up blood).  I switched her to Gentlease formula hoping that would help and started gas drops, but no luck.  I would have to leave when Mark got home almost everyday.  I'd go grab an iced coffee and just drive around, sometimes at Johnson's State Park, just to have some quiet and calm down.  It was so hard on all of us, Stella slowly because irritable as well.  I was so pissed.  This was supposed to be the summer we went places and worked on Stella's social skills now that I had cancelled most of her therapy.  And now this!  Don't get me wrong I am grateful for my girls, but colic just sucks!

As week 5 rolled around, my dad and his girlfriend offered to come over and watch the girls so Mark and I could grab a quick dinner in town.  It was our first time out alone, and even though it was only a few hours it was really nice!  My dad's girlfriend thought it seemed like Josie had a tummy ache.  That was what really got me started thinking.  I thought it was still the "fetal position" but her legs are always drawn into her chest.  She spit up all the time, even after we switched to the dreaded Dr Browns bottles (helpful because she stopped spitting formula out when she drank, just a pain to clean).  Not to mention the constant crying and air pockets at birth.  I decided there was definitely more at play than colic and vowed that night to get to the bottom of it.  But then the next day I started getting terrible aches in my abdomen.  It felt like I had just had the c-section, despite little pain for the first 5 weeks.  On Friday the pain was so bad Mark had to come home and care for the girls because I could barely walk.  Turns out he wasn't much help, he had thrown out his back!  We managed to go to the hospital to x-ray Josie (showing more air pockets) and then I headed to my doctor in Peoria for the pain, plus my incision was turning red.  He just cleaned it up and put me on an antibiotic, but it wasn't infected yet and he wasn't quite sure what the pain was from.
Typical Josie :(

Saturday was our 5 year anniversary.  Mark's back was better, but my incision was worse.  It had turned completely brown and was pretty painful.  After doing some much needed yard work, Mark took Stella to Kewanee to grab dinner since we couldn't manage anything else for our anniversary.  He also came home with cake and flowers, very sweet :)  Josie had SCREAMED ALL DAY so I was pretty stressed.  After the girls were finally asleep around 9:00 Mark and I had dessert, a bottle of champagne, and opened one of the bottles of MamaJuana that we had bought on our honeymoon.  It was the perfect ending to a stressful day, and we decided to celebrate more when everyone is better!
Our honeymoon drink and one rose for every year of marriage :)

Sunday was Father's Day, and Josie was still screaming.  Unfortunately I was worse, my incision was now seeping fluids.  I made cinnamon rolls for breakfast and we just rested all day.  Mark took Stella to his family's cookout that evening for a few hours while I started in on the new season of Orange is the New Black (3 episodes in and not impressed dang it!)  I ended up calling the hospital and emergency hot line at my doctor's office that evening because my incision just wasn't getting any better, but I fell asleep and they never called back.
Daddy and his girls.  Happy Father's Day!

When I woke up after a crappy night's sleep on Monday, my incision was bleeding bright red blood.  Mark took Stella to his parent's, and then me to the ER.  They said fluid had been building internally (must have been what caused the pain the week before) and then it started draining, which was good.  I was never told drainage is OK, would have been good to know!  That afternoon we had to take Josie to OSF for an ultrasound to make sure nothing was twisted in her stomach.  If that was all clear, we could do a trial of acid reflux medicine.  Thankfully the ultrasound showed everything to be normal, so after a weight check at the doctor's on Tuesday (she was gaining weight thankfully, despite all the spit up, but only because she was eating small amounts all day long!) we went and picked up AR medicine for Josie. 

Which brings us to week 6 and my postpartum check-up.  When I went in (with Josie, Stella went to my in-laws again) the appointment was rushed because he had to go deliver a baby.  He agreed with the ER doctor and said my incision is headed in the right direction, will just take a while to heal.  Very frustrating given I was looking forward to BEING healed and enjoying a nice spa day and clean house as my postpartum celebration.  Oh how life laughs when we tell it out plans!

Yesterday we had a play date in Atkinson with the girl's cousins while my car got fixed (yep, on top of all that crap my car decided to break again!).  Which brings me to today.  Here is where we are at:

I am still healing.  My internal pain is gone and I finished my meds yesterday, but the incision is very uncomfortable.  Even walking isn't very fun yet.  I'm running on survival mode around the house so I am mentally exhausted and I just look like crap.  Little sleep and 2 minute showers while the vacuum runs and Paw Patrol blares to keep your kids happy will do that to you.  I am SO ready to jump back into my diet and exercise routine.  I sure hope it's soon.

Stella is regressing.  I've found her sleeping in front of her door holding her doll.  So unlike her.  She isn't sleeping well and is really acting out.  Not enough attention and constant stress takes a toll on even the littlest of children.
Trying to have as much fun with our girls as colic/AR will allow!  A day out for a birthday party.

Josie is still miserable.  Yesterday I did get a smile out of her...the first one yet!  She also had about an hour where she was awake and didn't cry!  Doesn't sound like much but a huge step in the right direction for us.  She is spitting out her medicine, so I'm still trying to find ways to get her to keep it down.  I also switched to AR formula today in hopes that she stops spitting up and throwing up.  she has been taking 3oz lately too.  I've been talking with a friend who has a 2 month old in a similar situation, so she gave me a bunch of tips for the medicine today.  I am so hopeful that it will help.  I also bought some Dr Browns pacifiers today to see if she will take those.  She likes the paci but can't keep it in her mouth.  These curve up to keep it in and also are supposed to prevent them from sucking air.  Just what an air filled baby needs!  So for now I am trying everything I can (a chiropractor visit is next on the list if the medicine doesn't help), and surviving by running the vacuum and bouncing her in the bouncy chair.  Sometimes going outside or a car ride helps too, just depends on the day. 
Finally the first sign of relief and the first smile!  Isn't she just beautiful!!

Mark is doing pretty good and has been a blessing through this.  I know most difficult phases in life take a toll on a marriage, but if anything this has brought us closer.  Not that we don't have our days, but we know we're better together.  Kaiser is handling everything like a champ!  He's in his outdoor kennel during the day (although it has been in the 90's lately so he's been in a few days) and sleeps in the living room by me at night (still on the couch for now).  He is healing nicely too!
Cuddles for Stella Anne
Kaiser is so happy to sleep in the living room again, always by his baby of course!

I really hope July brings some nice changes for us.  I always hate dwelling on the negative.  I do count my blessings and thank God everyday, but there's just no denying some phases in life are hard.  And some things just suck.  But the bad times make the good ones better.  I love my beautiful family, and I am going to work my butt off to get things back to "normal" next week.  I am really hoping to get the house cleaned, do some grocery shopping, and get into a "routine".  And if that doesn't happen after I have exhausted every avenue for Josie, I pray for the strength to find a way to be motivated and calm through the stress.  No matter what it looks like, my goal for next month is to make things better for Stella, and to bring Josie as much relief as possible.  I know I must first take care of myself to accomplish these goals!  So I'm off to get some things done (if Josie and Stella will stay sleeping when I take my foot off this bouncy chair that is!)  Be back in a few short weeks for the 2 month update :-)  Happy 4th of July!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Josie's First 2 Weeks

I am going to pick up where I left off with Josie's birth story.  This post will be about our first 2 weeks at home.  We were really lucky this time, Mark got to take 2 weeks off work so that made things SO much better for my recovery!  All things considered I'd say the first couple of weeks went pretty smoothly...

What We've Been Up To: Week 1
Sunday my mom brought Stella back home in the morning.  She did NOT do well at first.  She was excited about Josie and loved her so much (even shared her beloved puppy with her, that's how we knew she was special to Stella!) but she threw a huge fit every time Mark or I picked Josie up.  Ran to her room screaming!  By the end of the two weeks she was over this phase thankfully, but it was rough at first.  Mark went and picked up Kaiser from the vet while my mom was here.  It was so nice to have him back with no cone or cast.  He was happier, plus he was able to stay outside in his kennel now and the fresh air did him good.  He still slept inside with us, and thankfully he didn't get worked up over Josie like he did when Stella was born.  Just used to being a big brother by now!  Mark also was able to mow the yard and run to Wal Mart on Sunday, so we were doing pretty good getting caught up around the house!
Sisterly love.
Josie got Stella a Big Sister gift...Paw Patrol goodies of course!  She already knows her well!

Monday was my due date, and Josie was 5 days old!  We had a doctor appointment, and everything looked great except he thought she looked jaundice, so we had to go to the hospital for a check.  That proved ONCE AGAIN to be a nightmare.  We went to Kewanee Hospital thinking it would be a quick routine test, but we were so wrong!  I wasn't prepared, so I was without my pain meds and therefore very crabby :)  We had to register, which made me mad from the beginning.  Josie's birth hospital, doctor's office and this hospital are all OSF.  We shouldn't have had to do everything all over, but their computers aren't synced.  By the time we got into the room, Stella was super tired and crabby.  The room was freezing so Josie wasn't bleeding very well.  They stuck her heels 6 times before they got enough blood!  I'm usually pretty nice but I wasn't nice to those nurses!  The rest of Monday was a fussy day for Josie and mama!  I couldn't blame her after that experience :( 
Swaddled, Rock-n-Play bed, and music giraffe...sleep essentials for Josie Mae.

Tuesday Mark had to take Kaiser to the vet for his shot.  Jenny came over and hung out with us.  It was a pretty relaxing day and Mark was able to get some stuff done outside while I had help.  Stella didn't nap though, so she was pretty fussy by bedtime!
Kaiser watching over his girls.

On Wednesday morning we went to my friend's house to get Josie's newborn pictures done.  She stayed awake pretty much the whole session, but she wasn't too fussy so it went smoother than I anticipated.  Stella didn't cooperate of course, but we managed to sneak a few in so I was very happy!  When we got home Abby came over to spend the afternoon with us while Mark had some more time outside (he really lucked out this week!)  Stella was so excited to see Abby that she climbed over her bed rail (the one we'd been using to keep her in her toddler bed) for the first time ever!  I was so shocked when I heard that door open and saw her come running down the hall!  It was bad timing with a new baby, but I was so thankful she was strong and determined enough to do it!  The things most parents take for granted, but not when you have a baby with low muscle tone :)  Wednesday evening got pretty rough, both girls were super crabby and I took my last pain meds.  After a few crazy days and no naps for Stella, we decided to just stay home Thursday and get some rest and routine back for Stella.
Some of my favorite shots.

Highlights of Week 1
Mark was very helpful, it was so nice to have him home.  I was glad I had other help too so he could sneak some alone time in outside.  I did very well the first week, little to no pain (except when I got up in the mornings...slept on the couch all week).  I didn't have any postpartum depression, and with Mark helping I even slept decent.  I did get an awful rash from my binder, but other than that everything went great!  Stella had a rough week, between the not napping, no routines, and me not being able to care for her like I normally do.  Everyday was a little better and she's learning to stay in her bed for naps and nighttime.  Josie was a tad fussy, and she had her days and nights mixed up but nothing out of the ordinary.  She had her little period discharge, but I remembered that from Stella so we didn't worry this time :)  She ate about 1.5-2 ounces every few hours.  She didn't take a pacifier, but she didn't have one in the hospital so this didn't surprise me.  We were amazed how well she can lift and hold her head up already, she is very strong!  She loves to be held and snuggled, especially against my chest.  Other than a little chapped chin she was super healthy and beautiful!!  Great first week!!

What We've Been Up To: Week 2
Thursday marked the start of Josie's second week.  We spent the day resting and getting back into a "routine" (the best we could with a newborn!)  Mark took Stella to his parents after nap because his mom made us a bunch of delicious food!  Stella walked around their farm all afternoon, so she came back with a bad diaper rash.  This made for AWFUL diaper changes for the rest of the week.  Good thing she had fun at the farm!

Friday Kaiser had his last surgery shot.  We all went with to show off the new baby, and then we stopped in at Mark's work to show her around there.  That afternoon we did a few chores, and my dad and his girlfriend brought out pizza that evening.
Kaiser trying his best to cheer up Josie!

Saturday was our first big outing.  Our niece graduated from high school so we went to her party.  It was a beautiful day, and Stella had so much fun!  Josie did well too.  We dropped Stella off at my mom's after the party.  She was going to spend a few more days with her while we did a few things around the house and focused on Josie.  She had a rough week and we wanted to give her a little break with the rest of the time my mom took off work. 

Sunday morning we went back into town to take the girls to my Grandma's so my family could meet Josie.  We had coffee and donuts and Stella had a blast playing with her cousins while everyone held Josie.  Then Mark and I took Josie back home to finish up a few things before he went back to work the next day.
Meeting her great-grandmas:  Grandma Norton and Grandma Bomleny.  Her middle name is after Great-Grandma Norton!!

Monday Mark went back to work.  He sleeps in the bedroom on nights he has to work so he can get rest, and I've stayed on the couch with Josie.  I don't mind this, I can always nap if needs be, plus I get to sleep in until the girls wake up :)  I had Josie alone on Monday, which was much easier than both of them as I eased into doing everything alone after my C-section.

Tuesday morning we rode with Mark into town when he went to work.  I couldn't drive yet so he dropped us off at my mom's.  She took us to Josie's 2 week doctor check-up and stayed in the waiting room with Stella.  Her appointment went well, but she still wasn't up to her birth weight so we had to schedule a 1 week follow up just to have her weighed.  She had lumps in her chest that scared the crap out of me, but it was just breast tissue.  He said that is common in newborns, even boys, but Stella didn't have it.  After the appointment my mom brought us home and stayed until Mark got home from work.  We had coffee and just visited that day.

On Wednesday I had my 2 week check-up.  This was just to check my incision, I still have the traditional 6 week postpartum check-up too.  Mark took the morning off to take us.  Everything looked great and I was cleared to drive and use the stairs again, but still minimal lifting and no exercise yet.  The kids were super fussy, so we headed straight home after the appointment (after a Dunkin Donuts pit stop of course!).  Mark went back to work in the afternoon, so I got a small taste of being alone with both girls before I started full on the next day.  It actually went pretty well, they slept and I even got some chores done!  A nice way to wrap up Josie's second week :)
Lots of hair like her sister (yes, even the mini-mullet!)
Stella's obsessed with Paw Patrol.  It's been a lifesaver as we adjust to our growing family.  Here she's playing with the tower (from my mom) and in her Paw Patrol hat.  It's Mark's, but she likes to put it on and say "Come on pups!"  Not sure where that came from but it's adorable!

Highlights of Week 2
Another decent week!  Mark was very helpful again, but I know he was ready to go back to work.  Just a busy time and he felt guilty not being there, but enjoyed his time at home.  My recovery went very well.  I wasn't eating great, but not terrible either.  I lost 20 pounds in the first two weeks, after Stella it took me 4 months to get to this point!  So much better.  Gotta cut back on that coffee though...  Stella was doing better by the end of week 2.  She loves to rock Josie, share her puppy with her, and sing "rock a baby tree fall down" while she rocks her.  So sweet, melts my heart!  Josie was starting to pick up with the fussiness.  It was a few hours at a time by now, and she was starting to spit up and have a harder time latching on to the bottles.  Feedings took much longer this week!  Plus she wouldn't take the pacifier, but I could tell she wanted it, so that was frustrating.  After a few days of only pooping once a day she started going 4-5 times a day, so that helped a little.  Her umbilical cord fell out at 13 days old.  She loves baths, but we only did them every few days because her skin is so dry.  She was fussy in the evenings, but then she would wake every 3 hours in the night to eat, so a little better than every 1.5-2 hours like she did during the day.  I tried to rotate holding her, tummy time, and using the swing, bouncy seat and rocky bed.  Just trying to switch it up and keep her happy!  Kaiser was doing well this week too, although he sure missed sleeping on the couch!  His fur was starting to grow back and he did so well with the girls :)

2 Weeks Postpartum Reflection
Other than the typical adjustments and newborn frustrations (mainly lack of sleep!) the first phase of my postpartum journey went so much smoother this time around.  My pain was minimal, the weather was beautiful, Mark was home, and I had much better medical care.  I also didn't use cloth diapers or breastfeed.  Yes, I believe breastfeeding is "better" than bottle feeding in many ways.  But you know what is worse?  Not being able to breastfeed without being severely stressed and in pain and dreading every time you have to feed your baby.  A bottle given lovingly trumps a forced breastfeed in my book!  The most important thing is that you and your baby are healthy and happy!  I changed a lot during this pregnancy, motherhood will do that to you!  You just have to let go of the picture you had in your head and embrace what is.  Once you do that you will be SO much happier.  I am still a work in progress, it takes time to adjust a Type A mama, but I am getting there!  I am so thankful for my beautiful family, our health, and our happiness.  Life is good!

Up next:  Josie's 1 Month update...coming Saturday since it took me so long to get this post done!  Remembering to embrace what is :)