Monday, June 16, 2008


Last night was a bit rough because for some reason she didn't want to fall asleep at her usual 10ish bedtime. We took her to bed and fed her early enough and she acted like she was going along with it. Just as I started to settle in she starts stretching. Now, I've learned that once she stretches she rarely goes back to sleep (somehow she can sleep through grunting, chuckling, and even crying though). Up she went and within 30 minutes she was asking for more food. Ok, so she didn't get full at her previous feed (this is starting to happen with her bedtime feed for some reason) and we decided to supplement. She proceeds to down the 4 ounces and again acts like she's going to sleep. Instead she decides to stay up . . . for another 2-3 hours. We're not sure how long because I think we both fell asleep. I know I did because I assumed my husband was staying up with her. But at some point he decided she was safe and not upset and he went to sleep too. So I when I woke up at 3am the baby was still up and eating her hands. I fed her and turned off all the lights (we usually leave one on dimly) and she finally slept. For 4 hours. So my total sleep last night was 2.5 + 4.

We could have slept another round after that but I decided to get her up early rather than continuing to sleep in, in hopes that this would reset her bedtime. She ate again and was acting very drowsy so I decided to try to put her down on her crib that way. Most likely she'd wake up (the effect I wanted) but if by chance she fell asleep without help that would have actually been a nice lesson. She stayed drowsy on the crib for 5-10 minutes then did her stretching routine. After that she was wide awake and played for about 30 minutes, rolling to her sides. When she started getting antsy I picked her up and that's when I noticed it. The back of her neck felt oddly warm. I touched her forehead and couldn't deny the eerie warmth. I tried not to panic and took her temperature. She registered a 99.2, her first official low-grade fever. I wanted to cry but instead I fed her and let her sleep on me while I willed her fever to go down. I figured she was mostly fine since she wasn't acting any differently. Three hours later I retook the temp and it was 98.6. Perfect!

Now I can go on with the rest of my day . . .

Maybe I'll play a little oboe for her :-)

From now on

Ok. I feel soooooooooooo much better now that I am nice and updated. I really do want to keep this up to date in terms of my big three (baby, music, school). It will be interesting to have this journey chronicled.

As Alanis enters her third month of life I will update with stories and pictures.

In terms of school, orientation starts on August 18th. I will be attending my alma mater since it is walking distance to my parent's apartment. Both Mom and Dad have agreed to babysit for me while I'm at school. Dad is still the more enthusiastic one, but Mom is finally on board as well. Though it is the best possible care situation, I can't even think about leaving my baby at this point without wanting to wail. It's gotten better I suppose since during those first two weeks I was contemplating selling everything, not going to school, and being a SAHM. A part of me is still intrigued by that but I know it's not realistic for many reasons. Since I have to work at some point and have pretty much ruled out everything else the only thing that makes sense is for me to go through with this whole medicine thing. It's crazy how it's no longer priority number one in my life. And I admit that I worry about how well I will do given that fact. But I keep telling myself that other parents do it and that somehow I will figure out how to make it work. It's going to be difficult but in a way I will actually be able to be with the baby more so than if I were working full-time. Classes start at 9 but end at 3 or noon twice a week (and closer to 5 the other two days). They are taped and posted online so after a while I will probably skip them and study on my own. It's definitely easier to be truant at school than at work, so hopefully I won't die from missing my daughter.

On the music front things are honestly not going right now. But the desire for it is slowly coming back. I did play once since the baby was born and it was bad, but not as bad as I feared. I am hoping that in the next month I can start practicing again. I am aiming for just 15 minutes a day to start. Maybe Toyin can bring me a new reed when she comes to meet the baby *sends wishful thoughts across the internet void*.

Second Month


Ahh, month number two. We were now quite a bit wiser and a lot more at ease. Alanis started smiling at the beginning of the month and does it more and more now. It is such a wonderful feeling to see that cute, gumless, tongue-y smile directed at you. It really does bring light to my life.
Early smile:

More recent smile:

She is definitely way more alert now and stays awake for longer periods of time. Whereas before she wasn't really focusing her vision anywhere now she definitely looks and follows people and objects. She even tracks her daddy as he moves around. We no longer have to be right in her face to get her attention. She even likes to look at books. Here she is gaining a deeper perspective on life from her Blues Clues book:

Feedings are going much smother now albeit more often. She's eating every two hours now throughout the day. If she kept gaining an ounce a day she should be exactly 10lbs at her appointment on Wednesday. However I predict that she will be more than 10 since we've been estimating her weight periodically by weighing ourselves with her on our digital scale. The question is whether she will be over or under 10.5. She also seems to have gotten a lot longer. She outgrew newborn clothes and even some 0-3 month stuff due to length. She's also no longer wearing newborn diapers and is on size 1's.

She finally started cooing near the end of the month. She started doing it with Daddy first (of course!) but now she and I will have nice conversations too. It was funny at first when she still didn't have her voice. She would watch my lips intently and try to move hers but no sound would come out or only grunting. Then one day with her Dad she finally found her vowels and it was so cute that it made me tear up.

Her limbs are a lot stronger now. She loves to move her kick her legs and move them around slowly when she's in a good mood. If she's about to get fussy she will do a quick march in place instead. She also discovered that her hands are yummy and they are frequently in her mouth now.

Much to my chagrin, she likes watching TV!! I don't know when it started exactly but if she's downstairs in the living room on her exercise mat she will sometimes ignore her toys and instead stare at the boob tube. Oh no!!

She also *loves* her mobile. I swear she can stare at that thing all day. Sometimes she smiles at it and tries to reach out to it. We call this picture "Supergirl":

The one thing we need to work on is more tummy time so she can develop better head control. I neglected to put her on her stomach that first month and by the time I realized I should have been doing it she didn't care for the position. The first several attempts had to be aborted pretty quickly but recently she's been making nice progress. Apparently it's quite a workout because she grunts more than guys lifting weights at the gym:

The other thing that is a work-in-progress is sleeping. I am happy to report that maybe 3 weeks ago she started taking longer stretches of sleep at nighttime. These vary from 3.5 to 5.5 hours. We can now count on at least one 4 hour stretch a night. Woohoo!!

By the way, I'd like to take this time to whine about just how many books/theories there are about child sleep. Holy moly! And of course me being the anal person that I am, I bought and have read quite a few books and my mind is now swimming with all the information. I've read from Ferber ("cry it out") to Sears ("co-sleep") to several in between. My mind gravitates towards one method but my heart goes for another. When did sleeping become so complicated?? In my day we were put in bed and that was the end of it. Or maybe it just seemed easier from that vantage point. Some days it's as if all I do is worry about her naps and sleep in general. But then I figure that years down the road it really won't matter what the hell we do now as she will have moved on to bigger and better milestones and challenges. So the lazy part of me is tempted to not to much and just go with the flow. Well, I think I will do that anyway for at least another month to see where she "settles" at. The anal side of me is intrigued by the sleep trainers, though I think it's all a little too much honestly. One of the things that is difficult about being a parent is being sure whether you are doing the right thing. I am still feeling incompetent I guess or at the very least I tend to second guess myself a lot. If anyone is still reading this blog and has ideas, opinions, advice about the whole sleeping thing, please comment. I'd like to know what others out there did.

Finally, personality traits I am starting to notice:
* Feisty/Perseverance: The nurses noticed this at the hospital as we were working on BFing. Even when things weren't going well from my standpoint she continued giving it her all at almost every feeding. She also tries very hard with her tummy time even though she doesn't like it very much. You go girl!
* Jolly: When something amuses her she doesn't hold back and lets you know that she's pleased. I do hope she keeps that as she grows up. Sometimes life can take that away from you and you don't enjoy things to the fullest. It's nice to find happiness even in small things.
* Love of food. :-D I guess this one too can count for all babies but I swear this girl really must have her food now. Just like Mommy.

First Month


Looking back now those first four weeks were a blur. Here is what I remember:

* Feeling emotionally overwhelmed. Normally when you fall in love with someone it's something gradual. You meet them and there is probably an initial attraction. You then become friends and you start to notice qualities you like about the person. With a new baby you go from 0 to 1000 in .0005 seconds. Woah!!
* Once I got used to having a new love in my life I then became very anxious for about 7-10 days. It was probably the normal baby blues that one gets. But I just remember being consumed with fear for her life those first few days to the point where I didn't sleep at all for like 3 days just watching her nonstop. The other feeling that was present was utter incompetence. I felt really stupid a lot of the time!
* Breastfeeding does NOT just happen easily and naturally. Just like I didn't bother with birthing classes I also didn't understand why people needed breastfeeding instruction. Boy was I in for a shocker. I ended up needing several sessions with more than one lactation consultant and even then it took quite a while for things to fall into place. Even now I still worry about whether she's getting enough, whether I'm making enough, can't we make her latch better, etc.
* Going into the pregnancy I had low expectations for breastfeeding for a variety of reasons. But once she was here I became obsessed with getting it to work. Unfortunately my family was surprisingly NOT supportive. It seems that my breastfeeding was not in vogue for my Mom's generation. Three days after Alanis was born my parent came up to the house and the baby was crying because she was hungry. We were having trouble with the feeding still at that point and my parents started freaking out that she was hungry and I wasn't feeing her appropriately. So I gave in to them and gave her a bottle two feedings in a row. After they left when we tried to get her to latch on for the next feeding, she refused. I thought it was all over. We tried for 1.5 hours while both she and I cried. Eventually we got things to work, sort of and thankfully my milk finally came in the next evening and the baby was much happier. And my parents stopped harassing me about bottles!
* Growth. This one goes in conjunction with breastfeeding. Since I was set on BFing exclusively they had to monitor her weight closely those first few days. When we went in that Thursday after she was born (4/17) she was down to 5lbs 10oz since they lose some the first few days. At 8 days (4/21) she was back up to 6lbs. This was a nice gain of over an ounce a day. She continued that trend weighing 6lbs 9.5ounces at her 2 week check up on 4/28 and 7lbs 11ounces at her 1 month check up on 5/12. Wh
* Sleep. Oh wonderful uninterrupted sleep, how I miss you. I guess I didn't really think this one out through before I had the baby. This is probably a good thing because if I had known just how bad it is I may have waited some more. I guess I figured you'd have some bad nights but also some good nights. I didn't realize you would never sleep a full night again for a while!! Naive little me. I thought I'd have stretches of time where I'd be sleeping. Oh no no no. The baby needs to eat every 3 hours and since I was BFing that meant I had to be the one doing this. And at that point it took an hour a feeding so even if I did manage to sleep afterwards it was only for 2 hours at a time.
* Day/night confusion. Eventually she started having slightly longer awake periods. Unfortunately, these were in the dead of night at first. "Look Mommy and Daddy! I want to interact with you now!" Yeah, but it's 3am!! We were torn because we were happy that she was finally recognizing our presence but we really had no energy for her at that time.
* Within a few days we were doing decently well getting the baby's needs met. But we realized we were ignoring our own! Some days it would be mid-afternoon and we hadn't eaten anything. That's when I called Mom and begged her to come over and stay with us so she could feed us and clean the house.

Damn, this sounds like negative stuff but it really wasn't. It's just that that is what stands out the most in my mind at this point. The baby was still pretty "fetal" that first month, especially since she was born quite skinny. She didn't do much yet but she did smile as she drifted off to sleep. And all her bodily functions were in place and provided entertainment for us. We were still just in awe of having made a little person and were content to just stare at her for hours on end.

4 weeks old:

Oh the irony of it (birth story)

So as soon as I made that "motivation" post I looked at my previous post. I happened to be on 4/12 at around 10 in the morning. I hadn't gotten very many "cramps" yet by that point, just a few overnight that were so mild I ignored them. That post went on about our last weekend as a couple and stuff. Funny thing is that I started getting mild contractions that very day!!

Well, I don't know when/where you draw the line between cramps and contractions. I guess they were technically contractions since in the end their purpose was to get me ready and dilated. Anyway, that Saturday I started feeling what felt like period cramps sporadically. They were very mild and irregular. I recall that we went to the Indian restaurant we like for their lunch buffet. We got there maybe at around 2PM. By then the cramps were definitely happening. I was in denial at first hahaha. I had read in some books that you can get mild cramps for days or even weeks before labor so I didn't think too much of them at first, especially since I was scheduled to be induced on Wednesday anyway. But I do remember that in the restaurant I got a few of the cramps and they getting stronger because I remember wanting to make sure I didn't get one as I stood up to get food because I was afraid I'd wince and drop the plate. We made it through lunch fine and were going to go to the park for a walk but I asked JC to take us home to play video games instead.

The cramps continued throughout the day but I was having too much fun playing my game. Come evening JC asked if I was hungry but I had had so much food at the buffet that I didn't really feel like eating at that point. At about 9 or 10PM he got hungry and I grilled him some hot dogs but didn't eat anything myself. Normally, I would have been hungry again by that time, but the cramps were really becoming uncomfortable and were wearing me out a bit. I didn't want to alarm him since I figured they were just a false alarm. That was the same reason I didn't call my Mom either. Though I was having fun with the game at 11PM I was uncomfortable enough to not want to be sitting in that position and went to bed. At this point I am still thinking they're just cramps, though they had progressed to at least as painful as menstrual cramps by that point.

At exactly 2AM I woke up with a start. OUCH!! My cramps were now painful enough to wake me up and definitely MORE painful than any menstrual cramp I had ever had. I still could not imagine that I was going into labor and tried to go back asleep. The pain woke me again at 2:12 and again I went back to sleep. 2:24, 2:30 something . . . I soon realized they were coming regularly at about 10-12 minute intervals and that's when I started to panic just a little bit. I also decided to take some Tylenol at this time to try to get some sleep. I had that appointment with my doctor at 9AM anyway so I figured I'd know soon enough what was going on. I took a couple of Tylenol and slept about 2 hours but then woke up 4ish and was too uncomfortable to go back asleep. I figured I'd stay in bed until it was time to get ready for the appointment but by 6AM I couldn't stand it anymore and decided to get up and shower. OUCH!!! Somehow the water made things feel worse and though I originally intended on staying home until 8 I woke my husband up and told him to take me to the hospital now. We got there shortly before 7 while the nurses were changing shifts. The night nurse was mad that we didn't call the doctor first. I told her that I knew he was on his way eventually since I had a 9AM appt with him and I figured I could just wait for him since I was too uncomfortable at home. Thankfully, the new nurse who came in with the new shift was a Godsend. She was super sweet and hooked me up to the monitor while we waited for the doctor who had gotten paged by then. My pressure was reading somewhere near 150/95, but thankfully my pulse was not racing and the baby seemed ok. They kept drawing blood to make sure that my liver and kidney functions were ok, which they were. When the doctor finally came in at 9 and checked me he confirmed that I had indeed gone into labor on my own and was now about 1cm dilated. "Looks like we're going to have a baby today" he said and JC and I just looked at each other wide-eyed. The staff started the process of admitting me and that’s when it finally hit us!! That's also when I realized that I knew NOTHING about what I was about to go through and how to best deal with things. I had not had ANY training in terms of preparing for labor as I had spent my entire pregnancy assuming I’d be c-sectioned due to my heart condition. Thankfully the nice nurse calmly explained what to expect and helped me with breathing throughout. I have to admit that I seriously had a deathly fear of labor. For years I couldn’t imagine myself going through it and I think this was part of why I waited so long to have a baby in the first place.

We were moved to the L&D suite and I was started on a Pitocin drip at 9:30AM. As the contractions got worse and worse, I started panicking somewhat. I found it increasingly more difficult to cope with each contraction. They were suddenly coming every two minutes and I just felt like I had no time to recover from each one. JC and DL (the nice nurse) kept helping me breathe and were talking me through it.

At 11AM the doctor came in to check me and I was about 2cm dilated. At that point he decided to break my water to help the labor progress. The nurse explained to me to get ready for the intensity of the cramps to rise as now I wouldn’t have a cushion in between my baby’s head and the cervix. Boy oh boy am I glad for that warning because otherwise my first contraction after the bag breakage may have sent me off the deep end! The pain increased by several orders of magnitude. If I was having trouble coping before I couldn’t imagine how I was going to handle it now. Things went from being hammered from the inside out to having an entire demolition crew in there working with high powered explosives. I started to hyperventilate and ended up getting oxygen. The other thing that happened was that there was some meconium in the water too. Not a lot, but some. So my baby was definitely stressing out. I told the doctor that I wanted the epidural ASAP because I was afraid I’d get tachycardic. The anesthesiologist was supposed to arrive in about 30 minutes they said. My husband was a wonderful coach and kept supporting me and telling me it wouldn’t be much longer now. I couldn't imagine how I'd live another 30 minutes with that pain and started calling out to God. I think this frighteneed my husband but he tried not to show it and just kept talking to try to keep me distracted. He tried to hold my hand and massage me but when the pain came I didn't want to be touched. I closed my eyes to avoid looking at the clock or the monitor. My contractions were coming up but not as strongly as I expected and that was dismaying because I couldn't imagine them getting worse. In the end I ended up waiting an hour for the anesthesiologist and honestly I don’t know how I made it through. By the time she got there my whole body was shaking. It must have been because I was pleading to God to help me and give me strength. They had me get into the epi position and I remembered all the things I had heard about epi’s gone wrong. But at that point I remember thinking that I didn’t care if I was maimed for life as long as they could make that pain go away. Amazingly, as soon as she injected me, it was over. I didn’t feel a single ounce of pain again, only dull pressure. For me, the epidural is the best invention EVER!!

Once it was in the doctor came back in to see where I was at. “This is interesting” he says, which made me worry. Well, it turned out I was at 5cm. We were all surprised that I had gone that far in such a quick amount of time. They raised my pitocin level and he said he’d come back in two hours to check on me. By then I was feeling like I was in Club Med from the epidural so I started texting my friends. My family had been contacted back when I was 2cm and they were slowly getting ready to come up on the train. We figured she wouldn’t be born until the evening at the earliest.

Shortly before 2PM I told my husband that I felt “roundness” and wasn’t sure what it was. So it wasn’t entirely shocking when the doctor came in a few minutes later and said “You’re fully dilated. Time to push this baby out.”

I was told that each round of pushing would include 3 big 10 second pushes. I went through two rounds but then the baby’s heart rate dropped dangerously low so I was given a 15 minute break until she restabilized. The doctor then told me I’d get one more round of pushing to try before he’d break out the vacuum. I knew I didn’t want any more interventions, especially a vacuum extraction, so I prayed again and gave it my absolute all. On the third push I heard someone say “the head is out” and then I looked down and saw my little girl’s little bottom. She was born at 2:40 PM.

She weighed 5lbs 14 ounces, which was her estimated weight 2.5 weeks earlier. It seems that she hadn’t been thriving those last 2 weeks between my high blood pressure, the low amniotic fluid, and the chest cold that almost turned into pneumonia. That was probably why she decided she wanted to get out of there!

She is absolutely perfect and beautiful and we couldn’t stop staring at her. We are absolutely in love and so thankful that she is well and in our lives. Here is our blessed Alanis Soleil:


I've been wanting to update this blog for oh, two months now at least, but have been mostly unmotivated to do anything other than take care of my baby. But yesterday as we celebrated Father's Day I realized that I really do want to be updating things as they happen. So I will now try to backtrack in an effort to catch up to current events.