Friday, June 24, 2011

A Bittersweet June 24

June 24 has been an important date for me for the last eight years. Eight years ago, it was the day that I started my internship. For the next three years, it was the day that the new interns started, marking the beginning of several months of increased stress as a resident who had to supervise them. Every year since finishing residency, I take note of this day, not because it holds any significance for me anymore but just out of habit. However, this year, June 24 is meaningful again on many levels.

First of all, today Asher is 1 month old. I can't believe how fast the last few weeks have gone by, and it scares me to think how quickly he will grow up. The advice from everyone was to enjoy every minute with him, and though we try, sometimes I feel like we feel short of this goal. It seems like I'm always on to the next thing, trying to organize and strategize. Pumping became a full-time job a couple of weeks ago, and I realized how much life I was missing, while scheduling my days around the pump. Last weekend I decided it wasn't worth it; Asher needs a sane mother who is present in his life more than he needs to avoid formula. I still pump frequently, but I do it when it's convenient. My supply is unchanged, but I am happier, and I like to think that Asher is as well. Maybe better advice is to slow down and to not think about the future so much but to spend more time in the present. Today I will try to forget how much I have to do and instead to appreciate having such a sweet little boy in my life.

Second, my new sister-in-law starts her own internship today. She will be at Natividad Medical Center here in Salinas as a family medicine resident for the next three years. Such an exciting step for her...and a major life change for both her and my brother. As thrilled as I am to have them so close for the next few years, it is a bittersweet moment for me. I remember the challenges residency posed to me both as an individual and as a spouse. In the grand scheme of things, it is a blink in time, but it is one of the hardest challenges a couple can ever face, and I wish that I didn't have to see people I love go through it. I hope that our love and support helps soften the hardships they will face.

Finally, exactly a month after I went under the knife, my father is headed to the O.R. at Stanford this morning for a robotic-assisted radical prostatectomy. He was diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer back in March. He and his doctors decided it was safe to delay surgery until after Asher was born and Chris and Robin were wed, but I know the wait has been weighing on the whole family. A very proud, stoic man who loves his family more than himself, he hasn't wanted many people to know about this, particularly, I think, because he didn't want to cast a shadow over the other wonderful changes our family has had this spring. Despite his best efforts, he has been on my mind constantly the last few days. It will be such a relief to have surgery behind us, and we are optimistic about an easy recovery, but of course, I know better than most that no surgery is without risks and will be on pins and needles until I hear that he is safe and sound in the recovery room.

So as I celebrate the wonder of Asher's first month of life today, a big part of me will be with the family whose love has helped us weather the challenges of the last few months. I hope that after today, when somebody asks what is going on, I can say, "Not much," and really mean it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Best Seat in the House

I hadn't intended to use this blog to review baby paraphernalia, offer parenting tips, etc., but this morning I felt inspired to share about our favorite piece of baby gear: the Graco Duo 2-in-1 Swing. We owe our friends Sylvia and Mike a huge thanks for allowing us to borrow theirs (which they haven't actually used yet--their boys are too big, and they are saving it for baby #3).

This thing is a swing with a removable bounce chair. When I first started researching swings, this sounded like the perfect option--why would I buy two separate pieces of equipment when they are available in combination? What I hadn't considered was how awesome the combination would prove to be when trying to cope with a fussy baby and still get things done. Babies like swinging, and babies like vibrating, and unlike most pieces of equipment, this allows babies to do both at the same time. With the addition of a pacifier, it is baby calming magic. The thing I love the most about it is that once the baby is asleep, you can move him to another part of the house without taking him out of the seat. I owe this morning's shower to the Graco Duo Swing. Once Asher was finally asleep, we moved into the bathroom. Normally, I would just leave him in his room with the baby monitor, but on a fussy day like today, who wants to run back and forth with every peep? In his vibrating throne, he was happy, and I had a little "me" time. Love it!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A New Aunt

Congratulations to my brother, Chris(topher), and his new wife, Robin. Asher now officially has two aunts, though we have thought of Robin as family since before he was born. Their wedding was on Saturday at the Clos La Chance winery in San Martin, California, and we stayed at the adjacent Corde Valle resort for the weekend. Not a shabby place for Asher to spend his first night in a hotel--in fact, one of the nicest hotels I have been to (which is saying a lot, as I have been lucky enough to stay in some amazing places). It was a lovely wedding in a beautiful setting with perfect weather all weekend. We couldn't have asked for more!

The weekend went well overall. We were reminded why we have Asher stay in his own room at home: he is a very noisy sleeper. We also learned that in a hotel with a baby, no one really gets any sleep because when one person is up with the baby, the whole room is up with the baby, no matter how spacious the room. It was also a good thing we had such a huge room because of the amount of stuff we had to bring with us to keep us all comfortable. I don't think we could have fit anything else in the car. Amazing. I don't think we'll attempt another hotel stay for a while, if we can avoid it.

We were fortunate to have another visit from Asher's Dunn grandparents, who stayed in the room next to ours. We had a nice visit with more quality time than we had had in the hospital. It was also nice to have them right next door so that if we needed a baby watcher for a few minutes, they were available. It gave me a place to hang out for a while on Saturday morning to let Crockett sleep. Buttercup, who also got to come along for the trip, always enjoys Daddy Brad's company, as she got many handouts from the room service tray.

Asher had the honor of being the ring bearer for the wedding. He did a great job, all things considered. We had a bit of a panic because he woke up hungry just minutes before the ceremony was to start. We loaded him up as much as we could. Then he managed to dirty five diapers during a single change. It is probably a world record. Finally, we were ready to go, and just seconds before he and I were about to head down the aisle, he let out a big shriek and spit up a bunch. Not having any other cloth on hand, I wiped his mouth on his "tux" shirt--very classy. Then I bounced him a couple of times as we headed down the aisle. Fortunately, he quieted down long enough for us to hand off the rings to the best man and get a kiss from his uncle, and then we met up with Daddy, who had a stash of emergency supplies. Asher let out a few more wails during the ceremony, which were quickly staunched, and no one noticed them. Thank goodness for outdoor weddings.

Asher's growth the last couple of weeks has been phenomenal. I had altered the pants and cummerbund for his little tux a week before the wedding. When I put them on him on the big day, the waistband was so tight that it made him spit up, and the cummerbund was about 2 inches too short. To make them fit for the ceremony, I had to snip the elastic and use a safety pin for the cummerbund. I figured I had measured them wrong. I knew he had grown, but I didn't believe he could grow that much.

Our weigh-in with the pediatrician yesterday showed clearly why nothing fit: he has gained 1.5 lbs in the last 2 weeks, putting him up to 6 lbs 13 oz. He is finally on the growth chart, with his weight at the 4th percentile and length at the 6th. Judging by the length of his feet (he has already outgrown 0-3 month size socks), he has a ways to go. I suspect the every 2-3 hour feedings will continue for a while. At least now we're seeing the fruits of our labor and are so relieved that Asher is healthy and is catching up so quickly.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Three Weeks, Many Firsts

Asher is three weeks old today! Yesterday was his official due date, and I have to say that I am thrilled that I've gotten to know him an extra three weeks. We have been so busy since he came into the world that I feel like I have a lot to update the blog about. I'm realizing I'll never get caught up, but here's a shot.

5/27: First night at home. Not nearly as bad as I had feared.

5/30: First night in his own room. Initially we had him sleeping in a pack-and-play in our room, but since I have been pumping with every feeding since we've been home, which is not something that can easily be done in bed in the dark, having him in our bedroom didn't help anything. In fact, it just woke up the whole family needlessly. We might be the exception, but in our case, Asher in his own room with the door shut and the monitor on helps everyone get a little more sleep.

5/31: First outing. To Babies R Us and Costco. Horrors for parents and not very exciting for a 1-week-old. He slept through the whole thing.

6/1: First cosmetic surgery. Yep, he's circumcised.

6/2: First roll-over. For real. He actually did it 3 times that day, and from my observations, it was a very purposeful thing. He really hates tummy time, so from the start, he was working on getting onto his back. He has repeated the move several times since. For a little guy, he is very strong!

6/4: First trip to Grandma and Grandpa Marki's house. There he met the four crazy Aussies and found his own personal guard-dog in Hobie, who is very protective of him.

6/5: First hike. We took him with our friends Cristy and Fred on a short hike behind our development. Asher loves riding in his Ergo carrier and had a nice nap on the way. Mommy and Daddy had a harder time, considering how out of shape we got while I was on bedrest.
Also, First Real Tears. Apparently he really did not want to get out of the Ergo and into the car seat.

6/7: Two weeks old and back to birth weight. Hooray!

6/10: Belly button!

6/11: First real bath. And only real bath to date...he wasn't a fan.

6/12: First thumb-suck. He's a big fan of the non-nutritive sucking.

6/13: First major spit-up. Lucky Mommy. Good thing crib sheets are washable.

6/14: First trip to the beauty salon. Good practice for me, as I get used to getting out of the house with him and going about everyday life.

Later this week, we will have many more notable firsts, as we head to his Uncle Chris's wedding. We look forward to his first wedding, first "tux," and first stay in a hotel, as well as a wonderful second visit from his Dunn grandparents, Mama Katie and Daddy Brad.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Grand Entrance

Asher is here! It's been a couple of weeks since I've had time to write, so I guess it's time to document the basics.

Birth Date: 5/24/11
Birth Time: 0939
Weight: 5 lbs., 5.5 oz. (2424 grams)...we thought it was very cool that this was his weight on 5/24
Length: 17.75 inches
Delivering doctor: Rachel Beck, assisted by Erica Chan
Anesthesiologist: Sergio Estrada
Nurse: Dani Robison
(I'm making a note of all these things in case somehow my memory fails me in a few years.)

Asher's delivery was a blissfully uneventful elective cesarean section. Maybe I'll explain in a later post why we decided on that delivery route. For now, suffice it to say that that was simply the best decision for us.

Asher was born screaming, which was quite a relief. Despite his tiny size, it was clear immediately that he is a very, very strong little boy. Crockett did remarkably well in the operating room too.

Our time at the hospital was relatively unremarkable. Asher's Grandma and Grandpa (Marki) and Uncle Chris and Aunt Robin were there to see him shortly after his birth. His Mama Katie and Daddy Brad (Dunn) made a very quick trip from Alabama to California to see him the following day. And of course, he got to make friends with many of the Salinas Valley Memorial community during his stay there.

The only speed bump we hit at the hospital was more than expected weight loss. By about 72 hours of life, Asher had lost about 14% of his birth weight, which was worrisome. After careful evaluation by one of the lactation consultants, we figured out that he was having trouble coordinating sucking and swallowing, which meant he wasn't getting as much nutrition as we had thought. After we developed a feeding plan with one of the pediatricians, we were able to go home that day with plans for a weight check the following day. The new plan was cumbersome, involving nursing and pumping every 2-3 hours, but it seemed to work. He gained 2 ounces in less than 24 hours!

Since then, he has continued to grow, slowly but surely. His next weight check is in 2 days, and I am eager to see how much he has put on. He is starting to have a little chub on his arms and legs, just like a baby is supposed to have, which makes us happy. Also, happily, Asher has finally figured out how to nurse effectively, so we have been able to make modifications to his feeding regimen in the last few days, which has freed up a lot of time for me, as I am not constantly engaged in a feeding-related activity. Hopefully that means more blog posts in the near future!

Aside from the feeding issues, Asher is a very easy baby, and for that, we feel very fortunate. He only cries if he is hungry, if his diaper has leaked, or if he needs to poop (in which case he cries for about a second, then poops, and is immediately done crying). I am holding my breath, waiting to see if he suddenly becomes difficult and colicky, but so far, so good. So despite chronic sleep deprivation from frequent nighttime feedings, we have had a lot of fun interacting with him and can't wait to see him grow up. I just hope that doesn't happen too fast!