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10 posts from March 2011


Rasing Her Up Right

My friend Jacque came over with her own bundle of joy, Hudson, who is now almost 20 weeks old.


The size difference between Anna and Hudson is pretty laughable. It makes sense since they are 10 weeks apart. Anna now weighs just a little over what Hudson did when he was born. So, to humor Jacque and myself we laid them side by side in Anna's pack-and-play and got a kick out of how different they are from each other.


But then Hudson made a move.


"Hey Anna. I like the rolls on your thigh."


"Your skin is pretty soft. Does your Mom use Johnson and Johnson's too?"


"You know, the kind in the yellow bottle?"

I don't think Anna was having any of it.


"Um, excuse me Hudson."

"But my Daddy said I can't touch boys until I'm at least 35."

Yep. Her Daddy is raising her up right!


Multi-Tasking, A Good Way To Start The Week

Cody is out of town this week for work and I knew that I wouldn't want to be at the house, by myself, with a 9.5 week old baby and a 83 pound black lab. So, I made plans to head out to my parents house for two nights. I could get adult time and they could get Anna time.

My parents aren't, what you call, large dog people so I was set to board Spangler at our vet for both nights (we tried boarding him at the doggy-fun-park-type place but ended up with a significant vet bill, so we opt now for the vet boarding).

Cody and I were both up around 6am and I began the huge task of packing for myself, Anna and Spangler. I was proud that I ended up getting everything done by around 9:30 (hey, three and a half hours isn't TOO bad, right?) which was a half hour before my 10am deadline. I had a 11:15 appointment with the oncologist and needed to get Spangler to the vet before then. Also, because I'm so good at planning ahead, I realized that we were pretty much out of dog food, so I needed to stop by the pet store before taking Spangler to the vet.

I'm not really sure how, but I managed to pick up a small bag of dog food with both Anna and Spangler in tow and we made it to the vet by 10:30. My three and a half hour prep time that morning didn't allow any time for breakfast so I swung into McDonald's and got their new steak and egg breakfast burrito (highly recommended if you crave a little Micky D's now and then) and started to head over to the oncologist.


Anna was waking up and getting very hungry, and in my moment of super-Mom-ness I heated her already-prepared bottle, on the drive over, in the hot water that I brought from home. (Sometimes I feel like I have everything under control. Just don't ask me about the time I drove 25 minutes to meet my sister for lunch and left Anna's prepared bottle, as well as the shield I have to use when I nurse her, sitting on the bench next to the front door. Nothing like having NO way to feed your hungry child. That is just one of my not-so-great Mom moments.)

We got to my oncologist appointment early (Cody would be so proud!) and it was great to provide a distraction for the folks in the waiting room, most who appeared to be undergoing chemo. Who doesn't feel better when looking at an adorable baby?

The nurse assistant called on Friday to remind me of my appointment and made me promise to bring Anna, and sure enough, the entire staff was all over her. I had no problems finding someone to hold her while they drew blood, checked my vitals and weighed me. And then it was wait time for Dr. A.


(I've mentioned before that I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP) back when I was only 15 weeks pregnant with Anna. At delivery my blood platelet levels came in at 54k, just shy of the 50k mark, which is when I would have had to get a platelet transfusion. The day after I delivered they came in at 64k, and I was hopeful that my ITP was only gestational, but at my six week post-delivery doctors appointment, they came in at 55k.)

Dr. A came in and after getting some Anna-holding time, finally made the "official" diagnosis of chronic ITP. He told me that he felt comfortable with me not getting the bone marrow test (a huge relief, since I really didn't want to have to go through that) and just wants me to get monitored once a month for the next six months, then every year after that.


As long as my platelets can stay over 20k, I'll be okay.

It was a huge relief. I had a good morning where I felt in control of the craziness of packing and getting everything together. I had an even better morning where I got some good news in a possibly bad situation.

It was a good start to the week.


No, I Did Not Take A Picture

I was getting ready to leave to have lunch with Steph (she bribed me again with a free lunch, this time  at McAlister's) and was literally ten minutes from leaving, which means I was running around like a crazy person trying to get Anna and myself ready. Spangler was out in the back yard and I heard him jump in the pool.

Ugh. Frustrating. It would take a good five minutes to dry him off, adding to my busy morning.

I finish getting everything else done and changed gears to deal with Spangler, as he was the last thing to do on my list. All of a sudden, he rings his bell to be let in and I walk over to the door to see him holding a squirrel in his mouth. So, I stayed really calm, opened the door, told him to drop it and let him in.

Just kidding. I freaked out!

I called Cody, who was at work, and he started laughing so hard when he heard why I was calling. He wanted me to tell Spangler to "drop" the squirrel, but seriously, I couldn't even look at the stupid thing. Luckily, by the time I got off the phone he dropped it on his own so I let him inside.

I immediately bribed him with a treat so his squirrel mouth wouldn't go anywhere near Anna or me!

I may be a little crazy with documenting my life with pictures, but this was one thing that I was too freaked out about to even THINK about taking a picture.


The Sushi Love Continues

I knew it . . . I knew my discovery of sushi that occurred when I was pregnant wasn't a pregnancy-only craving. So when Steph offered to try a sushi restuarant in Fort Worth that she had a Groupon for, I jumped at the chance.

(I think when my family members act like they want to see me, they are really wanting to see Anna. Steph knows that bribing me with a free lunch is the best way to get some Anna time.)

The only problem was this was going to be my first time without Cody at a restaurant with Anna. And anyone that has had a newborn knows how unpredictable they are. She could be really good; or, it could end up bad.


But, she did great! Aunt Stephanie did most of the baby-holding and the bottle I pumped ahead of time kept her full and content. (I just ask the waitress for a glass half-full of hot water and I can easily heat her bottle up.)

The love of (cooked) sushi continues . . .


Finding Balance Between The Cry-It-Out and Attatchment-Style Methods

I’m not a childcare expert. I didn’t even really master the ability to change a diaper until eight weeks ago. Cody and I have no idea what we’re doing in raising Anna and we are just making it up as we go along.

Because I was a baby blank slate, I didn’t realize how much time I’d spend feeding Anna. Since I’m breastfeeding her exclusively, we spend a lot of time on the couch. I’ll pass this time with my iPhone in hand, sometimes Googling different information like: “Is ______ normal for a _____ week old baby?”

(I love the Internet when it’s 3am and I’m being reassured that it’s completely normal to feel like you’re losing your mind during the ten-day-old growth spurt. Moms of newborns unite!)

One of the things I’ve spent a lot of time reading about is the “right” way to respond to Anna’s demands. Cody and I definitely do not want to raise a spoiled child and I’ve learned that there are two distinct camps when it comes to getting your baby to sleep through the night: the cry-it-out/Ferber method and the no-tears/Sears method.

Cody and I really haven’t done either of these so-called methods, but our own way that seems to be working out best for our family. And the more I read, the more confidence I have that what we’re doing makes sense for us.

I nurse Anna on-demand.

In most non-developed countries babies are carried and nursed constantly. They are with their mom 24/7, even at night. Proponents of this style point to these cultures as “how it was meant to be” and recommend co-sleeping with your baby and carrying him/her in a sling during the day, nursing whenever the baby wants to.


(I do carry Anna in a Moby Wrap whenever we go to church, to the grocery store, etc. She loves it and it's a good way to keep her calm!)

Honestly, this sounds great in theory to me, but I don’t follow this approach all the time. I can’t hold Anna all day—I need a mental and a physical break sometimes. I also don’t think I’m comfortable popping a boob out in the middle of Wal-Mart just because she starts to whine (although when I do nurse in public, I cover up with a swaddling blanket). But, with that said, I do nurse on-demand. Right now (8 weeks old) she is still eating every 2-2.5 hours during the day (she’ll have a 3-3.5 hour stretch in the afternoons). I don’t prevent her from eating if she’s hungry just because it’s not time yet. Some days she'll end up eating literally every hour for a few hours, and I've become okay with that.

Last night I was feeding her and stopped her to switch sides. She was still hungry so she automatically started sucking on my exposed shoulder. I LOVE when she does this because I think it’s adorable, but I also think it shows that she has absolutely no idea where milk comes from. I'm still just some "thing" that smells and feels comfortable. She cries when she's hungry and will suck on anything and expects milk start flowing. If she doesn’t know where it’s coming from, how can she “manipulate” me into feeding her? It just doesn’t make any sense to me.

She’s hungry. I feed her.

Anna sleeps in her crib in her own bedroom.

We do no co-sleep. Cody is a really light sleeper and Anna is well, really noisy! We tried having her sleep in her pack-and-play in our room the first two nights we were home and it was probably the worst two nights of sleep we’ve gotten. The third night my Mom stayed up with Anna, only waking me up to feed her, and she had her sleep in her crib in her bedroom. That night we realized how much better sleep we got with her upstairs in her own room, and from that night forward, she’s always slept in her crib.

(We have a video monitor that I L-O-V-E. I highly recommend one and they are worth the extra money. The first month we had the video portion on all night long but we've graduated to having the video off by default, although I usually check on her a few times a night. The sound is on the lowest setting and I have it upside down to muffle it even more. It's right next to my pillow, so I can hear as soon she wakes up and starts to get fussy.)


She started sleeping four hours straight since she was two weeks old (we started swaddling her then) and has continued with a four hour sleep, eat, two to three hour sleep, eat pattern since. (She has bad nights, where she'll cry an hour after being put down and good nights, where she’ll sleep up to six hours at a time.)

It does make me cringe when I read parents post questions such as, “Little Sally has slept with us for the past nine months and now she won’t sleep in her crib. What do I do?” I just feel fortunate that Anna only knows sleep in her crib so we don’t have to deal with that problem!

Sometimes, I rock or nurse Anna to sleep; sometimes, I don’t.

As Anna gets older I’ll get up, feed her, and either let her fall asleep in my arms or put her down awake. If she’s completely awake I know she’ll probably start crying in 10 minutes or so, need a little bit more to eat, and then finally go back to sleep. If she’s half-asleep sometimes she’ll whine before falling asleep and sometimes she’ll need to be picked up again. Really, every time is different.


This is the one area where I’m gaining the most confidence. I’ve learned to ignore “advice” by other people and just respond to my baby in a way that works best for her, Cody and me. I do know that as she gets older she will become more and more aware of us and our response, so we’ll need to constantly modify our approach to fit her maturity.

I have no idea how this will go when I’m back to work.

We’ve been fortunate enough to find a home-based baby sitter for Anna. Although I am not looking forward to not having her with me when I go back to work, it’s also reality and something that is always in the back of my mind. I know her caregiver will have her own way of dealing with Anna’s needs and I don’t know at this point how Anna will respond. But, that is okay. We’ll deal with it as it comes and continue to modify what we do as we need to.

Spoiling is different from being affectionate.

Cody said this yesterday to me, after the shoulder-sucking during her evening feeding, and I think it sums up how I want to be towards Anna. She needs to know she is loved and that Mommy and Daddy will do whatever it takes to make sure her needs are taken care of. That does not mean that she gets to eat chocolate cake an hour before dinner, or that she can run around like a crazy person and throw a temper-tantrum because she doesn't get what she wants. She needs to know she is loved and cuddling, hugs and kisses are a huge part of that--especially until she understands the concept of love, which is years away.

Right now, she needs affection. She needs to feel safe and that she can trust us to feed her, change her and be there for her when she needs us. 


If another parents see that as carrying around their baby 24/7 or by letting them cry for 45 minutes until they fall asleep, I'll give them a big high-five as I'm happy they found something that works for them and their family. But, this is where we are right now and what works for us and our little family. And I'm loving every minute of it.

Well, except getting out of bed in the middle of the night. :)


Lessons With Diaper Changing

If you're offended by baby poop, stop reading this post now. You have been warned!

Anna is very lucky that she has five Aunts. (You can feel sorry for Cody . . . two sisters, three sister-in-laws, a wife and now a daughter.) Her Aunt Stephanie is particularly enamored with Anna and has no trouble making time for her, even if it means that she has to change a couple of diapers.

Last Saturday Steph came over as we made plans to head to the mall. (Gap was having a spend $50, get $25 off sale and I can't miss a deal like that!) It's always a process to go anywhere with Anna, since I have to make sure that she's clean and fed . . . and then I only have a two hour period to go do anything since the process has to start over again! Before we left we realize that the long sleeve/pants outfit she was wearing may be too hot for her (it's already in the 80's here in North Texas). Steph volunteers to change Anna, and I wasn't going to stop her.

She heads upstairs to Anna's room, puts her in her crib, strips off her clothes and diaper and turns around to get a clean outfit out of her dresser. Spangler had snuck upstairs and was eating the cat food, so Steph leaves the room to yell at him. She comes back to this:


Anna, left without a diaper on, decided to let it all out. It was over everything . . .

Stephanie then takes her--bare bottom and all--and puts her on the couch in our loft and finishes with the diaper and clothes change.

It was pretty amusing, and Anna was perfectly content through the whole thing.


There are a couple lessons here . . .

  1. Never take a dirty diaper off unless you are putting a clean one immediately on.
  2. Pick out clothes before stripping a baby down to nakedness.
  3. Don't change a diaper in a crib when a changing table is literally six feet away. (Yes, we're all shaking our heads on this one.)
  4. Spangler will always cause trouble.
  5. A bare bottom on anything, especially a cloth couch, is just asking for trouble!


Lessons learned.


The World Today


Right now the world seems a bit crazy. It all started with the success of the ‘Jasmine revolt’ in Tunisia, which spurred additional protests in the Middle East and North Africa. Oil prices started to shoot way up, which isn’t helping the economic recession that the United States is in now. Then, a massive earthquake hit Japan, which set off a tsunami. Tens of thousands of people are presumed dead and we’re now sitting at the brink of a nuclear meltdown since the reactors are not able to stay cool. Radiation could possibly get to the West Coast—right where your great grandparents and great aunt and uncle live. It’s a scary situation.

But, you are fast asleep as I type this. Your world consists of eating, sleeping, dirty diapers and that man (who you’ll soon know as your Daddy) that makes you smile. You woke up at 1:30am and again at 5am this morning. You were crying by 6:30am but when I went and got you up you fell back asleep. Me picking you up solved all your problems and you were content again.

It’s hard to see turmoil and suffering, while staring at my seemingly perfect daughter, knowing that you too will experience hardship in your life. I think the hardest thing for me is that I cannot protect you forever. Soon you will have to learn the word “no,” so I can prevent you from doing things that will hurt yourself. You’ll go off to school and encounter bullies and girls that are your friend one minute, and not your friend the next. The boy you like in your 7th grade science class will break your heart. You will experience the death of people you love.

And then there is the world. You will have to face atrocities like the 11 year old raped by 20+ men outside of Houston last November, Muammar Gaddafi killing his fellow Libya citizens or countless Japanese men, women and children dying from a tsunami on a bright and sunny day.

Sometime it’s a bit much to take in and understand. Sometimes I wonder if bringing life into this fallen and sinful world makes sense. But, then I understand.

One day there will be victory over these atrocities. Because of the gift of free will you will choose to do bad things, just as others have. And we don’t deserve it, but if we just acknowledge God’s free grace, given to us because of Jesus’ death, we can overcome the death and suffering. Giving you life, and the ability to love Him, makes it all worth it.




This Is Not A Paid Advertisement

I did my own (accidental) study where I placed a Pampers Newborn diaper in the washing machine.

I totally grossed myself out when I discovered it, considering that it was already used by Anna. (And, let's just be honest . . . newborn waste isn't exactly pretty. Well, I guess ANY waste falls into that category, so never mind . . .)


But, even though this study was conducted with very little sleep, I did find that the diaper soaked up an incredible amount of liquid, even though my findings came with a bit of embarrassment.


An Open Letter to Mom's Everywhere

To All Mom's in the World,

I'm sorry. I'm sorry for my incorrect perception that being a Mom was easy. I had no idea what I was thinking, and I only have one bambino. (My parents had four girls in five years. Geez, I can't even imagine!)

You have so much to do, but can't get anything done because time that is yours is almost nonexistent. It's like a magic button exists that whenever you sit down to eat/lay down to go to bed/go to the bathroom that all of a sudden the mini-you thinks that the world is going to end if they are not picked up RIGHT NOW.


(And, did you know that babies are not docile? Well, I guess you do since you are much more experienced at this than I am. I had no idea they moved so much. Or, that they were so noisy!)

Then you feed the baby and the clock starts ticking. You have approximately an hour and a half to two hours to do whatever you need to get done, if the baby is feeling like staying on any kind of a schedule. Otherwise, SURPRISE MOM! I need to be fed!

You never know if it will be a good sleep night or a bad sleep night. And those growth spurts? Might as well park your butt on the couch, get a big glass of water, and hunker down for 3-4 hours of crying baby fun.

Let's not even talk about the whole milk-coming-in-and-no-bra-right-as-the-retired-next-door-neighbor-rings-your-door-bell . . .

Again, I'm sorry.

Your (Understanding) Sister in Motherhood,



P.S. I pinky-swear that I will treat pumped breast milk like gold from this point forward. Amen.

P.P.S. Anna, if you're older and reading this, I'm not saying you're not totally worth it. I'm just saying that I will thoroughly enjoy showing up to your house, holding and kissing YOUR daughter, and then gladly handing her back as soon as she starts to cry!


It's Just The Beginning of Spangler + Anna

You may have noticed that I love my dog. He's difficult, really difficult, but he's such a sweetheart.

It shocked me that while I was pregnant I had no less than six or seven people ask if we were going to get rid of Spangler now that we were having a baby.


Ummmmmmm . . . No. First, I think that when you adopt a dog you adopt it for better or for worse. Second, I just know that Spangler and Anna will be the best of friends. And so far, so good.


Yes, her toys are covered in Spangler hair. Yes, we have to pull random dog hairs off her face. Yes, Spangler thinks her toys are his toy (hence why we upgraded her to the pack-and-play from the floor). Yes, she gets licked at least 10 times a day. And yes, I'd be lying to you if I didn't admit that Spangler LOVES her dirty diapers (although he's only been successful in getting one torn apart and eaten).

I know this is just the start of their lifelong friendship. Spangler will be sleeping in her bed in no time and we'll be trying to figure out if it was him or her that got into the toilet paper.

I think he's adapting to her just fine!