Hand In Hand

Hand In Hand

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hurricane Irene

We are here, we made it through Hurricane Irene (Isabella's first hurricane and my first REAL hurricane) just fine. Earlier in the week, we had an earthquake (well, Virginia had the earthquake, but we could feel it in NJ), but we were in the car. So we didn't physically feel the earth move. Scary to think about, though. 

Hurricane Irene was a very scary experience for our little family, but we made it through. Hubby went grocery shopping and made sure to get lots of non-perishable food items on Friday, since the threat of losing power was very real. We filled up the cars with gas and parked them away from the giant tree in our front yard. The rain started Saturday afternoon and it wasted no time getting to be a heavy rain. The wind didn't pick up until the evening. On Saturday, we brought all the food down to the basement, packed a bunch of things into a basket for the night, set up the air mattress in the basement, and set up the pack n play. We didn't want to sleep in our bedroom, with a giant tree right outside the window. In the back, we have some pine trees and I was worried about them, but not nearly as much. We played with Isabella with all of her toys downstairs (our basement is fully finished and her favorite place to play) until we got her in her pajamas and down to bed. But as the evening turned into early night, the tornado warnings started for South Jersey. We maintained electricity, so we heard all the warnings. It was VERY frightening. At one point, I grabbed Isabella out of the pack n play and ran to our closet under the stairs. Hubby made me move to be behind the bar, since that was a better place, further away from the sliding glass door. I was scared to death that we would lose power, the trees would all fall on the house, we would have a tornado rip off the roof, and we would be helpless because we were in the middle of a hurricane. But God protected us and watched over us. The tornado warnings calmed down around midnight. They started up again around 3am, but they were to the north of us, so I tried to get some sleep. Thankfully, I slept for a few hours, off and on. Isabella slept on the air mattress between Hubby and me, since she was restless and I was still too scared to put her farther away from me. 

Sunday morning brought very heavy rain and heavy wind gusts. We continued to maintain our electricity, though, and for that, we are very thankful. When the rain stopped, we surveyed the house/row of homes in our townhouse unit for any damage. A random piece of siding trim was in our backyard, but we don't know where it came from. No other damage, just some branches down, a lot of leaves lost from the trees, and some MAJOR flooding around the area. We took a drive after the rain was gone so that we could see how much flooding was around our local area. It was unbelievable how many roads were closed due to the flooding. The entire state is water logged. The flood waters are starting to recede, but it is crazy.

We survived here in this house without any damage. We are blessed and thankful. But some of our friends have not been so fortunate. Many homes have water in the basement. Some homes are flooded. A friend of mine lost her home when a tree fell on it during one of the isolated tornadoes. She had to get stitches in her head, as she was hit by the falling tree. Very scary. I watch the news and see all the devastation up and down the east coast and I feel blessed to be safe and yet sick to my stomach to know that I am safe while so many have no homes left. Many babies were born during the hurricane, they say the barometric pressure being so low causes women to go into labor. I'm sure many babies will be born nine months from now. As for me, I survived my own paranoia and nervousness. Isabella wasn't bothered by any of it. The dog was mad because it was raining. And I'm married to a man who is so calm and level-headed during situations like this and I needed that more than he will ever know.

 I will leave you with pictures from Hurricane Irene as we bunkered down and then took pictures of a very small amount of the local flooding.

 Hiding during the tornado warnings
 Hubby and Isabella napping Sunday morning
 Our sleeping arrangement
 My hiding place under the stairs
 Flooding just a few blocks from our house
 Small driving trail completely flooded

 Major highway (Route 73) flooded

 Parking lot completely under water
Notice the sandbags by the door of the PNC bank
 Drive-Thru at the PNC bank
Local intersection flooded

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Journey Through Breastfeeding

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I thought I would write a post on my own personal journey through the past year of having my little nursling. I know that breastfeeding isn't for everyone. Not everyone can do it, whether it be for time reasons, health reasons, having multiples (and for those who have multiples and nursed or pumped, that's just amazing), etc...But breastfeeding is an amazing way to nourish your child and spend that bonding time with them, building a lifetime relationship that is like no other.

I will admit, before I was pregnant, I was one of those non-moms who was not a fan of breastfeeding, especially not in public. I always had the thought "how is a mom supposed to explain to her young kids that the mom over there with a child to her breast is just feeding her child?" With the shows on TV that oversexualize women, it can be a little tough to justify breastfeeding uncovered to someone who may not understand. So I was the skeptic. I was all for the idea of just buying formula, making a bottle, and having one ready. For whatever lunatic reason, it seemed more "convenient" to bottle feed. Uh...milk on tap at 2am or get up, make a bottle, warm it up, and feed from it, then wash it. Hmmm...I'm glad I got a little wiser! But I seriously wasn't such a fan on the idea of a child clinging to my chest all the time. I don't know what made me change my mind, maybe it was friends who have breastfed successfully and loved it, or maybe it's the mere fact that formula is a huge expense and my husband and I are both teachers. A summer baby on formula? Not smart, there's no money for all that nonsense if I've got the milk for free, a 24-hour dairy bar! 

The first day breastfeeding, July 28, 2010, was not the easiest. I suppose for some women, it comes so naturally to them and their child. Isabella wanted to nurse, she desperately needed to. She spent a lot of time rooting around, but she just couldn't get a good latch. I refused to allow them to feed her from a bottle, this was something she had to learn to do. A c-section, although the best to birth Isabella, since she was breech and still all over the place during the section, is not good for breastfeeding, as the morphine makes all your body tissues soft. Poor little newborn couldn't get a good enough latch to nurse. I'm thankful for a night time nurse who knew exactly what my baby needed-something to help her latch on, despite my soft tissues. So she brought in a silicone shield. I only used it for the first 24 hours, until I was no longer on the morphine. It helped so much. Isabella was a pro at nursing from the beginning. Although she would fall asleep mid-feed, what newborn doesn't? We worked through it and she made breastfeeding seem easy and well worth it.

When my milk came in 5 days postpartum, I wasn't ready for the engorgement and pain that goes with it. I was warned, but I don't think you are really prepared for it. Poor Isabella again could not latch on very well. I found myself pumping an ounce out each time I wanted to feed, just to relieve some of the engorgement until she could empty out the rest of my milk. It all just became routine. What mattered to me was that I had this uninterrupted time with my beautiful daughter, where it was just the two of us, doing what we did best. Those first few weeks of breastfeeding were wonderful. It was a bonding activity that I am thankful we were able to share. It helps as a new mom to really make you feel needed, useful. 

Our breastfeeding relationship was perfect. She nursed on demand, but got herself onto a good schedule...and then the day came to return to work. She handled it better than I thought she would. I'm the one who struggled through it. Getting into a good pumping routine is hard and I suspect that is when a lot of women throw in the towel. I stuck it out, fell into a good routine, and continued that through the end of the school year. It is not easy, pumping twice a day just to have the milk to give your child and to relieve the engorgement that ensues in those first few weeks of changing the routine. But we worked through the changes and our breastfeeding relationship became perfect again. 

We worked through the intolerance of dairy fats. She didn't have an allergy, just a sensitivity to milk fats. So I had to cut out all dairy that had fat in it. She did fine when I had skim milk, but that was about it. Cheese? Nope. Ice cream? Forget that. Yogurt? No way. Mommy made sacrifices to make it through those first six months or so before she outgrew her milk intolerance. But like all experiences in life, you change to meet the needs of your child. 

When February came and her first cold started, she continued to nurse through it. I suspected an ear infection, but every time we took her to the pediatrician, they said it wasn't that at all. Finally, a month after the cold first appeared, we encountered our first nursing strike. Yes, my 8-month old was striking. I was at my wits end. She wanted to nurse but when she would try, she would then scream in pain. I had to pump a lot those first two days of this nursing strike because it was the weekend and we had a bridal shower and a baby shower to go to. We finally got her in to see the pediatrician after day 3 of the nursing strike and sure enough, her one ear was badly infected. So, she was put on Amoxycillan and sent home. Ten days later, the dose ended and the next day, the second nursing strike began. Yes, this time, I knew what was going on. Those ears were not better. So we took her in again and this time, it was a double ear infection. Poor baby. Poor Mommy. She was put on Cednafir and given a well-check appointment to recheck her ears a day after the antibiotic was done. Ears were clear, nursing was back on track. A few days went by and then, on Easter Sunday, the fever started with the runny nose and the nursing strike. Thankfully, this time, I had the ear numbing drops to help with the pain, so she was able to nurse once the drops kicked in. Three ear infections in a month in a half, which equals three nursing strikes. And yet, I pushed through it, we continued our journey through breastfeeding, even if at times, it's a frustrating journey.

In late June, she started with yet another nursing strike, the fourth one in our relationship together. That one was hard because we weren't home. We were on the road visiting family and she was in pain from something and wouldn't nurse. Well, her top middle teeth were working their way in and she does not teeth well. So she couldn't muster up the strength to nurse through the gum discomfort until some Tylenol was given to her. Poor baby. Poor Mommy. But just like all the times before that, we worked through it and in the end, she was still nursing just fine once those teething stopping pushing so hard on those sensitive gums.

Just before her first birthday, she was running a fever on a Saturday, but we didn't make it to the pediatrician because we had nursery for a friend's wedding. Sunday came, she was still running a fever. Motrin would take it away, but as soon as it would wear off, it would be back. She embarked on another nursing strike until five minutes post ear numbing drops. Once those drops were in, she would nurse again, through the stuffy nose and all. Sure enough, she had her fourth ear infection. The majority of her nursing strikes are from ear infections. So we work through them and get by. 

We've now been on this journey together for a year and nine days. There is no end in sight, though I am planning on weaning fully by 18 months. Then, it's time to get my body back in gear to plan a second child. But for now, we're contentedly enjoying the most of this relationship together. It has taught me a lot as a mom. No matter what I am doing, I am never too busy to let my little nursing suckle. No matter how frustrated we both get, we can get through it with some patience, creativity, and persistence. No matter how many things change around us, we have our routine and it works. 

I'm glad I got a little wiser when the time came to choose breast or bottle for how to feed this beautiful child of mine. And although I always swore I would not nurse in public, I have, many times, though most of them covered. I survived the glares, the comments, the cackling. It's all par for the course. It's all natural, my baby needed to eat, to drink. People just need to know more about it before they make comments or give stares. It's just part of life, you feed where and when you need to based on your child's needs. 

I make milk. What's your superpower?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ear Infection+Birthday Party=Queen Fussypants!

 Yes, another ear infection. Isabella was running a fever the weekend before her birthday, so I kept an eye on things, knowing the signs by now of an ear infection, as she already had three before this one. Sure enough, by the Sunday before her birthday, the ear pulling was in full effect, so  we made an appointment first thing last Monday morning to see the pediatrician. Poor baby had a bad ear infection in one ear and wasn't too far away from having a double infection. She doesn't teeth well. This ear infection is due to three bottom teeth coming in. She tends to drool more when those bottom teeth are coming in and so the fluid backs up into her ears and doesn't drain well (pediatrician suspects narrow ear canals). So, another round of Augmentin was prescribed. It didn't bother her the last time she was on it, but between the ear pain, the teething, the medicine making her belly upset, and just being all around fussy, she was very clingy and Mommy-needy. All this just in time for her birthday. 

Four days into the Augmentin, we had a small birthday party with family on her birthday. Sure enough, Queen Fussypants was in the house. Yes, she was very fussy and very clingy. She refused to let anyone else hold her or even try to take her from me. This became increasingly frustrating for me, since every mom needs a break and my child is usually a social butterfly. But we all survived the small family party, clingy baby and all. 

We had a big party for her on Saturday. It was so nice to share such a special event with so many friends and family. For those who have struggled with infertility, you know the specialness of reaching that first birthday. All these friends and family had prayed for us long before Isabella was conceived. She was prayed for, thought of, and dreamed of by many before she ever arrived in the womb and out of the womb. So for so many people to share with us as our little miracle turned one, it gets me a little teary eyed. I'm so blessed to have many family members and friends who just love my Isabella, even when she's fussy and only wants Mommy. 

It was a nice event and we held it in our basement. It's so nice to have a house to host festivities in! Living in our apartment for so long, I never realized how much fun entertaining could be, even if I wasn't able to prep much or do anything besides decorate to get ready, since Isabella was so fussy. I'm glad I have understanding friends and family who knew she just wasn't feeling up to par, since they know her normal fun-loving behavior. She just wasn't herself. 

The clothes...I dressed her in a birthday shirt with an adorable tutu made my Jennie from Designs by Cupcake Cuties. She was nice enough to bring the tutu over, even with Isabella's ear infection. Our babies enjoyed their playdate, even if half of it seemed to involve pigging out on their snacks.
I was going to put a cute hairbow that I got just for her birthday in her hair, but it was very big on her and she just wasn't feeling too well. So we just settled for a small hairbow. Nothing wrong with downsizing. So Isabella was dressed as the adorable baby she is!

Cake....she loved the cake her Poppy made for her birthday. It was an angel food cake with pineapples and cool whip/dream whip. She loved it so much that she stole part of my cake slice and fed it to herself! Her big birthday cake for the big party? She hated it. She cried. It was awful! Poor baby girl. 

All in all, it was a nice time. We are so glad we got to celebrate one year of having Isabella in our hearts and in our lives. Here are some pictures from both the smaller party and the main festivity!