Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Jackson is 6 Months Old!!

Better late than never, right? Jackson turned 6 months old on the 17th, and while I got his pictures done, I did not get a post done. I'm sure you'll understand:). Jackson has become quite the little doll. He loves to laugh and scream happily. He has become a big fan of his jumparoo and loves to jump, jump, jump! He also has become much more skilled with toys and therefore is able to entertain himself more often. We love it! Jackson has finally begun rolling over on a more consistent basis. He won't do it just for fun, but he will do it to get to something very enticing - such as the baby wipes:). This has also led to him rolling over in his crib sometimes at night and then panicking. We hear him start screaming and go in to find him on his belly like a beached whale! The minute we flip him and kiss him, he's back to sleep. Such a cutie! Jax is very close to sitting up on his own, and I can't wait for him to hit that milestone so that we don't have to sit behind him for him to play. Jax LOVES his three solid meals a day, and just started meats. So far, we haven't found anything he doesn't like to eat:). And my favorite new skill of Jackson's - he goes down for consistent naps twice a day and then goes to bed around 7pm and sleeps through the night...yay! Just in time for mommy to be up 4 times a night with his new baby sister. It's like he knew I needed this from him - gotta love this little boy!

Jackson has the MOST adorable fluffy hair and I love to just rub it. He has gorgeous brown eyes and a smile that lights up any room. He loves attention so he will smile and "flirt" with anyone who stops to talk to him. He was the talk of the maternity unit when he came to visit his baby sister at the hospital...all the nurses loved him:). Jax continues to gain weight like a champ and we love those chunky little thighs and cheeks:). I swear, I enjoy my days with him more and more as he gets older. I never thought that was possible, but I just love it. Here is a picture of him on his belly, trying desperately to get back to his back. He still does not love being on his tummy...

I think he may be teething as he has been fussy and sleeping a lot lately. This morning I finally had to wake him up at 9:45am (he normally gets up around 8 or 8:30am) and this is how I found him, cuddling with his blanket, his paci in his mouth. He tends to sleep on his side now more often than not. How cute is he?!

We fall in love with this little man more with each passing day. He is the light of our lives. We couldn't feel more blessed.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Breastfeeding Advice...Anyone?

I promise I will write soon about details of Addison's arrival! And Jackson turned 6 months this past week and is such an awesome little boy. I am amazed at how far he has come in such a short time. More to come on my sweet pea and my little princess.

This post is a solicitation of any and all advice, support and "Yes, my child did that, too, and here is what I learned." I need it all. First of all, I feel very blessed that Addy latches well and loves to eat. I know there are more serious issues with breastfeeding, so I want to treasure our successes. However, this child will not stop eating. She wants to eat all night and most of the day. She eats until she falls into a deep sleep and falls off the breast, usually 15-25 minutes on each breast, then I put her down to sleep and she wakes up within 5 minutes and won't settle until she eats again. After sometimes literally 8 hours of this, she may sleep for 2-3 hours, then she's back up and starts it all over again. So, I did start a pacifier (I know, I know, bad mommy, but I was desperate). That worked for exactly one day. She would take it after she ate, go to sleep and I actually had to wake her to feed her every 3 hours! It was amazing! And then last night we went back to being up until 4am, feeding every hour. I swaddle her tight and put her pacifier in, but she still won't settle. I have tried the vibrating bassinet and the swing. No luck, she just wants to nurse again. I know she is getting milk because when she falls off the breast, she sometimes has milk leaking out of her mouth. And she doesn't scream when she's eating like she isn't getting anything. Could she really need to eat non-stop like this?

I know she is only 5 days old, but any advice? Is this normal? If you tell me this is normal and it will get better, I will believe you:). I'm just so new to this and need to have hope that it won't be like this forever. I have a 6 month old precious boy who needs his momma too, and right now he's not getting her. At all. I tell you what, having a breastfed baby is worlds away from my experience with bottle feeding Jax. At least I could get help with feedings and share the burden. And he would always settle after eating into a wonderful sleep. He always knew when it was nighttime, and slept very well at night, with the exception of a few nights here and there. I know I can't compare babies. Addison will be who she is. But, I already can see why so many mommies move to bottle feeding. It is very draining to be attached to a baby all day every day. And if you have other children, how are you supposed to do it? I am very blessed to have my husband here for another few days, and my mom in town for 2 weeks...ya! So, for now, we have enough arms, so I am able to stay attached to Addy. But what if she continues this past when the help goes away? There is absolutely no way I can take care of 2 babies by myself if one is attached to my breast all day and all night.

Anyway, I'd love to hear from all you mommy veterans. I am the type of person who will take any and all advice and use what works for me. But if I don't sleep soon, you may have to write me in the looney bin:). Thanks in advance!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Addison Faith

We welcome with love and awe....

Addison Faith 
Born 2/15/11 at 11:29am
6lbs 13.5oz
20 inches

Friday, February 11, 2011

39 Weeks

Well, our baby girl is holding on in there! We have passed 39 weeks with no sign that she is coming any time soon (although we know she has to be here soon!). So, on Monday I was sent to labor and delivery triage due to decreased fetal movement. She was very slow over the weekend, and while I wasn't in panic mode, I also wasn't going to let it slide. I simply called my doctor Monday morning to ask what they thought and they immediately told me to go to labor and delivery and get hooked up to monitor the baby. I was a little freaked, to be honest, just because they were so quick to send me to the hospital. But, I went with the "better safe than sorry" attitude. And, after over an hour of them monitoring the baby, it was determined that she is doing perfectly well in there, healthy as can be as far as they can tell. And I have felt her move much more this week. They guessed that she could have been facing my back and therefore I wasn't feeling the kicks and jabs as much. They also reminded me that she is running out of room in there - which is abundantly clear to me! Let me tell you, being there at labor and delivery was very surreal. It felt like I was living someone else's experience. I still can't believe there is a baby in there for them to baby!

I am actually feeling pretty good. I'm certainly not miserable like so many other mommies at this stage talk about feeling. My worst symptoms are fatigue and the continuing weak spells that often happen in the morning. I get very close to passing out and have to lie down. This is very frustrating because I am one of those people who likes to be moving and getting stuff done, especially with Jackson needing so much from us. And the mornings are so fun with him - he is such a sweetie pie in the mornings! Anyway, the doctor suggested eating more protein and less carbs in the morning (carbs and sugar are pretty much all I want in the morning, but I'll do what I have to), so we'll see how that works.

I saw the doctor today and I am only 1cm dilated...there is no sign that anything has started. That doesn't mean much, though, as labor could start at any second...or in a week! The doctor did offer to induce me (she also offered last week). She knows how tired I am, and there is the distance factor (we live 1.5 hours from the hospital). But, I am a strong believer in letting babies come when they are ready, unless there are medical or family reasons that make that not the best option. So, since I am feeling well and baby girl is doing well, we are just waiting for her! However, if I go to my appointment next Thursday (my due date), meaning I haven't gone into labor yet, they will schedule an induction. I guess there is some danger in allowing a baby to go past 41 weeks. One way or another, this little girl has to come soon! Oh, and based on the ultrasound 2 weeks ago and average rates of growth, the doctor estimates her around 8lbs now...yikes! The estimate could be a pound or so off either way, so we'll see!

I am finally getting excited to meet our baby girl. I have spent so much time anxiously wondering how in the world I will take care of 2 infants (not to mention the anxiety about the actual giving birth part!). And while that anxiety is still there, I am now allowing myself to experience the excitement and joy of knowing we will be meeting our daughter in a matter of days. I find myself dreaming about what (or who:)) she will look like, what her temperament will be like, how we'll react when she enters this's all so overwhelming. What a blessed life we are living. These next couple of weeks are going to be quite the adventure, I just know it!

Here is what we look like at 39 weeks....

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

"Adoptive Parenting"

When I started this journey, I desperately wanted to believe I could parent our adopted child the way any parent would, love him with all my heart, and it would all work out. As I actually experience being Jackson's momma, and read more and more about adoption, I absolutely know this is not true. There was always a voice in my head that told me things would be different, but I could only handle a little at a time, so I figured we'd cross that bridge when we got there. And we will. But I am finding I am already to that bridge with Jackson. I am already making decisions about how to parent him based *partly* on the knowledge that he was adopted into our family, and what this experience (and all that surrounds it) may mean to our little man.

I have been reading Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew and I have to say that I love it and would highly recommend it to anyone who has any kind of relationship with a child who was adopted, but especially parents. It is hard at first to read - the reality of adoption can be painful. But if you can get past the "reality check," and understand that these are all things that kids can deal with, and that your child won't necessarily struggle with it all, then I think it is a great read. Each chapter has a title that states a feeling or experience an adopted child may have. I just read the chapter entitled, "I Am Afraid You Will Abandon Me."

Given what I do for a living, I know that there is a normal childhood fear of abandonment by parents that we all have to eventually face and conquer, and the book states this as well. What most babies/ young children learn through this developmental stage (and through normal healthy parent-child relationships) is that this fear is unwarranted and just an illusion. There is no truth to this fear in their lives. However, an adopted child has a very different story. Abandonment is truth. (Side note: We all know that birthparents are not generally "abandoning" their children. I am speaking from the child's experience of relinquishment, not the reality of it that they will eventually need to integrate into their understanding of their adoption). Anyway, for my son, abandonment was how his story started, at 2 days old. He has an added twist of going to a foster home for 2.5 more days, and then those people disappeared, too. I cannot underestimate the powerful impact these experiences had on him if I want to be the best mom I can be to him.

So, when I begin something like sleep training or when I make a plan for Jax for when we will be away having baby #2, I want to be clear that I do it with a great deal of thought and care, maybe more so than other parents. What I know in my heart, and what the book has been clear about, is that it is my job to prove to Jackson over and over again that I am, and always will be, here for him - even when he can't see me. This is an important job for adoptive parents. And our children require us to prove it to them in different ways throughout each development stage. So, in Jackson's case, I always go to him if he cries or fusses too long. I use words and tell him that I love him and will never just leave him. I promise him I'll always come back. I hug him and kiss him and reassure him. I try to make sure that if I have to be away from him for a day (or more) that he gets to stay in his environment, with people he knows and loves. I know that all parents do this, but I feel an added pressure to always do this and to learn new ways of doing it as he develops. When he is awake in the middle of the night, my mind always weighs all of these things, including the fact that he was adopted, before I take action. Just letting him cry is not always acceptable to me, because I am doing the important job of raising a child who came to me through the miracle of adoption. And that means I have to consider his experience of the adoption - which isn't always going to be as miraculous and joyful as mine.

I am well aware that it is necessary for me to be balanced here. Not everything that Jackson feels or experiences will be related to his adoption. But because adoption (and his experience of abandonment) happened at such a primal and vulnerable time in his life, he will always be carrying it with him in his unconscious self. And that means I have to be watching for it, and doing everything I can to be what the book calls his "journey mate." And mostly that means loving him, listening carefully and always responding with empathy. It also means getting a healthy handle on my own feelings about adoption so that I can see what Jackson needs with a clear heart. I know it is not going to be easy, but I would do it a million times over for this sweet little boy...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

My Sweet Jackson

Dear Jackson,

As we cuddled in bed together this afternoon, I couldn't help but wish that I could bottle up those moments and save them forever. It was just you and me and you snuggled right up into my neck. I could feel your breath on my neck and your fuzzy hair tickled my face. Your little hand held tight to the collar of my shirt, as if you were reassuring me that you knew I was your mommy and you loved me and needed me. Your little body molded up against mine. And we laid like that for hours. You slept like an angel, and I took comfort in hearing you breathe in and out. At times you made cute little noises. I was overcome with joy and peace, because being your mom is the best thing that has ever happened to me. And I fell asleep knowing that you are my answered prayer.

And as I woke up and savored your sweet little sleeping cuddles, I wondered how the next couple of weeks will affect you. How will you experience a new baby in our house? Will you feel like you lost something? Will you know how much we love you? How much we absolutely adore everything about you? Will you know that you are our first child, the healer of our hearts, and that this fact will never change? You made us a family. You bring laughter and joy to our house every single day. We look forward to seeing your sweet face in the morning, and we love to squeeze you tight and kiss you before you go to bed at night.

None of that will change. What will change is that we won't have as much time just for you. You will have to share your mommy and daddy. And while I know your sister will teach all three of us how big our hearts and our capacity for love really are, I worry about how her presence will change your experience of your home, your parents, and your life. How will I show you that nothing about our love for you has changed?

I promise to still take moments for just you and me to cuddle. I promise to always tell you how special you are, how much you mean to me. I promise to take time to just sit on the floor and play and giggle with you, like we do now. Your daddy and I will both do everything we can to make sure you know you are still and always will be the center of our world. Nothing can change that. There is room in the center for both of you. Daddy and I have enough love to give you both. I just know it. Hang in there with us these next few weeks, sweet boy. I absolutely know it will be a rough time at first. But I know our love for each other will get us through it. I love you more than life itself, my sweet pea. I promise to keep showing you that in every way I know how, no matter what.

All my love,

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Update on Our Sleep Adventures!

I realized that you all must be anxiously sitting at home wondering what happened with our sleep woes, just waiting for my! Well, I hesitate to write this because it has only been a few days, but I think we were successful in most of our goals! So, the night I wrote that post, out of desperation, I just had to leave him crying. I wasn't being a nice momma because I was so tired and annoyed, so he had to work it out on his own. After 20 minutes, I went in and put his paci in and rubbed his head and then left. And there was more screaming. For 20 minutes. I was on the phone with a good friend who was encouraging me and giving me advice, so I was luckily distracted. And then he was quiet. He slept! And took an amazing nap!! So, Jason and I decided it was time to allow our little guy to cry in order to teach him to fall asleep. We still swaddle him (we will work on this later, one step at a time), but then we put him in his crib awake. He now goes down to naps with very little crying, usually less than 5 minutes...sometimes none at all! Same at bedtime, he just goes to sleep. And his naps are lasting at least 1.5 hours, sometimes between 2 and 3! We finally get to experience the naps as much needed breaks and the stress is just gone. It is so freeing!

As for staying asleep, that is also getting better, although not fully cured. He has taken much better naps. On average he has one nap a day (out of 3 usually) from which he wakes screaming and we know he needs to sleep more. So we usually let him cry and he often cries himself back to sleep. If he doesn't after 15 minutes, we go in and put his paci in and rub his head and try again. If he gets through 2 or 3 crying fits with no sleeping (and it's usually close to feeding time), I get him up. He still has a pretty predictable 6am wake up and play time, but he goes back to sleep and gets up for good between 7 and 7:30am. Not so bad at all! He usually sleeps through all the way until then...yay! If he does whimper, or even cry, he generally puts himself back to sleep without needing me to go in there to do anything. Success!

Now, yesterday and last night were interesting. Between 7:45am when he got out of bed and 10:00pm when he got up for his last bottle, he slept over 7 hours during the day! I think he's catching up from all that fighting sleep he did, lol! But, then he had a rough night, waking up and crying for a half hour at 1am, then waking up at 3am and playing. Finally at 4am, I went in and had to re-swaddle him. He likes to escape his miracle blanket when he is awake and then play with it, chew on it, etc. It's adorable in the morning...not so much at 4am:). He got really mad when I didn't get him out of the crib and cried a lot, broke my heart. He cried for a half hour in there, then finally was quiet and didn't wake up again until 7am. I think he just took naps that were way too long during the day and wasn't actually tired enough to sleep through. But there was no way I was going to encourage a 4am wake up time! Not in my house!

So, the main thing we need to work on now is predictability. His naps happen between each feeding, but other than that, we are not in a predictable schedule with them, which I'd love to have. I'd love to be able to make appointments and plan my day, knowing about when he will be awake and when he'll need to be sleeping. And his bedtime is all over the place right now. Sometimes he'll go down between 7 and 9pm, and then just sleep through the night. He doesn't even get up for a last bottle! Then last night he had his last feeding around 5:30pm, fell asleep around 7pm and then of course got up at 10pm for his last bottle. And then sometimes he has a last bottle around 8pm and doesn't go to bed until 10pm. Like I said, all over the place. My guess is he will just settle into something - that's the way he works. I can't force his schedule, he just has to kind of figure it out and we go with it. But, that is my big goal next - having a more predictable schedule. I am flexible, I don't need him to go down at the exact time every day, but within the same half hour to hour would be nice!

Overall, though, we are making amazing progress in just a few days. And, honestly, it took less than 24 hours to see a complete difference. And he is SUCH a different baby now, or maybe our experience of him is different because we are so much less stressed. He plays like a champ (adorable picture post to come on how he falls asleep in his jumper:)) and we now just know we can put him down to sleep when he gets fussy, instead of fighting him as he is fighting sleep, which is what we were doing. It was miserable. The success has come just in time for chaos to hit our house once again when baby girl arrives!

So, that's our story! Thank you all for all your advice and guidance! It was comforting to hear that I'm not the only mommy who had to employ the "crying it out" method to get her baby to sleep. It's funny how different babies can be. Some of you have babies who just have a schedule and stick to it and sleep like angels! Others have babies who require a little more work on mommy's (and daddy's) part. We definitely have the latter in our house:). Keep your fingers crossed that baby girl is one of the good eaters and sleepers, so I can keep my! Thanks again, everyone!