Sunday, June 29, 2008

Comparison Photos

I finally got around to taking the picture I promised! Here is Elias at 2.5 weeks:And here's my little chunk muffin today:I sure can tell a difference! Look at that round little face! I'm definitely pleased to see him filling out. :)

Friday, June 27, 2008


We went to the pediatrician today for Elias' 1 month checkup (although he's actually at 5 1/2 weeks). If you'll remember, last Thursday, Elias weighed 9 lbs 5.5 oz. Since then, we have begun supplementing with formula, and I have also begun pumping my milk and feeding it to him by bottle so we know exactly how much he is getting. Today, 8 days later, Elias' weight was...

... 10lbs 12 oz!!!!!!!!!

Yes, my son gained almost a pound and a half in 8 days!!!! Unreal! Can we say that the supplementing is working?!?!?!?!?! Now his height, weight, and head measurement all match up at between the 50th & 75th percentile - just above average. The doctor wasn't concerned about him gaining so fast since it took him so long to get here. (He still weighs less than he would if he had been gaining normally from the beginning.) The doctor thinks, like I do, that Elias will get his hunger figured out and start to eat just the right amount to keep his gaining steady. I'll probably take him back next Friday to weigh again and see what's happening, but I think we're definitely on the right track.

We are just THRILLED at the success of our newest attempt to help Elias develop and grow, and we praise God for getting us here! Our situation isn't ideal, with the pumping and bottlefeeding, but hopefully it's temporary until my milk supply is sufficient for his needs. Please pray with me that my supply will increase enough to drop the formula supplement, and that we'll eventually be able to get Elias back on the breast instead of having to pump and bottlefeed. Either way, though, what is most important to me is a healthy growing baby, which we now HAVE! Praise the Lord!!! :)

I'm planning on taking a picture of him today to compare with previous pictures and see if you can tell he's chunked up at all - so check back soon for the comparison pics!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Quick Update

I feel like I barely have time to turn around these days! This new feeding schedule is pretty tough on both Justin and I - it keeps us jumping and we're both pretty tired. However, Elias is doing AWESOME with it, and so that's worth keeping it up. He is eating well for me (although I still have to work to keep him awake), and then he eats well from the bottle too. I am so thankful that he's willing to take both at this point! He is sleeping so much better during his naptimes, he is more alert and awake for his waketimes, and his diapers are through the roof! I swear I do not know how such a little guy could pee so much! We've had to start using the bigger inserts for his diapers because he totally soaks the newborn-sized inserts! I think that is definitely a good sign. I will not go into detail, however, about the effect the formula is having on his poops... Less fun for Mom & Dad, that's for sure... :) So please pray that Justin & I can get settled into this new routine and not be so tired and busy feeling! The little man is doing so well, though, that it is worth the price we're paying at the moment. We pray it won't last too much longer, though...

His doctor's appointment today was postponed due to insurance issues, so we won't be going in again until Friday. I think that's better anyway because it gives us more time to get established with this new feeding routine and really see how much better he's gaining. Please keep praying for us!!!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

One Month!

My precious baby boy is ONE MONTH old today! I can hardly believe it's been that long! He's turning into quite the little man, and we're starting to get a fun glimpse into his personality. He's very curious and will just stare at things/people as if trying to figure them out! He's also getting feisty and will let you know when you're doing something he doesn't like. He's especially vocal with me when I'm working on keeping him awake at the breast, and he will let me know he did NOT like that cool washcloth on his feet!! He is finding his voice in grunts and coos, and they all make my heart melt. And sometimes the faces he makes make me laugh until I cry. Certainly no lack of expression with this child. He loves to be sung to, and that is possibly Mommy's favorite thing to do with him. He is also smiling more, and he put on some good shows for his Aunt Jessica, Uncle Matt, and Cousins Patriot and Azlan while they were here this weekend. Even with that, though, we STILL didn't get any excellent pictures. There were a couple pretty good ones, though, and I thank Aunt Jessica for being the paparazzi and working to try to get some good shots!Patriot & Azlan did a good job teaching him how to be incredibly cute:And Uncle Matt taught him all about the many merits of the i-Phone... (Matt is definitely a tech geek.)They took us out to eat Friday evening, and Elias was such a good boy to sleep the whole time!
We are so thankful they came for a visit - it was so much fun!!

Friday, June 20, 2008

On to Plan B

I appreciate everybody's comments, concern, and especially prayers! We had a really bad day yesterday, and so we're moving on to trying something else. Here's the issue: We just CANNOT get a good latch. He's not opening his mouth wide enough, which has been a problem since he was born and I think only exacerbated by the use of the nipple shield. Therefore, Elias is not getting much milk without the nipple shield, and he's not staying awake there either. So we spend an hour working on waking him up, trying to latch, waking him up, switching sides, trying to latch, and on and on. It's frustrating both of us and tearing up my nipples. Then by the end of the hour he's still hungry, but he's too exhausted to eat even with the nipple shield. He ate so poorly that my good milk supply is gone. (I'm sure it's also related to my frustration and exhaustion.) So although we know it presents a risk to long-term breastfeeding (as does use of a nipple shield), we've decided to supplement. I'll breastfeed first (with or without the nipple shield is yet to be determined) but not let him camp out there forever. Then Justin will give him a bottle of formula (or expressed breastmilk if we have enough) while I pump to make sure I have received adequate stimulation, and hopefully collect some more milk for future bottles. We pray that this isn't a long-term situation, but we just really need the peace of mind that Elias is getting enough to eat. Hopefully he'll get into the pattern of actually feeling full at the end of a feeding, recognize when he is hungry, start waking himself up to eat, and then stay awake during feedings. That's what we hope. Please continue to pray for us!!!!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Not Bad, but Not Good

Well, we just got back from our doctor's appointment, and the news is not bad but not good either. Elias has gained weight this week, but still not enough. He has gained 3 ounces each week the past 2 weeks, and he should be gaining more like 5 to 7. Soooooo, we're still not there yet. The doctor said, though, that he still is healthy, vigorous, and hydrated, so we really just need to keep doing what we're doing. The doctor was encouraged by my story of my supply increasing the past couple of days, and said that should help turn things around. Elias' one month appointment is on Monday, so we're not going to take any action until then. If his weight gain still hasn't increased by then, we'll probably have to start supplementing.

I think our big problem is that Elias still won't stay awake to eat, which I'm sure is hindering him from being able to take in enough food. So in order to try to help that, I'm going on Nipple Shield Boot Camp this week. I really think the nipple shield is stopping him from getting the immediate gratification of the milk as soon as it lets down, and I think this might be contributing to him falling asleep at the breast. I've been hesitant to do this before because feedings already take so long trying to keep him awake, I haven't wanted to make them even longer trying to get a good latch and THEN trying to keep him awake. But I feel like it just has to be done. So I'd really appreciate your prayers for this... I'm kinda dreading how this is going to go.

In other news, though, my sister and her family are going to be visiting this weekend, and I'm pumped!!! Elias will get to meet his Uncle Matt and his cousins Patriot and Azlan!! They'll arrive tonight and leave Saturday evening. I know that fun times will be had by all, and hopefully I'll have some majorly cute pictures to post on Sunday!

Edited to add: We just spent the past hour trying to feed without the nipple shield. We just can't get a good latch, and I have no idea what else to try. Why is it that billions of women throughout history have been able to successfully breastfeed their children and I just can't figure out how to do it? I'm so frustrated because the milk is in there and I just can't seem to get it into Elias. He did eat some during the hour of trying, but not enough to be satisfied, so we finished the feeding with the nipple shield. Even then, though, I'm not sure he got enough because he falls asleep immediately as soon as the nipple shield enters his mouth. I guess we'll just keep doing this until eventually we either get the latch right or we end up having to bottle feed because my child can't get enough food to live on from me. I'm so discouraged.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Pictures for Grandma

Today Elias wore the onesie that his grandma embroidered for him. It says "Eli's comin', hide your heart girl!" (A line from a Three Dog Night song that Justin has always liked.) It's too late for me - my heart is already gone! But I wanted to capture the moment for Grandma so she could see how cute the little man is in his outfit! Thank you, Grandma!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Big Adventures

First of all, let me say that Elias will be 4 weeks old tomorrow, and motherhood is finally starting to be fun. This is due mainly to the fact that he has started SMILING!!!! They are pretty hard to catch on camera, so we don't have a picture of one yet. But it is the sweetest thing I have ever seen in my life. His whole little face lights up. We'll do our best to catch one for you all to see... This is the best we've caught so far - the end of a smile:Motherhood is also becoming more fun because Elias has actually started EATING!!!! Sunday was a fantastic day - he was eating like crazy and a lot. But then yesterday was terrible. But last night it all turned around and he has consistently eaten well at every feeding since. My hypothesis of what happened is that Sunday he started a growth spurt and so he was eating like crazy to tell my milk-makers to up the production. Yesterday was bad because they were still working on it and weren't making enough for him. But then last night I could tell that my supply had increased and it was coming out faster for him, and he started eating really well. So that is a huge relief and I'm finally feeling confident that he's actually getting enough to eat at each feeding. Praise the Lord for this and pray that Eli will start to flourish with this newfound eating success. We go on Thursday to have him weighed again to see what's what.

In other news, Elias has started having big adventures! With the new eating well, he is sleeping much better, and that means he also is more awake for his playtimes. This week he started playing on his Baby Einstein activity mat, and he loves it! He'll stare at the lights, listen to the music, and even bat at the toys! He also does tummy time on the mat, which he doesn't like as much. But he's learning and developing!Then this evening we went out for our first walk! The weather here has been heinously hot, so we haven't been able to walk as much as we want to. But it was breezy and a little cooler this evening, so we loaded him up in the Snugli carrier and went for a walk. It was fun (and surprisingly comfortable) to carry him in the Snugli, and he liked it so much he went to sleep! He didn't fall asleep until the very end of our walk, though. He is so curious and loves to be walked around to look at everything. I know he was enjoying the fresh air and sunlight and the new sounds and smells. He's our little learner.

Yeah, so this motherhood thing may not be so bad after all...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy First Father's Day!

I just wanted to wish a Happy First Father's Day to my sweet husband. You have blown me away with the kind of Daddy you are. You love our son in a way it never even occurred to me that you would. I love the way you just want to spend time with him, sing to him, read to him, play with him, or hold him - just that you want to be so involved in his life. I love the way you take responsibility for the spiritual health of our household and the way you pray for him every day.Thank you also for making being a mommy so much easier for me. You listen when I need to vent my emotions, and then you offer me a voice of reason which I need desperately. You always have a hug and encouraging word for me. You do the dishes and make dinner, and you even make me breakfast every morning! I would be completely lost without you, and I hope that I convey to you every day how thankful I am to God for giving me such an amazing man to partner with in this journey of parenthood.
I love you and I'm proud of the daddy you are and the daddy you will become as Elias grows older. I can't wait to see him grow up to be just like you!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Out and About

We're finally getting to the point where we're able to take Elias out and about with us! This week we have been two different places as a family (besides the doctor's office, of course).

On Thursday we went to WalMart and did grocery shopping! We made sure to tell him that WalMart is Mommy's favorite place, and this is only the first of THOUSANDS of times he'll be at WalMart with me. (Thankfully, there IS a WalMart in the small town we're moving to in Missouri!) He did well and slept most of the time we were at the store. It was his naptime, and it's nice that he'll nap in his carseat for us.

Then today we went out to eat for the first time! The restaurant around the corner from us had a Father's Day special where fathers eat free with the purchase of another meal. So we took advantage of that! Elias slept most of the time in his carseat there too, although he did enjoy the nice muzak playing before he drifted off. I am INCREDIBLY mad at myself that I forgot the camera, though, so I don't have a picture of his first time at a restaurant. Hopefully we'll get a pic next time we go out...

But it's nice to be able to start getting out again. It makes me feel more like a human being, and I know it's good for him too.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Like a Weaned Child

Yesterday as I was changing Elias' diaper trying to get him to wake up to finish a feeding, he did wake up, realized he was still hungry, and started screaming his head off. This is not an unusual occurrence. However, this particular time, a Psalm popped into my head:

Psalm 131

1 O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

3 O Israel, hope in the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore.

A child who is still nursing doesn't understand delayed gratification. If he's hungry, he screams until he is satisfied. For the most part, a child who has been weaned can sit patiently and wait for his mother to bring food. And this is how we should be with God. Like weaned children, we wait patiently for the Lord to bring us what He knows we need. Crying and fussing over not receiving answers to our prayers just shows our immaturity, that we are still nursing infants.

This is VERY applicable to me right now, and the more I think about it the more I need this lesson. I didn't realize until yesterday just how hurt and angry I am at God for the way He has made us wait so long for answers to our prayers, and for the way He is still making us wait. I just don't understand why we had to spend more than 8 long, frustrating months looking for a job before God came through. And we are thankful that He did and we praise Him for the perfect situation. But why make us suffer so long?

And now the need feels even more urgent for me as we wait for Him to come through with Eli's feeding and weight gain. We had him weighed yesterday and he is still gaining, but slowly. He's more than 3 weeks old and still not back up to his birth weight. This terrifies me for his health, and it also makes me angry. We have prayed and trusted God for Eli's health, and we are doing everything we possibly can to help him be healthy. So why is God withholding the answer to this prayer? I believe that He will come through, but what is the purpose of the long struggle while we wait?

I know that God's Word says that He is good in everything He does. He is loving, gracious, and compassionate, and He promises that all things in the lives of His children will work out for good. He also says that He does not act without a purpose, and He never allows difficulties into His children's lives just out of spite or for fun. So I know He has a purpose in this and that purpose is good, even though I may never know what that purpose is.

But I'm still really struggling with it, especially when we're in the middle of a feeding and Elias just won't wake up to eat. I pray and beg God continually - please, help him eat! And it feels like God just won't answer. I don't know why and I am really having a hard time letting it go and trusting God with Eli's life and health. So I just ask for your prayers. Please pray that God will indeed answer our prayers and that Elias will wake up and learn how to eat well and that he will gain weight! And please pray that in the meantime I will be able to let go of my anger and instead calm and quiet my soul like a weaned child.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Missouri Bound!

If there are any of you who don't read my husband's blog, you may not have heard our big news! After many months of searching, waiting, and praying, he has gotten a job! He is the new Instructor of Economics and Finance at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri (map here). The way it all came about is just miraculous, and God was so good to just drop this opportunity right in our laps. You can read more about how it happened at Justin's blog. So now we're working on making plans to try to move with a baby... Justin will probably fly out by himself and go house-hunting sometime in the next couple of weeks. It's just not feasible for us to try to take Elias. (He has picked out places for us to live on his own in the past and done a great job - I trust his judgment.) Then we plan to make the final move there sometime in mid-July. We want to stay here long enough for me to have my 6-week checkup (July 2) with the same doctor who delivered Elias. Plus, the older the baby is, hopefully the easier it will be to try to drive him halfway across the country. Please pray for us as we are figuring out details, finding a place to live, etc. Classes start for Justin on August 19th! :)

We are still kind of in a state of shock - it happened so fast! But we are incredibly thankful for God's provision for us, and we can't wait to see what the future holds. Please keep us in your prayers, and join us in praising God for answering our prayers in SUCH a huge way!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


My precious boy had not one, but TWO major graduations yesterday! First of all, he graduated from disposable diapers to cloth! We had been waiting to use our cloth diapers until his umbilical cord fell off and his bellybutton healed because the rise on the cloth diapers is so high. But his bellybutton is perfect now, and we've started using our cloth! They still seem pretty bulky compared to the disposables, but I think they're so cute! Besides the yellow pictured above, we also have blue, green, and white. Totally cute. These diapers are bumGenius 3.0 one-size diapers, which are adjustable and will grow to fit him for as long as he's in diapers (unless he's huge or potty-trains really late, heaven forbid!). So we're excited to be able to start using the cloth and stop wasting money and landfill space on disposables.

The second graduation he had yesterday was from sponge baths to a baby bathtub, also related to the healing of his umbilical cord. I think he really liked being in the water, although he did get fussy at the end. Maybe we were just too slow in getting the job done. We use the lavender scented night-time stuff, which is supposed to be calming for him. It never has seemed to have that effect on him, but Mommy sure likes smelling it on him for the whole rest of the night! (It calms ME down for the middle of the night feedings!) It was fun to be able to bathe him in a real bath, though, and I hope bathtime will be an enjoyable experience for us for years to come.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Eli's Birth Story

I'm finally getting around to posting the story of Eli's birth! For me, childbirth was the most intense, powerful, and thrilling experience of my life so far. It was awesome and wonderful, and I'd definitely do it again. So let me begin at the beginning:

You know from my post that day that I had started having regular and painful contractions at about 1 am on Tuesday, May 20. However, at my doctor's appointment at 1 pm that day, the doctor said that I was only dilated to 2 cm, and it could still be days before I gave birth. We opted not to accept any interventions at that point, and so we came home hoping things would progress on their own.

My contractions continued to be regular and painful all day, and I used a technique called the "belly lift" from the book Back Labor No More. (I did not read this book, so I'm not recommending it, but the technique is also mentioned in the Hypnobabies program that I did.) Basically, the belly lift is just pulling back on your belly during a contraction. In the womb, a baby is tilted forward toward your belly button. So pulling back on your belly right about at the belly button puts the baby in a more vertical position and helps him descend and press directly on the cervix. It is also supposed to help turn a baby who is facing the wrong direction. So for most of my contractions that day, I pulled in on my belly hoping to get him to press down on my cervix and make it open!

Since my contractions were already frequent and intense, I didn't notice a vast increase in frequency or intensity of contractions for most of the day. I even managed to take a short nap in the early evening. By late evening, though, it was getting pretty bad. Even then, though, I wasn't sure whether they were actually getting worse or if I was just getting tired and worn out. Justin was amazing in massaging my back, helping me relax, and even timing contractions for me once they got too bad for me to time myself. Then at about 11 pm, I started to shake, almost like I was cold, but I wasn't. I just was having these tremors that really scared me - I felt like I was losing control of my body! I didn't know what was happening! So I managed to take that for about a half hour before I started to emotionally just lose it. So Justin timed my contractions then, 3 minutes apart, and we finally decided to go to the hospital. I had been reluctant to go to the hospital all evening because I was afraid they were just going to tell me "You're at 3 cm." and I knew that I would take whatever interventions they offered me at that point. I had been hoping that my water would break, which would be a clear indication that it was time to go. Thankfully, we didn't wait until that happened, you'll see why later... But by this time I had had enough, and Justin could tell that I needed to go. So we made all the preparations (The car was already packed because we were planning on that day being IT!) and left, arriving at the emergency room right at midnight.

I am surprised at how calm I was through all the check-in and everything. I guess it was pretty surreal, like this wasn't actually happening. Plus, I was pretty focused on getting through the contractions. And I was still scared that I hadn't made any progress. The emergency room attendant rang the birthing center, and they sent a nurse down with a wheelchair to get me. This was the first time I had ever ridden in a wheelchair! The nurse even commented at how calm I was, and I was talking and laughing between contractions. I could tell that she was thinking "There's no way this girl is ready to give birth..." In fact, later several of the nurses told me that when I first came in, they thought I couldn't be progressed very far because I wasn't freaking out and I was able to carry on conversations and smile and stuff. Thankfully, they were wrong!

They took me to a triage room and started hooking me up to the monitors, but before they hooked them up, they checked my cervix for dilation. The nurse seemed really surprised when she exclaimed "She's at 7!" Seven?! Yippeeeeeeeee! I couldn't believe it. The best I was hoping for was like 5! Seven meant the baby was coming, and pretty soon too! (I guess the belly lift worked! Not to mention ALL the prayers!!!)

So they didn't even bother hooking me to monitors in triage. They just took us to our labor & delivery room, and we got settled in there. By the time we got into our room, it was about 12:30 am. They gave me the IV for the antibiotics for the Group B Strep, and I have to admit that I was all worried about the IV for nothing. It hurt a little when she put it in, but then I totally forgot about it. I had much bigger fish to fry. The antibiotics did burn in my arm going in, but even then it wasn't that big a deal. The next 1 1/2 hours were pretty much the same, getting through worsening contractions. Justin was again a lifesaver. He would help me focus and relax and breathe through the contractions. (I didn't do the "hee hee hoo hoo" breathing stuff. Just breathed deeply through my mouth.) For me, contractions weren't really all that bad. I mean, they were incredibly painful, but they were so short that you just have to focus on getting through it and you know it'll be over in just a few more seconds. They did start coming pretty fast, though. Justin read me some Psalms, and that helped too.

At 2 am, they checked me again, and I was at 9 cm! They said "We'd better call the doctor and tell him to get ready!" That's when the action really started. About 2 minutes after the nurse left the room, I had another strong contraction, my water broke, and the baby came down FAST!!! I've heard people refer to it as a "water slide" when the water breaking carries the baby all the way down the birth canal. :) I mean, he came fast. I was pushing by the end of the contraction. When I was able to catch my breath, I told Justin "My water just broke, and I'M PUSHING!" I've never seen the man move so fast. He was in the hallway yelling for the nurses, and suddenly my room was a bustle of activity.

The nurses were getting everything set up for the delivery, and they just kept telling me "DON'T PUSH!" Um, yeah right. How in the world am I not going to push?! "Just breathe," they would say. And really as long as I focused on breathing, it was slightly easier not to push. It took probably 10 or 15 minutes for the doctor to arrive, and I tell ya, that was the hardest part about the whole deal. The baby is REALLY ready to come out, and I'm having to try NOT to push! I think they were all just scared of me delivering before the doctor got there since there was so much trauma about anticipating a big baby who wouldn't fit. Thankfully, the doctor arrived and as they were getting the scrubs on him, he said "What are you breathing for!? PUSH!" I took me a couple of contractions to figure out how to push, and actually once it came down to doing it, I was scared. I mean, what if the baby really didn't fit?! But there really wasn't any other option, so I got down to business.

I had actually intended to try to deliver the baby in a squatting position, working with gravity instead of pushing against it lying down. But with the way my limbs were shaking, I didn't think I'd even be able to squat, and I just wanted the baby out - I didn't care how! Justin remembered what I wanted, though, and got them to at least tilt the back of my bed up so I was more in an upright position. I highly recommend this - it was much easier to push sitting upright instead of lying flat on my back. So I pushed for about 10 minutes, and out he came! At one point, they put an oxygen mask on me, and I think this was because I had only partially delivered the head, and the baby needed the extra oxygen until the next contraction when I could finish delivering the head. But that was only a minute until the next contraction, and the rest of the head came on out! I think I heard the doctor say that the cord was wrapped around his neck, but later he said that was normal and no problem. Then with the next contraction, I delivered the shoulders and out he came at 2:24 am! (As a side note, pushing the baby out did not hurt at all. Just intense pressure. I guess my body was so numb by then that it didn't hurt one bit.)

Hearing my baby cry was the most surreal experience of my life. They put him on my belly and it was like the Twilight Zone. This is my son, who I just pushed out of my body. Justin cried, but I was just in disbelief. I couldn't believe that it had actually happened exactly the way we hoped it would! We asked the doctor to wait to clamp the cord until it stopped pulsating so the baby could get all the good oxygen and nutrients in the blood that was there. It only took a minute though, then the doctor clamped the cord and Justin cut it. I held the sweet boy on my belly for about 15 minutes before they took him to weigh and measure him and do whatever else they do to newborns. His Agpar scores were 8 and 9, which are very good. Yay for a drug-free birth! We only had time to get in one round of antibiotics, which really isn't enough. But they kept a close eye on him and he tested negative the next day for the infection. So praise God for that!

Then came the unpleasant business of repairing my tear. And oh, what a tear it was! The doctor said it looked "like a bomb went off down there." Justin remembers him saying that the baby "tore me a new one." The doctor said that it was his shoulders that tore me so badly, not his head. He said that the tears weren't deep, but they were just long and a lot of them. It literally took him 45 minutes to stitch me up! That was a pretty long 45 minutes, especially since my sweet baby was laying over in the warmer 5 feet from me instead of cuddling in my arms! But I had asked them to use a local anesthetic to repair my tear, so I wasn't in any pain. He finally finished, though, and he seemed pretty proud of his work. The nurses assured me that as bad as my tear was, my recovery would still be a lot easier than if I had had a c-section.

The nurses all told me how proud they were of me for the way I gave birth - they were impressed that I did it unmedicated and stayed so calm. I thought it was nice of them to tell me that. Then I finally got to hold my sweet boy and nurse him. Still Twilight Zone. It took me several days before it finally became real that I had had a baby.

My physical recovery has been great, very little pain and bleeding. I am so thankful for that, since the emotional and mental part of motherhood has been so difficult. But I am incredibly thankful for my birth experience - it was as close to ideal as I could hope for! I can honestly say that giving birth was wonderful and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. I feel the same way about pregnancy too. Maybe I can sign up to be a surrogate mother - carry and birth other people's babies and then THEY have to take care of them once they're born! :)

Wow, this turned out to be really long. But now you have all the details... I'm glad to have them written down before I start to forget them, too!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

More Going On Than We Think...

I said in my last post that Nana was "on duty" the past 2 nights. This is because Justin was out of town. And these were two of the worst days we've had with Elias. He was just a terror and my emotional reactions to him were out of control. When Justin got back yesterday afternoon, he shared a thought which made me pause. He's reading a book about spiritual authority and spiritual attack (which I'm sure he'll review on his blog when he finishes it). He said that he thought the hard time we had with Elias while he was gone wasn't just a fluke, but it was actually spiritual warfare. Justin, the spiritual head and authority in our home, was away and so that left us more vulnerable to attack. And looking at it, I can totally see how that could be true. Especially considering that as soon as Justin got home and we prayed over him together, Eli started eating and sleeping again. Last night was a dream - he went straight down after every feeding and slept until the next one like he had been doing before Justin left. This is kind of scary to think about the attack we were under with Justin away, but it is also empowering to recognize the enemy and be prepared to fight him next time we're in this situation. It is easy to get caught up in the physical aspects of caring for a baby - feeding, sleeping, diapering, etc. But we can't neglect the spiritual aspect of life as well. The enemy wants to destroy our family and home, and he'll take advantage of any way he can get his foot in the door. I want to be covered in prayer and ready for him when he comes! This is a battle we have already won.

Here's a picture of us from today - Elias is 18 days old!

Friday, June 06, 2008

New Mommy Lessons

Ugh. Last night was rough. And I mean ROUGH. There was a lot of crying (both me and the baby), and very little sleeping (both me and the baby AND my poor mother-in-law, who was "on duty"). Even now we have no idea what was wrong with him and why he just would not sleep. But now that he has stopped screaming and is napping peacefully again, here are some lessons I have learned/need to learn from this experience about parenting an infant:

1. Caring for an infant is not predictable. Just because something worked/happened yesterday, it might not today. That's just how it is. Everybody is still adjusting to this new life.
2. You just have to roll with the punches. Not everything is cause for an emotional breakdown. Nothing about our situation is permanent... If it's bad today, it'll probably be better tomorrow. Everybody is still adjusting to this new life.
3. When the baby cries, it is not a personal indictment against me as a mother. Yes, he's upset and I don't know what to do about it. That does not make me unfit for motherhood. Everybody is still adjusting to this new life.
4. When the baby cries, he is not doing it to personally spite me, so getting angry at him is not a reasonable response. He's crying because he has some kind of need, and we just don't know what that is. That is ok. Everybody is still adjusting to this new life.
5. It is ok to accept help. I feel absolutely terrible about the night my mother-in-law had last night. She was just as frazzled and bewildered at Eli's behavior as I was, but she handled it with MUCH more grace than I did. She definitely saw one of the worst sides of me last night. But there is no way that Eli and I would've survived the night without her, and she was perfectly willing and able to help. So even though it meant she had a terrible night inflicted upon her, I am thankful for her help and will accept it again. These bad nights won't last forever... Everybody is still adjusting to this new life.

So the theme of this post is that I need to chill out and give us time to adjust. Although last night it felt like Eli would be screaming forever, really it was only about 12 hours. And he was so wide awake from the screaming that he ate GREAT at every feeding. So there was a silver lining even to that cloud. The time in our lives that we'll be having nights like this is very short, and so I just need to relax and accept them with grace. God is still present even in the tough nights, and He is carrying us and providing for us all that we need.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

On the Upswing

We had an excellent doctor visit today! Elias has gained an ounce every day since we started doing the 2-hour feeding schedule... Praise the Lord! So things are on the upswing with my baby boy. I feel like we're settling into the routine well, and I am incredibly thankful for the support and help I have in Justin and my mother-in-law. They are awesome to take care of Elias and let me get sleep between feedings. What a blessing! (To all expectant mothers reading this, MAKE SURE TO HAVE HELP AVAILABLE TO YOU 24/7 FOR AT LEAST THE FIRST 2 WEEKS! If Daddy's going back to work, get somebody else to come stay with you while he's gone...)

We also had a good visit with the lactation consultant. The problem we're having is that Eli just can't get a good latch on his own, so we've been using a nipple shield since he was 2 days old. He eats fine with it, it's just a nuisance to have to try to use, it could cause problems in getting him to take just my nipple in the future, and I just don't want to have to use it forever. So the sooner we can get off of it, the better. So the tries we had with the lactation consultant today were still not perfect, but definitely the best we've ever had. We did manage to get a full feeding without the shield, which is definitely a first. I think Eli and I both just need time and practice to get things right. He is eating SO WELL, though, with the shield, and I am so thankful that he is starting to gain weight. The doc doesn't need to see him again until his 1 month appointment, but I'll probably take him in next week to have him weighed and just make sure we're still on the right track.

Thank you SO MUCH, everybody, for all your prayers and encouragement. God is good and He is taking care of us through this time.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

2 Weeks Old

Thank you, everybody, SO SO much for your kind comments and your prayers. We have definitely felt your prayers and God is most definitely working on our behalf. I am doing so much better than I was even 2 days ago - more at peace with what is going on, and I haven't cried all day! :) Please keep praying!

And our sweet boy is 2 weeks old today! I can also tell a difference in him - he is doing really well with all that we're trying to do. I think he's getting into his groove with breastfeeding... He's getting the hang of the whole sucking and swallowing thing, and I'm starting to feel like he may actually be getting food when he eats. I was pretty worried yesterday because he just didn't seem to be swallowing much, and then he'd fall asleep before I felt like he got anything. But we all got good sleep last night - Eli went straight to sleep after every feeding, so Daddy didn't have to get up at all to do pacifier duty. And today things are definitely looking up. Feedings are going much faster too, as long as he remembers his suck/swallow groove. Keep up the prayers for this too! Tomorrow we'll be meeting with another lactation consultant, and we're hoping to get his latch straightened out. I'm also anxious to see if he's gaining any weight at our appointment tomorrow morning.

In other news, his umbilical cord fell off yesterday! So that's great, and we're excited to be able to put him in clothes besides a t-shirt. Here he is in his first onesie!What a cutie. You may also notice that he has a new paci. My mother-in-law went and stocked up on several different kinds, because he didn't always seem to enjoy the first one we had. So two nights ago we tried this one, and he took to it immediately. It really was miraculous. With the other one, we'd have to hold it in his mouth for a while before he figured out what to do with it, and he didn't always take it - sometimes it upset him more than it soothed him. This one is instant, and it almost always puts him straight to sleep. The shape of it is much better, and so I can see why it feels better in his mouth. Praise God for Nana's idea of trying other kinds!

And to close, I'll just post this picture that Nana captured of one of Eli's less-than-happy moments... What a face!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Baby Blues

I have a really bad case of the Baby Blues. This is actually a misnomer because I'm not blue - there's nothing sad about the way I feel. What I feel is overwhelmed, angry, and exhausted. I'm overwhelmed by how much I love and care for this child, overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for him and how time- and energy-intensive that is, overwhelmed by the postpartum and lactation hormones that are ravaging my body and making me a basketcase, overwhelmed by the fears and doubts that pop up - Are we doing this right? Is he going to be ok? I don't really know why I'm angry, but today that is my main emotion. I'm angry that he sleeps through feedings and then won't nap when he's supposed to, angry that this is much much harder than I ever could've imagined it being, angry because this is not what I signed up for and feeling that way then makes me feel guilty. I had been told that the first month to 6 weeks of motherhood were going to be really really hard, but I was in no way prepared for this. I don't think anybody could be. I guess I thought that the joy would kind of make up for the difficulty. It doesn't. There are moments of joy, but they are far outweighed by the other stuff right now. I'm told it will get better. And I know I'm definitely not unique. Every mother in history has gone through this before me, and they all made it fine, so I know I will too. But I'd really appreciate your prayers.

To top it all off, we dropped by the pediatrician's office today to check Elias' weight and make sure he's gaining. He's not. He's still losing weight. This is not good. So the doctor squeezed us into his schedule to check Elias over. He said he's definitely not dehydrated and his diapering pattern is great, so we're not in panic mode yet. He said I need to step up the feedings, though - every 2 hours around the clock. This makes me want to jump off a cliff. Elias is so sleepy during feedings that a lot of the time it takes us over an hour to finish a feeding. If I'm supposed to be feeding him every 2 hours, that means I have like 45 minutes from the end of one feeding to the beginning of the next. The doctor said that Elias eating better should make him sleep better during naptimes and then wake up better for feedings. But trying to get this started just makes me want to cry even more than I already have been, which is a lot. So please, please pray for us. Pray that Elias will fall into a good pattern of eating and sleeping, and that he will start to gain weight immediately. Pray also for Justin and I as we persevere through this difficult time of adjustment. We go back to the doctor Thursday to check on progress.

Sorry to write such a downer post, but I really need you guys praying for us, and I want to be completely honest about what is going on so you can lift us up to the Father with as specific details as possible! Thank you for your prayers and support.