Thursday, January 8, 2015

Gracelyn - One Month Old

Gracelyn Elizabeth celebrated her first month on this earth in a big way – Christmas, New Year’s, traveling to Grandma and Grandpa’s and Grandma and Papa’s house in her first road trip – meeting all of her cousins – lots of fun firsts!

Baby girl came into this world with a bang! I’m working on her birth story, so look for that in coming days. Gracelyn was born December 1, 2014 at 10:12 PM, three days earlier than her due date. She tipped the scales weighing in at 7 pounds, 4 ounces and 20.75 inches long. She weighs a full pound less than her big brother and is more petite just in general. Not to mention having a MUCH smaller head. Gracelyn is derived from a combination of my middle name (Linn) with one of my favorite girl names “Grace.” Elizabeth comes from my grandma Elizabeth. Nicknames: Grace, Gracie, floppy fish, sister sister and chickie.
Many have asked me how things are going now that I have one baby under my belt. I think that I can pretty accurately say that the things that were hard with Lucan (breastfeeding) aren’t so hard this time but instead there are new hard things to deal with (gas and not pooping). As I had feared, Lucan ruined us with his great sleep habits as he started sleeping through the night around five weeks. We’re definitely not there with Gracelyn. Not even close.

My parents stayed the first couple of days after Gracie was born and then Lance’s parents came for a couple of days. Lance took the first two weeks off while we all tried to adjust to life as a family of four. We’re keeping Lucan in his daycare routine as we have to continue to pay for it. Lance drops Lu off in the morning and I continue to pick him up in the afternoons. It’s a luxury that I’m thankful for as it gives me lots of time to bond with Gracie. I also have to admit that Lu would probably be bored staying home with me and would be watching wayyyy too much television. Our friends from church have blessed us with many meals, which are a life saver in those early days. I don't know what I would do without our friends.
Eating. My milk came in around day four or five, which was early in comparison to Lu. But this time I was ready and totally fine with supplementing with formula until my body was ready to breastfeed. I remember feeling like such a breastfeeding failure with Lucan when we started giving him a bottle. I also remember feeling really stupid because he was crying endlessly – because he was STARVING. Duh Kara. Choosing to give Gracelyn a bottle was a no brainer, no one wants a hungry baby. Once my milk came in we switched to nursing and we’ve been doing really well since then. She’s by no means a fast eater, which is similar to Lucan. I also have problems with her falling asleep in the evening feedings, but she’s not nearly as bad as Lu was. I do find myself having to tickle her to get her to wake up enough to eat. Silly baby.

Wearing. Gracelyn has been able to wear newborn clothes and newborn diapers for a full month which is almost two weeks longer than her brother. We actually don’t have that many newborn clothes so we’ve been repeating the same six outfits. That’s okay, I’d rather having more options in bigger sizes. I’m loving pink. And headbands.
Routine. We follow the basic three hour routine of Eat – Play – Sleep – repeat. With the exception of nights, I wake Gracelyn every three to three and a half hours to feed her. It’s a good routine for the most part. At the end of the first month we moved into a pretty predictable routine of having to get up once a night between 2:00-3:00 AM to eat. The first half of the month was pretty rough … Poor Gracelyn is afflicted with really painful gas problems and would choose to cry most nights for about a four hour stretch. Lance and I would take turns staying up with her and trying to comfort her. She has the most ear piercing cries. We both spent a lot of time on the couch sleeping/holding Gracelyn at 3 AM. Not fun. Our roughest time of day is definitely the evenings. Unfortunately Grace wants to be held from like 5:00-10:00 PM. It’s really hard to get anything done at night. But as a benefit for me, after her morning feedings she’s pretty happy to go back to sleep without fuss. This means I get to catch up on my much needed sleep.

Sleeping. I’m just a much lighter sleeper since having kids. That being said, it’s really hard for me to get any sort of non-anxious rest when sharing a room with my kids. Gracelyn has been sleeping in her room since like day five. We were fortunate to borrow a Rock and Play sleeper from some friends, so that’s been really nice to have. It takes up less room then the pack and play and is nicely portable. The only potential negative I predict is the transition to the crib. The Rock and Play cradles her and keeps Gracelyn propped up at an incline. Not so much with the crib. But right now I’m closing my eyes to future problems and just going with the status quo. I think that Gracie’s sleep position is in someone’s arms or on someone’s chest. Again, not a long term solution. We aren’t swaddling Gracelyn. Stop the presses, I know. We were such adamant swaddlers with Lu, it even surprises me.
Pooping. This girl doesn’t poop. It makes her unhappy and it stresses out me. You can always tell when it’s been three (or four!) days since she last pooped because she gets squirmy and unhappy and her cries are shrill. She’s on a regular routine of gas drops, colic drops (actually for the probiotics) and a periodic dose of gripe water. We do tummy massages and bicycles in hopes of getting things pushed out. I’ve dialed down my dairy, caffeine and broccoli intake. It’s a sad life for both of us! (One thing that surprises me is often the topic of poop comes up now that I'm a parent. Poop for life!)

Already a daddy's girl

Squishy newborn faces.

Grandpa and Grandma were some of the first hospital visitors.

Uncle Donkey.

Mr. Josh

Miss Sarah

Miss Jessie

Auntie E and Mr. Ryan in from Sioux Center

Favorite sleep position

Grace has the same newborn hair as her brother. Shaggy on the sides and balding on top!

Cousin Brooke, born Oct 7. Girl cousins unite!

Resting peacefully with Grandma

Christmas tree shot with brother bear.

Merry Christmas!

Peek-a-boo! I see you!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Rocking his world. Adding a sibling.

(caveat: I wrote this post a couple of weeks before baby girl was born. I'm not sure why I never got around to publish it, so my apologies. I'll write a follow-up at some point letting you know how all of this worked out.)

I know it’s not uncommon for parents to feel guilt about rocking their child’s world by bringing home a baby. But wow, I feel sad for Lucan. He’s not going to know why his parents are diverting their attention and love to someone else. I know the transition is going to be tough. It’s going to be tough on all of us!

Here are a couple of things I’ve picked up here and there about easing this time period for everyone.
  1. Sibling gift for Lucan. I bought him some Dupo Legos from his favorite Jake and the Neverland Pirates show. Hopefully it’s a win and I don’t end up stepping on legos in the middle of the night.
  2. We all went to a Big Brother Preparedness class. Let’s not talk about the fact that Lu missed part of it due to a tantrum timeout.
  3. I’m planning on having a little “birthday party” for the baby when we come home from the hospital. Cupcakes and balloons. And then making a big deal over the fact over how special it is that Lucan can eat cupcakes but baby sister isn’t big enough.
  4. We talk about fairly regularly the possibility that mom might not pick Lu up from school one day because she’ll be at the hospital and maybe grandpa or grandma or one of our friends might pick him up instead.
  5. In the same breath we also talk about the fact that some morning Lu might wake up and find that mommy and daddy went to the hospital to have the baby and one of our friends might take him to school instead.
  6. When Lu comes to meet his sister for the first time at the hospital, our plan is to not be holding baby girl at that time. We’ll give him a big hug and kiss to show Lu how much we love him and then introduce him.
  7. I’ve assembled a few little dollar bin items/gifts for Lucan. That way if someone drops off something for the baby, Lu can pick out a little present of his own and not feel sad about his lack of love (trust me – I realize we’re going to have a lot of crap around our house come Christmas)
  8. When I’ve been assembling things to reuse for the baby, I point them out to Lucan and thank him for sharing them with his sister. It’s kind of adorable to see him set aside his old racecar socks that are too small for sister.
  9. Last night I told him the story of when he was born. I think it’s important to share these details so he knows how he came into the world.
  10. We talk about what types of things to expect when the baby comes home. I took this prompt from his big brother’s class. Things like baby might cry a lot, she’s going to sleep and we’re going to have to be careful when we hold her. 
  11. We've tried to limit any other major transitions to BB (before baby). For example, we moved Lucan out of his crib and into his big boy bed this summer. Lance wanted to wait until the end to do it. I put my foot down. Lucan doesn't sleep in his pack and play when we're traveling now. He sleeps on the futon at my parents and in the guest room at Lance's parents. The pack and play is clear for baby sister. 
  12. Personify the baby. This post from a Cup of Jo is genius.

So, any other tips for this worried mama?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

38 weeks pregnant. I feel enormous.

I had a woman who was in her mid-sixties say to me “don’t you just love being pregnant?!” I almost slapped her. Because NO ONE is head over heels in love with being pregnant and this is coming from a woman who has had relatively easy pregnancies i.e.: no vomiting.  It is pretty cool to be able to house a human life and be its “person” for nine months. But by the end you just so over it. My body aches after sitting too long, after standing too long and after lying down too long. Basically my body just can’t get comfortable. 

How far along: 38 weeks as of Thursday, Nov 20. I’m getting a little tired of people taking one look at me and going “woah … you must be due any day now.” Yes, I know that my belly is completely torpedo shaped. Let’s talk about the shape of YOUR body. 

Total weight gain: I’m not really certain. It always seems like I gain weight in the first month and then lose a whole bunch and then slowly put some of it back on. I’d put myself somewhere around 10-13 pounds of belly. 

Maternity clothes:  All day, every day. Except for a few pairs of fleece pants and yoga pants. Life is becoming tricky with the incoming cold weather and 75% of my wardrobe being maternity dresses and jeans. I need to have this baby soonish because I’m out of pants that fit me.  And I can only wear my black maternity leggings so many days in a row. It would be nice to have a legit winter coat to wear too… 

Gender:  baby girl named Paco. Paco is really sticking with Lucan. Although we gave him a few name choices the other day and he did like a couple of them. But how can we really trust a three year-old who wants to name his sister Paco? 

Movement: things are getting tight in there. She regularly gets hiccups in the evening and likes to rotate and stretch periodically. It’s always really amazing to feel a butt or an elbow or something pointy sticking out. It’s amazing and it hurts all at the same time. Sometimes it feels like baby girl is standing on my left hip bone. My hips, overall, are always achy. But my lower back hasn’t given me as much trouble this time, so for that we say AMEN. 

Sleep:  Pretty good. I usually have to get up once a night to pee and that’s it. But the last two nights have not been restful. The battery in the smoke alarm in our bedroom started beeping around 2:30 AM and then Lance had a dream he was slam dunking a basketball and woke both of us when he started thrashing wildly and hit our headboard really hard. Last night Lucan was convinced it was thundering out and came in our room at 5 AM (it was just really windy and blowing noisily). At 5 AM he just wanted to chat so Lance finally put him back in his bed so we could get a bit more sleep.
Rolling over and getting out of bed continues to be challenging. I don’t remember feeling like this last time. 

Insomnia has been fairly infrequent. Sometimes I struggle to fall back asleep after I pee which is annoying, but it hasn’t been bad. 

What I miss: being able to walk without my hips feeling achy. Stupid stretching ligaments. Going to the chiropractor has definitely been helping, but I suppose having the baby will be the most helpful thing.  

Cravings: Salad with peas. It’s weird, I know. I ate 2 tuna salad sandwiches last night without batting an eye. But generally, there’s less room for food because there’s less room in the inn overall. I’ve also been craving this drink from Outback Steakhouse called Wallaby Darned. It’s probably been 8 years since I’ve last had one but by golly, they sound amazing right now!

Nursery update: we are like 90% of the way done. Room is painted. Crib is up and sheets are on. Dresser has been relocated from downstairs to the nursery. Curtains are hung. Paint chip garland is hung (but I’m still contemplating some unnecessary revisions). Doo-dads are slowly being added. I’m still in the process of putting away and washing pink clothes and the closet could really use some work as there is NO ROOM presently for any of pink stuff to be put in there. She’ll have to share her brother’s closet.  But we’re really close. Which is good since le bebe could come at any time.

Mommy thoughts: I’m slowly losing my mind. Most of the time I can’t find anything and then I make bets with Lance and he finds things in about twenty seconds. It’s infuriating. Lost things that I haven’t been able to find and Lance finds later on: black yoga pants, gray fleece pants, my phone, paint samples. I truly thought I was losing my mind when I texted a friend and discovered she had a couple of the things I had searched all over for. It was nice to know I wasn’t crazy. Between trying to finish the nursery and organizing three rooms of stuff into two rooms, the house is a disaster. I think the reason I keep losing stuff is because it’s 50% baby brain and 50% utter mess. #notmyfault

We took Lucan to a Big Brother Preparedness class in which he missed the beginning because he threw a fit and had a timeout in the car. I really don’t feel prepared to give birth, at least not like I did last time. I haven’t read any books and I have been really lax about most everything. I keep banking on the fact that because I’ve done this once before, I should be able to navigate my way through it a second time. At least in theory. I finally decided that I’m going to have this baby at the same hospital that we had Lucan mostly because labor and delivery is such a crap shoot that it might be nice to have ONE thing that is familiar. I should really mail in my pre-registration info. But everyone’s bags are finally packed and the car seat has been cleaned and is installed.

There’s no room in our deep freeze for me to do any freezer cooking. For real. We have a gigantic stand-alone freezer and there’s no space to put anything in it. Could be the box of bacon, the side of beef, the massive amount of chicken I bought on sale, the strawberry freezer jam, freezer corn and tomatoes. I’m not sure what we’re going to eat when baby sister makes her appearance – corn and jelly?

Message to baby: Hi little sister! What do you want to be named??
This has been the only picture I've had taken of me at 38 weeks. Because it's taken full-on, you can't really see my total torpedo belly. It's probably better that way. Our wonderful small group threw us a little pink baby shower before small group discussion, complete with pink decor and my FAVORITE Scratch cupcakes!

Monday, November 24, 2014

November is National Adoption Month.

Look at me! I'm such a cute baby!

I’m 31 years-old, relatively sane, semi-functional, contributing member of society. I have no massive hang-ups, have never been to jail and don’t seem to have any major debilitating personality flaws. And I’m adopted. I actually consider it to be a very minor part of who I am. First – sinner saved by grace, wife, mommy, daughter, friend, employee. Lover of chocolate. Iowa resident. And so on and so on. The list goes on. Somewhere near the bottom of the list I remember that I’m adopted, which isn’t a big deal. The bigger deal is that I was raised in a household by two parents who loved me and never treated me any differently except like their beloved daughter. 

I’ve known my entire life that I was adopted. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist; I’m quite Asian and I have two very Caucasian parents. I have one distinct memory of being 6 or 7 and having an older person whisper in front of me; to my parents “does Kara know she’s adopted?” I remember thinking “wow, you’re an idiot. Of course I know. And if I didn’t know, I would certainly know now!”
If I have to say anything about being adopted, it was growing up in a small town with relatively few Asians. It made me different, but it had less to do with being adopted than anything. I think, to some extent, this is less of a problem in today’s world than the world that I grew up in. Families come in all shapes and sizes. 

I acknowledge that my family’s adoption situation was one of the more “ideal” scenarios – I was adopted at the age of three months; it was a closed, international adoption; I didn’t have any health defects; and because I was an infant, I have no memories of being in an orphanage or my birth family. Not knowing my birth family has never really bothered me; I already have great parents. I know that there are adoptees that are more curious about their heritage in comparison to me. And that’s great, but my life is complete as it is. I have no additional desire for self-revelation or discovery. Maybe I’m mundane but I’m never had some soul searching quest for “more.”  

I have about a handful of friends who are going through the adoption process or have added to their families by way of adoption. I think it’s fantastic. But I also know of a few who are hesitant to mix up their family dynamics with a child who isn’t genetically “theirs” per say. This is absurd because we all know that when it comes to children, we get the child God intended for us, regardless of genetic disposition. I think one of the nicest things I ever had said to me was by my 8th grade science teacher. He and his wife (also one of my former teachers – 7th grade math –not one of my better subjects, even as a junior high student) had recently gotten married and were contemplating adoption. I know they were going back and forth and in passing my science teacher said to me “Kara, if I knew we could adopt and they would turn out as well as you, we would.” And when I was in high school, I got news that they had adopted a little girl from Russia. This has stuck with me for 18 years. I can’t say if I really had anything at all to do with their adopting, but I like to think that I helped them make a “yes” decision. 

So November is National Adoption month, this is my adoption story and me giving a big huge high five endorsement to adoption. I became a naturalized citizen June 3. My parents used to have a small celebratory party for me every year on June 3. On June 3, 2011 I had my first child. Make no mistake this is exactly what God had planned for me. If you are thinking about adopting, just go for it. Looky at how "normal" I am! :)