Saturday, January 31, 2004

I first suspected something was wrong on Sunday evening. Breastfeeding has hardly been all fun and games, but that night I noticed my right side seemed a bit tender. During the day on Monday the soreness persisted, and some lumpiness made me think perhaps I had a plugged milk duct. I tried some of the tips to remedy the painful situation, but nothing seemed to help. As Monday evening wore on, I began to feel like absolute crap all over. I got chills despite our house being comfortably heated, my temperature was a slightly elevated at 99.6, and I had developed a raging headache. After pumping at 4:00am, I was feeling so horrible that I was unable to fall back asleep. I checked my temp again and this time it showed I had a fever of 102, which confirmed that this had indeed escalated to a breast infection. The infection is actually in the duct, not the milk itself, so not only is it ok to continue to nurse, it is recommended to do so frequently to try and clear out the plug. Trust me when I say that having an infection in a lactating breast HURTS, and it is extra painful when the baby nurses.

I called Tracy in Botswana to give her the low down, and she echoed what I had read online which was that although there was nothing a doctor could do to help unplug the ducts, I did need to get antibiotics for the infection. The next 24 hours were a blur - nursing or pumping every 2 hours during the daytime, and getting up every 3 hours during the night. (For those who have not had babies yet, feeding sessions are always timed from start to start, not from finish to start, so "every 3 hours during the night" means I was only sleeping 2 - 2 1/2 hours at a stretch.) By Wednesday afternoon the pain was still present, and to make me feel even worse, it had now become obvious that the blockage had significantly affected my production. By the end of the night the inevitable came to fruition as we had to supplement young Spencer's diet with a little formula, because there simply was no more milk. On Thursday I was able to get ahead of him in the morning as I pumped extra during his long sleeps, but he caught up during his afternoon and evening clusterfeeding sessions and again we needed to give him a few ounces of formula before he went to sleep for the night. On Friday things took a small turn for the better as one of the plugs finally dislodged. But production has not returned to where it was before, and Spencer again needed an ounce or so of formula to top him off for the night.

I'm not sure at all where that leaves things now. I'm still trusting that this setback will soon be behind us. But so far it's been a slow and painful road to recovery with a lot of frustration and tears mixed in as well.

I should definitely mention the couple of bright spots this week. Before things turned to absolute crap, Spencer & I went out to lunch with Carol & Brian and Kim & Chloe. It was quite enjoyable to socialize with other mommies and babies, and we hope to do more of those before I return to work. Carol said she had seen that the Pottery Barn Kids menorah (like the one Hunter brought over when we celebrated the first night of Hanukkah here) had gone on sale, but when we tried to order them, they were actually sold out. We called all over, but struck out finding any left in stock anywhere. Somehow my mom managed to locate a few in an outlet store in Alabama - so now Spencer, Brian and Gail's grandson Zack will get to enjoy them later this year. And finally, after hanging out in the house and feeling crummy for days, last night the three of us went out to dinner at Cafe Red Onion. I spotted Rebecca who recently moved back to Houston. We last saw each other before she left in 1997 (?) and have really only kept in touch through holiday cards. Since that time, we've both gone from single to married with kids - two boys for her, one for me. I brought her over to our table to say hi to the boys, but Spencer had just woken up and was crying for food, so we couldn't hang out and chat but we did agree to make plans to get together soon!

Monday, January 26, 2004

The jury is set for Martha Stewart's trial and it does not include pop. Albeit a highly interesting opportunity, pretty crummy timing for a self-employed CPA to be away from the office for over a month. He said he was about four feet away from her while he was in the jury box at the beginning of the morning while the judge was explaining how things would work. That was before all of the lawyers went back to the judge's chambers for one on one questioning with each juror. Once that was underway, the courtroom was not very stimulating. Having finished the book he had started on the train ride earlier in the morning, he tried to find out from the courtroom sketchers where their work would appear. Unfortunately, that conversation was not permitted. When his turn in chambers came, they asked directed questions about his responses on the juror's questionnaire that had been filled out in advance. Questions like 'do you admire Martha Stewart?' (interstesting, as she is in the room as well!) and 'what's your opinion of stockbrokers.' When that concluded, he waited for a short while as the lawyers for both sides privately discussed his responses, and then the judge appeared and told him that he could head home.

Plus, the length of this trial may have conflicted with scheduling a return visit to Houston to visit Spencer until after tax season.
Our baby is growing up! (and out!) After too many blowouts this past week, we concluded the newborn size diapers might just be a bit too tight and we moved Spencer up to size one over the weekend . So far, so good. Plus, unlike newborn size, size one diapers are available at Costco and can be purchased hundreds at a time. Saturday's haul of a giant box of diapers plus a giant box of wipes should keep us well-stocked for about a month.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Spencer has been such a champ when meeting new people. This evening we went to a housewarming party at Monique's big home up in Tomball. We were so proud showing off our son to everyone there. One woman who is expecting her first granddaughter in March just couldn't get enough of Spencer. She was absolutely in heaven being able to hold and feed him. Earlier today we were able to introduce Spencer to Mark when he stopped by the house during his last minute trip back to Houston to visit friends. A couple of photos of him and Spencer were added to the January photo album.

Yesterday Audra came to the house to hang out during the day. We tried to go out to lunch, but after the car was all loaded up and we were ready to head out, Spencer decided to wake up and annouce that he was hungry so we brought everything back in the house and stayed in for the afternoon instead. At night, the three of us (Jim, Spencer and I) did manage to make it out to eat with Heath & Kim & Chloe. He was very good at the restaurant and slept the whole time so we were able to eat uninterrupted. Yeah! Looking back, I think I prattled on quite a bit about feeding the baby and incessantly tracking ounces and hours. However, back at the house, Spencer showed his true colors as Kim helped feed him the 11 ounces he wanted before he went to sleep for the night. Good grief baby.

Right now he's being very fussy. I guess that's part of the price for the good times earlier. He's already eaten a ton this evening and we keep thinking that sleep should be right around the corner, but apparently our baby has other plans.

Friday, January 23, 2004

I'm tired.

I was able to get an exemption from my jury summons because I am home full-time with Spencer right now. Jim's jury date next week was actually canceled (to be rescheduled) because of the Superbowl. However, Pop just learned he will be reporting for jury selection this morning in the city. Perhaps we'll see him on the news coverage.

Yesterday Spencer and I hung out with Carol and Brian. Fortunately, he was more or less cooperative. Not a whole lot of baby interaction at this young age, but Carol and I were able to enjoy each other's adult company!

Time to head back to bed...

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Two weeks ago I received a jury summons, last week Jim received one, and last night when I spoke with pop on the phone he said that he received one too. But, his is far more interesting as he is part of the panel of prospective jurors that will sit on Martha Stewart's trial.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Some pictures of Spencer from mom's visit this weekend have been added to the January photo album.
Mom flew back home to NY last night, and I think Spencer too is a bit sad as he has been enjoying her company this long weekend. It's been wonderful having her here to help me and spend quality time together with me and the baby. When they learned she was coming back down for a visit, different business contacts and friends loaded up her carry-on with gifts. So many people have been showering our son with kindness it's almost overwhelming. Mom has such good friends, and through their friendship with her, they have been so wonderful and generous towards our family. I remember reading something many years ago that said something along the lines of 'your good friends are the ones who parents are also in your address book.' I think this could also be expanded the other direction as I now have my mom's friends in addition to some of my friends' moms. In my life, those are people like Tracy - who flew out to visit when I was pregnant, returned a month later to visit Spencer as a newborn, and will fly back in another two months (next time she is in the country) to check in on us again. Friends like Audra who has been so excited for us and Spencer months before he arrived, and seems to bring something else for him every time she comes to visit. Like Bari who has been so incredibly helpful with lessons learned from her two little ones, as well as generous hand-me-downs like their entire supply of bottles and accessories. Like Heath and Kim who call and come by regularly just to make sure we're hanging in and doing ok as new parents. Like Carol who responded immediately to my woeful questions following Spencer's bris; and like Dianne who lets me vent about the frustrations of breast feeding and the ridiculously small amount of time off from work. We have experienced such a wonderful network of support during this tough time, and this list of those contributing is quite long. It was obvious right away how everyone's generosity completed Spencer's room - we have had to purchase little more than diapers and wipes for our baby, and even those necessities were well-stocked for the entire first month. I never imaged the amount of emotional support more importantly required to get through this time. I am thankful for all of my friends, and especially my mom.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Spencer smiled at us tonight for the first time! We've certainly seen some 'smiles' before, but they were associated with gas or poop. Tonight he was lying on his back on Jim's lap, and I leaned in to tickle his belly a little and talk sweetly, and he just looked back up at us with a huge grin! What a great day!

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Last night we watched MythBusters for the first time on the Discovery Channel. Does anyone else watch this cool science show?

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

I'm so glad that we had read the chapter on poop in Baby 411 several weeks ago, so we were well prepared the first time we found little gel balls in our baby's diaper. This morning there were quite a lot, and it was good we understood that this is simply some of the super-absorbent diaper material. But it sure does look strange!

This morning was my six week post-partum checkup. The Dr. was pleased with my healing, but I was sad that she signed off on my medical release to return to work which ends my six weeks of disability pay. However, there there is no way I could return to work this week and successfully continue breastfeeding. Spencer is such a little milk mop I just can't get ahead of him to store up any reserves. Even though I spend all day, every day with Spencer, we are only just barely beginning to figure each other out. Thanks to the Family Medical Leave Act, I'll be able to take some more time off taking care of the little guy.

On the way back from the doctor, we stopped off for a short visit with Carol and three month old Brian. Hopefully we'll be able to see more of each other before I return to work. I've spent these first six weeks in the house with very few trips out. My goal for the next few weeks is to get out more with Spencer during the day.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Kelly H. emailed this link to a great NY Times article about signing with your baby to help them learn to better communicate with you before their speech is fully developed. Interestingly enough, we had already received a copy of Baby Signs from my cousin Hedy as a gift, which is specifically referred to in this article. I'm glad we have so many friends and family interested in helping to stimulate Spencer's intellectual development. When Tracy was visiting last weekend, she skimmed through the book and instantly jumped on Amazon to send copies to her other doctor friends. I haven't read it cover to cover yet, but so far it is fascinating and we are eager to put it in practice.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Yesterday afternoon Spencer entertained Monique and Zoe who came to visit. Actually, he was sleeping most of the afternoon, but did wake up eventually and they were able to enjoy feeding him. We were hoping to take him outside so everyone could enjoy a walk on such a beautiful day, but he was super hungry and was choosing to stay in and eat instead. Here are a couple of new pics of Spencer and friends, including Thursday's lunch outing. Monique told an incredible story about moving their backyard pizza oven to their new home which she will soon be writing up for CountryStyle, TX Magazine.

Nothing much on the agenda today. One goal which I might try to accomplish is clearing all of the maternity clothes out of the closet.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Thursday was just great! Spencer was a champ on our trip out for lunch. He stayed asleep while we ate, cuddled up on Stephanie's shoulder while she held him, and Diana even got to feed him a bit when he woke up hungry. He snoozed and ate in big chunks for the rest of the day, which made life nice. We have no real predictable 'schedule' worked out yet at this point, but possibly due to the fact that we keep changing up his feeding strategy. Hopefully we'll be able to see some patterns develop during his second month of life which will help things continue to improve.

Audra came by yesterday afternoon just to hang out and visit with Spencer & me. She was able to feed him a few bottles, but he didn't have quite as good of an afternoon eat/sleep pattern as the day before. He did doze off for about an hour while relaxing on Audra - it was very cute.

In the last day or so, it seems that Spencer is becoming more aware of his surroundings. Yesterday he spent a little while checking out his right hand. We used part of the gift card from my group at work to purchase a swing last night, and he definitely seemed curious about the little sea creatures spinning around above his head.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

I had planned for some adult interaction today (a.k.a. ability to have a conversation during daylight hours, and someone besides me could hold the baby when he just needs to be held) but that didn't work out. Tomorrow I will venture out for lunch with Stephanie & Diana - my first trip out alone with Spencer. Of course I did reserve the right to change the plans to sandwiches here at the house if that becomes necessary! If all goes according to plan, this will be his third restaurant trip. Last night we met Kim and Heath and Chloe out for dinner. Unfortunately, Spencer didn't do as awesomely as he did over the weekend. He got hungry and started crying right as our food came. So Jim and I had to take turns eating and feeding. Now it's time for Spencer's evening cluster feeding - oh joy.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Congratulations to our friends who squeezed in under the wire for the 2003 tax write off. Diane and Marcos welcomed Michael Robert Martinez on December 30th at 5:27pm. He weighed 8 lb. 4 oz. and was 19 inches long. Jeff and Amanda announced that Berit Eliza Schaus arrived on December 31st at 12:31pm. She was 7 lb. 9oz. and 20 1/4 inches. Babies everywhere! Next friend due is Stacie in about one month from now. I think after her that's it for babies for a little while.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Spencer is one month old today! Check out these black and white pics that were taken on his due date (Dec. 26.)

Saturday, January 03, 2004

Two major milestones today for Spencer. First, we ate dinner out at Hido this evening WITH Spencer. He seemed to quiet down a bit after some cluster feeding in the late afternoon so we decided to chance it. The folks we shared the hibachi table with thought he was adorable, and I'm sure they were also pleased that he stayed quietly asleep for the entire meal. He needed a bottle on the ride home, but we are thrilled and consider our first outing a complete success. (No guarantee that will be duplicated any time soon, but tonight was very pleasant for everyone.)

Second milestone occurred when we returned home and noticed that Spencer's umbilical cord FINALLY fell off.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Hooray! I took a shower this morning (well, really it was closer to 1:00) and Spencer was not screaming when I got out! I guess that sort of makes up for all of the messes he has caused in the last two days. Yesterday I was wearing my fourth t-shirt of the day by 1:00. This morning Jim had to clean up projectile poop, and I took my turn with projectile vomit. We both had to deal with him unloading his little gun while cleaning up the bigger messes.

Tracy's plane should be landing any minute now - she can't wait to meet the little guy. And we're excited to have a pediatrician in the house for the weekend to help assuage some of our concerns and answer questions about what is and isn't normal during this time.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Happy New Year! Some silly folks asked us what our plans were last night. Well, it was pretty much exactly the same as the night before, and the night before that... We knew from reading and from people telling us that infants are hard, and breastfeeding is hard but we didn't really understand what that meant. "You have to figure out what works best for you," is really the best and truest advice that folks can give. For us, we are now on our fifth differnt feeding strategy, improving little by little each time.