Friday, September 30, 2011

Fantastic Friday

It's been a great day all around.  Jackson discovered himself in the exersaucer mirror and has a new source of entertainment.

I was really proud of my literacy class for completing their third novel this month.  Granted, each novel has only been 85-100 pages, but I'm certain this is more than any of my students read this summer.  Each literature circle group completed a cool castle project/story map today on The Whipping Boy.  I displayed the best student work from A Taste of Blackberries and The Whipping Boy on the hallway bulletin board. 

Because I had made plans to go out with my former fifth grade team tonight, Jesse and Jackson came for lunch, recess, and social studies.  I love being able to show off my favorite boys to my students and coworkers.

After dismissal I worked on next week's lesson plans until I left to meet my teammates for dinner.  We ate uptown on the outdoor patio at Brixx.  It was a perfect, chilly night with busy streets, lights, and laughter.  Our monthly meet-ups are always an adventure.  Last month we ended up unknowingly joining a gay pride festival.  The time before that we spent nearly an hour trying to find my car in the parking deck.  Tonight a random man wearing only a hospital gown harassed us.  I wanted to get a martini since I can drink all the liquor I want now that I am no longer breastfeeding.  I elected not to order one because I didn't think it would be worth the $8 cost.  The best part of the evening was realizing that we are all very competent, effective teachers who are struggling to adapt to our new schools.  It's so nice to have someone who can really relate.

Jesse said Jackson was so tired that he fell asleep while watching Jeopardy, then passed out in the pack-n-play while Jesse made him a bottle.  Jesse still ended up swaddling him so Jack would stay asleep.

Now I am home eating Moose Tracks on the couch.  I have a DVR full of Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, and Glee.  I love, love, love the weekend!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Seven Stages of Grief

It's no secret the last two months have been HARD on our family.  I've never been good at transitions, but the challenges of going back to work, spending such little time with my son, struggling with new schedules and procedures, sitting in bumper to bumper traffic each day, worrying over finances, and feeling like an inadequate mother, teacher, and wife have all been too much to handle. 

One of the toughest things for me to deal with has been breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding has been an emotional roller coaster full of highs and lows since day one...but the ride is officially over.  Below is my emotional journey regarding the topic over the last two months:

1. Shock and Denial
It began with Jackson's 4 month check.  I thought for sure he would be well over 15 lbs.  I couldn't believe the scale when he weighed in at 14 lbs, 4 oz--a mere 1.5 lb gain from his 2 month check.  I questioned the numbers, but reassured myself everything would be fine.  I did not worry too much, even though I was unable to pump enough milk to freeze.  I still did not worry when I stopped being able to pump enough for Jackson to eat during the day.  I made excuses that it was stress at work, starting my cycle again, an inefficient pump, lack of privacy while pumping, or teething.  I still thought my supply would bounce back.

2. Pain and Guilt
The pain and guilt at realizing I'm not providing for my child occurred the Sunday Jackson got so sick and we took him to Urgent Care.  The tears began streaming down my face as soon as I saw the scale read 14 lbs, 9 oz.  I was flooded with guilt for not recognizing my own inadequacies and for denying my son a full belly.  

3. Anger
I have been furious and questioned many things around me.
  • What is wrong with the body God designed for me? 
  • Why is my body failing me? 
  • Why can't I provide for my son's most basic needs? 
  • Why can other moms breastfeed exclusively for two years, and I can't make it to the six month mark? 
  • Why does everyone continue to ask me a never ending list of questions ("Have you tried Fenugreek?  Are you getting enough water?  How often are you pumping?") as if I can control my body?
  • Why do people make apologetic comments and look at me with pity as if I have done something shameful?
  • Why do I feel guilty for using formula?
  • Why is formula so damn expensive?  (Cost was a huge motivation for me when dealing with cracked, bleeding nipples and thrush in the beginning.)
4. Depression
Many additional factors led to my depression.  I continued to cry every morning while driving to work.  The onset of anxiety attacks causing hyperventilation led me to make an appointment with a doctor.  It has been two weeks now since beginning Zoloft and I am able to notice a big difference.  (FYI, Jesse has been on anti-depressants for a full month.  Our household is MUCH more relaxed and we are all able to enjoy our time with another again.)

5. Upward Turn
I adjusted to the fact that my body was not providing for my son and formula was the only logical solution.  The phrase "breast is best" is so ingrained in my mind that it took me quite some time to realize that feeding my child formula was better than putting my child to bed hungry.  It also took some time for the medication to kick in.

6. Reconstruction
Jesse and I did a bit of research and determined that Sam's Club is the best value.  Jesse purchased a Sam's membership and the three of us went out after our Friday date night to purchase our first container of formula.  We mixed one scoop of formula with three ounces of breastmilk for Jackson's first time.
7. Acceptance and Hope
I am currently pumping both sides twice a day and getting a grand total of 2 ounces.  I no longer breastfeed Jackson and I will stop pumping very soon.  Jackson will receive two bottles of breastmilk each day until he turns six months old, at which point there will be no more breastmilk in the freezer.  I find great satisfaction in snuggling with my baby and giving him a warm, full bottle of formula before he goes to bed.  He no longer cries after feedings.  I pray he is gaining weight appropriately. 

This is not the way I would have planned things, but I am still blessed with the happiest baby in the world, which makes me the happiest mommy in the world!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Halloween Teaser

Last night Jesse, Jackson, and I went to a strange Egyptian/American restaurant.  We had falafel sandwiches as an appetizer.  We left Jackson in the stroller most of the time but took him out after we finished eating.  He kept trying to steal my drink and grab everything off the table.

This morning I randomly gave Jackson a sippy cup with water for the first time just to play with while I unloaded the dishwasher.  He amused himself and surprised himself when he accidentally drank some of the water.

Jesse and I amused oursevles by dressing Jackson up in his Halloween costumes.  I bought a duck costume from K-Mart for $2 when I was in college and Jesse's mom bought us the dinosaur costume when I was pregnant.  Even though Halloween is over a month away, we wanted to see if either costume fit.  Both were cute, but I prefer the duck.

Even though my school was open all day today, I chose to stay home and worked while Jackson napped.  It has been a very relaxing Saturday with my two favorite boys!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Classroom Organization

I've been desperately looking for a kind of storage unit for the math and literacy stations in my classroom.  Currently I toss various manipluatives, books, calculators, tiles, folders, etc ALL over my room.  I've been looking for something like this, but I couldn't find anything less than $50.  I found something at Ikea within my budget that should work well.  Jackson and Cowbell have assumed the responsibility as supervisor for nearly all household chores.  Tonight was no exception.

We were all happy with the final storage frame, complete with bins.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Feels Like Fall

My school was open this morning so I went to work in hopes of grading papers and making my copies for next week.  I decided to take Jackson with me because I didn't want Jesse to have to give him another bottle.  Jackson was wide awake at 6:30 a.m. and he fought sleep the entire morning.  Needless to say, I wasn't nearly as productive as I could have been due to a fussy, needy 5 month old.

Today was a perfect lazy fall day.  It was cool and rainy.  Jesse and I slept with the windows up last night.  I've been sneezing and coughing ALL day.  We wasted the day away lounging around the house in pajama pants, napping, and watching TV. 
Jackson has developed a knot on the left side of his neck in the last two weeks.  It has gotten smaller and you can move it around.  Most things I've read have said it's likely swollen lymph nodes and could be attributed to teething.  It still makes me nervous and I check it every day to make sure it isn't getting larger or hard.  You can only see it when Jackson turns his head to the side.

We're going to wait to ask the doctor at his 6 month check unless the knot changes in size or feel.

Maybe I'll be more productive tomorrow...

Friday, September 16, 2011


I feel like I haven't even seen Jackson this week!

Monday afternoon consisted of the lamest workshop EVER until 6:30 pm.  Everything about it was painful. 

Tuesday afternoon I had a doctor's appointment.

Jackson and Jesse had a fussy day on Wednesday.  I don't know what their issue was, but Jackson fought sleep like he never has before, which is quite wearing on Jesse.  I also had a crappy day as my SmartBoard died (for real died!) and the bulb blew (smoke cloud and firecracker sounds).  So much for technology. 

Thursday night was Curriculum Night at school, which meant another 13 hour workday.  I couldn't bare the thought of not spending any time with Jackson so Jesse agreed to bring Jack to school for lunch and recess.  My kids were so excited to meet them.  The students kept touching Jackson's feet and petting him, even though I said not to touch him.  My principal and assistant principal finally got to meet my family, too.  Jesse was able to see my crazy Vietnamese kids run up trees and spiral through the air and see the many other students.  I kept holding Jackson, even when recess was over and we were beginning science.  If I could just ensure that Jackson wouldn't cry during the day I could keep him at school the whole time.
We had all of six parents attend Curriculum Night.  I wish I could say I was productive after school, but I am mentally drained after the kids dismiss.  Of course I missed out on evening playtime with Jackson, but Jesse took photos for me.  
By the time I got home, Jackson was already upstairs awaiting to be nursed.  Jesse and I enjoyed breakfast for a late dinner before going to bed.

Jackson spent Friday morning with his PaPa while Jesse attended the funeral of a family friend.  I got stuck in traffic on the way home, but was able to tickle and kiss on Jackson plenty before going out for Japanese food.

Now it's the weekend and I cannot wait to make up for lost time with my sweet boy!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Urgent Care and Weight Gain

We had a typical Sunday afternoon...until Jackson began vomiting profusely.  We're not talking about projectile spit up.  This was a tiny body throwing up so hard he was convulsing until the only thing left was heaving.  Jackson threw up violently four times within an hour.  We were obviously concerned about dehydration and wondering if there were more serious problems.  I was sick to my stomach I was so worked up over the whole ordeal.  It is absolutely heart wrenching to see our sweet boy in pain or worry about his health.  Jesse and I had a choice to either pay $87 at Urgent Care or wait and see if it got better.  If it got worse, we would spend the evening in the emergency room and pay $233.

We decided to go ahead and drive to Urgent Care.  As Murphy's Law would have it, Jackson slept rather peacefully the entire time we were there and has not gotten sick since.  After over an hour wait, the doctor checked all of his vitals.  His temperature, pulse, breathing, eyes, ears, etc were all perfectly normal.  She said that he had a virus but was unsure why the vomiting was so concentrated in such a short time span.  We were simply told to watch for vomiting and to take Jackson to the ER if he was unable to keep breastmilk or Pedialyte down.  Thankfully he nursed once we got home and slept uninterrupted until 3 a.m.

Our pitiful sick boy

Sleeping on Daddy

Despite getting a clean bill of health from the nurse and doctor, Jesse and I are increasingly concerned about Jackson's weight.  If you recall, he weighed 14 lbs 4 oz at his 4 month check, which was only a 1.5 lb gain from his 2 month check up.  On Sunday, he only weighed 14 lbs, 9 oz.  While I am certain that he lost significant weight throwing up, he was weighed in his clothes and cloth diaper.  (He is always naked at his official weight checks.)  To think that he's gained half a pound or less in a month is unsettling.

After calming myself from complete hysteria, I am still unable to make peace with the realization that formula is in our very near future.  I hope and pray that Jackson is able to be exclusively breastfed up until 6 months before we are forced to use formula.  There is still 200+ ounces in the freezer, but I am only able to pump 1-2 bottles of breastmilk while we have increased Jackson's intake to 4 bottles a day.  Nursing and pumping has been a HUGE source of stress for me this past month, which doesn't help with my supply issues.  

We are going to give Jackson an extra bottle each day (4 total) and hope that it's enough for him to gain weight.  Jackson is still happy and playful.  He rarely shows hunger signs and he isn't fussy very often.  However, Jackson would have to gain almost 4 pounds in the next month for him to double his birth weight (8 lb 15 oz) by his 6 month check up.  Clearly that is not going to happen!

Many, many prayers are needed.

How to Make a Pineapple Cake

1. Bake a cake in a large sheet pan.

 2. Carve out the outline of a pineapple.  (Eat the extra!)
 3. Apply a crumb coat of icing.  Refrigerate or freeze the cake for a half hour.
 4. Frost and decorate cake.  Serve!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Happy Grandparents' Day (A Day Early)

I wanted to get pictures of Jackson and his cousin Levi framed for Grandparents' Day but there were really no good pictures of the two of them together.  Over a month ago, my sister-in-law, Chrissy, and I organized an at home photo shoot with a photographer.  We were able to get the pictures printed and framed in time for Grandparents' Day. 

Unfortunately Levi came down with a temperature and they were unable to join us for dinner tonight.  We still had a good evening and were able to celebrate Jan and Jeff.  We fixed meatloaf with mashed potatoes and peas for dinner.  Jackson was not a good helper while I peeled the potatoes.  He kept picking up the potatoes and throwing them on the floor. 
We enjoyed a delicious dinner with cheesecake for dessert.  Jesse and I were excited to be able to do something special for his parents.  I know they were happily surprised.

While Jackson is too young to realize it, he has the best grandparents in the world who love him with their whole hearts.  Jesse and I could not be happier that they are a constant in Jackson's life.

Happy Grandparents' Day!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Happy Five Months--Then and Now

My sweet baby is five months old today.  See what all has changed in the last five months...

From a one month old to a five month old, Jackson's feet now dangle off of his bouncer.

Jackson has transformed from a cautious, over-stimulated three month old to a spinning, self-entertaining five month old in his exersaucer.

Jackson once drank a bottle every other day, though he now consumes three bottles a day, in addition to nursing and eating rice cereal or oatmeal.  Our breastfeeding days are numbered though as I am continuing to pump 4 or more ounces less than what Jackson consumes while I am at work.

The bumbo has evolved from an uncomfortable place of self-loathe to a regular space where Jackson can happily supervise his daddy.

Tummy time used to result in crying or sleeping.  Jackson now props himself up and plays with his pacifier and toys while on his tummy.

Jackson still loves to nap on our lap, though he doesn't quite fit the same as he did four and a half months ago.

Jackson's relationship with Cowbell has gone from apathy to admiration.

Jackson spent the first two months of his life sleeping in his baby bed between Mommy and Daddy.  We've battled over night wakings, hourly feedings, and swaddling issues.  Most recently, Jack has only awoken to eat twice (around 2 a.m. and 5:30 a.m.) and is able to sleep peacefully with one arm unswaddled.

His other accomplishments from the last month include sucking on his feet, upgrading to the convertible carseat, graduating from the swing to the baby jumper, and cutting his first tooth.  We are still working on sitting up unassisted, napping in the crib, and preparing to crawl.

Happy five months, baby Jack!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

First Tooth Photos

We've been struggling to take a picture of Jackson's first tooth.  This task is next to impossible with a laughing, wiggly infant who puts everything in his mouth anyway.  Here are the best ones so far:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Luxury Carseat and More Oatmeal

After doing most of the driving over the long weekend, we accidentally left the carseat, stroller, diaper bag, and Ergo in my car.  While this was a major disruption to Jesse's plans for the day, it gave him a reason to install our big boy carseat in his car.  Our insurance paid for the Britax Marathon Classic after Jesse got in the wreck this past May.  This carseat is amazing.  It's so soft and durable.  Jackson loves being able to get a better look at himself in the mirror.

This evening we gave Jackson oatmeal for the second time.  He actually ate most of it this time, but it was still a challenge.  He still opened his mouth and reached for the spoon, but then he played.  He was acting so silly and kept sucking his lips and blowing bubbles while eating.  Needless to say, it was a mess!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Out With the Old, In With the New

Dear Swing,

You were a lifesaver for the first three months.  Jackson adored you.  His Mommy and Daddy adored you.  Jack would instantly become calm in your rhythmic sways.  Remember what sweet naps you provided?

It is with a heavy heart that we must now part ways.  You see, you are no longer needed in our house.  You have been replaced.  The corner where you were once located is now home to the excersuacer.

Jackson prefers to bounce and spin upstairs in his new favorite toy.

So for now, my dear swing, you will remain in the attic until you are needed again.  We know you will provide hours of entertainment for Amelia or James one day.  Until then, take care of yourself.

With sincerest gratitude,
Jackson's Mommy and Daddy