I Discovered a Cure!

I have discovered a cure for Baby Fever.  No joke.  For those of you who have never experienced baby fever before, here are some symptoms:
~Occurring in women mostly.
~Sudden itch to hold a newborn
~Uncontrollable trips to the baby section at Target
~Enviously staring at every pregnant woman's belly
~Secretly choosing favorite girl and boy names

You get the picture.

I got baby fever very quickly after having Marco.  Marco was such a sweet baby and a joy to have, that I thought having a baby was a piece of cake.  I mean, how hard can having 2 really be?

But now, I have been permanently and irrevocably cured of baby fever!  Which is good news, since I have my tubes tied and wouldn't be able to scratch that itch, should I get it again.   The cure is... having a baby with Colic.  Once you have a baby with Colic, you seriously start doubting ever wanting to have another.

Colic is a mystery for everyone.  There are differences of opinions and difference in remedies from everyone I talk to.  Most people think it's just gas, but according to my Triage App, Colic is defined as episodes of excessive unexplained crying, fussiness to agonized screaming.  The frustrating part is the word UNEXPLAINED.  That means, there is absolutely NO reason for the crying, and you wont be able to do anything to stop it.

Jonas has been experiencing Colic for about a month now.  It's making me miserable.  Sometimes he cries for hours at a time.  Sometimes those hours lie in the middle of the night.  We feed him, change him, rock him, sing to him, lay down with him, swaddle him, sway him... NOTHING WORKS!  Granted, sometimes it is discomfort from gas, but after we've given him gas drops, there's really nothing else we can do for him.

Colic is said to last for up to 4 months... but with a premie, it's 4 months from the due date.  Therefore, we could be dealing with this until Jonas is 6 months old.  Shoot me now.

Everyone tells me to be patient because Jonas really is only 4 weeks old, even though he's been around for 13 weeks.  And logically, I can cope with that.  BUT, it doesn't make it any easier.  He's still been here for 13 weeks.  I've still been changing diapers, waking up around the clock, feeding, and nurturing him for 13 weeks... not 4.  And we have yet to get a smile or laugh from him.  I need some rewards for my hard work!  A smile is all I ask!  So far, mothering Jonas has been a lot of hard work and not a lot of fun.  (Wow, this sounds so horrible to say!)

I have read a studied The Happiest Baby on the Block... it's my newborn bible.  The techniques for dealing with a Colicy baby are the 5 S's.  Swaddle-Side/Stomach-Shhh-Swing-Sucking.  This worked wonders with Marco, but has not made a dent in Jonas.  Jonas' fussiness is at a whole new level.
So, experienced Mommas, give me some tips!  I'm begging you!  Help me get through this with my sanity still in tact.  My children (and husband) will thank you too!

Too Much Love-Love

OMGoodness, Marco loves his baby brother so much... sometimes it's too much.  We appreciate the fact that he's concerned for Jonas' well being, wants him to be happy and wants to love on him, but the problem is that Marco's love is not always gentle.

We're still trying to teach Marco how to be gentle and "nice-nice" when it comes to handling his brother... well, any child for that matter.  He's not a softie... Marco is a rough kid.  You know the kind, gets his hand stuck in a door and just yanks it out and continues playing... gets pushed by another kid and gets up to run to the other side.  He's also a pusher, stealer and hitter- thank God he's not a biter too!

But when it comes to his brother, Marco wants nothing but the best.  When Jonas cries, Marco dances on his tip-toes and goes "Oh, Oh" while pointing at him... in a way, telling us "DO SOMETHING!".  If Jonas is at his level, he tries to stick his paci in his mouth... granted, sometimes he misses and it hits Jonas in the eye, but at least his intentions are good.  He will sometimes try to pick Jonas up from the swing when we're not looking and he KNOWS this is not allowed.  He gets in trouble every single time, but we know he does it just because he wants to comfort his brother.

Now that I'm trying to let Jonas have more tummy time and floor play, I'm more scared then ever.  I literally have to sit in front of Jonas and protect him from Marco.  Marco wants to play with him, but I don't think he understands that he's WAY bigger than him and can hurt him.  He leans down to give him "love-love" (which to Marco is open mouth on face while yelling "AWWWWW").  First off, the big yell always frightens Jonas and secondly, sometimes Marco loses his balance and falls on top of him!  Just to illustrate how much bigger Marco is, see exhibit A.  This is why we're terrified of Marco falling on top of him... my dad says Marco is big like Shrek!
Exhibit A
This one's classic.  The other day, I was teaching and Mauricio was cooking while taking care of the boys.  Jonas was in the swing crying and Marco was playing.  All of a sudden the crying came to a complete stop and when Mauricio looked over, he saw Marco taking good care of his brother.  Marco was letting Jonas suck on his sippy cup that was filled with lemonade!  It's things like this.  How can we be mad at Marco when he's doing what he thinks is nice and helpful?!

Marco also thinks he's now a baby expert.  Since he's got a little brother, who he helps with, he should be able to help with ALL babies.  We encounter problems everywhere we go with Marco wanting to love and help other people's babies.  He wants to be sure they're covered up with a blanket and paci in mouth... then he tries to give them his "love-love".  (Remember how Marco gives his love).  It freaks out other mothers... and I don't blame them!  I'd be pretty freaked out too if some random snotty kid came over and started getting his grimy hands all over my newborn!  I would look at his mother and think, "have you no control?!".  The answer is... sometimes.  Sometimes I have control.

So for now, we're going to continue to encourage Marco to love-love his brother and help with what he can handle.  We're going to continue to teach him to be gentle and guide him through boundaries and limitations.  But, in the mean time, hide your newborns, because Marco's got enough love to go around!

Freezing My Florida Butt Off

I'm a Miami girl.  Cuban Caribbean blood runs through these veins.  My ideal setting: Lounging on a chair, palm trees gently waving in the breeze, sun prickling my skin warm, and sipping a mojito while being soothed to the sound of bongo beats.  Can you picture it?

This is not my life.

I never thought I'd live anywhere but Florida.  Moving to Orlando was already a bit of a stretch for me.  It gets relatively cold in Orlando... like lows in the 30's for a few weeks.

The term "White Christmas" does not compute for me.  My Christmases have always been tank tops, flip flops and palm trees.  And I Love It!  But sure, maybe snow ON CHRISTMAS would be ok... but that's it!

We moved to Greenville 2 years ago.  Since the move, winters have gotten a bit easier.  My blood has thickened a little.  But that said, winters are still a HUGE P.I.T.A!  This is what I hate: put on the jacket, gloves, scarf, hat... run to the car and blast the heater... then when you get anywhere, they too have the heat on so it's OFF with the jacket, gloves, scarf and hat.  And you have to do that for EVERY outing.  Not so bad if you're by yourself, but now in my case, multiply that by 3.

Getting a toddler to put his jacket on and keep his hat on is sometimes tricky.  And getting the kids strapped into their car-seats takes madd skillz.  I literally have to squeeeeze Marco into his seat while strapping over his puffy jacket.

This morning it was 18 degrees outside... EIGHTEEN!  What?!  That's way too cold for December.  What's going to happen in January and Febuary... our "cold months"?  I don't even want to know.  As of now, I'm dreaming of warmer weather.  Weather that does not require boots, heaters and layers.  We'll be in Miami in less than 2 weeks to celebrate a "Warm Christmas".  I can not wait!

Here's what my babies look like all bundled up.  So cute... but still a pain.


Oh, and when you Florida friends complain about the "cold weather" you're experiencing... I really want to smack you. You don't know what COLD is.  So please, Zip it!

Preschool

Ok, let me start by saying that every time I say the word "preschool", I wanna bust out singing Sesame Street's "Preschool Musical".  If you have NO IDEA the awesomeness and cleverness that is Sesame Street, click here and then come back to read the rest of this post.
^^ That was random... Now to the point.

I'm beginning to look into preschool options for next fall.  Marco will be turning 2 in June and I would like him to get into a school-like, structured environment.  Yes, we're on a schedule at home, but it wont be the same.  First of all, he'll learn how to really interact with other children.  Second, he'll learn to obey someone other than Mama and Papai.  Third, he'll learn to sit for longer stretches of time and be more focused on simple tasks.

As you may have read, Marco is a very rambunctious and not-always-nice boy.  He plays rough and can sometimes be a bully.  I believe that Marco needs to be trained and tamed... and hopefully putting him in a school will help do that.

I'm also hoping that with Marco in school twice a week, I'll be able to dedicate just a bit more time to Jonas.  I'll be able to do things with him one-on-one that I wouldn't have been able to do before.  I intend on taking him to HIS age appropriate library classes and maybe even finding a playgroup with babies his age.

We are looking into Christian schools, mostly ones affiliated with a church.  We are interested in putting him in 2 days a week for half days.  So far, I've found 5 that have sparked my interest and I'll be visiting them and taking tours over the next few weeks.  I very much want him to be in a school environment that maintains a schedule and teaches things like colors, numbers, letters, etc.  I am not interested in having him go to a day care that allows for free play all day.  If we are going to be spending money, I want him to be in a Christian learning environment.

Throughout this process, I have such a hodge-podge of emotions swirling around.  I'm scared to let him go, but ready to see him advance.  I'm anxious to find the right place.  I'm nervous that there wont be any space at "the one".  I'm excited to see him all dressed up (book bag, lunch box, sneakers) and ready to go.  I'm happy that he's becoming such a "big boy".

So, Moms who have been there... any advice?
Greenville friends, any recommendations?

Man, I Feel Like a Woman

The life of a stay-at-home mom is not too glamorous.  It consists of sweat pants, nursing tanks, ponytails and no make-up.  Truthfully, sometimes thats the best you can do with a toddler hanging on your legs and a baby crying in the crib.

But sometimes, it feels soooo nice to get dressed up and go out on a date with your man.  That's just what we did this weekend.  Even though it wasn't spontaneous, it was still nice.  This Saturday was Mauricio's company Christmas party, and I made it my excuse to get just a little spoiled.

Last week, when my in-laws were in town, we went shopping for a dress.  Since having my 2 babies, I've lost so much weight that not one of my dresses fits me.  Yes, you can hate me now.  So, buying a dress was a must.  Unfortunately, I HATE shopping.  Like seriously, it stresses me out and I give up easily.  But, thankfully I had my professional shoppers with me... my mother-in-law, Rosana and sister-in-law, Mirella.  Those two LOVE to shop!  I pretty much stayed in the dressing room while Mirella ran around finding me dresses, in different sizes, bras, and jewelry.  It was pretty awesome.  So I was able to get my dress, a new bra and an adorable headband with a feather in it!  I was almost ready to rock.

I had been meaning to cut my hair for some time now.  Having a new baby with long hair is difficult.  I was finding spit up in my hair several times a day, not to mention the poor baby having hair in his face while he ate, burped, loved on me.  I had been wearing my hair in a ponytail way too much, so I decided to cut it... drastically.  And I'm so glad I did.  Mauricio is dreadfully afraid of the "mom-cut", so I was kinda nervous the whole time I was getting it cut... and man, was there a lot of hair on the floor!  But I love the end result and although Mau was shocked at first, he later said he liked it a lot!

This was the first night we've been out solo since Jonas was born.  Luckily for us, my mom was in town so she took care of the kids for us.  It was comforting to know my babies were asleep in their beds and being cared for by someone I trust... especially with Jonas.  I was worried she'd call me to come home, but he was fine the whole time!  And, I forewarned her... "Don't call me- I'm not going to call you".  Done.

The party was at the Hyatt and was small and intimate.  Mauricio works with mainly men- there are only 2 women in his office- so this party can start to feel like "the parade of wives".  There's a lot of introducing and a LOT of awkward silences.  As you must know, engineers are not known for being party animals.  But the dinner was nice and it was great being amongst adults only... and looking good too.

After dinner we went to a coffee bar and had some hot chocolate.  My legs and toes were freeeezing... what women do for beauty.

Here are some pics of the lovely couple... yes, that would be me and my sexy hubby!


And now, today I'm back to my life of glamour.... sporting my spit-up-shirt with my snot-and-booger-sweatpants. It's very attractive.  But at least for one night, I was One Hott Mama! 


Thank You, Jesus

This is my Thanksgiving Day post.  A little late, I know... but you don't mind, do you?

My God, there is just so much to be immensely thankful for this year.  I'm thankful that Mauricio has a job that allows me to stay home and care for our sons.  I'm thankful that we are staying above water, even on one salary.  I'm thankful that Marco has grown so much and is now walking, talking (sorta) and acting like a big boy.  I'm thankful for getting pregnant and having a successful (albeit early) delivery.  I'm thankful that now with Jonas, our family is complete.

God is so good to us.  There are countless proofs that He loves us and has the best plan for us... in my life alone.  I always feel that He is guiding us.  When I feel the dead end is just in sight, he paves a different road for us to follow.  For example... when we were living in Orlando and talking about getting pregnant, the first time, Mau had yet to find a job.  We were so anxious that we'd have a baby without him having a job.  Then out of the blue, Carol calls to say there's a job opening in Greenville (last place on Earth we ever thought we'd end up).  Did you know that Mau started his job on the very same day I found out I was pregnant?!  Coincidental?... No, that's a God Plan... and a GOOD ONE! There are so many (I mean, SOOOO many) other examples I could give you on how His plans have put us where we are today and have been unbelievable blessings in our lives.

I'm so thankful that God is always on our team and giving us blessings beyond our understanding.
"And we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose"  Romans 8:28


And Thank You, Jesus, for giving us the ultimate sacrifice... Your life in place of ours.  Now, as a parent, John 3:16 brings on a whole new meaning.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not parish but have eternal life".  John 3:16


I don't know about you, but there is NO WAY I would give up one of my sons... and I have two!  I don't care the reason... the answer is a resounding "NO"!   I'll kill you all for my sons... every last one of ya!  But, isn't God selfless?  He gave up his ONE... his PERFECT one.  For us.  And we are so not worthy.  But that's how much he loves us... amazing.

So, during this time of Christmas crazies, let us remember not just that the baby Jesus was born, but who he became and what he did for each of us.

Due Date

Today, Nov. 29, 2010, was a big date in my calendar... circled, highlighted and with about a hundred exclamation points.  Today is the day my #2 was supposed to be born!

But isn't God great, and amazing?  He was born 2 months early (Sept 28) and has been a huge joy and blessing for nearly 9 weeks now!  It always floors me how His plan is so perfect!  Yes, we had a rough start, and a challenging first few weeks, but now I can't imagine having had to wait this long to meet my beautiful boy.  It feels like he's been here all along.

And as I get to know him more and more, my heart swells to unthinkable sizes.  Cliche as it may sound, your capacity for love really does increase after having another.  There's no need to share love... there's plenty to go around.

Here's some baby eye candy for all of you out there in cyber-land.  My growing boy, waking up from his nap.
I love you, my baby Jonas! 

Book Worm

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As you probably know, I love to read.  Lately, I've been able to do it a little more than normal... don't ask me how.  Sometimes I read in the middle of the night when I'm feeding Jonas, but mostly I've been reading because Mau got a new video game.  So, here's a list of the last 5 books I've read:

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
I LOVE Young Adult Fiction.  It's always fun, easy to read, fast moving and a little too dramatic.  This book was somewhat predictable, but still a lot of fun.  If you liked Twilight, you might enjoy it.  The main beau is "the bad boy Edward wishes he was".  It's the first in a series, and I'll be reading the second, "Crescendo", soon.

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
This book took me WAY. TOO. LONG to finish.  I started it in May and kept picking it up and putting it back down until I finally finished it in October.  This book was recommended to me by my dad, so I definitely wanted to read it and see what he saw in it.  He truly enjoyed it... but he didn't "read" it... he listened to it and enjoyed it much more than I did.  That said, I thought that the main idea and conclusion of the book were amazing... truly brilliant.  However, it just took forever to get to the point.  There was a lot of fluff... you know, information that doesn't truly add to the plot but is only there to take up space.  I felt like Irving could have accomplished the same goal in HALF the pages.  His writing style is extreemely descriptive with minimal dialogue, which I find to be exhausting to read.  After 10 pages I was physically tired of reading.  Needless to say, it's not a real page turner.   

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
This is the same author that wrote the famous, "Time Traveler's Wife".  I picked this one up because I loved that one.  However, this one did not live up to Niffenegger's reputation.  The story was strange and he conclusion was completely disappointing.  I wouldn't recommend it.

Carpe Demon- Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom by Julie Kenner
I read this book after reading a review off of This Blog, and I LOVED it!  This book was so fun, light and silly.  Think, Buffy the Vampire Slayer all grown up with kids, a husband and a house.  It's great!  This book truly is laugh-out-loud funny.  I could totally relate to her... well, the having a toddler part, not the kicking demon @ss part.  Still, great fun!

The Understudy by David Nicholls
I actually won this book from a GoodReads Giveaway.  Yay for winning!  But unfortunately I didn't like this book.  The only redeeming quality was that the writing was really good.  I wasn't interested in the characters... thought they were all shallow and people I would not want to know.  I will be giving this author another shot, though... maybe this story was just off.  


Grow, Baby- But Let Me Sleep

Jonas is going through a pretty big growth spurt right now.  This is awesome for him!  He was weighed today, and at 8 weeks, he's 5 lbs 2 oz.  He's no longer fitting in his premie wear (primarily due to height) and will only be in premie diapers till we run out.  Yay!  Awesome for him, right?... Utterly exhausting for me!

When Marco went through his first growth spurt, I was told "Turn on Netflix, sit on the couch and feed him for 2-3 days".  Sounds easy... and it wasn't so bad... but that's because it was JUST Marco.  Now, it's 2!  I can't just sit on the couch without rising for 2-3 days to feed Jonas.  I need to feed, change, clothe, play with and attend to my other child to.  And while I do that, Jonas is screaming bloody murder the ENTIRE time!

Jonas gets so worked up while waiting to be fed, that once he gets on the boob, he falls asleep!  So, I pull him off, burp him gently and try to put him down... where upon he wakes up and realizes he's STILL hungry!  It's a vicious cycle.

The worst is at night.  I get so frustrated and angry.  Once I'm sleep deprived, it's not a pretty sight.  Last night, Jonas fed at 11:30, 2:30, 4:00 and 7:00.  He only went longer on the last stretch because he was sleeping in our bed.  By that point, I was a cry baby myself.  As I said, it was not a pretty sight... I threw a tantrum, like a toddler!  Kicking sheets, crying, tossing myself from one side of the bed to the other... the works.  Thankfully, I have an understanding (and amazing) husband who got up and brought him to our bed.  Although my response at that time was, "I don't want Jonas to sleep with us, get him out of here! (REAL mature!).

I am so lucky that Mauricio is willing and eager to get up and take some of the feedings off my hands.  On weekends, we trade off, every other feeding, during the night.  I still have to wake up to pump, but that's only 10 minutes, versus the 30-45 that a normal feeding would take.  During the week, Mau wakes up for the early morning feeding (5:30 or 6am) and lets me sleep in.

Then this morning, when Mauricio got up to feed him in the early am, so I could catch a few more zz's, he made a mistake with grand repercussions.  He tried to microwave Jonas' bottle.  Two problems with this:  1. You NEVER nuke breast milk, and 2. The Dr. Browns bottle apparently couldn't handle the microwave because it got pierced somehow, making it unusable.  He didn't mean to do it, but had morning brain and got confused between Marco's bottle (which we microwave) and Jonas' bottle (which we heat in a glass of hot water).  What are the grand repercussions?  Well, that was the ONLY one we had... so until I get my butt back to the store, I'm flying solo through this growth spurt.

I just have to continue to tell myself these two simple words over and over and pray that I can get through... "It's Temporary"!  This is my LAST baby, and each growth spurt is one of my last ones ever. They say to "enjoy every minute"... but these are some minutes I don't think I'll EVER learn to enjoy.

A Mama Trick

As a mom, you develop a bag of tricks that will always get you out of a bind.  This is a nifty little trick I aquired from a girl on The Bump and I'll be forever grateful... (well, maybe not FOREVER, but definitely for a few years).

It all started last Christmas.  We were staying at my in-laws house, and Marco (who was 6 months old) was sleeping in the Pack n' Play.  Since we were in a new environment and he wasn't in his crib, he was giving us such a hard time to be put down.  We tried letting him cry a little, we tried soothing, we tried rocking, we tried nursing... nothing worked.  The second we dropped him (gently) into the Pack n' Play, he'd wake up screaming.  After about 2 hours of this, he was exhausted but refused to give in.  Finally, I remembered what the girl had told me, "put a used article of your clothing in the crib with him".  Immediately, I ripped off my shirt (kinda like The Hulk) and laid Marco down on top of it.  His reaction was priceless!  He dug his face into it, his eyes kinda rolled around for a second and he instantly fell asleep.  My shirt, with my mommy smell on it, was like a drug to him.  It amazed me!  We shoved this trick into our handy bag o' tricks and used it on MANY occasion.

Last night, I had to step out for a while and Mauricio was left alone with both boys.  Apparently Jonas became difficult at some point, and Mau was trying to prepare dinner and entertain Marco simultaneously.  So, Mau reached into our bag o' tricks and pulled out this little handy ditty.  He went into our clothes hamper and grabbed a shirt I had been wearing earlier that day.  He wrapped it around Jonas and he immediately calmed down and fell asleep.  When I got home, I found a lump of clothes on top of a pillow... with a baby underneath!  He slept like that for at least 3 hours, until I woke him up to feed him.  Here's a picture of what I found upon coming home... (I adjusted the shirt because it was covering his face too):

This works!  As of yet, it has been FAIL-PROOF!  I don't think it'll work on Marco anymore, but for those little, fussy, mama-needy babies, it works like a charm!

Pooped

The conversations and worries of a mother are like no other.  Normal people don't stress about the same things we do... not even dads worry the same way moms do.  This week, my worry (and topic of conversation):  POOP.  Yes, a mom will stay up at night worrying, call the doctors office and talk to anyone else that will listen about these things.  Spit up- how much is too much?  Diaper rash- where is it located exactly, does it hurt and what remedies should we use?  Boogers- what color and consistency?  And POOP.

As this is my second round, I completely expected Jonas to be a lot like Marco.  I thought it was normal for a baby to poop after each feeding.  In fact, sometimes Marco would poop in the middle of his feeding and then again at the end of it!  Even now, at 16 months, he poops AT LEAST twice a day!  He's a real pooper- (but definitely not a party-pooper)!

Since I didn't have complete access to Jonas for the first 28 days of his life (he was in the NICU), I wasn't aware of his bowel movements or regularity.  Apparently, he's not much of a pooper.  Then when I brought him home, he'd go once, maaaaybe twice a day.  But then, he stopped going.  He went on Friday, and then not again.  I started to worry... of course!

The weekend went by, nothing.  On Monday, I called the doctor and a nurse told me to put Karo syrup in his milk and if we had no results in 48 hours, to come in.  Well, we began giving him the syrup, but he was spitting up so much that we stopped.  I was thinking, if we have nothing by Wednesday, I'm going to the doctor.

Then, something great happened.  Tuesday night, 11pm.  HE POOPED!  Poor baby was struggling so much... every time he pushed, milk would shoot out of his nose!  It was kinda funny, and sad at the same time.   I was so excited, I texted my friend, "WE HAVE POOP!"  And guess what... she was excited for me too!

I don't know if anyone cares or is grossed out by this topic.  I'm sure people will "un-follow" my blog... please don't... I only have 14 followers!  But, it's been on my mind rather consistently and I thought I'd share.  If my blog is anything, it is an honest portrayal of my life as a mother... so there!

Damage Control

Sometimes I feel like being a stay-at-home mom is all about damage control.  There are days when it feels like the second you clean up one mess, another emerges.  Honestly, I don't have the endurance to stay on top of everything that needs to be done.  I'm a LOUSY house keeper.  The truth is, I hate cleaning and picking up.  If it weren't for Mau's neatness ::cough, cough, OCD::, we'd be living in a pig sty.  Have I mentioned, I have a pretty amazing husband?
Today was particularly challenging.  By the time I put Jonas back to sleep, Marco woke up.  That's always an inclination that the day is going to go my way.  So, I pick up Marco and begin giving him his breakfast, when Jonas woke back up.  Then my day went something like this:
~Change Marco's diaper
~Feed Marco
~Change Jonas' diaper
~Feed Jonas
~Change Marco's diaper AGAIN- within 1 hour of waking up, I had changed 3 diapers... 2 of which were stinky!
~Pick up the 500 cheerios that Marco threw on the floor while I was tending to Jonas
~Protect Jonas from Marco as he tries to:
   a. bite his head
   b. stick the paci in his eye
   c. pull him off my lap
~Put Marco in time out for jumping on the couch and climbing on top of the table
~Give Marco his paci (that is otherwise not allowed outside the crib) in hopes that he'd relax... it worked!
~Feed Jonas and diaper change
~Feed Marco lunch and diaper change
~NAP TIME!! Thank you, Jesus, for sweet long naps!
Thankfully, Marco took a 3 hour nap and Jonas was sweet as always, so I could relax.  After that, the rest of my day was ok... but GEEZ, sometimes it's HARD being a stay-at-home mom.
So, I was exhausted from controlling the damage that was being done, but needless to say, nothing else got done.  Not the dishes, not the laundry, never the cleaning.  We should all smile and pat me on the back for having 2 fed, clothed, clean (somewhat), happy and in-tact children at the end of the day.  That's a success right there!

Bewitched

I have been debating as to whether or not I should write this post, as it shows a darker side of motherhood that is neither happy or quite sane.  However, I feel that it would be unfair for me to depict motherhood as puppies and rainbows all the time, when that is not the case.  It would be unfair to my readers who are not yet mothers to not know the truth, the whole (sometimes ugly) truth, about what goes on in a mother's mind.  So, here I go... don't judge me.

Being a new mom to an infant is sometimes extraordinarily frustrating.  My baby is calm, quiet and content for the entire day... until... the bewitching hour.  The "bewitching hour" is a time of day that every baby decides to be fussy... uncontrollably and inconsolably fussy.  You feed your baby and yet he/she is still exhibiting hunger signs.  You try to offer the paci, but your baby just spits it out in a fury.  You try rocking, shushing, back patting, and everything else you've ever read about, but nothing works.  This is just HIS TIME to be unconsolable.

For Marco, this time occurred everyday for about 3 months at 6 o'clock in the evening.  Poor Mauricio would come home from work and Marco would scream in his face for a full hour or more.  He took it personally... "my baby doesn't like me".  I understood that it was just his bewitching hour and that it would soon pass.  At 6 in the evening, I was cool and calm... BUT ask me how I was at 3 am?  CRAZY!  If he'd begin to be inconsolable in the middle of the night, I'd begin to feel helpless and desperate.

Jonas' bewitching hour(s) usually begins around 10pm and lasts till after midnight.  This is extremely frustrating to us because we WANT TO SLEEP!  It's like he decides that he's going to be awake at the exact moment that we want to go to bed.  He had his chance to be awake all day, but nooooooo.

Every new mother can expect to be tired, but do not be fooled... real exhaustion sets in about week 3.  After about 3 weeks of minimal sleep, your mind begins to lose it.  In fact, I've heard (but I'm too lazy to look it up to verify it's validity) that in war, sleep deprivation is a form of torture.  However, there are war laws against the amount of time a person is limited in sleep.  I believe that they must allow a minimum of 3-4 hours uninterrupted sleep, or else it is considered a war crime.  If this is true, then our babies are LITERALLY torturing us!  I have not slept more than 3 hours at a time in 6 weeks.

Sleep deprivation does some crazy things to our minds, and we must remain aware of the situation and rely on the support of our husbands, or it'll be easy to snap.  When a baby is crying uncontrollably and nothing seems to work, I can EASILY see how a slightly less sane person would snap and do something drastic, like shake their baby.  At one of my most desperate moments, I remember standing in the kitchen with Marco at 4 am, both of us crying, and for a split second I had a crazy thought that scared the CRAP out of me... maybe if I put Marco in the freezer for a few minutes, he'll stop crying.  WHAT?!?!  Then the guilt that comes after thinking such a horrible and morbid thing just eats you up.  What kind of a mother am I?  Now I know... a tired one.

This time around, my skin is a little thicker.  Jonas' cries don't get to me the same way Marco's did.  I can ignore it a little easier.  I wont lie though, there have been moments where I want to put my hand over his face.  Thankfully, I have an amazing husband there with me 100% of the way and TOGETHER we keep it sane.

For those of you new mommies or soon-to-be moms who follow my blog, a piece of advice.  Be VERY aware of what's going on in your mind and emotions.  When you feel loopy, get help!  You can not do it ALL by yourself and it's ok to force your husband out of bed (even if he has to work in the morning).  When you need to sleep, wake up your husband and have him give the baby a bottle.  You are still a super mom, even if you need help every once in a while.

This book helped me learn how to soothe my babies and gave me a little extra amo during the first 3 months... I highly recommend it.

Parking Lot Melt Down

Having a toddler is hard work.  Having a toddler and an infant is nearly impossible.  Everyone told me it would be hard... and my response has always been, "I know, but it's temporary".  I still believe this, but this "temporary" is probably going to be a bit longer than I anticipated.
Marco is being such a sweet and loving brother... to Jonas.  To me, however, he's being a terror.  I know that this has been a big change for him and that he needs time to adjust.  I have tried giving him his own time, exclusive of Jonas.  I have explained to him, in nice tones, that he has to help Mama and be cooperative.  But, it's not working and I end up wanting to scream my head off.
Today, I was brave.  I got two babies ready, and loaded up into the car (with Mau's help) and we went to MOPS this morning.  It took me 2 hours from the time I woke up to the time I got in the car, but I did it... and was only 5 minutes late!
We saw a DVD of a message by Julie Barnhill, and it was great.  She spoke on being "One Tough Mom". Basically, speaking to moms with children of all ages, saying that we have to take back control.  "Who's the boss"... "I am"!  And, she gave the perfect example of my life... she said, "have you ever talked to your 18 month old and wondered where his mom is and then realized that YOU'RE his mom?"  YES!  This is my life.  Who is this toddler, why is he disobedient, and where is his parent?  Oh, wait, I'm supposed to parent him... but I'm too tired!
She said we have to learn to be consistent.  Once again, I'm too tired to be consistent.  But, when I think of it, and I remember my teaching days... consistency IS KEY!  If I say "no" today, then it must be "no" tomorrow and the day after.  But jeez, sometimes I honestly don't give a rats booty if he touches the "off limits" books.  Sometimes, I could care less if he climbs up on the table.  I'M TOO TIRED TO CARE!  But, for the sake of my parenting and the future battles that I MUST WIN, I have to care.
So, I listen to this awesome message, (and if you get a chance to Youtube her or read her book, you should).  I'm PUMPED UP... as we all are after hearing an encouraging word.  I feel like I can do this... I AM one tough Mama, and Marco had BETTER watch out!
Then we get into the parking lot.  I have Jonas strapped to my chest in the Moby wrap.  I walk Marco to his side of the car and open his door.  He proceeds to THROW himself on the parking lot floor in a fit of rage.  Why?... because HE wants to drive.  He does not want to sit in his car seat, and how dare I even suggest it?!  So, while I have Julie's message running through my head, and all the other MOPS moms eyes on me, I nearly have a melt down in the parking lot.  I wanted to beat my child.
I ended up letting him climb into the car and do as he pleased while I took care of Jonas.  Once Jonas was in and safe, I "took care" of Marco.  I had to grab him and STUFF him into his car seat, all while he's kicking and screaming.  Mauricio tells me I just need to be more patient... but patience seems to be something on high demand but short supply these days.  I WILL NOT pray for patience, because then God will REALLY teach me a lesson.
For now, I've just got to learn a few tricks, try to calm myself down first, remember to stay consistent, learn to say "no" and MEAN it and try to take control and responsibility for my toddler.  Pray for me.

It Takes a Village

Certain people tell us that because we live so far away, we have "no support".  They say that living at a great distance from our family will cause severe relational problems in the future.  They say that they are missing out on the lives of their grandchildren.  It makes me sad to think about these things.  The truth is, we do not want to live so far from our family, and we have absolutely no intention of keeping Greenville as our permanent residence.  For right now, this is where we are, and we have to make due.
But, as for the "no support"... I can not disagree more.  Throughout the last month and a half, throughout my hospitalization, birth, NICU runs, and even now that our baby is home I have been astonished by the amount of support given to us by family, friends, students and neighbors.
As soon as I was hospitalized, my mom booked a flight and was in town the very next day to help take care of Marco.  It was important to me that his daily life was not interrupted or too out of whack because I was missing.  She was here for 17 days and did an amazing job holding down the fort and keeping my son happy.
Once my mom left, my mother-in-law arrived to take over.  She also became Marco's buddy... taking him to the park, to bouncing babies and wherever else he could release some energy.  Throughout her time here, she made sure all I had to worry about was going to the NICU.  She made meals for us everyday and enough to freeze for later meals.  It was delish!
And this week that just passed, my father and step-mom came into town.  They kept Marco entertained so that I could devote more time to Jonas.  They took Jonas from me and forced me to nap!  Vivian cooked and cleaned and did laundry and even took me on a shopping spree!  I was totally spoiled!
Well, that was all family, and although their time here was invaluable to me, it was also sorta expected.  I expect to be able to lean on and rely on my family during my time of need... and boy was this a time of need!  I am grateful they were all able to take days off of work, book flights and come up to be my slave for a few days.
There were 2 weeks in between family visits where we were on our own.  Jonas was still in the NICU, so in order to be able to see him during the day, I had to find a sitter for Marco.  And in order for Mau and I to be able to visit with him in the evenings, again I had to find a sitter.   So, 2 babysitters PER day! I was amazed at how many people offered and where able to take time out of their lives to watch my little boy.  During the day, I had Carol, Brooke, Anne (Carol's mom), and Kim stay with him.  Anne even took the day off of work!  At night, we had Stefania and Leo, my student Anna, and Kim (with baby Sloane).  I was so touched that people came over after being busy all day to sit at our house while we went to the NICU.
Although I appreciate everyone, My MVP babysitter was Kim.  I've only known Kim a few short months, after meeting at the community pool.  We quickly became friends and see each other at bouncing babies, and around the community while she walks her dog.  When she offered to help me, I don't know if she thought I'd really take her up on it.  She came over with her little 9 month old daughter, Sloane, and spent several evenings sitting on my couch while we went to the NICU.  She rearranged her "night time" schedule, to help me.  (Moms, be honest... that "night time schedule" is sacred... would you have rearranged it?  I don't know if I would have.)  When we'd return at 10:30pm, she'd wrap up her sleeping baby and walk back to her apartment.  Then, on the day we were bringing Jonas home, we asked her to watch Marco from 12:30-4... which turned into 12:30-8.  She was super patient and was not even phased by the fact that we were 4 hours late... I, on the other hand, was about to have a nervous breakdown.  Thank you, Kim!  Thank you for teaching me what it is to put others before yourself and for being so kind and generous with your time.
Other kinds of support have been shown to me as well.  For example, my pump rental had run out, and my friend Hannah had read my post about how I was a slave to the pump and had to pump at home because of the size of it.  Well, Hannah, out of the kindness of her heart, offered to lend me her amazingly effective, amazingly small, and amazingly expensive ($400) pump!  The Medela Free Style.  It rocks!
We also received some yummy support.  This is such a southern thing too... it just doesn't happen in Florida.  I have a baby, and everyone wants to bring me food?  Uhh, ok.  I had never realized what a difference having a meal that I didn't have to consider, plan or create made.  Truth be told, I'm not the chef in my house anyway... but still!  Ok, so Mauricio didn't have to worry about cooking... still great!  The ladies from my MOPS group signed up to bring us meals for nearly two weeks while we were still coming and going from the NICU.  It made our lives so much less stressful... just one less thing to worry about.  Cathy brought us some amazing meatball subs, Lynette brought us hibachi grill meals, Rachael brought us two strombolli's, Cindi brought us some homemade pasta, and Jennifer also brought us some delish pasta.  I was so amazed by the generosity of these women!  These are women with families of their own to feed, and children of their own to care for, and here they were preparing and DELIVERING meals to my family!  And they did not skimp!  Each meal was prepared with thoughtfulness and love... they included extras like bread, salad and even dessert!  I mean, seriously!  It was a full service.  I was so humbled by the servitude of these women... that they would spend their precious money, time and energy to help out a family they barely know.  In reality, although these women are in my MOPS group, I do not know any of them.  They all signed up for this, not because they were my friends and felt obligated, but because they are all Christian women who know what it means to serve.
Throughout all of this I have learned a million lessons.  I have learned that we are not alone and that people are always eager to offer their support.  I have learned that our routines can not be as important as other people's needs.  I have learned that a little sacrifice on my end can make the world of a difference on someone elses end.  I am so blessed to have been on the receiving end of this deal.  I pray that I remember the lessons I've learned through other peoples humility, servitude, generosity and kindness.  I hope that I can one day be on the giving end and pass the blessings on to other people who are in need.

Brotherly Love

Since we found out I was having another boy, we've been telling Marco about his brother.  We would point to my growing belly and say, "It's your brother", and then we'd ask him, "Where's your brother?" and he'd stick his finger deep into my belly button.  We were never sure if he knew there was a baby in there, or if he just thought that Mama's belly was named "brother".  Then when I was admitted into the hospital, we would tell him that his brother was almost here.  He would always give us a blank stare.
Once Jonas arrived, Marco was unable to meet him... even for just a second.  The NICU rule is that siblings ages 4 and older are allowed to visit... Marco did not meet the requirements!  This kinda broke my heart.  I wanted Marco to know he had a baby brother, but we weren't sure if he was comprehending or grasping the concept.  All we could do was show him pictures daily.  He would laugh and point at the pictures and we would tell him, "that's your brother!".  I had a picture as my phone wallpaper and when I'd ask him where his brother was, he'd turn on my phone and point to his picture.  At this point, we weren't sure if he knew brother was a real baby, or if he just thought it was a picture, like from a book or TV.
Then the big day came, and we were able to bring Jonas home... Marco was finally going to meet his baby brother!
Mauricio went into the house ahead of me to grab the video camera, and he told him he was going to see his brother.  As I walked in the door holding Jonas, he stood looking apprehensive and curious.  I went to sit on the couch and invited him to see Jonas.  Without another word, Marco came over and gave Jonas a hug and a kiss!  He was being as nice and gentle as he knew how.  He was stroking his head and touching his fingers and trying to kiss his face all over!
At the time, Mauricio and I were terrified and trying to control the situation, making sure Marco was being gentle enough.  But as I later reflected on what had happened, I began to cry.  I think Marco did understand the whole time!  He knew that Jonas was his baby brother!  He loves his little bro!
Since Jonas has been home, things have been interesting with Marco.  For the most part, he's super gentle and loving towards Jonas.  He wants to see him, wants to hold him, wants to touch him.  He runs to the room if he starts to cry, and wants to help us with him.  But, as was expected, he has also become more needy with me and Mau.  He also decides to act out when he knows I'm occupied with nursing or diaper changing.  For example, I was feeding Jonas on the couch, and Marco decides to climb up the dining room chair and onto the table, and before I know it, he's standing in the center of the dining room table, screaming.  It's funny to think about it now, but oh, so aggravating as it was occurring.  Another time, I asked Marco to throw Jonas' diaper away, (he knows where it goes), and he ran into the bathroom and threw it into the toilet!  Thankfully that only happened once.  Now, as I'm changing Jonas' diaper, Marco is waiting with his hand out to go throw the diaper away... in it's appropriate place!
Being the mother of one is very fulfilling.  But there is something super special and unique about seeing your first interacting with your second.  I am so proud of Marco for being such a good big bro.  I can't wait to be a spectator in the lives of my boys!  I am eagerly waiting to see the kind of relationship that unfolds between them.
Here's my Table For Four:
(and Marco is crying because we wouldn't let him hold Jonas!  This picture perfectly defines us right now!)

A Night at the NICU

In anticipation for a NICU baby's homecoming, it is required that a parent spend the night in the NICU in order to practice keeping your baby.  This seems silly to someone like me, who has a healthy baby, but for parents who need to learn how to care for their babies with medicine, monitors, and other special needs, this time is very valuable.  When we had the sleep over with Marco, I was annoyed and upset... truth be told, I was over-the-top emotional about it!  I felt like it was no longer about the baby proving himself ready, but about me proving how good and capable a parent I am.  At this point, I'm just over it.  I'll do whatever it takes to get him home... even if I have to prove to be the best mom this NICU has ever seen!  I'll do it!
Last night I got the opportunity to spend the night with Jonas.  They put us in a Family Learning Room, which has a futon bed, rocking chair, bathroom... oh, and the baby!  It's no luxury suite, but hey, at least I've got my baby!

The nurses are told to basically leave you alone.  You are supposed to fend for yourself... which is fine by me!  They come in and check on you periodically, but pretty much you're on your own.  
Last night I got here around 7pm.  He was supposed to eat at 9pm, so at that time, I got ready to breastfeed.  He fed for about 10 minutes, and then while burping him, he spit up a great deal.  The nurse came in, helped me change his clothes and told me to give him a bottle instead.  So, he ate 40cc's from the bottle... then while burping him, he had a projectile spit up... ALL over me!  The nurse came back in and re-changed his clothes.  We were debating as to whether or not we should feed him AGAIN, and risk him spitting up yet AGAIN, but while we were changing him, he was rooting for his hands and tried to latch onto the nurses wrist!  So, I offered him the breast again and he drank for 7 minutes before passing out!  By the time it was all said and done, it was 10:30pm!  I couldn't believe it... he had been such a good baby for the 4 weeks he's been here and then within the 3 hours I'm with him, he proves to be problematic!  Just acting up for Mama! 
The nurse then told me to feed him again at 1am... so I set my alarm... and COMPLETELY ignored it!  Yup, Mother Of The Year, right here!  I woke up at 2 instead.  The thing with premie's is that they usually wont wake up when they're hungry.  YOU have to wake them up to tell them that they must be hungry.  By 2am, he was SO ready!  
After that, I was paranoid that I would ignore my alarm again, so I was waking up every 15 minutes or so to check the clock.  How annoying!  Needless to say, I haven't missed another feeding!
So it has been said that he is coming home today.  At 1pm we have our Infant CPR class and then at 4 we have our monitor training.  Since he's still having heart dips (his heart rate will drop momentarily and then return to normal), he'll be coming home with a heart monitor.  He's also on a daily dose of caffeine to keep his heart rate steady.  Like baby speed.  He also has to pass his car seat test- 1 hour in a car seat without having difficulty breathing.  Once all these things have been done, and all the i's are dotted and t's are crossed, we get to have our baby!
I can't wait to have this little bundle in my house... I can't wait to see the way Marco reacts to his baby bro, who's not going away!  Stay tuned... it's about to get interesting! 
And here's one more pic... because I love showing off my babies!

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

"Slow and steady wins the race."  I keep telling myself that in anticipation of Jonas' homecoming.  It's not yet, but we can already see the light at the end of the tunnel!  
Today is 1 month from when I was originally admitted to the hospital.  I can't believe it's been so long already!  It's been a very difficult month, but we've learned a lot of life lessons and a huge lesson in patience and faith.  
Throughout the past 3 weeks, it has been startling to me to see just how vastly different a premature baby is from a term baby.  Even Marco, who was also "premature", is extreemly different than Jonas.  Marco was almost "term", and Jonas is still on 34 weeks adjusted.  I mean, everything is different!  The way you handle them, the way you feed them, their capabilities, their alertness... it's all so... premature!  
At first, I felt horrible leaving Jonas in the isolette all day and night without me there.  My original frame of mind was, "he needs his Mama".  Well, he does, but more than that, he needs to sleep!  He is perfectly content to sleep for hours on end in the covered isolette with no stimulation.  In fact, stimulation can actually be a bad thing at this stage!  He gets snuggle time twice a day when I visit in the mornings and evenings, but mostly he's sleeping and growing.  A term baby wants to be held all day long and can have longer periods of awake/stimulated time.  
Another thing that was completely bizarre to me, was the manner in which I have to feed him.  Right now, we're bottle feeding and it is such hard work for him!  At first, he'd get all choked up and couldn't coordinate his breathing with sucking and swallowing.  He'd get all red in the face and begin to gasp!  We've been working on it, and he's getting a hang of it, but it's a slow process.  He hasn't gotten the hang of breastfeeding, and according to the doctors, he probably wont until he's closer to his due date.  A term baby will chug down a bottle or immediatly latch onto a breast a few hours after birth.  It's like as if Jonas has to learn all these things that comes naturally to term babies.  
According to our calculations and timeline, Jonas should be coming home close to November 1st.  The requirements for him to come home are that he is taking 8 bottles a day by mouth and can sustain his temperature in an open crib.  Tonight he should be moving into an open crib, because he's been sustaining well in the isolette for more than 48 hours.  He's also up to 4 bottles a day by mouth.  The other 4 feedings are being tubed.  If he manages his bottles well for 48 hours, they increase 1 bottle a day.  So, from start to finish, 8 bottles would take 16 days.  Since we're on 4, we're half way home... assuming we have no set backs!  
It's a slow process, but so far he's been steady in his progress!  

Little Hands


I love hands.  I never realized that I loved them until I had my babies.  

I have always looked at my children with wonder and awe at the fact that they are little people.  Watching Marco grow this first year has been the most amazing experience of my life, and now I have the privilage of doing the same with Jonas.  They really do grow fast!  

I love to think about my children's hands and all that they will accomplish.  Hands that will learn to feed. Hands that will learn to clap.  Hands that will learn to play.  Hands that will write countless papers, type on the computer and hopefully play an instrument.  Hands that will hold a stering wheel.  Hands that will hold other hands.  Hands that will one day wear a ring.  Hands that will hold their own babies.  And hands that will pray. 

Most of all, I look at that tiny hand in mine, only 2 weeks old and less than 4 pounds and think, "Wow, one day that hand will be bigger than mine.  And one day, that hand will do better than I do".  

Pumping Power

I'm not one to easily give up.  I will breastfeed Jonas and that's that.  But, right now, being in the NICU and unable to even latch on, I'm unable to breastfeed.  Since I gave birth, I've been pumping around the clock, every 3 hours to produce and store enough milk to feed him while he's in the NICU as well as have a hefty stash at home.
In the last 2, almost 3 weeks, I've gone through over 200 2oz storage bottles, and have brought so much milk into the NICU that they've asked me to stop!  So, since the hospital wont take any more, just have a look at what's become of my freezer!

Those little bottles go all the way to the back and are piled as high as allowable.  Really, will I need this much milk?!  There's no room for food!
So, in order to make more room in my ever shrinking freezer, I've decided to switch to storage bags which can be laid flat and essentially will hold more milk.  Sounds like a win-win, right?  We'll see.  I decided to buy these bags:
These bags impressed me at first.  Look, I can pump directly into them, saving time and cleaning!  But, they are quite difficult to handle.  It's tricky getting the bag secured over the shield and you have to monitor the bag to be sure you don't get bubbles and the milk stays on the top.  When you're done, you have to tear a perforated edge and close a very hard zipper, which I'm sure will be a cinch at 3am.  I would gladly take all of these defects if it does it's job and keeps my freezer looking a little more roomy.  Oh, but I forgot to mention the price... $18.99 for 50 bags.  Let's do a little math here.  If I'm pumping 8 times a day and I have 2 breasts, then I'm going to need 16 bags a day.  Therefore, these bags will last me 3 days!  THREE DAYS!!!  Uhh, those little blue bottles up top are provided free from the hospital.  So, what should I do?  Pay $20 every 3 days to have a more orderly freezer, or become ultra creative with how to store those blue bottles and keep some cash in my pocket?  Oh, life is full of conundrums. 

Now, have I mentioned that I HATE pumping... as in despise it, as in it's my daily torture (or rather 8 times a day torture).  It's tedious, monotonous, boring and lonely.  Not to mention, if it's your first time, super painful!  Pumping is way more painful than breastfeeding.  Think, your infant has an itty-bitty mouth, while this machine is merciless!  
I'm living my life in 3 hour intervals.  Wanna go out?  Sure, but I gotta be home at a certain time to pump... boo.  When you have a newborn, you still live in 3 hour intervals, but at least you're not on house arrest.  If you have to feed your baby, you can do it anywhere!  
Since I am having my pump do the job of a baby, I had to get a hospital grade pump.  The first one I got was this one:
This is the Medela Symphony Double Breast Pump.  I rented it from the hospital and it was $20 a week.  This is the one the hospital provides in their nursing rooms and while you stay with them. It's wonderful!  Very gentle and quiet.  But, I'm cheap... so I only rented it for one week. 

Then I found out that the state provides a free pump to NICU moms in order to encourage breastfeeding.  SWEET!  So I went and got my free pump, which is this one:

This is the Medela Lactina Double Breast Pump.  Not nearly as good as the Symphony.  It takes about twice as long to get the same amount of milk, plus it is not at all gentle or quiet.  See the middle yellow part, that is a pump that moves in and out and creates a loud whooshing sound.  Plus, with this pump, you must pump both breasts simultaneously for it to work... not so with the Symphony.  But hey, it's FREE... and that's the right price for me!



Then, you have all these pump parts to clean every.single.time... and sanitize once a day in a steaming bag.

This is all very tedious! 









2 things that make pumping semi-bearable:

This is the PumpEase Hands Free Pumping Bra.  And it makes my life a whole lot easier.  Now, it's a huge PITA to put it on because there are 6 bra clasps that need to be shut, but once it's on, you're free.  I can read, surf the web, talk on the phone or address Marco's needs, all while pumping!  Thanks to this awesome bra, I'm pumping and blogging right now



And the second thing that makes pumping easier, is Netflix Instant.  For a person, like myself, who lives without cable, Netflix is a dream! I probably drive Mau crazy at 3am with my shows, but I gotta do something



 I can't understand how some people would CHOOSE to exclusively pump.  Don't they realize that they're doing DOUBLE work!  I can't wait till Jonas is home, so I can just ditch the pump! 

NICU Woes

Having a baby in the NICU is so challenging on every level.  I am physically exhausted, emotionally drained and spiritually grasping.
Having a new baby is exhausting for anyone, and I know that once Jonas finally comes home, I'll probably be more tired than I am now.  But it'll also be more rewarding and yummy!  I'm pumping every 3 hours, around the clock (yes, even in the wee hours of the morning), so I haven't slept for more than 2.5 hour intervals.
Jonas turns 2 weeks tomorrow- two weeks that I've been walking down that same long corridor to get to the NICU- two weeks that I've been washing my hands and ASKING to go see MY child- two weeks that I have to rely on a stranger to tell me how my child is doing, and trusting that this person is not being negligent- two weeks that I only have time and energy to visit twice a day- two weeks that I have had to ASK to hold my child, and always for a limited time.
It's frustrating that Jonas is assigned a new nurse every day and every evening... we've rarely had the same person twice.  Each nurse has his or her own quirks and rules about the way things should be done.  Some don't want you to even TOUCH the baby, while others think it's not only necessary to touch, but also encourage holding and kangarooing.  So, how am I supposed to know who does what?  And why should I be the one to adapt to THEIR quirks?  Some nurses will say that his temperature has to be at 36.2 C in order to be allowed out of his incubator, while others will say 36.5 C... uhh, so which is it EXACTLY?!
Please don't take my complaining as ungratefulness.  I am incredibly grateful that my baby is being WELL taken care of, and I know that all the nurses are fully capable... but I WANT HIM!  I am jealous for him.  No one takes care of a baby as well as a mom... come on now!
Emotionally, this situation has been easier than it was with Marco.  Since it wasn't a surprise, we were expecting him to spend some time in the NICU.  Whereas, Marco's NICU stay was completely unexpected and much more emotional.  However, it still is taking it's toll.  Since I'm physically exhausted, sometimes I can't even imagine going down to the NICU... but then again, I really WANT to.  So, it's a lose-lose situation.  I can go, and be even more exhausted, or I can stay and let the guilt set in that I should be sacrificing MY needs for his.  I know this is all in my mind.  I know that he is being well taken care of and that I need to take care of myself in order to be able to take care of him later... but I'm still guilt ridden whenever I can't make it down to the NICU.  It eats me up!  And I have people asking me if this is post-pardum depression?  I don't think so... I think this is NICU depression.
Spiritually, I am hanging on for dear life.  I can't listen to a song or pray without bursting into tears.  I have to continue to remind myself that God is in control and that His timing is perfect.  It's hard to not ask Him, "Why again?!"... But I know that even with my challenges, it's temporary and it's not as bad as it could be.  God's grace will shine in my life during this time of need... I am weak so that HE can make me strong.
I give a hugemongo hats off to all the NICU parents... especially the ones with babies that are in an incredible amount of need... and the ones that have to be there for months and months on end.  Goodness, listen to my complaints after TWO whole weeks.  For all of you who get to take your healthy babies home... please, love on them, care for them and remember that they are little miracles... so many things could go wrong, but nothing did!

A Difficult Decision Made

Throughout my entire pregnancy with Jonas, I had high hopes that I'd make it to term.  I would get annoyed when other women would complain about being full term, while knowing full well the consequences of having a premie.  Marco was a premie... not a severe one, but one none-the-less.  36 weeks is still considered premature.  As you've read before, he had difficulty breathing, was in the NICU and was on constant medication for the first 10 months of his life.  This is hard on any parent, and not something that you want a repeat of. 


So, I have always said that if #2 was also a premie, I'd have to take action.  I can not assume that it's TWO coincidences or flookes.  No, this is because of me.  I have to assume that MY body can not hold a baby to term.  There have been other thoughts on the matter, such as getting pregnant too soon after the first, but these are just theories... not guarantees.  


Having one premie is difficult, having two is even harder... I fear having three would be unbearable!  
During the course of my stay at the hospital, I had a lot of time to think and pray over this matter.  I knew Jonas was going to be another premie... that was already determined.  
The decision I had ahead of me: Should I permanently "close up shop" by getting my tubes tied (and cut, and burned), or should I wait on it?  


On the one hand, I knew that it would be a simple procedure, because I was already having a c-section.  This would also eliminate the need to go under the knife later, or force Mauricio to get it done- I'd have to drag him in kicking and screaming!  I also thought that IF my assumptions were correct, and I couldn't carry to term, then chances are I'd have yet ANOTHER premie.  And, the chances were high that the third would be earlier than the previous two.  Could I handle having another premie... emotionally?  Could my body handle carrying another child... physically?  


On the other hand, I felt like I was cheating my husband out of the opportunity of being a father again.  I felt like I was too young (27) to be making a decision that was so permanent and would affect the balances of our family forever.  I felt like Mauricio was too young (24) to be deciding if our family was truly complete.  A part of my heart was still holding on to the idea of one day having a baby girl.  I didn't want to cheat him out of having a daughter.  It still breaks my heart a little


After much consideration, I decided to have to procedure done.  FOUR of my OB's came to speak with me, urging me to have it done.  They said that they didn't think my body could handle another pregnancy and that I was a perfect candidate to have it done.  I felt like the Lord was talking to me through them.  Really, shouldn't I be so incredibly grateful to have TWO boys?!  Shouldn't I be encouraged that even though they are both premies, they are still perfect and healthy?  Why am I sometimes blinded by my own selfish desires and I fail to see all that He has already blessed me with?!  I couldn't selfishly put my life on the line again for the chance of having another baby.  What if something horrible happened?  What if the third is a really early baby and we lose it?  I couldn't live with myself knowing that I could have chosen differently.  What if my body failed completely and I died, leaving Mau to raise two or three children on his own?  How selfish of me... and for what?! 
There are so many people, family and good friends of mine, who are unable to have children.  I, who have already been blessed with two, should not continue to endanger myself for the selfish desire of being a "super mom".  I already AM a "SUPER MOM"!  


Thankfully, my adoring husband was behind me 1000%, and supported my decision whole heartedly.  I had the Tubal done immediately after Jonas was born.  It still makes me sad to think about, but I have to remind myself that I did it for my family.  I did it because I love Mauricio and Marco and Jonas much much more than the IDEA of having another child.  They are my family... they are the ones that need me now... and there is nothing I wouldn't do to protect that

Childbirth: Vag vs C-Section

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Now that I've had my two boys, and have had completely different birthing experiences, everyone asks me, "So, which one was better?".  In my mind, at the present time, while I'm still on heavy pain meds and incapable of doing much for myself, there is NO competition... my first experience, a vaginal delivery, was WAY better.  Here's a little side-by-side comparison:

Labor:
Vag- When I went into labor with Marco, my water broke initially, followed by some contractions.  My pain level went up to about a 6 or 7 with the contractions, and I was having to breathe/grunt through them. I had contractions for about 3 hours before they gave me the Epidural.  The most annoying part was that I was dripping fluid for hours.  YUCK!
CS- There was no need to labor when having a section.  I did have some small and light contractions, pain level at a 3.  I was bleeding (due to my abruption), but other than that, no dripping of fluids.

Anestesia:
Vag- I was given the Epidural.  I didn't focus too much on the pain of the actual shot because I was having contractions simultaneously.  They laid me on my side and I could feel the sting of the numbing medicine.  With the epidural, they thread a catheter into the spine to continue distributing medicine as needed throughout the delivery.  I could feel a widening or spacing in my spine... it didn't hurt, it was just weird.  It lasted throughout my delivery and they took out the catheter when it was all over.  I couldn't feel any pain, only pressure.  Like, if someone touched me, I could tell... I could lift my legs and wiggle my toes.  It was nice.
CS- I was given a Spinal Tap.  This is different than the epi, in that you receive ONE dose... not a constant flow.  This is done because natural labor can last for hours, while a section takes an hour, tops.  They had me hunched over, and put in the numbing medicine, which was just a little prick.  Then they injected the spinal medicine, but I did not feel a single thing.  The drugs took affect very quickly.  It climbed over my belly and up to my chest.  When laying down, it was difficult to breathe because the drugs had put my abdomen to sleep and I couldn't feel myself breathing.  I could not feel anything... which is a good thing when they're slicing you up.  The only thing I could feel during delivery was any pressure they applied to my stomach.  The effects of the Spinal faded, but lasted throughout the evening.

Delivery:
Vag- Marco's delivery, the actual pushing, lasted 55 minutes.  It was not difficult for me to push him out.  It was not at all theatrical... no screaming, sweating or swearing.  We talked and joked between contractions, then I'd push 3 times, then we'd resume our conversation.  It was exciting once he started crowning, and so awesome when he finally came out.  They immediately put him on my chest and I was able to feel his weight on my heart and give him a few gross kisses.  I was able to see them cleaning him up and working on him from across the room.  I had such an amazing sense of pride for being able to push him out.  I felt like WOMAN!  I was IN the moment... it was in MY control.  I was the one that brought him into the world... all by myself... and that connected me to him in a way that nothing else would.
CS-  From the time they laid me on the table, to when Jonas was born, only 10 minutes had passed.  Because they set up a sheet in front of me, I could not see him being brought into the world.  I couldn't feel anything or see anything, so I was relying on my hearing.  When he came out and started crying, they brought him to my side so I could see his face.  Then the pulled him to the bed to clean and check him... this was out of my line of sight.  I had to remain on the table for an additional 20 minutes as they finished their job and closed me up.  Before they took Jonas to the NICU, they brought him by my face again so that I could see him.  I did not get to touch him for about 2 hours.  For me, the c-section made me feel detached from the birth.  Yes, he was born, but not by any effort of mine.  I didn't do a single thing, just lay on the table.  Nothing was in my control... I was completely in the hands of the doctors.  As a mother, you'll always feel happy at the birth of your child, but I did not feel the same sense of accomplishment or pride that I felt after Marco's birth.

Recovery:
Vag-  Luckily, I did not need any stitches after my delivery.  I tore a little, but the doctor did not see the need to stitch it up.  As the epidural wore off, I began to feel a throbbing soreness.  I could walk, but it felt like I had just ridden a horse for 3 months.  I sat down very carefully, and preferred soft cushy seats.  I was terrified to pee and poop.  The urine stung the first few times after delivery, but it got better.  The bleeding was relatively strong, lasting for 5 weeks.  By the time I left the hospital, I felt like myself.  The only medication I took after delivery was Tylenol, and was told not to have sex for 6 weeks.
CS- This has been a hard and slow recovery so far.  I can't imagine how people have multiple c-sections... they must REALLY want children.  Or how people CHOOSE to have a c-section... that's crazy!  My bleeding is less than it was with my vaginal delivery, but still pretty steady.  I have no pain down below, and have not been afraid to pee or poop.  But the pain in the incision is pretty strong.  Every time I sit, or stand, or reach, or bend, or cough, or laugh, or walk, I see the stars!  The first time I walked to the bathroom (12 hours after delivery), I thought I would scream!  It feels like I'm tearing myself, but thankfully I'm not.  Today is 6 days post-op and I am still in a good amount of pain.  I'm taking heavy pain medication every 6-8 hours that makes me drowsy.  I have been told not to drive for 2 weeks, not to have sex for 4 weeks and not to lift anything (including Marco) for 6 weeks.

The two experiences are so vastly different!  Even though I'm going through all this pain, I am grateful to have had both experiences.  I'm a more well rounded mother because of it... (not really, but it makes me feel better to think it).  I love both of my babies and would not take back one ounce of pain that I have gone and am going through for them.  Their beautiful faces are all I need to heal me completely.

Meet Jonas Jorge Avesani

If you've been keeping up with my blog, you've read how I was admitted to the hospital last week with pre-term labor.  I am so happy to announce that our second baby boy was born on Tuesday, September 28 at 11:24 am.  His name is Jonas Jorge Avesani... but you can call him JJ if you want.

The last time I posted, I was in a state of limbo.  The doctors didn't really know what plan of action to take and we were just waiting for my body to give us a sign as to what we should do.  Well, it did.  On Tuesday morning, after being off all meds for 24 hours, I awoke to a sharp pain, gush of blood and the onset of contractions.  These were the same exact symptoms I'd had when I was admitted to the hospital the Tuesday before.

The doctor came in to check me, and I was still at 1cm dilated. He was a bit concerned by my bleeding because it hadn't stopped and we still had not determined it's place of origin.  The contractions were not strong enough to even bother me, but I knew I was having them.  He ordered blood work to see what the results would be for my hemoglobin and other levels.  Within a half hour, the nurse arrived and said "Alright, let's go have a baby".  That's it.  No other explanations.  One minute we were undecided, the next I was being taken to the operating room.  I was still going to need a c-section because he was completely breeched.

They prepped me for surgery, talked over procedure with the anesthesiologist, and we were given paper scrubs to wear.
I know I look cool, calm and collected, but do not be fooled... I was nervous!  I've never had any kind of surgery before.  

When I was taken in to the OR, I was immediately given the spinal tap and started to feel the effects right away.  Before I knew it, I was numb up to my chest and my hands and fingers were tingly.  They put up a sheet in front of my face, so I couldn't see the gore.  It made me anxious not being able to see what was going on, but I'm sure they have their reasons.  I felt absolutely NO pain, but I did feel a lot of pressure, pulling and pushing.  About 10 minutes after laying down, I heard the cry of my beautiful darling. 

Being able to hear him cry was such an incredible relief.  As you may have read before, Marco did not cry when he was born... he only whimpered.  This was a sure sign to us that something was wrong.  When we heard Jonas wailing, we were so happy and knew that he was going to be a strong and healthy premie.  

They had a team of NICU doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists on hand to evaluate Jonas' condition right away.  They cleaned him up, showed him to me and took him off to the NICU.  This is one of the hardest parts about having a premie... you don't get to hold and love on him right at birth.  As a mother, your body cries out to hold your baby, but you can't. 

After they completed cleaning out my placenta and performing a tubal, they stitched me up and stapled me shut.  Then, I found out what happened.  Remember that up until this point I didn't know WHY they had all of a sudden wanted the baby out.  The doctor told me that I had a huge blood clot on the back side of the placenta.  This is why the ultra sounds couldn't pick it up.  They showed me my placenta (I saw Marco's too), and the front of it was a beautiful meaty red.  The back side was slimy and black... the clot was covering most of the back.  According to the doctor, it was only a matter of a day or so, and my placenta could have detached, causing hemorrhaging and possibly death of the baby and myself.  This is called a Placental Abruption.  He said that I would have experienced a lot of pain, followed by a pint of blood spilling out onto the floor.  At that point it would have been an emergency situation and the end result could have been devastating.  

Jonas was 3.7 pounds and 15 3/4 inches long at birth.  He was placed in the NICU and given the c-pap, which is a mask that blows air into the nose to help encourage breathing.  He was on the c-pap for less than 24 hours!  He's had to be on light therapy for the past two days because he is slightly jaundiced, but this is expected with premies.  Basically, the biggest concern is his feedings.  Right now he's being fed through a tube that goes down his nose, throat and into his belly.  He started off at a very low amount of breast milk (4 ml), and will increase gradually till he's at 1 oz (30 ml).  Today he was at 7, so we're working on it.  Once he's taking the full ounce every 3 hours, they will pull out the tube and try to bottle feed.  Premies typically do not know how to coordinate suck-swallow-breathe, so it may take a while.  Once he's able to bottle feed, they will call me in to breast feed.  He can go home once they are certain that he can breast or bottle feed for all of his feedings successfully.  This seems like a cinch, but could actually take weeks to master.  They have told us that most babies go home close to their due dates... that would be in 9 weeks.  Our babies are little miracles, and I know it'll be sooner than that. 

I am so amazed by God's power and control in our lives.  He is always one step ahead!  He always manages to blow us away with the way He takes control of our lives and releases all stress and burden.  I am so comforted by His love and power. I know that BOTH of my babies are living miracles and that his hand is always holding onto them.  

Jonas
Mauricio is demonstrating how large his head is, between his middle finger and thumb.  His head is about the size of an orange.
Don't tell me I look tired... this was 6 hours after being sliced!