First attempt

Our first attempt at taking one-month pictures did not work out so well. You ended up being in a bad mood. We took a break and got some better ones later but I still thought these were cute:


One Month

Dear Lucy,

You turned one month old on Sunday! When I look back on this past month, it was not at all what I expected and while in some ways it seems just yesterday that you were born, in other ways so much has happened that I can't believe it was only a month ago that you were born. But through everything, you have been my little joy in life. One of my favorite songs to sing to you is "You are my Sunshine" and it is true, bad things may be all around but you are a happy little ray of light to the whole family.

You are still an "easy" baby. You are getting more and more alert every day and love to look around. You really like faces now. I was told you liked mine more than anyones but it wasn't until this past week that I could tell. You also really like curtains. I'm not sure why but maybe it has to do with the contrast between them and the wall? Your hitting your milestones perfectly (or maybe slightly ahead :-) You can hold your head up quite well for a few seconds before you get tired. You can track things across the midline. You can bring your hands together and are getting better and better about finding your hands to suck on. You still can't hold onto your thumb or fingers very long but I'm trying to stick that one out and avoid the pacifier. It's getting hard though.

You haven't had a "real" smile yet if by "real" you mean a social smile but you do smile when you are happy and I don't really see why smiling back at someone is more real than smiling because you are happy. You smile in the morning when you wake up. You love mornings.

You smile during bath time. I think getting a bath is one of your favorite things. Baths in the sink are okay but we both like baths together best. I like them because I feel I've got your held more securely and we don't make quite as big of a mess. I think you like them because the water is deeper and your tummy doesn't get cold. You had only cooed once or twice before your last bath but you were just talking away once we put you in the water last time. The sounds you make are so much fun to listen to.

It's a good thing you like baths since we will be having to take them fairly often to make sure your face is cleaned off. You have an awful case of baby acne. I know it doesn't hurt you and it's not like you are self conscious about it but it looks so bad. As long as I only take pictures of you in cold places when it isn't so red, I can probably get away without photoshopping you. Photoshopping baby skin seems wrong.

You also really like to be massaged. I borrowed a book about it and it says most babies don't like it at first but you did right from the start. The book is confusing and I can only figure out a couple of the techniques but you love the few I can do. I use coconut oil so afterwards we call you our popcorn baby.

You are growing like a weed. You are 21 inches long. I don't have access to a baby scale here like I do back in our town but you were 9lbs, 3oz when I weighed you over a week ago and according to the adult scale (using the old "Craig+Baby"-"Craig alone" trick) you weigh 11 lbs (or at least 10.5 if you factor in rounding). I don't think that is right but I'd guess you are at least 10lbs. You have already grown out of your newborn clothes and some 0-3 month clothes (why do Gerber clothes run so small?) but that was just a good excuse for Grandma to buy you more clothes since I was not thinking about you growing when I packed for this trip. You are still in newborn diapers but they are getting pretty snug. I'm hoping you can make it through this week with them since that is all we have until we go home.

Considering how much you've grown, it shouldn't be a surprise that you are a big fan of eating too. I was prepared for 6-8 challenging weeks of nursing before we got everything figured out but by 2 weeks, you were a pro and we haven't had any problems since. And I've finally figured out some of your early hunger cues so you don't even have to start screaming to get your meal anymore. You still don't eat very well when we are out and about but I think that is because I don't have my pillow and you can feel my tension. I'm sure with more practice we will get there.

And last but not least, you love to sleep. People always ask if you sleep through the night and I hate to say no because it really doesn't show how great a sleeper you are. If you get your normal long afterenoon nap, you'll be happy in the evening then go to sleep around 7 or 8 and stay in "night time" mode until 8 or 9 the next morning, only waking up long enough to eat and be changed then passing out again without a peep. You had been waking up every 2-3 hour but have recently started having a nice 4-5 hr stretch in the middle of the night. If you miss your afternoon nap or take a bunch of short naps instead, it takes a bit of swaddling, bouncing, and singing to get your to go down in the beginning but even then, once you are down, your down for the night. And I'd much rather deal with a cranky baby at 9pm than 2am so I'm okay with that. But as long as you have a full tummy and an empty diaper, your pretty much happy. And I'm pretty much happy with you too!


Playing Pollyanna

Whew, a lot has happened since I last posted (those cloth diaper posts were scheduled). Craig's parents came last weekend to visit us and meet Lucy. We had a great time and sometime in the future when life is less crazy, I'll tell you about it and post some pictures. But on Monday they left to drive back to North Dakota, taking me and Lucy to my parents on the way.

I was really nervous about taking a 5 hr long drive with Lucy but she did great. She slept 2.5 hrs, ate while we got gas and took a snack break then slept another 2.5 hrs. That afternoon she did was overwhelmed and did nothing but fuss and eat to make up for it but that was okay. Better to be crying in my arms that in a car seat.

But as soon as we got to my parents, my dad came home with good news. The second opinion doctor they had been talking to had received my mom's files and said that surgery might be an option but she had to see my mom in Texas at 8:30 the next morning. Since my mom is still recovering from the last brain surgery, she can't fly which means they need to leave ASAP on a 12 hr drive to the hospital. Throwing things in a suitcase, they took off just a few hours after I got there. It wasn't exactly what we had planned and I was hoping to spend more time with my mom but I'm really glad that this is happening. If the surgery is possible, her prognosis is much better.

But I gotta tell ya, the last few days have been hard. Taking care of a newborn is tiring. Taking care of a newborn by yourself is exhausting. Taking care of a newborn by yourself while house/cat/dog-sitting and trying to help your 16-year old brother manage intense emotions (you know, the ones he won't talk about because he is a 16 year old boy) while trying to process through those same emotions yourself is pretty much brutal. I've wanted to chuck a shoe at our stupid cat that is used to being fed at 4:30am but overall, I'm glad it worked out this way. If I had known this was going to happen, I probably would have stayed home, but I'm glad I'm here to be with my little brother. This has been hard on me and I can't even imagine him trying to be here by himself. Plus, it's nice for me to have him around too. He is one of two other people who are going through the same thing I am.

And Lucy and I are managing. I've gotten food on the table and laundry done every day which is a miracle (I just heated up food our nice friends and neighbors have brought but still!) and I figured out that Lucy will sleep longer in her vibrating bouncy seat if I cover her legs with my old stinky clothes instead of a nice clean receiving blanket. This enabled me to take my first shower since Monday and now to write this post.

Of course, that couldn't be everything right? So last night Craig called to tell me he was in a car accident. He is fine but the car - not so much. I haven't heard the final result but in the opinion of the police man and the tow truck driver, it was not going to make it. I'm naturally an optimistic person but even I struggled to find the good in this. Yet I prevailed. For one, Craig is okay. He might be sore today but he'll survive. Secondly, Lucy and I weren't there. I start to hyperventilate even thinking about her being in the car. Third, we had been going back and forth about buying a new car anyway and I guess this just made up our mind for us.

So I think I've done pretty good so far trying to replicate Pollyanna's philosophy in my life. But if God wants to hold off on giving me any more opportunities to find something to be glad about for just a little while, I'd be okay with that too.


Cloth on a Newborn? Part 2

So what exactly have I been using with Lucy? Well, I started with:

2 dozen Cloth-eez newborn size unbleached: Cloth-eez prefolds are only available from Green Mountain Diapers. They come in more sizes than the typical blue/green prefolds you see other places but are supposed to be the top of the line in quality and more sizes means a better fit. Some people say you can go straight to a infant/small prefold and skip the newborn size. That would mean you save about $40 but I wouldn't unless you are really sure your babe is gonna be big. At 7lbs, 14 oz, Lucy was a fairly average-sized baby and the newborns fit nicely and will probably continue to fit for a while longer. I think the infant size would have been huge on her. Two dozen is enough to get us through two days so if we wash every night we have plenty of time to let them dry in the sun.

Five Covers: I have three different cover types. While I definitely have my preferences, I have to say that they have all functioned well and we haven't had any out of covers leaks.

Prowraps, Newborn size (hook and loops): At $7.75 and coming only in white, prowraps are a basic and boring but inexpensive cover. They work well and were the only one of my covers to have an umbilical scoop so they were my favorite for the first week but now that Lucy is 3 weeks old and approaching 9lbs, they are getting a big snug. They still fit, it's just harder to make sure the prefold is tucked.

- I got the retro pattern but while it's cute, it's my least favorite cover. It's really big and runs high on the waist. Plus having to mess with both a snap and the velcro is weird. It might be nice if you have a toddler who wants to take off their diaper but with a newborn it is just annoyingly slow. Having said that, I do like how the inside feels and the newborn size is supposed to work up to 14lbs so I might like it more when she moves to the larger prefolds or with my small fitteds.

Thirsties Due Size 1 (one hook/loop, one snap) - These are my favorite. They worked well from the start and have only gotten better. They seem to be the best quality of all three, the fabric is nice and they have laundry tabs. They don't have an umbilical scoop but when I tucked the prefold down, the cover was high enough off her skin that it didn't touch and wasn't an issue. They are large and high enough that the prefold easily fits inside but don't seem to swallow her up and feel trim. I like both the velcro and snaps. The velcro is faster and you can get a more precise fit but the snaps seem like they will have more longevity. Right now Lucy needs the waist to be in 5 snaps which unfortunately means I have to go two in on one side and three on the other. It doesn't effect performance but my OCD side doesn't like it at all. But if you are breastfeeding and doing a lot of skin to skin contact, the snaps are nicer. Sometimes velcro can rub mom uncomfortable. I never would have though about that pre-baby , but it does happen. And while at $12.25 they may seem more expensive, once you consider that size 1 will replace both a newborn and size small cover, they are actually a really frugal option. Plus, they come in cute colors and patterns! If I had to do it all over again, I would probably go with all Thirsties covers for a newborn.


Cloth on a Newborn? Part 1

When we first decided to cloth diaper, I was definitely not going to start right away. It sounded very stressful and I wanted to give my new-mom self a break. I thought I would be overwhelmed with everything else and didn't want to stress about "tricky" cloth diapers. And buying a whole set just for 6 weeks didn't seem financially worth it. I knew the infant prefolds would be too bulky and even pocket diapers that say they work for 8lbs+ don't work well with newborn chicken legs. Even bigger babies need a few weeks to fatten up first. And even many die hard cloth diaper lovin' mamas say to just use disposable at first.

But as time went on, I was less and less happy with the idea of using disposables. Finances were still a factor but health and not exposing my baby to chemicals was becoming increasingly important to me. So I calculated the cost, it would be about $80 for 2 dozen newborn prefolds and several covers. Plus two of the covers I was planning on getting anyway (Thirsties size 1). That is about what the disposable diapers I would have used would cost for 6 weeks so I figured we would break even on the first kid and since they would barely be used, they would still have lots of life left. I still worried that it would be too much for me to handle and I would end up buying disposables and wasting my money but figured it was worth a shot.

So the very first diaper we put on Lucy was cloth.
And we have never looked back. They aren't hard at all. Yes, we Craig does have to run a load of diapers every night but the machine does the work so it only takes 5 minutes. Then he leaves them to dry out in the sun or I toss them in the dryer. And I never have to worry about running out of diapers and having to send Craig to the store.

And we only had a leak issue one time, with the second diaper - apparently trifolding and meconium don't mix. But even then it didn't get out of the cover and after that we switched to the jelly roll fold and haven't had any problems. Even when the sounds coming from her abdominal area make me think that surely we will.

Speaking of meconium, I know that is one reason many people choose not to use cloth right away, but it really isn't a big deal. At first I used liners I had made by cutting up an old t-shirt. That was nice since I could pick up the bulk and just toss the whole thing but my milk didn't come in until later so we were dealing with meconium until day 8 and I got tired of that. So I just stopped using them and figured I would just have to live with stains. But I didn't have to because the sun works wonders on stains. A few hours laying out and they disappear. Even yucky meconium ones. And if you are left with a stubborn stain or two, is that a big deal? I mean, they are only diapers!

And yes, prefolds and covers are not the most advanced diapering system out there but with the aid of a snappi, it works well and they are not nearly as tricky as some would lead you to believe. I always hear the new systems say they are great for "grandparents, babysitters and dads" who can't handle prefolds. I get babysitters and grandparents because they probably won't be changing a ton of cloth diapers and you don't want to have to show them how every three months they come visit but if a guy can tie his shoes, he can master the prefold/snappi concept. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against pockets or all-in-ones. I have a few and am excited about using them when Lucy's a bit bigger but it seems a bit demeaning to suggest that men can't handle prefolds.

So if you are wondering whether newborn cloth diapering is worth it, I say yes!


Update on my mom

My mom made it through her biopsy and is recovering! Hopefully she will be able to go home from the hospital in the next day or two. It also seems like we have worked out a plan as to how I can go visit early next week which is great, I feel so helpless here. I'm not sure how much more helpful I will be once I am there but I just want to be with my family anyway. My mom and dad have set up a CaringBridges page which will have further updates although I'm sure I will be talking about it a lot here. That's about it as I have a million emails and phone calls to return.


Prayer Request

Things with Lucy are still going well and I wish I could say my life in general is too, but the truth is, it's not.

My parents and little brother came to town last weekend with the plan that my mom was going to stay here with me this week and help out. But over the weekend her hand and face starting going numb. A trip to the local ER showed that it wasn't a stroke but something showed up on the CAT scan they did. She cut her trip short to go home and have more tests done and it turns out she has an brain tumor. Right now we are still waiting to get more results but her symptoms are getting worse and they are saying it is not operable. The next few days should bring a biopsy, its results and hopefully a plan for chemo/radiation but that is about all I know.

Right now I think my whole family is a bit shell shocked since this is all happening so fast. I feel like I've experienced almost every emotion possible these last few days and I don't really know what to think or feel. But the one thing we do know is that God is in control. He knows her situation when we do not and He loves her more than we do, even though I'm not sure my family knows how that is possible because we love her a lot!

Today is her biopsy which is also brain surgery so we will be praying that it goes smoothly and her recovery goes well. We would love it if you would be praying, too.


Survival Journal 2 week update - Those really aren't mutually exclusive

Bobby McFerin must have written Don't Worry, Be Happy before he had his kids because otherwise he would have known that it is entirely possible to have both of those emotions at once. The last two weeks have been full of joy and happiness for us because just as we knew she would be, Lucy is the best and most beautiful baby in the entire world. But I would still say that 90% of the time, especially the first week, my dominant emotion was worry. Not that anything is wrong.

Breastfeeding has been going pretty well. I'm lucky that I haven't had any "real" problems but it is still hard and I worry. Soon we will go back to the midwife for a two week checkup and I'll see how much she has gained which will hopefully ease my mind a bit.

Nights are going well too. She sleeps 2-3 hours, wakes up, eats then goes back to sleep. Now that I've gotten the hang of nursing while lying down, I don't really feel very sleep deprived at all since we go to bed early, sleep late and take a nice nap every afternoon. But since she loves her sleep so much, sometimes she doesn't wake up on her own. Most of the time when I wake her, she'll come to enough to eat before going back to sleep but every once in a while she just won't have any of it and then of course, I worry she will starve. This is highly unlikely but still, I worry.

Her cord fell off on day 6. It wasn't totally healed and of course - I worried. But rest assured, your babies internal organs don't start seeping out if that happens. No, this is a common occurrence and the doctor will just give you a little antibiotic ointment to put on it for a couple days as a infection prevention measure and all will be well again.

This week, I'm gaining confidence. Yesterday was Craig's first day back at work and Lucy and I survived a day just the two of us. It was a long day but we made it. And while she has always been fairly alert, sometimes she is actually awake and not hungry now so we play together. Playing involves me looking at her and talking and her kinda looking at/around me and not crying. She also love Baby Tai Chi which is what I call it when she moves her hands and watches them. It's fun. Tonight is her first big social outing since we will be attending our Bradley class reunion. The only places we have been the last two weeks have been the doctor's and a local baby shop* that has lactation consultants on staff so I'm pretty excited about it.

And since we can't possible have a Lucy post without pictures, here are a few of my favorites from last week.

* Shout out to Kangaroo Kids, if you live in the area, they are the best!


Foreign Affairs: Fun with Flotillas

In regards to the Israeli incident out in the Mediterranean this week, I have no sympathy for the so-called humanitarians on board the boats.  They didn't set out to help needy people; they wanted to instigate an incident.  If they had wanted to merely deliver food, they would have found another way. The fact that they assaulted the Israeli soldiers who rappelled down to the ship during the raid proves this.  I also believe Israel has the right to a) blockade Gaza and b) stop this ship for trying to contravene the blockade.

That being the case, though, Israel did not handle the situation well, to say the least.  In fact, they played into the hands of those on the ships.  Israel's leaders knew what the flotilla was all about, they knew the world was watching, and they knew the international community and the press dislikes them and would not give Israel the benefit of the doubt when reporting this story.  So there was no way raiding the ship was going to turn out well, from a PR perspective, which is the only perspective that matters here.

I'm not sure what the best way to proceed would have been.  Fred Kaplan at Slate reviews the raid critically from a tactical and strategic perspective.  One other option would have been to disable the ship (say, take out the propeller) and tow it into port.  But a commando raid seems ill-advised.

People have expressed awe that Israel would act with such impudence.  Like I said, though, Israel was in line for international condemnation no matter what it did.  That being the case, why should they bother with appeasing the rest of the world?

There are, however, some considerations Israel has to make.  The first of these is the United States.  Obama has already shown that he is willing to distance the US from Israel.  An act such as this gives Obama cover to further distance us from them, should he so choose.  We provide assistance to Israel in the form of money, weapons, Security Council vetoes, and public support.  These benefits are in danger, especially the last two.

Second is Turkey.  As a Muslim nation, and one that has the potential to influence events in Syria and Iran, they have been an important ally.  Since the ship that was attacked was full of Turkish people, and this flotilla was at least partly organized in Turkey, Turkey isn't too happy.  Of course, they knew that their role in this incident wouldn't please Israel.  It appears that Turkey wants to sever their relationship with Israel, and this incident will help that along nicely.  This will help Turkey, with its growing influence, to take a greater leadership role in its part of the world.  It will gain greater street cred, so to speak, from Middle Eastern countries.

Third is the Iran issue.  The international community hasn't showed a whole lot of urgency in regards to Iran nukes.  Israel more than anyone has reason to be concerned about said nukes, and with the international community's sympathy for Israel decreasing by the day, the likelihood of any concrete action on Iran is reduced.

Fourth is the Gaza blockade.  Israel will probably have to get rid of it.  Egypt, which had closed its border with Gaza, opened it up after the incident.  Although Israel is normally indifferent to world opinion, they might have to give in on Gaza, especially if, as is planned, a large number of boats make new attempts to break the blockade.

In the end, while some will attempt to defend Israel and argue that they had every right to do what they did, it will be for naught.  The international community has made up its mind, and this event will only hurt Israel.

UPDATE: Here's a video about the reporting of the incident that was passed along to me.


"Tour to Puke" sounds more like it to me.

Our local newspaper printed its summer guide last week. We're pretty excited about it. This is the closest that Craig and I as a couple have lived to a big city and there is really a ton of stuff to do here. Obviously a lot of the activities won't really be feasible with a newborn but I've been going through and making a list of the ones that we might be able to handle, especially those in August and September. Free summer concerts in the park where we can spread out a blanket and relax but easily leave if baby gets too fussy, local fairs or festivals that we can walk around for a little bit but head out when we get too hot and cranky, things like that.

One activity that we won't be attending is the Tour de Donut. It's a 32 mile bike ride in July. At 10 and 20 miles there are stops where you can rest and eat donuts. Every donut you eat takes 5 minutes off your time.

Is it me or does that sound like the worst idea ever? Let's count the reasons why:

1) I like bike riding but 32 miles? Yuck!
2) In July? It's hot in July. Yuck!
3) Eating massive amounts* of hot glazed donuts when you are all hot and sweaty. Then trying to ride more. Yuck!

But for my Texas friends, if you aren't like me and think this actually sounds like fun but can't come visit us, don't despair. There is a spin-off Tour de Donut in Katy, Texas, called "The Sweetest Bike Ride in Texas."

*Looking at the results, it really does seem like to be a contender, you have to be willing to pack them in. The top 5 racers ate between 22-30 donuts each. The bottom 17 ate 0-1 donuts each.