Monday, May 26, 2008

Life right now

How is it possible that our little Kristen is already ten weeks old today? Although she was our fourth baby, I felt like such a brand new parent when we finally brought her home from the hospital. I worried all the time. Was she too cold? Too warm? Was I feeding her enough? Too much? Would she suddenly stop breathing if I actually dared to sleep at night? I questioned everything and no longer trusted my maternal instincts. Although we had always, in the past, been very strong proponents of the attachment style of parenting, we basically kept Kristen on the same rigid schedule she had followed in the nursery for the four weeks preceding her homecoming. Her pediatrician had me adding a precise measurement of formula to expressed breast milk to feed her every four hours, which I did unfailingly, even setting the alarm at regular intervals during the night so as not to miss a feeding. But it all felt so unnatural to me, so unfamiliar. And it was exhausting. One night after carefully washing all of my pump supplies and bottle feeding paraphernalia, I thought to take a picture of it drying there on the counter. Is this the image of a healthy breastfeeding relationship? I thought not either:

And so I sort of rebelled, a little. I began increasing the amount of nursing in between bottle feedings, and then began skipping the scheduled bottle feedings altogether. It just all seemed a little ridiculous to me; why go to all the trouble of pumping, which was clearly just not working well for me, only to feed her the milk from a bottle later? Slowly, I began to regain the confidence I had lacked and listened more to my instincts and Kristen's needs than doctor's orders. And Kristen seemed to be thriving! The truly telling point, however, came when we had her most recent weight check...she's over 7 pounds now, and the pediatrician was pleased with her weight gain! I am thrilled to report that my trusty old Medela Pump In Style (purchased when Dylan was an infant...this link is actually to a newer model) has sat abandoned in the corner of my bedroom for the past several weeks now and Kristen actually goes days at a time without any type of supplementation. We no longer set an alarm at night, and she has actually been sleeping most often in our bed, where we share together the joy of night time nursing just as I did with her older brother and sisters.

She is still receiving caffeine, which we're told she'll most likely outgrow the need for by the time she's four months old, but in all ways she is just the picture of health! She's outgrown all of her preemie clothes and is now wearing mostly size newborn and a few size 0-3 months. I'm so excited to see that it probably won't be much longer before the smallest cloth diapers we bought will fit her!

And I'm trying really hard not to be so overprotective of her. She actually had quite a busy weekend! We've been very reluctant to take her anywhere for fear of germs, and in fact, aside from several doctor visits and one trip to the hospital lab, she had only been to church twice (she made her debut on Mother's Day--her original due date!). But we all really wanted to go to the bookstore on Friday (it was Darren's day off), and so we figured that, being a weekday, it probably wouldn't be too crowded. We were right! We had the children's room to ourselves, and when Kristen began to fuss, there was the nice, cushy, swivel rocker (used by the storyteller on Saturday mornings) right there to sit and nurse her! She went to Mass for the third time on Sunday, where she was an absolute angel, and today, quite impulsively, we made a quick trip to Lowe's for grass seed and some canvas storage boxes. She is really such a good baby. Here are a few recent pictures from the many hundreds I take each day. :)

Here she is napping against my shoulder in bed a few days ago. I love her peaceful expression in the first photo, but also really like the half smile in the second. So you get them both:

And here she is just hanging out in her Baby Papasan seat. She likes it quite well.

My days are busy, full and long, but I try to embrace every second of them. Time is just passing so quickly. My mom will return to Florida in a couple of weeks, and I'll return to work soon after. "Normal", for us, will soon be changing again. But I think I'm ready for it; or, at least, the thought of change isn't quite as terrifying as I thought it might be. This is life at it's best. We are so blessed.


Matilda said...

Thank you for the update on you and baby Kristen! Those pictures are just gorgeous! I love her little smile.

Blair said...

So glad to hear things are going well. I've been hoping for an update on your little beauty! And congrats to Dylan (and you) on a year well done!

Lillian said...

She looks beautiful and healthy!! Yeah for motherly instinct!! You seem to be doing a great job!

Jen said...

I always knew that you both would have a big hump to get over, but once you got over it, things would get easier. Even though David was only four weeks early, I remember those horrible early nursing days with the dreaded pump. I wanted to chuck it off my deck after a few months! I did what you did, and, 18 months later we are still nursing. :-) It was so wonderful to read that she's in bed with you now, close next to Momma. Those night nursings are something I wouldn't trade for the world. I am so, so happy for you all. Life seems to be returning back to normal, but you'll find your new "normal" is something more wonderful than you ever could have dreamed of. God Bless you and your beautiful little one!

Michelle said...

I have been following your blog for a while now. I"m not sure how I found it, but the preemie pictures and stories of your new little darling caught my eye. Congratulations on having her home with you. I'm curious how you manage to work, and homeschool your children? You see I am a live-in nanny who homeschools one of my charges. You can follow my blog at

Jill said...

Beautiful pictures. What a sweetheart. Nursing twins was also something that I had to 'do on my own' so to speak. The doctors told me many things, and all I could do was trust my instincts. The chubby duo never had to have a bottle for over a year. :)
It is hard to believe that she is 10 weeks already. Somehow the 4th baby seems to grow up faster than the rest. ;)
Lots of love to your beautiful bunch.

Michelle said...

You rebel. Glad you were able to chuck the doctor's orders and nurse her exclusively. What joy.

Laura said...

The photos of Kristen are precious!
I'm glad you went with your "Mommy feelings" and are now nursing Kristen the way you want and she needs :)

It was great to hear from you. I appreciated your comment so much!

I like your new look. It must be so much easier to care for shorter hair :)
Take care of yourself and your little cuties!

Nicole said...

Your baby is beautiful! Thank you for this daughter is curently in the NICU, not feeding, but when she does it will begin slowly with a bottle. Not having bottle-fed any of my previous babies, I was worrying how this transition from bottle feeding to hopefully fully breastfeeding was going to go. Your post gives me much hope, as well as a conversation with the lacation consultant today. God Bless you and your family!

Nicole H.

Celeste said...

Melissa, I have been so painfully absent and so terribly busy. I am slow these days but I am still here. I am reading and thinking about you and praying. I will email soon!