Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Time Capsule

I'm planning to make a time capsule of Valerie's first year, for her to open when she turns 11. At that point she can add things to it, and we can close it up until she turns 21. It sounds fun to me anyway!

Here are some things I am thinking about including - please send me your suggestions!
- the little pink hat and socks I knit for her while I was in the hospital
- her cord stump (yes, we still have it!)
- a lock of her hair
- the Pat the Bunny book she has chewed up and otherwise loved to death
- the little shirt she wore home from the hospital
- a little bell she used to play with until the enamel started chipping off
- the Ithaca Journal from her birthday
- an Obama button I have
- a letter from me
- letters from anybody else who wants to (Grandmas?) :-)
- birth announcement from Ithaca Journal, also in church bulletin
- congratulations cards

What else? What else?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Remembering Last Year

This weekend last year, I had just moved back into my apartment after 3 weeks of bathroom renovation. Terry was about to get back from a teaching trip to Belize. I was 33 weeks along and getting really excited, thinking about how soon we might meet our baby - turned out it was sooner than I even expected! But not a moment too soon.

I never blogged about the actual series of events that led to my 3-week hospital bedrest, mostly because I had been giving family and friends e-mail and phone updates along the way. But then I started putting updates on the blog because there were just too many concerned people out there to keep them all updated individually.

Here is what I wrote on Monday, April 21, to the women who were planning my baby shower for the following weekend in Harrisonburg (I also went back and inserted it as a post in last year's archive):

So we're having a little (too much) excitement here - Friday night my feet were so swollen, that I decided to check my blood pressure. We bought a little home monitor back in December but I haven't really been using it since bp seemed to be back to normal during the whole second trimester. Well, it read really high again - around 160/110. They had told me that over 90 was cause for concern. So I took the day off on Saturday and just kept my feet up and drank a lot of water. Sunday Terry got back from Belize, and we went to a childbirth class. But still the blood pressure stayed high and the low-grade headache I'd had all weekend got really bad Sunday night. So this morning I called the ob/gyn, and they had me come in for b/p check and urine test. Even though the urine test was negative for protein, the b/p was still really high - 150/100. They recommended keeping me at the hospital overnight for 24 hours monitoring, and Terry thought that was a good idea so here I am! Thankfully they have wireless.

The good news is that the baby is doing great - they monitored the heartbeat for a couple hours, and also did an ultrasound so we could see all the parts again - it was cool because Terry hadn't seen any of the previous ones. It's growing right on track, moving vigorously, and seems not at all stressed out. Also, by 2 p.m. my blood pressure had dropped to something like 120/84, which is much much better. But I'm to stay here until tomorrow morning while they collect all my urine to check for enzymes.

I guess there has been a lot going on recently; the end of the semester always stresses me out, plus the remodeling of our bathroom has disrupted our routine and made kind of a mess in the apartment. Add to that all the baby things that are piling up, unassembled and chaotic - it's like a constant reminder of how much our lives are going to change, but without the feeling of preparedness, because it's all just a jumble. And I was worrying about Terry and all the travel and work he has going on. So maybe I just needed a "Time Out." Hopefully all is well and I can resume a regular schedule by Wednesday. They'll decide by tomorrow noon-ish. I really really hope I can come but will keep you posted either way. Take care, and big hugs from me - EEP

Brace yourself for lots more reminiscing in the four weeks to come until Valerie's first birthday...!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tick Talk

Last night I was putting a little bow in Valerie's hair, when I noticed a dark spot on her scalp, that looked kind of rough and shiny and bumpy at the same time. At first I thought it was a scab, because she'd bumped her head on the underside of the table earlier in the day. I looked closer and realized it was a TICK. A huge, horrible, nasty, disgusting, gross, revolting, ugly, TICK. I, um, sort of freaked out and called Terry; Valerie started crying because I was upset, but I calmed down and calmed her down as I checked on the internet for how to remove ticks.

It's not like I've never dealt with ticks before, but there's just something upsetting about seeing a blood-sucking parasite attached your baby's HEAD!!!!!

When Terry got home, he held her still while I applied tweezers and lifted off the offending creature. It took several tries because I didn't want to squeeze it too hard, but hard enough to get good traction. Finally got it out. We threw it in the trash, but then went to fish it out later to preserve for possible testing. When we went to look for it, we found it CRAWLING UP THE WALL. OH MY GOSH IT WAS SO GROSS. This time we flicked it into an empty plastic container, which we duct-taped shut and put in the freezer.

Then I gave Valerie a bath, and washed her hair really really well. With a real, not proverbial, fine-toothed comb. No more ticks were found.

I called the pediatrician this morning and she said that the big ticks are dog ticks and don't carry Lyme disease, but if we notice a sudden-onset fever and crying to call them. It can be 2-12 days before symptoms show up. A friend then told me this morning that ticks can live for SIX MONTHS without feeding. We actually probably picked it up last week at her house, because she lives on a farm near the woods and has two outdoor dogs.

I checked Valerie's scalp very carefully this morning in good light, and the spot where the tick was attached just had a tiny, light-colored scab; no redness or swelling whatsoever. But I'll keep an eye on it anyway.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Eleven Months Old!

Valerie! You are eleven months old today! I measured you a few days ago and you are 29 inches long. You have grown more than 10 inches since you were born, and you probably weigh around 20 lbs. - almost 15 lbs more than when you were born (holy cow!).
These days, you are really into books. You pull them off the bookshelf a handful at a time until you see the one you want, then sit down to read it. You not only turn the pages in the correct direction, but you have recently figured out which way is right side up - and you consistently rotate the book you are reading so it is the right way up. Your favorites right now are all the Dr. Seuss books, the Priddy books (which I usually "read" to you in Spanish), anything that has pictures of babies, and just recently Hug, which was a gift from Tia Rosanne. A few months ago you suddenly developed an intense interest in Pat the Bunny (a gift from your great-aunt Cathie), which has now been loved to death:
You have figured out how to crawl up and (gulp!) down steps, and cruise regularly around the furniture. Occasionally you'll stand unsupported for a few seconds, but only if you're not thinking about it. You continue to eat a variety of foods with enthusiasm (although yoghurt was an epic FAIL), nurse well, and sleep.... a bit better.

Here you are, then and now:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Bit Hazy

Yesterday afternoon around 5 I put my head down on my keyboard and cried, because the entire essay I'd been working on all week was crap. Kind of like when you hold up the sweater you've been knitting away at for, like, ever, and you realize that you've failed to get gauge and it's way to small/big/ugly to ever wear. I texted Terry and he called right back and within a few hours he'd helped me figure out a different approach to kind of reframe what I'd been writing about. I tried it and it actually worked... so I'm 2 days past when the essay was due, but I will turn it in tonight. The prof said I could go over.

These exams are like some kind of crazy hazing ritual. Like when Anita and Phoebe had made up this game called "Bloompes," and I so wanted to be a Bloompe too, but in order to become one I had to run up and down the Banana Patch trail (between the main road and the print shop). No big deal, except that to provide traction for motorcycles during rainy season they'd spread crushed bricks all over the trail. And we went everywhere barefoot. Have you ever walked across crushed bricks barefoot? OUCH is all I have to say about that. Only rubber nut shells were sharper. It was worth it though, to subsequently be permitted to make (imaginary) stomach bag beezle nut pickle nut brew, collect golden cups (a certain kind of yellow flower), and do arm piggy-wiggy (if you have to ask you obviously were not a Bloompe).

Now I want to be a PhD candidate so I have to write these punishing essays. No big deal, except that about a month from now I'll be sitting in front of a panel of my advisor, two committee memebers, and a field representative for the oral defense. SCARY, is all I have to say about that. It will hopefully be worth it, though, to subsequently be permitted to conduct original field research, write and defend a dissertation, and earn the title of Doctor Phelps. Mmmmm... yeah, that sounds pretty cool to me.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

I think Easter is my favorite holy-day of the year; better than Christmas.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

CIO days 2 and 3

It's getting better. Last night she fell asleep in TWO MINUTES, on her own in the crib. Although she woke intermittently through the night, she'd just complain a little bit and fall asleep again, never long enough for us to even get up at all. I did a wake-to-sleep nursing at 4 a.m., and Terry settled her down at around 6, and then she slept more or less until 7:30!

The only downside was that after 4 a.m. neither Terry nor I could fall asleep again. I thought of the irony that we're trying to get Valerie to learn to fall asleep on her own when we can't even do it ourselves! Some stretching, massage, and counting sheep eventually worked. I was pretty tense all night though.

I have to say that the second night we had a rough start. I put her down before she was ready and she screamed so hard she threw up - all over her pajamas, the crib, the floor... As soon as I ran in and picked her up and took off her dirty clothes she was fine. Happy and ready to play. Terry cleaned up the room while I changed and cleaned her up, then we started bedtime routine all over again and that time she was fine. I waited a little longer before putting her down. She cried for 20 minutes before falling asleep; during that time we spoke to her I think 3x. She woke intermittently through the night, but didn't have any really long waking periods. I nursed her at 3:30 or so. I also made the mistake of going in to her at 6:30; I thought she was awake for the day, but she fell asleep in my arms until 7:15.

So all in all this method seems to extend her sleep longer as well. But it may not be as deep of sleep, because yesterday she napped for a total of 4 hours when usually she does about 3.

Well, I guess I should get back to work...

Thursday, April 09, 2009


I'm so tired that it's hard to think. I'm writing here in hopes that writing something - even a blog post - will get the juices flowing for my essay exam.

I had to give co-sleeping one more shot. Terry was exhausted, so I spent two nights in the mattress in Valerie's room with her. It... really didn't go well. After talking with my sister, I was wondering if the memory foam mattress was the problem, the reason why it was hard for me to sleep while side-lying nursing at night. Well, that question has been answered conclusively - it's not the mattress. In fact, my previous hunch was confirmed - she and I just keep waking each other up. I had a single 4-hour stretch of uninterrupted sleep each night; the rest was waking just about every half hour.

So last night we turned to the "big guns" - the Dreaded CIO, or "cry-it-out." We had agreed on a protocol - go to the door and reassure her with our voices and ever-increasing intervals, starting at one minute. (Last night we did 1-3-5-5-5-10- and then she fell asleep.) It went better than I expected - she fell asleep in half an hour, and didn't wake up again until midnight (4.5 hours later). That time she went to sleep in 15 minutes. At 2:30 she stirred and said "waa" for less than a minute, then was asleep again - we didn't have to do anything. But from 4:30-5:30 she was awake and not happy about it. She did these little intermittent complaint-cries, while kneeling in her crib with her head leaning against the slats, almost asleep. After an hour I went in and nursed her for 30 minutes - she was out again, for another hour, then Terry held her for the last hour of sleep that she needed. She woke up happy and was her normal self all day today.

We had been planning for me to go in and wake-to-sleep nurse her (see earlier post) at 8 hours but she woke up before I had a chance to do that. Tonight we'll do it at 7.5 hours. I really do think she gets hungry at that point in time because she always wakes up then.

We're also going to do a gentle wake-to-sleep without nursing just before the 4-hour mark because she nearly always wakes up at that point too.

It's just that the timing is terrible. I'm supposed to be writing this essay exam, as mentioned previously. But we had to try everything else before doing CIO.

And I've fallen off the wagon. The coffee wagon, that is. After more than four years, I've re-caffienated my life (well, I did drink green and black tea in the meantime, and decaf).

Somehow, it will all get done. We'll survive. I'm fairly sure of it.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

gone fishin' again

My current status: Second exam currently in progress. Valerie into heavy-duty night waking mode. Groggy.

Hope you are having a good Holy Week.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Wake to sleep

Part [n] in the sleep documentation series:

For more than a week, Valerie entertained us by not just waking multiple times throughout the night, but also by staying awake for an hour and a half. It didn't matter who went in to her, whether she nursed or not, she just would not go back to sleep. After a couple nights I noticed that, pretty consistently, this was happening 8 hours after she first fell asleep.

So we pulled another trick from the Baby Whisperer book (although Pantley writes about this too): evidently if you anticipate this kind of consistent waking, you can nip it in the bud. What you do is set your alarm for 30-60 minutes before the baby's waking time, go in and wake her up gently (it doesn't even have to be all the way awake), then let her go back to sleep. Do this three nights in a row, and bob's your uncle.

IT WORKED. Freaky.

She still isn't sleeping through the night consistently again yet, and I sometimes have a hard time falling asleep again after I wake her to sleep, but I still prefer gently picking her up, nursing her for 20-30 minutes and returning her to her bed over pulling my hair out as she sits up going "bababababa" in the darkened room.

Thus she has earned a name for her night-waking alter ego: SOULCRUSHER. Babycakes by day, Soulcrusher by night. They look eerily alike, and you never see them in the same place at the same time! It's a mystery to me!