Wednesday, August 30, 2006


I feel conflicted about what to do much of the time. It is hard to decide what to do... should I continue to hold Claire in the sling since she is sleeping soundly? Should I take her out and put her down, risking awakening her in order to express milk since I feel the need to pump?
At other times of day it's should I lay down and try to sleep since Claire is sleeping or should I grab a bite to eat and wash bottles so they'll be ready for the next feed?
Do I have enough time to toast this bagel and bring it in to the nursery before Claire needs to start feeding?

Should I blog while I pump or read or just relax?

Sometimes I end up holding Claire while I pump... this is challenging if she is fussy or squirming (which is usually why I pick her up.) And has resulted in spilt milk on a couple of occasions.

I feel discouraged about nursing after reading about "nipple confusion" at He recommends banishing the bottle. For us this is nearly impossible. We tried on day. Feeding a child who eats every two hours through the day and night using a syringe or cup is just not feasible...not if you want to have any time and energy for trying to teach her to nurse, pumping milk, eating and sleeping.

an inconvenient outlet

As a native Southern-Californian, I am often reminded of our good fortune weather-wise.
Most recently in this article exposé on air-conditioning by William Saletan. I love his irony:

"We saw Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth. Walking out of the air-conditioned theater, we agonized over what we could do to fight global warming. The conversation ended when we realized that our most useful contribution would be to cancel the renovation."

Claire's nursery does have a small window-unit air-conditioner I must admit. She came home in July when temperatures were in the 90's, so A/C in that room was a treat for a week or two. I've mentioned my proclivity for gadgets before, so here is a rundown of the various devices plugged into Claire's room:
North Wall:
  • air-conditioner
  • boom box
  • reading light
  • breast pump
  • extension cord leading to...
    East wall:
  • bedside light
  • laptop charger
    South wall:
  • cordless phone charger
  • nightlight
  • baby-wipes warmer
    West wall:
  • fan
  • clock
  • air-purifier

    You'll notice that averages over 3 items plugged into it each outlet, therefore requiring those ugly power-splitter hanging out of them. I shudder to remember that this room only had one outlet in it when we first moved into the house 3 years ago.

    The one consolation to my eco-ego is that I figure living in Southern California with the nice weather makes me a lower net consumer of energy than my Oklahoma relatives who run air-conditioning several months out of the year, and heating the remainder.

  • Saturday, August 26, 2006

    from the well of exhaustion

    Advice for parents-to-be: (From Mark)
    1. Pace yourself on the caffeine--you'll need it more after the baby comes home.
    2. Learn to dance now--there won't be time later, and the baby will enjoy dancing. Though I must say that the style that calms her the most is when I do something more like a "silly walk" than smooth ballroom.
    3. Get a good digital camera and practice transferring the photos. And a color printer and some photo paper. Ideally, get a combo that can print without the "computer as middleman." I say this because you won't have time to get regular film developed and printed, plus people like pics along with the blog entries.
      balancing bottle trick

    Other tips:
    • try to live near a drugstore, because you will often run out of key supplies at inopportune times.
    • learn to cook breakfast one-handed...handy skill for just about every house-hold chore.
    • get wireless networking and a laptop if you ever hope to use the computer after the baby comes home. Either that or combine the den and the nursery.
    • network with friends who will be willing to come by and help out after the baby arrives.
    • devise strategies for staying healthy under stress--this experience is something like a camping trip: have plenty of water bottles and healthy snacks on hand, as well as warm clothes for wee-hour feeds.
    • get your address-list and/or mailing-label situation straightened up ASAP, so you can send out baby announcements--and it also makes thank-you cards easier.
    • get the remodeling done early--in case the baby comes early

    Friday, August 25, 2006

    Can Do

    I tried to put Claire in the sling so we could both have a nap but she wasn't having any of it... turns out she has gas. Then I tried putting her down in our room to nap . She slept off and on and I barely dozed for a few moments. Oh well. Maybe later

    Things Claire can do. She can grab things. Her specialty is grabbing my hair when I forget to out it up. Thankfully she doesn't pull. She can roll from her tummy to her side. When she is on her tummy, she can move her head from one side to the other. She has become interested in faces. She seems to like to look at whoever is holding her. She makes random smiles... Usually when drifting off to sleep.

    Thursday, August 24, 2006


    I got out of bed to pump milk 50 mins ago. I've spent 5 minutes pumping and 45 minutes trying to get Claire swaddled, settled and sleeping. (The receiving blankets in the hospital were much better for swaddling. They were bigger and heavier. The ones we have Claire can easily squirm out of in about two minutes no matter how snugly we think she is wrapped.) The trick was to put her in the swaddler jammies the Herneys got for her and nurse her to sleep...then she woke up 5 mins later and took about 5cc from a bottle and is still sleeping.

    However, I did get some good sleep between 11 and 2 and last nightI slept from 9pm to 1am on the couch and sporadically after that. So I felt quite well rested.

    We went to see the pediatric neurologist. She did a cursory evaluation of Claire and ordered a CAT Scan. She asked me some questions about Claire's behavior and evaluated to see if Claire could track her face as she moved from side to side. She also checked reflexes and response to sound. All of these were normal for Claire's age. She mentioned some milestones to look for in the next couple of months and talked about what they were looking for with the CAT scan. There are two main concerns that the area of the brain that had the bleed may be malformed and that the protiens from the bleed may block the regular flow of cerebro spinal fluid... in which case a shunt may need to be installed. (Please pray that this is will not be necessary.)

    Tuesday, August 22, 2006


    I think my longest stretch of sleep last night was an hour and a half! Claire was so noisy all night long. I would rock her to sleep and put her down and she would be quiet but a few minutes later would wake up and make her grunting and gurgling noises and occasionally call out. I would soothe her again and again. I tried ignoring her noises and hoping she would fall asleep. Eventually she would sleep for 45 mins or so until the next meal.

    Right now she is wide awake and I am exhausted!

    Hopefully she will get used to sleeping in her new bed soon.

    Monday, August 21, 2006

    Church and News

    Yesterday we took Claire to church for the first time. It was good to be back. I hadn't been to church since May! Claire was content and everyone was happy to see her and welcome me back. It was great catching up with people I hadn't a chance to see since before the birth.

    On the way home we bought a stroller and today I just took it for a test drive to the pocket park around the corner. It works great. Claire fell asleep so she is sitting in it till I finish pumping.

    This morning was nice. After Mark left around 8:30 I rotated between three activities: feeding Claire, napping and expressing milk. Finally around 11:00 I got up for the day.

    Not much progress with nursing. The past two days were pretty busy so Claire hasn't had much practice. We've made several attempts today with no interest shown on Claire's part in spite of me "priming the pump" beforehand.

    The bedside co-sleeper is working out well. I am getting used to sleeping through her sleeping noises and waking to comfort her when she's awake.

    She is wearing a new outfit that Mark's uncle Jerry and Pat sent. It is a tiny bit too big but looks cute on her nonetheless.

    We had extended Kangaroo time this morning and Claire slept on my chest for over an hour and a half. I read a Helene Hanff book that my mom sent to me recently. (thanks mom. I'm really enjoying Underfoot in Show Business .)

    Sunday, August 20, 2006

    Sling in "action"

    We bought this sling online and like it a lot. We have taken several walks with it also. More convenient than the one pictured earlier.

    Another convenience item is pictured in the background: a warmer for the baby-wipes. I never would have predicted myself as a consumer of such devices, but now that I am waking up in the middle of the night, I am eager to try anything that promises to make the chore easier and get me back into bed and to sleep sooner.
    sling in 'action'

    Saturday, August 19, 2006


    We had the best nursing session yet this afternoon. We got home after taking a walk with her in the sling and I hadn't expressed any milk for several hours she was hungry and started sucking vigoursly when given the oportunity to nurse.

    I hope this is the begining of a trend. It sure would be nice if she could nurse in bed at night. So I could catch a few more Z's... currently I get up, give her the bottle, burp her, hold her upright for a while to prevent reflux, then express milk. I do this twice during the night and it takes about and hour and a half. I'm lucky when I can do it in just an hour. (Mark also gets up a couple times during the night and early morning, but he can be done in less than an hour)

    We bought a "Co-sleeper" bed for Claire that attaches to the side of our bed so that Claire can be close to us. (As per Dr. Sears' suggestion in the Premature Baby Book . Last night was our first time using it. It is going to take some adjusting to. The first part of the night she was quiet and calm and sleeping deeply, but rest of the night she had frequent bouts of activity and made little noises. The great thing Dr. Sears suggests is that being close to her will help us tune in to her "cues" and distinguish what her various noises might mean.

    Reunion 20 HHS

    The Hueneme High Class of 1986 20 year reunion will be September 23 at Casa Sirena Hotel in Oxnard. I probably should have posted something about this sooner, since the tickets need to be purchased by next week. Ping me if you need info. Or rather ping Nancy {Roman) Lee. Hoping to see my friend Andy K, and others there.

    Update: I reluctently joined to check on the reunion info there. I say reluctently because I canceled years ago due to the bombardment of spam that seemed to issue from that place. Unfortunately, it seems they still persist in their money-grubbing ways, at least judging from the over-use of ads on their site. For instance, even though my profile clearly indicates that I am married, one of the site's most prominent ads is for on-line dating. Shouldn't technology make advertising more tailored? Speaking of technology, their site is actually not very useful or usable. Advice to concentrate first on building value into your product and enhancing the user community, then, and only then, gradually add in appropriatly targeted advertising.


    Well the transition to life at home without help from mom has proven challenging. I was exhausted and depressed by the time Mark came home from work yesterday and Claire was fussing and I was stressed. She hadn't slept much all evening and was fussy. I had a good long cry when Mark came home and I talked to him about how I felt and why and we figured out some solutions like encouraging more visitors, having Mark drive instead of take the bus so that his commute time is reduced, wear Claire in the sling for more hours of the day and taking a break sometimes.

    When I woke up for the 3 am feed I was already feeling better and Claire and I had a great day today.

    We got a nice break tonight. It is our fifth wedding anniversary and we went to an expensive downtown restaurant called Engine Co. No. 28. The food was delicious the service was great and the company was top notch. Our good friend Beth Hupp stayed with Claire while we went out.

    Wednesday, August 16, 2006

    Bath etc.

    I gave Claire a bath today. She fussed a little bit but overall she seemed to enjoy it. She smells so nice. I used Dove soap as per the pediatrician's recommendation. And I used Eucerin creme on the eczema that has appeared on her eyebrow area. I did this two days running and it seems to be clearing up.

    I tried nursing several times using the shield but Claire wasn't very interested.

    I took several short naps today. I guess the night feedings are catching up with me. Last night I was looking at the log and remembering that when she came home she only woke up every 4 hours now she wakes up every 2 hours...Ocassionally she will sleep for a three hour stint at night.

    We have finally got back into doing Kangaroo care and it has been really nice. The skin to skin time has become my favorite time of day. She is so soft and sweet. Yesterday when I held her skin to skin she immediately started moving around and rooting so I helped her get into nursing position.

    I have a whole list of activities that I'd like to do each day with Claire. I keep thinking I'll write them down...
    1. Kangaroo Care
    2. wear the sling
    3. take a walk
    4. get a little sunshine for vitamin D (Dr. Beesley's orders)
    5. four nursing sessions with shield
    6. Speak Spanish
    7. read a book
    8. tummy time to build upper body strength

    I bought Dr. Sears' book on preemature babies and am really enjoying it. I wish I would've had it two months ago.

    Monday, August 14, 2006


    I got to speak with a lactation consultant from the hospital today and she gave me a game plan for the week and her cell phone number so I can call her back on Friday. I'm supposed to use the silicon shield for nursing 4 times each day during times when Claire is alert and happy. She discouraged me from using the supplemental nursing system that I was interested in trying because preemies have negative associations with tubes from their NICU experience. Also she said the SNS is a lot of work to use and a pain to keep clean and in her 20 years of being a lactation consultant and nurse she has only had a handful of women who used it successfully.

    I was using the shield for a while but had a hard time keeping it on. It is hard for me to stick with any one strategy because it is so hard to tell is any of them work at all. She also encouraged me to express some milk before having Claire latch on to make it easier for her to get started.

    I love the sling. Claire seems really happy and comfortable in it and usually falls asleep pretty soon upon entry. I'm getting better at putting her in and taking her out which is a bit tricky with an infant who needs neck support.

    We have enjoyed comments on the blog from Claire's grandparents. :)

    The Home health nurse will come one last time tomorrow to assess Claire and weigh her. I'm sure she's over 6 lbs now. Yay!

    Saturday, August 12, 2006

    random musings

    It sure is hard to find time for things like blogging, teeth brushing, showering, exercize etc. when you have a newborn! Some of these things have just become easier to find time for now that our Kangaroo Pouch sling arrived in the mail. (It arrived in yesterday's mail but I thought it hadn't come since I checked the mail around 3pm and I brought in the previous day's mail.) Mark brought in yesterday's mail about 9pm and the baby was fussy...It turns out she needed to poop...the whole process took about an hour of so and I was exhausted from my first day at home with Claire on my own. My parents left in the morning to go back home and Mark went to work.
    The day went well until evening. I enjoyed visits with two friends from work and attempted to take two naps... both of which were cut short with feedings for Claire :) During the day yesterday she was eating about every two hours. During the night last night she lasted 3-4 hours and I got some solid sleep. Yay!

    Haven't had any more good nursing sessions since Wednesday. Claire won't stay latched on and pulls away or she falls asleep right after we start. I think it helps if I can express a little milk before we get started but it is hard to time this. Must persevere.


    More info on the cardiologist visit: We waited in the doctor's office instead of the waiting room since it was crowded and several people were coughing. The doctor remembered us from evaluating Claire when she was 3 days old. Back then in May, he sat with my Mom and I out on the patio at the hopital he described her condition, and drew a diagram so I could explain everything later to Mark who was out running errands at the time. Originally, she had three issues,
    Atrial Septal Defect, Ventricular Septal Defect, and one valve instead of two between the upper and lower chambers.
    Fast-forward to the present: The hole between the two lower chambers has closed and the most pressing problem is the valve. The Doctor re-iterated that this will requre surgery in the next year or so. He will continue to monitor her regularly.

    For the next appointment I'm going to go to one of their other offices because it is closer to our house and I'm hoping the waiting room will be bigger and less stuffy. This time I was glad to wait somewhere else since I worried Claire might catch something in the crowded waiting room. The doctor let us wait in his office which was nice and peaceful.

    Friday, August 11, 2006


    Sometimes I have a hard time coming up with a title for these things...
    Some firsts: We noticed tears for the first time when Claire got her shots the other day and she is beginning to drool a little which we never saw before this week.
    She had her first visit from Lanternman Regional Center this morning. The therapist evaluated her and said she seems very normal for her age and she recommends monthly followup sessions to determine if any physical or ocupational therapy is necessary.

    My parents left this morning. It was so great having them here. It will be a challenge to feed ourselves and keep on top of daily chores without my mom around.
    Claire just fell asleep, so I'm going to go nap too.

    Thursday, August 10, 2006

    busy week

    We have been very busy with Doctor Visits this week. We were happy to find out Claire's weight of 5 pounds, 14 ounces during her Pediatrician visit. Also, they measured her and said she is 1 inch longer than her previous vist 2 weeks ago. We are pretty happy with her growth rate. It wasn't much news to Jen, since she knew of Claire's weight from the Cardiologist visit the day before.

    The main reason for out visit was to get immunization shots. Jen & I have done lots of research and agonized over this, so we had lots of questions to ask the doctor. It sounds like modern practices have responded well to many of the concerns of the past, so we don't plan on skipping any shots. But we did decide to delay some in order to spread them out since she is still such a lightweight. Claire screamed mightily during the two shots, one in each thigh. As I write this blog entry, it is about 36 hours later, and she seems to have suffered none of the side-effects, or temporary discomforts, so we are thankful.

    Today, Jen went to a La Leche League meeting this morning, and apparently Claire picked up a few pointers (or benefitted from the "practice") and had her most successful nursing session yet.

    Tomorrow is another visit from the "Regional Center" people. So this week contained a baby-related appointment or meeting EVERY DAY. I am looking forward to less activity next week. Maybe we'll have time to shop for a stroller. I can't believe we don't have one yet.

    Monday, August 07, 2006

    Sunday visits

    dress and quiltWe had a lovely visit from Claire's Lompoc grandparents on Sunday and my Mom and Mark's mom enjoyed seeing each other again after a long time. Caire also got to meet her Abuelito (grandfather) for the first time. Now all of her grandparents have had a chance to see her... next is her great grandmother. I had fun photographing her yesterday afternoon sitting/ laying on the beautiful quilt that her great grandmother made for her.

    Doctor Visits

    Today began the marathon of doctor visits. Claire visited the ophthalmologist in Santa Monica this morning. The doctor said that her eyes are perfect. The nerves and blood vessels have all matured and have grown the correct way. Claire will return in 6 months for a check up to see that her eyes are working together symmetrically.
    Tomorrow we see the cardiologist and Wednesday the pediatrician. And we plan to go to a La Leche meeting on Thursday if we still have the energy.

    Claire nursed a little in the waiting room and I think she got some milk. She put in a good effort at suckling. It was hard to watch as the doctor used one device to hold Claire's eye wide open and another tool to nudge the eye this way and that in order to give it a thorough examination. Claire screamed louder and longer than I'd ever heard her cry before. Poor little angel. It was rather torturous for me. The doctor says it doesn't hurt it is just uncomfortable and makes them panic. After the ordeal we sat and chatted for a long while and she recommended not letting Claire watch TV at all until at least age 4. She said that there is research to support the idea that TV viewing at a young age contributes to attention deficit.

    Sunday, August 06, 2006

    tech note

    I changed the settings on this blog to allow more people to add comments. We like comments. Click on the link below each post to leave a comment--it is labeled, "0 comments (click here to add a comment)."

    Also, remember we like comments on the pictures at also.

    Links to fellow bloggers:

    G suffers
    MarkHu at Blogspot

    Friday, August 04, 2006

    Playtime with inchy

    inchyClaire has started to play during her alert times. She has a caterpillar toy which she likes to bat with her hands and feet so that it makes a crinkle sound and she bobs her head back and forth until she gets one of its purple feet in her mouth to suck on. It is quite entertaining to watch her do this and she will go at it for 10 or 15 minutes.

    I had a visit from las vecinas the other day. They brought watermelon and a set of little pink-and-white t-shirts snd shorts outfits for Claire. They stayed and chatted for a little while. It was good to realise I can still chat in Spanish without having to insert too many long pauses while I think of the right words.

    We seem to be going backwards with nursing today. I left a message for the La Leche League leader in our area. Hopefully I will get to talk to her today.

    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    wacky wabbit

    Yesterday we found a rabbit in front of our house and caught it and put it in a cage and left a sign in the front yard. Today some boys from the neighborhood came and claimed it. A half an hour later another boy had caught it and brought it to us asking if it were ours... Crazy. I wonder how many more times it will escape?

    Claire is still doing well. She is slowly figuring out what to do when nursing. Yay! I'm looking forward to putting the milk pumping days behind me. I need to call the La Lech League leader in our area for advise. Claire sometimes gets frustrated about two minutes into nursing and won't stay latched on and fusses.

    We have made all of her follow up appointments with the opthamologist, pediatric neurologist, cardiologist and pediatrician. The home health nurse will some once her company provides a baby scale so she can weigh Claire.