D’s journey, part 5 – 2nd NICU Stay

After D’s surgery to treat NEC, he was left with an ostomy bag and plans to have a reconnection surgery in 6-8 weeks. This happened in the beginning of December, so I mourned the idea of having him home for Christmas; at least he was home for Thanksgiving. The weeks in between the two surgeries were mostly uneventful. D was on IV nutrition and was only allowed to get 1 mL of breastmilk an hour (since they didn’t want to stress out his compromised digestive system, but still wanted it moving), but I continued pumping every 3-4 hours in hopes that I would need the supply later when he recovered. This stay was different from his first in so many ways – the first time we kept pushing and testing him and anxiously awaiting him being discharged. This time, we knew he was only coming home after recovering from the reconnection surgery, so I just waited until we got to the 6 week mark to start bugging people. But even then I knew he’d have to stay a while longer to get up to eating his full volume of food again.

Lots of conflicting emotions!

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First Postpartum Period

I see this question pop up on the boards regularly, so I thought I would share my experience and let you know more about my postpartum period than you ever wanted to know.

There is a big range for when your period can return, but a poll on the boards amongst exclusively breastfeeding mamas showed that most people got their period between 6-9 months or 12 months+ postpartum. Everyone is different of course, but I think whether you’re exclusively breastfeeding, your little one is sleeping through the night or eating solids/nursing less can have an impact on when your first period returns postpartum.

Charlie had been sleeping through the night since 4 1/2 months and shortly thereafter I stopped waking up in the middle of the night to pump. I was pumping 4-5 times a day and stopped exclusively pumping when he was 9 months old; my period returned two months after that. Honestly the details of my first postpartum period are a little hazy because it was 4 years ago, and I got pregnant with Olive quickly after my first two postpartum periods. But I do remember it being much heavier than normal.

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Learning to Write

Somewhere between two and three years of age, I noticed my children’s drawings and scribbles starting to resemble letters. Both of my children started with writing the first letter of their name. Often children draw circles too, which makes it easy for Otis. When Otis was close to three I encouraged him to use his sand tray as pictured below.

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Mocha Brownies

Mr. O and I love to entertain. We’re not fancy about it; I don’t have pretty placemats, or even cups that match, but we love to cook for people. Typically, Mr. O takes care of dinner and I handle dessert…with the caveat that we never make the same thing twice.  Though I have several recipes for brownies that I love (chewy brownies, fudgy brownies, brownies full of peanut butter), I found myself reaching for a new recipe the last time we had a group over. I was craving chocolatey fudge, but needed something a little more ‘adult’…wouldn’t coffee be a perfect addition? After some experimenting, cobbling together a few different recipes (and reading up on some of my favourite Food Network chefs), I came up with these. Rich, chewy, and topped with a thick layer of coffee-flavoured frosting; they were an instant hit (and now a permanent fixture in my brownie rotation).

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Creating New Family Traditions for the High Holidays

This week, we will celebrate Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year. When Colin was just a baby, I remember being so excited about creating new family traditions as a family, entering this new phase in our lives where we would shake up our family routines and add fresh child-centric activities to a stale routine of family dinner -> attend synagogue -> family dinner.

Then we woke up in late September, realized we had an adorable blob of a four month old who wouldn’t notice in the least if we were doing crafts, baking special treats, or reading unique-to-the-holiday books. We dragged C along with our typical routines, meandered in our sleep-deprived state through the motions of the Jewish High Holidays, and resolved to make a better effort the next year. And of course, twelve months raced by and we found ourselves faced with a 16 month old who had a rigid nap schedule, an extremely early 6 pm bedtime and so much mobility that the idea of sitting still for a story or focusing long enough for a craft was so pie-in-the-sky that I laughed at the idea of doing anything to celebrate. We skipped the synagogue part, we skipped family dinner, we really skipped all of it.

So this year, we are resolving to do things a bit differently. First, we aren’t traveling home to Ohio this year for Rosh Hashanah, so the traditions automatically will be different. Plus at two-and-change, Colin is a ball of energy, but he’s able to focus long enough for a simple craft or baking project. Another bonus that comes with age is that his one nap routine is definitely conducive to going to synagogue as a family, and he’s starting to understand the concept of celebrating holidays (this kid would celebrate his birthday daily if it meant presents and cake…oy).  Here are some of the things I’m hoping to incorporate into our new set of traditions:

1) Big family dinners.  We rarely are able to sit and eat together as a family, because of Mr. C’s hectic work schedule.  This year, I hope to sit around the table with no screens visible and eat a delicious dinner together.  We’ll see if anyone else is around to join us for these dinners – our family isn’t local, but you never know if we’ll have friends around who want to share the fun.  I’d like to have the kind of home where all feel welcome to join when they don’t have anywhere else to celebrate.

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Charlotte’s Newborn Photos

When Charlotte was 9 days old, we drove to our friend and photographer’s house to have her newborn photos taken. Leeann has never let us down, and it’s always a pleasure getting to work with her! We usually have our photos taken on location, like at a park or in a studio, but since this was informal and we’re friends, we took these in Leeann’s house.

Newborn photos are best taken when baby is sleepy, and of course Charlotte slept the entire way to Leeann’s home and then was wide awake. It took me a while to nurse her and calm her down. Chloe was patient the entire time, thankfully, because these photos took longer than we expected! We got to play with Leeann’s daughter, too, which was great!

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The Lazy Mom’s Guide to Homemade Baby Food

For both K and D we used a combination of baby-led weaning and homemade purees. K was done with purees when he turned 1, but D isn’t as coordinated with chewing or picking up food, so we’ll probably keep spoon feeding him some meals for a while! I’ve learned a lot of shortcuts through all this experience. Here are my gear recommendations and basic recipe!

1. A blender. We were gifted the baby bullet which works fine, I like that it’s smaller and comes with the cute jars with screw tops – great for traveling.

2. Ice cube trays with lids. After blending the food, I keep some for fresh use and freeze the rest. My set has survived about a year of nearly constant use (6m with K, 6m+ with D), and it’s still going strong! I just run the trays under hot water and the cubes come out easily.

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