Adjusting Expectations

During the later half of pregnancy when it was apparent that this was really happening, I began dreaming about what life would be like with a new child. What kind of parents would we be? Would our baby be a good sleeper? Would she be a good eater? How long until tennis and running resumed? Olivia’s recent 2-month checkup and endless inquiries about how things are going have prompted some reflection on the first couple months of motherhood. The many thoughts floating through my head all share one commonality: the need for adjusted expectations.

Feeding:

Olivia only lost 5% of her weight upon discharge, so we thought breastfeeding must be going great aside from the normal soreness and latching battles of a newborn. Phew, one bullet dodged. However, two days later at her first visit to the pediatrician Olivia’s weight was down 12%. We were immediately pushed into formula supplementation. After a roller coaster of weight checks, visits with lactation consultants, herbal supplements and various feeding regimens, Olivia has now climbed to the 5th percentile for her weight. As such, the pediatrician advised us to continue with her current feeding regimen, which still includes a small amount of formula supplementation.

In today’s high tech world, why hasn’t someone invented a baby fuel gauge to alert parents as to their level of fullness? There are so many other gadgets and gizmos to monitor health and heart rate you’d think someone would have found a way to measure the amount of milk in a baby’s tummy. Envision a gas gauge on their forehead. This would certainly take the guesswork out of whether or not baby has received enough milk or if they need a supplemental bottle-feeding.

Dessert

Dessert

Adjusting my original expectation of being able to nurse 100% has been tough and would be even worse if it weren’t for the wonderful support and encouragement from friends. I will always wonder if our continued battles with low milk supply are a result of quickly being pushed into (and staying with) formula supplementation. We’ll just do what we can for as long as we can to keep our baby happy.

Hair Loss:

Oodles of friends warned me of post-natal hair loss. I thought I had escaped that lovely side effect since hair loss didn’t seem much worse than the normal girl-shedding phenomena. Think again. Almost exactly 8 weeks post-partum gobs of hair greeted my hand after a shower. Joy.

Co-Sleeping:

Pre-baby, the closest we thought we’d get to co-sleeping was having the baby at the foot of our bed in her beautiful bassinet. In reality she’s probably slept on us more than she’s slept in her bassinet :-/ Despite the warnings and admonishment from the pediatrician about baby getting used to her parents’ bed, when push comes to shove silencing a crying baby and getting her (and us) to sleep is all that matters. We’re doing our best to encourage her to sleep more in her bassinet both for naps and at night, but relinquishing a cuddly snuggle-bug to her lonely bassinet is tough.  That said, we certainly don’t want to end up with a toddler in our bed …

Favorite spot to sleep
Favorite spot to sleep

Schedules:

We always joked about those parents who let baby run the show and never knew what their schedule would be like. Shame on us! Someday (soon?) we’ll get back to being our prompt old selves but in the meantime it’s safe to assume we’ll be 15 minutes late and/or won’t know what time is good for a visit until that morning (even then it’s a bit of guesswork).

Returning to Tennis & Running:

By staying healthy and fit during pregnancy, I thought it would be a piece of cake to return to running and tennis in time for spring season. Ha! What was I thinking? Even if I were in shape, the logistics of running a race or playing a 2-hour tennis match some distance away from home is just too much to fathom while breastfeeding (plus there’s the fact that my tennis team is too competitive and politely refused my participation until I’ve spruced up a bit – fine by me!) For now Ben and I will enjoy tennis together (with no judgment at those errant shots) and my new personal trainer will keep me going in the jogging stroller and beyond (sit ups to baby giggles on your legs aren’t nearly so bad).

One more lap please, I finally fell asleep!

One more lap please, I finally fell asleep!

Returning to Work:

Pre-baby, I envisioned wanting to return to work as quickly as possible so as not to miss out on anything. I even went so far as to investigate part-time leave versus full-time maternity leave. How quickly things change. Amid a blurry haze of sleep deprivation, feeding cycles, and the holidays, somehow January 2 snuck upon us in the blink of an eye.  The European family-leave policy sounds quite appealing right now. Priorities certainly do change after a baby, even for us Type A workaholics. Who wouldn’t want to spend all their time with this little munchkin?

 

Accepting Help:

Perhaps the biggest adjustment of all is learning to accept help. We no longer believe that we can do it all on our own and are so very lucky to have the support of friends and family, especially on weeks that this working momma is home alone.

We’ll do our best to keep updated photos posted for your enjoyment.

Christmas 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Forgive the tardiness of this post, but pictures are finally available. More importantly, there’s finally a few minutes in the day (here and there) to write it. This Christmas was extra special in that almost everyone was here from both sides of the family. What a treat for Olivia’s first Christmas! Paula and Steve hosted a fabulous Christmas Eve dinner with delicious food and great company. Thank you for convincing us to have dinner at your house rather than the original plan of hosting with a new baby! What were we thinking? 🙂 The Yankee Swap was a huge success across the board, and the Jacob family was a good sport participating in the Danish tradition of rice pudding before the main meal.

Jacob Clan:

Cronin Clan:

Though we never made it to Fort Worth or Dallas to see the Christmas lights in the fancy neighborhoods, we did manage a few excursions with the family to help show Dane and Claire the sites during their first visit to Texas. The week included many firsts for Olivia as she ventured beyond the hospital, the doctor’s office and Grandma’s house. What a difference it is to try and do anything outside the house when you have a newborn in tow!

Christmas decorations in downtown Grapevine

Dec 21 exploration

Dec 21 exploration

 

 

 

Fort Worth Zoo

Awake for the gorillas but that's about it

Fort Worth Zoo December 22

Awake only for the gorillas. Oh well – it was a beautiful day to walk around the zoo and it wasn’t even crowded! The highlight was the baby rhino.

Downtown Dallas & Sonny Bryan’s

Texas BBQ for Olivia's first restaurant

Texas BBQ for Olivia’s first restaurant
Despite appearances this is a restaurant not a bar!

Despite appearances this is a restaurant not a bar!

The biggest adventure for all was a white Christmas. Though beautiful, it wreaked havoc on travel plans for the Cronin crew. While we spent Christmas afternoon with the Jacobs, our guests were dealing with DFW fiascoes. All ended up eventually back at our house on Christmas night after various travel nightmares of delayed and cancelled flights. Luckily for them they were able to escape our crazy household to return to their previous plans early the next morning. For some this meant heading in to work (Dad), for others it meant racing to catch a flight for the next vacation plan (Dane and Claire). After various reroutes, paying for extra flights on a different airline, and a good friend meeting them at the airport with passports in hand, Dane and Claire successfully made their flight to Vienna. It was a Christmas miracle.

In addition to having all our family together for the first time since our wedding, and having Mom here to help out the week prior to Christmas, the best present of all this year was little Miss Olivia. Christmas 2012 will certainly be hard to beat.

Click here to see more pictures from Christmas Eve, Christmas and the rest of the week.

 

Welcome Olivia!

Many have been asking how things are going after we welcomed Miss Olivia Harper Jacob into the world on Thursday, November 8th. The short version is that we have survived the so-called “2-week hazing period” more or less in tact. (Hazing is an apt term considering the hazy fog we’ve been living in as a result of sleep deprivation.)

The longer version of the story includes multiple doctor’s visits and a trip to the ER on Thanksgiving. Olivia dropped 12.5% of her birth weight in 4 days, raising red flags to the pediatrician. As a result we’ve been on a roller coaster ride of various feeding rituals and frequent weight checks at the doctor. Though still not back to her birth weight of 7 lbs 1 oz, she’s finally headed in the right direction with a combination of breast milk and formula supplementation. We continue to hold out hope to eliminate the formula supplementation but only time will tell if that’s possible.  In addition to feeding issues, we have also been dealing with early cord removal concerns.  At 11 days old as she was performing her crawling ritual up her daddy’s chest, she snagged her cord. Olivia may be too active for her own good! The pediatrician applied silver nitrate to dry out and disinfect the remaining cord, however, too much was applied and it spread beyond her belly button. As a result, Olivia spent her first Thanksgiving in the ER with a chemical burn. Luckily it is now looking better, but still not 100% healed.

It’s amazing how not until you are struggling with something do you learn how many people have been in the same situation (dealing with early losses, breastfeeding and sleeping difficulties, early cord removal etc). Thank you to all who have shared their stories and experiences to let us know that we aren’t alone. While these roadblocks are frustrating, we know that things could certainly be worse and are grateful that they are not.

Olivia already has a very strong personality and has us both wrapped around her little fingers, worrying about every tiny thing. Those of you who are parents are probably laughing since I’m sure you saw that coming from a mile away. We’ll keep chugging along doing the best we can and hope that is good enough. Maybe we’ll even get to the point where we won’t cater to her every cry, but for now she’s our baby and we can’t spoil her enough.

Click here for pictures of her first few weeks including hospital pictures, first time home, visiting with family, one week birthday pics, her first walk around the block, etc.

Nesting

People keep asking if we are nesting yet. I suppose the answer would be yes, though what some people refer to as “nesting” I think of as everyday life of a person who’s now also trying to deal with restless legs and even more of a wandering mind at night. My parents instilled in me at an early age the sense of guilt and laziness for sleeping in too long and letting a day go to waste, especially when the weather is nice. Whether they intended to or not, this made me a morning person (poor Ben!). On the flip side, my brother somehow escaped that feeling and took the night owl gene enjoying the quiet solitude of dark rather than dawn, as does Ben. Our little girl seems to have combined both elements in the womb making sure to let me know that she’s awake with her rolls, kicks and punches taunting me: “Why are you lying here doing nothing? Get up!” We’re in trouble!

10-08-2012.jpg

Has anyone else suffered from restless legs and racing minds in the last weeks of pregnancy? Any tips for relief? So far the only solutions I’ve found have been:

  • Get out of bed and be productive by organizing closets or responding to emails
  • Take a warm bath right before bed and hope the soothing effects last long enough to fall asleep
  • Get out of bed to stretch (unfortunately this only provides that enjoyable “good pain” while I’m in the act of stretching)
  • Try and ignore it and lay in bed running through mental lists of what to tackle the next day (does not solve anything but sometimes I am too stubborn to give up on sleep and my cozy bed … which ironically probably causes more of a problem than if I were to try something else)

While another solution to quell the wandering mind would be to reduce the list of worries racing through one’s head, it seems each time an item is crossed off the “to-do” list it is miraculously replaced by another topic in warp speed. Luckily the majority of the big-ticket items have been accomplished (in no particular order):

  1. Car seat obtained, installed, and inspected
  2. Strollers assembled and clean
  3. Maternity photos taken (waiting until 36 weeks was pushing it but they still turned out great! A big thanks to our brother-in-law Brian Brooks and Double B Photography.)
  4. All critical baby items obtained, cleaned, and put away (for the most part)
  5. Nursery and guest room closets organized (and reorganized again and again)
  6. Baby classes completed
  7. 4-door cars test driven (and maybe selection made if we’re willing to wait 6-8 weeks)
  8. Food stash in progress, including homemade pumpkin bread frozen in chunks (critical fall item!) Next up, chocolate chip cookies …
  9. Nursery increasingly put together with the understanding that it likely won’t be perfect before she arrives, but she’ll be in our room anyway so I should stop fretting, right?
  10. Name selected, hopefully it sticks 🙂

10-01-2012.jpg

A sampling of the remaining to-do list:

  1. Pack hospital bag
  2. Get everything settled at work and STOP working to relax (wishful thinking)
  3. Finish nursery (includes selecting various photos for the wall which is always the hardest part)
  4. Bake more
  5. Begin baby book
  6. Clean and get all laundry done (this is partially on the completed list but it’s a never ending task!)
  7. etc, etc, etc ………..

As always, additional pictures can be found in the photo gallery.

almost 38 weeks

 

 

Baby Shower – TX

This weekend we celebrated Baby Jacob one more time with friends and family here in Texas. Thanks to all the hard work from the wonderful hostesses and their helpers, the shower couldn’t have been any more perfect. We enjoyed delicious food, wonderful company, and entertaining activities. I love you all! A sampling of photos are provided below, but click here for the full album (with captions for a change.) There were just so many good photos to choose from.

hands on the belly

Newton Ranch family IMG_7734.jpg

Beautiful set up including an amazing diaper wreath made by Megan:

diaper cake by Ashley - so pretty! diaper wreath made by Megan - gorgeous!

Onesie decorating station led to impressive results:

hard at work more onesies drying onesie station in progress

Guess the contents of the paper bag was a big hit, especially for Stefany who got them all right (way to go!)

IMG_7701.jpg IMG_7698.jpg what's in the bag?

Homemade vanilla cupcakes by Lisa to round off the morning – Yummy!

delicious vanilla cupcakes made by Lisa

A special thank you to Genny and Deirdre for making the trip down from Chicago and NYC respectively and adding Texas to your list of states visited. Hope you had a good time! Here are some favorite shots from our stroll in downtown Grapevine.

a natural cowgirl! IMG_7759.jpg stuck in the Grapevine jail

Month 8 Belly Pics: Third Trimester is Here

We’ve grown so accustomed to speaking in weeks that it hadn’t dawned on us we’re actually well into month 8 of our journey now and have been in the third trimester for a while. Of course now there are the increased potty breaks (really, when did they ever decrease?), feeling (and seeing) the stronger kicks that are reminiscent of the show Fringe where there’s an alien trying to escape the belly, and the growing pile of baby gear people have kindly bestowed upon us that is taking over our dining room table, but even with all that and more, the fact that in no time at all our lives will be permanently altered still seems a bit surreal.  The weekly sonograms where we see increasingly chubby cheeks, more defined features and a personality developing before our eyes haven’t exactly made it sink in (we made that little smiling face?), but they certainly don’t hurt.

August 20, 2012: Start of week 28. Hand under chin and a little smile at us in the bottom picture.

Sono8-20.jpg

August 27, 2012: In the bottom picture of three she is pointing her finger up to say hello.

Sono8-27.jpg

All the articles say the third trimester is when you are supposed to slow down and start taking things easy because you get tired more easily. I guess I missed that message somewhere between constant work travel, weekly yard work, baking, house chores, tennis tournaments, water aerobics and daily walks. Not to mention how much progress we’ve made the last month and a half on the nursery (post with full before and after pictures to come once we’re a bit farther along). Maybe that’s how the third trimester was able to sneak up on us. I’m sure it will continue to pass us by in a flash now that football and tennis season are both in full swing (she is learning to be a sport spectator at a very early age to support her daddy).  At least we finally made an appointment with a prospective pediatrician and will be able to report that progress to the doctor (he was not impressed with our nursery progress since “that is for you, not for the baby”).  Did anyone else find that their pregnancy went terrifyingly slow and then surprisingly fast, or are we the only ones in la-la land?

Updated photos of the ever expanding belly.

August 24, 2012: 28 wks 3 days

28wks 3 days.jpg 28wks 3 days - side.jpg belly shot 28 wks.jpg

September 6, 2012: 30 wks 2 days (Picture taken right before we went to our first baby class where we learned all sorts of baby care basic refreshers and new tips, more classes to look forward to in October!)

30wks 2 days.jpg 30wks 2 days side view.jpg belly shot 30 wks

September 9, 2012: Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad! Did you know it would take 34 years to become grandparents, or have your first “face-time” chat? And happy birthday to Grandma Cronin who I know is smiling down on us from above. Love you!