Sunday, June 23, 2013

I can't think of a title right now...

Well, it's finally sinking in that I'm done with classes. As much of a relief as it is, and as worth it as it was to finish, I miss going to school. (Haha, pretty sure I'll never say that, despite what people tell me!)

I do feel a bit behind. Like I'm running to catch up and learn what most stay-at-home mommies master when they have one baby's demands to meet all day, not two. I had Mitch as an equal homemaker (as goofy as that sounds) for over two years. We were both in school full-time. One semester of the year, I was home full-time. One semester, he was home, The semester in between we were both in school (January-April...note the lack of blog posts that time of year!). So, it's also just sinking in that all the responsibilities around the house are primarily up to me. Mitch is a great helper and I can always count on him to pitch in when he gets home, but he's also very busy (and about to get busier). If I relied on his help like I used to when we'd trade off and split things pretty equally, I'd be putting an unfair amount of pressure on him to be doing laundry when he should be doing homework.

Mitch is far less discouraged about his schoolwork this semester, but he's about twice as busy and overbooked than he's ever been. His classes are much more time-consuming. He is in IBC, Integrated Business Core, this semester, where they divide into companies and build a legitimate business to run on campus. They buy professional equipment for whatever they plan to do and have to calculate its after-market value and resell the equipment at the end. Mitch's company is called "Creation Station", a company that sells vinyl decal. Here are some of his "co-workers" at work:

I guess my point is that I feel like I'm at a slight disadvantage. It doesn't help that I'm not exactly Martha Stewart. I don't like to cook, although I'd like to like to cook! I've just never been good at it. It's like trying to enjoy playing basketball in 7th grade gym class every time I try to think up what to fix for dinner! Maybe one day. We're all learning, right? 

On another note, Mitch and I have had to re-work our finances since moving to subsidized housing. Sure, our rent is hundreds of dollars less than it used to be, but there are added expenses to living here: paying for laundry ($30-40/month), internet (35/mo), utilities (which are more expensive here as well, although I'm still not sure by how much), and paying rent out of pocket. We used to pay 100% of our rent every semester with student loans. We barely even thought about it, and we paid it months ahead at the beginning of every semester. The difference now is that we aren't using student loans anymore. They're an easy line of credit if we need something big in a short amount of time (like if our 20 year-old car gives out). But, we have these extra expenses to pay out-of-pocket now, that we didn't have before.

Then Eliza came a month early and brought expenses with her. Needless to say, my sweet, hardworking man didn't hesitate to start looking for another job. But, as it turns out, even getting a job interview in this town is about as likely as striking oil in your backyard. Mitch got an interview at one of the (two) grocery store(s) here. (Yes, we have two. And our basic Wal-Mart has an expanded food section. We're moving up in the world!) He is so busy during the day, but is in the afternoon IBC group, so of course in his head he justified a night job, saying he'd have time to sleep in before class. 

In short, he got the job, he's already worked one shift, and he has two more this week. It is such a huge blessing to have the income we need, almost as soon as we need it. We've been doing the things we know we should, and our intentions for the income couldn't be better, so we know we'll be blessed. 

I feel a bit lazy and pretty guilty not getting a job myself, but (1) Eliza's tiny and is a great nurser; I'm not going to stop or be away from her all day, not to mention Nathan's never been home full-time with me, (2) daycare for two kids would cost more than I'd be making, since I don't "officially" have a degree yet. Not that there are any jobs here anyway, remember? (3) I start my internship in the Fall and the hours are still not in stone. Kind of risky to get a job at this point, and (4) I am finally staying home with babies like I've always, always wanted. I know that it's not always a possibility for women who want this, but my husband is making sure, at least right now, that it can happen while our little ones are just so little! 

I talked it over last week with my counselor. He could totally identify with our situation. He said when he was getting his PhD there was a semester where he was taking 21 credits, writing a dissertation, working two jobs, AND had hefty responsibilities at church. His wife was home with a toddler and a baby. They had to decide together not to compare each other's contributions to the household and family, but to just know that they were both doing all they could to ensure success at home. He was working towards providing for them by finishing his education and by working part-time, and she was providing for their kids and keeping their house running. 

I left feeling much better, knowing that my role right now is to be the best sidekick Mitch could ask for. He's going to work a few nights per week, get a few hours of sleep, and then do homework and sit in class all day long. 

When he comes home in the evenings, I want him to enjoy what he sees. That doesn't mean two naked (or PJ'd) children who have been eating snacks all day instead of being fed meals, 4 baskets of unfolded laundry, and a house that looks like it was ravaged by a midwestern tornado. 

(Ha! I just described exactly what I see around me right now. Except Eliza is dressed, Nathan had one real meal today, and he's CHOOSING to run around in a diaper. It is summer and we don't have can I argue with that logic!? On days like this, I just have to say, "eh, they'll survive!")

Any tips on how to, well, run a productive house? Everything my parents and in-laws have taught me up to this point is mysteriously gone. Nathan is a good helper and does a few simple "chores" during the day. I would just like to have a bit of a better schedule around here as far as chores and productivity go. Eliza is a very easy baby and I'm feeling the shock of having two kids wear off as we get into a routine. Any advice would be appreciated!

And now, as a red ribbon reward for getting all the way through, here are some pictures I've taken in the last week or two. Happy six weeks, Eliza!

The lighting was terrible in our house, but she just looked so peaceful!

Trying to document all her hair; I'm so afraid she'll lose it all like Nathan did! She didn't have a bald spot from sleeping on her back yet, either, so I had to catch that. She slowly has one forming now.

Alert little girl! Again, terrible evening light in the apartment, so the colors are off a bit.

Eating yogurt for breakfast in our Jake and the Pirates pajamas. They are new and he loves them!

Eye contact! Score!

Pretty little girl :o)

She's getting longer but she's still so skinny!

Playing with his wooden block train

Stopping to watch Thomas :o)

He will literally stand like this for 20-30 minutes at a time, just watching Thomas :o)

Our preemie clothes are slowly getting too small!

Little monkey butt :o)


 Eliza is now 19 3/4 inches (3rd percentile) and 6 1/2 lbs (2nd percentile). We're on the charts! Score! :o) The doctor is pleased with her growth and says she's doing just fine, so we'll keep doing what we're doing!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Getting to Know Baby E

We are loving our newest little one! She is the sweetest, tiniest little thing ever, and she has impressed us so much the last few weeks. 

Eliza is just over 3 weeks old now and she is holding her head up by herself for 10-20 seconds at a time (it's hard work!). She looks all over and high-contrast things in the house (like black frames against our white walls) catch her eye and she just stares. She has started spending more time awake during the day. It's darling and fun to see her so awake; mostly, I'll admit, because she doesn't really need to be entertained a lot yet. I'm enjoying it while I can! :o) 

As perfect as her delivery was, there have been a few bumps in our road to recovery:

She has been a lazy eater since she was born, but her latch is getting a lot better. Because her mouth is so tiny, even when she has a correct latch it's still tiny, and causes a lot of pain! 

Thank goodness for the job training I did for WIC, for a job as a lactation consultant that I'll start this fall. I am so grateful for the chance to learn so much about breastfeeding right before I had Eliza! It has given me so much confidence...and, not to mention, a 150-page handbook (and 2 additional books) all about nursing. 

Anyway, because she was tearing me up a bit I ended up with mastitis. That's healed now, and as she's grown we've had to use our nipple shield a lot less. Sorry if this is TMI for some of you; you might just have to get over it and accept that nursing is natural! :o) 

I also had some awful headache pain right after Eliza was born. It ended up being a spinal headache, so I went in for a blood patch. Basically, the epidural went in just a bit too far and they had to fill the punctured space with blood that they drew from my arm. Sounds weird, right!? It was more painful than the epidural initially was during labor, but I was also, ya know, in labor and dilated to a 7! The blood patch completely got rid of the headache, but left me with awful back pain for about 2 days. One of those days happened to be when my mother-in-law was leaving in the morning, my mom was coming that night, and Mitch had class all day. Thank heavens for my friend, Juanee, who came to rescue me and help me out with a very cranky, demanding Nathan until Mitch got out of class! This is the same Juanee who came over in the middle of the night when my water broke. What an angel that girl is! :o)

Eliza also developed pink eye that we assume she got while we were in the hospital. Because she was early and has basically no immune system, she just can't get over it! It's been about 3 weeks now and she's had it once in one eye and twice in the other. We have antibiotic cream and we are going back to the doctor to ask about it (and for a weigh-in) on Tuesday. Our pediatrician is awesome and very insightful, and is all about educating parents, not lecturing or demeaning them like our last pediatrician was! I've been putting breastmilk in her eye as well, which has proven to help heal things like pink eye. Told ya, nursing is normal and natural!

As far as sleep goes, I'm not obviously getting as much as I'd like, but baby E has been doing 4-5 hour stretches, which is awesome. She had a growth spurt last week and just ate all night long, but now we're getting back to "normal". Her only hopes and dreams are to weigh more than 4 lbs! :o)

Nathan is almost back to normal after this whole adjustment, but it IS really obvious when he hasn't gotten the attention he needs/wants.

As a reward for reading this far, here are pictures from some newborn shoots we did in the last week or two!
Of course, brother needs some pictures too :o) He gives me about 5 good minutes during each attempt to get pictures, so I had to work quickly. Plus he had busted his lip open the day before and had a HUGE blister on his upper lip, so there was a lot of photoshop involved too...
Love this one. Wearing his Carhartt like daddy :o)

These next pictures, on the green rug, are meant to hang in their room. I usually wouldn't pick such a bright color (or bucket) for pictures, but it is one of the main colors in their room, so why not?

I photoshopped a lot of her pink eye away, but you can tell which eye it was the worst in at this point. She did have it in both the day we took these pictures. My kids just don't make taking pictures easy!

LOVE my new macro lens! It was a push present/mother's day gift from Mitch. I love the details it allows me to capture! The "nifty fifty" lens (50mm 1.8) is great for babies, but doesn't focus in very closely at all. This one beats the 50mm out of the park for that purpose!

She still had a lot of "vernix" on her skin at this point (thin layer of hair that protects babies' skin in utero). I wanted to get a shot of it before it started disappearing!

cuddled up on a beautiful blanket her GG made her :o) Nathan has one too!

She looks SO much like newborn Nathan in this picture...kinda freaky...

 After almost 2 hours of shooting, and MULTIPLE feedings, Eliza gave up on me and just bawled. There was nothing I could do to calm her down! So, I decided we'd try again another day because I was nowhere near satisfied at what we'd gotten. 

I can't believe how much she's grown already! That binky isn't quite as big on her face as it was in this picture :o)
Eliza is lots of times found with a train in her lap; her big brother is really into sharing and will give her whatever train HE is playing with when she starts to fuss in her swing. It's the sweetest thing ever, because he pretty much doesn't share his trains with anyone!

We love our swing!

baby lashes :o) Hers are actually quite long when they're not crusted over with pink eye! I hope she keeps em!

 Newborn photo shoot, day two: this time I took pictures during naptime (so Nathan wasn't in the way; I was home alone with both of them at this point), I used a heating pad under the blankets/fabric instead of a space heater in the room (I usually bring both on newborn shoots and let the baby choose), used one light and a bunch of natural light instead of three, and used all fabric instead of any of my backdrops. This made the setup and takedown MUCH easier for me!

These flowers are NOT meant to be big; her head is just that small! All her headbands and flowers are huge on her. I found the small pink flower and the elastic headband in the photos above at a shop in town after searching high and low.

Well, that's about it! I really need to get better at taking pictures more often; she's changing so fast! I really appreciate having a nice camera and several nice lenses (not to mention being completely comfortable in full manual modes all the time) and a newborn at the same time! This wasn't the case with Nathan, and it really makes all the difference!