Monday, June 30, 2014

Major Milestones

Some very exciting things have been happening in our family lately!

Ryder has gotten to be a part of so many important events since he was born, and I definitely want to highlight some of them here before the first few blurry months of his life on earth fade completely from my memory. Sleep deprivation can do that to a person... 

Something I mentioned before but did not give enough attention to was my brother AJ's graduation from Saint Martin's University. He graduated with a teaching degree after years of diligence and hard work, and I am so incredibly proud of my little brother. I can't believe he's actually a grown up and has a real career! I still see him as a kid most of the time, but in reality he's a mature, intelligent, hard-working, fun-loving guy who loves kids and is going to make such a great teacher.

Congratulations, Buddy!

Unfortunately Stew and I couldn't make the graduation ceremony because it was just a few days after Ryder was born, but we were sending AJ congratulations and well wishes from afar!
Stew and I also celebrated Mother's Day and Father's Day for the very first time this year, since both occurred shortly after Ryder was born. We didn't do anything major since we were still adjusting to life with an infant, but I did finally get to eat my fair share of all that sushi I missed out on during my pregnancy! Ryder joined us for his first outing at a restaurant, and it went great!

A quick shout out to our parents, the best Moms and Dads in the world!

We only hope we can be as good to our baby boy as they were to us.

And in one of the most important milestones of the decade, my grandpa turned 80 years old! Of course the family wanted to do something extra special to celebrate, so my dad and his sister spent months planning a weekend getaway in Port Townsend, our special family vacation spot. They rented a historic house at Fort Worden and invited the whole extended family to a big party to celebrate Grandpa's epic life thus far. 

Stew was unfortunately out of town that weekend, but my mom was able to help me take Ryder over to Port Townsend for the day so we wouldn't have to miss the party. It was a fun adventure!

Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

And ironically, that same weekend in Port Townsend, my aunt on my mom's side was hosting a party to celebrate the sale of their family business. Mom, Ryder and I built some time into our trip so that we could stop by and visit for a while. Ryder was so excited to meet all of his aunties and cousins!

It was kind of a bummer that we had to try and fit two parties into one short trip, but we made it work and as per usual Ryder was an amazing little traveler, even without Daddy along to help. So there you have it... some of the more major milestones in our lives as of late.

I'm sorry for the blog dump, since really I should have written individual posts about each of these events, but life as a Mommy (even one who is still not back at work) is pretty time consuming! But I've really missed everyone here and I hope to be back on a more regular basis... soon-ish.

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Ryder's First Road Trip

For spring break my freshman year of college, I drove from Bellingham, WA to Los Angeles, CA with three of my girlfriends. I will never forget how epic it seemed to drive almost the entire length of Interstate 5 in a 1984 Chevy Suburban with "Cali or Bust" on the back. So recently, Ryder's first road trip brought back some of those memories... Or at least illustrated to me how much my road trips have changed in the past 15 years. 

We knew a long time in advance that we wanted to attend Patrick's Army Commissioning, but the timing of the babe's arrival definitely put our plans to head 300 miles south in limbo. When I was still pregnant, I had no idea if it would be a good idea to take a trip like that with our six-week-old baby. But after we brought him home, and some time passed, I began to realize that it might be possible. After all, before we decided to have kids we had always promised ourselves that we would try our hardest to maintain our current lifestyle, tiny humans in tow. We wouldn't be scared to travel, or hike, or boat, or generally miss out on any of the adventures we're used to. We want our kids to be well-rounded, happy, eager little travelers... just like us. And here was our opportunity. 

So even though I was kind of terrified, I packed us up and created a little home away from home for little Ryder and his first road trip and overnight adventure. He had a blast!

Ryder was a perfect angel in the car. He slept the entire way to Vancouver, WA during the first leg of the trip, and arrived at Grandpa's house for the night without making a single peep. 

I was pretty apprehensive when we first arrived, because we had never spent a night away from home before and I wasn't sure how it would go. I was terrified that he would cry all night and wake the entire house, like I did the time I got the stomach flu at Thanksgiving. However, our little angel didn't give us any trouble. We brought his Snuggle Nest, a portable infant sleeper that is designed to provide a safe sleeping area for baby in an adult bed. And even though Ryder had been comfortably sleeping in his own bassinet for a while at that point, he was happy to slumber back between Mom and Dad again for the night. The queen sized bed made for tight quarters compared to our larger accommodations at home, but we made it work.

Ryder woke up hungry about every two hours that night, which is about his usual. Just like at home, I nursed him in bed and then changed him as needed. As for diaper changes, I had to create a makeshift changing station on the floor in the guest room, which worked out just fine. Mr. Poopy Pants even seemed to like it! But he's always enjoyed getting his butt wiped.

The next morning we got up two hours early to make sure we left the house on time. It was still tight with showering, changing, eating, pumping, packing, and cleaning, but we managed to get all three of us into the car with enough time to grab breakfast and hit the road. Once again our dear boy slept the entire way to the University of Oregon. We were so proud of our little traveler!

Unfortunately, we arrived just as Patrick's Commissioning Ceremony was about to start, and Ryder chose that opportune moment to alert us (with a wail) that he was hungry. My heart raced as I whisked his stroller out the back door and into the women's bathroom, where earlier I had spied a bench where I planned to nurse him. We emerged a little while later calm, cool, and collected (one of us a little milk drunk) just in time to see Patrick's part of the ceremony. We had to watch everything standing in the back near the exit, but we made it! It was the reason we had come, and we pulled it off. I was more than a little satisfied with our little family's adventure so far.

Daddy had to hold him, but Ryder made it through the ceremony without making a scene... well done!
After Patrick's portion of the big show, Stew and I took Ryderoo for a sunny walk around campus, and later he got to meet some family members and we had lunch nearby to celebrate. He was moderately fussy at the restaurant, so Stew and I had to take turns holding him, giving him a bottle, and attempting to swallow a few bites of food ourselves. I've never felt so distracted, but it was also really fun to be out with the family, celebrating. 

Meeting Great Aunt Arlene and enjoying just a few seconds of sunshine before we had to cover up that baby soft skin!

Congratulations Patrick!
After lunch it was time for us to head home. I thought one night away was enough for our first trip, so we planned to drive the entire way that evening. Ryder was still on board with the plan, and he slept for several more hours until finally we had to pull over so I could nurse him. After that we made a short pit stop at my parent's house in Olympia and then continued on, arriving home just in time for bed. Ryder did have a pretty fussy night (probably because he had spent the whole day dozing in the car) but we spent the entire next day relaxing and recovering -- no big deal!

Our road trip had been a success!

We definitely achieved some huge milestones, and learned that with just a few basic necessities we can really make a home away from home for Ryder just about anywhere. I nursed him in the car, changed him in public bathrooms (and once in the trunk), switched several ruined outfits, kept him quiet at important moments, transported breast milk and prepared bottles, and even managed to keep my own anxiety to a manageable level... enough to enjoy the trip a little myself. Stew was a huge help and there's no way I would have been able to do it on my own, I admit.

But now we know it's possible to travel with our little guy, and each time will be a little less scary. And Ryder didn't seem to mind one single bit! I think for him, home is where his family is, and as long as Mommy and Daddy are nearby, he'll be a content boy.

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Dear Ryder... One Month

Dear Ryder,

I can't believe it's already been an entire month since you were born. Bringing you home from the hospital, getting to know you, and adjusting to life as a family of three has been an extremely intense experience for all of us. But through it all our hearts just burst with love for you, and we are so lucky to be living every single moment.

We spent about two days with you in the hospital before heading home. I was completely unprepared for how difficult my c-section recovery would be. In the beginning I couldn't get out of bed and was taking a lot of pain medication, which meant that Daddy took on the bulk of your care and became an expert at swaddling and diaper changing. Breast feeding was difficult for us at first. You sometimes had trouble latching, which was frustrating for you and painful for me, and you seemed frustrated by the amount of colostrum you were receiving as we both waited expectantly for my milk to come in.

You and I were so exhausted that we slept pretty well that first night in the hospital, but Daddy only dozed and woke with a start periodically to check and make sure that we were both still breathing. The first days of parenthood are very anxious times... 

Throughout the next day I made progress including sitting up, standing, and finally walking to the restroom on my own. I also got to start eating real food again! We had a few visitors who were all absolutely enamoured by what an adorably perfect newborn you were.

Charlie and Cailin visiting you in the hospital.

Of course Daddy and I thought you were the perfect infant, until the second evening when you began to cry without stopping for almost the entire night. Daddy and I took turns feeding and rocking you, staring at each other in startled disbelief. No matter what we did, you would not lie down in your hospital bassinet. But even though the nurses offered to take you for a while so we could get some rest, we insisted that we could take care of you on our own. I simply loved you so much I couldn't bear to be apart from you, even in the midst of your wailing.

Finally, on Wednesday afternoon, I had my staples removed, Daddy took a trip to the pharmacy for a plethora of drugs, we tentatively dressed you, buckled you into your brand new car seat, and our little family headed home.

Your very first car ride!

Those first couple weeks at home were the most difficult. In the beginning I was still in so much pain that I couldn't even make it up and down the stairs on my own. Our bed was also too high for me to get in and out of, so we all spent several days on the couch in the TV room. During the day we would go through an endless cycle of eating, burping, changing, crying, and dozing. Daddy would bring me beverages and microwaved casserole dishes that your many visitors dropped by.

That's your first pet, Jasmine. I've had her since I was in college.

You refused to sleep unless one of us was holding you. But we were terrified of suffocating you, which meant either Daddy or I was always awake, watching while the other one held you and slept. Even though we hadn't paid much attention to it, around day three Daddy thought it might be a good idea to turn off the TV, which had been on 24/7 that entire time. Nana came to visit on Saturday and insisted that we try sleeping in our bedroom... It was good that she pushed us, or else we might still be sitting in that TV room.

Watching your first NFL draft with Daddy.

You had two doctor appointments during the first ten days and did absolutely fantastic at both! By the second visit you were already back up to your birth weight, thanks I'm sure due to the fact that my milk finally came in around day six. You did manage to pee all over the floor of the exam room while you were being weighed, though (the nurse seemed less than thrilled, but I just laughed).

We missed Uncle AJ's college graduation the weekend after you were born, but we're so incredibly proud of him! And he absolutely adored you when he came up to visit and meet you for the first time. Nana and Grandpa also came to hang out with us while Daddy attended Brett and Haley's wedding shower, and it was good for him to get out for a while. Grandpa also had a birthday, and a few weeks after you were born you attended your first party: Jillian and Robert's backyard BBQ to celebrate their upcoming marriage. Aunt Erin visits you all the time, and Aunt Nichole came up from Oregon to stay with us for a few days and help out. Great Grandpa and Grandma also came for a visit.

All dressed up for your first party with Jill and Rob.

Being a new parent is extremely overwhelming, more so, I think, than we ever could have imagined. Sleeping has been a struggle for you ever since that second night in the hospital. For weeks you simply would not sleep anywhere but in our arms. Finally, out of desperation, we did the unthinkable and cleared off the center of our king sized bed and let you sleep there with us (no blankets or pillows nearby!) I think that was the first time all three of us slept at once. Then we borrowed a Snuggle Nest portable infant sleeper for you, which is a safe way for you to sleep in between us, which you seemed to like and put our minds at ease. Now we've even been able to put the Snuggle Nest inside your bassinet, which we pull over to the edge of our bed so you can see and hear us. So we're making progress!

The Snuggle Nest. It keeps us from rolling on you and plays soothing sounds like lullabyes and a heartbeat.

In the beginning you loved being swaddled, but after a few weeks passed we discovered that you prefer to sleep with your arms up above your head.

Sometimes you'll sleep in your bassinet during the day (blankets are only allowed when we're watching you).

You also like sleeping in this vibrating chair.

You still don't sleep through the night. You eat every two to three hours throughout the day, and we all go to bed between 11:00 and midnight. You usually sleep until about 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. and then it's a gamble as to how the rest of the night will go. Most often you eat, cry and fuss for the next few hours, falling back to sleep around dawn, which means we all often sleep until noon each day. Every once in a while you'll have a great night and fall right back to sleep after quickly and quietly nursing, but those occasions are still few and far between.

Nursing has gotten exponentially better since those first few days. Once my milk came in it took a few weeks for my body to toughen up so I wasn't in constant pain, but it has been smooth sailing since then. I've even started using a breast pump thanks to Aunt Nichole's helpful instructions, and now Daddy gives you a bottle about twice a day, and it's amazingly freeing for me to get a break sometimes.

I love you so much, but sometimes feel incredibly overwhelmed by how attached I have to be to you. Each day it's a struggle to find time to take a shower, the only "alone" time I get. Everything we do with you is new and scary, but we're all getting the hang of it. In the beginning Daddy and I would always change your diaper together, helping to soothe you, hold your legs, hand over wipes and diapers, secure buttons and snaps. Now we fight over whose "turn" it is. Your first bath was very scary and you screamed the whole time, but now you've started to like them. I'm still terrified to cut your tiny, translucent, paper-thin fingernails, so I make Daddy do it.

Every day you stay awake for longer and longer periods, and your eyes have become much more focused. Today you even smiled at Daddy when he made silly faces at you! Your hair has started to fall out which makes us sad, but you're still just cute as a button. You like your swing and your vibrating chair, and you love curling up with someone for a nap. You go from deep slumber to screaming fits in the blink of an eye, but are calmed quickly with some milk. You seem to have your Daddy's stomach and always eat a lot during a feeding. Every day we go for a walk around the neighborhood as a family, and you seem to love being outside. You have already changed so much in such a short time, and things are getting a little easier for us every single day. We can't wait to see what's in store for you next!

Here is a little photo dump of your first month... 

You are so incredibly loved, my darling!

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