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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Surreality and a Little Update

Every once in a while, it smacks me in the face.  Jenna is real.  She is here and she is real.  Most of the time it feels like she has been with us forever, but some days it feels like she just got here.  Sometimes it's just so surreal...I went through 39 weeks of pregnancy and brought a baby home this time.  A real, living, breathing, smiling baby.   And she is mine. 

Thanks to those of you who commented here or on FB in response to my post about sleep deprivation.  I am happy to report that we started pushing a new sleep schedule the night that I last posted here.  I am mean...I enforced two days of limited daytime sleeping, especially deep (coma-like) sleeping, so she would be tired at bedtime.  We have started a bedtime routine at a set time every night for the last 10 nights; every night but one she has been asleep within 1 hour of start time, sometimes as quick as 15 minutes.  We have had 3 or 4 nights of sleeping straight through for a minimum of 6 hours, and the rest of the nights (except one) she has been up only once to eat during a period of 8-10 hours...and then right back to sleep!  As a result, mama and daddy are much happier campers!!  Jenna seems to be a much happier camper, too.  Instead of waking up screaming in the morning, she babbles to herself for about 20 minutes and saves the screaming for when she feels like we are ignoring her.  But seriously, there is nothing better than being greeted, even in the wee hours of the morning, but a smiling baby.  The only challenge that remains is getting daddy to stick to the routine...he's not a big fan of routine and consistency, even when it's proven to work.

Jenna had her 4 month check-up on Monday the 17th.  She weighed 15 lbs, 3 oz, which puts her in the 80th percentile for weight.  She was 24" long, which puts her in the 39th percentile for length/height. I think they shorted her a little bit on height, though, because she was pretty wiggly on the scale.  She got a few vaccinations, and we were on our way.  No visible sign of teeth yet, but she is definitely chewing on stuff.  Her favorites are toy links and Take-A-Long Taggies toy.  And I love listening as she develops her voice.  It's amazing.  :-)

She is still a really easy baby, all things considered, and I am loving every minute with her!!!

In other rainbow baby business, I want to address moving toward the light.  No, not that light.  A different light.  The rainbow light at the end of the loss tunnel.

I wasn't really sure where to post this, but since it really revolves around rainbow babies, I figured that it was most appropriate to post here.  So many of my BLM friends - some bloggers, some not - are either expecting or at home with brand new rainbows, and so many seem to be struggling with the normal emotions that go with a rainbow pregnancy.  It seems to be especially hard on those who, like me, lost their first baby.  I have tried to offer love and support to each of these friends, and in a couple of instances, I have suggested that the light at the end of the tunnel was getting closer and brighter with each passing day.  In the process of using that phrasing, I think I offended at least one expectant BLM.   

I would like to take one moment to clarify my thinking and rationale in trying to stay focused on the light at the end of the tunnel. We certainly all grieve differently, and have different experiences in our grieving processes.  Likewise, we all have different rainbow experiences; perhaps (emotionally) I had a much easier rainbow experience than others.  I don't know.  Most of the time I feel like my grief with Graice has been like a train on an endless set of railroad tracks.  It keeps moving and moving and moving, uninterrupted by stop signs, traffic jams, etc.  Sometimes it speeds up and sometimes it slows down, but it keeps moving, nonetheless.  It goes over rivers, around mountains and sometimes even through mountain in very long, dark tunnels. I spent a lot of time in the tunnel in the months after Gracie's death.  The closer we got to Jenna's due date, the more petrified I got that things were going to go wrong; but I tried with every fiber of my being to stay focused on the light at the end of my tunnel.  That light was Jenna.  As afraid as I was that something would happen, I knew the only way for me to get through the pregnancy without losing my mind was to stay focused on that light.  Each day, it got a little closer and a little brighter...until suddenly, she was here and I was no longer in the tunnel.  My grief for Gracie will never disappear, and Jenna will never replace what I have lost  In fact, for the rest of my life I will have very regular thoughts about all of the things that we missed with Gracie.  That will be evidence of the fact that the train is still move along those unending tracks, which it will do every day for the rest of my life.  I am sure that there are more tunnels ahead of me, but I hope that most of my travel is through light instead of darkness as I treasure and enjoy Gracie's younger sibling(s) until the day I am reunited with my beautiful first born.

Not sure if any of that makes sense, but there it is. 

In other news, I am having fun with my new blog.  I haven't posted terribly much yet, but I am hoping to get 1-2 posts a week, even if they are just recipes to share!!  Much love to you all, and wishing you all a good rest of the week.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sleep Exhaustion

I am losing the battle...in a bad, bad way.  My body is starting to revolt, and I am seriously afraid that my immune system will soon be starting a picket line.  Jenna is a great sleeper.  She will sleep 6-10 hours at a pop with one or two brief waking periods to eat, but she is on Daddy's schedule and doesn't want to go to bed until between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. every night.  She's not fussy when she's awake...she's just awake and wants to hang out.  This would not be problematic except that 2-4 nights out of the week my husband works until between midnight and 3 a.m., which leaves me on my own to hang out with Jenna.  Not a problem except that I need to get up for work at 6 a.m. and I generally work 10 hour days Monday through Thursday and 7 hours on Fridays. 

I discovered a few years ago (accidentally) that I am generally a 9-10 hour sleeper.  I certainly don't expect to get nearly that much sleep now!!!  But I do need more than 3 hours a night.  We have tried everything to realign her sleep patterns, and we are slowly working backwards.  We are now getting her down between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. some nights. 

So...I must ask those of you with experience...any suggestions for getting her down and keeping her down earlier than she has become accustomed? 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

An Eventful Month

It's been about a month since I have had a real post here, and the last month has been so eventful!!

Fellow BLMs welcomed rainbow babies!!  Congratulations go out to Dawn, Jessica, Katy, Malory, Lareina, Heather and Andrea for the arrival of Maddox, Joshua, Ellie, J.D., Declan, Liam and Lauren!!!!

My last real post referenced the Shu.tte.rfly free Christmas card opportunity.  The experience was just that...an experience.  I did eventually get my 50 free cards, but in the long run the cards I got were different than I anticipated when I posted.  I was a little disgruntled at first, but once I had them in my hands, I did like them!  Here is what we finally ended up with...

And then there is Jenna, the cutest baby on the block.  :-)  I am sure that all mothers go through the standard sense of awe as they watch their 'first' child grow and develop, and I am certainly no exception.  (Of course, she is not my first, but you all know what I mean.)  It amazes me that I can see changes in her development on a daily basis, especially over the last 2-3 weeks.  The last three weeks have been marked by heavy chewing on her fingers, with some increase in drooling, so I am sure that teeth are not too far off.

During the week between Christmas and New Year she started reaching and grasping with purpose and intent, especially at things placed in front of her on the swing tray.  New Year's Eve day was a busy, busy day for her.  She rolled over from her belly to her back without any help...and the worst part is that no one saw her do it.  Later that day she moved a soft toy from the tray of her swing to her mouth.  We had to put the crib bumper on this week, because we kept finding her with her feet and legs sticking through the slats on the side of the crib.  I didn't take a picture of her last night (well, at 3:30 this morning) when I put her to bed, because there was no reason to take a picture.  But....
....she was in this position when I put her to bed...
...and this is what I found when I went in to get her up this morning...

The constant development is amazing to me, despite the fact that I'm a pediatric physical therapist, and I'm used to seeing kids make motor progress.  The things that she does today leave me wondering what new things she will do tomorrow.  They leave me wanting to make time stop so I can stay in this time and place forever.  Oh, how quickly the days seems to slip past already!!  I can only hope that I will be as attentive to the accomplishments of the rest of our kids as I am to Jenna's. 

Jenna got to meet quite a few new people in the week before/of Christmas.  When we were pregnant with Gracie, we attended Bra.dley birthing classes with 4 other couples.  Since Gracie's birth, the group has gotten together for  two mini reunions.  For the first reunion, there were 5 couples and only 4 babies; it kind of sucked.  We got together again the weekend before Christmas (one couple had a sick kiddo and didn't attend) and everyone had a baby this time.  :-)   Here is a picture.

During the same weekend Jenna met some of Jeff's cousins and their little tykes.  This family gathering is always a good time, and you never go away hungry.  Sadly, there will always be a black cloud for me (at least a little one) during these gatherings.  The little guy on the right in the picture below was born on my birthday last year, just 2 months and 3 days before Gracie died.  So instead of Jenna meeting her cute little blonde cousins, it should be three little blondies tearing around the room...including Gracie.  But it is what it is...a little bittersweet sometimes.  Sigh.  But next year Jenna will be tearing the place up!  :-)

Jenna finally got to meet her cousin, Trevor, who was home from Naval training in Texas for 5 days.  He graduated from basic training two days after she was born, and he went to Texas for A-school immediately after basic graduation, so he had not seen her except for pictures.  It was a good meeting, and it was love at first sight...at least it was for Trevor.  :-)

My sister was home for a 3.5  week holiday break from her Peace Corps duties in Namibia.  Although the visit was a bit bumpy, I am so glad that she got to meet Jenna. 

A few days before Christmas, Jenna, Aunt Nikki and I ventured to the mall to do a little last minute shopping and to meet Santa.  Jenna did so well with Santa!  She didn't smile for the camera, but she didn't cry, either.

Christmas itself was relatively uneventful.  Jenna is still just a bit too little to take much interest in the paper or bows or the tree, but she certainly was the center of a lot of attention.  Last year, we decided that we would get at least 1 or 2 new 'Gracie' ornaments for the tree, and it looks like we have unofficially started on the same path for Jenna.

The first ornament that I bought for her.

My dad painted this ornament.

We got one for Gracie last year, and this will be the 'matching' ornament that each of our kids will get.  

From Jeff's parents

I picked this out because of the star in the middle of the wreath that says 'Hope'.  She certainly was our hope for 2010.

From Jenna's Tuesday babysitter

From my aunt and uncle

From one of our good friends

I got one of these for each of the girls when we went to see Santa

Of course, she received lots of wonderful gifts from family and friends.  One of the best gifts this year was her I Spy quilt that my sister made before she went to Namibia, expecting that there would be another baby before she came home from her assignment.  I can't wait until Jenna gets a little bigger so we can spread the quilt out on the bed and play baby I Spy (minus the cats, of course - they're like vultures!)!!

Last, but not least, I took a few posed Christmas pics of our little star...

She just would not look at me...

She's not as chunky as she looks here...really.  :-)

I guess that's enough for now.  :-)    To read more about going green and semi-crunchy parenting stuff, check out my new blog