Day Care Concerns

EH has been having a hard time at day care lately.  He's not napping.  At all.

Ok, well that's not totally true, but for the past week he's been sleeping an average of 1 hour per day in naps.  That is clearly not enough.  When he gets home he is absolutely miserable from exhaustion.  That is, if he actually makes it home awake.  Most of the time he passes out as soon as he hits the car. On those days, I'm pretty sure that he thinks he should be asleep for the night when he falls asleep at 4:30 p.m.  If he let him stay asleep then he wakes up at 2:30 a.m. ready to start the day (which is understandable from his perspective - he's been asleep for 10 hours after all.)  If we wake him up, he's miserable and cranky.  He wants nothing but a bottle and to go back to bed.

This, coupled with the fact that he's been non-stop sick for weeks and day care's penchant for losing articles of clothing, blankets, and bottles that we send has left with a bad taste in our mouth.  

And lately, when DH has been arriving at day care to pick him, EH is usually laying by himself, in a swing or on the floor, crying his heart out with huge tears streaming down his face.  It's heartbreaking for DH and devastating for me to hear and perhaps the most difficult part of this whole mess. 

We also don't want to be "those parents" who complain about and hate on day care, because I'm not sure that anywhere else will necessarily be any better, but until we try something else, we can't know for sure.

This morning I talked to one of the women in the infant room, asking her if everything has been ok with EH because we noticed that he hasn't been napping very well.  She said that they noticed that too but since a lot of kids don't sleep well there, they just figured it was normal.  I explained how miserable he is when he gets home in the afternoon and stressed that he really does need to get better naps.

She also said that he was really "curious" and that he seems to have a hard time falling asleep with all of the noises and lights.  This I can believe.  The cribs at day care are all in the same room as the play area where all of the awake children are playing, and right next to the kitchen area where all of the kids in highchairs are eating.  It is a crazy, chaotic and noisy place.  Which I would be fine with if I felt that EH was getting some decent one-on-one time, but I'm not convinced that he is.  They are going to keep a closer eye on his sleep schedule, and particularly focus on getting him to fall back asleep if he wakes up after only 20 or 30 minutes of napping.

What are other day care set-ups like?  Is this normal at a "center" day care?  Are our expectations simply too high?

We have casually started looking into other options.  DH has listed a "childcare wanted" ad on Craigslist, but the responses so far haven't been too promising.  Best case scenario would be that my parents decide to move to Pittsburgh to watch EH in their retirement - we've even offered to buy them a house. (By the way, that offer still stands, Mom and Dad!)  But it's highly unlikely that will happen.  We could also look into other center-style day cares, but are things really going to be any different at a different center?

This we know for certain - when EH is well rested who is an amazingly happy, charming, loveable baby.  We want to keep it that way.

Does anyone have any suggestions for what we can do??? Pittsburgh people - do you know of any good childcare providers in the Franklin Park/Wexford/North Hills area that you can recommend (individual person or center)???

When They're Sick

We have a lot of experience with sick infants by now, so I thought I'd pass along some of the tips that the doctor's have recommended to us during our many, many visits to the pediatrician's office.  Since cold and cough medications are not an option for infants, we were desperate to try anything that might give him some relief.

Here are a few things that helped:

  1. Run a cool mist humidifier - This helps to keep their throats and nasal passages moist. 
    Walgreens Humidifier
    We got this one from Walgreens after the vaporizer that we registered for didn't seem to add enough moisture to the air.  This one uses nearly a gallon of water a night, and believe it or not, we can barely notice the added moisture in the room - that's how dry our air is.

  2. Saline nasal spray and a nasal aspirator - Although saline is non-medicated, I've found that squirting it up their nose, sucking out with the nasal aspirator (or the "booger snotter" as I like to call it), and repeating that over and over for at least 3 or 4 times helps to clear nasal congestion.

    From Kohl's
    Also, go with the battery operated booger snotter - the manual bulb-like ones are more trouble than their worth.

  3. Acetaminophen - Every 4 hours, particularly if they are running a fever.  It also helps with alleviating the pain from ear infections, sore throats, and can help with coughing as well. 

  4. Smaller feedings supplemented with Pedialyte - Instead of 4 ounce bottles we were giving EH 2 ounce bottles of formula with 1 ounce of Pedialyte, every 1.5 to 2 hours.  The smaller amounts are easier to digest and the Pedialyte helps with dehydration.

    And most importantly...

  5. Give lots of love and be flexible - Don't try to enforce your just recently establish sleeping and eating schedule when your little one is sick.  When he's spending most of the night coughing himself awake, obviously his sleep schedule is going to be messed up.  And even though I don't normally let EH fall asleep in my arms at bedtime, the entire week he was sick I would hold him, rock him, sing to him, and sway with him until he was asleep. 

    After all, he's too young to understand why he suddenly feels so crappy, and if being in my arms helps him relax for even just a few minutes, I'm going to give him that as much as he needs it.  That's what moms are for, right?

Sick - AGAIN

My poor baby - he's sick again.  It seems unbelievable, really, just how often he's been sick since I went back to work and he started day care.

How can something so cute be so sick???

This time was worse than ever before.  He was sooo sick.  A horrible cough that sounded painful, a nose so stuffy he couldn't breathe when he ate, horrible diarrhea for multiple days, and 48 hours of terrifying vomiting.  And of course a double ear infection.  All of those other times when I thought he was really sick... I had no idea.  He was SO. SICK. this time.

It started about two weeks ago with a annoying but not particularly horrible dry cough.  It would wake him up at night, but he was usually able to fall back asleep on his own.  When DH picked EH up from daycare on the 13th, they mentioned that he had been coughing all day.  Saturday the cough started to get worse, and we noticed that he was getting a stuffy nose.  Sunday the cough got so much worse, he was super fussy, and started running a fever.  This is also when the diarrhea started (oh so fun, let me tell you.)

Monday I already had off of work because day care was closed to an in-service day, and after a long and horrible night full of cough, cry, cough, cry, cough, cough, cough, cry, and a fever of 102.4 I called the pediatrician's office.  Then the fun really began, because it was shortly after this that he started vomiting.  It started with a cough, followed by him unable to catch his breath from all of the coughing.  As he started to turn a weird red/purple color I sat him up and whacked him on the back, trying to get him to breathe.  After an unknown number of terrifying seconds, he exploded with projectile vomit, everywhere.  EVERY. WHERE.  It was awful.  Repeat that episode two other times and that was my morning.

 At the doctors office they confirmed the fever and also confirmed that his ears - both of them - were once again infected  Hello antibiotics! We missed you!!!  (At this point he had only been off of antibiotics from the last ear infection for 11 days.)  He was ultimately diagnosed with the flu and a double ear infection, but of course, there's very little they can do for baby flu, so I was instructed to start the antibiotics, give him smaller feedings supplemented with Pedialyte to help with the dehydration and to give him all of the love and hugs that he needed/wanted.  

I left the doctor's office with the recommendation to not send EH to day care until his fever was gone for at least 24 to 48 hours.  The doctor said that based on similar cases that she's seen this year, the flu viruses have been hanging on for an average of 5 days, instead of the more common 24 hour flu.

Great.  With four more work days still left in the week and neither DH or I particularly able to take off that kind of time right now, I called in the big guns - my mom.

So within two hours I was driving up interstate 79 to pick up my mom somewhere in the middle-of-nowhere interstate 80.  She came down that afternoon and has been watching EH this entire. I don't know what we would have done otherwise - thank goodness for retirement!

It was still a tough week though.  EH's cough has not gotten any better and he still wakes himself multiple times throughout the night coughing and crying.  Last night I was with him for well over an hour, trying to get him to go back to sleep.  DH and I are so deliriously tired that sometimes in the morning we can't even remember what happened the night before and we try to piece it together with our combined hazy memories.  During the day though, we at least knew he was in good hands, with plenty of one-on-one attention and love. 

But "Nana-care" ends tomorrow, as she is returning home.  EH will have to go back to day care on Monday whether he's totally better or not - I just don't think there's any other option.

Everyone keeps telling us how the first year is "the worst," and how them being sick now means that they'll have immune systems of steel in the future. That's all fine and dandy, but it doesn't help with the now.  For our sick little 5 month old and these two parents who catch every disease that he gets AND are totally sleep deprived from life with a sick infant and working full-time, we just want to be healthy.  Is that so much to ask?

Dinner - New Parent Style

A few years ago we made some fairly significant changes to the way and things that we ate.  We started buying more fresh vegetables (instead of frozen) and steaming them, and ate a lot of fresh vegetables straight from our garden, particularly tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, and chard, just to name a few.  We also made every effort to eliminate partially hydrogenated oils from our food.  I started experimenting with recipes and tried to make healthier, more natural versions of everything.  It was usually more work, but I was frequently so impressed by what I could make!

For example, we always used to buy these frozen bags of pasta and vegetables that had some sort of cream sauce of them.  I found a great recipe for a garlic butter cream sauce, made it myself, and loved the result!  We also used to make creamy pesto sauces from seasoning packets, but then I started making my own pesto and easily converted that to a cream sauce.  I also found fabulous recipes for some of our favorite asian dishes, such as sesame chicken and chicken lo mein.  They took a lot of time and effort, but they were so delicious.

But now we have EH, and everything has changed.  Time is of the essence.  There is no time for experimenting with cooking.  And as for fresh vegetables from the garden? Well do you remember any posts about my summer 2011 garden? Me either.  That's because my garden was a big fat fail. 

We moved on from fancy dishes like the wonderful "Sausage Pasta with Diablo Sauce" and have simplified our eating in major ways.  Instead of experimenting we get by on the same thing pretty much every day.

For DH - An apple or bagel and coffee for breakfast, granola and yogurt for lunch, an apple or salad for a snack and whatever I make for dinner.

For me - A granola bar for breakfast one, coffee and oatmeal for breakfast two (yes, I usually eat two breakfasts, both really small though), a turkey sandwich or Lean Cuisine meal for lunch, and then whatever I make for dinner.

So what are we eating for dinner?  Again, simple is the key, and here are some changes that we've made since EH arrived into our lives.

- Frozen vegetables (in the steamer bags)
- More meat-free dishes (meat takes too much time)
- Pasta, pasta, pasta
- Sauces from jars or made from packets instead of homemade
- Sandwiches or tacos for meals when we need to be really quick
- Slow-cooker meals IF I can find the time to do the prep
- Chipotle burritos (when cooking just isn't going to happen)

In some ways we're eating considerably less healthy because really good, healthy food takes time.  But in other ways I think we're actually consuming less calories because our focus isn't on creating gourmet meals, it's about eating for function so that we can move on to the next thing that we need to do. And from what I've what, frozen vegetables are nearly as healthy - if not just as healthy - as fresh ones.

Oh, and I also feel like I should mention that take-out isn't really an option for us.  Many new parents told us about how they relied on take-out from restaurants to survive those early days of parenthood.  But when you live in the suburban wilderness and the closest restaurant that has a take-out menu is a 15 drive, there's little chance that I'm going to make that kind of drive.

It's probably for the better anyway.  Our simpler eating habits mean we're spending less money on food, wasting less, and we have more quality time to spend with EH, which is really important to me, given how little time I get to spend with him during the work week.  Once we start him on solid foods we plan on making our own baby food, so our cooking habits might change once again.  I also recognize that as EH gets older, he'll get into a more predictable routine which may give me some additional time in my evening to put towards cooking.  But for now this new, simpler system works for us, and for that I am thankful.

Bumbo Fun

A few weeks ago we finally broke out EH's Bumbo.  If you're not familiar with what a Bumbo is, don't worry - you'll see one in the pictures below.  They're designed to help your infant "sit up" on their own when they're really not yet able to sit up.  As long as they have control of their neck/head though, this little seat usually does a good job of keeping EH propped up. 

Apparently on this particular day we thought it was really funny to put this toy on his head.  

The Bumbo works by basically squeezing them into this soft foam seat, with enough back and leg support to keep them upright.

 Oh, those baby blue eyes!

Reading his book at his "desk" with Murph

Sadly I can already tell that he's going to outgrow this thing faster than I'd like him to, but I'm pretty sure that's how the story goes for all things baby.  I love that we can put him it and walk away for a short period of time (never far, never long) and know that he's in a good safe place.  It's also nice to get him off of the floor, in a position other than laying on his back.  (Now that his hair is starting to grow, it's soon going to be really obvious that he has an enormous bald spot on the back of his head.)

Our First Family Photo

The day after Christmas we had a session with Picture People to have a family portrait taken.  We chose the day after Christmas because we didn't want to be overwhelmed by all of the people there for holiday portraits, and thus we also chose the first appointment in the morning that we thought we could handle.

Of course, this was following Christmas day, which was one of EH's fussiest days ever, due to a particularly nasty double ear infection.  We debated cancelling the appointment, but he seemed manageable that morning so we got him dressed, timed his naps and feedings perfectly, and got him to sleep in his car seat half an hour before we needed to head out the door.  Baby who just woke up from his nap is generally the happiest type of baby in our household.

I had reservations about what kind of pictures we would get from this session.  My sister gifted us a Living Social deal which was basically $10 for 3 sheets of photos (one pose.)  I was ok with purchasing additional photos as long as they were good, but knowing that they only spend about 10 minutes with you for pictures, and knowing that EH was really hurting, I definitely had my doubts.

My favorite of the family

But a few of the pictures turned out great, and for just over $50 we ended up walking away with two family shots and two portraits of EH by himself.  Sure the session was pretty standard, the backdrops were boring, and the photographer wasn't very creative with poses or getting something more natural than "smile at the camera" but in the end, I'm glad we did this.  EH is so adorable how could these NOT turn out good, right?

My favorite of EH

DH's favorite of EH

DH's favorite family photo

I think this is probably something that we should try to do once a year.  I'm sure it will be amazing to see how much he changes from year to year, and usually since either DH or I are taking the pictures, we rarely get a picture of all three of us.  Of course, with our fancy camera, new tripod that we got for Christmas, and a little effort, we might even be able to produce some family pictures of this quality ourselves!

Were Sick, Are Sick, Going to be Sick

At first I thought it was me.  I blamed it on the baby, passing illnesses on to us.  But every day I look at Facebook and it's all people are talking about.  Every morning I come into work and there's yet another email announcing that someone it out sick.

This winter has been the WORST when it comes to cold and flu symptoms.  I think it's pretty safe to say that if you are reading this you either:
1. Were sick,
2. Are currently sick, or
3. Are going to go be sick by the time you finish reading this

I'm on my third illness now since November 1st.  First was a sinus infection, followed by the flu (and I even got a flu shot!), and now I just have a nasty cold, and probably another sinus infection given the greenish/yellowish/brownish color of the nasty stuff coming out of my nose and throat.  I wake up in the middle of the night gasping for breath, with my throat so parched I can barely swallow to even moisture it bit.  My sinuses are so clogged that my face is swollen around my nose and if you push on the swollen areas you can hear a really intriguing and also nasty "squish squish squish" sound.

Pseudoephedrine only sorts of works.  Hot showers don't work at all.  Sneezing - if I can make myself to do it - has actually been the most effective method of clearing my nasal passages, and for that reason if you were with me in my kitchen last night you might have seen me sprinkling cayenne pepper powder over the sink and trying to sniff it into my nose in an effort to try to make myself sneeze.  The only problem with that was that my nose was so clogged on both sides I couldn't even "sniff" to get anything up there.

When we tell people we're (still) sick, most of them say things like, "oh yeah, I remember the time that I had newborn in daycare....". But I honestly don't think it's just EH.  I think that sickness is just in the air.  And even one of EH's pediatricians - during one of our nearly dozen visits in the past two and a half months - said there were some "really nasty viruses" going around this year. 

So if you're sick, consider yourself to be one of the lucky few.  But don't go around bragging yet - Winter has just begun and there's a lot of cold and flu season left to get through.

2012 - How Did We Get Here?

2011 was a crazy year, full of incredible highs and some of the saddest times I've ever experienced. For better or for worse, 2011 will certainly never be a year that I forget anytime soon.  I spent most of 2011 pregnant, and the rest of it was spent with a newborn. When I look at this serious of photos I can scarcely believe that so much change happened in one single calendar year. 

Seriously, how did we go from this?  To this?

From this, to this?

From this?

And now to this???

It's 2012, and although I have no idea what this year is going to have in store for us, I know it's going to be a wild ride, full of twists, turns, surprises, and most of all... baby smiles.

Minus the wonky eye, I hope

First Christmas Gift Ever

Although we definitely kept things simple with EH's first Christmas this year, we also wanted to make it special for him by documenting it.  We first made a video that hasn't been edited, but basically makes fun of my childhood videos where we were videotaped running down the hall to the Christmas tree.  We put Evan on his stomach in the hallway and taped him squirming for a few seconds, then I helped him down the hall and we opened his presents.  If we ever get that video off of the camera and edited into a clip I'll be sure to post it here, but since that may never happen, I figured I would just spoil the ending.

Anyway, for Christmas EH got a pair of blue jeans (that you can see there to the right), about 12 Berenstain Bears books, and an ornament with the year on it.  We're going to get him an ornament each year with the year and then when he's older he can have them if he wants them (which we hope he will.)  The picture above is of him opening his first Christmas gift ever. A momentous occasion if you ask me!

These pictures aren't too exciting, but I love the look on his face in that second one.  "What is this, daddy??" he seems to be asking quizzical.  When actually he's just really slouched over.  Sometimes he's not so good on the sitting up straight part....

Sadly there really aren't many more pictures than these.  You might recall me mentioning several other times that EH was really sick on Christmas day, and oh so fussy.  Shortly after opening his presents, he went down for a nap, and slept for hours.  When he wasn't sleeping he was fussing.  But even though it was a tough day, I wouldn't trade it for anything.  He's already made our holidays more interesting and enjoyable and I know it's only going to get better from here!

And Then They Were Over

The holidays flew by in the blink of an eye.  I don't even know where the past week went.  We were traveling for most of it, and I made a conscious decision to not worry about blogging.  It's easier to enjoy life when I'm not worried about documenting it. 

The holiday was great, and we thoroughly enjoyed EH's first Christmas with us.  I can already tell that he is going to open up a whole new perspective on how I look at Christmas, and I think it's going to be really fun.  We kept things simple this year, since he's not going to remember is anyway, but we made a cute little video of him opening his first Christmas gift to show him when he's older.  We did lots of traveling yet again (even though we SWORE we were going to stop doing so much traveling once we had kids) and he got to spend a lot of time with his grandparents, aunts, uncles, great-aunts, cousins, second cousins, etc.  Everyone loved him.

Of course, the whirlwind event that traveling and staying with others is, EH's schedule was thrown completely off whack.  (Oh, and he also had yet another double ear infection, which peaked on Christmas day until we could take him to the doctor on the 26th, so that was fun.)  His sleep schedule was completely messed up and we ended up giving way more late-night feedings that we ever wanted to.  All of that has meant that since we've been home, he's not been a good sleeper AT ALL.  Let the re-training begin. 

And we still haven't "taken down Christmas."  Yes, our Christmas lights are still illuminated outside, and although some people might find that to be trashy, I secretly love it.  Christmas lights make me smile.

Thanks for checking in!