Tummy Lovin’

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Would you believe it if I told you Paul weighs over 15 pounds already? We love having such a big boy, well, big for us at least. Paul is about the size that Lydia and Abby were around one year old, but he’s only five months old. Although, it’s hard to believe we’ve had him in our home for almost half of a year already. This month Paul started showing more of his personality and preferences.

First of all, I mentioned last month that Paul had rolled from his tummy to his back. A few days later, Paul rolled from his back to his tummy and he’s been all-tummy-all-the-time ever since. No matter where you put him, he immediately flips over onto his tummy and holds his head up. When we lay him down for a nap or at bedtime he flops onto his belly and goes to sleep. On top of tummy-loving, Paul is a finger-loving baby. He loves to suck and chew on his chubby little fingers and hands. Sometimes it’s a thumb, sometimes a middle and ring finger, sometimes a whole fist. Paul doesn’t seem to have a favorite finger-sucking combo, or even a preference for his right or left hand, but he does love to suck.

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He’s still our happy Little Man. Paul is the most content of our babies so far. He spends a lot of his days on a blanket on the floor, or in a bouncy seat, or his jungle (when he’s not napping) and he’s usually just fine with that. BUT, if someone will hold Paul and talk to him a little, his whole face will just beam with delight. He’ll “talk” your ear off, carry on long conversations with coos and squeals, and get anyone laughing with his cute little chuckles. At nighttime, while he doesn’t always go to bed as early as we’d like, he sleeps like a champ all night long. When he does wake up before morning, he’ll just suck on his pacifier and go back to sleep. I usually get him up at 7 to feed him and he’ll keep his two-hour nap routine, but he doesn’t always want to eat at the two-hour mark anymore. During the evenings he’ll stretch out the schedule, because that’s when he gets held the most and, if he’s being held, he’s extremely content and will hold off on eating for hours. Sometimes lately he’ll get into a “chill” mood where he just wants to sit with Mommy, not eat, just sit and look around and relax.

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Last night I tucked Paul in for the night and came back downstairs only to hear him cry and cry. Finally I went up to get him. He wouldn’t eat, so I just held him in my arms and he just stayed there quietly staring at me for several minutes. I soaked it up, knowing my days of snuggling him might be limited…I’m not sure he’s going to wait until 21 months to walk like his sisters! But part of me thinks (and hopes) he might just always be a snuggler and that’s ok with me! With his big eyes and charming smile Paul is overwhelmingly cute and delightfully sweet. We just love our Little Man.

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No More Mr. Serious

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This month Paul finally transitined away from “Mr. Serious” to a smiley Little Man. Within the past couple of weeks Paul has grown to love interacting with people. He loves his Mommy. He loves his Daddy. He loves his big sisters. And he pretty much loves anyone who will look in his cute little face and talk to him.

Not only is Paul smiling a lot more, but he laughs and it’s cute enough to melt your heart. Sometimes Paul cries just to be held and when you pick him up he’ll give you his charming little grin and a chuckle that’s contagious. He’s usually content to sit wherever you put him: in his bouncy seat, on a blanket, in his jungle, or in your arms. Sometimes it’s just too hard to put him down and go “be productive”.

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Paul is still sleeping and eating like a champ. He weighed 14 pounds, 3 ounces at four months old and is our biggest baby by far. Dan and I are amazed at what an easy baby he is! He just rarely cries. He seems to be a little more of a mover than his sisters were too. In fact, last night he rolled over for first (and second) time from his tummy to his back. Way to go Big Guy!

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He’s also getting pretty good at those “neck raises” during tummy time. He’s become sturdy enough that he has taken over Abby’s standing toy. This is the first baby we’ve had who seems to be developing far too fast. Before we know it he’ll be rolling and crawling around, and it seems like we just brought him home! For now, though, we’re enjoying the smiles, the snuggles, and the precious baby laughs.

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I’m Pleased to Announce…

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I know thumb sucking is a controversial topic, and in this case I really do believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion. As a retired thumb-sucker, I’m partial to the thumb-sucking myself. So I am pleased to announce that, despite our use of a pacifier with this Big Guy, Paul has found his thumb.

His left thumb no less. Three for three. Maybe left-thumb-sucking is a dominant genetic trait…

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Little Man, Big Smiles

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This is Paul wondering why on earth I’m putting up a picture of him in his pink bouncy seat. Sorry Paul, that’s the only recent picture I had to post!

Despite the pink bouncy seat, Paul has had a great month. He’s smiling. He’s sleeping. And he’s falling into a pleasant little routine. Way to go Bud!

Paul is a pretty serious fellow. Every once in a while we catch him at the right moment and his super serious face breaks out into a big, adorable smile. Sadly, I have not been able to catch that smile in a picture yet. Paul seems to have an aversion to all cameras and tends to glare whenever we point one at him. Ah well, we’re enjoying the smiles in person and anyone who wants to see will just have to stop by and tickle him for a while.

Right around the time Dan started his new job Paul started sleeping in his bassinet. At night. In the morning. All day long. He usually eats every two hours during the day and sleeps for the second of those hours. Yes, he sleeps a lot. At around 9:30 Paul settles in for the night and doesn’t wake up for several hours. Seven is not uncommon, although sometimes he still gets up after three or four. I had prayed that Paul would be a good sleeper (better than his sisters), and after a rough first few months, it looks like he just might be. (Yay!)

I can’t remember if “they” say boy babies or girl babies are easier. Any votes? So far Paul feels easier but our babies weren’t typical. Paul is pretty content to rest in his bouncy seat during the day, or play in his jungle. He really only cries when he’s hungry, very tired, or needs a diaper change. He’s bigger than his sisters, about 16th percentile right now (12 pounds, 6 ounces when we weighed him last night), setting the record over our 3rd and 7th percentile girls.

He’s big. He’s sweet. And his cheeks are delightfully squishy. Happy three Months Little Man, we love you!

This Day

We are nearing the end of a really fun staycation, and I’ve been slacking on updating the blog so I could enjoy the time with my family. Monday Dan will start work, we’ll start having a routine again (you all know how happy that makes me 🙂 ) and then I plan to be updating a little more frequently.

But I did want to take time out to mark this monumental moment. Do you remember this day?

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That’s our Abigail at 81 days old when she came home from the hospital. She weighed less than six pounds and we were thrilled to finally bring her home.

Today Paul is 81 days old. He weighs twelve pounds and is just starting to smile. We are also thrilled to have him home, and to have had him home for so long already.

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Now how long do you think it’ll take before Paul is bigger than Abigail? 🙂

The Little Man Song

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Ever since we realized how much reflux was bothering Paul, we’ve been holding him almost all the time. His favorite position is to be snuggled upright on his belly, as you can see from the pictures, and he is held like this nearly 24/7. As much as we love snuggling our Big Guy, it makes it pretty hard to do much of anything else (like sleep!) and that can get hard on the attitude at times. A few days ago, as I was holding Paul, this song popped into my head and we’ve been singing it to him, and ourselves, ever since as a reminder of how short this season is and how we’ll miss it when it’s over. One time as I was singing to Paul and making up lots of new verses, Dan listened in for while. He mentioned afterward that he might take a video of my singing and play it at Paul’s wedding one day. I nearly cried just thinking about it. He’s already growing up so fast! So we vetoed that idea but decided to share it on the blog for memory’s sake. Here is a sampling of the many verses we like to sing…

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Little Man, Little Man
I’ll hold you like this while I can.
You are my favorite Little Man,
Little Man.

Little Man, you are so sweet,
from your fingers to your feet.
Someday you’ll be just like your dad
And that will make me very glad.
(Not holding you then will make me sad)
Little Man.

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Little Man, Little Man
I’ll hold you now and give you love
And when you’re big, you’ll give me hugs.
Little Man.

I’ll hold you like this for a while
I really want to see your smile.
I know you love to be held this way
So chores can wait another day.
Little Man.

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Little Man, Little Man
From your head down to your toes
I love you, you should always know.

Little Man, Little Man,
I’ll hold you like this while I can
You are my favorite Little Man,
My Little Man.

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When Dan read this he was extremely disappointed that I re-ordered some of the words from our most commonly sung versions of the song. So for the sake of our own reminiscing twenty years from now, here are our most common verses in their truest form:

Little Man, Little Man,
I’ll hold you like this while I can.
From your sweet hair to your feet,
Little Man you are so sweet.
Little Man.

Little Man, Little Man,
I’ll hold you like this while I can.
From your head down to your toes
I love you, you should always know.
Little Man.

Little Man, Little Man,
I’ll hold you like this while I can.
I’ll snuggle you and give you love
And when you’re big you’ll give me hugs.
Little Man.

Snuggle-Me-Paul

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In a few days, little Paul will be two months old, but he’s already hit double digits on his weight. According to our scale, last night Paul weighed ten pounds. He has nearly doubled his birthweight!

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The theme for this month was SNUGGLES. Paul loves to be held all the time. Most of the time, we don’t mind, except in the middle of the night. After several looong nights up with Paul, Dan and I were about to let the poor guy just cry all night before our pediatrician observed that Paul is suffering from reflux.

Once she pointed that out, Dan and I could see and hear that she was right. He’s like a pitcher! No matter how long you hold him after a feeding, as soon as you go to lay him down the milk starts gurgling right up his throat. I’ve been able to eliminate a couple of foods from my diet that have been making things worse, but Paul still needs a lot of snuggling to feel comfortable. I guess for my own future wonderings I’ll add that he eats about every two hours during the day and every three hours at night, but it doesn’t mean a whole lot as far as sleep goes because we’re up with him fighting reflux a lot longer than it takes for him to just eat.

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As the weather has warmed up, Paul has been spending lots of time in his own little jungle. This is one of our favorite baby toys. It’s not uncommon to find Lydia and Abigail lying in Paul’s jungle when he’s not using it. Actually, it’s not uncommon to find Dan or myself lounging in the jungle with Paul. He’ll (Paul, that is, not Dan) kick his legs and swing his arms and stare at the animals and the lights. It’s great fun.

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The best part about being two months old is that Paul is starting to learn how to smile! Now that we’ve seen those smiling muscles in action, Dan and I will do just about anything to get him to show us a grin. So far, he’s being Mr. Serious and we’ve only caught a couple half-hearted attempts, but we know great big smiles are coming our way. Even when he only grins a little, we just can’t tear our eyes away from his happy little face.

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The Big Guy

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Well, it’s been one happy, peaceful, sleepy, surreal month since our Paul was born and we are loving being a family of five. Paul has been doing his job like a pro: eating, sleeping, and breathing. For the first three weeks he did nothing but eat and sleep all the time. Well, sort of.

Lets talk about that sleeping, shall we? I include sleeping in these updates so I can look back and remember that it is possible to survive on very little sleep for a very long time. Paul is a good baby, but like many babies, he was born with his nights and days flipped. During the day we could lay him down anywhere at any time and he would sleep peacefully. During the night he would eat and go right back to sleep until we tried to put him down. Then he would spit up, or realize his diaper was dirty or wet, or he would just want to be held. So he would cry and we would hold him…all night long. He’s gotten much better in the past couple of weeks. On a good night, he’ll eat every 2 to 2 1/2 hours and sleep in between. On a rough night he’ll eat every hour and a half and he won’t sleep in between except when we’re holding him. (Last night was a rough night.) Dan’s been a champ guarding my nap times and letting me take a nap when the girls go to bed until about midnight.

But there are more fun things to talk about here than sleeping! Paul is up to…maybe 8 pounds by now. (Last week he was 7 and a half and we’re going to weigh him again tonight). And he actually opens his eyes! It took almost three weeks before we got to see much of those eyes, but now he’ll have one or two long stretches a day with his eyes wide open.

He’s so cute. We love holding him and playing with him in his jungle gym. Every day he seems to be able to see a little farther and he makes more little baby grunts and snuffles.

He’s developed quite the personality too. Or maybe we’ve developed a personality for him. Paul is all-business. We call him Stone Face when he’s sleeping because he looks determined not to wake up and to put all his energy into growing. He’s also developed several other nicknames (in order of how frequently we use them): The Big Guy, Little Man, Buddy, P-Kizzle, and PK.

Paul’s main goals right now are learning to lift his head and stand on his feet so he can play baseball with Daddy and on Sundays with our church. He’s already been working on the right form for holding and swinging the bat and he’s almost as big as Dan’s baseball glove. 🙂

It’s been over a month since God blessed us with this little take-home-baby and it’s still hard to believe how it all happened. It’s hard to believe we really have a little boy. And it’s hard to believe how peacefully we’ve been transitioning to having three munchkins at home (Dan helps a ton). We feel so blessed and can’t wait to keep watching our little Paul grow big and strong.

The Hospital Stay

I suppose most birth stories end at the baby’s delivery, but due to the circumstances surrounding Paul’s birth, the story just feels incomplete without including the next couple of days. So I guess this is Part 2 of Paul’s birth story: the hospital stay.

It was close to midnight before we were settled into our room on the mother-baby unit. Dan had run down to the hospital coffee shop and store to find us some dinner (finally!) and, after quickly feeding Paul, we scarfed down some food and got ready for bed.

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The nurse gave us a brief explanation of what the next 24 hours would look like for Paul. Babies born at 35 weeks often have problems with their blood sugar. The problem is, the fat stores that get babies through those first milkless days just aren’t there on a 35 weeker. There’s nothing to keep the blood sugar up, and once that drops too low a lot of other problems can follow. So, every three hours Paul was going to have his blood sugar checked. As long as it stayed above 45, everything was fine. If it dropped below 45, he would get one more chance. If it dropped below 45 again, it was off to the NICU to be put on an IV. Paul had to make it 24 hours with good blood sugar levels and the last 12 hours had to be consecutive.

That night went great. Paul’s first blood sugar was 67. For several readings he hovered in the fifties. It wasn’t until his second to last reading that he dropped to 40. Our nurse gave us a bottle of formula and explained that, by taking in about 15 ml of formula with each feeding attempt, Paul’s blood sugar level should stay high enough. So we reluctantly gave him the formula and I started pumping to try to encourage my milk to come in faster.

The formula did the trick and the next 12 hours went smoothly. Well, it was a sleepless nights (aren’t all nights in the hospital?) but as far as blood sugar levels, everything went smoothly. By Wednesday morning our nurse took the last blood sugar level. It was high enough and she declared, “We’re done!”.

Rooming in with your baby is entirely different from having a baby in the NICU. No rushing back and forth to and from the NICU trying to make it for nurse reports and “hands on” times. No trying to squeeze in rest between meals, showers, visitors, and trips to see Baby. I hardly even had to get out of my bed! Every time I looked over to see that little Baby bed next to mine, my heart was just so happy. I kept reliving the whole birth experience over and over, hardly believing things turned out the way they did.

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We snuggled Paul almost all the time. Even in the middle of the night it was hard to put him down. After two NICU babies, we just couldn’t fathom leaving him all by himself in that little bed when he could be in our arms.

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Wednesday brought it’s own handful of trials. Because Paul was born early, and because he was born quickly with a lot of bruising, and because he had a high blood count at birth, he was bumped up several risk levels for jaundice. Whether or not a baby has to be treated for jaundice depends on their bilirubin levels. However, the level that requires treatment depends on a number of factors including the baby’s age, and the risk factors I just mentioned. In other words, Paul was very likely going to need to spend time under the bilirubin lights.

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Sure enough, by Wednesday afternoon a light was brought in and Paul was put under it. Poor little guy was not happy being unswaddled and unheld. He spent the next several hours trying to tear off his face mask, all the time crying and squirming. His little cries were so small and squeaky (like a puppy, many have said), and it was so sad to watch him struggle under there. But he needed it and we were happy to do anything that might keep him healthy and bring him home.

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At 6:30 on Wednesday night, Paul was taken to the NICU to have some blood drawn to check both his blood count and bilirubin level. Our nurse suspected we might be able to accompany him and was certain our girls would never be allowed in the NICU. She didn’t know our history. The next half hour or so was a happy reunion. The doctor, nurses, clerks, and techs all enjoyed seeing Lydia and Abby again. We visited and caught up while Paul had his blood taken and everyone rejoiced in Paul having made it so much further than the girls. We were reminded, yet again, of how wonderful the NICU staff is at our hospital and half wished we could have somehow stayed in the NICU instead of the Mother-Baby unit for those two days we had to be in the hospital anyway.

After our little reunion, I went with Paul back to the room and munched on my dinner while Dan took the girls for a walk. We were waiting for the verdict. Most likely, Paul would be transferred to the pediatric unit to stay under the bili light and I would room in with him there (I had already been discharged).

Close to 8:00 the nurse came in and said, “Well, I talked to Paul’s doctor and we got the lab work back. You can go home.”

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Dan showed up in the room just a couple of minutes later and the nurse told him the good news. We couldn’t believe it. A take home baby! We packed up our things, and just like the story I thought I would never tell, we headed out to the car. The only differences between that story and this one were that Paul was in his car seat on the cart, Dan was pushing the cart, and the nurse was pushing me (in my other version I was holding the baby, Dan was pushing me, and the nurse was pushing the cart).

I share those details only to emphasize the goodness of God. While I can’t rightly call it a miracle that I made it to 35 weeks (others have done the same), I can declare with confidence that God heard our prayers and graciously, kindly answered them the way we hoped. He gave us a take-home baby, a safe and natural delivery, and let me hold Paul right after he was born. He gave us peace and joy through it all. Even in the days after coming home, He has filled our home with more joy and peace in spite of sleepless nights, fussy toddlers, and illness. God certainly has been kind to us and we will continue to acknowledge the good things He does for us.

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