Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Fourth Trimester

Beatrice is now twelve weeks old.  

This is a big milestone for us "Attachment Parenting" folks, because it marks the end of what is known as "the fourth trimester." Basically, babies spend three trimesters inside and require this "fourth trimester" to transition from being in utero to being out in this crazy world.  During these first twelve weeks, the most important thing to us is easing this transition. For the most part, Bea's transition has been pretty smooth - at least that's what I think she would say if you could ask her.

The Stats:
Weight: 9 lbs. 5 oz. (99th percentile for a newborn)
Height: 21.5 inches (75th percentile for a newborn)

*Due to Beatrice's problems with eating after ingesting too much amniotic fluid during her birth and requiring her stomach to be pumped, her weight dropped down to just over 8 lbs in the days after her birth. Since she lost more than 10% of her birth weight, this put her into the high risk category. Once we got her home and regular nursing was established, her weight started to climb. At the lowest point she was in the 5th percentile for weight. 

One Month
Weight: 10 lbs. 2 oz. (up from the 5 percentile to the 75 percentile for her age)
Height: 22.25 inches (90th percentile for her age)

Two Months
Weight: 12 lbs. 12 oz. (90th percentile for her age)
Height: 23.5 inches (75th percentile for her age)

* At her two month appointment, she had finally hit the 50th percentile for her height/weight ratio, meaning that her weight was well-proportioned to her height. Up to this point, she was still measuring underweight for the average baby the same height.

The Reflux:

At the tender age of only 11 days old, we made the decision to put Beatrice on zantac. There was no doubt in our minds whatsoever that she had reflux because we had been down such a rocky road with Josie and waited way too long to just bite the bullet and put her on meds that her sleep habits never fully recovered. We didn't want the same for Bea and she had already been through so much with the recovery from her birth and all the fluid in her stomach, so we did it. And it made a difference almost instantly.  I simultaneously began an allergy  restriction diet to determine whether or not there was a dietary reaction to my breastmilk that was making her so sick.  (I did the same with Josie but it didn't make a difference. The one thing I did not phase out with Josie was nuts and we of course later found out she was allergic to them. It never occurred to us at the time though that me eating nuts was making her so sick. Cue the mama guilt.)  Back to Bea...I phased out dairy first and it made a real difference. After a couple of weeks (dairy takes a while to leave your system) her vomiting and major reflux issues were nearly gone. I later learned that she was also sensitive to soy.  It has now been nearly 10 weeks without dairy or soy and she's feeling great. It's not as bad as I thought it would be to go dairy and soy free and, like most things, this too shall pass. She is still on the zantac, but a mild dose. We tried to take her off of it, and some of her symptoms returned. Nothing like they were before I changed my diet, but enough that we decided to keep her on the zantac at least for now.

The Cough:

Little Beatrice was sick three times in the first twelve weeks. And there were some very scary moments during the second and third bouts with "the cough."  You know the one - the constant hack, the "i'm just a little baby so when I cough this hard there will be projectile vomit and choking so consider yourself warned" cough. Through no fault of her own, Josie brought home some pretty strong germs from pre-school and there was just no sparing Beatrice - especially with sweet Josie's constant hugs and smooches.  There were a few sleepless nights to check her fever and her breathing, long spells in a steamy bathroom to clear her congestion, calls to the 24 hour pediatrician line and lots of worry. But, in the end, she came through everything fine with lots of extra nursing and TLC.  One important sidenote: mamas - get yourself the Nose Frida! It looks crazy and sounds disgusting, but it works (and there is absolutely physically no way to get snot in your mouth so don't worry).  Plus, it doesn't cause 1% of the agony that those darn nose suction bulbs do!

The Big Sister:

Josie has been unbelievably wonderful as the big sister! She has taken to the role like a duck to water, and truly - who is surprised?  Seeing her with her baby sister and hearing the things she says to her makes every bit of the work we went through to bring Beatrice here worth it all 100%!  She's such a big help and loves talking, singing and playing with Bea. My favorite thing is how she always says "Oh Roly, don't worry, your big sister is here" if Bea makes a peep.  Josie is *really* looking forward to spending every day of the whole summer with Beatrice (although I'm a little nervous for that transition but we shall see).  Now that Bea smiles and coos at Josie, she is even more delighted with her!  So many good times already, and so many more ahead.

The Droid:

This is just a special shout-out to technology. Seriously, smartphones didn't exist with Josie and I don't know how I survived. Those early weeks of through-the-night nursing were nothing with my handy Droid.  And thanks to the Baby ESP app, tracking everything from diapers to zantac was a breeze!  We also quickly learned thanks to that App that Bea is a "90 minute napper."  She takes a nap every 90 minutes. Once she started to reveal this pattern to us all on her own and with the advise of our friend Jodi who teaches a class about the book, naptime became a cinch.  (Here me loud and clear fellow AP's - we are not sleep trainers. While the author does advocate CIO for parents who dig that kind of thing, the whole 90 minute nap bit is way more about following the natural rhythms of sleep/awake cycles than it is actually trying to train your baby into sleep submission. Mark my words though, this won't work for everyone. Bea put herself into this routine on her own and we just noticed it and followed along. This would've never worked for Josie in a million years and won't necessarily work for your little love either. But it is another possibility out there for those of you who might have sleep issues. Trust me, we've been there. And we feel for you!)

The Cloth Diapers:

For lots of reasons, we decided to Cloth Diaper little Bea's bum. After a failed attempt with gdiapers with Josie (they squeezed the heck out of her legs and it was before they offered the safer and more environmental cloth inserts), we talked to lots of people at their own CD experiences and finally decided on simple pre-folds with Thirsties covers for Bea.  It has been really easy and I'm so glad we took the plunge.  When I have a minute, I will actually calculate out the savings (because I'm curious) but suffice it to say that once we realized how many diapers we were saving from the landfill, it became an even more obvious choice. I mean really, in just the six weeks since we've been using cloth we've already saved hundreds of disposable diapers from the trash heap. Just think about that multiplied out from now until she is potty trained!

The Massage Oil:

Beatrice very rarely cries. She's just mellow and that's the way she came into this world. It's just her disposition, and it will be interesting to watch how her personality continues to develop. Seriously though, I can count all the crying spells she has had in all twelve weeks on just one hand. (Minus tears in the carseat which is a pretty regular thing. She hates that stupid carseat!)  The great thing about the fact that she never cries (besides the obvious "she never cries" thing) is that when she does cry, you know that something is really wrong or really bothering her.  This takes a lot of the mystery out of parenting, which is definitely a good thing.  One evening after her bath, I tried some new infant massage oil scented like orange and vanilla. I had it all over my hands and was doing infant massage on her legs. As soon as she got a whiff of the oil, she started screaming and crying.  At first I thought I might of hurt her or something, but she just kept crying. I tried nursing her and she screamed louder. I handed her to Lou and she calmed right down. I tried to take her back again to nurse her, and she screamed again. Finally, we figured out it must be the oil. I washed my hands which helped, but couldn't get her to stop crying completely until after I hopped in the tub with Josie to completely wash off.  (Something similar happened with Josie and hand sanitizer when she was an infant.)   This weekend, Bea did the same thing whenever her Grandma tried to hold her so we suspect that she might have been sensitive to the lotion or sunscreen or something that Grandma was wearing too.    

The Meltdown:

I kinda pride myself on being honest about our experiences and like that our blog is a place to share things with other mamas who often feel like there are taboo topics that don't get discussed. Miscarriages and infertility have been big ones for us. And the emotions around everything that we've been through on top of the normal hormonal shifts and realities of the first few weeks with a new baby certainly made for a meltdown just ready to happen. And it happened. It really happened. It really, really happened. Last week, returning to work was very hard. (Sure I work from home but there are major disadvantages that counter the advantages this creates.)  It took a couple of days to sink in, but the fact that we had the hardest couple of years of our lives and the challenges of the losses and the difficult pregnancy just made it extremely painful to hand over little Bea and march back up the office.  Add to this that Josie is wrapping up her final days of her first year of preschool and has completely changed into a new little person in the past few months, and it was all just a little more than I could take. And were there tears. Boy were there tears!  But, I'm okay now and it felt good to just face it and move through it.  Thanks to all of you for the support, emails, kind words and important reminders over the last two weeks.  I am SO SO lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful women - near and far! 

Beatrice at 12 weeks:

She's all smiles and just as sweet as pie.  She's starting to make tons of sounds - our favorite is "Gooo" which is just funny since that's what we call her.  She has great eye contact and loves to be talked to. Her very favorite thing is being "up on baby mountain" where we prop her up on our knees so she can look down at us.   That guarantees an instant grin and lots of cooing.  She's starting to use her hands more purposefully and bats at toys with her hands and feet.  She loves sucking on her right hand, but just spits out a pacifier. She also just figured out how to suck her bottom lip which makes for some pretty adorable sounds and pretty silly faces.  She will play with and chew on a bottle (more on this in an upcoming post) but doesn't really enjoy it.  She sleeps from either 9pm-6am or 10pm-7am every night without a peep and takes about four 45-minute naps during the day with the occasional 3 or 4 hour mega-nap in the afternoon just to keep things interesting. (Again, this is just Bea. She's a sleeper.) She likes to sleep with the white noise machine on to mask the sounds of construction across the street, Daddy-work in the yard and her three year old sister.  She very very rarely cries.  She's quiet and alert. And we all absolutely adore her!

The Current State of Affairs:

All in all, things are pretty great around here. The meltdown came and went and life is good.  Our yard is taking shape and everything is starting to click.  Another huge transition is coming as Josie finishes up school this week and the summer routine (more on this in a future post) takes over.  Looking back on these first twelve weeks, it has been unbelievably easier than we thought it was going to be. Maybe it's because we got an "easy" baby, maybe it's because we have more confidence in ourselves as parents than we did the first time around, or maybe it's because we went through so much to get to this point. Regardless of the cause or combination of causes, things really are fantastic. Sure there are still a few kinks to work out and other things that we wish could be different, but no one is complaining. There is so much gratitude and so much joy around here, that it's hard to think too much about anything else. And that's a wonderful way to be. :)