Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Saturday, July 21, 2007

New Friend, Ty

Justin does his morning exercises with his new friend, Ty.

I tried to separate the two... until Justin threatened violence.

Not yet a month old, but his 21+ inches are already pushing
the limits on the downstairs changing table.

As usual, you can check here for the rest of Justin's recent photos.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Mixing Bowl Baby

Justin (24 days old today) pleads his case as to why mommy shouldn't add him to the homemade banana pudding.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Milestones, part I

At 19 days into life, Justin continues to amaze us with the amount of personality that he has. Granted, he sleeps about 18 hours a day... but for those 6 hours of wake time, he's usually willing to entertain. As for baby milestones, here's the checklist from babycenter.com...

1 month
• Lifts head when lying on tummy
• Responds to sound
• Stares at faces

All three of those are checked off (well, sort of). We noticed the first one and his neck strength just a day or two after birth. Last week he was lifting and turning his head. But during his "tummy time" this morning, I noticed that he can lift and hold his head up for as long as he likes. It looks and sounds tiresome, but he's getting it. The "responds to sounds" milestone took about 10 days from birth. We were kind of unprepared for that one, so we started to think he was deaf until we read somewhere that his initial lack of auditory reflexes was normal. At the time, you could've dropped a pan 2 inches from his face (no, we didn't try it) and he wouldn't flinch. Me, I thought he was just tough like that. Turns out he just didn't have those reflexes yet. Lastly, the "stares at faces" milestone. Hmm. Well, we're trying not to take it personal, but he doesn't seem much interested in our faces... but he does stare at just about everything else and has about the busiest eyes I've ever seen. So much so that we already have to watch where we face him while eating because he's pretty easily distracted by new (and especially bright) things in the room. Every now and then I have to cover his eyes just to make him swallow.

At birth, apparently he also didn't know how to use his eyes in tandem yet, so they were wandering randomly all over the place; rarely in the same direction. And so yes, I thought the poor child was cross-eyed, too (new parents... gotta love 'em). But of course he just needed a little time to figure out the wiring system behind his eyes, and he's straight now.

2 months
• Vocalizes: gurgles and coos
• Follows objects across field of vision
• Notices his hands
• Holds head up for short periods

3 out of 4 ain't bad. His hands are his favorite snack, so he has more than noticed them. Now if only we can get him from eating them. At first, I thought that his hands were just happening by his face by coincidence; but after watching him, I'm now pretty sure that he is deliberate with them. He doesn't just stare at them or anything (maybe that's what they mean by notice... ?) but he does reach for his mouth and push the bottle away when he's had enough, for example. As for the vocalizing, I'll have to take some video and let it speak for itself. The poor fellow thinks he can talk already and will grunt, coo, and gurgle the entire time he is awake as if he just has so much to say. Even his pediatrician said that he is unusually vocal for his age. We'll have to wait and see if that translates to early speech or not. In the meantime, I guess we better decide very quickly what language we're going to be speaking around here so he'll have some auditory consistency and won't still be grunting, cooing, and gurgling once he's in high school. Or if he is, at least he'll be doing it with a spanish accent.

For more of Justin's latest photos, you can always go here.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Fourteen Days

Here's Justin's 2-week portrait. It was actually taken a day early (13 days) just in case he couldn't fit it in his schedule on his actual "birthday" (he's a busy baby). As expected, his second week of life has been a week of firsts. To name a few...

First bath...

First limo ride...

... and finally, his first day of work as a superstar model...

And just like that, a star is born.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The Rebirth

If you are even borderline obsessive compulsive, and are one of those people that wants everything in life to be measurable, then good luck with breastfeeding! The problem is, there's no way of knowing exactly how much food your child is (or isn't) getting at each feeding. On the other hand, when feeding with a bottle, you can chart your baby's feeding habits just like you would his height and weight, and (for example) diligently pour 1.375 ounces of formula into the bottle in order to achieve the textbook 16 ounces for the day.

Well, at 3:58pm last Thursday, the harshness of this reality hit me like a freight train when I learned that Alex would have to be readmitted to the hospital for what was essentially dehydration. No one expects to take their baby back to the hospital just 2 days after taking him home; and I am now of the firm belief that no one should have to suffer through the visuals of their 4-day old child connected to an I.V. tube, presumably clinging to his life with barely developed fingernails.

I'm pretty sure that that was my last visualization before the hyperventilation kicked in and the couch in the doctor's office broke my fall. As first time parents not knowing what to expect, V and I had very little chance of seeing this one coming. For the two days that we were home from the delivery, Alex's crying had been incessant and uncontrollable. And with all of our focus on trying to console him (with almost zero success), his gradual but steady weight loss slipped right under the radar. Simply put, even before the hospitalization, the level of defeat and frustration that we'd suffered left us physically exhausted, mentally drained, and spiritually humbled. We had no clue what was wrong with our child and that, my friend, has got to be the worse feeling on the planet.

As it turns out, he was just constantly and seriously hungry.

And so once I regained my composure and peeled myself off of the doctor's couch (you didn't think I was joking, did you?) Alex's pediatrician whisked us away to the emergency room to get checked in. When we left the house that morning, there was no way in the world that we could've guessed that we wouldn't be returning until the following week. And for those 4 days (Thursday thru Monday) V and I were cut off from the outside world as we did everything we could to help Alex battle his way back to his birth weight. Pumping, feeding, testing, changing, and consoling around the clock became such a full time job for both of us that by Monday, we were both sleep deprived and emotionally fragile beyond belief.

As for the solution: Between pumping every 2 hours for 4 days, and work with a "lactation consultant" we were able to get V's milk supply exactly where it needed to be by the week's end. But even more importantly, we were also able to identify that Alex had a restrictive frenulum (the string-like membrane under your tongue that holds your tongue down when you poke it out)... which was causing him to latch to the breast improperly. Basically, in layman's terms, the little booger was "tongue-tied". And so he also had a 10-second "surgery" to correct that, and can now stick his tongue out with the best of 'em.

In the end, we learned more about ourselves as parents (and as a couple) in those 4 days than I think we will in the next 4 months. Today was our first return visit to our phenomenal pediatrician in order to see the progress of Alex's recovery. And with that I'm proud to say that our bundle of joy went from dehydrated to downright chubby, weighing in just 4 ounces shy of 9 pounds... almost 2 pounds heavier than the low that he hit exactly a week ago today.

While it was the scariest thing that either of us had ever been through, we are exceedingly thankful that God got us through it triumphantly; and are thankful that now 3 days later it is nothing more than another story to blog about. And so the story ends with the 3 of us doing great and ready to start over. Driving home from the hospital the second time was very surreal, as we felt like we had been put through the fire and given a second chance at life. We look at him so differently now, it's amazing.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention... as a result of this entire ordeal, Justin Alexander (version 2.0) will no longer be affectionately known as "Alex"... but instead will now try to give life a shot as "Justin". Evidently "Alex" wasn't working out too well for him, and so the name change will hopefully be symbolic of a change in direction as we all pray that the worse is most certainly now behind us.

For the few mintues of sleep that we did get,
V and I had to alternate between a rocking
chair and a little cot built into the window sill.

Grandpa checks out our prized possession

It was only because of grandma and her willingness to
endure a sleepless night and a migraine that V and I
made it through those first two days of nonstop
crying before hospitalization.

"We're going home!!!!!"
Justin (version 2.0) is now simply a joy to our lives
and has left his screaming days behind him.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Delivery Photos

With things beginning to level out some, I've finally found some time to put together the photos from the delivery.

The photos are here, in the photo archive. They pretty much parallel the step-by-step timeline that I gave two entries ago. I wish I had time to make a full blog entry right now, but I'm not that fortunate just yet. While we are finally starting to get things under wraps around here, Justin Alexander's feeding schedule (eat, sleep, eat, sleep, eat, eat, sleep...) is still the undisputed driving force in this household. But I will say that V and I are at least starting to catch on, and are just now learning how to enjoy this miracle of life in the midst of our new full time job of catering to his every need and demand. Already, things are beginning to settle into at least a semblance of a routine, allowing us more time to smell the (roses?) and enjoy even this most challenging phase of parenthood. I'm also starting to shed some of my anxiety as I realize that 10 days have passed already and I've been successful in not breaking my "new toy". I'm also finding time to catch up with my never ending to-do list before it snowballs out of control, which also makes for a happier daddy.

A billion things have transpired since coming home from the hospital (including being readmitted for some mild complications... more on that in the next entry), but I'll have to get to all of that in due time. In the meantime, it's hopefully enough to say that mom is doing great, Justin Alexander is doing great, and dad is doing his best to keep our lives glued together until Justin is old enough to explain to us why he won't sleep more than 3 hours. The past 10 days have easily been the most challenging and humbling experience of my life. Fatherhood does not waste anytime when it comes to changing your perspective on life and transforming the way you think about pretty much everything.

As for more photos, be patient grandparents! We promise that you'll be caught up in no time at all. But for now, V has some pumping to do, and I have a bottle to prepare.