Saturday, February 28, 2009

i need to ask you to do something

My heart is so heavy right now, I'm struggling to find words, so I apologize for this post being a little short. I need to ask you to pray for our friends. Matt and Patrice are an amazing young couple who are a part of my Sunday School class and are also Youth Leaders. We were just beginning to get to know them towards the end of Patrice's first pregnancy when she discovered that her baby boy had passed away in utero. Shawn and I watched them grieve with amazing faith and we quickly came to respect and admire their authenticity and steadfastness. Later, Patrice discovered she was pregnant again, and she gave birth yesterday. A beautiful baby boy was born, but he was born with Epidermolysis Bullosa, a skin condition that leaves much of his skin raw.

I'm not sure if we can explain why exactly, but Shawn and I are shaken to the core by this and our hearts are so heavily burdened. I want to just wrap my arms around Patrice and not let go. I want to take some of their burden and carry it for awhile. I want to touch Jonah's skin and make it not hurt so Patrice can hold her son. My heart literally aches for them.

So please, check out their blog: and more importantly, pray...please pray for their family.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

doctor's appointment

Just a quick update to let ya'll know that Jude's appointment on Tuesday was encouraging. He'd gained a pound in a week, which was twice what the doctor expected...yay Jude! He was 11.5 lbs and 23 inches long. He went from being in the 7th percentile to being in the 14th, which was very exciting news! So we're still trying to feed him as much as possible, but it's super encouraging to see his weight creeping up to where it should be.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I saw this gadget on the news the other day for your car. When your check engine light comes on, you just plug it into the car and it reads out codes for what is wrong. Then you get online, find out what those codes mean, and voila - your car is diagnosed! For just $80 from Black and Decker, you can find out if there's just a problem with the circuit or if your car is going to fall apart the next time you drive it. Oh, how I wish this gadget would also work for babies. Could you imagine? In my mind, it would look similar to a thermometer. You just scan the baby's forehead and within seconds a read out displays, "change my diaper," "please feed me," or even "take me to the ER now!" To the best of my knowledge, no such gadget exists, so we're often left with more questions than answers and the best guesses educated diagnosis of very expensive doctors.

Jude had gained nine ounces at his appointment on Tuesday, putting him at 10lbs 11oz. I would've like to have seen him weigh more...something like 12 or 13 lbs perhaps, but I know that nine ounces is pretty stellar for a week's time. This takes him from being in the 3rd percentile to the 7th. Our Doctor seemed to think mine and Jude's sickness was most likely the cause of his weight loss. Right before I'd gotten sick I had just started thinking that I was being a bit paranoid about this whole germ thing. I decided that I was kind of an antibacterial nazi, and I was a bit tired of asking if people were sick before allowing them to hold Jude and seeing the world as one big germ. I guess it turns out my germaphobe instincts were actually right on the money and were a part of my larger instinct to protect my baby.

Our Doctor started to send us to have Jude tested for cystic fibrosis. In most cases of failure to thrive (Yes, he was diagnosed with "failure to thrive," which makes my heart sink to just type. My sweet boy was failing to thrive when it was my job to make him thrive. It might as well be termed, "failure to feed your baby enough."), cystic fibrosis is suspected. We have good friends who went through something similar to this with their son, Miles, so I knew our Doctor might suspect this. Thankfully, though, I was tested for cystic fibrosis in pregnancy (I'm not a carrier), and Jude had a metabolic test done at birth that showed he is also not a carrier. As such, we didn't have to worry about putting him through that testing procedure.

However, Jude was diagnosed with GER. He spits up quite a bit, has sour smelling breath after he spits up, he arches his back when he's done feeding and is difficult to burp, he wakes up from naps crying often, he swallows his spit up sometimes and makes a face like he just sucked on a lemon, and he cries fairly regularly for no known cause. I thought some of these things were attributed to him being hungry (which they may still have), but after a week of feeding him very often, I noticed the symptoms continued to persist. Our Doctor prescribed Zantac and told us to mix rice cereal in with any bottles of expressed breast milk we gave him. Apparently this thickens the milk, making it less likely to be spit up. It will also give Jude some extra calories. The Doctor didn't seem to think Jude's acid reflux had anything to do with his weight loss, but everything I'm reading on the web says that weight loss or extreme weight gain are symptoms (Doctors probably loathe the phrase, "I read on the internet...")Some babies eat a lot because the milk is soothing to their throats, and some babies don't eat because it causes pain. Jude is a fussy eater for probably two or three feedings of the day (usually in the afternoon/evening). I thought that perhaps he had gas, but after watching him more closely, I think it's because of the reflux. Chances are good that he's not getting as much to eat during those feedings as he should. Hopefully the Zantac will work and he'll be able to eat without pain and continue gaining weight.

Through this, I've been really impressed with the Doctors' attitudes about breastfeeding. They both asked me if I was breastfeeding, and when I answered that I was, they both responded, "Good." I was afraid we'd be supplementing with formula at this point, but thankfully we're not. It's not easy, though. Jude's back to waking up often at night to eat. I'm glad - he needs the calories - but it's tiring to get so little sleep once again and then have to go to work. I can't tell you how many nights I've been nursing Jude at 3:00am and saying to myself, "that's it. we're giving him formula at night from here on out. i cannot take this anymore." So I'm setting mini-goals for myself. We have another appointment on Tuesday, February 24th to check Jude's weight again, and that is my next breastfeeding goal. I'm not opposed to formula - especially if Jude needed those calories for his health. But I know that breastmilk is what is best for him (especially with reflux), and I so desperately want to give him the best. I want to give him the best more than I even want sleep...most of the time, anyway. ;)

Through all of this, Jude has turned into the "smiliest" kid I've ever seen! No stranger or friend is unworthy of his grin, and I have to admit that making him smile is my new favorite hobby. Sometimes he laughs at me and Shawn like we're the funniest people in the whole wide world, and we're not about to tell him otherwise! In fact, I just went to get Jude up from a nap. He was laying there, all swaddled up and precious. All I said was, "Hey bug!" (a shortened form of the nickname judeabug) and his face broke out into a huge grin - which made me giggle - which made him giggle - which made me giggle even harder - which made him...well, you get the picture.

I think he actually looks like my Uncle Paul in this picture.

Jude's new favorite toy!

When Shawn took Jude into work on Friday, a friend of ours - who is also a professional photographer snapped these:

Thursday, February 12, 2009

weight and worry

I took Jude to our pediatrician yesterday morning because I thought he may have gotten either the cold I just finished up with, or the repiratory infection I'd had a couple of weeks ago. When they weighed him, we discovered that he hadn't gained any weight since his last appointment a month ago. He went from being average weight a birth to being in the 25th percentile at two months to being in the 5th percentile now (at three months). My heart sank when the Doctor graphed his weight and I realized he hadn't grown. What am I doing wrong? My mind immediately ran back over all the times I thought Jude was crying because he was tired and wondered how much of that was because he was hungry. That my precious son could've been hungry and I didn't feed him was heartbreaking. So...they took a urine sample and blood test to see if anything seemed strange. The blood test was brutal. I guess his vein rolled when they tried the first time, so another nurse had to come in and take the blood from the other arm. I was a mess as I watched them try for the second time. Not only am I starving my child, but he has to be in pain, too.

The blood test came back normal but it did show that he has a virus - most likely the cold I had. The urine test also came back normal and showed that Jude is well hydrated. We had a chest x-ray taken later that day, which also was normal.

The doctor seemed to think his plateau in weight is because I've been sick and stressed out - possibly causing a supply drop, and Jude has been sick - accounting for a drop in appetite. I've also learned that babies usually plateau in weight a little when they start sleeping through the night - which Jude did at about nine weeks old. Perhaps the combination and timing of these three things has caused Jude's lack of weight gain. We made an appointment for Monday to re-weigh Jude and see where he's at. Until then, I'm nursing Jude as often as he'll eat and am weighing him with our home scale every morning. I'll update more as I know more.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

pittsburgh's gone to the superbowl

Thanks to a pretty nasty cold, Jude's sudden desire to wake up two or three times in the middle of the night, and my official return to work all coinciding in one gloriously messy week - I'm slightly behind in posting the pictures of our fun SuperBowl weekend. First of all, if you have a minute or two, you should check out this song. It won't leave your head for at least a week:

Last weekend our little family took its very first road trip together! On Friday, we fed Jude his last feeding of the day (at around 7:30), did a quick version of his bedtime routine, and took off to Shawn's Nan's house - approximately three hours away. Jude did great for the trip - the only time we heard a peep out of him was when we were driving through the mountains. I think his ears were hurting a bit as they were popping. Once at Nan's, we put Jude to sleep in a Pack & Play and visited with Shawn's Mom, sister, and Grandmother. Jude's been sleeping in his own crib for at least a month now, so we weren't sure how he would do with sleeping in the same room as his parents. He actually slept like a rock when we climbed into bed, though he woke up at 3:00am - a habit he decided to continue for the rest of the trip.

The next morning we all got ready, ate a delicious breakfast made only as a Gramma can make, and took off for Ohio. It was about a six hour drive (including a stop to eat lunch), and Jude did relatively well. We had to stretch two of his feedings longer than three hours...and he let us know he wasn't pleased. Still - he only cried when we first got into the car and when he was hungry. Not too shabby!

As I'm sure you can imagine - life has been hectic for Shawn and I lately. He's an amazing husband and we have a solid marriage, but a good majority of our conversations lately have been business - when did Jude eat last? what's going on at work? what's your schedule like tomorrow? when do you want to grocery shop? do you need me to do the laundry today?- I'm sure you've been there, too. We've always loved taking road trips together, but this trip seemed especially sweet. It was wonderful to sit and just talk. Neither of us had to be anywhere, neither of us was distracted by a fussy infant, and we were able to just talk. We talked about Jude of course, about work, about dreams, about fears, about memories...and I dare say that I love that man more today than the day we were married. I'm forever grateful that we were friends before we were ever attracted to each other - and I was reminded on our road trip what a great friend I have in Shawn.

Alright - enough of the gushing. We got in on Saturday evening and Jude got to meet his Aunt Aubrey, Uncle Jason, and cousins. That night, Jude once again woke up at 3:00am. Actually, I think he woke up several times that night. We now know that he was gearing up for a growth spurt. He wasn't hungry - just getting ready to be! Sunday morning was...yes...SuperBowl Day! Shawn held Jude in bed before we got ready for church and watched the pre-game coverage. It was early and his excitement might not evident - but Shawn was REALLY looking forward to the game:

Jude fussed a little at church, but Shawn took care of him and got him to sleep with relative ease. (Getting Jude to sleep is never easy...but we count a few screams and angry kicks as relatively easy). Right now, church is one of the most difficult things for me. Shawn's obviously busy on Sundays, so I'm pretty much by myself in the care of Jude. That's not a big deal - except that our pediatrician doesn't want us to put him in the nursery until cold/flu season is over (he says mid-March, I'm thinking beginning of March). So I keep Jude with me in service. In order to sit with Shawn during the sermon, we sit in the front, allowing for a quick entrance and exit for Shawn from the stage. Since Jude cries every single time he sleeps, he inevitably starts wailing at some point. I know it's probably only my paranoia, but I feel like every eye in the room zooms in on me and my crying baby. Whether they're thinking I'm a bad Mom, Jude's a cute baby, that I should just put him in the nursery, or just wondering what that noise was...I worry that I cause a huge distraction. And then I worry that I cause a huge distraction when I have to get up and leave because Jude's crying has gotten too loud. All of that to say that it was nice to let Shawn take care of Jude. He actually got Jude to sleep without having to leave, but he let Jude cry a bit more than I had been. It made me realize that I might be a more worried about what people think than I ought. Perhaps it's okay if Jude cries for a minute or so in the service.

Anyway- so after church came a plethora of pre-game preparations! And was game time! Shawn's entire family are Steelers fans, and they were all super excited. Well, except for Austin who is a Browns fan. He abstained from wearing any Steeler paraphernalia in protest.

Emily, Adrianna, Austin (holding Jude), Noah, and Caleb getting ready for the game.

The family cooked massive amounts of food and we thoroughly enjoyed spending time with everyone. Shawn's Mom got plenty of smiles out of Jude, and he looked like he was having a ball!

Shawn, Jude, and Heather preparing for kick-off.

...and Jude by the end of the first quarter. He unfortunately wasn't able to stay up for the whole game, but he enjoyed watching the Steelers play for a little bit, anyway. We got up on Monday morning and took off for home. We took Shawn's Nan back home with us (well...we took her to her home, which is on the way back to Winston-Salem). I know Shawn really loved having some bonus time with his Grandmother, and I enjoyed getting to spend more time with her as well. On both ends of the trip we got to see snow - beautiful snow! Us North Carolinians only see a few flakes each season, so I was beyond excited to see the white stuff!

I mentioned Jude's growth spurt, which seemed to have lasted about a week. Those days of going twelve hours between feedings have vanished. However - it's always fun to see him growing right before our eyes when he goes through those spurts. His little legs look like they got almost twice as long! I'm really hoping he gets his Daddy's height, so I was encouraged to see him getting longer. Because he was sleeping for so long, I had also spent some time worrying about he weight and if he was getting enough food. He's a small baby (25th percentile at his last appointment), and I worried about any drop off in weight. Seeing him go through this growth spurt helped me realized that if he's hungry - he'll let us know! He's sleeping longer with each passing night, so I'm hoping that he'll soon return to sleeping straight through until 7:30 in the morning.

So Jude has officially experienced his first SuperBowl AND he's officially seen his first snow. It was a big weekend for the kid!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

picture time!

I have several pictures that I've been meaning to share, so I thought I would throw them all into one post. Sorry it's just pictures, but let's be honest - I know you only come here to see pictures of the little guy - you can't fool me!

Jude's two month shots and manly Garfield band-aids.

Trying to get a picture of his latest endeavor...sucking his thumb.

Personally, I think he's looking more and more like Shawn!

The one picture I took while my Mom was here. Sad...I know!

More attempts at getting a thumb sucking picture

It's hard to tell, but he actually is sucking his thumb. It's cuter with the noises he makes. :)

"Maybe if I can get this fist up to here...and then maybe I can stick that thumb out...and then I could maybe open my mouth..."

The left hand is the assurance that the sneaky thumb will stay in there!