Saturday, May 3, 2008

The 3 S's - sleep, sucking, and smiles!

WOW- it's been a LONG time since we've posted! Such is life with a newborn I suppose- except that he's now just a few days shy of 12 weeks old!!! How did that happen???!!! There's so much to say- where to start?

We ended seven weeks of maternity with visits from our family- my Mom and step-Dad, Brian's Mom, Brian's brother, his family, and my Dad. We loved having our family visit and spend time with Owen- it was such a big help to have them all here and Brian and I both really enjoyed the raw joy that our parents exhibit over pretty much everything Owen does! He is a very fortunate boy to have so many people who love him so very much!

Nanny & Grandpa (this was O's first trip to the beach- as you can see it was cold, but we still had fun!)

Grandma Shope and Great Aunt Millie with Owen at Uncle Dave and Aunt Traci's house. Grandma Shope watched Owen the first week Mommy went back to work and Daddy was finishing his last week of work! They had such a good time!

Uncle Dave, Aunt Traci (baby Shope in the belly) & cousin McKayla

Visiting Huntington Botanical Gardens with Pap

We have learned so much about our son over the last three months-
1.) his loves his binky and needs to suck (often babies with acid reflux, which he has, are soothed by sucking)

2.) he sleeps best in his swing- a record 5.5 hrs. last night- Hallelujah!
3.) he is best cared for when he is being rather "passionate" (we prefer "passionate" to "colicky" :) by being tightly swaddled, bouncing on the ball, while running the hair dryer for white noise- binky in its proper place
4.) he has explosive poop- ask Nanny and Grandpa about that! :)
5.) his face lights up when he smiles and he has a right dimple that he'll showcase when smiling if you're lucky
6.) he LOVES to eat- very specifically from the boob- although he does take the bottle from Daddy while Mommy is at work
7.) he loves to be tightly swaddled with a receiving blanket and then with a soft, cuddly blanket
8.) he can be cold at the beach when it's 95 degrees

9.) he loves to watch himself and others in the mirror
10.) he can melt our hearts in about 0.5 seconds! :)
We LOVE our son!

We are well- Owen is growing like crazy- he was 10 lbs. 8oz. at our last pediatrician appt. in April (he was 5lbs. 12 oz. at birth). Everyone who didn't see him at birth says how tiny he is and Brian and I laugh and say "well, he's basically a chunk now." :) I did go back to work April 2nd and Brian has been watching O full-time- except for M,W for 2 hrs. while he has class (he also has a night class and I'm home with O while he's at class).

Going back was hard- I never thought I would want to stay home with my children- I love my work and vocation and have worked very hard to find positions that really fit well with my passions. Yet, I would quit in a second to be home with my son, although that's not possible for us right now. I am so very thankful that we really have an amazing situation- Daddy w/O full-time, I come home for lunch and nurse on M,W and on T, TH Daddy brings him to my office so I can feed him. My boss and co-workers are amazing- love it when Owen visits and were really, really flexible with me the first weeks when it was really hard to get out of the house on time for work. :) It really helps knowing he is with Brian most of the time and seeing him at lunch every day! We also have new friends, Kim and Chris who take really good care of him while Brian is at class on M, W. They have a daughter Zoe, and we are already talking marriage. Kim and Chris take such good care of Owen - we are so grateful for the way in which God provided them! Chris and Brian go to Fuller together and Kim was recommended by another friend, Becca, who goes to the Fuller wives group with me.

The last few weeks have been quite challenging though with the new routine and schedule. Owen was struggling with colic at the end of March and we were trying to cope as best we could with the help of our visiting parents. We have determined we do in fact have a baby who needs the comfort and familiarity of the womb during his "4th trimester"- evenings were rough and he cried for about 3 hours from 7-10, 8-11 or 9-12 - he's so precise! :) The first few weeks of this were very rough and then we read the Happiest Baby on the Block- a lifesaver!!! We went to visit Brian's brother and his family in AZ the first weekend of April and I was talking to a friend there who had her baby a few weeks after O and explained we were struggling in the evenings (unable to do anything except bounce on the side of the bed, give our screaming son gripe water and colic tablets, and hope he would eventually fall asleep). She asked if I had read the Happiest Baby and I explained we had heard about it, but hadn't read it yet. She went home and got me her copy and I read it in the car cover to cover as we drove back to Pasadena.

The suggestions Dr. Karp makes are not rocket science- and we were doing the very things he suggests, but not in the same sequence and not layering them all together. So, all of that to say as Owen begins to struggle in the evening and needs our constant attention we swaddle him tightly (with his arms in), bounce on the edge of our bed or the exercise ball, give him his pacifier (the kid LOVES to suck!!! and the boob just wasn't cutting it in relation to his sucking needs :) and turn on the hairdryer. If we do all of these things at once he quiets down almost immed. and goes to sleep within about 15 min. (we then put him in his swing on high). If it's a horrible night and he's really struggling it may take a bit longer and we may have to hold him before we put him in the swing for sleeping, but evenings are so much better! Gone are the nights of trying to figure out what to do while we cry with him. I really believe all new parents, even those with less "passionate" babies- should read this book - the info is so great- I really loved the integration of info on other cultures and their practices in baby rearing. We will buy it for every pregnant woman we know! Are we having fun yet?

After a respite of a few weeks with the Happiest Baby info coming to our aid, O is now really struggling with acid reflux, which we think is exacerbated by the nipples we use on his bottles, so we are working to find the best combo for him when the boob is at work. ;) Brian has been such a trooper- it is really difficult to take care of a baby who screams in pain after every feeding all day long! I am so thankful for his commitment to our family in this way and my heart is always warmed when my husband speaks of his desire to care well for our son and be more patient with his cries (I am about the least patient person I know and have had a few nights when I really would have just liked to have given him away- Owen, not Brian!). It has been difficult, but our love and care for him persist in spite of our impatience some nights- God is gracious and for that we are thankful! We laugh that just as we were getting to the end of our rope he began to smile and all of the hard nights faded away! It is just so difficult to see your son in pain and not be able to do much to comfort him. Thankfully the last 2 nights have been better- we have been doing a lot of reading and research, are keeping him upright for much longer after his feedings, and are letting him sleep in the swing, which he did from 12am to 5:30am this morning!!! Yea!!

He is really the most precious boy with a very sweet disposition when his stomach acid is not burning his esophagus (who wouldn't cry?!)! Here are some more recent pics...

He loves to stretch and is ALWAYS moving his arms and legs!
So sweet- he loves the bath water
Tiny toes!

It's very tiring being this cute!

Our favorite Saturday morning tradition- tamales at the Farmer's Market

O loves Moe the monkey!
Owen will have the surgery to repair his cleft lip June 16th- we'll keep everyone updated on the details as we get closer!