Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Happy One Month, Baby Girl!

(I apologize in advance for always being so wordy!)

Ashlinn is one month old today. It is hard to believe in two ways - (1) Wow... she's a month old already?!!! and (2) God, it's only been a month?!!! (when you spend 24 hours a day with someone who is helpless and completely reliant upon you and someone who can cry for hours a day, the days tend to pass slowly). It's been a rocky month as most new parents will tell you. Our days involve consistent trial and error as babies truly do not come with custom manuals and you have to figure out how each one ticks. Ryan and I consistently question ourselves and looking back at the early days, we laugh at some of the solutions we tried that desperately failed. It does get better with time as every single parent has told us, and we greatly look forward real smiles and playful interactions, first haircuts, steps, words, etc. Right now when we'll try and entertain Ashlinn, she simply looks at us with huge eyes of concern and we have no idea what she's thinking. We'll have to post a picture of this look soon. It cracks us up.

Thinking back over the month, there have been a couple of memorable events that stick out above the others... The first happened about a week and a half ago when, dare I say it, we could have lost her. Ryan and I were going through our usual nightly struggle of trying to put Ashlinn down for the night - okay, let be honest, down for about an hour or two if we're lucky. It can take anywhere from 45 minutes to the entire night depending on her cooperation. I had been trying that entire week to get her to sleep in her crib with little success. After hearing horror stories of 5 year olds still sleeping in their parents' beds, I was motivated and yes, EXTREMELY sleep deprived from staying up much of the night trying to ease her to sleep in her crib. I had read that giving formula at night as a supplement sometimes helped babies sleep easier and longer during the night, and because this was about the time we were supposed to introduce a bottle for best results, we gave her a bottle of formula. She took it nicely along with a great deal of air, so Ryan and I both tried unsuccessfully to burp her for a good 20 minutes each and finally gave up out of sheer fatigue and frustration and laid her down.

After a bit of consoling, she was out. I quietly looked over her for a while assuming she would stir, but was sound asleep. I was so relieved and somewhat hopefully that "tonight would be the night!" I crept back into our bedroom and turned on the receiving end of the monitor and listened to her for a while before falling asleep. I was awoken by a quiet rustling noise coming from the monitor. It was an odd sound and although I couldn't place it, I had a horribly uneasy feeling. Seconds later Ryan and I ran into her bedroom after hearing a high pitched, quick wail followed by silence. I saw that the area around her head was soaked and realized that she had spit up. At first I assumed she was just startled from spitting up - hence the quick wail. Then my eyes adjusted a bit more, and I realized something was wrong.

She was moving strangely. Ryan noticed it too and turned on the lights. She was starting to turn purple, her eyes were completely bloodshot red and almost appeared to be bulging slightly, and she had lifted up her head at a funny angle and kept it there. I immediately realized she had aspirated on her vomit and was no longer breathing. A funny thing happened then - it was like I stepped out of my body and a complete calm, knowing entity took over. I told Ryan to grab her nasal aspirator bulb and told him exactly which cupboard and shelf it was on. I told him to hurry. I think he ran so fast he actually fell down the last couple of stairs, but returned within seconds with the bulb. I proceeded to suck about 5 tablespoons of spit up from her nostrils and lungs, pausing every few sucks to pound on her back trying to loosen up the material and also to startle her into crying. Occasionally she let out a panicky wail which was extremely reassuring. After about 45 minutes of this, she was finally breathing normally and although quite shaken, seemed okay. After that I relented and brought her back in our bed and watched over her the remainder of the night. The transition to the crib is temporarily on hold. Poor Ryan had to go to work the next morning tired and still recovering the previous night's events. I'm just so relieved she is okay. Since this happened, I have heard that two friends' babies, both seemingly healthy and around Ashlinn's age passed away very recently and it really makes you realize how precious your little bundle is. As frustrated with her as I can be at times, I don't think I could cope if I lost her.

The second event spanning a few days was not scary like the aforementioned and didn't directly involve Ashlinn. As Ryan just posted, I developed mastitis over the weekend and have NEVER been in more pain in my life. I originally thought childbirth was the most painful thing I'd ever experience, then realized it was breastfeeding (not as intense as childbirth but the pain was constant throughout the day and would continually worsen with each feeding, day after day), and now realized it's mastitis. Not only is the breast tissue indescribably inflamed with intense shooting pains and swelling, but the high fever I had for 4 nights caused every single joint in my body as well as my entire head to be inflamed as well as also in indescribable pain. Remedy? Baby-safe antibiotics, rest, fluids, and aw yes - nursing through the pain (the baby's tummy kills any bacteria ingested from the breast milk).

I have to say, Ryan really stepped up to the plate. I was completely disoriented from the mind-bending pain and the high fever and could not care for a newborn for more than a few minutes at a time. Ryan recognized this and Saturday night when the symptoms were at their most unbearable and I was far from being myself, he slept with Ashlinn downstairs to allow me to rest (meaning he didn't actually sleep in hopes that I would). I'm almost back to normal now and grateful for the assistance of my trusty assistant. When you don't have a village to raise your baby, it's at least helpful to have a partner in crime.

Anyway, I'm realizing I'm being my overly wordy self again so I'll end it here. If you're asleep after reading this, count yourself lucky and know that I'm jealous! :o)

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