Sunday, September 30, 2007

Getting Better

For those keeping up, you may be wondering how things have been since my rough 12-hours post. It is with great praise that I must report things have been better (like so many parents who've traveled this road before us promise they would be...)!

Elynor & I continue to improve at breastfeeding. It's getting faster and easier with each feed (see my last post, we even fed in public TWICE today).

AND, her ability to go to sleep in her own crib is also improving. We started off just focusing on her "bedtime", where Ryan has been amazing at "shhhing" her as many times as it takes (I think 4 or 5 is the record) to get her to sleep in her crib. For those unfamiliar (which I was just a few weeks back), this means only picking her up if she's absolutely screaming, but then putting her back in the crib once she's more calm, but before she falls asleep, and then gently patting and "shhing" her until she goes to sleep. "Goes to sleep" is the tricky thing, because often, after about 5 minutes, she'll wake up and begin crying again. Hence, Ryan going back and repeating the drill 4 or 5 times until she's *really* asleep.

Why do this? you ask... Well many camps believe it helps to create more confident, well-rested (and happy awake) children and, as opposed to the "cry-it-out" camp, it also retains their trust in you as their parent by being there to help/encourage them. But probably more than these reasons, we're doing it because it will help us to have a little more predictable schedule... at least as to when she'll be sleeping... and will also help me when I'm home alone to not have to carry or hold her every time she sleeps (potential grounds for me going crazy...).

I'm hopeful that it's working because last night after our 2am feed she *really* went to sleep after one set of "shhhh's" and this afternoon did the same! There is hope. :) Thanks for your continued support & prayers.


Today between the hours of noon & 2pm felt like it was straight out of a book or movie...

We felt pretty energized after 11am church (where we celebrated our first public feeding... thank God for the privacy of the balcony!). The sun was shining as if to tell us to take advantage of this Indian Summer with a beautiful outdoor brunch. We were also starving (hunger hits you lots earlier when you wake by 7am on Sunday) and thought we had about 2 hours until Elynor's next feeding, so off we went...

Cruising up Clybourn Avenue we had our standard conversation about where to go. Our criteria were outdoor seating, little to no wait time, and breakfast food. We decided on Rockwell Grill in Ravenswood Manor and hurried along as our growling stomach's grew louder. When we hit Western Avenue I could almost smell my omelette and taste my Diet Coke. Finally we hit Wilson Ave., where we typically turn left (or West), but for some reason Ryan continued north on Western. I didn't say anything, assuming he thought our parking options would be better heading south on Rockwell (I was also kind of crabby earlier in the morning, so I didn't want to nag or complain).

Well maybe I should have said something... for as we rolled through the intersection just one block north of Wilson - BANG! - we were rear-ended! It all happened so fast I hardly realized what had just happened. But before I knew it, my sunglasses were on the floor and my stomach had dropped. Then my new parenting instincts kicked in. I didn't really even think about my own safety or Ryan's (sorry dear). I just turned around to check little Elynor in her rear-facing car seat. She wasn't screaming and since I wasn't hurt, I figured (and hoped) she was okay.

When I turned to check the kiddo, I also saw the car that hit us. Much to my surprise, it was part of our dear Chicago Police department! That's right, we were rear-ended by a police officer!

We both pulled to the side of Western Ave. (just south of Lawrence). After checking to see that everyone was okay (Elynor was back to sleep already, so we trusted she was fine...), the embarrassment and concern of the policewoman was clear. She told us this was the first time she had done this in her entire career and she apologized over & over again. The car just received a few more scratches, so we were ready to drive off (remember how hungry we were?). But no, that would violate police protocol. Instead we had to stand around for close to 1 hour as 2 more cops came, also checked on us & the car, and very slowly filled out what seemed to be a million papers. I'm sure everyone driving by thought Ryan & I were some sketchy parents pulled over by 2 cops as we stood outside our car, holding our child & pacing. Once all the i's were dotted and t's crossed, we finally strapped the sleeping Elynor back in her safety seat (which we now know works - praise God!) and headed around the block for our long-awaited lunch.

Our PHEW! day could have stopped there. But one more surprise awaited us.

We were thrilled that outdoor seating was available at Rockwell Grill AND that the kitchen extended their 1pm breakfast policy after hearing our rear-ended-by-a-policewoman sob story. But before breakfast even arrived, Miss Elynor started to stir in hunger (remember how we thought we had 2-hours... the police stop cut into that). Not wanting to ruin lunch for everyone else, and feeling brave after feeding in church, I decided to just feed her right there at the table. Draped with my nursing apron, Elynor happily fed while Ryan periodically fed me bites of hashbrowns and sips of Diet Coke (I still need 2 hands to feed). Though the sun still shone, a light wind soon began to stir. It was just enough to jostle the placement of my nursing disguise, so I snapped into action trying to hold it down and prevent an unplanned flashing. In my anti-flashing focus, I did not realize one of the large patio umbrellas was also a casualty of the wind until it CRASHED into our table. That's right, the pole fell right behind Ryan's shoulder and one of the umbrella's points fell right into Elynor's carseat. Uh-huh - the same car seat that protected her just an hour before would have now been the scene of a major accident had she not been in my lap feasting away!

Again, PHEW! and PRAISE GOD!

What reminders that even on a beautiful, sunshiney day... when all seems to be perfect in the world, each breath is a gift and in a matter of seconds the course can change. Do we live each moment in light of this reality?

Sorry, I'm regretting the fact that I left home without a camera today. You'll have to trust me that this story is true!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Taking to the Pacifier

We may regret this later, but for now, we're excited that Elynor seems to be taking to the pacifier (with some assistance). Hopefully this will help us fend off the screaming fits when we can't feed immediately or when she just needs some soothing!

Goodbye Grandma Westrom


Today we said goodbye to a wonderful week with Grandma Westrom, meaning we're now officially on our own to tackle this parenting thing. During our time together Grandma provided tremendous support, holding Elynor every chance she could get (relieving Mommy & Daddy even during screaming fits and nighttime feeds), changing diapers, giving baths, walking Ally, and treating us to yummy peanut butter bars and lasagna. Possibly the best mark of her support is that Mommy got a shower and a nap every day. We will miss you greatly!

So Far So Good: 2-week pediatrician visit

Yesterday marked Elynor's 2-week birthday, which we celebrated with her first visits to the pediatrician's and Panera (outside the womb, that is:). We must continue to give praise for a healthy, thriving little girl. Her weight was back up to 10 lbs. 12 oz. and she measured 22 inches. We think her birth length must have been measured incorrectly, for, as much as we'd like to think our daughter is advanced, we can't imagine she really grew 2 inches in 2 weeks. All the other vitals also checked out great (though I wonder how the MD really checked them through Elynor's flailing, hungry screams). Possibly making Mom the happiest, the MD said we could go 5 hours between 1 feed per night instead of waking Elynor every 3 or 4 hours (unfortunately, as if she knew this, she decided to wake up on her own every 2 hours for the first time last night - we have our fingers crossed for tonight!).

After a hearty feed, Elynor was a champ, sleeping in her stroller long enough for Mom & Grandma to have lunch at Panera and do some shopping. What a day!


We're trying to slowly integrate an eat/awake/sleep schedule. Since Elynor is only 2 weeks old, she really only has a few active awake periods each day, during which we've started introducing some toys. Today it was time for her kick & play aquarium. She enjoyed the time on her back for about 5 minutes, an attention span that's supposedly pretty normal for a child at her age. This far surpassed her tummy time, which elicited screams in under a minute. We hope to build up her stamina on that one!

Starting Her Young

During Daddy Daycare this evening Elynor was introduced to ESPN the magazine. Narration included educating her on the major sports (note: the difference between college & NFL football, not to be confused with soccer, the American version of the international football), telling her about the newest Nike's, and showing her the phone Daddy would like to buy.

Was she sending us a signal when she lost it by the table of contents?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tough 12 Hours

She's currently sleeping in her Moses basket (thanks for sharing this Luke DuPuy)... which is good, because she didn't sleep much last night. Since about 6pm yesterday evening our clockwork little girl broke out of her beautiful pattern of eating and sleeping cycles - replacing them with fussing, screaming, and resistance to sleep. Though she seemed asleep in our arms, every time we tried to lay her in her crib, she freaked out.

I'm hoping this stretch is due to us mixing up the schedule in order to go to small group last night (our first feeding on the go, which took place in the back seat of the car... just a little bit awkward) and the gas she seemed to have, which I think can be blamed on the Potbelly Italian sub with giardiniera pepper mix that I ate for dinner (lesson learned).

Huge thanks to Grandma Westrom for staying up with Elynor during her fussy nighttime.
Keep your fingers crossed and say a prayer that we have a better day and night today.

Elynor's First Pub Stroll

Striving to enjoy the recent beautiful weather and just get out of the house, over the past week we have introduced Elynor to our fave neighborhood pubs (Feed the Beast, Brownstone, and O'Donovan's). As you can see, she hasn't been awake for much of this pub stroll, so hopefully we're not setting her up for any crazy pub crawls in her adult days!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Grammar Grace

My loving husband informed me last night that I have some grammatical errors in a few of my posts. I thanked him, of course, for being so concerned about my perceived intelligence. And then informed him that, when squeezing posts in between feeds & naps, I will not always take the time to run them past my proofreader.

So I write to ask you, my loving readership, to extend some grammar (and maybe spelling and punctuation) grace. I promise you I did good in skool and under diffrent sircumstanses would deliver perfecshun.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Welcome Grandma Westrom

Rye's mom arrived yesterday afternoon to give us another week of Grandma support & lovin'. We (and Elynor) is so blessed to be surrounded by a family that loves us so much. And she wasted no time diving into Grandma duty - helping with the first diaper change upon arrival, overnight feeds, and even letting Elynor sleep on her this morning. And what a gift to me. I not only got a shower today, but also got to dry my hair. Yippee! (My how times have changed, huh?:)

Multitasking Mama

At work we used to tease one of my friends & colleagues Kristian about the amount of time he spent on the computer. At one point he even kept a log to determine exactly how many of his waking hours were spent in front of the little screen.

I must now ask Kristian for his forgiveness. Little did I realize my own addiction. But when I found myself aggravated at my little girl yesterday afternoon for not adhering to her 3-hour feed schedule, and hence, preventing my computer time, the truth hurt. I was craving some 'connection' with the outside world, which I can get in tiny, nap-size, pieces via the web.

I was thankful for the arrival of Grandma Westrom yesterday afternoon. Yes, of course because she'll help out around the house, and with diaper duties, and crying baby support... but also because this will guarantee me a little more time at the computer.

With that, I've got to go. If Baby Elynor sticks to her 3-hour schedule, I should have 1 hour for sleep (because Grandma is holding her)!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Daddy Time

Daddy has to go back to work tomorrow (booo....). Why don't all companies offer paternity leave?! So in his honor, here are some highlights from his week at home.

The first diaper dump (2.5 days worth)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Goodbye Grandma Cochrane

THANK YOU Grandma Cochrane for making our first week at home a lot more beautiful... cooking, cleaning, comforting (new mama & baby), rocking, changing diapers, shopping... the list could go on & on. Here are some highlights from this special time. We will miss you. Enjoy your rest at home!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

One Week and Counting...

Today marked Elynor's 1-week birthday. It's so hard to believe that just one week ago she was in the NICU being bottle-fed and having her blood sugar checked regularly, while I recovered upstairs, praying for her quick and full stabilization. In this short week, God has been so good... we give thanks for Elynor's quick release from the NICU, her shift from bottle feeding to breastfeeding, the blessed time with our families, she is eating, pooping/peeing (a TON), and sleeping, my mom is making sure we eat, and my mom & ryan are helping with diapering/consoling the screaming baby.

Here are a few firsts we've marked in the past few days:
1. First projectile poop (Oh dear, yells Ryan from Elynor's room. Sarah, bring a towel quick!)
2. First outing in the stroller and dinner out (We have to savor these remaining days of outdoor dining.)
3. First sponge bath (Thank you for the warm, soft towel, Aunt Corinne. See photos, below.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Home Sweet Home

Goodbye Room 1114!

Ally & Elynor getting acquainted (so far, so good...)

Our sleepy burrito

Yay! After a stop at Dairy Queen (yummmm... 5 days of hospital food created some cravings) we arrived home yesterday around 4pm. Elynor slept contentedly in her car seat the entire trip - even through the terrible Lake Shore Drive pot holes and some squeaky breaks. Thanks to the tremendous support of our in-home housekeeper/nurse/au pair, Grandma Cochrane, we are slowly getting into a groove of this new thing called parenting.

Many thanks to all who have called and emailed over the past several days. Your encouraging words and well wishes mean so much - especially in the moments when we feel clueless about what we're doing. It would be difficult to get back to everyone in a timely manner, so please don't be offended if a personal reply does not come until October. :) Over the next few days we hope to savor the down time getting to know Elynor, introduce her to Ally, and establish a routine/get some rest. We're thinking we'll be up for some visitors starting late in the week - so be in touch then!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Drumroll Please...

With tremendous praise we proudly introduce Baby Westy, Elynor Aline! Born Thursday, Sept. 13 at 11:19am; 11 lbs. 3 oz. (no, that's not a misprint!:); 20 inches.

Thanks to everyone for your thoughts, prayers, calls, and emails over the past several days. It's not for lack of intention that we're so delayed in sharing these visual mementos of our big little girl. Things have just been a little bit hectic.

Because Elynor's blood sugars were lower than we'd like in the hours following her birth she spent her first 36-ish hours in the special care nursery with regular bottle feeds and blood sugar checks. This meant her daddy spent this time making runs between the 11th floor to care for her recovering mommy and the 3rd floor to feed and care for Elynor. Praise God! Her body took over and she began to regulate her own blood sugars by Friday morning (9/14) and she joined us in our room around 3pm that day.

Since then, we've been getting to know her and also attempting to transition her from the bottle feeding she received in the special care nursery to breast feeding. Without going into too much detail, I'll just say this process is a little bit tricky, and requires her mommy and daddy to work as a tag-team with every feeding (translation = both receiving little sleep).

As of this writing (a little under 4-days into Elynor's life), I'm recovering nicely from the C-section and Ryan & I are taking in the beauty of each new experience, supporting one another with patience, laughter, tears, and a continued awe at this miracle of life. We're on our way home today, and the adventure will continue...

Without further ado, here are a few more photos. We'll do our best to keep posting as we continue to get the hang of this parenting gig!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Last Supper

It will come as no surprise to those who know my routines that I am writing this post from Panera Bread (at Clybourn & Southport), enjoying my "last supper" of sorts (bacon turkey bravo, chicken noodle soup & an apple... yum!). Yes, it is only 2:30pm, but because I'll need to really manage my blood sugars tonight, anything I eat after 5pm will need to be basic and bland - leaving no room for error in counting carbohydrates. Since this is also my "2nd office" - a place where I've spent a lot of time over the past few years/months.... I think the familiar setting and people are providing me some comfort as any anxiousness builds up about tomorrow.

To be fair, Rye & I did go out for a real "Last Supper" last night - a beautiful, cool evening of outdoor dining at our local pub, Brownstone, where we enjoyed a $2 burger/fries and $5 salad. We had a great time sharing what we're most excited about (with only a few tears from me) and chatting about last minute details for the big day/weekend.

How fun (albeit different) it will be to soon enjoy these places with our newest family member.

Tomorrow, tomorrow...

I love that song from Annie...
The sun'll come out... tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there'll be sun
Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow
You're only a day away
(sorry, no videos of me singing)
On this eve of our daughter's birth, I'm finding it difficult not to focus exclusively on tomorrow.

Yes, for those to whom this is news, we have a c-section scheduled for tomorrow at 11:30 am. Unless she decides to come between now & then, her birth certificate will read Sept. 13, 2007, sometime around 12pm. For those who find this level of planning a little bit too 21st century, I'm right there with you (I've got another post coming on this topic)... but with the baby's projected size there's really no debate on the c-section, and since they don't like for diabetic women to go much past 39 weeks, this really is best for her and me. So here we are...

One benefit to knowing exactly when we'll go in for delivery is having a team of friends and loved ones dedicated to praying for us. As you think about tomorrow (and as the Annie song now rings in your head all day, today), will you please lift us, and some of the following specifics, up in prayer?

Thank you... and be sure to check back, tomorrow! :)
1. Sarah's blood sugars to cooperate overnight and into the morning, leading up to the surgery. Pray that she will not need to eat/drink due to low blood sugar within the 6-hours pre-surgery, and alternately, that her blood sugars will not err on the high side.

2. Sarah & Ryan to experience peace, and not anxiety, in the next 24 hours through the coming days. Pray that we will find comfort in God's sovereignty over every event. Pray that we'll be able to just relax and take it all in, together.

3. Wisdom and kindness from the medical team... and a sensitivity to the fact that this is the birth of our daughter, not just another surgery on the conveyor belt.

4. Sarah & baby's health during & post-delivery.

5. Safety for family members traveling to Chicago.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

It's candy corn season!

Labor Day must mark the start of Halloween season in the retail industry. I was somewhat startled by the transformation in my neighborhood Walgreen's when I stopped in last Friday. But just when the annoyed thoughts (Is it really necessary for that goofy goblin head to howl at EVERY person who walks by?!, How early will they put this stuff out next year... after July 4th?, Do people really put their kids in those itchy costumes?) reached a boiling point in my head... I stumbled upon a little gold mine! Yes, there at the end of the aisle the small orange bags seemed to glow in a spotlight only I could see. All annoyed thoughts quickly dissipated as I unexpectedly entered into one of my favorite times of year - CANDY CORN SEASON!

I used restraint on Friday and only purchased a 2 small bags - the Autumn Mix (a lovely blend of standard & chocolate candy corn with mellow pumpkins) and a newcomer to this wonderful season, a Carmel Apple flavored candy corn. I couldn't get through the checkout line and to my car fast enough. It was there, to the sound of an end-of-summer rain storm, that I enjoyed my first tastes of this season's candy corn bliss. The Autumn Mix was amazing - perfectly sweet and chewy, as always. And while I was skeptical, the Carmel Apple could be a new favorite. I'm still working on the golden ratio, but I'm thinking 1 carmel apple kernel to 1 mellow pumpkin to 4 or 5 plain/chocolate corn kernels is the perfect sweet tooth fix. Fortunately, I have a few months to perfect this combo.

For those wondering how you feel about a woman with diabetes celebrating candy corn season, never fear... last I checked, corn, pumpkins, and now, apples, count toward my daily vegetable & fruit intakes. :)

Monday, September 10, 2007

My how we've grown

Check out these pics with our dear friends Ed & Leslie. The first was taken back in February, just before we announced to each other we were expecting while walking on the beach in Sanibel Island, FL. The second this past Friday night. They are due just a week after us and it's been a blast going through the pregnancies together.

Approx. 2 months preggo - fighting the morning sickness
(I blame the ocean breeze for my funky hair)

A matter of weeks before delivery - enjoying a final pre-baby night out

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Camo Couple

I've been told this camouflage shirt does nothing to disguise the belly. But I figure it's worth a try!

The pic was taken at Barry's big birthday bash on Aug. 24 (pregnancy week 36). Here are a few more pics from the big event:

Triathlete vs. Baby bellies - Franki & Sarah

Passing on some new mama love - Julie, Sarah & Kim

One last hurrah for the awesome party deck


How does that sound for a birthday?

Just in case Baby Westy does not come on her own beforehand, we have scheduled a c-section for NEXT THURSDAY, 9.13.07 (yes... it seems so far away... at least to my body...). For those keeping track, this will be one day into week 39 and is already baby's Aunt Katy's birthday. For those in When Will Baby Westy Come? pools, please note that we did not pick this date - rather, the MDs and their surgery schedules did. Honest! We're keeping our fingers crossed that she'll decide to come sooner!

After a battery of tests at yesterday's appointment, it appears as if Baby Westy is still thriving in my belly (praise God!)... and as if she is still a big girl. The MDs aren't convinced about the accuracy of the size estimates (they say my belly doesn't look/feel as big as she's measuring)... so we're just saying she's big enough to warrant a c-section. And we will all be surprised at her actual size on her birthday (maybe we should start some pools for this)!

So for now, here's the latest update on my growing belly, and our growing baby (I think the belly scared Jonathan, our 'pseudo-brother' and childhood neighbor):

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Encouraging Words While We're Waiting

Well, Labor Day came and went with no labor in the Westrom home. During this time of *sometimes impatient* waiting, I've found great encouragement from the following words:
For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before they came to be.

Psalm 139: 13-16
I'm sure this passage is one I'll come back to frequently as a mother. Right now, three big lessons are encouraging me:
1) I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful: Am I praising my maker and my baby's maker for wonderfully making us both? Or am I too distracted by my own discomfort and impatience to do so?
2) All the days ordained for me were written in your book before they came to be: Wondering if every day will be 'the day'... and when it's not, wrestling with impatience/contentment... this verse is a great reminder that God has a perfect plan for both me and the baby inside me. He knew/knows just how many days I will go through discomfort just like he knew/knows how many days this little girl will hang out inside me. And trusting his perfect plan, I can take comfort in this... even when I'm uncomfortable.
3) As I've mentioned before, I've also wrestled with guilt/responsibility for not managing my diabetes well enough during this pregnancy... possibly resulting in the baby's size and/or future health issues. Throughout this passage I find encouragement to let go of this guilt. The same sovereign maker knit together me and this baby. And (as shared in other verses), he perfectly loves and will care for both of us - no matter what these days bring.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Finished Products: Our Bedrooms

Back in July I wrote about our incredibly productive prepare-for-baby work weekend, during which, with the help of my parents, we tackled everything from painting our bedrooms and changing light fixtures to moving furniture and shopping for new decor.

Since then, we've added the finishing touches and are excited to share the below pics of the finished products (well, finished today... is design ever really finished?).

Special additional thanks to:
- Tom, Kim & Natalie for giving us their gently used crib
- Stephen for helping assemble the crib
- Craigslist friends for the great deals on all other furniture
- Stephen, Alisha, Tracy & Tracy for helping move Craigslist furniture
- Rye for tackling my long to-do list (usually with a smile)

Note: I had to be very strategic with the baby's room pics because we just hung letters for her name over the crib... and since the name is a surprise, well, you'll just have to wait and see.

Our new room (makes us feel like adults)

More 'real' furniture for the adult room

Baby's room - view from the door

Baby's room - view from the rocking chair

The crib from the rocking chair

Baby's room - view from the rocking chair

The rocking chair (No, we're not trying to make the baby a techie with that giant old computer. It will disappear once Rye gets a laptop!)