How are these boys growing up so fast?!
My mind is flooded with thoughts whenever I attempt to share how our lives have been since returning to the States. So many different emotions. It’s hard to know what to focus on and where to begin.
For starters, let me tell you something about a little-known phenomenon called “reverse culture shock”. I’d heard of it , but I had no idea that it could pack such a wallop. For the first 2 – 3 months of being back in the States, everyday situations would leave me feeling overwhelmed, lost, and sad.
Driving a car with 2 children in the back.
Entering a shopping mall.
Never did the old saying “you can never go home again” seem so apropos.
Let me give you some specifics…
When we lived in NZ, I was often sticker-shocked by the cost of groceries. More than once, I would bemoan the high prices. I eventually realized that you get what you pay for, and in New Zealand, you pay for and get a very high quality of life. But those groceries were still expensive compared to what I’d paid in the USA.
Then, we move back here. I go grocery shopping, see the low prices, and start to cry in the aisle. Not giant boo-hoo crocodile tears… it was the tiny, stinging, pin-prick tears that take your breath away and turn your nose bright red. Still, tears nonetheless. I was, and still am at times, consumed with guilt and regret whenever I shop. I feel like a sell-out. I regret my complaining about NZ prices, and I feel like those USA groceries are a smack in the face. I got my lower prices, alright, but it cost me New Zealand.
Now, imagine feeling that way every single time you walked into a grocery store. It gets old. And overwhelming. It means that when you get home, you’re in a blue funk and you’re constantly second-guessing yourself. You’re so overwrought that you miss 1/4 of the items on your list and have to go back to the grocery store. That was me. I would get home from the store feeling like I’d been popped in the mouth. Oftentimes, I did my shopping in the evening once the boys were asleep and I could peruse the aisles solo. I would miss those NZ prices, the selection, and online grocery shopping. By the time I’d get home, I was a mess.
All of this, from grocery shopping.
Don’t even get me started on politics.
It was good to take a break. I’ve never taken such a long blogging hiatus (8 weeks) but I’m glad that I did. I started this blog as a way to share, chronicle, and remember what is going on in our lives. And, to be blunt, there are some times that I’d really rather not recall in exact detail. These last 8 weeks have been one of those periods. A combination of postpartum depression + reverse culture shock has made my life a big, emotional mess. I’m getting through it thanks to a supportive husband, friends, family, and a readily available nurse practitioner at the local medical clinic. There’s still a long ways to go, but I’m ready to start blogging again and sharing what’s been happening with us here in Williamsburg, VA.
So, if you’re still following and still checking for updates, thank you! Get ready for lots of cute photos of the boys, tales of weird wallpaper from the 1970s, and lots of other life updates and thoughts on what it’s like to return to the USA from yours truly
I’ve tried to write in order to explain what this feels like, this moving back to the USA, and I can’t. There’s so much going through my head, and I find that I need to step away from the internet to process all of what I’m thinking and feeling. I hope that I’ll be able to come back here at some point, but for now, I need to say a temporary good-bye.
Thanks for reading, and check back with me later
I think that 5 1/2 weeks is the longest that I’ve gone without writing on this blog. Normally, I seem to have lots to say and can never go without posting for that length of time.
This latest blog silence isn’t because I haven’t had anything to say. It’s because I’ve had too much to say. I’ve felt too many emotions to write them all down without starting to cry halfway through the process. It’s hard for me to clearly convey what it has felt like to leave New Zealand and to move back to the United States. Happy. Sad. Homesick. Excited. Nostalgic. Guilty. Relieved. Familiar. Lonely. Hopeful.
I’m going to take another whack at writing some of these thoughts down in the next few days. Over and over again, I’ve found it helpful to go back to old blog posts and remember what I was feeling at a particular point in time. Sometimes, I laugh and shake my head at that younger version of myself. Sometimes, I nod in agreement. Sometimes, I remember things that I’d forgotten or am encouraged because what felt like a real low point was, in fact, a period of change and opportunity, something that I could only recognize in hindsight.
So, my lovely readers (all 3 that still remain, including my sister!), keep an eye on this space. What comes next may be a jumbled mess, but moving back has been a messy, emotional process and I’m still sorting it out. However, it has also been a growing experience that has revealed a bit more of God’s grace in my life, has brought me closer to my family, and has helped me to remember and discover personal strengths. Thanks for reading
I have to apologize to you. As is so often the case, the 2nd child tends to get a little less attention spent on things like updates and photos and baby books. Sorry Especially with all of the moving that we’ve been going through, I have to admit that I’ve let your baby updates slide. Time to work on that!
Jack Tucker – 3 Months Old
You are such a healthy guy. After your stay in Starship, you haven’t had so much as a cough or a sniffle. It’s been great, especially in light of all of the traveling we’ve done. So many visits with lots of different people, time in airports and on airplanes, and spending the night in various hotels. I’m really grateful for that. You have been pretty “regular” just up till recently, when your body has started to more efficiently process breastmilk. This means fewer messy diapers, which worried me a bit at first but then I remembered that Joe did the same thing.
We’ve begun to work a bit on consolidating your day time sleeps. Now, I try to put you down for an official “nap” at least once during the day, usually in the afternoon. If I’m lucky and if time allows it, I’ll put you down for a nap in the morning, too. By “put you down for a nap”, I mean swaddle you up and lay you down in your port-a-crib. When you sleep in the afternoon, it’s anywhere from 2 – 3 hours. If you can sleep for 3 hours, then everyone is happy (especially you!). You’re much more cheerful when you’re well rested, but then that’s true of us all
Nighttime? Well, we’re working on it. You usually fall asleep around 10pm and then, like clockwork, you start to grunt and groan and fuss around 3:30 in the morning. I’ve learned that when you do this, I’m usually able to comfort you back to sleep in your own crib through a combination of shushing, patting you on your bum or on your back (rolling you onto your side – no tummy-time while sleeping), and giving you your pacifier. I may have to do this 2 or 3 times over the space of 15 minutes, but it works. And while you may blush to read this later in life, the reason why you’re unsettled at that hour is because you typically have to pass gas. I apologize if people read this and tease you about it when you’re older. We all do it! But once you’ve done that, then you’re happy to go back to bed.
Sleeping in St. Thomas
The last few days, you haven’t woken up till 6 in the morning! Hooray! Before that it was around 4:30/5am (more consistently around 5am). You’ll nurse like a champ, burp a ridiculous number of times (seriously, it’s hilarious and I find myself chuckling which is a nice thing to do when it’s so early in the morning and I might otherwise be grumpy), and then want to be cuddled and shushed back to sleep and go into your crib, where you usually remain for another hour.
Like I mentioned above, you’re becoming more efficient at absorbing nutrients. What does that mean? It means that you’re going a bit longer and longer between having to eat. You usually eat at 6am, then aren’t hungry for another 2 1/2 – 3 hours, at which point you really only snack and then take a nap. You’ll wake up and be ready to play for a bit, then nurse, then go to sleep for your afternoon nap anywhere between 1 – 2pm. This is all pretty flexible at the moment. Babies, including you, do not follow schedules all that well. I have learned that it’s not just about adjusting you to a schedule but also adjusting Joe to a slightly different schedule. He now eats a bit later in the morning, a bit later at lunch, and goes down for his nap a bit later. It’s all part of the give-and-take and compromise that is so important in a family.
Your favorite time to eat? Evening! I’m OK with that. I figure that if a baby wants to eat and eat and eat, even eating all the way up till midnight, then that’s fine. Why? Because it usually means that they’ll sleep for a good chunk of time. That’s the case with you. You’ll eat and eat and eat till around 10pm and then you’re out like a light. It can be stressful at times for me, when I feel like I’m running low but you still need more, but then I see your happy, sweet, content face and it’s all worth it. Thankfully, your dad is a great support to me. I couldn’t do it without him. He and I are a team and he will be a great example to you boys of how to support your spouse.
You are getting to be so good at grabbing things! You hold your head up very steadily and love to sit in your exersaucer. We do a little bit of tummy time each day and do some “crawling exercises”, which have you dissolving into giggles. Those are nothing more than lying you on your back and then bringing your left hand and your right foot together to touch above your tummy. I do 10 on one side and 10 on the other side, talking to you and making faces and giggling right along with you.
You are so good at turning your head and tracking objects. You will follow your dad and your brother around the room with your eyes.
Speaking of your brother, he loves to do things with you, like hold you or lie next to you. He frequently asks me “talk to him? talk to him?” He loves to talk to you. He’ll also ask “snuggle Baby Jack?” and want to snuggle with you. I love watching the two of you interact. If he sees that your pacifier has dropped out of your mouth, he’ll run over and try to help put it back in (you don’t always care for that, but it’s the thought that counts!).
You sit up, sleep “through the night” (by that I mean you go from around 10pm – 6am with only one semi-waking session in between), you are trying so hard to sit up and are a champ at lying on your tummy and pushing your chest and upper body up with your arms.
You’ve even rolled over from tummy to back several times, though I suspect that this is entirely accidental on your part
Jack and Joe
I’ve remarked on this already, but it’s fun to see the two of you interact.
Joe will practically lie on top of you so that he can chat face-to-face, and you’ll smile at him. You get excited when he comes into the room. He loves to hold you. He’ll lie next to you while you do tummy time and he is working on learning how to share his toys with you.
If he sees that you have a blanket (especially in the car when I bundle you into your car seat – you don’t like having your arms free) then he wants a blanket, too! This is why I have 2 little boys sitting in the car in the middle of summer with blankets on them
One thing that I was worried about was your pacifier. Joe used to use a pacifier like you, having it off and on throughout the day or to help him calm down if he was upset. Now, Joe only uses the pacifier at night, and we’re going to start working on weaning that. I was concerned that he might not understand why you got to have a paci whenever you needed or wanted it, while he had to wait till sleeping-time. But I shouldn’t have worried. Joe knows that it’s “Jack’s paci” and he’ll even help you keep it in your mouth (though like I wrote earlier, this isn’t always something you appreciate!).
Postpartum Fitness and Health
Pppffffbbbt. That’s the sound I make when I think about how I’ve done with exercising since getting back in the States. I was doing pretty well for awhile there. I first started up again when you were 4 weeks old (the day before you went into the hospital, actually). I exercised fairly frequently while we were in St. Thomas for 2 weeks and did a lot of walking before then. But since arriving in Williamsburg 4 weeks ago? Ha! Nothing. I have turned into a couch potato. Or a car potato. Or both. We drove around pretty non-stop that first week while looking at houses. There’s been a fair amount of driving still, though I guess compared to most US households with small children we haven’t driven all that much. For me, “driving a lot” means taking both you and your brother in the car on an errand more than twice a week. That’s what happens when you go over 3 years without owning a vehicle!
I began to remedy some of the lack of exercise last week (I wouldn’t call it laziness – I’ve been really busy) by taking you and your brother on a long walk around the resort where we’re staying. That’s pretty pathetic, in my opinion, but it’s a start. My next goal is to take you guys on some of the trails round about these parts. Where we’re currently staying isn’t close to anything like that and I’m often here without a car (your dad needs it to get to work for the time being, but that will change soon), so my options are limited. Hence the parking lot walks!
Other Odds and Ends
We’re going to visit my parents next week. This will be the first time that they see you in real life. You’ll also definitely get to meet your Auntie K, see your cousin O, and meet your Auntie A. There’s pretty good odds that you’ll meet your Uncle L, Uncle D, Auntie B, Auntie V, and cousin H. That’s a lot of family, but no one expects you to remember their names, so don’t worry about it They’ll love you!
I’m so glad that you’re my little boy. I’m so glad that I’m your momma. I’m so glad that I get to see you and your brother interacting with each other. I pray that you’ll always love each other even if you don’t always get along!
There was one change that I made within about 48 hours of returning to the United States. I’ll give you a hint as to what it might be…
I had nearly a foot of hair cut off within 2 days of landing in Georgia. My long hair had been driving me nuts for awhile (remember all those photos of me with my hair in a bun?) but I wanted to wait till I had enough hair to donate to Locks of Love, a charity that uses donated hair to create wigs for cancer patients under 21 years of age. I knew from past experience that right around the 3 month postpartum mark, my hair would start to fall out as my body’s hormone levels began to drop and stabilize. I also knew that I’d get those lovely post-partum night sweats… just another way that my body returns to homeostasis post-pregnancy. So I figured that doing a preemptive haircut was the way to go, and I was right. I haven’t experienced the giant tumbleweeds of hair falling out like I did with Joe. The night sweats are still there, but not to the point where I’m waking up drenched.
How do I like my new hair cut? Eh. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of it. I told the stylist to over-estimate rather than under-estimate so as to be sure to have enough for the donation, but this meant no pulling my hair back into a ponytail. Instead of being less maintenance, it’s actually more work than when my hair was long. Longer hair was capable of being worn in a ponytail, a bun, being curled, put in French Twist, etc. This new ‘do is basically a one-style hair cut and I don’t think it fits me that well, looking at it nearly 6 weeks later. The other issue is that the stylist left some uneven sections. Not “uneven” as in “it’s supposed to look this way” but uneven as in weird little strands that were longer and out of place. I ended up having to trim them on my own.
Nevertheless, I remain very glad that I cut it off. I’m happy that my hair was able to be put to use by someone who needs it. I said going into the salon that it’s just hair, after all, and I can grow it back. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do!
It feels like more than 15 days have passed since my last blog post. Lots has happened in that time-frame. I’ll share more later but in the meantime, yes, I’m still alive and will hopefully have some updates soon.
I wish it were possible for me to upload some photos to share, but the laptop wireless router/modem/thingamajig is not working and our temporary accomodations are wireless only, so I’m left using the tablet and there aren’t any photos on there. So I’ll just have to paint you a few pictures with words!
Williamsburg is lovely, what little of it I’ve seen. We’ve been here 3 full days and each interaction that I’ve had with people has been pleasant and friendly. Having doors opened for me, people asking if I’d like to jump ahead of them in line at Panera, etc. Very sweet. I’m getting a good feeling about this place.
We had to leave a lot of Joe’s toys in New Zealand. The ones we did take are currently en route in our small shipping container. Other than that, there were only a few that we could fit in our suitcases (remember, we moved back from New Zealand with only 3 suitcases and 3 carry-ons + 1 very small shipped container, about the size of a large cedar chest). I jumped on Freecycle.org to locate a Williamsburg chapter, joined up, and within 12 hours had picked up a stuffed “Woody the Cowboy” doll and a nearly complete “Thomas the Tank Engine” train set with rails. One person’s trash is another one’s treasure
And life as a full-time stay at home mom? It’s going well, but I’m already feeling the urge and the itch to start checking out the local ERs and see if they need any nurses. I know that, for the next few months at least, focusing all of my time and energy on this move, on seeing that the boys (especially Joe) get integrated into life in Williamsburg, and on supporting Chris while he starts his new job are my main priorities, but hopefully come January or February I’ll be working again in some capacity. Perhaps not Emergency Medicine, but something that allows me to use my gifts and skills as a nurse to serve others in the community. For now, I feel a peace and reassurance that this is what God wants me to be doing at this moment, and I’m enjoying it.
Well, we are no longer in New Zealand. We arrived in the States on the 18th of June and are now in Williamsburg, VA. These last few weeks have been a complete whirlwind.
We first flew into Orlando, FL. My mother-in-law picked us up from the airport just after midnight (bless her!) and we headed to a nearby hotel to crash. My MIL was so excited to see us that she and I ended up talking till nearly 4am that morning. Yikes! Of course, just as we were heading to bed, Jack woke up, so it wasn’t till almost 6am that I finally got some sleep. It was a long few days.
We spent about a week in my husband’s hometown of St. Simons Island, GA. While there we visited with family and old friends and I was able to meet some of Chris’ cousins for the first time.
We then headed with just about all of my husband’s side of the family, including his only paternal cousin (+ her husband and their son) to St. Thomas. We stayed there for 2 weeks, relaxing, visiting, and having a good time. Joe loved all of the attention and it was nice to reconnect with people. My introverted tendencies came to the fore now and again, but I was usually able to take a nap when the boys were napping (if I needed it) and have a bit of time to myself.
We flew from St. Thomas to Richmond, VA via Atlanta, GA. The flights were a bit hectic, but aren’t they always anymore? Plane travel has become like bus travel, in my opinion. Everyone shoved in there with you bringing your own food, drinks, etc., rather than having things served to you.
We made it into Richmond on time, but our luggage was delayed. We stayed the night in an airport hotel and by the time we woke up in the morning, our luggage had arrived. Thank you, Delta! Chris picked up our rental car and decided to upgrade to a slightly larger one when he saw what we’d originally booked (got it using the rest of our Air New Zealand airpoints…. won’t be using those anytime soon!). I’m glad that he did for reasons I’ll explain later.
We drove to Williamsburg on Sunday morning and checked out the town while waiting for our 4pm check-in time. Williamsburg is lovely. So far, it has struck me as an easily navigable town and most of the town is in keeping with the “colonial” feel of Colonial Williamsburg.
The next day, Monday, meant meeting our realtor at 9:30am and hitting the road to view some houses. I’ll admit – I was a bit disappointed with what we saw that first morning. However, I reminded myself that everything she had shown us was in an area that was, in my opinion, slightly less desirable. She had lined up some other properties to view for the following day (today) so I kept an open mind.
The properties we saw today were in a different part of town and I liked them much more, as I expected I would. Hmm… self-fulfilling prophecy? I don’t think so. The area we saw today has better schools and the neighborhoods are more established. I saw one house in particular that I really liked and our realtor is writing up a contract on it as we speak. I’m praying that things will go through, but also remembering that everywhere I’ve ever been, God has provided the perfect spot for me to live. I don’t expect that to change, but it would be nice if His “perfect” spot just happened to be the one that we’re writing up all of the paperwork for at the moment!
Other than that, we’ve gotten phones and depending on how things go with the house-hunt, the next step will be securing a vehicle and finding furnishings. Lots to do, but we’re trucking along. Joe and Jack are pretty cruise-y kids, so they’ve done well throughout this process. I have noticed that Joe seems to be a little more anxious when one of us leaves, even if just for a moment (e.g., his dad pushes him in the shopping trolley to a different aisle and Joe can no longer see me). He’ll start to cry and need reassurance that I will be there in just a few minutes. I wonder if all of the change has made him worry that WE might change and disappear. After all, his friends in Auckland aren’t here anymore. His grandparents, aunties, uncles, and cousins who we just spent several weeks with aren’t here anymore. Perhaps he’s worried that he’ll go one aisle over and not see me again anytime soon
I’m looking forward to exploring Virginia and Williamsburg some more. I can already tell that I like this area based on what I’ve seen. It’ll be fun to take a breather here soon (even when we were on vacation in St. Thomas, I still didn’t feel fully relaxed because of all of the things I knew we had coming up in the future) and enjoy our surroundings.
Thanks to those of you who left encouraging comments on my last post. I thought that I would let you know that the birthday dessert worked out in the end
This, my friends, is a chocolate caramel slice on steroids. It has a layer of shortbread-style crust (with coconut), a caramel layer, and is topped by melted chocolate. Sure, the caramel was a little gooey, has to be kept refrigerated, and required about 3 times as long in the oven (plus scraping off some burnt bits) but it turned out well.
Does he look sugar-crazed or what?
Yes, it’s a giant dessert. I didn’t think about the fact at the time of writing up the grocery list that this is more suited for a party of 20 people as opposed to a party of 2 adults and 1 hungry toddler. Lets just say that a big chunk of this is currently sitting at Chris’ office and will hopefully be happily gobbled up by his colleagues.
There’s less than a week remaining on our time in New Zealand. I’m a big mix of emotions right now. There are some times during the day when I feel OK but, if I’m being truthful, there are equally large parts of the time when I feel overwhelmed, sad, and some other emotion that I can’t quite put my finger on.
It’s been tough. It still is tough. It’s going to be tough.
Just having had a baby 6 weeks ago would have been enough to deal with. Add in caring for a soon-to-be two-year-old (this Friday!), saying good-byes to so many friends here, Chris wrapping up his semester and finishing his book, and sorting through all of our earthly goods with the goal of whittling things down to 3 suitcases, 3 carry-on bags, and a small shipping container about the size of a large cedar chest, and it’s almost too much.
I try not to think about the long flight that’s coming up or the fact that we don’t have a house or a car sorted in Virginia. We’ve got the first 5 weeks of housing covered, so that’s something to be thankful for (there are many things to be thankful for, truth be told). And as an introvert, I try not to think about the possible downsides to spending 3 weeks with family, starting next week. I love both sides of my family but sometimes, it’s hard for me to be around my own husband and kids, let alone around extended family members. I’m praying that our time together will be one of enjoyment and fun and strengthening relationships and that, when needed, I’m able to slip away for a few moments to recharge my batteries.
People have remarked to me that they admire my organization at being able to sort through all of our things and get it down to just the 3 suitcases, carry-on bags, and teeny-tiny shipping container. It’s half organization, half insanity. Listing all of our earthly goods on that wretched site, TradeMe, and dealing with up to 40 emails a day with questions that are usually already answered if people would just read the listing (how big is it? where is pick-up? what’s the voltage? what’s the wattage? when did you buy it? is this new? can I get it shipped to Australia?) has been frustrating at times. There’s a part of me that wants to simply toss everything out the window and let the street cleaners sweep it away. It’s been a lesson to me on how much time, energy, money, and emotion can be wasted on stuff. After 10 moves in 8 years of marriage, I’m tired of dealing with all of it.
This week is additionally busy because of birthdays. Chris’ birthday is today and Joe’s birthday is on Friday. I went out to the grocery store to buy ingredients. Of course, Chris did not want a traditional cake. He put in his birthday dessert request weeks ago. And here I am up at 5am trying to salvage it because, wouldn’t you know it, the caramel layer refused to set up. I think that it’s beyond redemption but I’m giving it my best shot. If it doesn’t come together I’m faced with the prospect of either tossing the whole thing and starting from scratch (requiring another trip to the grocery) or tossing the whole thing and just making a cake (which would also require another trip to the grocery since I only have enough cake-making ingredients for Joe’s birthday).
Last of all, there’s the sadness of leaving this place. When we first moved here, I felt for that first year that I wanted nothing more than to move back to America. But at the year and a half point, I was torn in two about what we should do. When Chris was offered his new job, we went back and forth on the pros vs cons. In the end, I had to leave the decision up to him because it was too hard for me to make. We both agreed that a lot of doors had been opened up for the job in Virginia and it seemed clear that we were meant to go back there.
I remind myself about all of those open doors when I’m beginning to doubt whether or not we made the right decision. America is such a violent place. I never felt that way until I lived outside of it. I still hold that people are much the same the world over, but the American fascination with gun rights and gun ownership is something that I can’t understand. I’ve been exposed to a different way of life, one where guns aren’t so prolific, and I’ve seen that it’s better that way.
In spite of all of my up and down feelings, I’ve got enough presence of mind to be able to take a step back and realize that this is an emotionally charged time. Moving is stressful. Having a baby is stressful. Leaving your job is stressful. Starting a new job is stressful. Spending a lot of money (such as on a house and a car) is stressful. We’re dealing with all of those things wrapped up into one big, supercharged situation right at the moment and it’s enough to make anyone feel overwhelmed and like they’re constantly on alert. I told Chris just the other day that I feel as though I’m dealing with a crisis, even though everything that we’re going through right now is a good thing.
I know that, over time, the emotional strain that I’m facing at the moment will wear off. In the meantime, I try not to be too grouchy. I try to go easy on myself when I wonder if I’m doing enough or getting things sorted enough. I try to be slow to speak and quick to apologize. I’m also trying to get enough sleep and sneak in some time to work out and recharge.
Moving is stressful. This move is looking to be the most stressful one that we’ve faced yet. I’m praying that all will come together and go well, but even if things are bumpier than expected, I know that we’ll get through it. There is an end in sight!
I neglected to put up a 4 week post for Jack. I’m sorry, but I had a good reason – for 6 days I rarely saw the outside of this hospital room while Jack was sick with RSV and bronchiolitis…
Jack and I were on one of the paediatrics wards at Starship Children’s Hospital from Saturday till Thursday evening. It’s not something I’d like to repeat anytime soon. The hospital and staff were great, but being there and being separated from Chris and Joe for so long was not.
I took Jack into the Starship ER on Saturday when he started to wheeze. He’d had a bit of a cold since Thursday night but was checked out by the midwife during her Friday home visit, so I wasn’t too worried. Still, I kept an eye on him. He went downhill pretty quickly on Saturday. By quickly, I mean within 15 – 20 minutes. I was nursing him when he suddenly began to bob his head and push back, then gave me a wide-eyed, almost panicked look and that was when I heard the first faint wheezing. His looking at me like that + the wheezing scared me. I made the decision then and there that we were going to Starship. Apparently I concealed my anxiety pretty well, because after telling Chris that he and Joe didn’t need to come and heading out the door with Jack, Chris took Joe on a long, leisurely walk… without his cell phone… which meant that he didn’t have it on him when I was trying to reach him from the ER to tell him that Jack was being admitted, that he was on oxygen, that he had a feeding tube inserted, etc., etc.
Chris got home and checked his phone, then was flabbergasted when he called me and I told him what was going on. He and Joe came in with a small bag of overnight things for me and for Jack, but I knew that we’d be there for more than overnight.
Like I said, it was 6 days that Jack and I were in hospital. The 2nd and 3rd nights there were the worst – Jack was struggling quite a bit and at times there were 4 – 5 staff in the room with me, trying to encourage him to breathe more easily and to slow his heart rate.
Jack was on the feeding tube because nursing was too much work for him. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to express enough milk to keep up with him, but as it turns out I ended up having over a liter of extra milk by the time we left. That was great – having one of the doctors call me a “good cow” was a little less great plus little embarrassing. But the important thing, to me at least, was not running out of breastmilk and having enough for every tube feeding. When the ER doctor told me that I shouldn’t nurse him any more and that he was to be on NG feeding only, my heart sank. I was worried about Jack forgetting how to nurse but also wondering how I was supposed to calm him when he was upset. The #1 way that I’ve always calmed Joe, and now Jack, was through nursing. Walking and bouncing and shush-ing and using the pacifier only go so far.
That first night, Jack was crying and crying and crying. I kept saying to the nurse that I thought that he was hungry, but she assured me that he was getting the appropriate amount of breast milk for a baby of his age and size. I told her that Jack usually nursed a lot and wasn’t there a way to increase the amount of the NG feeding? I could understand their rationale – too much, and the tummy fills up and raises the diaphragm against the lungs, making it even harder to breathe.
However, after two hours of Jack crying and trying every trick in the book, I decided that I was going to nurse him, just to calm him. Difficulty breathing and a raised heart rate because of nursing is one thing, but so is difficulty breathing and a raised heart rate because of crying for so long. I nursed him and within 30 seconds he’d calmed down. Within 2 minutes, he was asleep. The nurse came in to check on his, shrugged her shoulders, and said she thought it was fine so long as he didn’t nurse for more than a minute or two. Jack ended up spending that entire first night in the nursing position, even though he wasn’t nursing. It was a long night, but worth sitting up in a chair if it meant keeping Jack calm and breathing more easily. The next day, the doctor increased the tube feedings from 15mLs to 30mLs. Then he increased the frequency. Then the amount was increased again. Then the frequency again. Eventually, they had quadrupled the amount of breastmilk he was getting and I was nursing him more frequently in addition to tube feedings. The doctor remarked that it was a bit out of the ordinary for a baby Jack’s age to eat so much. Uh, not in our family.
So the first night saw me sitting in a chair for the majority of the time that Jack was asleep. I did have a bed in the room, a single pull-down bed (which was much appreciated) but I didn’t spend much time in it for those first 3 days/nights.
Did you know that hospital sheets and hospital blankets look the same the world over? They do.
When Jack was awake, he was either being held or in his vibrating bouncy seat. I remembered my mom telling me about one of my little brother’s being hospitalized. She said that the hospital had a bouncy seat and he would sit in there and she’d just bounce him and bounce him. I asked Chris to bring the seat from home and it worked like a charm. The nurses all remarked on it being such a good idea to bring that seat from home, and how the vibration must have been especially calming for a newborn. It was, and I don’t know how I would have gotten through it if I’d had to hold Jack 24/7.
Jack’s hospitalization was hard on Joe. Chris did a wonderful job filling the role of both parents, but it was still hard. Joe made a visit every day and on some days I was able to escape for 3 – 3 1/2 hours with him, but even then it was mainly to go home, feed lunch to Joe, putt him down for his nap, and then working to package up and mail the many things that I’d sold on TradeMe (I’d listed things in preparation for our move, and all of the auctions ended either the day before or the day that Jack was hospitalized, so I had a lot of work to do). The first time that I was home with Joe and I put him down for a nap, he cried and kept saying, “Hug Mama! Hug Mama!” and reaching out to me. I thought, “I’ll bet he thinks that I’m going to disappear”, because he normally loves nap-time and can’t wait to sleep (night-time is another story). I reached into his cot and told him that I loved him and that I’d be there when he woke up. As soon as I said that, he was fine. It was the same story the next day – lots of tears, then peace when I told him that I’d be there when he woke up.
As Jack continued to improve, Chris and Joe spent a bit longer at the hospital. Starship is amazing. They have a giant indoor playground which Joe really appreciated.
There was also a Play Therapist who visited and gave us 4 or 5 books courtesy of Barfoot & Thompson (a real estate firm in New Zealand). Joe loved those and probably thought the hospital was a fantastic place, aside from the fact that it meant he was separated from his mother and little brother.
We were so glad when the doctor gave the A-OK to go home on Thursday evening rather than having to spend another night in hospital. Jack was pretty pleased to have the O2 off and the NG tube taken out!
He’s doing much better now. I’ve kept him on semi-quarantine here at home. By that I mean that he doesn’t leave the building, though Chris, Joe, and I have all been out at various times. The two weeks following an RSV hospitalization are apparently the most sensitive for little ones, when they’re most susceptible, so we’re being extra-vigilant about hand-washing. We have to go out tomorrow to apply for Jack’s passport (the appointment was moved back because of his illness) but other than that I don’t intend to take him out anywhere anytime soon!
*A brief note about the care that we received: it was wonderful and I’m very thankful. I was praying the whole way to the ER that there wouldn’t be a line. In my mind I was thinking, “It’s a weekend, so GP offices are closed, and it’s winter… great combination for a high volume of patients in the ER.” But there was no line and we were ushered right back. When they had Jack hooked up to so many machines and I was seeing his low SpO2 levels and his high heart rate, I prayed again and again that if God wanted to take Jack back home that He would help me accept it but to please let it be His will that Jack stayed with us. It seems a bit melodramatic to say that now, but I was pretty scared in the moment. Throughout our entire stay, I knew that our friends in New Zealand and our friends and family around the world were thinking of and praying for us, and I felt it. There was one night in particular where I felt pretty exhausted, but then I looked out the window and saw the lights of Auckland and was reminded that we weren’t alone.
The view was even more impressive in person
There was never a question of insurance or payment throughout our stay. All the hospital required was Jack’s proof of right to healthcare (in this case, his NZ passport). The staff did a great job of supporting me and making sure that I was looking after myself as well as Jack, and they were wonderful with Joe whenever he was on the ward. I owe them all a big thank you!
Guess what came in the mail today for Jack?
Yep – his New Zealand passport. Dual citizenship is definitely worth all of the paperwork, and I must say that his NZ passport is a lot more high-tech in appearance than US passports!
I’m waiting to hear back from the US Consulate here in Auckland regarding bumping up our appointment. Here’s hoping that we’re able to get something earlier than what we’ve got at the moment.
In case you’re wondering, I’m only planning to do the weekly updates for the first 4 weeks of Jack’s life. I did a similar thing with Joe and want to keep up the tradition.
Yes, Jack is 3 weeks old today. Time has zoomed by.
Here’s how things are going since his 2 week update…
We had another midwife visit on Tuesday of this week. At that point, Jack weighed in at 4280 grams (just under 9 pounds, 7 ounces). All told, he’s gained 670 grams since birth (just over 1 pound, 7 1/2 ounces). He is less jaundiced and eating lots.
Jack continues to take a nap of sorts in the morning and again in the afternoon, with fewer and fewer cat naps in between. He normally eats a lot in the evening, falling asleep between 8 – 9pm, waking up a bit during his nappy change and eating some more, and then either waking again around midnight or, if I’m lucky, around 2am.
Jack has had a lot of gas and “bowel issues” this week. His digestive system is still developing and he’s working out the kinks, so to speak. Unfortunately, most of these “kinks” need working out during the night, or so it would seem. When he does wake around midnight, I’ve found that this is usually more for comfort nursing to help him have a poo than because he’s hungry. He’s usually only up for a little bit and then goes back to sleep, whereas when he wakes around 2am it’s usually because he’s h-u-n-g-r-y. There was one night this week where he was up quite frequently and was pretty uncomfortable.
Getting better each day.
Jack is becoming more alert and opening his eyes more often. He becomes especially alert in the evenings. This is nice, because it allows Chris to see him with his eyes open and awake.
Jack has really taken to using his pacifier. I used to be nervous about letting people know that our boys used a pacifier, but now I don’t care. In the past, some people were critical about the fact that Joe used one (my last midwife, in particular). I had strangers comment on it in public, too (once, a saleswoman at Smith + Caughey’s reached over and tried to take it away from him, but Joe wasn’t having any of that!). Now, I don’t care what someone thinks. I won’t say that it doesn’t bother me if someone criticizes me about it, but I’m not influenced or worried the way that I was with Joe. Yes, Joe used a pacifier. Now, he has one at nap-time and one when he goes to bed in the evening. I’m pretty sure that if we said, “No more pacifiers” he’d fuss, but get over it quite quickly. He’s almost 2 years old and I think that once we’re settled in Williamsburg, we’ll take it away. We haven’t had any issues with him taking the pacifier from Jack, which was a bit of a worry for me.
Jack is opening his eyes more and lifting/turning his head more often. He also loves taking a bath. Honestly, the biggest milestone for me has been him using his pacifier and sleeping longer during the night.
Jack and Joe
The boys continue to get along well. Joe loves to give hugs to Jack and will “help” with burping. Joe is such a good helper and almost always in a cheerful mood. He will help bounce Jack in his bouncy seat, though I continue to have to keep an eye on him to make sure that he doesn’t bounce him too hard. Joe is fascinated with Jack’s tiny fingers and toes and, if I find it’s a bit quiet, I can usually look up from whatever I’m doing (dishes, vacuuming, cooking) and see that Joe is playing with Jack’s feet
Postpartum Fitness and Health
This week has been a bit rough. Some people have remarked on how I seem to have it so “together” and am doing so well postpartum. Today was a week to disprove all of that! There were 3 days in particular that were difficult, most of which usually came after little sleep where I woke up to find the apartment a mess. There are few things quite so depressing as getting up in the morning and seeing a sink full of dishes. I have been trying to stay on top of the housework and am so thankful for a husband who is willing to help in that regard but, sometimes, we’re both exhausted at the end of the day. Our dishwasher is pretty small so there are times when even after filling it and setting it to wash, there is still a sink-full of dishes waiting to be tackled.
So, I’ve felt a little low this week. I’ve lost my temper a few times, cried a few times, felt overwhelmed a few times, and wanted to shut myself up in the bedroom a few times and tell everyone to go away a few times. I stayed home from church on Mother’s Day for just that reason. I didn’t feel like going out and having so many (well-meaning) people ask me how I was doing.
I’ve felt a lot of guilt and pressure about how I’m interacting with Joe. With the rainy weather and and a newborn, the options are limited. I’ve made homemade playdough which has now disintegrated from overuse. We’ve done puzzles. We’ve read books. We’ve sang songs. We’ve made upteen batches of muffins and cookies where Joe has helped to stir and “smush” the ingredients. But sometimes, Joe watches a movie and I can hear various voices in my head telling me that this is bad, that I’m increasing his likelihood of developing ADHD, that I should be breastfeeding Jack while simultaneously entertaining Joe. Or simultaneously helping Joe eat his lunch. Or simultaneously helping Joe go to the bathroom.
I’ve done all of those “simultaneous” things (helping him go to the bathroom while breastfeeding is a real trick, let me tell you) but sometimes, I’ve had enough and need to just sit on the couch, nurse Jack, and tell Joe to go entertain himself for a few minutes.
I need to re-read the “Love and Logic” parenting book because I want to make sure that I’m encouraging Joe to be creative and to develop his imagination by entertaining himself rather than relying on TV, but I also don’t want to ignore him or resort to yelling when I get frustrated. Joe has had a bit more time in his cot these days because of whining and not listening. I’m sure that part of this is the normal boundary-testing of a nearly two year old, but I’m also sure that some of it stems from boredom and finding that his mother is now not as available as she used to be. Sigh. There have been a few mornings where I wake up and instantly have Lamentations 3:22-23 running through my mind, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness”. Parenting is not for the faint of heart.
I’ve talked to Chris about it and we both agreed that it’s OK to tell Joe that he needs to entertain himself and that putting him in his cot because of not listening is a far better alternative to yelling at him, even if it does make it seem like he’s in the cot a lot. So this morning, I walked Joe to his room and told him that he needed to play with his toys in there, then partially shut the door while I nursed Jack. I could still see and hear Joe, but it was a way to encourage him to entertain himself. I also told him that he needed to read a book to himself and gave him the choice of reading the book in his hand (that he was wanting me to read at that moment) or choosing a different book but that, again, he needed to read it to himself or read it to me. I’ve also tried to word things so that I’m not “blaming” Jack or making it sound like I’m only focused on Jack’s needs (i.e., “I can’t help you because Jack needs to be nursed” or “Jack needs to be burped”). Instead, I say things like, “My hands are full at the moment” or “I’ll be happy to help you in a minute or two, but I’m breastfeeding at the moment”.
So this week, exercise and physical fitness weren’t much of a focus. I gained a pound. It would have been nice to have some good news on the scale, but I’m not going to fuss about it. My weight fluctuated a lot during the first few weeks with Joe, too, and I figured it would be the same way with Jack.
Other Odds and Ends
I’ve started the process of listing a few of our things on TradeMe. Oh, TradeMe – I’ve written before about my love/loathe relationship with that website. There are a lot of things that I’m listing for only $1 and if people quibble with me not giving enough details, I can just say, “Look – I’m selling it for $1 - it’s not worth getting out the measuring tape over.” Mostly I’ve just started listing DVDs. I’m thinking that when it’s time to get rid of the bigger stuff, I’ll have a “Come Raid Our House” party. Order some pizza. Buy some drinks. Send out e-vites. And let people haggle amongst themselves about what they want. That way we don’t have to worry about finding a way to get it from here to a charity shop. Whatever is leftover can go to the Auckland City Mission or on Freecycle.org.
We have been enjoying some of the beautiful late-autumn weather here in New Zealand.
We were checking out the Winter Gardens in Auckland Domain.
Joe was having so much fun looking at the goldfish in the pond between the greenhouses. I was a bit worried that he might decide to go for a swim, i.e., fall in, but another little boy beat him to it! I had just finished this photo when we heard a big “splash!” and turned around to see a boy of about 3 years old being fished out of the pond by his dad and an onlooker. The dad was not impressed, but then again, neither was the little boy Thankfully Joe did not take a page out of his book, and we all kept our feet on dry land.
Walking towards the hot house
Observing more goldfish
I love this boy!
If there are steps, then Joe must climb them
Mom and boys
I’m glad that the weather has been so nice. I’ve been able to walk off some of the baked goods that everyone keeps bringing over to congratulate us with Seriously, we are inundated with cookies and muffins and brownies. Because as my friend Kelli says, you don’t want to lose the pregnancy weight too soon!
Jack is 14 days old today!
Here’s how things have been going since his 1 week update…
Jack now weighs 3.9kgs, or about 8lbs, 9 1/2 ounces. He lost a bit of weight by his 1 week check but he’s since gained it back, plus more. All told, he’s put on roughly 10 ounces since birth. Not bad, little man!
His jaundice is improving and the bilirubin levels weren’t high enough to warrant a phone call from my midwife, so we’re continuing with our sun therapy + lots of breastfeeding.
Jack is taking a morning and afternoon nap of sorts. He cat-naps throughout the day but generally speaking he has one long, uninterrupted sleep in the morning for about 2 hours, then wakes up to nurse-nurse-nurse, then sleeps again in the afternoon for another 2 – 3 hours.
Once evening rolls around, Jack will nurse a lot around our dinner time and up till about 8pm, then nap for an hour or two, nurse again around 10pm for another hour or so, and then sleep for 3 1/2 – 4 hours before waking up to eat some more. When he does wake in the middle of the night, it’s usually to nurse for an hour, hour and a half. After that middle-of-the-night nursing session, he’ll sleep for another hour, hour and a half before waking.
Jack has been doing a lot of the grunty newborn routine. Translation – he’s having a little difficulty passing wind/gas and poos. When he wakes up that hour, hour and a half after his middle-of-the-night nursing session, it’s usually to pass gas or have a poo. He struggles with it and so needs to be held, rocked, or even nursed to help him relax. These last 2 nights, I’ve let Chris get up with him when he wakes so soon after a big nursing session, and both times Chris has said that within about 10 minutes of holding him, Jack has a big poo and then goes back to sleep. So rather than me waking up to nurse him again, we’re going to keep trying with Chris cuddling with him and see if that continues to do the trick. I don’t mind nursing him but for the second feeding, he usually would nurse for a grand total of 60 seconds, go poo, and then go back to sleep, even sleeping through the nappy change. I would try to nurse him some more thinking, “OK, lets make the most of us getting up and being awake”, but Jack would only nibble a bit. As I said, I don’t mind nursing him but if that’s all he’s going to do, then I think it’s more worthwhile for me to sleep and be better rested to take care of him and Joe in the morning.
So, how is nursing going at the 2 week mark? Much better than it was when I was nursing Joe. I don’t have the anxiety about Jack waking up and needing to eat that I did with Joe. With Joe, he would start to grizzle and my adrenaline would shoot through the roof. I’d be instantly awake and just lay there, thinking, “Oh no – he’s going to want to eat again!” It was that painful.
This time around, however, it doesn’t bother me so much when Jack wakes in the night and wants to nurse. It’s still a little sore but nothing like with Joe. I’m very thankful for that. I’ve even been able to stop using the lanolin cream and the skin is still intact.
Jack is getting more alert with every passing day. He’ll follow us around with his whole head turning in our direction when he hears our voices.
We’ve been on several walks, a few bus rides, and even made it to church on Sunday. I was happy that not once, but twice this week I got both boys and myself out the door by 9:30am. We are all fully dressed, teeth brushed, shoes in place, hair and make-up done (for me, not the boys!) and even remembered snacks and drinks.
Gorgeous weather – so thankful for sunny days without rain now that winter has arrived
Auckland Harbour Bridge waaaaay in the background
Jack’s umbilical cord fell off this past week. We also received his NZ birth certificate in the mail on Saturday, today (I’m posting a day late). And on the NZ birth certificate in black and white? “New Zealand Citizen by Birth: Yes” – reading that gave me a little chill. We weren’t able to get NZ citizenship for Joe and when it came time to either renew our 2 year visas or apply for residency, we debated. Should we apply for residency even though (a) I wasn’t pregnant at that time and (b) we were likely moving back to the USA?
We decided to go ahead with it, even knowing that it would mean that 1 child had dual citizenship while the other didn’t. I wondered if Joe would feel left out, but then I said to Chris that I hope that our children want the best for one another and that Joe wouldn’t be resentful of Jack for taking advantage of this opportunity, but would rather feel sad if he knew that we could have gotten Jack dual citizenship but didn’t for his sake. If Joe wants to purse moving to and living in New Zealand or some other country once he is older, we will most certainly support him in that in any way that we can.
Jack and Joe
These two are growing a little bit closer every day, though I’m not sure that Jack is aware of it! Joe loves to hold Jack and will ask, “Hold Jack? Kiss Jack?” Whenever Joe leaves with his daddy for a trip to the park or a walk or what have you, Joe will always say, “Bye Momma, bye Jack!” It’s so sweet. Joe will also rock Jack in his bouncinette seat, though I have to remind him to be gentle and to not bounce Jack too hard.
Postpartum Fitness and Health
I’m still at 7 1/2 pounds to lose before being back to my pregnancy weight, so no loss but, then again, no gain!
I have kept up with doing squats and planks in the house and was able to do some stairs this week (our apartment is on the 10th floor of our building), but my exercising is limited both by Jack and Joe. My sister-in-law, Lynette, has sent me a PDF of a book that she’s been working on. The book contains all sorts of postpartum “Mommy and Me” exercises, complete with full descriptions and photos. Lynette taught classes for new mothers out of one of the hospitals in Wisconsin for several years and I’m grateful to her for sharing this information with me. I printed it out and have had the opportunity to do a few of them this week and then went through almost all of them today. They’re nice, because not only can I do all of them with Jack but there are several that I can do while holding Joe, and Joe of course loves to try to do them with me.
Still, I know that any real change won’t come about until I’m able to do some more intense exercising, which likely won’t be until we’re back stateside and I’m able to enroll in a gym.
Other Odds and Ends
I’m going to admit it – I’m worried. I know that I shouldn’t worry (Matthew 6: 28 – 34) but I am concerned about getting all of our paperwork together in time for our departure on the 18th of June.
We had an appointment for the US Consulate on May 9th and everything was going smoothly – we had Jack’s passport photos and all of his paperwork was completed, we had our necessary original documents (US passports for Chris and I, our birth certificates, our marriage certificate, etc.). I saw that the NZ Births, Marriages, and Deaths office had charged us for Jack’s NZ birth certificate so I knew that it was on the way, it just needed to arrive in time for the appointment and all would be well. Based on when I thought that the registration and application had been sent, it should have arrived in time.
Except, Chris and I had a miscommunication about when it was sent :-/ I thought it was mailed on a Friday, so I was basing all of my time-frames on that. Turns out it didn’t get mailed until Wednesday the following week. Unfortunate, because the birth certificate didn’t arrive until Saturday… 2 days after our US Consulate appointment. By then, the next available open appointment wasn’t till the 10th of June… 6 business days before our departure from New Zealand.
I’ve been told that it only takes a week to get your US passport here in NZ. I can’t recall how long it took when we got Joe’s. Still, 6 days is pushing it. So, if you think about it and you’re the praying type, please pray that we can get an earlier appointment. If nothing opens up by the end of May, I plan on calling the US Consulate and explaining our situation. I may call sooner. We’ll see.
In the meantime, we’ve sent off the application for his NZ passport. We were waiting to send this until after the US Consulate appointment because our original marriage certificate is required for both passports. The thought was “Do the US appointment, show them the original documents, then mail in the certificate when we apply for his NZ passport”. When we had to cancel the appointment, we sent his NZ passport application and the marriage certificate via overnight mail down to Wellington. Supposedly it only takes 10 business days to get the NZ passport, perhaps less, so even if an appointment opens up at the US Consulate I won’t be able to take one that’s any earlier than the 27th or the 28th of May.
The thing that really kills me in all of this? We had an appointment for the 30th of May but when I saw the appointment open up for this past Thursday, I thought it would be great to get it sorted sooner and so cancelled the later appointment for the earlier one, only to have cancel the earlier one and get one even later the appointment we had originally.
So, I’m trying not to worry but only succeeding for some of the time.
Another thing – this one is a good thing – we have been so blessed by our friends here in New Zealand. My friend Brooke organised a meal roster for us through MealBaby.com and the meals started last week. At first, I felt a bit guilty having people bring us meals and thought that it wasn’t really necessary. They started a week after Jack’s due date because I had enough food in the fridge and freezer and ready-made meals on standby that we didn’t need them until then. We had done pretty well that first week so I thought that the 2nd week and the weeks thereafter would be even easier.
Ha! This second week has been harder than the first, emotionally speaking. I’ve also been a bit more tired and felt like the lack of sleep is catching up with me. I have definitely appreciated those meals, even more than I would have the first week after Jack’s birth. We are so thankful for our friends, many of whom I’ve met through this blog and through our church. If you know a pregnant woman and are wondering what you can do for her, then take my suggestion: bring her a meal! Organize a meal sign-up for her! Even if it’s just a gift certificate for food delivery, trust me – she will appreciate it more than you know.
Well, I’ve done it – I’ve resigned from the Emergency Room. It’s a strange thing to be officially unemployed again. The last time I was in this position was when we moved to New Zealand, and back then it was only for about 6 weeks before I was working once more.
This time around, it’s looking to be more like 6 months. Or longer. Things will be pretty busy when we first arrive in Virginia: buying a house, buying a car, re-acclimating ourselves to life in the United States (I hear that reverse culture shock can be a headache), and Chris will be starting his new job. With all of that, plus an in-law family reunion thrown in along with visits to my side of the family, it doesn’t make sense for me to jump into working outside the home right off the bat.
You know, it’s funny – when I first was hired into the ER some 4 years ago, I was sure that it would be a 1 year thing. I’d work there, get some great experience, and then do something else. However, after 6 weeks of working there, I was hooked. I have loved working in the ER and it’ll be strange to not go in, even if I was only working once a week or every two weeks.
We’ll see what the future brings. I’m open to working outside the ER. Who knows – I may find that there’s another area of nursing that I enjoy just as much, if not more! But for a long while now, being a nurse, more specifically, being an ER nurse, has been a large part of my identity. I’ve had time to get used to the role of stay-at-home-mom thanks to working on a PRN basis, but this next phase will still take some adjustment. I just hope that I won’t be too rusty when I do return to work down the road!
My baby Jack is 7 days old today!
Here’s how things have been going…
We’ve had 2 home visits from the midwife. The first was the 48 hour post-discharge check, the second was Jack’s 1 week check-up. She’ll continue to visit once per week till he is 6 weeks old, at which point he’ll be referred on to Plunket. Plunket nurses do 2 (or is it 3…?) home visits before having you come into the clinic.
At 1 week, Jack had lost 70 grams since his birth weight check, bringing him down from 3.61 kgs (7 lbs, 15 oz) to 3.54 kgs (just under 7 lbs, 13 oz). This is fine. They only get worried if babies lose more than 10% of their birth weight, and that’s clearly not the case with Jack. He is a tiny bit jaundiced. Nothing to run to the doctor about but enough that my midwife requested a bilirubin level. So, our second errand of Jack’s life was a trip to the lab (the first was a visit to the library). It used to be the case that phlebotomists would come to the home of a new baby during that first week of their life if any tests were required, but that has changed to only in cases where the mother is bed bound or disabled or recovering from a c-section. As my midwife put it, “It’s as though they’re punishing women for having had a healthy birth!” I felt like saying, “Welcome to America!” I’m still bowled over by the fact that midwives do home visits for the first 6 weeks.
Anyhoo, the jaundice is receding. Jack has spent a fair chunk of each day parked in front of the window, like this:
My little tan baby!
Ah, sleep. Jack sleeps a good chunk during the day but wakes up often enough to eat, and eat, and eat. The first few nights were up and down, up and down, up and down ad nauseaum. This has leveled off somewhat, partially because of the jaundice, I’m guessing. The last 2 nights saw Jack going for a 4+ hour stretch without nursing. I was awakened by him making little mouse noises and guppy lips. I looked at the clock, saw it had been 4 hours, and decided he needed to eat. He nursed a little bit, then went to sleep, then was up again 45 minutes later for a more robust nursing, then back to sleep, then up again an hour later for more nursing. So you see, even if he does go a 4 hour stretch, he makes up for it in the end.
He cluster nurses during the day. He does a lot in the morning and then a lot in the afternoon stretching into evening. He’s not to the level Joe was at, though. Once Joe hit six weeks, he would nurse for what seemed like 5 or 6 hours straight. I’m guessing Jack will hit the 6 week growth spurt as well and take off with nursing.
So, how is nursing going? It’s going alright. I decided to stay longer at Birthcare for two reasons (1) because I knew that once I got home it would be full-on with a newborn and toddler and I wanted a little extra time with just me and Jack, and (2) I wanted to make sure that I had a good start with breastfeeding. I’m glad to say that things got off on the right foot. Every time Jack wanted to nurse, I buzzed the staff midwife to observe and help get things sorted. I really appreciated their insight and help. When it was time for me to leave, I kind of felt like saying, “Wait – I want to stay longer!” I think that I could have stayed for up to 3 nights at no charge (I stayed 2 nights). Chris was more than supportive and told me to stay if I needed it, but I missed him and Joe. It was time to go home.
Back to nursing – I’m still a little sore, but we’re getting there. It’s nothing near the level of what it was like with Joe, which is a big answer to prayer. I’ve been using lanolin cream like there’s no tomorrow, and that seems to have made a difference, too. Thankfully, no signs of gastric reflux or colic… yet!
Jack’s main activities are nursing and SLEEPING. The boy loves to sleep. He loves to be cuddled and carted around in the mei-tai carrier, but he’s also happy to sit in his bouncinette seat.
Jack is opening his eyes more and more with each passing day. He’s taking in the world around him and observing. He turns his head at noises and makes the cutest squeaks. The remainder of his umblical cord fell off on Tuesday (5 days old). He had his first bath on Monday evening and a second bath tonight (Friday evening). He wasn’t too keen on that first bath (in the kitchen sink!) but really loved his second bath (in the tub on a mesh bath lounger).
Another big “first”? Jack has already had his passport photo taken! We did it today and the photographer said that it was a new record. The earliest he’d ever done was a 3 week old, but I think that Joe did pretty well, all things considered.
Here’s his US passport photo . The actual photo is much crisper than this – this is just a photo of the photo that I took using my phone. He also has a photo for his NZ passport. We just happened to be walking by the photo studio and Jack was in his quiet-alert phase, so I thought we’d give it a try. It did require Chris making elephant noises and bouncing Jack a few times. That plus a quick photographer did the trick. It was a nice little answer to prayer that we were able to get it sorted so soon and so easily. Hopefully the rest of the paperwork processing will go as well.
Jack and Joe
Joe has definitely connected with Jack. When I was pregnant, Joe would give “baby kisses” to my tummy. Once Jack was born, Joe seemed to understand our explanation about the baby in mommy’s tummy now being here, and his name was Jack.
The first time Joe saw Jack was in Birthcare. Chris wheeled Joe into the room in the stroller and Joe got down, went to the foot of the bed, and just stared at Jack, who was lying in the bedside bassinet, for about 45 seconds. He was so focused! Then, he wanted to go play with the toys in the lounge Since then, Joe will routinely ask, “Jack? Jack?” whenever he’s out. When he wakes up in the morning, he’ll say, “Jack!” He gives Jack cuddles and kisses on a regular basis and will come running to me, saying “crying!” if Jack starts to fuss. I was getting Joe up from his nap this afternoon and had Jack with me. I placed Jack in the cot, lying on his side, facing Joe while I got myself sorted (I’d just finished nursing). Joe reached over and Jack curled his little fingers around Joe’s hand. Joe said, “Jack!” and then leaned over to give him a hug. Melt my heart!
Postpartum Fitness and Health
I’ve been doing OK. I’ve had a few hormonal moments. One such was when Chris was putting Joe to sleep and it dawned on me how BIG Joe seemed to have gotten overnight. I suddenly realized that it was no longer going to be just me and Joe during the day, and I missed that. I’m thrilled that Jack is here and our lives are enriched by him already, but it’s still a change. I’ve gotten frustrated and short with Chris and Joe more often than I would care to admit, but am learning to take a step back, pray for patience when I need it (which seems to be constantly!) and to let Chris take over rather than trying to do everything myself.
I will say that all of the working out while pregnant has paid off. I worked out right up till Jack was born. The day before he arrived, I planned to go the gym but had to make other plans because of ANZAC Day. So, Joe and I walked the loop at Victoria Park and walked to Chris’ office, then took the long, hilly way home. I was also doing the stairs in our apartment (10 flights) twice a day about every other day for those last 2 weeks. Joe got so used to seeing me do squats in the apartment that he started to do them with me and will now say, “Skawts?” and want me to do them with him again. He’s been my little personal trainer and thinks it’s hilarious to sit on my back when I’m in the middle of a plank
Anyway, yes, the exercise seems to have paid off. I’ve felt less aches and pains, have had more energy, seemed to have a more rapid, easier delivery, and have felt up to exercising again already (though I haven’t done anything aside from “skawts” with Joe, a few planks, and some walks with Jack in the carrier and Joe in the stroller). Again, part of this is likely due to the fact that it’s a second pregnancy. Part of it is also likely due to the fact that my iron levels were so much higher this time around (and all it took was me taking 3 different supplements every day!). I stepped on the scale for the first time today and I’ve got 7 1/2 pounds to lose to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I’m OK with that number, though I expect it to fluctuate. There are way too many baked goods in this house!
So, overall we’re doing well. We’re adjusting. I’m sure that there will be more bumps in the road and learning periods. I’m sure that I’ll have more hormonal moments, more losses of patience, more sharper-than-I-intended replies. But there will also be more hugs, more kisses, more cuddles, and more joy, all of which comes from gaining a new member of our family. We are so blessed and thankful, and I for one haven’t a clue why, but I’m grateful all the same. God is gracious, God is good
Introducing the newest edition: Jack Tobias Tucker
Jack was born on the 26th of April at 7:30 in the morning – he was 38 weeks on the nose!
I started to feel a bit uncomfortable around 9:30pm the night before. I tried to go to sleep but kept getting up. Finally, around 11:30pm, I made myself a cup of herbal tea and decided that I was either in labor – in which case I needed to relax and try to get some sleep – or was having more Braxton-Hicks contractions – in which case I needed to relax and try to get some sleep!
Sleep kept evading me, though I did try. It was around 2:30am that I decided, “OK – this is the real thing. We’re going to meet this baby today!”
I woke Chris up around 5:15am. He said that he’d noticed I was up and kept wondering, “What is she doing? Why does she have a light on out there?” but apparently never woke up enough to realize I might be in labor. I was fine with that. I prefer to deal with pain on my own, so I didn’t want Chris hovering around me. I kept telling myself that I could wait just a bit longer before waking him, and thought that maybe I could go a few more hours before needing to head into Birthcare.
We woke up Joe at 6am and called my friend to pick him up. She arrived just a short while later and again, I kept telling myself that I could go awhile before needing to head in, maybe another hour or two. Ha!
When 6:30am rolled around, I started to feel nauseous and thought, “That’s enough – dealing with contractions is one thing. Dealing with them while throwing up is something else.” I called my midwife, told her what was going on and that I was feeling a lot of pain, nausea, and pressure, and that I would like to come in. Was that OK? She laughed and said that when a second-time mum said she was feeling pressure then, yes, definitely okay to come in!
Chris called a taxi (I briefly felt like I was in some kind of movie, having contractions in a taxi) and we got to Birthcare around 7am. I actually apologized to the staff midwives for probably coming in too soon (again, ha!) and they assured me it was fine, that my midwife was on her way and to do whatever I needed to get comfortable.
Well, my midwife arrived and at 7:30am, thirty minutes after getting to Birthcare and after about 15 minutes of pushing, Jack was born!
He is a precious, precious little bundle of joy. He surprised me by coming 2 weeks before his due date. He weighed in at 3.61kgs (just under 8lbs) and measured 52cms (20 1/2 inches). Everything is going really well. We’re so excited that he’s here and I can’t wait to watch him grow. He’s already changing so much every day! It’s been especially neat to watch Joe’s reactions to him. He absolutely loves Jack and will ask, “Jack? Jack?!” in an increasingly worried tone of voice if he can’t see him. It’s pretty sweet