A plea to stop SOPA

Time for something that has absolutely nothing to do with my children. Except for, you know, their future.

As one of the many who use the internet daily, I’m among those of the mind that this SOPA nonsense needs to be stopped because it would be the undoing of all that the internet is… Basically giving law enforcement, government and companies the right to shut down websites as they please without any sort of due process. Money is changing hands to make this happen. Lobbyists are everywhere and companies are paying off whoever they can to get this through. Please take a second to get educated on the matter if you have no idea what I’m referring to:

Google has also launched a petition to show the disdain the internet community has for the bill. Please give it a quick sign, it only takes a few seconds… Google: Take Action

And then contact your senators and representatives to ask them to please vote NO on SOPA. Here are a few handy contact links for my readers in Minnesota and North Dakota:

Please spread the word- Maybe if enough people get mad and get loud about it this bill will go down in flames before it gets a chance to destroy the internet.

The good ol’ days?

Here’s my question for the moment… Why do we live in a time where it’s necessary (more often than not) for both parents to work in order to scrape by in life? It used to be that when couples had children, one parent was allowed, even expected, to stay home to raise them. Now we live in a society where that situation has become a rarity… Where other people raise our children, and we have very little say in the process overall.

Don’t get me wrong… Grandma R. and Grandma S. are our “daycare” providers, and I couldn’t ask for a better situation. Well, you know, other than my staying home. But unfortunately, our financial situation doesn’t allow for that.

We live an average existence, comfortable but not extravagant. We are able to acquire our needs and some of our “wants.” Yet when examining our situation closely after finding out Brendan was on his way we determined there was no way financially I could fulfill my want to be a stay at home mom (or even a part-time working mom). Such is the case for most families, and it seems wrong. Where’s the option to stay at home or have a career? Why should we be “forced” to work just to support ourselves, while others raise our kids?

Not to say that “the good ol’ days” were good in all cases… The treatment of women in the early to mid-1900s is not what I’m after. Women were often oppressed in their own homes, made to be slaves to housework, child-rearing (and raising), and their own personal upkeep. Many were expected to cook, clean and be silent (after all, good women should be seen and not heard). Obviously this was not the case in all households, but the stereotypical view of “housewife” is sourced from this era for a reason.

While I could write volumes on this subject due to its history, complexity and controversy, I will end it here and leave it as a pondering point. I don’t want to be June Cleaver. I just want to feel more like I have a choice in the matter.

Thoughts on the matter? I’d love to hear it- Please leave me a comment!

Today’s link:
On topic with my rant, check out this commentary about how the 1950s housewife role is making a comeback.

Happy Birthday, Collin!

It’s been one year since Collin James came into our lives, and we couldn’t be more blessed. Happy birthday to our silly, sweet little monkey.

It’s been amazing watching you grow and change from a helpless newborn to the fantastic little boy you’ve become in this short time. Each day brings us closer together as a family, and I can’t seem to remember what life was like before you were in it. It just wouldn’t be the same. We love seeing you learn new things… From the first time you rolled over to now learning to walk, and from the first coos and gurgles to now learning to speak. You make us laugh, you make us smile, and you amaze us daily. We’ll do everything we can to keep you growing and learning, and to give you the great life you deserve. Happy birthday, Collin. Love, Mom and Dad.

(We’ll be having a birthday party for him later this month, expect to see some cake smash photos then!!)

You Stink!

As would make sense, as babies get older they move out of “baby” stage and become real kids. (Shocking revelation, I know.) With this gradual shift comes a change in eating habits as well. Collin is making the leap from baby food to table food and is doing wonderfully with it… Maybe a little too well.

He finishes his meal, usually consisting of some noodles, veggies and meat cut up, and a cup of applesauce, yogurt or other “dessert” and when it comes time for the rest of the family to eat, he wants what we have. The problem is, what we eat isn’t always baby friendly. We love spicy foods and many other items that aren’t appropriate for itty-bitty tummies. This results in a screaming fest until we either give in and give him some of what we have (if it won’t hurt him) or give him a snack of his own.

Collin, enjoying yogurt with breakfast.

Collin, enjoying yogurt with breakfast.

All this extra food results in a lot of extra waste. You know, the kind that fills diapers. And believe me, it’s not pretty. Our most recent escapade took place this weekend. I was relaxing in a nice hot shower (sometimes the only 20 minutes a day I get to myself), and I hear an exclamation from the changing table. It was a bad mess. Poor Collin.

So my shower quickly turns to baby bathtub time, and in goes a toddler covered in his own poop. Hands, face, back, feet… It was everywhere. You see, when a toddler makes a mess they don’t care what it is, they want to play with it. Keeps things interesting.

So, Collin got cleaned up, mom took another shower to clean off the dirty bath water, and we took a trip to the store to pick up some larger diapers. Hopefully we don’t have any more impromptu baths in our near future.

In other news, Brendan got his first real bath this week. Prior to that it had been washcloth baths… Newborns aren’t supposed to be immersed in water ’til their umbilical cord falls off.

Brendan's first bath. He wasn't real thrilled about it.

Brendan's first bath. He wasn't real thrilled about it.

Today’s link:
Babble is an awesome parent resource and has a collection of many great blogs. Family Kitchen, one of the blogs featured on Babble, recently posted on how to detox your diet for the new year. Good read.

Getting Better

Things have been getting better, albeit slowly. Brendan is beginning to realize that sleeping takes place at night (though he still tends to sleep most of the day as well at this point). He’s been getting more of a personality, as much as an infant can have, anyway, and has given us a couple of real smiles (those not of the gas variety).

At Brendan’s two-week checkup, he’s grown 3/4 of an inch and now weighs 10 lb. 15 oz. (up from 9 lb. 8 oz. at birth). He ranks above the 90th percentile for both height and weight at this point in his life. The doc said his tummy troubles should work themselves out as he matures. I’m hoping he’s right.

Brendan's chubby cheeks (2 weeks old)

Brendan's chubby cheeks (2 weeks old)

Collin, on the other hand, is rapidly approaching the one-year mark and is making it known that he disapproves of the lack of attention he’s been getting from me lately. While his previous ramblings used to consist primarily of “Da da,” everything (including Daddy) has suddnely become “Ma ma.” He’s taken to pitching fits when he is finished with meals, and is testing his boundaries when it comes to playing with things he’s been told not to. Welcome to toddlerhood.

We have been noticing many similarities between the two boys, though. It’s easy to do when they’re so close. It hasn’t been that long since Collin was a newborn, after all. They look similar and have many similar mannerisms. The differences between them abound, though. Collin is blond and fair, Brendan is olive skinned with dark hair. Brendan’s hair is coarse and oily while Collin’s is very fine and always looks clean. Collin also has dry, sensitive skin whereas Brendan does not. Collin was almost always content as a newborn and rarely cried, while Brendan cries frequently (due to his tummy troubles, caused by an inability to burp effectively after feedings).

Baby Collin

Baby Collin

Baby Brendan. Yup, they're brothers.

Baby Brendan. Yup, they're brothers.

No matter the differences, they are our boys and we love them, and hope they love each other as much.

Today’s link:
KellyMom is a resource I found recently while doing some research on growth spurts. It’s a site packed full of info on breastfeeding, infant growth and tons more.

New baby blues

As I’ve said previously, newborns are TOUGH. I had forgotten this.

Brendan doesn’t sleep well at night.Which, I believe, stems from his lack of burping ability after feedings. Typically we spend 3-5 hours a night rocking and shushing the little bear, his poor little tummy gurgling all the while. Thankfully we have an appointment with his doctor coming up this week, hoping we can figure out what his ailment is. Fixing that would make life much simpler, as keeping up with the rest of the family and day to day life with only a few hours of sleep here and there is nearly impossible.

Add to this my recent doctor-puzzling condition, and life is peachy. I’ve recently broken out in hives from head to toe (quite literally from my scalp to the soles of my feet), which started at the area of my c-section incision and quickly spread everywhere else. These itchy, red bumps make life much harder, and so far no one seems to know what the cause is. My OB saw me last Friday and prescribed a course of steroids, which so far have done nothing to resolve the hives. If I’m not improving by tomorrow, it’ll be back to our family doctor to see if he has any alternative ideas.

So far in my research online it could stem from any number of sources: an allergy to the steri-strips or adhesive used to close the incision, an allergy to the betadine used to prepare the area for surgery, stress or anxiety, PUPPP (a common rash during pregnancy, usually caused by distention of the skin), an allergy to any male DNA remaining in my uterus which is now being absorbed into my body… The list goes on.

Hoping for some sleep tonight and some relief from this unbearable itching this week. Look for an update and some new photos of baby Brendan coming soon!

Merry Christmas, everyone! Hope you all get some time to love those around you. Though they may try your patience from time to time, family is the best gift anyone could ask for.

Going Home

Home is where the heart is, so the saying goes. While going home with Brendan was a great joy, it also came with some heartache. For those of you who aren’t parents, bringing home a newborn is hard. Really hard. For a number of reasons:

1. Hormones
Post partum, my body is now trying to go back to normal. This includes realigning my hormone levels to be that of a non-pregnant individual. The result? Mood swings, irrational thoughts, irritability, crying spells, feelings of inadequacy… Basically the worst PMS you could imagine, times ten.

2. Sleep
Or perhaps more accurately, the lack thereof. While in the hospital I was able to have Brendan stay in the nursery while I caught some Z’s overnight. He was brought in for feedings but other than that he was safely in the company of the nurses. Fast forward to our time at home and I’m the only caregiver he’s got overnight. My beau is back to work so he needs his rest, so my full time job becomes caring for this beautiful little boy (who doesn’t understand that nighttime means sleep time). Last night, our first night home, Brendan slept well until about 11 p.m… Which is about when mom wanted to go to bed. The night was spent shushing, snuggling and catching naps in the rocking chair. Until around 5 a.m., that is, when Brendan decided it was time to get some sleep.

3. Nursing
Breastfeeding is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to learn. Pre-parenthood it sounds easy. It’s natural, right? All mammals do it. It should just happen. Oh how wrong I was. Even after nursing Collin for the first 6 months of his life, I’m still learning (and re-learning) with Brendan. First major disappointment (discovered with Collin): Milk production is not instant. This resulted in many crying spells and much frustration at the thought that I couldn’t provide this basic need to my own son. In time, supply came in and he was a happy eater, and I was a much more content mother knowing I wasn’t a failure when it came to feedings. Second disappointment: Sometimes your child rejects you. Brendan gets frustrated when he’s hungry, so he doesn’t want to be offered the breast. After trial and error (and more tears), I’ve discovered that to have him happily nurse, he needs a few sips from a bottle first to put some substance in his tummy, then he’ll take to breastfeeding just fine. While I have no intention of quitting (simply due to the major emotional, physical and developmental benefits), overcoming hurdles like these is always difficult.

All in all, I’m very thankful to be home. Thankful for my fiancee for putting up with my irrational crying. Thankful for my mom for helping me keep my sanity around the house. Thankful to the ladies from my church who are bringing us dinners for the next couple weeks. Thankful to have my sons with me, both healthy and (mostly) happy. Thankful for the support of all my friends and family. Thankful for all of you reading this right now, it means a lot to me that you’ve taken an interest in my life.

Today’s link:
Check out this great article on Web MD with some tips on how to raise babies on a budget. I’m a financial geek to begin with, so this is right up my alley!

Brendan

Brendan MacLean Aber was welcomed into this world on December 15, 2011 at 8:22 a.m. He weighed a healthy 9 lb. 7.5 oz. and was 21 1/4″ long. After a little struggle getting him out due to his size, and a little struggle getting him breathing, he’s doing quite well.

Meet Brendan

Meet Brendan

The real struggle was naming the poor little guy. With Collin, we had his name picked out months in advance. Not so with little Brendan. After he was out, still no name. After I was out of recovery and back with the family, still no name. Finally, after much discussion, we came to an agreement: Brendan MacLean (in keeping with Celtic family tradition).

Collin’s not quite sure what to think of this tiny squeaking thing… He smiled and waved at him and didn’t get much of a response, so for now he’s probably resigned to thinking it’s just another thing he can’t play with. In time, son… In time.

As for me, I have been resting as much as possible. Now, two days later, I’m back in my own clothing, up walking around comfortably, and am just about ready to spend a night in my own bed (well, in and out of). Tomorrow’s the big day, we’ll pack up all of our things and make the journey home, to get settled into a new routine that includes a much anticipated and much loved new member of the family.

Thank you all for following our story thus far, now’s when things will get interesting!

Mom, Dad and Brendan about 5 minutes after he was born.

Mom, Dad and Brendan (at that point still unnamed) about 5 minutes after he was born.

Today’s link:
FindGift.com is a great resource I’ve found for gift purchases, especially when you don’t know much about the person you’re buying for, or for just looking for last minute ideas. It breaks potential gifts down by gender and age group, offering just about anything you could think of (but didn’t).

Here’s the plan…

Due to a slight delay caused by my recent illness (see my previous post for more info, in case you missed it), baby’s birthday will be moved back a day, to Thursday, December 15, 2011. We’re shipping the boys off with family for the overnight tomorrow and will head to the hospital bright and early, around 6 a.m. Thursday, to get checked in and begin preparations.

For a c-section this includes:

  • Getting our hospital room and getting into gown gear
  • Checking vital signs on myself and baby
  • Signing a bunch of paperwork
  • Chatting with my doc and the anesthetist(s)
  • Starting IV fluids and antibiotics
  • Shaving of my pubic area for the incision (done along the bikini line)
  • Wrapping my legs in air massagers (similar to this, but not exactly the same) to keep circulation going while I’m an invalid
  • Giving me Zofran (anti-nausea med) to counteract the usual sickness associated with most surgeries
  • Getting my beau into some scrubs so he can join us in the O.R.

Next up, I’ll be moved down to the O.R. where more preparations take place:

  • More review with the anesthetist and my doc
  • Saying hello to the baby’s doctor, who will also be present to attend to him after he is born
  • Rolling me from the crash cart to the operating table (this is perhaps the hardest part for a roly-poly pregnant woman such as myself)
  • Swabbing/sterilizing the area to be cut
  • Numbing my back where the spinal block will be inserted
  • Inserting the spinal block (this works similarly to an epidural in that it is placed directly into the area around the spinal cord). Last time I had this done a jolt of heat shot down my right leg… Hoping that doesn’t come to pass again.
  • Once my feeling is gone (the spinal block effectively turns me into a paraplegic, numbing everything from ribcage down), a catheter is inserted, since my bladder control goes away along with everything else being numb.
  • A curtain goes up separating my eyes from the action

My doc will then begin surgery. Throughout the surgery I’ll be able to feel tugging and pulling, but no pain. During my last C/S I had to be given corrective medications twice because my blood pressure dropped quite low, causing intense nausea. Other than that, we had no complications.

Once they have our little boy out, he’ll be taken aside to get cleaned up a bit and forced to breathe and cry. This can take longer for C/S babies than natural births because there is no pressure (as there would be with traveling the birth canal) to force the amniotic fluid from their lungs. Once he’s alert, he will travel with the nurses, his doctor and his daddy upstairs to be examined and to have his vital signs taken.

I’ll stay behind in the O.R. to be closed up and cleaned up, then moved to a recovery room. My vitals will be monitored for approximately 30 minutes, and I’ll likely receive some demerol to control my shaking (due to its recent trauma).

After my stint in recovery I’ll be wheeled back upstairs to rejoin baby boy and his daddy and hear all about how well he’s doing. I’ll do my best to post pictures as soon as possible after he is born, along with any news we receive about him.

Thank you all in advance for your thoughts and prayers as we prepare for the birth of our new little blessing!

Today’s link:
Since it’s been a while since I had to pack a hospital bag, I was scouring the internet looking for resources. This page from babyzone has perhaps the best information I’ve found on preparing for a c-section.

A slight delay… Maybe

Well, after a long weekend that included my cousin and his family taking ownership of our dog, and a nasty stomach virus going through our household, it looks like baby’s birthday may be different than we had originally anticipated.

The virus started with my fiancee, who passed it along to Collin, who passed it along to yep, you guessed it, me. Last night was, well, unpleasant, and today was spent planted firmly on the couch feeling sorry for myself. Nothing quite like being 9 months pregnant and suffering through a stomach bug. Unfortunately, with the c-section set up for Wednesday morning, if I’m not feeling 100% better by tomorrow it will have to be pushed back.

While this is inconvenient and a little depressing, I do understand that it’s best to keep everyone as healthy as possible. I’d hate for little baby Unnamed to join the world just to wind up ill because we were impatient.

So much for planning!

Today’s link:
We held Santa Day at my workplace a couple of weeks ago, and I thought I’d share the albums with you. There are some highly amusing photos, even the ones of kids crying are adorable. Enjoy. (And be sure to check out Collin’s visit photo here.)