Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Do-Over

We're finally home, after spending almost three full days at the hospital.  I am so glad to be home, and I have so much more compassion for families who have kids in the hospital.  The nurses and doctors are very sweet and supportive, but it's still an awful place to be.  There's no rest to be had, and after a few days in the isolation room, I was starting to go looney.  They checked Sophie at about 3 PM on Thursday and told us that since she was eating well and breathing without the help of the oxygen, it was okay for us to go home.

She's still in recovery mode, although she's doing a million times better than before.  Unfortunately, Mommy and Daddy are still pretty sick.  I can't hear anything out of either ear from the virus/ear infection.  All I hear is a really high pitched ringing tone.  Steven has a double ear infection too, along with bronchitis.  I'll spare you the details of the rest of our symptoms; suffice to say, we are buried in piles of Kleenex.

Basically, this means we are just a delight to be around right now.
Bah humbug.
Sophie's actually feeling the best of all of us -- she's just coughing occasionally now, and she only needs her nose suctioned maybe once or twice a day (they were doing it hourly at the hospital).  But she has a fierce diaper rash which makes diaper change time really quite unpleasant, for us and for her.

We opened Christmas presents on Christmas Eve, and it should have been a wonderful special time (and it sort of was), but we're all so miserable that its hard to enjoy Christmas.

So, I am declaring a do-over.  We're going to pretend like Christmas is happening again, as soon as we're all feeling better, and I'm going to dress Sophie up and make Christmas cookies and simmer cinnamon on the stove and play that awful Harry Connick Jr. Christmas CD that Steven loves so much, and by golly, I don't care if its mid-January by the time we've all recovered, we are GOING to have ourselves a merry little Christmas.

For now, Merry Christmas to all of you from our den of kleenex and decongestants.  Maybe Scrooge just had the flu and that's why he was so cranky.  I can certainly relate.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Places I Didn't Expect To Be In The Days Before Christmas

If you're a new parent, you naturally spend at least a small portion of your time thinking about all the big firsts.  First smile, first tooth falls out, first Christmas, and so on.

You don't really spend much time thinking about baby's first Emergency Room visit.
Hello, we just got rear ended in a car accident. Sophie's first trip to the ER.  Who says new parents don't document everything?

And you certainly don't spend much time thinking about baby's first admission to the children's hospital.
She looks so tiny and defenseless in that bed.
And you never in your wildest nightmares consider that baby could very well spend baby's first Christmas in baby's first hospital bed.

(At least, I didn't.  My nightmares were a bit more grandiose.  Baby's first tsunami, baby's first bank robbery.  You know, anxious minds are often quite creative with these things.)

So, here we are.  It's nearly December the 23rd.  Sophie hasn't sat on Santa's lap, but she's had fiftymillion IV pokes and two bags of IV fluid and oxygen breathing tubes up her nose.  I feel like I'm on an episode of Punk'd and I'm going to wake up and realize that she's FINE and we didn't really race to the ER with my ten week old baby four days before Christmas.  Did we?
Yeah, turns out we did.  Last Thursday, we took Sophie to the ER (for the second time already in her short life!) for a high fever.  I thought it was a fluke, but the next day, Sophie was diagnosed with RSV at the pediatrician's office.  RSV, which I'd never heard of before, is apparently a virus that makes it really difficult for little kids to breathe through all the snot, pardon my french.  It often turns into bronchiolitis.  Or maybe they are the same thing.  I am no doctor, and I've got my own version of the horrid virus, so I'm functioning at the bare minimum level of available brain cells.

At first the pediatrician just sent us home with a nebulizer, a prescription for albuterol, and instructions to give her Tylenol every 4-6 hours or as needed for fever.  

Well, she wasn't getting any better; in fact, she was getting progressively worse, so we had another pediatrician appointment Monday morning.  "Nebulizer more often, Tylenol more often, we're trying to keep her out of the hospital" was the verdict.

Tuesday I made a sad, fruitless attempt to go to work with what essentially amounted to the flu plus a double ear infection.  Daddy stayed home with Sophie, and I came back home around noon.  We had a follow up with the pediatrician at 3 PM.  This is what our poor baby looked like on the way there. (I took a picture because Nana gave her this hat for Christmas...)  In retrospect, she looks pretty sick here already.
Hi.  I feel like crap, Mom.
The pediatrician looked her over, talked to us about the fact that she wasn't eating all that great, weighed her, saw she'd lost over half a pound pretty recently, and told us to head on over to the ER to get evaluated.

(By the way, the term Emergency Room is an oxymoron.  It is not a room, and no one there moves like anything is an emergency.  They are more like, "Oh, hey, howya doin', here's a room for you to sit in and watch THE ENTIRE Charlie Brown Christmas Special before we tend to you and your sick baby...)

Like I was saying.  Four or five hours later, we found ourselves checked into the pediatric unit with my precious little baby (who used to be the picture of health!) with oxygen plastered to her little cheeks, bruises from multiple IV pokes, an IV drip with electrolytes, and a whole team of doctors and nurses basically telling us, "Yeah, its a virus, it just has to run its course, and we'll try to help her breathe and stay hydrated, but that's really the best we can do."

Which of course made me so sad and worried.  My baby has to just hack and cough and snort her way through this?  ARGH!

They put her in this little metal crib, which looks more like a prison cell to my sad and stressed mommy eyes.
And we've been here now for more than 24 hours.  Nearly two days in the hospital with this awful thing.  And come to find out, most of the other kids on this wing have the same dreadful RSV.  Its "going around."  (I'd like to find the person who started THAT trend and wallop them something good.)

It's been hard on Mommy and Daddy too, although I'm sure it's nothing compared to what Soph is dealing with.  The version I've got (and the version Steven is now coming down with) is mighty unpleasant.
So, we've set up shop here in this little hospital room.  Mommy is spending the night because she has the food.  Or perhaps, she IS the food.  You know what I mean.
And Daddy comes during the day and brings us things from the house, like clothes and shampoo for Mom and Dr. Seuss books for Sophie.
She had a really tough night after she got checked in.  Spent the whole night on oxygen and fluids.  She has since ditched the oxygen and just went off the fluids tonight, so we're hoping the worst is over.
She seemed to perk up today a bit, so that was encouraging, although she still has a horrible, heart-wrenching cough that makes you want to scoop her up and run out in the hall to the doctor and yell, "DO SOMETHING FOR HER!!"

(Which of course I can't really do, (A) because she is hooked up to everything under the sun so I can't get her more than 3 feet from the bed, and (B) because I'm not allowed to take her in the hall at all - we are in an "isolation room" and people won't even come in here without wearing a paper covering and plastic gloves that they throw away EVERY TIME they leave the room.  I sort of feel like I'm in the movie "Outbreak" and we're going to have to find that stupid monkey to solve this whole thing.  Again, anxious mind gone terribly off tangent....)

 So anyway.  Merry First Christmas, sweet baby.  I hope to God we are out of here before Christmas Eve.  Oh, and spoiler, I am buying you a truckload of orange juice and hand sanitizer for Christmas.  You're welcome in advance.  
Hello. My oxygen tubes help me breathe and they also helped Mom promise to buy me a pony for Christmas for suffering through this ordeal.  Double bonus!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Baseball Baby and My First Couponing Trip

My little nugget is growing like a weed, and I realized the other day that if we didn't put her Twins fan outfit on her soon, she'd outgrow it without even getting a single chance to wear it.

So here's Sophie's tribute to the winter trade meetings.  Go Twins!
We had to add the hairbow and the flowery jeans so she wouldn't look like a little boy.
Daddy absolutely loved this outfit on her, as you can imagine.
In fact, he was directing the photoshoot and we made several attempts to get the picture below just right.
Sophie really likes Joe Mauer, but she secretly told me that Michael Cuddyer is her favorite player.  That's my girl...
After the photoshoot, Sophie promptly christened her Twins outfit as only a baby can, and we needed a clothing change for her.  So Daddy decided she could open one of her Christmas presents early!
Santa's got quite the adorable little elf this year.  Her little arms and legs look so loooooong in these PJ's!
Lots of other things are arriving in the mail for Sophie's first Christmas -- she is very excited to open them all!  (Actually I'm not sure she realizes what's going on, but she does like the sound of crinkling tissue paper, and she likes staring at the Christmas tree lights, so that counts for something.)
In other news, I have officially completed my first "couponing" trip to Harris Teeter.  With a combination of printed coupons and Sunday paper coupons, I bought all this stuff:
At full price, this whole purchase would have cost $82.57.  With my coupons, it cost $27.81!  That's a savings of almost 70%, or a little over a dollar per item for 25 items.  Not the most epic coupon haul I've ever seen, but not bad for a beginner!
We bought some other stuff that I didn't have coupons for, so we actually spent about $57 at the grocery store, but for a week's worth of groceries plus all this extra stuff, that's pretty good.

As we were loading the groceries into the car, Steven says to me, "I think I am starting to understand the point of using the coupons.  You stock up on the basics that you need and get them really cheap or free, and then you have extra money to spend when you want to splurge on something else."

Yes! Yes, exactly. :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Working Girl.

Soph likes to skip out on daycare early and come visit me at work.

Caution: Sophie At Work

Which, of course, is such a fun idea but also stressful because what if she starts screaming during someone's conference call or something?  I have a quiet-baby strategy that involves a pacifier and Mozart but you just never know.  Also, the folks at work didn't want her to have to lay on the floor so they told me to bring her a playpen.  I have situated it in the least obtrusive location, so hopefully no one will think my office has turned into Babies R Us.  Do you see it?

Sophie's Office in Mommy's Office

Getting back to work has been great -- it's so nice to use my brain for something other than counting dirty diapers.  But it has also been very very tiring, for me and for Steven, too.  He doesn't do so well with the sleep deprivation -- he tends to hallucinate.  The other night, I had just finished feeding Sophie at the three a.m. feeding, and I put her on my shoulder and started to pat her back to burp her.  I guess I was patting her back in a rather loud and rhythmic fashion, because Steven jolted awake and looked around frantically and then looked at me with a crazy Rodney Dangerfield look in his eye and said, "Oh!  Oh man.  I thought that was a helicopter!"  

And finally, a picture of me and Soph from over Thanksgiving weekend.  She's getting so responsive these days, its fantastic.

Hi baby!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Couponing for Dummies (Or, A Dummy Learns to Coupon)

So I'm totally and utterly intrigued by this whole "couponing" business.  I have seen people doing it (in fact, my sister-in-law is a champ at it), but up 'til now I was clueless about how it worked.  I've done some research in the last week or so, and I think I'm starting to get it now.  So I am going to give it a (very slow) try...

As I understand it, the first step is to start collecting Sunday newspaper coupon inserts.  And from what I've read, it takes a goodly while to gather enough inserts to have them on-hand to match up to the grocery deals in the stores.  Couponing websites have their own lingo, much like anything else, so at first it made no sense to me, but I have self-educated enough to learn that there are basically two or three types of "inserts" in the Sunday paper: "Red Plum" inserts and "Smart Source" inserts.  And occasionally there will also be Proctor & Gamble inserts.

So you start by getting several of these inserts each Sunday, and then you just WAIT.  Don't clip them, just keep them intact and write the date on the front, then throw them in a stack and WAIT.  Next Sunday, get more inserts and WAIT SOME MORE.  Keep doing this every Sunday.

About 4 weeks later, the products from your very first Sunday inserts will go on sale.  This is when you get to do the fun part (I think....).  You go on a couponing website (there are billions but Jenny pointed me to and I like it) and find a list of "matchups" for your local grocery store.  Mine is Harris Teeter.

And this is the part I haven't yet mastered.  Somehow you make a list of the "deals" you want to get, and you find your coupon inserts that match up to the sale items.  Result?  You end up getting things for stupidly cheap amounts, or for free.

I see both pros and cons to the whole shebang.

- Free stuff.  Hello, who doesn't like free stuff?
- Feeling of accomplishment at obtaining a good deal
- Lower grocery budget
- Stocked pantry
- Not having to pay exorbitant amounts for an ingredient at the last minute

- Requires some planning and organization
- Could easily get VERY overwhelming
- You sometimes end up getting random products that you wouldn't normally use
- Could also get VERY time consuming

So, in order to maximize the pros and avoid the cons, we are going to start very, very slowly.  Goal number one?  I am going to buy two Sunday papers this weekend and save the inserts.  I probably won't use any of the coupons until late December or maybe even January.  For now, I'm just going to start collecting coupons.  If I do a couple of "deals" and they work well, I'll keep going.  If it feels like an incredible burden, I'm going to let the dogs use the papers for what they do best, and I'll just keep grocery shopping like I normally do.

But I sort of think I might really enjoy it once I get the hang of it.  Something about it appeals to the Organizer in me.  I am getting a craving to buy file folders and a Trapper Keeper already.....

(Of course, the couponer's ultimate dream day is Black Friday, but I'm still too scared to venture to any retail establishment that day.  Too afraid of getting trampled.  Give me time, I'll get there.)

(What? You came for the baby picture?  Okay, okay, I hate to disappoint....)

Mom, I'm fine with you dressing me up, but these midday photo shoots are too bright for my delicate little eyes.  I'm going to get wrinkles from squinting..... 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Blogging One-Handed Again

Sleeping baby in left arm.  Hard to type. Cute pics to show you though. (With pithy, one-handed captions, of course.)

The star of our show is nearly one month old.
This is her mad scientist look.
Tummy time.
She can follow the camera with her eyes now. Clearly a Rhodes Scholar in the making.
Baby looks inquisitive. Mom looks tired.
Had her first playdate on Saturday. Got dressed up for the occasion.
Even wore shoes! (Didn't bathe though...)
(Looking a bit grimy...)
Met her internationally-traveling baby friend and future pen pal, Charley!
(Soph tried to behave, only had one crying fit.  Overall, successful playdate was had.)

Speaking of success, first successful bath was tonight.
Only cried once we took her out of the water.
(Water was too cold in prior baths. Mom scared of scalding baby, froze her instead...)
Much better when water is nice and warm.
Playing in the water!

Left arm aching now. Baby still (thankfully) asleep. More cuteness to come, I'm sure.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

All Hail The Triumphant Return...

All hail the triumphant return...
... of my ankles.  Seriously, I thought they were going to be gone forever, replaced by flesh-colored tree trunks attached to my knees. They are still a wee bit swollen (if you squint you can see the imprint of my sock...) but HOLY COW those are my ankle bones and I can actually see them, which makes this a very happy day indeed.  I haven't seen those ankles for a goodly 6 months now.

But, you probably aren't here to see pictures of my feet.  Right then, let's get on with it.  Our sleepy little sunshine is three weeks old already.
Hard to believe.  She's looking older in the face, I can tell.  This is how we've been spending our days:
Sometimes all the sitting around and doing nothing bugs me, but then I get to babygazing and I remember how short-lived these days are, and I try to ignore the tiredness and the awful daytime TV, and just love on my little girl as much as I can.  (And as you can see, I have a very jealous little Yorkie on my hands.  He tries to sneak into the chair for a cuddle as often as possible.  And he has finally realized that Sophie is sticking around, so he has been great with her, which is really a relief, because his days were numbered at our house if he couldn't figure out how to get along with her.)

Sophie experienced her first trick-or-treaters at our door on Sunday evening.  We had a costume for her, but when I put it on her, she was not a happy camper. Poor thing.
We immediately opted out of the costume and left her in her "littlest pumpkin" outfit and she was happy. Well, she was happy until I explained to her that babies don't get any candy.
(Don't worry, I ate plenty of candy on her behalf, so she had her share in a roundabout way...)
Whenever I try to take her picture, she spends half the time craning her little neck to look out the windows.
She very much likes the sunlight. I think she likes looking at the contrasting light/dark of the windows.  And I am very glad that she's enjoying the light, because we are working diligently to distinguish day and night for her.  I think it may be working.  She slept from midnight till about 3 AM and then 3:30 AM till about 6 AM two nights in a row.  Steven has taken over the midnight feeding, which has really really helped with my sanity.
(Hopefully it has helped him sleep better also...  During the first week that we were home with her, she started crying in the middle of the night, and Steven reached over with his eyes closed and gently handed me a small warm bundle, his hands cradling the head carefully.  I looked down, and my sweet sleep-deprived husband had handed me our 6-pound dog.  I asked him about it the next morning and he said he honestly believed it was Sophie, but he wondered why she had so much hair....)
Happy three weeks, Sophie! Your parents are slowly figuring out this whole having-a-newborn thing.  By the time we have this down, you'll be on to something new, I'm sure.