Posted by: mindyourknitting | March 5, 2011

And now we are four

In what is probably the most delayed birth announcement in history, I’d like to present our son, Spencer Lucas, who was born on December 18th, 2010 and weighed a hefty 7 lbs.:

Hello little boy!

Look at that hair!

The magic of the swaddle

Spencer's first night

Except now he’s eleven weeks old, is almost twelve pounds, and looks like this:

In the dreaded swing...and loving it only marginally more than his sister did.

Cutest when they're sleeping.

And here a couple more from the past weeks because he’s pretty darn cute:

CHUB!

Spiderbaby

First, a note about the name.  My husband maintains that “Lucas” is a nod to both Skywalker and George, but I maintain that we picked it simply because it’s a lovely name.  And that’s all I’m saying on that subject.

Spencer was due on January 13th.  I finished work on Friday, December 17th, so I was counting on a good four weeks of quality at-home time over the holidays leading up to the birth of the baby.  Although the plan was to have Abigail home with me during this time, I was still thinking of it as “down time” for all of us and really couldn’t wait to have some quality time with her while getting things done in preparation for Peanut’s arrival.  (Remember this post, in which I actually used the word “huzzah” at the prospect of having time off?  I’m such an idiot).  Imagine my surprise when my water broke FOUR HOURS after I arrived home from my last day of work.  My first thought, after I accepted that my water had actually broke and I hadn’t just wet myself, was something along the lines of “you’ve got to be effing kidding me, not again.”  It wasn’t as early as Abigail, but it was still too early for my liking, since I was only just 36 weeks at that point.   Off we went to the hospital, and Spencer arrived the next morning at 5:50 am after a relatively quick and good labour and delivery.  Okay, “good” might be overstating it, since it involved being induced and it then really, really, really sucked pretty quickly until the nice epidural lady arrived.  Then it was just fine and Spencer arrived healthy and howling,  a big “late preterm” baby with no health issues.  

We went home the following day but had to return to the hospital the following morning (Monday) for a bilirubin test because Spencer’s jaundice levels were “borderline.”  Because he was preterm they were more strict about his levels than they would have been had he been full-term.  When we went back Spencer’s levels were up so he got checked back into the hospital – this time into the NICU.  This was the same NICU where Abigail did her time, and  he was put in the incubator right next to the spot where Abigail stayed.  This gave both Erik and I a queer turn (there may have been some tears…I blame the hormones), but at the same time we knew the drill for this NICU and had supreme confidence in their ability to take care of our baby.  The maternity, labour & delivery, and NICU nurses at the General Campus, Ottawa Hospital are ridiculously good at taking care of babies and coddling postpartum mums, and I really need to do something for the NICU again. 

Could have done without one of these pictures for Spencer...under the phototherapy blanket...

I spent Spencer’s first night in the NICU  in a “swing room” at the hospital, which was kind of terrible – you’re just a person occupying a hospital room, no longer a patient, so there’s no food, no attention to the temperature – FREEZING – in the room, no blankets or towels unless you request them, etc., which is a pretty awful way to spend a night just two days after giving birth.   Spencer’s levels were down enough that we could go home on Tuesday, but we were back the Wednesday morning for another test which showed that his levels had rebounded again so he spent another overnight in the NICU.  That night I made the tough choice to turn down the option of a swing room and the NICU manager’s offer of the couch in one of the NICU’s parent rooms, but I hadn’t seen my daughter in several days, she was confused about where her baby brother was, we had Christmas to get ready for, and luckily my milk had come in by then so I could leave bottles of milk for Spencer to be fed for the few feedings I would miss.  And that list of justifications shows just how hard it was to leave a(nother) baby in the hospital and go home.

Dada and Spencer spending some quality time in the hospital. He does look a little orange, doesn't he?

(Side note: I had nothing but difficulties nursing Abigail, presumably because she was a preemie, and I really struggled to breastfeed her – think nipple shields, pumping to supplement with a bottle, weekly consultations with the NICU lactation consultant for weeks after Abigail was discharged, and many tears of frustration – because I thought it was best.  But I was glad she took a bottle as well, and never more so than when I found myself at a loss to explain her nursing strike that put an end to breastfeeding her before she was five months old.  Because we had been given her breast milk in a bottle fairly regularly we were able to give her formula without any problem.  I had some irrational guilt about having to put her on formula (although there wasn’t anything else I could do, and my ten-pound four-month old couldn’t afford to lose any more weight), but in the end it was what was best for both of us.  That experience led me to decide, before Spencer was born, that if I had the same trouble with this baby I would formula-feed sooner unless a doctor or lactation consultant could perform some quick magic that didn’t work for Abigail and I.   So imagine my amazement at the ease with which Spencer took to breastfeeding.  Maybe it’s a boy thing, but nothing has highlighted to me more that every baby is different, and just because something was tough (or easy) with one doesn’t mean you are doomed to repeat the experience with another.  So if you struggled the first time, it doesn’t mean it will be tough the second time around.  And if it is, I hope you have less guilt about whatever choice you make for your baby than I did.  Because guilt – or being judged – about feeding your baby in the way that makes sense for your family is pointless, as I learned the hard way.)

So I went home the night of the 22nd, saw my lovely daughter the next morning, and went back for a long day in the NICU on the morning of the 23rd.  And all I could think about was what would happen if Spencer wasn’t home in time for Christmas.  What would we do?  Abigail needed a Christmas with Santa, presents, etc.,  but how could I leave Spencer alone in the NICU on Christmas?   And all Erik kept saying was that he wanted our family – all of us – home and together for Christmas, with everyone at our house for Christmas dinner.  Luckily we didn’t have to face that choice as he was allowed to come home, with no follow-up tests, late in the evening on the 23rd.   Bringing him home for the second time was lovely – I was by myself at the hospital, so I got to bring him home to Erik and my parents, who were staying over for a couple of days over the holidays.  What a wonderful Christmas Eve surprise for Abigail, to wake up the next morning with her brother in the house.

Waiting to go home...

We were very lucky that both of our parents chipped in to help take care of Abigail and get us ready for Christmas, I don’t know how we would have managed otherwise.   At least by the time Spencer arrived we had the tree up, most of the shopping done, and I had hosted a cookie exchange so we were well stocked with sweets.  Erik had to do some last-minute Christmas and grocery shopping while I was at the hospital and our parents watched Abigail, but we managed.  It was a whirlwind first week, and the in-and-out at the hospital was a bit upsetting, but we were incredibly grateful that Spencer was home in time for Christmas.  We hosted Christmas, which sounded less crazy when Spencer was supposed to be in my tummy at Christmastime.  But the parents really came through – especially my dad, who did almost all of the cooking, and the moms took care of the cleaning up, so it wasn’t that stressful at all.  It was nice not to have to travel to someone else’s house with a brand-new newborn too.

Since Spencer has been home I have thanked my lucky stars more than once that he’s a relatively easy baby – or, at least, he’s easy relative to our experience with Abigail.  He eats better, sleeps better, and cries less.  And most importantly, there has been no sign of the dread Colic.  He’s good and sweet and a great addition to our family, and Abigail loves him.  Since this post is getting long enough, I’ll save the details of the sibling adjustment for another time.

The last several weeks have been a blur of night feedings, poopy diapers (or not, Spencer has had some issues in that area – seriously, who has an infant that doesn’t poop enough?), a bit of stress, and a lot of fun.  Here’s hoping I find a bit more time to write, because every day there is a moment that I’d like to share, to write about here so it’s not lost forever in the blur and hustle of growing children and passing time.   Since things do pass so quickly, and we’ve never done formal family photos, we decided to have some taken when Spencer was a couple of weeks old (these were supposed to be pregnancy photos  taken in mid-December followed by newborn photos a few weeks later, but my children work on their own timetable, apparently and we had to cancel the pregnancy photos because I was in labour, *sigh*).

All photos below by Baby and Belly Photography.

n.b. I hope I don’t get sued for using the Charley Harper picture in my masthead – I got Charley Harper: An   Illustrated Life for Christmas, and it is a most excellent book with gorgeous illustrations. 

 Also, the Junk Drawer has an addition and I’ve fixed some disappearing links.  The Library will be updated soon since I did a decent amount of reading over the past few months what with being tied to a nursing chair and all, and I’ll have to update my “About” page to include our little Chub!

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