Wednesday, December 28, 2011

and so this is Christmas...

Christmas was pretty awesome. The weekend before Christmas, we had the Lawrence get together which was nice. There are lots of kids now on that side so it was full of Christmas cuteness. Christmas Eve we went to Justin's Mom's house, then my parents. The food was great. Have I mentioned my kids are just a little bit spoiled? Gabe was pretty into the wrapping paper and being the center of attention. The kids got some clothes and toys. Gabe's Playschool basketball hoop is the favorite so far (also a good toy to coax him into doing some physical therapy without knowing he's doing it). The big gifts were a zoo and museum center pass. Thanks everyone!

Christmas Day was full of extended family. It was nice to introduce everyone to Alyssa. Her Christmas dress was pretty awesome. Alyssa is still waking up at night every 2-3 hours. She's starting to drink larger volumes from her bottle, so hopefully they will start to be spaced out more. She still breathes loud when she drinks her bottle, but is in no distress. Gabe continues to call her "fussy baby" all the time. She is having more wakefull periods and I've gotten a smile here and there. I go back to work in 4 weeks so we're trying to start a bedtime routine with her....we'll see how that works out.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Way behind

So I am way behind on blogging...sorry, I have 2 kids now and I'm learning some things just aren't going to get done and sometimes we are going to be 10 minutes late and I have to let that go.

Alyssa has been much happier lately. About 2 weeks ago we had a really rough night with crying, back arching, and a very unhappy baby. Justin and I were both beyond exhausted the next day and I decided I couldn't wait till the doctor's appointment in 5 days...I had to change her formula now. She was on Neosure which is a 22cal formula for preterm babies. Regular formula is only 20cal so this is why there was some pressure to hold off switching formulas. Eliminating milk in my diet hadn't helped too much and since my last post I dried out and have stopped nursing. Apparently my body can lactate if I pump 7-8 times a day, but not if I pump 4-5, so that is done and has made things a little easier on me. Anyway, we changed to Similac sensitive for gas and fussiness and I think it has really helped. The lactose in the formula has broken down some and is easier to digest. She still gets gassy and has fussy periods, but she overall seems much better. Her weight at the doctor was up to 8.5lbs which is great. Alyssa is still a very noisy eater and makes a squeeking noise sometimes. The doctor said again that she thinks she has some tracheomalacia (sound familiar?...not nearly as severe as Gabe's was, but I still hate that word). Anyway, it means she has a little floppy tissue somewhere in her airway that gets irritated with feeding, but because it doesn't seem to bother her and she never appears in distress, it doesn't warrant an ENT referral and she'll grow out of it as she gets bigger. Works for me...either way, I feel like I need to warn others who may feed her that she likes to be noisy with her bottles. She is sleeping better and starting to learn the difference between day and night. She is having more wakeful, eyes opened periods during the day. She still wakes up around 11pm, 2am, 5am, and 7am to eat, but goes back to sleep pretty easy. She only drinks 2-2.5oz per feed typically. I think she wants to drink more, but her stomach is still small and she'll vomit if she takes more than 3oz in an hour. Hopefully she'll drop an overnight feed as she is able to take more volume during the day. We are able to tag team it so I am getting at least 6 hours a night which makes me functional.

Gabe is such a 2 year old lately. He thinks Alyssa's name is "fussy baby" and calls her that all the time. He is talking up a storm. He has pretty much mastered nouns and action words and we are starting to work on adjectives. Our speech therapist said he is the most verbal 2 year old with down syndrome she has ever worked with. Other families have asked us how we work on speech with him to get ideas. It is nice to hear that he is advanced in an area since we are working on catching him up in other areas (drinking from a cup and walking). As far as speech goes, Gabe has always loved books and flash cards with pictures on them. He loves making animal noises. We did sign language and he loves Signing Time videos. We also do lots of physical therapy activities in front of a mirror. Gabe is really into mimicking everything we say (the good and the bad). As far as motor skills go, Gabe took 3 independent steps about 2 weeks ago. This is huge. He is getting braver with his movements. The PT told us to really start letting him fall because he needs to learn to catch himself. This has resulted in a busted nose and black eye for Gabe the past 2 weeks. As far as eating goes, Gabe's weight is about the same (actually slightly less) since we dropped a feed last month. He is eating very well, so I was hoping it would be up. He only gets one tube feed a day and I was hoping we would be able to drop in and just focus on drinking from a cup before the New Year, but I don't think it's going to happen. Maybe the big holiday meals will help chunk him up a little bit. Drinking is about the same 8-10oz by mouth a day...needs to be about 25 oz per day. Gabe had an opthalmology appointment last week. His eyes are good. We go back in a year. We are trying to figure out how to discipline Gabe. We are starting "time-outs" on the stairs. I'm hesitant to do this with feeding issues (throwing/spitting out food) because we want it to be a positive thing and getting out of it would actually probably be more of a reward for him. When Gabe throws or spits out his food he is usually trying to get our attention. We sternly say "No Gabe, that's bad. You do not spit out your food." and proceed to put whatever he spit out back in his mouth. He says and signes "sorry mommy" and it melts you heart...only thing is, he'll do it again 2 minutes later. I don't think he knows that sorry means you don't do it again. He just knows it makes mommy happy. He's definitely a charmer and knows how to work his cuteness.

Have I mentioned I love Christmas? My decorations are kind of pitiful with just a wreath this year, but we still are enjoying the season. Gabe is really into trains so we took him to the Children's museum to see the trains and I think he really enjoyed it. He also met Santa...he didn't cry, but was kind of indifferent about him.

Justin and I got a night out at his law firms Christmas party 2 weeks ago. It was a nice time and was a treat to get a date night.

More Christmas photos to come!....

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Week 4

The days are just flying by. I need to finish my Christmas shopping. I'm thinking it's going to be a giftcard kind of Christmas. Alyssa is still the gassiest baby ever. Last night was pretty good though. She was uncomfortable during the day, but was much better at night (I think she worked some stuff out). We go to the pediatrician next week to talk about a formula change. I am continuing to pump 3-4 times a day. I've discovered that more than that is nearly impossible with 2 kids. Gabe is doing great stuff lately. He finally started cruising and is becoming more confident with his movements. For so long he was afraid of falling, but now he is quite the daredevil. Hopefully this is a precurser to walking. Gabe is also doing great with his communication. Talking has always been his strong point, but he has really taken off lately. We were singing "Old McDonald" the other day. Gabe fills in the blank as to what animal is on the farm. We went through cow, pig, horse. On the fourth round we sang, "Old McDonald had a fam, ee, i, ee, i, oh, and on that farm was a _____". Gabe paused for a minute and yelled "fussy baby". Talk about hilarious...Gabe already wants to ship Alyssa off to the farm.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

week 3....getting into a routine

Things are going well. Alyssa's due date was this past Monday. I couldn't imagine being pregnant that long. Nursing still isn't going well. We went back to Breastfeeding Medicine on Monday and Alyssa nursed the best she ever has (about 20 min), and she only got 20ml's from me. I talked to the doctor and we came up with a plan. I am going to stop nursing her. It's a struggle, she's not getting enough from me, and there is nothing bonding about it. I will continue to pump, but will decrease it to 4-5 times a day to make it work with Gabe's schedule. I learned I can't be hooked up to the pump, while feeding a baby, and chasing after Gabe. So, we will have to supplement, but at least she'll be getting something from me. Alyssa has also been very gassy. Not just typical baby gas...twisting, back arching, grunting most of the night. After consulting with the doctor, I am starting to try to make her more comfortable by eliminating dairy from my diet. Gabe had a milk protein sensitivity, so we are wondering if she is having a little bit too. After thinking about it some, I have been drinking a ton of milk. It's weird, but I've been craving it since having Alyssa. I've been drinking 2-3 glasses of milk between dinner and bedtime. Alyssa is the most uncomfortable in the middle of the night, so hopefully eliminating the dairy will fix it. Let me just say I love dairy, but I would definitely give up ice cream for a good night sleep. Alyssa has seemed much more comfortable the past 24 hours. She woke up at 12 am, 2am, 5am, and 7am to eat, but went right back to bed afterwards, so I am feeling pretty good today. I had a fever on Friday and Saturday. It was weird because I had no other symptom. I was a little worried about mastitis. Lactation couldn't find anything, but said I may have had some infection and inflammation that worked itself out. Who knows, but I'm glad I'm feeling better now.

Alyssa is getting big. I can tell her face is filling out and her belly sticks out some. She weighed 7lbs 5oz on Monday which is a great weight gain. She very strong. She has actually rolled over from front to back 6 times.

Gabe is doing well. If we distract him enough, he'll stand on his own for a little while. He also cruised some around the coffee table yesterday. Little stinker could totally stand and walk if he wanted to...he's just that stubborn and we have to trick him into doing things on his own so he doesn't realize he's doing it.

I stayed home with Alyssa for Thanksgiving (she's still pretty tiny to be around a ton of people). Justin took Gabe to his cousin's house. I thoroughly enjoyed my take-home plate. Bring on Christmas time!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Week 1...survival mode

Week 1 Survival Mode has gone well overall. Poor Gabe got a cold the day we brought Alyssa home from the hospital. It's nothing extremely concerning, just a virus creating lots of drainage. 2 days later...Alyssa sounds congested. Lets just say we've been dealing with alot of saline and bulb syringe to clear out the sinuses on both kids. I didn't even think newborns could get sick this early, but I guess I was wrong. Alyssa is also making a little bit of a high pitched whistle sound when she takes a bottle. They think she may have a little bit of floppiness in her airway or it could be related to her congestion. Either way, the doctor is not too concerned as long as she does not appear in distress and thinks it will either go away with the cold, or she'll get over it when she gets alittle bigger. Either way, floppy airway are not words to throw around lightly considering Gabe's history. Alyssa's weight is 5lbs 15oz on Friday which is good. I still like the sounds of 6lbs a little more.

Alyssa is still a little bit of a lazy feeder related to her being pre-term. We went to lactation this week for some help. She did have a minor tongue tie (stage 2) that they clipped. It was so tiny and thin she didn't even really cry. That has helped some. She is able to nurse a little, but she falls asleep quickly. She takes a bottle fine because it is less work than nursing. She also doesn't open her mouth very wide, so it's not the most comfortable thing for me, but it has improved. The lacatation physician said to try to keep up with it and in 2-3 weeks, she'll be a different kid as she approaches her due date and has more wakefull periods. The process currently is try to nurse, offer her a bottle, burp her and hold her up right so she doesn't spit up and then pump. It's about an hour long process that we do every 2-3 hours. She only take 1-2 oz per feed because she's little and gaining strength still. It's alot of work, but like I said, I'm trying to stay with it for another 2 weeks and see if things improved. Otherwise, things have been great. She is an easy baby. I feel better emotionally this time around without the worry of heart surgery or health problems in our future. I feel like I am able to enjoy her more. Gabe is doing well. I am not able to try to lift him for another week, so that has been difficult. I am trying to make a point to give hime attention as well. We read books and work on puzzles and do some fine motor exercises. Justin has been great with Gabe's care from therapy, to bath time, to taking him and picking him up from school. Gabe has noticed Alyssa. He'll say baby and give kisses. He loves when we point our her eyes and nose and ears. He gets a little unsure when she screams for her bath, but otherwise, he kind of ignores her after awhile.

We're tired, but very happy and thankful.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Welcome Alyssa Rose!

I went to work on Friday feeling fine. Throughout the morning I was having contractions here and there. They started to pick up around lunchtime. My water partially broke while I was using the restroom....I thought it would be more obvious so I was unsure if it was the real deal. I called my doctor, Justin, and our mom's and went to the hospital. By the time I got there, the contractions were every 3 minutes and were painful. I was having back labor and it was much harder this time than it was with Gabe. I wasn't dialated, but they checked me and my water did break. I went ahead and opted for the repeat csection since I had a section with Gabe. Why risk it...especially since I wasn't dialated at all was laboring pretty intensly. Everything moved pretty fast from there. Alyssa was born at 2:58pm on 11/4/11. She weighed 6lbs 2oz and is 19 1/4 inches long. She's a petite thing. She was 3 weeks and 3 days early, so she was considered preterm. I thought she would be coming early the whole pregnancy. Gabe was 3 weeks early and I just felt the cues coming on that she would be early. Luckily she is perfectly healthy. She had a great cry as soon as she was born and her color was really good. They monitored her for jaundice. Jaundice can happen when you are born early and can be more severe when the baby's blood type differs from the mother (I am O+ and Alyssa is Justin's blood type A+). Luckily her bilirubin levels were fine. Her weight didn't drop too much. Nursing is going a little slow. Sometimes she latches on great and other times she falls asleep or gets impatient and cries which is typical of preterm infants. They encouraged me to stay with it and give her a week or two and she'll catch up. It was nice to have the weekend at the hospital to recover. Justin was running around back and forth to take care of Gabe and finalize things at home for her early arrival. Gabe came to the hospital on Saturday to visit. He is very cute with her. He says baby and pats her when we tell him to be gentle. He'll give here a kiss and then he's off to play with something else. We came home today. It was nice to get settled in when Gabe was at school. This evening went well. I tried to give him some attention and he ate well and was talking well like everything was normal. He does have a little bit of a runny nose, so I'm hoping he doesn't get a cold. It would be really bad timing. I am doing well....a little tired of course, but in a good way. It was so nice this time around to be able to come home from the hospital as a family. While I know it will be difficult and sleep deprived I don't have the worry I did with Gabe. The first 2 weeks will be difficult since I can't lift Gabe after having my csection, but we'll make it. Luckily we have lots of help. I am happy, tired, but very happy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!

Picking out my pumpkin

The ducks at the petting zoo were my favorite

I fed the animals

Kinman Farm's Pumpkin Patch

Thursday, October 20, 2011

some of Gabe's favorite things to play with


Such a great rainy, lazy day today with my buddy.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Less than 6 weeks left!

I'm very excited about pink and purple. Gabe's new room is below. It's plain, but we'll paint the walls and give it a theme once he is in a big boy bed.
My c-section (repeat section) is scheduled the day before Thanksgiving....if I make it that long. Everything is coming along nicely and I'm beginning to feel as if we are as ready as we can be. I would still like to go through some closets and get rid of some clutter, but the major nesting duties are taken care of.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Look Mom...I'm a fish!

Gabe loves swim class! He splashes and kicks his feet. He floats on his back and glides through the water on his belly. He even likes to jump in and (briefly) put his head under. The only thing he won't do....blow bubbles.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Many mothers of children with Down Syndrome who Blog, post everyday in October to help raise awareness regarding Trisomy 21 (aka Down Syndrome). I know it would be unrealistic with me being very pregnant and working 32 hours/week to post every single day, but I do promise to post more. This month I will post some info on Down Syndrome, Gabe's therapy, and all the things in life Gabe loves.
Gabe does have significant delays with his motor skills. He is very stubborn when it comes to movement. This is somewhat related to his hospitilization as an infant and lack of tummy time, his heart surgery, and most of all, his lower muscle tone. He has made great strides this summer though. We are currently focusing on getting his ab muscles stronger to help with the upright balancing that is required with standing and walking. Gabe is definitely a two year old and cannot know he is working, or else he will refuse to cooperate. Our physical therapist, Justin, and myself have the challenging task of strengthening Gabe's abs and getting him moving without realizing the effort he is putting forth. We have been able to do this in a couple of ways...check out the pics.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Poor Gabe got the respiratory bug this weekend. He was breathing a little heavy and working a little hard, so we took him to the emergency room around 4am on Sunday. They admitted him to watch him for 24 hours. We have all recooperated and he is doing much better now. This is the first time in 2 years Gabe has been in the hospital. We saw many nurses who took care of him then and they were so excited to see how good he looked. Before Gabe got sick, he was the MVP at the UC football game. Check out the video attached. Gabe is also making stead progress with walking. He's such a toddler lately it's too cute.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Buddy Walk 2011

Saturday was the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati's Buddy Walk. Our team, Gabriel's Angels, raised over $2,240! Many thanks to all of those who donated and walked with our team. It's difficult to put into words how wonderful it is to know that Gabe is surrounded by the love and acceptance of our family and friends. A few families and therapists have made the comment that occasionally those once close to you tend to distance themselves once you have a child with special needs because they either feel uncomfortable, don't know what to say, or feel like they can't relate. We are lucky this has not been a major issue for us. It's wonderful to see Gabe included with his friends and have everyone excited about this special day to celebrate that crazy extra chromosome. Gabe had a great day and kept saying 'buddy' all morning as we were getting ready. The weather was great and we had such a fun day.