Tuesday, October 30, 2007

First Laugh

Mike made Amanda laugh last night! A good hearty baby laugh! Mike has such a good time playing with Amanda and getting her to smile. He certainly has a big job dividing his time between his boys and his baby. He is filling every spare moment with soccer, football, baby cooing and even house chores and shopping. My job seems relatively easy compared to his; feed the baby, change the baby and put the baby to bed. He's a good daddy and husband and I thank God for him.
The last two nights Amanda has protest loudly after being put to bed, which was unusual. Both times she pooped immediately after being put on the potty. I'm just so thrilled she prefers to use the toilet. She also has shown a strong preference for taking all her feedings at the breast. She is such a blessing!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

You're my Mommy

As an adoptive mother, I find myself wondering if Amanda loves me as much as I love her. Am I special to her or could anybody meet her needs? She always begins smacking her lips when she hears my voice and is hungry, and she smiles more easily for Mike and I but there have been two other moments of note where Amanda has said, "You're my mommy!"

The first week we were home we had lots of visitors and she was held by many friends and family. On Saturday, she became fussy and no one else could calm her down. The moment I wrapped her up next to me, she relaxed and fell asleep. Then just yesterday, after a long day in the car, Amanda became inconsolable in her seat. I knew she was hungry and tired but she wouldn't take the bottle. Finally, we pulled over, I filled the supplementer, and took her out to nurse her. She nursed right away and fell asleep so we could make it the last half hour home. I'm so thankful she's bonding with us! Mike loves when he gets to wake her up for her feedings. She's so warm, snugly and calm, until she sees or hears me, of course.

This was a gift from Katie's aunt, by marriage, from Peru. My mom just loves this toy and says it will be very valuable during teething. This was the longest she held on to a toy and tried to get it to her mouth.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Busy Week

It's been a very busy week. On Sunday we drove to Cokato and visited our old church, had lunch with a friend, and visit the home fellowship that our homeschool friends began. We dropped the boys off with their good friends before all the visiting. We thought we'd spare them from all the cheek pinching and fussing over the new baby.

Everyone was so thrilled to see Amanda and they kept asking if we had moved back. At the home fellowship there was a little girl who was adopted from India. She was so thrilled to see some one with the same color hair as hers. She kept telling everyone, "She has the same hair as me!" There are so many blond Finlanders in that area, so she probably doesn't see much dark hair.

After Cokato, we drove to the Cities to see Elisa and the family. After getting home, my mom called to say that my great uncle had died and the funeral was on Friday. So, tomorrow Amanda and I will be traveling back to the Cities with my mom and grandmother.

Amanda traveled well, but it's been a tough week. Sunday was the last day of stored breastmilk and she seems to be having a little difficulty with the change to more formula. The doctor said that it was to be expected. Yesterday we had our first visit from our social worker and a doctor visit. She's 10 lbs 10 oz and 22 inches long. The doctor says that she looks very healthy.

Praise God!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Maya Wrap

We received this Maya Wrap in the mail yesterday from Elisa. It is so beautiful and we are so thrilled to have a ring sling! I've already found it makes nursing easier and the long tail is great for keeping me covered up. Amanda tucking in it right now as I'm typing.

In other news, Amanda's still on great schedule. She woke up around 1 am last night but I just checked her diaper and left her in bed. She fell back asleep until 6 am.
We're nursing great with the supplementor but I'm on my last few days of stored breastmilk. She's only getting about 2-4 oz of fresh milk from me per day, so we'll be buying formula this weekend. I pray my supply continues to increase, but using formula makes for easier traveling. We're celebrating by traveling to Cokato on Sunday.
I'm still taking Amanda to the toilet through out the day. She goes #1 often in the toilet and in her diapers, but she can go for days without going #2. Sometimes it's so long between times I wonder if I'll recognize the cues. We still have had only two dirty diapers in 3 weeks, the rest land in the pot. I wonder how things will change when she's taking more formula

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Amanda's Hair

This is Amanda's hair, too. She's looking at herself in the mirror.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Rolling Over

I propped Amanda up on her elbows to take some cute photos of her holding her head up and she promptly rolled over before I could get a shot. She did this several more times before I was able to catch her in the act. Then I called the boys in to show them Amanda's new trick.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Baby Shower and Mom's Day Out

Yesterday the ladies from church threw us a baby shower. Amanda received some very cute outfits! We are so grateful to our church family as they share our joy. Amanda was just perfect. She slept while everyone passed her around, woke when it was time for her feeding, and then fell back asleep. The ladies really enjoyed her.

We came home and she slept in her carseat until her late night feeding. We've been feeding her right before Mike's ready to go to bed at 10:30-11 pm. I can't sleep until he comes to bed anyway, so there's no sense in going to sleep with him and waking back up in an hour or so. He gets to give her that last feeding. She still stays in bed until 6:30-7 am when he's ready to leave for work. Sometimes she wakes up earlier but we don't go get her and she always falls back asleep. That's working out for us and Mike gets his time with her, too. He's just giddy in the morning when he gets her out of bed.

Today, I went to town by myself to do the shopping. I had a couple of gift cards to use and Amanda still needed 0-3 months size Sunday clothes. We have a bunch of infant gowns that we use during the week. They work the best for toileting and diapering, but when we go out I figure she should be dressed pretty. My mom said she was glad I had dressed her up for church because there are so many cute clothes. She said people are disappointed if you just have her in pajamas. My mom's not a real fashion guru so the comment carries quite a bit of weight.

This was the first time I actually looked through the baby girls' clothing since Amanda came into our lives. There sure is a lot of cute stuff!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Elimination Communication

Have you ever seen those naked babies in developing countries and wondered about the mess? Elimination Communication is the name give to the system of knowing your baby so well that you know when they are going to eliminate and taking them to the toilet instead of letting them fill a diaper.

When I read about this years ago, I wondered how it was possible but I was anxious to give it a try. Why on earth would I want to do such a thing? Because I like spending time with my baby and I can. God has given me a wonderful capacity to learn new things and I won't let that go to waste.

So, here's the scoop. I planned to use cloth diapers to cut costs in both the cost of diapers and the cost of disposal. I was able to get a good sense of when Amanda would eliminate and began sitting her on the potty between my legs. The were certain things she would do; twist and turn while nursing, latch on and off, grunt and get red in the face. We've had great success for about a week and a half. I haven't had to wash out any dirty diapers. They've only been wet.

We are on such a good routine of eating and sleeping that is doesn't mean extra time or energy. She usually nurses through half a feeding. We sit on the potty while she burps. I sing to her, talk to her and she looks in my eyes and smiles. She also gets practice sitting up. I noticed that she was getting stronger and supporting herself more. After a bit, we finish the feeding. I use warm water to encourage her to urinate before going to bed and upon waking. So, that's two or three trips to the potty in the hour that she's awake. Then she's in bed for two hours.

During the day, I put her in cloth diapers for naps, but as soon as she wakes up I remove the diaper and just have her sit on a cloth diaper. If she urinates before going to bed and I wake her up her diaper will be dry. More often her diaper is wet and she often awakes from her nap because it's wet. As soon as I change it, she falls back asleep. When we go out and at night we still put her disposables.

I am not trying to "potty train" my infant. I'm simply following her cues so that I don't have to wash out a dirty diaper. The added bonus will be that when she is capable of controlling her bowel and bladder the potty will already be a normal part of her life.

P.S. I have had to wash out a dirty diaper since this original post, but far fewer you'd expect.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pictures for Elisa

Amanda smiling at her toys.

The picture of Amanda sleeping is from the beginning of September. The rest are from the beginning of October.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Sleeping through the night

It's true Parent Directed Feeding really means more sleep for everybody!

When I learned about PDF it sounded wonderful and much better than what I experience with Demand Feeding. However, I didn't now my next baby would be adopted and I wouldn't have the benefit of "holding" her for nine months prior to birth. So, needless to say, we held her every moment we could while we were in Texas and then for a week back at home. But when I was ready to get out life back in order I called my friend Jennifer to get started with PDF.

She told me I needed to wake Amanda up to feed her every three hours, keep her wide awake for a full feeding in under 40 minutes, keep her up 20 more minutes, then put her in her bed to sleep. I wasn't to pick her up until the next feeding time. I should check for diaper changes, safety and comfort, but leave her in her crib. She promised me organizing the day would lead to full night sleep.

Amanda protested to the new order of business with gusto. I kept doubting myself and worrying. But Jennifer reassured me that it would get better. Even if Amanda cried on and off for her whole nap time, she'd be okay. So, I persisted. I called for support. My friend sent me my books Babywise by Gary Ezzo and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, MD.

The days we going fine, but Amanda was still waking up ever two hours at night until about midnight and then she'd sleep until 5 am, nurse lazily and go back to sleep until 7 am or 8 am. I kept scanning the books trying to figure out what I was supposed to do what was normal when would this get better. Finally, I put all the pieces together. A baby Amanda's age can go 6-8 hours at nights without a feeding. When she woke at night I could never really test if she was hungry or simply wanting comfort because once I defrosted the stored breastmilk I made sure she drank it because it was too precious to go to waste if she feel asleep half way through a feeding.

Dr. Weissbluth said a baby Amanda's age would start needing an earlier bedtime with only one night waking and shouldn't be allowed to start the day before 6 am. So, I made the rules. After Amanda's last feeding at 7 pm she would stay in bed until after midnight. At midnight I would feed her and then she would stay in bed until after 6 am. I would check to make sure her diaper wasn't dirty if she cried persistently but she would stay in bed.

That was Sunday night, there was considerable crying on and off until the midnight feeding and then starting at 4 am, there was more on and off crying. Then last night she went to be at 7 pm and didn't start fussing until 11 pm, ate at 12 am and then slept until 7 am! I would call that sleeping through the night!

Also, PDF has made having Amanda eliminate in the toilet really easy because we have such a good schedule, but I'll have to write more about that later. It time to wake her up for her next feeding!

Monday, October 8, 2007

First Cousins

This is Amanda and Reilly. Reilly is Mike's brother's daughter. She was born September 10th, the day Amanda came home from Texas. She was 8 lbs 9 oz when she was born. Even though Amanda is a month older, Reilly is just a little bit bigger. We're going to have fun swapping clothes back and forth. Reilly's mom sent home some clothes that were too small for Reilly and I sent her a box of clothes that were too big for Amanda.
We took their clothes off to really compare the two. Amanda began to reach out to touch Reilly.

They just looked at each other intently and then Amanda smiled at her! It was so sweet!
As I stood there staring at these two sweet baby girls, I was overwhelmed by the thought that when we found out they were expecting last year, I never expected to have my own little girl laying there next to theirs. It certainly sweetens the moment beyond words.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Fall Colors

Amanda Marie at eight weeks old. What more can I
say? She is a miracle and God is faithful.

She weighs 9 lbs. 1 oz. and is 20 1/2 in. long.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Family Visitors

Adoptive Nursing

I have very fond memories of nursing my boys and when Tony was a baby, I learned that adoptive mothers could also nurse their babies because it just took stimulation to produce breast milk.

I was concerned that Amanda would have difficulty nursing because she was three weeks old. After placement, back at the hotel, when Amanda began to fuss, I knew she wasn't hungry because she had a bottle at the agency, so I thought I'd give nursing a try. She immediately latched on and suckled a bit before falling asleep peacefully. I was so thrilled! That was the moment I really felt like she was ours; she was home.

When we had decided to adopt, I was delighted to know there was a possibility of nursing our adopted baby, too. I researched adoptive nursing and induced lactation on the Internet and bought a Medela Pump In Style electric breast pump. I was told that the more time I had to work on building my milk supply the better, so when we were called about a six week old baby in February I panicked. I hadn't started pumping yet. How important was breastfeeding to me? We decided we were still open to this little boy and sent off our profile.

While we waited to hear the outcome, I decided to start pumping. I thought it would be worse to be unprepared for a baby than to pump for several months without a lead. My friend had pumped for nine months for her cleft-palate baby so I knew I could go at least that long. I began pumping every three or four hours for about 10 minutes at a time. Sometimes at night if I happen to wake up.

It took 15 days before I saw one tiny drop. Drop by drop, day by day, duct by duct, I watched my supply begin to build. After about a month, I was saving about 2 oz. per day. After 2 months, I was saving around 4 oz in the Medela breastmilk storage bags. I had been told I wouldn't be able to provide solely for the needs of my baby, but every drop I froze meant I would supplement with my own breastmilk instead of formula once the baby came. In May and June, I was saving between 8-10 oz. per day.

In July, we connected with a birthmom who wasn't due until December and I knew I didn't want to pump for six more months, so I quit. That situation fell through, but we knew it was all in God's timing and I was comfortable with the stock of milk in my freezer.

When I got the call about Amanda, I was guarded so I didn't start pumping right away. But I didn get in a week and a half of pumping in before we went to Texas. This time it only took seven days to produce a few drops of milk. I also ordered a Lact-Aid which is a supplemental nursing system that that allows formula or breastmilk to go through a small tube into the baby's mouth while nursing.

That first night in the hotel when she woke up to be fed, I used the Lact-Aid and things went so well. Amanda nursed perfectly and then slept for three hours at a time. She even slept all the way from Abilene to Dallas and then nursed from the Lact-Aid in Subway. The second night was a little more challenging. We were having trouble with the flow and temperature so she would get frustrated. So, after a stressful night we put it away until we got back to MN. (The filling and cleaning procedures listed in the intructions were time consuming. I've been able to streamline the process and order more units.)

She would nurse while Mike was making the bottle and then nurse herself to sleep. I also tried to pump to help stimulate my supply. At home, she takes my stored breastmilk in the Lact-Aid and things are going much better with that. I use bottles at night when she wakes up or when we go out. I'm still concerned about my supply because the stores in the freezer are being used up quickly, but I'm so glad she is getting the benefits of breastmilk.

Nothing compares to the joy and comfort of nursing together.

Waiting In Texas

After placement, we went back to our hotel in Abilene. The first night went wonderful and the next day we drove back to Dallas to stay at my cousin Ben's house.

Ben left on Saturday to go up to Minnesota for his sister's wedding and we settled in for a long wait. We were told it would be one to two weeks before we could leave. Mike was initially going to leave on Tuesday but the reality of having a baby was sinking in and leaving me alone to care for the baby, pack, drive through Dallas and catch a flight seemed very unwise. So, he changed his travel plans.
It was wonderful to spend time just hanging out together. We would just stare at Amanda, take naps with her, feed her change her and stare at her some more.
We also spent time domesticating Ben's house. He had just moved in and didn't have any household supplies or utensils. We were so thankful for his generosity. It was good to be in a house instead of a hotel.
We went out occasionally, but it was very hot. Especially for us northerners who left cool fall weather in MN.
Finally on Friday, September 7th, when Amanda was one month old, we received word that we could go home. We scheduled our flights for Monday and relished the lasted of our baby "honeymoon".