Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Auntie Nina Saves the Day

Let's get the bad news out of the way first: Ethan is sick again. :(

It's so hard to listen to him breathe so noisily, cough so often, and sleep so fitfully... it breaks my heart! The past few nights I have gotten up with him at his usual 2 a.m. feeding, and then spent the rest of the night/morning with him sleeping on my chest, semi-upright, so that he could breathe easier. I may not have gotten much sleep, but at least he did!

Now for the good news: We have finally found a new "Auntie" for Ethan, someone who can take care of him one-on-one and love on him just like we would-- well, almost just like we would. :) Her name is Nina, and she is related to our friends Veena & Raj. She is so awesome! We took him out of Childtime day care, partially because it was so expensive (almost $1000/month!!), and partially because they just weren't taking care of him like we thought they should. For instance, on a typical day Joel drops Ethan off by 9:30. He fed him last at 8:00 a.m. Well, Childtime lets Ethan sleep from 9:40 until 12:40-- 3 hours straight-- and then doesn't feed him until 1:00 p.m., which is *5 HOURS* after he ate last! Hellooo, he is only 3 months old (barely), he should be eating every 3 hours right now. In fact, their own guidelines say that infants need to eat at a minimum every 4 hours. What the heck, then?! I think they were just so happy to have him there because he slept all day long, which meant less work for them! I brought up my concerns multiple times, but they never really changed anything, even when he was sick and only eating 1-2 oz. per feeding.

I'm so glad we have him with Nina now; she really cares about him already, and has a lot of experience with babies. I feel really comfortable with her, and know that he is as safe as can be over there. *Now* all I have to do is try to stop being jealous that she gets to spend time with him instead of me! /:)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Best Medicine

We took Ethan over to my parents' house tonight, and he laughed out loud! Well, chuckled, I guess; either way, it was more than his usual smile/silent laugh and more than a coo, so I'm calling it a laugh! It was so awesome. He is really getting much more interactive now. Joel plays with him all the time. I think he's starting to get more interested in Ethan now that he's responding to us and recognizing our faces and actually playing, rather than just laying back, eating his formula, and passing out. It's very sweet, actually, to see them together... :)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

More "Baby Stuff Love/Hate/Want List"

I'm actually glad we're marking down all of the baby items that work for us. Even if we don't use this list again, we can share it with friends or use it as a guide when shopping for the next baby shower. Considering that three couples we know just got married last summer, I'm expecting some of them to be "expecting" sooner rather than later, so this will come in handy!

Baby Bjorn Baby Carrier + Cover: (more details)
This is AWESOME. We tried the Infantino front baby carrier, but it had two major problems: (1) almost impossible to get the baby into/out of it; it always took two people, plus several minutes of contortions and wrangling, to enter/exit the thing, and by then the baby was upset (along with mom & dad!); (2) it held the baby too loosely, so that he flopped all around unless we were holding him with one arm-- kind of defeating the purpose, when you think about it. The Baby Bjorn, on the other hand, is super-simple to use. Once you get the straps on, you just hold baby against your chest, slide a tube into a slot & snap a button on each side, and boom! You're in. Getting the baby out is even easier, and you can do it while he's asleep without waking him. Perfecto! We use it all the time, even while working in the yard or around the house, and he loves it. We couldn't get one right away because he had to be 8 pounds before fitting into it, but he's perfect for it now. We can't wait to be able to turn it around later and let him see the world on our walks! :)

Sleep positioners:
We started to use these because Ethan got sick at around 8 weeks old, and we wanted him to be elevated without having to worry about him sliding over to the side of the crib (which he kept doing). Unfortunately, the positioners have been a pain in the tookis since day 1. The first one we bought ($25) worked okay at first, but (a) the velcro-mesh "bumpers" that are supposed to keep him positioned correctly are somewhat loosely covered and so they are easy to push out of the way, negating their purpose, and (b) the baby finds it very easy to scooch down the "ramp" and end up with his head between the two positioner-bumpers, which freaks me out a little bit. Because of those issues, we bought a second positioner ($36) that had more of a cradling shape, and was moldable to his body. The first night we used it, he went to bed at 9:30 or so, and at around 12:30 I heard him making some grunting noises and went to check on him. He had somehow rolled entirely out of the positioner and was on his side with his face completely pressed against the bumper. ACK!!! I almost had a heart attack, I tell you. What if we hadn't heard him and he had stayed against the bumper even longer?!? Anyway-- no more positioner, and no more bumper. I'm thinking about getting the Breathable Baby mesh bumper, which lets them get air even if their face does end up pressed against the bumper.

Baby Trend "Gabriella" Close-Sleeper 6-in-1 Nursery Center, with Bassinet, Changing Station, Play Yard, Co-Sleeper, Comfort Seat, Music & Vibration Station:
I SOOO wish we could have gotten this one right from the start. We just saw it in Babies R Us today, and I was so disappointed that we hadn't found it earlier and gotten one for Ethan. It is a bit more than the usual pack-n-play type play yard; it has the typical features from most others play yards, like a changing station that flips out of the way; a bassinet in the upper layer that can be removed later when you want to use the bottom portion only as a playpen; and a feature that has music, vibrations, and I think also a mobile to keep baby soothed or entertained while he's in there. But the feature that it has that I have never seen before is a removable section that becomes a "close-sleeper" and puts him right up next to the bed. The usual co-sleeper or bassinet is a bit annoying because it is deeper and it's a bit awkward to reach in there in the middle of the night to soothe the baby. This close-sleeper thing puts him much higher so that you can reach him easier, and also can be removed later for use as a baby-sized couch/"comfort seat". All in all, I wish we'd had it about 3 months earlier, so he could have slept in the room with us this whole time, and then we'd also have the bottom section as a playpen now. The bassinet/changing station/close-sleeper are only good for up to 15 pounds, so buying it now would be a waste of money when we can get just a regular pack-n-play for much less. Bummer. Next time, though! :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Insurance Woes...

I'm so frustrated right now. We didn't add Ethan to my work insurance because it would have cost $375 a month to do so. But when we started the private insurance through Anthem Blue Cross at $75/month, we didn't realize we'd be paying $100 per doctor visit. Did I mention we've had three doctor visits so far this past month, because Ethan had his 2-month visit and then two more because he was sick? That would be $300, just in co-pays. Then, this same week I also found out that my insurance won't cover Ethan's circumcision (which runs approximately $420 or so, by itself) and first well-baby visit (not sure how much that costs).

Why, you ask? Oh, because I didn't read the fine print on the insurance documents and choose a pediatrician from within the Sutter Gould building on Coffee. I thought, quite mistakenly, that I could just go with any doctor who is listed on PacifiCare's website as a valid participant in the network. And I wanted to choose a doctor who was *also* listed on the Anthem Blue Cross network, so that he would have the same doctor from the beginning. WRONG!! Now, they say they won't cover it, which means I'm in the whole approximately $720 so far-- and that's not including the co-pay for the emergency room visit that we had a week ago. I really can't believe that things are going so sideways financially right now... am I going to have to start selling off furniture to pay the doctor bills? What kind of world are we living in?!?

Once I lose my job, we can apply for Kaiser's "money-saver" child-only plan, which would run us only $14/month. How awesome is that? Until then, I can either not take Ethan to the doctor ever again, or switch his insurance to Kaiser's regular plan... which runs about $200/month. Still, $200 a month and a $25 co-pay is better than what we've got going on right now! Oy...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Using the right tools makes all the difference... with babies.

At three months old, Ethan has finally started to be really responsive to us, and we are loving it. He smiles so much, even though he's still sick, and he even silently laughs sometimes. Especially when he's sleeping... I wonder what hilarious things he's dreaming of...

Boppy + Floor Mat:
_MG_6520 (Medium)
We've been working with him a lot on his neck strength, and the Boppy pillow definitely helps with that. We put him on his stomach inside the curve of the Boppy, prop his arms up under his chest/hands under his head, and he tries to push up and lift his head. The Boppy is also a lot firmer and feels better when feeding him; with the other nursing pillow, I had to hold his head up with one hand to get him elevated/tilted enough to drink. The Boppy lets me hold him in the crook of my elbow because it keeps him up high enough to feed without being too far away from me or too flat.

We got the floor mat for him to play on as well, and he's starting to show that he is making some connections. As in, when his arm connects with a hanging rattle, and it makes sounds, he is starting to get that *he* made that happen. After a few times of randomly or accidentally hitting the rattle, he'll start purposely waving his arm into the toy to hear it shake. Woo-hoo! I can practically see his little synapses firing... He also loves the little dangling lion that plays these adorable tunes. Joel wants to make a recording and loop it so that we can have it whenever we want it, even if the batteries go out. Personally, I think he just likes to tinker with gadgets. :)

Another couple of things we love are the zippered footy-sleepers from Target and Wal-Mart (I think they're called "First Years" and "Circo"). They are a definite lifesaver when you have a diaper change in the middle of the night and don't want to be unsnapping both legs of his outfit.

We also love the Baby Bjorn we just got.

It's SOOOO easy to use! We sometimes use it to carry Ethan around the house while he's sickie and a little fussy lately, because he likes to be held right now more than usual. Joel even used it the other day when I was working and he took Ethan to Office Depot. He said that it really made him feel like a dad. I think he likes it much better than pushing a stroller around, for sure. And the nice thing about the Bjorn is the way it redistributes the weight across your back... so comfortable! I'm glad we splurged on it, because the Infantino carrier was just not cutting it.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Job, Schmob-- Who needs it, right?

So, I found out today at my school's Site Council meeting that yes, I was right-- the plan that has been in play since at least last March (if not earlier) is finally coming to fruition, and they are cutting Healthy Start. Well, to be fair, they are just not putting their share of the program costs in ($25,000); then they are leaving it up to the District to either kick down the 25 grand or let the program fade away into obscurity. Pretty sad, considering that Healthy Start has been at Mark Twain for 10 years, and has been an important part of this campus for a long time-- at least 7 years, which is how long I've been here. I knew this was coming, though; not that it makes it any easier to be discounted and discarded, but at least it wasn't a surprise. It was so stressful to even think about going to the meeting, but I did it, and got through most of it before having to leave. I did fine during the meeting when she said she'd have to cut it, and when she said "Can't *one* person do the job in Healthy Start?", and even when she said "This isn't personal, Melanie; it doesn't have your name on it" (which is a bit facetious, if you ask me); when I lost it and start crying was when one of our faculty stood up for me and stated on the record how important she thought we were to the school. I literally cried my eyes out, right in the middle of the meeting. How embarassing! Later, another teacher who was there said that she was glad I lost it, because people needed to see the face of the budget cuts... which apparently is red, blotchy, and semi-drippy.

The good thing about it is that I'm looking forward to being able to spend time with my baby. And it will be really nice to be able to take a break from being the one responsible for everything-- bills, work, job-hunting, etc.-- and instead just focus on my family, my home, my child, my relationship, and *me*.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ethan's sickie update

Joel took Ethan in on Thursday Feb.26, and the doctor said that we appear to be doing everything we can to help him get better. We're keeping him elevated in his crib, and keeping him upright as much as possible when he's awake; using the saline spray and nasal aspirator to clear out his poor stuffy nose; keeping the humidifier on in his room at night; putting him in the bathroom after a steamy shower during the day; and so on. But he has just been getting progressively worse, no matter what we do. He has been almost regressing, in terms of where he had gotten with his nap/feeding schedule, and he is all of a sudden very clingy and doesn't want to be put down. Over the past weekend, it just got much worse; he coughs all night and periodically throughout the day, is super-congested all the time, has a really hard time eating, and has recently started sleeping non-stop. On Monday, I started noticing he was eating less and sleeping way more. Then, on Tuesday, he was even worse-- by 2:00, he had had slept straight through from 9:30 to 1:30, and had only eaten around 10 ounces (2.5 regular bottles!) over the course of the whole day. Naturally, I flipped out.

I actually ended up taking him to the emergency room on Tuesday 3/3 because he was so sluggish and lethargic, hadn't been eating (was eating less than half what he normally eats), was sleeping almost non-stop, and wouldn't wake up even when he coughed. It really scared me, especially when his daycare people were worried about it too. I had to go in to the ever-colorful emergency room at Memorial Hospital because our insurance doesn't have an urgent care that sees infants. At Memorial, they x-rayed his chest and it was clear of pneumonia, but they were a bit concerned because his cough and congestion has been going on so long. The doctor also thought Ethan seemed a bit dehydrated and weak, and was concerned about the fact that he wasn't eating well. So, I'm staying home YET AGAIN to take care of him. Not that *I* mind-- but my work is a different story. If they weren't already cutting my position, I'm sure that these constant baby-sick-days would pretty much convince them to do it anyway. /:)

Anyway, I just worry about him a lot. I don't want to be one of those first-time moms who is constantly calling 911 when her baby sneezes, but I also don't want to be one of those moms who says "I wish I would have just taken him in to the emergency room..." Now, to find a happy balance! :)