Monday, March 28, 2011

More work and play are on the way

I was just outside talking to the woman across the street with whom I am friendly. She is a stay-at-home mom to three children. We decided we both need at least a little bit of time that is just "me time," and she asked me if I wanted to go walking a couple of evenings each week. We decided to pick a couple of specific days/times with the idea that if we have an actual schedule, we may actually stick with it. And by walking we wont be too far from home in case our husbands/kids need us. The other reason for having scheduled walking evenings, is so that we will have a couple of planned nights our husbands know about in advance in which they must be home and available to watch the kids. Steven has not yet been alone with Sami, and we fondly refer to her as my "sidekick," but considering she will be five months old next Monday, I think it may be time. :)

Mommy and Me this morning was really nice. There was a little girl who kept walking over to me and Sami and trying to hug her and kiss her. I think she was about 20 months old. Her mother said she loves babies, and Sami loved all of the attention.

As for my work schedule, things look like they will be soon be getting busy again. I am still writing one to two articles each week for a local newspaper, and editing the clothing catalog a few times each month, but I had lost my main freelance job as the publication declared bankruptcy. However, I landed a gig this morning editing a book for a man who is writing a book on how to create a successful business, and we agreed on a rate this morning. He is now in the process of packing up the first four chapters he has completed to send to me, along with an advance check to get started! In addition, the trade magazine I was about to start writing for just lost its editor and because I have years of editing experience as well as writing experience, the publisher asked me to meet with him on Thursday about taking on the editor role, and he is very open to me doing the job from home!

It seems that I either have a ton of work or very little work with no happy medium; it's really been either feast or famine as a freelancer. When I have the free time, it's nice to be able to focus solely on Sami, and I've been getting to cook a lot and try out new recipes, but during those times I do also get antsy, not to mention that money gets very tight for us during those times. And on the weeks in which I have a ton of work, I greatly appreciate, and thrive on, the work, but some days feel completely overwhelmed trying to make tight deadlines while also caring for an infant. So I am trying to enjoy the next couple of days before I am very busy once again. On Tuesday, Sami and I are meeting one of the women I recently met who has a little girl that was born one week before Sami was born. And then on Wednesday I am meeting a group of women from the Mom's Club for a picnic and walk in the park.

Right now is a rare moment with Sami taking a nap during the daytime. I do not expect it to last long. Last night was the fourth consecutive night for Sami to sleep nine beautiful hours. She rarely naps at all during the day, but is sleeping longer at night finally. It's really nice that she is sleeping through the night now. And as though Sami sensed what I was just typing, her 15-minute catnap is now over, so until next time....

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sami news

I feel like a lot has happened since I've last written here. Many of you know by now that about a week ago we finally received a date of April 1 for the official termination of Elizabeth's parental rights! I almost cried when I got the call from the attorney. Then there is a minimum 30-day waiting period after that before we can go to the court to have the adoption finalized. So the attorney thinks we have a good shot of having the adoption finalized sometime in May! In the meantime I have been doing a lot of research on converting Sami to Judaism, followed by having a baby naming for her at the synagogue. I am still assuming this will all take place during the summer, and I'm hoping it will be closer to the beginning of the summer than the end. Sami will either be converted Conservative or Orthodox. My feeling is to have her converted by the most observant form of Judaism as possible, so that later there is no question she is Jewish, as the different movements of Judaism do not all honor the other's conversion processes.

Sami and I have began to go to a Mommy & Me class on Monday mornings that we both love. At four-and-a-half months old, Sami is the youngest member, but there is another baby who is 7 months old. Sami is drawn to other babies, and laughs and smiles whenever she sees one. On Friday, we visited my friend Stacey, and her daughter, Hannah, who is 5 weeks older than Sami. They had a great time, and when we put them next to each other on the activity mat Sami and Hannah couldn't stop holding hands. It was so sweet to watch. Sami and I have also joined a local Mom's Club and met some of the other mothers on Thursday, and will be seeing them again on Wednesday for a picnic in the park around lunchtime. The Mom's Club is a national organization with chapters all over the country. Its mission is to reach out to mothers who choose to stay at home with the children instead of working full time outside the home, and they have activities almost every weekday so that if you have a day in which you feel the need to get out of the house with your child and visit with other mothers and children the opportunity is there. The activities are either free or very low in cost. I have met some really nice women there already, most of whom live nearby.

Working from home and taking care of Sami simultaneously is still challenging, but still so worth it to me. I love being with her all of the time, and am grateful to not have to take her to daycare at this time. I love being there for every laugh and smile, and yes even all of her screaming and crying moments.

Sami is doing pretty well with her slow transition to baby food, and has been eating rice cereal for breakfast. For dinner she has so far tried apples and sweet potatoes, and I think she prefers the sweet potatoes over the apples. On Sunday, it is time to try something new. She is an extremely messy eater, and for some reason she finds the need to try to shove her entire hand in her mouth along with the food, and then take her hand out and wipe it on her head and in my hair. After each meal she needs a bath and I need another shower. She is still getting most of her nutrition from her bottles/formula, of course, but it's a nice to change to have her eating baby food.

Sami takes very little, if any, naps during the day now. If she does fall asleep during the day, it's a 15-20 minute catnap at best. But she is sleeping around 7 to 9 hours each night, which has been really nice. Her most recent sleep schedule has been averaging from around 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. She is still sleeping in our room, and I am starting to prepare myself of the idea to transition her to sleep in her room in her crib. I think it may be more difficult for me than for her to not have her close at night. I will miss knowing she is in the room and hearing her soft breathing at night.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sami's doing great

It's been a great couple of days. On Monday, at 4 and a half months old, Sami had her rescheduled four-month well-check-up. She got a couple of more shots, and got a glowing bill of health. The pediatrician said that Sami is doing things on the level of a six-month-old baby, and not a preemie, but of a six-month-old baby that was born full term. She said there is no reason for Sami to get an early intervention evaluation (a free state program that works with preemie babies since they often have developmental issues.) Sami grabs rattles and shakes them, rolls over, holds her head up, and is trying very hard to sit up. She leans forward and then holds it for a few seconds and falls back again. The doctor said she may be sitting up very soon, which is pretty early. When having tummy time, Sami props herself up on her arms so that she is upright from her waist up, and the doctor expects her to begin scooting very soon, which comes soon before crawling. I was advised to start feeding her a little bit with a spoon, and yesterday morning and this morning, Sami had a little bit of very watery rice cereal mixed with formula for breakfast, followed by her bottle. Once she is able to tolerate it when it is thick as hot cereal an adult would eat (I will be slowly giving it to her a little thicker every few days or so), we can start trying any baby food that is in the Stage 1 category, as long as we don't try more than one new item in four days, to make sure she doesn't have a reaction to one item. It was a bit messy, but Sami did really well, although it seemed I couldn't feed her quickly enough and she got really mad at me between spoonfuls. It was so exciting to feed her with a spoon!

Sami weighs 10 pounds and 11 ounces, and is 22 and a half inches long. And she finally officially on the chart! She is somewhere between the fifth and 10th percentile, which means that between 90 and 95 percent of all babies her age are taller than her and weigh more than her, but at least she is actually on the chart at all. This is the first month she made it onto the chart. She is still wearing newborn clothes, but I have started to dress her in a few things that are the 0-3 month size. They are a little big, but they are beginning to become wearable.

As for me, today Sami and I went for an hour long drive to meet the publisher of a business magazine for which I am going to begin writing. Work for me has been slower, and I'm still trying to make up for the money I lost from the publication I was writing for that declared bankruptcy. Also due to a tax increase, our mortgage payment has gone up about $150 each month this year. I am also expecting to receive pages either Thursday or Friday from the clothing catalog to proof during this weekend, and have two stories due for another publication on Friday. Working from home while also being a full-time stay-at-home mom is challenging, but we are not the position to turn down any work right now. Steven is working hard during the days at his full-time job, and he has also taken on freelance side jobs that he works on at home in the evenings and weekends. We are both working very hard and keeping very busy, but it's worth it to provide Sami with everything she needs, and it's worth it to us to be in the house we love, our first house that we bought more than a year ago.

Sami is starting to really love to play, and spends time on her activity mat every day laughing. I also read and sing to her daily, and work with her during tummy time watching her trying to scoot forward. I'm always reading and researching, as I have always done with everything in my life, about the best ways to help Sami achieve her milestones. But of course a lot of the things I am doing come from natural instincts, and I just do what feels right. I just hope that I make her even half as happy as she makes me.

Monday, March 14, 2011

another new day of changes

As I write this, Sami's rescheduled appointment for her four-month well-check-up is in an hour. She'll be getting shots once again, as she does every appointment, as because of her small size her shots are divided so that she only gets half her shots each month. This means of course that every appointment she gets shots, whereas most infants only get shots every other month. Poor Sami.

Right now, she is full and happy and has no idea what is coming a little later today.

Yesterday Sami and I ran into four senior women outside a store, who stopped to admire her. Everywhere we go, people stop us and say that Sami is one of the cutest babies they have ever seen. Yesterday when one of the women asked me how old Sami was, and I answered "almost 4 and a half months," she replied that her grandson is also 4 months and looks double the size of Sami. I explained that Sami was a preemie so she is a little small. And one of the other women told me about her preemie grandchildren. It seems as though everyone I meet has a story about a preemie. Yesterday the cashier at Walmart when Sami and I were out buying more formula (Walmart is the cheapest place to get her formula by far), told me about her twins that were born a few years ago at 4 pounds each. All the stories are positive, about preemies starting off so small, and turning out to be amazing children.

Sami has been trying to sit up lately, but of course she can't do it yet. If I hold her in my arms when I am sitting down, she tries to lean her little body forward but then she falls right backward again. She is also talking up a storm, but of course nobody can understand what she is saying. She seems to be saying the same thing over and over, and she looks so serious about it. I believe she is really trying to tell us something important to her. She now loves her activity mat, and when she is playing on it, she grabs at all the things that hang above her head and tries to talk to them. Perhaps she thinks that they will understand her. Every day is an amazing day of changes, laughs and smiles, which she also does extremely often now. Of course she still has her times of screaming and crying when nothing seems to console her. But those moments of laughing and smiling make me quickly forget the frustration I feel when she is crying and screaming.

I never knew I could love someone as much I love Sami.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What a day

Sami's temperature fluctuated throughout the day on Wednesday. It started off early in the morning at 98.7, but by the afternoon it was up to 99.5, and a little later it was up to 100.1. So since the pediatrician said she wanted to hear from me either way on Wednesday, either to say she is all better and reschedule her well-check-up, or to say she is still sick, I called and said I'm not sure which to say since she seems to be feeling better, but still has a little bit of a fever, and still has a touch of stomach upset. I spoke to a nurse who didn't know either and left a message for the doctor, who finally called me back in the evening. She said that she is not worried as long as her temperature stays below 100.5, and that the virus is just running its course. She said that she expects Sami will be all better by the weekend, and can have her four-month well-check-up and vaccinations any day next week. In the meantime, Sami and I are pretty much stuck inside the rest of the week, since her resistance may be low right now as far catching anything else. I'm thinking that I'll at least take her to the park for a little while on Thursday, just so we can both get some fresh air.

While I was on the phone with the nurse during the day, the appointment desk at the pediatrician's office called my cell phone and left me a rude message that we didn't show up for Sami's well-check-up on Tuesday morning! What idiots! Did she not see that I was there for two hours on Monday afternoon when Sami was sick? It reminds of an expression my mother always says: "The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing." In addition, when I left the doctor's office on Monday at 5:30 p.m. I stopped at the appointment desk to make sure they were aware I wouldn't be back on Tuesday morning for her scheduled appointment, and the receptionist said she would take care of it. This kind of stupidity drives me insane.

feeling better :)

Sami seems to be feeling a lot better. This morning her temperature was 98.7, and she is back to finishing her bottles. Yesterday she didn't seem to have her normal good appetite. And now as I write, she is dozing in her swing. If I put her in the swing when she is awake, she screams and cries until I take her out, but if I put her in the swing when she is already sleeping, it usually keeps her napping comfortably for a while.

As you can see, Sami has finally started to enjoy her activity mat. She grabs the toys that hang over her face. And now as you can also see, she is grabbing rattles and squealing in delight when she hears the sound they make when she shakes them. She is doing everything she is supposed to be doing at 4 months old, in addition to many things ahead of schedule. We couldn't be more proud. Next week she will be going back to the pediatrician for her next round of shots and her 4-month-old well-check-up. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

4 months and a stomach virus

Poor Sami has a stomach virus.

On Monday I got a telephone call from the pediatrician's office, following up on how Sami was doing since I spoke to the nurse on Sunday evening. After I quick update, I was advised to bring Sami into the office that afternoon so the doctor could examine her. She was scheduled to have her four-month well-appointment this morning (she turned 4 months old last Friday) and to have a few more vaccinations (she's on a different vaccination schedule than most babies due to her small size), but that appointment is now being put off until next week when we are sure she is better.

Anyway, yesterday's appointment was traumatizing! Every orifice on Sami's tiny body was invaded! She had a throat culture, a long swab up each nostril probing for samples to test, her body temperature taken rectally, a plastic bag tightly placed to collect urine to test, and had blood taken. First they tried to take blood from her finger, which didn't work out well, so they proceeded to take blood from the sole of her right foot. However, the nurse couldn't get enough blood from that foot, so then they had to take blood from her left foot. Sami screamed and cried so loudly, that I felt so bad I began to cry. It was a nightmare. The nurse said that in all her years of being a medical professional, she has never seen a baby with such an attitude, the way she screams and fights from everything the nurse and/or doctor tries to do to her. She also said that she remembered when Sami came for her first appointment after she was discharged from the hospital weighing just 4 pounds that she had the biggest attitude even then for a baby than she had ever witnessed before. She wished me lots of luck, and said she hopes she can see what Sami is like as a teenager.

Anyway, at 4 months old, Sami now weighs 10 pounds and 8 ounces. Next week when she goes back for her shots (hopefully she will be all better by then) she will have her height measured, and we will discuss letting Sami began to eat rice cereal.

In the meantime, Sami will be continuing her regular formula, in addition to having a bottle of pedialyte per day to prevent dehydration from the stomach virus (which isn't pretty). I was told that if her vomiting or diarrhea become much, much worse to call the doctor right away as she would need to be admitted to the hospital for IV fluid.

However, today Sami seems to be doing much better. She did lose the contents of her first bottle of the day (through both ends ... ewww) this morning, but her temperature is now only 99.2, and so far the pedialyte has stayed with her, along with the three ounces she just had of her formula before falling asleep.

For the next few days, Sami and I will be staying in, as the doctor said her resistance is very low due to the virus, and she wants her to stay home and away from people and other germs.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sami's sick :(

Sami has her first fever. Her temperature is 101.5, and of course it's a Sunday evening when the doctor's office is closed. I just hung up with an extremely helpful nurse, who told me what to do and how to monitor her. She thinks Sami has a virus, and told me what dose of tylenol to give her at her small size, and what signs to look for so as to know if anything is worse. I am worried, but feel a lot better since I spoke to the nurse and know what to do to help make Sami feel better.

On Friday, we had our last post-placement visit with the social worker, and of course Sami screamed and cried through the entire appointment! I really hoped Sami would have been having one of her good days, where she laughs and smiles nonstop, but it was just not to be. Our social worker said I shouldn't worry, but I was just hoping Sami would be in good spirits that day.

After a lot of pressure on my part to insist our attorney at least give us an estimate of when she thinks the adoption will be finalized, she said she is expecting it to be finalized sometime in June, but she reminded me that it was just a guess and to not hold her to it. If it does happen in June, we are expecting to have the conversion and baby-naming ceremony over the summer. I believe the conversion may be private, but we hope people will attend the baby naming service in the synagogue. We haven't yet decided if we are going to have a real party to celebrate, or just do something such as go out to lunch after the synagogue service. It really depends on what we can afford. Either way, the service at the synagogue will be the important part, where Sami will be given her Hebrew name, after my father.