Tuesday, September 23, 2014

First Foods

It's been a while!

Aidan is 4 months old and thriving. At his last appointment he weighed 18 lbs (90th percentile), 27 inches (97th percentile) and was hitting all of his developmental milestones.

He's a very happy, easy-going baby. Sleep is still not the best, but we're hoping for longer spurts after the 4 month sleep regression he seems to be going to.

Our pediatrician said that since he's showing major interest in food, able to sit up, and has great head control, that we could start introducing solids. He ate his first few bites of rice cereal like a pro!

 

Truth be told, rice cereal wasn't his first food. He stole his first few bites at a rib-cookoff when he decided to make a grab for my watermelon a few weeks earlier.

Looking forward to adding some fruits and vegetables to his meals and seeing how that goes!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Shipping Breast Milk - Our Process

We are so incredibly fortunate that our surrogate offered to continue pumping for Aidan. In most surrogate contracts, the surrogate chooses whether or not they'd like to pump for the intended parents, and there is usually a fee associated with it. The fee varies, though in most situations I've encountered it's about $1 per ounce of breast milk. In the beginning of our process, I had researched induced lactation and had hoped that I could nurse Aidan myself, but once Aimee offered to pump for him we decided that the cons outweighed the pros for induced lactation.

We're still ironing out the process since we had one shipment that came a day late (and boy did we freak out!), but this is what has been working for us so far: Aimee pumps and stores breast milk in Lansinoh bags, which are then put in her deep freezer. Once she has enough for a shipment, she puts the bags in a Styrofoam cooler with dry ice packed on the top. She has been shipping overnight through USPS, so I receive before 10:30 the next day. We did attempt to ship via FedEx, but they will not ship breast milk.


Once I get the shipment, I take all of the milk bags out to our deep freezer, which I purchased before Aidan was born. This has been such a good investment for us. When we are preparing milk for the next few days, we take about 8 bags inside to our freezer to start defrosting. When we need milk for that day or the following day, we take about 3-4 bags of milk and place them in a Ziploc bag to continue defrosting in the refrigerator. When they've defrosted enough that the milk can be broken up, we take the bags out, and put the contents into a mason jar to be stored for the day. It sounds like quite the process, and to be honest it's not as easy as putting formula in a bottle and having it instantly ready, but we really feel it's worth it, and are incredibly lucky to have a friend who is willing to provide this for him.

Friday, July 4, 2014

First 4th of July With a Baby

I love 4th of July for many reasons. I love America, BBQing with friends and family, traditions, themed outfits, pie, and fireworks. Oh, and it's Mr. Bee's and my dating anniversary. Cheesy, but we like to celebrate it 10 years later.

Growing up, I have so many great memories of 4th of July with my family. My grandma would always come visit, we'd grill, play with sparklers, go watch the fireworks show on the hill, and then get ice cream at Friendly's. Nothing too much, but definitely memorable to me. I hope that Aidan has just as many good memories of this holiday while he's growing up.

Our poor little fella has been battling a double ear infection (at 6 weeks - not fair!) and has been pretty fussy for the past few days, which now all makes sense. He started sniffling over the weekend and Sunday night had a little cough. After using my "mother's instincts" and Dr. Google, I was panicked. I even used the good-old rectal thermometer since I was convinced something was wrong, but no fever. My husband thought I was a little nuts, but thought it would be good for me to take him in for peace of mind the next day. So happy I did since he ended up having a double ear infection, and we caught it right before he got a fever. Incredibly grateful I listened to my gut with that one! And, he's already 13.3 pounds. Such a chunk!

This all leads up to me saying we didn't do anything significant for the holiday. In Reno, there are pretty much two options - the fireworks show in Sparks and going to Lake Tahoe. Since neither of those is extremely convenient with a fussy 6-week-old, we decided to go low-key. We celebrated with lunch at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants in Midtown, then spent the majority of the night wearing Aidan around the backyard to calm him down.

First time straight-ironing my hair in 7 weeks! 
We did get several smiles from him throughout the day, and had two outfit changes due to...unforeseen circumstances.


Outfit #1

Outfit #2
Can't wait until next year when Aidan can really appreciate the fireworks and enjoy the festivities with us!


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Baby Bee Newborn Essentials

In the first week Baby Bee was born, we were just surviving. We had our bundle of love home, and now we had to nurture him and keep him alive. Well-intentioned friends would often tell me things that worked for their babies, which was appreciated, but ultimately, this is our list of what worked for us the first crucial weeks.

Disclaimer: Collage created by the talented Bee Kim of HelloBee.com.
  1. Rock N Play Snugamonkey - We bought this on a whim while we were in Portland, and Baby Bee has decided that this is the one place he really wants to sleep. Since he has a little bit of reflux, our doctor recommended that he sleep in it. We try to keep him out of it was much as possible and re-position his head so he doesn't get a flat head.

2. Summer Swaddle Me Blankets - As someone who would have failed out of swaddle school, these are great. You just put the baby's legs in the pouch and wrap the swaddle around. The velcro keeps them in. The baby goes into a happy trance.

3. Happiest Baby on the Block - Mr. Bee and I watched this video the night before Baby Bee was born. It's filled with invaluable knowledge. I can't recommend it enough.

4. Soothie Pacifier - I heard that these were great, and they're the only pacifier that Baby Sea Otter really prefers. I know a lot of people enjoy Wubbanub pacifiers, which are basically Soothies with a stuffed animal at the end, but our dogs have made it clear that those will not survive in our house for longer than an hour.

 5. White Noise Machine - A lifesaving sound machine. Switch on the Dohm and get ready to zen your baby out like no other.

 6. Zip Up Onesies - I mentioned these in my last post, but the zip-up onesies were essential. When you're so tired you don't know if you're changing your baby or knitting a quilt, these are a no muss, no fuss way to change your baby quickly.

 7. Dr. Brown Bottles - We tried several bottles since we are feeding Baby Bee breastmilk. These worked the best and significantly reduced the reflux issues he was having since he could gulp down the contents like they were going out of style.

 8. Boon Lawn - If your counter is going to be taken up bottles, they might as well be displayed on a cute green lawn. The larger lawn fits the bottles and most of the bottle parts. If you're only using bottles for supplementing, I'd recommend just the Boon Grass, which is the smaller version.

 9. Yoga Ball - Not just for strengthening your core, the yoga ball is perfect for late nights when you don't know what to do with your crying baby. I spent most of those nights bouncing him and singing sorority recruitment songs, since those were the only things I could remember at 3am. What got you through the newborn weeks?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Newborn Photo Highlights

We've taken hundreds of photos of our little fella so far, but couldn't resist a newborn photo shoot. I'm in love with how all of these turned out! There are just a few of my favorites, but they're all amazing, and I'm not just saying that because I'm a proud mama. Ok, maybe a little.





















Sunday, June 22, 2014

Birth Day Photography

I mentioned in my last post about Aidan that we were fortunate enough to have a photographer there to capture his birth. It was an extremely emotional moment for all of us - for me and Mr. Bee who have had to overcome so many hurdles to finally become parents, and Aimee and her husband who sacrificed so much the past year to help us complete our family. I had originally thought that birth photography would be awkward and intrusive, but everything was so tastefully shot and captured every feeling we had that day.

Most of the time we didn't even know that she was there, and now we have an amazing keepsake of this special day in our lives. Thank  you so much to Rachael May Photography for being there with us during this life-changing day!

Click here to view video

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Aidan's Story

It's been a while, but I wanted to update and give the details on the birth of our son, Aidan. During an elective ultrasound at 34 weeks, we discovered that Aidan was breech. This was a huge surprise for all of us. Our surrogate Aimee had all of her four children vaginally, and dealing with a breech birth, external version, or C-section was something we hadn't thought much about. We spoke with her doctors, and I did a ton of my own Google research, which mostly just caused panic attacks. We all talked and decided that the best option would be to plan the c-section. In the meantime, our surrogate tried spinning babies, acupuncture, and had several chiropractor appointments. I also got several photos from her with her best upside-down poses. Despite all efforts, it looked like this kid was stubbornly breech.

Two weeks before the scheduled c-section, I got a text from Aimee that she was feeling a lot of pressure and decided to go to the hospital to get checked. Her doctor had warned her to come in if she felt pressure, since this could mean that Aidan had gone further into the birth canal, which could cause issues with a breech baby. After waiting what seemed like forever, she let us know that he'd decided to flip at 37 weeks, and was now head down! She had felt some minor contractions, and was 3 cm dilated. The OB said that he could come at any time. Since she usually had fast labors and we wanted more than anything to be there, we quickly went home and packed, and the next day booked plane tickets, a rental car, and hotel accommodations in Portland.

A lot of people often asked me what my plans were for being there during the delivery. The truth is, we didn't completely have a plan, other than waiting for "THE CALL" and then booking the first available flight. My ideal thought was to fly up a week before the due date and not miss a single moment, but with my work and my husband's job, it didn't look like that would be possible.

We arrived in Portland on Friday night, checked into our hotel, and made our way down to the hotel bar to celebrate what could have been our last night as a family of two. I stared at my cell phone anxiously the entire time with the ringer up extra loud just in case. That night, I slept with one eye open. My gestational surrogate and I are very close and text constantly, so every time I got a text I was grinding my teeth thinking it was time. We made it through the weekend with no baby calls, and decided to stay in Portland until her appointment on Tuesday, where we'd hopefully get more information. Unfortunately, the appointment didn't give us any other sort of timeframe, although they decided that if he hadn't made his grand appearance by that Saturday that they wanted to induce due to his size. He could still come at any moment.

What we thought was "the last supper"

Because of this, we made the decision to stay in Portland, telecommute for work, and enjoy a nice (albeit anxiety-ridden) babymoon. There really is no better place to have a babymoon than Portland. It's no secret that if I had my way, I'd move there in a heartbeat. We spent the weekend at the Japanese Gardens, walked downtown, ate amazing food, and did a fair share of shopping. Even though every second was spent thinking that we'd get "THE CALL," it was wonderful being able to spend time with Otter Pop and celebrate our impending bundle of joy every moment we got.

 

Two nights before the induction, we had dinner with Aimee and her family. I'm sure I've sang her praises a lot before (although it will never be enough), but I might not have mentioned how amazing her family is. She has 4 great boys and a hilarious husband, who is about as immature as I am. We had the best time catching salamanders with the boys in the backyard, talking on the porch, and spending time with them. They are truly wonderful, giving people, that I am thankful for every day. It was so lovely to have that opportunity before Baby Sea Otter's birth to spend time with them.

Backyard Fun

After an amazing and long week, Saturday finally came. We all met at the hospital and walked upstairs together to start the induction. We spent a lot of time in the beginning laughing and hanging out with members of both their family and mine. It was heartwarming to see how much support she had through this entire process. To ease the anxiousness, we passed the time texting each other silly internet pictures and trying not to disturb Aimee, who decided that she wanted to have a med-free birth. I asked her before the process started what I could do, and she let me know that she'd get to a point where she didn't want anyone to talk to her, which I completely respected and became incredibly protective of her when people came in the room.

I don't even have the words to describe the birth of our son. Every time I've tried to write this, it sounds incredibly contrived and corny, but here is my best attempt. I knew that Aimee was in hard labor because she had stopped focusing on Treehouse Masters and looked completely zen with her eyes closed. She had one great nurse who would check on her and was quiet and gentle with her. The nurse said she'd turn the pitocin down a bit since the contractions were so close, but not hard enough to cause her to dilate more. The last check I remember she was 7 cm. A photographer friend of Aimee's had come, and was documenting everything for us to treasure later. At one point Aimee looked like she was in pain and asked if I'd fan her, which I was happy to do. Here's a tip: bring something good to fan someone with. A People magazine will not cut it. It was flimsy and I felt like I was doing a terrible job. Once she had cooled down a bit, I sat back down with Mr. Bee and Aimee's husband.

It was very tense in the room, and I was incredibly anxious. At one point, I saw Aimee pick up the call button and just knew that this was it. A team of doctors came in the room to help Aimee start pushing. I was literally so scared that I sat helplessly on the couch until her husband told me to watch my baby being born. I sat on a stool watching everything happen, and asked Mr. Bee to come over and watch with me.

At the time it felt incredibly intrusive, but I know that I had everyone's blessing, and in the aftermath, I wouldn't have wanted to miss it for anyything. I knew that Aimee was in pain and I wanted to do anything I could to stop her from hurting. I know that sometimes partners say that they can't bear to see their spouse in pain during the labor process, and I felt the same way times 100 for having someone in pain who was giving us such a blessing. Pushing seemed to go by so quickly, and in the one second that our son was born, I completely lost it. The longing, pain, fears, waiting, and finally entrance of Aidan pushed me over the edge, and I broke down crying hysterically. Mr. Bee held me in his arms. I didn't know what to do until Aimee's husband yelled at me to come get my baby. I collapsed on him and Aimee, and just remember saying, "thank you, thank you," over and over. I would have stayed there crying all over her if the nurse hadn't told me to sit down so she could bring him over to me.

 I had bought a cheap Target sweatshirt the day before so I could do skin to skin contact. The nurse brought him over and I couldn't believe how beautiful he was. I held him and wept. I am an ugly crier, and I apologize to Aidan in advance for his first moments being branded with the images of my ugly cry face. I held him and everyone came over to meet him. I barely even remember what happened after that, except that I finally had my son, and for the first time, everything in my life felt right. I can't describe the joy of holding him, I can't describe the incredible gratefulness I feel for the family and woman who helped bring him home to us, so instead, I'll have to just say that it was the best day of my entire life.

Meeting him for the first time

Without any more waiting, meet Aidan.

Aidan James