Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Kate’s First Month: The Love

The first month with Kate seems like such a whirlwind. I remember when it was happening it seemed like time was passing so slowly. Long days and even longer nights. Those first few weeks I remember just staring at Kate. All. The. Time. I would sit down to eat and take a glance at her and before I knew it I had been gazing at her for several minutes. Or I would be holding her in front of the TV, catching up on a few shows and when my eyes would drift down to her face, I found myself completely unable to look away. I studied her features. Looked over her little hands, her knees, her face. I looked for similarities between Kate and I and Kate and Brad. I wondered who she looked like. I found myself getting choked up as I looked at her.
In fact, that whole first month, Brad caught me teary-eyed more times than I'd like to admit. My mom even asked if I had the "baby blues" because normally I'm not a crier. Even throughout the pregnancy I remained pretty level-headed. I would have to say that during my pregnancy I was even happier than normal. Now I'm sure that post-partum hormones played their role in my teariness, but mostly I just felt so overwhelmed with love for this little creature. When I looked at her I saw so many gorgeous things about her. This may sound odd, but over the years I've seen LOTS of babies and, absent-mindedly, I found myself categorizing them. The fair ones, the round-faced ones, the ones with pretty almond-shaped eyes, the not-so-cute ones, the ones with pretty hair, and the ones with cute little noses, etc. I always wondered what Brad and my baby would look like one day and I found myself drawn to the babies that had features similar to the ones I imagined our baby would have. Dark hair, round face, small nose, almond-shaped eyes. I always thought those babies were the cutest, probably because it was so easy to imagine that is how my baby would look. Of course, I had no idea what my baby would one day look like and I always said that no matter what he/she looked like I'd love her more than anything.
But now that she was here and as I looked at her for hours upon hours those first weeks, I realized that everything I'd ever asked for in a child was right here in this little girl. Since I was a little girl, I'd always wanted a daughter and here she was. A dark-haired, brown-eyed girl and here she was. The pretty, bright, almond-shaped eyes. The mass of straight, dark hair. The gorgeous, pouty lips. The tiny, petite nose. All the features I'd found so pretty in this baby or that baby, they were all here in this one little package that was my daughter. All the attributes I'd ever wished for in a baby . . . in my baby . . . had all come together in a beautiful, healthy, little girl. How did I get so lucky? And I was not just lucky because my daughter was a beauty but also because she was the picture of health. I see so many babies with bad hearts, bad lungs, even bad blood sugars. But I had been blessed with a perfect baby. Ten fingers, ten toes, and everything about her functioned just like it should. How in the world could I not get teary thinking of what a blessing I had been given? These were not sad tears. Not baby blues tears. Not tears of depression. These tears that flowed freely down my cheeks were tears of wonder and awe. Tears of the joy that I couldn't contain.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Kate’s First Month

Even though I am so FAR behind, I have been keeping notes on Katie's developments and our life these first few months. So I'm finally going to start sharing monthly updates on her. There will actually be several posts regarding Katie's first month with us. Because as I sat down to write about it, I found that I had a lot to say. Not only was Kate here and we were becoming a new family but there were so many other adjustments. Finding out who we were as parents, how we coped, new habits, new activities, a new diabetes routine . . . a whole new normal. I had so many thoughts buzzing in my head as we tried to regain our footing and find sure ground that first month. So I broke it up into several posts based on the different things I was thinking those first few weeks. Of course, the first post will be devoted entirely to Miss Kate:

It's amazing how much we could learn about Kate in just a few weeks. It's hard to imagine back when we first found out that we were pregnant and she was just a tiny cluster of cells. Now she's this big, beautiful baby with likes and dislikes and habits and characteristics all her own. It’s hard to believe there was ever a time when we didn't know about her, when she didn't exist, when we weren't expecting her and preparing for her. These are just a few of the things we've picked up on about Kate so far:

* She picked up on breastfeeding pretty quickly (especially compared to some horror stories I've heard). She needed a little help with her latch and we used a nipple shield at first but were able to wean off that by about 2 weeks and she's been doing great ever since! And she doesn't spit up at all . . . we got really lucky!

* As far as feedings go, the only hiccup we had was when Kate was about a week old. She was getting too much foremilk and not enough hindmilk (the creamy, fattier milk that is released toward the end of the feeding). As a result, she was fussier, passing some loose green stools and not remaining satisfied as long between feeds. All we did to clear this up was to change from offering both breasts at each feeding to only offering one per feed, that way she would drain it completely and get plenty of hindmilk with each feeding. It also helped that the engorgement that I experienced around this time (OUCH!) cleared up in a few days. (FYI: When a mom is engorged it takes baby longer to get to the hindmilk which is fattier and keeps babies full longer.)

* She experimented with a couple of bottles of breastmilk during this first month. First, because I was pumping and bottle feeding just in case she wasn't getting enough, especially in the hospital. And second, because I wanted to make sure Brad had a chance to practice bottle feeding her for when I would go back to work. She was a CHAMP! A little bit of a messy eater (like most breastfed babies) but she took to the bottle great. She never had any trouble with nipple confusion and has even been on a paci since the beginning without issues!

* She doesn't have too much of a schedule for the first few weeks. She likes to eat every 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours and may go as long as 4 hours overnight. Mostly we are just on a rotating schedule of sleep-change-eat-awake-wash-rinse-repeat.

* She had some battles with erythema toxicum (aka newborn rash) that came and went from about 5 days old until she was about 2 weeks old and then cropped up again at about 4-6 weeks old. Very transient. I kept telling him not to sweat it but her dad worried about it a lot. I decided to try some Aveeno sensitive skin bath soap and it helped a little but really we just had to wait it out and it went away.

* We had LOADS of visitors the first few weeks. It seemed like everyone flocked to see our Katie girl. Which was fine by us because we LOVED showing her off . . .uh, I mean introducing her to everyone. Her grandmas, in particular, became crazy for her right away.

* It took us a while to venture out in the world. We did go to Target when Kate was 5 days old but that was because we needed a few necessities. But after that it was a couple weeks before we ventured out again. Brad was nervous to go anywhere with a newborn, afraid she'd cry and everyone would stare. Or that she would hate the car. But what we found instead was that she LOVED her car seat. It seemed to be a drug for her. She was always calm in it and usually drifted off to sleep shortly after being buckled in. Restaurants and stores didn't faze her. We were still hesitant to do too much but were relieved to find that if we needed to go out, Katie was amenable!!

* She started being vocal around 3 weeks with soft coos and short vowel sounds.

* She has a habit of grinning and smiling in her sleep and toward the end of the first month she even starts to show us her open-mouth, gummy, on-purpose smiles.

* She hated baths and diaper changes, but we quickly learned that her binky can help her (and Brad and I) get through unscarred. ;-)

* She loves laying on Mama's chest and it almost always put her to sleep.

* She also likes when Daddy walks around the house with her. "Doing laps" around the house almost always calms her down.

* She is generally a very happy baby and during the day spends her time laying in her Mama and Daddy's arms, looking around and only getting fussy when she needs changing or is hungry. Until, at about 1 1/2 weeks old, she started on her "sun-downing" trick where she got fussy every night once it got dark but still nothing a feeding or some cuddles couldn't soothe. Around 3 weeks, she decided that night-time (between around 9 to around midnight) was not her friend and just wailed every night during this time. Her dad discovered that making laps around the house was about the only thing that helped.

* Fortunately, I was able to get out of witnessing these awful spells because Brad took the "first shift" of the night, which allowed me to go to bed early and get some uninterrupted sleep. He usually stayed up with her until about midnight or so. Then he would bring her in and set her in the pack and play next to the bed (where she slept for the first 8 weeks) and go to bed. From that point on I would feed her and get her back to sleep so that he could rest up for work the next day. (More details on our night time routine here.)
* She wore Newborn sized clothes and diapers for her whole first month (and well into her second!) I was so surprised because I've heard so many parents say that their babies only wore NB size for a very short time or skipped that size all together! So we only had a handful of NB size outfits and actually had to run out and buy more!!

* Brad went back to work on January 17th. I think we were both a little worried about it! Brad had been such a huge help around the house while I was focused on Katie and it had been so nice to have him around that I couldn't imagine him being out of the house all day. And, of course, he didn't want to leave his girls behind. But it all worked out in the end and as hard as it was saying goodbye in the morning, it was always great to see him walk through that door every night! And he's so excited to be home. This is how he greeted Katie one night:

* As much as everyone says their baby loves the swing, sadly, Kate does not. She doesn't hate it but it isn't the cure-all for us that it seems to be for other parents. We also tried to put her on her playmat at about 2 or 3 weeks old to see if she was interested in the mobile and lights and music. Uh . . . not so much.

* She does what we call the "Ole!" It's where she has one fist up by her face and the fist curled up at the opposite elbow, kind of like a flamenco dancer. And you can just see "Ole!" in a thought bubble above her head. ;-)

* She got dressed up in her first official outfit and attended her first official outing, a bridal shower, on January 30th.

* At an appointment she had shortly after turning 1 month old she weighed 9 lbs 8 oz. Yay for good weight gain!

That's about it for my girl in her first month. It really was an amazing time for our little family. Next up: How this tiny girl stole a little more of our hearts every day.

Friday, April 15, 2011

My little tax break

Happy Tax Day everyone!! We filed back in February but this year there was one BIG change in our return. Since our girly was born on December 31st people like to remind us that she is our little tax deduction. Well, then she is definitely the CUTEST tax deduction I've ever seen. ;-)~

Chillaxin' w/ her Dad

Giving her Grandma BIG smiles!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


So, I'm seriously ashamed. No joke, call the mommy police! Recently, my friend Annie (also Type 1 and also recently had an adorable baby of her own) pointed out that there is something missing on my blog!

Notice that I have a picture of myself, my husband and our dog along the left-hand navigation side of the blog. In the past this was just to show off my family, the people (and dog) that I write about. Well, we recently had a very important addition to that family and she was nowhere to be seen! That's right folks, I forgot to add my daughter to my blog. Sure I talk about her all the time to everyone I meet and show an inordinate amount of pictures to anyone that even kind of asks about her. But how could I forget to add her to our little cast of characters along the side of my blog?!?

Well, I felt downright ashamed, so here she is in all her naked glory. (I know, let the therapy begin, right?) Hopefully I'll remember to update the picture relatively regularly as she grows. But, for now, I just feel better that she's up there. :-)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Looking ROUGH

No! I am not referring to my body after baby. Why? You mean I can't wear my maternity jeans until Katie goes to kindergarten? It's not currently in style to be squishy? Ugh. Bummer. That is still a sore subject and I'm working on it, dammit!

Seriously, though. Kerri recently posted about the trials and tribulations her poor pump has seen. And, honestly, after reading it I breathed a sigh of relief. Thank the Lord above I'm not the only adult diabetic who beats their pump up like Mike Tyson on a bad day! Every so often when I look down I my pump, I really see it and I realize that it is looking more and more hit up every day. And I am forced to wonder, how do these giant scratches and deep gouges get there? It's finding a giant bruise on your body and having NO CLUE how it got there? What could I be doing that would inflict this level of carnage and destruction on my poor little pump??

I wasn't a terribly active person until recently (I told you, I'm working on it!!) and even still, how dangerous is the treadmill for a device that's tucked into your bra?!? During the day, I tend to store my pump in the pocket of my pants/jeans and clipped in a cami under my scrubs for work. Now, I am the rather clumsy and I tend to take sharp corners that result in me clipping my hips/toes/etc on walls and door frames. (DOH!) But my pump usually remains safely in my pocket/cami. The only time it's clipped to my waistband and is exposed is when I'm at home in my PJ's since they have no pocket. So sure, every now and then my pump gets a beating when I walk into a wall, but how often is that really?

When I was pregnant and on my feet for 24 hours straight at work, I tended to get pretty hot and sweaty. Gross, I know, but stay with me here. One day at work when I pulled my pump out of my cami, I noticed that the rubber cover over the up/down arrows stayed stuck to my skin as I pulled my pump away. It wasn't completely torn but it looked like the glue had melted and the rubber was coming up. I could only assume that this was because I had been hot and the pump was restingd against my skin. Luckily since Animas' warranty and customer support was awesome, they overnighted me another pump for free and I shipped the sweaty one back. Eww for them! Yay for me!

So I've technically only had my current pump for 6 months or so. I've gone through 3 pumps in 15 months?!? WHY?!? I will say that the screen on the Animas Ping is pretty soft and any kind of rough rubbing (like getting scuffed on the rivets of my jeans as I shove it into my pocket, say?) will create a white-ish scar over the screen. And it's pretty hard to see through if it's in the wrong spot. They offer a replacement screen film but I have no desire to pay $10 for it (plus shipping) when I can just as easily squint or use my meter remote. Call me cheap, I don't care, not doin' it !

Anyway, other than the hot-and-sweaty-business (which is gone now that I'm not dragging Katie around with me at work) and the screen, I can't for the life of me figure out why the rest of my pump looks like it's been through the garbage disposal. And I think I'll just have to live with the fact that I just may never know.

Anybody out there in that boat with me? Any other battered and bruised pumps?

PS: For those curious, I took these pics at work. And when I dug my pump out of my cami I had to dig everything else out of my shirt pocket/neckline to reach it. So it's dumped next my other work-time essentials that I carry on my person: my patient census with all my patients and their details (otherwise known as my "brain"), my ID badge and key to the call room/office, the delivery phone (that I would love to throw out the nearest window at 4am), a Diet Coke and cash for the vending machines. You know, the must-haves! ;-)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Dear Animas

Sent today via their website:

"Dear Animas,

I wanted to contact Animas about an unfulfilled opportunity on their part. I am part of the diabetes blogging community and a user of the Animas Ping. I had my daughter 3 months ago and started using the Animas Ping prior to and during my pregnancy to get better control for my health and my baby's health during the pregnancy.

I like the Animas Ping and am much more satisfied with it compared to the pumps I was using several years ago. They were so bad that I went back to daily injections and was much happier for a time WITHOUT an insulin pump. Currently, I am so satisfied with the Ping that, for now, I have decided to continue using it despite my pregnancy having ended. That being said, I still believe that there is A LOT of room for improvement. Perhaps there are technical reasons for certain flaws that I've found with the Ping. But there are so many (what I see as) simple changes that could be made that would HUGELY improve my experience with this product.

This is where I see an opportunity on your part. I have recently read about many of the members of the diabetes blogging community who attended the Medtronic Diabetes Advocate Forum. And, longer ago, the Roche Summit. Medtronic and Roche invited them to attend a conference not only to educate them on their products, development and upcoming technologies but also to get their feedback on what could be done on their part to improve their service in areas like marketing, product features, improvements and customer service. They are showing that they understood the importance of gaining feedback from their users and that they find value in our perspective. The diabetes community has a big voice. We are strong-minded and outspoken about how we care for ourselves and what we expect in our treatment modalities. And we can easily see through attempts to manufacture products for our treatment by individuals who don't know our disease. (In fact, I feel like the Ping is largely focused toward the child pump-user and as an adult pumper I'm wondering why there aren't more features for me!)

If efforts are already being made by Animas to organize a seminar for their users then I am not aware of it and I want to say "Kudos!" to you. If not, I would like to strongly suggest that you consider inviting a sampling of your pump users to a conference that would provide an opportunity for an open back-and-forth between company and client. I know that for me there are so many times throughout the day when I think to myself, "Ugh! Why does this pump do THIS when it would be so much better if it did THAT?" Or something along those lines. These thoughts extend not just to Ping but also to the management software (ezManager Max) and the infusion sets, packaging and accessories that go with it.

I'm sure that I'm not alone in my desires for certain tweaks and adjustments in the current products offered by Animas. I also have a feeling that most Animas pumpers tend to run into the same issues and annoyances with the Ping. So I think that providing a forum for discussion with a sampling of Ping users would be invaluable for both the diabetes community of pump users as a whole and for Animas. And, for my part, I would be very interested to hear the process behind development and why perhaps things aren't as easy to change as I might think. And even get answers to my questions about certain Ping features, ie "why in the world would they design it like THAT?"

For example, during my pregnancy I had 3 basal programs. One for work, one for at home and one for my pre-pregnancy rates so that I could store them for after I delivered. However, since the Ping doesn't allow you to label your basal rates I had to store these rates under the pre-programmed names of "weekday," "other," and "weekend." It seems to me that being able to label my own basal programs would be an obvious and simple fix but, who knows? Maybe not. There are several small issues like this and other larger issues that I have concerns about. And I would like to know that Animas knows about these concerns and is making an effort to address them.

So many of your competing companies that manufacture technologies and supplies for the diabetes community (including Medtronic and Roche) are finding the value in a face to face exchange between them and their users. I do hope that you would consider hosting a handful (or more) of your Ping users at forum for discussion between you and us. In the meantime, if I can provide any additional information or be of any further assistance to facilitate this, please do not hesitate to contact me. I really look forward to the opportunity to sit down with representatives from Animas and share my story and I'm sure that there are many others who would relish this chance as well.

Layne Petrino
Type 1 Diabetic and insulin pumper, diagnosed in 1991"