Residential Space A creative outlet during residency, turned ongoing virtual soap box

G is five months old!  0

Posted on December 18th, 2007. About Baby Dodds.

The fifth month was a big one for Little G – on several occasions we discovered him sleeping belly-down in his crib (and once with a big crease across his face from the fold in the fitted sheet), he got his two bottom central incisors, and he began consistently wearing 6-9 month clothes. His hair has grown, although it is still so lightly colored it’s not always apparent. He also celebrated his first Thanksgiving, and he met Santa the very next day!

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He saw snow for the first time and made his first snow angel.

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The pediatrician also told us we could start rice cereal between four and six months, which we did, after receiving his very nifty dark wooden high chair from his grandmother, BG. However, three days later, I panicked and thought it was too early to have him on solids, since he developed a diaper rash. Of course, then he got his two teeth a few days after that, so I likely was misinformed in the cause-effect relationship.

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Most significantly, I’m crazier about him now than I was a month ago, which I did not think was possible. He is the sweetest thing I’ve ever encountered. I had a call night last week during which I only admitted one patient in the evening, and then actually got a good night’s sleep. And yet, it was so sad, because I could not be home to put him to bed that night. I hate missing moments like that, despite knowing how many moments I actually am fortunate enough to experience. Today, just being at work (which was a really good day!) left me feeling so sad because I missed him so much. I’m so looking forward to an upcoming vacation with my family!

During his sixth month, I predict he will go back on rice cereal (and do well – he was actually helping to shovel the stuff into his mouth when we initially started it), and he will gain his two top central incisors. His hair will grow more and continue to be light red. He may even learn to sit independently, although at this point he’d rather stand or lie on his back, but doesn’t care much for sitting supported. He will travel to Texas and will meet two of his three great-grandmothers, one of his two great-grandfathers, three great-aunts, two great-uncles, and six cousins. Quite a few milestones there, Little G! You’re becoming a Big G so fast – and I’m so very proud of you.

A blogable moment with Gabriel  2

Posted on November 27th, 2007. About Baby Dodds.

I just experienced a wonderful moment with my son, although I don’t know if I can properly convey exactly what it was that made it so special. After his bath, I dressed him in (nine-month-sized!) fuzzy flannel onesie snowman pajamas, to keep him feeling snuggly throughout the night and enabling sleep. Then, we played for a while – he is doing incredibly well during tummy time now, lifting up with his arms and reaching for toys. After playing, he curled up on his mat and placed his middle and ring fingers into his mouth, ready to sleep.

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I held him in the crook of my arm as he sucked his fingers and read both Buenas Noches, Luna and Goodnight, Moon to him. He spent most of the time looking up at me with those big blue eyes, sucking his fingers, and gradually getting sleepier and sleepier. I rocked him like this for about ten minutes, just staring at him, as he sucked his fingers on one hand while exploring my face with the other. Eventually, he grew too sleepy, and the eyelids began to shut. At that point, I placed him in his crib, and he fell asleep instantly.

We took him to the pediatrician last week, and his stats are great – he’s between the 75th and 90th percentile for height (26 inches), weight (16 lbs 15 oz), and head circumference (42.5 cm). He loves laughing as Evan razzes his belly, as we sing “Old McDonald Had a Farm,” and as my mother repeats the “B” sound to him (seriously, he laughs hysterically over this). His laugh is so innocent and sweet.

I love you, little boy.

Little G update  0

Posted on November 17th, 2007. About Baby Dodds.

Wow, what a week it has been. Evan was in Barcelona on a business trip, and I had to give my first Neurology Grand Rounds talk (which went well!). I’ve had a great week with Little G; he turned four months old on Wednesday! I had to take some photographs of him on his big one-third-of-a-year birthday, which will be up shortly.

One activity I enjoy a great deal with G is giving him his bath. He’s so alert, laughing, and splashing around in his little tub. We always sing the Buddy Holly song and change the night of the week – “Splish, Splash I was takin’ a bath, all upon a M/T/W/Th/F/S/Sun night!” He is also responding to his bath toys now.

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Then, after the bath is complete, it’s time to wrap G in a hooded towel or in his bathrobe!

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This week, he receives his second set of S-H-O-T-S. I have sympathy for Jenny McCarthy and for her four-year-old autistic son, but autism does not come from vaccines. However, public health epidemics do arise from the lack of vaccines. I’ll stop there. Anyway, it’s odd to think that G will not have the chickenpox as I did. When I was growing up, one accentuation of the age gap between my mother and me was my awareness that she had had measles, rubella, mumps, etc, and I never had any of these viral illnesses. Now, G will potentially see me in the same way.

Anyway, the boy is doing quite well – he rolled over for the first time on November 9th, but once on his belly he could not turn himself back onto his backside and grew upset. The same thing happened the following day, and then earlier this week for me. Now he makes sure he has an arm in the way to keep from completely turning over, but rather, he makes a 3/4 turn and can flip to his back again.

So that’s the update – parenthood is still a joy!

G enters his fourth month  0

Posted on October 24th, 2007. About Baby Dodds.

Evan has been at home full-time during October as a stay-at-home Dad, and he has done an outstanding job of raising our boy! The only thing that made my returning to work the least bit bearable was knowing that Gabriel was bonding with his father, and that someone who loved him as much as I do was caring for him.

Little G continues to sleep well through the night, and continues to grow at an astonishing rate. We have a wonderful going-to-bed routine that involves feeding him, then bathing him, dressing him in pajamas, reading him some books, and then laying him in his crib. Evan and I alternate nights in reading to him prior to bedtime. Last night, he reached out and grabbed the edge of the page in the board book we were reading and flung it to the left, effectively turning the page! Then it became a game – I would start to turn the page, and he would grab it, swinging it back and forth until it was turned. Also, because he has been around books since his birth, his attention span is growing and he can remain focused on a book for a longer period of time.

Proof that he will be a reader (doesn’t he look intrigued?):

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I love having a family so much – it sounds so cliche, but being a mother is the greatest experience I have ever had. How much richer life has become!

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Perhaps the best year ever  1

Posted on October 13th, 2007. About Baby Dodds, Ramblings.

Tomorrow is my birthday, and I’m turning 29 years old – only one more year until the big three-oh. This time last year, I was in the midst of a residency in which I was uncertain I wanted to continue, and each progressive day seemed longer than its predecessor. Was this all there was to life? Evan and I decided to start our family a little earlier than planned, and I’m oh-so-glad that we did. Now, I have an adorable son, who will be three months old tomorrow as I grow one year older.

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Tomorrow will not involve extraordinary actions or events. I expect to take Gabriel on a stroller walk through the park, and Evan, Gabriel, and I will go to a family-friendly restaurant to celebrate the occasion. I want to take a nap on the couch with Gabriel asleep on my shoulder, and I want a big hug from Evan as I wake up in the morning. If I can have these four things, which I have enjoyed many times now, then it will be the best birthday I have experienced to date.

Back to work…  0

Posted on October 2nd, 2007. About Baby Dodds.

I returned to work yesterday after being at home with Gabriel since his birth on July 14th. It really hurt. It still does.

Gabriel sleeps ALL OF THE WAY through the night!  0

Posted on September 27th, 2007. About Baby Dodds.

In my previous posting, I announced that Gabriel had slept through the night in that he made it almost seven hours, only days after transitioning to his crib and beginning his new schedule. However, two nights later, he slept from 10PM until 6AM – a full night of sleep. Evan and I were so proud of our little guy! He has learned to suck his thumb this week, and I think it is contributing to his ability to comfort himself back to sleep when he wakes up during the night. He was up once last night, quickly returning to sleep. And all the while, he seems perfectly content in his crib. Allow me to once again express my amazement over how quickly this has occurred.

It’s back to work for me on Monday – I know it has to happen, but I’m incredibly sad to be leaving him each day after spending nearly all day every day of his life with him so far. I’m so grateful that Evan will be caring for him during the month of October, but I’m still going to miss him so much. I love having a son!

Gabriel sleeps through the night!  1

Posted on September 24th, 2007. About Baby Dodds.

For the first nine weeks of my son’s life, I fell into a category of parenting which I now know to be called "attachment parenting." When he cried, I picked him up. If he didn’t want to sleep in his Pack-N-Play next to our bed, I placed him in bed with me. He wouldn’t nap by himself during the day, so he slept on my shoulder or next to me in my bed. What if he didn’t want to take a nap? No worries – he didn’t have to take one! I would just carry him around the house all day to avoid any crying. When we did run into crying, nursing him seemed to do the trick. When it didn’t, I would just hold him, and then try nursing again. I was told that if I didn’t nurture him in this way, that if I allowed him to cry and didn’t "meet his needs," he would grow up with a sense of insecurity. I was feeling, to put it mildly, exhausted, and my back was, let’s say, aching. Dinner was hardly ever ready when Evan arrived home, and the house was a mess. But I loved Gabriel and thought this was the best way to nurture him.

After the two month checkup, we decided to try transitioning him to his crib in the nursery. The first night, he slept for a few hours in it, and after the 1AM feeding ended up in bed with us. The second night was the same story. The third night, he woke up at 10PM, and then at midnight before coming to bed with us. On the fourth night, he woke up at 9:30PM and was so fussy, and I so tired, that I brought him to bed with me that early. On the following morning, I could not stand it. I had not slept in two nights. When he is next to me, my sleep, when it actually comes, is so shallow as I am so aware of his presence. He was fussy throughout the day, and many of our playtimes were strained. And, of course, it was difficult to nap because when he would sleep, it was on me. So I decided something had to change, and fortunately, Evan was supportive of this.

On Sept. 19th, at 4AM, I called my mother (fortunately three hours ahead of me, as she lives in South Carolina), nearly hysterical after the two consecutive sleepless nights. She informed me that her friend’s daughter-in-law placed her baby on a schedule using a technique outlined in On Becoming Babywise, but she herself had not read the book and didn’t know whether to recommend it. Later that day, I spoke with two friends, both of whom are pediatrics residents, and both assured me that he was going to have to be placed in his crib that night and cry for a bit, with Evan or I going in to reassure him at intervals (the Ferber method). Consistency was key. Being nearly ten weeks old, they felt Gabriel was old enough to learn to comfort himself (Ferber says four months).

I also began reading On Becoming Babywise. I realized I was doing several things the authors recommend against, and decided to try their logic to see if it was successful, knowing I could go back after a few days if it was not working. The technique is this: in each cycle, there is a feeding, followed by awake time, followed by a nap. That’s it. Nursing to sleep is one thing I was doing that they advised against, as the thought is that the baby associates feeding with sleeping or comfort. Also, others are unable to comfort the baby if the mother isn’t available. Also, I had been letting Gabriel snack all day every day, another mistake. I was not making him take naps – another mistake. Babies need sleep, and he was not getting it, thus resulting in discomfort in the evenings when he was exhausted. And the biggest mistake I was making was bringing him to bed with me when he didn’t want to sleep in his crib.

On the first night, I fed him, spent some awake time with him, and we placed him in the crib. He cried for 40 minutes, with us comforting him at five minute intervals. Then, suddenly, he was asleep. He slept until 2:30AM, when he fed, and then slept until 5:30AM. I was amazed. The next day, we both felt better, and I placed him on the feed-awake-asleep cycle. That night, he went into his crib, and fell asleep after 11 minutes of crying (again with comforting). He slept until 3:15AM. We continued the feed-awake-asleep cycle the following day, and that night, he cried for TWO MINUTES and then fell asleep, again sleeping until about 3:15AM. Then came the weekend – he was willing to go down for naps in his crib (for the most part), playtimes were so much happier, and he seemed to be starting to schedule himself with our guidance. I also realized I was not having to hold him every minute, but that he still loved being cuddled! Then, last night – it happened. He used to wake up at 4AM, ready to start his day, but last night, after falling asleep at 9:45PM (crying for about two minutes), he slept until 4:30AM – nearly seven hours, and past the time when he was waking up before. After a feeding, he was asleep again by 5. I got six straight hours of restful sleep, and another hour after I put him back to bed.

I cannot believe this is the same baby who would not sleep well a week ago. I honestly thought he was going to be six months old, and I was going to be going crazy back at work from the sleep deprivation at home. I never dreamed he would be sleeping for seven hours at night at ten weeks of age, nor that it would take only several days of scheduling to make it happen. I was also skeptical that allowing him to take multiple naps during the day would result in his being up even more at night, but it seems that his being more well-rested during the day allows him to relax enough to sleep for a prolonged period at night.

So a huge milestone has been reached! I think every parent just hates to hear his or her baby cry and interprets it as a sign of distress. By preventing his crying by always holding him or bringing him to our bed, I think I was making things worse. It is still tough to hear him cry, but fortunately, he cries so much less overall now than he did before, because he’s well-rested and content!

I love my precious son and look forward to so many wonderful times ahead – times we can both enjoy because we’re both refreshed each morning and feeling happy.

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Go Cocks!  2

Posted on September 12th, 2007. About Baby Dodds, Sports.

My alma mater, the University of South Carolina, defeated the University of Georgia on the football field this past weekend. Georgia was ranked #11, and my gamecocks were not included in the Top 25 – but guess what?! THEY ARE NOW! They are 2–0 this season and ranked #17 after their impressive performance against the Bulldogs on Saturday.

How to explain their stellar season opening? Perhaps this results from the enthusiasm of their competent coach. Or perhaps it is because of the birth of their newest fan.

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Am I right, G?

Unsolicited advice to any future first-time mothers…  1

Posted on August 22nd, 2007. About Baby Dodds, Ramblings.

Since Gabriel’s birth on July 14th, I have had the chance to learn quite a bit through trial and error. I’ll share here some of the tidbits I’ve picked up, in hopes that I may save some other woman the trouble.

  • Breastfeeding is not necessarily easy, despite being “nature’s way to feed your baby.” In fact, it is downright frustrating the first week – neither baby nor mother knows what they’re doing, and this, combined with sleep deprivation and the fact that a mother doesn’t produce milk for 3–5 days after birth, makes for quite an ordeal.
  • This brings me to my next point – everyone will reassure a new mother that colostrum (pre-milk substance – thick, present in small amounts, high in antibodies, and present until milk arrives) is all the baby physiologically needs until milk arrives. These same people will assure a new mother that her baby will not “starve.” However, this does not mean the baby will not feel hunger, particularly if he/she needs a few days to get the hang of breastfeeding. If a newborn is inconsolably fussy the first night home from the hospital, and after three-plus hours of non-stop screaming – and the diaper isn’t dirty/wet, I was assured by a pediatrician that breastfeeding, followed by formula supplementation, for the first few days would not jeopardize breastfeeding capabilities down the road. This turned out to be correct.
  • If the baby is fussy, and has an elevated temperature when measured with a thermometer, make sure he/she isn’t over-swaddled or overdressed. Place him/her in only a diaper and a onesie, wait a few minutes, and recheck it.
  • For parents of baby boys – cover their areas when diaper changing until you get fast at this chore, or else consider yourself (and the baby’s cute outfit you’ve just placed him in) wet.
  • For a full-term newborn baby, I think Pampers Swaddlers are the way to go when the baby first comes home. We tried another brand of newborn diapers too, but with leakage – the Swaddlers didn’t leak, but they were a little more expensive.
  • The BabyBjorn is an awesome creation – have one handy before the baby arrives home from the hospital. You will value the ability to have a happy infant close to you while simultaneously having your hands free to cook and do laundry.
  • If your mother offers to come and assist around the house during that first week, by all means take her up on it. This is not a moment for pride.
  • Know that infants have a fussy period during a certain time of the day – Gabriel’s is in the evening. He’s not hungry, doesn’t need a diaper change, isn’t too hot or too cold – just fussy sometimes. We have started giving him his bath in the evening rather than in the morning, and it calms him down tremendously. I think he now associates the bath with feeding afterwards and then falling asleep.
  • Mothers – indulge, and buy a rocking chair. You will love rocking your baby in it!
  • Be grateful if your husband/significant other is as crazy about the baby as you are. I’m fortunate that Evan loves Gabriel so much and that he has been so supportive during midnight diaper changes and in taking him in the evenings when the fussiness starts (perhaps it’s parental bias, but G is adorable even when fussing!). Here’s to excellent fathers!
  • Your engagement ring will likely not fit after the baby is born. Find a good jeweller and know you aren’t alone.
  • The adage about sleeping while the baby is sleeping is true.
  • Don’t feel silly spending countless moments staring in awe at your baby. Mine truly amazes me, and at times, when I might have a free moment to clean for five minutes, I find myself instead kissing the top of his head or enjoying his small fingers wrapping themselves around my pinky. He is already growing so quickly, and I know how much I will miss (and treasure) this time. 
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