Friday, February 26, 2010

Super Joshua!

One of the strongest recommendations pediatricians give to new parents today is to put babies to sleep on their backs, not on their stomachs. Back sleeping is one concrete factor that has been linked to the reduction of SIDS, likely because it reduces the risk of suffocation. So that's one thing that's really been drilled into our heads -- Joshua must always sleep on his back, or he might DIE! (Gotta love the fearmongering rampant among new parents...)

A potential downside of all this time spent on his back, though, is that it may slow down some of his gross motor skills development. Back when babies were always put to sleep on their stomachs, they were more often in a position conducive to learning how to roll over and crawl. These days, some studies suggest that babies are slower to develop head control and to start scooting around -- and they're also more prone to flat heads, since their skulls, which are still soft, are more often compressed in the back.

So the solution to this potential problem is "tummy time." Our pediatricians recommend that babies be put to play on their tummies for at least a few minutes every day, to give the backs of their heads a break and to help encourage them to learn how to lift their heads.

Our little guy seems to really like tummy time -- at least, for the first five minutes or so. Then he gets fussy and wants someone to turn him around so he can see more of the world (or at least, that's my gloss on his feelings... it's perhaps more likely that he just gets tired and wants to sleep after tummy time...).

It's remarkable watching Joshua grow and develop. Tummy time in his play gym really emphasizes how much neck strength he already has -- it's not quite at the point of head control, per se, but he's definitely able to lift his head and look around when he's on his belly! He's so strong, and so advanced -- he's totally a developmental genius. :)

Think I'm just being a blindly doting mother? Well, here's photographic proof of how awesome and strong our little boy is!

Check me out, I'm totally ready to crawl!

Seriously, this passive "tummy time" is for suckers -- I'm a man on the move!

Whew! Tummy time is hard... Little help here?

It's hard to believe how quickly Joshua is growing... He's already starting to outgrow his newborn sized clothes! And while he's probably not actually going to be crawling any time soon, he's certainly starting to figure out how to work his neck and arms... Such a smart and strong little boy!

Friday, February 19, 2010

A visit from Grandpa, Grandma, and Uncle Eric!

Joshua is the first grandchild on both sides, so the grandparents are all excited about getting to meet him -- we've been doing weekly Skype video chats with both of our families, and we've been ordered to take and post photos as often as possible. And last weekend, my parents and youngest brother came up for a visit to meet their grandson and nephew!

It was so sweet to be able to introduce Joshua to some of his extended family. And all three of them were utterly fascinated by him! My mom brought him a ton of cute little outfits, and Eric gave him an adorably soft plush duck. And they all exercised their prerogative as grandparents and uncle to spoil the little guy, holding him at every opportunity... It's taken us several days to get Joshua used to falling asleep on his own again, but it was nice to see how much my parents and Eric loved being with Joshua and fawning over him. This little guy is so very loved!

Some of our favorite photos from last weekend:

The proud grandparents

Joshua condescending to his adoring public

Three generations, all with the exact same facial expression

Uncle Eric was so good with Joshua!

Getting a smile out of his nephew

We're so glad we were able to host you guys last weekend! And we're looking forward to introducing Joshua to the rest of our family!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Joshua's names

[Another back-dated post. We're trying to get back on top of blogging, now that we have something super interesting to blog about!]

Joshua Gordon Keddie. It has such a nice, strong ring to it, doesn't it?

Joshua's name has roots in both Scripture and family. His first name comes from the Joshua of the Bible -- specifically because of this particular verse: "...But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15b) Our hope and prayer is that little Joshua will grow up to love and serve the Lord -- that he will come to know the amazing gift of grace offered freely to him, and that he would live his life in light of the eternal hope of salvation.

In the hospital, on the day Joshua was born, we had him in our postpartum recovery room in his little bassinet, with a cute sign made by the L&D nurses with his name on it. The food services woman who delivered our lunch that day noticed the sign, and remarked on how Joshua was a strong name -- and then commented that Joshua was the one who took over after Moses in the Bible. I think I must have smiled even more broadly at that comment, because she then said it was such a blessing for a baby to be born to Christian parents. It was a sweet, unexpected moment of encouragement and fellowship for us -- and what an affirmation of our choice of his name!

We also have dear friends who had a baby boy just a week before Joshua was born. Erik and Andréa chose not to know the gender of their baby until he was born, and David and I had been half-jokingly worried that they would "steal" the name Joshua (which we had settled on about a month before Joshua was born, but which we hadn't shared with anyone). We were so excited for them when they announced the birth of their son -- and doubly so when we discovered that they had chosen the name Caleb. And when we announced Joshua's birth, they sent us a sweet email noting that with their Caleb and our Joshua, we should be able to conquer the Princeton campus for Christ in no time. :)

Joshua is also named after his paternal grandfather Gordon. David and I have always wanted to honor his father by using his name as our first son's middle name. It's also a nice way to provide a sense of family continuity -- the name Gordon has been in David's family for several generations now. And we love how Joshua fits with Gordon!

We also wanted to honor my side of the family, so we've asked my parents to give all of our children Korean names. Joshua's Korean name is Bum Soo. Soo is the generational character -- in Korean tradition, all children in a generation will have one character of their names in common. The character for each generation in a family is predetermined in a set list of some sort, handed down by the patriarchs of the family (or at least, that's how I like to think of it :)). For instance, my Korean name is Yoonjung, my brothers' are Yoonsuk and Yoonjo, and one of my paternal cousins is named Yun Pil (different transliteration, but same character). The next generation in my dad's family all have Soo in their names -- my cousin's daughter, for example, is Yeon Soo.

The Bum part of Joshua's Korean name means "tiger," which is really appropriate on a number of levels -- this year is the year of the tiger (and a special year of the tiger -- once every 60 years, apparently, it's the year of the White Tiger). And of course, we're a family of Princeton tigers. :)

We like to think that we've given Joshua a number of great name options for the future. It's likely that he'll end up going by Josh, as most Joshuas do, and we're totally fine with that nickname. But in more serious contexts, Joshua is a nice strong and traditional name. And if he wants something even more straitlaced in a professional context, he can always go by J. Gordon Keddie -- wouldn't you trust a judge of that name? :) And if he decides to embrace his Korean heritage, he has a great Korean name to go by.

But for now, he's just our cute wee Joshie-bear snuggle-bug. And I'm totally calling him that until he's old enough to protest. :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

So thankful for all of you!

[This post is back-dated several days -- this is something we've been wanting to say for a while!]

The first days of Joshua's life have been something of a blur -- we're finally starting to settle into a routine of sorts, which is helping us to really enjoy our time with the little guy!

One thing has been made abundantly clear to us during these first few weeks: we have amazing friends.

Before Joshua was born, we had so many people making offers of help, telling us to call them if we ever needed anything at all, letting us know that they'd be more than happy to bring food or help out around the house if we needed it. We so appreciated all of these offers! But David and I both tend to be reluctant to ask people for favors. Even though coming home with our first newborn would certainly be an acceptable reason to ask for help, we still defaulted towards not wanting to impose on others or to directly ask for a meal or other help.

Which is why it's so wonderful that we have friends willing to step in and do that for us. :) Our church has a tradition of coordinating meals for parents of newborns, so our dear friend Danielle got the email addresses of our small groups and started consolidating all the offers of help we'd been given. She created a schedule and worked it out so that we've had a wonderful homemade meal brought to us every couple days.

And let me tell you, it's been such a blessing to us, having hot meals and good friends coming to us at regular intervals! :) Especially the very first few days home from the hospital -- after spending several hours just trying to feed and soothe Joshua and stressing out about whether we're doing things right, it was such a pick-me-up to have food prepared for us.

And all of our friends are such good cooks! Seriously, we've never eaten so well. And they've all gone way above and beyond in adding thoughtful details to the meals -- from a pint of Bent Spoon sorbet (because we're not likely to make it out for an ice cream run in town any time soon), to warm homemade chocolate chip cookies, to a chicken tortilla soup recipe that I never would have tried on my own but that we both absolutely loved... We've been so blessed by all of you!

We've also loved seeing everyone's excitement at Joshua's birth. It's so fun to read your comments on our Facebook photos and on our walls -- we of course know that Joshua is the cutest baby in the world, but it's nice to have that truth affirmed by all of you as well. :) Usually, I delete email notifications from Facebook -- it's generally enough to have the comments, etc. on my profile itself. But I haven't been able to bring myself to delete the notifications of your congratulatory messages -- Facebook isn't the best historical archive, and I really want to save all of these messages, so they're staying in my inbox.

Thank you so much for sharing in our joy and excitement. We love you all!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A positive trajectory

[Here's another long one... The history major in me just wants to memorialize all these details from Joshua's first week of life, and our first week as newbie parents! There are pictures at the end, though, so there's your reward for persevering through this post. :)]

We were discharged from the hospital last Thursday evening (1/28). We could have stayed an extra night, but David and I both really wanted to be in our own home, and we had been sort of lulled into complacency by how sleepy and good Joshua had been that day, so we thought we'd go ahead and take him home from the hospital that night.

Turns out, Joshua's sleepiness on Thursday was likely just the result of him recovering from his circumcision. When we got home that evening and put him down for his first sleep in his Pack n Play bassinet, he started fussing. We spent the entire night trying to soothe him -- I would try to feed him, David would put him in his bouncy seat or hold him while walking around the apartment, and none of us really got any sleep at all.

(I have to make this interjection here -- I'm so thankful for how good David is both with Joshua and with me. Those first few very difficult nights, David cheerfully took a several-hour shift with Joshua in another room, to try to help me get some sleep. And he's very good at making sure that our sleeplessness remains in a punchy/happy place, rather than a sniping at each other mood. In one of our sillier moments last weekend, he made me laugh by speculating on what other elective surgery we could have Joshua undergo, to recapture the sleepiness of Thursday afternoon... No one really needs their appendix, right?)

By Saturday morning, we were both really exhausted, and a little discouraged at our inability to console our son for longer than 15 minutes at a time. We took Joshua to his first pediatrician's appointment that morning, and discovered that he had dropped down to 6 lbs 14 oz. Pretty much all newborns lose weight in their first few days of life (it's hard making the transition from being fed 24/7 in the womb to having to work for your food from bottle or breast), but this was a little too much of a weight loss. So we had our answer for Joshua's fussiness -- the poor little guy was just hungry. What a heartbreaking diagnosis -- I hadn't been able to give my little son enough to eat! My milk hadn't really come in yet, and even though we'd been trying to feed him at least every two hours, he just wasn't getting enough. So the pediatrician recommended supplementing a little with formula for the next couple days.

Adding some formula to Joshua's diet made such a huge difference. I had him trying to breastfeed at first (for just 15-20 minutes per side, instead of trying to be a human pacifier and causing myself a lot of pain -- breastfeeding hurts at the beginning!), and then we gave him a little bottle of formula, which he attacked with gusto. And then he slept!

My milk finally came in late Sunday evening, so we weaned Joshua off the formula, and started a better feeding routine for him. We took him in for a weight check on Monday morning, and he had gone back up to 7 lbs 3.5 oz -- he gained 5.5 oz in two days! And though he hasn't had any formula since Monday, it looks like he's definitely getting enough just from me now, for which we're so thankful.

We also started implementing a bit of a structured routine for his sleep this week. We'd been feeding him every three hours, as recommended by the hospital and our pediatricians. And then sometimes he'd fall asleep right afterwards, or sometimes we'd have to do a diaper change right away, and then he'd wake up grumpy before the next 3-hour cycle was to begin. We'd try feeding him again, but he wasn't necessarily hungry. So we'd bust out the bouncy seat, the swing, the play gym, or we'd hold him until he fell asleep again. It was a pretty exhausting pattern to try to maintain around the clock... But surely, Joshua was much too little to try to do any sleep training with, right?

I do think that one week old is way too young to do "sleep training" proper (like doing the Ferber "cry it out" method, for instance). But we've started using a version of the Baby Whisperer's structured routine -- eat, activity, sleep, every three hours or so, based on watching and learning to interpret the baby's cues. The first time we tried it out, it worked like magic. Joshua woke up hungry from a nap, so we fed him, and then changed his diaper. And then, instead of just trying to rush him to sleep, we took advantage of his awake time after the diaper change (he really, really hates having his diapers changed) to get him to look at this black and white board book (a gift from Emily and Brian -- you guys, this has been such a lifesaver for us!). It was the cutest thing ever, seeing him focus on the images, and watching the wheels turning in his brain -- it was perhaps one of the first times we got to interact with Joshua as a thinking human being, rather than as a squalling babe that needed to be soothed. Then, at his first yawns, we swaddled him up again and whisked him off to his bassinet -- where he proceeded to sleep peacefully on his own for two and a half hours!

So we're real believers in this structured routine thing. It's helping me and David to feel more on top of things (how exciting is it to be able to read your baby's cues and give him what he needs at the right time??), and we think it's helping Joshua to know better what to expect out of life. There's definitely still a very steep learning curve for all three of us, but we feel we're on a positive trajectory now.

We're in enough of a routine now to be able to break out the camera to capture some great Joshua moments! So here are a few of our favorites from the past couple days -- including some shots of him with his eyes open!

Staring at the mobile above his Pack n Play bassinet

Flirting with the camera before a sponge bath

Pontificating on some deep and meaningful topic, just like his daddy!

Getting to know the toys on his play gym

Snugly wrapped up for a nap -- isn't he the cutest baby burrito ever?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Introducing Joshua!

[This post has been written in bits and pieces over the last several days... Turns out, it's hard to find large chunks of time to blog when caring for a newborn. Who knew?]

Our beautiful baby boy was born on January 27, 2010, at 2:06am! He weighed 7 lbs, 12 oz. at birth, and was 20 inches long -- which, incidentally, means that Lucy J. won our baby pool. :)

So here's a rundown of Joshua's birth story -- I'm trying to keep it relatively gore- and TMI-free, but consider this fair warning. I won't be offended if you just scroll down to see the pictures. :)

On Tuesday morning (1/26, the day after Joshua's due date), I woke up to a little bleeding. Blood is one of those things that could mean nothing, could mean there's a problem, or could mean that labor is beginning, so the doctors always want you to call about it. My OB wanted me to come in to be checked, just to see what was going on with the baby. So David and I decided to treat it as a dry run of sorts -- we finished packing our hospital bags, put everything in the trunk of our car, and set off for the OB's office. There, my doctor pronounced me "teetering on the brink of labor" -- I was 2-3cm dilated, and the baby's head was in good position. She offered to have us go to the hospital to get induced, but also said that it was likely I'd start labor on my own shortly, so we decided to go home and wait.

I did start pulling out some of the milder old wives' tales for inducing labor, though. No castor oil or anything crazy like that, but we did have jambalaya for lunch, and I ate a whole bunch of pineapple chunks as a snack. Not sure if the spicy food or the pineapple had any real effect, but there was at least a temporal correlation -- I started having contractions on Tuesday afternoon at around 3pm. And I can testify that it's true that when you start having real contractions, you'll know. Mine weren't too bad at first, but it was clear that something was happening.

We spent the afternoon trying to relax at home. I pulled out the contraction timer app on our iPod, to see if my contractions were getting any closer together, but they stayed at about 10 minutes apart for the next few hours. By 7:30pm, though, my contractions were getting to be more painful, and were 5-8 minutes apart, so we called my OB, who told us to come on into labor and delivery.

We arrived at the hospital a bit after 8pm. At my first internal check, I was at 4cm and 90% effaced -- which I have to admit was a bit discouraging, since I'd been hoping that the contractions had caused more progress. So after getting settled in and hooked up to a number of different monitors, my OB manually broke my water at about 9pm. Contractions started coming much more heavily then, and were really painful -- I bruised David's hands something fierce in breathing my way through them!

At around 10:30, I requested an epidural. I think my OB was a little surprised that I wanted one -- apparently, I looked like I was handling the pain pretty well. I had to keep explaining to the nurses that my smiling in between contractions was just because I'm always smiling, not because I was particularly happy... (I will say this, though, to those of my friends who are currently pregnant -- being nice to your labor and delivery nurses really pays off! They're the ones who'll be coaching you through it all, and will be your very best friends throughout the process.)

To be honest, the epidural was the thing I had been most nervous about -- you have to get an IV beforehand, and they pump you full of fluids to help ward against drops in blood pressure. And then there's the whole needle and catheter in your spine thing... But the actual experience was so not a big deal at all. I had to make sure not to look while the nurse put in my IV (the very first I've ever had in my life), and our awesome nurse helped me to hold very still while the anesthesiologist put in the epidural, but once that was done, the sheer bliss of pain relief made the minor inconveniences so worth it. :)

At 11pm, I was checked again -- and was still at 4cm. And then my contractions started to slow way down, likely as a result of the epidural. So at 11:45, I was put on the lowest dose of Pitocin, a synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin, which is usually used to induce labor. At 12:15, I had a foley catheter put into my bladder, and was up to 6cm.

Then things really started to happen. Joshua's heart rate started dipping just a bit during each contraction -- it was still within the safe range, but my nurse didn't like seeing this response to the contractions. So she had me put on an oxygen mask during each contraction to help make sure the baby wasn't in distress. At 12:50, I was checked again -- and I was fully dilated! David and I were shocked -- we thought for sure that I'd have several hours of labor to go, especially given how long I had been at just 4cm.

My blood pressure, which is naturally on the low side, started to dip a little too much at this point. So my OB gave me some meds at around 1am to counteract my low blood pressure, and turned back my epidural a bit. (I think at this point, I was hooked up to eight different things: contraction monitor, external fetal monitor, IV, epidural catheter, foley catheter, blood pressure monitor, and oxygen mask...)

At 1:30am, my nurse said it was time to start pushing. She told us that normally, first pregnancies have about two hours of pushing, but joked that since I'd been coming along so well and so quickly, we'd aim for just half an hour. She held my right leg and David held my left, and they both coached me through the pushing process. The best tip I got was to really focus my energies on the actual pushing -- i.e., not squeezing with my face/chest or using energy to scream through the contraction. The nurse also told me to wait until the contraction crested, to the point where the urge to push was absolutely irresistible -- that way, you get the full impact of both the involuntary and voluntary pushing movements.

But the best motivation I had to keep pushing was the joy on David's face as he told me he could see the top of the baby's head coming out. That's how I knew I was doing it right -- and that's what gave me the encouragement I needed to keep powering through some of the worst pain of my life. When the baby's head started crowning, I was totally caught up in the pain of having to push this giant head through a very small opening... But once his head was out, the sheer relief was so overwhelmingly exhilarating! They say that mothers tend to forget the pain of labor after the baby is born -- but I was taken aback at how quickly that happened for me. Immediately when Joshua was taken out of the birth canal, I felt such exhilaration and joy -- and just seeing his little body and hearing his first cries made me forget what we had to get through to get him there.

So Joshua was born after just 35 minutes of pushing. We were so incredibly thankful at how fast my labor went!

David got to cut the umbilical cord while Joshua was resting on my belly, and then the nurses cleaned our little guy up a bit, weighed and measured him, and got him in his first clothes. All of this happened right next to my bed while my OB stitched me up, so I got to stare at our son the whole time. And reminded David to take some pictures. :)

Me and Joshua, on the night he was born

The proud father gazing at his firstborn

Our beautiful baby boy!

Ready to come home from the hospital!