10 Months Old!

Aliana is now 10 months old! I still cannot believe I’m a father to one of God’s children. I’m not sure if it’s encouraging or downright jaw-dropping to think God has given me sole responsibility, along with my wife of course, to care for her; to tell me plain as day He has enough faith in me to turn Aliana into a kind, loving, follower of Christ who will be a great contributing member of the world. It’s been a challenge though for me to share God’s confidence in myself, as I’ve quickly learned I’m an overprotective paranoid father who fears everything from dirt to her own baby poo is going to hurt her. It’s difficult to take a breath sometimes, but Aliana never fails to show me regularly she is a big kid who can handle new experiences. I bet she looks at me thinkging, “take a chill pill dad and watch me figure things out on her own. Support me, don’t stand there in a panic.” Needless to say I’m a work-in-progress.

Aliana on the other hand, is perfect. She’s surpassing any expectations I thought I had about who my daughter would be as a 10-month old. She has a high tolerance to pain, can control all sorts of foods in her mouth, and repeat actions like, “If I bang this it will make noise.” It’s been eye-opening to see the wheels-turning, really watching her learn something she didn’t know just moments before. It’s something new each week with her, I hope it never ends. Until I’m old and senile I hope she’ll continue to call me telling me what new thing she learned that week. Heck, even after I’m senile, she may even have more fun telling me then!

First Family Christmas

I know we have seriously lacked in keeping up with our family blog, but it’s safe to say we have made it to our first Christmas as a family. Aliana turned 7 months last Thursday and is learning more and more each day. Lilly and I are still working our Mon-Fri day jobs and Aliana still attends the same daycare.

Parenting has been an incredible experience thus far. Our precious Aliana is an amazing little girl who always finds new ways to make us smile. She’s a thriving social butterfly who smiles at nearly everyone she meets and is not only a joy to us, but to those around her. She turns heads when we we’re out and about, loves exploring her surroundings and snuggling with mommy and daddy on Saturday mornings. She loves walking and isn’t interested in crawling. She’s learning how to better her motor skills and tries so hard to put EVERYTHING she gets her hands on into her mouth.

I will make a blog post of just Ali pictures soon to catch you all up on the past few months.

As with all families we too have been experiencing the common family struggles with regards to minor injuries, illnesses, finances, neighbors, etc. They’re usually short-lived, are quickly forgotten and easily left in the past.

There are more details and in depth stories to follow, but right now it’s time to get back to eating and Christmas movies.

More About Breast Feeding

Tomorrow, I’ll be 24 and she’ll be 5 months. What a milestone for both of us.

We’ve been breast feeding successfully for five months. To this day, she has not had a drop of formula. Don’t get me wrong here, I am not boasting about that fact, rather, I am praising God for it. There were many moments when I feared that I wouldn’t make it this far.

Go ahead, tell me I’m being ridiculous. I would agree with you. I don’t know why I let breast feeding define me so much. I became so emotionally attached to the idea during my pregnancy, that I knew I would be devastated if I wasn’t able to breast feed. I didn’t know it until after I had Ali that milk production is a challenge in my family. My own mother was only able to nurse me for three months before she wasn’t able to produce any more. Everyday, I fear that it’s my last. There have been times where my milk has fluctuated wildly, from one day to the next with no cause, then there are days that I will produce way more than I thought I could.

By no means do I claim to be an expert on any topic I write about here, but I have done a lot of research — not to mention that I work at a health care company, so I have a lot of resources others don’t — and consider myself to be knowledgeable in the subjects relating to childbirth and breast feeding. Unfortunately, I still let myself get anxious about being able to nurse. I am trying to change my way of thinking from “Please God, please help me make more milk for her” to “Thank you, God, for allowing me to provide the best nutrition for my daughter another day.” So far, I am beginning to feel more comfortable with the fact that, one day, this is going to end. I was prepared for it to end through weaning, but now, I like to think I’m prepared to just let it take its course if it needs to.

For those of you thinking about nursing your future children, please seek out resources and support from others. Nursing is hard, just as hard as labor. There are a lot of women out there that make it look easy, I don’t know how they do it, and I’ll admit, I have been jealous of those to whom it looks like it is so easy for them. Sometimes, it seems like Andrew’s the only one telling me that I’m doing a good job, and I know my sister tells me the same. But it’s hard to hear it, and then really believe. For some reason, my lactation consultant has always been the only one that can truly put my mind at ease.

I can’t say it enough: if you’re going to breast feed, get a lactation consultant!! Or you can visit your local chapter of La Leche League. I didn’t do this before delivering, but LLL can provide a lot of instruction prior to having your child. Post-partum, having a consultant was a huge gift. I still call her when I have a question or concern. When Aliana started sleeping through the night around 9 weeks, I didn’t realize that I couldn’t let myself engorge and leak. That sends a signal to stop producing, and my supply reduced significantly. She quickly gave me some tips and a schedule of sorts to get me right back up. I haven’t had that severe of a fluctuation since.

Secondly, buy a good pump. But whatever you do, unless it is a hospital grade pump that you are renting, do NOT use a second hand pump. Do not purchase a used pump online or from anyone you know. Commercial pumps are called “open system” pumps. The system is not designed to keep breast milk from potentially coming in contact with the motor. Medela’s “Pump In Style” pumps are open system. Your milk can potentially enter the tubes and even come in contact with the motor. If you don’t clean it, or even realize that this has happened, it can form mold, and the spores can travel back into your collected milk and can potentially harm your baby. There are companies that use a “closed pump” system, such as Ameda’s “Purely Yours” (which I think I will purchase for the next kiddo, I have a love-hate relationship with my Medela), and the milk will never touch the tubing or vacuum source. Definitely do your research regarding pumps before you purchase one. Better yet, just rent one from the hospital. I used Medela’s “Symphony” at Albany Med, and it was a great pumping experience. This one is considered a closed system, because it uses closed diaphragms to create the vacuum needed.

This is pretty much all I can think to mention at the moment. Knowing me, I’ll probably revisit the topic. I doubt that any male readership that we have gained will want to hear more about this, it is kind of a personal subject to speak of, but my goal since the beginning of this blog has been to share what I learn in this experience. I was the first of my friends to get engaged, then married, and now to become a mother. I think it’s only fair that you all see what I have gone through in this process as well.

If you girls have any questions, feel free to ask me. I love sharing my knowledge, and if there’s something we need to figure out together, together we will.

 

I Know What It Feels Like to Be a Cow

(18 weeks pp)

I know what it feels like to be a cow. Every morning, I wake up, and perform my toilette, wake up the calf, and feed. Said calf feeds twice if I’m lucky (and she’s not too sleepy) before heading out to work.

Once I arrive at my place of employment — where I spend the day grazing on my 50 million snacks because I am always hungry — I have about an hour or so before I have to hook myself up to a machine that vaguely resembles this for fifteen minutes. I repeat twice more every three hours. Collected milk stays in our fridge in a small black cooler with a giant ice pack designed to fit around the bottles.

Once home, I transfer expressed milk into four freezer bags — totaling four servings — for my calf to eat while at calf care from one of these. My freezer is full of milk. There is barely enough room for the sustenance my bull and I require, but we manage.

When the calf comes home with the bull, she feeds directly again. Repeat process at least 4 times before her 7-8 pm bedtime, and I’m pooped. At this point, I require a large ice cream on a sugar cone. I take a few moments to thank God for the cow that provided her cream in my cone before consuming, and promptly go to bed.

…only to repeat the next day, and will continue to repeat until my time is over.

Dear friend, I commiserate with you. Our babies require the best food possible, so we do our best to provide. Unfortunately for you, you’re feeding thousands (including me), and I’m only feeding one. It’s a tough life, but someone’s gotta do it.

I Still Can’t Believe We’re Parents

It’s been nearly 4 months since our little Aliana has entered our world and parenthood continues to be everything I never thought it would be (don’t worry, I don’t mean that negatively). It’s incredible how unbeknownst to Ali, she is so deeply reliant on us to care for her, raise her, and turn her into a self-reliant, independent member of society. I tell myself everyday I hope I can do right by her as she grows and develops. I hope I can provide her all the opportunities and tools necessary to allow her to succeed at whatever she does.

As I think about how the responsibilities associated with parenthood, I realize they are far greater than I ever thought they would be, and I’ve been thinking about it since I was 3. Even during Lilly’s pregnancy I still had no real idea what I was getting myself into. I always knew I would do what was necessary and required of me, but it’s been an eye opener. I am beginning to truly understand the daily challenges my parents faced while raising me, and I can’t imagine what it was like for them raising twins (my brothers) along with a 5 year old (me). Lord knows how they put me through 9 years of hockey. I have a newfound respect for them both and continue to seek guidance and parental advice from them.

Those Eyes

As I look into Ali’s eyes, I wish I could remove every challenge and stressful situation she is going to encounter throughout her life. Even now I wish I could prevent every pout and cry she makes when she’s in pain dealing with acid reflux, when she frustrated because mommy and daddy don’t understand her, or when she’s bored and stir-crazy. Knowing full well life has it’s own agenda, I am very aware I cannot remove the trials and tribulations she will face, but I hope she knows daddy would if he could.

Part 3: The Power of the Purple Bracelet

14 weeks post partum. this is the final installment i promise

Aliana, she might as well had been at the beach, and not under photo therapy lights

When we finally made it to the NICU, I was the only one allowed in the nursery with her. While they hooked her up to the monitors, they took me out to the desk to get my purple bracelet. This wrist band gave Andrew and I 24 hour access to our baby. Only Andrew and I were authorized in her nursery at all times, the only exception was if there was an emergency or if the yellow chain was strung across the door. On Wednesday night, we came back to the nursery after going home to have dinner. It was after visiting hours, and there were some people arguing with the security guard to be let in. We just held our arms up, flashed our wrist bands, and walked past. Pure VIP style – the only exception was this wasn’t a concert or exclusive club. We were heading up to see our precious baby.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our first week with Aliana. The story continues (and ends!) with pictures after the jump.

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Ali’s First MAJOR STORM… annnd she had no idea!

Hurricane Irene came up the Eastern Coastline this weekend and ruined the lives of many in the process. For us in the northeast Irene had significantly weakened by the time her heavy rains and strong winds made their way into the Capital District. The rain and wind were rough but they weren’t the real issue, it was the major flooding following the storm. Damage caused by floodwaters in the region have been flatout unreal, never before seen by New Yorkers who have lived here since birth. I am so thankful we were spared the devastation experienced by others not more than a few miles from us. We pray for those severely affected and hope they can see the light in a dark time.

On a more encouraging note, Ali didn’t seem to be bothered one bit by the crazy media coverage during the storm, the storm itself, or the power outage. All she cared about was the book Daddy was reading her while she contently sat in her new pink Bumbo chair.

Story Time!

It’s amazing how a 3 month old can get so excited over things so simple. I’m envious of her pure facination with the world around her. The first 5 minutes of reading her a book is the most wonderful experience because she is so focused on the pictures and speaks out all kinds of baby gibberish. Laughing, cooling, basically enthralled by Daddy’s voice and the variety of colors on the pages. It’s a real privilege to see the direct affect I have on my child and how she relies solely on the care and love of Lilly and I. We are 100% responsible for her and I hope she can feel the love we give her and the safety we provide her.

3 MONTHS!

Ali officially turned 3 months yesterday! Woohoo! It’s funny how each month of her life is a milestone I feel requires a celebration. We didn’t do much though, just not enough hours in the day. We laughed and played in the evening for a bit, gave Ali a warm bath, and fed her to sleep. After Ali fell asleep Lilly and I had some much needed mommy/daddy R&R, resulting in a pretty stress-free evening. It’s so nice Ali goes to sleep at night without arguing about it. I mean, she will try to fight sleep as it creeps up on her but she won’t look me in the face and say, “NO!” I’m trying to cherish these bedtime moments as much as possible before she learns she can cry and complain that she doesn’t want to sleep, or that she’s scared of the closet monster or that she’s going to be defiant simply because she can.

Knowing how much I love my family, it pains me to see the sad article I found on the news today about an infant Ali’s age. The article said the infant fell from the 2nd story of a hospital parking garage. There weren’t too many details except that officials expect the infant was 1-3 months old and that this was no accident. It’s terrible to think of an infant just like Ali being hurled over the edge so carelessly. I can’t even begin to describe the disgust I feel towards the heartless coward who did this. It’s unreal what everyday people are capable of. I could go on and on ranting about the idiots of the world but I know it won’t accomplish anything. I just felt this particular story was worth noting. I love Aliana so much, so unconditionally. It doesn’t matter who she is, what she does, or who she is going to become. Ali is my daughter I she will always be loved.

The Ups and Downs

I realized today just how much I love my daughter. She was in her swing smiling, cooing, laughing; I was doing dishes (my favorite part of being a grown-up…NOT), and then she made a face that said, “I feel safe daddy, I love you, and now I’m going to take a nap.” It was said all in her eyes. What a moment for a new father.

I also realized today how my beautiful daughter can really test my patience, and it wasn’t even her fault which made me feel like a “Big D.” As anyone who takes part in the real world knows, the high points don’t come without their lows. Ali was due for her daily-dose of Zantac this evening and I convinced Lilly to wait until the next feeding before giving it to her. Wrong move on my part. Soon thereafter Aliana spit up on me 5-7 times in a matter of 30 minutes. Some were messier than others but they were all hot, sour, curdled goo. I’ll tell ya, I know it’s not Ali’s fault but damn its annoying getting puked on that many times in such a short period. As a parent I’m learning your patience is constantly tested and you’re forced to keep yourself calm especially when you feel like screaming.

At the end of the day the UP’s greatly outway the DOWN’s. Her smiles have the ability to shutout the world around me, to make me forget about the blowout she just had, or the projectile vomit that just ruined my clothes. She’s so stinkin’ cute it’s impossible to stay frustrated for long. Keep up the good work Ali, you’re doing great!

I love my Aliana

Part 2: Home birth to NICU

At the Kahrs family reunion. A rare photo of the three of us together.

(11 weeks post partum)

Sorry for taking so long with part two. I believe you are aware that my life got busier since the first part way back in June, haha.

Anyway, to continue. Aliana was born early but safely, and most importantly healthy that Sunday. Two days later, she finally began to open her eyes more, and start to look around. That morning we made an appointment to see the pediatrician for her to get a complete check up and to get into the system. We thought we were doing what any parents should do when they first have a baby. Now I don’t want to speculate too much about what happened next but, we can’t help but think that this trip to the doctor is what sent her over the edge we didnt even know she may have been tettering on.

This is probably the most painful part to our story to recall. So much happened in so little time. It feels like things happened in slow motion; time was really unnoticeable… it made me realize exactly how much could happen in only 24 hours. Stay tuned for part three…

Tangent: Andrew, I really hope that I do not emasculate you with this post. I’m only trying to record these events elsewhere than my mind. Please forgive me for telling folks you cried.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

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