We’re finally up and running! After three months of promising everyone we know, the Keegan Gross website and blog is here! For now it is just a blog, but soon we plan to add photo galleries and whatever other fun and exciting features we can think of! I know you all have been aching for updates on Eleanor and may be mildly interested in what Josh and I have been up to. So, without further ado, here is our three month retrospective:
The Birth of Eleanor
Eleanor Maria Keegan Gross was born Friday December 7, 2007. She was due a week later, but I had a feeling that she would come early. I actually thought she was coming two days earlier than she did.
On Wednesday morning I began having regular contractions about 10-15 minutes apart, but they were not very painful and did not get much worse, just a little closer together as the day went by. I had a final exam for my Constitutional Law class that afternoon, so I was rather uncomfortable as I sat through the exam. As the exam ended my contractions were about 8 minutes apart so I called Josh at work and told him that we had better head to the hospital. He picked me up from school a few minutes later and we sped off home to pick up my hospital bag and eat some dinner before going to the hospital.
As we sat at home eating dinner, the contractions started getting a little farther apart and were not as uncomfortable as they had been. We decided to call the doctor’s and ask whether they thought we should come in yet. They told us to wait until the contractions were closer together and more painful or until my water broke. So we waited. And waited. And waited. And we finally went to bed. I was able to sleep a little but was still having some contractions. I assumed it was just false labor brought on by the stress of finals.
The next morning we got up and Josh went to work and I went to school to study for my last final that afternoon. As Thursday went on I continued having contractions that were about 10 minutes apart, but not much more painful, just rather uncomfortable. I took another final while having contractions. As I finished the exam, I was thankful that Eleanor had waited long enough for me to have completed all of my exams.
I was still having contractions, but already had a check-up appointment with my midwife that evening so Josh and I left school after my test and headed to the hospital. We hoped she would tell us it was time, or would be soon. What she did tell us was that I was barely dilated and it would probably be another week.
So we headed home stopping at In-n-Out for some dinner (grilled cheese and fries – we have not started eating meat). We had a short argument because Josh wanted to eat there and he is grumpy when hungry, but I won the argument to take the food home because I was still having uncomfortable contractions.
It was 8 p.m. and about 3½ hours after my exam when I sat down with my grilled cheese and felt something like a pop and a rush of water. I told Josh that I had either peed myself or my water had broke. Josh first finished the phone call that he was on with his best friend Brian, while I changed and grabbed our hospital bag, and we headed back to the hospital.
Throughout the night my contractions got steadily worse. The nurses gave me some morphine to help me get some sleep and I woke up in the early morning not much farther along than I had been. In the morning they gave me Pitocin (a medicine used to induce labor) to get things moving along more quickly. By the afternoon I was dilated to about 8 cm and was beginning to have very painful contractions and a sharp pain in my lower back. They moved me to the delivery room at around 4 p.m. and I finally decided to ask for an epidural, which I thought took a little too long to arrive.
The epidural definitely helped, but it was strange to have no use of my legs. I was completely numb from the waist down, although I could still feel some of the lower back pain I had been having. A few hours later my midwife decided that it was time to start laboring down, so they slowed the epidural, allowing it to wear off enough for me to push. My back pain continued and increased and I started feeling nauseous.
I soon learned that the back pain was because Eleanor was facing in the wrong direction, so the back of her head was pressing against my spine, but as I started pushing she turned and the pain lessened. The pushing went well and quickly. It only lasted about 45 minutes. The contractions were still painful because the epidural was wearing off, but the pushing helped me to focus and ignore the pain. I could feel pressure and not pain as her head emerged and the same as the rest of her came.
Eleanor was born December 7, 2007 at 9:37 p.m. (Pearl Harbor Day and the 4th night of Hanukkah, double holiday baby!). She was 21½ inches and 7lbs 4oz. It was incredibly strange and amazing when she finally popped out. Most people cry when they meet their children for the first time, so the nurses thought it was funny that we just seemed confused as to where this new person came from.
Despite her extreme cone head we thought she was beautiful!
Our First Week At Home
We stayed in the hospital for another day and a half and came home that Sunday.
The next week went by in a blur. We of course had heard about the sleeplessness and the work, but I’m not sure how we could have been prepared for what was in store for us. Having a newborn is an incredible amount of work. I’m breastfeeding exclusively, so around the clock every 3 hours she needed to eat, and it took her about an hour to finish each meal, which means at best we had 2 hours to take a nap or get things done before she needed to eat again. So we were only getting between 2 and 3 hours of sleep a day in 1 to 1½ hour intervals. Whenever we weren’t feeding/burping/changing/soothing her, we were asleep or eating. It seemed as if there was no time for anything else, and no energy even if there were time.
The worst part of our first week home was that while I was able to complete all of my finals, I had not yet completed the paper I had due. It was an impossibly difficult week attempting to focus enough to write a paper on Constitutional law with next to no sleep. But I managed to get it written and turned in on time, although it is certainly not the best paper I have written.
Eleanor had trouble latching on to breastfeed in the first couple days and was sleeping all the time which made it difficult to get her to eat, but Kaiser has a lactation program called Great Starts that helped her get feeding well. So she soon began eating well and gaining weight.
We had a lot of visitors during that first week. Everyone brought food and it was nice to get a little break.
my sister Maria:
my brother-in-law Christian:
my brothers Elliott and William:
josh’s best friend Brian:
The First Month
Our next two weeks were almost as difficult, but much more manageable now that we felt more comfortable taking care of her. Once Eleanor began eating more she began sleeping less. We soon discovered that we had a colicky baby. She cried constantly! When she wasn’t eating or sleeping she was crying.
This put Josh and me a little on edge. We did our best to try to soothe her, but much of the time to no avail. We were up with her crying throughout the night. We took shifts. Josh would be up most of the night (with me getting up every 2 hours to feed her) and then I would take the morning while Josh slept until 12 or 1. We soon learned that we felt better and less crazy if we got out of the house so we tried to go for a drive every afternoon and a car ride would put Eleanor right to sleep.
We were able to get lunch and do some Target shopping while she slept. We even managed to get a little Christmas tree with the help of my Dad and brother William.
We had Christmas with the family. We spent Christmas eve with my Dad and Christmas day with my Mom. Christmas eve went alright. Eleanor slept long enough after we arrived to allow us time to eat, but got fussy began crying while gifts were being opened. Christmas day went about the same.
Eleanor’s colic got worse before it got better. Unfortunately, I started my Spring semester when it was at its height. For those of you haven’t been fortunate enough to experience it, colic, also known as “extreme fussiness,” describes a baby who cries inconsolably for at least 3 hours a day for at least 3 days a week for at least 3 weeks. We bought at least six different books about fussy babies and sleep training and read them all and tried a million different things to stop the crying with no real results, until we read The Happiest Baby on the Block and watched the accompanying DVD and got some great advice from some moms who had experience with a colicky baby.
It was incredible! Up until then we thought that Eleanor hated swaddling because she fought being wrapped up , that she didn’t like a pacifier, and that she didn‘t like her swing. But the photographer who took our maternity and newborn portraits recommended a specific pacifier that hospitals give to preemies in the NICU and a swaddling blanket with Velcro so our strong little girl couldn’t fight her way out. All of the baby books had recommended swaddling swinging, shhhing in baby’s ear, sucking on a pacifier, and putting the baby on their side to console a crying baby, but only The Happiest Baby on the Block taught us that they key was to do all of these, what it calls the “5 Ss,” together. What a difference it made!
Ever since we have been able to stop most of the crying, and almost immediately after we began swaddling and using white noise at night (shhhing) she started sleeping longer at night in her crib all by herself and dropped one of her night feedings. We began getting about 5 hours of sleep at night, which was amazing!
Just as all of the books predicted she was the worst at six weeks and has only been getting better since. She began crying much less and sleeping much more. She was still not a great napper during the day, but slept well at night. She was sleeping about 5 hours after her bedtime feeding and then about 4 hours after her middle of the night feeding.
Her two month doctor’s visit went well. She was 9 lbs 11 oz and 24 inches tall. That makes her in the 95% for her height and only 30% for her weight. So she is very tall and thin, we assume she will be a model. Our pediatrician said that she was growing well, gaining enough weight, and hitting all of her milestones. She only failed her “tummy test.” The doctor put her on her tummy and lifted her legs so she was on her knees and instead of trying to push up with her arms or lift her head, she just laid there. So we were given the assignment of 15 minutes of tummy time 3-4 times a day. We’re trying to get it in, but she hates being on her tummy and just cries.
She also got her first shots at her two month visit. She did fairly well, she only cried for a little while after getting the shots and seemed alright until later that afternoon, when she got very fussy and seemed very uncomfortable. I’m sure her little thighs were still very sore. So we gave her some acetaminophen that the nurse had given us. The poor little girl was dopey for the rest of the day. I’m sure it was more comfortable for her, but Josh and I hated seeing her so calm and glassy-eyed, it was so unlike her.
We celebrated Valentines Day this month. She was our little valentine:
Josh went back to work after the end of his family leave mid-February. He was sad to go back and only get to see Eleanor in the evenings and on the weekends, particularly since we began moving her to an earlier bedtime. But he is only working four days a week so he has three-day weekends every weekend.
I went back to work at the same time. I’m only going into the office on Monday afternoons and taking work home with me to work on during the week, so Monday, Josh’s day off, is Daddy-Daughter day.
Now that Josh is back at work, my mom comes to watch Eleanor in the mornings while I’m in class. I think she really enjoys spending so much time with her granddaughter. She always says how much she has missed her over the weekend. I think Eleanor misses her too.
She is definitely developing a great personality. She smiles all the time and has all of her vowel sounds down. She is constantly “aahhh”ing, “oooh”ing, and “ehhh”ing at us, and she is working on her consonants. She has just about got down her “g,” “r,” “n,” and “m” sounds. She loves to put them all together which usually ends up sounding something like a growl, “ooohhaaahhhehhhaarrrrggggrrrrraah.” She has become a little less work and a lot more fun!
She used to take all of naps in her swing,
but now she’s too aware and just wants to look around at everything and not sleep. Consequently most of her naps now happen in my lap after nursing in the afternoons. I usually end up trapped on the couch for at least 4 hours a day. I know I need to start trying to help her get to nap in her crib, but I hate to risk having her not sleep at all. She is not very pleasant when she gets overtired.
She is sleeping very well at night now. She goes to bed around 8 pm and gets at least 10 hours a night. She’s still waking up for a night feeding, but the time from when she goes to sleep until she wakes to eat is getting longer and longer. It averages 6 hours and is occasionally as long as 7 or 8 hours.
Here we are in our pajamas, getting ready for bed:
She loves her jungle themed play gym which has lights and music and toys that hang over her head. She lies there and grabs at her toys, staring at the lights and constantly babbling.
She is also doing much better with tummy time. I think she enjoys it much more now that she can hold up her head very well.
She can hold things now and puts everything in her mouth. We bought her a little stuffed bunny for Easter and she loves to hold it and shove its head or feet into her mouth while holding its ears.
We celebrated her Grandpa Gross’ birthday last week. Here she is with her Grandpa and Grandma Raisa:
Eleanor finally started to laugh this month, but she saves all of her laughs for Daddy and Grandma. She has only laughed at mommy twice, and I’m sure she was laughing at me and not with me. I must not be very funny! Her laugh is very cute. We expected it to be that baby squeal or giggle, but it is much more of a chuckle.
We have decided to start her on solid foods next month, which is a little earlier than the average six months, but she is showing all the signs of being ready: showing interest when we are eating, reaching for our food, being able to hold her head up very well, and being able to sit up well without much support. Hopefully, we will be able to replace one or more of her nursings with solid feedings in a few months. That will be very helpful for me because I will be studying for the Bar Exam starting in mid-May until the exam on the last three days of July.
She is growing fast now. She is getting very tall and much heavier, although I still think she looks pretty skinny. We have her four month doctor visit coming up in about two weeks and we are excited to see how much she has grown.
Overall in the last three and a half months we have fallen madly in love with her and can’t imagine life without our Eleanor.