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Alisa. 37. New Hampshire. Married for almost three years to this wonderful, funny, smart guy. Previously married. Went through in-vitro fertilization to have my five year old magical son Keegan. Stepmother to the charming Isabelle (6). Gushingly in love with our baby boy Harper(1). Policy Wonk and dreaded bureaucrat. Lover of fine cuisine, honeybees, truly romantic moments and the underdog.
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Curried Beef Short Ribs

Note: I found this was more realistically four servings.

Finishing this dish with lime zest and juice brightens its rich flavors.

Yield 6 servings (serving size: about 3 ounces ribs, 2/3 cup rice, and about 2 1/2 tablespoons sauce)

2 teaspoons canola oil
2 pounds ...continue reading

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Harper Stats

Harper had his 1 year checkup today. I scheduled it before he moved into his new classroom so it ended up being right in the middle of lunch/nap. They were able to feed him before I picked him up. He had three vaccinations and the once over. He also had to have a blood draw for lead testing and anemia. That was not so fun. I had already soothed him from the shots and then I had to take him down to the lab. And because he is a baby it took them a while and two sticks to get what they needed. He was not amused. And I had flashbacks to last summer when he was hospitalized with MRSA. Poor kid fell asleep as soon as he was buckled into his car seat. He stayed that way as I carried him back into daycare and put him in his crib. The good news of course is that he is healthy and happy and on the right milestones. He weighs 20lbs 11ounces (which is below average but he has stayed on his curve) and is 30.25 inches long (he was above average but is slowing down). He does not walk yet but pulls to standing and stands for a moment before gently lowering himself to the floor. Talking is mostly the mama, dada and other sounds. He is fast as lightning at a crawl, persistent and into everything. I think we were hoping we would not have to do the full childproof lock down but we definitely will. He thinks the word "no" is quite amusing. He is mostly on milk with a shot of formula at night because we did not want to throw out a can. He took a little time to accept the sippy cup but does fine and we are just keeping the bottle before bed until I am sure he is getting enough in his belly at dinner. He loves cheerios and goldfish and hates having his teeth brushed. He loves the tub and does not mind having water poured over his head. He still favors Jeff in looks but I do see a bit of me in there too. And so far remains the happy laid back sweetpea he has been since birth (not counting teething or illness).

Happy Birthday Gorgeous!

365 days of loving you...

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Radio Ga Ga

Harper turned six months old on December 10th. Already a half of a year old. We are clutching to every moment of his infancy but it still flies by. He had his checkup last week and is doing very well. He is a little over 18 pounds and is in the 92 percentile for height. He is rapidly growing out of everything and I have pulled the 12 month box from the attic in preparation. Harper is loving the solid food. He eats lunch and dinner and all the same bottles in between. We got the okay to move up to level 2 food and start feeding him baby yogurt. I am guessing he will be all over that. He rolls over and we often find him that way in the morning. He also sits up but still needs support as he is apt to tip over backwards. Keegan loves to be in charge of keeping him upright. Oh and what a talker. And a laugher. He seems to be very happy at daycare and they run an excellent program. Best I have ever seen. Makes the gazillion dollars we pay slightly less painful.

If babies are truly made up of the love between two people than Harper is quite the statement. He is so joyful and patient and sweet and caught up in the world. Really the best baby ever. Except for not being so much into naps lately he really is easy to please. And he gives you the goo goo eyes like he is beyond in love with you. He gives the best hugs. And he is crazy about the big kids. Whenever his brother or sister enter the room he is mesmerized. Not to say he is not fussy sometimes or that he is not a lot of work because all babies are. But the love and happiness he brings to our lives is immeasurable. Jeff and I are always sharing Harper moments with each other.

Little Sunshine

I didn't want to go on and on on this blog about Harper. And it turns out I hardly post about him. Oops. He will be 3 months old next Wed and I can hardly believe it. It has flown by but I think I have done a good job of trying to cherish each moment. He is such a good baby and Jeff and I are always telling each other how cute and happy he is. Part of it is experience and confidence in our parenting and the other part is Harper's personality. I go back to work next week and I get tears in my eyes when I think about missing his pudgy face and even the feel of him in my arms. He is a great sleeper and most nights goes 8-10 hours. He eats well and naps well most of the time. He spends time looking at his fingers or playing with his toys and or hanging in his baby gym. His favorite thing to do is watch his family around him. Harper is completely fascinated by his brother and sister. I thought they would find him boring because he can't do much but they love to just sit next to him and talk to him. They also attempt to translate his baby talk. And while things are more difficult when you have a baby along we have tried to make sure we still do the things we normally do as a family. Harper is pretty portable and loves to get out. Jeff can't wait until he is old enough to strapped into a backpack carrier and taken up mountains. So that is the update on Harper. He really has clicked as the last piece of our family puzzle.

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

We had a great weekend, lots of organizing. Yes, I considering organizing great. Keegan and I finally got to paint some of the many projects he has made at the H*me Depot kids workshops the past few months. Which included me figuring out how to paint a dragon on his flower box. In case you haven't been taking notes, I am not artistically inclined. I can decorate a house like a fiend but not create anything from scratch. But moms find a way. We also got into a discussions about Indians (from India) and Native American Indians and then somehow I find myself in the middle of a pow wow where Keegan wants me to dance while he pounds the bongos. In public, as in our driveway, while our neighbors have a big party in theirs. Not without some liquid courage kid. But I did do a short rendition and then made him dance around a like lunatic. Because 4 year olds can pull it off. Jeff smoked a lovely rack of ribs Sunday and we made way too much cornbread and baked beans and corn on the cob for two people. He wanted a spread and he got one. We had marinated steak tips from the specialty butcher store the day before. We had had enough of meat by Monday. Although I am sure his cubicle smelled heavenly during lunch that day.
The rest of the week I spent being punished for the slow economy and bad lending environment that I did not create. I would hate to think where I'd be if I didn't have such good credit. And the other big task is trying to find childcare for Harper. I have been looking for months but apparently should have started before he was born. I am on ten waiting lists for the few places here that take infants. And I hit up everyone I knew to see if they knew people who keep kids at home. All along I kept waiting to win the lottery so I wouldn't have to go back to work at all. Yup, I said it. I wish I could be a SAHM for at least a few more months. Never thought I would say it but I love being with this baby and doing household stuff and running errands and making dinner. But staying home longer is not an option considering I have already been without pay for over 12 weeks. So I am meeting a woman who is a friend of a friend's sister on Friday to see if she fits what I want for Harper. And if not I have a few options that have come up in the past few days. I put out a call for help from my mom friends at Keegan's school and also my Selfish Mom's group and they responded in droves with support, suggestions and offers to care for Harper in the meantime. Too sweet.
Today I hoofed down to Mass to see some college friends. Soper lives in Mass but Debra was in for her annual visit to her local relatives. I figure if she can get here from Texas I can drag my two kids for a hour and a half drive. We had a house full of two four year olds, a three year old, a two year old, a one year old, 6 months, 11 weeks and 7 weeks. And it was relatively sane. I planned the drive around Harper's nap times and it went really well. Keegan is content to look out the windows and point out construction vehicles or airplanes or anything else interesting along the way. Oh and the other miracle? Harper slept 8 1/2 hours last night. I'm not saying it will happen again but just knowing it happened once is enough for now.

Cuteness

I promise we really intend to send out thank you notes. And Harper has worn or used most of the things already. But in the meantime this cute organic cotton butterfly outfit showed up with no note. If you sent it please let me know.

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Quick Update

Harper had his eye doctor appointment today and his infection is gone. He stopped having goop on Sunday and has been goop free all week. We decided not to probe him again but wait and see how he does. I was dreading the probe today and was really happy to skip it. Hopefully his blocked tear duct has been resolved and we can never worry about it again. He will probably have an aversion to q-tips and anyone touching his eye for the rest of his life.

Scars Remind Me That The Past Is Real

Tuesday I went into the office for a couple of hours while my mom watched Harper. It is frustrating to go in because as usual there is way more to do than can possibly be done in the amount of time given. We also did a welcome for our new secretary who started last week. She seems to be settling in. I just want someone who is emotionally stable, not drunk or hungover, has appropriate personal boundaries and can get along with others. There is a reason I left the mental health profession and I have enough spilling over into this job already. When I get talking about work issues I get excited and remember why I love it there most of the time. But being with Harper and looking at his chubby smiley face I really don't want to go back yet. I doubt I will feel differently in four weeks.

Having Harper has been completely different than having Keegan. I adored Keegan from first sight but the rest of those early times were extremely difficult. He was a colicky baby, not a good sleeper, I had a real struggle with breastfeeding, I had so many doubts about my abilities as a mother and my marriage was unraveling. I had been out of work for the year before and lost my sense of identity and self worth. It was the middle of winter and we lived way out from other people and I was so isolated. I did go to a mother's group each week and made other plans with some of them so I did get some contact. But I was drowning and didn't even know it. I would not say it was postpartum depression but my life was definitely miserable. I have said since that bringing a baby into your relationship highlights all of the weak points but can increase the strong ones. Unfortunately we had far more weak points. So instead of turning to each other and getting support we isolated even further. We literally lived two almost completely separate lives in the same house. Tom started looking for ways to escape. He thought the solution was to move somewhere new. But I knew that we would just take our problems with us and then I would also be without my support system here. He sent me links to houses in Colorado, Virginia and anywhere but here. I told him that I wasn't moving and that if he did I would treat as though he abandoned us and proceed accordingly. He didn't even respond. Nor did he respond to words like breakup or divorce. That is when you should know it is over. But I was not ready to just walk away from our vows and our history together. I proceeded to formulate five plans and carry them out over the course of the next ten months. Nothing worked. Because what we really needed was help and he said he was willing to do anything except go to counseling. You can't really love someone and then set limits on what you are willing to do for love. And one day I had just had enough.

I try not to compare then to now but I can not help it. Having another baby dragged everything back up. The first few nights after we got home from the hospital with Harper I dreamed about Tom. In each dream I was trying to get him to help me find a lost baby and he just brushed it off. I woke up mad at him. I don't want to be mad at him. Even though we were on good terms when he died I wish we had more time. I wish that there was still a possibility that we could have figured out what went wrong and he could have answered the many questions I still have. We apologized and forgave each other a year after we broke up. I know that he was happy for me that I was getting married again. I feel like he would have wished me well on the new baby. And sometimes I'm still mad that he left such a big mess that I am still cleaning up. But almost ten years ago he promised to love me until the end of his life. And he did.

Home Again

We are home. We were discharged this afternoon around 4pm. After consultation with a pediatric infectious disease specialist Harper is on a combination oral antibiotic for the next ten days. They don't like to use it in babies this young but tests show it will work on this MRSA. His strain is a particularly nasty one. He also has thrush now because the antibiotics are knocking out the good stuff too. So we have a different antibiotic for that one. Harper did not sleep all afternoon so he was out cold here at home. I hope this doesn't mean we will have a rough night. It is so great just to be home and in our own space. I hated working around the IV stand and worrying about crimping the line. And all the poking and blood draws and noises. All the reasons people can't wait to get out of hospitals. Everyone kept saying how good he looked and what a healthy baby he was (despite the infection.) Oh and how cute he is, which is really a compliment to Jeff since he looks just like him. We are on high hand washing alert and nobody touching the baby policy too until we are all clear. Harper could be his own MRSA carrier so we have to watch for any future infections. We have a pediatric ophthalmologist appointment tomorrow to hopefully address the blocked tear duct that started all of this.

We are still pissed at all of the inappropriate prescribers and users of antibiotics that created this super bug that attacked our boy. He is still the sweet cuddlebug he has always been. And as of today he is no longer a newborn since he is over 28 days old. Now we have an infant.

Update Monday Evening

Looks like Harper will be at the hospital at least until Wednesday night.

On a lighter note the hospital room has cable. So Jeff and I are overdosing. He is on the food channel right now and bookmarking things to make next week. The other night we watched the deadliest catch marathon. This is why we don't have cable at home. We'd be a family of total potatoes.

I need to go finish making Keegan dinner. My mom is coming to be here with him so I can get a few more hours in at the hospital.

Hospital Day Three

Harper was doing really well with his first full day of antibiotics and his eye looked much better. I was hoping that meant it was just a run of the mill infection. However, when the lab results came back yesterday we found out it is MRSA. Even though it seemed to be responding to broad based antibiotics they needed to put him on another stronger one. They started that one last night and are monitoring his kidney function because it is a very powerful drug. I have to say that MRSA scared me because it is so dangerous for small children. But we have faith they are on top of it and doing everything they can. Jeff brought Keegan to the hospital yesterday and we all had dinner together. It was a nice visit. I slept at the hospital last night and unfortunately woke up with the worst migraine of my life. Of course they were in and out waking both myself and Harper up and there were lots of other noises including construction. By the time Jeff arrived I gulped down two pain killers and waited for them to at least enable me to drive home. I have had a 3 and half hour nap and now I am heading back to the hospital. Hopefully we will be discharged tomorrow and can get back home. We will also see a pediatric ophthalmologist to try and resolve the original blocked duct problem.

The Hospital

Yesterday Harper's blocked tear duct took a turn for the worse. His face was red when he woke up and we decided to keep a close eye on it. While Jeff was out with the kids I took Harper's temperature and he had a low grade fever. Nothing to panic about except I did not like how the redness was concentrated around his eye. I called the pediatrician and they said they could see him in a half hour. When I went in they quickly decided that the redness was a skin infection from his eye. With a baby this young they do IV antibiotics immediately. So Harper and I headed to the ER to get admitted. Once we were able to make arrangements for Isabelle and Keegan, Jeff was able to join me at the hospital. Poor Harper had been poked and prodded and was unable to take his usual naps. Finally he settled down laying on my chest. Last night Jeff stayed with him and I came home to take care of the dog and sleep here. I couldn't wait to get to sleep so I could get back to him this morning. And that is what I am going to do now.

Checked Out

Tuesday I had my appt and all went well. They see women at two weeks post-partum to talk about depression and birth control. Apparently they have enough women come in already pregnant again at their six week visit. Yipes! The first thing she said was, "You don't look like a sleep deprived zombie." Well thank you. And I proudly showed off my zippered pants too. I have already cleansed the maternity clothes from my closet.

Today was Harper's appt. They decided he has a blocked tear duct (thanks for your emails and comments). We learned how to massage it and got a prescription for a different ointment to avoid infection. It should resolve itself in the next few months or so. Everything else checked out great. And our little chow hound has gained a pound putting him at 9lbs 4 oz. I knew he seemed big. The doctor gushed over how great he was. Which I know every parent thinks. But I have to tell you he is so cuddly and sweet. We are keeping our fingers crossed he stays that way. I've done colicky and it is no fun.

The other night Jeff and I were marveling at how tiny Harper's feet are and reminding ourselves they don't stay that way for long. Jeff teased that I know I want another one because he would take a house full. I said our house is already full. He said, a bigger house. I laughed longer than necessary. I can't explain it but our family feels right at this time. There is the very slightest possibility that I could feel differently later but I don't think so.

New Mom, Again

On Saturday we all went out for the first time together. I figured I could handle a quick trip to the mall. Harper was fine but it was a lot of walking for me. I feel so good sometimes I end up over doing it. When we returned home Erika, Jay and Sammy were over for a visit. The kids played together and then we walked to the ice cream place for lunch. Of course that is the day they had terrible service. Oh well, at least the ice cream was good and we enjoyed the company. Sunday we went down to my parent's house. We had thunderstorms so the kids did not get to play in the lake but did run around a bit outside once the rain stopped. Harper slept through most if it.

Today Jeff is back at the office. I have managed to get dressed and have breakfast. My other big goal is to go out and get something notarized. That will be my first trip alone with Harper. It will be good practice for tomorrow when I take him to my midwife appt. He still has eye goop despite being on the medication for five days. I put a call into the pediatrician to check on it. I remind myself to take one day at a time as I get to know Harper and we get a routine down. Next week I hope to attend a mom's group because that was such an important resource the first time around. Right now I go to bed by 9:30 but once Harper sleeps in long stretches it would be nice to get some evening time back. Jeff and I do the bedtime feeding together and it gives us a chance to talk and connect at the end of the day.

The Eyes Have It

Harper had his weight check on Tuesday. He has gained 8oz to be back at his birth weight. Good to know all that eating is going somewhere. That night he developed some eye goo. The next day I called in and they diagnosed him with conjunctivitis. Proving that you can never leave the house and still get sick. So the older kids have to stay away from him with their colds and he has to stay away from them with his eye goo. He won't be contagious after 2pm today so that's a relief. He was pretty fussy and uncomfortable yesterday. Last night he slept four hours straight for the first time and then three hours and then two and a half until we were all ready to get up for the day. Really not a bad deal for me at all. Our goal is to get him healthy and keep him healthy.

Jeff is still home with me. He does work from here and takes care of Keegan and Isabelle taking and picking them up from school. He does all the errands and cooking too. It has really helped me recover and feel very supported. Yet another reminder of what a great husband he is.

Day Six, Right?

My mom came over last night to help out and it was wonderful. I almost feel sort of normal today. Unfortunately she will be in Maine the rest of the week doing house stuff. But I am hoping that having the kids in school during the day will help me get more rest. This past weekend was challenging.

Poor Jeff had to make his own Father's Day breakfast feast while I tried to sleep. I failed at the sleeping part and gave up for a shower instead. Jeff seasoned his new smoker in preparation for making dinner later. He says, "Nothing says Father's Day like smoked meat." I'll take his word for it. He did put some ribs in after he dropped Isabelle off. They weren't ready until close to 9pm. I ate earlier and was ready for bed while he had his ribs, baked beans and cornbread. He sure looked happy.

Harper actually slept for three hours straight at one point for my mom. I am hoping to get him to do that without needing to be attached to me the whole time. He has been eating more at each feeding which hopefully helps him gain weight back and feel content. Today we had our first explosive baby episode. He had poop leaking out of his diaper. While I changed it he peed because I forgot to cover. We finally got him cleaned up and changed and laid in his crib when he spit up all over. Poor kid. Since then he has been sleeping for two hours. It would have been the perfect time to nap but the real estate agent needed to come by in the middle of it. So instead Jeff and I took a moment to lay on the bed and just hold each other and have a quiet break together.

Day Four

We are still settling in here at home. Harper had Jeff up most of the first part of the night and me up the rest. I didn't get back into bed until 6am and Keegan and Isabelle were up by 7am. So we're dragging a bit here. Jeff took the kids out on all kinds of errands. They both have colds with coughing so we have to keep them away from the baby. Hopefully they will be over them soon as they love to be near him. My parents came up today because my dad hadn't met the baby yet. Jeff prepared this awesome chicken corn chowder. Honestly I don't know where he finds the energy. I have been trying to stick to my goal of only taking care of myself and the baby in order to recover. But it is difficult because there is so much I would like to do and we are so used to doing things together as a family. I am taking one day at a time. Keegan loves Harper but has been regressing a bit since his arrival. I am guessing this is to be expected. And we are trying to stay patient with him while he adjusts. It is hard for me too as I am used to having all my free time to be with him. I try to tuck him in and participate in story time and give him hugs and attention as best I can right now.

Here is Harper on the day we brought him home. He had a checkup yesterday and is doing well. We go back in next week for a weight check.

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We're Home

We have been home since a little after 12. Very happy to be here and not poked and prodded any more. Harper finished eating around 1:15 and has been sleeping ever since. Jeff and I took that opportunity to nap for two hours. He is off to get some baby supplies and Keegan. I am hanging out and reading all of your wonderful comments and emails. Harper is still quiet in his room. I know many sleepless nights are ahead of us and my hormones will go on a roller coaster ride soon.

We are completely in love with our new son.