Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Papa Bill is Silly!

Raina goes on many field trips with her school, and Samantha and Krystal went as "parent chaperones and drivers" on today's trip to Powder Valley Conservation Center. The field trip involved insects -- not Raina's favorite thing -- but it was rather fascinating and fun. What was most enjoyable was listening to Raina and Maddie talk in the car. Maddie giggled continuously during the drive and proclaimed everything a "silly goose." Maddie called Raina silly, and Raina protested, claiming "Papa Bill is silly!" Maddie agreed with Raina, and echoed that Papa Bill was silly. Samantha and I had to laugh: had Raina had this conversation before with her? Or does it just seem likely that someone called Papa Bill would be silly? Or is everyone silly in Maddie's world? I don't know, but it's clear that Papa Bill's silly reputation is spreading.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pavlovian Conditioning

Lola spends a lot of time nursing, which means I spend a lot of time just staring off into space each day. I calculated it, and I've spent over 75 hours nursing Lola so far. Given the chance, I'd rather occupy my mind in some capacity, so I prefer to read or play games or watch television during each (roughly) 40 minute nursing session. Kevin Koontz lent me the first season of Eureka, which was an enjoyable show to watch, and then I decided to re-watch Battlestar Galactica.

Each Eureka and Battlestar disc and episode opens the same way: with the Universal Studies musical fanfare. Now Lola has learned that when she hears the Universal opening it means she will be feeding soon. She may be crying hysterically, but, as soon as she hears the fanfare, she immediately quiets down and starts opening and closing her mouth in anticipation of feeding. It's quite adorable and amusing.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Diapers, diapers, and more diapers

We've been free of diaper tyranny for a long time. Raina stopped wearing an overnight pull-up ages ago, and we retired the training potty months ago. So we had forgotten what it's like to deal with diapers.

According to all the standard baby information, an infant uses 8-12 diapers in a day. Based on that information, we acquired 24 cloth diapers, figuring it would average out to doing diaper laundry every two days. Well, Lola is not the average kid, apparently, because she uses about 20 diapers a day and do diaper laundry everyday for her.

A standard 2-3 hour period goes like this: Lola gets up from her nap (change wet diaper), she eats, 15 minutes later she starts crying (change wet diaper), and then occasionally during that time frame she'll add a BM to the mix. She spends a fair amount of her day at the diaper changing station. It's amazing. If she ever starts spontaneously crying, it's because she just urinated and she wants her diaper changed pronto! It's an easy thing to make her immediately happy again.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Gary and Laverne

Eric is in a rock band with a guy much older than him. In fact, Gary's daughter is the same age as Samantha, so theoretically Gary is old enough to be Eric's dad. Overall, that's a meaningless statement -- we all have friends who are older and younger than we are -- but it takes on special meaning here. You see, Gary and, even more importantly, his wife Laverne are of the age where grandchildren sound really nice, but they recognize their daughter will not be providing grandchildren any time soon.

Enter Raina. Raina loves listening to Eric sing and at some point started accompanying Eric to band rehearsal, which occurs at Gary's house. So Raina hangs out with Eric and Gary for a while, and then goes and does art projects or plays dominoes or a whole assortment of other things with Laverne. It's a wonderful situation all around. Gary and Laverne get their grandkid fix, Eric gets band practice, and Krystal and Samantha get Raina-free time.

Raina came home from Gary and Laverne's yesterday proudly displaying gifts. Laverne had made her a "Big Sister" beaded bracelet and had given her a reasonably elaborate dominoes set. Raina was thrilled with her new presents, and the Whompton adults were overwhelmed by the sentiment and generosity behind them. Gary and Laverne are great.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

MICDS for Life!

The Whomptons have committed themselves to Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School (MICDS). Not only has Krystal worked there for the past 9 years, but Samantha joined the staff this year as well. We religiously trek there on fall Sundays to play flag football, and we hang out socially with many of Krystal and Samantha's co-workers. And, courtesy of the athletic office and Samantha's access to the Lost and Found, we all proudly sport MICDS apparel on a consistent basis. Raina hardly ever takes off her MICDS hoodie!

Needless to say, we like the place and we rejected our local (within walking distance) elementary school to apply for Junior Kindergarten for Raina. The application was fine and standard; the interview process was somewhat creepy; waiting to see if she got in was easy. Raina is a great kid -- of course the school would want her!

She officially was accepted yesterday, and she'll join Samantha and I at MICDS in August. Each of us is thrilled for her, and she is beyond excited about making Mommy's school and Sammy's school her school too.

MICDS included a copy of the Lower School Honor Code which says, essentially, that the student will be nice to everyone and try hard. Raina took it very seriously and understood that she had to be a good person and good student at the school. And she signed her Honor Code contract (in her absolutely adorable and very large manner) to make it official. Very cute.

If you'd like to learn more about the school, check out the website at www.micds.org. We apologize in advance to the grandparents ... you now will be on another Annual Fund donation list. It's the independent school way, sorry!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Health Scares

As infants, Eric and his sister Stephanie had pyloric stenosis, a condition that causes the child's GI tract to narrow over time, thereby resulting in a lot of vomiting and the child not receiving proper nutrition. We've been a little paranoid about our children developing the same condition, and so Krystal became quite alarmed when Lola vomited three times on Tuesday, including one time while nursing. We consulted the pediatrician who was reasonably confident Lola just had reflux. We are supposed to alert him if vomiting continued, and it hasn't. We are incredibly thankful for that; we certainly didn't want her to be sick and have surgery.

Unfortunately, Dr. Lazaroff heard something wrong with her heart, and he ordered an echocardiogram for her. Both Eric and I have had echos done, and mine merited an official diagnosis, so I wasn't immediately alarmed. Just a minor heart murmur was my initial prognosis. But then he said "we need to ensure she doesn't have a hole in between the chambers of her heart," which certainly is cause for alarm, and has my chanting for heart murmur over and over again. So Lola met with her cardiologist, had her echo done (which she fervently hated), and was diagnosed with a heart murmur. Overall, this is not something to be worried about, and is something that she may outgrow over time.

Lola's two health scares of the week: lots of drama, but very little substance. Hallelujah!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Learning Lola

We are slowly compiling a list of Lola's likes and dislikes. What we've determined thus far:

She likes
- cuddling
- nursing
- having her belly rubbed
- being tickled under the chin
- looking at books
- when people sing to her
- chomping down on fingers

She despises
- wet diapers -- these cause her to start crying immediately!
- being awake in the carseat
- going to bed at a normal Whompton hour -- this takes a lot of work each night
- being alone
- being stripped down and having her outfit changed -- she doesn't like being cold

Child of the Week

At Raina's school, each child has a designated week that is ultra special. The kid is declared "child of the week" and multiple things happen as a result. 1) The kid is "line leader" all week -- quite a thrill, according to Raina. 2) The kid makes an "All About Me" poster that is prominently displayed on the classroom door. 3) All the other students journal "I really like Raina because..." statements and they are compiled into a book for the child. 4) The kid gets homework.

Now, I'm totally fine with Raina having homework. Her teachers assign one book report a week, and Raina is always excited about coming home and doing her work immediately. My complaint is that homework for Raina is really homework for Raina's parents, and we were hard pressed to get it all done this weekend. We had to read her book, discuss it, and fill out her book report. Then, for child of the week, we read two additional books, played a game, looked at a personalized book about Raina's class, made the poster, and journaled about the experience. Compiling everything for the poster was the time consuming part, especially since we were gone all Sunday, we don't have hard-copy pictures of our kid, and we didn't want to do her homework for her. So she had to choose the pictures and cut them out and place them and glue them, and goodness that takes forever. I suddenly understand why parents do their kids' projects; it's so much easier on the parents! But Raina finished it and she is very proud of her poster.

She refused to tell stories about her day yesterday, so we don't know how day one of child of the week status went. I'm crossing my fingers that it's everything Raina hoped it would be.

Side note: The personalized book about the class had the kids answer questions about themselves. What does Raina want to be when she grows up? A mommy and a skater. What does she like doing with her parents? She likes when we teach her how to play hard games (i.e., the adult board games). Her favorite cartoon? Babylon 5. Of course, Babylon 5 is not a cartoon, but Raina doesn't watch much traditional TV and I think it was the best she could come up with. Her teachers misspelled the name; clearly they are not attuned to 1990's sci-fi shows!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Grandma Lillie's 90th Birthday Party

Krystal and Samantha's grandmother celebrated 90 years this weekend, and all the Whompton girls traveled to Owensboro / Whitesville for the occasion. Granted, our time in the car was triple our time at the party, but it was worth it to see Grandma, for Raina to play with her cousins, for the adults to connect, and for Lola's extended family to meet her. We mostly hid her in a sling for the party -- an easy to enforce "look, but don't touch!" policy was in effect -- but she was brought out for family picture time. Lola didn't mind the pictures, but Krystal, Samantha, and Raina found them a little tiresome :)
Lola and her Grandma
Grandma Lillie, Lola, Raina, and Krystal
The combined families:
Darlene, Memphis, Noah, Gabby, Lillie, Lola, Raina, Hannah (front row), Krystal, Amber, Terry, Samantha (back row). Not pictured: Eric and Josh

This was one of the first photos taken, and you can tell because Raina is still smiling. Also, check out her "I'm the big sister!" t-shirt!

Lola photos, week one





Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Baby Similarities

We are better parents to Lola than we ever were to Raina at week one. I am shocked by how easy Lola's first week has been, solely based on the real-life experience we had with Raina. It's not that Lola is an easier kid or anything; instead, poor Raina had to teach us how to be parents and she suffered from our very flawed trial and error method of parenting. Little Lola doesn't have that experience much at all. She makes the same faces and same sounds that Raina did and they mean the same things they did with Raina. So we know what Lola wants BEFORE she has to cry and tell us something's wrong. It's remarkable. I thought having two kids would be exponentially more difficult, but, right now (knock on wood), it's pretty okay.

What makes their facial expressions different is the evil dimple. Raina has a dimple directly below her eye and it comes out when she's screaming and crying, hence the "evil" dimple status. Lola doesn't have an evil dimple or dimples at all, really, and that makes her look significantly different.

Lola now makes adorable mid- and post-nursing smiles (she started yesterday) and I flashed back to all the nursing smiles I got from Raina. Good memories.

Samantha, year two

A number of people have responded to us, inquiring who this Samantha person is that is frequently mentioned and photographed in the blog. Samantha is my younger sister, and she has been a Whompton for exactly two years now. (I think her official two-year anniversary of living with us coincided perfectly with Lola's birthday.) She has been in the designated auntie / surrogate parent role for a while now -- we even listed her as "third parent" on our MICDS application -- and she's been somewhat petrified of the changes Lola will bring to our family life. I think the first week has gone well, though, and Sam's coming around to realizing that supervising a sleepy Lola is an easy task!

We have treasured these past two years with Samantha here, and here's hoping for many more happy years to come!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Raina's new hair cut

Raina has lovely, long hair, full of body and curls and shine. Unfortunately, Raina's hair also is a big tangled mess, and she hates having it brushed. Actually, it's impossible to brush it now because of all the tangled mats. Krystal had the same problem when she was Raina's age (and Krystal still has the mental and emotional scars from that time period). At a certain point, Krystal's mom gave up and had all the hair chopped off to eliminate the problem. We shared this story with Raina, who seemed to buy into the idea. So, after much convincing, we decided to go get her hair cut at Great Clips.

She was a little nervous, but fortunately she had a mommy and a mama cow to cuddle with:
We waited a long time for her name to be called. We described the process, decided what type of haircut to get, and then waited some more. Finally it was Raina's turn. She met Sophia (her stylist), sat in a booster on the cutting chair, got a special kid-oriented cape, and got situated for the big event.
This is the before shot of Raina. Again, check out how long and lovely her hair is.
Sophia was concerned about all the tangles; she was certain that no amount of de-tangler was going to make the process work. Krystal assured her that cutting out all the tangles was the goal here, so she urged Sophia to keep cutting until they were all gone. Sophia did a dry cut, which took off about 6-7 inches. Then she sprayed Raina's hair with water and de-tangler and conditioner and got to work.
Raina had chosen a hairstyle somewhat similar to Samantha's: a uniform length around, no layers, no bangs, but maybe a little flip at the ends for fun. (Actually, Raina pointed to a picture on the wall and said "that one." In hindsight, we realized that she just pointed to the picture of a female, instead of the male picture next to it.) So Raina got her hair cut and blow-dried and styled.

All in all, Raina was a real trouper, and her hair looked great in the end. She even got a little certificate proclaiming her very first hair cut. She looks very different -- much more grown up, we think -- and she's received many compliments. She was quite proud of herself, and we were amazed at how bravely she faced the situation even though she was nervous about it. And the postnote: she had no tangles to brush out after her bath tonight, woohoo!

Lola Pictures

About 10 minutes old: She weighs in at . . .

I'm awake and alert

Lola and her mommy



Raina is proud to be a big sister!!!

Lola's name

So where the story of where Lola got her name from is pretty short and sweet. Krystal picked it out of a baby book along with 50 or so other names. Eric got a shot at filtering which probably got us down to 20-25 names. Now at this point they were just candidates, we sort of progressively add more names to the list as we come up with them, the candidate list was at least 15-20 strong at any given time. But it was time to choose, and what better way than to let Raina decide!! Raina was quick to rule out names like Isabella by saying "She can't be my sister, she is already in the 5 year old room" - which in the end was fine, our strategy all along was to pick a name not frequented often. So after outright eliminating some, Raina chose her favorite - Lola.

One other name we seriously thought about for a bit was Kara. But the deck was somewhat stacked against it from the start. First of all, the middle name that Krystal suggested to go with it was Lee (although her prefered spelling was Leigh, but it didn't seem right for some reason). It sounded nice and all . . . well too nice in fact. And then Eric chimed in in song "Nobody doesn't like Kara Lee!!!" (side note: astonishingly enough, both Krystal and Eric lived 25 years in this world convinced that the slogan was "Nobody does it like Sara Lee". And then to our horror, one day we were watching TV and they wrote the slogan up on the screen. We both looked at each other in shock and confusion - and we honestly pondered whether they had changed it at some point) Anyway, the name Kara was immediately scarred with its implicit association with bread. Furthermore, Eric came up with the name whilst playing and obsessing over the board game "Battlestar Gallactica" The inspiration was "Kara is a nice name" not a "Hey lets name our kid after that Kara Thrace character" - but none the less it was further tainted once Eric realized that thats the honest story of where the name came from. Then to make matters worse Kara and Lee being together has some even more disturbing meanings in the Gallactica world as Lee is yet another character who happened to be romantically involved with Kara. AH! So we axed it!

Lola Kai's Arrival Story

Krystal went on maternity leave a little early, hoping to have a few moments to herself and also the chance to sleep before little Lola finally arrived. But Lola took seemingly forever to come. (We were impatient for her, you see.) On Wednesday, 25 February, Saint Louis weather predicted sunny skies and highs in the upper 60s. Krystal celebrated the good weather by walking the Botanical Gardens and Tower Grove Park. She had a premonition that the baby would come that day so she was pleased when contractions started around 11 a.m. They were nice and regular and 10 minutes apart. Walking was a lovely distraction from them, too. Eric received fair warning at about 1 p.m. about the situation, and he hastily tried to tie up loose ends at work. Admittedly, Krystal had made this exact same call exactly a week earlier but no baby resulted from that day. So, who knew?

Krystal came home, watched a movie, talked with Mini, and, most of all, was happy that the contractions were not slowing down or stopping. She picked up Raina, spent time that evening coloring with her and reading books, and mostly hung around the house and verified the "what if this is the real thing?!?" plans with all adults involved. At 9 p.m., everyone attempted to go to sleep, but this was not destined to be. After an hour of contractions 5-7 minutes apart, Krystal and Eric decided to get up and act like this was the real thing. (We were trying to avoid the same mistake from Raina's birth, but we felt reasonably confident this was a go.) At 9:30, we had put together a whole hour of 5 minute separated contractions and, after multiple relatively useless calls to the doctor, we tallied forth to the hospital around 10:45 or so.

Eric flagrantly disobeyed traffic laws, which caused Krystal to panic, but we got there in good time. We impatiently waited through the check-in process, which took forever! (Later, we found out that 25 babies were born that night, so they were rather busy.) But we finally checked in and Krystal was checked out: 7 cm dilated, woohoo! Only 3 more to go before Lola would come, and, I'll be honest, it wasn't very painful to get to 7 cm. We planned on a quick and easy labor and delivery from there.

Boy were we ever wrong! First, the techs needed to install a "just in case" hep-lock into Krystal's vein. The tech stabbed her left hand, jabbed around for a while, and then pulled out. Then she stabbed her right arm, with the same consequences. They called in another nurse who was given orders to get it right this time, by goodness, or Krystal wouldn't have a hep-lock at all. That would mean no possibility for IVs, epidurals, or emergency c-sections. The stupid thing was very important, but no one could get it in! The third time worked on her right hand, thankfully, and Krystal was all set up. (She still has remarkable bruises five days later in all three locations.)

Then we did all the traditional natural labor things: we used the exercise ball, we walked, we squatted, we did pelvic tilts, we toured the hospital. But nothing moved us past 7 cm. Krystal's doctor ordered the amniotic sac broken at 4:30 a.m., hoping that would jump-start the process again. The on-staff doctor had real difficulty with it, eventually jabbing a small hole in it, but it did no good. Finally, at 5:15 a.m., Krystal evaluated the situation. The main problem was that her labor had stopped; she wasn't having contractions at all anymore and nothing seemed to be making them come back. Also, she had been awake for 24 hours, had labored at the hospital for 7 hours at this point, was quite tired, and wasn't confident she'd have the energy to deal with the rest of labor (assuming it ever returned). Finally, she knew that if nothing improved at all, she'd be forced into a lot of medical interventions, which both Krystal and Eric hoped to avoid. The logical next step was to use pitocin to stimulate contractions in the hopes of delivering vaginally, but pitocin causes very painful contractions and wasn't guaranteed to work. Yuck.

In the end, Krystal and Eric chose an epidural and pitocin, and crossed their fingers that, if nothing else, they'd both be able to sleep while Krystal was drugged. It was a very wise decision. They told the nurse to set everything up, an IV was administered, and they waited impatiently for half of the IV fluids to go in so that the epidural could begin. The IV fluids gave Krystal more energy and caused the contractions to return, which was a good thing. Unfortunately, they also caused Krystal suddenly to go weak and dizzy and nauseous -- she actually was sick a few times -- so Krystal and Eric were even more impatient for the IV to complete and the epidural to start.

Both Krystal and Eric sincerely worried about the risks of an epidual -- a definite reason that they didn't use one in Raina's birth -- and both were petrified about it. Stabbing needles into the spine just seemed risky business, and neither person was appeased by how many epidurals actually happen in Saint Louis. Both cried intensely when it was administered and Krystal panicked when her legs started twitching uncontrollably. (Apparently that is a common side-effect that we weren't told about!) Anyway, the epidural stopped almost all physical sensations and they added an anti-nausea drug to the mix, so Krystal started to feel really good. Eric was dead tired. Both tried to sleep; Eric was much more successful at it, but Krystal felt so much better than he did!

And the labor progressed nicely and we waited for time to pass. They broke Krystal's water again (a seemingly strange thing, but there you are). The pitocin slowly increased the frequency and force of the contractions, but Krystal only knew because she watched the monitor. At 9 a.m., Krystal felt some pressure, which meant that Lola was low in the birth canal and possibly ready to be born. Krystal was ready at 10 cm, but unfortunately her doctor was across town so we waited 1.5 hours for him to arrive. The nurses were rather upset about this -- one kept chanting "I'm going to kill him!" -- but it was okay. Dr. Biest finally arrived, and at 10:58 a.m., Lola was born.

Lola was delivered, we were ecstatic, and then we panicked again. She was absolutely purple, the umbilical cord was wrapped tightly around her neck, and no amount of suctioning and slapping was making her cry. They put her on oxygen and eventually -- seemingly forever to us -- she started crying.

Lola seemed so small, but turned out 7 lbs, 4 oz, and 20.5 inches, perfectly respectable stats. Eric photographed and videoed like crazy, the nurses cleaned up Lola, and Krystal waited patiently and watched everything happen. (When you're immobile from mid-back down, you don't participate much!)

Lola is a cuddler and immediately took to Eric and to nursing, which are great things. She actively sucks on everything; she discovered sucking on her thumb at 5 hours and happily throws her hand at her face in the hopes of landing a body part in the mouth.