Friday, October 11, 2013

Mother of Two

Ok, so I've pretty much proved to be one of the least-consistent bloggers ever. I apologize to anyone who followed me on this blog thinking they would be able to keep up with my life. Apparently, I only write consistently when given a deadline!
If you are a friend of mine on other social media, you already know our family of three is now a family of four. Owen Charles Isham was born on March 11, 2013. He is already a 7-month-old bundle of energy who has mastered crawling and is looking to pull up and walk as soon as he can. He also loves food, especially bananas. And he generally has a smile to share with anyone who will smile at him.
In many ways, Owen is a completely different child than Noah. We were lucky that Owen was born at 36 weeks, so he missed all the preemie issues that Noah had. Owen was also blessed to not have club feet like Noah. Personality wise, Owen seems more curious, and he always has to be moving. For that reason, I feel exhausted most of the time. Big brother Noah does the best he can to help entertain Owen, but many times I feel like I've just started a project when Owen becomes fussy and demands my attention. So for my family and friends out there who feel like they are being ignored, I am sorry!
Taking the advice of other moms, I am trying to enjoy every moment I spend with my boys, even the tired ones. I am blessed to be able to stay at home with them, and I know I will blink and they will both be in school.
As for this blog, I hope that soon I will be able to use it more as a tool to bless other moms. I plan to start doing some research on books, other blogs and other resources that I think will help mothers like me with young children at home. I hope I can share something in future blogs that will bless others. Until that time, thank you for hanging in there with me.





Thursday, July 12, 2012

South African adventures

I want to start this post by apologizing to the few people attempting to follow my life via this blog. Apparently, the only way I write consistently is if someone gives me a deadline and a paycheck. :) So, the fact that this is the first post in almost two years is slightly embarrassing, but I thought I should give some kind of update as to how the Isham family has been the past few months.
For all those who follow me on other (and more reliable) social media, you know that we have been living the past three months or so in South Africa. Specifically, we have been living in Johannesburg, where Kris has spent his days working at Massmart, one of Walmart's partners, and Noah and I have been spending our days exploring this very large city.
Like many of you, I had a slightly preconceived notion of what Africa would be like, but I promise that Johannesburg, being a city of several million people, is well removed from the wild animals of the bush and the hut villages of rural African nations. There are shopping centers every few blocks, plenty of traffic, some very nice parks (once you've found them) and tons of restaurants.
We have found this city, and this country, to be very hospitable in many ways. The people are friendly for the most part, quick to offer smiles and hellos, which is familiar to our southern ways. People are especially keen on talking to Noah, who is usually happy to talk back, if only to tell them what floor we will be exiting the elevator. Noah has become obsessed with numbers, so the elevator has become one of his favorite places. He's just a little put out that the building we live in only goes up to 13.
Anyway, our experiences in South Africa have been wonderful, with us able to take two once-in-a-lifetime vacations. We spent several days in the northern part of the country at the Madikwe Game Reserve, which was stunningly beautiful. Kris and I saw lots of animals on our game drives (Noah, being too young to go on the drive, kept the lodge's sitter entertained while we were gone). We saw four of  the "Big Five" animals to watch for while on a drive, including elephants, buffalo, rhino and lion. We did not see any leopards, because they are very elusive creatures. We also saw many other animals including giraffes, wart hogs, "boks" of all kind (deer-like animals), jackals and many different types of birds. We had one very up-close-and-personal encounter with a pride of 11 lions, who decided to sneak up on us while we were out of the truck having our morning coffee. That adrenaline-pumping experience was definitely one we will remember for the rest of our lives.



We also made a trip to the Western Cape of South Africa for a vacation in Cape Town. The city and area is beyond beautiful, with gorgeous beaches, scenic mountains and picturesque wineries and vineyards. It is truly one of the most breathtaking places I have ever been, and I hope we can return some day.
For the most part, Noah has enjoyed the travels. He has done very well on all the flights, and has learned to travel in the car like a pro. We take weekly trips to the zoo for him to say hi to the animals, and he enjoyed visiting the beach for the first time when we were in Cape Town (although he did not swim in it because it was much too cold.) I wish he could have been just a little older for this trip so he might be interested in more of the historical aspects of the country and could have enjoyed the wonderful restaurants where we have been dining (he has been eating a lot of mac 'n cheese, chicken nuggets and grilled cheese). But I think he will have some fond memories from this trip.
For me, I have relished this time to be together as a family and discover this wonderful country. We have met some new friends that we will miss, and have been privileged to see some of God's most awesome creations. There are actually many things I will miss about this place, and I will encourage my family and friends to take any opportunity they may have to come here. For those of you who are Facebook friends, we have posted tons of pictures from our travels on Kris's site, but I have also posted a few of my favorites here. We are looking forward to coming home and seeing family and friends again, but we have been so blessed to have the opportunity to live as South Africans for a little while.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Milestones


As every other parent has done before me, I often find myself saying the phrase, "I can't believe my baby's gotten so big."
Noah surprises me every day by how much he is changing and learning. He is constantly moving now that he has learned to crawl. He investigates everything, and seems to seek out trouble, gravitating toward all the places in the house that mommy hasn't quite baby proofed enough. I can almost see the wheels in his head turning when I tell him "No." He understands me just fine, I know, but often smiles at me and continues on toward his intended target.
The other day we had our first injury. Not a severe one by any means, but enough blood and enough crying to make me cry, too. He caught his finger in a drawer. After the bandaging and the rocking and shushing, he decided to go right back to that drawer and try again to free its contents. I have since found a latch to keep the drawer closed, but that doesn't stop him from trying to open it every time he's in the room.
He is also continually learning, and surprising both Kris and I with his keen observations. Whenever we turn the television off, he points to the black screen and then back at us. He knows we control the television, and it's like he's saying "Fix it."
He has also discovered the joy of chasing the dogs around the house, not a fact that has made Tanis and Thor particularly happy. But we are slowly starting to teach him how to "be soft" and teach them how to either be nice or get out of his way. I have no doubt that they will all be good friends as Noah grows older. The dogs are already starting to show concern from him whenever he cries. In fact, if Noah cries too much, both the dogs start howling at the top of their lungs in complaint. We have caught this phenomenon on tape and plan to post it on YouTube.
With Noah starting to pull up on everything possible, I know it is only a short while before he starts to walk. That thought makes me both excited and a touch sad. This has been one of the fastest years of my entire life. And, of course, one of the best.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Got milk? Then, no thanks.



Of course, as a first time mom, I worry about things that may not concern more experienced parents. It took a while to learn Noah's cries, to know when he was hungry, angry or just plain bored. Even now I sometimes have trouble distinguishing between when he is truly in need or just merely fussy.
However, there was a time, when Noah was younger, that his cry told me something was far from right. Mostly a happy baby (people still comment on his eager smile and ready laugh), he would transform into a first fussy, then wiggling
, then wailing child. This transformation happened almost always around the same time, a few hours before bed, and lasted well into the early hours of the morning. Sometimes the crying would last all night.
When inquiring others about this phenomenon, I would usually get the response, "Sometimes babies just cry." Google and Web
site searches made me think that
Noah might have colic.
But my motherly instincts told me the mood swings were something else. Noah seemed to
be in pain, arching his back and kicking his legs. And he had constant gas.
So, after a few trips to our pediatrician, it was suggested that Noah might have a food allergy. And the most common food allergy for babies is milk. To test the theory that this was indeed the culprit and the cause of all our long nights, I eliminated milk products from my diet. Therefore, the protein found in dairy that some babies have trouble digesting would not pass on to Noah through my breast milk.
Now, eliminating dairy is much harder than it sounds, especially for someone who has never had to follow a special diet before. Yes, I love cheese and ice cream, and I was sad to see those go. But the hardest thing was knowing what I could safely eat. There are so many foods out there that have milk or butter as an ingredient, and others that have milk "byproducts" such as whey. Finding foods I could eat at restaurants was very difficult. Finding something I could eat at a fast food joint was near impossible.
So I educated myself on foods, menus and ingredient lists. And after a few weeks of sacrificing some of my favorite dairy products, as well as foods like bread that simply had milk as an ingredient, I was rewarded by having a much happier baby.
For almost two months, Noah slept well through the night and displayed his usual happy demeanor while awake. Kris and I were delighted.
But then we hit a snag. Noah started exhibiting some allergy symptoms again, including gas, a small cough, a rash, fussiness and, the most alarming, trace amounts of blood in his stool. After the doctor ran several tests, we decided either milk was still managing to slip into my diet or Noah had another, undetermined allergy.
The solution? Switch from breast feeding to an allergy-sensitive formula.
I struggled a little with giving up my plan to breast feed until Noah turned one. But we had made it seven months, giving him the antibodies and healthy start he needed. So Kris and I decided the change needed to happen.
And once again we have a smiling, healthy baby.
We are holding onto the hope that Noah will outgrow his milk allergy, like many babies with allergies do. I hope one day he will enjoy cheese and ice cream like his mommy. But, for now, he is growing and gaining weight and sleeping through the night, at least when he's not teething.
Now I'm just trying to figure out the best way to have a dairy-free cake at his first birthday party. I may try to make the cake myself (poor Noah) or find a vendor to make it for me. But my son will have something sweet that he can smush all over his face.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Starting off on the right foot

When Noah and I are out shopping or going for a walk with his stroller, I'm often asked by others about my son's "interesting" shoes.
Because Noah was six weeks premature, we had a lot of pressing concerns while he was in the hospital. But another issue that had our attention was that Noah was born with clubfeet, a genetic disorder that causes the feet to pull inward and downward. We were immediately assured by doctors that his condition, though somewhat alarming, was not a severe case and that he was a good candidate for the correction process called the "Ponseti Method."
While he was in the NICU, we were shown several stretches to help his feet and legs gain in strength and retain their flexibility. After Noah had been home for a week or so, we took him for his first orthopedic surgeon visit. The doctor wrapped Noah in two casts that extended from his feet up to about the mid-point of his thigh. These casts gradually corrected the direction of his feet, helping them to point upwards and outward.
Noah did not react as the casts were being wrapped up his legs, but once the casts dried and he tried to draw his legs upward into the position that all newborns find comforting, he began screaming and crying. Like any parent, that sound tore at my heart, and I began crying myself.
The first 24 hours with the casts were the toughest. I was able to calm Noah by holding him, but when we laid him down to sleep, he would re-discover that something was weighing down his legs and the crying would begin anew. Gradually he became used to the casts, but they presented some problems we were not prepared for, such as hindering his attempts to have a bowel movement, with him being unable to draw up his legs or push against anything to aid in the movement. Overall, though, Noah responded as well as could be expected to the ordeal. He even cooed and smiled when the doctor had to reapply the casts each week.
Noah was lucky to only have five weeks worth of casting. His doctor was very impressed with the response of his feet to the treatment. We were even more blessed in that Noah did not have to have the heel surgery that clubfoot babies often have to have in order to allow the full flexibility of their achilles tendon.
Now Noah is supposed to wear a brace fitted between two custom shoes that will help keep the proper alignment of his feet until he is crawling and walking. I say "supposed to" because my crafty baby has figured out a way to slip his feet out of the shoes at will. I will spend several minutes getting the shoes on his feet, only to turn my back for a second and find one shoe flopping back and forth. Noah generally greets me with a grin at this moment, as if to say "look what I can do!"
Though not an easy process, Kris and I are very grateful for the medical care and attention that has been given to our son for this condition. We are very hopeful that, in the future, he will be able to participate in any sports or activities that interest him.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Intensive experience



As a first-time parent, I had plenty of nervousness mixed in with the excitement of having my first son.
I worried that I wouldn't know what to do when he cried or that he might receive all my less-than-desirable genetic traits, such as bad eyesight or nasal allergies.
But then Noah arrived six weeks earlier than planned, and my husband and I were confronted with fears we had never imagined.
When Noah first entered the world, he could not breath on his own. However, his tiny lungs soon adapted, and he quickly rid himself of both the incubator and then the oxygen tube.
But as soon as my husband and I began to hope our son's stay in the neonatal intensive care unit would be brief, the doctor came to us with a serious concern about Noah's kidneys, which had not yet shown signs of functioning. It looked like Noah might have to be air lifted to the Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock for emergency treatment. Thankfully, he had his first wet diaper before that happened. I never imagined I'd be so happy that my son had peed!
We were told Noah still had several obstacles to overcome before we could go home, including putting on weight by either learning to breastfeed or feed from a bottle. His weight, which had been a comforting 5 lbs. 11 oz. at his birth, had dropped down to 4 lbs. and 7 oz.
The two and 1/2 weeks we spent waiting to take our baby home were some of the longest weeks of my life. We were lucky enough to have a complimentary room in the hospital so that we could stay close to Noah and be at as many of his feedings as my tired body would allow. The time spent in the hospital served to compound many of the worries I had as a first-time mother. I feared that my son and I would have trouble bonding since our time together was so limited. Breastfeeding was also a challenge because I had to wait until Noah had learned to "suck, swallow and breathe." As the days passed, the minutes I got to spend with my child seemed to grow shorter and the hallways between the NICU and the hospital room seemed to grow smaller.
Despite the difficulties and uncertainties, the first few weeks of parenthood were still filled with many wonderful memories. The first time I saw my son may have been delayed, but it was still the most amazing moment of my life. The tubes and lines that ran from his tiny body did not diminish his preciousness in any way. His first smile was no less sweeter through the glass of his protective box.
We were blessed to have the prayers of many family, friends and co-workers, and our faith in God was strengthened every day. Also, the nurses in the NICU provided valuable advice and helped to build my confidence as a mother.
While the first tumultuous days of my son's life did not happen as I had envisioned, they were still amazing and beautiful and wonderful. And they made me even more grateful for the day we finally strapped Noah into his car seat and took him home.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Amazing little blessing


Well, for those of you who are reading these blogs, you might have noticed a slight (four month or so) time break from my first blog. The reason for my delay in posting further blogs is simple, I am now a mother.
While I thought I had a month or so to get used to blogging before the arrival of my first son, I was mistaken. Noah James Isham arrived at 4:01 a.m. on 9/9/09, six weeks earlier than planned. His entrance into the world caused a little commotion. He spent two and 1/2 weeks in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit getting strong enough to come home, and my husband and I took turns making sure there was someone with him during that entire time.
By the grace of God, Noah has been growing and getting stronger every day.
Since he has been home, my husband and I have transitioned into the adventure of parenthood. For all my friends and family members out there who are already parents, I will tell you I never underestimated how much the job demanded, but I now know that it is an experience that only another parent can truly understand. And I'm just four months in.
Like all parents, I could wax poetically about the many wonderful qualities my son possesses. And I'm sure that I will mention many of these characteristics in future blogs. But, for now, I will say that he has brought us more joy than I could have ever imagined. He is starting to develop his personality, and if his grins and laughs are any indication, I believe he will be a happy child, perhaps even a charmer. I pray every day that Kris and I can guide him toward being a caring man who loves the Lord.
The support Noah, Kris and I received while in the hospital was amazing. Friends and family and work colleagues showered us with prayers, good wishes, gifts and friendly shoulders. We were overwhelmed by all of the love we felt, and we could never thank everyone enough.
So, in the blink of an eye, my occupation has become stay-at-home mom. While I plan to continue with my photography and writing projects, it is obvious to me that "mommy" is and will be my number one job. I hope you chose to follow me on this adventure. It's going to be fun.