Sunday, December 30, 2007

The High Chair Scare

Our top 3 scares (in no particular order): the time she rolled off the couch, the time she had an allergic reaction and we had to rush to the ER, and the time she started choking on food and was stuck in her high chair. Turns out the Fisher Price Healthy Care high chair isn't so healthy when you can't get your kid out because they're strapped in so securely they'd be safe in a race car.

We're currently at my Mother-in-Law's for the holidays (Happy Holidays, by the way). The other night we were sitting at the table enjoying our dinner when the babe started choking. It quickly amplified into an emergency situation as she continued to choke and started turning red. My husband, Mother-in-Law and I all jumped out of our seats to try and get the babe out of the high chair. I threw the tray to the side as we attempted to unbuckle the many straps. I thought the straps over the shoulder as well as the waist was a great idea until I had to try and get her out of there in a hurry. It was next to impossible to do quickly enough. I did not keep my cool. I panicked.

With all the commotion and jostling, the babe managed to clear her throat and started crying before we even managed to get her out. I started crying once I had her in my arms. Then my Mother-in-Law started crying after having remained calm through the scare. My husband and I were stunned by the fear that had overtaken us so quickly.

I'm not happy with the high chair and would recommend against buying it. We've undone the shoulder straps and are now only using the waist belt. I've started to cut her food pieces even smaller and put less on her tray at a time. The babe stuffs so much in her mouth at once that I suppose this was bound to happen sooner or later. I'm just glad I wasn't alone for this episode and that it didn't get any worse than it did. Babies and toddlers do choke on things and it's best if they're in a chair that you can get them out of fast.

As much as I never want to experience that feeling of helplessness again, I know that part of being a Mother is accepting that you will always worry and you won't always be able to control everything. That can be a hard pill to swallow.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Breastfeeding: The Last Chapter

I thought I had written my last post about breastfeeding. I was wrong.

On December 5th, I had the "last time" experience. I wasn't really ready for it and didn't know what was in store for me. Simply put, I became a nut job.

It was a few days before her first birthday when I stopped breastfeeding all together. I had been down to feeding the babe every 24 hours when she indicated she was ready to end this phase of our lives together. It took me by surprise. After a year of almost exclusive breastfeeding, I didn't think it was going to be this easy.

Within approximately 30 hours I became extremely sore and was having serious trouble sleeping at night. The worst part was that I started feeling like I was on an emotional roller coaster. I was crying numerous times a day and felt really desperate. It was almost comparable to the "post partum blues" so many of us experience (feeling a lack of control coupled with the desire to burst into tears over the smallest of things). Not pretty.

After 3 days of this, I knew I had to do something about the situation. It was the babe's first birthday party and I wouldn't be able to make it through the way I was feeling. I could barely carry her because it hurt so badly when she banged into my chest. I had packed away my pump weeks ago thinking I was done with it. But after my shower, I unpacked my Medela and pumped for 5 minutes. It was ecstasy. I got 6 ounces and felt like a million bucks.

I was happy the babe would have one more solid bottle of breast milk before we called it quits. I'll admit I was very offended when she wouldn't drink it. I couldn't believe it was her last time having breast milk and she didn't want it. It took 3 tries for her to take 2 ounces. She was overdue for a bottle, so I broke down and gave her a bottle of formula. She sucked the whole thing back happily. That's when I really knew there was no turning back.

I told my husband that weaning is kind of like kicking a drug habit. You just want one more fix to feel better, then you can quit. After my last pumping session, I thought I would need to pump every few days until the milk dried up. It's now been 12 days and I haven't had to whip out the pump again. I can officially say my breasts are empty (and much smaller) now. It's a very weird feeling.

All in all, weaning has been a crazy experience which has involved a lot of emotion and sleepless nights. I don't think the hormonal changes have finished their course as I'll admit I'm still feeling a bit wacky. It's been almost 2 years since my body was "normal" and I guess it's understandable that it will take a few weeks for it to sort itself out.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The First Birthday Party

It was a rather small affair. We had 8 people (including my husband, my sister and I) and 3 kids (including the very well-behaved birthday girl). We were originally expecting 11, but you know how it is. After a rather lame birthday, the birthday party was awesome. I was so very pleased with the company, the snacks, the cake, the balloons, and that the drink of choice was Guinness.

There is a culture of birthday party craziness in this country that I don't want to get involved in. I know the pressure to have an amazing party will increase each year and by the time the babe is in school, we'll have to be inviting the whole class over. That's why I relished this small gathering because it was so low key and relatively stress-free (my husband and sister even did the food shopping while the babe and I took a nap).

And the party didn't end when the guests left. After a nice little walk around the neighborhood, we had a smashing take out dinner (our favourite, Sushi Taro) and a bottle of champagne I'd been saving for a "special occasion" since our wedding. We topped it off with more cake and some apple cider and rum drinks. I went to bed with that warm happy feeling you get after a really, really nice day (and champagne and rum). Now that was some kind of great birthday!

The First Birthday

I was dirty the day she came into the world, so I suppose it's appropriate I was dirty on her first birthday. We had a hot water problem last week (we had none), which added some challenges to our life (like showering).

Last Friday, December 7th, the babe turned one. It was a gray and rainy day and we spent the morning playing with a new farm/barn toy (from Grandma) and waiting for the plumbers. They arrived at 10:45 am. I expected they'd be gone by noon. I was so wrong. They left at 2:30 pm. Yikes. At least we got a new hot water tank (although we ran into more hot water problems on Sunday afternoon).

We were desperately in need of nap time, so we hit the sack as soon as they left. When we woke up at 4:30 pm, I realized I wasn't going to be getting any of the prep done for the party we had planned for Saturday. It was still dark and yucky. My loving husband came home from work early and I eventually left the house at 6:00 pm to pick up the cake at the lovely and slightly overpriced Cake Love. The highlight of the day was my sister arriving from Canada at 11:15 pm (and the free cupcake from the bakery).

If this doesn't sound like the most exciting day to you, you'd be right. I realize now that I am going to have the same high expectations that I have for my birthdays for my daughter's birthdays as well. After all, I did give birth on December 7th just as much as she was born on December 7th. I'm not depressed about it (her rainy, plumber-filled birthday, that is) as we made up for everything on Saturday (to learn more, read the next post, which I hope I have time to do).

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Falling Short of My Goal

I am in shock. I have just fallen short of my one year goal. I had been down to breastfeeding the babe once a day. Not to sound crazy, but I was planning on feeding her for the last time on her birthday this Friday.

I went to feed her early this morning, thinking it was the third last time ever. She immediately proceeded to take a chomp down. She has 5 teeth. I let out a not so happy yell. I gave it a minute after telling her off (it really hurt). I then offered her the other side. She took a few sucks and then started talking. That's it. I guess we're done.

How could I have come so close to my goal only to miss out by 2 days?

I told my husband and he took a picture of the 2 of us gals in bed in our pajamas. I guess it was less dramatic this way. I was pretty sure I was going to be a sloppy crying mess if I had done the last breastfeeding on her birthday. Maybe she was trying to make it easier on me? Whatever happened, I know I did my best and we're both stronger for it.

For anyone who's looking for weaning advice, I highly recommend the one month approach. It was much easier to slowly cut out feedings than to just stop all together. Considering she took her first unassisted steps a week ago, I suppose it was time. Now we can work on mastering drinking from a cup.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

It Never Ends

I think we will be baby proofing every day for the next 5 or so years. We are trying to stay one step ahead of the babe but are really just playing catch up.

We recently discovered that she can climb up the stairs. As much as we're happy she's learnt a new skill, it's a rather dangerous one. To address this new found obsession (she's constantly crawling to the base of the stairs), my lovely husband spent the past weekend trying to install a hardware mounted baby gate at the bottom of our stairs. It sounds easy, right?

"They" recommend you give yourself a good hour to install a gate. "They" are SO wrong. We have metal banisters and molding to deal with. Not an easy task. I thought the fact that my hubby has a graduate degree in engineering would help. But as he reminded me, they don't teach you how to install baby gates in school. Perhaps there should be a baby proofing school. I know you can hire "experts" to come and assess your home, but come on.

After a few trips to our local hardware store, the purchase of a drill (the fact we didn't own one should tell you something), and much thought and effort (he dreamt about it), my husband managed to securely install the gate. There were many steps involved including the drilling of a very large hold in the dry wall. It was scary stuff...especially as we're renters.

We wonder when the baby proofing will end. Every day, I find something else to worry about and every weekend, there are more projects for us to take on.

The bike in the dining room is gone (taken apart and put in a closet), the larger random items lying around (car seats, swings, etc.) have been shoved into nooks and crannies, the coffee table has foam all around it, the electric sockets are plugged, 2 gates are installed, kitchen cupboards have locks on them, smaller loose items have been collected and put into boxes (just purchased yesterday at Ikea), loose wires are pretty much hidden (although not completely). This doesn't sound like much, but compared to what our place used to look like (a crowded disaster), we've come a long way.

She is almost walking now and I'm sure I will continue to chase her around and say "no" a million times a day. But for now, I am proud of the work we've done.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

7 Little Known Facts

I have been tagged by my blogging buddy, Kimberly Palmer (of Creating Ms. Perfect fame), to share 7 little known facts about myself. Hmmmm. I guess I can write about some non-mommy related things here! These are in no particular order.

1) I once hit my childhood friend in the head with a baseball bat. It was an accident which occurred while playing t-ball on the front lawn. We had a baby sitter that day which didn't make it any prettier. I still remember the size of the egg that developed on her forehead. Thankfully there was no permanent damage.

2) I would like to be a TV documentary maker. I'm not sure if I'll ever make this happen, but it is on the list of possibilities for when I return to the working world. I wish I had started on this dream a little earlier. It's not too late, right?

3) I once was a telemarketer who targeted pharamcists across the United States. I was a qualifier (pre-sales) for "art investment opportunities." The main artist we promoted was Peter Max.

4) I slept with a stuffed Mickey Mouse every night until I brought my daughter home from the hospital last year. I bought Mickey at Disneyland in LA. My family was in the process of moving to Canberra, Australia. I was 14. Mickey currently lives in my closet with the extra blankets. I miss him.

5) I had my nose pierced when I was 16. My parents weren't so happy about it. I removed the nose ring because of a summer job as a teller at a bank (I was a horrible bank teller). A few months later, I tried to put a nose ring in to the closed hole. I tore my nose and have the scar to prove it. I never said I was a smart teenager.

6) When my daughter was first born, I was so frazzled I had piles of dirty diapers and wipes on the dining room floor (I don't know why I didn't just use a garbage can) and I kept a night light on in the bedroom so I could see her at ALL times.

7) I love the Beastie Boys. Loud.

I don't really know any other active bloggers, so I can't tag anyone. But if you'd like to share anything, feel free to make a comment!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Times They Are a-Changin'

Warning: This entry discusses breastfeeding, so if you don't want to hear about it, I'd stop reading now.
Today, for the first time in over a year, I wore a normal bra. As I am not breastfeeding during the day anymore, I realized I am no longer tied to my functional, yet not so exciting nursing bras.

I can't tell you how much I have been looking forward to meeting my one year breastfeeding goal. I didn't think the day would ever come. Breastfeeding has sometimes felt like the most challenging task I have ever taken on (other than motherhood, of course). No one ever tells you what a big commitment it is. No one explains how it will become a part of you, and a part of your relationship with your baby. Well guess what, time's up. In 7 days, I will have met my goal. My daughter will be 1 and I will be done with this part of our lives together (not to be overly dramatic or anything).

I didn't think I'd be one of those Moms who is sad about stopping breastfeeding. I have gone through periods where I never thought I'd make it to December 2007. But time flies and here we are. A few weeks ago I started slowly weaning the babe as I didn't want to try and do it overnight. The fact that she started drinking formula really helped. 11 months of breastfeeding with no supplementing was pretty hard core. As soon as I started giving her bottles of formula, I started to feel a bit more free. She hasn't even seemed to mind the transition (which surprises me).

I have to admit that I started crying while doing the dishes last night. My husband was putting the babe to bed with a bottle, and as I listened to the monitor, I realized that things are changing and she'll never need me in the same way again (I have been breastfeeding her at night and putting her to bed since she was born).

We're down to about 2 to 3 feedings in a 24 hour period (all centered around night time) and I am about to drop to 1 or 2. By this time next week it will be only 1. And then it will be none. There will have to be a last time, and I have to be strong. It is time for us to move forward, as hard as it is going to be. Onto the next phase we go.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giving Thanks

It's that time of year again. American Thanksgiving (as a Canadian, I always have to say "American Thanksgiving" as we celebrate in October). Time to gorge ourselves silly on turkey and trimmings and to be thankful for all we have.

Last year, in addition to the above mentioned Thanksgiving traditions, it was also time to leave my job and have a baby. The babe was due right after Thanksgiving so I worked up until the Holiday. I was all ready to go into labour at any moment (although I was induced almost 2 weeks later, but that's another story).

As I packed up my office and said my good byes, I felt like I was going on a "break" from work, but I didn't realize it would be a "I'm never coming back" kind of break. A year later, I can't believe I've already been in the unpaid work force for 12 months. I still miss the adult companionship, the sense of daily accomplishment, the travel and the pay check. But I know these things will still be around whenever I decide it's time to dive back in (I hope).

This year I am truly thankful for my beautiful family, the fact that I've been able to share the babe's first year of life with her, and that I've discovered parts of myself I never knew existed.

To all who have supported us, I am thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Some Thoughts on Diaper Sizing

I have finally accepted that diaper sizing is inaccurate. The babe, who weighs in at whopping 18 pounds, is now in size 4 Huggies (22 to 37 pounds). She technically should just be in size 3 (16 to 28 pounds). They are wrong over there at Huggies. I don't know why it has been so hard for me to accept this. Don't they know what they're talking about? Aren't they the diaper "experts"?

I must say first off that I really admire folks who use cloth diapers. We, however, are not those folks. From the get go, I knew we'd be disposable people. It's just too much. I don't know how many diapers I change a day, but I do know I couldn't handle the extra work load cloth would add to my life. But if you're doing it, you rock.

Back to sizing. I held out on buying overnight diapers as I could only find ones starting at size 4. Last week I gave in and bought a pack of 30. I must say I am quite pleased. They are huge and they sure can fit a lot of pee. I still change her once a night as she is still waking up once a night. But one day, she will start sleeping through the night (right??), and I'll be ready because she'll be in overnight diapers that are the wrong size.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Baby Proof This

I really need to go on a baby proofing spree. In the past week, I've realized the bike in our dining room really needs to go. I came to this conclusion after the babe crawled up to the neglected bike and grabbed at the spokes on the front wheel. I thought the bike was annoying, but not dangerous. If anything, I had convinced myself it was urban hip to have an unused bike in the dining room. Times have changed and we will never be hip again.

The babe is crawling all over the house and is getting into absolutely everything. I can see that we have entered a new life phase and this phase is a potentially dangerous one.

I've also realized that the many ant traps we have lying around the house (aren't they supposed to be dead in November?) are a serious hazard. I was grabbing some stuff out of the closet getting ready to head out the door and I turned around and found the babe waving an ant trap around. Thank God she had a pacifier in her mouth and she hadn't had a chance to get it near her face. Bad bad bad.

All those cords and wires everywhere? I have to find a solution to that problem as well.

Some houses seem easier to baby proof than others. I don't know if we just have too much stuff, or this row house is more of a grown up house. One thing if for sure though, I'm going to have to work on this.

All baby proofing tips are more than welcome!

A Whole New World of Fluids

It's been one whole week today! The babe took soy formula for the first time a week ago and she's been guzzling it back ever since! I am starting to slowly wean her and the fact that she's drinking bottles of formula during the day is making the whole process a lot easier. In fact, I don't know what I would have done if she was still refusing it.

After 11 months of breastfeeding on demand, I am really feeling the freedom formula provides. They say you should only use formula for the first 12 months of life. That will mean she has only a month of formula use. I must say I'm pleased as punch with the whole situation.

When she hits her 1 year birthday in 3 weeks time, I am supposed to be able to switch to whole milk. She was diagnosed with a milk allergy back in May and I am hoping she has outgrown it. We are headed back to the allergist on November 30th. Results from the blood test should come in on her birthday. A large percentage of kids outgrow their dairy allergies in the first year, and I an hoping she's in that group.

In the meantime, I've had to look into how much liquid she needs. I was shocked to learn that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following in Caring for Your Young Baby and Child:

Breakfast: 4-6 oz of formula or breast milk
Snack: 4-6 oz of juice
Lunch: 4-6 oz of formula or breast milk
Dinner: 4-6 oz of formula or breast milk
Bed time: 6-8 oz of formula of breast milk

I don't know, but that seems like an awful lot of liquid. I'm doing my best to push the water and formula intake, but I'm not going down the juice path right now.

Today we're going to try the powdered soy formula instead of the more expensive liquid version which I have been giving her this past week. Hope she likes it just as much!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I'll Pass on the Chick Peas, Thanks

The list of things I should stay away from never seems to end. Or maybe it's that I keep making the same mistakes and just never learn my lesson.

I was at a friend's place for lunch yesterday. She has a son who is a few months younger than the babe, but she still managed to pull together a beautiful home made lunch for us. After wolfing down the awesome salad, I started on the soup, which featured chick peas. About a third of the way through the soup, I remembered that the babe isn't such a fan of chick peas. Whoops. I haven't had them in a long time and I started to feel gassy myself. I explained that I couldn't continue with the tasty soup because of the risk of stomach issues (it's nice to hang out with other breastfeeding Moms as they completely understand). I didn't breastfeed the babe for 8 hours after and actually got her to take soy formula for the first time ever! I figured that would cover me and she'd be OK.

Not quite. At 2:45 am we woke to a crying, fussy baby. She was miserable and we couldn't figure out why. After a few farts escaped, I realized that the 8 hour break from breastfeeding hadn't been enough. I kept patting her back and we gave her some Mylicon. By 4:00 am she fell back asleep, but not after a lot more crying and farting. Poor kid.

Once again, I'm reminded why stopping breastfeeding next month will be good for her and for me. I'll finally be able to eat and drink what I want and not worry about how it affects her. She'll be able to live happily without my mistakes.

Meeting my one year goal will be a cause for celebration. Not to brag, but 2003 statistics state that only 17.2 percent of women are still breastfeeding at the 12 month mark in the United States. I never thought I'd make it this far last December! As sad as weaning the babe seems at times, I know it will be the best thing for both of us. All good things must come to an end.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

On Strike

The babe has been on a bit of a food strike this week. I was pretty taken aback by it all as she had become a consistent eater of 3 meals a day plus numerous Cheerio snacks. After a day of striking, I began to wonder what was up. After 3 days of striking, I called the doctor.

I explained that the babe was taking a few bites at the beginning of each meal before she'd start waving her hands around and hitting the spoon. You know what happens when spoons with liquid food are hit. I must admit I wasn't that good at keeping my cool. She could tell I was annoyed. She also seemed to take pleasure in turning her head from me when the spoon got too near. Why would she be making this all so difficult? Does she not get that eating is in her best interest?

Another result of this whole not eating thing is that the babe has been getting up every 3 hours at night to eat. After getting used to some pretty good sleeping patterns, I was unhappy to go back to the every 3 hour schedule. I am about to start weaning her, and ramping up the night feedings isn't exactly the direction I want to be heading.

The doctor, bless her soul, made me feel better. Apparently the babe is "exerting her independence." She is playing games and manipulating me in an effort to secure my constant attention (whether it's positive or negative doesn't matter). It's apparently time for me to start playing games as well.

The doctor recommended:
  • The babe eat with the family (which already usually happens).
  • Make things "fun" (whatever that means).
  • I should give her a spoon and bowl and help her feed herself (yikes). I tried this morning and the spoon and bowl ended up on the floor and the banana ended up smashed on the behind of her pants (I don't know how that happened).
  • I should buy her a real plastic cup and teach her to drink from it (apparently no bottles after one year. I was just getting used to the sippy cup!).
  • I should not get upset when she refuses to take a bite (remember to breathe).
  • I should generally act like I don't care whether she eats or not. If I don't react, she doesn't get the attention she's seeking.
  • I should accept that things are going to get messy (I'm buying better bibs and one of those plastic floor mats, pronto).
  • I should enjoy my food while I eat and hope she sees how much fun I'm having.

We had a breakthrough last night. I'm not sure if the babe was just super hungry after 4 days of striking, or if she really liked the (small) grown up metal spoon I fed her with (you get more food on real spoons which is critical if the kid is only having a few bites), because she downed a bottle of carrots and a bottle of applesauce plus some Cheerios and proceeded to get up only once in her 10 hour slumber last night. It was delicious! Today she ate a bit more, and did really well at dinner. I have my fingers crossed for another good night. Maybe the strike will end before I even have a chance to implement the above-mentioned changes?

Regardless, it all makes me realize we will no longer have a "baby" in the house after December 7th. Welcome to the new world of the independent toddler. Yikes.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween is Back!

Last night we went to a Halloween block party. It felt like we were on a movie set it was all so idyllic. This was the babe's first Halloween and it was something special. We had her dressed in a little cow costume and she really was the cutest thing ever (if I do say so myself).

My husband came home from work early and we headed over to Swann Street to meet up with some friends. This Halloween party has been held for 34 consecutive years and we had never been, despite the fact we've lived in the neighborhood for over 2 years. There were lots of super adorable kids in excellent costumes accompanied by many smiling parents. Along with your typical block party food, there was even Halloween inspired chocolate cake. It was a warm evening, in many ways.

This was my first Halloween as a Mom and it got me so excited about the future. I've always loved Halloween (I would be the only one in a costume at my old office), but it has a whole new meaning now. I am really looking forward to many years of costumes and candy and fun. Having a baby can make you feel old sometimes, but in many ways it can also make you young again. Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Going Home and Going Offline

The babe and I have just returned from a trip home to Canada. It was a wonderful visit that went by very quickly (it also felt like we were gone for a million years). I have made a few observations on the trip since my return (in no particular order):

-It would appear as though I don't need the computer when I am surrounded by people and away from my regular routine. I barely checked email, didn't do any blogging, and rarely checked in with Facebook. I had people around every day and it was a nice change from the relatively solitary life the babe and I lead in Washington, D.C.

-It's amazing that it can take 6 adults to take care of a baby (last Sunday morning at my parents place), but when I'm at home alone, it takes only me (yesterday and today).

-There is just no way to see all the people you want to see, so there's no point in trying. I feel guilty about the folks I didn't have time to contact, but realize that when working with a baby's schedule, you really don't have a lot of flexibility.

-Flying alone with a baby is just not fun. Especially when you're surrounded by men who don't have much sympathy for a woman travelling with a squirming, scratching, crying baby.

-Diaper cream at night really does make a difference. As we were out of our routine, I stopped putting the cream on at night when I was getting the babe ready for bed (mostly because it was dark in the room and I couldn't see). Within a few days, she got diaper rash like I'd never seen before. I suppose my preventative cream use had been doing something after all.

-Webcams are awesome. We always talk to the babe's grandparents on the webcam from Washington. When we go to Canada, the babe seems to know who they are and warms to them almost automatically. Seeing the babe with her grandparents is truly a beautiful thing.

-No matter how hard I try, I will eventually revert to a less mature version of myself when I return to my parent's home. No offence to my husband, but I find that both of us have flare-ups of our former, younger selves, despite the fact that we're in our 30s, are married, and have a child. Maybe going home just reminds us of who we used to be, or maybe being with our parents makes us feel younger than we really are. I'm not sure why it happens, all I know is that it never appears to last because we return to our lives and turn back into the people we were before we left.

-I enjoy the space at my parents place immensely (both inside and outside). Their property backs on national parkland, or the "back 40" as my Dad always says. My father, the babe and I went on a marvelous walk last Friday and it was perfect. Just look at the picture. Who knows why I didn't appreciate it as a teenager. I'd love to have something similar for the babe one day. The "back 40" is pretty different from the alley way we currently have behind our home.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Those Perfect Days

Autumn is my favorite season. The weather has finally shifted in Washington, DC, which is a major relief. For the past 3 work days (the days my husband is at work, that is), I have gone on a 3 mile walk with the babe and it has been a beautiful thing. We have headed in the Georgetown direction every time as it is so scrumptious when the leaves are changing and people have their Halloween decorations out.

It is the babe's first Autumn and I am so glad I am home to spend it with her. After being trapped in air conditioning for the whole summer, it is such a relief to get outside and be free from the oppressive heat. It's also such a pleasure to not be stuck in an office for my favorite season.

My long walks are providing me a chance to clear my head, get some exercise and fresh air. Although today my walk provided me with some ice cream from Thomas Sweet and new eyebrows at Aveda (please note that it was the first time in over a year I have gotten my eyebrows done!).

I know these perfect days won't last forever, but for now I'm counting my many blessings.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Grade 2 Test Scores

Last night, after putting the babe to sleep, I got stuck on the couch in front of the computer. I don't know how it happened as I was planning on taking my shower and going to sleep (which would have been a smart move as the babe ended up crying for an hour and a half in the middle of the night, again). But the Internet can be a seductive thing. So, my husband and I spent a nice chunk of time surfing around looking up facts and stats about Montgomery County (Maryland).

As I've mentioned, my new hobby is real estate. We have gone out with my Realtor friends twice now and have seen about 8 places. The babe has been pretty delightful as she's hauled in and out of her car seat to check these houses out. I've decided I like the Silver Spring area (in Montgomery County and on the metro line) as an option. I was getting rather depressed seeing what money will buy you in DC proper. Even though the housing market is on a downward trend in the US, Washington is still up there in terms of prices. Despite the fact that sellers are getting desperate and prices are going down, I still don't know how anyone affords to buy in safe and reasonably close in neighborhoods.

Last night, for the first time, we became the people who look up second grade test scores of Montgomery County Public Schools elementary school students. We have to make sure that wherever we buy, the schools are going to be a place we feel comfortable sending the babe. District lines are an important thing to consider if you don't want to end up sending your kid to private school. We are not private school kinda people, and that's why we need to pay more to be in a district with good public schools. That just makes decision making a whole lot more difficult.

She's only 10 months old now, but one day she is going to go off to prekindergarten. One day she's going to be in elementary school. And one day she'll be in high school (you get where I'm going here). As much as we see her as a baby now (because she still is technically a baby for another 2 months), things are going to change and we need to be ready. I suppose buying a home in a safe neighborhood with good schools is part of being ready. But after seeing what I've seen on the market, winning the lottery would certainly help us in the "being ready" department.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Mange, Mange

My local Safeway grocery store has a sad, sad, sad collection of baby food. I dropped by today to pick up some more apple sauce, as I can not seem to keep this particular food item stocked. The organic apple sauce was 10 for $6.00. There were 9 containers left and I took them all. I have come to realize that shopping for baby food at what we refer to as the "Soviet Safeway" is not a viable option on most days. It just takes one mommy (me) to wipe out their entire collection of apple sauce. I guess that says something about our neighborhood.

On another note, we have come to LOVE Cheerios. After our standard 7 days of introduction (food allergies), the babe is in love with them and so am I. I dump a bunch on her high chair's tray and she keeps herself easily amused by stuffing them in her mouth, pushing them around and dropping the ones that don't make it into her mouth onto the floor. Good times.

We do not, however, love chicken. The babe turned 10 months old yesterday so I thought it was time to try a little meat. Bad idea. She ate the liquid chicken and sweet potato concoction happily. A few hours later she had a serious vomiting session (in the playzone) that took us by surprise. We'll put meat on hold for a while longer and stick with the yummy tofu mixed in with veggies option (and apple sauce, of course).

Saturday, October 6, 2007

I'll Pass on the Edamame, Thanks

No more edamame for me. After almost 10 months of breastfeeding, you'd think I'd have worked that out. Not quite.

The week started off strong with some spectacular sleeping. The babe pulled one six hour stint in her crib, and then upped it to 8 hours straight the next night. But all good things must come to an end. After 2 great nights, we had a bad one with the babe up crying for a solid hour. What was it, we wondered? Teething?

The next night she was up for 2 hours farting and crying (a sad combination). After about an hour of this wacky behavior, the babe and I moved to the spare room to try and calm down and get some rest. I was racking my brain trying to figure out what I'd done differently. After much blurry thought (it was, after all, 1:00am), I realized I had consumed edamame on both days. Here I was trying to be healthy, but really just causing the babe serious gastrointestinal grief.

Sometimes I wonder if it really is healthier for me to be breastfeeding her with all the pain I cause her when I choose the wrong food or beverage. My goal is to reach the one year recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and I know we'll get there. It just can be difficult to isolate that one thing that was the wrong thing. It's trial and error I suppose, and these things take time (like at least 10 months, apparently).

Last night she slept for 7 hours straight in her crib (I even splurged on a delicious Kennebunkport pumpkin ale after putting her to sleep). Good to know we are back on the upswing. If you'll recall, we've only recently begun to master this sleep thing, and I'd really hate to mess it up.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The New Kind of Mommy

For any of you interested in the issues surrounding the working versus staying at home dilemma, you should definitely check out my friend's cover story, The New Mommy Track, in US News & World Report at:

Kim has done an amazing job at capturing what's going on out there.

Pennies, Beds and Paper

No one is perfect and there is no all inclusive course on how to be the perfect parent. Sometimes we have to make mistakes to learn. I have recently made a few of them.

In the past two weeks, I've found a penny in my daughter's hand, caught her just as she was about to fall head first off our king size bed (which used to seem so big), and pulled out a wad of paper she had managed to shove into her mouth as I held her. I am not going to beat myself up over these things because as I just mentioned above, I am not perfect.

When life is good, we tend to take things for granted as we happily cruise along. But one minute can change everything. One minute (or less) is long enough for you to stop paying attention and end up in the Emergency Room. Most of my new mommy friends have already had a visit there (including me), and it's not a place you really want to go.

The babe usually hangs out in her pack n play in our bedroom while I putter around. Sometime my clothes will end up thrown over the side of the pack n play because I am too tired or lazy to put them away. A skirt I had recently worn was carelessly thrown over the side the other day. I went to pick the babe up to change her diaper and found a penny in her hand. That's very bad, right? A serious choking hazard. The change in my pocket must have spilled out into the play pen and ended up in her hands. I sifted through the toys and found a lot more change, including quarters (larger than pennies!). I've read the chapter on what to do when your baby is choking in the American Academy of Pediatrics book, but am not sure I would have remembered if she had been choking and turning blue. No more change in pockets.

Another common accident is falling off the bed. I was grabbing something from the closet (very close to the bed) last week. I had left the babe in the middle of the bed as I quickly turned around to grab whatever it was that I needed (I don't even remember). When I headed back towards the bed a second later, she had managed to crawl (super rapidly) to the edge of the bed and was about to go over head first. I caught her just in time. I don't think my heart has ever beat that fast. I was pretty upset about it all day. It was careless of me to put her on the bed when I could have just as easily plopped her in the pack n play (without change). This will not happen again.

And my last story is about paper. The babe LOVES to play with paper. As I was having a little picnic with a friend last Monday, the babe was rifling through the front pocket of my purse. She found a piece of paper which I didn't think would be a problem as I was holding her while she sat on top of the picnic table. People (like me) can get pretty distracted as they tell stories, and I got distracted. Next thing I know, the babe is choking. I quickly opened her mouth and fished out some paper. Not good. What is even more embarrassing is the fact that my husband had just given her an envelope to play with a few days earlier and she had stuck it in her mouth and yep, you guessed it, choked. I have now learnt my lesson twice on this one. Paper is bad. As fun as it may seem, it is bad.

Every parent has their stories, and every parent beats themselves up over them. We aren't perfect and we can't always protect our little ones from harm. But we can certainly do our best to minimize potential accidents, and that includes avoiding some of the situations I've mentioned above. Happy parenting!

Friday, September 28, 2007

My New Hobby

In a state of slight panic, I spent Tuesday afternoon cleaning and organizing the house because I had guests coming over on Wednesday. Not just any guests, but Realtor guests. My husband and I are starting to think about the possibility of buying something in the DC area. While our intention is not to necessarily make this city our permanent home, we are finding that our sweet row house is quickly filling up with baby-related items. Housing prices seem to be cooperating these days, so it is at least worth knowing what our options are. It was time I had a new hobby anyway.

It's not as if I was trying to impress my new Realtor friends to sell our current home. We are renters. It's just that they were the first non-family, non-friend, non-baby related people coming over in a million years (if ever). In addition to my clean things up project, I actually thought about what I was going to wear (black Banana Republic capris and brown Liz Claiborne splitneck t-shirt), I put on my standard eyeliner, and made sure my hair was brushed and teeth were clean (the tuna sandwich I had for lunch may not have not been the best decsion). I had some classical music playing in the background, and believe it or not, was nervous as I waited for them to arrive. I am such a dork.

We covered a nice amount of ground during our 40 minute meeting (including a tour of our house in which they indicated we have a very nice amount of space for our neighborhood). At one point, they asked me what I used to do. I'll admit I was a bit taken aback. I haven't been asked that question in a very long time. They seemed quite interested in how I became a stay at home mommy and were wondering what my plans were. It was nice to be seen as someone who was actually recently part of the paid workforce. It was even nicer to talk about things like housing prices, mortgage lenders, and interest rates. I realized after they left how rarely I get the chance to talk about things that don't involve babies. I didn't know what I was talking about, but I enjoyed it immensely.

Luckily we're not under any pressure to buy right now. We are satisfied with our current situation but see some room for improvement. Even if this new hobby doesn't go anywhere, eventually we will have to make the very overwhelming and grown-up decision to go from renters to owners. Because eventually we will get sick of having two car seats (long story that involves a car accident), a snap and go, a jumperoo, and a swing in our dining room.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Saying Goodbye

I always cry like a baby when she leaves. This past Friday my mom boarded the shuttle bus to Dulles airport after a 5 day visit. One minute she was playing with her only grandchild and the next minute she was gone. It always happens that way. The time she spends with us goes by so quickly and all of a sudden the babe and I are alone again. I must admit I felt extremely lonely as I waited for my husband to come home from work that night.

It's tough when you don't live in the same city as your loved ones. It never used to be a real issue for me, but now that I have a baby, I am really missing having family (especially my mom) close by. I'm glad they are willing to make the trek to DC and I'm grateful the babe and I have survived a few successful trips up North ourselves. It's just not the same as being able to drop by for Sunday brunch or to have a trusted babysitter available when you need one.

I've now realized the babe may one day feel the way I did as I watched the shuttle bus drive away. The mother-daughter bond is pretty intense. Much has been written about it, and for good reason. It is a complex yet simple love thick with layers of strong emotion.

My husband will frequently comment on how much the babe loves me. He will remind me that I am pretty much everything to her. On most days that will give me the warm fuzzies. I love being her sun and moon and stars. She is certainly these things to me.

Just as I am a new mother, my own mother is a new grandmother. My mom says she can't really describe how wonderful it is. Her time with the babe is precious. I guess that's why it breaks my heart when the babe and I have to say goodbye to her. There's just something special about having three generations of mother-daughter love together, if only for a short while.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

I'm Just Not the Same Anymore

Last week my husband told me I smell. He said it in a nice way, like "honey, I know you've been working hard all day and it's hot outside, but you kinda smell." But really, there's no nice way of saying that. I could have laughed and agreed, but I took it personally and was a bit crappy about it for a while. I knew I needed to take a shower, but I just hadn't had the chance to.

I have been meaning to write about hygiene and looks for a long time. It's certainly not a big ticket item, but it's been on my mind all the same. There are days when I look at myself and wonder where the old me went. My idea of what is acceptable has certainly changed over the past 9 months. Many women return to the level of cleanliness and style they had before pregnancy, but at the rate I'm going, I wonder if I'll ever get back to what I used to be?

I used to shower and brush my teeth every morning and wash my hair every other day. I generally felt like a clean person. My current schedule is to brush my teeth by noon when I usually leave the house, wash my hair every 5 or so days (gross), and shower at night after the babe has gone to bed. It means I go to bed with that lovely fresh feeling, but by the early afternoon of the next day, that fresh feeling isn't so fresh anymore (especially with the summer we've just had). I know I could buck up and leave the babe in her pack n play if I need to shower in the day, but I really only do that if there is a dirty emergency (like having poo all over me, which has happened).

I used to think a bit about what I wore each day. I realize now I have worn sneakers and flip flops since the babe was born. I really don't go anywhere that would warrant anything different. Being a stay at home mom has led me to an existence of casual wear heaven. I have never been one who cares too much about these things, but part of me misses those days where I would wear a suit or put on heels (not big ones).

I also used to wear eye liner and mascara every day. It was just part of my face and I wouldn't think about leaving the house without it. It made me feel normal. Now I feel like an impostor when I put make up on. After 15 years of use, I don't recognize myself with it on anymore.

Perhaps when I eventually go back to the paid work force things will come rushing back to me, but for now, I guess I will just have to live with my smelly, casual self.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Nine Months Later

Nine months ago today, I gave birth to my first child at 11:33 am. Let me tell you how happy I am it's September 7th, 2007 and not December 7th, 2006. After waiting for labor to start naturally for almost 2 weeks, I had to be induced. I left for the hospital on a Wednesday night knowing I would be coming home with a baby by Sunday. I didn't know what I was in for.

Giving birth to a 9 pound 6 ounce face-up baby was a painful, scary and overall extremely difficult experience. It involved a lot of medical staff, drugs and "procedures" to get her out. I admit it could have been worse, but it certainly was not ideal.

They tell you how hard it's going to be in advance. But I guess you just don't understand until you have to go through it yourself. I'd heard about those women who openly curse their husbands for getting them in the position in the first place. I have to tell you I never would have made it without my husband's support. He was the best partner I could have asked for and kept a soothing poker face when all hell was breaking loose (after the long awaited epidural, the babe's heart rate dropped dramatically causing every medical professional in the maternity ward to run into our room). He got me ice chips (which were a little piece of heaven) and used all his strength to keep a wooden massager jammed into my back for hours on end (the babe was face-up, or occiput posterior, which causes serious back pain as well as a host of other problems). Making it through all that, plus three hours of pushing and a last minute episiotomy while having the babe vacuumed out was pretty hard core. But no one had really explained how difficult it would be to leave the hospital and go home.

It sounds harsh, but the first month of the babe's life was the worst month of my life. I never got that new mother glow thing I had heard so much about. I couldn't sit (episiotomies will do that), could barely walk, and couldn't carry her up and down the stairs. I was trying to learn how to breastfeed (tough when you can't sit down), got no sleep, was constipated beyond belief (all those drugs will do that), and was a hormonal, emotional mess (God bless my mother and husband for putting up with me). After filling out a questionnaire at the babe's 5 week doctor appointment, I was diagnosed with mild postpartum depression and was told I may want to seek some support. I didn't end up getting help as I felt I was just exhausted and needed more rest (plus, January is depressing even if you haven't just had a baby). It slowly got better over the months that followed until it actually started to get fun. I just wish I had known then that there was a light at the end of the tunnel.

I am now so happy to be home with her. She has become this beautiful little person whom I adore. She has a great personality and cracks me up numerous times a day. She is the light of my life and I am honored to be able to take care of her and assist her in her growth. I never thought I'd make it, but here I am. Now I understand why being a Mom is so awesome and I thank my lucky stars. Happy nine months!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Fear and Love

My husband and I started watching Heroes this weekend. I must admit I'm enjoying it, although last night it brought out a strong reaction in me. It got me to thinking about how much I love my daughter and how I want to protect her from this crazy world. There are so many bad people and bad things that can enter your life when you least expect it. I went to bed with a million scary thoughts swirling in my head. Irrational? Yes, I must admit I was being a bit dramatic. But honestly, what can we do as parents to protect our little ones?

I am so consumed with my love for the babe and, like most parents, want to do everything possible to ensure her life is filled with true happiness. I know she will have to face her challenges and go through tough times, but how can I reduce the amount of distress that she will no doubt encounter in her life?

Last night I started to worry about everything from strangers to terrorist attacks. After going over crime reports in our area on the Washington Post's web site yesterday, I realized that we're not as safe in our groovy little neighborhood as I thought. Thinking more about it, I suppose we live in a city that has already been hit by terrorists once. Does that mean we're putting the babe at risk by living in Washington, DC? Should we move to a safer and smaller city? I was living in NYC in September 2001, and I really don't want to be any place where that kind of attack could happen again.

How much of this fear is rational and how much is me just being ridiculous? I mentioned my concerns to my husband last night as I crawled into bed. He said that we can't live in fear. I agree. I have honestly tried to live my life that way (especially since 9/11). But what practical things can I do to keep my precious little family safe? How can I minimize the chance of ugliness entering our lives? As a new mother, I'm quickly realizing that these many worries are part of the job and that I am going to have to learn to live with for the rest of my life.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Saving Your Identiy

I've been thinking a lot about identity. A new mom will no doubt go through a shift in how she sees herself. The world will also see her differently. How do we make sure we keep our old selves while adding motherhood on as a part of our identity? Do we lose who we used to be as we leap into motherhood? Or do we just keep parts of our old selves in tact and add on the new mommy identity? Are stay-at-home mothers more prone to this loss of identity because they have left the paid workforce?

I spend so much time with the babe I sometimes wonder if I am losing who I used to be. I am concerned about balance and keeping myself engaged in the real world. I admit that I have changed a lot since she was born, but I hope I still have those qualities (and faults) that made me who I used to be. I realize I need to be careful to not lose myself in the all consuming job of motherhood. As my wise father said to me recently, children will take as much of you as you let them. If you give 100% of yourself, they will take it. You have to make sure you watch out for your best interests because children will inevitably grow up and leave. Where will you be left if you gave everything to them?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm reading Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety. The most relevant thing I've read so far is related to the discussion around losing yourself in motherhood.
"Too many of us now allow ourselves to be defined by motherhood and direct every ounce of our energy into our children. This sounds noble on the surface but in fact it's doing no one--not ourselves, or our children--any good. Because when we lose ourselves in mommy selves, we experience this loss as depression. When we disempower ourselves in our mommy selves, we experience this weakness as anxiety. When we desexualize ourselves in our mommy selves, it leads us to feel dead in our skin. All this places an undue burden upon our children. By making them the be-all-end-all of our lives, by breaking down the boundaries between ourselves and them so thoroughly, by giving them so much power within the family when they're very small, we risk overwhelming them psychologically and ill-preparing them, socially, for the world of other children and eventually, other adults." Page 55
Well said! In terms of my own life, I admit I need to be more proactive in pursuing my interests and making time for myself. I keep saying I am going to do it, and keep not doing it. My husband and I have had many conversations about how I need to have time to myself so I can just be me and not someone's mommy. When I go out alone (which is rare), I feel like my old self, but different. I find it cool that people can look at me and not see a mommy. They just see me, and I like that. I am going to look into taking a yoga class on the weekends. By taking this time, I will work on something that I am interested in pursuing, while also giving myself a break from the non-stop job that is being a stay at home mother. It's back to school time, and for me, it's back to Christine time.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

She Did It!!!

I am a very happy mommy this morning. The babe got up just once in 11 hours! There doesn't even appear to be anything wrong with her (knock on wood). It is a miracle. She slept from 8:15 pm to 12:30 am. Her next stretch was from 12:45 to 7:15 am. This was the best night sleep I've had since October 2006. I feel like a million bucks. I feel like I could run a marathon. Well, maybe that's pushing it.

I was almost ready to start being tough last night, but was too exhausted. I sacrificed time with my husband and went to bed early. Good thing as I managed to clock almost 3 hours before she woke up. I recall checking on her at one point during the night. She was still breathing. The next time she woke up I glanced at the clock and was in shock. 7:15 am? What? What happened? I asked my husband and he confirmed that she had been asleep since 12:45 am. He admitted to having checked on her all night as her behavior was so untypical.

What did we do to make this happen? How do I get this to happen again? Is it that her teeth didn't hurt? Is it something I ate or didn't eat? Drink or didn't drink? All I know is that I would really be a much better mommy and person if this kind of thing happened every night.

Co-sleeping is all right with me me if she sleeps over 6 hours straight! Pretty much anything is all right with me if we can find a way to duplicate last night's magic.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Co-Sleeping Saga Continues

Co-sleeping can be a beautiful thing. It can also be a nightmare. Some of you may recall that we have had a lot of sleep issues with the babe. I came back from our last trip a month ago ready to take action. I was exhausted and couldn't stand it anymore. I psyched myself up and left the babe in her crib when she woke up after her standard few hours sleep. We normally will transfer her from her crib to our bed at this point. I thought I was ready to sit by her crib until she cried herself back to sleep. My husband wasn't quite as prepared and ended up rescuing her from her jail. She slept like an angel in between us that night.

I have not done any more experimenting since then. I was all talk and no action when I last wrote about the end of the "family bed."

The exhaustion is catching up with me again and I am back where I was a month ago. I want my space back and I don't want to be woken constantly through the night. I am cool with once a night. I am not cool with four (like last night). Looking back over the past eight nights, the babe has been a nightmare for four of them. I just don't like those numbers. I also don't like the fact that I can count on one hand the number of times I have clocked six straight hours of sleep in the past nine months (that doesn't even count the end of my pregnancy where I was as big as a beached whale and needed to go to the bathroom every hour).

The four nights she has slept two stretches of five hours each have been divine. Those are the nights that make me want to continue our co-sleeping. There is something so cozy and snugly about all three of us together in bed. It feels so safe and warm and happy. If it was always like that, I wouldn't have a problem. But it's not. That's why it's time to face the music and admit we have a situation on our hands.

Am I ready to start tonight? I am certainly frustrated enough. But I am exhausted. The problem is that I'm only ever contemplating drastic measures after the bad sleepless nights. This makes it difficult to activate experiments that will no doubt involve more sleepless nights and many tears (both hers and mine). After the good nights I am too content to hunker down and make the change.

If tonight is the night, I need to get ready. If I put it off, I will only continue a cycle which has apparently spun out of control. I need to remember that I survived the "no swaddle" experiment as well as the "get her in her crib for the first part of the evening" experiment. Progress does not come without sacrifice, right? But maybe one more good night will get me rested enough for this next hurdle. Oh, and did I mention she needs to be weaned from her night feedings?

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Art of Napping and Reading

Stay at home motherhood isn't all bad. Whenever I get the urge to run back to the office, I just have to remember how much I adore our morning nap. They are absolutely delicious and I wouldn't give them up for anything.

The babe has 2 naps a day. One nice long morning nap, and an afternoon nap that can be short, or long, depending on the day. It's awesome we have the napping thing down (although it makes planning our social life a tad difficult). I have always been a terrible napper and really had to work at the art of napping after I became a Mom. When you walk around in a semi state of exhaustion most of the time, knowing how to nap can be a really good thing. I am proud to say I have now mastered the very important skill of napping once a day.

The special nap for us is always in the morning. After being up for a couple of hours, we sneak back upstairs to our cozy bed where we will sleep together for an hour and a half to two hours. It is bliss. I lie there next to her and just stare at her (before passing out myself, that is). She really is the most beautiful little thing in the world and I am completely head over heels in love with her. When she wakes up, she rolls over and sits up with her foggy eyes and messy hair and smiles at me. She lets me kiss her feet. She tries to stand and climb up the wall. She rolls around. She generally acts super cute.

Afternoon naps, on the other hand, have been providing me the opportunity to read. As much as I can leave her in her crib for her afternoon nap, she lasts much longer if she's in our bed and I'm sitting next to her (spoilt much?). I appreciate the chance to relax and do some fluffy reading. After having taken forever to read my first book after her birth (Wiped: Life With a Pint Sized Dictator), I have now finished In Her Shoes, Baby Proof, and am about to finish What Do You Do All Day? My next book will be Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety by Judith Warner. I'm stepping it up a bit with this one. Not so fluffy! I've also decided it may be a good idea to take the Economist up to bed a few times a week to prevent my brain from rotting. It's good to be able to discuss world affairs in between conversations about baby sleep cycles and baby poo.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bumbo Caution

A word of caution on the Bumbo chair. After months of feeling pretty secure with the bumbo, we've turned a corner: the babe can now get out of it pretty easily. From about 8 months old, she's been able to extend her back and wiggle her way out. It's true they warn you not to leave children unattended in the seat (granted, all baby products say that). But I know how easy it can be to think your baby is secure and will be OK for just one minute. Whatever you wanted to do in that one minute is probably not worth it.

I've heard too many fall on the floor stories lately and wanted to share this in hopes it may save someone a trip to the ER (a place most new Moms will end up at some point).

The Playzone

We have just spent a nice chunk of change on a playzone for the babe. I was getting tired of moving the coffee table, setting out the blankets and toys and sitting on the floor to monitor play time by the 42 inch television screen every day. There was also the part about putting everything away every night that I wasn't a fan of. It was time for a new plan: the playzone plan.

I really love it. It's functional, colorful, large (with the two extension kits we purchased), and perfect for a baby to play in. The foam mats on the floor are each a letter of the alphabet! Who doesn't love the alphabet?

Why then does my daughter start to whine and cry if I leave her in it alone for more than 20 minutes? I though the playzone would allow me time to sit on the couch and read, write in my very neglected blog, or work in the kitchen. It's only been fully set up with the foam pads since last night, but so far the babe seems to have a problem being behind the colorful bars alone for an extended period of time.

I am hoping and praying that this is just something that will take time to get used to. There are enough toys and happy things in there to keep her occupied. And I don't see why, if she has a full belly and a clean diaper, she can't just chill out and have a good time in her new land of baby fun. We shall see.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I Never Knew

A few things I never knew about motherhood:

  • I am seriously considering wearing some sort of helmet around my daughter. I have been head butted, jabbed, poked, kicked, pinched and had my hair pulled more times than I can count. My nose actually feels bruised from the number of times the babe's head has crashed into me in one jerky movement or another. She also appears to have a thing for injuring my neck area. It's OK, I only need that body part to breathe. While I'm tracking down a helmet (possibly hockey helmet with a face guard), I might as well consider full body armour. I never knew how much abuse I'd have to take as a mother.
  • I question, at times, whether I am patient enough to be anyone's mother. I never knew how tough constant sleep deprivation and being selfless would be.
  • Last night at 9:00pm, I sold our futon. It was blocking the window and eating way too much space in our small light deprived living room. As I spend so much time at home now, I have been on a minor mission to get rid of things and clean the place up a bit. It's slow going. I never knew how much baby stuff would take over our home or how long it would take to sell a futon on craig's list!
  • My husband has been working A LOT this past week (and weekend). It has been hard being on constant child care duty with no break at the end of the day (even half an hour is nice after having a monkey crawl all over you for 12 hours). I can't say it's the same, but I am beginning to get a picture of how overwhelming it would be to be a single mother. I never knew how good it is to have my husband home for dinner, support and company.
  • The babe has food allergies (cow's milk, nuts, peanuts and a rice intolerance). The tests the allergist did at 6 months could be inaccurate and they will be testing again, but after a trip to the ER in May, we've been taking it pretty slow with the solid food introduction. We've got the go ahead on apples, bananas, sweet potato, carrots, and oatmeal. She doesn't necessarily like all these options though. As we slowly increase her repertoire of non-allergenic foods, I am constantly worrying if she's eating enough. As she doesn't like soy formula (after 8 months of breastfeeding, who can blame her), I can't measure her milk intake. She can also be very difficult to feed at times. She'll shake her head, make gagging sounds, and spit food at me. I never knew how hard it would be to feed a baby!
  • As I sit here on an early Sunday morning, I never knew how hard it would be to constantly have to get out of my warm yummy bed at 6:30 am.
  • I also never knew how hard it would be to make time to write in my blog. Or how hard it would be to write with an 8 month old child crawling on me and demanding attention!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Up in an Airplane

I thought I'd have some crazy stories to share about our recent flying experience, but I have to admit it all went fairly smoothly (other than an hour and a half delay on the way home). Here's a few tid bits that may be helpful for others about to fly with their little ones for the first time.

Like the Boy Scouts say, be prepared. But keep in mind there's a difference between being prepared and packing your whole house. You only have so many arms.

Give yourself some extra time. There are a few extra steps when flying with a baby and everything takes more times than you're used to. Flying is a dicey business in the best of circumstances, so an extra chunk of time will give you a comfort zone to work with.

If you are travelling alone (as I was on the way to Canada), think about bringing a baby carrier as well as your infant car seat and a snap and go frame. I found it helpful to already have my daughter in the carrier as we made our way through the security line. When it came to action time, I just had to pop the car seat out of the base, fold up the base, and drop my carry on bag and purse onto the belt. People were pretty patient with me and I got quite a few smiles.

When you get to the gate, let them know you're travelling with an infant and they should be able to give you some special treatment. On both flights, the stewardess moved me to a row where I had 2 seats which made things a bit easier. You can check the car seat and base before you board which leaves you with (only) the baby and 2 bags to deal with on the flight.

Keeping in mind the length of your flight and any stop overs, you'll need food for the baby. My daughter is really not into public breastfeeding, so that meant we needed bottles. I started pumping days in advance to be sure I had enough milk for the unexpected. Because I was so worried about not having enough, I wasn't managing to pump very much either. By Sunday morning when we packed up the car for the trek to Dulles, I had 2 bottles with 4 ounces each. Turns out I only needed 1 as I fed her some apple sauce before boarding. Bring enough baby food to keep you going for a solid chunk of time as you never know when you may get stranded in an airport hotel with a hungry baby. I should also add that you're supposed to "declare" your bottles when you go through security (although I forgot on the way back and it didn't cause a problem).

Have some entertainment. I had a large Ziploc baggie of her favorite smaller toys to keep us going. Keep in mind you don't want anything too noisy as maintaining happy relations with your fellow air travellers is always a good thing.

The temperature in airports and on planes can vary, so have your baby dressed appropriately. Even though it is summer in DC (a swamp), I had my daughter in long pants and had packed a blankie for extra warmth. The planes can blast the air conditioning and I was glad I had the blanket to wrap her up in while she slept. It was tough holding her in a comfortable position for 60 minutes and I would have liked a small pillow, but forgot to ask if the stewardess had any. As nice as it would be, I don't think it's important enough to bring with me on our next trip (unless I was going cross country).

Always have extra diapers, wipes, pacifiers, burp cloths, a change of clothing for the baby and at least an extra shirt for yourself. You never know how long you will be away from your comfort zone, so be ready for the unexpected. As I write, my sister in law is on a mega haul with her daughter involving 3 flights to get from Point A to Point B. Her original flight was cancelled thus altering her trip from 2 planes to 3. To add insult to injury, she was charged a $12 "infant tax" as she was flying with her daughter on her lap. Yes, her lap was being taxed by a flight she wasn't even supposed to be on. None of this is what you want when you're alone with your 5 month old, but it can happen, so be ready.

Keep all important documents, your wallet and your cell phone in easy and secure reach. There are many excellent baby bag options on the market, so you should be able to find one that suits your needs (I'm a fan of Eddie Bauer diaper bags).

Get ready to hold your baby tight during take off and landing. They recommend the burping position over your shoulder. My daughter was moving around so much it was difficult to keep her in the "recommended" position. She spazzed out and caused a bit of a scene before take off on both flights. By the time we got in the air and leveled off she thankfully fell asleep for the entirety of both our trips. I made sure she had a pacifier in her mouth for take off and landing to keep her ears clear (the sucking motion helps avoid ear pain). I've heard of a lot of people who feed their baby from a bottle during take off and landing, but this doesn't jive with the airlines official recommendations.

All this may seem pretty obvious, but when trying to pack for a trip, all the details can get pretty overwhelming. Sometimes we can forget the most obvious things, which is why it's great to start with a check list. I'd recommend keeping the list for when it's time to pack up and come home. It's so easy to forget the most important things when you're quickly having to gather all the baby stuff which has exploded all over the place. For instance, I forgot the base of our monitor plugged into the wall of my mother in law's kitchen. Luckily my husband was one step ahead of me and had tucked it away without me knowing.

I'm lucky my first experience was only a one hour direct flight. It was great practice and although I'm not exactly looking forward to our next flying experience, I am more prepared and much less frightened. Good luck and happy flying.

Friday, August 3, 2007

And We're Back...In the Family Bed

My husband asked me what was going on with my blog last night. "Is it dead?" he inquired. Yikes, it has been a while. Since I last wrote, we've made it through almost 3 weeks unswaddled, have flown with the babe for the first time, have done another Canadian family visit over an 8 night adventure, and have discovered the little lady is simply not interested in soy formula (powder or liquid). I don't have enough time to cover everything, so I'll have to start at the top: the never ending sleep saga.

I've just visited with some of my dear Mommy friends. Among the topics we discussed were what we'll do differently with a second child. The swaddling Mamas agreed that we'd cut off the practice much earlier. One Mamma had broken the pattern a few weeks after birth. Another is still swaddling her almost 8 month old. I am relieved we have managed to cut the swaddle addiction, even though I had recently spent another $40 bucks on a new snazzy swaddler. When it comes down to it, I have no problem spending money on sleep paraphernalia.

I do however have a problem with our most recent sleep related experiment: our daughter wakes up after 3 or 4 hours unswaddled to eat and doesn't want to go back in her crib. It doesn't help that we were recently on the road for 8 nights, 4 of which we didn't have a crib (she slept with me in a double bed). As I've mentioned before, I am done with the "family bed" and desperately want my space back. I think we have done great with our "attachment parenting" approach to sleeping but have decided I'm just too tired to continue. I am also tired of her little gloved hands hitting my face in the middle of the night and don't appreciate her constantly rolling into me. I am beginning to wish they made a Queen size crib for babies that need their space.

I know it's time for yet another experiment: getting the babe back in her crib for the whole night and cutting her off the family bed. As I'm still wiped out from our Canadian travels, I am hesitating over when to start. We've only been back a few days but have found that when we go get her after her 3 or 4 hour snooze, she is already in a seated position crying and banging her head on the wood rails of the crib. I find this worrisome and upsetting, but the word on the street is that this is normal and not anything to worry too much about. But really, how is purposely banging your head against a hard surface a "normal" behavior? This is why it just seems easier to take her to our bed and feed her so we can all go back to sleep (until the next feeding in a few hours that is).

Things have got to change and I'm going to have to suck it up and bite the bullet. I just have to find the right time to start as I know I'll be losing a LOT of sleep over this experiment. But 8 months of losing sleep has been enough. It's time for this little one to get used to sleeping in her crib alone for the whole night. I am done torturing myself over the right sleep training method (Sears, Ferber, Baby Whisperer, etc.), and need to trust my gut instinct. It's brought me through the last few experiments, and hopefully will get me through this one as well. Here's to everyone sleeping 6 hours straight in their own bed.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Can We All Get Some Sleep Now, Please?

Warning: This is a detailed post about our efforts to break the swaddle habit and deal with teething (at the same time). It may bore you if you haven't been in this boat before. In fact, it may bore you even if you have!

There's something about Sunday nights at our house. We're all sad the weekend is over, and even though we have 60 Minutes and The Simpsons to look forward to, we just can't get over the gloomy feeling that Monday morning is around the corner. It's funny that I still feel this way even though I'm not expected at an office at 9:00 am anymore. Our daughter must be able to read our mood because every Sunday night she is super difficult to put to bed. She will generally loose her marbles for over an hour. By the end of the bedtime drama, I'm usually exhausted and annoyed. This past Sunday was no different.

The problem with this past Sunday was that she woke up at 12:30 am and didn't fall back asleep until 4:45 am. This was WAY beyond a wet diaper issue. I realized on 7-7-07 (her 7 month birthday) that she had her first tooth coming in. I realized on 7-15-07 how difficult having a tooth coming in can be. I am happy to give her drugs to relieve the pain associated with her teething, but am pretty paranoid about giving her too much or having her come to expect it.

I decided she also may be annoyed at being wrapped up in her fancy new swaddler for 11 hours straight (I would be). I began to wonder if we should try the "no swaddle experiment" and see how it goes. Too ambitious when dealing with teething? Perhaps.

She was a pleasure during the day on Monday and I decided we'd give the experiment a try that evening. I had watched her nap unswaddled during the day and realized how much she moved around. She started on her back, turned to her side and ended up on her stomach. Maybe she just needs that kind of freedom for her night sleep?

The babe lasted in her crib unswaddled until 11:00 pm. 3 hours isn't bad, right? She then proceeded to take up the majority of our king size bed as my husband and I struggled to not fall off our respective sides. Up again at 2:30 am and then 4:30 until 5:45 am. Was the experiment a success? Depends how you define success, but it was a BIG deal for her to be unswaddled for a whole evening.

The experiment continued Tuesday night. She woke at 10:00 pm after only 2 hours and ended up going to bed with me. Not good. I like to try and clock a few hours before having to give up my precious space. Awake again at 2:30 am and then 4:45 until 6:15 am. Really not good. If I wasn't about to leave on an 8 night trip, it would be time for some tough love which would involve this child staying in her crib longer.

Last night we did better. After falling asleep at 9:00 pm, she was back up crying at 12:30 am. Half an hour later I caved and fed her Infants' Tylenol. She was asleep by 1:30 am and back up at 5:30 am to eat. She then slept until 7:00 am. Now that seems like a brilliant evening compared to the last 3.

My husband and I are both exhausted and never thought we'd end up with a "family bed" situation. We are just not good at letting her cry it out and have a huge fear of her crying escalating to an uncontrollable level. She's so itchy she ends up scratching her head off if left alone while she's upset (even with the little baby scratch gloves).

We visited a pediatric dermatologist yesterday who confirmed she has atopic dermatitis (baby eczema). Babies with this condition do not sleep as well as other babies. That will have to be another post.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

To Change the Diaper or Not to Change?

I am now calling on the services of all you parents out there. Do you, or did you ever do the middle of the night diaper change? I am constantly experimenting with my daughter's sleeping situation (as it's so bad) trying to find just the right balance. I'm embarrassed to admit I recently purchased a new swaddler for my 7 month old as she had outgrown every option we own. I believe that's because you're not supposed to swaddle babies at this age. The babe is an itchy scratchy kinda gal and would scratch her head off if her hands weren't tied down. She just really needs the swaddle to fall asleep and after a very bad night and hours of internet research, I found a new swaddler that looked to meet my requirements.

The Snug and Tug is a very cool swaddler that holds babies up to 28" and 22 pounds. So, we're safe for now, although the length will get dicey soon enough. The problem with this awesome swaddler is that you have to COMPLETELY remove the baby to do any kind of diaper maintenance. So, when I wrap her up all snugly at bed time, I really would like her to stay that way until at least 7:00 am. I left her wrapped up every night for about a week before we had a big 'oll leaking situation when I removed her from the swaddler in the morning. This meant the sheets had to be washed and we most likely got some pee on the mattress. Not the end of the world. But the start of some diaper rash was another development associated with the all-night diaper wearing. We don't want that.

So this week I've been trying to take her out and change the diaper when she wakes to eat in the middle of the night (that's another issue altogether). This jostling appears to wake her up and make it difficult for me to get her back to sleep which has made for some unpleasant waking periods for my husband and I. Luckily I can nap in the morning, but I can't say the same thing for my poor hubby.

Last night we added some theatrics to the middle of the night waking period when the toilet managed to overflow after one of my bathroom trips. I swear I didn't do anything in there that would warrant an all out floor flood, but alas. The baby knew there was something exciting going on and stared at the door in anticipation (of what, I'm not sure). All this ended up costing a total of 2 hours of sleep (3:15 to 5:15 am). If I hadn't tried to maneuver a stealth diaper change, perhaps I wouldn't have been awake enough to go to the bathroom and flood it.

So, if you have any middle of the night diaper changing advice, please feel free to post your thoughts. I know it's a decision only I can make as her Mother, but I'm just not sure how many more nights of experimenting I'm willing to go through before we find a solution.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Hot Summer Days

It's been about 100 kazillion degrees for days now and I've about had it. I believe officials recommend that babies and the elderly stay indoors when it gets to this point. So here we are, indoors. I'm starting to think I need more toys for my little lady. I'm also wishing we had some more floor space for her to roll around. What I really wish is that we could be relaxing at a lakeside cottage or ocean front condo. As Sheryl Crow sang in her 1996 album, "a change would do you good."

The summer is quickly passing by and I'm realizing this is a summer of missed weddings, baby showers and outdoor concerts. These are all completely acceptable sacrifices but have made for a pretty unbooked kinda summer. We have one trip planned to Canada to visit family and I'm counting the days until we depart (12). I will be getting on a plane for the first time since last October and my daughter will be getting on a plane for the first time ever (although I guess she was technically on a lot of planes while I was pregnant).

The places we flew as one unit include:
I used to love leaving Washington and the feeling of being somewhere different. I must admit that I'm missing that lifestyle and am having to remind myself that this stage won't last forever. But I also have to remember it will never be the way it was before either. No more care free trips and unplanned adventures.

I was considering going to New York for my friend' baby shower last Sunday but ended up deciding against it because I couldn't imagine being away from my daughter for 12 hours. Since she was born 7 months ago, I haven't been apart from her for longer than a 2 hour stretch (embarrassing, but true), so adding an additional 10 would have been way too challenging for me. As much as I want to be getting on planes and exploring new territory, I have to admit I am addicted to my baby. These days won't last forever and I certainly don't want to be looking back in the future and wishing I'd appreciated them more.

Friday, July 6, 2007

A few things

A few highlights of the week (in no particular order):

  • My prayers to the poo Gods were answered and after 6 days of no action down there, we had some serious action (of the carrot variety). I was one day away from having to take my baby to the doctor for who knows what kind of procedure. Apparently "solid" food can lead to baby constipation.

  • I found her missing sock in the dishwasher (the same dishwasher I walked into 2 weeks ago).

  • She tried to eat one of our two plants (must remember to not keep high chair next to plant). I actually had to do the mouth sweep to make sure I got all parts of the dusty leaf out of her mouth.

  • I officially have tendonitis in my wrist. Silly me for thinking it was carpal tunnel syndrome. The doctor said that in addition to wearing a brace all day I should ice it for 15 minutes, 3 times a day. As if that's going to happen! I can barely brush my teeth before noon!

  • My baby can sleep through Fourth of July fireworks that literally had our windows rattling (we're about 14 blocks from the White House). I have a new respect for our baby monitor which registered every pop, bang and boom.

  • I should not eat beans or lentils when breastfeeding (even if it's yummy Rajma made by my mother-in-law). No baby should have to fart that much.

Happy Weekend!

Picked Up

You need friends in this stay-at-home Mommy world. If I didn't have my Mommy buddies, I would have gone mad at this point. They make me feel normal and help me keep things in perspective. My pals remind me that I am not the first person to have a baby and go through all the ups and downs associated with child rearing. Even though it may feel like it some days, I am not alone.

We come from a variety of backgrounds and may not have been friends if we didn't have this one thing in common. Back in the real world, I did not automatically befriend folks just because they were in the same industry. There's just something special about knowing someone has recently gone through a similar life altering experience, and if they happen to live in your area, all the better.

I was at Trader Joe's to do some shopping yesterday and ended up speaking to a new Mom who was also carrying a baby in a Baby Bjorn. We hit it off as we chatted about the difficulties of public breastfeeding and smiled at each other in the aisles throughout our shopping experience. We said our good byes at the cash registers. She had already loaded her groceries and was fastening her son into his car seat when I made it to my car (parked across from hers). As I finished loading up the trunk, I looked up and there she was. She said she hoped she wasn't being to forward, but would I like to get together for lunch sometime? I said that would be great and gave her my contact info. I smiled as I drove home thinking about how good it felt to be asked out on a Mommy date by a stranger. I hadn't even showered!

I wonder if the same rules of dating apply to Mommy pick-ups? Is there a set time to wait before you send the first email or make that call? It's not like I'm desperate for things to do, but I'll be happy to add my shopping buddy to my circle, if she gets in touch that is.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Anniversary To Us

Two years ago today, my new husband and I flew to the Bahamas for our honeymoon. We were legally married in Ottawa in a simple ceremony on July 1st (Canada Day) and had a beautiful Hindu wedding on July 2nd. Our anniversary was this past Sunday and Monday and I must say we had a really great time. If you read my blog post regarding my first Mother's Day as a Mother, you may recall that I have a tendency to get worked up about special occasions. The moral of the post was that I'd have to lower my expectations as I can't always control my baby and demand she celebrate on my schedule.

So, I did my best to keep my anniversary expectations low. My husband and I pretty much agreed that we wouldn't worry about presents (other than cards, of course). His gift to me was sushi from our favorite restaurant, Sushi Taro. My gift to him was our favorite chocolate with vanilla butter cream cake from Cake Love. We had an awesomely blissful food fest at our place on Saturday night. Our daughter had even fallen asleep at a decent hour and allowed us to celebrate.

To continue the food frenzy, we headed out to brunch in Georgetown (our old 'hood) on Sunday. We dined at Filomena's brilliant buffet until we felt slightly ill and were amazed that our daughter continued her good behavior. She was easily entertained and pleasant for the whole experience and even fell asleep as we walked off the food at the waterfront.

All this may not sound that exciting, but for new parents who haven't gotten out much, this was a sweet anniversary marking the days we said "I do." I need to remember this lesson of low expectations. I was truly pleasantly surprised and it helped me realize that my little family can still have great times on "special days." I just can't always count on it.

Now if only we were getting on a plane to the Bahamas today. That sure would be special.