Monday, November 12, 2012

12 months/ 1 year

I started this in October and then - well, it's a little late. But it still happened, so here: 

1 year. ONE YEAR. That seems wrong in both directions - how have I only known this kid for a year? But at the same time, how is he already a one-year-old?

At the end of September, PB figured out walking. It was a pretty amazing development: on Sunday afternoon he was taking one or two tentative steps. By Thursday he would walk about 10 steps, stop, turn around, and walk back! It was one of the first times I have felt like I am really missing out on his development by working away from home, as I was rushing home each evening to see how much he's pieced together. PB loves walking, and it's been fun to watch him figure it out. For the most part he's in shoes or socks, because he's supposed to be wearing those soft-bottomed shoes while his feet get strong, but his feet are TOO BIG. Once you get to a size shoe that fits him (baby shoe size 5), those only come in hard-bottomed shoes because no 12-month-old would have feet that big.

When we made this discovery, I was with DH and his mom at a Carter's store. His mom laughed one of those sympathetic laughs while DH just said, "I think you need to get used to this problem..."

So my son is like a puppy in every way, including his overly large paws.

For his first birthday, we had a party at our house: just family and his godmother, but it would up being 17 people. PB is so social that he was kind of buzzed all day, since he woke up in the morning to his grandparents and aunt who had all come in the day before. He took a too-short nap because he didn't want to miss out on anything, I think. He totally didn't get what the presents were about, so DH and I sat on the floor of the living room, opening things and trying to get PB's attention while he checked out all the people there: all four of his grandparents, two great-grandparents, a great-aunt and -uncle, two aunts, two uncles, one brand-new cousin, and his godparents.

So he really didn't care about the gifts. But we were happy about them: a new car seat since he was getting completely scrunched in the old one, a variety of musical instruments, a pile of new books (still no repeats! This amazes me) and a few other cool toys and things. Once he got a hold of his Cubs baseball bat he wanted to hold on to it for a while, which pleased the Cubs fans at the party and made the Sox fans grumble (I am from Ohio, and thus claim agnosticism on this front).

PB's first cake experience was fun - what I caught of it. I made an applesauce spice cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting - the perfect autumn cake - and we cut a slice for PB because I am not about to bake a separate "smash cake" for a one year old. I think that's weird and wasteful.

PB did what he often does with a new experience and spent a moment studying the cake. Then he poked his finger in to the frosting and found the seam between the two layers. I helped pull the two layers apart, and then he started to get the picture and picked up a large hunk of cake and took a tentative bite. About that time DH told me I should serve cake to everyone else, and I regret that I listened to him - I should have delegated that to someone else. I had just walked in to the kitchen to start slicing the cake when the whole living room cheered. I missed him actually smashing the cake.

That seems dumb, but it was PB's first cake, and I baked it. I'm the cake-baker in the family and cake kind of matters to me. And anyway, I wanted to see him smash it. Not a mistake I'll make again.

Anyway, the party went well, we got some family pictures, and PB was so exhausted at the end of it that the last guest left at 6pm and he was unconscious in his crib before 7.

Now... on to the stats!

Weight: 25 pounds, 11 ounces (95th percentile)

Length: 31 inches (90th percentile)

What he's eating: He's nursing at bedtime and in the morning. Otherwise, I am now not really pumping any more (Hallelujah!). He gets a little bottle of breastmilk with his vitamins, but that's usually thawed stuff from the freezer stash. We made the transition to cow's milk and he likes it just fine. Also, he now eats cake when given the opportunity (He's only gotten the opportunity one other time - at his uncle Jon's birthday the weekend after his). We also tried peanut butter - no reaction, thankfully. And he can now eat honey, so graham crackers have made it in to the rotation. They are a hit.

Physical skills: He wants to practice walking all the time, and we let him! He has also figured out things like how to climb up on his new little chair and then stand on it to reach things on the windowsill.

Teeth: 8 teeth total. Chewing a lot so maybe more to come soon...

Favorite toys: He's getting more in to stuffed animals - he likes to talk to them and hand them to you. We pretend they're kissing him, which he thinks is funny.

Verbal skills: He has a wide variety of syllables, and is frequently mimicking tones he hears (even things like the squeak of the refrigerator door). He says "ooh" a lot while he points at things, and he has a particular sound he makes when he sees a dog: kind of like a barking sound. But no real words just yet, I don't think.
Social skills: Pointing, mimicking, clapping, and more and more dancing - he bops up and down in the cutest way when he hears a tune or some rhythm. He also likes playing with musical instrument toys, especially if one of his parents is trying to play something. Also: this has been brewing for a while, but he and I like to chase each other around the couch (I have to crawl so he can't see me over the couch, now that he's walking!). He thinks chasing me is fun, but when I turn around and very quickly run up to him from the front, he shrieks laughing - I think he likes being startled that way. He's also starting to play peekaboo himself, holding a hat or something over his eyes so we ask "where's PB?". And he has started doing this hammy hug thing, especially when he's sleepy, where he'll walk up to you and rest his head on you. Melts me every time.

Sleep: Now that it's colder we got him some large-size fleece sleep sacks because we keep the house pretty cool at night. Overnight, he's been sleeping like a champ - I think it helps that he's snuggly but the room is cool. The sleep sacks seem to help for naps, too, though we're still in this transitional period: two naps or one? Each day is a crapshoot.

And speaking of crapshoot, the potty experiment continues. I think it will be many months before there's anything consistent to report, but we're all still having a good time with it.

Monday, September 24, 2012

11 months

This morning, I walked in to PB's room and he stood up in his crib when he saw me. He'd been relaxing and babbling to himself, already awake but not feeling impatient. He reached up for me and I hefted him up and had the same thought I've been having each morning for the last couple of weeks: you're not a baby any more. PB is big. Picking him up is not like picking up a baby, it's like picking up a little kid. And now we're a few weeks away from a first birthday party, and he's starting to take steps and he's approximating words, and he's so much more like a walking, talking toddler than a little lump of a baby.

I don't get sad about this the way I thought I would. When I anticipate changes in him, I do get sad: I still remember thinking "I know I'm going to miss his gummy smile" when he'd beam at me around three months old. But then each thing I love about him gets replaced with something of equal or greater loveability. His toothy smile is adorable, and I love the way he plays with his teeth when he's eating, trying to chew a sweet pea with just his three lower teeth, for instance.

As we prepare to cross that one-year threshold, I find myself doing a lot more looking forward and a lot less looking back than I expected that I would. PB will always be my baby boy, even when he's 6'4" tall and can pick me up. So he doesn't have to remain an infant.

Weight: According to the scale at home, roughly 26 pounds.

Length: Tall.

What he's eating: He nurses in the morning and at bedtime. On weekdays he has three 5-ish ounce bottles during the day. And then he has 3 meals and the occasional afternoon snack. On weekends we still basically nurse on demand, bit it's about the same: 4 or 5 times a day, total.

Physical skills: He's practically walking. He will take about 2 steps unsupported, from the table to the couch, for instance. Much more than that and he falls down... which means he falls down all. the. time. I've seen him get frustrated about it a couple of time, which is a sign that he's about to take off, I think. If he wants to get somewhere in a hurry, he crawls, but he is really working hard on the walking.

He's also getting better at doing things like taking apart his Mega Blocks and he's starting to figure out how to put them together.

Teeth: That fourth one on the bottom still hasn't shown up.

Favorite toys: The remote control (DH found an old remote and took out the batteries, so now he plays with that), mega blocks, anything with wheels.

Verbal skills: He's playing with sounds a lot these days. Over Labor Day weekend, DH's mom was in town so we left PB with her for a day while we painted our kitchen (this was something we needed to do before the days started getting darker - the kitchen is so much brighter now!). Then we went to visit with various in-laws for a while after a long day of painting. When we walked in to the room, PB was standing up in front of a chair and looked at me, smiled, and yelled, "MAMA". The whole room stopped, and then everyone repeated it: "mama! He said mama." So I think that counts. He's also had a few moments with me when he's said (and, I think, asked for) "dada" or "daddy". Once was at bedtime about a week ago when I was nursing him. He heard footsteps in the hall outside his room, and he stopped nursing for a moment to listen, then looked at me and said, "daddy", and pointed toward his door. That level of comprehension and communication is pretty cool to see.   

I do think "mama" is sometimes his sound for milk, and sometimes for me, but half the time the desire for the two is basically the same thing.

Social skills: PB likes to point at things, and sometimes he'll point just so DH or I will turn to where he's pointing. He's mimicking us a lot these days, including doing a big, loud fake laugh if we laugh at something. So, sometimes I just fake laugh to make him fake laugh.

Sleep: It got much cooler this week, and PB started pretty consistently sleeping through the night, 7:30pm to 6:30am, once it cooled down. I'm not sure if the correlation indicates causation, but I'm sure cooler weather and snuggly pajamas don't hurt. Except for one recent rough night (teeth? Overstimulation because my parents were staying with us? A random day? Who knows?) last weekend, he's sleeping either all night long or with one wakeup at 5am for nursing. 

His naps have just shifted completely: about a week and a half ago, DH told me he put PB down for his morning nap, and the kid just didn't sleep. By the normal time of his afternoon nap, he was beat. After a couple of days of transition, PB is now down to one nap that starts around 11:30 or noonish and is generally around 3 hours long (unless he poops himself awake, which happened yesterday). This has shifted our schedule so we can't really be out and about at lunch time any more, but that isn't a huge deal.

New category! Potty time: We know a couple of people who have done the potty training boot camp 3 day process, and it sounded both exhausting and ineffective. One of the moms involved said potty training (using the 3-day program) was the absolute worst thing about parenting for her. So I asked myself: "what is the opposite of that approach?" and without too much effort I found a wealth of information about what is variously called Elimination Communication or Early Potty Training or the like. We checked out Diaper Free Before Three from the library, and DH and I both read it. We like the approach and the philosophy fits with our lives. So we're trying it.

Side note: My mother has already pretty much told me I'm stupid for doing this, but I think she sees this as a referendum on how she potty trained us. Note to grandparents: it's not. There's more than one way to parent and most of them are fine.

Anyway, the gist of this is, we have a little potty chair (like this one) and a few weeks ago we started sitting PB on the potty a few times a day when we change his diaper. This is nice because it gives one the chance to tidy up a bit and prepare the clean diaper while PB sits and "reads" a book or plays with a toy. In his usual easygoing fashion, he enjoys sitting on the potty. He's taken a pee in the potty a few times now, and each time he's been praised, but there's really no pressure to do anything at this stage in the game: we're just getting him comfortable with the potty and showing him that this is what folks do in the bathroom. (We had already moved his whole diaper-changing station in to the bathroom, so we were unwittingly primed for this)

Frankly, if we do things this way and it takes a year and a half to have him fully "trained", that is completely cool by me, because this doesn't feel like training, it's just establishing another pleasant little routine in PB's day (The book claims kids will be fully trained by 18 months! But the book was written to... sell books). My aim is to avoid tantrums, battles, screaming, and feces everywhere, all of which is the experience of folks I know who have done (and redone and re-re-done) the boot camp thing. So, pleasant potty time is here for now, and I suspect it's for keeps in our household.  

Monday, August 27, 2012

10 months

I have a new nephew! This means that PB had only 10 months to be the new grandchild for my parents. Now my brother's son is the newbie, and PB has to prepare to teach his cousin the ways of the world.

Weight: I'm presuming around 24 pounds. Definitely still hefty.

Length: No appointment this month, so I'm not sure.

What he's eating: These days, PB generally nurses in the morning (every other night or so, he's up around 5am to nurse and then go back to sleep. Otherwise he's up around when my alarm goes off - 6:30 or so - for the day), has breakfast with us, has some milk before his morning nap, eats lunch with whoever is around, has milk again before his afternoon nap, has another bottle around 4:30, eats dinner with us and then nurses before bed at night. His solid meals are becoming more complete, but he's definitely still getting much of his nutrition from milk.

Except for avoiding things made with nuts and honey (ahem - my extended in-laws must have missed ALL the memos, as they fed my child Honey Nut Cheerios when we were all on vacation together. Fortunately he neither had an allergic reaction nor contracted botulism but I was pretty pissed), we're mostly just feeding him whatever we're eating, or modified versions of the same. Except for tuna salad, he hasn't acted like there's any food he won't eat. (And he even ate that, just not much of it). 

Physical skills: He's downright graceful with getting himself up to a standing position, and more and more frequently he will forget himself: holding a book or a toy while he's standing, not supporting himself on anything. There have been a couple of instances when he's half-stumbled-half-stepped from the chair to the couch in our living room. He also likes to bop up and down to music, which I'm sure is not just adorable (though it truly is) but is also making his legs even stronger.

Besides working on those pre-walking skills, he's just getting better at getting in to EVERYTHING. I bought a pack of cabinet door locks and really need to get them installed, because opening cabinet doors and removing all the contents is PB's idea of a party.

He crawls very quickly. One of our new favorite games is chasing each other around the couch. Sometimes PB and I just stake out on opposite ends of the couch, giggling uncontrollably while we're hiding from each other. Then one of us hears the other one's giggles getting closer, and the chase is on! I have had evenings recently when my knees were practically raw after crawling around the couch so many times. PB must have kevlar in his knees or something.

Teeth: Seven... or eight? On of his eyeteeth is definitely through. I haven't made visual confirmation of the other one, but I suspect it's there.

Favorite toys: A week ago, there was a town-wide yard sale in the suburb next to ours, and I found the raddest Caterpillar front-loader toy for $3: it's huge and yellow and has giant wheels, and seemed like it had hardly been played with. PB loves it. When we first put it out for him, he lit up and zoomed right over to it.
Verbal skills: He babbles a lot, and often he seems to just be playing with the sound of his voice. One day recently I was walking down the stairs and he was playing in the living room, standing up in front of the couch, and he looked up at me and said, "MOM-EE". Clear as day. DH and I both repeated it back to him: "Did you say 'mommy?' " But I'm still pretty sure he's not actually connecting that word with me. I do think he connects some sounds with us: for a few months he has said "ma-ma-ma-ma" when he's hungry, and he says "dadadada" around DH at times.

It makes me wonder: how do people distinguish a kid's actual first word? Because it's clear to me that he's experimenting with syllables and sounds, and taking in to account when we reinforce or repeat certain sounds to him. So eventually "dadadada" will work itself in to "daddy", but I think it's going to be hard to pinpoint the moment when those sounds become a word for him. It's all a lot more gradual than I expected it to be.  
Social skills: He's started doing some direct imitation: this past weekend, DH and I were both drinking Cokes out of bottles. I took a sip of mine and made a refreshed "aaah" sound afterward. Then DH did the same thing. PB watched us with interest, so we both did it again. Then he turned to me and went "hhhaaahhh". It was exceptionally cute. The three of us spent the rest of the afternoon all sounding very refreshed at each other.

This past Sunday, PB had breakfast with his grandparents and dinner with his great-grandparents, so there were two meals in the same day when he had an audience of 4. He becomes a complete jibber-jabber box when there is conversation around the dinner table. He hams it up a lot more when there are other people besides his boring parents around: babbling, pretending (briefly) to be shy, holding up pieces of food, clapping... it's quite the show.

Sleep: Overall, PB's sleep has been pretty good. He's had his first real cold for the past 5 days or so, and there were a couple of nights of coughing himself awake and wanting to nurse more than usual, but it was all pretty understandable. I think he's over the worst of the cold now, and is just gunky, so he's mostly been sleeping 7:30pm to 6:30ish am, with two naps during the day.

Oh yeah, the cold:  I always used to think little kids with snotty noses are gross: like, I'd get a little bile-in-the-back-of-the-throat thing when I saw a super-snotted kid. Now I'm basically unfazed by it, and am all about cleaning up that nose. PB is not thrilled about my enthusiasm. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

9 months

PB had his 9-month doctor appointment on Tuesday, and he's huge. He's also awesome. 
Weight: 23 pounds, 11 ounces - 95th percentile

Length: 29.5 inches - 90th percentile. He's also in the 95th percentile for head size.

What he's eating: Lots of solids! We're steadily moving toward a life where PB can just eat what we're eating, with minor modifications - no cow's milk, honey or nut things yet, and limited salt. But each day the solids are getting easier, it seems. We just try to give him a variety of colors and generally some protein, some carbs and lots of fruit and veggies.

Acidic things bother him a little bit - I was feeding him a bunch of pineapple (and eating some myself) and then PB was spitting up a lot, all the sudden. DH connected those dots.This makes sense - I haven't been drinking orange juice because he spit up all the time when he was new if I'd have citrus. So I think we need to go easy on the pineapple, too.

He is also trying to figure out how to drink from a cup - especially with his stacking cups in the bath tub. I'm pretty sure he's chugged some bath water at this point. Parenting win. I just picked up a couple of straw cups (rated for kids 12-months-plus, but he'll be there soon enough) so we'll see if he likes those.

We're still nursing, too. He either nurses or has a bottle 5-6 times in 24 hours.

Physical skills: Lightning-fast crawling, cruising along furniture and baby gates, and wiggling impossibly during diaper changes. This kid is on the move. His pincer grasp is very fine - he can easily pluck an individual pea off the high chair tray and put it in his mouth - and he enjoys taking apart his big Mega Blocks if we put them together.

Also, we'd been in the new house for less than 2 weeks when he figured out how to climb stairs and proceeded to climb a whole flight (with DH spotting him) on June 26. DH bought one of those baby corrals the next day.

Teeth: SIX. Four of his top teeth came in over the past month. Poor dude had a couple of rough nights, and I dosed him with Tylenol on two different midnights when he was clearly suffering. He's such a trooper... I hate how painful it is for him. We seem to be in a teething pause now, for which I'm thankful.

Favorite toys: This is typical: I was trying to tidy up the baby corral area in the family room, and we had these stackable plastic drawers that I've had since college that have moved with me many times. They didn't have an assigned place, so I put all the random toys in one drawer and the Mega Blocks in another and stacked them up in the corral area one night. The next morning, PB behaved like it was a Christmas Miracle in July, and proceeded to dismantle the entire set of drawers, including flipping over the Mega Blocks drawer so the blocks went everywhere. This is now one of his daily projects: we put everything together overnight, and he takes it all apart in the morning. I feel like the Drawer Fairy or something.

Verbal skills: He's babbling all the time, still a lot of "mamamama", and more of a variety of vowel sounds. 
Social skills: He has learned how to clap, and if one of us says "yay!" and claps our hands, he busts out a huge smile and claps, too. He also claps when I come home from work in the evening sometimes. This makes my heart explode.

We visited our good friends Bro and the Speaker and their little guy, who is 5 months old, last week. PB had a lot of interaction with the other baby and Bro's three pets: two cats and a dog. DH and I are brokenhearted cat people, of course, so we were anxious to see how PB did with the cats. Happily, he LOVED them. When he saw Layla, a tuxedo kitty, he immediately started laughing with excitement. I almost had to go elsewhere and cry because dear departed Corina was a tuxedo kitty and now I'm convinced he would have loved her as much as we did.

Bro's pets are really calm and used to a baby - though not one who's quite as mobile as ours - so they were good for him to be around. Their big sweet golden retriever gave him lots of licks on the face, which startled him sometimes, but he seemed to like it.

Overall, he's still pretty good with strangers. If we're in a store or something and a random person walks up and talks to him, he's generally pretty quick to smile.

Sleep: A couple of weeks ago I decided to try "dream feeding" - nursing him when he's basically still asleep around 10:30 or so before I go to bed. And since I've been doing that (with the exception of a couple of rough teething nights) he's been sleeping through the night: 7:30ish pm to 6:30ish am. Naps are getting fairly consistent: a morning nap of about an hour around 9:30, and a longer afternoon nap in the 1:30-2:00 range.

I may regret typing it in public, but I'm less tired these days. I am also, overall, less stressed at the moment, which I think helps with everything. A few weeks ago I had a low-grade fever for several days, and it wasn't until day 3 that I actually realized I was sick and not just exhausted. This kind of scared me. DH and I have been working on some medium-term plans to make sure we don't let ourselves get that overstressed (um, starting with not moving twice and having a baby all within 10 months - that's a poor plan). 

Friday, June 22, 2012

8 months

Over the last month, we moved. All our stuff is at the new house and we technically live in it, but it's going to be a long while before I feel settled. For the most part, PB handled the transition like a champ, and he had no difficulty settling in to his new room and getting down to the business of exploring all the new space.

Also, the new house has central air, just in time for the hottest June around these parts in 40 years. I keep wavering between being grateful and wondering if we're going to raise a spoiled kid who can't live without central air. (I have this concern because I have never lived in a building with central air before and thus presume people who grow up with it are spoiled. This may not be accurate.)

Weight: 22.4 pounds, according to the not-super-accurate scale at home.

Length: tall. His next appointment will be at 9 months so we'll see how tall then.

What he's eating: I'll admit that there were a few days during the move (which was a two-week-plus project) when PB ate cheerios, puffs and... that's about it. Now that we're settling in, we're being more intentional about the solids, and trying to make sure he gets a bit of protein (so far he's had chicken and turkey and really liked both) and some fruits and veggies. I picked up a pint of sugar snap peas at a farmer's market last week, and he couldn't get enough of them - we spent a pleasant late afternoon sitting on the deck, PB in my lap while I snapped the peas open and handed them to him, one by one. The advantage of this baby-led weaning we're doing is that, at a bit over 7 months old, his pincer grasp is so developed he can pick a pea out of my palm and pop it in his mouth, no trouble. It makes eating at outdoor events really simple.

This month he also tried Cheerios for the first through zillionth time, cornbread, some bagel, and a blueberry pancake. He ate the ENTIRE normal-sized pancake!

He's still nursing, too, of course. For a few days I was worried that, thanks to the stress of moving, thrush was making a return, as the familiar burn/pain was hitting me on the left side. I still had some APNO on hand and used that after each feeding for a while and it seems to be clearing up, thankfully.

We're trying to get more protein in to him so he's not just eating carbs all the time, so I think we're going to try yogurt soon and see how that goes, and add some beans to the mix. Most of his solid food protein has been from chicken or turkey so far. 

Physical skills: PB is pulling up on everything and likes to spend his time crawling around, finding places he can stand up. He's getting way more confident with standing: often he'll be holding a toy or reaching for something with one hand while supporting himself with the other - or he'll hold on with two hands and make a march-in-place step. Yikes! This makes for exciting times and the occasional tumble and head bonk, though 9 times out of 10 he catches himself and manages to plop on to his well-padded behind.

Despite his obvious trajectory toward walking, his crawling skills have continued to improve, too. He is FAST. It's fun to watch how quickly he can get himself across the room if he sees something (usually sharp or electrical) he wants to play with. 

Teeth: Technically, there are still only two. Still. After another MONTH of extreme drooling, constant chewing, and now waking up twice a night again to nurse away what I suspect is gum pain, we have... nothing. DH and I have both noticed a bump in the upper front gums, so I'm presuming that's the culprit. But at the rate it's going I think this tooth will never break through. PB's overall mood has still been happy, though - I think he just spends all day chewing so he doesn't feel too bad.

Favorite toys: Everything! We've been moving and the house is chaos. Fun toys have included a hand-me-down tea kettle, various cardboard boxes, and anything which will make noise when drummed upon.

Verbal skills: Still a lot of "mamamama" and "bababa", but we're seeing more and more variety in PB's tone of voice. Lately he's been speaking in this sweet, happy, higher pitched voice. I think it's his coversational tone. It's hard to convey how completely adorable it is. I had him in our bedroom this past weekend while I was trying to sort out our clothes in to the closet. PB was pulling skirts down from hangers and chattering away while he explored the space. It was way too cute to be mad at.

Also, this is more of an aural skill, I suppose, but in his bath each night I try to clean his teeth with a washcloth, as recommended by our pediatrician. PB now understands me when I say "let's clean your teeth!"  He thinks it's a fun thing to do, so he grins and tries to chomp the washcloth when I say it now. I'm trying to be better about repeating words and phrases when I'm doing things with him, so he'll understand more things like this, but so far that's the only one I've noticed.

Social skills: This past month featured a few social situations that were a  lot of fun. PB got to spend a couple of the moving days with his great aunt, who also babysits his 1-year-old cousin. I'll call his cousin Blanche. PB loves Blanche like... like bees loves flowers? I don't know, he just thinks she is the greatest. Since they're only 5 months apart they make good playmates. A big part of the reason we moved was so PB could be closer to the other kids in the family, so this development has been gratifying for us to see.

I also went to a picnic wedding reception, just me and PB because DH was working on moving stuff, and PB was such a charmer even though he'd never met anyone there before. It helped that the groom, like DH, has a sizeable beard. I think that put PB at ease.

That is one really cute thing: PB loves facial hair, so any man with a beard is automatically getting it tugged - sometimes HARD - when he's close enough.

Sleep: This has been on-again, off-again, and I blame the dang teeth. The other night he was awake at 1am and 4am. Both times he nursed and went right back to sleep, and then he slept until almost 7, which was great, but I am tired. My completely made-up theory is that his gums just start to ache after a few hours of not-chewing when he's asleep.

I'm also thinking the phrase "I am tired" is just going to be in all these updates. Tired and happy, at least.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

So long, DOMA?

Let's hope. This looks like some progress from the courts: Federal Appeals Court Calls Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional

I don't know if it's the nitty-gritty work DH and I have been doing while we raise an ever-more-mobile tyke and tackle buying a house together, or if it's that our recent method of unwinding at the end of the day has been to catch reruns of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" on Netflix (Oh, Thom. Can you please come decorate my house for me?), but I've been feeling really impatient about this issue lately.

If people want to get married, let 'em. End of story. Let's focus our energy on some actual problems.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

7 months

Weight: Around 21 pounds, according to the bathroom scale.

Length: we haven't measured, but he's noticeably taller recently.

What he's eating: Still mostly breastmilk, but he eats solids twice a day most days. We're trying to keep up variety, but his solid diet is heavy on fruit these days. Peaches were recently introduced, and he loved them. I've also been making homemade applesauce with some cinnamon, and that's a hit. He likes working with a spoon: I'll steer the spoon of applesauce toward his mouth, and he'll grab the handle of the spoon and jam it the rest of the way in to his mouth. Then he likes to chew on the spoon for a moment, or use it as a baton/gavel, then attempt to fling it to the ground if the attending parent isn't fast enough.

We have survived a nursing strike, which was a weird experience. For 5-6 days, he just wouldn't nurse. He'd clearly be hungry, and a few times when I tried to nurse him, he'd get as far as almost latching on, and then he'd just lean back and cry. So for a few days there it was exclusive pumping/bottles. I read somewhere to give a small bottle before an attempted nursing session, and to try to nurse when the kid is sleepy, so at bedtime the last few nights of the strike I'd been giving PB 3 ounces or so in a bottle, and then introducing the breast, which worked. Then one morning on a whim I decided to see if he would nurse normally, and to my surprise he did. After another couple of days, the strike mostly fizzled out. That was weird.

But one theory about nursing strikes is that they happen when the baby is reaching some kind of milestone, and he's been going gangbusters on the...

Physical skills. Last month he was "so close" to crawling, and working on sitting up. Now he can:

 a)  sit up for as long as he wants
 b)  crawl - this is now old news for him
 c)  about 1.5 weeks ago he started pulling up on his knees, and
 d)  a few days ago he began pulling up on to his feet.

He spends probably a couple of hours a day on his feet now: he just crawls around to different stuff (the couch, the coffee table, a skirt if I'm ever wearing one, and now the boxes that are starting to pile up) to pull himself up. He's so long he can reach anything that's on the couch now, too. We're so close to closing on this new house, and we could really use the space and the freedom to fully babyproof a place!  

Teeth: Still holding steady at 2, but we're expecting more any day now: PB is always drooling and chewing, and sometimes he seems to be feeling around on his upper gums with his finger. We both keep checking around in there for signs of new chompers, but no evidence yet. The first two popped up quickly after months of chewing and drooling, so I think they just take their time to surface.

Favorite toys: His board books (we stack them up all neat at night, and the first thing he does in the morning is crawl over and pull them all down), especially "That's Not My Bear", the couch (for pulling himself up), the power cord on the laptop and anything else he's not supposed to have. Oh, and most of the other things recently mentioned.

Verbal skills: Still plenty of "mamama" and "bababa", more frequent babbling, especially when he's starting to get a little tired, and plenty of laughing. Sometimes (like when I blow air at the mobile over his changing table and make it move while we're relaxing in the chair in his room) he says, "ooooh", which is (shocker) really cute. He's also getting LOUD - sometimes the babbling is VERY SHOUTY. But it's mostly happy, so that's cool.

Social skills: Still pretty good, though he's shown some signs of stranger anxiety in public situations recently. He's also getting smart about attention: he's starting to do that thing kids do wherein he falls down or bonks his head and then gauges the reaction of the adults around him before he starts crying. Unless I'm in the room, then he just howls. And then I pick him up, because I'm a total sucker.

Sleep: Looking back at the 6-month mark, I'm surprised at how used to new patterns I get. He's sleeping through the night every night now: down for bed by 7:30pm, waking up around 6:15am.

This is awesome, and I'm used to this... but I'm really tired. When he was waking up at 4am, I'd go nurse him in his dark room and then we'd all go back to sleep. Now that he's up FOR THE DAY at 6ish every morning, relentlessly, I realize I'm just not getting enough sleep. Yes, I'm pretty sure I'm more sleep-deprived now that our kid is sleeping through the night than I was when he wasn't. Of course, there is other stuff going on (all the last-minute house crap, packing for our second move in less than a year, my busiest week of the year at work last week) but I can never sleep in late in the morning (and "late" now is 7am). Ever. Again. For, like, what? 8 years or something? Sigh. And I can't just bring him to bed right when he wakes up, because he's really awake, ready to crawl and climb and babble and shriek, and not even all that hungry right away so he won't snuggle and nurse or anything, he wants to move.

I just re-read the last few sentences, and it reads something like "ugh, my baby is so happy and healthy... what a pain!" And I really don't want to be that person. I'm just tired. Very happy and grateful for our unbelievably sweet baby, and tired. I understand this is pretty normal for parents.

Friday, April 27, 2012

6 months

SIX MONTHS? Half a year? That was fast. And PB decided to get a lot accomplished in the past month. Meanwhile, everything's still crazy (good crazy! Very good crazy!) with job/housing stuff, so I am yet again late with this update. But here it is. He had a doctor's appointment on the day he hit the six-month mark, so I have real stats! 

Weight: 19lb, 9oz. (90th percentile)

Length: 27.5 inches (90th percentile)

Head circumference: I never pay attention to the actual numbers, but he's also in the 90th percentile here.

What he's eating: He started solids! On the morning of April 2, I was sitting with PB on my lap while I ate breakfast, which included a banana. PB was reaching like crazy for the fruit, so I broke off a small piece and held it in front of him. He nabbed it and popped it in his mouth immediately. I couldn't really see his face, but DH said he looked very thoughtful for a moment. He s-l-o-w-l-y chewed it, and we kept expecting him to spit it out, but nope!

Since then he has tried oatmeal, pears, pineapple, green beans, a crust of bread, and red bell pepper. We're doing this Baby-Led-Weaning style: we put food in front of him (the fruits and veggies are cut up in to easy-to-grab stick shapes) and let him play with it, basically. Sometimes it winds up in his mouth. So far he seems to like everything he's tried.

All his actual nutrition is still coming from breastmilk. The solids, at this point, are basically a fun toy, and we've been getting him used to sitting in his high chair with us when we're eating breakfast. That's given us a fun preview to family meals in the future.

Physical skills: He is SO CLOSE to crawling. He now rocks on his hands and knees all the time. Even without formal crawling skills, he's really getting around: he'll get himself across the living room in under 2 minutes, especially if something dangerous/electrical is in his line of sight. This is correlating with an increased difficulty in the diaper-change department, because now about half the time I try to change him, he flips over on his tummy and starts trying to make quick with the getaway. It's becoming a wrestling match. 

NEW CATEGORY! Teeth!: He has two teeth now! April 2 was a big day - first the banana, then DH called me at work that afternoon and said he felt a tooth coming through. Over the next few days, we started to be able to see them. PB handled them pretty well - he mostly kept chawing on everything. There was one night when he woke up abruptly, screaming (very out of character for him), and looking back we think that might have been the night when they actually cut through his gums. It was a bit scary for me, as he generally just makes enough noise to alert us that he's awake, but he was really hollering, even after I picked him up. He didn't really calm down until he was nursing. But I think that was because his gums hurt.

As DH has pointed out, we're spoiled: if PB cries for a half hour, we're both freaked out that something's really wrong.

Favorite toys: Blue car, anything made of paper (he has attempted to eat at least one library book), sock monkey, O-Ball, the toy from his high chair, food.

Verbal skills: He babbles all the time now: "mamama" and "babababa". He does this cute thing where he babbles while chewing on something, which is handy when I turn my back and he scoots over to DH's slippers and starts gnawing on them. (Yes, sometimes we're convinced we managed to produce a puppy).

Social skills: Happily, he's still a really sociable little guy. One of my dearest friends and her husband were in town for a few days, and PB took to them right away: all smiles and babbling (and drool! He likes to share that, too). The day he turned 6 months old, he got to spend a little time with his 10-month-old cousin. I think he's not entirely sure what to do about other babies, but neither is she: she kind of bapped him in the face a few times, I think to see what he would do. He mostly took it in stride, though he looked a little surprised.

Sleep: Still generally waking up once, between 4 and 5am. We've made an attempt at not getting up, to see if he'll just settle himself back to sleep, but the result of that has been that I'm awake from 4:30am until my alarm goes off, sitting in bed, just listening to him make noise in the other room. And then he's crazy-tired when his normal morning nap time comes around. And I'm getting even less sleep than I would if I got up with him. So this is perhaps not the best solution. Beyond that, though, he's sleeping pretty consistently: bedtime by 7:30pm, sleeps through to that one wakeup, otherwise (if I get up when he does and change/nurse him) he sleeps until 6:30 or 7am. Two to three naps per day, not on any kind of real schedule. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

5 months

I'm a couple of days late with this because cool stuff has been developing behind the scenes here in Schmeiland, both with possible future housing and with my job. But all this means I have had less spare minutes of late, and I'd rather spend them snuggling PB (or catching up on one of the inevitable chores he creates) than sitting at the computer. So: delay. But here's the update:

19.6 pounds on his 5-month birthday, according to the bathroom scale.

Length/ Head circumference: No appointment this month, so no update here.

What he's eating: Still strictly breastmilk. We've been having a terrible heat wave (in March - damn global warming) and I don't know if it's that, but he's been drinking less at a time and asking for milk more frequently these days. My theory is that he's thirsty (rather than hungry) from the heat. I don't know. In a given day, he still eats about the same amount as he did before.

He goes to bed by 7:30 each night, and I pump before I go to bed. Lately the late-night pumped milk has been going straight in to the freezer because we don't need a bottle overnight, so our freezer stash is starting to look good.

Physical skills: He's gone mobile. Whenever I say or think that, it's in the same tone one would use to say "Skynet has become self-aware". Fortunately, it's still pretty limited: he moves around by flipping over one way, shimmy-pivoting, then flipping over the other way and repeating. But he made it halfway across the living room in a matter of minutes... so it's happening!

He's also started reaching for food - especially drink glasses - when we're eating. His aim is getting more accurate: any day now he's going to slap the drink out of my hand.

Additionally, he's getting good at grabbing anything about the face: hair, earrings, glasses, etc. He's a fan of DH's beard, and he's managed to fling my glasses to the ground a couple of times now. His default mode is this repetitive grasping motion with his hand: he's constantly palming a surface and then bringing his hands together. If he grabs something, he'll explore it (usually by bringing it to his mouth), otherwise he keeps on searching.

We've seen him stick his rear in the air a couple of times when he's been on his tummy. I think he just has to put all the component motions together in the right order, and he'll be crawling.

Favorite toys: Sock monkey, burp rag, blankets, anything chewable. No visual or tactile signs of teeth yet, but he's all about chewing everything, including the fingers of whomever is holding him.

Verbal skills: The "tugboat" sound, which I worried was fading away, has come back with an adorable vengeance! And now he's doing it while changing the tone of his voice, and it sounds like he's trying to sing. Gah. Kills me. Otherwise he's making occasional consonant sounds: "ma" and "ga" here and there. Sometimes he says "mamamama..." and I act like he's referring to me. I know he isn't yet. But it still makes me happy.

Social skills: No sign yet of any fear of strangers. If PB is met with a new person, he often starts out quiet, but curious. He generally spends a few moments kind of taking it all in before he makes any noise or tries any interaction. One exception is PB's Uncle Adam (DH's oldest brother) who lives overseas. Adam visited last week, and the kid was all over him. I suspect the fact that Adam bears a striking similarity to his dad (PB's very doting grandfather) helped PB feel at home with him, but I was surprised at his complete lack of hesitation: as soon as PB saw him, he reached out to grab his facial hair.

Sleep: For two nights the week he hit 5 months, he slept for 11 hours straight: 7:30pm to 6:30am. Now that I've typed it out, it won't happen again, but he picked days when I really needed some sleep, and I feel fantastic in the morning if I'm not getting up at 4am to feed him. The norm is still one wake up, around 4:00, which is totally doable (and I'm generally happy to offload some milk by that point, anyway). His bedtime is now pretty consistently between 7:15 and 7:30pm. Naps are slightly more regular, now that DH figured out that the kiddo tends to want to go down for his next nap around 3 hours after he went down for the last one. That formula has held for a couple of weeks now, and PB sometimes naps for as long as 2.5 hours... though 1 hour seems pretty standard.

Now to post this before I need to start on the 6 month update! I can't believe this kid has almost been around for half a year already...

Monday, March 12, 2012

Boob juice: the flu edition

Last week I got the flu. At least, I think I did: I started Thursday off by turning down DH's offer to fry up a couple of eggs, and instead had ginger ale for breakfast because I was feeling queasy. I still went to work, though. After a few hours spent shivering and groaning in my office, and feeling progressively worse, I made the decision to come home.

Of course, my number one concern was that I didn't want to give this to PB with his underdeveloped little immune system - that's probably why I trudged off to work in the first place. Once I had determined I really was sick and it wasn't just something I ate, I started making myself incredibly anxious that my baby was going to get ill. I tried to think through how I could spend time at home and not touch PB.

Fortunately, DH was thinking along the same lines, and his brain wasn't feverish, so he asked Dr. Google for the scoop. It turns out that snuggling up with baby is exactly what a nursing mom should do if she's ill. Not only does it make a miserable mom feel a little better (ed. note: it does. I needed some snuggles) but breastmilk is full of up-to-the-moment antibodies so the nursing baby never needs to fight through the infection. In several places, we read that often when a whole family gets sick, the nursing baby is the one person who's healthy the whole time.

Man, this stuff really is kind of like magic.

I now feel mostly fine: I'm taking it bland and easy on my diet for a little while longer, but the freezing fever, aches, etc are all long gone. 5 days after I showed symptoms, PB still seems just fine. Fortunately, so does DH, contributing to our theory that this was the flu for which we got shots in the fall... I was only really sick for just over a day, while quite a few people I know were fighting it in earnest for about a week.

When DH told me that I was keeping PB from getting the flu, I understood for just a moment why some women have difficulty stopping the nursing relationship. Being able to just give another person that kind of immunity really is like having a superpower.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

4 months

PB is already four months old, and I realized with some sadness that I'm already starting to forget things from when he was a newborn. Of course we were all pretty tired in the first few weeks, and that can lend a haze to the recall function, but still - it's nice to remember these things.

I'll try to be better about a monthly update from here on out, since he changes so much these days. So here's what's up with him at 4 months old - and it's pretty wordy, since this is the first of these I've done:

His 4-month appointment was on 2/22, two days after he turned 4 months old.

Weight: 17lb, 10 oz (90th percentile)

Length: 26.5 inches (95th percentile)

Head circumference: 98th percentile

So... he's pretty big!

What's he eating: Exclusively breastmilk, approximately 24oz from bottles while I'm at work, and then three nursing sessions per 24 hours. On days I'm home he gets almost all his milk from nursing, though there's an occasional bottle if I'm out running an errand or something. So: easily over a quart of milk per day. We're putting those Poly-Vi-Sol with Iron drops in one bottle a day (99% of the time DH is the one who remembers/does this, thankfully). They make his poop stink like metal. But I guess that's good.

Physical skills:

* Rolling from his tummy to his back is old hat for him.

* He's found his hands, and they are usually in his mouth, except when they're grabbing toys/burp rags/ his dad's beard or mom's dangling earrings. I can't believe there was a time when he didn't grab everything, but that was actually just over three weeks ago.

* Sometimes he just chills on his tummy during his tummy time, and while he's doing that he does a sustained pushup while moving his legs in a very pre-crawl kind of way. His neck is quite strong now and he will also look around a lot while he's on his tummy - if one of us is walking around the apartment he'll just track us, and then smile if we stop and say hi/make a face/ do something goofy.

* Lately he's also started rolling over on to his back and then figuring out how to do a Stooge-esque move wherein he wiggles himself around in a circle, with his head at the center. He does that in his crib, too, so sometimes when he wakes up from a nap he'll be facing the opposite direction from the way he was set down. That's all recent - within the last week.

* Overall, the dude never stops moving, and he is STRONG. He wiggles so much during diaper changes that it's becoming something of a wrestling match, and he's thwacked me in the face with his head so hard a couple of times that I've had actual concerns about chipping a tooth or breaking my nose. Neither has happened yet, fortunately.

* The amount of drool he produces in a day is astounding.

Favorite Toys:

Sophie the Giraffe, The Sqwish, The OBall, and burp rags.

Verbal skills:

* He's definitely laughing now, though it's at kind of random times. Often when he gets placed on the changing table, he does a giggle-SHRIEK combo that encourages me to do a lot of silly stuff to draw out changing time because it's a lot of fun. Of course, changing diapers takes twice as long now, anyway, on account of the wiggles, so I'm glad he's happy there.

* When DH plays his guitar, PB likes to babble along. Sometimes he makes extended "aaaaaaa" sounds, almost like singing. And sometimes he makes that noise while holding his hands up like he has a harmonica, so it looks like he's accompanying his pa. Cute!

* He's also making a cute "bppppththtt" tugboat-type sound. He's been doing that for a little over a month now.

Social skills:

* PB is really a happy baby, though he's definitely a morning person. We had a family funeral this past weekend, and he didn't handle the visitation well (I would normally not take a 4-month old to a visitation, but there were automobile logistics involved) because it was late in the evening, he slept in the car on the way there, and when he woke up there were 4 complete strangers (excited cousins) looming over him, so he was kind of overwhelmed. On the other hand, the church service was the next day at 11:30am, and he did wonderfully: he quietly sat and watched the ceiling fans, chewed on his hands or a burp rag, and played with his great uncle's glasses for the hour. He babbled a little toward the end of the service, but several people actually thanked me afterward - they said hearing a baby in church helped remind them that life goes on. I was concerned about the lunch after the service (the funeral was for DH's 90-year-old grandfather, and nearly all of his very numerous descendants were present), but he handled the crowd well, and did a lot of smiling and looking around while he was passed from relative to relative. He definitely recognizes the voices of DH's parents - he generally reacts with a smile when he hears them, especially his grandmother, who's crazy about him.


I'm going to be very wordy about this, because in the last month or so this has changed drastically for us.

* We're settling in to a decent nighttime sleep routine. Bed time is 7pm, so around 6:15 I start to draw a bath. I give PB his bath in the bathroom tub (dude's too big for the kitchen sink now!) in his green foam baby tub, which is not ideal but we only really need it until he can sit up on his own. I just climb in to the tub barefoot with shorts on and crouch over him to bathe him - it's the easiest way to manage bathing him at this point - again, when he's a little bigger I'll probably kneel next to the tub, but at this point I have to support him somewhat, so I'm often using my foot to keep the little tub propped up while I use my hands to bathe him. (I've heard of people just taking a bath with their baby, but then isn't the aftermath too slippery? How do you get both of yourselves dried off? I don't know how well that would work for us.)

PB used to not be a big fan of the bath. Now he's OK with it, and sometimes I get a few smiles. If he has a washcloth to hang on to and chew, he's pretty content. After the bath, he gets a triple-stuffed diaper (just started tripling 2 nights ago, with good results), PJs, a sleep sack and hat, and then we enjoy a nice long nursing session in the chair in his room. His room has a dimmer light, which is perfect because I can set it to almost-off and help him get drowsy while he eats. Half the time he falls asleep at the breast, which they say isn't the best sleep training, but "they" can deal - it's adorable and he's happy. The other half the time I'll put him in his crib drowsy and he might complain for a few minutes, but it's rarely longer than 8-10 minutes, and his heart isn't in it. He wakes up once or twice a night. If he's up before 1am, DH gives him a bottle of milk and puts him right back down. If it's after 1am, I nurse him. If he sleeps that long (which he's been doing more often lately), I usually have to change his PJs, and sometimes his crib sheet, because he's peed through everything - hence the triple-stuffing, which has helped this problem. I get all the fabric changing out of the way first so he can nurse himself back in to a stupor afterward. He generally looks wide awake when I put him in his crib after a night feeding, but he doesn't make much noise at all, usually just a little chatting to himself before he drops back to sleep. He wakes up for the day between 6:00 and 7:30am (though this weekend after a particularly tiring day he slept until 8:30! On a Sunday morning! I was in heaven).

* Side note: Evenings are nice. DH and I have our dinner after PB is in bed - often DH is cooking while I'm doing the whole bath/bed routine - so we have a couple of hours of just-the-two-of-us time to eat and chat and watch a little TV or whatever. I'm not sure why, but I didn't expect that perk.

* Naps are not completely consistent, but it often seems to hinge on the morning nap: if PB gets an hour or more at the 9am nap, he's pretty happy for the rest of the day. If the 9am nap doesn't work out well, the rest of the day's naps are usually crap, and he's a crank by the evening. On good days (which are more common) PB takes 2 long naps (1.5 - 2 hours each) or 3 shorter (45 minutes - 1 hour) naps. The longest nap he's taken when I'm home is an hour and 15 minutes... I think the dynamic is just different if I'm around all day and he's nursing, rather than getting bottles.

For naps, we're generally just following the guidelines in "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" that say an infant shouldn't be awake for longer than 2 hours at a time. PB gives pretty clear cues that he's getting sleepy, though: starting to whine (annoying) and rubbing his eyes (adorable).

All this wordiness may convey that I was a little bit obsessive about sleep. When PB was almost 3 months old, I read in Dr. Spock that children should be able to go to sleep on their own when they're put to bed "drowsy but awake" by 4 months of age. This freaked me out, because at the time we didn't have a consistent bedtime or routine, and putting him down for his long (maybe 5 hours) sleep at night involved a long time (sometimes upward of an hour) of rocking/bouncing/shushing/etc. to try to get him to sleep around 11pm. I'm a little stunned to realize that a month ago we were still doing all that - and still wrapping PB up in a swaddle blanket at night. And only a couple of weeks before that he was doing all his sleeping in the swing.

I checked out probably 8 different sleep books from the library. Part of the reason there are a zillion sleep books to choose from is that every baby is a bit different... so we just decided to pick and choose what sounded reasonable for the baby we have. In the end, I think the folks who needed the most "training" were DH and me. Once we tried a routine, PB took to it right away, and now, as Dr. Spock predicted, we can put him in his crib still awake and he will go to sleep.

* The night after his 4-month shots, PB went to sleep just before 7pm (he fell asleep at the breast - he was pretty tired) and slept for TWELVE HOURS STRAIGHT. He has never done that before, and I'm sure it was because of the shots, but wow... I felt so well-rested.

I also felt like my chest was going to explode, but such is life.

Things change so quickly with this guy. I wonder what I'll be writing about him in another month!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The birthening, part 3: Wednesday, or, Progress? Please?

Ed. Note: I had a self-imposed deadline to finish my birth story: March 22, The Speaker's due date. Then that kid decided to go and get born 6 weeks early. Happily, they're all fine, but that thwarted my plan... so I'm just finishing it when I'm finishing it.

By around midnight Tuesday night, I felt like we were down to the business of getting this kid born: my water had broken on its own, my contractions were becoming intense, and when I took a bathroom break, the second dose of Cervadil just... um... fell out.

Ick. Sorry.

Frankly, that kind of grossed me out, too, but it told me that my cervix was open enough that it couldn't hold the weird dosage suppository thing in place anymore, so I was making progress! Apparently every gross thing was a sign of progress.

I called the nurses to tell them about the Cervadil, and the midwives showed up to talk things over with me. I would have a few hours to labor without meds, and then they'd hook me up to an IV of pitocin. I wasn't looking forward to that, and I was briefly sad that I couldn't use the bath tub because my bag of waters was already broken... but the midwives said that was crazy, I should feel free to labor in the tub. So DH and I shuffled over to the bathroom.

(As an aside: I've read and heard plenty of stories about women being in shared rooms during their labor and delivery, and I just don't know how they did it. I would have murdered someone if I'd been sharing the room with other laboring women. As it was, there were several times over the three days when we could hear women in other delivery rooms SCREAMING while they were pushing, followed by the crying of a newborn baby. Early on, that made me anxious. Toward the end of my labor, it made me sad because I kind of knew that wouldn't be me.)

At some point around the breaking of my waters, DH's presence went from "nice and comforting" to "absolutely required". I was starting to have trouble getting through contractions without his coaching, and I think the real shift to seriousness happened in that bathroom, while I was laboring in the bath tub and he was perched on the toilet lid, timing contractions and talking me through them. While I was in the tub, the contractions got considerably more intense, and I found myself starting to vocalize: making "aaaaaah" or "haaaaah" sounds to get through them, relaxing my jaw at the same time.

When each contraction started, I would turn on the jacuzzi jets and roll on to my side so they were hitting me in the lower back, where it really hurt (um, back labor! But my brain wouldn't consider that, because back labor is hard, y'all). DH would time the contraction and tell me when it was halfway over: we learned in childbirth class that, around 30 seconds in, the pain won't get any worse and would start to dissipate. It became absolutely vital to me that he tell me when I'd passed 30 seconds. For the next entire day, he did just that, every 3 to 7 minutes: "you're halfway there". "OK, it's halfway over"; "You're past 30 seconds, you can make it." Over and over and over. Later in the process I recall he ran to the bathroom, and I had a contraction while he was away, and I thought I was actually going to die.

Also around this time, I think it was about 1:00am on Wednesday, time began to flow in a different manner. I began to lose any idea about what time or day it was - time was either a contraction or the pause between contractions. (This is why writing this has been so difficult. For the rest of this story, I've made a good-faith effort to keep things in chronological order, but I may be mis-remembering the order of things.)

Unfortunately, the contractions still weren't coming regularly - there could be anywhere from 3 to 7 minutes between contractions, which is a big difference.

We passed several hours this way: first I labored in the tub, then I got my gown back on and tried various positions in the room: squat-sitting on the birthing ball and leaning over on to the foot of the bed, standing up with the birthing ball on the bed so I could collapse over it (this became one of my favorites because someone could easily apply hard pressure to my lower back), and others. I absolutely couldn't just sit through a contraction, and even lying on my side was becoming difficult.

At some point during the night, they started me on pitocin, which made the contractions even more intense.

At 8:00am, Gina - my absolute favorite midwife - started her 24-hour shift. For months I'd been telling myself I wanted to have the baby on Gina's watch, and now it seemed like my dreams were coming true.

Some time around 9am Wednesday, Gina came in. She checked me, and I was dilated to 3.5 centimeters... no progress since the last midwife check earlier in the night, but she said that wasn't an issue - I'd still made some progress with the Cervadil, my water had broken on its own, and there were no signs of distress for me or the baby, so we were just going to keep things rolling along. That sounded good to us. She did offer to call the volunteer doula, which we'd shown an interest in before. DH and I thought about it for a second and said to go ahead.

Breakfast was brought in - eggs and stuff - and I knew I needed to eat to keep up my energy (plus we'd chosen this hospital because they let moms eat during labor) but food was starting to lose its appeal. I forced down some oatmeal. DH ate most of the rest, because he was starving, too.

Jessica the volunteer doula arrived later in the morning. Calling her was the Greatest. Decision. Ever. We automatically felt at ease with her, and I was so relieved to have someone on the team with DH so he could do things like take bathroom breaks or get a snack or just not be "on" the whole time. Plus, she was able to run some interference with the nurses and midwives, which was awesome because they were all ridiculously busy, this being approximately 9 months after Blizzaster 2011 - a bumper crop of babies were being born the week we were in the hospital. As a trained doula, Jessica made suggestions for labor positions/vocalizations, said all the right encouraging things during contractions, made sure I always had super-hot soaked chux pads on my lower back (a Godsend for back labor) and even went out to the waiting room and calmed down my family, who were all trying not to freak out about how long everything was taking. I was so, so grateful for her being there. I didn't expect to even really want a doula, and she ended up being such an integral part of the process for us... it still amazes me.

By midafternoon I became even more charming: after every third contraction or so, I started vomiting. Jessica, dear heart, held the puke tray while DH pressed down on my lower back. I honestly got a little excited about the puking. I thought, "hey, this is progress! Don't you puke during transition? Maybe I'm dilated to, like, 7 or something..."

Labor messes with your head.

Here's where someone might ask: OK, Schmei, the whole labor process wasn't going the way you'd hoped - why not get some painkilling meds? And the truth is, I was totally open to the idea of something like an epidural to help me rest. I was, in fact, asking Gina about it - but I hadn't progressed enough. If they administer an epidural before "active labor" - usually at 4 centimeters - it often has the effect of slowing labor or stopping it completely. Since I was already being induced (forcing labor against my body's wishes), that would have been counterproductive. So I had to work up to 4 centimeters. And at this point in the day, my thinking was moving to that: let's get far enough so I can get an epidural and get some rest before I have to push this kid out.

Also, that the hours and hours of contractions didn't count as active labor still kind of pisses me off. I was active! And laboring! What more did the universe want?


Sometime in the late afternoon, Gina checked me again. We were all hoping for progress.

She reluctantly told me the news:

"Three and a half."

No way. NO. WAY. After HOURS of pitocin and God knows how many contractions? Still? What was I doing wrong? I wasn't visualizing enough, or breathing deeply enough, or something... and how much longer could I do this? I hadn't slept in two days, I couldn't keep food down... I was tired. More tired, actually, than I had ever been in my life. I was starting to wonder how on earth I'd have the energy to push him out whenever I did finally dilate to 10.

And in the back of my mind, there was the kernel of a thought that I just wouldn't dilate to 10... that we were looking at a c-section. But I mostly ignored that thought. I went back to what I was doing wrong. Maybe I was too tense during contractions, despite all my efforts to relax.

I asked Gina what my options were for pain relief. Since I hadn't progressed enough for the epidural, that was out, but she could give me a narcotic to dull the pain. I accepted it, leading to one of the only regrets I have about that process: that stuff (Nubain? I'm not sure) sucked. I did get a little pain relief, but I was mostly just out of it - half-asleep, disconnected from the world for a while. And since I was so fatigued, I never completely recovered from it: for the rest of the labor process I had difficulties keeping my eyes open for more than a few seconds, and many times I would have one eye closed while the other struggled to focus on something. It was weird.

And that was the start, I think, of the slow march to the operating room.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A list

1) I did a little math and realized I am producing a quart of milk, give or take, every day. A QUART.

2) You'd think that would mean our freezer is full of backup milk, but nope! I'm barely keeping up with the kid's daily needs.

3) We weighed him like a turkey (or a camping backpack) the other day, and our home scale says he's pushing 17 pounds. Not surprising, since he's drinking A QUART OF MILK EVERY DAY.

4) I'm hungry all the time, and I'm drinking - no lie - about 100 oz of liquid per day. See #1.

5) I threw out my shoulder/neck a few days ago. See #3. Also: cribs are not ergonomic, especially not for short women... which is, like, half of all parents. OK, I guess there are tall women out there. But I'm not one of them.

6) The little guy is learning how to laugh. I'm grateful for this intermediate stage, where his laughs are kind of tentative, because they make my heart aaaallmost explode. He's giving me a chance so I'll survive his first belly laugh. Hopefully.

7) We are doing some gentle sleep training. It is working, for the most part: he's been going to sleep at 7pm and sleeping until roughly 7am (the range is from 6am to 7:45 so far), with one to two wake ups during the night for a snack and a diaper change. It's a very livable routine for the whole family, especially now that DH and I have worked out the nighttime feedings so we both get a solid chunk of sleep. I think the good sleep is 30% our doing and 70% just that the universe blessed us with a relatively chill baby. We're doing sort-of cry-it-out stuff. He generally cries for 10 minutes or less, and it's totally an "I'm sooo sleeepy..." kind of cry. And then he sleeps for hours and wakes up super happy.

8) He could also be sleeping well because of #1 and #3.

9) I keep hearing that all the sleep routines go to hell at 4 months, so... one day at a time.

10) Almost every time I pump at work, someone knocks on my office door. Inconvenient, because I need to pump relatively frequently (see #1), and seriously? You don't want me to answer the door. We'd all be traumatized.

11) Because of #10, I am now having anxiety dreams about pumping at work, similar to those dreams you have as a kid about showing up to school naked. In the dreams, I'm pumping, with the office door open, without pants on, and there are like twelve people standing in my doorway. What I want to know is, where did my pants go?

12) I've decided to refer to the kiddo as PB on this blog, because I'm tired of calling him "the kiddo/kid/baby/dude/little guy", and I was so focused on protein when I was pregnant that he is probably 30% composed of peanut butter.

13) Last night PB only woke up once, around 2:30am. I nursed him on one side, then changed his diaper, and then was about to start nursing him on the other side when he spit up on my neck, purposely missing the burp rag. When I pulled him back to wipe off his face (and my neck - ew), he gave me a huge, gummy smile in the dim light. Which just made me hug him. Who else gets a hug for horking part of their meal on to my neck?

14) A year ago today I found out I was pregnant. That's nuts.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A side note

This is a non-baby-related post. In fact, this post is on the opposite end of the spectrum from my drooly, adorable son.

A former professor of mine posted a link to this story on facebook: 83-Year-Old Activist Priest Held in Solitary Confinement, which, through the comments, led me to this piece in The New Yorker about the US as a carceral state. Which led me to renew my subscription to that publication - something DH and I had been waffling about.

Though the Occupy protests by the 99% have been heartening, they don't seem to have touched very much on our enormous, expensive, embarrassing prison system - and I haven't heard much about how states like Florida disenfranchise felons for life, which, the way felony convictions get handed out, can effect the electorate fairly drastically.

And frankly... maybe this isn't that unrelated to my kid. Every one of those incarcerated people has a mother.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Birthening, part 2: Tuesday, or, Things eventually start to happen

DH and I dozed in the hospital room through Monday night. Every hour or so someone would come in to check my blood pressure, so I kept waking up, but I was generally able to get back to sleep. Around 7:00am someone brought a tray of breakfast - the food was actually pretty good at the hospital - and then at 8:00 the shift changed and the new midwives came in and talked with me.

I was starting to have mild contractions, but I couldn't even feel most of them. I had a second monitor strapped to my belly that indicated when a contraction was happening, but I generally wouldn't even know unless I was looking at the monitor right when the contraction started.

Once we were up, DH and I were relaxing and killing time before the real work began. We had brought a bunch of movies on VHS because the rooms only had VCRs, so we watched "The Empire Strikes Back". We had to pause it a few times for interruptions, including the arrival of my parents.

When Mom and Dad arrived, they seriously expected something to be happening. One of us told them it would be "at least twelve more hours, maybe longer", and they expressed surprise. I'm still not sure where they picked up the idea of an instantaneous induction... especially because my sister had gone through virtually the same scenario 18 months before. We told them they should go find some lunch while the midwife checks me out. (I know plenty of women who want their mother with them every step of the way during labor and delivery, but that's just not the relationship I have with my mom.)

At 11:00am the first Cervadil was removed, and the midwife checked me: no noticeable progress. No one was very surprised.

Since I was briefly unmedicated, I could take off the fetal heart rate monitor. I took a shower, which felt lovely, and then I put on my street clothes and DH and I took a brisk walk... down the hall. We weren't allowed to leave the labor and delivery area, so we walked laps back and forth, back and forth. I had a few contractions during the walk, but they were mild enough that I could walk through them. I hoped the contractions without meds were a sign that my body was starting to do some real laboring.

Labor is so weird: I was looking forward to pain as a sign of progress. When else do you want to be hurting?

My parents return from lunch while we were still briskly walking. We told them to just hang around my room and we'd catch up with them in a moment - I didn't want to lose that last chance to move the baby down before I was stuck in the room again.

Around 1:00pm, I got a second dose of Cervadil. Ouch again. While that was happening, my folks checked in to a hotel about 15 minutes away from the hospital.

My parents returned that afternoon... with my sister, who flew in as a surprise. I stayed in the hospital bed for most of the time they were visiting, because I had an open-backed gown and I didn't want to moon my whole family. Otherwise, though, I changed positions pretty regularly in the hopes that it would help move things along.

A few hours later, the contractions finally started to pick up. They were what I would call textbook contractions: I feel a tightening low in my abdomen that then moved up my belly, stayed tight for a time, and then dissipated. DH started timing them and he saw that they were lasting for about a minute. They were becoming uncomfortable, and I found myself starting to use belly breathing and relaxation techniques from my birthing class to get through them. By around 8:30pm I was lying on my side on the body pillow I brought from home (my trusty Snoogle!), trying to catch some sleep before things got really serious. When nurses came in to check my blood pressure, I just stuck my arm up - apparently the nurses were impressed with how relaxed and prepared we were, and commented about this to other staff in the midwife office.

Shortly after 8:30pm, we turned off all the lights and tried to make an early night of it, anticipating that we'd need to rest up for the day ahead. I kept dozing off, but waking up for contractions, breathing through them and relaxing different parts of my body. DH was fast asleep on the dad-cot about 10 feet away from me, and I let him sleep... I could handle these on my own, and (though I didn't know just how much yet) I knew he'd need the rest.

A bit after 10pm, I was awakened by a contraction. It was like the others: rolling up my midsection, tightening uncomfortably... and then something felt weird. I momentarily thought the baby was kicking, really hard, in the middle of the contraction. Maybe he was, but then I felt a definitive POP!... and a second later, a warm gush between my legs.

Oh, my God. My water just broke.

I yelled for DH, who was in a deep sleep at that point, so I had to shout his name while simultaneously fumbling for the nurse call button. Mere seconds after I told the nurses "my water just broke!", a crew of women swept in, all the lights came on, and there was a flurry of activity. I was somewhat stunned at just how much amniotic fluid there was: It just kept pouring out. Of me. Weird. It was also messy, and I kept apologizing to the nurses who were trying to clean me up. My hospital gown was soaked, as were the sheets on my bed, so the bed and I both got stripped down and changed. I couldn't really walk around anywhere without making a puddle, so I just stood awkwardly in one place while the gushing continued.

Academically, I knew I wasn't peeing all over myself, but it's hard to explain that to your emotional self when warm fluid is pouring down your legs.

The midwives came in shortly thereafter and checked the scene out. One of the nurses thought she saw meconium - baby poop - in the fluid. The midwife wasn't so sure, she thought it looked clear enough, which made me feel a better, but they were all keeping an eye on the heart monitor and my temperature to make sure things weren't getting sketchy.

My water breaking on its own was a good sign, all around - labor was finally taking off, it seemed. And sure enough, the contractions that came afterward were markedly different without the cushion of amniotic fluid. It would be days later that I would admit out loud to DH that what I experienced after my water broke was what is called "back labor": every contraction, for the next 22 hours or so, was located squarely in my lower back. And they weren't periods of tightness or mild discomfort any more. They were painful.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Boob Juice: I love it/ I hate it edition

So it's been three months of exclusively breastfeeding the little guy, and now I'm back at work 4 days a week (I work from home on Wednesdays).The situation has changed, once again, so I thought I'd record the recent changes - both in circumstances and in my attitude - in list form.

Stuff I love about breastfeeding:

- Nursing is a really snuggly time. I have a super-tall baby, so he wraps himself almost all the way around me when he's nursing, which keeps us both warm on these chilly days. When I burp him after he nurses, he likes to snuggle and chat, too - it's great quality time.

- As the kiddo's personality is coming out more, he gets really cute mid-nursing session: sometimes when he's no longer starving but he's not finished with his meal, he'll take a quick break to look up and me and smile. Sometimes he does this three or four times in a row: it's like early peek-a-boo. When he sees I'm still there, he looks SO HAPPY. Bonus cute points are earned when some milk runs down his cheek while he's making faces at me.

- This is selfish, but holy crap, this is the best weight-loss plan ever. I'm within 5 pounds of my pre-pregnancy weight, all my pre-pregnancy pants fit, and the only exercise I've done since giving birth is walking around. All this despite the fact that I'm hungry all the time and eating like it's going out of style. This is a very nice side effect of being a nursing mom.

- So far, I haven't had an issue with supply. I built up a stash of freezer milk before I headed back for work, which has helped while I've figured out how much I need to pump in the office. Now that I've been doing it for a couple of weeks, I think things are starting to regulate, and I'm grateful we haven't really had a panic about what the kid will eat.

- Dude is growing in leaps and bounds, and everything he's eating comes from me. It seems arrogant to be proud about that, but... whatever. I'm proud of it.

- I'm a D-cup. Va va va voom.

Stuff I don't love about breastfeeding:

- I'm a D-cup. Yeah, that's hawt and all, but the need to wear industrial-grade underwire bras all day makes it a little less awesome.

- All those nice things about nursing? Yeah, that doesn't happen during pumping, which I do 3-4 times a day on office days and once or twice on days I'm home. Being attached to a milking machine feels very bovine, and a little sad because I know what I'm missing (see snuggle description above).

- If I go more than about 4 hours without either nursing or pumping, I get uncomfortable. If I go more than 6 hours, I start to feel like my chest will explode. This is a bummer, because on the occasional night when the kiddo sleeps 8+ hours, I don't get to sleep that long: I have to get up at some point and pump. And it's not like, "oh, maybe I should pump", it's painful. So some days I feel like I will never ever sleep more than 7 hours straight ever again. I know this isn't true, but it will be several months, at least, before I'll have that chance.

- My kid is great about taking a bottle, but he prefers nursing... which means he likes to make up for lost time on days I'm away at the office. Lost time gets made up at 2am. Bleh. At least I don't have to wake up at 6 to pump?

- I am concerned that one of these days I'll forget the bottles or pump parts I have to tote back and forth from home to the office... and then I'll have to take the 30-minute train ride back to pick them up. Hasn't happened yet, but I've only been doing this for a couple of weeks so far.

I will say that, on balance, things have smoothed out, and I can see continuing this nursing relationship as long as the little dude would like (or until he's 2 - that's my limit). My advice to new moms who are considering it remains that it's worth a try and it's best to ask for help BEFORE you're crying about it. Because you'll get to the point when you look forward to nursing the tot, and you kind of feel like a superhero for being the source of his food and a major source of comfort, and contented post-nursing snuggles are really the tops for both parties.

Monday, January 23, 2012

2011 in Review

I'm always slow with New Year's stuff, but this is the Lunar New Year, so... happy year of the Dragon!

I'm fairly certain 2011 was the most life-changing year I've experienced thus far. It was also possibly the most difficult. It was definitely one of the most tiring. At the start of 2011 year I was a childless grad student, living in the city with my husband (also a grad student) and a cat. Now I have a master's degree, and a baby, and no cat, and I live in the suburbs. I still, fortunately, have the husband (who's now a doctor... of philosophy), but now we're parents, too. Those are some big changes in one year. When 2011 started, we didn't know the life and death stuff would happen - I had no inkling I'd get pregnant this year, and of course we thought our cat would live for many more years - which makes it all a little crazier.

Overall, I'm happy to bid adieu to 2011. With everything that happened in the year, I would like to think I've grown up a little. I still consider myself kind of a kid, though, and I wonder if I will still feel that way when I turn 30 this year.

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

Completed and defended a master's thesis.

Gestated a human being, experienced labor, then sustained said human with milk from my own body.

Moved to the suburbs (something I said I would never do).

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Eh, maybe I'll actually make some for 2012. Can I make a resolution to make resolutions?

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Haha! Me. Also: one of my coworkers, a close friend of mine, and one of my cousins. Lotsa babies.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Dear sweet Corina the wonder kitty. I still miss her daily.

5. What countries did you visit?

We stayed right here in the US. Again.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

Actual open dialogue with difficult members of my family.

More money*.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

January 6: the day we decided we'd think about having a kid.

February 10: the day I found out I was pregnant (yeeeah, that was fast!).

The second week of June: the week from hell (found out our baby's gender, put our cat to sleep, defended my master's thesis and celebrated DH's grad school graduation).

July 8: paid off the last of my student loan debt.

July 14: Our fifth anniversary - we took a much needed, very relaxing 4-night trip to Wisconsin to celebrate.

August 1: moved to our swanky new 2-bedroom apartment in the 'burbs.

October 20: birth of our firstborn son

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Finishing grad school and paying off the last of our debt were both pretty big, but I think welcoming our son in to the world kind of trumps all other achievements this year.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I still wonder sometimes: did I fail to realize Corina was getting really sick? Was I not aggressive enough about taking care of her before it was too late? I don't know.

Also, I didn't manage to birth my kid without major surgical intervention. It's dumb, but I do occasionally feel kind of like a failure for that.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I'm not sure if abdominal surgery counts... with the long recovery involved, I think it should, though, so there was that.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

The swing/rocker we found at a consignment shop for $3. The kiddo loves that thing.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Rent, moving costs, baby supplies, paying off the last of our debt.

13. What did you get really excited about?

Being knocked up, and telling people about it.

Learning the Speaker is pregnant (she's already in to the third trimester - I'm so excited!).

Getting out of debt (have I mentioned that enough?)

14. What song will always remind you of 2011?

Probably the "Women of the World, Take Over" song DH played for me while I was in labor. Or Paul Simon's "Get Ready for Christmas Day"

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder? Yes, both. I cried more in 2011 than I have ever cried before, but I've also been so happy at times, thanks largely to the kid, that my heart hurts.

– thinner or fatter? Slightly fatter, but I've lost most of the baby weight at this point. This is a major benefit of breastfeeding!

– richer or poorer? On paper, verry slightly richer. In reality I feel pretty broke.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Laughed, slept.

17. Wish you’d done less of?

Cried, worried.

18. How did you spend Christmas?

This was the first year in my life that I didn't spend any part of Christmas day in a car, and it was really nice.

The weekend before Christmas, DH, the kiddo and I went up to my brother's apartment and had a brunch and gift exchange with my brother and sister-in-law. It was Sunday afternoon, and we ended up hanging around until 7pm or so, watching football and just relaxing with them. Super nice.

On the 21st, DH and I loaded up an entire carload of baby equipment, gifts, laundry and of course the baby and drove the 2.5 hours to my in-laws' house. We stayed there until the 27th, and it was a pretty great week: the kiddo slept really well at night and my mother-in-law basically insisted we get out most afternoons without the baby so she could babysit. On Christmas eve we went to Mass and left the kiddo in the care of a rotating cast of family members back at the house. He seemed to like that. After church, we had chili for dinner and then opened our stockings and had Christmas cookies and egg nog. Then on Christmas morning we opened our big presents. Not surprisingly, there were about four times more baby gifts under the tree than gifts for anyone else. Our big present from the in-laws was a high chair, which we clearly aren't using yet, but I'm glad we have one.

I Skyped with my immediate family on Christmas day - we were in 4 different states. This made for a very low-drama Christmas on my side of the family, which is a Good Thing.

19. What was your favorite TV program?

Arrested Development and Cheers streaming on Netflix. Oh, and Pawn Stars - we watched all of it while packing and unpacking from the move.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

Since we've moved and I was on maternity leave, I had access to a good library and a bit of time to read while nursing. Of course, I haven't read anything published this year except the excellent Life with Mr. Dangerous. I'd pick The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs as one of my favorite reads of the year.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?

Possibly the new Paul Simon album? That makes me sound like such an old person, but it's a good album!

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

Cowboys and Aliens was one of the only movies I watched in a theater this year... but it was pretty awesome.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 29. Did the usual stuff at Silver Lake. I need to come up with something awesome for 30 this year, I think.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

My cat not dying, shit not getting weird with my parents. OK, that's two things.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

Maternity wear! Fun while it lasted, but I'm looking forward to a new look in 2012.

26. What kept you sane?

Long walks with DH, before and after the birth.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.

Even if - or especially if - you just had a baby, people aren't going to give you what you need, especially if your real need is for time and space to adjust to the way life has just drastically changed for you. You have to claim it or you just won't get it.

On the other hand, sometimes you will be blown away by the generosity and thoughtfulness of people with whom you're merely acquainted. The neighbor with no kids of her own may turn out to be your dinner-and-diapers-delivering postpartum angel. Never discount folks like her.

Here's to 2012!

*Since big mommyblogger dooce and personal finance blogger JD Roth both just announced they're splitting with their spouses, I would like to note that I'd rather stay relatively broke and happy in my marriage than filthy rich and alone. Seems like it should be obvious, but it also seems like those people could afford marital counseling...