Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Thing About Babies

Not only are they constantly changing, but each change, each piece of the developmental puzzle makes things easier. And yet at the same time, each developmental milestone makes things harder too. Just when you get used to something, it all falls apart and you have to make another transition, set another schedule, and start over. It's a constant guessing game full of a million missteps.

Amelia pulled herself into a sitting position this week. She was crawling one minute and I looked back at her and she was sitting. "How did you do that?" I asked. She never responds. This happened twice over several days. Then Justin found her in her crib in the morning, sitting up and talking to herself. She spent that whole day doing her latest trick, completely impressing and amusing herself.

Most parents would celebrate this kind of major development. Good parents, anyway. When Justin told me he saw her sitting in her crib, all I could say was, "oh shit." SHIT!

Guess who hasn't napped one iota since learning a new skill? Seems it's a bit of a distraction for the girl who already sucked at putting herself to sleep. She went all day yesterday with maybe an hour of sleep during the day--from 7 am to 7pm. And that hour did not occur in her crib, so it hardly counts. I've caught her with her arms and legs sticking through the rails and on her knees, gnawing on the top of the crib. Needless to say, the bumper came out and the mattress went down--again. It's so low now I can't even put her in the damn thing without semi dropping her! One way I have NOT caught her is asleep.

It's amazing I have any hair on my head at all.

Amelia, in the midst of afternoon nap battle.

Do you think it's too late to start swaddling again? A full-sized sheet should do the trick. . .


And because the pleaser in me will not allow two completely downer posts in a row . . .

See Amelia's new hat?

It has a bill.

It can be made in any color (even for boys!).

It gets compliments everywhere we go.

Do you want one?

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tales from the Crib, Part Two

I watched in horror when my friends became mothers and subsequently vanished into a cloud of exhausted murmurings and tears. When I sat by while a friend slept on the floor with her baby because he was too big for their bed and she was too big for his, I swore that I would be different. My baby would sleep because I would do everything in my power to create a home where sleep was expected, encouraged, and anticipated.

I started almost immediately at the task of creating a sleeper of a child. After the first week, when Amelia slept on my chest exclusively, I made sure to put her in her own bed every time she slept. When she awoke in the middle of the night, I never brought her into my own bed to nurse, but got up, took her to the living room, nursed her, and promptly placed her back in her bed. I would not allow her to use me as a pacifier or to fall asleep nursing so that she could fall asleep on her own. After two weeks, I had her napping in her crib in her own room. When I realized that her daytime naps lasted longer than her nighttime stints, we put her in her crib at night too, probably around 4 weeks. I would put her in her crib awake and she would go right to sleep. I was the queen of sleep discipline; not to be so controlled about it, but because I truly believe that a baby needs their rest in the same vein they need food and comfort. I also believe whole-heartedly that an exhausted mommy is not a good mommy. That whittling away at yourself until there is nothing left is not a characteristic of good parenting--but that's an aside.

Amelia was off to a great start. She slept until 3:30 am from the time she was just a few weeks old, waking for only one night feeding. We thought we were so lucky. Even during the screaming fests (now referred to as Reflux Benders), she would crash out and then sleep through the night. (Thank Mother Earth too, because I honestly would not have survived it all otherwise.) It all worked.

After the horrible experience that we had with Prevacid and the way it affected Amelia's sleep, we had to resort to serious methods to train her on falling asleep again. We instilled a scheduled bedtime routine. Food. Bath. Jammies. Nursing. Story. Song. Bed. This routine varies only by a few minutes here and there and we've been doing it since she was 3 months old (save the food that didn't start until 5 mos). That's SIX months of this routine that never wavers!

What I am getting at is that we've done it. We've set the routine. We've taught her how to go to sleep on her own by not rocking her, or nursing her to fall asleep. We kept her out of our bed. We let her cry. We've done it. Tried everything. We've done it. All.

And you know what? That baby of ours still cries every time we put her to bed. Every. Single. Time. Sure, there'll be a couple weeks here and there when she just rolls over and goes to sleep, but it's a novelty. She cries when she goes down for naps, when she goes to bed, when she's awake, or already asleep. She cries. If you try to rock her to sleep, sway with her, sing to her, or anything else to get her to sleep, she cries. I've even tried getting her to sleep with me and guess what? She cries. I would absolutely take the easy road and just hold her until she falls asleep if it would just stop the crying. But it doesn't! And Amelia will sleep (unless teething) well enough at night, but it's the getting there. . .

We talked to the doctor about it and she went through the checklist, "Did you. . .?" After responding yes to all of her suggestions, she admitted that some babies just fight sleep. Always. Even her first daughter did the same.

You might be thinking that since Amelia cries every time, every day that it's something you get used to. Let me tell you that there is no getting used to your baby crying. Everytime I walk away from her in the crib, I have to see that face. It's awful. And again, before I hear a collective gasp of, "well, you need to. . . " rest assured that I've tried it. I would take that baby into bed with me and nurse her for hours at a time if it would stop the crying. But it doesn't. We used to give it a reason, "She's just over tired," Or, "She doesn't like to be in the dark." Yet correcting these issues have had no effect. I think she doesn't like to know that she's going to sleep. She doesn't want to miss anything, but falls apart if she's too tired!

Further, when I think about all of the anxiety, stress, and exhaustion of motherhood, it all comes back to this issue. When I think about the blow ups that Justin and I have had since becoming parents, they've all been around sleeplessness and the tension caused by the fighting baby. It's hard on us and we take it out on each other sometimes, naturally. I can't even imagine how differently our lives would be if we didn't have this constant fight over sleep. Even though she's been doing this for 5 months, it still makes me cry sometimes. It keeps us from having people over to our house in the evening and keeps up from going anywhere in the evening. Imagine if she cries with her same old routine what she does when we mess THAT up on her! It's not pretty. It makes us reluctant to ask anybody else to watch her because we don't want them to have to go to battle the way we do every day. Every. Day.

Man, I love that baby girl to the core of my soul. But for crying out loud, I wish she'd figure it out.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Lost Legging, A New Tooth, and A Missing Nap

Such is life with a 9-month old. . .um. . . cough, cough. . . Ahem. . . a NINE MONTH OLD!

Amelia is 9 months old today. Life feels very full of randomness too. Finding a Saltine corner on the changing table. Discovering a tooth that came in without anyone noticing. Crying bouts for no apparent reason. Giggling sessions for no apparent reason. Toys talking in the other (empty) room. It's all a bunch of loose ends and I find myself constantly asking, "How did that get there?" and "Wait, where did (fill-in-the-blank) go?"

For instance, today we went shopping. This is her ready to run errands.

See that legging? The one with the rainbows? The one that started my whole legging obsession? Well, it's no longer. I let her carry it when I put her in the stroller today. Not two minutes into the store, I look down and Rainbow Baby Leg is nowhere to be found. "Punkin, where's your legging?" She didn't respond. The nerve. We retraced our steps all the way out of the store and to the car. Gone.
I puffy hearted that pair. Here they are in a previous glory.

Now that Amelia is eating real foods, parenthood feels more real than ever. Nothing screams "MOM" like a chunk of pancake stuck to your butt for heaven knows how long. Or the soggy cheerio that mysteriously finds its way onto your neck. She eats with her fingers which is awesome. It really does make things easier because you can hand her a cracker and go about your business making dinner while she turn that thing into an appetizer. It does however, change the whole eating ballgame. It reminds me why I hated bussing tables when a baby had been in the restaurant. I've actually had to locate my broom. (Enter proper witch joke here.) She and the dogs have discovered the true crux of their friendship--she puts out hand with food and they lick it while she giggles. The other day, she leaned over and started laughing at Luke--with food IN her mouth--and I'm not kidding when I say that he would have taken that food right out of there had I let him. And I think it's safe to say that she wouldn't have minded one bit.

The flip side of their relationship is that Amelia is really moving on this whole crawling adventure and she loves, LOVES to chase the dogs. Tails first. Luke and Mollie much prefer the food game over the chase game, however, but that's half the fun.

In other developments, she is talking every minute. She understands words too and reacts when you say 'water,' 'kisses,' 'dogs,' and 'night-night' among others. I bought the Baby Signs set today in hopes that we can help her communicate better. Since she can wave and give high fives, I figure she can tell me when she has a poopey too. Of course, her babbling intersects with shyness, so she only does it around us. We've begun weaning and hope to be done with breastfeeding by April 1. It's a bittersweet transition that I am both looking forward to and nostalgic about.

Not helping with this transition is Amelia's new attachment to me, right on track with her age. She cries when I leave the room, hand her to someone, or otherwise don't give her enough attention. I'm shocked by this attachment phase because I have been certain that she hated me all along. She's not much of a cuddler and prefers to be alone most of the time. Not to mention that I am positive that she resented me for all those months that she was so miserable. So imagine my surprise when I walk away from her and she starts crying and chasing me. And it's only gotten worse from there. I admit that I secretly love it even if it is worrisome and heartbreaking too. She's my little shadow . . . which I didn't think was possible since she is Justin's shrinky-dink. That face has Daddy's Girl written all over it! I guess there's still time for that, but for now, I will keep and enjoy my little partner.

More stats Monday after her 9-month appointment with Dr. Emge.

Onto the good stuff.

For the record, I had to stand her up. But she had to keep herself there.

I don't know why, but I love this one.

The $1000 chew toy. (And the result of pulling herself up!)

And now for the The Heartbreaker Series

Oh my. Is this disturbing to anyone else?

Somebody is looking an awful lot like a little girl. Darnit.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cold Turkey

She quit. In a moment. Without warning or fuss or explanation.

Amelia stopped sucking her thumb.

Henceforth, Amelia stopped sleeping through the night.

I loved that thumb. I will miss that thumb.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Amelia's "Christmas Story" Moment

Have I already told you about our "Christmas Story" tradition? Every year, we watch the movie into the wee hours on Christmas morning, following a most assuredly hectic Christmas Eve. No matter what we've done or where we've been that day and night, we plop on the couch when all the commotion is over, snuggle up in comfy jammies and blankets amid the tree-lit glow and watch that silly movie. Usually with hot chocolate in hand. Usually with something extra in the cup besides marshmallows. It plays on a loop for 24 hours, so no matter what time it is, we jump right into the story and laugh as if it's the first time we've seen it. It's where we meet up after all the family obligations, drama, and stress to just be together and warm and sleepy.

But it's not Christmas, it's Valentine's Day silly! Or was Valentine's Day. We had a great day. It started with the Valentine's Fun Run/Walk. My mom and I did the walk last year and between her busted knee and my pregnant-ness, we were a sight to behold crossing the finish line. We both promptly went home and parked ourselves on the couch, moaning for the rest of the day. Anyway, on the walk last year, I looked around at all the strollers and said, "next year, we'll have The Baby with us!" And wouldn't you know that we did! The weather was no fun, super cold and windy, but we took our chances. In rolling the dice, Justin and I ended up walking the race with an extra 20 pound weight attached. Kinda like last year, but this time, the weight whined.

Here she is ready for the race. . . and in her first "Christmas Story" moment.
I can't put my arms down!
Doesn't she look like she's having fun?!

Cold is for wimps!

The rest of the day was spent napping, eating, and decorating cookies.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It's All Happening!

Everything's on the move. Amelia is crawling, teething, growing a mop, and learning all kindsa new things.

She's perfected the one-arm drag.

Now that she's on the move. There's one thing in particular that catches her fancy.

Well, two things actually.

Poor, unsuspecting Luke.

Cue "Jaws" music.

He HATES having his paws touched. But she's his girl.

You're pretty too!

She is also growing a TON of hair. She all of a sudden has a complete mop. I have no idea what to do with it. It grows forward like a toupe. This is all I've come up with so far.

Oh and she's learning so many new things. We're working on clapping, waving, and high fives. So when I say, "Smile, Punkin!" She does this . . .

Times are a'changin.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Mobile History

First an update: The crib has been lowered. No prison breaks in this house. More accurately, if anyone's breaking out of this joint, it's me.

Flipping through my phone, I realized I have a whole story in my tiny mobile album. Sometimes you just don't have your camera with you. Or the baby just fell asleep in your arms and you can't move but really want a pic. Or you are in labor and left the camera in the car and your baby is far too impatient to wait for its retrieval. It happens. And pieces of our lives are stuck on a dadgum phone. Thank goodness for that dadgum phone, but there they are anyway.

*Note: I have asked for a real camera for a combo birthday/Mother's Day gift. If I get one, my point-and-shoot will always be handy in the diaper bag and perhaps we can move on from our grainy celphone album.*

In reverse chronological order, here is a story. Her story, our story. It starts off easy, people. But it gets dicey. Consider yourselves warned.

Last week. She is really starting to look like a little girl, no?

About a month ago. First time in the front of the cart! This was a HUGE milestone and has changed my life considerably. Before this, I could only purchase what I could actually carry while pushing her in the stroller. My shoulders may never recover. Such a big girl!

At the park around the corner. After rolling, before sitting.

Walking on a cold, winter day. Love that hat. Love that face.

Repeat blog appearance. I feel tired just looking at this picture. First time sleeping without being swaddled. After being up ALL night (the worst night since birth), she finally found her thumb the next afternoon. I love that thumb.

Morning after Thanksgiving. Around 5-ish and wishing Grammy good luck on her bargain hunting. Ginormous boob's appearance strictly an accident.

Around 3-4 months, Amelia really filled out. Cheeks first. They were just too much to hold up sometimes. Especially after eating. . . Oh.My.

In the Emergency Room, the night she was taken by ambulance. She slept in my arms like this the whole time we were there. Though I remained ultra calm that night, I promptly threw away that onesie as soon as we got home. It had some red drop stains on the front because we'd given her Tylenol that evening. To this day, I cannot give her medicine without holding a towel under her chin. If something drips on her shirt, I change it. I can't handle it.

Uh-oh. Preemie dress. Summer. Way too big. Look at those legs. . .Sniff.

Newly home. Before any signs of problems. I watched her sleep that entire first month. . .Getting. Harder.

The day she was born. On my chest. She stayed there. Never went to the nursery. This is how we slept the whole week in the hospital. She doesn't fit there anymore. . .choke

Born at 4:30, picture taken at 4:31. This is about the place I lost track of time and space. Don't remember seeing her here. Tiny angel. . .sob

Five days before A arrived, my foot did this. In about 10 minutes. I knew something was askew. Doctor said everything was fine. Still had 5 weeks to go. I had my doubts. See the bins in the background? Mom and I were organizing the baby's room, putting away clothes and whatnot. Thank goodness.

Last picture of Justin and I before A's arrival. We were in Tahoe for my bday. Thought we had another month. Camera's batteries were dead. If we'd waited another week, Amelia would have been born in the moutains.

This giraffe was our practice baby. He went in everything. Slept in the crib, sat in the car seat, the swing, and bouncer. Even walked around in the Jeep carrier with us. Now he just sits on her dresser. Poor giraffe.

April. I taught class at 7:30 am in Carmichael and then at 2 pm 4 towns over in Rocklin. I was tired a lot and driving a LOT. This day, Justin sent a text, "I was just thinking to myself i have a great life and that is because of you i luv u honey." I sent this pic back, taken on my way to the pm class with the message, "we luv u 2!"

The first picture I took with my new phone. My regular camera just couldn't get it right. Our first test barely showed a second line. Barely enough that we thought our eyes were tricking us. Justin had to go to work before I could get to the store for a second one. This is the one. I kept it in my pocket that day and did nothing but space out and look at it time and again. I set it where Justin puts his keys each day after work so he'd see it immediately. October 9th.

Maybe they're not so bad, cell phones.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The grass is always greener

On the outside of the crib.

Looks like we will be rearranging some things this weekend.
Yes, she fell asleep trying to escape.

It's been a big week. Amelia's THIRD tooth came in this week (after much ado!) and she started to crawl. That's right. I said it. She's crawling! It doesn't look like the real thing yet, but she gets from one side of the room to the other in seconds. That's crawling as far as I know. It's a half crawl, half scoot thing. Whatever it is, it works. Houseproofing is a must-do this weekend. Seems that the one thing in a room that you don't want her to get is the one thing she beelines towards. I suppose that's her nature (see above photo). Along with the milestones, I came down with mastitis AGAIN. After very nearly throwing in the towel, my FP reminded me why I should persevere. At least through the winter months. Soon enough, I will enjoy pizza and margaritas again. Together no less. With enchiladas and ice cream on the side. Just not yet. On the bright side, I didn't almost die this time, so that was an improvement.

All told, it appears that life's about to get interesting (because, you know, it's been so dull before now).

Monday, February 2, 2009

Superbowl Funday

We spent Amelia's first Superbowl Sunday at the Saich's house. She has no idea what she's in for with this particular event, but time will surely educate her well enough. In any case, she was the only girl in the bunch and held her own well. If she doesn't take after her dad and grow large enough to fight back, she will take after me and learn how to battle with her wits as time moves along. Either way, tears only dripped a couple times and with quick recoveries. There was many a comment to the liking of "what a mellow, happy baby" and my personal favorite, "such an EASY baby" to which I snorted. She sat in the living room, in front of this blaring TV, surrounded by yelling adults and destructive toddlers, and simply played by herself unaffected by the chaos. She was plum tuckered by evening's end (we came home during the 3rd quarter), but never fell apart and went to bed easy. I spent the rest of the night reflecting about Amelia and her long-running label of The Difficult Baby. Might be time to hang up the sash and accept the sweet, loving girl who has emerged. Might be.

For the "Look what's happened to us all" file, looking around the party yesterday was a real kick in the pants. We've all traded the bars for playrooms, the fancy haircuts for stretch marks, and the all-nighters with the gang, for all nighters with toofers.
Just look at this picture:
Among these men, these dads one taught me how to smuggle booze into a concert, another hitchhiked through Tahoe on Independence Day with me, and that one on the left? You don't even want to know the bad influences he's had on me.(How do you think we got here to begin with?!) Just look at them. All growns up.
*Le sigh*