Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fancy Pants

Things have been beyond crazy in our house. I don't know what it is about spring, but it seems as though our calendar is usually full from April to July each year. Throw in the end-of-the-semester madness and everything begins to blur. Literally, everything is blurry and I feel as if I am in a tornado getting tossed about and hoping to land on my feet soon.

This year has been especially tough. I am teaching more classes than any previous semester, have a budding toddler at my ankles, and lost a family member. I traveled with my mom to Texas over spring break to visit with my beloved Aunt Judi who was in the last stages of cancer. She died a couple weeks later. We spent this past weekend at her funeral and with family in Tahoe. I certainly don't want to minimize the circumstances, but also don't want to delve into it here either, so we'll leave it at that.

More on the trip next time (seriously a learning experience for us--Amelia's first-ever trip away from home over night!) because it has its own highlights.

I just wanted to post some of our new pics. We didn't get any of all of us together. Felt weird to take smiling pics as we were all dressed up for a very heart-breaking occasion. I still wish we had. It's not like this group looks super fancy pants that often, you know.

This is the Christmas dress that wasn't. I decided at the last minute before holiday pics that I really didn't want to be that mom who put her baby in a velvet dress, tights, and mary jeans at 6 mos old. Just not me. But I loved the dress so much that I couldn't get rid of it. I bought it in a big size then because it was the only one left. Not only did the occasion warrant wearing this dress, but it still fit! I admit that she looks adorable, but she also kicked and screamed as I put it on her. She knows, that one.

Please pay no heed to the fact that she's getting to second base with me. I don't even notice anymore myself.

Seriously, why doesn't this man wear a suit every damn day?

Hmm. I love.

Look! Mama doesn't always look like a total schlep. Let's look away from the camera so the pic is no good!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Priceless

Can anyone guess what Miss A does that causes her to look at me with that expression and exclamation? One hint: She is her father's child.

video

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

All Hail the Magic Boobies, The Finale

Before I had Amelia, I was not into breastfeeding. I didn't get the allure of it. When people gushed about the amazing bonding experience of nursing, I rolled my eyes and threw up a little in my mouth. As a pregnant mommy-to-be, I didn't read a thing about nursing (and I research EVERYTHING) and tried not to think about it much. I told Justin to not expect much from me in that arena, maybe a few months, tops. It terrified me, the thought of breastfeeding, but I resolved to try it because well, because it's free and it is better for the baby.

I can't tell you what happened after my daughter was born to change the above sentiments (although I still don't find any of it romantic like so many), but they did. On our third day in the hospital after Amelia was born, I was told that we needed to give her a bottle of formula to help get her weight back on track after losing too much. It made me cry, big, wet, real tears. The nurse felt so bad that she immediately brought in a pump and taught me to mix milk and formula so the baby would get both. That was my hospital break down. Every mama has one and mine was about giving A a bottle. . . so unexpected.

Luckily, Amelia always latched great and has always been a great eater. I never had any broken skin or chunks lost off my nipples (that actually happens!). From the beginning, I was diligent about this task of keeping her fed, growing, and alive. I kept track of every feeding and pumped every chance I got. I assumed that I would give my baby a lot of bottles so I wouldn't constantly have another human attached to my boob. (I never really liked that part.) The first two weeks were sheer torture. The poor Punkin was so very tiny that we had to wake her every 2-3 hours until she regained her birth weight. She nursed for an hour at a time! This left me with about 30-90 minutes between feedings and very nearly a walking corpse. I grew to respect all nursing mommies who came before me and wonder why nobody talks about what a challenging commitment it is to breastfeed and why mothers don't get some kind of trophy at the end of it all. No matter how long they make it, all breastfeeding mamas should be due recognized. It was far harder than pregnancy and labor and surgery combined!

Then we found out that Amelia was allergic to dairy. Not just milk, cheese, butter, but all dairy proteins. Everyone around me assumed that I would stop nursing and stock up on Hypoallergenic formula. Instead, I saw this as a real challenge of motherhood. Could I go on a zero-tolerance, very strict diet for my baby? You only needed to glance at her for a second to see that she needed it. Born 4 weeks early, she was so little and by 6 weeks old, was screaming for hours on end. I would have done anything to stop that screaming. So off we went into that challenge. It only made me more focused and positive that Amelia needed me. Maybe it was the outrageous cost of her formula ($30/can!) or something bigger, but I never waivered. I certainly struggled, but never waivered.

The worst experience we had nursing was when reflux bubbled into our lives. It was the only time that A wouldn't eat well. She would latch and eat until it began to come back, pull away and scream only to realize that she was still hungry, relatch, and repeat. It was a low point, sometimes one feeding taking so long as to lead into another. She wanted so badly to be comforted by eating and being close to mommy that my heart broke watching her anguish at the pain and frustrating and my inability to keep my own baby nourished and comfortable. One time, when we were going back and forth and she was screaming and I was trying to feed her in any way imagineable (serious acrobatics ensued), I fell apart. Justin could hear me crying in the other room, above the vaccuum and louder than Amelia's screaming. It was a moment I won't forget. Ever.

Then the all-time lowest point in the journey was at 4 months, when Amelia was in the midst of a Prevacid bender where she stayed awake for almost a week solid. I don't mean that in a she-barely-slept kind of way, but more like she NEVER slept for days on end kind of way. The howled constantly from the exhaustion but couldn't settle to sleep because of the medication. . . but that medication allowed her to eat! In any case, during this terrible bender, I too had no sleep. Again, I don't mean sleep deprived, but sleep-less. Completely sleepless. I felt like I was going crazy and that my body was falling apart. Not to mention the severe depression that swirled me into misery even further. On a Friday afternoon, we finally got Amelia to sleep in her swing. I curled up on the ottoman to watch her and sleep a bit myself. Just an hour would have done me wonders, I thought. As I lay there, I noticed a pain in my left breast. Like a bruise, I thought. I awoke an hour later, trembling and in severe pain. My left boob was red, hard, hot, and oozing yellow CHUNKS. As in solids. I was shaking something awful and felt too weak to get up. I called the advice nurse from the ottoman only to hear that I had to get to the hospital right away. How, I thought? I have a sick baby! I called both my mom and Justin crying and asking for help. I am pretty sure that this alone, asking for help, made them both realize that it was serious. Mom took me to the hospital, bundled up in a sweater coat, pants, socks, and shoes on a 100+ degree day in August. Still shaking. When we got there, I couldn't fill out the forms and could barely walk. I was really sick and scared to death that they would keep me and I would be forced to stop breastfeeding. They released from the hospital with an antibiotic shot and some drugs once my 105 temp started to come down. I thought for sure that I wouldn't make it after that. . . I had to pump for an entire weekend and watch Amelia take bottle after bottle as my supply slowly dropped.

I continued though and things got better from there. Amelia was a new baby by 5 months old and nursing became easier and easier. After the mastitis-turned-staph infection I'd suffered, I only made about 25% of my milk on the left side, making me pretty lopsided . . . but it worked. We were a solid nursing team and every time we weighed her or charted her growth, I took specific pride in my efforts. When I went back to work, my body gave up on pumping, allowing me little more than an ounce per 25 minutes. I again thought my nursing days were limited until I arranged my schedule around her feedings, added solid foods, and kept her on the boob.

When the time came to ween, I struggled to find the motivation and to give up something that we'd worked so hard for. I set a time line and missed the deadline. This job that I never wanted to begin with had become a symbol of my own commitment, strength, and resolve. A personal battle that began with someone else and taught me so much about myself.

Amelia is done nursing. We made it through 10.5 very long months, 2 cases of mastitis, a dairy allergy, a severe case of reflux, two milk blisters, and one 6-month milk dud. We made it through three weeks of not even making it on the growth charts because of her tiny size to being continually in the 50-75 percentile for height and weight for babies her age. We made it through those 10.5 months with not one illness for that baby. (Oddly enough, she caught a stomach bug two days after weening completely.) Not even so much as a cold slowed her down through the winter. We stopped on our own accord (I have serious issues with nursing a toddler) and with no regrets. We stand here on the other side of it all as absolute proof that if we can make it, anybody can make it.

Tiny baby (here in preemie clothes)


After 10+ months of nursing.



The team (with a big shout-out to Daddy of course, who was the cheerleader and bench-warmer the whole time!)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Set the countdown clock

Amelia turned 11 months old today. That means that in one month, she will be a toddler, a little girl, a child, a kid. . . everything that is not a baby. She only has one more month of firsts and then it's on to the repeats. Maybe I shouldn't think about it too much today. I have a whole month to prepare. Of course, I've already had 11 months to prepare, but whatever. One more month will have me ready. I hope.


At 11 months, Amelia is an absolute character. She spends most of her days laughing indiscriminantly, pointing at all things that catch her fancy, and speaking to herself and others in a language both amusing and confusing all at once. She is a total mimic of all inflections and interactions and has become more and more outgoing over the past month. Rather than completely freezing up around new folks, she now warms up in just a few minutes and charms the pants off anyone who hangs out with her. She waves to strangers in the store and laughs when they talk to her. She's discovered the lovely "w" and says "WOOOOOOW" and "WHOA" all day. When the timing's right, it's hilarious. . . "What do you think of Mommy's new dress, Punkin?" "WOOOOOOW"


A few weeks ago, Amelia's pretty successful army crawl disappeared for the real deal. Since discovering the all-fours crawling method, she's become more of a handful around the house. Every door must be closed--or she will close it, with herself on the wrong side! She uses sign language for meal time and gives "big hugs" on demand. And Miss A loves to dance, sing, and read above all else. Just like her Mama. She learns new things literally every day and I struggle trying to keep up with her, to be honest. Her capacity to learn exceeds my capacity to teach, I'm afraid. Yesterday, she pulled herself up on the couch for the first time, much to her delight. She tries pulling up and standing on everything. She even stands up from crawling, leaving her hands on the ground in a baby version of Downward Dog, the annoyingly awful yoga pose. I keep waiting for the day that she just pushes herself up and stands there.


As far as eating, Amelia is a true champion. God love the girl's appetite. She will take any food in any package at any time. Considering some of the ills we dealt with, her appetite has always been amazing. She eats full dinners of rice, chicken, and veggies or pasta, ground turkey, and marinara sauce. Not pureed, but the actual foods. She's putting those 8 teeth to good use too because you can see her push her food to the front and chew with those beautiful lips pushed out. . . She can eat just about anything--and does. Except dairy of course. I am still crossing my fingers and hoping to high heaven that she will magically grow out of this dairy allergy nonsense. I keep thinking about all of the other options I would have for her to eat if she could eat milk products! Not to mention the nightmare of having a child who can't participate in the food of social gatherings, school lunches, and ice cream outings! The horror. I should know because I did it for 10 months. Yesterday, I gave A a few bites of chocolate pudding and she had no reaction. Tomorrow, I shall try maybe some butter on her morning toast. Wish us luck!


Amelia is still a crap sleeper. I don't want to talk about it.



She's also pretty difficult to get a picture of without an exceptional shutter speed and excellent focus, neither of which accompany my camera.



Here are the first attempts:













Here are the closest to keepers that I managed.



Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Holy hell

Found Amelia standing in her crib today!

STANDING IN HER CRIB, I say.

She was wailing before her nap--as usual--and her cry began to sound urgent. I could tell something was wrong. A poopy, I figured. She seriously hates a poopy diaper. I go in to her room to find her standing there, holding on to the top rails, bawling. I couldn't help but clap and cheer for her. She's been trying, training, practicing for a while now and has only been able to get up on certain objects (me among them). But not the crib.
Not yet.
Not until today.
As soon as she saw my face, she started laughing too. Laughing and carrying on. Yes, she was stuck and scared, but proud too. She laughed and laughed. Even when I put her on the changing table, she continued giggling. Poor thing had gotten up and then didn't know what to do with herself. She couldn't even celebrate until rescue had arrived.
I wanted so badly to go get the camera, but if I had walked in that room and turned and left, that poor little girl would have just fallen apart. I couldn't ruin her moment like that.

Big day in these parts. She's standing. On her own two feet. Won't be long now.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Funny how traditions may be dormant for years and then a baby comes around and brings them back to life. Easter is hardly a day we've celebrated of late, but you can't let a kid have an Easter Sunday without a basket and goodies! Can't let spring disappear without meeting the Easter Bunny first! Maybe that's why we have children--to remember the tiny things that made life so enjoyable before grown up nonsense made us forget.



I assure you that what you see below are three separate pictures.


Even though they all look exactly the same.


WHAT is she looking at?!






Friday, April 10, 2009

Away from my baby

I spent three full days and nights away from home this week. Away from my bed, my hubby, and away from my baby. Before this, the longest I'd ever been away from her was a long nap's worth of hours, it was a big kind of deal. Not a lot would compel me to separate from my little leach, but a very ill auntie in Texas was more than reason enough. The trip itself was a moment in life that will forever remain still in my mind without any over-explaining. Being away from my baby girl was simply an added emotional drain to the whole situation. Though I admit that I looked forward to a few full nights of uninterrupted, non-monitor droning sleep (especially since A has been up for the past two weeks straight!).
Even still, I did not cry for her. I could have and wanted to, but didn't. I know that my job as her mother is to equip her to leave me forever someday and a short weekend is simply that--a few days. I tried to down-play the drama of it all. But I still caught myself flipping through her pictures, pulling up her blog, and trying to feel her in my hands. . . that wriggly, heavy weight of her little body. I didn't want to sit around and drone on and on about my kid, but thought about her constantly. By my last day in Texas, I decided that I'd take the sleeplessness any day rather than be away from my baby. All I did from day 2 on was imagine getting off the escalator at the airport and catching her eye in time to see her do her excited happy-to-see-you dance and a tearful, joyous reunion that would make the whole lobby smile.
And then when I did get off the plane and ran (literally) down the terminal and onto the escalator, I scoured the faces below looking for the familiar faces of my heart and soul, they were nowhere to be found. NOWHERE. I looked all over and nothing. I pulled out my phone and called Justin, "WHERE are YOU?!" We talked until I saw them--sitting by the window in front of the escalators. . . the UP escalators. You know, on the opposite side of the down escalators, where people actually come DOWN. Okay, so it annoyed me. In any case, after all that, Amelia looked at me like, "oh you. hi." I scooped her up and carried her to the rest of our party where she squealed at my mom and continued to ignore me. I gave her hugs and kisses. I looked her over and checked her all out. Her head smelled different somehow, but she was otherwise the same. I asked her if she missed mama, to which she replied, "DADA" to the sound of my cracking heart.
Though it broke my spirit, I caught myself and remembered that this was a good thing, that Amelia and Daddy really needed this bonding time. Yet I confess that it made me cry a bit. I'm not made of stone, you know, and I'd missed her to the point of real, physical pain.

Since then though, a little miss somebody has been unusually attached to mommy. She's even upgraded her "mama" to "Moooooom." I think it's very possible that she missed me too. Very possible indeed.

She has not, however, gone back to sleeping all night.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

We Interrupt Your Weekend For a Major Milestone Moment

PIGTAILS!


Her little clips just weren't doing the trick anymore, so I had to pull it back into pigtails, lest the child have hair in her eyes. Just had to, y'all.
Be still my beating heart. Doesn't she look grown up and independent all of a sudden?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Has Anyone Seen . . . ?

Somebody has come and taken my baby child and replaced her with a child child. A little person. A little GIRL kind of person. Rather than some baby, she is a completely interactive person. If I look at her and say, "your yellow ball in behind you," she turns and looks for it! Behind her! The yellow ball!
If you walk into the room and say, "hi," she waves and says, "hiiiii." Or better, if you just walk into the room, she will welcome you without prompting.
If you ask her what the puppies say, she says, 'ruff!' (Well, her version of 'ruff,' but as her mother, I am here to translate and therefore verify.)
Hold her in front of you and ask her where your nose is. She'll point to it, touch it, and show you. Same with 'mouth.'
Give her a bite of something she likes and she'll sign to you that she wants more, while looking directly at you to make sure you are 'listening.'
Ask for 'big hugs' and she leans in and puts her face against yours.
I wouldn't advise asking for kisses, but if you do, kisses you will get. Good, wet ones. . . with tongue. If she's particularly happy with you, she'll even grab your face in her hands before licking indiscriminantly.