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Archive for November, 2011

Waiting

My mantra right now is, this too shall pass.

It’s tough right now.  It’s tough on me.  It’s tough on Mom.  And I know it’s tough on Nellie.

I know that because she has meltdowns during the day with howling cries that she didn’t used to have.  I know that because she waits ALL day for me to come home so she can eat and then spends all night in my arms eating, sleeping, and snuggling.  I know that because our nighttime feedings have gone from minutes-long snacks to hour-long meals. 

I left a bottle with 2.5 ounces in it today.  For the whole day.  Only about 1/6 of what she should be eating during the day and, at the same time, extremely optimistic.

Aside from the bottle issue, the transition back to work, admittedly, has not been so bad.  I’m so busy getting caught up again that the days fly by.  Add in pumping sessions and our new flex schedule, and I can hardly believe it when the day is over.  Of course the commute home can’t go fast enough.  The hardest part about being here is knowing that Nell is just biding her time, waiting for me to come home, and not understanding why I’m not there to feed her. But at the same time I know she’s home with Mom who is keeping her entertained with tummy time, books, long walks outside, and lots of hugs.  And when she has a meltdown, Mom knows how to make her smile again — putting her in her blue chair, stripping her down and giving her tummy kisses, playing airplane with her.  And that’s what gets me through the work day.

In the beginning I researched this issue thoroughly.  I read every website and every chat page that hinted at bottle-feeding issues.  And now that we’ve tried all the things people swore by — different bottles, eye droppers, different positions, different people — I’m done with the internet. 

It’s funny how different real life is from the online world of over-information.  When I was pregnant I perused pregnancy chat boards knowing that I could always find the answer to whatever question I had.  Strange symptom? Someone had asked about it.  Signs of labor? A million other women were wondering as well.  But since I had Nell, I found those chat boards to be less useful and, frankly, harmful in a lot of regards.  They breed competition — a mommy competition that bubbles and boils and turns into a stew of inadequacy.  “My freezer stash already has a millionty billionty ounces.”  “My child has been sleeping through the night since she was two weeks old.”  “My baby started rolling over at three weeks.”  “My two-month old can play Fur Elise on the piano after listening to Baby Einstein only once.”

You know how it goes.

And so I’ve stopped looking online for the answers to my questions.  Nell doesn’t sleep through the night because she’s not ready.  Nell needs to be rocked and walked because she’s a baby who likes motion and that’s that.  Nell doesn’t drink from a bottle because she doesn’t want to (and, likely, because I am stubborn and payback’s a b*tch). 

And you know what?  When I turn off the internet, I feel better.  And when I mention these things to my friends, to other parents I know, there isn’t judgment or competition.  They commiserate.  And then they whisper to me something magical, something that gives me hope:

My baby did that, too.

And for them, as will be for me (and for Nell), it was just a phase.  A phase that passed.

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It’s been a whirlwind of activity over the past couple of weeks.  Mom J came out to watch Nellie when I went back to work (joined by K for a few days), and then Mom and Dad K drove up from Florida for the holiday.  We spent Thursday at the farm eating turkey, Friday taking down garlands of fall foliage and replacing them with shiny white-lighted pine garlands, and Saturday having a K family Christmas.

Our holiday-filled weekend ended this morning, and Nell had to say goodbye to her Gramma K and Papa Tom.  Her Grandma Judy came back this afternoon, and it’s time for me to go back to work for real.  A five-day, non-holiday kind of work week.

But before all that, I have a bevy of photos to share. 

First, a rewind to Thursday.  Since Nellie had her Ravens jammies on in the pictures, I wanted to post one of her cute dress and bow.  She was all fancy for the holiday, but had a wardrobe change midway through so she’d be comfy for her ride home.

Back to my regularly-scheduled Friday-Sunday blogging:

There was decorating, there was hanging out, and then there was COOKING.  Gramma K and Papa Tom made a delicious Christmas feast… muffaletta, cranberry goat cheese log, shrimp cocktail, sausage pastry roll, mini meatballs, clam dip, lobster rolls, and a double fudge pie.  We didn’t even break into the bacon-wrapped artichokes or the warm brie en croute.  It was the most delicious pretend Christmas Eve that has ever been had.  I’m eating leftover meatballs right now.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Here are some shots from our pre-Christmas weekend with Gramma K and Papa Tom:

As you can see, Christmas came early this year so we could celebrate with Gramma and Papa.  To properly adorn our tree, Nellie made her very first Christmas ornament with her handprint. She had only a SMALL bit of help from G and me.

Since Nell doesn’t quite yet understand the magic of Christmas morning, Santa was able to stop by early and cross one address off his list this year for the 24th.  Nellie got a sneak peak of some of her presents, and even got to try out her new Radio Flyer rocking/bouncy horse. 

Nellie wore her holiday best most comfortable for the festivities — her Santa’s helper jammies!

And when it was all said and done, she fell fast asleep clutching one of her new toys from Gramma and Papa.

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Thankful

It goes without saying that I have so much to be thankful for this year.  My wonderful husband.  My beautiful daughter. Our amazing families who have always been so supportive, helpful, generous, and kind, but who have gone above and beyond anything we could have asked for this year.  And of course, the puppies. 

And I’m thankful for Nellie’s magical ability to bring people together and create family moments we’d not have otherwise had the opportunity to enjoy.  This year two families came together for the first time since our wedding to celebrate Thanksgiving.  From California, from Florida, from New York, from New Jersey, and from Maryland — we all sat around the table together and toasted to the expanded family we now have.  And although he was taking care of business (and Poppy) in California, Dad was there in thought and spirits, and we toasted to him, too.

I could wax poetic for pages about how thankful we are to be spending this time of the year with both of our families, but instead I’ll post two pics from yesterday, and I hope they capture the spirit, the happiness, and the love in the room.

 

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Dream Feeding

Nellie took only a couple of sips from her bottle yesterday and, in total, had less than half an ounce all day.  Nevertheless, I’m confident that amount will grow each day and she’ll eventually take at least a small amount of milk while I’m at work to hold her over until I get home.  (Or, yanno, she’ll be one of those kids who doesn’t eat anything during the day and then cluster feeds All Night Long.)  At any rate, she was in good spirits when I got home last night and actually slept quite a bit during the day with only one long meltdown period (according to Mom and K who might just be sparing my sensitivities).  She did, of course, eat like a champ all night long. 

On the plus side, if I pump 15oz at work every day, and Nell eats 0.5oz at home every day, my freezer stash (which, of course, would be irrelevant anyway if she refused to touch it) would be GI-normous.

This morning I hemmed and hawed about whether to feed her before I left work.  She had been up at 4am, and I had to walk out the door at 6am.  Finally I decided it couldn’t hurt and would at least give her an extra couple of hours if she decided to hunger strike again, so I gave her a little dream feeding session and left her in her cradle with G rocking her back to sleep.  (G is home from work today, doing heroic things around the house of course.  With Mom and K watching over Nellie, and G to keep her snug in the bedroom until she woke up this morning, it’s pretty easy to feel at peace even though I’m away from her.  I am damn lucky.)

So we did it.  We kinda survived the first day, if by surviving we mean not eating.  But Mom and K seemed willing to do it all over again, which is a good sign, and Nellie still offered up plenty of smiles last night.

And even though so many things are different now — how I get ready, what I bring to work — it’s so easy to slip back into routine, even after all this time.  And it’s amazing how many things are the same.  Starbucks is still slow, the morning commute still sucks (which is so bizarre because, hello people, it’s THANKSGIVING WEEK!), and the office is still quiet when I get in.

My biggest challenge, it appears, is remastering the English language.  I really never suffered from ‘pregnancy brain’ and I figured I would, therefore, also sidestep ‘baby brain’. (This despite my colleagues telling me about the challenges of coming up with even the simplest words after months at home with a baby.)  I assumed they were exaggerating.  I assumed I would be exempt.  But OMG, it’s like I’ve lost all ability to think.  Yesterday, it took me hours to come up with the word ‘eccentric’.   For the longest time, I couldn’t get my mind to move past the word ‘arctic’.  Then finally I settled on ‘eclectic’.  Still not right, but remarkably closer than ‘arctic’.  And as I told Mom about my difficulties finding my tongue, the word ‘eccentric’ finally found its way through the cobwebs of my brain.

So I guess, in hindsight, it’s probably better than I didn’t try to write the great American novel while I was on leave.  Perhaps the great American picture book would have been a more attainable goal.

Here are a couple of the adorable pics Mom and K sent me yesterday to ease my worries that Nellie wasn’t just a howling, hungry, mess.

 

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Counting

1 is the number of times I’ve gone out without Nellie.  Today was tough.  For all of us.

2 is the number of nights the puppies have slept on the floor instead of on me. Victory is mine!

3 is the number of work days I have to get through this week.  Breathe in. Breathe out.

4 is the number of days until Papa Tom and Gramma K arrive for the holidays!

5 is how many days we’re counting down until the big family Thanksgiving at the farm.

6 is the number of weeks in our fantasy football playoffs.  I’ve got a bye through weeks one and two.  Here’s to four weeks of winning!

7 weeks ago marked the halfway point of my maternity leave.  I can’t believe how fast it went and how much fun I had.

8.5 is how many months it has been since I got my hair cut. Fortunately I think Nellie remembers me. And G seems to like it, too.

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Playing

Every day Nell gets increasingly interactive and engaging.  She has become conversational — making sounds, waiting for you to speak back to her, and then making new sounds in response.  She loves books and responds to pictures and rhyme.  She has favorite toys — her taggy, her baby iPod (tunes on the go), and her crinkly word book.  She can push buttons herself, and she is starting to understand how to make things work.

Watching her motor skills develop is just as enjoyable.  She can almost turn over.  She can get all the way onto her side from her back, and the option is to roll the rest of the way forward or rock back.  So far she rocks a little on her side while she decides, and then ends up rolling to her back again, but I know it’s just a matter of time before she lands on her tummy.  She is also trying desperately to crawl, and she gets up on all fours, pumps her legs, and tries to reach her toy or someone playing with her.  She does occasionally scoot forward if she relaxes her hands, but most of the time she clenches her little fists so tight that she stays right where she is and just works out her little legs.  I hope she figures out a scoot or a scuttle soon because three more months of this is going to frustrate the heck out of her!

I hope we can get some video of her trying to roll and trying to crawl soon, but for now here are some pics of her with her toys and books.

She loves her Mirror Me book

 

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Downgraded

Most of the victories we count in this house are small — an afternoon nap, a day without barking at squirrels, dinner on the table, laundry folded.  But sometimes we achieve a big victory, and it feels good.

You’re thinking bottle, right?

Nope, not a chance.

Still battling on that one.

Maybe I should back up to when I was pregnant and started sleeping with a dozen and a half pillows.  Or maybe further back to July 2005 when we adopted the yellow dog.  She started out in the crate — that much I remember.  But I don’t think it was long before she was in our bedroom.  It was never a big deal; sometimes she slept on the bed, and most often she slept pressed up against a heater.  (The heating system in that house wasn’t exactly stellar.)

Then in September 2006 we got Linus, and he went straight to the bed and has never looked back since.  Though that wasn’t a big deal, either, and if he gets hot or uncomfortable, he has no problem jumping down to the floor or changing rooms.  Linus sleeps on his back with his paws up in the air, which has always been fine.  But recently, his senior status (I mean, he is somewhere in the range of 7-9 years old after all) has started complicating things.  He gets hairballs, he chokes on his own doggy tongue, and he wakes up gagging.  Not exactly pleasant.

And of course in January 2010 we got the little brown dog.  She insisted on sleeping on the bed also, though she required a step to get up there since her coordination (and leg length) is lacking.  So we let her up, too, since it only seemed fair.  But unlike the other two who like to be close but still like their space, this one likes everyone else’s space.  She likes to drape over your body, sleep on your pillow, and — most of all — be within face-licking range.

But in the end it never really mattered until I got pregnant, and then I needed my space.  Even then, since I required a massive number of pillows in order to fall asleep (and not sleep in any of the 5835230950324809853 positions that apparently are against the rules for pregnant women), it was G who was stuck with the dogs draped over him.  And that was okay because, let’s face it, G is pretty good at falling asleep.

But now I’m not surrounded by pillows, the puppies want their space back, and I’ve gotten used to sleeping without them.  And, more importantly, tiny Nell is in a cradle next to the bed each night and (I would imagine) sleeps much better when her mother is not having an all-out war for space on the bed with (most often) the brown dog.  After all, when one wants to swear loudly at a little dog who refuses to budge in the middle of the night, it’s easier to do when little ears aren’t sleeping a foot away.

And so — even though we had said time and time again that the dogs would have to stop sleeping on the bed — this time we meant it.  And last night, two puppies — one brown and one black — discovered what dog beds feel like.  (Yellow is downstairs with Grandma Judy and loving it.)  And to our surprise, there was minimal sulking, NO whimpering, and both dogs slept like babies (proverbial babies, of course, as opposed to our actual baby who does NOT sleep well enough to merit a saying). 

Besides, even if they don’t want to sleep on dog beds, they’ve still got leather couches.  So they’re not exactly suffering, yanno?

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