Friday, January 28, 2011

I Knew I was a Mother when...

1. I go to work and sing "Pop goes the weasle in my head all day..." One of the toys on Lydia's exersaucer sings that song. Or chanting the mantra of "Hotdog Hotdog Hot diggity Dog." I can't even imagine what will get stuck up there when she is a little older. (Eliot does this too!)

2. The other day I had quickly slipped on some flip flops to run errands. I was gone several hours and when I returned I sat down. I saw my feet for the first time. I had been wearing two different flops all day. Sigh. Surely it will not be the last time.

3. Sticky hands...sticky forearms...sticky cheeks. I am the person who eats wings and uses literally 543 napkins. I hate feeling food on my face or hands. Before she was eating solids I could have replaced the word sticky with slimy with droll. Luckily, she has never spit up too much. Somehow, you just get over it. Lydia opens her mouth for a spoonful and then sticks her whole hand in her mouth. I can only assume she wants every drop to go in. She isn't quite an expert at that part yet. A lot of times I have to hold her hand while I feed her. I have tried letting her play with things but things are just finger licking good.

4. Someone hands YOU the crying baby in the room. The first time this happened a sense of panic came over me. I remembered thinking for a second I hope I know what to do. It turns out I did but it wasn't really a cognitive moment; it just happened. I just curled Lydia up in my arms and she fell asleep. Now when that happens it's completely natural and there are times that I just want to say "um give me my baby, please."

5. How quickly every priority is shifted. How the sound of her laugh lights up the entire day. How you think of her first always. How you want to cuddle and play all the time. How the gentleness of your baby's touch fills your whole soul instantly (sometimes I think I could just eat her up!)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Spinning Carrots are Deeeelicious!

Yummy in the tummy! Lydia has really gotten the hang of this food thing which is really fun. She loved carrots and yesterday we added bananas to the mix which was equally as fun and turns out that bananas are yum yum in the tum tum as well. Actually it turns out the old saying "what goes in must come out" (it may be what goes up...but it works about the same) is also true which we learned shortly after she was done with her bananas. She had started getting a little fussy which I interpreted as her being full. I cleaned her up her face which she didn't find amusing, took off her bib, unhook her from the high chair and picked her up. Suddenly, a whiff of stinky danced by and I said, "Houston we have a problem!" When I looked down it turns out that this little whiff was a big splat up her back, Eliot and I started laughing. The laugh was a knowing laugh indicating that our itty bitty baby was stepping it up a notch in the poop department and that we no longer had the benefit of scentless infant doodoo.

She is so close to rolling over from her back to her front. She can do a pretty elaborate twist as if she was attempting a complex yoga pose. When we do twists in yoga class the instructor usually says we are squeezing out the toxins which always seems to cross my mind when I watch her but I wonder what toxins could she possibly have and what else could be squeezing out of her? Regardless, at any given second she will be make that roll and it will be on. She loves tummy time and as soon as she realizes that she can roll I imagine that she will be trying to apply that motion to her knees and she will be on the go. She can spin pretty well. some of may be curious on spinning and may not find it in What to Expect the First Year. Spinning is the milestone where you leave your baby parallel in the crib and when you check back they are perpendicular or their head is on the other side. This can drive a mommy crazy because you could swear that you left her in a certain position but evidence shows that she is no longer in that position. You question if you remembered correctly or if you are losing your mind, luckily it's neither! Your baby spins!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Finger Licking Good

Monday morning Lydia went to the doctors for her 4 months check up. It is hard to believe. She is 14 pounds 6 ounces, 25 1/2 inches long. She was a little irritated with having her clothes taken off and a doctor check her out but other than that all was good. The doctor gave us the green light for solids foods, so we began the adventure that very night.

We mixed a spoonful of organic rice cereal with 4 spoonfuls of formula and we were off. At first she was a little confused. I imagine if she had words she would have asked: what the heck is this mushy stuff? Luckily at this point she doesn't and so eventually she got the rhyme of spoon and excitedly opened her mouth. Matter of fact, she was getting rather pissed in between spoonfuls because she was hungry and wanted more. The initial attempt was successful. We assumed that our gifted child would continue to enthusiastically open her mouth and want more. She would be just short of asking to pass the peas and wanting a second helping of squash. Turns out not so much.

The subsequent days she has decided she doesn't like this system.  She doesn't like this whole having itty bits of mush in her mouth and wait for more itty bits of mush. She wants sustenance and she wants it, well when she wants it. I nursed her first to take the edge off and that seemed to work best. Eliot gave her a full bottle yesterday morning before and apparently she just wasn't hungry. Last night she had a good nap. We played for a bit but I didn't want to fill her up before and so I put her in the chair gearing up for some good eating time and she was angry that I would even dare to try to mush train again.

Many doctors are now saying that instead of starting with rice cereal you can start with a vegetable or a fruit because it has better taste and it also promotes healthy eating habits from the get go whereas rice cereal fills them up on a high carb diet. Philosophically I don't really have much of a preference at this point, though I understand the concepts of setting important precedents but depending on how the rice cereal goes with Abuela this morning, I may try something with flavor tonight and it may be prunes. Prunes may help get this going in other areas which may be a part of the problem. Since breastmilk is the super food that gets completely absorbed by the baby's body there often is no poop (which is a nice change from the poopslosion stage) but rice cereal can also cause things to well,  to slow down, so perhaps the prunes kick start those tiny intestines and we will be back on the gravy train.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Rant: Skinny Jeans

As many of you know I teach at a lovely independent high school in south Tampa, Florida. Every high school has it's big issues that the student body is really passionate about and ours is not any different. For us the issue is dress code. There are formal uniforms worn on Fridays and other than that there is a relatively traditional set of rules for dress. Skirts not too short; pants not too tight, shirts not to low...and on it goes. They are teenagers and it's always something with authority which is understood and expected. My students will often tell me that they can't find longer, looser pieces of clothing and now this somewhat head scratching dilemma for teenagers is also the case for my baby?

My college roommate that has a baby just 3 1/2 months older than Lydia, Holland, bought her a pair of jeans the other day. When she got home and took off the tags she realized that they were skinny jeans. Yes, skinny jeans for an 8 month old. It's appalling that these even exist and it apparently is not enough that we are creating troublesome body image issues for young girls and teenagers but now it is has fallen to infancy? From the moment that a baby arrives we are weighing them and concerned about their size which I understand is the empirical understanding of their health but now we are trying to dress them as sexy? When I was looking for Lydia's Christmas dress for the holidays I found more tight, sequenced, black velvet than I did childlike ones with bows and ribbons. What are we saying to them? Frankly, what are we saying to ourselves and the standards of our society?

I implore you to know the difference between fighting a constant battle between fashion with your children and setting personal standards. I beg that all parents of little girls talk to them about body image and how they feel about themselves. I scream from the mountaintops for us to unite as a culture and say no to Skinny JEANS! (I mean who do they really look good on anyway?)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Duh! Teething!

Lydia will be turning 4 months in a short 4 days. It really had only momentarily crossed my mind that teething could be the issue at hand but it fleeted out of mind just as quickly as it entered, since I was dealing with my own separation anxiety. All the signs point to teething: excessive drooling, constant chomping on her hands, toys, blankets (anything really, she is a good grabber), wanting to nurse more often than normal, waking up more frequently, and unexplainable fussiness. In the wee morning of last Sunday, I looked at a parenting app on my phone and saw an article on teething. I went down the checklist and sure enough! She fit the mold. The thing that should be understood about teething which I also didn't know, until a mommy friend told me is that teething isn't like turning on a switch. It comes and goes. There are moments of high discomfort and some without any at all. It takes months for teeth to come in and one day they will just pop in, but until then there will be periods unrest.

Thankfully for my own peace of mind I have to believe that its teething. Monday morning my child had a complete and total meltdown in a way that one only sees in movies! Her little face was redder than I had ever seen and Eliot kept swearing that she was screaming MAMA! Now do I think she was actually screaming for me? Not really. She does make a lovely mmmmmmmmmmmmm constant sound but the cognizant connection of sounds to address her mother, not likely. Though, reason does not seep in at that very moment. So I started crying. She was so angry she wouldn't nurse but she finally took a bottle which made my guilt and sadness multiple. I had to leave for work. My face was puffy and my eyes ached all day. Eliot reported that shortly after I left she took a long nap and more than likely she was just exhausted. So me waking her to nurse at almost 4 months old was not a good idea. That is where that don't wake a sleeping baby thing comes from. She has transitioned from infant to baby. It turns out she did nurse after a couple of bottled ounces too. I just couldn't get her to latch in the middle of the fit and the bottle nipple is easier to stick in there.

Yesterday I didn't wake her before I left and today after she slept once again for 7 consecutive hours, she happen to be awake so I nursed her. Turns out, things have been just fine. This week is almost over and this weekend is a long one. Hooray!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Do the Best You Can

It typically takes me a couple of days to come to a decree. I like to think things over. I like to consider my options. I like to be thoughtful about my choices. Today I happily announce that Eliot and I have decided that I will no longer completely stress about this pumping/breastfeeding/milk production thing. This choice has many support arguments a couple being the following: 1. There are only so many hours in a day. In order to be a good teacher, a good wife, a good friend, a good daughter, and a good mom I can't be freaked out all the time about when I am going to pump and how much gets produced. Stress, in itself, reduces milk productivity. 2. Supply and Demand theory of breastfeeding. If Lydia only breastfeeds in the morning, I will produce only in the morning. Same as in the evening. Therefore, I have concluded that I will continue to nurse Lydia and pump, but instead of having a daily panic attack I will hope for the best, take a deep breath and enjoy being her mom rather than exhausting myself.

Why the sudden need for declarations of pumping intent? Well last night Lydia woke up again at 1, 3, and then 5. Finally we brought her in our bed because we were both up, exhausted and she was awake and playful. I think she does miss us and she wants to play. It makes me sad to think she looks at us in the middle of the night and suffers to stay awake because she misses us. She is laughing while rubbing her eyes. It breaks my heart really. Tonight we will go back to giving her the bottle of formula before bed to see if she is able to stay asleep as long as she was before which was 6-8 fairly consistently. For her sake to get good sleep and have a full belly and for our sleep and heartaches.

I am not ready to be done with nursing either so we will keep going as long as we can. Lydia will soon be eating solids. In a couple of weeks, we will get the green light on rice cereal. It will be so fun to see her messy little face!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hump Day

Today is day three of going back to work. Though work itself is lovely. The students are great and the colleagues are a pleasure, but I would still rather be home with Lydia. Not terribly surprising. People keep saying it will get easier over time and so far I have to say I disagree. It still sucks. I enjoy my job and I enjoy contributing to the lives of teenagers through teaching but I would rather be home. Lydia has been holding up well. She has had a great time with her grandparents and yesterday her dad. Both send me texts and pictures, but it seems like by the time I get home she needs a nap and then the couple hours together before bedtime fly by until the next few hours the next day. I too have been okay. I am not much of a crier, so leaving isn't too bad. I crank up NPR to drown my sorrow and  happily teach my classes. Then speed home at the end of the day.

Today particularly I am a little fuzzy because the various middle of the night snacks Lydia needed. For months we have been giving her a large bottle of formula before bed because of the folklore that it is more filling and well I have no major evidence to the contrary because she was sleeping a consistent 6 hours without needing anything. Since I started school and I am away from her I am suppose to nurse all the time when I am with her to ensure the production of my milk. Thus I have been nursing her to sleep. She has been going to bed about 8:30 and last night woke up at 1:30am and then again at 4:30am. She went back to sleep at 1:30 but not at 4:30, so I nudged Eliot out of bed. This should have meant that I had another hour and half to sleep but instead it was a cacophony of alarms. First the baby monitor was still on so I heard Lydia and Eliot, turned that off. Then Eliot's alarm...hit snooze. Then mine...hit snooze. Then his then mine this his then mine. I finally woke up in the middle of the bed with my arms extended towards the waking devices and got out of bed. Sigh. Needless to say, I am tired.
Afternoon Nap
In the morning, I nurse her then pump. When I get home I nurse her. Before her bedtime, I nurse her and pump again. What I still haven't found the time to do is pump at work. The first couple of days I didn't have any discomfort so didn't feel the need but now I am considering the possibility of my milk production diminishing because of it. Lydia seems to have an insatiable hunger during the night and in the morning, could it be because she isn't getting enough from me?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Only 10 Hours Left

The holidays as always were a wonderfully delightful whirlwind of family and friend fun. Our first Christmas with Lydia was fantastic as we shared with all our family several meals, exchanging of gifts and the cherry on top which was being the Holy Family at church on Christmas Eve. We had a great New Years with our closest friends, a decadent meal and several delicious bottles of wine.

Tomorrow my maternity leave ends. Sigh. A day that I knew would come. To be honest at first I wasn't so sure that it would be the emotional separation that many describe. I sort of missed my job. I missed teaching and knowing what was going on campus. In a lot of ways working was less work than being a mom. Being a stay at home mom is possibly the most difficult job there is; it is physically taxing particularly if you are nursing, it's emotionally exhausting and the expectations are out of this world. Working full time seemed like a nice opportunity to have your identity, moments of solitude and luckily I have a great job.

14 weeks later...I don't wanna leave my baby! She is worth every ounce of exhaustion and high expectations. I am the luckiest working mother on the planet because my retired awesome parents will be caring for Lydia in my own home! They are coming to us! I don't even have to suffer through the getting her ready and dropping her off. My super husband will take care of her on his off days to give them a break and my school day ends at 3:20. There is no better scenario and still I I don't want to leave my baby.

Today she found her feet!

Yesterday she found her reflection!

The day before she found her dress!

And the day before that...well she is just so darn cute! Look at her!

So tomorrow no matter how lucky I am to have a great job, amazing parents and a terrific husband, this mommy wishes she was staying home.