Thursday, November 30, 2006

Trials and Tribulations

Genevieve's reflux is acting up anew. Poor baby, she spits up and coughs and thrashes after every meal, and she won't nap unless she's in her swing or her carseat (i.e., sitting up). Last night she was up a million times, and groaned and complained after being put back down after each nursing...just like in October, before her reflux was diagnosed. So, we're off to the doctor tomorrow to discuss treatment.

As for Julia, she's in love with our Christmas decorations. We didn't have any up last year, since we were moving over the holidays, and the year before she was too little (six months old) to be aware of anything. But this year she can fully appreciate the snowman sculpture with the Santa hat, the Santa snow globe that snows AND plays music, the miniature ceramic Christmas tree that plugs in and lights up. She's in heaven.

She's also currently heading down a very annoying road known as "Skipping My Nap Today," something she does approximately once every week or so. Even as I type, she's been in her bed for 40 minutes but has yet to fall asleep, and she just began the typical "Mama, I'm wakin' up!" refrain that she will now repeat ad infinitum (even though she hasn't actually been to sleep). Since I was up all night with Genevieve, I'm pretty tired today and was hoping for good naps from my girls. Silly me.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Silly Me--What Was I Thinking?

It's been a hugely busy week for me. I've been going nonstop since we got back from our Thanksgiving trek, trying to get a million things done, both Christmasy and non, as fast as possible to free up some time next week (and beyond) for just enjoying the holiday season. This evening after dinner, I took a break and was sitting in the armchair in our living room, reading a magazine as Christopher took both girls up the stairs for bathtime. This is the conversation I heard between Christopher and Julia:

J: What Mama doing?
C: She's reading a book.
J: What kind of book?
C: Actually it's a magazine, one of her magazines that she likes.
J: [silence]
C: She's relaxing. It's called taking a moment for herself.
J: [a few moments of silence, then:] THAT'S pretty silly, Daddy!

Daysleeper

Frustratingly, Genevieve likes to take her long stretches of sleep (and, thus, her long stretches without nursing) during daytime hours instead of at night. Right now (2 p.m.) she's asleep in her carseat where she's been snoozing since 10 a.m. when she fell asleep on the way to Julia's toddler class (after screaming herself into a huge fit of hiccups upon being put into the carseat--she's still hiccuping in her sleep right now, 4 hours later. This behavior is WEIRD.). Oh, and she last nursed at 9 a.m., and even that was on one side only. The last time she nursed on the right side was at 6 a.m. Needless to say, I just went and pumped the right side. Egad. This is the same baby who seems to think she needs to eat every three hours all night long, age (3-1/2 months) and size (huge?) be damned. Hello?! You can go five hours without sustenance in the middle of the day--8 hours since your last FULL meal!--but you are compelled to snack multiple times in the dead of night when reasonable babies are sound asleep in their cribs dreaming of milk, but not demanding it?

Now people, don't go and tell me to try waking her up when she does this, to avoid the cluster feedings that ensue the rest of the night when she takes a long break like this. I have a mantra, and it is NEVER WAKE A SLEEPING BABY, and one of the reasons I have this mantra is because, in my experience, it never works anyway, and babies are not controllable, and waking up the baby in situations like this does nothing but ensure that not only will be the baby be up all night nursing as usual, but she will also be up nursing right now, when you could be blogging and drinking caffeine-free Diet Coke and eating homemade pumpkin muffins instead. Amen.

Family Photo

Our friend Alison is an incredible photographer. Now that we've chosen the photo for our family holiday card---from the shots Alison took of our family in October---you can check out the shot we decided not to use, though we love it. Christopher's got it up on his blog right now--click here. I love how Julia is peeking up at Alison above us. And I love how it's taken at Carleton, in Christopher's office building, a lovely old brick college hall. Oh--and she's also the one who took the picture of me on this blog, at right.

Isn't Alison talented?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Christmas in July?

One of the best things about where we live is the view out our back windows. On our main level, the south wall is pretty much all glass, and behind our row of townhouses is nothing but farm fields dotted with woods. The sky is enormous here; you can see all the way to the horizon, and giant dramatic gray and purple clouds roll in like something out of a movie special-effects department. It's truly gorgeous. I'm mentioning this today because right now that's just what's happening, and it's too bad the memory card on our camera is full, because I wish I could have taken a shot about five minutes ago as the sky put on a late-fall show. It's been raining and thunderstorming here all day, and you know, there's something just a little odd about putting up the Christmas decorations during a thunderstorm, to the sound of carols playing on the stereo, which is what Julia and I did this morning after breakfast before Genevieve woke up. Oh, and it's 60 degrees here right now.

Yes, so far in the last month we've had 80-degree temps, a six-inch snowfall, and a thunderstorm. You're never bored by the weather in Minnesota.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Fine Grind

This evening, after we finally successfully got both girls to bed and asleep--no small feat--Christopher went outside to grind some coffee beans for tomorrow morning, so loath was he to disrupt the quiet and chance waking a snoozing babe. Our former pediatrician in the Cities (whom we adored, by the way), used to tell us, when Julia was an infant, that our household should not revolve around the baby sleeping or not sleeping--that if we were manipulating our normal daily activities in various ridiculous ways solely to try to keep the baby asleep, that things were not working for us. I'm pretty sure she wouldn't approve.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Full and Thankful

We're back from our Thanksgiving trek! And we survived, despite the fact that Julia didn't sleep one wink the entire round-trip drive. Not that we expected her to; after all, we know our child. But people, six-plus hours (each way!) is a loooooong time to be in a car without sleeping, particularly if you are ONLY TWO YEARS OLD! That said, she did great. Most of the drive, she sat in her carseat "reading" books to herself. Propping one after another in her lap, peering downward intently at the pictures, flipping each page, sometimes reciting out loud the text she knows by heart (especially the entire text of the lovely and gorgeous board book, "Baby Born"). People, it was like being on a road trip with a grade-schooler. And believe me, I'm NOT complaining when I say that!

As for Genevieve, she fared better on the way home (when she slept literally the entire time except for when we stopped for lunch and she woke up to nurse and get her diaper changed) than on the way up (when she slept, yes, but also screamed, fussed, and demanded a bottle of pumped milk to be fed to her by her daddy from the front seat when she just couldn't wait the extra half-hour to the next major stop). You're impressed by that sleeping-the-whole-way-home trick, are you? Well, allow me to point out that the reason the baby was so sleepy, and thus so easy, on the drive home, was that she spent the previous night crying pretty much non-stop from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sigh.

Anyway, our holiday was great, filled as it was with the cacophony of seven cousins ages 3 months to 12 years, great weather (63 degrees on Wednesday!), tons of food (you really can't go wrong with five kinds of dessert, you know?), and, amidst all the activity, enough downtime to even read a few magazines and grab a decaf latte from the local coffeehouse.

Right now, though, I'm dead tired, and it's a busy week for this mama and her girls. We've got baby school, playgroup, AND Julia's first tumbling class this week. I've been doing laundry, cleaning house, sorting mail, and catching up on e-mail all evening, and it's way past my bedtime. Plus, Genna's been nursing like a fiend again lately, chubbalicious sweetheart that she is, which means she'll be interrupting my sleep all too soon. Goodnight!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The One-Word Meme

I couldn't resist this meme; in taking a packing and parenting break, I found it over at Mom Writes and it looked fun!

The One-Word Meme

Yourself: multi-faceted
Your partner: understanding
Your hair: blonde
Your mother: comforting
Your father: unflappable
Your favorite item: running shoes
Your dream last night: unknown
Your favorite drink: Diet Coke
Your dream car: second
Your dream home: bigger
The room you are in: family-room
Your ex: none
Your fear: unhappiness
Where you want to be in ten years: contented
Who you hung out with last night: husband
What you're not: gregarious
Muffins: chocolate
One of your wish list items: laptop
Time: afternoon
Last thing you ate: frittata
What you are wearing: t-shirt
Your favorite weather: autumn
Your favorite book: Waiting for Birdy
Your life: full
Your mood: good
Your best friends: kind
What you are thinking about right now: Thanksgiving
Your car: crowded
What you are doing at the moment: typing
Your summer: pregnant
Relationship status: married
What is on your TV: nothing
What is the weather like: sunny
When is the last time you laughed: morning

Thanksgiving Wishes

I'm writing this holiday message early, because we're leaving tomorrow morning for a long drive up north to my family's for Thanksgiving, and I'm going to be spending all day today getting ready and packing a ridiculous amount of stuff into our car for the trip. Wish us luck, because this is the first extended road trip we've taken since Genevieve was born, and it's five hours WITHOUT stops. Which means something like seven when you factor in breaks for nursing, diaper changes, boredom relief (the babies', not ours), and an opportunity to stretch legs and run around (Julia, that is). Yikes. I'm trying to brace myself with the zen-like philosophy that it will take as long as it takes, and we should just go with it and not stress about the clock or the mile-marker signs (I HATE that one, "Fargo, 250").

So, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I bet you know what I'm thankful for: two lovely girls that bring such joy to our house, health and happiness in our new town, family close enough to drive to spend the holiday with. I hope you're overrun with blessings this Thanksgiving, too.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Second Time's the Charm

I know, I know: I haven't been posting much lately. Sorry! The last week got away from me. I've been busy--getting our household back into the swing of things after the stomach flu, cleaning the house (I know! Really!), socializing, hosting some company over the weekend (Grandpa Jim came to visit--thanks again for dinner, Grandpa Jim!), working on some writing to send out to a couple of web magazines, attempting a (very gradual) get-back-into-shape running program, planning our mammoth packing list for the drive north for Thanksgiving this week. Nothing too earth-shattering, but enough to make the days go by awfully fast while I try to get everything done each day. Plus, Genevieve had a harder few days recently; there's nothing like mentioning that the baby is sleeping more and nursing less to make her then suddenly revert to sleeping less and nursing more. (Not to mention the crying: last Wednesday she cried from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. for some reason, probably tummy-related.)

Today I drove up to our old Minneapolis neighborhood to attend a baby shower for my friend Rachel. She's expecting her second baby in a couple of weeks. Bucking the conventional opinion that showers are for first pregnancies only, Rachel planned and hosted this one herself, creating a non-traditional party that included a fall feast prepared by the pregnant mama herself, alcohol for the non-pregnant and non-nursing among us, loud music, and a baby-bottle-shaped pinata in the backyard filled with lip gloss samples. True, she's got a two-year-old already, and had a shower for that baby. She has all the baby clothes and gear she really needs. To some, a second-time baby shower may seem tacky and gift-greedy. But Rachel and I are in agreement about this one. As she put it when she first told me of her plans to throw herself a second baby shower, "Everyone says you're not supposed to have a shower for the second baby. No one gives gifts because they say you already have everything you need. But it's not about that. Every pregnancy is special; every new baby is sacred. The second childbirth hurts just as much as the first. Why shouldn't the second birth be celebrated too?"

I feel the same way. It's not as if the second (or third, or fourth) baby will ever know that her entry into the world didn't create the same splash that her firstborn sibling's did--let's hope, anyway. It's not as if you need any more baby clothes and toys. But after you have the second, and you look into her sweet little face, it does break your heart a little bit to think that some people don't think she's important or exciting enough to throw a little confetti for, sign a name to a card or tie a big old bow. It's not about the gifts; it's about loving up the new baby. You know?

In honor of Genevieve Rose, I swung at the pinata extra-hard. Not that she was there, or knew it. But I did.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I've Even Got a DQ Coupon

So I'm obsessed with this new limited-time-only Pumpkin Pie Blizzard at Dairy Queen (of COURSE I am!). You may recall that during my have-at-it, bumblebee-metabolism periods of pregnancy and breastfeeding, I like me a Blizzard now and then. And this! People, it is pumpkin pie and ice cream IN ONE. How can you go wrong? But you may also recall that I am off dairy, for the sake of the wee one's colicky tummy. Curses! You guys, it may be time for a little dairy experimentation.

Speaking of the wee one, she's winning an award for Easiest Second Baby When Compared to The Hardest First Baby on the Planet. All of a sudden, about a week or so ago, she decided to start nursing only once overnight. I'm in favor. So OK, last night she did nurse every two hours again, but at 4 a.m. we realized we'd forgotten to give her the nighttime dose of Zantac that so effectively controls her acid reflux, so that wasn't her fault. Prior to that, she'd stuck with the one-nighttime-nursing schedule for something like 12 straight days, so I'm pretty confident it will continue if her distracted parents can remember to dole out her medicine. And, more than once lately, she's put herself to sleep on her own, in her bassinet, at naptime or bedtime, by simply thrashing around awhile, sucking on her fist, staring into space, contemplating her circumstances, and closing her eyes. Understand, this is without the aid of a breast, and without parental intervention in the form of forcing her to "cry it out." She just....went to sleep. Because she was tired. We feel like we're living in Baby Science Fiction Land, that's how foreign this kind of infant behavior is to us. But hey, we'll take it.

And for the final update, people, we got a new mattress. OK, so it wasn't the most convenient time for a major purchase, seeing the sorry state of our savings account. But after weeks of morning back and shoulder pain, a solid day in bed with the stomach flu last week clinched it: there was no way I could stand that sorry, 11-year-old, last-legs bed even one more minute. We took both girls to the only local mattress store on Sunday and tried out the only three sets within our meager budget. Happy ending: even a cheap new mattress is about ten million times more comfortable than our pathetic old one.

All for now. Tune in for some more serious posts sometime soon. I've got a few things I keep meaning to write about, but this mothering thing? It takes a lot of TIME.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

It's About Time

Christopher's got an interesting post up today on After School Snack about the new international symbol for breastfeeding acceptance. But of course it begs the question, why did it take until 2006 for such a thing to enter the culture, and perhaps even more importantly, why should it even be necessary to have a specific symbol to let women know they're in a nursing-friendly environment?

Still, kudos to Mothering magazine and to the logo designer.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Last-Chance Parenting



Genevieve is 12 weeks old; next week, on the 15th, she'll be three months old. Thus, she is entering what is, I think, my very favorite period of babyhood: the three-to-six-month-old stage. There's something about this age that I just adore; I did so with Julia too. Babies are such wonderful bundles during these months: no longer so floppy that their heads bob around like marionettes when you hold them on your shoulder, but not yet so big that holding them on your shoulder, or anywhere else, feels like a major strength-training workout. Plus, they start to look so prototypical-baby. You know: the wrinkly little-old-man face is gone, and in its place is a round, peachy expanse of chubby cheek and chin (yes, chins can be chubby). Oh, so kissable. So irresistible. And the smiles! These babies, they get so charming right around now. All you have to do is look at them and they jump and wiggle with so much joy, they flash their wide pumpkin-grins so wetly, that you feel like you just won a prize for doing nothing. And who can ever get enough of that feeling? Certainly not me.

Which brings me to this. The thing about thinking that you're probably not going to have any more babies is that everything--every single little thing--is the last. The mourning starts right away. You're only four weeks into new-babydom, and poof! the last mitten-sized newborn diaper you will ever use again. A week later, and goodbye tiny knitted bonnet with the ribbon ties. Another month or so? Never again the swaddling, never again the bassinet. It goes on and on; it never ends, right? Although I guess there's a bright side to the endless never-agains of parenting: I mean, surely the last night-nursing, the last potty-training accident, the last orthodontia bill, the last driving lesson--these will be causes to celebrate.

And I try, really hard, to appreciate the present moment with my baby--with both my babies, actually, the new one and the giant two-and-a-half-year-old one too--because the thing about these lasts is that you rarely, if ever, know in advance when they are coming. You just look around one day and go, Wow, when did she stop with that crazy full-belly, split-second, phantom grin thing she used to do in her sleep? Or, When did she get too big for the Pooh hat with the ears? The other day Genevieve fell asleep nursing, and though I know there will be many more instances of that occurrence in future months, I couldn't help but marvel at her heavy lids and her bear-cub snores, because one day this baby will never nurse to sleep again, but will instead twist her curious head and kick her big-baby legs and groan and giggle her way through her milky snacks, and this warm little pup crooked in just one arm will be a distant memory.

So: Genevieve is hitting her baby-stride, and I'm thrilled. And also, you know, a little bit sad.

You Know You're in Minnesota When....

...you wake up to a solid six inches of snow on the ground--the evergreen trees out back as laden with white as if it were Christmas Day--and just two days ago it was sunny and 80 degrees. Wha...????

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Update

Thanks for your good thoughts--we're winning the war against the stomach flu at last. Julia appears mostly recovered, although her appetite isn't quite back to normal yet. And though I continue to battle recurring body aches and fatigue--climbing the stairs today just about did me in--at least the more, um, disgusting flu symptoms have abated, and Christopher was able to go back to work today rather than stay home again to take care of the rest of us. So far Christopher hasn't caught it, but then again, he's only been sick once in the 13 years I've known him. As for Genevieve, she's healthy too; all those breast-milk antibodies must be doing their job. Still, we're laying low the next few days. We want to make sure the flu is on its way out of our house, especially since Julia's symptoms returned several times over the course of four days, each time just when we thought she was over it. Plus, after several days of doing nothing more strenuous than clicking the TV remote (Julia's watched more Sesame Street DVDs in the past three days than in her whole life so far) and wanly sipping fizzy water, we're feeling a little peaked. Here's hoping for a better week to come.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

House of Horrors

Thought we were in hell yesterday, then I caught it this morning. Now we're really in hell!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Still Sick

Good Lord, the toddler puking, will it ever end? We're in hell.

Election Day Coverage

The good: For the 4th straight night last night, Genevieve woke up to nurse only once in the middle of the night. She went from 7:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. yesterday!

The bad: Genevieve is terrified of the loud banging the roofers are making as they repair our house. Yesterday she cried for an hour straight after the scary noise woke her from a nap.

The ugly: Julia began throwing up again yesterday at suppertime, after more than 24 hours of nothing. However, so far this morning she seems okay, though extremely weak and pale. She did devour a bowl of dry Cheerios and drink a bunch of fizzy water, so she obviously feels better today than she did last evening. Poor little honey!

Reminder: go and vote today! I, for one, am ready for a Congress that gives a damn about children, education, health coverage for the country's most vulnerable, tolerance and equal rights for all people--not just heterosexual, born-again Christian people--and empathy for non-rich, working families.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Pass the Antibacterial Soap

I won't tell you anything about it, because the details are too hideously disgusting for anyone to want to hear them. All I will say is, the barfing flu hit our household on Saturday night, and if you've never tended a two-year-old who is throwing up every fifteen minutes for eight straight overnight hours, get down on your knees and thank whatever god you believe in. Twenty-four hours, ten million loads of laundry, and a grape Popsicle later, the toddler seems to be on the mend. I'm not sure how long it will take for Christopher and me to recover, however, from our post-traumatic flashbacks of the carnage.

Another parenting rite of passage, down.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Music Appreciation with Julia

Julia says the most hilarious things sometimes (I know: whose kid doesn't?). If you want a chuckle, Christopher's got a cute post about Julia up on his blog right now. Go check it out.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Moment of Truth

It's happened. We are really, truly, officially, a one-income family now. Meaning, the money in my private practice checking account--income from my business that I closed last June in preparation for the arrival of baby #2--has run out. It only lasted four months, mainly because having a baby is damned expensive. Even more expensive when your lousy health insurance didn't cover nearly as much of your C-section and subsequent 72-hour hospital stay as you had hoped and expected. (Good Lord, those bills! Those bills that come every single day in the mail, one after the other after the other when you swear this must truly be the last one, and how is it possible that they are going to ask for more money? And HOW much did they charge me for the IV???)

It is totally terrifying to realize that the one checkbook? That's IT. There's no other money. No other money for Target, for groceries, for the monthly townhouse association fee, for hair appointments, for Christmas gifts. No other money for the gargantuan student loan payment you owe every month and will until you're sixty. No other money for the exorbitant hip-college-town property tax. NO OTHER MONEY. Yikes.

I've done some previous writing about the choices--and the anxieties--that go along with staying home full-time when Christopher's income doesn't fully cover our living expenses. Luckily, he has some opportunities ahead for some extra work--part-time, evening, contract-teaching gigs--to bring in a little more income for our family. That helps, but all I can think is, I really, really, really don't want to reach the moment where I am forced to return to work before our family is ready, strictly to bring more dollars into our house each month. But it's starting to feel a little bit inevitable.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Let Her Eat Cake

Last night, Julia finally used her potty chair for its intended purpose. Hooray! We had promised her that as soon as she did, we would call Nonna (her maternal grandma) to tell her the wonderful news, and Nonna promised to send her a present. So, that was exciting. Then we told her that if she kept practicing and using her potty chair, that when she was using it all the time, we would have a little (private!) party to celebrate, and Mama would make cupcakes.

Julia's only reaction to our extended, detailed, three-way conversation about the wonders of potty chairs and dry pants? "What those cupcakes will taste yike, Mama?"

Ah, sugar. The great motivator? We'll see.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Sleep Tight

Yes, it is discouraging to still be nursing every two hours much of the time, when my friends' newborns are going three, four, five, or more hours between most feedings. And yes, we could all do with a little more sleep, and a little less snacking, during the overnight hours. But even so, something just happened that reminds me just how different Genevieve is from Julia as a newborn--and therefore, how truly different my parenting experience is with Genevieve from how it was with Julia. I just laid Genevieve down for a nap, because she was starting to yawn and act sleepy. She had nursed awhile ago, so I didn't nurse her. She was awake when I put her down. I just swaddled her up, laid her in her bassinet, and tiptoed out. And she went to sleep. On her own. From eyes open to eyes closed. ON HER OWN.

If you recall, when Julia was 11 weeks old she had recently begun a months-long nap strike. She stopped napping pretty much altogether, and she certainly never went to sleep without being nursed. The idea of laying Julia in her bed and expecting her to go to sleep was laughable no matter how exhausted (or well-rested) she was, and no matter what we did (excluding letting her scream for hours on end alone in her bassinet, to which we were adamantly opposed), she just didn't nap. In contrast, Genevieve feels like a more....normal baby. (Oh--there is also the fact that, though Genevieve shares our room as Julia did as an infant, she doesn't wake up from every tiny little sound anyone makes nearby--like, oh, say, breathing. For example, we can actually pull up our covers without waking her up. There's no Noisy Comforter problem this time around! It's a miracle!)

So yes, I'm still complaining and wondering about why this little rose just won't conk out at night for a good long time. (My mom's reply was, "Because you've been tried and tested and have your degree in Non-Sleeping Baby-Tending," and I like that explanation; let's go with it, shall we?) And I'm still dreading possibly having to force the issue in a few months' time (why can't I be one of those lucky moms who gets a baby who spontaneously starts to sleep through the night? Why oh why?). But people, it could be much, much worse.

And it goes without saying: blessed, blessed, blessed.