One Year

This has easily been both the hardest and most wonderful year of my life. 2015 has given me:

  • A healthy pregnancy
  • A new house
  • A successful, albeit challenging, birth experience
  • An amazing baby girl 
  • The 10 year anniversary of the day I met my wife

I am very, very blessed and would do well to remember that a bit more in 2016. 

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Sending wishes to all of you for a healthy, happy and fulfilled 2016. Thank you for being such a wonderful part of 2015. 

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The Grandparents

I remember a few months ago telling someone that I was really surprised at how hands-off my mother had been with parenting advice since Charlotte was born. My in laws had no shortage of advice to offer (whiskey on her gums for teething, sugar on her pacifier for hiccups, cereal in her bottle to fill her up, let her CIO…), but my own mother had been surprisingly quiet.

Do you see what I did there? With the past tense? HAD BEEN quiet. My mother WAS keeping her mouth shut.

Until… well, until she wasn’t, I guess. Which is now. Now, she’s keeping pace with the in laws.

The thing is that my mother is well meaning. As are my in laws. They are all driving me batshit crazy, but the trouble is that my mom actually has possession of Charlotte one day a week, and on that day, she does as she pleases.

She was playing a game with C that she called “boom” where she pulled C up by her arms and then repeatedly allowed her to fall back onto a pile of pillows. Fine for an older baby. Maybe not so great for a 3 month old. Catch saw it in action and didn’t like it. I asked her to please not play the game anymore. What followed was two weeks of arguing about it until C came home from her house one day and only woke up to eat and I freaked my mother out about shaken baby syndrome. They don’t play boom anymore.

Then there’s the stroller. I have asked my mom to use the infant seat with the stroller until C is 6 months old. That is the recommendation on the stroller. That’s what I’m comfortable with. Is she doing it? No. When I made an issue out of it, she argued with me and told me she’d done all of her own research and that everything she read says it’s subjective and it’s fine for C to be in the stroller.

And yes. This is true. I did the research too. BUT I ASKED HER NOT TO DO IT. Why is it so hard to respect my wishes? We finally got into a big fight about it right before Christmas and she said she’s using her grandparent rights to override me. Um, excuse me? What now? Gah!

Now, I’ve mentioned to her that we’re going to use BLW techniques when we introduce C to solids. Mom was totally on board and said it sounds great. She went to lunch with Catch and C today and insisted on giving C a piece of bread. Catch told her no and she argued with her.

Then they went high chair shopping and mom told Catch she couldn’t get the one she likes because it doesn’t match our dining room furniture.

Mom is not winning any points for herself lately. Granted, Catch’s parents aren’t either (on Christmas, my MIL was wearing a sweater with handguns all over it and there was a gun catalog on the coffee table – don’t even get me started), but Catch’s parents don’t have my baby one day a week.

Anyway, I have no idea how to handle these well meaning grandparents. I’m tempted to buy my mom a muzzle as a not-so-subtle hint that she needs to shut her pie hole, but I don’t think it would go over particularly well. The thing is that none of these things are the end of the world. Well, boom was truly objectionable, but the rest of it–meh. The kid’ll be fine. A piece of bread isn’t going to kill her. But it’s the PRINCIPLE. We are the moms, not her. She already got to be the mom and call the shots. It’s my turn now.

Ugh.

Vent over. We’ll talk about the in laws another day.

Cute baby picture reward for making it this far:

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We even did a test run to decide whether we felt like she was ready for the stroller without the carrier!

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Baby-Led Weaning

Tell me how it’s gone for you. I’m reading the book right now and from what I’ve been reading, it sounds amazing… but it can’t all be sunshine and rainbows. (Nothing is ALL sunshine & rainbows when babies are involved.)  I’m interested in hearing some real life experiences / opinions on the topic.

Charlotte turned 5 months old last week (another post for another day) and she has recently become totally unmanageable when there is food around. You can’t have anything edible even remotely within her reach if you don’t want her hands in it. She is so curious about food, and I want to be ready to hit the ground running once we reach that magical 6 month mark.

Honestly, 3 more weeks feels like FOREVER because she’s so desperate to play with our food NOW. Last night at dinner we broke down and gave her a giant hunk of raw carrot to gnaw on while we were eating – she only has about an eighth of a tooth right now (it broke through the day after Christmas!), so I wasn’t exactly concerned about her being able to bite off a piece and choke. The carrot was more like a teething toy than anything. She would have much preferred the ham we had on our plates.

Bonus points if you can recommend a high chair that you love and tell us why you love it. I think Catch is going shopping for one tomorrow.

If you look closely, you can barely see the start of her very first tooth. And a booger. Just ignore that.

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Grumble Christmas Grumble

I’d tell you that I’m ready to tear my hair out, except it’s already falling out in epic proportions, so there’d really be no point to me ripping it out myself. Instead, I’ll just say that the holidays are going to be the death of me. So is teething, and/or whatever leap she’s currently going through. I am at my wit’s end.

Also, I have thrush. If you have never experienced thrush before, I would like to encourage you to try nursing a group of fire-breathing, fang-bearing baby dragons. That’s how thrush feels. When Charlotte latched for the ten thousandth time last night (every 45 minutes?! WTH?!) it hurt so badly that my middle of the night overly tired mama reflexes almost shoved her straight onto the floor. Pumping is slightly less painful. It mostly just feels like there are a bunch of rusty nails inside the flanges of my pump. I am actually relieved to be pumping at work today because rusty nails are totally better than baby dragons, which probably says something about the level of pain I’m experiencing.

On the teething front, I would like to thank all of you who are my Facebook friends (wanna be friends? Just let me know!) who suggested the amber teething necklace. Our families all think Catch and I are a couple of crazy hippies now, but it actually does seem to be taking the edge of things. She had a bit of a fever last night, and usually she turns into Oscar the Grouch but I only noticed this fever because she felt warm.

Sleep is still fifty shades of GO THE FUCK TO SLEEP. Before, she would nap contentedly in her swing or her bassinet. Now she will only nap on a warm body. Before, she would sleep contentedly in her rock & play (that she is way too big for and we were desperately trying to get her out of) but now she will only sleep at night if she’s cradled in the crook of my arm like the special little princess she is.

You know it’s bad when you have sworn that you will not co-sleep in your bed and yet you and your spouse find yourselves BEGGING the baby to PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF DOG SLEEP IN THE BED. We put her in between us and as she thrashed about we tried every way we could think of to comfort her and assure her that although she is not cradled in the crook of mommy’s arm, mommy is still very much RIGHT FREAKING NEXT TO YOU OMG.

I wish you could see our bedroom right now because baby sleep apparatuses are taking over. My side of the bed now houses both the rock & play and the crib. The crib is basically a great place to store the throw pillows from our bed. The rock & play is just a fantastic thing to kick in the middle of the night, thereby waking up the baby (who I probably spent 20 minutes trying to quietly extricate from my arms so I could pee), both dogs and my wife.

Then, there is Christmas in all its magical, “baby’s first” special-ness. No pressure. We are so broke (hello, NANNY) that we are not exchanging gifts with each other, and all we have for C is a few teething toys and books. Everyone else is mostly getting handmade things that are various stages of incomplete because Charlotte won’t let me put her down after she falls asleep. I have no idea how I’m supposed to make Christmas magic happen when I’m getting 45 minute intervals of sleep and I’m stuck beneath a baby for most of the night—either because I’m nursing her or because she’s asleep.

Motherhood: I’m doing it wrong.

And yes, we know that something has to give on the sleep front, and we are trying. Oh, how we are trying. She is going to start sleeping in that crib before she’s 18 if it’s the last thing I do.

In happier news, she is still the cutest, sweetest little munchkin. She is totally adored by our family and friends. She has no idea how loved she is. Every day becomes more fun as more of her personality shines through. As hard as it is right now, being her mother is still the best thing in the world. Can you imagine how I’d feel about her if I could ditch the dragon-nursing and get a few straight hours of sleep? There would be no end to the gushing!

She had her first Christmas celebration yesterday, and she was seriously just the life of the party.

 How cute are these socks? They rattle. 12360401_10207803412470849_7800084162065849340_n

Opening her very first Christmas gift. The look on her face is the best thing ever.12360316_10207803409870784_3760663771272130615_n

Charlotte and her namesake, my Nana. This picture is so special. I can hardly handle it.12375269_10207803411190817_40289582319526691_o

My cousin’s little one pouring tea for Charlotte and Nana. She grabbed that tea pot out of his hand and threw it on the floor as he watched in horror.

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Motherhood

I was unprepared for a lot of things about motherhood, but what’s been absolutely astonishing to me is how sensitive it’s made me to world events and tragedies. It’s not that I didn’t care before, it’s just that now I care twice as much.

On the anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, Facebook was flooded with little reminders. One of the little girls who were killed was named Charlotte and it haunted me all day. I couldn’t stop thinking about that poor mom who loved her Charlotte just as much as I love my Charlotte. I couldn’t stop imagining her pain.

Last night, a close friend of Catch’s family passed away. He was 24. He’d been very sick for a long time, so it wasn’t exactly sudden, but still… a mama lost her “baby” last night. As I lay in bed looking at Charlotte next to me, I cried for her. She will never be able to gaze upon her child again. I used to say that I can’t even imagine that kind of pain, but suddenly I can imagine it, and it’s paralyzing even in my imagination.

New moms are often made to feel like all of the worrying we do is silly. We spend our pregnancies researching the best brand of everything that will come in contact with our child. We spend their first days and weeks and months reading articles on feeding, sleeping, germs, vaccinations… you name it. We obsess. We carry hand sanitizer. Now we even have to worry about random mass shootings.

Can you blame us, though? All of a sudden, our hearts are totally separate from our bodies. That overwhelming vulnerability has triggered a sort of survival mode inside of us. I need to feel like I’m doing what’s best for my baby because her health and well being are intertwined with my own. I cannot be happy unless she is happy. I cannot sleep unless she sleeps. I cannot thrive unless she thrives.

If you were to ask me how motherhood has changed me, I think this is probably the most profound of all of the changes.

Santa’s Elves are Getting More Sleep than Me

You know it’s serious when I’m so tired that a glass of wine doesn’t even sound remotely appealing.

I’m pretty sure we’ve headed into teething territory with Charlotte. We’ve had weeks of crazy drooling and chewing on things, but it’s escalated this week. Now we’ve added some low grade fevers, chewing on her lower lip, and a level of general fussiness, clinginess, and sleeplessness that has never been seen before in this house.

My in-laws were here on Sunday and she flat out refused to have anything to do with them. She cried, whimpered, whined, or some variation thereof almost non-stop from the moment they arrived (around noon) until I finally got her to “sleep” about 9 hours later. Quotation marks because I would hardly call what she’s doing these days sleeping.

The past 3 nights have been rough, but last night was particularly bad. She went to bed around 7:30 and proceeded to wake up at 9, 10, 11, 12, 1, 2 (she was awake for over an hour and a half at this one) and then finally 5. At 1 am, I was so desperate for some sleep that I nursed her and then pumped figuring that way Catch could take her next wake up and I could sleep. She woke up at 2 and I made Catch get up to give her the bottle, but by 3 she was still wide awake and crying her little head off. She nuzzled herself into my boob the minute I touched her. So basically all that time I spent pumping I should have spent sleeping instead for all the good it did.

Long story short, Mommy feels like death.

I’m afraid we’ve also added some 4-month sleep regression to the teething fun, which is just a cocktail of pure misery.

Plus, it’s Christmas. I have purchased exactly zero gifts. I have made exactly zero gifts. We tried to go to a party on Saturday night and lasted just over a half hour because our normally happy baby had a total meltdown every time anyone acknowledged her presence in even the most gentle way.

At least we got our tree on Saturday, so that’s a start. It even has lights on it. No ornaments yet, but maybe we’ll try tonight. Charlotte LOVES her Christmas tree. She is totally fascinated by the texture of the branches and she just loves to clasp her little hands around the needles.

Here she is before we left to go tree shopping…

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And here she is at the tree lot trying to decide which one to give her seal of approval to…

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The obligatory baby + Christmas lights photo. (Taken at about 4:30 am when she refused to sleep and I decided that I might as well be productive and get the lights going.)

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This was her all dressed up and happy before she decided that she actually hates parties…

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Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to pump and then head out to Costco in search of people who make me want to run them over with my cart Christmas spirit.

Utter Chaos

That’s my answer when people ask me how life is now that we have a baby. Complete chaos about 90% of the time. The other 10% is for sleep. (If we’re lucky.)

Actually, that’s not entirely truthful. We had a session for a family portrait with our wedding photographer on Sunday and when she asked, my answer was, “Sleep deprived and sober.” Also true. Although I had an entire glass of wine on Thanksgiving and it was HEAVEN. (Except that I wanted to put my head down and sleep almost immediately.)

Now that I’m back at work, the days are sort of a blur. There’s getting ready in the morning chaos. Then there’s work, where I spend much of the day a) trying to figure out how to make the evening less chaotic or b) pumping, reading about pumping, and lamenting the meager results of said pumping. Then there’s post-work, which is chaos no matter what scheme I manage to devise at work. Finally, there’s bedtime, which is essentially the three of us on the couch at 8 pm in various stages of being completely passed out.

Rinse and repeat.

Catch is always doing laundry. I am always nursing the baby. I can usually get dinner half-prepared before she’s hungry again and Catch takes over. Then there are dishes to deal with and bottles and pump parts to wash–lunches to prepare, breast milk to sort into fresh bottles. It’s never ending.

I expect this is much the same for many families with babies. The question is, why did it never occur to me that this is what it would be like? In all of my baby dreaming, I never managed to consider much of the mundane day-to-day drudgery.

Catch leaves an hour before I do most mornings, so much of the morning is me carrying Charlotte around saying things like, “Now mommy needs to pour more coffee” and “Who wants to help mommy find clean pants?”

I’ve had friends who do daycare tell me how jealous they are that I don’t have to get the baby out the door to daycare, BUT remember this: having a nanny means having someone in your house daily. It means no dirty underwear on the floor, no dirty dishes in the sink, and that the house generally needs to be (reasonably) clean at all times. My personal definition of “reasonably clean” means that there is not a carpet of dog hair on the floor, the toilet is flushed (hey, we’re in a drought!), and the kitchen counters have been wiped down. (This mama is one class act, huh?)

Through all of the chaos, Charlotte is always cared for. What’s missing from the equation is self-care. Examples: 1) My skin is always dry, and the only time I ever seem to think about applying lotion is when I am stuck beneath a sleeping baby. Sleeping baby wins over lotion every time. 2) I’m pretty sure that the other day, I shaved my legs for the first time in over a month. 3) I forgot to put on clean underwear yesterday.

Things like that. You just put it off and put it off until your scaly dry hands are resting on the carpet of hair on your leg, and you glance down and mistake your own body for your daughter’s science fair project. Except your daughter is too young for science fairs.

None of this changes how immensely in love with our daughter I am and how ridiculously happy I am to have her here, but man… I wish there was some way to prepare for this in advance. I wish I could have spent my pregnancy washing bottles and doing laundry and expressing breast milk so we could have just the tiniest bit of a break on this end of things.

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Photo dump:

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The Spectra is doing double duty as a teether. After this, we ordered her some vibrating teething toys.

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Feel my pain. Seriously. She is not happy when nursing unless she has a fist full of my skin.

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