Dear Buddy Boy (you’re a feisty one)

Hey there Mister Baxter, we could tell you were a feisty one from the very moment that you came into the world.  You were speedy, you were demanding, and there was no mistaking what you wanted: OUT!

Now you’re about four and a half months old, and you’re every bit as feisty as day one.  We’re just seeing the other side of a VERY long and VERY painful sleep regression.  Up multiple times a night.  Sometimes every two hours.  It’s not just that you’re awake or want to play or eat.  Nope, it’s screeeaaaaming.  From 0 to 60 in about 1.3 seconds.  Once we get you calmed down and nearly back to sleep, we’d try to gently…oh, so gently…place you back in the crib and sneak away.  But the moment your head touched the mattress, you were back to full-volume, red-faced yelling.  You had Dad and me walking on egg shells for a full four weeks.

Luckily for all three of us, we’re starting to climb out of this sleep-deprived haze.  You are learning to play quietly!  You’re sleeping longer stretches, and don’t need to be swaddled!  I’m not complaining about how bad it was; but rather documenting from what an early age you showed us your feisty nature.  I can already see that you’re going to be a determined and active young man, bull-headed perhaps, and always on the move.  You wanted to be rocked, held, and cuddled and wouldn’t accept anything else.  As I write this now, you’re determinedly shoving both fists in your mouth, and eyeing the teething ring that sits on your belly.  I know that you’ll stop at nothing today to get that ring into your mouth.  You’re just figuring out how to use your hands, and dare I say you’ll be getting your knees up to crawl soon too.

buddy boy

It’s been amazing to look back on my memories of your sister, and see glimpses of her personality in seemingly small things like how she stared at books for hours, or was happy to just watch the world playing itself out around her.  She’s now a two year old that loves to read, but hates to take risks.  I’m guessing that you, Buddy Boy, will be in a rush to do everything; loud and proud, clamoring about, and will always let us know exactly what you want.  We love you, little man.  Even if you did rob of us a whole month of sanity!

Love,

Mom

“He want mummy”

Charlotte is becoming a pro at speaking in full sentences.  This morning from her crib I heard “I WUV you Grampie” on repeat.

Last night at dinner it was “peanut butter and jelly sandwich for you” because she didn’t want the beef stew.  (“you” actually means herself.  pronouns are tricky!)  “Just put it over here” when the sandwich was finally delivered.

Or “There’s another baby here!” when she is tired of having to act like a big girl.  (She’s right.  We demand a lot of this not-even-two-year old).

But I have to shamefully admit that there is one that really gets me.  “He want mummy”.  He being Baxter, and mummy being me.  And this sentences goes hand in hand with the one so often spoken by my husband, grandparents, visitors, friends, etc.  “I think he’s hungry, you better feed him.”  He allllways wants mummy.  And according to well-intentioned others, he’s alllllways hungry.  Which means this mummy never gets a break.

Resuming work yesterday after a two week vacation, I returned home to chaos.  Between the hours of 4-7:30pm, someone was always crying.  Usually more than one someone.  Charlotte needed ice in her cup, help on the stairs, a play mate, a hug, new socks, a different book.  Baxter needed…well, mummy.

I went to bed feeling pretty sorry for myself, and felt even more defeated and frustrated when Baxter woke up at 11:30, 1:45, and 4am.  At 6:15 this morning, I tried to pump with my broken breastpump (more on that later).  I checked my email, and found this article/blog shared by my mamas group that put it all in perspective…it brought tears to my eyes thinking that these days of being needed won’t last forever.  It was timely, emotional, and spot-on.  So I stopped feeling sorry for myself, and changed another diaper.  Life goes on, and these moments are so short.

Enjoy the read!  Click here:

 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/megan-morton/mommy-somebody-needs-you_b_4900686.html

Milestones

I am always amazed when mothers (such as my own) can remember back 20 or 30 years and say with exact certainty “You said your first word when you were 9 months old!”  or “You weaned yourself at 9 and 3/4 months of age”.

I worry that my memory is already fading, and Charlotte is a mere 10 months old.  So I’m getting some things down here quickly, before I forget!

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One of my all time favorite pictures, 1 day old.

First smile: Charlotte first smiled around 7 weeks of age, and those early smiles were few and far between.  As I was home on maternity leave, I was with her every minute of every day (and night).  I had seen the smile a few times and was eager for Fred to see the same–but it took a week of disbelief before he finally saw it and had the same reaction I did…tears in his eyes that this little newborn blob was finally responding to us!

Grampie plays with his little Charlabee

Grampie plays with his smiley little Charlabee

Sleeping through the night:  Fred and I were already debating our foggy memories about this last night!  Sometime around 4ish months, Charlotte started sleeping about 8 hours at a time.  But she’d be up for the day around 4am.  Does this count as sleeping through the night?  It wasn’t until 6 months that she slept solidly from 7pm-6am, and she’s still doing it now at 10 months!

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Rolling over:  Charlotte rolled over one way, by accident, around three months old.  When I excitedly told her day care provider about the news, she said “Oh yeah!  She’s been doing that here for a few weeks!”  Doh.  Enter mommy guilt.

Crawling:  No dice on this one!  At ten months, Charlotte still hasn’t managed to get up on her knees and get her belly off the ground!  She has gotten good at rolling as a means of transportation though.

First solid food:  We held off on the normal 4 month baby cereal routine, as we really wanted to go the baby led weaning route.  Charlotte had her first taste of baby oatmeal around 5 1/2 months, and started solid finger foods at 6 months.  No mush, no fuss here!  She has the best baby appetite I’ve ever seen.  Her first favorites were prunes and baked apples with cinnamon.  Now, at 10 months her favorites are meats of any kind, fish, and fresh raspberries.

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black {bean} beard

Sitting up:  At six months Charlotte could sit up and play upright for a change!  Tummy time fell by the wayside at this point, as she preferred to see things from a higher angle.

Sitting and reading, reading and sitting

Sitting and reading, reading and sitting.

Walking:  Beginning at 7 months, Charlotte loved to stand with support.  She’d stand all day long if someone would hold her fingers for balance.  At 9 months she began high-stepping around the living room with us holding her fingers for balance.  Now at 10 months, she holds on her little push cart and takes wobbly steps towards the cats, the Christmas tree, and the TV….stopping to wave at everything along the way!  No independent steps yet, so we cannot say that she is actually walking.  Give it time…

Practicing walking on Thanksgiving

Practicing walking on Thanksgiving

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Talking/signing:  Right around 10 months, Charlotte started signing “dog” (although to her it means any animal), signed “milk” in the middle of the night, and said “MAMA” when mama was wiping her nose too aggressively.

At 10 months we are still exclusively breastfeeding, eating three solid-food meals a day, and sleeping through the night (with a few bumps along the way).  She loves peek-a-boo and row row row your boat, and is practicing clapping.  She follows the Wonder Weeks theory like clockwork.  And for someone who cannot tell time, she is on a regimented schedule of 7am wake up, 9am nap, 1pm nap, and 7pm bedtime.  “She even poops on a schedule!” says Connie her day care provider!

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happy holiday baby

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four generations

 

 

 

Charlotte is getting her top two front teeth at the moment, and so it has disrupted all of our sleep….for the past three weeks….and I’m getting tired of it (pun intended).  In fact, as I type this at 8:15pm, I *just* sat down to write with a glass of wine and my feet up, and she started to cry from her crib.
In order to keep my sanity and help make it through some bleary-tired days, I’ve been looking at these two pictures often.  They bring a smile back to my face each time!

Taking it down a few notches

I can be very type-A…I think we’ve already covered that in a few previous posts.  You know you’re REALLY type-A when the toast at your wedding is in the form of a “to do list” because you are never seen in public without yours.

A couple weeks ago, I was putting Charlotte to bed.  We had read two books, and we were just rocking silently in her bedroom.  Her eyes were heavy, but not closed yet.  We rocked for 2, 5, 10 minutes, and still she was just lazily glancing around the room, then up at me, then back around the room.  I really wanted to get on with my evening, as I had to make lunch/wash dishes/fold laundry.  It was past 7:30, and there were just a precious 90 minutes before I needed to head to bed myself.  I considered rocking harder and faster, or just putting her in the crib and turning off the light.

And then, she grabbed onto my thumb and wouldn’t let go.

I realized right then, that my little ‘Bee won’t be little forever.  In a handful of months, I won’t need to get to rock her to sleep.  And when I don’t have that evening snuggle time anymore, I am quite sure I will miss it terribly.  So I stopped checking the clock, and stopped sneaking peeks at her face to see if she was actually getting drowsy.  I just closed my eyes and rocked both of us for a slow and steady twenty minutes.  When I finally pried my own eyes open (I may have dozed off?) Charlotte was limp and content in my lap, and her eyes were fluttering through her first dream of the night.  But her tiny hand was still firmly gripped around my thumb.  The dishes can wait.  I don’t need to check my work email tonight.  THIS is both what I want to be doing, and what I should be doing.

I’m trying to take this approach with more things in my life, especially the ones relating to Charlotte.  So if you see me moving slower, and writing less things on my list, it’s because I know there are only a certain number of times that peek-a-boo will be fun for Charlotte before she grows out of it, and moves on to something else.  And I’m darn well going to be there for every single one of them.

Adventures in sleep training

[Note: I took a workshop at school this week on teaching writing, and the best part was that we actually got to put ourselves in our students’ shoes and write!  Here is the result, with a little bit of help from my peer writing partner!]

It was dark in the room, and so I woke with a fuzzy head.  I had to struggle from under the blankets to be able to see the clock.  1:00am, exactly.  “How funny”, I thought, “that I woke at 1:00am on the dot.  Reaching my arms from under the warm cozy cocoon, I felt above my head for the baby monitor and pressed the VIDEO ON button.  Just as I suspected.  Awake and fussing.

1:00am turned to 1:10am and the fussing dissolved into crying.  1:10 turned to 1:20 and the crying wasn’t stopping.  Uh oh, I thought.  I’m in trouble.

Twenty minutes is a long time.  Should I go down there?  Should I not?  1:24, 1:25…

1:30am, I’ll call Fred.  Hopefully he hears his phone.  He’ll tell me what to do (why am I incapable of being decisive at all hours of the night?  Daytime is a different story.  We have routines and plans, and expectations.  I am the boss.  Nighttime, all bets are off).

“Hello, you’ve reached the voicemail of Fred Follansbee…”

Once, twice, six times, nine times, no answer.  Damn him.  Probably had a couple beers down there in Florida, and maybe even went to bed at 8pm.  Because he could.

I pull the book off my nightstand.  I didn’t bargain for doing this sleep training thing by myself.  Surely reading will take my mind off the screaming baby and hopefully calm my nerves too.  But the sentences blur together, and I read and re-read the same paragraph.  1:46, 1:47.  Should I go down there?

I pull my phone off the nightstand.  Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest.  I try to get lost in the beautiful pictures of things I could make (if I had the time), clothes I could buy (if I had the money).  But still, the crying and the choking sobs pull me back.  I press the VIDEO ON button every 90 seconds, checking for…what?  I don’t know.  She’s still there, kicking violently.  She’s still there, flailing as if she were falling.  Watching her is worse than just hearing her.

1:58am, it’s been nearly an hour and it seems as though she’s wearing herself out.  The cries are thinning, and no longer sound like her vocal chords are ripping to shreds.  She even takes a few breaths here and there, leaving me with a nanosecond of quiet.  I close my eyes.  I can, maybe, go back to sleep if she does.  An hour isn’t really that bad, and thank god I don’t have to work tomorr…

1:59 crap!  I jinxed it!  Her cries swell again, and with their every rise I feel new beads of sweat slide down my forehead.  I sit up.  I lay down.  I looked for my Ferber book to tell me what to do.  Should I go down there?

“Hello, you’ve reached the voicemail of Fred Follansbee…”

I can’t.  I shouldn’t.  The last 59 minutes will have been for nothing.  She will only have learned that if she cries long enough, Mommy will come.

It’s another sweaty, guilty nineteen minutes before I resolve that in the morning, we are DONE with cry-it-out sleep training.  As long as she can actually go back to sleep tonight.  Pillow over my head, baby monitor on Fred’s side of the bed.  Somewhere around the 90 minute mark, she stopped.  2:32am.  Will she hold a grudge?

Transition and Adjust

While out for a [rare] run together a few weeks ago, Fred and I confronted a huge hill.  We were running in uncharted territory while on vacation with my family.  And this hill?  I’m talking steep and long–maybe a quarter mile or more.  Per our usual agreement, I let him power up and we’d meet at the top.  I diligently put one foot in front of the other, keeping my eyes glued to the ground.  After a whole song on my ipod, I did what I try never to do: I looked up, thinking I must be almost at the top.  Wrong!  Fred was distantly ahead of me, and he wasn’t even at the top yet.

But, gluing my eyes back to the pavement, something strange started to happen.  My breathing slowed.  My footsteps got lighter.  The hill got easier.  And I began to close the distance between me and Fred, which never happens.

Throughout the rest of our four miles back home, I kept asking myself why–how–did the hill get easier?  We don’t run hills often.  Heck, we don’t even run often.  The hill was steep, and nearly half a mile long when I mapped it afterwards.

So how did it get easier when it should have been the worst part?

The only answer I can think of is transition and adjust.

If you keep going uphill long enough, your legs will get tricked into thinking that this is the new normal.  Your muscles will transition, and your stride will adjust.  What was once hard gets easier.  Uphill feels flat.

So why the story about running on a blog about motherhood?

Transition and adjust seems to be the only thing that is propelling Fred, Charlotte, and me forward these days.  Just when we seem to get a handle on routines, something gets in the way… work, or a new developmental phase, or extended family and special events.  We mastered breastfeeding and it was soon time to transition to bottles and pumping.  We conquered the nighttime routines, and it was necessary to transition Charlotte to her own bedroom, and then go on vacation.  We developed a feed-nap-play schedule, and suddenly it’s time for solid foods and teething.

I’ve often said to Fred that just when I gain my confidence and get a handle on one thing, there is something new to tackle.

If you go without good sleep for long enough, you will get used to the lagging blurry feeling.  You will perform on less sleep than you ever thought possible, and you’ll even find time to work out even though you really could be napping.  Sleep deprivation is the new normal, and so you trick your mind and body into handling it.

If you pump often enough at work, you will get used to the prickly feeling that anyone could walk in at any second.  You’ll find tricks to clean your pump faster, pump your milk faster, and get your work done too.  Pumping has to be a part of the routine, so you transition and adjust.

After my first few days back at work, I tearfully told Fred that I couldn’t do it.  I was drowning in a sea of pumping at work, washing 500 bottles a week, carting Charlotte to and from daycare, and still trying to be a decent teacher and a good mother.  “I can not make all of the milk, make some of the money, make dinner nightly, and make us all happy too.”

To be completely transparent, summer vacation hit just around the time of my breaking point.  We are more than surviving right now.  We have free time!  We run!  We do fun things!  So this is not a success story {yet} but rather a harbinger of things to return in September.

A big transition and adjust will have to occur, perhaps our biggest yet.  I’m not sure what that means.  It may mean take-out more than cooking… or a less than clean house… or even a compromise between a little bit of formula and a lot of breast milk.  But Charlotte will be seven months old, and we will have successfully made it through seven months of exclusive breastfeeding.  A huge steppingstone toward the 11 months that we’re aiming for.

At the moment though, we’re working on introducing solid foods.  It’s not always smooth.  Milk is no longer 100% of the menu, and I’m having a harder time with that than Charlotte is.  But, transition and adjust.  Just when things get easy, they get hard again.  We do nothing constant, except the constant transitioning and adjusting.  Being a mom is like running hills multiple times a day/every day.  And I used to think marathon training was hard?