"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes-and ships-and sealing-wax-
Of cabbages-and kings-
And why the sea is boiling hot-
And whether pigs have wings."

- The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carrol
(From Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

Monday, November 28, 2011

One. Year. Old.

Dear Abbey,

You are one year, one week, and one day old.

You are almost walking. Almost. You're certainly standing, scooting and climbing. You're also no longer bald. In fact you have these adorable little curls that are cropping up. You definitely have your Mommy's eyes and nose, and maybe hair, but there is no doubt that you look a lot like your father. You have four teeth now. Four. You like to use them to eat all by yourself. Because you're a big girl now. A toddler, technically. That's what they tell me. You prove that when you throw food at me when I try to feed you. Heaven forbid.

You love music. Love it. You dance and sing and bounce around with your tongue sticking out. You also talk. Like, for real. Your vocabulary consists of the following: no, yes, puppy, mama, dada, Dante (all dogs are Dante, evidently), cracker, cheese, baba, ouch, ball, book, night night, up, down, this, that, nana (which I think is banana), hi, hiya, bye-bye and my personal favorite, "mwah", usually accompanied with a blown kiss.

I recently looked at some pictures and videos of you over the past year. I admired how much you've grown with an ache in my heart knowing that I can never get those tender moments back. At the same time, I look forward to watching you grow and explore every day. Until you're 25. And we finally let you date.

But know this.

You will ALWAYS be my baby. Even next year. Even when you go to pre-school. Even when you are off to your first school dance. Even when you go to college. Even when you meet that "special someone". You will always be my first-born. My precious baby girl.

I cannot believe how much has changed this past year. How quickly it all went by. I cannot believe how much I love you - I didn't know it was possible to feel such love for someone. I love you, Abigail Marie. With all my heart. Happy birthday, punkin.

Love,
Mom.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Denial

Dear Abbey,

You are 11 months and six days old. Your mother is in denial about your age. I refuse to believe that we are on the final countdown to your first birthday. That time keeps marching forward so relentlessly. That soon - very soon - you are going to transition from "infant" to "toddler". That transition is already well underway, in fact. Because, toddle, you do. You are standing. Pulling up and standing with the assistance of various pieces of furniture. Like it's nothing really.

You are also talking. I am a bit more convinced of this fact that n your father. It's not that he doesn't believe what you're saying, sweetheart. He's just not very good with accents. He can barely understand the British, my love, so don't be offended that he doesn't fully grasp your baby dialect. But I know that when you say, "Dadu", you mean, "Dante" our little dog. I've heard you say "up". And "that". "Row" a la Row Row Row Your Boat and "all done." All as clear as day. "No" has been a favorite of yours for a while now - usually accompanied by aggressive head shaking, but it's delightful that you've also added "yes" to your repertoire - accompanied by adorable head nodding.

You also have more hair. Finally.

But the biggest change that I'm noticing lately, which brings me back to this whole denial thing, is that you really are more and more becoming less like a baby and more like a kid. You make up silly games. A favorite is you rest your head on the ottoman, Dad and I say, "sleepy Abbey" and you pop up and scream, "ahhh!" Like a little monster. It's frickin' adorable.

Sometimes, I let myself think back to where we all were a year ago. You, still in my belly. Me anxiously awaiting your arrival - big as a house-boat. I had a vague idea of what I expected from you then, my love. But let's be honest here. You have far exceeded my expectations. And you've certainly taught your old Mom a thing or two over the past nearly one year. Keep it up, kiddo.

I love you.

Mom

Thursday, September 22, 2011

10 months

Dear Abbey,

You turned ten months old this week. Suddenly you are much less like a baby and much more like a kid. You say things that actually, in many ways, resemble words. Actual English ones. Slightly different from the German/Mandarin Chinese dialect you've been sporting. You have mastered the gesture of shaking your head "no". For additional emphasis, you have also mastered the art of slapping things away when you really mean no. Particularly food. Oh, and kicking and screaming. That's a fun communication tool that has appeared as well.

You're also getting ready to walk. I'm pretty sure you'll get there by your first birthday. But in the meantime, you can really get a move on when you're crawling. You are very grabby. You reach for everything. Especially things you aren't meant to have. You could be surrounded by toys, find one tiny piece of lint, and immediately put it in your mouth. Nice. So, pretty much - all (you know what) is breaking loose around here trying to keep tabs on you.

But you are also so incredibly sweet. You rest your head - on purpose - on my chest and your Daddy's chest when you're tired, or if you just want to snuggle. You smile and squeal with delight when you see us after a day at work.

Those are some of my very favorite moments, punkin. It makes that smear of baby oatmeal that's been pasted on my arm all day and I just notice on my way to bed totally worth it.

I love you,
Mom.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ahh.

I love this time of year. When I die, I hope that someone makes a comment in the early weeks of fall about how it reminds them of me because I love this time of year with every fiber of what makes me me. I love it. Loooovvee.

The mild temperatures, the cooler nights that are perfect for sleeping. The need for a warmer blanket. The sunny afternoons that possess just the perfect light. The shorter days. The bountiful end of harvest. The tale end of summer merging with the hinted beginning of autumn. It's absolutely delightful. It's also the time of year when I feel most like myself. I know, that's sort of a strange statement, no? But true. There's something almost academic about this time of year. I suppose it's seeing all the younger folk returning to school and the return of college football to the television. But it's this time of year that always makes me turn my focus inward and re-authenticate myself. Get back in touch with what's important.

Yesterday, I enjoyed a day that was as close to perfect as it could probably be. The baby slept in. I mean SLEPT IN. Two whole extra, blissful, wonderfully delicious hours of sleep. So, the day was off to a wonderful start from the get-go. And when Abbey woke up, she was rested, and happy, and so adorable and playful. We enjoyed a little family time as she crawled around our new living room, moving from toy to toy while the husband and I savored our morning coffee - a second cup! In peace! Sip, ahh. Smile.

Then, we packed up the car and drove to Boulder and took in the farmer's market, which was delightfully uncrowded due to the big football game. We gathered necessities for a local, organic, delicious dinner. Free range steaks, corn picked that morning, fresh dill, rustic home-made bread. We walked around, smiled and just enjoyed the beautiful day. We grabbed a couple of sandwiches and drove to Chautaqua for an impromptu picnic, packing up and leaving just in time for the rain showers to settle in and for Abbey to take a nice, long nap on the way home. And then, we enjoyed what was left of the day - playing with Abbey, relaxing. Until it was time for the kiddo to go to bed, and we savored a perfect dinner, and relaxed.

I went to bed last night completely exhausted from an exquisite day with my family. I slept deeply. I awoke happy. And I sit here remembering and acknowledging what a sweet and positively charmed life I live, if I could just take a moment to enjoy it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Commute

What a day.

Whew.

Typical morning craziness. Out the door by 7.30. Drop the kiddo at daycare by 8. Check in with work by 8.15. Back-to-back meetings from 9am - 2pm. Crazy catchup afterward with a flurry of emails. Network crash. Shit. Can't do web programming that I need to do with no internet. Reassess to-do list and plan for the next day. 4pm, time to go get the kiddo. Walk to parking lot. Admire museum en route. Drive to daycare. No parking available in drop-off lanes. Shit. Circle around the block. No parking available. Shit, shit. Circle around the block. Park. Finally. Check in with security. Answer the old, grumpy security guy's questions ("Do you work for the State?" "No, I sort of work for the city." "Sort of? Either you do or you don't"...ugh...seriously, I have to explain this now?). Get my security badge, walk through metal detector, collect car keys, spy the kiddo playing perfectly happily on her own. Ahh. "Abbey?" [insert squeals of delight from my daughter]. Smile. Get the daily report from her teachers. No afternoon nap. Shit. Oh, well. Collect her things. Back to the car. Strap her in. Let the crying begin. Get in the car, drive away. Traffic. Child crying, "sshhh, sshhhh, sshhhhit this isn't working." Traffic. More crying. More traffic. Crying becomes red faced screaming. Nothing helps. Turn up NPR. Try to tune out. Impossible. Traffic, traffic, traffic. Shit, shit, shitty shit. 35 minutes pass. Finally pull into driveway. Screaming ends. Ahh. Grab work bag, baby bag, lunch bag, and baby. Enter the house. Where is the husband? "Hello? A little help here? Hello?" Upstairs to the bedroom. Locate husband. Give frazzeled update. Plop kiddo on the floor to play. Change out of work clothes. Go to kitchen to make bottle. Notice puddle of dog pee on hardwood floor. Shit. "Dante!" Clean up mess [insert muttering here]. Hear solid thud from ceiling above. Loud baby cries. Shit. "Is she okay?" "She's fine." More cries. Wailing. Rush upstairs with baby bottle. "What happened?" "She was crawling and crashed." Grab baby and soothe. Move to nursery, get ready for baby's bath. Crying, crying, crying. And then...bathtime. Ahhh. Happy baby. Assess the day with the hubs. Marriage banter here. Typical check-in. Baby rubs eyes. Time to get out. Into the nursery. Sing bunny foo foo. Into pajamas. Calm, soothe. Bottle. Snuggle. Sing songs. Head nuzzle. Kiss on the cheek. Rock in the chair.

And then.

A kiss.

My first kiss from my daughter.

Big, sloppy, poorly placed, and uncoordinated.

Absolutely perfect.

Tears form (mine this time).

A kiss really does make everything better.

Kiddo off to bed...sleep...mommy off for some well-deserved "me-time". Cocktails will be involved.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Nine Months In - Nine Months Out

Dear Abigail,

Congratulations, my sweet baby girl! You are nine months old. It took nine months to bake you, and with nine months on the outside under your belt, you are definitely ready to take on the world. You have reached so many milestones just this month alone. First daycare. First cold. You wave hello and goodbye. If we say, "bounce," you bounce (and it's adorable!), you have two teeth, you understand the word, "no." In fact, you shake your head, "no." And the biggest one of all - the one that actually made me cry because I was so happy to watch it - in real time - while it was happening - AND we caught it on camera...you CRAWLED! Finally!

My gosh we love you. Such a busy bee. Such a smart girl.

As for me - now that I've had 18 months to get my head around this whole mommy thing, I think I've finally found my groove. It's funny how all of a sudden things kind of just gel. A few weeks down the road, they blow up again. You collect all the pieces and fashion them together, but nothing fits quite the same as before, but with a little of this and a little of that, voila, you've pieced it back together. Then it blows up again. Rinse, repeat. Until finally, if you just take a step back and look, it's almost like you've made something new from something old and it's even better than before. A beautiful mosaic. A work of art. It's like they say, when you look at a Monet up close, it's kind of a mess. You have to step back to really appreciate it.

Abigail Marie Weygandt, 9 months.
So, Abbey, I guess what I'm trying to say here is, "go get 'em." Plaster on that beautiful, silly little grin of yours, and just go for it. Grow and flourish and always know that no matter what, your Mom is proud of you, your Mom is there for you, and even if it looks like a mess when you're in the middle of it, it's a masterpiece in the making.

I love you,
Mom.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Nanny's Last Day

Today was our nanny's last day.

I am sad.

Suck it up and get over already, right? I know. It's not like we didn't have six weeks to prepare for this day. The events leading up to today didn't quite go down as I planned. Plans changed. The nanny got another gig, so there were extra days that she needed off for training, resulting in landing Abbey in daycare for some extra days this month. Probably a good thing in the end. But it still all feels...bad.

The feeling is vaguely familiar. As I was shuffling around in the kitchen, slouched and sighing this evening, I recalled where I felt this feeling. It's a break up feeling. It's that feeling that you got when you discovered that your ex met someone new. That they've moved on. Sure, on some level you're happy for them. But not really. Because even though you can't have them, you don't want anyone else to, either. Territorial. So, while our (former) nanny told me about her new job prospects, I nodded and smiled and offered an encouraging word, while on the inside I was cringing.

Breaking up really is hard to do.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Standard Routine

I am a creature of habit. For better or worse. I like my routine. I find routines comforting. I like having a structure in place - it needn't be an intricate or detailed structure. Room to ebb and flow - to grow, or not - is important in any structure. But here's the thing. Sometimes - for a person who usually embraces change, and gets restless in life - I get a little bent out of shape when my personal routine is disturbed.

It's been disturbed.

I am a bit perturbed by the disruption.

I had just really nailed my new morning get to work routine with the new job. Get up, let the dogs out, pee, feed the dogs, make coffee, bring the hubs a cup, fetch the baby, feed the baby, take a shower, get dressed, figure out what the heck to do with my hair that day, feed the baby breakfast, eat my own breakfast, welcome the Nanny, give her the update, kiss the baby bye bye, out the door, and off to work. Arrive at desk by 8.30 am.

It worked. It was great. I had it down.

Suddenly, things have changed. We add daycare to the mix. We add the fact that Abbey now has opinions to the mix. We add the fact that Abbey is no longer willing to entertain herself in a bouncy seat in the bathroom while I shower into the mix. Plus getting another being fed, dressed, sunscreened, lunch and bottles packed, clean diaper, and out the door with me into the mix.

I don't like this mix much. It tastes a little bit bitter.

I hear that a person's child is often a reflection of the parent. If my routine-ness is any indication, then I have to say it's true. Abbey, too, seems to have her own schedule. A schedule that doesn't really gel with mine very well. And we're both having a difficult time adapting to one another these days. While she used to wake, eat, play, eat some more, play, then nap for two hours, she now has to schlep off to "school", usually falling asleep when we're 10-15 minutes away from arriving, and then waking with a wail and an eye rub, not to nap again for several hours. Because Abbey doesn't like napping at daycare so much. At home, she naps like a pro - usually 3 hours total a day stretched between three naps. At daycare today, she napped a total of 30 minutes. Same with bottles...at home, she's taking about 12-18 oz in bottles during the day. Today at daycare, she took 5. They tried. I believe them when they tell me they tried. But her routine has been disrupted, and none of this is "normal".

Sigh...

Knowing her routine, and knowing how flustered I become when my routine is disrupted, I have a terrible foreboding about where this is heading.

So, how do we adapt to this new reality? How do I get out the door to work - on time - with a well-fed, dressed, clean and relatively happy 9-month-old? How do I impress on her daycare providers that she really does need to nap more even though I understand she doesn't seem very sleepy? That she really does need to eat more during the day? That I'm not really an anal retentive, micromanaging Mom from hell? And how do I ease Abbey to a new way of doing things when she seems to be cut from the same cloth as me, and truly, I'm not so crazy about it all, either.

It's always this way isn't it? Just when you think you have it figured out...





Saturday, August 6, 2011

Super Palate

My husband claims to have a super palate. Also known as a "super taster". A person who experiences heightened sensations from food and beverages, being extra sensitive to bitter tastes, textures, carbonation and spice. Super tasters tend to avoid foods like spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts. (Note the trend there with green vegetables.) I mock my husband about this if not daily, then at least weekly. He uses his super palate as justification for what I consider picky eating. At which point, he loves to bust out the story about when he was a kid and his parents forced him to eat Brussels sprouts, and he refused, refused, refused, until finally...giving in...he proceeded to vomit. Everywhere. And it was the last time anyone has ever forced him to eat anything.

I, on the other hand, am more egalitarian in my approach to food. I'll try anything. Some of my favorite foods also happen to be some of the same foods that my husband finds absolutely appalling. Like mushrooms. And seafood. Recently, while picking Blue crabs (which I very much enjoy), the hubs turned green and had to leave the table.

I find this interesting because it's one of the areas where Scott and I are so very different from one another. I mean, there are plenty of foods (Buffalo wings, steak, mashed potatoes, Thanksgiving dinner) that we both LOVE. But there are so many other tasty morsels that I adore that he flat out refuses.

Here's the thing about the super palate. Allegedly, it's genetic. I definitely have the same taste in food as my Dad. We make excellent dining companions. My Mom seems to be the pickier eater in our family. I remember a time when she refused to eat eggs. Who doesn't eat eggs?!

When Abbey first started eating solid foods and fell head over heels for strained peas (of all things), I thought, "Ah-ha! She has MY taste in food." Unfortunately, that love affair was brief. As soon as she discovered sweeter tastes - like apples, pears, mangoes, it was bye bye peas. On the other hand, she can't stand meat. Any kind of meat makes her gag. That, however, may not be so telling because, really, pureed meat makes me gag, too.

As we approach Abbey's nine month milestone, I have decided to do my best to forgo the jarred baby food (although jarred baby food, and the baby food pouches, have come a loooonng way, I understand), and make my own. So far, I've concocted a favorite stand-by, pureed sweet potato. But have also made a nice nectarine puree, a sweet-pea, pear and mint combo (that sounds downright spa-like, if I do say so myself) and have the ingredients to try several other gourmet concoctions like a tomato-carrot stew; butternut squash and banana; blueberry sauce for baby yogurt; and other various sundry. I'm hoping the fresh tastes and textures will make an impression. This is my first experimentation in the whole nature vs. nurture arena, and we'll just have to see if the super palate wins.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Time

"Lost time is never found again."
- Benjamin Franklin

It seems to me that a mother's greatest joy is also simultaneously met with heartache as they watch their baby grow. It happens so fast. I am now convinced that time is not a fixed measurement because there is no way that my baby is over eight months old. But alas, it's true.

I feel like I'm struggling with some of the latest transitions more than previously. The milestones we're seeing lately seem so...momentous. And there's a lot of change in the air. And sometimes I just long to freeze a moment - like in a Kung Foo movie - and just take a step back and look at it from every possible angle and enjoy it to the utmost capacity that my heart will allow. Because, damn it, it all goes by so fast. It's all so wonderfully bitter sweet.

Here's what's going on.

After a lot of thinking, some number crunching, and a lot of hand-wringing (and heartache) we've decided to enroll Abbey in daycare. As I've mentioned before, we love our nanny, so this has nothing to do with her, or her performance. We wish that we could keep her on. But with my new job gearing up into overtime, it's become quite clear that multi-tasking and trying to be a super Mom and stellar employee and meet all the demands on both sides, well, just not realistic. I need full-time support in the form of childcare, and financially, the nanny arrangement just doesn't make sense for us anymore. Luckily, we found a great daycare just a few blocks away from my workplace, and snagged Abbey a slot beginning next week. NEXT WEEK! I have a lot of experience firing people. It's never something that anyone enjoys doing. But this was by far one of the hardest conversations I've ever had to have. Letting our nanny go - ugh. So hard. She's like a part of our family. And though we'll continue to use her as a babysitter, I know that things won't be the same. Time marches on. And so must we.

The next transition is boob related. Please feel free to skip this part if that weirds you out. No offense taken.

Still here?

K.

Abbey's starting to ween. [Insert sobs here.] Good golly I was NOT prepared for how emotional this would be. Okay, so part of it is her weening and eating more solid foods, and part of it is me not being able to find time to pump at work, not really WANTING to pump at work anymore (let's be honest, who does?!?) and thus, my plentiful supply is shrinking. I wax and wane between being happy over a little bit of new-found independence and reclaiming my body a bit, and overwhelming sadness and guilt. Because I've come this far - I wish I could make it all the way to a year. And I so cherish that bond that we've created. And there's something freaking amazing about being able to create - with your own body - the most important nutrients that your child needs. What I've come to believe is that breastfeeding is truly a selfless act of love. I am so glad that I was able to nurse Abbey exclusively for six months, and that I continue to nurse her as my supply allows. At this point, I'm hoping I can continue a 50/50 combo of nursing and formula to her first birthday. I also have to admit, it's kind of nice to not schlep Mr. Thirsty, the breastpump, to work every day. It's nice to not have to quietly excuse myself or block off time in my calendar to take a pump break. It's nice to have a little bit of that time back. But I'll tell you, I think about what that last time will be like - the last time I nurse my first-born child. Oh, dear. That's just a tough one. I can't even get my head around it yet. Oy. But time keeps trudging forward at a steady clip. And so must I. And my boobs.

Finally, I have to say that all of the changes - physically and developmentally - in Abbey are incredible. Today, for the first time, she started waving to us. She's starting to catch on to some baby sign language. She understands. She observes. She absorbs. She's a person. Like a real individual, with her very own personality. She is goofy as hell. I think she has both my sense of humor and Scott's to the third power. The kid is funny. And adorable. And I swear, every morning when I pick her up from her crib, it feels like she's grown. I feel it in my arms. In my soul. Recently, I looked back at some of those early photos of Abbey and it's just so incredible how much change happens in such a short amount of time. So many people told me to "enjoy every second of it." It sounds like such a cliche when someone says that, right? I wish I had paid more attention. They were so right. Time flies.

As we roll into the final months of Abbey's first year of life, I am just so proud of our little family - of our little girl. My life has been enriched in a way that I never thought possible. While there are definitely moments when I wish I could freeze time and just live in this place for a while longer, I also can't quite contain the excitement I feel for the new changes and discoveries and growth. In Abbey. In me. In my marriage. In my family. As for time? Yes, it marches on. It flies by. It's like sands through the hourglass. But time is my friend and not a foe, I do realize. On this concept, I'm reminded of a favorite quote from my 10th grade American Lit class, "This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with." (Ralph Waldo Emerson).

Use your time well. Enjoy every second of it.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Ready Reader

Abigail loves books. This makes me proud. I, too, love books. But my little secret is that I wasn't such a fan of reading when I was a little girl. Well, I was and then I wasn't. I remember some books fondly - I used to beg my Dad to read to me from Uncle Wiggily's Adventures by Howard Garis. Who doesn't like stories of mischievous woodland creatures and a wise rabbit? But somewhere between pre-school and first grade I decided reading wasn't a fun past-time. I remember pretty clearly the incident that caused it, too.

I remember coming home from Kindergarten - I was in the morning class - and was super excited to share what I had learned that day. "I can read!" I exclaimed! That morning, my class had learned to read some very simple sentences, specifically, "Go, fish, go." But we learned it - I learned it - in fact, I remember being called on to "read" the sentence all by myself in front of everyone. And I got it right. Huzzah! I was so proud of myself. Of course I had to share the news when I got home.

That day, my older brother had some friends over from school in the afternoon. I can't remember really who they were, but while my brother was inside the house getting them all a snack, I (always his shadow) was hanging out with them on the front porch. Wanting - longing - to be a big kid, too, I remember telling one of them that I could read.

He laughed.

"No you can't."

"Yes I can."

"No you can't."

"Uh huh."

"Prove it."

He took out a book from his backpack - a textbook. A thick textbook that belonged to a thirteen-year-old boy. He cracked it open, pointed to some words that I did not recognize, and said, "read, then."

I sat there and stared at the book and said nothing. I looked at him, with what I'm sure was a devastated face of a five-year-old girl, and said, "I can read, 'go, fish, go.'"

He laughed, closed the book shut with a thud, and walked away saying, "Told ya."

And that was that. I blinked back tears, went inside, and felt silly and ashamed.

It's remarkable - truly remarkable - how that one incident impacted me. I went from an excited student, anxious to learn more, to just anxious about the subject in a bad way. From that point through about the age 13, I shied away from ever wanting to read aloud in class. I always hoped with my fingers crossed that I wouldn't be called on to read in front of my peers. When I did have to read in front of others, I could feel heat rise from my belly up to my neck as I stumbled on a word here or there. The thing is, I was a great reader - I could read just fine - I just didn't want anyone to know about it and I sure as hell didn't want to DO it in front of anyone because heaven forbid what if I made a fool out of myself!?

It wasn't until junior high when I had to make the fateful choice in my elective course between woodshop and choir that I finally broke out of that shell. I'd always been musical (I started piano lessons at four years old). But it was getting up and performing - getting to pretend I was someone else - that made it all okay. When I discovered acting and the theatre, well, that was pretty much the end of any public shyness in my life.

But I still remember that day on the porch when an obnoxious little boy made me doubt myself. Twenty-seven years later, and I still remember the bench we sat on, the cool air, and the book I couldn't read - it's orange, yellow and blue cover. The way he snapped it closed. The way he said, "told ya" over his shoulder as he walked away from me.

This memory came back to me recently after reading an article that a friend had shared about "How to Talk to Little Girls." Instead of always complimenting the way a little girl looks - what if we complimented their smarts? Their wits? What if we started our conversations with them with the simple question, "what are you reading?"

Of course this all has me thinking about my own daughter. The kid has no idea, really, what the words she looking at on a page mean or represent, but my God does her face light up when you open a book! Her favorites seem to be the Sandra Boynton cardboard books. She's a fan of Olivia the piglet. I love reading Goodnight Moon before every nap. We read together at a minimum four times a day. It is one of my great hopes to instill in her a love for reading that I started out with, but lost, and then found again. I'm revisiting my childhood, it seems, every time I read a book with her. And I pray that when she comes home from school, proud and excited, and proclaims that she can read, let it be me or her father who she tells so we can celebrate over cookies and stoke that fire.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dear Abbey, Seven Months

Dear Abbey,

You are seven months old. You are seven months old? How did that happen? A year ago I was just starting to look very pregnant with you. And now you are seven months old. Wow.

You are developing quite the personality, young lady. You are one goofball. A spirited girl, for sure. I like to think you get that from me. Although your Daddy has a pretty keen sense of humor, too. For a while there you were really looking like your Dad, although now I'm seeing more of myself in you. You crinkle your nose when you giggle. That's pretty signature Mommy, punkin. You also giggle with total abandonment - you love to laugh. We have that in common. I always know that when I get going, you can hear me laughing across a crowded room and down the hall. Sometimes I try to picture you twenty years from now doing the same thing. We make a good pair, you and me.

You are an expert sitter. You can literally sit for hours now all by yourself. You love to sit next to your toybox and slowly take each and every toy out individually until you are surrounded. That usually gets us to your next nap.

Speaking of, I am so glad that you have finally decided to give in to the joys of sleeping, my love. You seem so much happier now. Goodness knows Mom and Dad are happier, too. You are sleeping through the night in the real sense - 12 hours usually. You've also adopted this lovely habit of entertaining yourself quietly in your crib when you wake in the morning rather than screaming like a banshee. We like that. Way to mature, kiddo. And good on ya for finally mastering the art of napping. It is a skill that you will enjoy into adulthood, although few adults really get to practice it anymore.

I feel like we've arrived at this really magical, happy place together, sweetheart. It's pretty amazing to look back over the past six months and year and see how much we've changed and grown together as a family. It's such a great adventure - better than anything I have ever experienced before.

Love you, Punkin.

Mom.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The 12th Hour

I heard that it could happen, but refused to let myself believe it - to have hope - not wanting to be disappointed. It seemed such a fantasy. Unattainable. Unimaginable. Delicious.

But then, one day it just started happening.

And then it happened again.

And again.

And now, it seems a reality, though now I don't want to acknowledge it for fear I might jinx the whole thing and ruin everything.

Abbey is now sleeping 12 hours a night. TWELVE. Like, in a row. Consecutive. Without breaks. Without 4am feedings. Or 2am feedings. She goes to sleep at 6pm and wakes up at 6am.

Holy shit.

You know what this means, right? I'm getting to sleep, too! And once in a while, when neither the Yankees, or Hockey, or whatever shoot 'em up testosteroni video game is not being played, I get to snuggle up on the couch with my husband and watch a movie. Sometimes with cocktails!

I remember what this feels like - vaguely. It was a distant memory. I didn't know if I'd ever see these days again.

Can I just say that six months is a wonderful, magical age?

Friday, June 17, 2011

How Evil Is TV, Really?

The level of wickedness that resides within the soft glow of our flat screen television is something that I've struggled with ever since Abbey came home from the hospital and I started devouring information on baby/childhood brain development.

Everything I have read suggests it is bad, bad, bad to let your infant watch television. Most experts agree that the TV should be OFF - no exposure - for infants, and most seem to agree that TV adds no value for children under the age of 2.

Intellectually, I totally agree with them.

Here's the thing.

I grew up in a household where the television was on pretty much ALL THE TIME. Thus, in our house, the television is on almost ALL THE TIME. No, we aren't always watching it. Often - like now - it's on in the background turned to a news channel with the volume set lower. On the weekend, it's usually set to the Food Network, or a DIY channel. So, it's not like it's continuous gratuitous sex/violence being exhibited on the flashy screen. It's Eggs Benedict. And gardening. And the Today Show. And we NEVER plop Abbey in front of the television thinking that we WANT her to watch it. Heavens no! But she is, from time to time, drawn to the magical screen. Especially when there's something musical happening - a jingle, or a video, or Dancing With the Stars. But it's usually just for a second or two and she returns to playing with her toys, cooing happily.

So, how badly are we damaging our child here?

The television is by no means a "babysitter" in our house. Rather, a companion for the adults who are news junkies and like to check in with the adult world. So, I'm curious if any of you out there have read anything on passive TV viewing in children? Because I think I can attest that I definitely have some ADD and OCD tendencies, and maybe that's a product of growing up in a digital age. And if that's the case for me - in my Atari loving, MTV just came out, I loved Fraggle Rock childhood - what does the impact of so much technology mean for our daughter?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Six Month Recap

Can you believe our baby is six months old? And some change? I know. Me neither. I think back on everything we've been through over the past six months and it's all pretty incredible how much you can pack into that amount of time. The time that has passed feels both brief and long at the same time. For the most part, however, we're holding together pretty darn well for first time parents - if I do say so myself. So, since I'm just through the trenches and I have many, many friends who are expecting, or trying, or just welcomed another little one, I thought I'd share a recap on the past six months in the Weygandt house. A little advice, a little food for thought, a little somethin' somethin'.

So, first things first.

About that whole advice thing. People are full of it. Advice, I mean. Yes, including me. So do me a favor and hear them out, but always with a simultaneously open, yet skeptical ear. Because let me tell you, there's good advice and then there's really, really shitty advice. Either way, know this: no one - NO ONE - knows your baby as well as you. Even the best advice may not apply to your little one - or your parenting style. And that's just fine. So, seriously. Don't take crap from anyone. Even if it turns out they were right and they're singing "I told you so." F it. This is your court, your rules. Who cares if you make 'em up along the way.

Now, with that...

Months 0-3 = Things we couldn't live without:

1. Swaddling. Learn how to swaddle. Invest in a variety of swaddling blankets. Yes, it feels a bit like packing your baby as a Chipotle burrito, but they love it. And you will love it. Because they will sleep. And you will love when they sleep. If you need further convincing, read "Happiest Baby on the Block" by Harvey Karp.

2. Swing. My God Thank You, Teresa, For Giving Us Your Swing. It is one of the holiest and most sacred of baby devices we use at home. At six months, Abbey doesn't use it as much as before, but it was a God Send from the minute we got it to just recently.

3. Itzbeen. Just when I think we no longer need this simple little timer, something new happens with Abbey, and holy crap, thank goodness we have it. But this little gadget was particularly helpful when we were experiencing those early round the clock feedings. Since Abbey preferred to sleep through her early feedings, and was having trouble gaining weight early on, we used the alarm feature on the Itzbeen to help us keep track of her next nursing session. It also tracks which boob you last fed from, how long they've been sleeping, when you last changed their diaper, and bonus "whatever you want" button that we use to track either medications or how long she's been crying during sleep training. It also comes with a super handy flashlight. I heart the Itzbeen.

4. Pump 'N Style. I attribute being able to stick with nursing at six months (can we just celebrate that for a moment?!) to getting on the pump from day one and sticking with it. Pretty much every single f-ing day. There I am, pumping it up. But it is probably the main reason why my milk supply was well established, and the girl scout in me loves to marvel at the stock pile of frozen milk in our freezer that helps us get through those days when I just can't keep up. Do I like pumping? Hell no! Hate it. But I'm grateful for this technological advancement.

5. Pack & Play. First, you will get a laugh out of watching your husband/partner/father-in-law try to set this gizmo up. Once it's up, though, you'll love it. We got one with a changing table attached and two levels for sleeping - one closer up (easier to grab your little one - especially if you're recovering from a C-Section). The pack 'n play, I figure, has saved me at least a bazillion trips up and down our staircase to deal with changing diapers.

6. Bassinet. Abbey slept in our room in a bassinet loaned to us by yet another wonderful friend until she was ten weeks old, at which time we moved her to her own room and crib. But the bassinet was wonderful. It was great having her so close in those early days - particularly as I recovered from surgery. And since I was nursing, it was a piece of cake to grab the baby and feed her while I snoozed on a stack of pillows. That being said, see if you can borrow one - or use a pack 'n play. Especially if you plan to move your little one out of your bedroom. Because for some reason, a bassinet is uber expensive and yet, has a short life-span.

Months 3-6:
In addition to what's above, these additions were added between months 3-6 and have been super helpful.

1. Video Baby Monitor. My goodness do I love this thing. Especially when we started sleep training. We have a two story house, and I swear now that I have experienced a video monitor, I will profess that a sound-only monitor just WILL NOT DO. Not at all. It is so nice to be able to push a button and see with my own eyes if the kid is strangling herself, or just protesting. Often, it's the latter. Thus saving a trip up the stairs. Times about 100 a day.

2. Play mat. You know, the little mats with the arch over them that you hang toys from. Love it. Keeps baby occupied. Yay. One suggestion - invest in one that evolves. That arch is going to get in the way around six months, and you'll want to ditch it as soon as baby starts sitting up to play. Also, two words: machine washable.

3. Bumbo. Love the bumbo. Great little invention. We used it in the early stages of introducing solids, too.

4. A larger vehicle. I scoffed at the idea that one day, we would be the proud owners of an SUV. Yep. Wrong. Wrongedy wrong, wrong. Our shiny new Ford Explorer is just the ticket. First, the car seat jacked up the passenger side front seat making it the most uncomfortable seat ever. Second, there was no way we could fit the two of us, the baby, her accessories and our dogs in one of our little cars. Not gonna happen. So, for a family who enjoys a road trip, a bigger vehicle is a must.

5. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth. Some of you have followed our adventures in sleep training. This approach isn't for everyone. But it works. Period. IT WORKS. On average, our little girl now sleeps at least ten hours a night. Now, at six months of age, she goes longer stretches a few times a week - like 11 or 12 hours. It is all because of this book. Last night I got nine hours of sleep. Just sayin'.

Honestly, that's about it. I mean, there are other products and gizmos that we have that we like, but these are probably the items we could not live without. You know, aside from the givens like a car seat and stroller. And boobs. Gotta have those. Oh! And a serious sense of humor. Because when you are running on four hours of sleep, haven't showered in two days, and have baby poo smeared on your shirt, all you can do is laugh. And trust me. It will happen.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Play

Few moments will be as memorable and special as those early days and weeks with Abbey and Scott when we brought her home and rejoiced in counting fingers and toes and snuggled together as a family out of sheer exhaustion.

But I'll take the latest events as a close second.

Abbey is so much fun right now. So much fun. Fun! I don't know exactly how to explain it be she seems to have matured a great deal. Yeah, I know. She's a baby. But truly! She's incredibly different. She has personality. She does things. She interacts with you. She plays. Like actually plays. And I am shocked at just how on board and goofy I am with her.

This is something that's a bit of a big deal for me. I am an aunt to ten children. My brother's children I feel particularly close to, having lived in the same town as them for quite a while. For one niece in particular, I was the go-to babysitter for several years. But I never really embraced the sense of "play" with any of my nieces and nephews. It's something that I'm actually quite sad about. I just couldn't let go and be totally goofy and child-like with them. I'm not sure why, either. I felt self-conscious. And silly. And sometimes I was just flat out uninterested. Bad Aunt. I've worried about that from time to time - especially while I was pregnant with Abbey. I worried that I would be the grumpy mom who never really played with her kids.

Happily, that's not the case.

I now find myself doing anything and everything - from raspberries to funny voices - to get my daughter to laugh. Because the pay off is so worth it. Those giggles are golden, I tell you! I could care less how silly I seem, my daughter doesn't judge. At least not yet. And I would far rather be down on the floor helping Abbey to play and explore than anything else. Before Abbey entered my life, I'd come home from work with a mild case of the grumpies - or just exhausted - and pour myself a nice glass of wine or mix up a cocktail to relax and let go of the day. Now, it's a new cocktail of baby snuggles, giggles, playtime that brings me out of my workday fog. And all that playing - it's intoxicating, indeed.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

5 Months and Change

Dear Abbey,

You are almost five and a half months old now. You have grown and changed so much lately. I know I say that all the time. But it's especially true right now. I know, I say that all the time, too.

You love to sit up and are able to sit on your own for quite some time. The only thing you enjoy more than sitting is standing. Which is remarkable - you are so advanced. Of course you are! You like to stand and hang on to the ottoman. You like to stand in Daddy's lap. You like to stand in the bathtub, but Mommy won't let you. Once you figure out how to get to the standing position all on your own, all hell will break loose. Daddy and I are not prepared for that. Much child-proofing still to be done. You also like all music, but in particular, the theme to Star Wars and YMCA. And now, when Mommy sings Edelweiss to you before bed, you rest your hand on my cheek, gaze up at me with a smile, and I almost always get choked up, you are so sweet.

You are a sleep champion. Again. And for this we are so grateful. You sleep - on average - 10 hours a night. But lately, you've been upping that to 11. We like that. After you get your first breakfast, you always fall back asleep for at least another hour. We like that, too. You are even starting to get a handle on this whole nap thing. Way to go, punkin. But one thing is for sure, you take after Mommy if you are tired. You are one little miss crankipants if you don't get enough sleep. So, we promise to do our best to see that you are well rested.

You have finally decided to try solid foods. But you're a picky eater. Daddy believes you have his super palette. You do not really care for rice cereal. Nor bananas. Nor apples. Nor pears. At least not yet. But you do love peas. Go figure.

You are now starting to outgrow all of your 3-6 month clothes. Such a big, growing girl. Speaking of growing, you finally have hair! Well, okay, you have fuzz. Silky, fuzzy, blondish, brownish fuzz atop that adorable head of yours.

We love you, punkin. Every day you have a new trick, and you never cease to amaze us. Keep it up, kiddo. Daddy and I are so proud.

Love,
Mom.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

F-Easter!

I'm a bit of a fraud. At least, on the "big" holidays, I sort of feel like one. Sometimes.

I am a person who is sans faith. Not faith as in allegiance to a person or cause. I am a faithful wife and mother, sister and daughter. That is to be sure. But Faith. Capital "F". As in religion. I am sans religion. Sure, I've dabbled here and there. I think I'm somewhat well read on the subject. In fact, religion - as a concept - fascinates me. But I am unable - unwilling, even - to commit to a singular faith or dogma.

So, why do I love celebrating holidays that are rooted in faith? I love Christmas. And Easter. And yes, I had matzo during Passover. When I say, "namaste" I mean it. I hung a Native American dreamcatcher over my daughter's crib. Every year I contemplate giving something up for Lent. (But I never do - that seems a step too far, maybe.) But I do not wholeheartedly subscribe to any religion. I do not consider myself a Christian. Nor am I Jewish or Buddhist, or Hindu or Wiccan. But I also don't like to throw the label "Agnostic" or "Atheist" onto myself, either. I am just simply sans religion. Secular. Maybe, possibly a humanist. But not really...

I often think about this as we celebrate holidays. Easter to me really doesn't have anything to do with Jesus. I know that there are people reading this who strongly disapprove of me saying that. It might even anger them. Or they may feel bad for me. I've deleted that sentence four times now not even certain I should write it. But, I'm being honest here. To me, Easter was a day growing up that I got a beautiful basket stuffed to the gills with candy which I lined up on the floor across from my big brother comparing loot to make sure that everything was even, and then we'd trade for our favorites. I always got a new spring outfit. I'd go on the Easter egg hunt in Bunning Park (which I had always thought as a child was called "bunny park" because of said Easter egg hunt). Bigger kids would beat me to the colorful egg I had my eye on, only to have one of my older siblings plop extras into my basket to make be feel better. On at least two occasions, live animals were given as gifts. A bunny. A chick. Who I named Cheapers. Who grew up to be a rooster much to my mother's shagrin. But we didn't go to church. There was no "alleluia" in our Easter. Rather, there was food, family, friends, and treats.

And it was good.

Now, as an adult, I of course recognize that these major holidays are rooted in something entirely different. Something I was oblivious to as a child. And I wonder sometimes, as a parent, if maybe things should have been different. Treated with more reverence maybe? How will I approach these holidays with Abigail? How will our choices influence her? Am I - like most things - over thinking this? Probably so. It's just an Easter basket, right?

Today, my husband and I enjoyed the day together with Abigail. Our first family Easter basket. A new tradition of beignets for Easter breakfast. I roasted a turkey breast and spring veg. We had a big meal. We drank wine. Abbey got new toys and new clothes. We all cuddled together. We smiled. We laughed. We enjoyed the company of one another. We decided to coin a name for this holiday that's a tad more suiting to us - Feaster. As in "feast" because any holiday is just a great excuse to indulge a wee bit in my book. And as in "faux". Because we know that we can't claim to really celebrate this day for what it's meant to be.

And that's ok with us.

The thing is whether you are one of little Faith like me, or not, I think we can all agree that there's something really special about the traditions that we build within our own families. For me and mine, many of those traditions encircle holidays that just happen to have religious roots. Those memories are my favorite. And though I'm not a believer, in the religious sense, I am a believer in these days of celebration. The food. The stories. The laughs. For better or worse, my lack of religious upbringing has made me a curious and open person. I am always searching for answers. To be honest, I like that about me. I hope that for my daughter. Sure, it would be nice to be able to answer some of those tough questions definitively for her. But I have faith in her and her ability to explore and decide for herself. And that faith - in a word - is unfaltering.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sleep Training: Update

To naysayers of sleep training, I ask you consider this. Before embarking on this parenting experiment, we were waking up every two hours to a screaming, unhappy baby, who refused to fall asleep on her own, and would wake pretty much every time you tried to put her in crib. That same baby is now back to sleeping at least 10 hours a night. Last night, she racked up 12 hours and 15 minutes. What's better is she then coo'd and amused herself in her crib for another 30 minutes after waking up.

I got nine hours of sleep last night. For the first time in a looong time. It was delicious.

It's so counter-intuitive. I never would have thought that simply moving Abbey's bedtime up from 7.30/8 to 6/6.30 and letting her put herself to sleep would have such an impact. It did. It's amazing. And though the early bedtime is tough on days when both Scott and I are working outside the house and getting home at 5. We feel like we barely get to see her. It's well worth it. the new bonus is that we get more time together as a couple these days. That's nice. This week, we've watched two movies together. Movies! I remember those. Abbey also falls to sleep with a lot more ease at night these days. We still have those evenings once in a while when there is protest crying, but it's nothing like before.

We'll revisit nap training in the next month or two. I've been keeping track of her napping patterns, and she's definitely starting to fall into a bit of a routine on her own. I'm hoping to extend these 30 minute naps into hour long naps. Wishful thinking?

Here's my bottom line with the whole sleep training bit. Yeah, it sucks to hear your baby cry. But to see her sleep through the night is wonderful. She's happier. I'm getting rest, so I'm happier. Because, as the tacky country-kitsch signs always say, "If Momma Ain't Happy, Ain't Nobody Happy."

Isn't that the truth.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

9 to 5

I knew that becoming a parent would mean a total shift in priorities. But I didn't know that my priorities would shift quite so much. It's a pretty profound change. And I've been muddling through - mulling some thoughts over for some time now. But the opportunity to put some of those thoughts in action recently surfaced. I took that opportunity.

Those of you who follow this blog know that I've been struggling a bit with the whole work/life/mommy balance thing. I don't think there's a Mom out there who doesn't struggle with this. Returning to work after maternity leave was really difficult for me. And though I thought it would get better, it really didn't. As part of my return to work plan, I had arranged to work from home for three months before returning to my 50 minute, one-way commute two or three times a week. I agreed that I would come into the office from time to time for important meetings. Well, from time to time has actually turned out to be every week sans one. And sometimes a couple of times a week. I'm actually glad that it happened that way. No, I'm not a glutton for punishment, but rather, it made me realize sooner rather than later that this wasn't going to work. Not anymore. I guess I was a bit naive to think that it would. The fact of the matter is that I dread those days I go into the office. I hate that it takes me 50 minutes - minimum - to get from my front door, to my desk at work. One way. Throw in traffic or weather, or bad timing, and I'm screwed. One evening last summer it took me three hours to get home. As I sat in traffic that would not move, I said to myself over and over again that this was not the reason why we relocated from Washington, DC to Colorado. A shorter commute was top on our list of reasons for getting out of the city. Off the East Coast. Yet, I sat there idling on the I-25. What's worse, is it wasn't even a good day at work that day. If I remember, it was a pretty crappy one.

Now, with a baby at home, the thought of getting stuck like that again makes me physically ill. I hate - to my core - the feeling that if something happened to Abbey while I was at work, it would take me at least an hour to get to her. Ugh. Just typing that bothers me. My return to work and this transition period has shown me that I needed to make a change. A recent exchange with my boss about priorities and needing to be in the office more often, and for many evening events throughout the summer, and shifting priorities in the office was the real nail in the coffin. Time to find something else.

But what?

The thing is, I know that I need to work. I'm very career motivated. Always have been. It's part of who I am. And though I have those mixed feelings every time I leave the house, once I'm on a task at work and focused, it all melts away a bit. It's sort of a way of reconnecting with myself, I guess. I feel a little guilty admitting that. But I can't deny that I enjoy what I do, and money doesn't grow on trees. So, becoming a stay-at-home mom - as appealing as the idea may be some days - isn't a realistic option for me. Time for a career change, then.

That's exactly what I did.

I'm happy to announce that I've accepted a new job. Still in the arts, but in the visual arts. Museum world, to be exact. But I'll be working in Denver. My commute will go from 50 minutes to 15. 20 on the tough days. And I'll still work from home from time to time as needed. It comes with a significant pay increase, great benefits. And over this first summer, I'll be part time, giving me a whole extra day with our daughter.

I'm not as much the 9 to 5 kind of girl that I was before. I relish in stolen moments with Abbey. Or to sneak off for lunch with the hubs. I used to really identify myself by my job. Not so much now. I'm a wife and a mother and that comes first. And because of that, I made a change. That change - I hope - I think - will bring some peace to me and our little family.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sleep Training Day Four: My kingdom for a nap

Time to assess how this is working. Let's start with night sleep - because that's what's most important, I think.

For three nights in a row now, Abbey has gone to sleep sometime between 6 and 6:45 pm and slept through the night. If you consider sleeping until 4:30 am sleeping through the night. Which she, apparently, does. But I'll take it. That's about 10 hours without a feeding, and the kiddo is hungry. So, although I'm a bit disgruntled about having to drag my ass out of bed at that wicked hour, it's necessary. She also goes back to sleep immediately afterward and sleeps to 6-6:30 am. That's a win. Unfortunately, Mom is awake and can't catch the extra Zzz's.

But still - a BIG improvement. So, in the category of night sleep, I whole-heartedly recommend the "crying-it-out" method. Listening to your baby cry is not easy - but it's harder on the parent, I believe, than the baby. And it only took two nights for Abbey to figure it out. She's now waking up happy in the morning, and well rested, and we're getting sleep, and all of that is good, good, good.

Here's where I say, "Stop the bus, I want to get off." Naps. Abbey has never really been the best napper. While I can definitely see that a natural nap schedule is starting to evolve in her, it's not solid. The Weissbluth approach to nap training is not working for her. At least not right now. Yesterday, she cried for an hour solid for both her morning and afternoon nap, and never fell asleep. That is, until, I rescued her, cried a little myself for torturing my baby so, rocked her back to sleep, and put her down in either her swing or pack 'n play. If she was in her swing, I turned the motion off after she fell asleep. And in both cases she slept for 30-40 minutes. I'll take it. I'll take that over the hour-long wailing. I have to.

My research on the subject is telling me this: at four and a half months old, she's just not ready yet for a structured nap schedule. The sleep development centers of the brain are different for napping versus night sleep. The morning nap develops first - usually around five months. So, we're still a bit shy of being ready for that. And so, abandon ship. We're going to loosen up on the whole nap thing, and take what we can get however we can get it during the day while sticking to the program for night sleep. The new goal is to maximize the total amount of day sleep we can, any way we can.

So, as I type this, Abbey is just starting to drift off in her swing. Tear free. For what I hope will be a nice, long, morning snooze.

And thus concludes our sleep/nap training. At least for now. I'm sure I'll be revisiting this subject in the weeks, months, and years to come - until she leaves the house for college.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sleep Training Day Three: Encore

We had a lovely repeat performance of bedtime success last night. Bath, jammies, nursing, song, bed, sleep.

All by 6:30 pm.

Without a single protest, peep, or whimper.

Yay.

But unfortunately, we're still struggling with naps. It's hit and miss. For her morning nap, she cried for 30 minutes before finally settling down. But then she slept for a whole hour! Her afternoon nap was just 30 minutes, but little crying. Her early evening nap was thirty minutes without a peep. So, yes, some progress. But today (which will be tomorrow's blog - day 4), really sucks a big one in the nap department.

More to come - fingers crossed for another restful night.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sleep Training Day Two: Winning.

Scott and I have decided that we need to make a little onesie for Abbey that says, "Winning." a-la Charlie Sheen.

'Cuz she is.

And it's funny.

And true - she has our number.

But seriously, folks. We're making progress. As difficult as this method may be on the heart, I have to tell you, in the sleep category, I totally recommend it. We've seen rapid and dramatic results in her nighttime sleeping habits. We see a light at the end of this dark, dark tunnel. It's a lovely, bright light. Where bluebirds sing. And trees sway. Where children of all races play together. And gays have the right to marry. And all is well with the world.

We'll start with naps yesterday. Here's the first major improvement. This kid has never - NEVER - napped in her crib until now. She's now going down without much protest and sleeping for 30 minutes, three times a day. Sure, I wish it were longer. But this is a big improvement.

But the happiest news comes from bedtime last night. We headed upstairs for her bath at around 6pm. Usually, some significant crying occurs after the bath while I'm putting on her PJ's. Like she's saying, "enough already! get on with it, lady!" But last night, not a peep. Just happy coos. We went through the whole bedtime routine, I laid her in her crib - still awake - she smiled at me, and Went. To. Sleep.

We didn't hear from her again until this morning.

Do you hear those angels singing? Hallelujah. And amen.

Granted, she woke up a wee bit early for my taste this morning - you know, 4.45 am isn't any one's favorite hour. But I knew she was hungry. And she logged 10 hours of sleep. So who am I to complain?

Like I said. Winning.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sleep Training Day One: Begin

Sunday, our first full day of sleep training, wasn't too bad. It could have been worse. Could have been better - but it could have been a lot worse. Having caught some zzz's the night before, I definitely felt more in my right brain to take this task on.

So, the day started with the morning nap. After some comforting, I put Abbey in her crib and she begin to sputter and cry. I told her I loved her, kissed her cheek, turned away, walked out the door, turned off the light, and shut the door behind me. She whimpered for another 15 minutes or so and then...nothing. Blissful, sweet, nothing. Sleeping baby. And that continued for another 26 minutes exactly. Then she wailed like a banshee. Our program is a bit wishy washy on naps. Basically if she sleeps over 30 minutes, she's probably good and done. If it's a lot under 30 minutes, then we're to let her cry and see if she'll go back to sleep, but for no longer than an hour. So, that's what I did. And she cried. And cried. And cried. Finally settling down enough to take another 15 minute snooze before waking up again. I raced to her room to get her. Anxious to see her again and to investigate the damage I had done. To my delight, she was pretty happy.

We played for almost two hours - a happy, peppy play. Like nothing ever happened. Then she started to show signs that she was tired again. We went through the naptime routine, put her down and she went to sleep right away this time. And slept for a whole 25 minutes. And that was all she wrote. The tears and screaming came again until I retrieved her 20 minutes later when I had - frankly - had enough.

At this point, my nerves were pretty shot. Though I've been turning the volume off on the monitor when Abbey starts to cry, I can still hear her even though I'm a floor below her. I try to read, or watch tv, or blog. But even in a semi-distracted state, I still know that my bayybeee is cryyyyiiiing!

As we approached the 3pm nap, I called Scott (who was at the car show) and informed him we had a decision to make. We were coming up on the 3pm nap and If I could put her in her swing, I thought she'd sleep longer. But we have to turn the swing off once she falls asleep (it's one of the rules of this technique - no sleeping while in motion). We knew she was exhausted, so we thought we'd be doing her a favor by going this route. When the time came, I placed her in her swing and within two minutes she was soundly asleep. I turned the swing off. Peaceful baby. For 20 minutes. Then, sad, wailing, crying baby. In. The. Same. Room. As me. . . Shit. There goes that nap. Again, I picked her up and comforted her and she played pretty contentedly until about 5.30 when we started seeing signs of sleepiness.

We whisked her upstairs, gave her a bath, and started the bedtime routine. She went right to sleep. No fussing. At 6.15 in the evening. And she slept until 9pm, when she cried out for us. And cried for 45 minutes. Ugh. But then she slept through night to her 3.30 am feeding, and again after that until 6am - her normal waking time. In an overnight span of 12 hours, she was awake three times. That's a lot better than her previous pattern of waking up 6 times - every two hours - over a 12 hour period. 50% better in fact!

Rome wasn't built in a day. Abbey's sleep problems won't be solved in a day. But we're about half-way there.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sleep Training Day Zero: Reset

I've had a lot of response from my blog yesterday about our recent sleep woes with Abbey. I want to thank everyone for their support and advice and for sharing your stories. It is so reassuring to know that ya'll have been there, too. And have emerged on the other side. So, thanks.

Yesterday, Scott and I did a lot of talking and analyzing. I went to the bookstore and bought two books that were recommended to me over and over. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, by Marc Weissbluth and (insert dramatic music here) Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems by Dr. Richard Ferber. Yes, THAT Ferber. As in "Ferberize" and "Meet The Parents" fame. But we know we need to put a plan into action. Up until this point, we'd really been following the "child lead" model of sleep/eat/play routines. And I think that has suited us very well up until this point. I don't regret that approach at all. My research is teaching me, however, that there's a big shift that happens at four months of age, and it's time to reassess. It's time to get a schedule in order. While I was up in the wee hours with Abbey the other night I thumbed through the No Cry Sleep Solution, which had been given to me by my sister-in-law. Pretty much everything it had suggested we were already doing. I knew that "attachment parenting" and the Sears approach wasn't going to work for our lifestyle. So, we're going to give this other side a shot. More on that later.

Yesterday - last night specifically - was our collective "re-set" as we begin sleep and nap training today. We know that Abbey isn't sleeping enough during the day and that causes her to be overtired and not sleep through the night, which causes for another rough day. Vicious, horrible cycle. Studies show an infant her age should be logging 14-15 hours of sleep per 24 hour period. She was doing about 12 on a good day. That's a problem. We've been struggling to keep her awake at the end of the day so that we could reach an arbitrary bedtime of 8 or 8.30. Life pretty much sucked from 6pm until bath-time. So, we started there. Abbey started to show signs of tiredness around 6pm, and we decided to go ahead an chuck her in the bath and start the bed-time routine. Bath, massage, jammies, book, bottle, nurse, bed. She was peacefully asleep without protest by 7:30 - a whole 30 minutes/hour earlier than normal. We thought, "Yay! Smooth sailing the rest of the night!"

Ha.

At 9:30 she was up and wailing. I was just getting ready to go to sleep. I decided to try to nurse her and get her back down. And that worked. For 20 minutes. We knew it was time to put the plan into action. The plan being to let her cry it out.

Shock, gasp, horror. I know.

Here's something that I have found really fascinating over the past 24 hours. Several moms who I have SO MUCH love and respect for sent me messages saying the EXACT SAME THING. The gyst being, "I didn't want to admit this to everyone, but we let our baby cry it out." It's interesting to me that we associate this method with a negative stigma. Well, I'm here to say, "fuck that". Allow me to blog about it for all of us - so that we no longer have to hide in the shadows in shame. I am committed to sharing this parenting hurdle openly because, seriously, you do what have to do. Scott and I have committed to trying the Weissbluth approach to sleep and nap training for two weeks. If it doesn't work, then we'll try something else. But I'll be damned if I'll show any shame or embarrassment or fear of judgment for trying to make a happy household.

Nanny nanny boo boo.

So, where were we. Ah, yes. Cry it out. So, Abbey started wailing at 10pm. Scott and I flipped on our respective bed-side lamps, turned on the white noise machine (aka loud-ass fan in our bedroom), turned the volume off on the monitor, and read. We read for exactly 26 minutes. That's when I looked up and saw that the lights on the monitor were no longer dancing. I turned on the camera (yes, we have a video monitor - and love it - and I HIGHLY recommend them) and saw a peaceful, sleeping angel. Out like a light.

She woke up at 3.30 am and against what was probably my better judgment, I got up and nursed her. I just thought she'd likely be hungry. It had been 6 hours since her "snack" and 8 hours since a proper feeding. Luckily, she fell right back to sleep afterward. She woke up again at 5.30am - which is actually fairly normal - so I got up again and nursed. Again, against my better judgment, I threw her in her swing and she slept until about 7:45. But she slept. And so did I. But we will be towing a harder line tonight.

Last night was a HUGE improvement over what we've experienced the past two weeks. Heuuge. So, I feel like we're on the right track. And I'm hoping for continued progress.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

What the EFFF

Okay, I take it all back. All those comments that Scott and I have made about Abbey sleeping through the night and being such a good sleeper, and us getting lots of rest. I didn't say them. I didn't jinx myself. I take it back, Universe.

Because we are seriously hosed up in this noise.

For the past two weeks Abbey has been struggling - thus WE have been struggling - with some serious sleep issues. Namely, we're now waking up every two hours. It sucks. It's especially jarring because we were enjoying such consistent sleep. It's so hard to go from enjoying 10 hours each night to...um...not enjoying shit. It literally just happened to us. One night - BAM - no sleep for you. WTF!?!?!

Literally, I'm pretty sure at one point I looked at my husband while Abbey was screaming bloody murder and said, "She will be an only child."

And of course it happens now. Just when I'm back to work full-time, and in super busy mode, and NEED my sleep. And the hubs is sooo not functional when he doesn't get rest. The guy doesn't need much to sustain him - but food and sleep are the two things that are totally necessary. And hockey. And the Yankees. (We all have our vices.)

Here's what I know:
1. She doesn't nap enough during the day - but she really, really fights that afternoon nap. How do we get her to take it - and make it a long one?

2. This isn't a bedtime routine issue. We have a strong and consistent bedtime routine. Getting her to go to sleep is never a problem, it's a night waking issue.

3. She's only being breast-fed at this point. Tried solids a couple weeks ago and she wasn't ready, but maybe she's not getting enough to eat?

4. When she goes into this tailspin of night waking, she will only fall back asleep if she is nursed or rocked, and will wake up as soon as I try to put her back in her crib. She will sleep in her swing, but isn't that just another crutch.

5. Speaking of the swing - that's the only place she'll nap. Not good, right?

So, I am reaching out to my community here. I am opening the floodgates and seeking advice. I've already heard recommendations for a couple of books - so keep 'em coming. We are open to any and all ideas. And please share your war stories, because I need to know two things: First, we're not alone in this and more importantly: It gets better, right?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Like Riding a Bicycle

I'm beginning to think that raising a baby is much like learning to ride a bicycle. First, you start with that cute little "little tikes" plasticy trike as a wee child. You think you're so cool as you figure out how to lean back and go. But then, you out grow it. You're thrown onto a bigger trike. Something without the back support. Hmm...balance. That's fun. Oh, but wait, your legs are getting too long, so now you need a small bike with training wheels. Wow...the ground looks further away. And then. The training wheels come off. And all hell breaks loose.

Well, maybe not that bad.

But through the evolution, you are sure to encounter a lot of falling down, bumps, scrapes, bruises, laughs and tears along the way.

Having a baby is like that. Just when you think you've got things figured out, you wake up one morning (often at 2am) and discover that the gameplan has changed, and you aren't running the show. Your tidy little routine has been thrown out the window. There's a new Sheriff in town. And she drools. A lot.

This last week was a tough one. We started out with Abbey's four month vaccinations. For two days in a row, she ran a fever, was cranky, sleepy, lacked appetite and just didn't feel good. Poor kiddo. My heart just ached for her. I wanted to spend my entire days snuggling with her to give her some sort of comfort. But slowly, she came out of it and by Thursday she seemed about 80% back to herself. But a few sleepless nights - Friday night in particular - proved otherwise. She finally went to sleep at 9pm after an hour of trying to get her down, only to wake up again at 11:30pm, 2:30am, 3:30am, 4am and finally up for good at 5:30 am. Needless to say, Mommy and Daddy were zombies on Saturday. It was the first time I just wanted to cash in the chips, grab a flight to the nearest all-inclusive resort, and drink myself into oblivion in hopes to just get a damn break.

But somehow, we made it through. We dusted ourselves off, got back up and tried to ride some more. And what I'm learning is that every time we face an obstacle whether it be a pothole in the road, a night of no sleep, or a terribly cranky baby (who will. not. stop. crying!) we become a bit more skilled. We pedal a little faster. Maybe even pop a wheelie if we're feeling crazy. And in the end, the ride is totally worth it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Four Month Stats

Yesterday was Abbey's four-month well check. Here's the update on her latest stats:

Weight = 13 pounds, 9.9 oz - 51st percentile (she's almost doubled her birth weight!)
Height = 25 3/4 inches long - 94th percentile (one tall baby!)
Head = 16 1/4 inches diameter - 61st percentile (big brain)

So, she is tall, smart and skinny.

Vaccinations were next, and they're never ever fun. Last night we had a sad, sleepy, uncomfortable baby on our hands who slept restlessly through the night.  Things weren't much improved today. She spiked a 100+ degree temperature mid-morning, and dished out several meltdowns over what we do not know. I raced home from the office to be with her after being at my desk for a little over an hour and fifteen minutes. So glad I commuted that 45 minutes in today.  I was glad to come home and love on her, though. Abbey is definitely the daughter of two musicians. The only comfort she'd find today was in a song or baby Tylenol.

We got the green light to try solid foods. She swallowed maybe five spoonfuls of baby cereal this evening, making funny faces between each bite. She's not quite sold. We'll try again in a couple of days.

And that's the scoop. She's down for the night now, and Mommy is ready for an adult beverage to take the edge off the day.

Oh, barkeep???

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Four Months

Dear Abbey,

You are four months old today. In some ways it feels like it was just yesterday we were meeting each other for the first time in the hospital. In other ways, it feels like I've known you my whole life.

You're laughing now. Full on belly laughs. Your eyes light up. Your whole face lights up. You are so close to rolling over. You can sit up with some help, and hold your head up on your own. You're sleeping ten hours a night. Mommy and Daddy are now getting a solid 7.5-8. Happy times.

This morning, you were snuggling up with your puppy, Dante. The three of us curled up in a chair together. You gave him a little pat. He gave you a little kiss.

With each of your milestones my heart aches a little. Both with pride and joy, and also a little sentimental sadness. So many firsts - and you keep growing. I'm afraid any second you'll be a teenager stomping up the stairs, slamming the door, and proclaiming how cruel your mother is. Not the sweet babe who falls asleep, cooing in my arms as I sing, "Here Comes the Sun" for the millionth time. Sometimes, while you are sleeping, I just look at you and try to imagine the person you're going to grow into. You're just four months old, and you make your Mommy so proud.

I love you, Abbey.

Mom.

Friday, March 11, 2011

What Child is This?

There's a secret saying between parents that we have recently become privy to that illicits immediate sympathy and understanding that only a parent could know.

Four words. And they say so much about your emotional and mental state. They explain why your eyes are bloodshot from lack of sleep and your nerves are completely fried. They define why your previously easy-going, happy baby is suddenly the child of Satan.

"We think she's teething."

And that pretty much sums up this week.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Grow

Yesterday, I celebrated my 32nd birthday.

Having experienced childbirth, I have a whole new perspective on birthdays. My thoughts often drifted to my own Mom yesterday. I realize that a birthday of a child is also a special day for a mother. The day Abigail was born, I felt like I had also been re-born in a sense. Reinvented, I guess is a better way to explain it. It's a rite of passage. You are forever changed. The change, for me, was immediate. And I knew I wanted to be a better person. To do better. To refocus. To improve. Not just for myself, but for my daughter and my family.

So, that's what I plan to do.

You know, returning from maternity leave for me has been a bit of a cruel slap in the face. I treasured my time off with Abbey. And it's not that I long to be a stay at home Mom, although, some days I definitely feel that pang. It's more that maternity leave is this lovely time to check out for a while and bond with your child and just live your life without work and other distractions. We were in this safe little bubble together. Now, it's back to reality.

But it's also not.

Because everything has changed. It's strange because it feels like I've crossed over to another side of things. I really don't know how to articulate it. But I've come back into the fold, and it feels like nothing has changed since I left - except me. And I'm frustrated that the world hasn't changed with me. Ants marching.

A year ago today, I learned that I was pregnant with Abbey. The person I was then versus the person I am now feels almost like night and day. I've grown. I have! I have the stretch marks to prove it! And I don't want to stop.

So, in honor of my birthday, new beginnings, and continued growth, I am planning to spend the next year investing in myself. Improving myself in honor of my daughter. Because she has definitely made me a better person. And I believe that in order to be the mother she needs me to be, I need to take care of myself and continue to challenge myself. I will honor my body by trying to eat a bit healthier, and taking better care of it. I will honor my mind by feeding it with the intellectual curiosities that my education left out. I will honor my spirit and energy by trying to take a little time each day to just check in with myself. And I will indulge myself in what really matters and try to let go of all the other shit that just gets in the way.

Or at least I'm gonna try.

Because every birthday is one closer to your last - and I'm done fucking around.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Super Nanny

A lot of people are interested in our nanny situation. I keep getting a lot of questions and comments online and off, so I wanted to give ya'll some more deets.

We did not use a nanny service. I think that if you're a super busy person who doesn't have a lot of time to sift through resumes and sit through interviews and call references and perform a background check, then you should maybe look into a nanny service that does that for you. I don't really trust many companies, so I felt better doing the search myself and scrutinizing applicants in person.

Whatever floats your boat.

That being said, there were two websites that I found to be extremely helpful in our search for a childcare provider: www.care.com and www.sittercity.com.  I perused profiles on both sites, and ultimately we decided to use care.com to begin our search. It's sort of like a dating site for care providers. They have profiles and pictures. Some have references. Some have completed background checks on there. It's great. You can search by zip code, or see who has newly created a profile. We posted a job and had applicants come to us. I think that's the easier way to go. But I did have to sift through a total of 75 applicants. A lot of them were pretty easy to toss to the side. Ultimately, I had three interviews - loved two - hired one - and so far, so good.

But there's more.

The hubs and I strive to be ethical people, so we wanted to make sure that this wasn't an under the table, tax-evasiony type of situation. Unfortunately, that means shelling out more dough. Yes, my friends. The nanny tax. When you bring in a household employee, you need to set your household up like an employer. That means paying taxes, unemployment, social security...fun, fun, fun. It's a lot to figure out - a bit too accountanty for us. And we're friends with an accountant. But one thing my husband is really good at, is finding excellent people that we can hire to sort this kind of shit out for us. And that's what we did.


The fine folks over at Breedlove & Associates will essentially set up your tax information, prepare your payroll, and give you all the tools you need to pay your nanny legally, satisfying dear old Uncle Sam. They also provide some legal advice. And their quarterly rates for this peace of mind - not too bad at all. At least in our humble opinion.

There's still more, though.

Before you let your nanny step foot in your house, you need a contract. A good solid contract. With lots of details. If you have a concern, then spell it out in the contract. For example, I wrote into ours that the nanny shall never text or talk on a cell phone while driving our child. Never. Grounds for termination - right there. And it gives me a lot of peace of mind. You should also have a lawyer review your contract. Fortunately, for us, we have a friend who is an attorney who also has a nanny, and he reviewed ours for us. Thank goodness for smart friends! If you aren't so connected, it's probably worth it to cough up some money to make sure you have a contract that protects you, your home, and most importantly, your child.

I know - it sounds like a lot of work. It wasn't bad at all, though. And I'll tell you this - it was the right decision for us. Every family is different of course, and you'll have to figure out what the best fit is for you, your family, and your little one. There were definitely moments when I didn't think we'd figure it out and almost threw in the towel. I'm so glad we didn't. It's such a reassuring feeling to walk through the door after work and hear my baby laughing in my own home and know that she's happy, safe, and well cared for.  Priceless.

<Note: Yes, I am a marketer, but no, no one paid me to say any of this. Yet.>

Sunday, February 27, 2011

And Baby Makes Three

I have to say, I don't know how single Moms do it. The way your life changes after having a child is profound - both philosophically, but also just the basic every day stuff. Like taking a shower. Or going to the bathroom. It's hard enough to find time the time and opportunity for me to simply brush my teeth every day and I have a generous, supportive husband.  Hats off to you, girls.

But speaking of husbands...

Have I mentioned how awesome mine is lately?

Having a baby changes a marriage. I think a lot of couples can struggle with that change. And while things between Scott and I are definitely different - I feel like we're in this super amazing place. This actually came as a surprise to me because we've always had a very healthy, supportive relationship. But, man. Though I thought I had a firm grasp on what it might take to raise a baby, I really had no idea. And I could not ask for a better partner through all of it. Particularly as I recovered (and continue to recover) from my surgery. Hell, DURING my surgery. This is a guy who can't watch "Grey's Anatomy" on TV because the blood and guts of the medical show makes him all noodley and grossed out. But he sat right next to me and held my hand as doctors poked around in my insides. That's love, folks. Always my true counterpart, Scott is what I cannot always be. Patient when I am exasperated. Gentle when I am angry. Rational when I have lost my mind. And funny. Always funny. Because sometimes, all you can do is laugh.

There are certainly moments when I wish we had more time for one another. I miss those lazy days together where the only items on the agenda were eat, snuggle, sleep (and the occasional trip to the bathroom). Now it's diaper changes, feedings, and trips to Target or the grocery store. Most of the errands now fall to Scott. As does the cooking, schlepping, garbage duties and laundry. Domestic bliss, no? Like I said, having a baby changes things.

Over the past two days, the hubs and I have been playing a game of Scrabble on our smartphones. I don't know why, but I think this is so special. Tender almost. A stolen moment. To know that he's trying to come up with a word to beat my double word score of BERLIN for 54 points while in the grocery store as I contemplate my next move while rocking a cranky Abbey in my arms. We're still connected. Always and forever just us two - with baby making three.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Supply and Demand

Since I am a marketer, I'm very comfortable with the notion of supply and demand.  In business terms, I know how it can impact pricing, market competition, brand prestige.  But I am struggling with the concept on a personal level these days.

And this is where I must insert a disclaimer.  This blog is about breastfeeding.  I've put off writing on the subject for as long as I could mostly because I'm sort of uncomfortable with "letting it hang out" so to speak.  But after a lot of thought, I've come to the realization that you can't really have a blog about the ups and downs of being a new mom without talking about breastfeeding at some point.  And talking about breastfeeding means talking about boobs.  That's right.  BEWWBBSS.  So, if this subject makes you uncomfortable, or squirmy, or if you don't think you can look me in the eye again after reading it, I suggest you stop reading now.

Seriously.

Point of no return.

Right here.

Last chance.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Okay, then.  I'll start by saying I'm a fan of breastfeeding.  Abbey took to nursing right away, and though we struggled a bit in the beginning with positioning (a C-section makes finding a comfortable position for mom and baby a little trying) and latch, Abbey is a pro, and I do enjoy nursing.  It's a special connection.  A lovely bond.  It's also pretty awesome that I can make everything that my baby needs nutritionally and give it to her.  Nature is cool that way. 

While breastfeeding is one of the most natural things in the world to do, pumping...not so much.  Within hours of Abbey being born, my nurses in the hospital had me on the pump.  The first time I pumped was in front of my husband.  Awkward.  Yep, that's the word that pretty much sums it up.  It's not exactly the sultry picture one would like to impress upon their spouse.  But we both got over it pretty quickly.  Immediately, however, I became obsessed with my supply.  I sent my mother-in-law off to find herbal supplements - contraband in the hospital to be sure - that are known to help boost supply and bring the milk in.  I pumped several times a day while in the hospital - sometimes producing, sometimes not.  But I stuck with it.  I took my fenugreek.  Returning home, I drank that Guinness.  I believe that all of these measure helped me to build a healthy supply of breast milk.  I started stock-piling early.  I was so impressed with myself.  I would hold up the storage containers full of milk, showing them to Scott.  "Look what I can do!" 

Then, I got lazy.  Not lazy.  Tired.  All that pumping and nursing is hard work.  It makes me hungry.  And THIRSTY.  And sleepy.  And dammit, a nursing mom once in a while needs a freakin' break.  So I stopped pumping and nursed exclusively one day proclaiming that tomorrow, I would pump.  But I didn't.  I kept putting it off.  For weeks.  Until I realized that the end of my maternity leave was looming, the Nanny was starting work, and the baby needed some milk.  So, I started pumping every night before bed - just once a day - which would yield just two ounces.  It wasn't a lot, but it added up, and so far, it's been enough.  Abbey was getting enough milk through nursing, we had extra on hand for the nanny.  If I missed a nursing session, I'd pump instead.  All of this working to keep my supply up - abundant. 

But now that I'm back to work, it's all become so much more challenging.  Now I see why so many moms stop breastfeeding at this point.  It's tricky.  Originally, I naievely thought, "okay, Abbey eats every 2 - 2.5 hours.  So, I will pump every 2 - 2.5 hours."  Sounds reasonable, no?  No.  Because a work day just doesn't work that way.  Meetings go long.  People intrude on your office.  Phone calls pop up.  My first day back, I went into the office for four hours - plus a 45 minute commute both ways.  I should have pumped three times - I only got two in.  And I was really, really trying.  I also had to pump in front of my assistant since we share a workspace, and I'm pretty sure I horrified her even though I asked her repeatedly if she was uncomfortable with the idea and did my best to cover up as much as I could.  I just didn't have a choice - there was no where else to go.  Awkward doesn't begin to describe.  Luckily, for the time being, I'll only be in the office once a week at the most.  Probably even less.  It'll be easier at home, right?

Not necessarily.  Not wanting to nurse at every feeding (at 20 minutes a feeding, that would add up in Nanny pay), I decided to try nursing every other feeding, and let the nanny bottle feed when not nursing.  When Abbey gets a bottle, I'll pump.  We'll stick to schedule, I'll get some nursing time in (I do love it), and all will be well, right?  Not realistic.  Because nursing leads to rocking, or diaper changes, or just not wanting to let your baby go.  The hand off is tough.  And the schedule just didn't gel.  The pumping wasn't as fruitful, and all of the interruptions made it hard to keep on track with work. 

Breast milk is all about supply and demand.  You have to get it out of the boobs before your body will make more.  That means lots of nursing or pumping.  The less you do either of these, the less you produce.  That's when I begin to get anxious and panic and questions swirl in my head.  Questions like, What if I can't pump enough?  What if all the bottle feeding causes early weaning?  What if we have to supplement with formula?  What if I can't get enough time in to pump and my supply decreases?  What if, what if, what if?  And how.  How the hell am I going to make this work? 

And the answer:  I don't know.  As I write this, I'm pumping.  I'm taking multitasking to a new level.  I've got about three ounces, and I'm shooting for five.  That, plus what I have in the fridge will get us through the day with enough milk for the Nanny's bottle feedings without having to tap into the stock pile in the freezer - maybe a little extra.  I'm back on the herbs, and the Guinness, and I feel a bit like a cow at the moment.  Everything I've read suggests that you should breast feed your baby for a year.  I'm giving it my best shot.  But it ain't easy. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I Cried, It Sucked, Moving On.

Yesterday, I woke up to sweet baby chirpings at 5:30 am.  Earlier than normal.  That was okay.  I sprung out of bed, swept Abbey up into my arms, and nursed her with tears streaming down my face.

I went back to work yesterday.

After I nursed Abbey, I held her, rocking together for the longest time.  I was glad to have an extra stolen moment with her.  My husband caught me crying in the nursery with her - not wanting to put her down.  Every time I tried, my heart ached and I held her for just a little bit longer.  And then the sun came up, and my time ran out.

I have to be clear here.  I don't hate my job.  I'm not lazy.  I enjoy working.  I just enjoy being a Mom more.  And the biggest thing is that I don't want to miss anything.  In the three short months that Abbey has been in our lives, she has grown and changed so much.  Every day something new happens.  Every single day.  I don't want to miss a second of it. 

How my heart ached yesterday.

I do have to say, however, that I worked more efficiently yesterday than I have in...well, probably ever.  I told myself I'd be in and out of the office in four hours and I was.  I got a lot done in that short amount of time.  Everything on my to-do list and a little extra.  So, that's a win.

I also have to say that I am really, really grateful that I work for an organization that "gets" how important this early time is with a baby.  I got 12 weeks off.  I get to work from home almost exclusively for another 12.  Then, I have to commute to work just two days a week permanently thereafter.  Oh woe is me, right?  It's a good set-up.  I'm glad for that.  I'm also glad to have an at-home Nanny.  I can swoop in and get all the baby snuggles I want when I need them, and have someone else deal with that poopy diaper.  Plus, yesterday, she did laundry, unloaded the dishwasher, and tidied Abbey's room.  All of which frees up a little bit more quality time for me to have with Abbey.  And that's the only cure for a sad, working mother.

There is no perfect solution to the "Mommy Wars" as they are called.  The battle between working and staying home.  This is as close to perfect as I could get.  But even so, finding balance and muddling through all the mixed feelings will be a challenge, for sure.

Monday, February 14, 2011

There and Back Again

Getting on the plane.
I'll start this blog with a blanket apology to all of my friends in the Washington, DC Metro area.

I'm sorry.

Rumors are true, I was in town this past weekend.  I was in stealth mode and aside from family, I didn't see anyone.  There was just no way to pack it all in.  But I still love you.  All of you.  I do.

Moving on.

Uncle Jim, Cousin Molly & Abbey
Abbey and I took our first trip together to one of my favorite cities ever - and a very special place for her father and I given it's where we met, fell in love, and got married.  We traveled to Washington, DC to meet Uncle Jim, Aunt Val, and cousins Kelsey, Nathaniel and Molly.  We were also celebrating my big brother's milestone 40th birthday.  It was a special trip all around.

One thing was certainly missing.  At the last minute, a pile of work was dumped on Scott and he found himself in a difficult situation and unable to come with us.  We were sad.  I was angry.  Not angry so much at the hubs - not his fault, and he felt horrible - but angry with his employer.  But I quickly got over it when I remembered how rarely this kind of thing happens, and how comfortable we live thanks to said employer.  We'll let this one slide.  But it does suck all around that Abbey's Daddy missed her first trip.  Huge bummer.

Fortunately for Mommy (brave, brave Mommy) Abigail was the *perfect* baby all weekend.  She did not cry on the plane.  She did not cry in the car.  She did not cry near or far.  In fact the only real tears came at the end of brunch on our last day in town, and that was out of shear exhaustion and lasted all of maybe two minutes.  Thank you, sweet daughter, for behaving yourself.

...is she becoming a Caps Fan?
This trip also restored my faith in humanity.  Even though I made every effort to pack exceptionally light.  And I mean Exceptionally.  Babies still come with a lot of gear.  We had a backpack containing everything for the two of us (clothes, 2 oz toiletries since we didn't check bags, baby blankets, toys, breast pump accessories, and a lot of diapers), plus Abbey's diaper bag, 20 ounces of breast milk, a stroller and a car seat.  Getting it all through security on my own was tricky.  But both coming and going, there were kind fellow travelers - probably parents who had been there - who helped me along.  In particular, the folks at Denver's airport were so kind, offering a warm smile and a pat on the shoulder while saying, "take your time, dear.  It's not a race."  Thank you.  Seriously.

But mostly, the four star helper on this trip came in the form of an angelic flight attendant from Ireland.  How I wish I knew your name.  She hooked us up.  Extra pillows.  Free snacks for a nursing mom.  Two huge bottles of water (dude breast feeding on a plane makes one thirstier than the Sahara).  She held Abbey and walked her up and down the aisle so I could use the bathroom in peace.  She carried the diaper bag.  She set up the stroller when we arrived in DC.  She was wonderful.  So, United Airlines - whoever this flight attendant is who was on the plane from Denver to DC leaving Friday at 11.30 am.  She's a keeper. 

On the plane coming home.
By far the best part of the trip, however, was spending some quality time with the family.  Abbey's cousin Molly is deeply in love with baby Abigail.  Aunt Val was a trooper and watched Abbey for an afternoon while my brother and I enjoyed ourselves at a Caps game.  I rode in his Porsche.  Definitely a highlight.  We were out and about, the schedule was jostled, but Abbey just rolled with it, with bright wide eyes taking it all in.  And on the trip home, we both crashed out together on the plane.  While I'm not exactly eager to do it again anytime soon, the whirlwind trip was certainly a memorable success.