"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)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Mixed Emotions

Today marks the end of my solo flight in caring for Abbey.  While I have two weeks of maternity leave to go, our nanny starts next week so we can have some time together to train and get used to one another before I go back to work full time.  I am full of mixed emotions about all of this.  I have so enjoyed being home with Abbey over the past ten weeks.  I love that it was my sole job and responsibility to take care of her and my husband.  No meetings.  No annoying co-workers.  No budget worries.  No faxing or copying or filing.  No one to manage.  No one to manage me.  Just the three of us - and the dogs - a happy family co-op.

It's been grand.

Luckily, when I do go back to work in two weeks, I get to work from home almost exclusively for the next three months.  Sure, I'll have to schlep to the office for a meeting here and there, but for the most part, I'll still be at home with my little one with relief from the nanny 2-3 days a week so I can really get some work done and take a meeting once in a while.  I think that if I were facing a full-time return to the office, I'd be spending the next two weeks pleading with my husband to let me quit my job.  I'm just not ready for that yet. 

And yet...

Part of me is also looking forward to some adult time.  Abbey's not the best conversationalist yet.  I miss strategic planning beyond how to get to two stores on one feeding in the afternoon.  I miss office gossip.  And sometimes I feel a little guilty for feeling this way, but I know that I am not alone in these feelings.  So many working Moms experience them.  The great tug of war we must face as mothers.

I'm also glad that I have this two week transition period.  I'm going to be taking some me-time.  I already have a mani/pedi set up with a good friend.  A hair appointment.  Plans for some shopping.  And the big finale - our first family trip.  On a plane, even!  It's a lot to look forward to and it numbs some of the sadness that I'm feeling. 

But, I have to acknowledge that through my mild case of depression and anxiety today, I think mostly I'm thankful.  I'm thankful that I've had this time with my daughter.  I am thankful because I know a lot of women - a lot of Moms - who aren't as lucky.  As I write this, Abbey is snoozing happily and as I gaze at her I'm filled with such joy.  For the past ten weeks I've been able to study that sweet face of hers every day.  To get to know her a little better with each passing moment.  The time that we've had together is time I could never get back.  Thank goodness I knew that going in to this.  I would have missed so much.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Like a Needle to the Heart

We recently endured the suffering that only a new parent can know.  Our child was vaccinated.

Now, before I get started, I know that some people find this to be controversial territory.  There's been a lot of publicity surrounding vaccinations.  My purpose here (you know, this being my blog and all) is not to incite a riot.  I'm not trying to convince anyone one way or the other.  I just want to share my thoughts and experience with the subject.  Some of you reading this may not agree with me.  That's just fine.  But don't try to convince me otherwise - my mind's made up.  If you know me, then you know that's that.

So there.

That being said, watching our child get vaccinated was one of the most painful experiences.  No.  THE most painful experience I have endured thus far as a parent aside from childbirth.  I was not prepared for the decibels of screams that would come from our sweet, easy-going baby.  Abbey, Scott and I were all an emotional mess.  All I could think was, "MAH - POOR - BAAY-BEE!!"  It was like someone took that needle and stuck it right in my heart because I felt Horrible.  Capital H HORRIBLE.

But then, after the tears and some infant Tylenol and lots of naps for Abbey there came so much relief.

The decision to vaccinate Abbey was never a question for us.  Yes.  Absolutely.  I believe in the science behind it.  Yes, there are some risks.  I believe the benefits FAR outweigh the risks.  Other parents don't.  That's your decision.  I don't agree.  Good thing we don't have to swap children, huh? 

I know that there are several more painful shots to come our daughter's way.  That breaks my heart because I hate needles, too.  And I hate to hear my sweet baby cry or think of her in any pain.  And it's because of that we vaccinate her.  Because to think of her contracting something like the Measles or Whooping Cough or Polio.  Well, I think I would probably kill myself if I allowed that to happen on my watch.  Her screaming in the doctor's office lasted just a couple of minutes and it was nothing that some snuggles, swaddling, kisses and nursing couldn't cure.  And cure it, we did.  She's her normal happy go lucky self.  And I am a relieved Mommy who is a little less nervous about taking her newborn out into that big scary germ ridden world.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Blue Corn Maiden

This past weekend, my parents made the trek from Nebraska to Denver to finally meet Abigail.  Their tenth grandchild, my folks are a pro at the grandparent gig, but our time together was still very special and something I had been looking forward to.  In particular, I was looking forward to my father bringing Abbey her Zuni fetish.

No, not that kind of fetish, you dirty bird.

My father, an archaeologist, loves all things Native American.  He has given each of his grandchildren a Zuni fetish upon their birth following a "vision".  Traditionally, Zuni fetishes are small carvings made from various materials by the Zuni Indians. These carvings serve a ceremonial purpose and depict animals and icons integral to their culture.  For the holder of the fetish, the carvings are thought to bring luck or strength, much like a totem or talisman.

Grandpa has designated Abbey to be Blue Corn Maiden.  Corn, a main food staple, is a pretty big deal to the Zuni and held in much reverence.  It signifies life its self.  The Hopi of the Pueblo People also have a wonderful legend about the Blue Corn Maiden that I enjoyed reading.  Essentially, the Blue Corn Maiden was the most beautiful of the three corn maiden sisters.  She is a sign of springtime.  It's all quite appropriate.  Abbey really is like a perfect spring day - full of life and potential.  My little blue corn maiden. 

Thank you, Grandpa.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Two Months

It's crazy that Abigail will be two months old tomorrow.

She's changed so much in this short amount of time:

She's up at least four pounds over her birth weight and has grown at least three inches. Her two month well check is in a couple of days so I'll have the official stats then. 

She sleeps through the night.  Six hours minimum, but usually a solid seven and sometimes eight. 

She smiles.  On purpose.  With purpose.

She bats things around and started to grab things.  Like her Mom's hair.

She drools.  Lots.  And likes to put things in her mouth.

She's getting pretty darn good at that whole holding your head up thing.

She coo's and reacts to us recognizing our voices and faces and she is on the verge of laughing.  Any second, I just know it.

It's all just pretty incredible.  I'm so thankful to be able to have this time with her and not worry about work just yet.  I don't want to miss a minute of any of this.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Domestic Catastrophes

Why do domestic catastrophes always happen in mass quantities at the same time?

It went something like this...

I'm on hold with Abbey's doctor's office for 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, Abbey wakes from her nap with a scream.  I put the phone on speaker so we can all enjoy the elevator version of Phil Collins' hit "In the Air Tonight." I rush to pick Abbey up and discover a nasty diaper blow out and shit going all the way up her back.  As I set the screaming child down on the changing table to tackle the situation at hand, Dante, our little dog, begins dry heaving at the door ready to explode with vomit any second.  So, I leave the crying baby on the changing table to let the puking dog outside just in the nick of time.  On my way back, I trip over the sleeping greyhound, Karma who leaps to get up, stands in my way and then begins whining realizing that she hasn't been fed yet.  As the baby continues to howl and I go through baby wipe after baby wipe, the doctors office finally picks up and wants to give me a different phone number to call to schedule her appointment.  I grab a pen and scribble the digits on a magazine cover only to discover I have baby poop all over my hand and now the pen.  Great.

All in probably the span of a minute and a half.

I'm happy to report that all catastrophes have since been dealt with swiftly.  Baby is sleeping in a clean diaper and fresh clothes in her swing.  Dogs have been fed and it seems to be staying down.  Hubs has dinner cooking. Mommy needs a Gin and Tonic, please and thank you.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Abbey's Crib

A bit of a milestone was passed last night.  Probably more for me than for Abbey.

Abbey not only slept through the night - we're talking 7.5 hours - which is a somewhat regular occurrence in our house now.  But she did it in her crib.  In her own room.  Alone.

Since she came home, Abbey has been slumbering in a bassinet in our bedroom right next to us.  On my side, right next to me.  Within an arms reach.  And the bassinet - loaned to us by a friend (thanks, Brandi!) - has been a lifesaver.  Especially during those first couple of weeks when we were waking up (well, I was waking up) every 1 1/2 - 2 hours to nurse.  But Abbey is a long baby - already 23 inches at just eight weeks, and the bassinet is getting a little snug.  The time had come to switch up our sleeping arrangements.

Scott, I think, was eager to get our bedroom back.  I, on the other hand, have been nervous about this proposition for weeks.

I wasn't really prepared to have such mixed emotions about the whole thing.  Originally - before we knew better - we didn't even plan to have a bassinet or sleeper in our room.  I'm sure that Abbey probably would have been just fine coming home and sleeping in her crib from the get go.  The bassinet has just been a great convenience.  But it also gave me such peace of mind.  To have her so close to me.

So, last night I rocked her and sang to her a bit longer than normal even though she was well fast asleep.  Then, I tucked her into her crib, turned out the light, and walked as quickly as possible to our bedroom, grabbing the video monitor so I could immediately begin spying on her.  There she was - in a little 3 X 3 frame.  Sleeping peacefully.  In the next room.  I must have watched her for 20 minutes before finally relaxing enough to turn off the light and fall asleep myself.

At 4:30 this morning I was actually anxious - happy even - to spring from bed and nurse her.  To see her and check on her.  To hold her.  I missed her in my sleep.  I walked across the hall from our room to hers and gazed at her laying so peacefully in her crib.  Still so small - but growing every day.  Each day, becoming more aware - more independent - stronger. 

If I'm this bad now - I shudder to think how difficult the day will be when she goes off to college or gets married.  From the day she was born, my little girl was growing up.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Adventures With Cloth Diapers: part 2

Okay, I know that I was supposed to write about the BumGenius brand of cloth diapers a while ago.  Here's the update.

I have a hand full of the 3.0 all-in-ones.  I put one pair of them on Abbey and laughed out loud, promptly taking them off and vowing that we would try again when she was a little bit bigger.  They are just too big on her, and even though the makers claim that the sizes are adjustable to grow with your baby, they looked absolutely ridiculous on her little body and I'm way too vain for that.  That being said, they do make a sized diaper, which we haven't tried.

BUT I have now purchased the cloth inserts for the g diapers and I really love them.  Hands down, my favorite part of this diapering system is that you don't have to launder the outer diaper "little g pants" with every change.  It cuts way down on laundry and bulk in a diaper bag and on the changing table.  Granted the little g pants are sized, so we are going to need to purchase more when Abbey reaches 13 pounds.  Just around the corner.  But both the disposable and cloth liners are great - the cloth liners particularly comfy and absorbent - they look adorable on her, and they fit.


All this being said, we'll still continue with disposables when we're out and about for a long period of time and probably overnight.  That first morning diaper is a doozey.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Witching Hour

Abbey has a witching hour.  Sometimes three hours.  It ranges from general fussiness to complete meltdown.  It's been going on for a few weeks now, and overall, it's not too horrible, and isn't every night.  Thank goodness.  I've been struggling to find something that would calm her down, but I believe I may have finally figured it out.

Abbey likes a good sing along.  Just like her Mom.  So, I've started to sing to her when she gets cranky, and it's amazing how it calms her right down.  We swaddle, rock, sing, and low and behold: happy baby. 


We're working our way through my favorite Beatles songs.  We started with the Abbey Road album.  Seems appropriate.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Product Review: Swaddling Blankets

Before giving birth, during the last trimester, I read Harvey Karp's acclaimed book, The Happiest Baby on the BlockI wanted (want) a happy baby.  The baby on the cover of the book sure looked happy.  I know you aren't supposed to judge a book by its cover or title, but this seemed pretty necessary.  Plus, it came recommended by several moms that I respect.

Karp's book is an easy read and a bit repetitive - perhaps to really drive his points home with sleep deprived parents who lack memory retention.  But the gyst is that babies are born before their brains are really developed enough to function among the rest of us.  They could really use another three months tucked away in the womb.  But that's not really physically possible.  Thus the "fourth trimester" as he calls it, consists of making the outside world as womb-like as possible for the baby.  Sort of like a transition space/time.  To do this, parents must practice "the five S's."  Swaddling, Side, Shhh, Swinging, Sucking.  Sucking for the infant.  Not the parents.  You dirty bird.

In our house, we're putting all five into practice, but swaddling was one that I wasn't totally comfortable with from the start.  Honestly, you feel like you're putting your child in a straight jacket.  Surely that can't be comfortable.

But it is!

I, however, turned to the aid of several different types of swaddling blankets.  These use velcro, or pockets or flaps to help keep your baby tucked in and secure.  Because the tighter the swaddle, the better.  There are four types of swaddlers that I can speak to.  Here we go.

Aden & Anais:
This Aussie company makes breathable, muslin blankets with adorable designs.  While these blankets don't have fancy velcro or pockets or gizmos, they are very large and much easier to cocoon your little one in than the standard hospital grade receiving blanket - 47" X 47" to be exact.  So, not only do they work well to swaddle, they'll also grow with the child.  I mostly use these during the day for naps, and I always keep one in the diaper bag.  Though they are super thin, they are surprisingly warm, but not quite warm enough for Colorado's winter nights.  Here's my beef with them, and granted, this could be a technique issue with me as well, but my little Houdini of a baby busts out of them with very little trouble.  I watch her in her crib on the monitor and see one arm break loose, followed by the other, followed by her "come get me" scream.  Every time.  Without fail.  And it seems to happen no matter how tightly I swaddle her.   She's a crafty one who prefers her arms out, but they always end up startling her out of her sleep with that Moro reflex.  For a cozy, multi-purpose blanket, I love these - I own ten of them - but for swaddling specifically, not so much.

Summer Infant SwaddleMe:
This was the first swaddling blanket that I bought.  I have it in a nice organic pink with a brown trim.  Originally, I bought it for a friend off her baby registry but was too lazy to mail it, ended up keeping it, and lucky me, I had a girl, so I felt like it was okay for me to use it.  They come in different styles and fabrics - mine is a thin jersey style cotton.  There are two velcro flaps to secure the arms in place and a pocket for the little one's legs.  Like a hybrid sleeping bag, almost.   Abbey seems to enjoy this blanket, and it's pretty easy to get her in and out of - even during those middle of the night feedings and changes.  The velcro is an evil necessity.  On one hand, it keeps her snug as a bug.  On the other, it wakes her and my husband and our puppy, Dante, when I undo it in the middle of the night.  But overall, I'm pretty keen on this particular blanket.

Miracle Blanket:
I first heard of this blanket on the Alpha Mom blog, of which I am an avid reader.  Amalah, the blog's writer, is a huge fan of this blanket.  I'm a huge fan of Amalah.  So, it ended up on my baby registry.  Two good friends are also big fans of this blanket and got it for me.  When I first opened it, I was wicked intimidated.  There are flaps and pockets and the natural organic fabric in a lovely shade of wheat really does have this particular contraption looking like a straight jacket.  But oh my golly does it work.  The first time we put Abbey in it, she fussed for two seconds and then it was lights out and she didn't wake up again until seven hours later.  SEVEN HOURS.  Bless this blanket.  Bless it, I tell you.  That being said, it's sort of difficult to maneuver, and I find it to be a bit unwieldy during the wee hours.  But for a super fussy or colicky baby - this blanket is surely a miracle.

Halo Sleep Sack:
My favorite nurse tending to Abbey in the NICU at the hospital raved about this blanket.  They use it there, and Abbey sure seemed to like it.  Lucky for us, Santa brought us one for Christmas.  ;-)  What I like about this blanket is that it's thicker - we have a nice fleecy one, which means fewer layers during the winter, which is of course, safer.  My complaint is the same as the Swaddleme - that velcro is wicked loud.  But I do love that it comes in two pieces, the "sack" which is similar to a bunting without any sleeves, and then the swaddle wrap that attaches using velcro in multiple locations.  I also think that this particular model will work the best when we transition Abbey to her crib since you really don't need any additional layers.  In fact, in the hospital, they had her in one wearing just a diaper.  I dress her in light pajamas at home since we keep the bedroom on the cooler side.

So, my personal fave of all of these - specific for the purpose of swaddling, is the Summer Infant Swaddleme.  We've had the most success with this one consecutively.  Although, truly, I don't hate any of these - they all work pretty well, and I like that I have a variety on hand.  I don't know that I would willing part with any of the above options now that I've sampled them all, just keep your intended purpose and personal taste in mind.