Friday, February 26, 2010

Looking Back, Looking Forward

T. and I used to live in the city. We now live an hour or so away in a smallish town, and we go into the city only a few times a year. When we last lived in the city, I was just out of grad school. I was looking for a job, and T. was underemployed, having left his business in another state to come and move in with me shortly after I graduated. We thought that my best chances for employment were in this city, so that's where we stayed for a time. We were broke, and I was frustrated by my job search and overall feeling out of sorts about my life. My days were long and melancholy. I felt like I was destined to feel dissatisifed my whole life.

While T. and I were in the city with Miss M. this weekend, we went into a J. Crew store, and I had the oddest sense of being in two places at once. I stood in one point in the store, and was immediately transported back to the last time T. and I were in the store, more than a decade ago, during those grey days when we last lived in the city. It seems impossible that more than ten years have passed since that time, since I was so unhappy with my life. Standing there in that store, I could taste what those years were like, feel my frustration and sadness. I stood there next to a rack of overpriced tshirts, and I saw the store with two pairs of eyes: my old self, longing for a happy life, and now as a new mother, deeply satisfied at last. It suddenly hit me just how much my life has changed, just how far I've come in so many ways over this last decade, and also what a deep need motherhood has filled for me. It's almost as if I never realized the full extent of it, of quite how much was missing until Miss M. arrived.

Of course, I know how much my life has changed over the last ten years. But it became so tangible to me in that J. Crew store. It's been a long time since I really felt tha malaise of those years. But feeling it again during those fleeting moments made me excited for the future. Seeing how far I've come in ten years, it makes me excited to think of where we will find ourselves in another ten.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

6 Weeks

It's hard to believe Miss M. is six weeks old. It seems like just yesterday we were walking out of the hospital. It seems like just yesterday I was freaking out that I was going to be home alone with a week old baby when T. returned to work. It's amazing how scary it is at first, and how quickly it settles into a comfortable rhythm.

At six weeks, Miss M. is increasingly aware of her surroundings. She is awake more and more during the day. She has active periods where she kicks vigorously and moves her arms, and babbles away. During these active times, I try to put her in her bouncy seat, which plays music, lights up, and has a little mini aquarium thing that blows bubbles and has fish and starfish that move. She is enchanted by it during these times. If I don't put her in the bouncy seat, I put her under the, and rattle around the various little toys that hang from it. She has hit one of the musical toys with her hand, and seems startled that she can make it make noise.

Her eyes are also finally starting to turn colors. They were originally a very dark, muddy brownish color. It was hard to see the irises, because the rest of her eyes were so dark. Her eyes are slowly lightening to blue.

Miss M is also settling into a sleep routine at night. Most nights, she will sleep 4-5 hours initially, and then wakes about every two after that, needing to eat. She eats for only about 10 minutes during her nighttime feedings, which I think is why she only sleeps for about 2 hours. But, getting her to eat more means waking her up (she doesn't really waken to eat at night, but rather fusses with her eyes closed). Waking her up means that she's awake for a very long time, so I try not to do that. I'd rather get up more frequently for short feedings.

Her head control is getting better as her neck muscles gain strength. She often pulls away as I hold her up to my shoulder, so she can look around her. She also pulls away to stare at things while I'm trying to feed her. She isn't as good about picking her head up while she's on her belly, and doesn't really like to be on her belly. We have to work on tummy time some more, particularly given that she doesn't like it.

One of the best developments is her smile. She is starting to smile more and more. Particularly in the morning, she will have these lovely little periods where she smiles repeatedly, and occasionally giggles. It is something that I just adore. I love to hear her giggle, although she doesn't do it very often yet. She started smiling in her sleep before she started actively smiling at me, and now she has started to giggle in her sleep, which hopefully means she'll start giggling more. It's just priceless to see those big grins and hear her laughing.

In honor of her six weeks out, we had our first big adventure with her this weekend. We went into the city for the day with her. We went to a museum to catch and exhibit that T. and I had wanted to see, shopped a bit in a big mall that has much better stores than our local mall, and then had dinner out. It was our first meal out with her, and it was a success. We picked a large, loud place that we love, and it was perfect. The place was so loud that when she started crying during dinner, you wouldn't have been able to hear her at the next table. She didn't seem to mind the noise. In fact, she was fantastic all day. She loves being in the car and loves being in the stroller (as long as you keep driving/pushing and don't stop). She slept almost the entire day. One quirk is that she'll start crying when you stop driving/pushing. Not such a big deal with the stroller, because you can just move it back and forth if you stop walking. But in the car, there's no solution. It's kind of humorous to listen to her start and stop crying if you hit a series of traffic lights.

We're still having some crying spells, particularly at the end of the day, but we have been able to settle her down lately. She is just magnificent, and I feel blessed every day to have her in my life. It's amazing to think of how much our world has changed in just a year.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Great Pacifier Experiment

Well, I broke down and gave Miss M a dose of what we thought would be sweet plastic and silicone relief. It was a huge bust. As soon as I popped the pacifier in, she played with it with her tongue for a few seconds, and then spit it out with enough force that it actually launched through the air. I tried it repeatedly, to no avail. She actually seemed to enjoy the game of having me put it in her mouth, playing with it for a bit, and then spitting it out. She never sucked it, however.

I am slowly coming around to the idea, I guess--thank you to those who commented about paci use. These were the Ave.nt Orthodon.tic pacifiers, so I will probably try another brand or two just to see if it's the shape she doesn't care for before I give up entirely. I'm also going to have T. offer it to her to see if that makes a difference (and to prove to him that yes, I really did try it, and no, she really isn't into it).

I really hadn't seriously considered the possibility that she wouldn't take the pacifier, and now I'm left wondering how well the introduction of the bottle is going to go. I bought the breast pump a week or so ago, but haven't broken it out yet. I guess I'd better get going on that, because she isn't going to have a choice about eating from a bottle once I go back to work. Which is less than six weeks away. . .I'm now more than halfway through my maternity leave. It's going so fast!

Monday, February 22, 2010


The hot topic around oir house these days is whether to offer Miss M a pacifier. T. thinks we should've introduced it weeks ago. I wargued for waiting until breastfeeding was well established, secretly hoping that she would simply start sucking her thumb, and we'd never get there. Unfortunately, she hasn't miraculously started sucking her thumb. There is, however, an increasing desire by Miss M to sooth herself by sucking...on me. Frankly, my nipples are tired, and it would be nice to put her down once in a while. It's become clear that she likes having something to just suck on.

T. has advocated for the pacifier from the very beginning. He thinks he needs a tool in his baby-whispering arsenal for when she's crying, but well-fed and clean-diapered and burped and warm. He argues that I have the power of The Boobs, but he has nothing (I'm not pumping yet, which is a whoele other post). He has urged me to "just" sanitize them so they are ready "just in case."

My mom thinks a pacifier is preferable to the thumb. She tossed my pacifier at the end of the first year. My brother, a thumb-sucker, was harder to break of the habit, she lamented. He was five before she could convince him not to thumb-suck (although I don't know why she was so anxious to break him of this habit. Is it bad for teeth?). I will say that I have perfectly straight teeth, and my brother's are not. Could it be the paci vs. the thumb?

I don't know why I'm so opposed to it. I think it's the idea of havng to add something that we always have to ensure is around (thumbs are emminently portable, and never roll away under the seat while you're in traffic). It's one more thing to sterilize. Perhaps most importantly, it can get in the way of a baby expressing hunger cues. I rely on those for feedings. How will I know when to feed her? It's funny-I have them on hand because I always thought I'd use them. But now that she's here, I feel differently about them.

I did break down tonight and sterilize two A.vent orthodontics. "Just in case.". I'm not sure what I'll decide to do.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Into the Mouths of Babes

I will be the first to admit that in general, I'm pretty neurotic. But I have to say, I think I've been fairly relaxed as a new mom. With regard to people who want to see the baby, we have said that we don't want visitors to our house who are sick. We ask every person who is going to hold the baby to wash their hands before they do so. We've kept the baby away from crowds, and also away from little kids. That's pretty much it. We had a winter baby, and these just seemed like prudent steps.

Although I think these requests are pretty reasonable, we're getting resistance from T's family. Every time I ask someone to wash their hands, they give me a hard time, along the lines of "I never did this with my kids and they're fine." I've been holding my tongue, but I'm starting to lose it. It peaked last weekend, when I caught my MIL with her finger in the baby's mouth. I was horrified. I don't stick my fingers in the baby's mouth--why would my MIL? Needless to say, I wasn't tactful in how I handled it, and it was in front of T's sisters. I pretty much ordered my MIL to remove her hands from Miss M's mouth. Who knows what was lurking under her fingernails? She is still visiting the hospital almost every day for physical therapy, and she could have picked up anything there. It would be one thing if I wanted to put my own fingers in my own baby's mouth (but yuck, I wouldn't, because I'm neurotic like that). But who puts their fingers in someone else's baby's mouth? I just thought it was so weird.

I keep having the same conversation with her over and over again, about how the childhood illnesses are not the same today as they were when her kids were born, that antibiotic resistance is a much bigger problem, and that the world is just a different place so that different rules are appropriate. Yet, though she knows about H1N1 and myriad other diseases like RSV that seem so much more prevalent today, she seems to have a hard time grasping this concept. Moreover, she seems completely disinterested in listening to me. All I ever hear about is how she did things with her own kids.

Yesterday, she was kissing the baby's hands, and I had to have the conversation with her again. The baby puts her own hands in her mouth--I don't want anyone else's saliva anywhere near her hands. Is this really so hard to understand?

I'm not sure how to express to her my point of view without having her be dismissive. I understand that she has raised her own children, and she may have made different choices. However, I feel like I should be free to make my own choices for my daughter, regardless of whether she feels like my choices are ridiculous. Particuarly given that my husband, her son, actually agrees with me. It's maddening.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Blessings and the Not So Good

We are so very lucky. There are so many things big and little which are going well for us. And then, there is the rest of it. . .

I am happy to report that we seem to have fallen into a bit of a sleep routine. Miss M. now sleeps solidly for anywhere from three to five and a half hours at the beginning of the night. After that, she's up every 1.5 to 2.5 hours, but I'll take it. At least I'm getting one good chunk of sleep a night. Two nights ago, she only woke once to eat, and even went back to sleep for a morning nap, so I got a total of nine whole hours of sleep!

Unfortunately, over the last 24 hours, we've developed a new and vexing problem. She woke from a sound sleep last night around 6pm, and proceeded to scream for the next two hours. Several dirty diapers later, she calmed down and went to sleep. She slept fitfully all night, fussing in her sleep, and then this morning, it was rinse, lather repeat: she woke out of a sound sleep and proceeded to scream for an hour. I gather that I ate something that doesn't agree with her (chocolate and cucumbers seem to be the only "unusual" things in my diet the last few days), and she is suffering from gas. Poor, poor baby. I feel terrible for her.

She's been increasingly alert, which is wonderful. I've been able to coax some smiles out of her, especially in the morning. She seems to enjoy laying on her, although she appears to like staring out the window, at the television, or at the contrasting patterns of the boards on the ceiling, as much as or more than staring at the things hanging from the She's currently enjoying the butterfly mobile in her swing, although my poor dog is not. The noise emitted by the mobile's motor always makes her whine.

Miss M's head control is really coming along quite well. She is very interested in the world around her, and has been lifting her head to try to see almost from birth. At first, it was to stare at the red flowers on our sheets. We bought a new bedding set right before she was born. There are red flowers of varying sizes on the bedding, set on a cream background. She thinks they are the best thing ever. It's hilarious to watch her try to crane her neck around me while I'm attempting to feed her in bed, so she can see the sheets.

By the way, I am madly in love with Pam.pers diapers. They have a yellow line around them that turns blue when the baby pees. It's so easy. Yes, I am kind of pathetic.

Miss M. also seems to be gaining weight. She feels a bit heavier. I can definitely tell that she's grown in length, because her feet didn't used to extend all the way down her outfits, but now she fills them out fully. Soon, we will be out of the newborn outfits and into the 0-3 months sizes. I'm kind of looking forward to that, because we have some really adorable clothes in those sizes. We currently have an insanely large stash of baby clothes; no one ever stops by without brining something they just couldn't leave in the store. I don't think we're going to need to buy anything until the baby is at least a year old.

Yesterday, my aunts came and helped out. They've been coming periodically and watching her while I nap. But since I got a good night's sleep the night before, one watched her with my cousin, while the other helped me finish setting up the nursery. We still need an area rug to warm up the hardwood, and I need to move the glider up there (it's been in the living room). I also need to decide what I want to hang on the walls, and I need to pick up a dresser. The crib is together, and looks fabulous with the bedding. The built-in bookshelves are starting to fill up with books and toys. I found these great bins to put on the shelves, too, which match the room decor perfectly. I am loving it.

Being a mom is really nice, I have to say. The hard parts aren't as hard as I'd imagined, and the good parts are so much better than I'd hoped. I just adore Miss M. I promise to update with a photo of her soon, too! I have been lazy about that, and she really is quite cute, if I do say so myself.

And now, the really not so good. . .I have been anxiously waiting to hear about the job that I have been trying to get. If you're relatively new here, I first applied for this job in January of last year, and have been working my way through the hiring process ever since then. I had been considering the job for a very long time before I applied, maybe six or seven years, but wasn't ready to commit to it until this past year, as it involves a major life change. I really, really want this job, despite the fact that it would involve a major move with a new baby. I have made it all the way to the final round in the hiring proces. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like it's going to pan out. Based on my most recent communication from the prospective employer, I don't think they are going to hire me.

I am so, incredibly sad about this. I was really hoping that it was all going to fall into place. The last few years have been so hard for me professionally (and the personal stuff hasn't exactly been a cakewalk, either, but I digress). I had really thought it was finally all going to come together for me, as the process had been going so well: after I applied (knowing the turnaround time was about a year from application to start date), my pregnancy worked out while my candidacy was pending. If they were going to make me an offer, the start date would be just after my maternity leave ends, so that I wouldn't have to go back to my current job. I had made my peace with leaving my current job, which I love despite the fact it sucks the life out of me. I was ready to move on. I would have used the tail end of my maternity leave to pack up the house for the move. I don't know why, I just felt like the timing was so perfect. . .that it was meant to be.

But based on my recent contact, it doesn't appear that it is going to happen. I had such dreams for what the future would hold with this new job--a new location, a new life. I was really ready for that. I feel like we've turned a page in so many ways with Miss M's arrival, and I was really looking forward to shaking up the rest of our lives. I was looking forward to raising her from inside a fresh perspective, a fresh life.

Perhaps even worse than just the fact that it seems unlikely I'll get the job is the fact that I haven't been able to figure out a Plan B. There isn't anything else that I want to do, and due to the unique nature of the job, there isn't another employer that I can apply to as an alternative.

I suppose there is a silver lining. We've had our lives on hold for months, not wanting to commit to buying new furniture and curtains and a million other things, in case we needed to move. I can now put off cleaning out the basement indefinitely, since a move isn't imminent. I can order seed and plant catalogs, and plan a ridiculously elaborate garden project for the spring and summer, because we'll be here to see it through. I suppose the future is now a completely blank slate, and I can write on it anything that I want. Now I just need to figure out what that is.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

random thought

Does anyone else worry that in sleep deprived new parent state they'll do something stupid? For me, it's the dog. I am constantlu checking to make sure she is laying next to me. I am afraid I'm going to let her out and forget to let her back inside (and given that it's about 20• outside, this would be quite terrible).