Sunday, January 23, 2011

Miss M at 1 Year & The Grand Birthday Celebration

It is almost impossible for me to believe that it has been an entire year. It seems like it was just yesterday that we were in the delivery room. . .maybe we brought you home this morning. But no, you are a whole year old. A whole year!

We celebrated your birthday in high style, by taking you to Paris for a long weekend. You've long been walking inside the house, but because the weather has been a bit off where we are living, you had not really spent time walking outside. Daddy wore you around Paris in your Bj.orn for most of our trip, which you love. You are perfectly content seeing the world from almost-eye-level, and you love to engage people from your perch. You wave and smile at almost everyone you meet. You were a big hit with Asian tourists in Paris, who wanted to photograph you at every turn. Daddy set you down in the Jardin des Tuilieries so that you could walk a bit, your first time really stretching your legs outside. We were right near a fountain filled with birds, and you made a run for it. Unfortunately, you aren't quite as stable on your feet when you run, and after a short bit, you fell. That's when you discovered that unlike carpet, gravel hurts when you fall on it. You pitched a fit unlike anything we had heard before. But of course, you are so good-natured that you got over it shortly after we picked the gravel out of your palms.

We walked 8 miles each of the first three days in Paris, and 5 miles the fourth day, and you were a joy for every bit of it. You and Daddy snacked outside of Notre Dame while Auntie R and I toured it, you smiled alongside the Seine as the sun peeked through the clouds, you soaked up the magic of the Eiffel Tower by day and by night, you snoozed your way through the grand Orsay museum, you chowed down on fancy French cheese that cost us 7$ for a slice, while we ate a leisurely Parisian meal and sipped red wine. . .you were just so easy to travel with. You charmed the most cynical Parisians on the trains. And, you fell in love with Minnie at Disneyland Paris. We had a magnificent trip. As we walked through the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse, magically lit after dark, we were the only ones there. It was the day of your birthday, and I was carrying you then. You fell asleep on my chest. As I paused near the top of the tree, surrounded by lights and looking out through the dark at the lit fairytale castle, it was a magical, perfect moment for me. One year earlier, I was working to bring you into the world. And there I was, a year later, having a moment with you that I could not have dared dreamed would exist. I love you. You mean the world to me. You have brought me more happiness than I ever imagined possible. I hope you had a happy first birthday. I had the best first birthday with you that could possibly be.

Our first ride on your birthday, your first Disney ride ever, was on the fancy merry-go-round. You were in the carrier with your father, and he and Auntie R and I were on these giant old-fashioned horses that bobbed up and down. I have wonderful pictures of you. We have some perfect photos of you and I and Auntie R on the Dumbo ride, too--Daddy took them, and did a marvelous job. You loved the ride. You loved rides in the dark significantly less so--you screamed when we took you on the Haunted House ride, which we realized two minutes too late was our worst parenting decision to date. You also hated the Pinnochio ride (also dark). Lesson learned.

One of your most notable features at 12 months is how flexible you are. You are happy to meet new people, you can sleep anywhere at all, and you're happy to eat now, or to maybe wait until later. As long as your favorite people (mommy and daddy) are by your side, you are good to go. People are always commenting on what a happy, smiling, outgoing baby you are, and it's so very true. You just love to engage people.

For Christmas, you got a sleigh-load of presents, and our living room now resembles a plastic jungle. You delight in playing with all of it. Dressy Bessy is a current favorite, but you play with everything you have. You are walking and running around. You say a few words, your most favorite being no. You point at things that you want. You clap. You wave at everyone. You dance when you hear music, and you wave at cartoons on the television who are waving at you. You have started to figure out that if you pile things, you can climb. You try to go places that we don't want you to go, simply because we don't want you to go there. You are persistent, and remember that things are certain places, even when we try to distract you. You still have only two teeth on the bottom, although three more appear to be coming through on the top.

You are a picky eater, though. We discovered a few weeks back that you LOVE cheese, and it remains the only food that you will eat yourself at any length. You shovel it in. You're pretty good about eating yogurt and cottage cheese, too. You like apples and pears, still, and we get plenty of fruit mixes into you (including those that are mixed with things like pumpkin and sweet potatoes, so you get a bit of variety). You aren't a big fan of chicken or beef. We made it a whole year nursing (yay for mommy on that one!), and we are in the process of weaning. You like whole milk just fine--no problems there. However, you are not so keen to give up nursing at night, even when there is little or no milk there. The problem is that you don't want to fall asleep without the milk. Tonight we are going to try to have a bottle of warmish water on hand, to see if that helps you when you wake up in the middle of the night.

You are still sleeping in our bed, although you've had a few naps in your crib this week. The one night I put you to bed in your crib, you woke up and freaked out because you were by yourself. I didn't have the heart to make you sleep alone. You were sobbing. We'll get there, but I'm not going to make it awful for either one of us. I have faith that you won't be a teenager and still sleeping with me. You roll around a lot at night, and frequently end up sideways, so I am looking forward to the day when you sleep in your own space, I must confess. Although, at least I generally get your head near me. It's your daddy who spends a lot of time getting kicked in the face!

You have taken to growling at us, and other people, to try to get a laugh. You'll dance to make us laugh. You love an audience. You are a big ham sandwich. I love that about you. I love to watch you laugh and giggle.

Your friend R lives far from us right now, but she and her mom came to visit this week. It was the first time you've played with another child your age. R is two months or so younger than you, but she weighs more than you, and she is just starting to crawl. It was a delight to watch the two of you together. You would go over and give her hugs, which was so cute. (You've started giving us kisses, too, spontaneously, which we can't get enough of). Twice as you sucked on your binky, you saw her eyeing it, and you offered it up to her, right out of your own mouth. Yuck! We stopped you from doing that! You shared toys beautifully. The two of you really seemed to get along well. As we fed you in two separate high chairs, you yelled across the kitchen at each other. It was priceless.

We had your 12 month doctor's visit, too. You are in the 50% percentile for height at about 28 inches, but weighed in at about 16 pounds, which means you fell off the chart for weight. The doctor wants to see you in six weeks to check you again, but isn't overly concerned at this point. He said babies grow in fits and starts, and I am thin, so he thinks it's probably no big deal. You really aren't a great eater, and we told him how you eat until you decide you are done, and then yell at us if we try to feed you more. When you are done, you are DONE. Hopefully, now that we know of your love of cheese, by supplementing your meals with it, we'll put a little weight on you this month! You are at the top of the charts developmentally; the doctor told us to start saving for Harvard. You also had your MMR shot this month. For all of the fretting I did over it, you weathered it beautifully, with no apparent side effects at all. You've actually had other shots in the past that caused you more trouble than this one did, thank goodness. I haven't heard you speak as much this week, but hopefully that's got nothing to do with the shot.

You have received many beautiful birthday gifts, including a special personalized fairy book from your grandpa and C. It has your full name in it, and I"m sure it will be one of your favorites soon. Mommy and daddy bought you books, as well, and daddy got you a pair of shoes that look just like his--too funny!

We love you enormously, and can't wait to watch you grow over the next twelve months and beyond.



Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Post I'm Not Writing

I have a pile of posts to write: Miss M at 12 months, Miss M's fantastic birthday adventure, all about weaning, my roundup post on breastfeeding for a full year. . .but that's not where I'm going tonight. Oh no. I have a friend in town, and we've been out on the town--my first night out and about in eons. More than eons. What is more than an eon? I have no idea, but I haven't been out in that long, and now I have been and. . .I probably shouldn't be posting, because there were drinks involved.

It's so good to get our with an old friend who's known you for forever. Tonight, we were talking about how much our lives have changed over the last two years. She was there with me through the toughest professional bits two years ago, through my pregnancy and struggles before that, and the great happiness since then. She totally gets both how precious Miss M. is to me, and why I also needed to go to a crazy expensive dinner and out for drinks without Miss M. She totally gets how you need to be a great mom while also carving out selfish time.

So what did we do? She is visiting from the US, so we went out for a crazy expensive dinner. It was amazing space--dark and cozy and well lit and fabulous all at the same time. It was insanely expensive. It was good. I had tender duck that you could cut with a fork, and a fab chocolate souffle. It was so good to get out. It was especially good to get out with someone I've known for a long time, who's seen me through thick and thin. You know? Someone who gets the nuance of history. Someone who has been through the fire with me.

It was amazing to talk to her, too. It's hard to REALLY catch up when you are thousands of miles away. Phone calls and emails and text and FB and tweets fail to capture the true essence of life in the way that a real live visit does. She got divorced and fell into a serious but unhealthy relationship over the last few years, and it was delight to see that she's finally passed all that. At least, I think. And it was great to see that she's got her self-confidence back, after everything she's been through, great to see her proud and strong and gorgeous and full of hope for the future.

That is what I want for all of my friends.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Happy Birthday Miss M!!

We are having an amazing 1st birthday adventure this weekend. Will post more later, when I'm not trying to corral a wild child in a non-childproofable hotel room!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


If I had a superpower, it would be to stop time--freeze the world around me so that I could run around and get everything done. When I am really busy, I sometimes imagine how great this would be, people frozen in midstream as I bobbed and weaved between then.

Or maybe it would be to levitate like a hovercraft, so I could fly over traffic and people, and get places faster--you
know, so I could get more done.

What would your superpower be? And would you have an alter ego like Bruce Wayne, or would you be all Batman all of the time?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

What the New Year Brings

Warning: this is going to be a long and rambling mind-dump, because that's what I need tonight.

We have been doing a fair bit of traveling lately, and more often than not, T. carries Miss M. in the Baby Bjo.rn. We have an E.rgo Sport, too, but she can't face out in that, and we both prefer for her to be front rather than back. We use the carrier rather than the stroller, love our BOB though we do, because European cities obviously don't have the ADA, and NOTHING is handicap accessible/stroller friendly. You can only lug your stroller up and down so many flights of stairs before determining that it's just not worth it. It's lovely for long jaunts on foot, and we use it often for that. But for anything involving a subway/train/taxi/etc., it's all about the baby carrier.

Which is a long way of saying that Miss M has been spending a fair amount of time suspended in front of T while we wander around. Given that she is prone to smiling and waving at everyone around her, as well, she is quite the little conversation starter. People often ask if she is our only child, and without fail, T tells anyone who will listen--shopkeepers, grocers, etc.--that we are "negotiating number two" right now.

(By the way, we introduced cheese a few days ago, and she loves it like nothing else--it is the only thing she will feed herself, and she will shovel it in until you refuse to give her any more. We have been feeding her other food (her usual amounts) until she refuses any more, and then we give her cheese. We thought we'd finally stumbled upon an easy way to add calories. . .but she just pooped for the fourth time today. T just walked in here with her to change her, and you might be able to smell the patina on that one from here. . .thankfully he is taking care of the diaper. We might need to back off the cheese. I may be worried about her weight and how much she is willing to eat, but cheese apparently is not a panacea.)

Anyway, back to a second child. T is ready to go. He feels like he's not getting any younger, he's having a blast with Miss M, and he's ready for another. It was a bit shocking to me, I have to say, because he's home with her full time, and I sort of thought that he might be feeling a bit ragged. But that's not the case.

I, on the other hand, am not feeling ready. It is still a biological impossibility, in any case--my period has not yet returned. I am slowing on the pumping now, and think I may have ovulated a few days ago, based on how I was feeling, so I think this is a temporary matter. Even if that wasn't the case, though, I still feel like I need some time off, some time to reclaim my body from physically sustaining a child for a bit.

There are three other issues, though. One is the question of timing, in terms of Miss M. What is the right span between children? There are about 5 years between both T and I and our respective next closest siblings, age-wise. We agree that 5 years is too long. More importantly, we both think 5 years is too long for both of us to wait, given our ages. It is a biological imperative that we try sooner rather than later (that is kind of the second issue, so more about that in a minute). If five years is too long, what is the right amount of time? Two years? Three years? I read recently that a study showed that 24 months between pregnancies is ideal. Ideally, I think I'd like a span of about three years. It seems like the right amount to me. I can't say why, exactly--it just does. Enough time to enjoy with Miss M alone before we have to divide our attention, I guess.

The second issue is that biological imperative of time, however. With every chime of the clock, my fertility slips away. I don't know how long it will take us to get pregnant, if we can get pregnant (and I am assuming that we can, and that it will happen quickly--live in my utopia for a bit, will you?). We also don't want to be elderly before our kids are grown. So, there is the age thing.

Finally, there is the matter of personal timing. My current contract calls for me to be here until the fall of 2012. After that, if I choose to
renew, we may well be relocating to a so-called third world country. In fact, for a lot of reasons, that will likely be the case. Medical care may be mediocre at best, in that case. So, we'd be much better off being pregnant HERE, rather than waiting.

It would be ideal to have a baby between January and April of 2012. I could fit in a little maternity leave, come back, finish this assignment, and then the baby would be a bit older by the time we moved to wherever we move to next (assuming I stay with this company). Even better, our former nanny is coming to live with us in the spring. She's planning on living with us for a year, and would be here to help out after the baby was born, under this scenario. That would be really amazing. Miss M would be at least two by the time the baby was born, which is a decent span.

I guess I feel like that strikes the right balance between all of the considerations--my need for a bit of time off, the age thing, the span thing, the career thing.

There are other things that cross my mind on this issue. For instance, will I be ready in just a few short months? And are we sure we want more than one?

We're sure we want more than one child. We are both certain of that. Does the child need to be biological? I think T. might think so, although we have not discussed it. Truthfully, I could very comfortably adopt, at this point. I feel no need to be pregnant again. Indeed, adoption even appeals to me on many points. I doubt we will go down that road, due to the expense, the time consuming nature, the uncertainty, and the invasiveness of the process (I hate the idea of a home study, as much as I support the need for them). It all seems so unpleasant, the adoption process. The end result is obviously delightful, but am I strong enough for that? I don't know if I have it in me. It seems like such an emotional slog.

So, it's back to the final thing that is wearing away at the edges of my conscience. . .am I ready to become pregnant again? Am I ready to try? Physically, emotionally ready? I know that I am not. I don't just need my body back. I need to reconnect with myself, and with T. We are so focused on Miss M and so many other things. We need to refocus on US.

I guess what it all boils down to is that I need to recenter myself. I need to feel refreshed on all fronts, before I think about trying for number two. The problem is that I feel the clock ticking. We really do probably need to hit that window of time, if we want a second child. That only gives me until March or April to get myself patched back together.

I'm pondering how best to do that.