Wednesday, April 29, 2009

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: That Can't Be Comfortable

(In case you were wondering: yes, he's asleep.)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

9 Months In, 9 Months Out

My baby boy is 9 months old today. He has officially been out of the womb longer than he was ever in it. Blows. My. Mind.

I won't have a precise height and weight until Nate's 9-month appointment on Tuesday morning but I'm estimating 21 lbs. Poor guy is finally going to get his 6-month vaccinations, for which we are embarrassingly delayed ever since his illness in December that delayed his 4-month shots.

We are now onto size 4 diapers as of this week. Squeezing him into the size 3's was becoming ludicrous, even though the weight limit is supposed to be 28 lbs. My ass. That 28 pound prototype must have resembled an apple - a short, fat midget perhaps - or else those marketing executives at Pampers are huffing paint.

Nate is fitting in 12-month onesies and rompers perfectly at the moment. However, most 12-month pants are a little on the long side so we are sticking with the 9-month pants for now. Long torso and short legs. But he is wearing size 4-5 shoes. I scored 2 pairs of Robeez in EUC from some local consignment shops and he fits beautifully in the 12-18 month size. Can we spell B-I-G-F-O-O-T? My little chubster can now adorn his cankles with some fashionable footwear.

Mr. Mobile is crawling and pulling up like a chimp champ. Considering he just started crawling exactly one month ago, he has really developed physically. He is much more coordinated and can crawl from room to room without a single misstep. He is even attempting to climb, lifting his legs after pulling up on stairs, tables, ledges and shelves. Heaven, help me. I am currently harassing the hubby to bolt each and every piece of furniture that could remotely resemble a jungle gym to the wall. Pronto. And recently, my little daredevil has started getting brave and is letting go to stand unsupported for 5+ seconds before falling onto his butt. The boy is fearless. I predict more bumps and bruises in our not-so-distant future. He's going to look like a drunken sailor soon enough.

He is quite the explorer. Getting into everything and anything. I spend my days endlessly chasing after him as he scrambles about the house. I can surround him with the most fascinating toys he owns but he will go after the one thing that is prohibited. Like the wall outlet. Or the wire to my cell phone charger. I say "NO" in a firm, assertive voice. But it usually results in a mischevious smile or prompts him to continue misbehaving. I have visions, or should I say nightmares, of how toddlerhood is going to fare.

My only concern - a slight one at that - is that he isn't very vocal. He can babble and he can string consonants with vowels on occasion. But he hasn't shown much progress since saying "mama" at 7 months. "Dada" seemingly escapes him despite 2 months of daily pleading. It's been said that infants tend to focus on one aspect of their development - verbal or physical - at a time. If that is, in fact, true, Nate is by far the more rough and tumble type. Thus far, he is a man of few words. I plan to discuss this with the pediatrician in case it has anything to do with his frenulum. I would hate for his speech to suffer because of my lack of action in getting it clipped. However, I was a late talker so it is possible he is following in my footsteps and will come around when he is good and ready.

We're now venturing into stage 3 foods, since he has been on strike against Stage 2 mixes for several days. He may be ready for more chunky purees. Or he may be ready to go straight to finger foods. If only I could move past my fear of choking, we could experiment a bit more.

I can't believe we are 3/4 of the way to Nate's first birthday and the obligatory celebration. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have several party ideas already swirling in my head. I'm leaning toward Cowboy but Surfer would also be a pretty rad midsummer pool theme. I know it's 3 months away but the planner in me can't help myself.

It seems surreal to even think about my baby's first birthday. It's been 9 months and I still stare at him and question if he is really and truly mine. Did we really create this perfect little being? When it comes to Nate, seeing isn't really believing. He is and always will be my miracle.

I don't think I'll ever stop questioning his existence. It's all so hard to fathom how he came to be. Or maybe I just don't want to stop. Maybe I want the romance to stay alive.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Smelling the Roses

The weather today was the kind you wish you could bottle up and save for a rainy day. Low 70's. Not hot. Not cold. Just clear with a warm summer breeze. Pure perfection.

I couldn't resist taking Nate out for an afternoon stroll. Traveling through a neighborhood hidden behind our community, I found a trail that led to the local parks and recreation, as well as the public library. The few passerbys I encountered on our trek volunteered friendly smiles accompanied with "Hello" or "Beautiful day, isn't it?" Have I mentioned that I adore our new abode? In the city, everyone is too busy yapping on a cell phone to be amiable or polite. But here in quintessential suburbia, people take the time to show courtesy to a stranger. At the grocery checkout or restaurant, a transaction can take a bit longer as conversation strikes. Quite frustrating at times, especially if I have a squirming baby in my arms and am in a hurried state. The pace is much slower here than what I'm used to. But, it's a pleasant change to live where people are genuine. It truly restores my faith in my fellow manhood.

I noticed Nate's eyelids getting heavy but every slight bump would enliven him. My pace was a tad too fast. I slowed my gait and right as rain, he fell asleep.

We've probably all heard it said that having a baby forces you to slow down. To appreciate the little things that often go unnoticed. Instead of blindingly whizzing by in an attempt to burn off the caloric excess of my lunch, I slowed down to relish the quiet. As a result, I noticed so much more of my surroundings.

There were faint sounds of laughter and horseplay coming from the direction of the playground. I could hear rustling of woodland creatures as we drifted past their territory. The wind whistled through the trees, making the leaves dance. Water rippled lightly on the lake. It was nature at its finest. So peaceful. It was infectious.

I stopped to smell the roses. And it was sweet. I can't wait for our next reunion.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Crunchy Granola Wannabe

In honor of Earth Day, I feel it is only appropriate to dedicate this post to our environment. To the Mother of all Mothers: Mother Nature.

The theme of today's post is crunchiness.

If the title perplexes you, don't worry. I'm not referring to rolled oats. Instead, I am referring to an idiom describing a non-traditional lifestyle and parenting method.

crunch-y [krŭn'chē] - adj. - "green"; environmentally-friendly; environmentally-conscious; used to describe persons who have adjusted or altered their lifestyle for environmental reasons. Crunchy persons tend to strongly lean left politically and may be additionally but not exclusively categorized as vegetarians, vegans, eco-tarians, conservationists, environmentalists, neo-hippies, tree huggers, nature enthusiasts, etc.

Let me begin by saying, for the record, that I do not consider myself "crunchy". I strive to be but I'm just...not. I actually look up to and respect "those moms". I think I have some "crispy" qualities that stop me from being lumpish pudding. But I am far from the epitome of crunchy granola.

I have deduced this from the following:

1. I drive a Jeep Liberty. An SUV garnering an unimpressive 20 mpg on average. Hardly fuel efficient. However, now that I am dwelling in SAHM-dom, I no longer have to commute daily. Most of my trips are now local so I won't be guzzling as much fuel. I'd like to think this earns me some points. Just a few.

2. I use disposable diapers. The third largest consumer product piling up in our landfills. I was open to the idea of cloth diapers while pregnant. Especially the AIOs like Bumkins, BumGenius, Swaddlebees or DryBees that are almost as convenient as sposies. And lest we forget, they come in irresistible, super cute patterns. Who wouldn't want to match a diaper to an outfit? But DH scoffed at the idea of washing poo diapers so Pampers it is.

3. I vaccinate. On schedule. I considered selectively vaccinating based on Dr. Sears' recommendations but after performing extensive research and interviewing several pediatricians to get their take, I decided that vaccinating on schedule was the best option for our family.

4. Epidurals are heaven. I am intrigued by stories of waterbirths or homebirths. Even Hypnobabies peaks my curiosity. But I don't think I could ever trust my body enough to relax and go with it. Maybe it's the whole IF thing but I always feel as if something is about to go horribly wrong and it makes me more comfortable personally to know I am in good hands if that were to be the case. I should note I did make it to 8cm before getting meds. Despite my awareness of the risks, I do not regret my decision at all.

5. I make an effort to buy organic/locally grown produce when possible. But I''m often unable to do so due to budget constraints. We do, however, have our own little garden out back where we have planted our own tomatoes and peppers. DH has quite the green thumb so we will be cultivating more vegetables in time.

6. If you've followed along since the inception of this blog, you'll know that I heart cosleeping. Deep inside, I am very pro-attachment parenting (AP). But there came a point in time when Nate grew restless and all of our sleep began to suffer. Although painful, it was time to move him to his crib. I miss him but I do enjoy spending that quiet time with DH, rekindling our intimacy as we cuddle next to one another.

7. I love babywearing. No, I lurve babywearing. My Ergo is quite possibly the best baby item I have purchased. If I was a rich girl, I'd have a different carrier for every day of the week.

8. I shop at consignment stores weekly. And I check out Ebay regularly. I would much rather buy something in excellent used condition (EUC) than brand new. Saves me money and recycles clothing.

9. Speaking of recycling, we don't have trash pickup in our neck of the woods so as much as I'd like to salvage our plastics and glass, we often just go to the dump with our trash. We do use our yard clippings as compost occasionally.

10. We circumcised. A very sensitive topic, no doubt. Several of my older male relatives were uncircumcised and had severe urinary complications that led to a painful, memorable circumcision later in life. I did not want that for my son so we opted for the circ.

11. I plan to chart and use Natural Family Planning (NFP) in the future. No more birth control for me. When we feel our family is complete, DH may get the Big V but we want to be 100% sure before we make any final surgical decisions.

12. I breastfed exclusively for 6 months and plan to breastfeed along with solids for one year. Possibly beyond that but I can't see myself going much longer than that. Most importantly, I would like to start weaning around one year so we can prepare to TTC #2. I am open to tandem feeding during pregnancy but would want to completely wean before birth.

13. I do use homeopathic remedies like teething tablets and gripe water. But I still rely on medication like Motrin or Tylenol, and I see a doctor regularly. Some of the possible/unknown side effects of the homeopathic treatments make me nervous so I prefer to go with something that has been proven to be safe and effective.

14. I have no plans to homeschool my children. I want them to attend public or private school mainly for the socialization aspect.

15. I attempt to purchase natural cleaning supplies. Two of my recent favorites are my dishwashing detergent and my all-purpose cleaner.

16. I actively seek BPA-free supplies for Nate. I will go out of my way to find plastic alternatives. And I own many cloth/wooden toys.

I could go on and on but I'll end the list here.

I'm not totally mainstream but I'm also not unconventional. I fall somewhere in the middle. Story of my life. I have good intentions but I fall drastically short of the "crunchy" line.

In all honesty, I secretly desire to be the neo-hippy mom. The one who breastfeeds until the child self-weans, even if it means into toddler years. And out in public because they just don't give a damn and the baby needs to eat. The woman who does yoga or pilates to stay fit and eats a fresh, healthy, free-range diet. I envy their conviction and gumption. They all just scream "kick-ass" to me when they talk of their lifestyles.

I look at my list above and wonder how many of my responses are influenced by social norms and expectations, rather than my actual desires. Perhaps I'm subconsciously concerned by what others will think if I chose to follow through on some of them.

I think I've made strides in the "green" department since I conceived Nate. While I haven't altered my lifestyle completely, I can say I'm more aware of the world. Infertility has given me a new perspective. I'm much more conscious of the things I purchase and how it affects the earth and our health. I think all of us want our children to experience the world in its purest form. We naturally want what we deem is best for them. And I think that realization - that motivation - is a step in the right direction.

Are you a crunchy mom?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

In A Flash

As I rocked Nate to a peaceful slumber last night, I gazed between the slats of the blinds on the adjacent window. Flashes of lightening illuminated the grey night sky. I listened to the thunder roll as the rain pounded hard against the pane, creating an echo within the nursery walls.

It was then I was reminded of two profanely tragic tales I've come across this week. The stories of Maddie and Thalon have touched me profoundly. Two sweet children gone from earth much too soon.

I read each blog, page after page from the beginning, smiling as I encountered the chronicles of their adventures and milestones. I felt waves of emotion. A bizarre, cosmic connection, as if I were a fly on the wall watching them grow all this time. Then I reached the final posts. And my heart skipped a beat. The journals that celebrated the spirit of these two precious babies were transformed into memoirs of lives cut painfully short.

These weren't just sad works of fiction. These were people's lives. Family units. This was real.

I wept in confusion and dysphoria. A mother should never have to lose her child. And even though I am confronted with this seemingly everyday in the ALI community, I still don't understand how this could happen. Why it happens. I prayed for the families - that peace would somehow find them and God would grant them strength. That He would carry them through this.

At any moment, our lives could change. In a flash. As quickly as the storm that raged outside. In an instant, our cherished ones could be jettisoned from our lives. We know this but for some reason, it always takes something catastrophic to drive the message home.

If this were any other night, I would have laid Nate in his crib and said a silent prayer for him to sleep through the night and not wake. Please let me get some consistent sleep, I'd beg. But last night, I prayed for the opposite. Please let my son wake up. Let me hear his cry to know that he is still with me. When he woke at 330am for the second time, I did something I hadn't done in weeks. I took him back to bed with me. I just wanted to feel his warm body next to mine.

I was lucky enough to wake in the morning to the smiling face that makes my world complete. And I knew somewhere out there, there are those who are grieving and would give anything to share that feeling once again.

Many blessings to all of you out there. Give your little ones and/or loved ones some extra hugs and kisses today.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Thanks for the Mammaries

In just one more week, I will have been breastfeeding for 9 months. Considering I have far surpassed my initial goal of 6 months, it feels like quite the achievement. The best part is that I see no reason why we can't make it three more months to my ultimate goal of 1 year. Perhaps even a bit longer. If you would have asked me 8 months ago, I would have laughed at the notion that I'd make it this far.

But there have been some consequences. Namely the aesthetic nature of the tatas.

My girls look fantastic when they're engorged with milk and they nearly cut off the circulation to my neck. They don't feel all that great but they sure do look good enough to be considered a work of art. At least the work of an acclaimed plastic surgeon (look, no scarring!). But after Nate drains them, they resemble donut sticks with shriveled raisin nipples. Not the nice, yummy round doughy donuts stuffed with the filling of your choice. We're talking the thin, elongated ones. With a texture similar to a cruller if you factor in the lovely, silver stretch marks on the sides. Get the picture? It's not a pretty sight.

I imagine that as finger foods become the primary source of nutrition in Nate's diet and my supply dwindles, the funbags are going to get even less "fun". How disappointing.

You see, before I conceived my darling son, I was a member of the IBTC with an A cup. A full A but an A nonetheless. Once I became pregnant, to my delight, they blossomed to a B cup. And when my milk came in, they grew to a C cup. I was ecstatic with my newfound curves. Once my supply regulated, I went back down to a full B. And that is where I remain today. Happily.

I was hoping I could hang onto the surplus I've been granted but I'm afraid my cans will be shelved once the dairy section closes shop.

I guess I should fluff the dirty pillows for the next few months while I still own them.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Memories in the Making

DH had to work on-site yesterday, which meant a late night return home. Instead of fixing dinner or performing any obligatory - albeit mundane - tasks, I decided to take advantage of the solo time with Nate and do what we do best: goof off.

I was crawling around on my hands and knees, snarling like a beast and chasing him frantically as he giggled and sped away. I snuck up behind him to grab his chubby little leg and he turned around to smile the most angelic smile I've ever witnessed. My heart melted like wax. His expression was effervescent, making my ovaries ache. It was then I had a "moment".

Pray tell, you say?

I'm sure any mom short of the likes of Andrea Yates can relate to this "moment". This epiphany. My entire soul - my whole being - felt such immense joy and enchantment that I wept. Tears streamed down my face as I thought about how incredibly blessed and lucky I was to have my miracle. I am no more deserving of motherhood than any other woman on the planet. As a matter of fact, I can think of many women off the top of my head who have been waiting in line much longer than I ever did to get the parenthood membership card. Yet somehow I get to share my days and nights with this little boy who brings so much sunshine into my life.

I felt guilty for all the times I may have lost my patience or been short with him for something as simple as wanting to be held as I used the bathroom. For all the times I was less than perfect, having struggled to meet his intrinsic needs. For any time that I may have inadvertently taken him for granted. This sense of awe enveloped me as I drew him near.

I held him extra close as I rocked him to sleep and recalled nights in the not-so-distant past when I curled up in a ball, wondering if I would ever feel a child suckle from my breast or grasp my finger in his/her tiny hand. I kissed him on the forehead before I placed him in his crib and as I watched him drift off to sleep, I studied his face intently. Every day he changes. Every day he is another day older. He'll never be this young or this innocent again. I never want to forget the way he looked at me this night.

I realized all we have are these moments. They become memories so quickly.

So this must be unconditional love.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Domestic Engineering

After two and a half weeks, you'd think I'd start to get used to this SAHM thing. On the contrary; I'm still swimming in the river known as Denial.

I often feel like I'm on vacation and at any moment, I'm going to be yanked back into the harsh world of continuous deadlines, high-pressure projects and ever-increasing demands. I find myself aimlessly refreshing my email, simply out of habit. I've had about 15-20 hours worth of billable work since I've made the switch from full-time to freelance but the vast majority of my projects have simmered down. I just don't know what to do with myself now that the work stress has been all but eliminated. I'm so used to being balls-to-the-wall, can't-find-time-to-pee-or-eat, insanely busy that I am dumbfounded to find downtime exists. I can actually shower, brush my teeth and eat lunch daily. A fresh, homemade lunch - no fast food crapola. I can visit friends (during the week - gasp!) and have playdates. I don't have to cherry pick which tasks/activities I have time for. It's amazing. Even my IBS seems to have magically resolved itself, which leads me to believe it has been stress-related all along. You're welcome for the oversharing. *wink*

I love how I can design my own day and not feel limited by the clock. I can relax. Sure, chasing after a mobile 8.5 month old is not exactly a day at the spa but it is much more enriching than drilling out media plans.

I still have my "oh shit!" moments where I wonder if I'm doing the right thing and how it will affect our family in the long run. Can we honestly afford to sacrifice my entire income contribution? But I try not to let the pessimism bog me down. When I feel the negative thoughts brewing, I force myself to consider the good I'm doing for and all the ways I am still useful as a member of the family and community. It may sound like the kind of self-help visualization propaganda as seen on TV but it really does help take the edge off and help me to stay grounded.

I've seen Nate smile more in the past couple of weeks than I think I have in his entire lifespan. I get the distinct feeling that he feels much more content and secure to have me home with him 24/7. He hasn't been nearly as cranky as he used to be (aside from a bit of teething - nothing that Hyland's teething tablets couldn't handle). He's almost a different baby. That, or I'm just seeing a side of him that I haven't noticed before. This alone makes me question my decision less and less. The benefits are obvious.

I've been able to really focus on Nate and meeting his needs. Instead of working for unappreciative, undeserving clients, I can devote my time to being the best mom I can be for my son. I feel like we've bonded all over again.

I can do modified CIO at night without feeling guilty that he could be craving more personal interaction. Last night, I put him down at 730pm without a problem. He woke at 1030pm and I nursed him. He woke at midnight fussing but fell back asleep within a half an hour. I heard nary a peep from him until 3am, when I nursed him again. He slept until 730am when we both woke for the day. Total: 2 night wakings. Progress. All due to consistency. I've traded exhaustion for determination and it is paying off.

I can easily read his signs for naptime and ensure he gets his two essential naps a day. One in mid-morning and one in mid-afternoon. I can usually preempt the crankiness and put him in his swing after the first yawn, where he naps peacefully for 1-1.5 hours. Granted, the swing can just barely swing his heavy ass. But until nighttime sleep is under control, I will not be disturbing the nap routine.

I can allot more time to practicing with solids. Since the Great Sweet Potato Discovery of 2009, Nate will now eat two 2 oz. meals per day. A few times I've given an early morning meal but I only offer this if he seems dissatisfied after nursing on both sides. He generally gets 1/2 jar Stage 2 fruit for brunch and 1/2 jar Stage 2 veggie, meat or pasta in the evening along with a handful of puffs at each sitting. It's been a challenge and I still rely heavily on singing songs and making faces to get the job done. But ultimately, I'm just thrilled that he is open to the idea of swallowing more than breastmilk. Maybe - just maybe - I will be able to start weaning upon reaching my goal at one year. I was beginning to think I'd be breastfeeding until he was two. There is hope for us yet.

We have lots of playtime together and I rotate toys on a daily basis so he doesn't grow bored. I alternate between being the showman and the passive observer. I demonstrate but then allow him to follow suit. I watch him as he experiments and moves from one thing to the next. I can see the hamster wheel turning in his noggin as he tries to learn how to operate certain toys or to mimic my actions. He loves anything with lights and sounds but when my eardrums need a break from the repetitive refrains, there are also several simple toys that hold his attention.

I know I may get flamed for this but we also watch TV together. We aren't glued to the boob tube by any means. We enjoy the outdoors when the weather is nice and I certainly don't rely on it as a babysitter. But he loves the visual and audio combination so I'll turn on Nickelodeon, Disney or MPT to provide some background noise. Right now, his favorites are Dora the Explorer, Spongebob, Sesame Street (cutest thing - he smiles and laughs at loud whenever Elmo appears), and Backyardigans. I have to say that many of the shows nowadays have an element of adult entertainment so I'm not constantly searching for a sharp object to gouge my eyes out. My particular favorites are Back at the Barnyard, Olivia and iCarly. Yes, I probably should be watching soap operas and court shows but I admit it's nice to tap into my childish side now and again.

All in all, things appear to be working out well so far on the SAHM front. I am taking to it like a fish to water. Except the housework and cooking. Okay, so I'm no June Cleaver. I've never been great at managing more than dishwashing and laundry in a day. But I'm slowly improving in this department.

I knew all along my heart belonged at home with my son. The ability to surrender to this desire seems too good to be true.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Witch Hunt

It's strange to say aloud but I haven't had a period since October 30, 2007.

That's right. Two thousand SEVEN. SEVENTEEN months ago. Almost EIGHT AND A HALF months postpartum and the witch is still M.I.A.

Before I allow you to get ahead of yourselves, I am not - I repeat - NOT pregnant. To achieve pregnancy, there are several prerequisites. Primarily ovulation and intercourse. And since these key players are noticeably absent from the marquee, chances are slim that anything short of immaculate conception or post-hysterectomy amnesia would account for her hiatus. So please refrain from testing chants and sweep away any babydust that may have crept away from the magical fairyland. I can only attribute this respite to a certain little person attached to my boob every 2-3 hours.

Don't get me wrong. Absence has not made my heart grow fonder. It's been nice to have this extended vacation from her hijinks. I can wear white blazenly. No mental inventory of pads or tampons. No leaks or gushes to make me squirm. Or changing bedsheets in the morning due to embarrasing accidents. No fumbling through my medicine cabinet for Midol. There have been some stellar advantages to our much-needed break.

As much as I'd like to say good riddance forever, I am a bit codependent on my Auntie. I need her to reappear eventually if I'm ever going to give Nate a sibling. No, we're not TTC #2 right away. Right now, it's just a prospect on the horizon. We are in no rush whatsoever, although the baby bug has nipped at me now and again. I mean, our firstborn is nowhere close to STTN and I'd have to be batshit crazy to double up when I'm already struggling. I could see us now - sharing our bed with a toddler and a newborn. We'd need to trade up our Queen for a California King just to get through the night. It's exhausting just to think about it. Besides, I'd like to give Nate a bit more time as our one and only. Spoil him as much as possible before he needs to share his belongings, personal space and parental attention.

And truth be told, I also question how my cycles will behave once she returns. Will I remain oligoovulatory or could childbirth have rebooted my system? If curiosity killed the cat, I'll be one crispy kitty.

I wonder when she'll arrive. I'm sure it will be at some inopportune moment. Like when I'm wearing my favorite panties. And I'm sure as soon as she turns up, I'll be wishing her farewell again.

Aunt Flo...can't live with her. Can't live without her.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Starting Over

All hail the CIO warrior.

Before our move, Nate's nighttime sleeping pattern was consistent. Far from perfect but predictable. Waking every 3 hours to nurse but he would conk right back out and we could transfer him back to the crib with little or no bellyaching. Naps were another story but we stuck with the old reliable swing with the hopes that once nighttime sleep was established, we could convert naptime to the crib.

With our change of address also came a change in sleep habits. A full-blown sleep regression emerged, the likes of which we had never seen before. Nate cut out his second afternoon nap, dropping from 3 naps per day down to 2. As for bedtime, he was now up every hour on the hour. And since laying on his back is a thing of the past, he could now dramatize his commands by standing up and banging on his crib rail like a bongo. If I thought I was exhausted before, I was sadly mistaken. I would fervently rock him back to sleep in the glider - he'd be out within minutes - but the moment I laid him in the crib, he would scream bloody murder. Shrill, deafening screams that would pierce your eardrums and make you beg for mercy. In my despondency, I did the unthinkable. I picked him up and brought him back to our bed. I sure looked fashionable, cloaked in failure.

This went on for about a month. We were back to square one with the cosleeping. All of our hard work with gradual extinction went down the drain. This was the only way we could all get enough sleep to be functional the following day. We were stuck in this vicious cycle.

On St. Patrick's Day, the same day I gave my two-week notice to my job, I was feeling brave. I somehow found the cajones to give the sleep training another try.

The first few nights were pure hell, as anticipated. Nate wailed for close to an hour (DH going in here and there to soothe) before finally sacking out and succumbing to the sandman. And even then, the peace would only last an hour or two and he was up to his antics again. Wash, rinse, repeat. I decided to reset my expectations. If I could get him to spend half the night in his crib, I would cosleep the remaining half of the night. It was a trade-off. But it worked. His stretches grew to two hours. Then three. We even got some 4-5 hour stretches in there. It wasn't my desired end result but I was pleased to progress to our penultimate goal.

Last night was the first night I decided to go for the gold: all night in the crib. No cosleeping. I was apprehensive but I felt like it was now or never.

He was fed solids at 6:30pm and we had bathtime around 7pm complete with some baby massage and lotion. I sang some nursery rhymes and read him some board books as he played with some toys. With the first eye rub cue, I turned out the lights and nursed him. He was asleep within 5 minutes. I transferred him to the crib where he tossed and turned a bit before his eyelids once again grew heavy. He slept soundly until 11:30pm. 4 hour stretch - not bad. I nursed him again - with both breasts - until he was drunk and drowsy. However, this time, the relocation did not go as smoothly. The fussing turned to crying, which in turn led to a temper tantrum fit for a toddler. I was at a loss. I used the same formula for success that I had utilized earlier that evening. What was so different this time? Was it just out of habit in that he expected to be brought to bed?

I held my own and did not give in. I kissed his forehead, patted his bum, wished him a good night and closed the door behind me as I made a swift exit. I retired to bed with DH, where we could hear his contention growing more intense. After 15 minutes, DH went in for soothing duty but it only amplified his cries. He wanted to be held. I knew that was all he wanted. And with every cough and sniffle between the fountain of tears, I wanted to rescue him. I wanted to cave. I longed for his warm little body next to me, safe and sound. I questioned my motives. Was I doing the right thing? Did I not feed him enough? Did I not give him enough personal attention during the day? How could something that was supposed to be so good for them feel so bad?

I allowed my inner monologue to drown out the histrionics taking place in the room across the hall. Before I knew it there was silence. I glanced at the clock. It was midnight. It took us 30 minutes but we made it. The force was strong.

He woke once again at 3:30am. Half asleep, I ventured to his room to find him crumpled up in the corner of his crib, cuddling with his teddy bear. I retrieved him and nursed him in the glider. Five minutes and he was out. He woke up as his back made contact with his mattress and fussed. No surprise there. But I stayed strong and tucked him in, my mind determined to revisit dreamland. Before my head hit the pillow, there was silence. Until 7am when he woke for the day.

Total night wakings: 2

Average stretch: 3-4 hours

Total hours in crib: 11 hours

Not too shabby. If he can lengthen his stretches to 5 hours each, with only one night waking, I can live with that.

Tonight, he went down at 7:30pm without a fight but just woke at 9:30pm - face down on the opposite side of the crib, BTW - to eat. Hopefully his tummy will now be full enough to make it through a longer stretch. Fingers and toes crossed.

Next step will be to cut night feedings down to one (or none) but we're taking one baby step at a time.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Foodie is Born

As most of you are aware, I have been trying earnestly to solve the Case of the Repugnant Solids for over 2 months now. Nate just hasn't been a fan of eating off of a spoon. I originally thought he rejected rice and oatmeal because he needed something less bland and more flavorful. I was positive that when I broke out my amazing Babycook, he would be unable to resist my all-natural concoctions. I was proven wrong time and time again. Banana. Apple. Pear. Green Beans. Avocado. Carrot. No matter how many tricks I tried to play, how many funny faces and voices I made or how infinitely patient I was, they all produced the same result: utensils and dishware flung angrily aside in a fit of rage. We even resorted to organic jarred food to see if the change in consistency would persuade him. No sir. He was firmly planted in his anti-puree stance.

Funnily enough, he has no problem snacking on tiny bits of steamed fruit or veggie or little chunks of bread or pasta. He adores puffs, zwieback toast and biter biscuits. Likely due to the fact that he can independently feed himself. Mr. Do-It-Himself. But I cannot get past my fear of choking enough to give in completely to BLW right now.

Naturally, I grew perturbed. I had never known a baby in my life not to like baby food. Was I destined to breastfeed him until his stubbornness succumbed to the temptation? What if he decided breastmilk was an unparalleled diet? Would our future involve food therapists, nutritionists and speech-language pathologists? The premonition was agonizing.

Then, out of the blue clear sky, we had a breakthrough.

Thanks be to the savory sweet potato.

I'm not sure if he just suddenly became "ready" to put in an honest effort at this eating thing or if he gradually grew accustomed to spoon-feeding after months of practice. But he gobbled up that orange porridge as if it were his last supper. As a matter of fact, after he had scarfed down the two ounce jar, he cried in protest. The little piggy wanted more! I couldn't believe my eyes. The kid who fought me tooth and nail in opposition had now turned on a dime, playing the submissive role. I could hardly contain my excitement, as evidenced by my clever little ditty below:

Ode to the Sweet Potato

So orange, so sweet
The only food my son will eat
Delectable, nutritious
Tasty and delicious
There isn't much more one can say
All I know is you're here to stay!

I guess my little aficionado just needed to find something he liked enough to motivate and inspire him. Since he tasted sweet potato, he's been much more open to eating solids. He doesn't share the same enthusiasm he exhibited with his beloved vegetable but at least he is now receptive to the idea of the spoon. He will even dip the spoon in the bowl and with some gentle guidance from Mommy, bring it to his mouth. I have learned to bound and gag the Type-A-Don't-Get-Too-Messy part of my personality and acquiesce to his demands. I now let him dig in, basically finger painting with his food. Stripped down to only a diaper of course. The messier the experience, the more accepting he tends to be. Must be a boy thing.

We've since tried mango, spinach, white potatoes and plum - and he's ingested at least 1 ounce, if not more, of each in a sitting. I know it may not seem like much but it's worlds of progress compared to just two weeks ago.

Just like that, the food war was won.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Things That Go Bump in the Night...or Day

That mark you see tainting my son's handsome face is Nate's first shiner from two days ago.

Ever the eager, active baby, he awoke on Thursday morning ready and rearing to exercise. Sitting is old news so first on the agenda was crawling to the edge of the bed and pulling himself up on the bed frame. Before I could reach out to support him in his efforts, he tripped on his footed sleeper and fell forward, hitting his face on the solid beechwood frame. HARD.

There were tears shed - by both of us. I was afraid to look at him, as I was scared to see blood. I swooped him up in my arms, rocking and cuddling him, when I immediately noticed swelling on his cheek. My attempts to ice it were fruitless, as he resisted the frigid washcloth. I could only kiss it softly and soothe him by singing his favorite song, Jingle Bells. The above photo was taken several hours after the incident, when the wound looked its worst.

The bruise is now yellow and, thankfully, is fading quickly. I wanted to take him to get his picture taken with the Easter Bunny this coming week and the last thing I want is an ugly blemish to forever serve as pictorial evidence of how I wasn't there to protect him.

I know kids will be kids. These things are bound to happen. This is just the first in a long line of bumps, bruises, scrapes, cuts, broken bones, etc. But seeing my poor baby hurt for the first time caused an ache in my chest. I should have been there to catch him. I should have stopped him from climbing. I could have prevented this. But I couldn't. I didn't.

I felt a slight pang in my heart. He's becoming more independent by the hour and I want to foster that independence. I want him to explore and learn lessons on his own. But he's only 8 months old. He still needs me. He doesn't know the meaning of danger. He doesn't realize his handicap. He's fearless and dives right into each new milestone full force, no matter the consequences. My responsibility as a mother is to guide him. Inevitably, I will witness mistakes and missteps. I will behold his pain but will at times be helpless to thwart it. It's indescribably hard to stand by and watch your greatest love suffer when your whole existence serves to eliminate said suffering. Especially when your greatest love is 2.5 feet tall and utterly defenseless.

One thing's for sure, I doubt I'll be nominated for any Mother of the Year awards anytime soon.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fool

I bet you thought I snuck out and was never going to return, didn't you? Well, April Fools! Here I be. Before you ask, I do have a note from my mom so you can mark this as an excused absence. *wink*

I come bearing good news and bad news. What shall I begin with? I guess I'll get the bad out of the way.

My grandfather passed away a week and a half ago.

It was not unexpected or sudden. We all knew that his number could be called at any moment. But somehow, it didn't really make it any easier. We were quite close through my childhood. I was possibly his undeclared "favorite" since I was the only grandchild with a special nickname: Sweets. He suffered a massive stroke several years ago that left him speechless and largely immobile. He was not a vegetable. He could comprehend his surroundings and perform on cue, but his brain did not allow him to respond vocally. His quality of life was obviously not optimal but he was a strong man and toughed it out for those years. He had lost his appetite and had been having seizures as of late. Sometimes over 10 a day. So, we suspected that it was his time. Sure enough, the Lord took him to heaven on March 20.

While I always believed I lost the grandfather I knew with the aforementioned stroke, it was so hard to say the final goodbye. It was the first time I had to participate in such an event avec baby. While Nate was on his best behavior, I still found it difficult to grieve. I wanted to put on a happy face so he couldn't sense my melancholy. At the wake, I stared at Grandpop in the casket. The last time I had seen him was Christmas and since Nate was so sick that day, I barely got to speak to him at all. I was regretful that we didn't have more time. That I couldn't tell him how much I loved him. I just hope he knew.

He served in the National Guard so he was given miltary honors, complete with playing Taps at his funeral. Nothing gets me choked up more than that bugle. There weren't enough tissues in a pack to saturate all my tears. But I do find comfort that he is no longer in pain and he is in a better place, alongside his twin brother who passed years ago.

Grandpop, you'll be forever missed. Love Always, Sweets.

Ok, now onto the good news.

Nate turned 8 months old on Thursday. 2/3 of a year has passed since he was born. It seems like things have gone by at light speed but yet I can't even remember what life was like before he came a part of our lives. My entire day revolves around this little guy. I wonder how on earth I spent my free time before. Probably sleeping. Those were the days. But I digress...

For a month, Nate had been thisclose to crawling. He would get up on all fours and rock but the moment he would attempt to move forward, he would flop on his belly and "swim", frantically kicking his legs and flailing his arms. He would quickly become frustrated with his lack of ability and would scream for someone to rescue him. He seemed much more interested in pulling himself up to a standing position. I was sure I would see my son walk before he would crawl.

But everything changed the moment he turned 8 months old. Ever the punctual baby, he crawled - belly off the ground - for the very first time. His bait? The remote control. As if I needed to demonstrate more proof that he indeed has a penis.

Relief was written all over his face, as he was finally able to reach the object he had been dying to reach for ages. Guess he had enough of soap operas and reality TV and was putting in his request for more Nickelodeon. I was so incredibly proud. And a bit sad. One more milestone away from that newborn I carried home. He is gradually growing up on me.

Since he has mastered the fine arts of crawling and pulling up, he is now building speed and fine-tuning his precision. The boy can go from laying on his back to standing, holding onto the entertainment center in 5 seconds flat. Or from sitting in the middle of the bedroom with a rattle to eating one of DH's dirty socks by the hamper in under 10. I swear he has a radar ingrained somewhere inside of his skull that tips him off to prohibited articles. I have determined our home to be a death trap and am currently in the throes of a babyproofing tirade. Heavy furniture must be bolted and secured to the wall. Floors must be vaccuumed or swept daily to avoid ingestion of questionable, potentially harmful items. I'm trying not to be that mom. I know Nate is going to get into things, regardless of my efforts to distract him. But I have yet to curb the paranoia.

Did I mention he is now trying to cruise? Yes, I heard you. I am about to have my hands FULL. Do I have an early walker in my midst? Is it legal to knock him over so we can have time to adjust to all these new milestones?

Stay tuned...topics to come next: why sweet potatoes bring me immense joy, sleep regression in all its glory, why I dread clothes shopping, spring cleaning, and my first week home sweet home.

Since I am a SAHM now and all, I should have plenty of time for my neglected blog, right?