Thursday, April 26, 2012

shake, rattle and...

fussin' & fightin'

Dear Pea,
It's definitely been a challenging week, and it's only Thursday.

It started last Sunday.  It was my parents anniversary, the first anniversary that they weren't able to celebrate together.  The weather here was horrendous, pouring and windy, but Daddy and I really wanted to look at apartments.  So out we ventured, all of us getting drenched and wind whipped. The apartment hunt was discouraging and you were very unhappy to be trekking around.  Usually these days, the meltdowns are few and far between.  Last Sunday, you had several.I've taken you out in the rain and wind before and you've never really reacted the way you did Sunday, but you screamed the entire way home after both apartments.  I think that you were picking up on my sadness and missing my mom. Or I was distracted and not paying close enough attention to your cues until it was too late to realize that you were tired, hungry, frustrated or whatever.  But it was a sad day.

And then there seemed to have been a regression in your tolerance for other people taking care of you. All three times I went to teach class, you had a long meltdown. It's so sad for the people taking care of you and so sad for me.  I am still questioning if I should be teaching class at all, I may take a break for a month to give you some more adjustment time.  We'll see.  The last couple of weeks were better, so I'm hoping it's just this rough week and that next week will be better.  It can't help that I am sad this week, I know how much your emotions shadow mine.  We both have had a lot of tears.

In other, happier news, you are sleeping through the night!  I have been waking up at 5 or 6 with one breast completely engorged (ouch) because you have been too busy sleeping to eat. I usually take you to bed between 9:30 and 10 and sometimes you've been asleep for an hour or so, so you're sleeping 8 or 9 hours in a row.  And I usually switch positions so I can get my full full full boob in your mouth, and you eat without even waking up.  We go back to sleep until 7 or 7:30 or 8.

We have also been to two exercise classes this week and will go to another one tomorrow and you are liking them! Hooray for me! We did yoga on Tuesday and I got to do almost the entire mama part.  When it was time to play with the babies, the first song we sang was The Itsy Bitsy Spider and your eyes lit up at me-you were telling me "I know this song!! I like this one!!" Then we did Head Shoulders Knees and Toes and you couldn't hide your delight, laughing as though being tickled.  So it definitely has not been all bad.  The bright spots still far FAR outweigh any hardships.  I love you so much.

Monday, April 23, 2012

16 weeks old!

Dear Pea,
You are in the beginning stages of grabbing for things, holding them and bringing them to your mouth.  It's wonderful to watch you discover this, though you don't even realize you've learned a new trick.  Today as I was finishing changing your diaper, you grabbed the empty container of wipes, seemingly without making a conscious choice to do so.  Since the package was already in your fist, why not bring it to your mouth?  Again, I'm not sure if you were thinking, ooh, something to chew on or if you were bringing your hands to your mouth full or empty.  You sort of gnawed on the package for a minute and then dropped it.   

I should mention here that I debated allowing you to do this the whole time it was happening. Should you put this in your mouth? Should you be making a toy out of diaper wipe packaging?  Probably the answer is no on both counts, but I wanted you to realize that you had grabbed something and maneuvered it.  Would I prefer that you were grabbing a bottle and bringing that to your mouth? Of course, but one of the most salient lessons of parenthood so far is that nothing really goes the way you think it should.

You are definitely ticklish and break into hearty guffaws when we tickle your neck, your belly or under your arms.  We have changed our Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes from me touching your body parts to me now moving your hands so you touch your body. You love this, though you have to be in a specific position to touch your toes and it often doesn't work perfectly.  Sometimes this makes you giggle, too.

I got a new (to us) carrier for you, also. It's called a Moby wrap and I like it because it goes over both of my shoulders, instead of the one shouldered sling.  We've had it for almost a week and today is really the first day that you've warmed up to it-every other day you'd be happy for about 10 minutes, then frustrated.  Today you have taken two naps in it, the second happening right now and has been going on for over an hour.  I feel like now you're okay with it...maybe that's a good indication on how long it takes you to get used to things.  If Daddy gave you a bottle every night, would you take it after five days?  Let's find out.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

family resemblance

Dear Pea,
Everyone says how much you look like Daddy and you really do!  Your face and expressions really look like him. But you don't look like his baby pictures.  At all. You look just like my mom.

Spirit Grandma at 3 months

Sweet Pea at 3 months

Crazy, right??

15 weeks old!

Dear Pea,
You are 15 weeks old, AKA three and a half months.  You laugh when you find things funny (being tickled, having raspberries blown at you, peek a boo), you smile when someone-anyone-tells you how pretty/cute/adorable/gorgeous you are and you are pretty much over the "I hate everyone except my mama!" phase.  Which is to say, you are SO much fun!  Not that you weren't fun before, but life just keeps getting more and more so.

You really love to put things in your mouth-I often find that my (your?) sling is damp from being gnawed on after a walk.  A couple of days ago you were very frustrated because you couldn't get what you wanted in your mouth.  You were sucking your fingers, you were chewing on Sophie and you would nurse for a few seconds, but you were clearly looking for something else.  I kept offering you pacifiers-we have several and you hate them.  You would take one in your mouth and then make a face like you were eating something disgusting and swat it away.   I thought for sure it was the beginning of teething, though this would be extremely early, but it seemed to pass after than episode.  But ever since then, when it's time to nurse, you open your mouth so wide and sort of chomp down.  You look exactly like you have a huge appetite and are ready to gobble up the world.

You seemed to have had a growth spurt in the past week or so-you seem so much heavier and sturdier. So much more of a baby.  That may sound stupid, but it's true: there's definitely a point where newbornness transitions to babyhood and you have reached it.  You seem less fragile, more comfortable in your world.  More sure of your surroundings and more trusting of all of us who take care of you.  I will try to live up to that trust.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sophie la Giraffe

Dear Pea,
It seems that these days it is tantamount to child abuse to raise a baby (at least in Brooklyn) without a toy called Sophie.  Sophie is a rubber giraffe who squeaks when squeezed, but something about her shape just beckons babies to gnaw on her.  Since you are still months away from teething, your Sophie has been waiting patiently for you on our bookshelf, but one of my mama friends told me that her baby girl, who is 5 weeks younger than you, loved hers, so out of the box she came. 

Sophie is a French toy, so she only speaks to you in French.  We had to get some help from your cousin in Seattle on this one-I know how to say "eat me" by really Sophie wants you to chew on her.  And you do! It's amazing!  You have never taken to a binkie, we've discussed your bottle-shunning ways...and yet, you will mache sur Sophie.  Maybe it's because she asks so nicely?

The other amazing power of Sophie so far is that she has gotten you to reach for things.  The first time we brought Sophie out to play, you were intrigued and made your first conscious sweeping for her.  Now you will hold her as you bring her to your mouth (!!!) and you've transferred that skill to my breast.  I think the books call this "gathering in" (though I really only read one baby book and read is a generous term) and it's right on schedule.  You have also begun swiping at your mobile and enjoy watching the hearts spin and sway above you.  Hand-eye coordination is developing!  So exciting!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

14 weeks old!

Dear Pea,
It is Passover.  We celebrated with all of Daddy's side of the family-it was your first time meeting most of them, and, man, were you a champ.  Despite you being tired and screaming for the entire car ride, once at the party, you were wide eyed, alert and charming.  Of course, you screamed the whole way home, too, but we thought that you are just a social butterfly and would rather engage with people than sleep.

So, we took you to another little party the following day-my dear friend (and one of the people who helped bring in into this world!) is moving far away and we went to say goodbye.  You must have been as sad as I am that she's leaving because you screamed for a good portion of the time.  Finally you settled down, so we sat down and had some snacks.  And then you pooped on their couch. We decided it was time to leave.

The next day was Easter.  It was such a glorious day, little Pea.  Last Easter was the day we discovered that you were growing inside of me and we decided to celebrate by taking lots of long walks around our neighborhood.  We tried the stroller, which worked for about an hour and a half, then we stopped so you could have a snack, then I wore you the rest of the day. Your great-grand aunt made you a special Easter hat with ears, so you wore that all day.

This week we discovered that you are ticklish!  Sometimes when you are getting dressed or undressed or just having your diaper changed, I will run my fingertips over your collarbone and you laugh. A couple of days ago you wouldn't stop laughing.  I tickled and tickled and you still laughed every time.  Peek-a-boo is also getting to be a hit, though I think you are just responding to our ridiculousness when we exclaim in a high pitched voice "peek a boo!!"

Grammy got you playing with a bottle and you thoroughly enjoy it as a toy, even putting it in your mouth and sucking a bit.

Though later that night when I was away for three and a half hours teaching, Daddy tried to feed  you with it and you weren't interested.  But we're feeling more confident that maybe you will now that you at least like it and put it in your mouth.  The trouble is that you constantly have your fingers in your mouth, so getting a nipple of any kind in there instead is sometimes a challenge.  There's a lot of drool in our lives.  And you don't mind when we wipe it off your face; this too seems like a game for you and you often smile.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Attachment Parenting

Dear Pea,
I feel like everything about parenting you so far is simply a matter of stimulus-response.  I feel like all the choices we've made aren't really choices at all, they're simply what a parent must do.  But in recent talks with some of my close, more experienced parent friends (mostly on the west coast) and my new mama friends, I realize this isn't true at all.  We are making very conscious choices about parenting you.  They are also just the most natural choices for us, so they seem seamless and innate. 

I think it must have started when we decided to give birth at home.  Trusting that our bodies would figure it out, knowing that this pain is special and doesn't need to be managed artificially, not wanting you to be subjected to any unnecessary interventions...and we were so so lucky that it all worked out! That moments after your head crowned, you were at my breast.  That you spent your first hour on my belly, just snuggling with your daddy and me.  After the placenta was delivered, after the cord was cut, after you had nipped a little colostrum, then we weighed you and washed you off and got you dressed.  And then we just snuggled some more. We all dozed, snacked, cuddled and just sort of all got acquainted with each other.  After that, it didn't make any sense to have you sleep anywhere but in bed with us.  We all slept there together during the day (you were born at 7:53am-we had been up all night and needed some shut eye!), so it made sense to continue it that night.  Plus, there was no way I was letting you out of my reach for even a moment, you were too new, too tiny and had been through too much.  So you slept on my chest that first night.  And the second.  The third day, we got a lesson in nursing laying down and from that point on, you slept next to me.

You still sleep right next to me.  It's wonderful.  Most nights, we are in bed for ten hours, sleeping most of them.  You will wake up when you're hungry and I will feed you, both of us drifting back to sleep like this.  After the first time, I'll wake up a little more to switch sides with you.  Sometimes you need a diaper change.  Sometimes you're upset and we need to get out of the bedroom to let Daddy sleep, but really, those nights are few and far between.  I feel sort of guilty-what new mom sleeps more than she did before she had kids!?!  But sometimes I do. 

Another thing we do is wear you.  You nap in your sling or on my lap.  Sometimes I'll move you to your swing if I need to shower or something, but most of the time, you are right next to me.  I've pushed you in the stroller exactly zero times.  I didn't think much about this until yesterday, honestly.  We were on the subway coming back from a doctor's appointment (your hearing is perfect, by the way) and another family with a baby about your age got in our car.  The differences were striking.  Both girls were napping, but you were asleep on my chest, wearing a hand knit, made-with-love turquoise sun hat. This little girl was flat on her back in a stroller, decked out in all ballerina pink socks, pants, shirt and hat (with the hat pulled over her eyes), encased in a plastic rain bubble (though it was 65 degrees and sunny).  So, you were both asleep and clearly just fine, but it was a jarring image for me.  I would never ever transport you like that.  And they would probably never ever transport her like I was.  And I'm sure both sets of mamas would say their way is easier and it would be true for both of us.  But I couldn't help myself feeling a little sad for this little girl who couldn't be touched without a major production of unzipping the bubble, untucking the blankets around her and unstrapping her from her seat.  I slipped my pinkie finger into your sleeping hand and felt your whole fist tighten around me.  No way is right or wrong, but they are clearly different.

And speaking of the doctor, we went to get your hearing tested by a specialist because Dr. T. couldn't get an accurate reading.  You were sleeping when we arrived, but woke up to the excitement of kids playing in the waiting room.  When we saw the doctor, he was annoyed that you were awake and protesting his putting gadgets in your ears.  "We try to schedule these appointments during nap time immediately after the baby has eaten. What time would that be? Can you come back then?"  I actually laughed out loud.  Sweet Pea, we are not on a schedule.  You eat when you are hungry, you sleep when you are tired and that's that. The clock striking 10am means nothing to you. This actually is intentional on my part.  Crazy as this is, I know too much about food issues and body image and how so many people are out of tune with their bodies.  Many women honestly do not know when they are hungry and do not know when they are full.  I would love for you to never worry about your weight, or to attach judgement to what you eat.  I truly believe that the first step to having that healthy relationship with food can be established as you eat on cue now. 

So, three months in, are we total and complete hippie "Attachment Parents"? Maybe so.  We definitely are following the 8 Principles of Parenting so far.  Will we continue this throughout your life?  Who knows.  I suspect we will continue to try to follow the principles, but know that what it looks like will change.  I have learned in my life that I don't do so well operating under labels. I quit calling myself a vegan even though I was one at 15 and 16, I am just as likely these days to say I am pagan as I don't want to label our parenting style at all. I just like to say we're doing what works for us.  And you are a very happy baby, so it seems to be working for you, too.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

13 weeks AND 3 months old

Dear Pea,
Today is your third month and 13th week anniversary of being on the outside!  Things have gotten easier for me and your daddy-we sort of know what's up with you and what your different cries (screams) mean.  Really, it's a choice of three things: 1) I'm sleepy 2) I'm hungry 3) Screw everyone else, I want my mama!  I've been teaching for three weeks now, which means I'm out of the house not on your schedule for 2 to 3 hours.  Yesterday you hung out with Grammy for three hours while I taught two classes and you were really pretty good.  You played with her, bestowing some laughs here and there, and slept for her, but you gave her plenty of choice 3 screams, too.  We'll work on this. But truly it is getting better. Even Daddy this morning, after hanging out with you while I taught class, said that he noticed you're happier with other people (and him!).

I mentioned last time that you love television. Oh, Pea, if only it were that.  You do love pretty much any time the TV is on, but if the Rangers are playing? Forget it.  You know Sam Rosen, the announcer, by voice and will not do anything else while the Rangers are on.  The last night the played, I was trying to feed you and you refused to latch on, turning your head instead to the television. After several tries to get you to eat, we finally muted the TV and you happily nursed. Seriously. Then, after mealtime, we turned the sound back on and you happily watched the game with Daddy.  Philosophically, this goes against every grain of what I had intended as a parent.  I mean, TV?? I didn't even have a TV until I moved in with your daddy! But, man, is it cute to watch the two of you watching hockey together.

You new favorite game is to be on your back and for me to pull you either to a sit or a stand. My intention when playing this game was to pull you up to a seated position, but you will push yourself up to standing if you want. You like to stand, grasping my pointer fingers with your whole hands, your head steady for a bit, wobbly for a bit.  And speaking of your hands, they are one of the most delicious things to you.  You will sometimes muscle out my nipple to put your fingers in your mouth.  Every time you do this, you look up at me with a special teasing smile on your face.  You have quite a sense of humor already and love to play with us. You still have your other favorite things, too: getting dressed, especially if something is going over your head; Head Shoulders Knees and Toes; blowing raspberries.  You LOVE your mobile (I call it "your hearts" because all of the dangles are heart shaped)-it's above your changing table so you really don't mind having your diaper changed. 

Lately your sleep schedule has changed a little bit and about 9 hours after you went to sleep for the night, Daddy and I are treated to what he has dubbed "The Rachel Maddow Pea Hour" or "Talking with the Pea."  You wake up happy, usually around 6am, and just chatter for an hour. You make sure that you're talking to both of us, making eye contact and sometimes using your arms and legs to emphasize points. I guess the books call this cooing, but there are a lot of other sounds besides the gentle "ooohs."  You like to say GA! and DA! and AAAAAAH! I swear one time you said OK and you've said Dada at least twice, but not really referring to anyone, so Daddy didn't count it.  You are also a fan of the EEEEEEE sound, with Gs and Ds and Bs around it.  Sometimes your voice is soft and sweet and sometimes you get excited and will sort of yell, but it's a happy sound and you really do sound like you're debating politics (hence "The Rachel Maddow Pea Hour"). After saying your piece, you nurse yourself back to sleep for another few hours.

Sweet Pea, I know there is already so much that I haven't captured or realized; time just flies by.  Someone once told me that, in parenthood, the days are long but the years are short.  Kiddo, the days are short, too! (Maybe they meant the nights are long). You grow and thrive and become your own person more and more every moment it seems.  It is a great privilege to bear witness.  I am so madly in love with you.