Your 1st birthday party!

by Milton on Mon, May 16th, 2011

in Letters to baby,Year 1

Dear Axelrod,

Here are some pictures from your 1st birthday party yesterday:

I have to say, I am feeling rather overwhelmed with love and gratitude for you, Esther, and the group of friends and family who celebrated your 1st birthday today (whether they could make it to our rainy house or not). I mean, really, the universe dealt you some pretty dang amazing cards when it comes to the people who love you right off the bat without even having to do much yet.

And then you went ahead and took your first real solid steps and sealed the deal. At your own party. Well played!

Of course, the cheering scared you so much that you crumpled into a ball and started crying, but I think that’s just because you can’t quite tell the difference between people cheering FOR you and people jeering AT you. I promise it was the former. We all are quite taken with your every step, literally.

You got a cape with the first letter of your name on it, which you should never take off.

You got a ukulele. And Jenny helped tune it and play you the first dozen or so lovely songs on it. I have some uke practice cut out for me.

You hung out with your baby friends Owen, and Lilia, and Tavi. They are gonna give you a run for your cute money, you better watch your back.

And one of the most amazing gifts of the day was from your urban family member Carinna, who compiled all the letters we wrote to you before you were born, and all the letters your urban family members wrote to you at Esther’s baby shower for you. It’s a lovely book filled with love for you, and it brought tears to our eyes to read the things within.

Here’s to a long tradition of letters to you from the people who love you.

Love,
Papa

{ 1 comment }

Happy Birthday, Baby!

by Esther on Sat, May 14th, 2011

in Baby,Challenges,Documentation,Sleep,Year 1

One year ago tonight I went to a burlesque show with great hope of finding some loving, sexy energy that would slide my baby out from his comfortable nest within.  My water broke during intermission.

One year ago tomorrow, I became a mother.  I’m sad to report that I haven’t been to a single burlesque show (or show in general) since.  I am happy to report the following:

Axelrod has been with us for a year.  He is amazing.  He is sweet and hilarious.  He, like the other people I am attracted to and love, is already somewhat complicated and layered.  He somehow manages to embody the adjectives slow, easy, feeling, introspective and observant while also being silly, stubborn, persistent, curious, and happy.

Today, while I sat and typed a gratuitous email on my iPhone, Niko cruised around our coffee table with a crumpled dollar in his hand.  Trying to get my attention, proud of his acquisition, he waved to me.  I smiled and continued to type while watching him from my periphery.   He reached the end of the coffee table, grinning, and took three steps towards me.  These are his first multiple steps!  He did them without any encouragement.  It is so like him to wait until we don’t expect him to do something, then get right into it.  He laughed, we laughed.  We all knew we were having a moment.

To prepare for those three steps, his sleep has been difficult lately. When I say “difficult,” I mean to the tune of hourly + wakings a night.  Every 2 hours, I seem to be able to handle.  Every hour?  Not so easily.  It is a testament to how awesome this kid is when I tell you that we continue to survive and continue to laugh with him for the majority of our day.  We trust that his second year will bring more rest to the whole family.

This year, I have learned so much.  I don’t know how to put it all into words.  I am practicing patience.  I am navigating the wilds of marriage with new added richness and responsibility.  I am learning, through my child, how to be more authentic and true to myself.  I am learning how to forget about an afternoon of stress and, instead, just go to the playground!  I am learning to let go, while holding together so much.

I never knew my heart could be so full.  I never knew that the simplest children’s books could make me cry so much.  I never knew how much one very small person could change my life.  I never knew that hard work could be so gratifying, or that something so gratifying could be so difficult.  I never really understood how much being a parent could change me; I realize that no one could ever know.

Obviously, I am so glad that we decided to walk down this road.  I love my little family, utterly, and can not imagine my life without this husband or baby.  I am so thankful to have both of those spirits in my life.  I feel totally fortunate.  Even in my darkest, most resentful moments (believe me, I’ve had many), I feel grateful.

Thanks so much to all of you for following us along on this journey.  And!

 

Happy Birthday, Axelrod!

{ 2 comments }

Hi!

by Esther on Thu, May 5th, 2011

in Baby,Documentation

We’ve just come from the most lovely weekend in Northern California.  We three headed down to San Francisco to attend the wedding of a a dear friend.  On Tuesday, we drove up north to see one of my best old friends from high school and her lovely little family.

There was lots of wine, dressing up, and laughing so hard that my jaw hurt.  Our little guy had a sitter for 3 nights in a row and made sure to let us know as we left on the third night that it was NOT OK (we made it up to him later, I swear).  We got to see friends that we have been missing for ages.  We got to relax a bit and remember who we are, away from the lists and chugging every-day responsibilities.

I was able to meditate on what I need to work on creatively in order to feel as if I’m being the best possible expression of myself.  This last difficult (and still sleepless) winter has been hard on my body and mind.  I have honestly been feeling stagnated and stressed.  Prior to our short trip away, I had already been wondering about how to challenge myself to rise again to the occasion of celebrating life.

And then a little something happened…. Or, well, many MANY little somethings happened… but one thing in particular happened that made me think of this blog, what it means to me, and what might be done with it.

After a Monday night of drinking a fabulous amount of wine with some old friends, I returned to my friend Myrtle’s fancy hotel room (girlfriend works in the industry) with Axelrod at about 1am (he had been sleeping at our friends’ house prior!).  Between 1am and 7, kiddo nursed 4 times.  I’m sure that this was punishment for the three nights of sitters, but it’s always something with him, anyway.  Anyhow this is all just to illustrate to you how very EXHAUSTED and somewhat hung over I was.

Seriously, people.  I was straight up grumpy.  We met Milton at a cafe and grunted our way through some pancakes, coffee and oatmeal.  In the middle of our meal, a lady with a gorgeous baby stopped over to our table and asked if I had a blog.  I do, I told her, and thought to myself In fact, I have 3 blogs that I have completely ignored for the last 8 months.  She knew this blog in particular, which is the blog that is about my most wonderful and prized life happening, and she said that she had followed our story.  Well that just blew me right out of grumpytown and made me feel awesome.  It also convinced me that I should come back here and hash out some thoughts about my most wonderful and prized life happening from time to time.

So!  Hi!  Parenthood has this remarkable ability to make the sweetest time pass so quickly.  It’s as if I can hardly get a grip on how temporary everything is.  Every little thing my son does is just one moment in time until he does something else.  Every day he changes under my close observation.  Every day is magic, of course, even when it’s difficult.  Which, to be honest, it often is.

Our guy talks like a chatterbox these days.  He says Mama, Go, NO, Dog, and Cat.  He yells at balls.  He sometimes takes a step, but hasn’t walked yet.  He is still not a good sleeper at all, but I do feel as if we are making VERY SLOW progress.  He is persistent, hilarious, fat as all give out, sweet, cuddly, and just loves to kiss and hug every other kid he can get his hands around.  He’s a hilarious dancer and seems to be composing complicated symphonies with his hands at all times (see above photo).  We love him, completely.

He will be one year old in 1.5 weeks.  Holy moley.

 

 

 

{ 10 comments }

Hello everyone! Happy New Year!!

I was stopped so many times in the past few weeks and asked about this blog! I didn’t realize that there were so many people following our story and want to thank you all so very much for your support!

We haven’t been updating over here for a few reasons. First of all, Milton has started a new company and is really dedicating every second of his time to making that company work. If you’re interested in checking out those digs, I would really recommend it, especially if you are resolved to improve your health during 2011.

Second, I have been in sleep deprived mommy swirl. I barely remember these past few months. I have skimmed every book that anyone ever suggested to try and get our Crane to sleep more than an hour at a time, with little success. He’s just not a good sleeper. Yet!

Here is a comment I shared in an entry below that I thought should be shared on this blog, in general:

The whole sleep regression never really ended for us. We’re just maybe, sort of rounding the bend now, when our guy is almost 8 months of age.

I have had a lot of thoughts about sleep and parenting in the past few months. I’ve felt mentally ill. At my worst, I’ve felt that mothering was an exercise in misogyny. I’ve had 3am mommy meltdowns that have SHAMED me when 9 am rolled around again and I made myself a cup of coffee.

I’ve rallied, again and again, telling myself that I CAN handle it! If he only wakes every other hour, I CAN handle it. And it’s true, if he only wakes every OTHER hour, I can do it and still go to work and smile and cook and go for walks. But where does that leave me when he wakes every hour? Every 30 minutes? Because, believe me, that has been more the norm than him waking every other hour.

Two things that have recently helped me:

1) Calms Forte. This is a homeopathic sleep-aid that my naturopath suggested I try. I take three every night before bed. They have helped me avoid MOST mommy meltdowns and have kept me groggy through all the feedings, whereas before, my sleep deprived brain would get mighty anxious and keep me awake with all its incessant and bitchy blather.

2) This is a new development, but now Milton is taking a long middle of the night parenting shift. We are going to gradually start night weaning so that Mr. Crane ultimately doesn’t ask for it between 12 and 7am. Last night I fed him at 11, and then again at 2. Then, Milton came up from his couch and I went downstairs. Between 2-7, Mr. Crane punched his pop when he woke, but knew he couldn’t get any, so ultimately went back to sleep. I fed him again at 7 and we had family bed time until 8.

I feel GREAT today. This might just work for us. I am closing my ears to anyone who tells me that I shouldn’t night wean until he is a year old because I really don’t think that my crazymaking stress hormones are good for any of us. Mr. Crane is a 25lb 7.5 month old, and he will get through this alive and sweet, I am SURE.

I hope to be blogging a little bit more over here once my brain is kept clear for a bit longer. Until then, here is a holiday photo of our lovable dude:

Mr. Crane meets Santa for the first time!

{ 17 comments }

4.5 Month Old Days…

by Esther on Wed, Oct 6th, 2010

in Baby,Challenges,Month 5,Parenthood,Sleep

Oh internet, where does the time go? Oh! Wait! I know where it went…

I lost it to the so called 4 month sleep regression. This, of course, came in tandem with my triumphant return to the VAIN beauty world and our baby’s first cold.  Seriously, the world of baby parenting decided to throw me three difficult things at once and see if we would sink or swim.

We swam.  We swam our hearts out!  We swam even when we felt we were sinking.  We adults navigated through exhausted rows with each other, necessary naps that were foiled by the ever-present boogers, and nights peppered with our sweet baby waking every 45 minutes to nurse.  We swam because we had to.

There were days when I wondered how I was even standing by the end of my shift at work.  There were even days when I dove right into a glass of wine as soon as the baby went down.  But one thing that came out of it was this:

The further we went down the path of no sleep, the further we went down the path of shifting the baby from one partner to another to facilitate sleep before a productive day at work…  the further we moved from fighting with each other to actually working with each other.

I meditated soundly on keeping my mind quiet.  Every time my exhausted brain tried to tell me some story about why things weren’t working for ME, I went for a walk, took a bath, or just left the stupid laundry and dishes to fester.  In the meantime, my husband, who is really so amazing, did his absolute most to give me a break when ever I looked like I was going to break.  We worked better on the mechanics of parenting together, and I would say that ultimately this month of sleep regression/boogers/work has come out making us much stronger.

Of course, it helps that our child looks like this:

Yep.  Not sure.

I mean. Seriously.

{ 4 comments }

I had certainly heard of 4 month old sleep regressions, and then I suddenly found myself in the midst of one, confused.  As if the 4 month regression wasn’t supposed to apply to me.

For nights on end, my little bubbly crane has been waking me at least every hour, screaming to nurse.  It was so startling.  And then, after days, I found myself exhausted and questioning things like co-sleeping, nursing, and parenting in general.  I was worried that I was making the wrong sleeping decisions for our family, and asking Milton every day what we could change so that we could all get some sleep.

Most startling was the scream he would wake with.  As if I wasn’t right there, next to him.  I worried that he was getting demanding with the boobs, thinking about all of those “cry it out” instructions and all of those people who ever told me that co-sleeping wouldn’t work.  I didn’t know quite what to do because, hey! we live in a studio.  Crying it out would be crying it out for the whole family, and I can’t have that right when I’m about to go back to work.  Plus I can’t bear to hear it from my awesome baby.  If he’s crying, he needs me.  And we needed sleep- not exhausted tears!

The worst was last Saturday night.  I was getting ready to go out for my very first dancing night on the town since, goodness, last New Years Eve, and our little crane was nuts with screaming.  I’ve never heard anything like it.  We had been out all day and he was certainly sleepy, but he had gotten some naps in and shouldn’t have been feeling as if he were being murdered.  Eventually, he fell asleep in Milton’s arms… Milton shoo’d me out the door… and I went DANCING.  I felt horribly guilty, but it certainly renewed my confidence and efforts through the all night long nursing.

As sleep regressions are supposed to be coupled with big developmental surges, I watched our crane for scooting, which he’s doing a little bit of, but that sort of brain activity didn’t seem to count towards screaming.  Little guy is too sweet for that.

Finally, yesterday at bath time, he pulled a my finger to his mouth.  He loves tasting the water on my fingers.  Water is a crazy curiousity to him, right now!  He likes it, but hasn’t figured out that it can be fun.  It’s scary, interesting… and it tastes good.  He chomped down on my finger and OMG!  TOOTH!!  His lower left-hand front tooth is poking out!

I cried my eyes out and gave him his first breast milk popsicle.  I’m going to cherish every last one of the gummy bites on the right side of his mouth.

I was extra patient through last night’s nursing.  Poor guy.  Teeth hurt!  I was really hoping we had more time without them.

In other news, he is rolling over! He started about 2 weeks ago. Above is a photo I managed to snap right after his first time getting to his belly on his own. I asked him how he felt! He said I FEEL TOUGH.

Since he’s such a big boy now, I put him in the main seat of his stroller for the first time. It was hard for me to do because I love to have him face me in his infant seat so that I can watch his every funny expression… but I thought we’d try it out. I’m happy to report that he was also skeptical about not seeing his mom all the time…

Also of note… our guy now weighs 20 pounds. I know! Right?

{ 3 comments }

Reunion!

by Esther on Mon, Aug 16th, 2010

in Baby,Month 4,Parenthood

Baby Pile!

Yesterday we went to our birth class reunion!  It was such a blast seeing so many healthy and happy babies all up in a pile, and wonderful to reconnect with our doula master, Penny Simkin.

Just a few short months ago, when our class last met, we were a bunch of nervous and very very pregnant almost-parents.  We wouldn’t have known what to do with a baby if you had chucked one to us!  Milton and I hadn’t even changed a diaper in decades, since our long past junior high school baby sitting gigs.  We sat in class to practice breathing, voice our concerns, and watch videos in which women made harrowing sounds to bring their babies into the world.  We were totally labor focused, of course, because it was a home BIRTHING class.  I for one could hardly imagine what it would be like to hold a silky three month old in my arms, much more imagine how I could possibly become a breast feeding champ and screaming baby wrangler (luckily the screaming part doesn’t happen often).

Yet, yesterday, there we were!  A parcel of relaxed and experienced baby parents who could carry on conversations with one another while flipping a baby from one side to another to keep them entertained and quiet!  Amazing!!!

It was so great to see everyone and get a look into the essential selves that all of those babies had on display.

Here are a bunch in a pile, with my sack of potatoes son rising a whole head and shoulders above the rest.  Aren’t they sweet?!  Look at those little faces!!

{ 3 comments }

Had someone told me during all of those years that I spent being my own selfish self that I would love a baby as much as I love you, I probably would have laughed them off.  If I could have felt even a tenth of that love, like watching a preview for a fantastic movie, I might have called all my own selfishness off and gone ahead with The Parent Agenda a bit too soon.

I don’t regret having gotten around to my parent agenda a bit late in the game.  I got to spend many years becoming my own person, operating by my own whim, and cultivating my own character.  That’s a pretty awesome thing and I consider myself very fortunate to live in a modern age where women even have the option of becoming 100% of their possibility before offering some of that possibility up to the whim of a little baby.

Now that you are here, while I look back on the years before you with some nostalgia, I would never go back to a time when you weren’t a part of my life.  Rather, I want to take every magical thing that I learned during my time before you and show you just how wonderful life can be.

I hope that you have all the opportunities that I did, and more.  I want to help you feel free enough to experience every emotion, free to trod down any path, and free enough to try your hand at any craft that will help you develop your own special brand of person.

I spent a lot of time getting to know myself, but it wasn’t until I started getting to know you that I felt all of my experiences close in full circle.  The best way I know how to thank you for that is to be the best parent I can possibly be for you.  I probably wouldn’t have been able to be that parent if you had come into my life a decade sooner.

I’m glad we both waited.  I’m glad you’re here now.  I know that I’m happy.  So far, you seem pretty happy, too.

Love,

Your Mom

{ 4 comments }

On Diapering…

by Esther on Wed, Jul 21st, 2010

in Baby,Challenges,Diapering,Month 3,Sleep

In the beginning, we decided to use disposables for a few weeks so that we could learn our Little Crane’s schedule… and figure out how to change diapers in general.  Our plan was to switch to a pre-fold diaper service after the trial disposable period, which was supposed to last for 2 weeks.

We started off with Pampers Swaddlers because someone had brought over a few and they seemed to work well.  After a short while, I was totally disenchanted with them.  If he wet himself an awful lot, the diapers would ooze bits of the gel inside that contained the wet.  The gel was hard to clean off and really grossed me out.  What is in this gel, anyway?  I didn’t know that I wanted it near my son’s bits.  Also, the Pampers had this crazy crazy diaper stink.  The kind of smell that comes out of a public bathroom, where they try to contain all that nasty with detergents that we all now associate with more nasty.  Every time the lid to the diaper can (which was OH SO CONVENIENTLY next to our bed during the first 3 weeks) came up, my sensitive noise balked and my gag reflex engaged.

Luckily, he quickly grew out of size one diapers and we switched him to Whole Foods brand size 2 (for some reason the ones were not available).  These don’t use nasty gel to contain the wet, and do a pretty awesome job without it.  I’ve never had a problem with leaking unless our son has been obviously neglected (I won’t get into those afternoons when maybe we weren’t as attentive as we should have been).  Also, they don’t try to hide the fact that poop stinks with a fragrance that frankly, stinks.  So, in my opinion, the diaper pail was easier on the nose.

By now you’re probably thinking that we used disposables far beyond the reach of 2 weeks, and you’re right!  We were a little bit daunted by the idea of cloth diapering during that first month.  The second month, I procrastinated a little.  Finally, some friends of ours gave us some Thirsties brand covers to try out.  My mom also generously offered to pay for several months of our diaper service.  I finally started using the pre-folds with covers about a week ago!

I have to say… it’s really easy.  I’m sort of ashamed that I didn’t start a little sooner, but at least I know that we don’t have to fear the cloth!  A pre-fold service is probably the easiest way to go if you’re turning to cloth.  I don’t have to handle any more laundry in our tiny studio; all the dirty diapers magically disappear once a week and get replaced by clean diapers right outside our door!  Once I got the knack of folding and positioning the fold, I got pretty darn quick with it.

Sadly, the Thirsties didn’t last more than 2 days.  The extra small size was just too small on our gentle giant.  Luckily, I had a bunch of Bum Genius covers that had been lent to us from an old friend back east.  I tried them on a few weeks ago with the inserts she sent along before we started getting pre-fold service and they were pretty giant on him.  We immediately had a terrible blowout that managed to somehow work it’s way all around the house!  I put them away for a while, thinking that they would maybe fit when he was 6 months old.  But, well, when I decided that the Thirsties didn’t fit and that I didn’t want to buy a whole ‘nother set of 6 diaper covers right away… I tried the Bum Genius covers out again, this time just using the pre-fold against his skin, rather than stuffing the pocket.  I know that’s not the way you’re supposed to use them, but they seem to be working just fine!  We haven’t had a single accident in the past week, which is more than I can say for any other week with disposables.

Now our guy lets us know EVERY TIME he is wet.  IMMEDIATELY.  He does NOT like to be wet.  Luckily, the wet voice is has a pretty obvious tone.  It sounds like he’s saying, “Hey!  WTF?  I’m not comfortable and you need to take care of it.”  It’s not a cry!  It’s an uncomfortable alert that will eventually turn into a cry if we don’t change him within around 15 minutes.  Now I’m finding that this guy generally needs changing every 45 minutes to an hour during the day.  This is actually pretty awesome because I feel as if it will ultimately make our communication with each other much better.  I am hoping to start watching for cues during the next few months so we can try our hands at Elimination Communication for a few hours every day and perhaps give him an early start to taking care of business on his own.

Because he gets so upset about wetting himself, we are still using disposables during the night and when we go out for long spells in not very kid friendly venues during the day.  I’m just not willing to stress the whole family out by taking on multiple diaper changes during the night.  We are enjoying sleeping for a few hours at a time!  We are also enjoying the mornings, when I bring our Crane to bed at 5,  just roll over to nurse him at 7, and sleep until 9.  That delicious morning time wouldn’t be possible without his sporting those disposables.

Here he is just yesterday in a Bum Genius cover, as I swaddled him to take a nap and he thought about how to torture the cat once he gets full control of his hands:

Swaddle Times

(Please ignore the fact that his outfit does not match.  It made sense before I took his pants and jacket off for his nap!)

{ 8 comments }

Our 8 Week Appointment!

by Esther on Mon, Jul 19th, 2010

in Baby,Documentation,Month 3

We took our Lucky Crane to his 8 week appointment with Dr. Cullen last Friday.  Technically, it was an 8 week and 6 day appointment since mom kept forgetting to schedule it in.  We are pleased to report that he is very healthy and practically perfect in every way.

He will start his vaccination shots at his next appointment.  He’s on a limited schedule because mom thinks it’s best, and really- he’s not going to daycare doesn’t need too much junk in him at once.  For now, I’m just fattening him up with my ridiculous amounts of breast milk to keep him chugging along.  And I’m not kidding about fat!  At 9 weeks old, he is a WHOPPING 25 inches long and 16 pounds, 1 ounce wide.  He’s not even on the charts for his weight, is at the top of the charts for his height… and has an average sized head (thank goodness, says mom).

Here he is, not caring a bit for modesty, sharing all his baby blubber with the world, wearing his polka dot bikini:

Ready to roller skate down Venice Beach

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