From the monthly archives:

July 2010

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

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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!)

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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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Will You Look at This Guy?

by Esther on Mon, Jul 19th, 2010

in Baby,Documentation,Month 3,Parenthood

So satisfied with himself for sort of holding up his own head while sitting in his Bumbo seat.  So ridiculous I crack up every time I see this photo!!  I mean, really!  It’s verging on too much hilariousness.  Babies are surely the greatest invention of the whole round human race.  So delicious that it’s amazing we don’t eat them up for real.

Chuffed Chubs

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Sleep

by Esther on Wed, Jul 14th, 2010

in Baby,Challenges,Month 2,Sleep

“Is he sleeping through the night?”

I must get asked this question at least 4 times a week.  The first person who asked it was asking when our little baby boy was only 2 weeks old!  ”Of course he’s not!” I answered.  Had he been sleeping through the night at 2 weeks of age, I would have been ripping my hair out wondering what was wrong.

According to every book I read about infants and sleep, he won’t be physically or mentally prepared to sleep through the night until he’s about 4 months of age.  This is universally accepted from the rigid Baby Wise to the attachment parenting guru, Dr. Sears.  So?  Why am I being asked this question about my 8 week old?

About 4 nights ago, our Lucky Crane slept for a full 6 hours.  I, however, have not gotten 6 hours of full sleep since he was born.  For the last 2 hours of that 6 hour stretch, I laid on the couch next to the pram, dozing and waiting for him to wake with my huge aching breasts, telling myself not to worry and NOT to wake the sleeping baby.

So, you see, he’s not the only one who’s not quite ready to sleep through the night.

We have adapted pretty well to the strange new parent sleeping cycle.  I try to let Milton sleep through most of the feeding shifts because he has to have brains enough to work with during the day, whereas I can (and often do) take a two hour nap in the afternoon right next to the baby.  The biggest physical problem I’ve noticed in myself after a couple of months of sleeping in 2 hour bursts is that I’m grinding my teeth quite a bit and spending a lot of my day with an aching jaw.  I’m hoping that my next acupuncture appointment can relieve some of that pressure.  I know for a fact that quitting coffee would also relieve some pressure… but I’m not sure how to do that just now.  I tried to quit right after the birth, but was so plagued by the withdraw headache that I went right back to my cup in the morning and have not felt one ounce of guilt.  This isn’t a huge problem, though, the headaches from coffee withdraw are far far worse than the occasional headache from my jaw being troublesome.

I get a lot done in the middle of the afternoon and early evenings when our guy sleeps for long bursts.  And I get a lot of cuddle sleepy times in between 6am and 10am, when we both wake and sleep in each other’s arms between bursts of cluster feeding.  This has become one of my favorite times of the day!  I truly believe in breast feeding on demand, and feel very connected to him through this process.

So.  No, our boy is not sleeping through the night.  But we’re feeling pretty alright about that for now.

Sleepy men

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So.  I want to lose 10 pounds of baby weight by the end of the summer.

I kept in pretty good shape through my pregnancy!  I did yoga very regularly and walked everywhere.  My eating habits are pretty darn good, too.   But, still, I gained 35 pounds.  2o of that came off right away, and then 5 more were sweat into the bed in the first week or two after his birth.  That was great!  I had never undergone such a physical change so quickly.  There were days when I looked into the mirror and said things like, “I can’t believe I EVER thought I needed to lose a single pound before pregnancy!”  After all those weeks of growing bigger and BIGGER, I felt so tiny in those first weeks after labor and delivery.

That said, my skinny feelings are over.  Like, really over.  Nothing fits.  I have a closet full of pretty dresses that won’t zip over my anything.  I have a shelf full of size 28 jeans that can barely fit around my ample thighs.  It’s not horrible.  It’s not earth-shattering.  It’s certainly not a deep and meaty thing to talk about… but it I do feel a little disheartened.

I am stoked to be a mom, but I want to be a hot mom!  I want to be a mom with something that resembles my old body.  I realize that I’ll have a little bit of extra that requires me to wear my Spanks a little more often, but I at least want my dresses to zip.

SO!  With all of this in mind, I have eaten my last almond croissant for a while and I am getting down to business with proper eating.  I’m sure that I’ll feel like eating the floor often enough, and I’m also sure that I’ll let myself eat the floor since I am breast-feeding a boy who is above the 95th percentile for size… but the floor had better be made of whole grains, veggies, and lean proteins.  No more fish and chips from Ivar’s, no more sneaking cookies, and no more rationalizing french toast for breakfast.

I am also glad to have the green light to work out to my heart’s content again.  Mind you, my heart’s content isn’t all that much… it’s usually just enough.

To help my workouts, I have made a promise to myself to be more outdoorsy. We live in the Pacific Northwest, and this is absolutely stunning country.  When I moved here, it was my intention to get more in touch with my love of nature.  I had lost touch with the land after all of those years living in New York City!  It can’t be helped!  So I figured I’d get back in touch with mother nature in the Olympics and the Cascades, no problem.  Yet, I’ve been here for two and a half years now and have only been on ONE single hike.  It’s just hard to get moving in the great outdoors when you’re a total downtown dweller with no car.

I vocalized all of this to a friend recently, and she let me know that she too needs to be more outdoorsy!  AND!  She actually has a car.

We made a date to head out to our first hike today with another girlfriend in tow!  It wasn’t a huge hike, but it was still a pretty impressive feat for our first time out.  We hiked the trail to Rattlesnake Ledge, which is 4 miles, roundtrip, and about a 1200 foot elevation gain.

Axelrod rode in his Ergo carrier, which is so perfect for longer walks.  He fared pretty well!  I had to stop in the middle of the climb to nurse him.  Once we got to the summit point, I changed him like a big brave hippie with all of these totally stunning views around us.  Then, he lay there on the rock with us, wide eyed.  He really loves being outside in the sunshine!  He gets so alert and I wonder just what he can see out there.  He always cries when I pick him up to move to our next destination.  I love that he can sit still and enjoy himself so much, and don’t take a moment of that peace for granted.

On the way down the mountain, he got a little difficult and I figured out how to nurse him in his Ergo while hiking down the mountain.  I felt very proud of myself, like the La Leche League should give me a special advanced nursing badge or something.  And now?  I guess I’m fully a PNW mom.

I did learn a few things for our next hike.  Like!?  Maybe I should have had pants and booties on the baby to keep his little legs and feet away from all of those mosquitos.  And maybe I should have brought a banana with me, because I sure wanted one.  Maybe I should have brought a little pad for him to lay on (though laying on the Ergo seemed to make him happy enough).  But we did a pretty good job, and boy am I ever tired tonight.

And, all that diet talk aside… and I totally ordered a beer when we went out for lunch after our hike.  Gosh, was it ever deeeelicious.

Burping on the trail

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We three got all gussied up last weekend for a lovely wedding! It was my first real night to play dress-up since our boy was born, and I really tried to represent for all new and exhausted moms out there.

I bought a new dress, dictated outfits for Milton and Axelrod (they only rolled their eyes at me a little), and hopped up the street to the salon I work in to (finally) get my legs waxed earlier in the week. The day of the wedding, I even had my makeup done at VAIN! Thank goodness it’s only a few blocks away and my girl Belinda can work fast on under eye circles.

The bride walked down the asile to Spiritualized’s Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space and I about crumpled in a thousand romantic tears.  I even missed the perfect shot of her walking down the aisle because I was just so overwhelmed taking in the beauty of it all.  Admittedly, it doesn’t take much to set me off these days.  All anybody ever needs to make me cry is a mix of love, family, and gorgeous music … add some pretty dresses on a sublime Pacific North-West day and a couple making a life-long commitment to each other and I am done for!

We took some photos of each other holding the baby in all our sunny day finery!

My Handsome Gentlemen

Getting used to his monkey suit

Sadly, the little vintage romper that our little boy is sporting barely fit his baby flub!  I had to leave his zipper partly undone.  I’m so glad he got to wear it out once!  He’s growing out of his adorable duds way too quickly.  Between the both of us being so chubby, I don’t know how I’ll ever keep up with finding outfits that work.

I have to admit!  I made one big fat mothering mistake with our outfit planning.  I couldn’t find a dress that I liked that was good for nursing.  Milton and I figured that we could just bring a few bottles to the wedding with us.  I don’t mean to sound cold when telling you that I choose fashion over nursing, but the boy doesn’t really have a problem taking bottles from his dad in the middle of the day or in the evening when I go to the gym!  But, apparently! nothing but a boob will do for his 6-8pm bedtime witching hours.  Now we know!  I spent a good portion of the wedding reception in the bathroom with my pretty dress around my waist and my baby at my breast.

That lesson learned, I think that I’ll be going out in our neighborhood once a week this summer so that Milton can show him just how great it is to be dadded down with a bottle!

Once I momed him down, we put him straight into the Ergo on Milton and had ourselves some cake and dancing times.  We were home by 10 for a final bedtime, enjoyed by all, high on love and romance.

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It’s bittersweet to report that we have attended our 6 week midwife appointment and no longer have an officially legitimate need to hang out with the ladies at Rainy City Midwifery.

I was really looking forward to the appointment.  I desperately wanted a physical green light to get back to spinning class and, even more, wanted to weigh in my HUGE child.

For days before the appointment, as we looked at our baby who seems to grow larger during every nap, Milton and I would ask each other, “How much do you think he weighs now?”  We took bets.  Fourteen pounds max was the general consensus.

Well?  Our baby exceeded our fattest expectations!  He weighed in, perfectly naked, at a whopping 14 pounds and 7 ounces!  He is 24.25 inches long.  He is above the 95th percentile for both height and weight.

On our way out of our midwife office, we met another baby who is 6 months old.  My 6 week old outweighs her by over a pound!  Can you imagine?  No wonder my back already aches from his sling!

Fatty in the Sling!

In other news, our midwives were surprised to note that my abdominal muscles have already magically closed back together.  This means that I can get back to spinning and all of those other terrible classes that I LOVE going to the gym to take.  Which means that maybe someday I’ll lose this 10 pounds of mom fat…. (but that’s a whole ‘nother entry).

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This Guy

Please don’t crucify me for admitting this to the public at large, but I was a little worried all through my pregnancy that I wouldn’t bond with our baby.  It’s not that I didn’t want to be a mother… getting pregnant and extending our family was something I worked pretty hard at doing for a while.  From making sure I was healthy in every possible way to making sure I was somewhat financially sound before walking down the road to parenthood- I planned everything.

The thing is, I planned everything on a suspicion.  I suspected that becoming a mother might be a good step for me as a woman.  I suspected that having a child would be a great experience for Milton and me.  But like so many other times in my life, my faith was constantly questioning.  Would I be good enough for this guy?  Would I love him enough?  Clean our house enough?  Engage with him enough?  I even wrote to Milton in the middle of my pregnancy with worries that I would leave him with the baby, trotting back east to resume my selfish city girl high life because I just couldn’t take the parental heat.

I was worried that I would be one of those women who just didn’t connect with their babies.  Maybe I worried because having a baby was never a really concrete part of my life plan.  Maybe I worried because I have a hard time keeping up with my own business, much less the business of someone else.  Maybe I worried because I was so free and easy with abusing my body and burning the party candles at both ends for so many years that I wondered if I could really, REALLY be a responsible parent.  For whatever reason, I really worried about taking the heat and giving this guy the responsibility he deserved.

Being a responsible parent, to me, means being a loving parent.  Babies beg for love.  The children, teenagers, and adults they grow into beg for love.  Parental love is the first love any of us can beg to get.  If you care for a child, you are responsible for fulfilling all of that child’s needs, especially the need for love.  I wondered if I could possibly have enough love in me to put up with the spit, the diapers, the plastic baby gear, the aching back, the sleepless nights, or the belly that would lay beside me like a sad puppy after pregnancy.  I figured, if I can adapt to these MAJOR life changes, maybe I could hack my way through the other many years of parenthood.

Today, I am happy to report that I woke up on the second morning of our child’s life, after going through the shock of childbirth and the barely remembered haze of his first 24 hours, and saw my baby’s face in the first morning’s light.  He looked like such a sweet little buddha laying there, stirring in his swaddle and newborn cap!  I felt a surge of LOVE that I couldn’t believe, referred to him as Mr. Snugglepants, and kissed him all over his beautiful face.

Since then, I’ve only gotten worse with the doting.  This guy and I are bonded, for sure.

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