Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

On January 1, 2011 I took the pregnancy test that told us we were having what would turn out to be an Alice. It has been a wild, wild year from the earliest moment. Here's hoping 2012 is just as beautiful and awe-some as 2011!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

16 weeks

16 weeks:

Alice had her first cold this week. It has been pretty mild, but she is full of snot and of course the only way to get it out of her little head is to suck it out with the nasal aspirator. For those of you that are not familiar with a nasal aspirator, it is a bulb looking thing that you compress with a flute on the other end that goes into her nose and literally sucks snot out when you let go of the bulb part. Oh my god Alice hates that thing with the fire of a thousand suns. The mere presence of the aspirator inspires wails of extreme discontent whether or not it is even in active use. But I will say the new and improved Alice recovers so quickly from emotional explosions. It seems that even at her tender age of 16 weeks, she is able to put things in the proper perspective. I am certain she is thinking, 'Well, damn. I do hate this snot sucker, but I sure am glad that I am not writhing in agony with days and days of pent up digestive issues!' The nickname I gave her (toot-sweet) is pretty obsolete now, which is a glorious, glorious thing! Her natural merriment has finally had the opportunity to take over and our whole household (cats included) are benefiting. Tim is home from work this week and she has seriously fallen IN LOVE with him. From across the room, she will catch his eye and just beam with happiness. But, that could be because I am the one that is sucking the snot out of her head and she is attempting to appeal to the one potential person who can rescue her from the clutches of her evil, torturous mother...

Monday, December 19, 2011

15 Weeks

15 Weeks:

We got a visit this week from our friends Charlie and Yvonne (of St. John vacationship fame) and their 9 month old daughter Emmy. We have always planned having a life-long vacation-relationship (vacationship) with them, but the deal is much sweeter now that we both have these darling littles that are so close in age. I love the idea of them getting as excited as we are to see each other every summer when we get together! If their first meeting is any indicator of how much they will love each other in the future, we are all in for some really great times. Emmy is an absolute sweetheart. You can tell already that she is just a kind, gentle soul and it warmed my heart to see her and Alice hanging out. Alice could not take her eyes off of her! Everything Emmy was doing, Alice was astounded by: army crawling, playing with toys, eating, etc. You could tell that Alice's little baby mind was blown seeing someone so close to her age doing things she would soon be doing. And Emmy was so delicate with Alice! She would reach out and sweetly pat her head or pet her hand and smile, smile, smile. I can't wait to watch them together the next time.

Alice's digestive issues continue to improve so those of you out there that have little ones with super-traumatizing gas or irregular BM's try putting them on probiotics. We are using BioGaia probiotic drops that you can get behind the pharmacy counter (it has to be refrigerated) at Walgreens, but I am sure there are other brands out there. I just can't get over how easy and completely hidden this solution was for us. In 3 months of research, not a hint on the internet radar (articles, forums, and otherwise) or a bone thrown from our doc or PA. We have a freaking arsenal of over-the-counter gripe waters, colic calms, and simethicone drops. With all the time I have spent looking at the infant gas relief section at the drug store it would have been nice if they had put out a sign or something that mentioned they had other options behind the pharmacy counter. But no, it's all super secret for whatever ridiculous reason. Secret no more, I am telling everyone I know about it so there. With Alice, my only complaint is that she is regular now. So regular that she is pooping every 24 hours, which would be great but she just happens to be going between 4-6 am- a time I would rather be sleeping than changing my daughters diaper and occasionally having to bathe her. Diapering is such a flawed system. I love her cloth diapers, but overnight she gets occasional pee leaks from being on her side and the last thing I want to do is really wake her up by having to change her outfit completely. So, I have been putting her in a disposable diaper overnight because it absorbs more liquid. However, it does not contain #2 nearly as well as the cloth diapers do. Seriously, disposable diapers just wave at that shit as it shoots by...and up and out and all over everything else. Perhaps I need to put a disposable on and then layer it with a cloth diaper? Apparently there are people that don't use diapers at all. There is something called Elimination Communication and you should just respond accordingly to your child's elimination needs. Far be it from me to judge something that works for someone else (after all, we should all be doing whatever it is that works for us and our families), so all I am going to say about that is more power to ya. I have great reflexes, but I don't think that I am nearly fast enough for that um, shit.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

14 weeks

14 Weeks:

There have been some seriously good things about this week. We started Alice on Probiotic drops for babies to help regulate her digestive system and there has been a huge improvement already. I would say 60% and it hasn't even been a full week. It kills me that it took us this long to find a product that helped her poor little body work properly, but I am really enjoying this happy new baby of mine. Alice and I had one of the loveliest days ever yesterday and after the past few weeks, I don't know which of us needed it more. We got up early and smiley, charmed Tim awake with trial giggles (she is soooo close to laughing!) and then ran some neighborhood errands in the sunshine. It was chilly, but gorgeous out yesterday and Alice couldn't get enough of people watching. She was handing out smiles left and right, watching cars pass and looking at the trees and buildings as we walked. Then, just as I was thinking that perhaps I was pushing it too far with nap time, she just laid her sweet little head down on my chest as we walked home and zonked right out. When we got home, she had a big poo without screaming and thrashing, we took a bath and big long nap. The whole day she was just happy and sweet, smiling and cooing contentedly. Goodness it was nice.

In other news, Alice really gets excited when she sees videos of babies. Sometimes when she is upset I will show her a video of herself and she stops crying instantly and mimics the noises she is making on screen or reacts to whatever it is I am saying. I'm sure it is a bit confusing for her, but hey whatever keeps this baby girl from feeling sad is something I am down with!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Alice with her clothes on

Beautiful hand knit sweater from my cousin Kerry

A day at the park

Alice's first Thanksgiving

Hanging out with Colin, her senior by 10 days.

Sweet bear hat

Alice yelling at Pablo.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

13 Weeks

13 Weeks

It has become apparent that by sleep training I will be referring to myself, not Alice. It has always been blatantly obvious from the moment she was born that no one can make this child do anything she does not want to do. When she took so long coming out when I was pushing, when she wouldn't stretch out her legs when Ellen wanted to measure her, and now when she just won't go to sleep whenever she doesn't want to, Alice has her own ideas about when and what she will be doing. I am totally cool with that as long as I get adequate sleep and last week that really wasn't happening. She had gotten her first vaccination on Monday and somewhere between the after-effects from that and her outrageous digestive failures by Thursday she wouldn't stay asleep for longer than 30 minutes at a time and I had begun to hallucinate spiders on the bed whenever I would get woken up. At bedtime I would feel like I was still trying to get her to down for her morning nap and my entire day had been spent doing squats in our semi-dark bedroom and singing my 10,000th verse of 'you are my sunshine'. She would go to sleep, stay down for 30-45 minutes and then wake back up in increasing furies to pass gas. Seriously, I don't know what the hell is wrong with her system, but towards the end of the week I was consulting Dr. Google if there was such a thing as being born without the proper organs to digest things. Missing organs and hallucinating spiders. Last week was no good.

The good news is that amongst all that unrest Alice and I found what I will call a 'sweet spot' where she likes to be held. It is pretty much the position I described last week, I'll hold her to my chest sitting in my left arm and put my right pinkie in her mouth but now she has started to sneak her left hand up to find my hand. Her sweet little fingers will search independently of each other all around until they find one of mine to hold onto and she will audibly sigh with contentment when everything is in place, close her eyes and begin to drift off. It is just about the sweetest thing ever. I have a memory of when I was around 3 or so and I would wake up with some sort of nighttime emergency, nightmare or otherwise and I would go to my parents room to wake my mom up. She would get up and come back to my room to lie down with me in my lower bunk until I went back to sleep. I was old enough to know that she would slip away as soon as I fell asleep so I would fight it as long as I could and put my hand on her arm or side, touching her somehow and fully convinced that I would wake up this time when she moved to go back to her own bed, but the warm, secure presence of a mother would put me back to sleep almost instantly. It is like looking into two mirrors at the same time, this mothering thing, seeing where you came from and imagining where you will go. I am sure that I will have to break Alice of the habit of being bounced to sleep in my arms but for now I am so honored with the privilege of having her trust and comfort that it makes my burning thighs and aching knees totally worth it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

12 weeks

12 weeks

We have had severe instances of good and bad this week, which is apparently what this parenting thing is all about I guess. There are moments of such wild, amazing joy and then they are followed by moments of severe screaming and fury- it makes every day feel like a freaking week. We are still figuring out this sleep thing, Alice and I. You think it would be easy (it is not), but what makes it so tough is her continuing battle with gas. She is completely intolerant of having gas in her body and despite constant un-yeilding intervention on my part, she just keeps on making it. She will wake up from a dead sleep screaming her head off and I'll go in to soothe her, she'll pass wind and then fall back to sleep like it was nothing. If, for some reason she can't pass that gas all hell breaks loose and she will be up fighting until she finally gets it out and only then will she fall asleep. Sadly, there are so few products on the market for infant gas, but we have tried ALL of them (a big concession for me, since I am a less is more kind of person). At all hours I can be found playing typewriter on Alice's belly, bending her legs all around and cheering should my efforts give her any relief (it should be noted that this is the exact opposite reaction I have when Tim passes wind). We would be starting some kind of sleep training about now, but it seems so mean to leave her to teach herself to sleep when the only reason she isn't sleeping is due to gas and she is uncomfortable, poor little thing.

In other news, I turned 30. All I have to say about that is at least I don't look as old as I feel.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

11 weeks

11 weeks

The best thing about this week was my discovery that Alice absolutely loves to be sung to. I have sung songs to her quite often over the past 11 weeks, but this week I started singing single notes. She'll be standing on my lap and I'll open my mouth really wide and sing a note to her and she will smile and then open her mouth in a big O and raise up on her toes and try like crazy to sing back to me. She can get some 'ahhhhs' out too! It is pretty great. Moving on to the worst thing about this week... I have discovered a way to get Alice quiet no matter what she is upset about/ how upset she is. Normally this would be really great news, but as it turns out the trick is to hold Alice to my chest with my left arm underneath her bottom for support, my right pinkie in her mouth for her to suck on, and my chin hooked over her head to steady her neck and then do an unending series of really deep squats. Within 5 seconds she will stop wailing, close her big blue eyes suck happily on my pinkie. When my thighs are burning, my heart is banging against my chest and I have broken out in a sweat I will stand still to take a break and (if she has not fallen asleep yet) she will instantly begin getting upset again. She is more intense than Jillian Michaels and we are in discussions for a workout video. She weighs 11 lbs, so you can workout along with us! Just go get two 5 lb bags of flour and box of confectioners sugar, cradle it all in your left arm only and start doing squats. When the squats hurt, start doing lunges. When those hurt, start bouncing on your toes. When that burns start lifting that stuff up in the air repeatedly with your arms. Then, if you want to get creative balance that stuff on your feet when you are sitting on the couch, lean back and swing your feet up and down and up and down. After that you can balance it all in your arms, bend over at the waist and swing it back and forth underneath your legs.

Then repeat everything.

Rest is for the weak.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Switch

Well, two of them actually.

First, Alice is taking over like gangbusters around here and the cats seem to be adjusting pretty well. No one seems to be experiencing any child actor superstardom-esque ego falls from not being photographed every 5 minutes. I believe Pablo especially will enjoy the newfound privacy he receives from no longer being the 'it' thing on the blog. He deserves a quiet retirement at the ripe old age of 7 and a half, or at the very least a few years of peace until Alice is coordinated enough to chase his fat ass around the apartment.

Secondly and more importantly, I have just realized that Alice's birth story was a bit of a surprise to some because I never really said anything about our decision to switch from my OB and a hospital birth to a midwife and a home birth. It was a decision that I was on the fence about when I became pregnant actually, but it was a decision that I didn't end up making until the halfway point. As previously mentioned, I had done some research on hospitals in the area and had initially decided on St. Luke's-Roosevelt in Manhattan. They have a birthing center that I had heard good things about and I found out which OB's in the area were open to assisting births in the center and picked one. I set up an interview with her beforehand to see if we got on and pretty much just went from there.

She seemed really nice and enthusiastic and supportive of my hopes to give birth in the center naturally. Unfortunately, I was continually less impressed with each following appointment. Between the hens at the front desk that would talk down to you if you had a question about billing (and completely ignore you otherwise), the wait I experienced at every appointment, and the complete disregard I received from the actual obstetrician I left every appointment feeling belittled and like I had inconvenienced them somehow just by being pregnant. Which is sad when you think about it- I'm feeling this way because every single person that I came in contact with felt that way about their jobs and really this happens to be one of those professions where you have to bring your A game to work every day and love what you do. Which obviously none of them did. The straw that broke the camels' back so to speak came when we went for our 20 week ultrasound at the actual hospital (which I had not had time to visit yet). They do an anatomy scan and check for all sorts of important things, but most excitedly they can usually tell you the sex of your baby. Our time there was ridiculous. First, we were made to wait over 2 hours for our appointment. Then, as I am sitting in the room with the tech, jelly on my belly and naked from the waist down- another tech just walks right in! And leaves the door open! She walks over to the tech who is conducting our scan without acknowledging Tim and I at all and proceeds to have herself a casual conversation. She's asking our tech (who says nothing to her about being in the middle of something) about her lunch plans and if she can switch a procedure after lunch with her because she wants to eat with her boyfriend. Then she leaves- and leaves the door open for the world to see me laid out, bare-assed and covered in ultrasound gel! And again, our tech does nothing. I had to get up and waddle over and close the door my damn self. That is exactly the kind of shit that I do not want happening when I am in labor, so I am sitting there shaking my head thinking about how uncomfortable and anxious I am now about having a baby there. After that serious fail on the hospitals' part, I went to my next OB appointment and my doctor tells me that oh, by the way the birth center is really over crowded has a 70% rejection rate for the people hoping to give birth there. So, really my decision to give birth at home pretty much got made for me right then. I smiled and nodded but in my head said, 'fuck this bullshit' went home and searched for midwives who assisted home births.

A better decision has never been made. Honestly, I should actually send my OB and the hospital staff thank you's for being so freaking awful that I ended up finding Ellen and Joan. The differences between the two practices were night and day. The midwives office is a cozy, warm environment and every appointment I had with them was an hour long. We would start by talking about everything from how I was feeling physically and emotionally to how Tim was feeling and how things were going at home with nesting and work, diet, exercise, etc. They would seriously address and answer any question I had in depth without making me feel ridiculous for asking. Then we would go in the examining room and see how Alice was doing. They would measure my belly growth, take my blood pressure, gently press on my abdomen to see Alice's size and position, and listen to her heartbeat. Towards the end of my pregnancy Ellen did a home visit where she familiarized herself with the route to my apartment and checked out the environment in which Alice would be born and made sure I had everything ready. I had ordered the birthing kit (has basic medical supplies needed for such a birth like sterile gloves, a mattress cover, umbilical cord tie off, vitamin K, etc.) and, since I wanted a water birth- a birthing tub. Ellen would bring everything else whether it would be needed or hopefully not needed, Pitocin, oxygen, sterile medical supplies, antibiotics, IV's, needles, I don't know what else because thankfully we didn't have to use much at Alice's birth but Ellen was on top of it. During my labor and delivery there was never a moment when I felt we were unprepared. And that really amazes me that no part of my experience felt out of control or scary. The quiet security I felt in Ellen's presence was so serene. She was (is) so in love with what she is doing, interested, knowledgeable and confident and it all comes across in such a warm and subtle way- the exact opposite of the OB I went to. I am sure the OB is a fine person and all but in order to let me know she was confident she belittled my questions and so I would know she was knowledgeable she would over explain things in terms I wasn't familiar with because I didn't go to medical school. Night and day difference. I mean, after I gave birth to Alice I went to take a shower and when I got out Ellen came in and dried me off, knowing that I would need help with that. Even months later I can't think of that without tearing up. The empathetic tenderness of that moment is so near to my heart and it never would have happened with my OB, in labor and delivery. Hell, I wouldn't even expect that kind of attention from my own husband let alone a medical provider. You just don't meet people like that everyday. Plus, the comfort and convenience of being in your own home, with all your own stuff was amazing. Not as amazing as Ellen, but if you are going to have to get stitches down there it is pretty freaking great to be able to get those stitches on your own bed and not even have to get back up again afterwards. And jesus, I am just remembering that Ellen and her assistant even made me tea and a sandwich afterwards and showed me how to get Alice latched on and stuck around to make sure I wasn't bleeding too heavily or anything like that. Ellen called me everyday for the next week to see how we were all doing and answer any questions I had about Alice and the other midwife in the practice, Joan came by our apartment 2 days later to check up Alice. Seriously, the kind of attention Alice and I received was so personal and I came out of the experience feeling completely empowered, confident and exhilarated. Unless I need surgery, there is no way I will ever go to an OB/GYN again. I am a midwife convert (though they may not all be as wonderful as Ellen).

In action

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

10 weeks

10 weeks:

About halfway into this week Alice completely handed me my ass. Tim too. It is tough being schooled by someone who is just 23" tall. Especially when you think you are getting into the swing of things. But on Sunday night for whatever reason, she decided that she wasn't going to sleep. Ever. And all that time she would have spent sleeping was now going to be spent screaming bloody murder. It was our first glimpse of what having a colic baby would be like and I have nothing but helpless tears for parents of those babies. After trying everything that had ever calmed Alice down in the past and suggestions from others that had once seemed asinine, we finally had success by giving her a bath and she fell peacefully asleep while laying on my chest in the bathtub with Tim drizzling water over her back and legs. We were blissfully happy until we realized, while thankful something had calmed her down, that we were still in a rather unfortunate situation ie: her and I naked in the tub. We managed to keep her asleep on my chest while both of us were mostly dried off and transferred to the bed and slowly, ever so slowly over the next hour, we got a diaper on her and clothes on me. Because Alice's explosion had hit so out of the blue (one minute she was cooing happily, the next screaming like a banshee), I was not prepared to suddenly be anchored underneath my daughter and trapped into an early bedtime. Tim had to bring me a wet wash cloth so I could wash my face and several cups and a tooth brush so I could brush my teeth-all while lying underneath a kid set on 'hyper sensitive'. Thankfully, it all ended without anyone having an aneurysm, but she has been fighting going to sleep ever since. Not to the same degree as Sunday but still more than before. I sincerely hope this is a quick phase. In other news, she loves standing up. And being lifted up in the air like Baby in Dirty Dancing. I'm working on getting a video if it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

9 Weeks

9 Weeks:

This week Alice has begun making noises. Noises independent of screaming. Up until now, it suddenly occurs to me that she was pretty quiet. There were snorts and grunts I suppose and she has always been a pretty loud eater, but now she is squeaking and cooing and having grand old time. She is also really trying to soothe herself (thankfully-my pinkie is a wilted, white, wrinkled thing) and puts her fist in her mouth whenever she can- the only problem is that she makes the tightest fist ever and tucks her little thumb inside. So she really wants a finger but ends up trying to suck a fist and then gets pretty pissed off that the soothing isn't going to plan. I never thought I would encourage a thumb sucker since I sucked mine for so long, but I am desperately trying to teach her how to make a proper fist! I do hear that the sucking reflex lessens over time. More than anything though, Alice loves a good bath! I sit in our big tub with her and stretch my legs out. Then I put her head on my left knee and her feet up on my right knee, hammock-ing her body in between and she absolutely loves it. I can't wait until next summer when we can set the birthing pool up on our back porch and take a proper dip together!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

8 weeks

8 weeks:

This week Alice got all Marky Mark on me during our photo shoot. Her personality has continued to emerge and I suppose I should expect a certain amount of feisty-ness from any child of mine. The way she cries has changed over the past few days as well, there are distinct differences in the forms of "Ehhhh", "Ahhhh", and "WAAAAAHHHHHHH!!". I have yet to figure out exactly what each one means though I suspect something along the lines of "I have gas that needs to come out the top", "I have gas that needs to come out the bottom", and "I am good and pissed off that I am not sleeping anymore because of this effing gas!". There is also a sad little whimper that comes out occasionally when she is just staring to get sleepy, it begins with a quiver of the bottom lip and is so textbook pathetic I wonder where she read it.

Also: Halloween. We didn't do much, but we did pull out the skull mask. Alice went as a baby whose mama ate her candy.

And Pablo. Oh, Pablo.

This is from last week or so, but I thought it would be enjoyed nonetheless.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

7 Weeks

7 Weeks:

The developments never cease! Earlier today as I was taking her weekly photos, Alice and I finished up the session by having some tummy time. Alice has a lot of tummy time as her preferred sleeping position is on my chest, but I have been making an effort lately to give her some independent time so she can scooch around and such. I am shocked to report that when I put her on her belly today she just rolled right over! Like it was nothing. I think that my response surprised her because after a second of looking pretty darn pleased with herself she stared at her squealing and clapping mamma like I was insane (which, incidentally is a genetic trait). Luckily I had the camera right by so I switched it to video and flipped her over in the hopes she would do it again and I could email Tim at work (success). In other news this week the epic battle of Alice vs. The Gas continues. Who shall be the victor? Tune in next week folks.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Alice, week by week

Six weeks old:
Some wonderful things happened this past week. Alice looked at right at me and smiled with intent. A real high-wattage one too. We were hanging out in bed before getting up in the morning and I was chatting away telling her all the things we were going to try to do later (shower, walk, grocery shop, bake cookies), followed by a realistic assessment of what we will most likely achieve (nurse, change, nurse, change, nap, wake right back up, suck on finger, fall back asleep, repeat). I was asking her if she was going to let me drink my coffee while it was hot and she just BEAMED at me. It makes drinking cold coffee totally worth it.

Also, just last night she was pushing up on her forearms and looking around while we were leaning back on the couch chest to chest and Tim walked by. Alice followed him all around the room with her head! She usually is looking too intently at the artwork on the walls to notice much else. She is really into the artwork on the walls and the photographs in her nursery. We have one of Aden and Harper right by her changing table that she recently noticed and it makes diaper changing time a blast rather than the hugely traumatic life threatening situation she thought it was last week.