Christmas Card Reveal

It's time!  The cards are out, they've been received.  It's time to reveal the cuteness to the world.

I present to you, EH's Christmas card debut!

We Tell It Like It Is

There are a lot of extremes in parenthood, full of incredible highs and depressing lows.  The swings between positive and negative make it hard - I think - for a person to give a totally impartial perspective.

It's easy to dwell on the negative - the lack of sleep, the screaming, the crying, the poop (oh my, the poop), and the exhausting, repetitive tasks of child-rearing.  Parents who only talk about the negative aspects of having kids can quickly convince those who are child-free that they should keep things that exact way forever.

Then there are the parents who focus only on the positives.  They make having a baby sound like FUN! and RAINBOWS! and PUPPIES! and OMG ONLY GOOD AMAZING WONDERFUL THINGS ALWAYS!  It's not that these parents have lost touch with reality, but they do wear rose colored glasses, and they try their hardest to not come off as sounding negative or to scare other potential-parents-to-be from having kids of their own.  After all, if there's one thing that new parents want, it's for their friends to have babies as soon as humanly possible. I appreciate the positive attitudes of these chipper parents, but man, they can be annoying too.  Nothing is perfect and wonderful all the time, no matter how cute your kid is.

In trying to share my story I've tried to find a balance between these two sides of things, acknowledging that for every frustrating moment there is a charming smile.  For every night of crying there is one of 10 hours of straight sleep.  There is an ebb and flow of happiness and frustration with babies, and while it can be utterly exhausting, in many ways it keeps things interesting.

The weekend after Thanksgiving we were talking to a group of friends.  Of this group of friends, we are the only ones with a child, so they were asking us a lot of questions about what life is like now. I find it hard to answer these sorts of questions on the spot, because so much of my response is colored by the events of that day - was he good? was he fussy? did he do something super cute?  - whereas DH, who normally tries to put a positive spin on things, switched characters for a moment and went straight for the negative including a statement that went something like "newborns are useless."  The horrified looks on the faces of some of these friends was priceless and honestly I can't blame them - DH made it sound like he hated our baby, (which I know is absolutely not the case, so I wasn't concerned, but I can see why these friends were.)  He was taking such a negative stance without presenting the other side - a side that definitely exists and creates a necessary balance.

So below is my attempt at telling both sides of the story, explaining the ups and downs, the highs and lows, and everything in between.  This is - of course - just one parent's perspective, but I do believe that many other parents can or will relate to what I'm saying here...


"How It Is" with a newborn

When your child is first born, there is nothing more amazing or exciting.  Hearing your baby cry for the first time will bring tears to your eyes.  You will be flooded with emotion, and it is the most amazing feeling ever.  You won't be able to believe that you have a baby, and that you made him (or her, but for the purpose of this post, him.)  You will spend hours upon hours upon hours for days on end just staring at your baby; this amazing little creature that is as cute a button and 100% perfect.

Then you get home.  You are still sore, drugged up, and tired.  You will be more tired than you ever knew possible. So tired that you're delirious and crazy things start happening to your body.  You'll skip every meal for the entire day and then eat at all hours of the night.  You'll feel twitchy and irritable.  You'll be so tired that you say things that you regret, have thoughts you wish you could take back.  You'll wonder what you were ever thinking when you decided you wanted to have a child.  Humans don't function well on little to no sleep, and add to that a tiny screaming child that relies on you for it's survival and the fact that you feel like you've been mauled by a bear from the waist down and you will officially lose all sense of control over your mind, body, and emotions.

You will sob from exhaustion; you will feel like screaming at the top of your lungs. You will feel like you are literally losing your mind. You will understand with blinding clarity why they make you watch those videos that repeat over and over "never shake a baby, put your baby in his crib and walk away."  You wonder for a moment if the hospital nearest you will take drop-offs. You'll feel like a horrible parent for thinking those thoughts and you would never admit out loud to thinking them.

If you're breastfeeding then all of this is magnified by at least two, because you will feel like you're the only one that can feed your baby, even though the societal expectation that a woman who just went through childbirth or cesarean surgery can handily and happily manage the demands of a newborn on her own is ridiculous. Your nipples will be chewed raw by your baby in those early day, your chest will probably be painfully swollen and since newborns eat all. the. time, you're going to literally feel like a milk machine.  If you're struggling then hopefully you've realized that it's not the end of the world to give your baby a bottle or two every day, and the relief that this gives you will be overwhelming.

But even through the cloud of sheer exhaustion you still check on your baby every 5 minutes when he's napping, even though you should be sleeping yourself, because - damn! - he's just so cute and peaceful when he's sleeping.  You kind of wish he would wake up so you could squeeze him. But of course when he does wake up 10 minutes later you panic and spend all of your mental energy trying to telepathically get him to go back to sleep so that you can just have a few more minutes to yourself.

During his quiet and alert moments (which are admittedly few and far between in those early weeks) he'll look up at you with his big dark eyes and you'll lose your breath for a moment when you remember that he is yours, and that you made him.  You will understand why they say the eyes are the window to the soul.  You will see yourself, your husband, and oh-so-much potential in those eyes, and you'll be sad when a blink or a sneeze ruins the little bonding moment you were just having with your child.

You will marvel at how quickly your little one grows, even though you know it seems so cliche to say so.  You will quickly realize that your baby is the cutest baby around, and no other baby compares.  You'll develop "the voice" that you talk to your child with, and you'll develop little quirks and secrets that only you and your baby share. You mentally acknowledge that if anyone else heard you saying half of things you say to your baby, they might try to have you institutionalized.

Things will slowly start to get easier, but the change will be so gradual that you won't notice it until you're suddenly startled by this weird feeling that you haven't had in a long time - relaxing.  Your baby will stop feeling so much like work as he gets older and is able to play.

You will squeal with delight the first time your baby moves his lips in such a way that you're absolutely sure that he just smiled at you.  The first time he reaches out to touch something that is hanging from his car seat handle you'll do a double take, watch him for five minutes hoping he does it again, and then when he doesn't you call your husband, your mom, and your sister to tell them all about the big event.  The first time he makes a cooing sound back at your baby babble, you'll probably pick him up and squeeze the breath right out of him.  When he laughs you squeal with delight.  And when he starts making movements that look like they might be the start of rolling or crawling, you cheer him on like he's your favorite team during the Super Bowl. After weeks of give, give, giving to your baby, you'll think that these "gifts" are the greatest things you could ever receive.

Your mom and aunts and older friends and anyone else who has kids who are about 4 years or older will gladly take your kid off your hands anytime you'd like, and while they're squeezing him they'll say things like, "Oh my, there's nothing like a baby."  You'll think they're even crazier than you were after 42 minutes of sleep in a 24 hour period.  But then, after an hour of other people holding your baby, you realize that you want a turn now, but you won't say that because after you've bitched and moaned so much about needing a break from your baby you don't want to look stupid for admitting that you already miss him and you just want a baby hug. 

Being a new parent in those early days is all about reminding yourself of the potential of your little bundle of joy.  They don't give a lot back in those early days.  It's all about what's to come.  Those first smiles, coos, words, the first time he holds his head up on his own, the first time he sits up in the Bumbo seat.  All of these little things.  Every day things get a little better.  And there will always be set backs, but you'll become more flexible, you'll learn to go with the flow.  You'll recognize that this is your new life, and you'll notice that you've stopped clinging to your past life with desperation like you were in those early weeks.

You'll forget how hard things were in those early days, and even if you do remember, you'll tell yourself that it was all worth it to get to the point that you're at now.  And after a few months or years of that, you'll be ready to turn around and do it all over again. 

Because you're a parent now, and you know that's just "how it is."

Baby Literacy

One of DH's favorite things to do with EH is read him books.  He wants his baby boy to be smart and well read.  For the first couple of weeks of EH's life, DH read him a book every single day.  Although he's missed a few days here and there since then, he still reads to EH rather regularly.

Sometimes EH doesn't seem to care about the books.  But other times he actually seems to be mesmerized.  I thought that these pictures were just too adorable to not share.

Looking at the bright colored pictures

Admiring his daddy's excellent reading voice

When he's into it, he's sooo into it, and it's just adorable it's another one of the many things that makes me melt with love for these two.

And although we definitely want to instill in him a love of books and reading, we're going to do our best to get him more interested in science and math, since as these two English majors will attest, English is not where the money is.  I'm thinking engineer, maybe?  Or perhaps a scientist or doctor?

It's always something, right!?!

Life can be complicated at times, but when there's a baby involved it seems like everything becomes just that much more complicated.  There are new factors to consider, the biggest being that you can't leave a a baby.  Ever.

Take this morning for example.  DH was all ready to leave this morning.  He goes down to the garage, gets in his car and tries to start it.  But it won't start. It's not the battery because you can hear it trying to start.  DH came inside to let me know about the car.  "What are we going to do?" was the primary question.  We no longer have a third vehicle, since the brakes on DH's truck died a couple of months ago.  So we're down to one car, and DH do not work anywhere near each other.  Add on top of that the fact that we had EH's four month check-up appointment this afternoon that DH was scheduled to take EH to.  DH tried the car again, and it started for a moment - enough so to get it out of the garage and into the driveway - but then it died again.  He suspected the alternator.

What in the world were we supposed to do?  I couldn't take DH to school because he needed the car in the afternoon to go to the doctor.  And DH couldn't take me in to work because he was already running late. 

My only hope was a co-worker of mine, who has given me rides to work on occasion in the past.  So DH left, taking my car and leaving his car seat base behind.  I called my supervisor to let him know that I would either be late or not in at all.  About 20 minutes later my co-worker called me back.  She agreed to not only pick me up, but to take Evan to day care as well!  I'm not sure that things could have possibly worked out better than they did.  We got to work about 40 minutes later - she was already running late and then add on the extra pick-up and day care drop off - but we got there, and I didn't have to waste a vacation day.

I can't help but thinking, "It's always something, right?"  Yesterday, I had a migraine, today the car died.  Neither were the baby's fault at all, but when there's a baby involved, everything becomes more complicated.  In the past when I had a migraine I would just sleep the day away without a second thought.  But you can't do that when you have a baby.  When the car died, it was definitely a complicated situation but with a baby?  Twice as much to think about.   Not only do I need to figure out how to get to work, but how will we get the baby to day care?  You need a car seat base to transport a baby. It takes an extra 15 minutes out of the way to go to day care.  When DH picked the car up from the dealership instead of just running in to get the keys, he had to park get the baby out, carry him in, get the keys and then load the baby back up in the car.  So many more steps than life without a baby. 

And the car? Well, that's a funny story.  They called DH to tell him that they couldn't find anything wrong with his car.  It wasn't the alternator.  It wasn't the battery.  They said that "maybe" it was bad fuel in the line.  So hopefully that's actually the case.  Because I am not looking forward to the prospect of another day with only one vehicle!


I am finally starting to feel better.  On Tuesday I woke up and no longer had a fever, but I still had a horrible sore throat.  The doctor's office called me back that day to tell me that I didn't have strep or rhumatic fever, and thus it was probably "just the flu."  There's nothing "just" about the flu.  The flu sucks.  It sucked the life out of me for nearly 5 days. 

So now that the sore throat is gone I'm left to deal with this awful, thick, nearly impossible to swallow sinus drainage in the back of my throat.  I choke on it multiple times a day it's that bad.  I have to stop whatever I'm doing and make a conscious effort to funnel all of my energy into swallowing as hard as I can to get that crap to go down.  It's nasty.  And no drugs seem to be helping (at least the ones that I'm allowed to take.)  Today I had a major headache, which was a migraine for a very short period of time, but the migraine aspect of it went away fairly quickly.  The headache in general really ruined my day though and made it very hard to concentrate at work. 

But it's progress in the right direction, so I'm going to be thankful.  What I am NOT thankful for though, is the fella who was responsible for deciding which strains of the flu went into this years' vaccine.  FAIL, FELLA. Major fail. 

One of our only family photos!

In other news, our holiday stamps arrive today, so Christmas cards go out tomorrow!!! That means that on Monday of next week I will unveil the card here for everyone to see.  I absolutely adore it and am actually excited to send out Christmas cards this year, something that I have not felt in a long, long time.  I can't wait!

The other thing I can't wait for? This week to be over.  It's been one of the worst weeks for me in recent memory... I know it's cliche, but I am sooo glad it's Friday tomorrow.  I need a reset.

Fantastically Sick

When I was pregnant I was almost never sick.  I had heard that pregnant women have weakened immune systems and are thus more likely to get sick. On top of that, you're not really allowed to medicate your symptoms when you're pregnant because most drugs can affect the baby (or there's not enough evidence to prove that they're safe.)

But that was not the case for me. I actually feel like my immune system was stronger when I was pregnant.  I never had a single full-blown illness during my pregnancy.  I would start feeling symptoms coming on, and then within a day or two they were gone.  I had a couple of horrible migraines during my pregnancy but they were SO much fewer than before I was pregnant.  Fortunately - knock on wood - I haven't had a migraine since EH was born.  A good thing, since I'm not allowed to take my prescription migraine medicine while breastfeeding.

In any case, all of that luck - since that is what I believe it was - is over.  I  am sick.  Sooooo sick.  So sick that I cannot remember a time when my throat and ears hurt as bad as they do right now.  It feels like I'm swallowing thumb tacks every single time I swallow.  In addition to that pain, but ears give a painful pop with every swallow and I haven't been able to hear well out of my right ear since Saturday.

I went to the doctor yesterday and while she thought for sure that I had strep throat based on looking at it, the "fast results" test came back negative.  They're sending it "the lab" for confirmation on that.  I could have the flu or perhaps rhumatic fever (not even sure what that is) but whatever I have, there's not much they can do for it.  I was sent home with instructions to get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and take ibuprofen for my throat pain.  Stupid ibuprofen doesn't even make the tiniest notch in my throat pain - I have been taking 3 every 4 hours and I swear it's doing absolutely not good. (So, I guess I should probably stop taking them.)  They're supposed to call me tomorrow.

Anyway, I left work at noon today, using a 1/2 vacation day as a sick day because I just couldn't continue to function.  It hurts to talk and talking is a big part of my job.  I don't want to take off again tomorrow though, so I might so in and see what I can do about eliminating most - if not all - of my need to talk for most of the day, and work on other things, like some of my reports and budgets.  We'll see. 

I really hope that EH and DH do not get whatever I have.  I am miserable. More miserable than I have been in a long time.  Sometimes the mere act of swallowing makes me want to cry, the pain is that bad.  I can't imagine a baby having to deal with this level of throat pain.  He's still on antibiotics until tomorrow, so hopefully those are helping to ward off anything that might be floating around and contagious.

I just hope I start feeling better soon.  I was definitely taking my health for granted, and I am now reminded that being sick sucks.

Christmas Card Cuteness

I decorated for Christmas this past weekend and in the midst of all of that we decided to pose EH and take some pictures for a potential Christmas card that we were thinking of creating and sending out.  I spent some time setting everything up, and let me tell you - they turned out SO cute.

But of course, I can't show you any of the pictures, because that would spoil the cuteness for those who are going to receive one their mailbox.  I assure you though, they are super cute.

Here is one from a series of photos that did not make the cut - the lighting was bad by this time of day and none of them really turned out the way I had envisioned.

I'm not really the kind of person who sends Christmas cards most years, and in fact haven't done so in a really long time.  But now we have this really cute kid, whose mug looks great in print, and who is incredibly photogenic, so although I doubt we'll do a card in future years, we've decided to do one this year for a handful of family and friends.

Don't worry though - even if you're not the recipient, I'll make sure to post the final product here so that you can see it in all of it's glory!

Baby Bonanza - Pictures

We are so grateful for all of our friends and family members that came to Baby Bonanza, and I have ALL of these great pictures of people who were there, but they didn't really fit into my initial Baby Bonanza post, so I am dedicating this post to pictures of many of the people who helped make our baby shower so incredibly fun.  (And just because you're not pictured doesn't mean we don't love you too!!!)

Fun friends - the other totally essential element to an incredibly success co-ed baby shower!  Thank you so much to EVERYONE who was there!

Baby Bonanza! - A Co-ed Baby Shower

June 11th (yes, that's right! 6 months ago!) was the first official Baby Bonanza. Just what is a Baby Bonanza?  Well, I would like to explain by taking the description straight out of the program that was distributed to guests.  (That's right, there was a program.) 

The celebration known as "Baby Bonanza" originated in the Mighty Alleghenies, and dates to the earlier part of this month.  In defiance of the more traditional gender-segregationist celebrations, the Baby Bonanza incorporated both male and female members of the community, and typically had a greater focus on jubilant revelry and celebration, and a lesser focus on sitting politely for 3 hours. 

Anyway, true to form - for us at least - we decided that we wanted to do this baby shower thing our own way.  First of all, it would be coed.  DH is a part of this baby just as much as I am, and he should get to celebrate and be celebrated in much the same way.  Additionally, although we had offers by many family members to host showers outside of Pittsburgh, we wanted a way to bring our Pittsburgh friends together as well.  So, DH decided that he would throw the shower for me, although obviously we all know that I was integral in the planning as well.

So you think you want to throw a co-ed shower for yourself or a loved one?  Here are the integral pieces to a successful Baby Bonanza.

1. An Awesome Custom Invite

We designed our own invites and had them printed on magnets.  We went with the "Baby-Que" (bar-b-que) theme, which I enjoyed a great deal.  And of course, since we think that our faces should always grace everyone's refrigerators, we put our baby pictures on the invite.

2. Decorations

There's no reason to be afraid of having a few classical baby shower touches, even at a coed shower.  It's still a party after all, and it's fun to decorate!  We like to do traditional with a twist, so we still had baby themed balloons, a traditional gift table, and of course, a giant baby-shower duck sign stuck into the mulch at the front of our house.

This got us quite a few horn honks from cars driving by.  I loved it. 

3. Food

No dainty cucumber sandwiches or petite fours here.  We went with some classic party food.  Hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, baked ziti, chips and salsa, and of course cake.  We also ordered an enormous tray of soft pretzels aka BEST IDEA EVER.  They were amazing.

We loosely ran with the duck theme, for a number of reasons, including 1. it was the theme at my first shower, 2. we had a lot of leftover ducks, 3. the giant yard sign just happened to have a duck on it, and 4. I loved ducks as a teenager.

4. Alcohol

And lots of it.  This was the hardest part of this type of shower for me.  Everyone else drinking and enjoying it while I just watched...Fortunately I was so busy most of the time I didn't really notice. 

Ugh. I look rather large in this photo.

We had a 1/2 keg of beer, which we put in the wheelbarrow when it started pouring 10 minutes after the part was supposed to start, and it remained there for the rest of the night.  Keg in wheelbarrow is a genius idea.  People don't need to bend over to fill their drinks, and the keg became highly mobile.  Anyway, it was kicked in less than 6 hours (and to think we didn't even think we'd finish it!). 

We also had lots of liquor for mixed drinks.  I made a drink menu, but after the rain-out I forgot to do things like pick mint for the mojitos so most people either just drank beer or made their own concoctions.

5. Games

This is where tradition really went to the wayside.  Traditional baby shower games are mostly no-fun.  They're fine for a traditional shower, but we had a very different crowd of people.  So we went with fun, all ages, skill-based outdoor games.  Think tail-gating activities.  Anyway, we created a full bracket, pre-matched all attendees with a partner that they didn't know, and then had rounds of games.  

The bracket, stuck to the hood of a car with invite magnets
Round 1 - Bean Bags/Corn Hole

Round 2 - Ladder Golf

Round 3 - Beer Pong (beer drinking optional)

You had to win each round in order to advance, so the only game that every played was corn hole.
The partnering thing worked out way better than we had originally thought it would.  Our idea was that some people were more experienced with playing one or all of these games, and we didn't want one particular power couple taking home all of the prizes.  By splitting up couples and giving everyone a new, random partner, talent was spread out and it really evened the playing field.  On top of that, our guests are really great about getting to know new people and no one seemed pissed to be paired up with someone other than the person they came with.  Even now, our friends still refer to people from our party as "the girl that was my partner at the baby shower" or something along those lines.  Love it. 

5. Awesome Prizes

If you want people to have fun and be competitive at your games, you have to give them incentive to do so.  My sister made amazing prizes, which were appropriately adult, coed, and barbque themed.  

6. Manly Gift Opening Time

For some reason, everyone thinks that the woman should open the baby shower gifts. Umm... why??? Again, the husband/man had just as much to do with this baby as the woman.  Why shouldn't they open gifts?

Want to get your man interested in opening baby shower gifts? First, give him a few drinks.  This always makes them more willing to do something they might ordinarily be self-conscious about.

Second, set him up in a manly location, such as the back of your garage.  Men like to be surrounded by their tools and handiwork.

Third, take turns on the gift opening, and if you want to make it really interesting, try to have him identify everything that he opens. 

And if you want to make it even more interesting than that, have everyone at the party "take a drink" everytime he identifies something as a "onesie," because that's what he'll always guess, and it's almost NEVER a onesie.


We love, LOVE, LOVED our Baby Bonanza co-ed shower.  It was a great way to celebrate Baby Hartman, bring all of our friends together in one place, and make it gender inclusive.  We've since had friends tell us that they used our baby shower as the inspiration for other showers that they were planning, or had people tell us that they want their future baby showers to be just like ours!  :o)  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I love it. 

We had two more baby showers later in the summer that also followed the Baby Bonanza theme, and I'll be sure to post about them as well! (Although you know, it will probably be another two or more months before I get around to that...)

Catching up

So, I'm finally catching up on some of my blogging, including finishing up some posts from sooooo long ago.  Up first - Baby Bonanza 2011! - our incredibly fun co-ed baby shower.

After that there are two other Baby Bonanza-themed co-ed showers that I'd like to showcase, followed by some final thoughts on my birthing experience and my opinions of Magee, a post on "telling it how it is," and a couple of other random catch-up posts. Plus I have a TON of EH photos that are super cute and need to be posted asap. 

It's hard, keeping up with blogging while getting everything else done in life.  But I'm slowly (oh so very slowly) starting to get into a routine, and working on finding (and prioritizing) a healthy work/life balance.  I hope that means more thoughtful and interesting posts, and if there's anything that you'd like to hear about - anything! - just leave it in a comment below and I'll try to address it in a future post! 

Poor baby!

This was EH's first Thanksgiving, but he pretty much slept through it.  He is (was) so.  Soooo sick.  It was heartbreaking and terrifying all at once.

He's had a cold ever since the weekend following his first two half days of day care - before he even started full time.  Think before Halloween.  That long.  But he was still a relatively happy baby despite the coughing and sneezing so we didn't think much of it.  Then the following week day care called because they were worried that he was running a fever.  I had to leave work early to pick him and took him to the doctor.  He was diagnosed with an ear infection and prescribed an antibiotic which he took for the next 10 days.

But the cold didn't go away.  In fact, it only continued to get worse.  He finished his antibiotics on a Thursday and that weekend he was hacking and sneezing so much that I called the doctor first thing Monday morning and DH took him that afternoon after he was done with school.  He was diagnosed with another ear infection - the other ear this time - and given a different, supposedly stronger antibiotic.

He did not like this antibiotic at all, and that's when things really started going downhill.

He slept most of Thanksgiving day, and even when he was awake, he cried this super sad cry the entire time.  Everyone wanted to see him and visit with him, but he took a nap that lasted nearly 4 hours and covered the length of most of our visit to at my sisters for Thanksgiving lunch.  That night when we took him home I fed him and tried to get him to go to sleep but he was abnormally fussy.  He was coughing and crying and it was the saddest thing.  I was holding him, trying to get him to go to sleep, but he wouldn't have it.

Then all of a sudden I felt him convulsing. I was worried that he was having a seizure when all of a sudden he threw up ALL over me.  So much.  I startled me so much that I jerked and almost tossed him (but I didn't, don't worry.)  I was soaking wet and could not believe how much he threw up.   I felt like it had to be even more than he had eaten.  And it smelled like antibiotic.  Great - he didn't keep that down....  After that he seemed to be feeling better feel asleep, although he did wake up in the middle of night to eat again.

The next morning was basically a repeat of the night before, although he threw up multiple times.  He couldn't stop coughing, which I think contributed to the vomiting, and he coughed non-stop for over an hour.  At this point it was 7:30 a.m., so at 8:02 I called the pediatrician's office, hoping they would be open.  they were.  AND they were able to get us in at 8:30 that morning.  We rushed to get dressed and took him straight there.  Some people were out doing Black Friday shopping.  We went to the pediatrician's office.

His temperature was 99.4 (not quite a fever according to them) and his ears were still really infected.  Since he hadn't gotten his last two doses of antibiotic, they gave him an injection of antibiotic and then made us an appointment for the next morning.  He was still really sick for the remainder of that day and was weirdly fussy.  Same for Saturday, but on Sunday he finally started improving.  He took lots of naps and was pretty fussy, but he was finally smiling again, something that he hadn't done in a while.

So now it's Tuesday, and I think he's finally started to feel better.  Although I was only with him for about 20 minutes this evening, he didn't cough at all.  We now give him his antibiotic in a bottle with a small amount of formula which seems to make it easier to swallow for him and he hasn't been vomiting it up.  I'm crossing my fingers that he's going to sleep through the night tonight - for the past week or so he would wake up from his coughing and had to be fed to get him back to sleep. 

These infant ear infections really suck.  Poor EH has had ear infections and has been on antibiotics for his entire first month of day care, precisely where I am sure he contracted all of those ear infections.  Everyone keeps saying "He's building up a good tolerance!" in regards to his immune system, but I'd rather he just didn't get sick at all. 

I certainly hope that he gets well soon and that we can maybe get a week or two of healthy baby before he comes down with something else again.  Is there anything a parent can do to help keep their babies from getting sick? Particularly if they're at day care?  I think I need a miracle!

Crazy Busy

Life has been crazy lately.  I feel like I spend every waking minute of my week days working, cooking dinner, feeding EH, and then crashing at bedtime.  Weekends are equally as hectic since it's full time baby care in addition to trying to get all of the household chore essentials (laundry, vacuuming, etc.) done, since there's no time during the week to do those things.  Add on top of that there's usually some sort of social commitment that we want to attend that keeps us up past our 9 p.m. bedtime AND factor in the fact that EH has been really sick and waking up in the middle of the night again and you have one exhausted mommy.

This past four day weekend?  It flew by in a flash, I feel like I accomplished almost nothing (although I actuallly DID a lot, there's just a lot left to be done) and I don't feel like I had a minute to relax, let alone blog.  I'm taking some time to write this now, but know that it's stressing me out just thinking about all of the other things that I should be doing.  It sucks.  I feel so stressed that my chest feels tight and I'm worried that I'm going to give myself a self-stress-induced  I had hoped to go out and do some Christmas shopping, but I barely even left the house, let alone accomplish anything on the shopping front. I know that we can probably do most of our shopping online, but I don't necessarily view that as a good thing, since I enjoy going out and doing Christmas shopping and it would give me some much needed time to myself.

I have dozens and dozens of pictures that I want to go through, edit, and post about, but I'm struggling to find the time.  Every evening I say "Tomorrow I am going to do computer time," and yet somehow something more important always pops up that takes priority.  I keep thinking that things will calm down soon, and I hope that someday I'm right about that, but so far that doesn't seem to be the case.  I go go go until I crash at night, and hopefully on this particular night that crashing will happen sooner rather than later.  When I do force myself to relax, it feels... well... forced.  Not genuine, and not really relaxing at all. 

We've actually done a lot during the past month, including taking EH on his first long (more than four hours) road trip, to Philadelphia. And so, instead of going on and on about how stressed I feel (which only makes me feel more stressed) I'm going to end this with a cute little video of EH and a promise to myself - TOMORROW I AM GOING TO SPEND THE EVENING DOING STUFF ON MY COMPUTER. 

(Video is from the car ride to Philadelphia.  It might be one of those things that's only funny/cute to us because we're his parents.  Oh well, this is my blog. I suppose I'm allowed to post those sorts of things.)

My Experience with Breastfeeding

It's been awhile since I've last said anything about my attempts to start cutting back on my breastfeeding efforts.  Every time I edited this post with updates and prepared to publish it, something new went wrong.

But it's been 5 days now since I last had a clogged duct, and my breastfeeding and weaning efforts are finally becoming manageable.  After spending countless hours reading community boards on Baby Center and other parenting websites and speaking with a lactation consultant, I am close - if not already there - to feeling like I am in control again, with a schedule that I can handle.  I want to share this story because I think it could be helpful to other women who are feeling overburdened by how exhausting breastfeeding full-time is. 

In case you haven't been following along from the beginning, here's a synopsis of my situation: 
I was more or less exclusively breastfeeding for the first 9 weeks or so of my son's life. I was exhausted by the amount of time and energy it took to breastfeed and was plagued with a number of problems, including clogged ducts, infections, and incredibly sore nipples.  I decided to start pumping exclusively somewhere around week 9 or 10 but the problems only got worse.

Here's where I went wrong:
When EH started spitting up like crazy, I wanted to diagnose the problem by figuring out how much milk he was drinking each feeding, knowing that the pediatrician only recommended 3 to 4 ounces per feeding.  So I started by giving him a bottle of formula at one feeding and then pumping to see how much I produced during a normal breastfeeding session.  I was getting between 7 and 8 ounces total.  So then the next feeding I let him eat until he started spitting up again and then I pumped after that to see how much was left. It was about 2 ounces, which told me that he was trying to eat 5 or 6 ounces each feeding.  That explained the excessive spit up - my baby was basically binging and purging. 

Around this time I also realized that I could go about 6 hours without having to pump (or feed him,) so I decided to start pumping every 6 hours instead of feeding him every 3, since I was still getting enough milk to feed him breast milk exclusively.  I decided that would be far more manageable for when I went back to work, since I was not interested in pumping every 3 hours (the feeding schedule at the time.)

But I clearly didn't think that one through. By completely emptying myself out every 6 hours, I was not only signaling to my body to replace what I had removed, but I was also telling it that there wasn't enough and that more needed to be produced.  After about 3 days of exclusive pumping my supply increased so much so suddenly that I felt like I was going to explode.

I had clogged duct after clogged duct, and engorgement at it's worst. Oh. My. God.  It was horribly painful.  An absolute miserable experience.  And you know what they tell you to do for clogged ducts? Nurse through it.  Yep, after all of that decision making to move to exclusive 6-hour spaced apart pumping sessions I was back to having to rely on EH to help me clear out my ducts, every 3 hours.  Thankfully even after 3 or 4 days of exclusive bottle feeding on his part he was still at pro at breastfeeding and returned to that like a champ.  No nipple confusion for this kid.

My early efforts at weaning: 
At this point I had decided that I definitely wanted to start the weaning process.  I knew that quitting cold turkey would just cause more problems for me, so I decided to take the more gradual approach.  Most people on the community boards that I read suggested starting by eliminating one feeding, and once that becomes manageable, eliminate another, and so on.

I tried that, but as it turns out, I couldn't even go 4 hours anymore without causing painful fullness and usually more clogs, let alone the 6 hours that I would have to go to be able to skip a full feeding.  People recommending that I try only feeding from one side at a time, but again, not possible, since the other side couldn't wait that long.  Clogs, clogs, and more clogs.  And of course, you all know what has to happen when a clog occurs, right? Yep, more regular feedings. So much for that weaning schedule, right?

And don't even get me started about night time.  Because, of course, right around this time EH started sleeping longer than 3 hours at night, and would usually go 5 or 6 at this point, which I could not handle. So even though HE was sleeping for longer stretches, I still had to wake up to pump. Or, in more cases than not, wake up in pain because I didn't wake up to pump.  I. Was. Miserable.

How I Found Weaning Success:
Since that gradual weaning thing clearly wasn't going to work for me, I decided to take slightly more drastic, alternative measures.  I had read on a BabyCenter community board that drinking sage tea was supposed to help with the weaning process. While I am usually a skeptic about herbal remedies, I was ready to try anything.  A quick search on Amazon resulted in me finding a sage tea called - no kidding - "Earth Mama Angel Baby Organic No More Milk Tea."  What a mouthful, right? But it sounded like it was just what I was looking for so I placed my order, did 2 day shipping and as soon as I was able to get rid of the clog that I was dealing with on the day it arrived, I drank 4 cups in the first 12 hours.

On that same day I spoke with a lactation consultant over the phone, and she recommended sage tea as well, in addition to taking sage capsules and lecithin, which is supposed to help prevent clogs.  I went right back to Amazon, placed an order for overnight shipping and had both of those the very next day.  I started by taking the lecithin at least twice a day, sometimes three times if I remember, and I took the sage capsules twice that first day and once the next day, in addition to drinking the tea, and it was remarkable at how quickly things started to change.  I could feel the difference.  Suddenly I could easily go 4 hours without any problems, and that soon became 6 hours.

I no longer take either the sage capsules or the lecithin on a regular basis, although as soon as I get sense that a clog is forming or that my supply is building up to be more than I can handle, I'll pop them immediately.   Same with the tea - I only drink it if I have a feeling that I'm started to produce too much, or if I know that I'm going to go have to go longer than normal without pumping or nursing. Sometimes I catch it in time, sometimes I don't, but these herbal remedies really did seem to work.  I could have kept taking them, and that likely would have dried up my supply completely, but I wasn't ready for that yet.   I wanted to see how things would go once I went back to work, and once EH was spending most of the day at day care.

Where I'm At Now: 
I now only breastfeed EH three times per day (which includes me having to pump once at day at work, during my lunch hour.)  There was a transition period where EH would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night, around 2:30 a.m. and sometimes he'd sleep through it, and that time was hard for me because I wasn't ready to go more than 6 hours without feeding him, but within a few days I was able to get through it.  It is amazing what a difference this has made for me.  I no longer feel tied to my baby or to my pump in the same restrictive way that I did before. 

At the same time I feel good that I am still able to provide EH with breast milk for over 50% of his feedings. And I do NOT feel guilty for giving formula for the other half of his feedings.  Thousands of babies, myself included, were raised on formula and I consider myself to be quite intelligent and well-rounded (bias acknowledged.)

When EH was 11 weeks old, our/my feeding schedule looked something like this:
6:30 a.m. - Breastfed at home
9:30 a.m. - Bottle of formula* at day care
12:30 p.m. - Bottle of breast milk* at day care
12:30 p.m. - I pump at work
3:30 p.m. - Bottle of formula* at day care
6:30 p.m. - Breastfed at home and then to bed for the night
Sometime between 12:30 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. - Breastfed at home
4:30 a.m.** - Bottle of formula or breast milk at home

(* - I don't actually know when they give him the bottles of formula versus the bottle of breast milk, so I'm just guessing here.
** - If he wakes at 12:30 for a night feeding then he usually needs this second feeding at 4:30.  However, when he doesn't wake until 2:30 a.m. for his first night feeding, he doesn't usually need another until 6:30 a.m. so the 4:30 bottle is skipped.)

Now, at nearly 15 weeks old, our schedule looks like this: 
5:15 a.m. - Breastfed at home
8:30 a.m. - Bottle at day care*
12:00 p.m. - Bottle at day care*
3:30 p.m. - Bottle at day care*
5:30 p.m. - Breastfed at home
6:00 p.m. - In bed for the night

(* Bottles at day care time are approximate, as it depends on his napping schedule, and at least one of his bottles every day is breast milk.)

That's right!!! You read that correctly - EH now consistently sleeps through the night, from about 5:30/6 p.m. to 5 a.m.  At least 11 hours every night.  He gets 5 feedings a day, and seems to be extremely content, happy and continues to grow like a weed.  

I don't give him a bottle of formula before bedtime anymore, because he now sleeps the same amount of time at night whether I give him breast milk or formula. But I should note that initially, when we were first trying to get him to sleep for longer periods at night, it was essential that he had formula as his last meal, otherwise he would wake up. Now he's used to sleeping for long periods and it doesn't seem to matter what he eats - he'll just sleep.

It's been a long and arduous process to get to where we are now with this whole breastfeeding ordeal.  In many ways, I can't believe that I didn't give up and quit a long time ago! Of course, had I tried to quit, I would have surely exploded. That's nature's way of making sure you don't quit breastfeeding unnecessarily, I suppose.  But now that we are where we are, I can see this working for awhile.  It doesn't consume my life, and I don't dread it anymore.  It's a small piece of who I am and what I do, not the only thing I spend my time doing. 

The other day I was feeding EH and DH was sitting next to me.  I was deep in thought, as I usually am when feeding EH, unless I'm watching TV or talking to DH, and suddenly it hit me.  I realized why I wasn't quite ready to give up breastfeeding completely.  It's the only thing that separates me from day care.  Anyone can give him a bottle.  But only I can breastfeed him (and please don't disagree with me on this one.)  And I think I'll probably do it for at least a little while longer.  Besides the fact that it saves us a little money on formula (but ultimately does NOT save you money, a post for another time) it's my unique, one-on-one bonding time with my little baby boy, and I'm just not ready to give that up yet. 

Work - Week 3

I just finished up my third week of being back to work.  Worth noting is that this was my first full week back, since we had prior engagements that I ended up needing to use vacation days for (because after all, EH wasn't due for two full weeks after he was actually born, and I thought I'd still be on maternity leave!)

Things are back to normal, but definitely not any easier.  I can't decide which is harder - leaving EH at day care when he's crying, or leaving him at day care when he's awake and all smiles, looking me in the eye, and sending me all of his love. I think both are equally hard.  The only time I don't feel tremendous amounts of guilt and sadness are when he's sleeping.  Then I can usually leave him without feeling too awful.

I think part of the problem is that I'm still struggling with how little I get to see him.  Less than hour in the morning, and about 15 to 30 minutes of feeding time in the evening.  That's it.  It's not enough for me. 

People told me that it would get easier, leaving him. And I thought maybe it would.  But I no longer believe that.  Maybe it does get easier for some people, but I'm not sure that it will for me.  I'm not talking about shedding tears every time I drop him off, but that weight in the pit of my stomach, that feeling of guilt, like I'm abandoning him.  I don't think that's going to go away. 

And how can I expect it to, really?  When this cute little face is the one I'm leaving behind.

And this smile!

Seriously, can you blame me for feeling so sad about leaving him every day?

We Cancelled Cable

On October 31st, we cancelled our cable subscription.  Or rather, I should say, DH cancelled cable.  I resisted.

His rationale - saving money.  Which I totally get.  But I refused to let him cancel it while I was still on maternity leave.  I needed the "company" that the TV provided; it made me feel less alone.  Now that I'm back to work, I don't miss it very much, mostly because I don't really have time in the evenings to watch anything, and we haven't been home long enough on a weekend for me to get a chance to really relax.  While I had suspected that this would be the case (me not missing it), I'm glad to realize that it's true and that I don't really miss it.

We did get an antennae, and DH installed that on the roof recently.  That has allowed us to get - in full HD quality - most local network stations such as CBS, Fox, NBC, and the CW.  There are a few other channels as well.  No ABC though - apparently they went el-cheapo on their broadcasting equipment so you can't pick that up with an antennae.

I had originally pushed to get something to replace cable - such as an antennae - so that at the very least I could get NBC to watch my morning Today Show, which was the only way I ever managed to stay on top of current events.  As it turns out, I leave my house now right around the same time the Today Show starts, so it doesn't seem like I'm going to know what's going on in the world anymore, ever again.  I feel SO out of the loop when it comes to current events, and I'm pretty sure I'm getting dumber by the minute.  BUT, the good news is, we can watch the Steelers games whenever they're on one of the channels we get, and the picture is great.  (Yep, dumber by the minute.)

We still have Netflix (for now, although DH wants to cancel that too) and we subscribed to HULU Plus, which we can access through our Roku, to get some of the shows that we really wanted to see.  We also hooked up a computer to our downstairs television so that we can get all of the shows that are on, which makes up for the lack of live ABC shows.  And hopefully, for Christmas, we'll be receiving a DVR, which will allow us to start recording things and watching them at our leisure (most notably anything that we want to watch on our upstairs TV that we can't get on HULU.)

In the long run, it will probably be good that EH has limited opportunities to watch TV.  And although in many ways our TV watching experiences just got more complicated - HULU? or online? or live? or what? - it's also simplified by having less viewing choices in general, in particular if we want to watch something live.

Now, the question is, what to watch!?!?  I am so out of the fall-tv-lineup-loop these days!  Any favorite shows that you can recommend?

I Think It's Over

I think that "the hardest part" might finally be over (knock on wood.) In fact, I've been thinking this for a few weeks, but didn't want to say it out loud for fear of jinxing myself once again.  But I think it's finally time to admit it - EH is no longer in that fussy, unpredictable newborn stage.  He's an infant now.

The change started sometime around his 10th week of life.  It was around then that he and I finally started to understand each other.  I could tell when he needed a nap, knew when he needed to eat, and he knew when to throw out one of his charming smiles in my direction just when I needed it.  He started sleeping longer at night. The non-stop crying periods finally stopped.  I could elicit a smile out of him by talking to him the right way, and I even got him to make a sound that sounded a lot like "hiiiii." It was so cute.

DH is ecstatic about this change.  While I accepted the challenges of those early weeks as being a normal part of a new mom on maternity leave, DH struggled with it, mostly - I think - because he wasn't around to understand EH and his chaotic schedule as well as I did.  (Don't get me wrong, it sucked for me too.  But I expected it to suck - I think DH was caught off guard by just how hard it was.)  Of course, DH loved EH back then, but he loves him so much more now.  He isn't shy about admitting just how much he disliked those early weeks, that "hardest part."  

It's true - we enjoy him so much more now.  He's such a good baby, and people notice that and say that to us all the time these days. We get sleep now, albeit not nearly as much as we (or at least I) used to, before baby.  EH has fallen into a sleep schedule, and goes to sleep at night with hardly any fussing at all.  I should use the term "night" lightly, since lately he's been asleep and out for the night sometime between 5 and 5:30 p.m. the past few nights. That means that on most days, I don't even get to see him in the evenings, because I don't get home until 5:30 on a good day, and even later on a bad one.

That's probably the hardest part of this whole transition back to work - now that he's finally at an age and point where we can really enjoy him, I'm no longer around to get that enjoyment.  I see him for about 45 minutes to an hour in the middle of the night, usually around our 2:30 a.m. snack-time rendevous, and then again at 6:30 in the morning when I wake him up for the day and feed him.  Then I pack him into the car at 7:10 a.m. and he's off to day care.  The past couple of nights he's been sound asleep before 5:30 p.m., and some nights the only reason I get to see him was because I had to wake him up to take his antibiotic.  Our time together lately is limited to less than 2 hours per day, and even that is mostly functional in nature - meal time.

Now that's he big enough to hug and snuggle with, I have no time for hugging and snuggling.  In the middle of the night I'm anxious to get back to sleep, and in the morning I have to rush him out of the door as soon as he's done eating or else I'll be late for work.  It's not really quality time at all, and I'm hoping that sooner rather than later he'll need just a little less sleep so that I can at least see him in the evenings.  I know that the time change this past weekend really messed him up, since previously he was going to sleep between 6 and 6:30 p.m. and now it's 5 or 5:30 p.m.  But the crazy thing is, he still sleeps until about 2:30 a.m. (almost 9 hours straight!) and then sleeps again until 6:30 a.m. when WE have to wake him up!!! Who knows how long he'd sleep if we let him go as long as he wanted (we haven't been able to test that yet because we've been away every weekend since I went back to work.)

So its sad, this "not being able to see" him part.  After spending every single minute of every single day with him for so long, caring for him, and loving him, I think I'm going through baby withdrawal.  A lot of mom's have talked about their going back to work as a "break" of sorts for them, finally free of having to worry about their little one all day long.  But not me.  Work is still just work and not much has changed but my baby is growing and changing every single day.  My fear that he was going to "grow up without me?"  It's happening.  Because of course that's what happens - or at least that's what it feels like is happening - when you rarely get to see your little one.

So the "hardest part?"  Well, even though the challenge of having a brand spanking new baby is over - and don't get me wrong, I am sooo thanful for that! - the hardest part now is finding (or making) time to spend with him. Playing with him.  Watching him grow and trying to take a minute to document it all (I haven't taken a picture of him with our new camera in weeks!)  Yep, that's the hardest part now - and it's really not bad at all.


In honor of three-month birthday, on 11/11/11, EH decided to give us with ELEVEN HOURS (11!) of sleep last night.  That is unprecedented.

Did he sleep that long because he didn't really nap at day care yesterday and so he was completely exhausted?  Did he sleep that long because that's just what he's going to do now??  Or did he sleep that long because he's been so sick and is medicated and thus possibly more drowsy than usual? 

I'm not sure that there's a way for me to know, except to see if things continue like this after he's no longer sick and medicated, or to see if he sleeps that long after a day of decent napping.  In any case, DH and I were thrilled that he slept that long and hope he keeps it up.

Of course, please know that him getting 11 hours of sleep does NOT mean that I got much more.  In fact, I still probably only got about 6 hours, which is normal for me in a night.  Why?  Well first of all I did not go to bed until shortly after 9 p.m.  Then, because of his cold, EH coughed a lot all night long and every time he coughed the monitor picked it up.  (His coughs did not seem to wake him up, thought.)  The monitor receiver sits next to my bed on the nightstand so every time he coughed I woke up.  These coughs are also the only reason that I didn't panic when I realized how long he had slept - otherwise I might have been worried that he had stopped breathing or something like that!  Finally, I did not get much sleep because, well... I'm still breastfeeding (I promise that I have an update to that whole process that I will post soon, but things keep changing so rapidly that I've been holding off on publishing it until there's some sort of consistency) and so by 4 a.m. (when I woke up from one of his coughs), it had been 10 hours since I had last fed him and I had painful clogs and engorgement.  People say that your body is supposed to adjust to your baby's sleep schedule when he starts sleeping through the night.  My body says, "HA! Adjust!??! Hell no!!"  It hates me, this body of mine, but I'm not giving up - we're going to friends if it's the last thing I do. 

In the meantime, I'm just going to enjoy every single night that he sleeps so well.  I've been reading Facebook updates from friends who saying things like "Baby boy is sick and he only slept 45 minutes last night."  I'm sure that will be me at some point, but for now, I'm pretty sure that we might have the perfect baby.  Two months ago I would have never believe it if you told me I'd be saying that now.

My oh my, how things have changed....

My New Life

Life continues to be non-stop busy, even more so now that I am back at work.  After only four full days at work last week I had to leave early yesterday when day care called to say that Evan was running a fever (he has a cold AND an ear infection) and then take off a day today to attend my aunts funeral.  The saying is true - when it rains it pours.  I have a feeling that will be true even more than ever with a baby.

Here's what's new:
1. I'm losing my hair in large quantities. I thought this usually happened right after your baby was born, but apparently for me it happens around the three month mark.
2. We traveled to Philadelphia last weekend for a wedding and we're going to Baltimore this weekend for early Thanksgiving.  Traveling with a baby is more challenging than I could have ever remembered.
3. I'm still sad about sending EH off to day care, especially after he got a cold and ear infection after only two days there.  Maybe I should consider that health spending account after all.
4. EH is shaping up to be a really good baby. Everyone at the funeral was impressed with how good and quiet he was being.

So, life is good, just busier than ever. My blogging time is spent washing bottles and giving baths.  I want to get back to it soon, but I don't know where I'm going to find the time. 

What's nice is that I have so much cuteness and love in my life.  It doesn't make it easier but it does make me happy in the meantime.

A Boy and His Dog

During my first bridal shower, my sister had everyone write something down on an "advice" card.  One of the advice givers said, "Don't forget Murphy - he still needs love too!"

At the time I thought, "Pshaw! How could we ever forget about Murphy!?!? He's our baby dog!"  I truly believed that we would easily and effortlessly be able to give equal amounts of loving attention to both our baby and our dog.

But now I get it.  I get why people say that your dog becomes "just a dog" after you have a baby.  I get why people are worried or cautious when they bring a baby home from the hospital for the first time.

Murphy was used to being "top dog." He has been the sole object of our affection for the past 6 years.  Then, all of a sudden there was this tiny little creature that needed way more attention than we ever thought possible.

We would lay EH on the floor for "tummy time" and Murphy thought that was play time.  He would paw at our hands to get us to pet him, or bring his alien toy to us to throw.  We tried to give him attention while helping him to understand that he could not treat the baby the same way that he treats us.  He seemed to understand this from the very beginning and he never did anything to hurt EH.  (In the picture above I assure you that he didn't scratch EH at all.)

Then there was the noise.  One of the first nights that we had EH home we forgot to put Murphy in his crate at bedtime, so he had the run of the house, and was in fact closed out of our bedroom where he usually sleeps.  When EH started crying in the middle of the night and the noise was amplified by the monitor in the living room, Murphy started barking at the monitor like a maniac.  I'm pretty sure he thought that someone was breaking in. It was hilarious in one of those I'm-so-exhausted-everything-is-funny sort of ways.

Murph's jealous of EH was obvious from the beginning.  He could not understand why we were laying out these soft fluffy blankets and pillows and telling him that he wasn't allowed to lay on them.  At some point we relaxed a little on the refusal to let Murphy touch EH's things, as we realized that we were not going to be able to shelter him from dog fur forever.  We draw the line at puppy kisses though.  At least for right now.

The truth is, Murphy is struggling to find his place in this new family, where he is no longer the only creature vying for our affection.  But he's finding his place.  He understands that EH is here to stay, and he's gradually showing some interest in him, usually in his oh-so-dog way of sniffing EH's butt.  Seriously.

He is drawn to all things that belong to EH - his boppy pillow, his burp cloths, his blankets - and it's almost as if he things that if he spends more time around EH's things then maybe we'll spend more time with him.  As life with a newborn becomes life with a three-month-old and things are finally starting to calm down, we are finding that we have more time to spend with Murphy and even though it's usually more stressful than it's worth, we've started taking him on our walks again.  (We stopped taking him for awhile because he's so mean when he sees other dogs that he was an embarrassment.)

One thing hasn't changed though, and that's that Murphy is still an amazingly good dog.  I'm so grateful that we never had to be worried about him accidentally doing something to EH - we were cautious, but never worried.  It's as if he sensed that this new little being was something that needed to be treated with care and caution, and even though he's definitely jealous, he's jealous in a mostly gentle, respectful way.

These first couple of months with EH were soooo hard, but I'm finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I absolutely love and adore every single member of our little family of four, and I can't wait to see where we go from here.

Day Care - Day 1

Well, we made it.  I returned to work and EH spent his first full day at day care.  We both survived and although I think I'll always be just a little bit sad about leaving him, I'm not as nervous as I was about it before.

Drop off was uneventful.  I was hoping he'd fall asleep in the car ride on the way there, but he didn't.  He was probably so confused as to why mommy woke him up so early and then shoved him in the car.

He was the third baby there, and the other two babies were still asleep in their car seats.  The room was eerily quiet, considering that every other time I had been there there were kids playing and yelling and crying. 

I put him in a swing, one of the ones that goes side to side, and he seems to enjoy that.  (Of course the swing we bought him doesn't do that.  Oh well.)  I got him settled, we made eye contact and told him that I loved him.  Then I said goodbye and left.  I didn't cry, although I had a lump in my throat that I couldn't swallow and a sick feeling in my stomach.  But when I got to work and one of my co-workers gave me a hug and asked me how things went this morning I broke down and the tears flowed.  Oh well, it was bound to happen.

I called the day care around 2 p.m. to check on him and they said that he was doing great.  I'm not sure whether or not they would really tell me if he was crying all day or not, so I'll just have to believe that he was great. 

DH picked him up around 4:15.  EH was just finishing a bottle.  He picked up his daily report card and packed up the baby.  According to the card, EH took 4 naps during the day, one for an hour and a half and the rest for about 45 minutes.  Not nearly as much napping as he was getting when he was at home with me, but way more than I expected him to get this first day, so I'm happy with that.  It seems like they're putting him down for naps right after bottles, which is the opposite of the feed/wake/sleep schedule that we were trying to get him on here, but honestly if that gets him to take naps then I'm not going to complain.  A well rested happy baby is way more important than a baby on a strict schedule. 

When DH got home he took EH for a walk, and EH took another short nap during that time.  It was nice because when I got home, they were sitting at the top of the stairs waiting for me, and EH was awake and smiling.  It made me smile.  I got home earlier than I normally will - around 5:25 - and so I got to spend some nice time with him and cooked dinner while he was still awake.  Of course, by 6:10 p.m. he was fussing and ready for his nighttime bottle, so I fed him and he was in bed by 6:45, but at least I got to spend a little quality time with him.  

After he was in bed DH did dishes and I made bottles, got our lunches ready for tomorrow, and made sure that my clothes and EH's clothes were ready to go.  And now all of a sudden the night is already over.  I feel like I had almost no time at home this evening (and I even got home early!) and I suppose this is how it's always going to go from now on.  Some nights if I get stuck in traffic I may not even get to see him at all, especially if he's ready for bed by 6:10 again. 

But I just have to remember that he's still going to love me even if he doesn't seem me for one night.  We'll still get our snuggle time in the morning and in the middle of the night.  And it will just mean that I'll have to make the most of our time together on the weekends.  Being a working mom isn't going to be easy, but now at least I'm pretty sure we can get through it.

EH's First Halloween

EH's first Halloween ended up being mostly anticlimactic.  We dressed him up, got him in his car seat, all ready to go.  And then we stepped outside and noticed it was raining.  It was just a light rain - a drizzle really - but considering that we were just going to walk around with him and watch the other kids trick or treat, it didn't make a lot of sense to do that in the rain.  Plus, I'm pretty sure that EH has his first cold, as he's been coughing and sneezing and snorting up a storm during the last 24 hours or so, and cold weather weather probably wouldn't help that.

Most new babies his age are usually dressed as pumpkins.  Pumpkins are easy, bright, festive costumes that work well for the holiday.  And considering that newborns can move around about as much as a pumpkin can, it makes a lot of sense.

We decided to go a different route - the football.  I'm the quarterback. Pretty cute, right?

So I feel bad that we got him all dressed up and then just sat around at home, but he didn't seem to mind, and he was a good sport about the whole thing. (HA!)

Hope everyone had a happy Halloween!

Last Day of Maternity Leave

Today is/was my last day of maternity leave, and it makes me tear up every time I think about it.  It's cruel in a way - I think FMLA gives you 12 weeks off of work because it takes that long for a new baby to become manageable.  As soon as that happens, they force you back to work, without any time to really enjoy your baby who is finally on a good schedule, smiling back and you and becoming that little bundle of joy that you were expecting from day one.

It's not so much that I hate the idea of going back to work so much as I hate the idea of leaving EH at daycare for such an incredible chunk of his day.  He's going to spend all but one or two of his waking hours - five days a week - with people other than his family.  And when we do finally get to spend time with him at home, that time also needs to be spent doing all of those household chores that you also can't get done because you're at work all day - laundry, cooking, dishes, vacuuming, etc. 

I wish there was a way to work slightly less hours without sacrificing income.  Of course, that's probably everyone's goal in life - work less, get paid more. 

Even though we pay for daycare by the week regardless of how many days he spends there, I chose not to take him there today.  DH couldn't believe it.  But I wanted one last day at home with him, where he could have all of the attention from me that he wanted. 

Everything that he's learned so far, all of his sleeping and eating habits, all of smiles, have been because of me (or us really, but if we're being honest, most of it was me since I just happened to be the one who has spent the most time with him thus far.)  Soon that will no longer be the case, and more likely than not DH and I won't be around for the a lot of his "first" milestones - first word, first crawl, first step, etc.  Of course we'll still rejoice those "firsts" when we get to see them the first time ourselves, but seriously, what are the odds that we'll be around the very first time considering that hes going to be away from us for nearly 50 hours a week?

I should probably stop thinking about it, but I can't get past the fact that I feel like someone else will be raising EH from now on.  I really really really hope that everything goes well at day care.  I hope that his daily "report card" shows that he's eating and sleeping as well as he has been at home, and I hope that he comes home each day not so exhausted that all he does is cry and scream.  I hope that I can still spend at least a little quality time with him when I get home from work, even though he'll have to go to bed a mere hour after I get home. 

I'm sad. I'm just so sad, every time I think about it.  And I can't stop thinking about it.  So I'm going to stop writing this now, and go spend the next hour or so with my little guy, until he has to go to bed and wake up to his new life.  Which starts tomorrow.

Two Months Young

EH officially turned two months old almost three weeks ago, but I never got around to posting his updated stats!

We were thrilled that he gained enough weight to jump him up to the 22nd percentile!  Who knows what he weighs now, but the doctor felt confident that he was gaining rapidly enough that she thought he would ultimately be a fairly big baby/child.  We'll see about that... after all, that's what my OB doctor said throughout my entire pregnancy and we know that didn't end up being true!

Grading homework with daddy

He only gained a half inch in length (22 inches), taking him down to the 16th percentile in that category, and he grew a centimeter and a half in head circumference, putting him in the 40th percentile there.  So he actually went down in those two percentiles, based on his age, but since the weight was the only one where he was really below average, it was also the only one they really cared about this time. All in all, he's a growing boy.  We already knew that of course.

He turns 3 months only 12 days from now.  It's amazing how time flies.