Travels with EH

This past weekend we traveled to Delaware for the first of two baby showers held in honor of EH's two new impending cousins.  We traveled extensively with EH over the holidays, but we were always staying at someone's home.  While I know that DH's aunt doesn't mind having us stay at her house, we felt like we were really imposing and found it to be challenging to maintain EH's schedule when there was a lot of noise going on, and so for this particular weekend we made the decision to book a hotel room.

Since it didn't really matter too much to us where we stayed, we went through and placed a bid of $45 (pre-tax.)  We were pretty surprised to find out that our bid had been accepted and that not only were we getting a hotel room for $56 (post-tax) it was a Doubletree which is a three star chain. 

The hotel was lovely and we were thrilled with how everything worked out.  But there are a few things that we hadn't fully considered, and so if you're staying with an infant at a hotel, here are a few things to realize. 

1. The baby won't have his/her own room - 
This makes it challenging for naps/nighttime sleep when you're all in the room, but as much as possible try to create a quiet dark space in the room for your baby to sleep.  We put him in the closet for his first nap (in his carseat) until I came up with the Baby Cave concept (see below.)
2. Do your best to preserve your baby's sleep schedule - 
Traveling already throws off your baby's natural sleep rhythms, so do everything that you can to make sure that naps and nighttime sleep happen at their normal time.
3. Be prepared to spend some time alone in a dark and quiet room (or, if you can afford it, splurge for a two-room suite) -
We hadn't considered the fact that even after EH was asleep, someone would have to stay with him.

We've always known that EH was a light sleeper, but lately he's been even worse than normal.  He likes to be held while he sleeps and has really been resisting sleeping on his back as well.  So instead of lugging around the pack and play, we just brought his rocker along for this trip and we created his own little "room" for sleeping.

I present to you, the Baby Cave.

The Baby Cave is nothing more than the hotel desk covered with a comforter.  The comforter was heavy and dark so it blocked out a lot of light and noise. The only light that came in was from the side that we left open for circulation and peeking.  (I stuck my head in there a couple of times to make sure it wasn't too stuffy.)  We also put a white noise machine not too far from his head, so the white noise filled the tiny little space and blocked out a lot of the little, impossible-to-avoid noises that we made just by being in the room.

Of course, I realize that a Baby Cave won't work for everyone.  As you can see, EH is still sleeping in his rocker, so if your baby sleeps in a crib or pack and play, then it might not (probably won't) fit under the hotel desk.  But since EH hasn't wanted to sleep in his crib for the past couple of weeks, we haven't even been bothering with trying, especially when we have travel coming up and we know he'll sleep well in his rocker.

Once we got EH all set up in the baby cave, we then realized we had another problem - one of us had to stay with him.  This is always going to be a problem, but it was solved fairly easily for this particular trip because my brother-in-law's wife (they were staying in a room across the hall) offered to take EH's monitor since she was tired and wanted to relax in the room anyway.  So DH and I were able to have a couple of drinks at the hotel bar while EH slept - a nice "adult" moment in the hectic chaos that is traveling with an infant. 

Ever Changing

One of the greatest challenges I face as a mom and blogger is keeping things up to date. With so little time to blog these days I find myself starting posts and then not coming back to finish them until days later.  That didn't used to be a big deal, but now, by the time I come back to the post to finish it, the information is already outdated.  Babies change too much, too fast.  I can't keep up!

One thing that hasn't changed - he's still a cutie!

 For example, if I was to write a post about EH's sleep habits three weeks ago, I would have raved about how he was sleeping 10+ hours per night, in his crib, without his pacifier!!!  Seriously, there was a week or two there when he was such a good baby I thought that we were the luckiest parents alive.

Then he got sick again, and he needed his pacifier for soothing.  And he couldn't breathe laying flat on his back so we put him in his rocker. 

And now.  Well, now if I was to write a post about his sleep habits, it would be a whole different story.  I would tell you about how he's been waking up 3 to 5 times per night, crying, and we have to run in a give him his pacifier.  I would tell you about last night, when we tried to put him to be at 7:30 p.m. in his crib, and he just screamed and cried.  We gave him a little more food. Still cried.  We held him.  He would stop crying until we laid him down again.  He had his pacifier and didn't really care.  He gave him his seahorse, which he likes to watch at night, but he still just cried.  We tried to just let him "cry it out," but he was relentless and it was miserable listening to him be so miserable.

Finally, I put him in his rocker, and he was out like a light.  Seriously, one second screaming, the next sound asleep.  Of course it was 9:30 p.m. at this point, so maybe he was exhausted, but in any case, the rocker was like a sedative to him. On top of that, he didn't wake up ONCE the entire night.  Not once.  Based on the past few nights, that is truly amazing. 

Part of my silence in not writing much lately is because we've been busy spending every spare minute that we have with our little guy.  But part of it has to do with the fact that something I write today will likely be outdated tomorrow.  The ever-changing nature of infants makes it hard for any casual writer to keep readers up to date on development matters.  This doesn't mean that I'm not going to continue trying, but man, it's hard!

The Birthday Balloon

It's funny how over the past 31 years of my existence, somewhere along the way I forgot how exciting some little things can be.  EH - and probably offspring in general - seem to have a way of reminding you of all these little things from your own childhood that you forgot about until suddenly you're experiencing them all over again through his eyes.

Like balloons, for example.  I totally forgot about how awesome and mesmerizing balloons could be. 

Seriously - So. Much. Fun!

That is, it was, until at one point the balloon bounced back a little too quickly and bopped hm on the forehead, which apparently startled him, and he proceeded to scream in terror until I picked him up.   I'm not sure if he'll be as captivated by the balloon the next time he encounters it, but we'll see!

6 Months!!!

EH celebrated his 6 month birthday this past Saturday, and he even got to experience his very first balloon at my niece's birthday party that same night.  He was so fascinated that he got to take a balloon home.  It was so adorable.

It's hard to believe that he is already 6 months old!  He has his 6 month well visit yesterday, and his stats are as follows:
Weight - 16 pounds - 25th percentile
Height - 26.5 inches - 50th percentile
Head Circumference - something really huge - 81st percentile

Our kid has a huge head.  No wonder he doesn't want to bother with lifting it up when we force him to do tummy time.

Speaking of tummy time, we are apparently major failures when it comes to encouraging our infant to roll over and crawl.  He is behind developmentally in this area, and our doctor was about thiiiiis close to recommend that we bring in an early intervention specialist, but for now he told us to put EH on his belly at least 20 times per day for two minutes at a time.  Do you know how impossible that's going to be?? He's only awake for about 10 hours per day. Twice per hour, every waking hour?? And 9 of those hours are spent at day care, where they may put him on his stomach once a day, if that.  He hates it so much that we didn't want to make him miserable during the brief time in the evening that we could spend with him, so we never pushed the issue either.  And now he's behind.

Bad parents, we are.

We are also failures at starting our child on solid foods.  At his 4 month visit we were supposed to start giving rice cereal.  Well, we succeeded at giving that to him about 6 times in the entire two months between his doctor visits.  Again, major fail.  He hates solid food about as much as he hates tummy time, and since we - once again - didn't want to torture him by forcing him to eat rice cereal or oatmeal which makes him gag and cough, we chose instead to spend fun, quality family time instead of encouraging him to get used to solids.  Now he's over 6 months old and still hates rice cereal, oatmeal, apples, avocados, and beans, which are the five foods we tried to give him so far.  He hates them ALL. 

Oh, and he also has an ear infection. AGAIN.  Yes, another ear infection. I can barely believe it either.  We now have to make an appointment with a pediatric Ear/Nose/Throat specialist to have him evaluated for tubes.  Although I know tubes are not the end of the world for an infant, we're hoping that with our new day care situation that he'll be healthier over the next few months and hopefully we'll notice that the instances of ear infections decreases dramatically.  Let's hope. 

The good news is that on Monday of next week he starts at his in-home day care place.  He'll have much more one-on-one attention, so we can ask her to do more tummy time with him and also start having her give him some solid foods if we decide that we want to push that more.  He'll also hopefully be exposed to less germs, so we're hopeful that he'll be healthier. 

As soon as he is well we're going to push hard on the tummy time, solid foods, sleeping through the night unassisted, and pacifier weaning (which might be a nightmare).  We certainly have our work cut out for us!

Finding New Day Care

So, it is official.  February 17th will be EH's last day at his current day care, and February 20th starts his new - but sadly temporary - care set-up. 

It's been a tumultuous past couple of weeks.  After the sad realization that he is just not thriving at his current day care, DH took the lead on finding new day care providers.  He posted a listing on Craigslist and weeding through the responses.  I contacted a few other larger day care centers, but DH was convinced that a different day care center wasn't going to be that much different than his current center.  

So after many emails and meetings, we found a woman who lives not to far from EH's current day care, who is willing to watch him for the next couple of months for about the same price that we're paying right now.  Sadly, she's only going to be able to watch him until the first week of June, until her kids are out of school for the summer, so we are still on the search for an amazing, somewhat permanent care person, but we're excited to know that he'll be getting much, MUCH more attention in his new situation. 

EH is very excited!
It will just be her and EH until 11:30 when her five-year old comes home from school, and then for the rest of the day it will just be the two of them.  One of our biggest complaints about our current day care is that they aren't able to take the time to help him fall asleep at nap time, and he's simply not a just-lay-him-in-his-crib-and-let-him-fall-asleep sort of baby.  On top of that, the cribs are in the main room where all of the kids play and right under these bright florescent lights, and with EH's penchant for staring at lights it's just not a good set-up.  So in his new care setting she will be able to take some time to help him fall asleep, and he'll be in a quiet, somewhat dark room where he can rest without distractions. We did a trial day and we could not have been more pleased with how things went.  EH took 3 amazing naps, came home happy and well rested, and the woman thought he was the best baby ever.  (We made sure to let her know that he's not always this good.)

So we're excited, and hoping for the best.  But it's also a little sad, because we spent a lot of time and research trying to find the perfect yet affordable day care set up for EH.  We made sure to only consider centers that were accredited by the NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) because we wanted a center that had a real focus on early childhood education since we thought EH would be there for the first few years of his life. 

Now we realize that NAEYC accreditation - while important - is not as critical for infants.  Although I still think that the care workers in EH's day care room did the best that they could, the fact is that 4 infants to each adult is still way too many to allow for much quality education time to occur.  The employees are spending most of their time giving bottles and changing diapers.  There just isn't a whole lot of time for one-on-one interaction, and that is something that we were really hoping for. 

On top of that, EH has been incredibly sick ever sick he stepped foot (or rather, car seat) into day care.  He's had five ear infections in three months, the flu, and now a cold (although fortunately not an ear infection yet.)  Everyone keeps telling us that it will be great when he's older because his immune system will be so strong, and I believe that to some degree, but right now having a chronically sick infant is not only exhausting but it's sad. No one likes to be sick. 

Our hope is that we will be able to find in-home day care for EH until he turns 2, at which time we will re-enroll him in a center-style day care so that he can develop his social skills and start learning things like sharing and all of that fun stuff that they do in the toddler and preschool rooms at day rooms.  In the meantime, we will continue to socialize him with other kids whenever we have the opportunity, and we'll just keep our fingers crossed that we'll be able to get him a spot in a good, accredited center whenever he is ready to go back. 

Of course, who knows how all of this will change if we decide to have a second child.  But that is a conversation for another day!

Why I Will Be Rooting for the Patriots Today

When you live in Pittsburgh, if you aren't a Steeler's fan, then you've immediately lost at least a few friends. People here like to say that they "bleed black and gold," and I believe that to be largely true for a significant portion of the population.  While we aren't the biggest footballs fans in the world, the Steeler's are definitely the team that we root for, and we studiously dress in our black and gold jerseys each and every Sunday during football season.

Picture from the one and only Steeler's game I've ever attended in person

But alas, the Steeler's did not make it to the Super Bowl this year.  In fact, they barely made it to the playoffs, and then they blew that in huge ways during the first 10 seconds of the overtime when they played the Denver Broncos.  After that game I was ready to root for the Broncos since I was impressed by Tim Tebow and his teammates during that game which I feel they definitely deserved to win despite the close score.  But then of course they were knocked out of the playoffs by the Patriots (or was in Baltimore? That's how much I follow teams other than the Steelers...) and ultimately we were left with the Patriots representing the AFC.  Again.

Steeler's fans hate the Patriots.  In fact, I don't many people who admit to being Patriots fans. I don't know enough about the history of the team to understand why, but the Patriots seem to be one of the most hated teams in the NFL. 

This year though, I will be rooting for them in the Super Bowl.

It's not something that I feel totally comfortable admitting openly.  But this year there is a personal connection to the Super Bowl - other than the Steelers - that has me interested in the game.

The son of one of my coworkers was picked up by the Patriots just a few weeks ago, and he has been playing with them ever since, in all of their playoff games.  This man probably disliked the Patriots more than most people prior to this development, but he has been proudly wearing his Patriots hat around the office for the past few weeks, taking all of the verbal jabs in stride.  You would too if your kid was going to the Super Bowl.  He's told us amazing stories of hanging out with the team, and the coach, stories from spending time in the locker room, and getting early access to the "family room" before games.  It all sounds amazing and I (we) are so excited for him.

So tonight we will be watching the Super Bowl and rooting for the Patriots (or at least until bedtime, which is usually no later than 9 p.m.)  We will be looking for number 36 and trying to spot my coworker in the stands, down near the field in the family section.  This is probably one of the most exciting and proudest moments of his time as a father, and so even though it means rooting for the Steeler's arch-nemesis and cheering for the Patriots, I'm going to do it.  And hope that they come home with a Super Bowl ring, and some great stories from my coworker. 

Go Patriots!

(I can't believe I just wrote that.) 

Random Updates

Because there's not enough time to write it all out thoughtfully, here's what's going on right now!

1. It's my birthday.  I'm 31.  30 didn't phase me at all, but 31 has me feeling just the sliiiightest bit "old."  I'm sure I'll get over it though.

2. Day care is still frustrating.  EH still cries a lot.  He's still not sleeping. 

3. We have a meeting set up tomorrow with a potential at-home caregiver.  We know little about her, but we have high hopes that something might work out.  There are a lot of things to think about when considering switching from a center to an at home situation.  No other leads though, other than this one.

4. sucks.  It's a website for finding caregivers.  I find it to be sneaky and manipulative.  I hope to write a whole post about how I hate  I'm sorry in advance if you've used the site and love it.

That's all. More soon, but for now I am going to Mad Mex for my birthday burrito (and probably a birthday drink! I deserve it.)