Friday, December 22, 2006

Angst and Spilled Milk

I know I wished you a merry Christmas already, and said I didn't have time to write for awhile now because it's time to go north for the holidays, but some mornings are so blogable you just have to sit down with the laptop and a caffeine-free Diet Coke as soon as the babies are mercifully asnooze. This morning really tested my patience--and I'm not sure it passed.

First of all, Miss Julia was quite the Cranky von Crankster today. Maybe Early Christmas was a little too much for her; I think she's still tired out from being up late yesterday opening gifts and then being too wired to calm down and go to sleep once in bed. At any rate, whining, fussing, and melting down over seemingly nothing were all major features of the morning. Then at one point when she was actually acting happy and calm, she went upstairs by herself to grab a toy while I played with Genevieve, and yelled down that she was stopping in the playroom to read a book, "Hug," by herself for a minute. Fine. But then something totally strange happened. I should explain first that "Hug" is a board book she received from some friends as an infant, and we've read it many, many times over the past 2-1/2 years, with nothing but enjoyment. It's a picture book about a baby gorilla named Bobo, who is looking for his mama. He wants a hug from her, and along the way he sees all sorts of other animals hugging each other. He gets more and more distraught, until, at the end, his mama runs into the picture, yelling, "BOBO!", arms wide. Bobo yells, "Mommy!" happily, and everyone hugs fiercely. Happy ending.

So she's up there reading, and then she comes downstairs and she's weirdly upset. She says she's Bobo (which is actually her daddy's nickname for her), and she hugs me over and over, and embarks upon a pretend "game" where she sits on the other side of the room "on a rock" (just like the baby gorilla does in the book), with her hands to her eyes in the universal gesture of crying, and calls for Mama, then runs over for a hug when I tell her to come over to where we are. She's not crying, but her eyes are shiny and she can't keep her mouth from turning down when she talks to me, and her voice has that breathy, stuttery, about-to-cry tone that kids always get when they're ready to lose it at any moment. She keeps asking me, "Why the monkey sad?" and "Why Bobo does this with his hands?" (rubbing her eyes with her fists). "Where's his mama?" It goes on and on, and it's so odd, because she's truly about to cry from reading this book; she's not putting this on. We go over it and over it a million times, and I hug her and hug her and ask her if the book made her sad, and why, and I remind her that I'm always nearby, and that if I have to go anywhere, I always come back and she's always with Daddy or Nonna or her teachers at baby class when the mamas go to the other room to talk. But it doesn't seem to help, and she keeps getting shaky all over again, thinking about Bobo in the book, looking for his mama.

I know: totally sad, right? Except--and this is terrible of me--after awhile, after maybe the twentieth time of hashing this out, it started to get a little....annoying. Because Genevieve was fussing, and lunch needed to be made, and I was supposed to be packing, and the whole thing was just getting a little tiresome. But, she got over it eventually and all was well for the time being.

Then Genevieve started to get really upset. I'd tried to nurse her awhile earlier, because she was due to eat, but she didn't want it then. Now I knew she was actually hungry, so I tried again, multiple times, as she cried harder and harder. She wouldn't take my milk. She kept latching on and then pulling off the nipple in rage, as if something tasted terrible, even though she'd nursed as normal two times already this morning. In the end, I pulled some old milk out of the freezer and started thawing it out, while she screamed bloody murder--starving by then--and I made lunch for Julia at the same time. Genevieve kept screaming, not wanting to drink her milk from a bottle when the lovely breast was RIGHT THERE--and Julia started acting up too, throwing a huge meltdown fit when I told her she had eaten her whole clementine. This made Genna scream harder, since the sound of Julia yelling and crying scared her. She did end up taking the bottle, but she was still hungry when the milk was gone so I had to go start to thaw out another bag of milk. While doing that, Genevieve spat up half her bottle all over herself and me, Julia continued to cry over her lunch, and as I turned to grab a rag to sop up the spit-up, the bag of thawed milk tipped over and spilled all over the floor. Yep. Goodbye, milk. Did you hear my internal screams of frustration echoing across the universe just then? I bet you did.

At 12:20, a full 40 minutes before Julia's usual naptime, she said, "Mama, I'm ready to go up for nap." I didn't argue. Eventually Genna Rose conked out on my shoulder, having grumpily sucked down five or six ounces of pumped breastmilk from her bottle, leaving me to wonder what exactly her objection was to her usual meal of milk from its original source, and is she going to reject the breast all day here?

And who, exactly, is going to get all this packing done? Oh yeah--me, when I'm not blogging about it.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

A few updates:

It's pouring rain here, though I hear it's starting to turn to ice outside. Still no snow, so I'm looking out the window at greenish-brown grass. In Minnesota. Just a few days before Christmas.

Tomorrow I begin the great organize-and-pack-a-thon (a true challenge with a baby and a toddler along for the task), and Saturday morning we take off for the big drive north. Wish us luck--again--because, as you are well aware by now, Julia never, ever, ever sleeps in the car (300+ miles be damned), and Genevieve, well, she's a wild card right now, what with the nursing and everything.

I won't be doing much blogging in the next week, as we celebrate Christmas with my entire family and then put on a festive anniversary party for my parents on the 30th. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in advance!

Resolutions, anyone? This New Year's I am resolving to do whatever I can to make it possible to continue to stay home full-time with my girls and NOT have to also take on a second job. Yes, I consider full-time parenting, childcare, and household-running one job, and anything else for pay would be my second job. I don't want two jobs right now. I just don't. I'm too tired. So, I resolve to figure something out, whether it be cutting our grocery bill (our single biggest non-fixed expense--Julia goes through the fruit and veggies like you would not BELIEVE), giving up my cell phone, or even just making peace with the notion of actually using our scant savings to make up the difference each month between our income and our expenses (rather than leaving it alone for the potential great emergency)--until it runs out, that is. Or maybe my resolution should be to trust the universe, and know that it will all work out somehow. In any case, my avoid-second-job resolution also includes the desire to never again be in a situation where I need new underwear but actually put off buying it because the checking account balance is so, so low. People, I never want to be in that situation again.

On a cheerier note, here are a few nuggets about the girls. Genevieve can sit by herself in the middle of two stacked Boppys, surveying her domain with joy and awe, for about ten minutes before I find her fallen over backward, pillows shifted. She is drooling like mad these days, and has some sort of odd love-hate relationship with burp cloths and drool bibs: she must have them, and stuff them into her mouth like a maniac, but then she gets very, very angry with them, and cries. She loves loves loves Julia, and grins like crazy when she sees her or gets a kiss from her. When we go in to get her in the morning, Julia runs up to the porta-crib and says, "Good morning, Genevievey!" like her heart is about to burst with joy to see her baby sister again.

Julia is extremely excited about Santa. She thinks it is amazing that he is going to bring her presents, and she is also very curious about his reindeer. I don't think she quite gets the whole down-the-chimney part, though.

That's all, folks. Happy Holidays, be well, peace.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

One Toy

All month long I've been trying to figure out if I feel bad that we're only giving Julia one toy for Christmas.

Understand: she'll be getting toys from her other relatives as well; it's not as if this is her one and only present. And she's getting a few small toy items in her stocking from Santa. She also has a second gift from Mama and Daddy, but it's a non-toy gift (a very cute pink cartoon-pig-themed cereal bowl, plate, glass, and big-girl silverware set) that I bought back when I thought we'd have enough money for other toys too, so that it wouldn't seem quite so lame. (Actually, knowing sweet, enthusiastic Jujee, she'll probably be just as excited by the dinnerware as by the big toy we're giving her--the Fisher Price Little People Circus.) Genevieve is only getting one toy too, but she's only four months old, so not only will she never know, but there's not a whole lot she requires; her life is full of infant toys that used to be played with by baby Julia, but that are new to her, and at this age she's not doing a whole lot of playing with toys anyway (though she will soon).

We just don't have the income right now for lots of gifts, and early this month it became clear that it would behoove us to stop at the gifts we'd already bought rather than adding some of the other toys I'd thought of for Julia. On the one hand, our family's values include restraint when it comes to buying material things for our kids; Julia has far fewer toys than every other child with whom she plays, and while sometimes I worry that perhaps that is why she is so easily bored at home, most of the time I am confident in our decisions regarding parenting and consumerism/materialism. And, when it comes to Christmas gifts, my family of origin typically gives modest gifts to each other and to our respective children; none of us has much money anyway, and we've just never felt the need or had the means to spend large sums of money on each present. So, in some ways, this giving only one toy to my child for Christmas doesn't seem so out of the ordinary.

But on the other hand, my family didn't have much when I was growing up, and yet my sisters and I always got lovely Christmas gifts from our parents, and more than one toy each year, too. And my girlfriends--the fellow moms I meet for playgroup and the like--talk of shopping for clearly way more than we are giving our girls.

So I can't decide. Julia's young; she doesn't have any expectations, so she won't know that most kids get more than one toy for Christmas, right? Better this year than future Christmases, when she has more of a frame of reference? And, naturally I know full well that the number of toys under the tree is not what Christmas is all about--nor is it a reflection of love. But still. If I had bought one less nursing bra in August, a few fewer iced coffees on the way up to my office last May, if we had ordered fewer pizzas or gone for sandwiches at Hogan Bros. fewer times, would we have more resources for filling out the space under our tree now?

Part of it is that Julia IS easily bored, she DOES need a lot of mental stimulation. She gets tired of the toys she has, and not because she's greedy or jaded or used to being overindulged. It's because she's bright and gets bored easily. That's also why I refuse (unless absolutely necessary) to give up her toddler classes that cost us money. She needs classes and toys--she needs things to DO, new things, things that challenge her--or she'll never make it until next fall to start preschool.

I guess it's all a moot point. This is what we're giving her this year. I know she'll be happy. I've just been thinking about it.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Four-Month Check-Up

Genevieve had her four-month well-baby doctor appointment this morning, and she continues to be a total overachiever in the growth department. She's gained almost three pounds since her two-month visit, topping the scales at 14 pounds, 15 ounces, and measuring 25 inches in length (1-1/2 inches longer than last time). She's at the 75th percentile for height, weight, and head circumference. She's also more than a pound heavier than Julia was at the same age, and a half inch longer. It's fascinating to me to witness how different babies grow. I have a friend in playgroup whose baby was born a week before Genevieve, and she's absolutely tiny in comparison; you'd never guess they're the same age.

Our pediatrician pronounced Genevieve "perfect" (LOVED the giant chipmunk-cheeks!), and I got all the usual reassurances about normal baby development, including our doctor's strong professional opinion that most breastfed babies still need to wake up to nurse overnight until they're six or seven months old. I love it when doctors have strong opinions and, though supportive and courteous, brook no nonsense and just lay it on the table for you: Yep, she's supposed to be waking up to nurse still; that's what babies do, she's hungry and growing and I think training a baby to sleeping through the night at four months old is ridiculous. Makes me feel better about all my interrupted sleep.

Of course, Genevieve got the requisite four shots. Julia insisted on giving her a hug and a kiss on the cheek afterward, saying, "It's OK, Genevievey." The nurse was thoroughly charmed, and said, "Sweet moments like those are why I chose to work in pediatrics!"

Friday, December 15, 2006

Working Up An Appetite

Tonight was Julia's weekly toddler tumbling class at the town gymnastics center. She runs around for 45 minutes straight, playing on a bunch of age-appropriate gymnastics equipment: racing down the springy mat, bouncing on the trampoline, jumping into a pit of foam cubes, etc. Total unabashed toddler fun. When she comes home, we have a fast, late dinner, and she's understandably starving. Today at one point during dinner she surveyed her empty plate and then turned to me and said, "More bun and more squash and more broccoli and more chik patty and more mayo and more mustard and more dip-dip [ketchup]."

OK then!

Welcome to the World, Baby Suvi!

The last baby of 2006 among our circle of family and friends has just been born, and she continued the streak, being the 11th baby girl to enter the world within our social and family circles. Eleven girls born this year! That is so amazing! Welcome, baby Suvi, and congrats, Rachel and Conor. I can hardly contain my excitement, as their first daughter, Mathea, was Julia's first friend and is two months younger than Julia. Now their second daughter is four months younger than Genevieve--to the day!--and is destined to be one of Genna's first friends too, even though we no longer live down the street from their family.

In an uncanny moment of intuition--or something--I had just called Rachel at home and left her a voicemail asking what was up, and how her prenatal doctor visit had gone this morning. Before I hung up, I said, "Who knows, maybe you're having the baby right now!" Not five minutes later--I'm serious--Conor called from the hospital to say that Suvi had been born less than an hour before. Unbelievable, right?

I'm hoping to get up to Minneapolis in the next week--before we begin the big trek north for a stay of ten days--to meet Suvi, congratulate Rachel and Conor in person, and bring presents, meals, and sweets. It'll drive me crazy if I have to wait until after New Year's to see this new wee one, so I'm going to try hard to find time next week, even if it's going to be a crazy week preparing for our holiday trip.

Isn't it a wonderful thing?

Ups and Downs

Have you heard? My crazy, humming-furnace, postpartum-nursing-mom metabolism has vanished. Well, not vanished, really. But slowed to a more humdrum level, I guess. So sad.

That was one advantage of Genevieve refusing to nurse at anything but two-hour intervals for weeks on end: every time she stepped it up again and kept me awake at all hours of the night with my pajama shirt hiked neckward and my head lolling against the back of the rocker, the next morning I'd have dropped a pound. I kind of miss those days--for that reason only, understand.

Now, thanks to last week's too-cold temps and too-busy evenings--which nixed my outdoor running routine--and too much stress-induced mindless snacking (HATE the nonstop-sick-baby-fussing, HATE the not-sleeping, HATE the crying and the do-we-or-don't-we-sleep-train dilemma!), well....let's just say those last two or three pregnancy pounds that were so effectively burned away during my autumn weeks of nonstop milk production are making a return appearance. Uninvited, too.

See, the problem is, I got really used to stuffing my face 24 hours a day for a few months there, with no physical consequence. I got really used to being constantly ravenous, and being able to suck down just about any food--healthy or non--that I desired, in any amount, and still shrink past all my old jeans until only one pair wasn't too large for me. Now, I'm still eating like that, only my excessive milk production slowed WAY down when Genevieve turned three months old (gone, the days of accidentally spraying her face like an errant garden hose; gone, the gulping and choking and gasping as milk rolled down her chin. I'm sure she's relieved, but it was nice to have so much extra milk, if only for stockpiling in the freezer for future times away from baby), and with it, my body's ability to burn off everything I eat.

What a disappointment! You realize this means I actually have to start, oh, not eating my weight in food every day. And/or exercising on a more committed level. BOR-ING.

Hey! On the other hand, I have read that many breastfeeding women start burning the MOST fat when their babies are between three and six months old, because that's when their babies are drinking the largest quantity of milk (before the introduction of solids). So maybe this downturn is temporary and I can expect a pleasant reversal of my fortunes soon? I can always hope, can't I?

Pass the giant tin of Christmas cookies, please.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

What Christmas is All About

This morning while Genevieve took her morning nap, Julia and I watched "A Charlie Brown Christmas" on video. (Video! So old-school.) Of course, she's really too young for it; she was full of all sorts of questions about why that girl is so loud (Lucy), why that boy is so dirty (Pigpen), why Charlie Brown is so sad, where are those children (in the auditorium, practicing their Christmas pageant, strangely bereft of adult supervision as always), why is that tree pink (at the tree lot, when Charlie Brown and Linus go to pick out a tree and are disgusted by all the colored metal ones--which makes me wonder: was there a big rash of pink aluminum Christmas trees in the '50s? Or whenever this show was made?). But, you know, it's a classic, and that moment when Linus starts his little speech always gets me a little teary ("I can tell you what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.").

After Genevieve woke up, we all put on our jackets and trooped next door to deliver a holiday card and some Christmas cookies to our beloved elderly neighbor, Mary. (Note: we also had a beloved elderly neighbor at our last house, on 19th Avenue in Minneapolis. We must collect beloved elderly neighbors! How lucky!)

All of this wouldn't have seemed so odd--and in fact, would have seemed a lot more Christmasy--if it wasn't a sunny, windy, 50-degree day outside today. So, naturally, after we dropped off our holiday cheer and chatted with Mary a little bit, Julia ogling her Santa and Mrs. Claus dolls on the living room bookshelf, we went for a walk with the stroller. Yup, nothing like a nice holiday walk through the....greenish grass and sidewalks damp with the rain that fell overnight!? Is this really Minnesota at Christmastime?

I, personally, could go for a little more ambiance, something a bit more Currier & Ives-ish. But, in the end, I guess it doesn't really matter, does it? We're still here, baking cookies and singing songs; we're still admiring the light-up reindeer and Santas in people's yards; we're still getting cards in the mail that remind us of everyone we love, near and far. Julia and Genevieve are our own little holiday angels this year, and every year from now on. I'm a total sap for Christmas, snow or no snow. But I've never experienced a Christmas without snow in my 35 years, so I'm still hoping.

Is This Terrible of Me?

Listening to a baby scream is never fun or easy, but it's amazing how much less the crying bothers you with the second baby. As my friend Connie put it, "When the first baby squalls, you feel so badly for her and you say, 'Poor baby!' But with the second, you say, 'Poor ME!'"

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Can You Believe This Kid?

At dinner last night, as Julia was energetically polishing off her second or third bowl of black bean soup, she charmingly exclaimed, "This is fanTAStic!" It's nice to cook for such an enthusiastic audience, you know?

Later on, as I was taking a shower and getting changed and Christopher was in charge of the girls, I heard Julia having a meltdown. When I emerged awhile later and saw Julia in the hallway, she was still tearful and said to me, "Mama, I DO want another toy, I DO!" She led me to the guest room closet, where we store a bin of old baby toys she has outgrown but that Genevieve hasn't grown into yet. Apparently she had been asking to get a toy out, but when Christopher got the bin down, she kept stalling and messing around and changing her mind about which toy she wanted, delaying her bath. In stellar child fashion, she had decided to try her luck with me, since I didn't really know what had been going on. "What toy do you want out of the bin, honey?" I asked her, but she was still tearful and couldn't say. I asked her again, pulling down the bin, confused. "Honey, which toy do you want to look at?" With tears in her eyes and a plaintive voice, she said to me, "I just want a RANDOM toy, Mama!"

Good grief. Don't ask me where she learned the word "random," let alone how to use it correctly in a sentence.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Why God?

Genevieve is suddenly constitutionally unable to take more than a 30-minute nap. And the 30-minute ones? Those are the long ones. More often it's 20 minutes, or 15, or 25. (Gone are those multi-hour snooze fests in the middle of the day. I knew I was lucky when they were happening, but I took them for granted.) It is bringing back every torturous memory of Julia's infancy that I have in my tired brain. Lord help me.

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

We have this "Christmas Mix" CD Christopher burned a year or so ago, with all the classics on it: Andy Williams, Bing Crosby, Doris Day, etc. It's great, in a total retro way. But what's so funny is how much Julia adores it. She's totally crazy for it, and requests it by name in her own little way: "Mama, I want to hear the regular Christmas music, with the words." (As opposed to an instrumental Christmas CD I also play sometimes.) She loves "Frosty the Snowman" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (though for quite some time she referred to him as "Rude Elf" before getting it right), but what cracks me up is how she also knows, and waits for, "Winter Wonderland" and "Sleigh Ride" and "White Christmas." Yesterday she said to me, "I'M having a holly jolly Christmas, Mama!" I'm so glad. But, you know, we're still waiting for a white Christmas here in southern MN. I think in most of MN, actually! Crazy.

In other news, the story is way too absurd and annoying to tell in detail--involving phone conversations on Friday with one doctor, two nurses (all three of which were incensed at this insanity, by the way; it wasn't our clinic's fault), and FOUR pharmacists at two different pharmacies--but we finally got Genevieve her medication in LIQUID form, the dosage just 1 cc, once per day, and grape-flavored. No granules, no packets, no mixing up in my kitchen like a sorcerer. Um, yeah. Turns out our good friend got liquid Prevacid easily and immediately (in another town) when HER baby had reflux several months ago. Don't ask me why, for us, this turned into some ridiculous wild goose chase. Since Genna has only had the correct, new medicine for a few days, we don't really know yet how effective it is going to be for her. She's still spitting up a lot and isn't napping well. But we've got our fingers crossed. Poor thing, she also caught her daddy's cold--though, thankfully, not his recent stomach bug. (It's true! Christopher actually GOT SICK the other day!)

I don't know about you, but after all this, I'm ready for a nice, white Christmas and a little relaxation. (There IS no relaxation when you have a newborn and a 2-year-old, by the way. This is wishful thinking on my part. And by the way, can I still refer to Genna Rose as a newborn? Probably not. She's four months old on Friday. But humor me.) I've got our holiday cards mailed, Christmas cookies baked for gifts to friends, neighbors, and co-workers, all the presents bought and wrapped. Holly jolly Christmas, indeed.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

She's a Keeper

Two little anecdotes from the Land of Toddler:

Last night with dinner we had some clementines. Julia had never had one before and thought they were baby oranges. After I taught her the word and she repeated it after me, she said, "Sounds like 'valentine!'"

At lunch today, while munching her veggie-hot-dog and green peas, Julia looked over at me and said amiably, "How's your lunch, Mama?"

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I Hate Blue Cross Blue Shield

We got Genevieve's new medicine last night. Turns out, when Blue Cross said (finally) that they would "cover" the prescription, they meant they would cover it at some mysterious crappy rate that they save for medications they don't believe in subsidizing fully. Oh, and you can tack on a new prescription for me, that Blue Cross also doesn't believe in subsidizing at their normal rate. Therefore, instead of the $10 co-pays we have paid in the past for our prescriptions, we paid $50 for one and $40 for the other. Yep, $90 for medicines that we will need on an ongoing, long-term basis. I am not feeling the Christmas spirit. Nor, apparently, is anyone at Blue Cross.

Unrelated to the expense, get this: This new medicine of Genevieve's? Could it be any less conducive to giving to an infant? It's like some sort of weird high-school-science-lab experiment. It comes in packets of granules, that you mix with water and then drink as fast as you can. Crazy enough, right? (Have those chemists HEARD of pills? tablets? liquid?) But for a 3-month-old, you can only give HALF the packet, mixed into ONE AND A HALF TEASPOONS of water. What? Half the packet? Am I supposed to have a chemist's scale in my kitchen? Mix it into 1-1/2 tsp. of water? With what, a toothpick? Drink it as fast as possible (and "if any granules are left, mix with more water and drink immediately")? Mmmm-hmmm. Makes me want to say to whomever came up with this brilliant drug-administering plan, Listen, YOU come over and try to pour granules-in-water down my infant's throat as fast as possible and see how successful YOU are. Makes me actually miss, already, the nasty-tasting, not-fully-working, baby-Zantac we've been giving her until now, the medicine we are replacing because it's not controlling her reflux symptoms anymore. Sure, it tasted so bad she spit half of it out all the time, but at least we didn't have to PREPARE it with, I don't know, fairy dust and a test tube.

I know we're lucky to have any sort of health coverage at all, and I am grateful for that. However. This is the crappiest health insurance I have ever had, including the student plan I had in graduate school at the University of Illinois. Every time I go to the doctor, let alone stay in the hospital to have a baby via C-section, the bills that follow me home are staggering. At risk of straying into a topic you don't want to think about, you should have seen the bill I got for pursuing a particular form of birth control after Genevieve's birth. God forbid my health plan actually cover a preventive health behavior (to avoid, I should point out, another very expensive hospital stay to have another baby). It's like Blue Cross doesn't think anything is worthy of reasonable reimbursement.

ARRRGH! I hate them!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

That Dryer Thing? It WORKS.

It's been a crappy day in Wonderland. Genevieve has been uncharacteristically crying most of the day (she never does that during daytime!) and has only napped in 10-minute snatches. I suppose it's her reflux. Blue Cross just this afternoon agreed to cover her new prescription, so she hasn't been able to start her new medicine yet even though it's been five days since it was prescribed. (Don't EVEN get me started on evil insurance companies. Hello, how can any human being hear the sentence, "Please, my baby NEEDS HER MEDICINE!" and not respond?)

But out of desperation I just put her in her carseat, covered her with a blanket, placed the seat on top of the dryer, and turned it on. And now she is sleeping.

[An aside: I'm sure I don't need to tell you that when we tried this tactic with infant Julia, it did not work.]

More updates later, but I do want to say a big thanks to all the loved ones who expressed concern, support, and ideas regarding our tight money situation. I just wish the ideas didn't so much involve, you know, WORKING. (Kidding! I love you all!)

Many people have suggested ways to work and also stay home full-time (like I did until last June). I guess I'm spoiled and lazy, because the idea of working, on top of working all day long at my primary job--the job that involves babies crying all day long and three loads of poopy laundry in one morning and the skipping of lunch because OOPS! you didn't ever have time to eat it, and oh yeah, the toddler tantruming and the cat puking and the frantic attempts to cook dinner and nurse the baby at the same time--makes me feel so hopeless and exhausted that I just want to cry. Right now, in the evenings, do you know what I do? I take my bath and put on my pj's by 7 p.m., and I try really hard to stay awake until 9 so I can watch Studio 60, and then all night long I nurse the baby whenever she wakes up even though I'm dying of tiredness. Yep. Don't I sound like the ideal evening-hours, part-time employee? I'm sure I'm the model of clear-headed productivity. (Remember, I'm the one who left the bag of presents in the cart in the Target parking lot, and drove away?)

Sorry. I really, really do appreciate the suggestions and the concern. What I would really like is to find some freelance writing and/or consulting work that I could do from home, at whatever god-awful hour works for me. But hey, who wouldn't, right?, and if you have even the slightest clue as to how to find that sort of work, let me know. I feel very overeducated and overqualified these days, but I still don't know how to find someone who needs my skills and will pay me (anything! any little thing!) to, say, write or edit or research something for them, or design an eating-disorders prevention program, or write an emotional/behavioral health training manual for teachers, or develop guidelines for chemical health coordination in public schools. I can do all those things, but I don't know that anyone's willing (or able) to part with funds to hire me to do them.

I forgot there were clothes in the dryer, but shrinkage be damned, that thing is going to run continuously all afternoon if it keeps the baby asleep. Bye for now.

Monday, December 04, 2006

They're Only Young Once

Today during Genevieve's morning nap, Julia and I made Christmas cookies. Sugar cookies, to be exact, the kind you cut out with cookie cutters and sprinkle with red and green sugar. OK, so I bought a tube of the pre-made dough from the store instead of mixing up a recipe from scratch like MY mom used to do when I was small, but it's better than getting that pre-shaped stuff that comes already cut into miniature trees and stars! Julia helped me press the cutters into the dough and then poured colored sugar all over them. We listened to Christmas music while we did it, and discussed the merits of Frosty the Snowman vs. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. We're planning on giving these cookies away as gifts, but also "saving some for us to eat!", as Julia enthusiastically reminded me. OK, so she's only two, but it was still a lot of fun to do this little holiday project together. I love stuff like that, and the fact that my own mom developed traditions like this to do with my sisters and me when we were little is surely a big part of why I am so thrilled to institute holiday rituals for my girls now.

But this morning's Christmasy project was especially poignant given what's been on my mind the last couple of days. I'm deep in a thicket of money stress right now, which is only new in the sense that rather than a sort of theoretical "can we really afford for me to be home full-time with the babies?", the issue now takes the form of a very real "don't spend any more money before the end of the month, and by the way, these groceries have to last three weeks" type of scenario. Over the weekend, after Christopher got his paycheck, he subtracted from our online checking register all the set monthly bills to be paid in December--mortgage, utilities, car payment, and the like--and told me what was leftover. Let's just say the number was small enough to cause a mild case of nausea that lasted the rest of the day and kept me up that night. It's the beginning of the month. To only have this small amount of disposable income leftover to get us through four more weeks--for diapers, for gas in the car, for doctor co-pays and Genevieve's ridiculously expensive medicine, for my Visa bill with the Christmas presents on it--was shocking.

Yes, I knew it would be tough. I knew the day would come when we'd be watching every penny. And money's been tight for months, not just now. But it's certainly worse now that my business is five months gone, and to be faced with the reality of our finances so suddenly in black-and-white, during the holidays no less, is depressing. I found myself giving thanks for a little recent unexpected donation from my parents, and wondering if we really should have bought that (much-needed) new mattress last month after all. I found myself weighing the $132 due for Julia's winter/spring session of two educational toddler classes vs. the fee for an online writing class I was hoping to sign up for in January, and deciding that Julia's classes are more important.

I started thinking about ways to earn money, and imagining the equation of income minus daycare costs. And then getting really, really sad about it, picturing Julia being left with (at first) a stranger all day, and how that would just crush her little heart. (OK, I know all parents probably feel that way at first, and I know she'd survive. But if you are doubting my dramatic choice of words, you probably don't know Julia very well.) Picturing Genevieve's little baby face and imagining only seeing her a couple of hours a day, between work and bedtime. I wouldn't be leisurely making Christmas cookies with Julia on a weekday morning, and making the memories attendant with such an activity. I would miss my girls so much. It would kill me.

It is true that, until Julia turned two, I did work part-time and managed to avoid daycare, by working in my own business during hours I could set for myself, choosing evenings after Christopher came home from work. But the truth is, were I to open a practice again in our new town, with no contacts, no network, no one who knows my work who could refer to me, it would take a year or more (probably more) to break even, let alone make a profit. It takes a long time to build up a practice from scratch. And the other work options potentially imminently open to me (the college counseling center seems to always need people, and a friend of a friend is looking to open a new clinic down this way and has been asking about hiring me) are daytime ones, with the number of work hours per week unknown to me right now. And daycare for two is EXPENSIVE. And I can't help but wonder: so am I just a bratty member of the overly-entitled Generation X, because I simply insist that I be able to stay home with my kids because that is how I want to raise them? Because I refuse to believe that it's not possible for me to give up work and afford to do so?

I'm not friends with many rich people--though there are a few--so I'm not trying to paint myself as worse off than everyone else. Many families we know are struggling these days, in one way or another, so it usually feels pointless to compare or complain. At the same time, though, these current tight purse-strings make me really miss living in a working-class neighborhood (in Minneapolis), where no one had a whole lot and therefore no one felt strange (at least, they didn't seem to). It makes me miss having my friend Rachel just down the block, because she was worse off than I, money-wise, yet had chosen to be home with her baby for the same reasons I had, and we could sit and play with our kids and talk about the best way to save money on groceries and not feel weird with each other.

Because wouldn't it feel better, sometimes, if our own finances weren't such a taboo subject, and we could support each other now and then by commiserating about how hard it is to give up an income to stay home with one's children, those of us who are doing it, and not doing it easily? How come no one ever talks about this with each other? Wouldn't it feel less hopeless, wouldn't we feel less alone as the ones without the college fund, without a respectable investment portfolio, without a reserve of emergency savings?

Is anyone out there going through this too?

In my Coffee Mug There's a Feeling of Christmas

As a nursing mom off dairy during the Christmas season, I have two words for you: Silk Nog. Yum. Soy-milk eggnog is good, people, and a heckuva lot healthier than the real thing. Oh, and eggnog-flavored nondairy creamer in decaf coffee is pretty good too.

Is this post kind of pathetic?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Losing my Marbles, but Having Fun Doing It

I'm convinced that having a baby--or more than one baby--causes forgetfulness, absentmindedness, and all manner of mental fogginess. When you're pregnant, it's called "pregnancy brain," and I've actually read that there's some sort of hormonal mechanism at play that contributes to the ridiculous flightiness many pregnant women experience. After childbirth, though, I'm not sure if hormones are at work--all that milk-making, all that postpartum-ness--or if it's strictly due to being pulled in a trillion directions at once while also suffering from prolonged sleep deprivation.

At any rate, proof of this phenomenon is the fact that, in the past month, I have actually BOUNCED CHECKS (bounced checks! something I've never done in my life! good lord, the bank fees alone....) AND left a bag full of just-purchased Christmas gifts in the cart in the parking lot at Target while I drove all the way home with my other bags, oblivious. (I subsequently drove back a half hour later, to find said bag sitting just where I'd left it, in the dark parking lot, with nothing missing from inside it.) Oy vey. It's a wonder I don't lose one of my children.

OK, enough about my mental deficiencies. I also wanted to say that we have had a very fun weekend here, despite the bone-chilling cold. Yesterday we enjoyed the birthday dinner of a 2-year-old buddy of Julia's, where under one roof were the birthday girl, her 6-month-old baby sister, a 3-year-old friend and HER 6-month-old baby sister, 2-1/2 year-old Julia, and 3-month-old Genevieve. It was adorable: little girls everywhere! Wildflower-printed shirts, curly eyelashes, plump cheeks, and rosebud lips at every turn! Much joyful shrieking and unabashed drooling! We had a great time. And today, we decorated our Christmas tree. Julia hung all the Pooh ornaments on the lowest branches and oohed and aahed over every one.

Have a great week, all--and happy December.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Imagination Station

Julia loves to pretend that she's various characters of whom she is fond, such as Elmo, Winnie-the-Pooh, Olivia the pig from the "Olivia" books, etc. She always announces it when she decides to become one of these buddies, and then a conversation ensues about who can be all the other related friends (i.e., Zoe, Big Bird, Grover, etc.). Here's a snippet of conversation from this afternoon, after Julia spent some time perusing a Pooh storybook wherein Pooh gets stuck in Rabbit's hole and Gopher stops by to chat:

Julia: I'm Pooh, Mama.
Me: Hi, Pooh Bear!
J: Who should be Gopher?
M: Hmmm, I don't know, who do you think should be Gopher?
J: Genevieve can be Gopher!
M (laughing): OK, Genevieve can be Gopher, that sounds good.
J: Where's Gopher?
M: She's downstairs sleeping in her swing.
J: Where's the REAL Gopher?
M: The real Gopher? Um, probably outside hiding under a bush.
J: Where's the REAL Gopher, Mama?
M: Real gophers are outside.
J: No, Mama! The REAL Gopher is DOWNSTAIRS SLEEPING IN HER SWING!
M: Oh, of course.

Boy, sometimes it's hard to keep up, you know?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Trials and Tribulations

Genevieve's reflux is acting up anew. Poor baby, she spits up and coughs and thrashes after every meal, and she won't nap unless she's in her swing or her carseat (i.e., sitting up). Last night she was up a million times, and groaned and complained after being put back down after each nursing...just like in October, before her reflux was diagnosed. So, we're off to the doctor tomorrow to discuss treatment.

As for Julia, she's in love with our Christmas decorations. We didn't have any up last year, since we were moving over the holidays, and the year before she was too little (six months old) to be aware of anything. But this year she can fully appreciate the snowman sculpture with the Santa hat, the Santa snow globe that snows AND plays music, the miniature ceramic Christmas tree that plugs in and lights up. She's in heaven.

She's also currently heading down a very annoying road known as "Skipping My Nap Today," something she does approximately once every week or so. Even as I type, she's been in her bed for 40 minutes but has yet to fall asleep, and she just began the typical "Mama, I'm wakin' up!" refrain that she will now repeat ad infinitum (even though she hasn't actually been to sleep). Since I was up all night with Genevieve, I'm pretty tired today and was hoping for good naps from my girls. Silly me.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Silly Me--What Was I Thinking?

It's been a hugely busy week for me. I've been going nonstop since we got back from our Thanksgiving trek, trying to get a million things done, both Christmasy and non, as fast as possible to free up some time next week (and beyond) for just enjoying the holiday season. This evening after dinner, I took a break and was sitting in the armchair in our living room, reading a magazine as Christopher took both girls up the stairs for bathtime. This is the conversation I heard between Christopher and Julia:

J: What Mama doing?
C: She's reading a book.
J: What kind of book?
C: Actually it's a magazine, one of her magazines that she likes.
J: [silence]
C: She's relaxing. It's called taking a moment for herself.
J: [a few moments of silence, then:] THAT'S pretty silly, Daddy!

Daysleeper

Frustratingly, Genevieve likes to take her long stretches of sleep (and, thus, her long stretches without nursing) during daytime hours instead of at night. Right now (2 p.m.) she's asleep in her carseat where she's been snoozing since 10 a.m. when she fell asleep on the way to Julia's toddler class (after screaming herself into a huge fit of hiccups upon being put into the carseat--she's still hiccuping in her sleep right now, 4 hours later. This behavior is WEIRD.). Oh, and she last nursed at 9 a.m., and even that was on one side only. The last time she nursed on the right side was at 6 a.m. Needless to say, I just went and pumped the right side. Egad. This is the same baby who seems to think she needs to eat every three hours all night long, age (3-1/2 months) and size (huge?) be damned. Hello?! You can go five hours without sustenance in the middle of the day--8 hours since your last FULL meal!--but you are compelled to snack multiple times in the dead of night when reasonable babies are sound asleep in their cribs dreaming of milk, but not demanding it?

Now people, don't go and tell me to try waking her up when she does this, to avoid the cluster feedings that ensue the rest of the night when she takes a long break like this. I have a mantra, and it is NEVER WAKE A SLEEPING BABY, and one of the reasons I have this mantra is because, in my experience, it never works anyway, and babies are not controllable, and waking up the baby in situations like this does nothing but ensure that not only will be the baby be up all night nursing as usual, but she will also be up nursing right now, when you could be blogging and drinking caffeine-free Diet Coke and eating homemade pumpkin muffins instead. Amen.

Family Photo

Our friend Alison is an incredible photographer. Now that we've chosen the photo for our family holiday card---from the shots Alison took of our family in October---you can check out the shot we decided not to use, though we love it. Christopher's got it up on his blog right now--click here. I love how Julia is peeking up at Alison above us. And I love how it's taken at Carleton, in Christopher's office building, a lovely old brick college hall. Oh--and she's also the one who took the picture of me on this blog, at right.

Isn't Alison talented?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Christmas in July?

One of the best things about where we live is the view out our back windows. On our main level, the south wall is pretty much all glass, and behind our row of townhouses is nothing but farm fields dotted with woods. The sky is enormous here; you can see all the way to the horizon, and giant dramatic gray and purple clouds roll in like something out of a movie special-effects department. It's truly gorgeous. I'm mentioning this today because right now that's just what's happening, and it's too bad the memory card on our camera is full, because I wish I could have taken a shot about five minutes ago as the sky put on a late-fall show. It's been raining and thunderstorming here all day, and you know, there's something just a little odd about putting up the Christmas decorations during a thunderstorm, to the sound of carols playing on the stereo, which is what Julia and I did this morning after breakfast before Genevieve woke up. Oh, and it's 60 degrees here right now.

Yes, so far in the last month we've had 80-degree temps, a six-inch snowfall, and a thunderstorm. You're never bored by the weather in Minnesota.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Fine Grind

This evening, after we finally successfully got both girls to bed and asleep--no small feat--Christopher went outside to grind some coffee beans for tomorrow morning, so loath was he to disrupt the quiet and chance waking a snoozing babe. Our former pediatrician in the Cities (whom we adored, by the way), used to tell us, when Julia was an infant, that our household should not revolve around the baby sleeping or not sleeping--that if we were manipulating our normal daily activities in various ridiculous ways solely to try to keep the baby asleep, that things were not working for us. I'm pretty sure she wouldn't approve.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Full and Thankful

We're back from our Thanksgiving trek! And we survived, despite the fact that Julia didn't sleep one wink the entire round-trip drive. Not that we expected her to; after all, we know our child. But people, six-plus hours (each way!) is a loooooong time to be in a car without sleeping, particularly if you are ONLY TWO YEARS OLD! That said, she did great. Most of the drive, she sat in her carseat "reading" books to herself. Propping one after another in her lap, peering downward intently at the pictures, flipping each page, sometimes reciting out loud the text she knows by heart (especially the entire text of the lovely and gorgeous board book, "Baby Born"). People, it was like being on a road trip with a grade-schooler. And believe me, I'm NOT complaining when I say that!

As for Genevieve, she fared better on the way home (when she slept literally the entire time except for when we stopped for lunch and she woke up to nurse and get her diaper changed) than on the way up (when she slept, yes, but also screamed, fussed, and demanded a bottle of pumped milk to be fed to her by her daddy from the front seat when she just couldn't wait the extra half-hour to the next major stop). You're impressed by that sleeping-the-whole-way-home trick, are you? Well, allow me to point out that the reason the baby was so sleepy, and thus so easy, on the drive home, was that she spent the previous night crying pretty much non-stop from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sigh.

Anyway, our holiday was great, filled as it was with the cacophony of seven cousins ages 3 months to 12 years, great weather (63 degrees on Wednesday!), tons of food (you really can't go wrong with five kinds of dessert, you know?), and, amidst all the activity, enough downtime to even read a few magazines and grab a decaf latte from the local coffeehouse.

Right now, though, I'm dead tired, and it's a busy week for this mama and her girls. We've got baby school, playgroup, AND Julia's first tumbling class this week. I've been doing laundry, cleaning house, sorting mail, and catching up on e-mail all evening, and it's way past my bedtime. Plus, Genna's been nursing like a fiend again lately, chubbalicious sweetheart that she is, which means she'll be interrupting my sleep all too soon. Goodnight!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The One-Word Meme

I couldn't resist this meme; in taking a packing and parenting break, I found it over at Mom Writes and it looked fun!

The One-Word Meme

Yourself: multi-faceted
Your partner: understanding
Your hair: blonde
Your mother: comforting
Your father: unflappable
Your favorite item: running shoes
Your dream last night: unknown
Your favorite drink: Diet Coke
Your dream car: second
Your dream home: bigger
The room you are in: family-room
Your ex: none
Your fear: unhappiness
Where you want to be in ten years: contented
Who you hung out with last night: husband
What you're not: gregarious
Muffins: chocolate
One of your wish list items: laptop
Time: afternoon
Last thing you ate: frittata
What you are wearing: t-shirt
Your favorite weather: autumn
Your favorite book: Waiting for Birdy
Your life: full
Your mood: good
Your best friends: kind
What you are thinking about right now: Thanksgiving
Your car: crowded
What you are doing at the moment: typing
Your summer: pregnant
Relationship status: married
What is on your TV: nothing
What is the weather like: sunny
When is the last time you laughed: morning

Thanksgiving Wishes

I'm writing this holiday message early, because we're leaving tomorrow morning for a long drive up north to my family's for Thanksgiving, and I'm going to be spending all day today getting ready and packing a ridiculous amount of stuff into our car for the trip. Wish us luck, because this is the first extended road trip we've taken since Genevieve was born, and it's five hours WITHOUT stops. Which means something like seven when you factor in breaks for nursing, diaper changes, boredom relief (the babies', not ours), and an opportunity to stretch legs and run around (Julia, that is). Yikes. I'm trying to brace myself with the zen-like philosophy that it will take as long as it takes, and we should just go with it and not stress about the clock or the mile-marker signs (I HATE that one, "Fargo, 250").

So, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I bet you know what I'm thankful for: two lovely girls that bring such joy to our house, health and happiness in our new town, family close enough to drive to spend the holiday with. I hope you're overrun with blessings this Thanksgiving, too.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Second Time's the Charm

I know, I know: I haven't been posting much lately. Sorry! The last week got away from me. I've been busy--getting our household back into the swing of things after the stomach flu, cleaning the house (I know! Really!), socializing, hosting some company over the weekend (Grandpa Jim came to visit--thanks again for dinner, Grandpa Jim!), working on some writing to send out to a couple of web magazines, attempting a (very gradual) get-back-into-shape running program, planning our mammoth packing list for the drive north for Thanksgiving this week. Nothing too earth-shattering, but enough to make the days go by awfully fast while I try to get everything done each day. Plus, Genevieve had a harder few days recently; there's nothing like mentioning that the baby is sleeping more and nursing less to make her then suddenly revert to sleeping less and nursing more. (Not to mention the crying: last Wednesday she cried from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. for some reason, probably tummy-related.)

Today I drove up to our old Minneapolis neighborhood to attend a baby shower for my friend Rachel. She's expecting her second baby in a couple of weeks. Bucking the conventional opinion that showers are for first pregnancies only, Rachel planned and hosted this one herself, creating a non-traditional party that included a fall feast prepared by the pregnant mama herself, alcohol for the non-pregnant and non-nursing among us, loud music, and a baby-bottle-shaped pinata in the backyard filled with lip gloss samples. True, she's got a two-year-old already, and had a shower for that baby. She has all the baby clothes and gear she really needs. To some, a second-time baby shower may seem tacky and gift-greedy. But Rachel and I are in agreement about this one. As she put it when she first told me of her plans to throw herself a second baby shower, "Everyone says you're not supposed to have a shower for the second baby. No one gives gifts because they say you already have everything you need. But it's not about that. Every pregnancy is special; every new baby is sacred. The second childbirth hurts just as much as the first. Why shouldn't the second birth be celebrated too?"

I feel the same way. It's not as if the second (or third, or fourth) baby will ever know that her entry into the world didn't create the same splash that her firstborn sibling's did--let's hope, anyway. It's not as if you need any more baby clothes and toys. But after you have the second, and you look into her sweet little face, it does break your heart a little bit to think that some people don't think she's important or exciting enough to throw a little confetti for, sign a name to a card or tie a big old bow. It's not about the gifts; it's about loving up the new baby. You know?

In honor of Genevieve Rose, I swung at the pinata extra-hard. Not that she was there, or knew it. But I did.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I've Even Got a DQ Coupon

So I'm obsessed with this new limited-time-only Pumpkin Pie Blizzard at Dairy Queen (of COURSE I am!). You may recall that during my have-at-it, bumblebee-metabolism periods of pregnancy and breastfeeding, I like me a Blizzard now and then. And this! People, it is pumpkin pie and ice cream IN ONE. How can you go wrong? But you may also recall that I am off dairy, for the sake of the wee one's colicky tummy. Curses! You guys, it may be time for a little dairy experimentation.

Speaking of the wee one, she's winning an award for Easiest Second Baby When Compared to The Hardest First Baby on the Planet. All of a sudden, about a week or so ago, she decided to start nursing only once overnight. I'm in favor. So OK, last night she did nurse every two hours again, but at 4 a.m. we realized we'd forgotten to give her the nighttime dose of Zantac that so effectively controls her acid reflux, so that wasn't her fault. Prior to that, she'd stuck with the one-nighttime-nursing schedule for something like 12 straight days, so I'm pretty confident it will continue if her distracted parents can remember to dole out her medicine. And, more than once lately, she's put herself to sleep on her own, in her bassinet, at naptime or bedtime, by simply thrashing around awhile, sucking on her fist, staring into space, contemplating her circumstances, and closing her eyes. Understand, this is without the aid of a breast, and without parental intervention in the form of forcing her to "cry it out." She just....went to sleep. Because she was tired. We feel like we're living in Baby Science Fiction Land, that's how foreign this kind of infant behavior is to us. But hey, we'll take it.

And for the final update, people, we got a new mattress. OK, so it wasn't the most convenient time for a major purchase, seeing the sorry state of our savings account. But after weeks of morning back and shoulder pain, a solid day in bed with the stomach flu last week clinched it: there was no way I could stand that sorry, 11-year-old, last-legs bed even one more minute. We took both girls to the only local mattress store on Sunday and tried out the only three sets within our meager budget. Happy ending: even a cheap new mattress is about ten million times more comfortable than our pathetic old one.

All for now. Tune in for some more serious posts sometime soon. I've got a few things I keep meaning to write about, but this mothering thing? It takes a lot of TIME.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

It's About Time

Christopher's got an interesting post up today on After School Snack about the new international symbol for breastfeeding acceptance. But of course it begs the question, why did it take until 2006 for such a thing to enter the culture, and perhaps even more importantly, why should it even be necessary to have a specific symbol to let women know they're in a nursing-friendly environment?

Still, kudos to Mothering magazine and to the logo designer.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Last-Chance Parenting



Genevieve is 12 weeks old; next week, on the 15th, she'll be three months old. Thus, she is entering what is, I think, my very favorite period of babyhood: the three-to-six-month-old stage. There's something about this age that I just adore; I did so with Julia too. Babies are such wonderful bundles during these months: no longer so floppy that their heads bob around like marionettes when you hold them on your shoulder, but not yet so big that holding them on your shoulder, or anywhere else, feels like a major strength-training workout. Plus, they start to look so prototypical-baby. You know: the wrinkly little-old-man face is gone, and in its place is a round, peachy expanse of chubby cheek and chin (yes, chins can be chubby). Oh, so kissable. So irresistible. And the smiles! These babies, they get so charming right around now. All you have to do is look at them and they jump and wiggle with so much joy, they flash their wide pumpkin-grins so wetly, that you feel like you just won a prize for doing nothing. And who can ever get enough of that feeling? Certainly not me.

Which brings me to this. The thing about thinking that you're probably not going to have any more babies is that everything--every single little thing--is the last. The mourning starts right away. You're only four weeks into new-babydom, and poof! the last mitten-sized newborn diaper you will ever use again. A week later, and goodbye tiny knitted bonnet with the ribbon ties. Another month or so? Never again the swaddling, never again the bassinet. It goes on and on; it never ends, right? Although I guess there's a bright side to the endless never-agains of parenting: I mean, surely the last night-nursing, the last potty-training accident, the last orthodontia bill, the last driving lesson--these will be causes to celebrate.

And I try, really hard, to appreciate the present moment with my baby--with both my babies, actually, the new one and the giant two-and-a-half-year-old one too--because the thing about these lasts is that you rarely, if ever, know in advance when they are coming. You just look around one day and go, Wow, when did she stop with that crazy full-belly, split-second, phantom grin thing she used to do in her sleep? Or, When did she get too big for the Pooh hat with the ears? The other day Genevieve fell asleep nursing, and though I know there will be many more instances of that occurrence in future months, I couldn't help but marvel at her heavy lids and her bear-cub snores, because one day this baby will never nurse to sleep again, but will instead twist her curious head and kick her big-baby legs and groan and giggle her way through her milky snacks, and this warm little pup crooked in just one arm will be a distant memory.

So: Genevieve is hitting her baby-stride, and I'm thrilled. And also, you know, a little bit sad.

You Know You're in Minnesota When....

...you wake up to a solid six inches of snow on the ground--the evergreen trees out back as laden with white as if it were Christmas Day--and just two days ago it was sunny and 80 degrees. Wha...????

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Update

Thanks for your good thoughts--we're winning the war against the stomach flu at last. Julia appears mostly recovered, although her appetite isn't quite back to normal yet. And though I continue to battle recurring body aches and fatigue--climbing the stairs today just about did me in--at least the more, um, disgusting flu symptoms have abated, and Christopher was able to go back to work today rather than stay home again to take care of the rest of us. So far Christopher hasn't caught it, but then again, he's only been sick once in the 13 years I've known him. As for Genevieve, she's healthy too; all those breast-milk antibodies must be doing their job. Still, we're laying low the next few days. We want to make sure the flu is on its way out of our house, especially since Julia's symptoms returned several times over the course of four days, each time just when we thought she was over it. Plus, after several days of doing nothing more strenuous than clicking the TV remote (Julia's watched more Sesame Street DVDs in the past three days than in her whole life so far) and wanly sipping fizzy water, we're feeling a little peaked. Here's hoping for a better week to come.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

House of Horrors

Thought we were in hell yesterday, then I caught it this morning. Now we're really in hell!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Still Sick

Good Lord, the toddler puking, will it ever end? We're in hell.

Election Day Coverage

The good: For the 4th straight night last night, Genevieve woke up to nurse only once in the middle of the night. She went from 7:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. yesterday!

The bad: Genevieve is terrified of the loud banging the roofers are making as they repair our house. Yesterday she cried for an hour straight after the scary noise woke her from a nap.

The ugly: Julia began throwing up again yesterday at suppertime, after more than 24 hours of nothing. However, so far this morning she seems okay, though extremely weak and pale. She did devour a bowl of dry Cheerios and drink a bunch of fizzy water, so she obviously feels better today than she did last evening. Poor little honey!

Reminder: go and vote today! I, for one, am ready for a Congress that gives a damn about children, education, health coverage for the country's most vulnerable, tolerance and equal rights for all people--not just heterosexual, born-again Christian people--and empathy for non-rich, working families.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Pass the Antibacterial Soap

I won't tell you anything about it, because the details are too hideously disgusting for anyone to want to hear them. All I will say is, the barfing flu hit our household on Saturday night, and if you've never tended a two-year-old who is throwing up every fifteen minutes for eight straight overnight hours, get down on your knees and thank whatever god you believe in. Twenty-four hours, ten million loads of laundry, and a grape Popsicle later, the toddler seems to be on the mend. I'm not sure how long it will take for Christopher and me to recover, however, from our post-traumatic flashbacks of the carnage.

Another parenting rite of passage, down.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Music Appreciation with Julia

Julia says the most hilarious things sometimes (I know: whose kid doesn't?). If you want a chuckle, Christopher's got a cute post about Julia up on his blog right now. Go check it out.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Moment of Truth

It's happened. We are really, truly, officially, a one-income family now. Meaning, the money in my private practice checking account--income from my business that I closed last June in preparation for the arrival of baby #2--has run out. It only lasted four months, mainly because having a baby is damned expensive. Even more expensive when your lousy health insurance didn't cover nearly as much of your C-section and subsequent 72-hour hospital stay as you had hoped and expected. (Good Lord, those bills! Those bills that come every single day in the mail, one after the other after the other when you swear this must truly be the last one, and how is it possible that they are going to ask for more money? And HOW much did they charge me for the IV???)

It is totally terrifying to realize that the one checkbook? That's IT. There's no other money. No other money for Target, for groceries, for the monthly townhouse association fee, for hair appointments, for Christmas gifts. No other money for the gargantuan student loan payment you owe every month and will until you're sixty. No other money for the exorbitant hip-college-town property tax. NO OTHER MONEY. Yikes.

I've done some previous writing about the choices--and the anxieties--that go along with staying home full-time when Christopher's income doesn't fully cover our living expenses. Luckily, he has some opportunities ahead for some extra work--part-time, evening, contract-teaching gigs--to bring in a little more income for our family. That helps, but all I can think is, I really, really, really don't want to reach the moment where I am forced to return to work before our family is ready, strictly to bring more dollars into our house each month. But it's starting to feel a little bit inevitable.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Let Her Eat Cake

Last night, Julia finally used her potty chair for its intended purpose. Hooray! We had promised her that as soon as she did, we would call Nonna (her maternal grandma) to tell her the wonderful news, and Nonna promised to send her a present. So, that was exciting. Then we told her that if she kept practicing and using her potty chair, that when she was using it all the time, we would have a little (private!) party to celebrate, and Mama would make cupcakes.

Julia's only reaction to our extended, detailed, three-way conversation about the wonders of potty chairs and dry pants? "What those cupcakes will taste yike, Mama?"

Ah, sugar. The great motivator? We'll see.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Sleep Tight

Yes, it is discouraging to still be nursing every two hours much of the time, when my friends' newborns are going three, four, five, or more hours between most feedings. And yes, we could all do with a little more sleep, and a little less snacking, during the overnight hours. But even so, something just happened that reminds me just how different Genevieve is from Julia as a newborn--and therefore, how truly different my parenting experience is with Genevieve from how it was with Julia. I just laid Genevieve down for a nap, because she was starting to yawn and act sleepy. She had nursed awhile ago, so I didn't nurse her. She was awake when I put her down. I just swaddled her up, laid her in her bassinet, and tiptoed out. And she went to sleep. On her own. From eyes open to eyes closed. ON HER OWN.

If you recall, when Julia was 11 weeks old she had recently begun a months-long nap strike. She stopped napping pretty much altogether, and she certainly never went to sleep without being nursed. The idea of laying Julia in her bed and expecting her to go to sleep was laughable no matter how exhausted (or well-rested) she was, and no matter what we did (excluding letting her scream for hours on end alone in her bassinet, to which we were adamantly opposed), she just didn't nap. In contrast, Genevieve feels like a more....normal baby. (Oh--there is also the fact that, though Genevieve shares our room as Julia did as an infant, she doesn't wake up from every tiny little sound anyone makes nearby--like, oh, say, breathing. For example, we can actually pull up our covers without waking her up. There's no Noisy Comforter problem this time around! It's a miracle!)

So yes, I'm still complaining and wondering about why this little rose just won't conk out at night for a good long time. (My mom's reply was, "Because you've been tried and tested and have your degree in Non-Sleeping Baby-Tending," and I like that explanation; let's go with it, shall we?) And I'm still dreading possibly having to force the issue in a few months' time (why can't I be one of those lucky moms who gets a baby who spontaneously starts to sleep through the night? Why oh why?). But people, it could be much, much worse.

And it goes without saying: blessed, blessed, blessed.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!


Monday, October 30, 2006

What Did I Ever Do To You, Roofers?

I kid you not, the cacophonous re-roofing of our townhome unit began today--the day my 2-year-old is miserably sick with a cold--DURING NAPTIME, when both babies had just gone down, in their respective beds on the second floor (i.e., very near the roof). Yes, THAT'S the moment the roofers decided to begin dropping something very heavy and very loud (pallets of shingles? tools? I have no idea) on the roof, creating an enormously loud and terrifying boom over and over. Nice. Hoo boy, this week is going to test my soul.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Turn, Turn, Turn

Yesterday was a tough day in our house. You know how when you have babies and young children, every single slice of behavior seems, at the time, as if it is going to be permanent? And how you totally forget that these wee ones, they change all the time, every day? And when they are night-nursing as if in an infant eating contest, or teething, or tantruming, or asking "Why?" every five seconds all day long, you get that oppressive feeling of doom, like it will never, ever end, and for the whole rest of your life you will be staggering from your bed every two hours to hike up your shirt, or wiping drool off a wet, rashy chin, or saying, "Just because, honey," while trying to keep yourself from tearing out your hair? It's so weird! One day you can be overcome--just completely undone--by how sweet-hearted your toddler is, how smart and perceptive and full of love--and the very next day you think your child is the champion whiner of the entire world, and that if you don't get a break from the annoying whining that seems to be an eternal soundtrack in your house you will most definitely lose your mind, and THAT could very well be permanent.

Well, but then there's this. Sometime yesterday, between the disastrous professional photography session (NOT the fabulous and fun photo session with our friend Alison last weekend, mind you; this was another photography session, and why we were there and how it went is a long story that I'll tell you about some other time) and the epic bathtime tantrum--or was it between the bathtime tantrum and the hours-long, can't-fall-asleep bedtime meltdown?--Julia came down for goodnight kisses and hugs and suddenly, unprompted, laid her cheek against Genevieve's face and said, "Sleep well, Genevieve Rose!" in a singsong-y, night-night voice, as sweet and genuine as can be. (Except she can't say her "r's", so it came out, "Genevieve Wose," which, you know, just makes it all the cuter.) Gave her baby sister a cuddle and wished her goodnight, all angel kisses and tender hugs.

Sigh. So yeah, I know: the whining and the constant nursing and the tantrums? They're all just as fleeting as the angel kisses and the imperfect "r's." Remind me again tomorrow.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

On (Not) Cleaning and (Not) Sleeping

So I realized today that, since having my second baby, I don't really clean anymore. Do laundry, yes, almost daily. Cook, naturally. Clean when company is coming to stay over? Yes. But actually engage in housecleaning chores for the general upkeep of our home? Like dust, scrub the kitchen counters/appliances, clean the toilets, tubs, and vanities, Swiff the floors? Oh my god, mop??? On anything resembling a regular basis--that is, with the frequency I used to do such things when I only had Julia to take care of? Um, no. No, no, no, no, no.

This realization came to me because I was at playgroup with two other mom friends, and the conversation turned to that holy grail, the simultaneous nap. You know, when BOTH babies are napping at the SAME TIME. The other two moms were comparing notes on their respective systems for getting the bathrooms cleaned when this fabulous occurrence takes place.

Well, people, both of my babies are napping right now (after a particularly hellish post-playgroup lunch at home, involving all manner of meltdown and tantrum over things like the wrong color sippy cup, the spilled water from the sippy cup, the chicken touching the rice, etc. etc. etc., and ending with both babies screaming, water all over the table, chair, and floor, and a spoonful of cheesy broccoli flung onto the carpet. But that's another story. Right?), and guess what I am doing? Not scrubbing my toilets, I'll tell you that much. And I'll tell you something else. When my babies are both napping, I NEVER scrub the toilets. OK? Never.

And as long as we're ranting and feeling particularly cantankerous (did that cranky toddler rub off on me?), let me just mention that the other topic of conversation that came up at playgroup was that of sleep and schedules, seeing as how we all have babies between two and five months old in addition to our toddlers. Now, I truly love these women; they are my new--and only--friends in our new(ish) town, and they are smart, funny, and kind. But people, if I never, ever have another conversation about sleep (training) with another parent ever again it will be too soon. OK? Listen: no more talking about how your baby has slept through the night on her own since she was seven weeks old. No more comments about how you've already put your infant on a schedule, she naps three times a day, and actually goes to bed in the evening. (To BED. LIKE AN ADULT.) No more about Ferber vs. Weissbluth vs. Sears vs. Pantley, and when we're all supposed to be starting all this stuff--nine weeks? twelve? fifteen? a long time ago, and you've already missed the boat, you fool?

No. Don't want to hear it. Am sick to death of it. Figured it all out eventually with my first baby, using a book or two and a great deal of intuition, and it worked for us then. Was all unconcerned about it with my second baby, figuring that the great thing about being a secondtime mom is that you don't worry about all that craziness anymore; you don't read every book like a religion and freak out over every tiny bit of conflicting advice, you just shrug and go, Whatever, she'll put herself on a schedule soon, she'll stop night-nursing so often soon, and if not, well, we've done it before, we can give her a few nudges at about six months old or so when we feel like she's ready.

Until the dreaded playgroup sleep conversation. Now I have to fight myself to re-orient my parenting world-view back toward one of reason and calm. Because, while I am a definite fan of the general idea of schedules, sleep routines, and a very early baby bedtime, and while parts of one very well-known sleep book helped us quite a bit when it came time to teach Julia to put herself to sleep at night without nursing, my internal wise-woman also knows that in real life, every baby is different, every family is different, and that when your experienced mother brain tells you to relax, enjoy your second baby, go with the flow a little more this time around and know that sleep will come in time, even if you don't "train" your two-month-old to nap only at 9, 1, and 4 and to go to bed for the night at 7 (and if sleep doesn't come, well, you've so been there and could probably write your own book about what to do then), well, you LISTEN. Because what good is being--at last--an experienced mom if you don't let yourself enjoy the contentment of trusting your own instincts this time?

And you know, people, speaking of sleep, the roofers are making their way down our street, one townhouse cluster at a time, repairing the colossal hail damage from the epic storm here in August, pounding and hammering and throwing shingles on the ground, and sooner or later, they are going to come to our house, and for ten hours a day they're going to be making that clatter above OUR heads, on OUR roof, just feet above OUR babies' (non-) napping heads, for several days in a row, and people, when that happens, no one is going to be sleeping. Ever. And the meltdowns are not going to be confined to the two-year-old.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Tenth Baby

Yesterday our extended family grew by one, when my sister-in-law gave birth to her first baby. (Welcome, baby Rebecca!) This is the TENTH new baby to enter the world among our circle of friends and family in 2006, with one more due by Christmastime. Even more amazing, ALL have been girls so far--we'll see about baby Dolan in December; maybe the girl streak will be broken?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I Love Fat Babies

Ever since Genevieve's two-month well-baby check-up, eight days ago, when we found out that she weighs 12 lbs. and is, thus, a total luscious fattykins, I've been meaning to look up and re-read a favorite Bringing Up Ben and Birdy column, from the babycenter.com website. It's the one where Catherine Newman writes about Birdy's two-month visit and how she, too, has pigleted her way to the top of the infant growth charts, and how scrumptious those rolls of baby-chub are. She gets it totally, completely right, and I laughed all over again reading it--especially when she describes how avidly Ben nursed as a newborn (JUST like Julia, marathon-nurser that she was, lounging and sucking and napping and eating all at the same time, SO luxurious) and compares his baby behavior to the new Birdy's (JUST like Genevieve, chugging away and then popping off the nipple with milk pouring down her chin, all drama and vigor).

Anyway, no one writes about babies like Catherine Newman, so do yourself a favor and go read the archived column for yourself, especially if you're a new mom, soon to be a new mom, have ever been a new mom, or are married to a mom. Click here, people.

Heavenly Zantac?

Last night Genevieve downed her first higher dose of Zantac, for her infant acid reflux. She proceeded to nurse at 8 p.m., go to sleep (in her bassinet, no less) at 8:30, and.....stay asleep until 2:15 a.m.! That's six hours between feedings, people, and four uninterrupted hours of sleep for me. I could hardly believe it. OK, it may have been a one-time thing, and it may have had nothing to do with the Zantac or the amelioration of the reflux symptoms, but hallelujah. And if it is related to the Zantac, then maybe she's going to catch up to the longer sleep stretches all her newborn buddies are mastering these days. A mama can hope.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Things I've Been Meaning to Write

Updates:

--Genevieve starts a higher dosage of Zantac tonight. Her reflux was better this past week, but not fully controlled by the lowest possible dose. She still spits up and swallows a lot and is uncomfortable after she eats, and because a full tummy makes her reflux a lot worse, she's still nursing pretty much constantly all day and night long, taking small amounts each time rather than a full meal. We're hoping a little more peppermint-flavored elixir will take care of these symptoms at last.

--I'm still off dairy, chocolate, and caffeine. Three weeks, people! And oh, I miss it (all of it). And yet, at the same time, it's easier than I thought it would be. True, I don't make any big deal about, say, a bite of a brownie or some cheese on my panini. But where it really matters--bowls of ice cream, milk on cereal, high-octane lattes--I'm completely on the wagon. I still haven't gotten up the nerve to rock the boat by trying to consume any of these things in full force to see if Genna Rose can withstand it. As if to validate this course of action, the other day Christopher gave Genevieve a bottle of pumped breast milk that had been frozen from August. Guess who cried all night? OK, it could have been a fluke, but all we could think was, Hmmm, how much ice cream and chocolate was I eating in August? (Hello! Newly postpartum, constantly ravenous, eating 24 hours a day to ward off lightheadedness....my memory says I was eating a LOT of ice cream and chocolate, you know?) And, do we dare use any of the frozen breast milk ever again? And, if not, can we bear to throw out such liquid gold?

Other things on my mind these days:

* Today we went to finalize our newly written wills, complete with a guardianship for the babies, should both Christopher and I be killed together. I am very relieved to have finally done this, after 2+ years of putting it off, but it's still a major bummer to pay $500 to spend a few weeks thinking about your own demise, and what would happen to your sweet girls if you were gone. Gulp. In other news, it is a very odd experience to breastfeed your squalling newborn in the office of an attorney, in front of said attorney (fiftyish, male), while signing documents about your own demise, because what are you going to do? The baby needed to eat at the same time of our attorney appointment. But I can safely say that nursing one-armedly while signing papers one-handedly in a big formal law office is not something I would have ever imagined doing before, well...now.

* Genevieve's plump baby thighs, complete with PERFECT rolls of two-month-old chub, are just about the most adorable things imaginable. I mean, honestly, I just want to eat her up. If her chubby-wubbiness wasn't cute enough, she has started up with the angelic coos and goo-goos when we talk to her, complete with crinkly-eyed grins and little barks of glee. It's as if she's using every ounce of her energy and will to charm us as fully as possible. Not that it takes much.

Christmas List

Excerpt of pathetic conversation in our household the other day:

"So how would you prioritize the things we desperately need but cannot afford: the new mattress first, or the larger dining room table?"

Um, does it really matter?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Diaper Chronicles; or, How I Am Going Bankrupt

In the big book of all the things no one ever tells you about parenthood before you become a parent yourself, there must be a chapter on how, when your toddler is beginning the long, circuitous journey that is potty-training, you may find yourself hemorrhaging diapers--and thus, hemorrhaging money--because, though she is not yet willing to actually use the potty chair for its intended purpose, neither will she tolerate for even ONE LITTLE MINUTE having a wet diaper, nor a damp one, nor one with one drop of liquid in it, on her plump two-year-old behind. Think you can convince her otherwise? Think again. Think you can hold her off until the next logical diaper change? No, you cannot. To attempt such folly is to invite weeping, wringing of hands, stomping of feet, and any manner of meltdown. And, to be fair, would YOU want to sit down on a wet bottom to eat your lunch? No, you would not. But people, four diapers in 30 minutes is not good money management. Have you seen what diapers cost? It is insane. Those things are like cellulose gold. I can practically see them transform into crumpled dollar bills as I wrap each one up for the trash: a wasted money pile. A wet money pile, maybe, but still.

I only hope this stage passes quickly and we'll soon go on to the next fun-filled step on the potty-training joyride. You know: the had-an-accident, wet-undies step. Yeehaw.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Blessed and Lucky: Two Photos



Because sometimes, when everyone's overtired and crabby and sick from their vaccinations and/or their baby digestive maladies, and when the only tone of voice you've heard out of your toddler all day long is a whine so annoying that you are seriously tempted to run out the front door away from the house for awhile, and when your newborn has been alternately crying and almost-crying since nine a.m. and now it is three and you are sorely missing the caffeine you no longer consume due to the newborn's sensitive inner workings, you need something to remind you that you are blessed and lucky to have two happy (usually), healthy (fundamentally), lovely (always) girls.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Plot Thickens

So this a.m. Genevieve had her two-month well-baby doctor visit. You know what that means: shots. Three of 'em! And poor Julia even had to come along so she could get her flu shot and her first Hepatitis A vaccination. Yes, between the two of them they sustained five pokes! Ouch! Amazingly, Julia didn't even cry--she was totally stoic and garnered not one, but TWO stickers out of the visit, so it wasn't all bad.

Are you wondering just how big baby Genna Rose is? You've seen those cheeks; are you ready for this? Twelve pounds, one ounce, people, and 23 1/2 inches long. I'm serious. She gained four full pounds since her two-week weight check. She's two pounds heavier than Julia was at the same age, and she's wearing clothes that fit Julia at four months, not two. She's in the 90th percentile for both height and weight, a part of the growth curve with which we are very familiar in this family, but Julia didn't get up into the 90s (and beyond!) until she was six months old--though thereafter she never strayed downward. I wish we lived with my best friend Veronica in San Antonio so I could say, "We grow big babies down here in Texas!" It doesn't sound quite right in Minnesota--especially coming out of the mouths of two relatively small parents. I mean, where are these genes coming from?

OK, but on another topic, here's the part where the plot thickens. Turns out that Genevieve Rose has all the classic symptoms of infant acid reflux. Remember how easy and non-fussy she was until just recently? How she ate well, slept well, rarely cried until the onset of the gas pains? Acid reflux in babies typically develops around two to three months or later--not in the first newborn month.

Remember the frustrating return of the constant nursing? According to the pediatrician, babies with reflux can't fill their tummies too much at one feeding, and they learn quickly to eat small amounts in an attempt to decrease their discomfort after each nursing session. Makes sense, doesn't it? If you knew that every time you ate a good full meal it would cause you pain, wouldn't you graze all day (and night) long, too? Poor little honey! It makes it much easier to stand the round the clock nursing, when everyone else's two-month-old babies are going four and five hours between feedings, now that I know there is an illness-related reason for it.

The acid reflux even explains why, although in the early weeks Genevieve almost always went right back to sleep after each overnight feeding, in recent weeks it has gradually become the case that nine times out of ten her nighttime nursings end with me waking up Christopher so he can take a turn rocking and comforting her for 20 or 30 minutes before her thrashes and groans cease and she will go back to sleep in her bassinet. Turns out, part of the treatment for acid reflux is to keep the baby upright for 20 minutes after each feeding--i.e. in a swing or bouncey seat, or, at night, by using a special wedge under her mattress. So it's no wonder Genna would moan and wriggle and bark with displeasure each time I laid her back down right after eating, and no wonder 20 minutes on Daddy's shoulder in the rocking chair at two a.m. pretty much always did the trick. But no wonder we're both incredibly sleep-deprived these days, at a time when most parents assume they'll finally be starting to get MORE sleep.

We're starting Genevieve on Zantac tonight, and buying a mattress wedge as soon as possible. I hope she starts to feel better, and we all start snoozing more as a result. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Little Miss Fussypants

Late last week Genevieve had some extremely fussy episodes. Her piercing screaming spells have not returned since I eliminated dairy and chocolate, thankfully, but she spent most of Thursday night awake and unhappy, alternately wanting to nurse every hour and fussing inconsolably for long periods--like, from three to five a.m. when the rest of the world was sleeping, for one.

Friday, despite having barely slept the night before, she refused to sleep during the day, settling down for a nap for only 20 minutes in the morning and another 30 for the rest of the afternoon. By evening, she was in such a state that I succumbed to the car ride strategy once again, hoping it would finally knock her out for a good sleep. Well, it didn't, and our exhaustion peaked along with our confusion about what was going on with her. We spent all weekend studying her behavior, and it's starting to dawn on us that perhaps she has infant gastric reflux. It seems to fit: the increasingly chronic fussing, especially after eating; the extreme burping and spitting up, the distressed swallowing and coughing after she nurses, punctuated by her expressions of distaste; the immediate thrashing and groaning upon being laid flat to sleep after finishing a nursing session; the love-hate reaction to the idea of nursing at all: I'm hungry, give me more; I'm sick, get that nipple away from me.

It's pretty sad and pathetic, and it's weird how it seems to have come on gradually, and also suddenly. A month ago she rarely cried or fussed at all; then she started to scream every other night; then I gave up trigger foods and the screaming abated; but then all this weird fussing and agitation and unwillingness to go back to sleep after overnight nursings began and increased so slowly we didn't notice a pattern for a week at least. Luckily, we go to the pediatrician tomorrow for Genna's two-month well-baby checkup, so we can run all this by the doctor and hopefully get some relief.

With all this going on, it couldn't have been a better weekend for my parents--Julia and Genna's Nonna and Boppa--to come for a visit. Hallelujah, someone else to take over the rocking, soothing, holding, jiggling. Someone else to mind the babies while I bathed, ate, cooked, or sat on the sofa reading old issues of People magazine. And these were people who didn't even MIND the fussing and crying! Does it get any better than that?

In addition to bringing all sorts of treats from up north--apples from their tree, squash and pumpkins from a friend's garden, homemade banana cake, piles of new-baby presents from various thoughtful family friends, non-chocolate Halloween candy for me--they also brought with them the nonplussed air of seasoned baby-handlers, the sense of unworried acceptance in the face of relentless baby distress that only grandparents with decades of experience soothing fussy infants can muster. Christopher and I, on our second baby now, no longer panic over the harsh cry of a newborn, but let's face it: it gets really old, really tiring, and really frustrating to deal with a very fussy baby for hours on end. So it's nice to be around other people who take it in stride.

Not only did my parents handle Genevieve's distress like the baby-raising pros they are, they actually kicked Christopher and me out on Saturday night to go to a late movie at the multiplex in the next town. I mean, we put Julia to bed, left a couple of bottles of pumped breast milk, and actually drove away by ourselves after dark to do something recreational. Involving buttered popcorn!

To know what a big deal this was, you have to understand that this was only the second movie out that Christopher and I have seen together since our first baby was born over two years ago. Yes, we're one of those couples who are total wimps about leaving our babies with others. And since we don't have family nearby to babysit, nor can we afford the $8-$10/hour babysitting rate in our town (which should we choose this month, pay the water bill or go out for an evening without the babies?), well....you get the idea. On the other hand, we're also of an apparently anomalous breed of couples who don't particularly crave "date nights," who are very content staying in with our babies, spending our time together without an overriding need to carve out "quality couple time" outside our lives as a family. But that doesn't mean it wasn't a whole lot of fun to go to the gigantic 21-screen mega-theatre at 9 p.m., gorge ourselves on popcorn, and see a great movie ("Little Miss Sunshine"--LOVED IT). Especially because not for a second did I worry one bit about how the girls were doing at home; I was 100% reassured in knowing that even if Genna screamed bloody murder the entire time we were gone, even if Julia woke up and wondered where we were, that my mom and dad would know what to do, and wouldn't even be bothered by it.

We all had a great time this weekend: Julia decorating child-sized pumpkins with magic markers, Genevieve ceasing her fussing to show off a few choice grins, the rest of us eating apple crisp and playing Scrabble and making plans for Thanksgiving. We even all made it out for a big family lunch to see my grandma and introduce Genevieve to my aunt and uncle who were in town for the day.

Now that our company is gone, the beginning of the new week feels kind of anticlimactic, but fortunately we have more fun to look forward to: my sister and her family arrive on Friday for a quick visit. It'll be a joy to watch 28-month-old Julia and her 21-month-old cousin Gabe run around together. I wish we all lived closer to each other!

Anyway, have a great week, all. I'll let you know what Genna's doctor says.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Alas. The dreaded postpartum shedding of the glorious pregnancy hair has begun. So, so unfair.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

No Wimps Allowed

You really don't know the meaning of the word "weather" until you've lived in--or better yet, are a bona fide, born-and-bred native of--a state where on one October day it is sunny and 82 degrees and you have to turn on the central air, and then four days later the windchill is 19 degrees and it is snowing. Oh, and the forecast calls for a seasonal 55 degrees again by the weekend.