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


--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.

Pay No Attention to the Mama Behind the Curtain Eating Chocolate

OK, so yesterday I ended up eating some chocolate, and guess who had a miserable, cry-filled night punctuated by hourly awakenings and constant squawks and groans? I mean, besides me? Damn those Fudge Stripe cookies at mothers' group! And those Hershey's Nuggets I decided to add to the equation at 9 p.m.! I'm crying uncle. Obviously, chocolate does not agree with my nursing baby.

What kind of a genetic anomaly is she? Who doesn't like chocolate? Surely she can't be my daughter.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

If Baby Ain't Happy Ain't Nobody Happy

Well, I'm still waffling on the dairy-chocolate-caffeine thing. So far this week I've had one glass of milk on Monday morning, and one small scoop of ice cream last night. No ill effects on the baby's tummy, but with such small amounts spread out over two whole days, I wouldn't really expect it. Like I said the other day, mainly I'm enjoying our cry-less baby so much that I'm hesitant to do anything that might mess up a good thing. I mean, Genevieve is totally low-key these days. She fusses at times, yes, and she's a serious eater with a capital E--don't argue with her when she wants to nurse--but with no wails and screams, our household is pretty calm! And that is a beautiful thing with an 8-week-old in the house. Let me tell you, those nights of incessant screaming took their toll on everyone at the time. I haven't tried any chocolate or caffeine yet--and I'm sorta planning on trying to just stay off caffeine altogether (except in cases of dire emergency). But oh boy people, Halloween is coming. How sad would it be to be off chocolate on Halloween?!


In other news, snow flurries were seen in the air here this morning. You heard me. SNOW. However, lest any non-Minnesotan readers get the mistaken idea that Minnesota is merely a wild north hinterland where it is cold 11 months of the year, be aware that this is just a little bit crazy. It's supposed to be 60 again by Sunday.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The 24-Hour Milk Buffet is Open

Today I had my second--and final--postpartum check-up. All is well; I'm healing fine, my incision pain is minimal and infrequent, and my doctor is pleased. I am, too. But if my OB happened to be the kind of super-empathic, tell-me-all-your-troubles type that my last doctor was--oh, how I still miss fabulous Dr. Judy--I would probably have mentioned something about how it feels like nursing this baby is really taking it out of me (still!). Don't get me wrong; it's not as if I'm looking for someone to tell me to stop--in fact, I wouldn't stop even if someone did. But sometimes it's nice to get a little sympathy. And sometimes it's nice to let someone medical know that your whole body aches much of the time, and by the way, is that normal?

And it's ironic, too, because I was just thinking recently how easy, in so many ways, nursing is this time around. Here it is week eight, and I've yet to develop plugged ducts or plugged milk pores or anything else painful and debilitating. It feels like a miracle to me, when I recall my early nursing days with Julia and all the physical maladies that arose. Isn't the body an amazing thing? That the second time around, it's such a pro at the breastfeeding thing that it decides, hey, no need to go through all that infection nonsense, no need to get all swollen and distressed, let's just feed this baby and feed her a lot? Nice.

But. The thing is, remember a couple of weeks ago when I said that Genevieve was stretching out her nighttime nursings? Um, maybe not so much. These days she has completely done away with ever nursing on both sides--believe me, there's absolutely no way to force the issue, she's all like, yeah, I'm kinda stuffed, leave me alone so I can go back to sleep--and so she nurses every two hours again, most of the night long. Especially at three, five, and seven a.m., when I hear that bracing hunger-squawk, it's all I can do to be nice about it. I figure lectures won't help, and I can save that kind of parenting for the teen years.

In the meantime, though, it just feels like I'm being sucked dry by a ravenous, insistent baby bird, and my body is complaining with aches and pains and the kind of tiredness upon awakening that makes you feel lightheaded and dizzy. I was doing much better when Genna was experimenting with less frequent meals. I feel like a total wimp for complaining about it, though, since once again, all I can think about is how with Julia this kind of thing went on for much longer than this, and with many more challenges, and I got through that with, if not aplomb, then at least with a fair amount of steely determination.

In the end, I didn't say any of the above to my doctor. I did, however, fantasize about forging a prescription, which would be something like: "Get a full-body massage, follow it up with a long, luxurious bubble bath (no pint-sized visitors allowed in the bathroom), then read trashy celebrity-gossip magazines in bed with favorite drinks and snacks at hand, while watching TV. Repeat as needed."

Little Health Nut

As excited as Julia gets about the treats she gets occasionally--mainly things like pumpkin muffins or rhubarb bread that I bake and serve when we have visitors, which has been happening a lot since Genevieve was born--she's still a little health-food eater at heart. The other day she was upset that there was no more broccoli for her to eat at dinner (because she'd eaten everything I'd cooked). She said to me, "Mama, I want broccoli tomorrow for SNACK!" Then she added, "With BANANA! I want broccoli and banana tomorrow for SNACK!"

You talked me into it, Sweet Pea.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Results of the Experiment

People! The results are in. Seven days without dairy, chocolate, or caffeine: seven days without baby Genevieve having any evening gas-pain scream-attacks. Can you believe it? NOT ONE. No inconsolable shrieking and writhing around, no desperate attempts to swaddle, walk, bounce, rock; no 10 p.m. (or 2 a.m.) car rides. Wow. Just can't be a coincidence, you know? Personally, my money's on the dairy, since it's the most common culprit in nursing moms' diets when it comes to producing gas and colic in infants. But, who knows--it could be any, or all, of the above.

So, what now? The plan was to slowly re-introduce these substances, one at a time, and check for Genevieve's reaction. I was going to start with dairy, because of the three, it's the one that's a true, bona fide nutritious food group (you know, the Dairy Queen Blizzard food group). But I tell you, I'm a little loathe to rock the boat. On the other hand, I plan to nurse this baby for at least another year, which is a long time to go without milk, ice cream, chocolate, and full-on coffee. I mean, really now--isn't the cutting open of the abdomen and the all-night nursing and the surging hormones and the sore nipples and the lack of free time and the other-worldly exhaustion and the spending of all the money on diapers rather than movies and magazines sacrifice enough? We have to do away with Diet Coke for a year as well? (And by the way, caffeine-free has nothing on the original. They do NOT taste the same, and don't try to tell me different.)

So anyway, I think I'll try a little milk today. I'll let you know what happens.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Good Morning, Mary Sunshine

It's been a week since Christopher returned to work from paternity leave. For the most part, things here at home are going well. I've managed to take both babies to playgroup, open playtime at the library, and storytime, getting us off to an auspicious start. Good, right? I mean, it would have been easier to hide out at home in our pj's, but we actually engaged in activities. Activities that involved getting into carseats and driving away from our house to public places.

But people, the morning routine is killer. Anyone got any ideas about how I can ever bathe again? These babies--they both wake up at the same time (even though they're currently not even in the same room--the sharing of the nursery will come after night-weaning Genevieve, but for now she sleeps in our room). And you know, the morning needs are so pressing: the changing of the overnight diaper, the starved-baby nursing (yes, she thinks she's starved, even though she just nursed two hours prior), the inhaling of the breakfast. None of these things can wait. But YOU try nursing one baby and changing the other's diaper at the same time. Or washing one's face while simultaneously stripping the other's bed of oops!-leaking-diaper-soaked sheets. Invariably I end up in a sweat, trying to cram my nipple into Genevieve's enraged and screaming mouth while unsuccessfully spreading jam on Julia's toasted bagel with one hand. Or Genevieve ends up lying in the nursery crib wailing with fury while I haphazardly brush Julia's teeth and funnel a clean t-shirt over her wiggly toddler head. By the time everyone is washed, dressed, and fed, I typically realize that I'm not actually included in "everyone," and I'm generally in dire need of a strong (decaf! right?!) iced soy latte, MPR on the radio, and some quiet quality time with the laptop. If I've VERY lucky, I might get the first two, and probably not at the same time.

Surely I'll get better at this, right? Figure out a system and all that?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Such a Good Day

The weather here in southern MN is absolutely gorgeous these days: sunny, blue skies, blazing orange and gold trees, and afternoons of warm-crisp 60 or so degrees. But last night, we got our first frost. This morning at the breakfast table, which faces our sliding glass patio door with a view to the lawn and fields outside, Julia asked, "Who colored the grass, Mama?" I hadn't quite heard her, so I said, "What about the grass, honey?" So she clarified: "Why is the grass white?" And so I had to explain about frost.

In another example of cuteness, Jujee's been in a wonderful mood the past few days, despite a fall cold. Today she spontaneously exclaimed, more than once, with a big grin on her face, "I'm having SUCH a good day, Mama!"

She is, too. We went to Preschool Storytime at the library today for the first time. We used to go to Baby Storytime, which is for 0-24-month-olds and consists of parents and babies sitting on the floor together in a circle, listening to a couple short stories and singing songs. Preschool Storytime (technically for 3-to 5-year-olds, but they're pretty lax about the age recommendation) is a whole different ballgame, we discovered. The kids sit in little chairs facing the children's librarian, and the stories are longer and more prolific. It definitely requires at least some ability to sit still and concentrate, something many 2-year-olds would not be able to do. Luckily, Julia loves reading, so she did great. She even sat in her own little chair instead of with me in the row behind her, although partway through she came and stood beside me and held my hand. But she enthusiastically participated in "If You're Happy and You Know It," singing along and doing all the actions (the first time I've ever seen her really participate in something like that rather than just standing and watching the other children). Then they watched a film-strip (oh, 1970s grade-school nostalgia!) of "Goodnight Moon," and did a little art project! It was like a little dose of mini-preschool, and it happens every week! Talk about a lot of bang for your buck! Or rather, for no buck, since all the children's programming at the library is of course free. Even Genevieve enjoyed herself, seeing as she just nursed and snoozed.

So yeah, we're having such a good day here. Wishing the same to you!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

No Chocolate but Plenty of Love and Cuteness

Brief update: I've survived 2-1/2 days on my elimination diet of no dairy, no caffeine, and no chocolate. Actually I'm not eliminating cheese that may be an ingredient in something else, like burritos or the spinach-feta pie we ate last night for dinner, since that makes up a relatively small part of my diet and it just doesn't seem important enough to avoid. It's more the milk and ice cream thing. Anyway, I only had a bad caffeine headache on day one, Monday. Yesterday I had a minor headache, but nothing too terrible. I do have to say, though, that I was VERY tired both Monday and Tuesday. Today I feel better. It hasn't been as hard as I anticipated to abstain from chocolate and the cookies & cream ice cream in the freezer, but then again, it's only been 2-1/2 days.

As for Genevieve? She hasn't had any major screaming fits, but once again, it's only been 2-1/2 days. And she had many, many "good" days/nights when I WAS consuming the above substances, too, so it's too early to tell.

Last night at about 3 a.m., however, after nursing on one side, Genevieve decided it was party time. After awhile, it devolved into crying and fussing before she deigned to go back to sleep, but at first it was like having a jolly miniature clown in the bedroom. There was laughter, there was singing....OK, there wasn't any singing. But I did laugh out loud a few times, because Genevieve started grinning up at me with such aplomb, eyes shining in the dark and her mouth wide open with joy--practically giggling--that you would have thought we'd just been reunited after a transatlantic separation or something. I kept trying to offer her the nipple, and she kept ignoring it, instead wriggling with joy, cooing and letting out these hilarious little barks of glee, staring at me intently and squinching up her little eyes with elation. Wow, to be so happy at three in the morning--you've got to admire her spirit, don't you? In contrast, I was all like, OK, we've established that you're hilarious and adorable and obviously happy to see me, can we just both go back to sleep now and continue the love-fest at, oh, 8 a.m.?

Just a Thought

I figured out yesterday that between 7:30 a.m. and 10 p.m., I had a total of 25 minutes away from the incessant needs of one or the other baby, when I went outside for a very brief workout. You know--the nursing, the toddler not napping, etc. Can you think of any other job where you work a 14-hour day with only 25 minutes of break-time? And where you have to feed two other people during your lunch (so that doesn't count as a break)?

And I'm not getting pay or retirement contributions for this job because....?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

But Who's Counting?

By my count, so far today I have changed seven poopy diapers. Plus, my two-year-old didn't take her nap (again). This while I'm giving up caffeine, people. Do I get some kind of medal for this?

By the way: when I asked Julia why she didn't go to sleep during her nap, this was her explanation: "Because I was busy waking UP, Mama!" Aha.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Mama Wants Her Groove Back

On Friday, my second day alone with the babies, I was for some reason in a major groove. I actually scrubbed all three toilets, did two loads of laundry (washed, dried, AND folded, a rarity indeed), took the girls to open playtime at the library, entertained some dear friends passing through town on last-minute notice, and cooked an actual dinner (OK, an easy dinner, but still). And this was a day when my two-year-old refused to nap! I have no idea how I did it; it was obviously a fluke because today the most I have done is nuke two veggie hot-dogs. I'm dressed, but only if your standards are very low. Oh well. I'm a bit tired from the weekend.

So yeah, how did yesterday turn out, you're wondering? Well, we did have friends down for breakfast, in a rather slapdash, barely-groomed manner (speaking of low standards!). We had been up all the previous night with one sick baby and one squalling one, so some things fell by the wayside in the morning fray. Anyway, as for the party in Minneapolis, only half the family made it. Christopher sent me up with Genevieve, and he stayed home with germy Julia. We really all wanted to go, but we knew that if we brought Julia to a social gathering where other babies and kids would be congregating, what with her runny nose, sneezing, and glassy-eyed sick-face, we'd be THOSE parents. The ones we bad-mouth after the fact when we're witness to similar rash decisions. So, since I was the only one who could feed Genevieve, I got to go, and he got to stay home and tend Julia's cold.

I had a great time, especially since Genna snoozed the whole way up to Minneapolis and 3/4 of the way home. (The last stretch was a mini-marathon of infant screams, but what can you do?) There were a million babies and children at this party, with Genevieve the youngest by four or five months. She was calm and mellow throughout, and garnered many compliments on her mile-wide cheeks.

What was fun for me were the compliments I garnered from some of the other moms of older wee ones, about being out and about only six weeks after Genevieve's birth. This was a total treat for me to hear, because while part of me still thinks, too, that it is a major deal to schlep a brand-new newborn an hour away for a party by one's self--heck, I think it's a major deal to take a newborn on errands around town at only six weeks post-childbirth!--at the same time, in my new community it seems to be what everyone I know just does. It seems that the moms I know down here just expect that you'll be back at library storytime, at playgroup and toddler class and the grocery store, with your tiny newborn casually in tow, just weeks after coming home from the hospital. They're all doing it, so, you know, no one is very impressed when you do it too. Therefore it was a nice surprise, a sweet little pat on the back and a good reality check, to have one fellow mom, upon hearing Genevieve's age, exclaim to me, "Way to go! Look at you, out and about so soon and doing so great! How wonderful that you're feeling physically up to it!" Reminded me how little Genevieve still really is. It was only a month and a half ago that we were camped out on the maternity ward, nursing in the dark with the IV in place. You know?

So. On another topic, believe it or not, I am actually conducting an experiment this week--a very masochistic experiment--and giving up dairy, chocolate, and caffeine for seven days to see if Genevieve's evening scream attacks go away. Although she doesn't have them every night, and overall she seems happy and non-fussy, it seems worth a try to figure out if something identifiable is giving her gas pains. The plan is to give up these substances for a week, then re-introduce them slowly, one at a time. It's day one, and I have a big ol' caffeine headache. (Good thing I'm not giving up Advil!) This is going to be a MAJOR CHALLENGE for me--much more for the chocolate and dairy than the caffeine. I feel like a monk!

Are you laying down bets on me now? Do you think I'll be able to do it? Tune in all this week to find out.