Thursday, September 27, 2012

Dailies 9/27


I need to relearn how to eat. Or maybe I just need to learn how to plan to eat, I'm not sure. In any case, grabbing an odd assortment of foods throughout the day (coffee, apple crisp, rice with sesame oil, half an avocado, a handful of almonds, molasses licked off the spoon while making muffins) is not working, and it's upsetting my stomach.

I'm sure that the food thing is contributing to my sudden-onset blah-ness, but it's a tough cycle to break: I'm tired, so I don't prepare meals and snacks in I eat whatever I can I'm tired...

This weekend, I had my first encounter with mastitis, and no, thank you. Never again, if I have any say in it. And this was a mild case! I had an awful night on Friday, woke up on Saturday feeling like ass and running a fever, doused my insides in vitamin C, echinacea, and elderberry syrup, and just when I was starting to despair—"Oh God it's 7:00 PM how am I going to get through the night with the baby?"—things started looking up. I had a good night (thank you, gods of breastfeeding), and woke up on Sunday feeling like a million bucks. My left side, which was the affected side, is barely pink today, less than a week later. Yay, health!

First Bottle

Westley keeps asking, "What could we do that would be fun?" It makes my heart ache. I want to be able to have fun with him, but I also feel spread really thin and like I don't have enough energy to match his level. He's been fighting off a cold for the past few days, but that doesn't stop him from charging around the back yard, jumping up and down, begging to buy this, do that, go on an adventure—and fighting Rob and me on just about everything.

We fight about dinner. We fight about television. We fight about walking to the park. We fight about having to go grocery shopping. I want to chalk it all up to Westley's being 4-1/2, but I suspect my patience (or lack thereof) factors into it as well. I called my dad recently and said, "When my brother was a tiny baby, you wanted to kill me, right? And obviously you managed not to do it, because I'm still here?"

He laughed. "Yeah, there were some times."

The joy of second babies is that Mom has a bit of perspective, so baby-care seems easier and less stressful. The trouble with second babies is that your firstborn still needs you. He might even need more of you, now that there's a little "someone else" in the picture.

After a great first week of preschool, Westley cried every day when I dropped him off. He tried to get me to pick him up early. "Pick me up before snack."

"I'll pick you up at pick-up time."

"Pick me up before story time."

"I'll pick you up at pick-up time."

"Before story time is pick-up time!"

"I'll see you in a little while. Have a good day."

Tears. Anger.

I get it. It can't be any fun watching your mom walk away from you while cuddling your baby sister on her shoulder.

At least Ivy seemed to have a good week. She nursed like a champion through my mastitis flare-up, even when I was feverish and my chest was a good ten degrees hotter than the rest of me. She also had her first experience with a bottle. She didn't seem completely shocked that breastmilk was coming at her from something other than Mommy, but the silicone nipple wasn't her favorite thing.

First Bottle

And then she got sleepy.

First Bottle
First Bottle

I'm amazed that Ivy is six weeks old already. It seems like she just got here—but it also seems like she's been here forever. At our final midwife appointment, Ivy weighed 10 lbs. exactly. She started smiling what I swore were "real smiles" at five weeks old. That could have been my imagination, but a week later, her smiles are the real deal for sure.

Bouncy Chair
Bouncy Chair

When she's awake and active, Ivy is cooing. She has a lot to say already, and I wonder if she'll talk early. She also seems to genuinely enjoy the things I do with her: singing to her while she kicks around on the floor during diaper-free time, talking to her about grocery shopping or tidying up, cuddling with her. The bath was a huge hit.


She's such a peach. A delightful little person. I'm soaking up this sweet time with her, trying to slow the moments down. Watching Ivy grow and change every day is the most profound reminder that this time is short, and the hard parts will be behind us soon. The illness, the fighting, the awfulness won't be here forever. New mothers recover their balance. Babies find their rhythms. Four-and-a-half-year-olds turn five.


First Bath

First Bath

We celebrated Ivy's six-week birthday on Tuesday with her first bath ever. Westley was more than a little enthusiastic about it—as evidenced by his squealing on the video that Rob accidentally shot when the camera he grabbed was set to "movie."  

I think she thought, "This seems oddly familiar."

First Bath

"But I can't put my finger on why."

First Bath

Overall, Ivy seemed pretty neutral on the whole bath time adventure. Westley cooing at her and Daddy taking pictures seemed to take away from the surprise of being naked and surrounded by warm water.

I thought bathing a baby without special baby-bathing gear might be awkward, but it was fine. More than fine! Taking Ivy in the big bathtub was so much easier than wrestling with the baby bathtub, and a whole lot nicer than using the kitchen sink. I think I had more fun than she did.

First Bath


Monday, September 24, 2012

New (School) Year's Resolutions

I didn't write my traditional Mid-Year Resolutions this year. Mid-year, I was starting to feel seriously pregnant, and I couldn't really think about anything other than being seriously pregnant. But I didn't want to ignore the tradition of mid-year resolutions entirely, because I love "resets" and fresh starts. And nothing is more fresh-starty than a new baby.

Sleep, nursing pillow.
So new, so sleepy.

Also, the new school year has always felt more like a fresh start to me than New Year's Day. And! It was just Rosh Hashanah, so Happy New Year to all of my Jewish friends! See how I make myself feel better about not keeping up with things? Which brings us to...

Keep up with e-mail. I'm terrible about this, and I want—no, NEED to get better about it because it's so easy. If you send me an e-mail and I don't reply, it's no because I don't love you or I don't care. It's not even that I forgot. Because I didn't forget! I think about that e-mail (and how I really should reply to it) all the time, I just...get distracted by something shiny when I open up my computer. (Also, the easier the task, the more likely I am to put it off. It's ridiculous. I need to work on this general tendency, but I'm starting with e-mail.)

Be a better friend. See above. I have lovely, amazing, real-life friends whom I never ever call or write to. And then I wonder why I feel so isolated and lonely! Yeah. Even just sending a monthly postcard with "Hey, I miss you and I think about you all the time and you're awesome" on the back of an awesome picture of a wolf taken by someone much braver than I am could work. I just need to do something active to keep my friendships going so that when we're all cranky old ladies we can move into a big funky house together.

More planned activities with family. Rob and Westley (and Ivy!) and I have so much fun together when we map out our days in advance. It doesn't have to be elaborate (homemade sushi and a park trip, followed by living room dance party, for example), or even terribly specific. But coming up with a rough idea the night before means more relaxing and less bickering when we're all together.

Get down on the floor. Not in the hip-hop sense. I need all the strength and flexibility I can get, so I'm adding some "full body presses" to my day each day. Yesterday I nursed Ivy while sitting on the floor (propped up with about a half-dozen pillows) instead of in the glider and it was not bad—while also demonstrating to me that I need to spend a bunch more time on the floor!

Curb spending...but splurge where it counts. It's not always easy to choose quality over quantity when there are cheap treats and quick fixes everywhere, but this is the financial balance I'm always working towards. I feel especially committed to it now with a new family member. If we save money (or spend nothing) on things that don't matter much, we can invest in things that really do!

* * *
Oh, and one more thing...


Love on these three every day.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dailies 9/20


An 87-year-old woman (she told me her age—I'm not psychic) stopped me in the supermarket this week to impart that classic great-grandmother wisdom: "Enjoy this time."

She beamed at Ivy, who was strapped to my chest in the Ergo and trying desperately to stay awake and soak up the world around her. After telling me about her own children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, she added, "Babies are our saints on Earth."

First Day

Preschool started up again on Monday, and I couldn't be happier. Westley is pleased too. He was delighted to see his classmates from last year, and he's already hit it off with a new friend who just started preschool this year. And his teacher is awesome. The whole schedule is like a big breath of fresh normalcy.

I was worried about getting two kids and myself out the door four afternoons a week, but it's not too bad if we plan ahead. Waaay ahead, but whatever. It's kind of liberating (in a nerdy way) to pick out my clothes the night before.

That's right, my clothes. My biggest and very shallow worry was that I would end up dropping Westley off at preschool in my pajamas. Which might not be such a big deal except that there is no real "drop off." Parents escort their preschoolers to and from the building, a.k.a. everyone will know that I'm a total slob.

Balance ball.
Pump it Up
Pump it Up

Every time I looked at Westley this week, he seemed so much bigger and more capable. Sometimes, for a minute or two, I'd even mistake him for a mini adult. I have to remind myself often that Westley is only four. Coming up on five, yes, but still only four. And four years old isn't very old at all. Four years isn't as new as five weeks, but it's is still pretty brand new in the grand scheme of things.


Ivy's new development this week? Talking. Not words, obviously (although Westley is convinced that she's said "yeah"), but all manner of noises. She coos. She roars. When she cries, which is mostly in the car because she HATES the car, she saves up air and lets out a waaaaahhh that goes on longer than I can hold my breath. It's distressing, especially when we're speeding down the freeway. At night, she snorts and snores and makes kitten and piglet noises in the dark. After she sneezes, she says, "Aaa-oooh," thank goodness THAT'S out!

Rocking Chair Girls
Hello, Ivy!

All the time I spend with Ivy on my body has begun to take its toll on my back. I'm starting to feel the pain that flared up for the first time after Westley was born. I'm certainly not going to stop cuddling Ivy, but without restful sleep during the night, I know I'm not recuperating from the day's constant holding, nursing, and Ergo-wearing. I'm trying to be mindful of my posture, and I'm experimenting with different nursing positions, wearing my Earth shoes when shoes are required, and squatting instead of bending over—but I worry that it's not going to be enough.

* * *

I've lived in the Seattle area for over seven years now, but I always forget the summer pattern. Summer here isn't June, July and August; it's July, August, and September, with September often being the summeriest of all. It's cool in the morning, so I bundle up the baby, put on Fall boots, and plan soup for dinner. Then a few hours go by and it's sweltering. It's a meteorological practical joke.

Fall might be around the corner, but we're still picking blackberries. I'm enjoying this time.



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Let's sing all the songs we know about babies.

For Rob and me, everything is a song cue. This only got worse after Westley was born, and we started injecting his name into whatever lyric sprang to mind. My favorite was a version of the theme song for The Muppet Show that went, "It's time to play the Westley, it's time to West the lights / It's time to meet Westley on The Westley Show tonight (bum bum bum bum)..." It was very surreal. In our new-baby haze, this kind of thing had us in hysterics.

After we settled on Ivy's name, I wondered what songs it might show up in. I couldn't come up with anything while I was pregnant, but that's just as well. These things seem to work best (and have the greatest comedy potential) when they happen organically, usually while singing to the baby in question.

I sing to Ivy all the time. But in five weeks, I have yet to hit upon the song. Ivy Mathilda fits neatly into "Baby Beluga," but that song, as Westley would say, is "already taken." We turned that Raffi favorite into "Baby Burrito" while swaddling Westley. ("Baby burrito please make one for me / Pinto beans and vegan cheese / Salsa and rice and avocado / And a little boy ready to go.")

So far, the only other song I've thought of with the right rhythm is "Hava Nagila."


Sunday, September 16, 2012

One Month

One Month

As of Friday afternoon, Miss Ivy Mathilda is one month old. She looks bigger and sturdier every day. More infant and less newborn. Her hair is still the mouse brown fuzz she was born with, and every now and then I catch a hint of a curl in it. Her eyes are either dark gray-blue or navy-brown.

Angel Onesie

Maybe I should have known it would happen when I named her after a climbing plant, but Ivy clings to be for dear life. She protests when I put her down, squawking with a ferocity I don't remember Westley having at this age, but maybe I've just forgotten. Ivy is intense. (And a little high maintenance.) Her favorite place is on my body.

She cries real tears now, and they collect in her tiny eyelashes. It's heartbreaking.

Over the past week, Ivy has moved away from having long stretches of sleep at night and started waking up every hour to feed (and party). Most nights the point comes when I think, I can't do this anymore. I start to believe that I will never sleep again and neither will Ivy. And then morning comes, and there's sunlight coming through the broken blinds, and Ivy is roaring for milk, and everything seems fine. Wonderful, even.

One Month
Happy first month, little love.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dailies 9/12


Rob and I went on our first post-baby date last week. It was a beautiful sunny day (like today) and Mt. Rainier just barely came out to greet us. We took Ivy with us to Cafe Flora, where it turned out to be babywearing day. I saw at least five other babes in carriers while we were there. I ate a delicious but dinky salad and was hungry again almost immediately. Ivy slept the entire time, and Rob, like the seasoned front-pack-wearer he is, managed not to drop any food on her.


Westley starts preschool again next week. I'm both thankful for and overwhelmed by the impending structure. In the meantime, I'm trying to squeeze in as much close-to-home fun as possible. Thank goodness for the back yard. I used to think unkind thoughts about that space and its leafy, weedy chaos. Now I regularly write love letters to the back yard. The chaos is perfect for a high-energy preschooler.

Earlier this summer, Westley discovered that the thorny vines in our back yard—which I had been cursing for not having the decency to produce anything beautiful or edible—do, in fact, grow blackberries. A few days ago, he reported that there were blackberries ready to be picked! After examining the plants again, it occurred to me that the giant, brambly mass by the side of the road not even half a block from our house might also be producing blackberries. Sure enough, Westley ended up picking over a pound of fruit—not counting the berries he put directly into his mouth.


I took my first solo trip out of the house with two children last Thursday. We went to the library. It was so not a big deal, but it made me feel AWESOME. We left the house, and everything was great! High-five, self!

Also rad is the jack-o'-lantern already hanging out (and, less awesome, rotting) on our porch. Pumpkins showed up at the fruit market this week, and Westley just had to have one to carve.


I want to hang onto the summer as long as possible, but I can't blame Westley for wanting to spread a little early Halloween cheer. Pumpkin-carving is one of my favorite things ever. And it was nice to say yes to Westley about something after having to say no (and "wait" and "not right now") so many times in the past few weeks. This is also how he ended up with a DVD of The Sword in the Stone, and a chocolate Mighty O donut for breakfast. I feel like I have to squeeze in little fun things and treats for him wherever I can, especially now that long Mommy-Westley excursions won't be an option for a while.


It's cliche to say "this too shall pass" but reminding myself that all of this is temporary makes the difficult parts feel less oppressive and the sweet parts so much sweeter. I won't always be nursing around the clock, and I won't always have a brand new baby to cuddle. Westley won't always be so challenging, and he won't always be so delighted by something as simple as blackberry picking. We'll be a family of four for a long time, but our time as a new family of four is only for now.

So very temporary.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

One-handed Writing

I still haven't mastered the art of typing while nursing. When I think of something I want to write down, it's often long forgotten by the time the keyboard is within reach. I now have a better understanding of the appeal of the small, portable iDevice. And texting. I would text like crazy if I had a device that texted—especially if I could do it one-handed.

(Wow. "Text" as a verb still looks wrong to me. Which probably means I should be telling you kids to get off my lawn.)

Ivy continues to be a good sleeper and a good eater. (It's a dangerous combination that makes me feel VERY pro-baby, to the point that I start to imagine having six more kids and my own reality series). However, the bulk of her sleeping and eating is done in my arms, making it hard to do anything else.

If I ever want to write anything substantial ever again, I need to master typing with one hand. Or else figure out how to transfer my sleeping baby to the Ergo without waking her up...therein reminding her that she'd rather be nursing.