And not in a bad way!
First, I’ve got a guest post, “What I’d Wear Wednesday: Blue” over at Growing a Life. Check it out, and check out the WIWW archives for more great columns. Also, if you’re expecting or know someone who is (like Damselfly herself!), point them towards her Bustin’ Out Babies list.
Second, I took out Maia’s playsilks for the first time yesterday. Here she is enjoying the blue one:
Motherhood is so unpredictable, and rewarding, and frustrating. If I could go back to my pregnant self and tell her one thing, it’d be to talk to my husband more about our parenting style. Oh, we talked about it vaguely: “”You’ll help me out, right?” “Of course! I want to be involved in our daughter’s life.” But that doesn’t even brush the surface of the number of parenting decisions we have to make each day.
The biggest one we should have talked about: “cry it out” or not? I say not. I say that an infant has no concept of how to manipulate people; if she’s crying and we pick her up and soothe her, we’re fulfilling her basic, primal need for love and social interaction. Sure, this results in me carrying her around the house a lot, but to me, it’s a hell of a lot better than listening to her cry. I can’t even fathom how I could decide “I’m tired of taking care of my baby” and go put the baby in another room, close the door, and go about my daily life without her. It’s just not who I am. Yes, there have been times when she’s been crying so long and loud that all I want is for her to shut the hell up and go to sleep, but I also feel like, as her mother, it’s my responsibility to at least let her know that she’s being heard, and I’m not going to abandon her just because she’s upset. I know it works for some people, and that’s fine, that’s their thing. I know not everyone can handle listening to a baby cry. I know it can pierce your brain and make you think of doing things that you’d never actually do. And I know that in an apartment, where there’s not a lot of space and you can’t really have a quiet area to “escape” to for a break from the crying, it can be even worse. But this is something we should have talked about and hashed out a lot more, because it’s lead to some resentment on both of our parts.
Another big thing to talk about: co-sleeping. I’m okay with Maia not being in bed with us all night; it wasn’t something that I’d planned on doing anyhow, and when Chris and I discussed how having her in the bed was impacting our sleep (which was already impacted enough with the sheer fact that we have a newborn), I was alright with compromising and putting her in the bassinet for most of the night. I still am. And I still pull her into bed whenever she wakes up for the first time after 5am, so when I wake up for the day, she’s right there. I like to sleep with a comforter on no matter what the temperature is, and I like my comforter all the way up around my neck, so it can be a little scary for me because I worry about accidentally covering her with it. But honestly, waking up and having her right there is so, so perfect. I wonder what we’re going to do when she outgrows the bassinet (and at the rate she’s growing, it’s going to be sooner than expected). I hate the idea of her sleeping in another room. Maybe I’ll live in the nursery until she is sleeping through the night or only waking for one nighttime feeding.
Which leads me to a third thing: nighttime feedings. On weeks when Chris is off work, since we’re all in the same room together, I just feed her while sitting up next to him, but I feel kind of funny if she goes into loud suck mode because it could be disturbing his sleep. There’s been at least one time where he’s gotten up out of bed and went into the nursery to sleep because she was just too damned slurpy. Now, I’ve also pumped a few times and stored some milk in the freezer, but how on earth anyone feeds their baby that way is beyond me. By the time the milk has warmed to the proper temperature (even if it’s just been in the fridge), Maia’s so wound up about the fact that she isn’t being fed that there is no way she’ll take the bottle. I have to put her on my breast, let her calm down, then de-latch her and give her the bottle. And frankly, if she’s already nursing, I don’t really see a reason to de-latch, but then the milk in the bottle is being wasted (everything I’ve read suggests NOT reheating milk more than twice). But when I leave her with family to be watched, I have to leave a bottle; are they supposed to randomly heat it and try to feed her? She feeds on-demand.
Then there are the little decisions: how often to bathe her? who bathes her? how often to change her onesie? should she be wearing long sleeves or short? what about pants? socks? how full do we let the baby laundry get before we do it? do you powder her rump every time you change her or just randomly? should we hold her over our shoulder or in front of our chests? when she falls asleep being carried, do we set her in the swing, on the couch, in the crib, in the bassinet, or just continue to hold her? do we swaddle her? do we put a blanket over her? do we turn on the music on the swing? will she stay calm enough for me to do some dishes if I put her in her bouncy chair? should I turn on the music and lights display on the bouncy chair right away, or save it for when she gets a little fussy in the hopes that it’ll calm her down?
Gahhh. Ten thousand questions, and you can never have one set answer to them, you have to adapt on the spot. It’s exhausting!
Oh shit, the first sign of pending mobility:
This is a skill she likes to demonstrate at every opportunity! Too funny.
She totally loves the bath. She’s getting better about not throwing a fit as soon as we take her out, too!
I so love having a little girl. I get to dress her up whenever I want! For a little while, she was wearing little knee-high white socks and some pink shoes… I didn’t get a picture of it though. Maybe I should get her dressed in it again another time, before she outgrows the dress. Hmm.
Anyhow! Last Friday was our first Easter dinner, with Chris’ mother’s side of the family — sort of. More like his aunt-by-marriage’s side, which meant a ton of people we didn’t know, and maybe ten that we did. Ten may sound like a decent amount, but when you consider that there were THIRTY PEOPLE there, it’s not really. And with that many people, Maia was pretty overwhelmed. She definitely had a rough time for the first few hours we were there and I felt horrible; she was crying, didn’t want anyone but me or Chris holding her, screaming whenever someone would get in her face and try to make her happy (what is with that, btw? if you were upset and scared, would you REALLY want a stranger getting in your space, making faces and being loud?). After dinner — which of course I spent in a separate room with her, nursing, and no one thought to bring me my dinner plate, which just sat at the end of the table getting cold (and someone stole my bread off it!) — she calmed down a bit. And in fact, she let other people hold her! One lady that I’m not particularly fond of, the mother of those two boys from Thanksgiving, actually held Maia for a long while, bouncing and walking around the house with her. It was surprising, but awesome.
When we went to leave, Maia was actually good when we set her in her carseat. Usually she’s pissy in the carseat but happy once we get into the car. People crowded around and cooed at her, and she let them see her BIG, dimpled smile.
So then when we got into the car… she was okay, wide-awake though. She stayed awake, watching the shadows play over the roof of the car, looking out of the back window at the streetlights. Of course, this couldn’t last; I was waiting on her to fall asleep, but she decided to start crying instead. I tried a few different things to shush her, but no dice. Eventually we had to pull off the highway so I could feed her. Why she was hungry again after having just been nursed before we left the party is beyond me, but whatever, it worked out.
So Sunday, we were heading to Easter with Chris’ father’s side of the family. The house was literally 15 minutes down the highway. Again, Maia was fed before being put in her carseat, and she was happy; again, she started wailing when we got on the highway, where we encountered massive traffic. Stop-and-go driving does not make my baby very happy. Eventually Chris put his fingertip in her mouth and she suckled on it long enough for us to get to the house, which was kinda nice.
This gathering was MUCH smaller — there were 10 people altogether. One of Chris’ cousins, who has been a nanny before, totally loved Maia and took her out of our hands for most of the night. This was great… I actually got to eat a warm dinner! AT A TABLE!
But guess what happened when we left? Yep, the baby started to scream again as we encountered traffic … on the highway… at 10pm on a Sunday night. If we managed to go 10mph, it was a triumph. Seriously? We’re 15 minutes down the road on a normal day. I managed to quiet her down a little with a rattle, but mostly I just tried to hold her hand as Chris pulled off the highway and zoomed down back streets.
I’m not liking this whole “happy in the carseat, pissed in the car” thing. Especially with the prospect of our trip out to Connecticut in another two weeks!
If Maia had a rocket booster attached to her rump and was prepping for lift-off, this is how she’d look:
When we go to Connecticut in May, I’ll be having a baby shower with that side of the family. So last night I headed up to the Hallmark store and picked up these super cute invitations!
The scalloping along the bottom is where you open the card, so the blue with polka dots is actually the inside of the card, and the rest of it is the same blue colour. Love them!
Today you turn two months old and, just like last month, I’m stuck between amazement at how time has flown by and disbelief that it’s only been that long. This morning as we laid in bed together, I rested my hand on my stomach and remembered being pregnant, feeling you kicking and pushing — but I couldn’t think of what it was that I did all day without you around. Then I tried to remember life before the pregnancy, and it came to me in bits and pieces: a vacation to Florida, a trip to Connecticut, taking pictures with Daddy in Montreal, or bringing home the puppies. These memories seemed more like remnants of a dream than anything that ever happened to me, as if I only drew breath when you did.
Despite our love for you, there’s no denying that this month has been difficult. You’ve grown more aware and responsive, but at the same time, you’re very demanding. I’m surprised there’s not a path worn in our flooring from how many hours Daddy and I have spent carrying you back and forth around the apartment, shushing you, trying to make you happy. There was one night where you cried for four hours straight — and of course this was quite late, when Daddy had to work the next day. But you know what? As soon as he came out to help us, you fell asleep in his arms.
This month, you two have become something like best friends. We joke that you’re Queen Maia, he’s Prince Daddy, and I’m Mommy the Milkmaid. There have literally been times when you two are together, I’ve walked over to say hello, you’ve taken one look at me, and started to wail. Fortunately, I have a sense of humour about this, or else you might just hurt my feelings. Although that said, he did scare you the other day. He was raising you up in the air, over his head, and you loved this, so he thought that maybe you’d like to be lowered as well; he pretended to drop you from his waist to his knees and you screamed, this frightened, high-pitched, endless wail. You were terrified. We felt horrible, and Daddy cuddled you close until you calmed down.
If there’s only one memory I could hold on to from this month, it would be seeing you smile for the first time. It was 5am and you decided that was a perfectly good time to wake up for awhile, so we went out into the living room together. I laid you down on the couch and played with you — and then, you beamed. Your mouth opened wide, the corners of it curled up, your dimple appeared, and your eyes wrinkled up with joy. Maia, you could wake me up every hour of the night, as long as you smile at me. I went and woke your Daddy up to let him know, but it took another week before you started smiling at him. Now, every morning, you are in a happy mood and you smile at us while “talking”. It makes starting the day so much easier!
For the last few days, you’ve been trying to laugh. This is hilarious, since it means you draw a big breath and then you squeal or yell, very loudly, while smiling. I know that within the next week or two you’ll start giving us those giggles that you so desperately are trying to find, and of course I’m more than willing to help you, and I’ve probably tickled you more in these few days than I have in the rest of your life.
You’re also “standing” a lot. Sometimes when we’re holding you, you stretch out your legs (we refer to this as “Legs of Steel”) and push off us. We’ll swing you backwards and pull you back up, but that’s not always enough, and you want to be held straight up so you can put all your weight on your feet. Then you straighten your back, hold your head up, and talk to us. You’re only eight weeks old, Maia! Stop trying to grow up so fast.
Every day with you is different from the one before. Sometimes you’ll nap all day, sometimes you’ll be awake for ten hours in a row. Sometimes you are incredibly happy, sometimes you cry no matter what we do. Sometimes you’re interested in us, sometimes you want to look at toys instead. We can’t predict you, and as frustrating as it can be to have to think outside of the box, I love that you expand our horizons. People say they start to think differently when they have a child, and I understand that now. It’s not just that I have to think about how to take care of someone else, or how the world will impact you, but I have to find new ways of looking at situations. I have to try and think like a baby, and that’s difficult with twenty-six years of life experience. But it’s amazing.
We are so in love with you, baby girl. Even when you wear us out.
The other day, I grabbed the breast pump my MIL bought me and decided to disassemble and wash it. I pulled out the directions as to how to clean it, and broke it down into pieces — or at least, I tried to. The handle part is attached to some blue cup thingie, and to get the blue cup thingie detached, you have to turn it counter-clockwise and match up the dot on the blue cup with the centre of the handle.
So I’m trying to do this. And I can’t get the damned thing to turn far enough to get the dot anywhere near the handle, nevermind the centre of the handle. I started cursing at it (Maia was asleep!) and finally just threw it aside to let Chris handle later, before my brain exploded.
When Chris got home, he read the instructions and tried to follow them. He couldn’t get the blue cup thingie to come off, either.
So he paused. He looked at it. He looked at me. He looked at it again. And then he turned it once more, smoothly, and the blue cap came off. “Oh,” he said.
“How did you do that?” I asked.
“I turned it counter-clockwise.”
We had both been turning it clockwise.
We’re fucking GENIUSES in this house.