Sunday, May 31, 2015

Ten Weeks

I love her squishy arms! And her ?blue eyes. And her general squeezable-ness.

I had a little scare last week where it looked like I might have to go back to work sooner than expected and boy, did it put enjoying-maternity-leave into perspective. It also lit a fire under my ass to get more things done. Luckily the snafu got sorted out and I don't return to work until June 24, as planned. And that's only for a week. And then I have the summer off. Phew.

But I'm still being very productive. And it's unbelievable to me how focused I'm being, at least a lot of the time, and yet I still have so much to do. Getting things done feels like a full time job.

The big news around here is that Amelie has learned to bring her hands to her mouth. Pretty thrilling. She also noticed her feet the other day while sitting in her car seat. It was pretty amusing to watch her watching her feet fly around.

The dropping of the dream feed is going well. Now I'm just trying to move that last nighttime feeding later. Two nights ago it was 4:30 am. Last night we made it to 6 am! This is much easier than I remember with Calliope, where I was mucking about with decreasing her feeding by a half an ounce (or thirty seconds of nursing) every third night, which was really stressful. With Amelie, I just stick the pacifier back in (she's in a Rock n Pl.ay pulled up right next to my bed) and roll over and fall back asleep. It's astounding to me that she goes along with this.

The only potential wrinkle is that I worry about my milk supply. Two of my friends had supply issues when they tried this schedule. And I sometimes feel like my breasts aren't that full. So I've been pumping once before I go to bed. With Calliope, I pumped mid-morning but my schedule is too chaotic with two kids to pull this off. So I can offer a bottle after nursing when my boobs weren't feeling full at the beginning of a feeding, but so far, Amelie rarely takes much, if anything, from the bottle.

Things with Calliope are mostly really great. She seems to be transitioning into that cooperative, agreeable four year old I've heard about. She continues to be very loving with Amelie, and has become much more responsive to my requests.

Sometimes she's really scared of a hole in the paint in her wall recently, though, which cracks me up. No pun intended.

She saw my dad's gravestone when we went for the unveiling of my mom's gravestone last weekend. She's been talking about him, now, saying, "I miss my grammy and my father. They died." She did this in playschool this week and I got raised eyebrows and silence from the teacher as she looked to me for my response... I interrupted quickly and said, "you mean your Grammy and your grandfather." I don't want people thinking I let Calliope believe her father died.

It's a little amusing to me, though, since my dad died well before Calliope was born. But it's nice to think that she wants to think of him as a part of her family, too.

The unveiling was... well, good and hard, both. I was really sad. I miss my mom a lot. But I got a chance to speak about how I miss her mostly as the grandmother to my children. And just getting to express that, and to cry -- something I almost never do -- felt really cathartic and healing. I feel a lot less sad now.

And kneeling before my parents' graves, Calliope's hand in mine, as we placed pebbles on their gravestones... I felt their presence. I'm not really a spiritual person but I could sense them, sense their unwavering love and support and pride. It was like I got a glimpse of their best selves, the parents and grandparents they strived to be, seeing me and us with great affection from beyond. It felt really good. And like I got a sense of closure.

I had really wavered about going at all, and then about bringing Calliope, but I'm so glad I did. Amelie cried through most of it, and struggling with a bottle and then trying to nurse her wasn't ideal, but it was really great to have Calliope there.

Amelie with my mom's best friend, who I am hoping may become an honorary grandma

Behind them you can see my brother's last Mother's Day gift to my mom -- photos from my 
brother's wedding, just seven weeks before my mother's death, including one of my mother
walking my brother down the aisle. 
My brother is wearing the tallis (prayer shawl) that my grandfather received at his bar mitzvah,

Showing off her cooing, her smiles AND her fancy hand-to-mouth skills. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Seven Week Photo Shoot

Our wonderful photographer, Jodi Gibson, graciously offered to do another photo shoot for us after the first one was so challenging.

I'm so glad I will never have to do another newborn photo shoot again. There are many aspects of not having another baby that I am already mourning but that is not one of them.

We met Jodi in Prospect Park, bringing along our nanny and Calliope's best friend, Eleanor, to join in the shoot. Thank goodness this one went much better!

This girl is delicious too!

Newborn Photo Shoot

A few great shots from our newborn photo shoot with Jodi Gibson.

Nine Weeks

Nine and a half weeks of delicious

Amelie and I are sitting in a coffee shop this morning. I still have so many little niggling items on the To Do List and I thought a change of scenery might help.

So many thoughts, so little time.

I'm officially smitten with Amelie. She's so sweet and kissable. I remember, now, in Calliope's infancy finally understanding the phrase, "I could eat you up!" There's something about those silky dimpled arms and legs that makes me feel like I could never kiss her enough.

I'm already mourning the end of maternity leave. Even though it's (hopefully) still a month away. And then I'm only working for five days, spread over two weeks, before I have the two summer months off. Calliope will be in daycamp for a few of those weeks but it still feels like it will be different. Less indulgent, more real life.

Amelie is smiling more frequently, and those smiles... yes, delicious. Nothing like a gummy toothless smile.

Yesterday she intentionally brought her fist to her mouth for the first time. And she's enjoying kicking her pudgy little legs more and more.

Her hair is definitely growing into a more appreciable fuzz. It's a little shocking to me since Calliope's hair didn't grow for months and months. Luckily the cradle crap hasn't spread from her eyebrows to her scalp, and even her eyebrows are looking much better.

I've been afraid to jinx myself by talking about her schedule but I think I'm ready: sometime around seven weeks, she successfully adapted to eating every three hours, and immediately started having a seven hour stretch between feedings at night. I was still doing a dream feed at bedtime and the early morning feeding started getting later and later. Now she's eating every four hours during the day and as of last night, no dream feed. So she nursed at 8, 12, 4, and 8... and then 4 am. Not bad for nine weeks! Now if only I would go to bed earlier myself. But I feel so relatively well rested it's hard to be disciplined.

She's also taking lovely long naps: generally she's up for an hour and then sleeps, with brief wake ups for the pacifier or just to look around, in between. I know this is bound to change soon but for now, it's great. Not that I don't love spending time with her while she's awake. But it's reassuring to be able to get things done. I do feel a little guilty about how focused I am on my project list.

The only drawback is I was a little surprised that Amelie didn't gain more weight at her last doctor's appointment. If the midwife's scale is correct, she had gained nine ounces in fourteen days. Which is still well within the healthy range of a half ounce to once ounce per day, just a slower gain than she had previously. Of course, Calliope's weight gain slowed down similarly, just a little later and a little higher. But Calliope was a bit taller. And glancing back at my blog from 2011, looked thinner. So probably it's not surprising that she weighed a half pound more at two months. Nine and a half pounds just seems low for two months. But I look at her and she certainly appears to be thriving. She's got nice pudge on her arms and legs, and a sweet little round belly. She's getting stronger and more developed by the day. And she's never crying from hunger. So I shouldn't worry, right?

Two months of sisterhood

Two months

Trying out the hand me down baby wrap again. 

Sweet snuggles

Tummy time at nine weeks. I love the wrist creases.

Versus tummy time at eight weeks

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Visits to My Favorite Medical Providers

Visiting our beloved midwife, Chris. Amelie doesn't look impressed but I think she's amazing.

Going back to visit my fabulous reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Trivax. 

I asked Dr. Trivax if he'd had any more kids since the last time I saw him. He shrugged and 
said, "I don't think so." Pause. "Well, how many did I have the last time I saw you?"
He grinned sheepishly. "I have five now." 

I told Calliope that Dr. Trivax has five kids, and she was fascinated.
Then she saw this photo and asked, "Are those his five kids?"
I think his staff should be flattered!
(Never mind that Calliope isn't so good with counting, and there's only four people in the photo besides Dr. Trivax.)
The delightful Amelie on a visit to our fabulous pediatrician.
The one who is an hour away. Because I just don't trust the one in our neighborhood. 
She doesn't meet my most basic requirement: all my medical providers must be smarter than me.
Amelie is 21.75" (20%) and 9 lb 7.6 oz (10%). Oh, and her hair is filling in. And her
eyelashes are suddenly full and long.
Her eyebrows don't look as good, thanks to seborrhea, aka cradle cap. 
Cradle cap of the eyebrows -- gross!
Dr. Rita said that although Amelie dropped from 20% to 10% over the last five weeks, her
overall gain was good, a pound and a half, so she's not worried. But she encouraged me to
come back in a month if I have any concerns about her weight.
In this photo, Amelie is blissfully unaware the terrible fate that awaits her: vaccines.
Let's just say we had a rough afternoon. She woke up from her late afternoon nap screaming in
pain. Poor bug. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Week Eight: Feeling Triumphant

When did my three year old get so tall?

There's a baby hidden inside that black fabric. With a blanket draped over her for good measure.
Well, at least I was feeling triumphant at the end of last week. I'm a little more battered by the end of the weekend.

This was the week I feel like I got my life back. The night that Amelie turned seven weeks, she made a huge transition in her sleep patterns and is mostly only waking up once during the night. Well, she's only feeding once during the night. She wakes up a bunch of other times but will go back to sleep if I stick the pacifier back in her mouth. Luckily she's sleeping in a RNP which is pulled up right next to my bed. So I only have to wake up for a moment. So it's not the highest quality sleep, perhaps, but it sure beats getting all the way up.

It seemed like, after getting Amelie on a three hour feeding schedule, she was naturally transitioning herself to a four hour feeding schedule. She was (is) taking much longer, deeper naps. Which is great. Not only because it allows me time to get things done but also, I'm a huge believer in the power of sleep. And that so many children aren't getting enough high quality sleep. So I feel like I'm doing a good job as a parent when she sleeps a lot. Whether justified or not. Mostly she's awake for 45-60 minutes then sleeps for three hours, though the sleep is usually broken up by brief wakings to look for the pacifier. Occasionally she even gets up for 10-15 minutes then goes back to sleep.

But these last couple of days, she's been eating more often again. So I'm trying to just go with it, and trust that she will lengthen out again when she's ready. I'm guessing she's not quite ten pounds yet -- I will find out on Tuesday at her two month well baby visit -- so maybe she's just not quite ready yet.

She also seems much easier, overall. She nearly always puts herself to sleep now. She's suddenly able, just these last two days, to sleep long stretches in the Baby K'Tan -- she will even let me sit down and eat a meal while she sleeps against me. Honestly, she rarely cries. Well, when I'm nursing her and she starts bobbing on and off midway through, I take her off to burp her and then she bursts into the funniest little rage filled cries -- they make me laugh every time. Luckily they only last a few seconds.

In the meantime, this was the week I seized control of my life again. I spent most of the week inside, hammering away at my to do list. Although it was nothing like fun, I feel so relieved to be (mostly) caught again. I was really stressed before, which contributed to my feelings of sadness the previous week, I think -- life just felt so overwhelming. And I'm hoping to be able to do more fun maternity leave adventures now that I'm mostly caught up.

Amelie is getting cuter (and heavier!) by the day, and I'm definitely smitten now.

Calliope is also doing great. I've seen a lot less refusing to cooperate (mainly in the form of running and hiding and acting silly), which is a great relief. Like me, she's smitten with Amelie. Last night, I went out for the first time without either kid, so I asked Calliope to help Amelie be brave. Calliope dutifully held Amelie's hand while meeting the babysitter.

And tonight the girls took their first bath together -- a big thrill for all concerned.

Calliope has become quite the storyteller. Often they are nonsensical and follow no plot line. But tonight she was telling me about her (imaginary) somersault class. Which is on Ocean Parkway. She takes the F train to get there. Her teacher's name is Nuba, and she has friends, Nuka and Nuga and especially, Nakasha. Nakasha is three, just like Calliope. Or maybe four.

Yesterday we ran into our neighbor, Leslie. Leslie is a grandfather to several young children, and he's always warm and friendly to us. As we said goodbye to him and unlocked our apartment door, Calliope remarked, "I love him. If he wasn't our family (???), we could marry him." I didn't mention that his wife might have a problem with that, just agreed.

Next weekend is the unveiling of my mother's gravestone. After much debating, I've decided to bring Calliope alone. She still talks about my mom a lot, and is fascinated by death. When I described the unveiling to her, she asked, "And then will Grammy be undead?"

We also went to Coney Island again.

And we we went to see my wonderful midwife, Chris, again. I felt entirely different this week versus last -- positive and upbeat and energetic. And she was lovely and welcoming. I'm so glad we were able to go back. She told me I could keep in touch and "once your midwife, always your midwife" and I would, truly, love to continue to have some kind of relationship with her but I have no idea what that would look like. I think I would always be afraid of imposing and asking for too much, somehow. Any ideas?

Communicating with her home planet

Being eight weeks old is exhausting.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Seven Weeks

My serious little baby!
My nanny's friend stole her out of my arms to coo over her and say adoringly, "Mira a la carita
gordita!" -- "look at that fat little face!"  Girlfriend does have some round cheeks! (And a
touch of cradle cap in her eyebrows, poor thing.)

The details are slipping away so fast, but it's so hard to find a few minutes to sit down and type.

The big news here is that Amelie, the genius, has suddenly figured out how to go six or seven hours at night without a feeding! She just made the jump from 3-4 hours to 6-7 overnight, on the eve of her seven week "birthday."

What a difference! I was already falling for her but now I am pretty well smitten. Sometimes I don't even want to share her cuddly little body when I have the chance. And while I'm hugely grateful for the fact that she mostly puts herself to sleep -- I just plunk her down in the RNP, tightly swaddled, and stick the pacifier in her mouth, turn on the white noise and walk away -- sometimes it's too delicious to cuddle her to sleep. Mostly I reserve that for when we are out and I can't be getting something done.

The sadness from last week has disappeared. Perhaps the placenta pills are helping. Certainly sleep is helping.

Mother's Day, which I was so nervous about, ended up being no big deal, emotionally. We had brunch with some SMC friends, which was great. My SMC friend Talia and I had a date to be mopey together at this brunch (Mother's Day would have been her dad's birthday) but we were too busy to remember.

Calliope, unfortunately, has had a rough week -- tomorrow will be seven days of some kind of diarrhea bug. We are headed to the doctor tomorrow for testing to make sure it's nothing serious. She's been very brave about the whole thing. Luckily she seems to feel fine in between trips to the bathroom, and they mostly seem to happen before breakfast and after dinner... even though she often didn't eat anything at said meals.

Collecting stool samples has been funny in that you-have-to-have-kids-to-appreciate-this kind of way. She's going to the bathroom so frequently that there's barely any, um, output. So we are collecting multiple times. Luckily I had supplies to collect with, leftover from when I was supposed to do the same sort of testing during my pregnancy. Anyway, Calliope is very interested in the collecting and said, "I'm so very proud of myself!" because she managed to produce into the little collection "hat." Then she watched jealously as I scraped the tiny contents into a baby food jar. She was disappointed that she wasn't allowed to help. But asked very politely, "Mommy, can I please be the one to carry the poop to the doctor's office?"

Sure thing, honey!

I can't stand how much I love that look of adoration! First smile at Calliope. 

So proud to hold "her" baby

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Very Late Part Two to my Six Week Update

Other things I wanted to remember: DIY breakfasts. I've started preparing Calliope's breakfast the night before, and leaving it in the fridge for her to get out. I'm paranoid about choking hazards so she only gets a sippy cup of milk, sliced berries, and bites of cheese to dip in a tiny bowl of honey -- her favorite. She's thrilled with this new step towards independence, and it buys me a little more sleep. Especially coupled with her "okay to wake" clock which lets her know when it's okay to get out of bed. Unfortunately, she often likes to come get in bed with me once she's done eating. And there's generally a lot of squirming going on. So not a lot of sleep for me. But still, it's a little more sleep.

Also, Amelie seems to have a strange early separation anxiety. But in the last week, I've discovered that she will sometimes go to sleep in her bouncy seat or RnP if she can merely see me. So I plunk her down and quietly go about my business, carefully ignoring eye contact and... voila! She goes to sleep!

She's also made a sudden transition to mostly putting herself to sleep! No more hour plus visits to the exhaust fan in the kitchen to bounce and sway! At worst, I hold her for a few minutes and jiggle her. But often I can put her down awake. This means a lot more free time during the day, and sleep at night. And an amazing feeling of freedom.

Saying Goodbye to My Midwife

Today was my final postpartum visit with my midwife. It was hard to say goodbye. She's been so great, and also, the closest thing to a maternal presence in my life. The only person I've really let down my guard to. Really, the only person I've allowed myself to cry to in recent months.

She was so great, even emailed me, "once your midwife, always your midwife." Said I could call if I need to talk. That made me cry, too.

Am I so sad because I'm projecting my dead mother grief onto her, or is it grieving the end of the magical (mostly) pregnancy journey, or only just because she's so fabulous, coupled with fatigue and new mother hormones?

Hard to say. I just realized I never got a photo with her. I'm going to have to ask to go back for that.

In other news, I gained back six pounds. Only two pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight. I'm expecting that I will keep gaining for a while. Despite working out since four and a half weeks postpartum. I could certainly eat better but still, not what I hoped for.

Amelie gained almost another pound in the last two weeks. At first we thought she was now 8 lb 9 oz and I was slightly despondent that she had only gained a half a pound in two weeks... worrying that I was starving my baby in my rush to get her on a schedule. And I was being given all sorts of pointers in how to get her to stay at the breast longer, since she's a speed eater and generally finishes in about six minutes. Just like her sister did. But finally I asked my midwife to double check the scale, and it turns out she was 8.9 pounds, as in, almost nine pounds (8 lb 14.4 oz, to be precise). So she gained 13 ounces in fourteen days, which is excellent. She's kind of an overachiever. Apprxomately the same weight as her sister at this age, only shorter. She's got some sweet little rolls on her tiny inner thighs.