Tuesday, December 18, 2012

one

This time last year, I was doing this:

I loved being pregnant and spent the last few days of my pregnancy just being. Then all of sudden, this happened:


We spent the first few days and weeks getting to know this strange little thing who had entered our lives. It was hard some days and I remember looking back on those quiet days of my pregnancy with yearning. I wanted to be back in that easy place where I could lay on the couch for hours and sleep and snuggle with the kitty and just be me.

But slowly and surely, this little creature edged her way into our hearts and our very beings. And now I look at that photo of the young pregnant woman on the couch, just on the cusp of a new life, and I just have to chuckle. How much she has learned and grown and changed. How much she's gotten wrong. But how much she's gotten right, too.

Tomorrow, our little girl will turn one. What a wild journey it's been so far. And on to the next!

Brand new

1 month old



Right before 2 month shots!

Almost 3 months old - This was the night before I went back to work

Almost 4 months at my birthday party

Her character started coming out in the spring

Lots of poolyside fun this summer

Beautiful baby at Hannah and Richard's wedding in June

Enjoying the beach with besties in East Hampton


First family trip to Southport, Maine


Papa Daughter time in Boston


Not quite sure about the Steam Punk exhibit at Shelburne Museum


Playing in the leaves at the Farmers' Market

Amelia's dedication on Mount Philo in October


On our traditional hike to get the Christmas tree at Paine's. She was a good sport.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Awake

I woke up this morning after a full night sleep, with my daughter and husband sleeping peacefully next to me. We all got up together and began the day with excitement for the day, for the holidays.

I know there are many who did not sleep last night, because the sorrow in their life is too much to find peace. And for those who by the grace of God were able to sleep last night and were able to remove themselves from reality for just a few hours, for them perhaps the morning is even more difficult because they awake with a new sense of reality and sadness as the shock of their loss wears off.

Meanwhile the rest of us start to move on with our lives again and if we are blessed to live without sorrow, we tend to forget the sorrow of others. I believe that is partly a necessary survival mechanism.

But though we forget about sadness, we should never forget to be grateful.

I am so grateful for the nights when I can fall asleep with my family in a warm and precious and safe cocoon. For being able to wake with a light and joyful heart.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

finding myself again

I know that every new parent must at some point address the pendulum swing of "self" that occurs when the baby arrives. Who is the new "me"? There are new priorities, new challenges, new lessons. And of course, there's the child! Which doesn't leave room for much else.

For me, the soul searching started during the first couple of weeks. Frankly, I was a bit of a mess emotionally and truly thought that the old me was gone forever. I would look at old photos from the honeymoon and start sobbing uncontrollably. Colin was there for me; he was my rock (as much as he could be).

He had a lot of the same fears. I remember him saying to me one night when we tried to sit down for dinner together at the table only to be interrupted by cries from the floor where we had lay down our babe seconds prior, "we're not going to have normal meals together anymore like we used to, are we?"

"Yes, we will," I said. But even I didn't know for sure.

Things got easier though. Baby started sleeping on her own. Now I know: of course we will have normal meals together! And it will be even better when she can join us for dinner.

The pendulum started swinging the other way. Things were good, my confidence was growing.

And then I went back to work. Swoosh.

After the first week, I wondered, "How on earth do people do this? Who is this new me? Will I ever cook a meal again? Is this worth it?" So many questions. So much doubt.

In retrospect, it's funny how much of my anxiety revolved around cooking and the family meal. I think I underestimated how much those two things factor in to my sense of self.

The pendulum has been tick-tocking back and forth ever since. Just as soon as I get a little comfortable.... Swoosh! I find myself asking the same questions, though shaded slightly more with experience each time: "Who am I these days? What do I really want in life? Is it ok that all I want to do is spend time with my family? What about my career? Is that really what I want to be doing? Is it what I should be doing?"

Lately, the pendulum has been stuck in that place. The place of self-doubt. The in-between place. And then, yesterday, I got sick. I haven't really been sick since Amelia was born, which is kind of crazy considering the number of bugs I've been exposed to through daycare.

But here it was: I was achy all over. I had chills. I had a fever. My skin hurt. I told Colin I needed to take a nap. I slept for 4 hours. 4 hours!! That's more straight sleep than I've had in months. I woke up, ate a little, lay in bed, ate some ice cream and then went back to bed. 

That was last night. This morning, I woke up a new person. Swoosh! I felt inspired, productive, playful. Amelia and I had some quiet time together while Col slept in. And then, we went into the kitchen and I started cooking. Amelia banged on the pots and pans in the corner while I prepped. I cooked dinner for tonight. I made a stew for Amelia's lunch. I made a quiche, crust and all!

At one point, Col walked into the kitchen and said, "I know that if you could do this all day, every weekend, you'd be really happy."

I replied, "yes, I'm really happy right now." This is what I want to be doing. He knows me better than I know myself. This much is for sure: I found a little piece of myself in the kitchen today and it feels good.

In other baby news:
Amelia turned 9 months last week
She is crawling
She is eating lots of different foods (though she may be allergic to eggs, which is very sad and means she can't try my amazing aforementioned quiche)
Her favorite foods are: roasted sweet potato, quinoa with curry & zucchini, peas with basil, pears, peaches, fresh date puree, eggs with scallions (until she broke out in hives)
She does not love: polenta, baby cereal
Still no teeth, but lots of energy and excitement
She loves music, she danced with me to Etta James today
She still sleeps in bed with us for the second half of the night
She still nurses at least twice a night and I'm fine with that

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The best kind of parenting

I slept in this morning 2 hours past normal waking time (till 8 a.m., people!). Col took Amelia for the first shift. (It's becoming a lovely Sunday morning routine.) I woke up refreshed and feeling mentally clean. Well, as clean as a groggy mind can feel at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning. This statement of freshness did not prevent me from uttering a parenting criticism with the first morning breath.

"You fed her peas for breakfast?!"

"I fed her whatever that green stuff was in the fridge."

"It was peas. Why didn't you feed her fruit or oatmeal or something more breakfast-y?"

"It was the only thing in there." (Note to self: if I really do want to control everything that passes through baby's lips, must. leave. in. plain. sight. in. fridge.)

"Well, did she eat it?"

"Yup, all of it," he said proudly.

"Well, I guess it's ok to give her something savory for breakfast. We eat savory breakfasts sometimes right?" In retrospect I don't know why I cared so much. It's so silly. Why am I such a control freak when it comes to parenting? Is it because I'm the mom? Are all moms like that? Or just first-time moms? Or is it just me? 

Thankfully, I have a husband with pretty thick skin and a sense of humor. He didn't seem to mind my snarkiness.

Which leads me to my next awesome announcement of the morning: after that exchange, I put A down for a nap and went running (in my 5-yr-old running shoes that have been worn a total of maybe 15 times). It felt good. I felt strong. 

I used my run (as I always used to do) for the quiet introspection I've been looking for. It worked. It works every time. I thought about my goals and about my life and about my loves (Col and Meals) and family. I let lots of things go. That felt really good. I focused on breathing. I killed those hills. All of them. I added on an extra loop. I felt that good.

Towards the end of my run, I passed a little scene that humbled me a bit. It was a couple of young women (in their early 20s I'd say) getting in a car with a young child. One of the women looked like she had had way too much fun last night. Her voice was all raspy from too much smoking and partying. 

She yelled out to the boy, laughing, "Hey Ry, do you need some Dunkin' Donuts right now? Cause I definitely need some Dunkin' Donuts right now." He laughed back. I bet he was soooo excited to go to Dunkin' Donuts. And in that moment, I realized that this boy was happy. Even though he was being taken care of by women (mom? sisters? sitters?) who were probably not leading the best life examples, he seemed loved (from the 15 second exchange I witnessed) and he was laughing. Isn't that all that matters?

I thought to myself, "love and laughter—those are the two most important parenting skills." The love part I've got down. The laughter, which Colin always has in spades, I need to work on. Constantly. If only I didn't get so caught up with peas and oatmeal.

As the two women peeled away towards Dunkin' Donuts with the boy in the back-seat, they each flung their arms out the open windows in contentment, lit cigarettes in hand. That bummed me out and snapped me out of my rose-colored view on life.

Ok, so maybe the "love and laughter" thing is a little too simplistic. But minus the cigs and feeding second-hand smoke to a tyke, it was a sweet interaction that taught me a lesson.

And now I need to go apologize to my hubby and tell him I love him. He got Meals to eat her peas at 6 in the morning. How great is that?

Friday, August 17, 2012

multi-tasking is not conducive to the creative process. Or is it?

It's a Friday morning and I'm at home. Not at work, not traveling. Just home. And our little babe is asleep in her crib for a loooonng nap. Kitty is asleep cuddled up next to me. I can't remember the last time I had two minutes to rub together for such a quiet, unadulterated moment. And of course, the minute I realize, "I have MEEE time" I think of a million ways to fill it. So I clean the living room, delete old files off my computer, organize some photos, pay some bills and then I remember that I've been wanting to write more, so I open up my computer AGAIN.

But then I remember I had wanted to check my work email (why, oh why do I do that on my days off?). So I got distracted by that for a while. Then, only then, did I shut everything else down and turn towards my writing.

I remember that when I used to write in my journal, I would spend some time thinking about my day and what I wanted to remember from it—or learn from it. William Wordsworth described this moment as he lay on the couch as a "vacant or pensive mood" in which to be inspired. And so it was, I would seize upon a particular word or image, and then I would just let it flow. That used to be easy for me.

But back then, I was never very good at doing laundry or cleaning house.

Now, when I have one hand holding baby, another feeding the cats, another on my phone checking messages, another hand waving to Col as he gets home from work (and of course that dang work e-mail), and still another hand stirring dinner on the stove and stacking baby bottles in the dishwasher, the concept of quiet introspection seems comical.

And still, the drive to write and to be thoughtful is there.

I will never not want to write. So, maybe for now, when I start to hear whimpers from the nursery and my dang phone is dinging again and the washing machine is buzzing. For now, perhaps my writing needs to be short and sweet and inspired by the very chaos life has become. Perhaps a structured haiku poem to harness that chaos a bit? Yes, a haiku! Hang on, what are the rules for haiku again?

Hang on, let me Google it. Hang on...

Oh yes, haiku is 17 syllables, 3 lines in 5-7-5 pattern. Often about nature. Okay here's my Friday morning meeee time haiku (inspired by one of the loves of my life cozy next to me):

Cat, I love you, purr
Despite bites, blood, ER, pills
I still love you, Cat.


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

homemade baby food for our little gourmande

We were a little slow on the uptake starting Meals on solid foods. She was almost 7 months by the time we got around to it, so we sort of skipped right over the baby cereal and right on to the real stuff. So far, our little baby (and this makes her mama so proud) loves any kind of healthy, delicious food we've thrown her way. Favorites so far include:
  • Fruit compote with peaches, raspberries and banana
  • Baked sweet potato and pears
  • Roasted carrots and broccoli with cumin
  • Sweet pea puree with fresh basil
Mmm, those sweet peas were so good I wanted to eat them myself! I have found that the trick is in the cooking. Roasting the carrots and broccoli brings out their amazing flavor. The sweet potato gets all caramelized when you bake it just a little bit longer. The peas (I use frozen) are only steamed long enough to turn bright green. They they're rinsed in cold water to stop the cooking. We've been having so much fun trying new combos and seeing her reaction. It's making me excited to cook again! And maybe, just maybe, I'll finally hit up the farmers' market this weekend.


Friday, July 20, 2012

solid (wood) foods

So far, we've tried: Pears? Check. Bananas? Check. Hunk of table? Why not!



Thursday, July 19, 2012

Miss Meals, 7 months

7 months & are we still here? Are we still who we thought we were?

Hello? Is anybody there? I'd be surprised if you were. Even I, the writer and keeper of this now-crappy, defunct blog can't be bothered to show up more than once every couple of months. And why would I?

I haven't been berry picking this year. I think I've missed blueberries. I know I missed strawberries. I haven't been to farmer's market. I haven't baked a quiche or made any fancy ice cream. I haven't even replace the tarragon in my garden yet (is it too late?).

But while the babe is napping, I just decided to stop by my blog and see what I happened to write about last time and cringed to discover that all the pictures and features were broken (for who knows how long) and that the last post about Amelia turning 5 months is not much different than the one I was about to write: she's just turned 7 months. How thrilling for you the reader. How original.

Here's the thing: there's nothing more I want to write about than my squirmy, burpy, slurpy baby. I want to write about how, at 7 months, she just started solid foods and absolutely loves her morning pears and banana breast-milk smoothie. She loves her Mama and Papa and when she's sad for some silly reason, all I have to do is pick her up in my arms and give her a little kiss and she smiles. I melt.  I want to shout from the rooftop that OMG that girl is sitting up on her own and gabbing and shrieking and it only was just a year ago she was a blob in my belly. How is that possible?? How can you be a parent and not believe in magic? It's pure magic.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

5-month milestones

Amelia is turning 5 months in a couple of days. It's a super-fun age. She is full of beans all the time and is becoming much more dependent. She's also BIG! We had to switch to size 3 diapers and in the cloth diapers she is wearing the large setting. I cannot believe it. Here's what she's up to these days:

She's very vocal and has been happily shrieking whenever it suits her—even at 4 a.m. sometimes! She zerberts and makes low-pitched lion roars under her breath.

She's gotten really good at grasping things and likes to put everything in her mouth: her thumb, her nuk, her bottle, Mama's hair, her bib, her burp cloth, her sleeve. You name it.

We've been going to yoga together every Sunday. She loves to lay on her belly and watch the other babies and Mamas. She loves to chatter while Susan is trying to teach the class.

She's been rolling over more and more. Once she rolled from back to front, but I wasn't looking and so I missed it. She hasn't done it since.

A couple of days ago, she sat in the high chair all by herself. And she's pretty good at sitting in the bumbo seat at school too.

Tonight I nursed her down before bed, but she didn't fall asleep, so I tried putting her in her crib just to see what would happen. I left the room and waited. Nothing. No sounds, no fussing, no chatting. A few minutes later, I went in to check on her and she was asleep! She fell asleep all by herself. That is a first and I'm not getting my hopes up that she will do it again any time soon, but it did make Mama proud.

The most magical thing though is her smile. All you have to do is give her a little glance and her face just lights up. You can't help but melt. Even when you can see her face light up in the dark bedroom at 3:30 in the morning. You want to sleep. She wants to play. You see that smile and it's a-okay.






Monday, April 16, 2012

back in the saddle, but it's a different animal

I've been back at work now for a month. We're all doing okay. It's just a different animal, what with the breast pumping, bottle washing, and child care pickups bookmarking and bookending my days. But just like everything else with a new baby, every day is easier—and harder—than the day before.

Easier, because you're constantly learning and improving and becoming more efficient. Harder, well, because you're raising a child and working full time and somewhere in between you have a relationship to nurture and a life to enjoy. So far, it feels that I'm doing everything, but nothing very well. Meanwhile, Meals has dealt with things like a true champ.

For both of us, it's a milestone week. She's turning 4 months on Thursday. And I turn 32 tomorrow. All of a sudden she's doing things like sucking her thumb, making growling noises at the nip, and rolling over from back to belly. She's growing! And for the first time, Mama feels older than her years. Where did all those wrinkles come from? It's bittersweet.

We had our usual Sunday night family dinner last night and it ended up being a surprise birthday party for me. Emi made her famous cupcakes and before I blew out the candles, Col snapped this photo of me and my girl. I absolutely love the expression on her face. What could be going on in that little mind of hers? I think our girl is going to be a thinker, for sure. And what was I thinking? Happy happy birthday.


Sunday, March 04, 2012

she rolls

This morning, I put Amelia down for some tummy time. I left for a second to grab my phone and when I got back, I saw this:


She rolled over all by herself! Pretty sure it was a fluke, I put her back on her tummy to see if she'd do it again. She did. Two more times. Then she got tired and was over it. But later in the day I got her to do it again and this time, I was ready with the video camera. Just shy of 11 weeks and already rolling over. That's our girl!

video

Sunday, February 26, 2012

sleep walking

When I was pregnant, it used to really bug me when people would say, "get as much sleep as you can now, cause when the baby comes, you won't get any..." To be honest, I was annoyed by a lot of things people said when I was pregnant. Thank the hormones. The sleep thing was especially aggravating. I think because deep down, I knew I could never be totally prepared for what was about to happen to our comfortable little lifestyle. (Can you really stock up on sleep points in advance? I don't think so.) But the people saying these things had already been through it. They had one up on me and I hate that. Yes I do. I like to know everything. I like to be right about everything. Ask my husband. It's probably one of my worst faults.

Now that I'm going through it, I sort of wonder what the big deal is with sleep. More to the point, I am amazed how your body adapts to the situation to get you through. There's this whole other dimension of living life out there that I never knew existed until now. I'm talking about sleep-walking. When you're tired all the time, you don't feel tired. Sometimes you feel mellow. Sometimes you feel racy. It's liberating. Exciting even!

Nap when baby naps? Heck no! When she's down, I thrive on bursts of energy that creep up from nowhere. It's making me more efficient. The house is cleaner now than it ever was pre-baby. I can carry on an entire conversation with my husband without remembering a bit of it. Now that's what I call conserving brain power! And the thing is when you do sit down and "wake up" as it were from your zombie dance, and realize that yes perhaps you've reached the end and you need a good old vacation on a tropical island away from everyone, your baby throws you a bone: maybe she decides to sleep for a whole 6 hours in a row that night so you can refuel (go, Amelia!). Or maybe she just gives you one of those heart-melting smiles that says, "it's okay mamma, we can just sit here for a while and do nothing. I'll stare at the ceiling and you can stare at me. And we'll just do nothing and be happy."

Friday, February 24, 2012

the sick

It started out as an innocent cough. So minor, it could've been mistaken for some spit-up down the wrong tube. But the cough didn't stop. Then she started feeling warm and would cry if I tried to put her down. I took her temp. Too hot. By midnight, cough and fever had progressed to congestion and trouble breathing. I was convinced she was going to die. We held that baby all night and didn't sleep a wink. Morning was a long time coming. But finally, the doctor's office opened and they told me to come down right away.

The nurse weighed her. "She's gained 2 ounces since her check-up on Monday!" She took her temp. (Of course, she didn't cry this time.) Normal.

I stammered, "uh, I just gave her Tylenol an hour ago. Maybe that's why her fever's gone..."

A quick exam by the doc and he concluded, "Yup, she's got a cold. Keep doing what you're doing. She'll be better in about a week."

A cold? I thought to myself. A cold??? Am I totally crazy? I almost brought her to the ER last night.

Silly me.

Silly me for lots of things. For thinking the cold was a deadly virus. For waking the doctor up at 1 in the morning because my baby had a stuffy nose. For being convinced I damaged her sinuses with the bulb syringe. But mostly for thinking that childbirth was my formal initiation into this thing we call "parenthood." There is a new initiation practically every day. And I'm feeling humbled by it.

Day 3 and still a little groggy

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

2 months, feels like 2 weeks... or 100 years

Our baby girl turned 2 months this week. Christmas seems like years ago. And yet, we wonder, "where did the time go? How is Amelia so old already?" Isn't that a classic child-rearing cliche? Somewhere between diapers and daycare, that girl grows up and we're left feeling nostalgic for the good old days already. Crazy.

But she is still a little, wittle babby. She had to get her first round of shots yesterday at the Doc. Three of them! And the helpless cry they elicited in our tiny babe made both Col and me shed our own tears. Still I made Col snap some photos with his phone, saying, "we'll want to remember this." Am I nuts or what? Just posting these pics makes me want to cry all over again. But then I think about how wonderful it felt afterward to be able to console her with hugs and kisses and a little snack at the breast. As my friend's mum put it later that day, there's nothing like the feeling of being able to console a crying baby.

Some other things from the last couple of weeks:

Sapphie finally got to hold her little cousin. She was so careful and tender. My heart melted. They're going to be great friends, I know it.

Last Monday, Colin and I took Amelia to a fund-raiser party for Spielpalast Cabaret at Muddy Waters coffee shop. There was music and dancing and it was lots of fun. There was this crazy old drunk man there with a Burlington Elks lodge t-shirt on. We were all pretty sure he stumbled in to the party from Esox, the dive bar next door. He seemed very out of place. He was fascinated with Amelia, who was sleeping in the sling. He kept on and on about how special it was to see mother and baby. He was very tipsy and kept referring to Amelia as a boy. Finally, I told him, "she's a girl!" And he replied back with his thick Vermont accent, "Well, she's kinda got a man's haircut, don't she?" I was sorely offended, but Emi told me I should write that one down.

Later that week, Emi and I took Amelia to Homegoods to pick up some stuff. There was this crazy old lady smoking outside the store. You could see billows of smoke surrounding her face. I thought she'd have the good manners to mind her own business with all that stinky smoke around her, but as I approached with my baby, she actually leaned in and started cooing in excitement. I started freaking out and thought the woman was actually going to try and pet Amelia. Suddenly she jumped back and exclaimed, "oh my God it's a baby! I thought it was a dog!" Emi and I kept on walking and didn't look back. I tried not to be offended by that one either. Are there really people who carry their dog in a sling, we wondered? There's really no accounting.

First stroller ride without the carseat

Three sisters and a baby at the Cabaret fundraiser

Yipes stripes!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Loving cousins

2 months old!

Before shots

After shots :-(


Monday, February 13, 2012

first yoga class

Or I should say, first post-natal yoga class. That's because Amelia has been going to yoga class with me every Sunday since she was 14 weeks old in utero. And I was doing lots of yoga during labor, right up until she was born (even in the hospital room!). And so, last week, I brought her with me to my post-natal yoga class. There were 5 other moms there, all with babies under 4 months old. Amelia was the youngest.

I walked to class with her in a carrier, so by the time we got there, she was fast asleep and I lay her down on a blanket by my mat. That's when I took this picture. But she soon woke up and was so alert and fascinated by my every move. She barely made a peep the whole class. She giggled when I did the plank above her head. She looked wide-eyed at my warrior pose. She gazed softly at me during shavasana at the end. She's a yoga baby.

Amelia in shavasana pose

Amelia and Mama doing yoga together during labor

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

homemade date rolls

I've been buying these amazing coconut date rolls at the grocery store, but they are super-expensive ($6 for 6 of them!). Why do they cost so much? They're just dates and coconut. But I've been willing to spend the money because they are so good and they're something healthy to snack on. (I didn't realize how obsessed I could be about healthy-satisfying-snacks-that-you-can-hold-with-one-hand until I started nursing. When that kind of deep hunger strikes, carrots sticks just won't do!)

But these date rolls are breaking the bank. I decided to try and make them myself at home and see if that would be any cheaper. Turns out they are much cheaper and they are super-easy to make too. I just made a batch with Amelia in the sling. (She watched the whole thing and her favorite part was when I turned on the food processor. What a great white noise!)

Here's the recipe I made up. It's probably not exact, but you get the idea. Next time, I'll probably experiment with different nuts and flavors (pistachios and rose water? yum!) but the walnuts are pretty dang good. (It's important to use fresh dates in this recipe, not dried. My grocery store stocks them in the produce section.)


Homemade Coconut Date Rolls

10 fresh Medjool dates, pits removed
1 1/3 cup shredded coconut, plus more for coating
1/3 cup raw walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon orange flower water (or another flavoring of your choice)

Put all of the ingredients into a food processor and process for several minutes until the mixture forms a thick, smooth paste. It will be sticky. Portion out a generous tablespoon of the paste and with your hands, roll it into a ball. Dip the ball into some of the coconut and roll it around to coat. You can keep it as a ball or roll into a log like I did. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.

Makes about 1 dozen rolls.


she smiles

This was taken a little over a week ago, when Amelia was 5 weeks old. It was one of her first smiles. Now she's doing it all the time!

video

Friday, February 03, 2012

the working mom thing

The saying goes... "A lot has changed since I was your age." I realized this the other day as I was showing my mum how my breast pump worked. She just couldn't believe the high-tech contraption before her eyes. She exclaimed, "We didn't have those when I was nursing." Whether or not that's entirely true I can't say, but in any case, she raised three children without one and breast-fed us all. I asked her how she managed to do such a thing and she told me a story of one time when she was at a basket weaving class and my dad had to bring my sister down to the class because she was hungry and needed to be fed.

Have you ever heard of such a thing? Of course, my mother wasn't working at the time either.

In fact, I know a lot of people my age whose mums stayed at home when they were kids. I was chatting with my friend Nicci about this the other day. Growing up, neither of our families had a ton of money but we were happy and somehow our parents just made it work. Why can't we do that? Why does the stay-at-home mom thing seem so out of the question?

Well, for one, there's the money thing. Oh that. Yes, we'd have half the income if I quit my job to stay at home. But we wouldn't be destitute. We'd manage. We'd have to sell our house and move out of Burlington, yes. We'd have to change our lifestyle dramatically, but we could do it. If we really wanted to.

Thing is, after several long emotional discussions, neither Colin or I felt like it was the right thing to do. So we made the decision that I would take my maternity leave and then return to work after 12 weeks. We lined up childcare—we lucked out with a really great part-time nanny (my sister!) and an amazing daycare center for the rest of time. We felt good about it.

But all during my pregnancy I felt this guilt over the fact that I'd be returning to work after 3 months. I had these nostalgic visions about my own childhood at home with my mother and sisters. I look up to my mother for teaching me how to read and for inspiring me through art and nature. Will our children miss out if they have to go to daycare instead? Will they have the same amazing childhood experience as I did? Will they have the nature walks? The art sessions? Will they read their primers on a blanket on the front lawn with their picnic lunch?

Now that my maternity leave is more than half-way through, those doubts have been resurfacing lately. But then I read this great blog post by Momastery and was reminded that I will probably feel guilty no matter what I do, so I should stop wasting my time worrying about it. And yes, they will go on nature walks!

Beyond helping out a working mom, that breast pump represents a certain freedom. Maybe that's something my mother and other mothers back then always wished they had more of. I love nursing our baby girl. And that breast pump means that Colin can also enjoy (nearly) the same feeding-bonding experience, while I take a couple hours to myself to go get a hair cut or go to yoga or maybe even a basket weaving class.

Do they even have those nowadays?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

over the river and through the woods to Mindy's house we go!

A part from the few doctors visits, I have not been on a real car ride in over a month—Amelia never has. So yesterday, after a few false starts and wardrobe changes, we set out to visit our friend Mindy who lives in Jericho, a half hour away.

This was a new adventure that would require getting on the interstate and then driving on several back roads in the middle of nowhere with Amelia in the back seat. Thirty minutes seemed like eternity on the way out, and I gripped the steering wheel so hard, I had white knuckles by the time we got to Mindy's house. Amelia the little angel slept the whole way.

Mindy and her mom had prepared a delicious lunch for my sister Emma, all the kids and me. Lucky for me (who has given up dairy for the time being to see if it helps with the spit-up sitch), Mindy is a vegan cook with a delicious assortment of meals in her repertoire. She made us butternut squash lasagna with a creamy bechamel sauce made from almond milk, herbs and pine nuts. It was out of this world! Mindy's mum made a warm spinach salad with mushrooms that we gobbled up. Sapphie's favorite part was the tangy shallots that had soaked up all the dressing. For dessert, we had chocolate chip protein bars, which I've started making myself at home for a healthy snack to nibble on during the day. (Here's Mindy's recipe below.)

After lunch, we sat by the fire to chat. Mindy's expecting her first baby in March and as we sat there, her baby started kicking. I felt nostalgic for my pregnant days (I loved being pregnant!). Mindy and her mom had lots of questions about what they'd need during the first few weeks. I replied: Burp cloths! Diapers! Lots of onesies. And of course, my trusty sling. I'd be lost without it. Amelia slept the entire time to make up for the night before and everybody got a chance to hold her. She slept the whole way home. Oh, and she even took her pacifier for the first time! What was I even worried about?

Here's Mindy's power bar recipe:

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Protein Bars
Yield: 24 Bars

2 cups rolled oats

1 cup almond butter

2/3 cup hemp protein powder 

¼ cup maple syrup
1 t vanilla extract

½ cup applesauce

¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (dairy-free)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch of salt

1. Roast the oats in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 350 F.
2. Cool oats, then combine all of the ingredients and stir well.
3. Spread the dough in a greased 9 X 13 glass dish and bake at 350 F for 20 minutes until golden brown. Cool before cutting.



Tuesday, January 24, 2012

a few things

There are a few things I'd like to jot down in history (my mother said I should be keeping a journal of these things):

Amelia turned 5 weeks yesterday.

The stars aligned and for the first time she slept a whole hour in her bassinet this morning, giving me the freedom to glide around the house in my bathrobe making coffee, pumping breast milk, feeding the cats. Oh, the luxury of it all! (Thank God for the butt pat technique handed down from my sister that really does the trick.)

She's also started smiling the last few days, but not yet on cue, so I'm not sure if it really counts.

I finally put my maternity clothes away in the basement, which felt really good, except that now I don't have any clothes that fit me. (Well, not until my online purchases arrive in the mail. I promised Col that's the last of my late-nite online shopping binges. I really neeeeeded new clothes.) Online shopping and iPhones are a godsend to newly minted breastfeeding moms.

I gave up dairy yesterday. (Oh, the horror!) See, we have a spit-upper. I mean really. And several sources suggest dairy might be the culprit. So, I'm giving up milk and Cheddar and butter and everything cow for a 2-week trial to see if it helps our little one keep down her dinner. It's not so bad. At least there's goat cheese.

Finally, Col and I celebrated our 2-year wedding anniversary. Well, we didn't quite celebrate yet. He is in Utah for work, so we will have to put that off for a bit. But he did send some beautiful flowers. And my mother treated me and Amelia to an anniversary brunch at Penny-Cluse. Later she cooked us dinner and we had the family over for bangers and mash. (It's one of Col's favorite dinners—too bad he had to miss it!)

Friday, January 20, 2012

I lie to my doctor & other confessions of a new mom

Yesterday, we had our one-month appointment with the pediatrician. It went great! We've got the code figured out. By now, I'm realizing that every time we see the doctor, they tend to ask the same standard questions to make sure we're following all the right rules, and I always provide the same proper answer to confirm that yes, we are good little rule followers. See here:

Q: How's your mood?
A: Great! Things are going great!

Q: Do you always put your baby to sleep on her back?
A: Yes.

Q: Where does your baby sleep?
A: We have a bassinet in our bedroom (notice we don't ever answer this one directly)

Q: Are you giving her vitamin D drops?
A: Yes.

Q: Did you have your car seat fitted by a professional?
A: Yes

etc.

I'm not usually the lying kind of person. My guilt gets the better of me. But yesterday, I realized that I'm lying (slightly) to my doctor, because I can. And because I want to. And I don't feel guilty about it. I feel empowered! Here's what the above conversation would look like if I answered the questions honestly:

Q: How's your mood?
A: Great! We have our ups and downs... I cried to my husband this morning, but things are going great!


Q: Do you always put your baby to sleep on her back?
A: Yes. Sometimes. She really likes sleeping on her side too. We like to sleep on our sides facing each other. This morning I woke up and she was asleep with her face planted between my boobs. I checked to make sure she was breathing ok and went back to sleep.

Q: Where does your baby sleep?
A: See above. We have a bassinet in our bedroom. She likes to lay in there while I take a shower, but doesn't sleep in it. Ever.

Q: Are you giving her vitamin D drops?
A: Yes, I've given them to her once or twice. Does she really need them? Can I just stick her face in the sun for a couple of minutes?

Q: Did you have your car seat fitted by a professional?
A: Yes, my brother in law. He's a pro at that kind of stuff.

There, I've confessed. Can you imagine the wonderful conversation that might ensue with my doc if I really spoke my heart?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

proud papa

Since the arrival of our little one, most of our attention has been diverted to her. Not all of it though. The two of us, Col and I, have also developed a new sense of admiration for each other. I was worried that the lack of sleep, the frustration of not knowing what to do with a crying baby, and not much time to nurture our relationship might diminish the love that we have for each other. Not so! (Or at least, Not so fast!)

My boy is a wonderful father! And only one month in, despite my constant hovering and advice, he has found his own style of parenting and bonding. Where I have boob, he has patience. Where I have experience, he has inventiveness. When I am at wits end, he has the ability to sooth.

Amelia has established a good nursing routine, so last weekend, we decided it was time to give Papa a chance to do the feeding! While he and babe were napping my sister came over and gave me a tutorial on pumping. How glamorous. She also gave Col some pointers on bottle feeding using a teddy bear to demonstrate (what would we do without her?!).  I filled a bottle full of milk and then we waited for Amelia to wake up.

Emi advised I leave the room during the event so as not to distract baby (or Papa!). I was a little worried about that part. I'd heard introducing the bottle to a breast-fed baby could be a real challenge. But Col wasn't worried. He was excited. Of course, I knew he would figure it out one way or another. And in the end, our little piggie made the transition quite easy. She latched on right away and started happily suckling in Papa's arms. I snuck in the room only long enough to snap a photo.

Since then, of course, Amelia hasn't let me figure out a way to get a pump in edge-wise. But we're taking baby steps, right?



Thursday, January 12, 2012

papa papaya

Colin is working from home today, which meant we both lingered in bed a little longer this morning. He was happy to hold Amelia, while I went into the kitchen to make us coffee and breakfast. I've been ripening a papaya on the counter all week and it finally looked ready (which means it looked and smelled rotten on the outside!).

I look forward to simple kitchen rituals, which I'm quickly learning are few and far between with a newborn on my hands. I relished cutting into the stinky fruit to reveal the honey-tasting orange flesh inside. Perfect! I scooped out the black jelly seeds from the center, peeled off the mottled yellow skin,  cut up the insides into irregular little squares and tossed them into a pretty bowl. Usually I squeeze lime juice on it to bring out the flavors, but we had none in the fridge, so I used lemon juice instead. It still tasted wonderful.

Papayas always remind me of Papa Roger, my grandfather. He was master of knowing exactly how long to ripen them on the counter. Papaya prepared by Papa Roger always tasted good. Come to think of it, he was master of cantaloups too. And avocados.

I don't often buy papayas, but have started the custom of having a ripe papaya on the counter for Christmas breakfast. Just because we're with family and it's nice to honor passed loved ones when we're all together.

This year, I bought the papaya the day before I went into labor with Amelia. One week later the fruit was perfecty ripe. When we cut it up for our Christmas fruit salad, I thought to myself, that papaya has been in this house longer than our baby!

Like I said, I look forward these simple kitchen rituals. It's not really about the papaya, is it? It's about cutting into a piece of fruit, which inspires me to write these words, inspires me to remember my grandfather, inspires me to note a moment in time when our new baby was just one week old—about how long it takes for a just-okay supermarket papaya to ripen into a wonderful little morning treat with my coffee, while Papa gets his quiet time with our little daughter.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

my baby hides cheese curds in her neck rolls

When people talk about "the way a baby smells" are they referring to spoiled milk? Because that's how my baby smells. Even her bath towel smells like cheese! Miss Amelia can drink anyone under the table. Problem is, she just doesn't know when to stop. She drinks and drinks and drinks until that stuff they call Liquid Gold overflows from her little mouth and dribbles down her cheeks, behind her ears, into her hair and into even the deepest crevices of her little pudgy neck.

At that point, she'll pluck her head dramatically off the watering hole, bobble her head a few times like a drunken sailor, then proceed to boink her face repeatedly into me until she finds her place again at the tap. I get such a kick out of watching the episode, that I often forget to wipe her chin (it's so difficult getting in those neck rolls anyways!). So the milk is often left there to dry and ripen into little stinky cheese curds. I wonder if there's a market for the stuff in some cultures?

For now, though, it just means Bath Time!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

finger nails

That's it. I've learned my lesson. I'm never cutting my baby's nails again. I let my guard down for a split second—for one fleeting moment, I let myself feel confident that I was getting the hang of this mothering thing. I finally found a carrier she likes, that doesn't make her scream or hunch or breathe funny. Here she was, this little angel asleep in the sling at my breast, fingers spread in gentle baby trust. And I thought to myself, "Oh perfect, I will clip her nails!" Those gnarly snaggy things have been scratching and catching on everything. I went and found the special little baby nail clippers we had bought just for her!

I sat down, opened the clippers and without much ado went straight for the thumbnail—the scratchiest of all. Just one clip and I couldn't take it back. Along with that little piece of baby fingernail, I had inadvertently snipped off a piece of my little baby's thumb. Well, ok, yes, I exaggerate! But there was blood and my little cooing babe let out a very sad drawn out cry.

I suddenly felt the instinctual need to hold her so tight and tell her Mama was sorry and would never do it again. She had already moved on and was back asleep at the boob moments later.

But not me. I will never do that again. Colin will have to do it. Or we will let them grow long until they curl around her fingers.

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