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!

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?

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