Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

Last year I blogged about the awesome Memorial Day weekend we had. It was the perfect mix of productive and relaxing. We got a lot done, especially in light of all the baby prep we had to do, but at the same time we got to see some family, catch a movie, and just hang out. This year, "relaxing" definitely wasn't a word I'd use. Fortunately, "fun" is. It was a busy but generally enjoyable weekend. I just wish I wasn't so wiped out from it all!

Friday we decided to go to the drive-in. Our favorite drive-in (there are two in the area, actually never been to the closer one) is in Perry, an hour drive from here. It's worth the trip, though, and it's a nice little nostalgia thing for me because Geneseo is on the way. Depending on which way we go, you either drive through Geneseo or spend a minute or two on the same road I used to travel from Buffalo to Geneseo. Either way, it's a nice memory :) The drive-in is cool, with some great food options, mini-golf, and an arcade. There's also a spot that backs up to a farm, and the cows just hang out right by the fence for petting and grass feeding. It's $7 a person for the double feature, which is cheaper than the theater. And now with a baby, not having to worry about a baby sitter is a nice perk as well. Craig really wanted to see Night at the Museum 2, and it was playing over the weekend. We got down there just in time to grab some dinner and head back out to the car. I managed to change Jacob's diaper and put his pajamas on while sitting in the front seat of the car, and then nursed him for a bit before eventually getting him to fall asleep. He was a little distracting for the first half of the movie, but I still caught most of it. Once he was asleep, he stayed asleep through the end of the movie and the drive home. We carefully extracted him out of his seat and put him in bed without incident. Awesome. Mission accomplished! It'll definitely be more fun to do when we have more time and Jacob's able to enjoy some of the other activities there, but it was a nice evening for us nonetheless.

Saturday I finally had a chance to get my hair done. At long last I once again have some blonde highlights and a refreshingly short haircut. Ahhhh. I feel much more like myself again. That afternoon we did a marathon shopping trip at Wal-Mart to pick up a myriad of stuff. Just a lot of random items that we kept adding to in the days leading up to it. Some was in preparation for Monday's party. I can't remember what we did Saturday night, but I suppose if there was any relaxing at home this weekend, that was probably it. Sunday we got up, went to church, had some lunch, then headed off to the zoo. It was our second attempt at the zoo this spring, and we were hoping that a less hectic day than last time would help Jacob "get it" a little more. I think he did. Still a lot of banging railings and staring off into space or at other people, but it definitely seemed like animals would catch his eye a little more this time. We saw a lot of cool stuff because it was perfect weather and the animals were active. Maybe too active. Jacob almost got his first education on the birds and the bees courtesy of two tortoises, but Craig kept him away from their habitat...however I got video. I won't post it here, but I do have it on Facebook if you're dying to see it. Here are a couple pictures from the day:

Later on Sunday we took a walk to get some gelato at a place around the corner. Jacob got his first taste, a tiny little drop of mango :) It was a busy but fun day. We also spent some time getting things ready for Monday's party. And Monday was all about the party. BJ's, Wegmans, and home for a lot of prep work. We had a few people over to watch the NCAA Lacrosse championship, but most of us spent most of the day outside in the lovely weather. By the end of the day, we were beat and all of us were sleeping in the living room by about 7:30. Ugh. Not exactly relaxing, to be sure. All in all, Jacob was good during the whole weekend other than his random screaming fits. Those are really frustrating and I'm hoping it's just a phase. We're really trying to figure out a balance between attending to his needs when he's screaming, but not communicating that the scream works to get his way. Really fine line there...and it's so hard to not go to him when he does it, because he'll scream so hard that he'll choke and cough. Lovely. But when he's on the go and appropriately distracted, he's great.

I also took a few minutes on Sunday to get some semi-posed pictures of Jacob. They're not quite as pseudo-pro looking as a few other attempts I've had (Halloween, Christmas), but Jacob's too active to sit still right now, so I had to take what I could get. And even if the dining room chair isn't the best accessory, I still think the pictures are super cute. Enjoy... :)


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pictures & More

It's been a while since I posted pictures so I thought I'd catch up on a few. These are from two weekends ago, when we met up with some family for the Lilac Festival. We did a little pre-festival lunch at my cousin Lori's place, then walked to the festival from there. These two pics were of a happy Jacob in his little portable high (or low) chair. I like his smile in the first and his sweet little face with both teeth visible in the second.


I do feel bad that the poor kid always looks tired. I think it's allergies. I always have bags and dark circles, too. While he's not a great napper, he does seem to get enough sleep because he has some very happy periods during the day and is generally pretty functional.

This picture was during our walk to the festival. Jacob fell asleep (or almost asleep) like this. In his left hand is an empty Mentos gum container. He really liked holding it. My mom put a little stone in it at some point during the walk so Jacob could rattle it around. He actually held on to it for most of the festival, which was pretty amazing. But yeah, quite the sleeping position, isn't it?

I'll give an update on our Memorial Day weekend in my next post, but let's see...what else is new? Jacob tried some new foods over the past few days, including watermelon and yogurt. He also got a tiny taste of mango gelato, just because he was giving me this desperate look with his tongue wagging (seriously). I figure that he'll be getting into full-on dairy in less than a month anyway, so a tiny little droplet of gelato would be ok. Yogurt seems to be going well--he really seems to like it--but it's tough to tell if it's making him gassier than usual. That may account for some random crankiness at a couple points over the weekend...though I also decided to try having cereal and milk for the first time in ages this weekend, too, so that could have done it as well. Again, I figure he's on the road to cow's milk in the next month, so I figured that dairy was worth a try to see if the cow's milk protein sensitivity that I was pretty sure he had when he was first born was still around. It's tough to tell. We'll just have to keep watching...and listening. He was a big fan of the watermelon, though. I just need to keep trying to figure out other things to give him, because I'm feeling some peer pressure based on the fact that another kid at day care (younger than him, no less) has a stack of four containers of finger food each day...no baby food. I can't tell exactly what they are, but I know I could probably be doing a lot better at this. It just takes planning, which I'm not particularly great at. Jacob's still fighting his bottles a lot (less fighting with breastfeedings, I guess now I'm just used to them coming up short), so day care has had to great creative in breaking up the bottles...some with his oatmeal, some in his sippy cup, and the rest for a short bottle feeding. I feel bad that they're bearing the brunt of his eating difficulties. He does seem to be doing a lot better with the sippy cup (much less spillage) but you definitely know when he's done, because it's on the floor.

He didn't do much of his fish-face-kissy-noises over the weekend, but he was sticking his tongue out a lot, which was cute. However, I'm convinced he's half dog because of some of the things he does...between chewing on things, holding them in his mouth, licking me, and I think he even growled once over the weekend. It's still pretty cute, though. However, his blood-curdling screaming is not. He's been doing that quite a bit. I can't tell if there's really something bothering his (like the aforementioned gas) or if he just figured out he could be that forceful and is milking it for all it's worth. He can go from full-blown shriek to a sweet smile in about two seconds flat, so I really have no idea what's up. He can do the same in the opposite direction as well, so that can be a little difficult in public places. He hates his car seat right now, so that's been a sure-fire scream-fest lately. Arg. I'm also trying to figure out how to get him to stop hitting and biting all of the time. I think at this point it's just baby stuff--teething, lack of control compounded by excitement--and not any desire to hurt, but no matter how many times I try to stop him or show him alternate actions, he still doesn't quite get it...and he is getting strong and will have four teeth in a matter of days. Hmmmm.

He definitely has his difficult moments, but so much of the time he's just goofy and sweet so it all evens out. It's tough keeping up with him because he's slowly discovering other parts of the house he hasn't terrorized yet, but so far we're doing ok. His recent fussiness and screaming may just be a sign that he's trying to assert some independence and show us what he likes and doesn't like. He does the same scream when we take something away or steer him away from stuff, so perhaps his crankiness in the car seat or on the changing table is just another symptom of that. We shall see.

I'll try to post Memorial Day weekend pics soon!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Baby Teeth....Baby Food....Baby "Wood"?

Strange title, I know. Lots of random-ish stuff today. First, Jacob has a new and unfortunate clumsiness issue. His coordination is still pretty iffy, so every once in a while he still does a face-plant while crawling. Sometimes it's just that he gets distracted, sometimes he just stumbles, and sometimes he overestimates his ability to balance himself. The problem is that he often lands on his chin, and now that he's got his two bottom teeth fully in, and no top teeth to stop them, a chin-plant means that he's driving his bottom teeth up into the roof of his mouth. Twice in the last two days he's bloodied the roof of his mouth, once from crawling and once from flinging himself while in my arms and knocking his chin into my arm. It's obviously very painful for him. I'd never thought about it before, how your top and bottom teeth work together to prevent that from happening as an adult. Funny how that works. But in the meantime, I feel so bad for him.

I am still being a bit tortured by trying to figure out what to feed Jacob. I feel like all of the suggestions out there on the internet for finger foods have all of these caveats. Some things are choking hazards if not done right, some things have an allergy risk, and others are just hard to prepare/store in baby-sized portions. Sure, I'd love to give him little pieces of chicken...but how well can he chew it and how long will cooked chicken breast last? Sure, cheese would be great...if cow-based dairy was ok for babies under 1 (though some people do it anyway). Strawberries would be great, but there's an allergy risk. Baking a potato takes forever, and even then he'll only eat a little bit of it. Is it worth cooking 10 pieces of pasta at a time? I did cut up some watermelon for him yesterday, and he did seem to like it. He's also addicted to Baby Mum-Mum rice rusks...he downs them like crazy. Crunch-crunch-crunch...like a little bunny. So cute! I also have no idea how much he should be eating right now...and that's making me crazy, too. I think a baby his age should be eating more, but it's hard for me to tell. See, I don't see him much when he's at his peak. That kills me. Apparently he eats solids great when he's at day care, but when I try to feed him at dinner in the evenings, he only gets so far before he gets cranky and refuses. As a result, it's hard for me to gauge if he should be getting more than what I'm giving him or telling day care to give him...because for me, he doesn't eat that much. I don't know if he's just tired, or if he's got something against eating at home, or he sucks too much air in when he's using his sippy cup and ends up gassy or thinks he's full. I'm just not sure. I feel like I should find a way to get home earlier. That way he would get dinner earlier when he's happier, get to bed before he gets overtired, but still have a little quality parent-child playtime. However, I'm having a heck of a time figuring out how to get myself into bed before 11:45, out of bed earlier than 6:30 and getting in to work before 9. Ugh. I just feel like I need my whole day to shift an hour or two, and all would be right with the world.

Oh, and have I mentioned that Jacob's favorite new toy is the canopy on his car seat? We try to shade him but he inevitably spends a couple minutes each car trip "readjusting" it, up and down and up and down. Usually he ends up squinting because he never gets it back up where it should be. Still, it's funny to watch in the rear view mirror.

Finally...the baby "wood" thing. This may end up being a controversial topic, but I still think it is funnier than heck. Ok, so this has popped up (no pun intended) before, but last night took the cake. Jacob was a little extra cranky during and after dinner, in full meltdown mode, so we knew he was probably a little overtired. It was a little too early for bed and he was cranky enough that I wasn't sure we'd get through bedtime prep without him getting himself too worked up to sleep. So, Craig rocked him to sleep and Jacob napped on him for a while. As it got later, we decided to get him ready for bed with hopefully minimal disruption to his sleepy state. Of course, we did have to change his diaper before bed. He was half asleep when we popped him on the table, and when I took off his diaper, there it was--a little baby erection. As I said, this has happened before--not often but a few times. I'd heard about it in the past, and did confirm via the internet that it's normal. Anyway, it was extra obvious this time, and it was even funnier because when I wiped him, he smiled. I'm sure it's just some weird, natural bodily response, like the random morning occurrence in men. Maybe he was dreaming about something great...who knows? I often wonder what he dreams about...because we can tell sometimes that he is dreaming. But with such limited life experience, what do babies dream about? Good things like food and playing? Bad things like falling and someone else stealing your toys? It must be a wacky little world in their minds, without words to put to anything or the consciousness of knowing the difference between a dream world and real world. So odd. Anyway, it cracked us up. He did wake up amidst all the activity (his regimen of medicines alone would do that to anyone), but he went to bed reasonably well right after and slept great. Whew.

Lots of stuff potentially on the agenda this weekend, from the drive-in tonight to maybe the zoo tomorrow and a party at our house Monday. Probably some errands in between as well. Not to mention that I'm finally getting around to taking care of myself....tomorrow morning at 10am I am off to the salon to get my hair done...cut and highlighted! I haven't had a cut since before Christmas and am dying to have it short again. I haven't had highlights in two years, either, and look forward to kicking things up a notch. I've just felt a little blah lately. Everything about my hair is flat these days--the color, the bounce--and a cut and color should definitely help! Let's hope all goes well and those chemicals are really as safe as they'd have us believe. I just want to get back to feeling like a cool mommy...minus the mom 'do :)

Hopefully I'll have an update or two this weekend, but in the meantime, have a great long weekend!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Eleven Months and 300 Posts!

Hard to believe! We've come such a long way. It's been almost a year and a half since I started this blog, and this marks post #300. Not only has this blog gone through 2/3 of a pregnancy, but now we've almost made it through the first year of Jacob's existence! Time has flown and so much has changed. I can't believe we're just a month away from having a one year old!

Yesterday I stayed home from work and cleaned the house. It really needed it badly and I did some things that I haven't done in ages (or ever!). It felt so good to let Jacob crawl on the kitchen floor last night knowing that it was clean and disinfected! It was sorely needed and I just knew it wasn't something I could tackle over a series of evenings. So, for my own sanity, I just took the day off and got it done (or mostly done--I still have to dust a few rooms, but that's easy). Jacob still went to day care because I knew I'd get nothing done if he was home. It killed me to take a day off of work and not be able to spend at least a little time with him, but it had to be done, and ultimately it was for his benefit. It was a little funny being home alone, and on such a beautiful day...definitely a little reminiscent of the weekends I spent getting ready for Jacob, if not some of the quieter times of my maternity leave (minus the desperation to take a nap!). What struck me, though, is how I felt about all of the baby shows on TLC. I've mentioned a couple other times how my feelings about those shows have morphed over the past year or so. Originally those shows helped me get comfortable with the whole concept of delivery. Unlike some people, they didn't really worry me...I just took in the things I saw and filed them away. Just having seen so many deliveries in process gave me some concept of what to expect, from a technical perspective, anyway.

Once I'd had Jacob, I watched those shows almost non-stop during my maternity leave. I don't know if it was therapeutic, or what. I could relate to the women in labor and the new parents at home with their babies, and considering I didn't have a real support system of new parent friends, I guess that took its place. A few months ago I saw the shows for the first time in a while, and felt some degree of distance...understanding, but distance. I recall thinking it was how I felt about watching "A Wedding Story" after I got married. It was an interesting and fun experience, but I was happy to have survived it and moved on. Yesterday when I saw the shows, so much of that stuff seemed like a lifetime ago. I have a huge appreciation for everything I went through, and even more appreciation for how far we've come. We now have this amazing little boy who crawls and laughs and has his own wacky little personality, and it's such a far cry from those early days where he just sat there and stared, or in his more active moments, ate, slept, pooped (ahhh, projectile poop), and cried. We still get a lot of that, but at least we get some entertainment in between!

I may still not be completely comfortable with parenthood, but little by little some things get easier. I know there are plenty of things that will only get harder from here on out, but like everything else we'll just have to take it as it comes. I've been reading Parents magazine lately, and I keep getting insight into the stages to come. Just reading about it gives me anxiety, and those issues may still be 2, 4, or 6 years away! Still, I am trying to keep things in check and just deal with the issues we have right now...and there are plenty. I ponder my own childhood and wonder how my parents got me to be a relatively intelligent and reasonable child. I mean, I know they did a ton to make me a good kid, and I know I still had my moments. But I swear there were things I was never taught or talked to about, yet when the time came, I did the right thing. I always get so sad when I hear about senseless tragedies like all of the college kids that died this year. What little detail was missing from their brains that told them that whatever they were doing was a bad idea? We've probably all had close calls at one time or another, where we did something we shouldn't have and came out unscathed, and those guys just weren't as lucky. But I just hope and pray that we bring Jacob up to be intelligent and to do the right thing...that he just knows it deep in his heart and sticks to it. I know that times like that are still pretty far away, but right now we're building a foundation and I want it to be a good one. He's the most important thing in our world and I want that smile to be a part of my life each and every day, forever. And only one more month until we finish that first year. Unbelievable.

Oh, and just so you know...we're planning to have Jacob's party on his birthday, a Saturday. It's most likely going to be here in Rochester unless we can think of a good, cheap, neutral site in Buffalo. It would have to be about halfway between the northtowns and southtowns, but I'm stumped so if anyone has any suggestions, let me know. Otherwise we're going to make everyone schlep here to keep it fair and minimize the amount of travel we have to do with a gifts, a cake, etc. Keep your calendars open :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Odd weekend...

Jacob's weekend was full of some great highs and some frustrating lows. On Saturday he was really awesome in the midst of a long day. A bunch of family came up from NT, including my parents, and we met up with more family here for a trip to the Lilac Festival. We had a blast and Jacob was so good for the whole thing. He was a lot of fun to play with before and after, and other than some iffy eating he was incredibly good. Yesterday was another busy day, with church, lunch and some shopping. He was also pretty good through all of that. However, at some point over the course of the weekend he picked up this incredible screechy cry. It's loud and definitely gets his point across. We're hoping that the cause of the cry is just teething, and not something more like an ear infection. One of his two top teeth just broke through over the weekend (officially felt it yesterday) and the other one will be quick to follow. I can imagine that the pain is just terrible. He woke up twice overnight from Saturday to Sunday and three times last night, despite pain medication. That has not been fun. It's so odd walking into his room and having him standing up in his crib. It still scares me that he'll figure out how to climb the rail one of these days, fueled by one of his crying fits. After all, he surprised us all with his scaling skills on Saturday when he climbed over my dad who was laying on his side on the floor. He just hiked his one leg up and over he went! We still have one more notch lower for the crib mattress, but since I haven't seen him trying to climb or launch himself over quite yet, I'll just keep my fingers crossed. He's not that coordinated yet, right?

Anyway, he seemed to have these random, brutal crying fits from time to time...and we're definitely hoping it's just the teeth. He did just get over a cold, so there's always a chance that he's got an ear infection, but he isn't showing any other symptoms like a fever or pulling at his ears. Well, he always sort of plays with his ears...he's forever getting the hair behind his ears sticky because he frequently puts his hands in that area in the midst of a meal....whether or not he's got an ear infection. He's been on Tylenol on and off the past few days for the teething, but in between I haven't noticed any sort of fever. His cries have been very intense, though, so it's been tough. Usually he calms down pretty well once he's had some painkillers, thankfully. Too bad it hasn't helped him sleep much better. In any event, hopefully once the other tooth breaks through he'll get back to the good sleeping he's done in the past couple weeks.

The best part of the weekend was probably all of his oral/vocal acrobatics the past couple days. Well, it started Friday night. Jacob does this little shrieky thing (not an annoying shriek, but just this funny little noise) when he gets excited about something...it's like a rapid breath in with noise attached to it. On Friday night he was doing it so much (seemingly about nothing special) that we were nervous he was having some breathing issues. He seemed fine, but he just kept doing it over and over! He's been doing it here and there for a while (so cute!), so I don't know if he just decided he liked it, or just noticed that it got a rise out of us, or what. It was pretty funny, though. Then yesterday he did the funniest thing. He started making a fish face (sucking in his cheeks and puckering his lips) accompanied by kissy noises. He just did it periodically during the day, and then while I was cooking dinner, he did it over and over. So funny!! I guess they've been working on the whole kiss thing at day care (yeah, that sounds weird...but you know, the puckering and the sound), so perhaps he picked it up there and it finally clicked and struck his fancy yesterday. He did it again right when we got there this morning and everyone got quite the kick out of it. Finally, he really seemed to up the babbling this weekend, particularly yesterday. Still nothing discernable, but we seem to be getting closer to "da-da" type sounds. One of these days he'll put two and two together and connect those sounds to us. And, judging by the last couple days, it will be completely out of the blue!

So, at least he's been entertaining in the midst of his sudden crankiness and sleep issues. Hopefully these teeth will hurry up and come in so we can all get back to normal. I'm still fearing the effect it may have on feeding (the tongue covers up the bottom teeth, but there is no protection from the tops) and I'm interested to see how it will change his look (I am so enamored with the two bottom teeth, but I'm sure he will look just as cute and even more little boy-ish with the tops!). Something new every day, I swear!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mommy Time

Lately I've been dying for some "me time". And really, it has nothing to do with needing a break from Jacob. As tiring as he can be these days, he's actually pretty entertaining so he's fun to hang out with. Tonight I ran to the mall after dinner to pick up a few things and he was asleep (but still ready to eat) when I got back, and I felt bad that I missed out on most of his awake time today. There's never enough hours in the day to get everything done--work, Jacob time, cooking, cleaning, sleeping--and at the end of the day, probably everyone misses out a bit in one way or another. Jacob probably doesn't get enough Mommy & Daddy time, Mommy and Daddy don't get a lot of "us" time (or, perhaps, fail to make the most of it out of sheer exhaustion), and probably neither of us get enough alone time to pursue other interests. Although, we must get some time because it's one of the reasons we are WEEKS behind on our DVRed shows. Between tending to Jacob in the evenings, taking care of dinner, dishes and bottlewashing, and finally getting some time to blog, check email, or just relax, I've forced TV down to the bottom of the priority list...or else I'd never get anything done.

Anyway, what I really need is enough uninterrupted time to take care of things that will make me happy. Sounds selfish, but really, I don't think it is. Why? Because sometimes you need to accomplish certain things in order to be at peace with yourself and therefore be a better parent. I've been wanting to take a day off work for weeks so I can clean my house. I haven't been able to pull it off, and my house is disgusting. And considering Jacob is now crawling all over it, it's really becoming vital that I get it done. But really, I just can't bring myself to do it in the evenings so I just need a day to pysche myself up and do it. Not exactly an ideal day off, but honestly, with how much it's bothering me it'd be a day put to good use for more reasons than one. Craig wants to have people over for Memorial Day (an annual NCAA lacrosse party that took a break last year because we had no friends...but our one friend is moving back so the party's back on! Sad, isn't it?), so if nothing else I will have to do it before then.

I also need to work on my appearance a bit. I haven't had a haircut since before Christmas and I haven't had highlights in my hair in a couple years. And every morning when I get up and do my hair, I hate it. I feel so blah and frumpy. It doesn't help that I still haven't figured out how to dress my new body, nor have I actually spent much time shopping to actually figure it out. Right now my chest is still big, my stomach is chubby, and my lower half is super skinny. My clothes don't fit quite right, but I just haven't taken the time to go out and shop. Part of me thinks it's unnecessary, but when I can pull a pair of pants off without unbuttoning them, or try on a shirt that's unattractively skin tight through the belly, I start to think that maybe it's more important than I thought. But finding time to go shopping and actually having patience with it (either because my body drives me nuts or because I'm preoccupied thinking about Jacob) is really, really tough. Jacob is almost a year old, which means I've been in a bit of a holding pattern for a really long time. I'm starting to realize that I need to put some effort into myself before I'm too far gone and give up trying to look good. I need to take the time to get a hair appointment...if I could just remember to call. I think that alone would be a huge self-esteem boost, and it might distract me from the clothes/body issue for a while.

Pregnancy, as much as it's influenced by the baby, tends to be a bit of a self-centered period. You catch people's eyes as you walk into a room, everyone's asking you how you're feeling, and you're just trying to take care of yourself. Ultimately everything comes back to the baby, but you have to be a little self-focused to make sure you're taking care of yourself above all. But the second that baby's born, everything changes. Your world revolves around the baby and little else matters. You might sneak in a selfish moment here and there, but for the most part, you no longer run the show. It's a big change. And all of a sudden you realize that all this time has passed and you've just sort of lost you in the midst of it. It's not entirely a bad thing, but again, if it gets too far, it's not good for your own self-esteem. For proof, just watch week after week of "What Not to Wear" to see all the moms who stopped caring about their appearance. Not good. I don't want that to be me.

On the other hand, I also don't want to go to the other end of the spectrum. Right now I think the poster child for that is Kate Gosselin from "Jon & Kate + Eight". That poor family has a LOT of problems right now, but before the current headlines, I was noticing that all of a sudden Kate seemed to be a lot more self-concerned. For years she didn't really pay attention to her clothes, and all of a sudden she was dressing up more, going for the fake bake tan, and just generally looking a lot more styled. Her behavior on the show seemed a lot more cranky and arrogant, and lately she's been doing a lot of traveling away from the family to promote her books. The family now has money and fame, and Kate has been loving every minute of the attention. She seems to have found her calling as a speaker, I guess. It's a tough call. I mean, she gave up her career to be a mom, and spent a lot of years completely immersed in the lives of her kids. And perhaps she got to a point where she lost herself in it all. And now with these opportunities she's found something she likes. Whether it's finally feeling beautiful or pampered or enjoying the attention or doing something adult with her time or just plain getting out and about after years stuck in the house with eight kids (would you go out much?), I suppose she's enjoying the opportunities. Unfortunately she seems to have gone a little over the edge, however, and there have been nasty effects on the whole family. It's so sad to think those eight kids that they wanted so badly may not live in a two-parent family for much longer. And if nothing else, it's not a happy family right now. So, yeah, there can certainly be a dark side to a mommy rediscovering herself, but obviously I'm pretty confident that I can keep myself under control :)

Jacob always has to be my priority now, but I'm definitely getting to the point where I think I need to do a little "me" work here and there. I won't be able to change focus for long, though...the face of my sweet little boy captures my attention all too easily...he is just too darn cute!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

More reminiscing...

Yesterday morning a friend of ours became a father for the first time. I'd mentioned him in this blog a couple times before, most recently here. The baby ended up coming about 3-1/2 weeks early after his wife started spotting mid-week last week. She'd had a lot of testing and some false hope that she could go back home, but eventually she was stuck in the hospital for days being monitored, and finally induced. I can't even imagine how frustrating her weekend must have been, just sitting around waiting to dilate. She was having contractions but it took forever to get to the point of pushing. Once she finally got there, it was a little over an hour and she was done. They had a little girl, which we all suspected it would be (it's a karma/irony thing that people who know her father would understand). Being over three weeks early she was on the small side but generally healthy. Apparently the mom spiked a fever shortly before the birth, so the baby ended up in the special care nursery for some double-checking. As with Jacob, any sign of infection will be fought with antibiotics, and if that is the case, she'll be in there for a week or so. Still, by all accounts she was healthy, which is a relief when a baby comes that early...because even if anything past 36 weeks is considered full term, you're still dealing with potential lung issues and other minor complications.

Anyway, my conversations with my friend both on Friday in the midst of the waiting game and yesterday when he called me to tell me the news brought back a lot of memories. They're in the same hospital, and of course, the baby's in the same special care nursery where we spent hours hanging out with Jacob in that first week. On Friday when I found out that all of this was going on, I told my friend a little about the SCN, that the nurses are great and that the overnight room is really nice. Obviously we hoped that his baby would avoid it, but in the event it ended up there, it would be in good hands and it's a nice setup. And sure enough, she did have to go there. I hope it's only a short stay, though, because I would never wish that week on anyone. I'm sure I blogged about it way back when that I can't even imagine how parents of premature or very sick babies do it for months on end. You'll do anything for your baby, of course, but the exhaustion of knowing your baby's sick, spending hours sitting there, and not necessarily doing a heck of a lot else is really tough, mentally and physically. I often wondered where the other SCN babies' parents were. It was rare to see other parents around. Maybe I was the only one trying to nurse my baby. Because Jacob ate every 2-3 hours, it only made sense to be there a lot. Pumping wasn't fun and I wanted to minimize the time he spent drinking out of a bottle. Ironicially, I didn't spend too much time there while I was actually a patient in the hospital. I don't know why exactly, other than that a side room hadn't been offered as an option, and they probably would have rather had me back in my room ASAP so they could do their every-couple-hour checks on my temperature, blood pressure, and war wounds. Plus, I didn't want to miss meals!

Hearing my friend talk about the experience was quite interesting. When I spoke with him yesterday, I could sense the "this-is-great-but-I'm-scared-to-death" slant to his voice. I know it well because I had it, too. You can't help but be excited, because there's been a lot of build-up. You're so tired that you're running on pure adrenaline, but everyone and everything around you is telling you that you should be completely and totally pumped about the birth of your child. And it's not that you're not, but actually seeing your baby changes everything. This little life is all yours and you are completely responsible for its care. It will hold a piece of your heart (a big piece) for its entire life. That is an intimidating thing, particularly when you're still trying to figure out all of the "basic need" things, like how to change a diaper or feed it. It's like, can't I master the easy stuff before having to take on the massive reality of this whole situation? But no, the huge responsibility you just took on is staring you in the face immediately (literally), and while it's all very special, it is the scariest thing in the world. I told Craig recently that I look forward to baby #2 because I think I will enjoy it more. I was so scared of everything the first time around that I think I just never relaxed enough to really appreciate it all. While I know I will still be nervous about having a tiny, fragile baby, at least I will know how to diaper and feed and hold it, so I won't be preoccupied with stuff like that. And obviously I pray that we won't have to go through the time in the SCN again, because I'd like to finally get my token picture in the hospital bed holding my baby and experience my baby's first week in my own home, without having it attached to wires and tubes.


Yesterday morning's conversation took me back to the newness and wide-eyed excitement of those first couple days, and ever since I've been wondering how they're doing. The first couple days (or, actually, months) are a total blur, and when you go through it yourself it's hard to appreciate the immensity of it all. Seeing it through the eyes of others once you've had time to digest it all is very insightful. I just read back on some of my first posts after Jacob was born, and it's amazing how far we've come. It was such a crazy time, and I'll do whatever I can to be a resource for our friend in the middle of his new baby experience. I definitely think this experience is going to change him and help him show a kinder, gentler side (seriously, how much of a smart a** can you be when your entire world is suddenly enveloped by a sweet little baby?), and I'll be interested to see how things go. It's all very exciting stuff and I am so happy for them.

In other news, Jacob is doing well. He's still got his cough (what else is new?) but he seems to be feeling a bit better. We actually had a great evening. He ate well and was an absolute goofball! He was all over the place, laughing up a storm. I'm a little worried he's going to be one of those kids who gets extra hyper when he's sleepy, but right now it's pretty darn entertaining when he gets like that...complete silliness! But anyway, he calmed down almost immediately when we went into his room and he went to bed without a peep. Perfect. He's definitely got his cranky, determined moods where he won't stay still on the changing table, won't leave his inhaler mask over his mouth (who knew a baby could be so strong?), and gets into everything no matter how many times you try to distract him, but I guess that's all part of this stage. Otherwise he's a happy, goofy baby that thrives on attention. He is so cute and such a fun little dude....which totally makes up for the frustration most of the time!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Weekend

We originally had plans to go to Buffalo on Saturday so we could split the Mother's Day weekend visiting across a couple days. Unfortunately, Jacob still wasn't feeling fantastic so I didn't really want to risk a good night's sleep by having him wake up coughing, noticing he's in an unfamiliar place, and freak out. So we decided to stay home Saturday in hopes Jacob would be ready to go on Sunday. We didn't do much on Saturday--just some quick running around. Craig mowed the lawn and went Mother's Day shopping, and I did some laundry...but other than that we stuck close to home and tried to relax. Still, Jacob is inherently tiring these days so I'm not quite sure how well that worked out! He did discover what is sure to be a favorite hangout of his, the front door! With the door open and the storm door window low to the floor, he discovered that he could look out and watch the world go by. We even waved bye-bye to Daddy as he pulled out of the driveway! He really seemed to like it, and seriously, how cute are these pictures?



He seems to be feeling a little better. His cough is less frequent though still rough-sounding, and his nose seems to be a little less runny (at least for periods of time). It's hard to tell if the Claritin is working, but I'll give it another week or two and see how he seems minus any cold symptoms. From what I hear from other moms, May seems to be about when the day care perma-cold disappears. Fingers crossed!
Sunday we headed out to Buffalo to visit both sides of the family. Just a couple quick hours with my parents, then off to Craig's family for the rest of the afternoon/evening. We had a nice time and Jacob really seemed to enjoy watching his cousins play. He needs to bulk up a bit before he can play with the boys, though, but I know one of these days, before we know it, he'll be in there holding his own! Even though he seemed to be feeling better, Jacob was pretty clingy all day. Every time I tried to pass him off to anyone, he'd cry or reach back for me. He's not usually like that, so I don't know if it was just his cold or the whole separation anxiety thing kicking in. He was really huggy when I got him back in my arms, which usually isn't something I notice. He'd wrap his arms around me and snuggle into my shoulder. I felt so bad that no one else could hold him for any extended period of time, particularly since our families don't get a lot of time with him. However, it was nice to feel loved, especially on Mother's Day. I contentedly held him for a good chunk of the day. It just seemed...right. He had some issues on the way home, though. He cried for about 30 min., from the time we started driving at near exit 52 on the Thruway, until we got off at Exit 49 so I could go back with him. I nursed him back to sanity so we could get back on the road, and then played with him until he fell asleep a while later. I watched him sleep for a bit and then we napped in the backseat together. Very peaceful.
All in all, it was a fun day. I feel like I need more weekend, but oh well. I'll hopefully get to take some vacation soon. I need it!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Another cold :(

Jacob's had a rough week. When we look at him sometimes, we just see a "mess". First it was a couple lingering bruises from crawling mishaps (one under his chin and another under his eye). Then he picked up a new cold, this one with a really rough cough and a nose like a faucet. On top of that he's teething like crazy, so between having his hands in his mouth and tons of drooling, he's a mess. Our shirts have no chance these days because every time he gets near us, he's got saliva-covered hands and he wipes his drooly, snot-covered face all over us. Oy. Poor baby. Despite coughing a lot in bed, he's still been sleeping okay...knock on wood. He still has a lot of happy moments despite the cold, but he definitely downshifts into misery a lot quicker. Craig stayed home with him on Thursday because the cough just sounded miserable and I knew he'd be so clingy that he'd take up a lot of the caretakers' time, which isn't particularly fair to them or the other kids. His main caretaker is 8 months pregnant, so that's about the last thing she needs. I think we're on the back end of it now, but with the teething I think we still have some rough days ahead. I do think I can see this top two teeth showing through the gums just a bit now. It'll probably still be a couple weeks before they break through, though. I'm bracing for that on the nursing front. The tongue protects me from the bottom teeth, but the top teeth are going to be exposed and could therefore be pretty painful the moment he loses focus. He's still nursing pretty crappy anyway (other than the last feeding at night), so we're moving toward weaning anyway. I've been making an effort to work on milk in the sippy cup so we're prepared. He's doing pretty well with that, actually. Still a little drippy sometimes, but he's definitely getting it. It's a great way to get him to finish off a bottle these days when he doesn't want to drink it from the bottle.

He started Claritin this week and I'm eager to see if that helps him once this cold goes away. While it's supposedly not common for babies to show allergy symptoms this early, it does happen. Maybe that's been part of his problem all along. We shall see. For now we just have to wait the cold out. We were originally planning on making Mother's Day weekend in Buffalo a two-day affair, but we decided that it was probably smart to keep him here overnight because a change of scenery could spell disaster for his fragile sleeping state. Whereas now he'll wake up coughing but fall back to sleep, he might freak out in a less familiar place and be up all night. So we'll err on the safe side for now and cram tomorrow full :) Happy Mother's Day everyone!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pregnancy Memories

I've been thinking a lot lately about the late stages of my pregnancy. The memories of that time are more vivid than much of the rest of my pregnancy because there were more points of reference. I had showers, childbirth classes, nursery prep, and warm weather clothes shopping, all of which took place at this time last year. Between reading back in the blog archives and the periodic bursts of warm weather recently, a lot of the memories and the associated emotions have come creeping back. It was definitely an interesting time. I can hardly believe we've gone through an entire year of seasons changing. So much has happened since then and it boggles my mind. I can't believe Jacob is 10-1/2 months old already. But then again, who I was pre-Jacob seems like a lifetime ago.

Knowing that the showers and childbirth classes were a year ago means that last year at this time I was already really, really pregnant. I just remember feeling huge...or at least, when it comes to the showers, feeling huge once I saw pictures of myself. And at that point I still had almost two months of rapid growth to go! I remember going out shopping for shorts on a freak 85 degree day in April, having to wear my maternity jeans because it was pretty much all I had. And by that point everything I tried on was a tricky fit...either because my belly was so big, the rest of me was so small, or I still wasn't sure how gigantic I'd get.

It was a time of anticipation and change. I just remember being very busy. Between hitting up childbirth classes once a week (and rushing to get out of work and grab dinner beforehand), trying to pick up my new car (amidst many problems) and doing a ton of baby shopping/registry maintenance/nursery prep (ok, we didn't do a lot of nursery prep...but just organizing shower gifts was a challenge!), there was a lot going on. It was all very exciting, but there was a definite nervous excitement going on. I was scared out of my mind about a lot of stuff, and even the thought of going into Jacob's room and sorting through gifts gave me a bit of anxiety...like it was confirming that this was really happening...and well, duh, it was. We knew our lives were about to change, and we were okay with that even if we were inevitably unprepared. I definitely spent those last couple months savoring every moment of our time together, knowing it would never be the same once the demands of parenting took over. And sure enough, even when Jacob's in bed and it's just the two of us again, Jacob still seems to dominate the conversation...or we're catching up on TV shows we didn't get a chance to watch because he was keeping us otherwise occupied! He's never out of our minds.

I definitely think back on how tired I could get from all of the preparations. I could only do so much (particularly when the summer heat started) before I had to sit and take a break. I wasn't used to having such a low threshold for exhaustion, so that was tough. Sometimes I just had to press on, or else I'd never get anything done. I don't miss those days, although sometimes it would be nice to be forced to take a break. Between our morning routine, work, dinner, dishes, bottles, and prep for the next day (along with anything else on my to do list), sometimes it's tough to just sit down and relax. And when I do, I usually fall asleep rather quickly. That is frustrating, because I'd rather go to bed and get real sleep instead of a pre-bed catnap on the couch. But quite often the thought of putting on pjs and brushing teeth is just too much and I just zonk out.

I think about how crazy it was to have this little human inside of me, moving around and giving me this massive belly. I can hardly believe it was there...almost like it was some weird dream. The belly is smaller these days, of course, though it never did snap back to its previous state. The rest of me is skinnier than ever...I think my instructor at the gym was right--breastfeeding does burn the fat in the butt, hips and thighs. So even though I weigh a lot less than pre-pregnancy, my body is not what it once was. When I finally do get out clothes shopping, I have a hard time figuring out how to dress my new body...and I wonder how long it will stay in its current state once I stop nursing.

The room full of baby stuff was such a strange thing to me. Having had very little experience with babies, it was all new and confusing. I spent a lot of time just trying to sort through it all and figure out what needed to go where, and what else we needed. It helped prepare me mentally, but it was overwhelming at times. Just thinking about those piles makes me a little crazy to this day. Amazingly, it all found a place in his room (or somewhere else in the house), and it's like it's always been there now!

As for the pre-Jacob me...that does seem like a lifetime ago. Everything in my world revolves around him now, like it or not. Maybe he's not in my thoughts all the time when I'm at work--I have a ton of stuff to keep me occupied--but if I thought about him all day, I don't think I'd be able to spend all day at work because I'd miss him too much. But I think about him a lot anyway, and always look forward to his smiling face. And even when he's asleep, my world is a better place because he's at peace. Sometimes I find it hard to focus on "me" stuff when I'm out in the world without him. I don't have much patience to shop because I'm always thinking about him, wondering if things are ok at home. Half the time my attention gets turned to the baby section instead of clothes my own size. I'm not sure what I would do without him these days. I definitely identify myself as a mom these days, more than anything else. I really need to work on paying more attention to my role as a wife these days. The balance still isn't quite there, and it's not fair to Craig...though I think he understands. The old me was pretty self-centered...not in a bad way, I suppose, but I just didn't have much else going on so of course my needs were in the forefront. Not anymore, though I still have my moments when I get a little too run down and need a break.

It's a totally different life, that's for sure. I can't really describe it as better or worse...just different. There are old things I miss and new things I wouldn't give up for the world. My life certainly has more meaning now, though I think I've lost a little of my own identity because Jacob's needs have taken over almost every facet of my existence. Despite all of the problems and concerns of pregnancy, I do miss the excitement, anticipation, and promise that it held. Reality these days is a lot more difficult, but also more rewarding. It's a world away from where I was a year ago, but as the warm spring breezes blow, inevitably my mind will travel back to a simpler time of intense anticipation...what a time it was.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Baby's First Allergy Meds (and Second Inhaler)

We were back at the doctor today for Jacob's followup with the pulmonary specialist. We expressed our concerns that he didn't seem any better--he still has a doozy of a cough. I've never been completely convinced about the reflux issue. Yes, the procedure he had last time around showed that he had it, but they never made it sound like he had it very badly nor has he ever spit up like a real reflux baby. The only visible symptoms were merely circumstantial evidence--waking up at night, arching his back during feedings--and none of that seemed to go away with his cocktail of meds. However, the doctor didn't like the fact that he still had the cough, and his ever-present runny nose (his perma-cold from day care, as I like to say) was giving him some post-nasal drip as well. She asked how he was doing with the nebulizer, and while some nights it knocks him out, other nights he flails around like crazy. As a result, she decided to change things up. So now we're back to an inhaler like he had right after his first bout of bronchiolitis. Twice a day, two puffs each. Can't wait to try to get him to sit still for that!

He's staying on the Reglan and Prevacid for now for the reflux, which he should outgrow. In addition, she told us to get him some over-the-counter allergy meds. Of course, somehow we didn't end up with her notes on that, so I have to call tomorrow to confirm what kind she'd like us to get. She mentioned a couple, and so far I've only found that Zyrtec is approved for babies his age, though Claritin has less side effects for kids. Perhaps at a certain dosage it's ok. Either way, it will be interesting to see how that goes. We've been wanting allergy meds for him for months, and it will be interesting to see if they work. I mean, we know he's predisposed to allergies and asthma from us. Though it turned out to be bronchiolitis, I'm still convinced that ragweed time started him off with the coughing. We were sick together, and it happened to be the same week that everyone was complaining about ragweed, my worst allergy. Coincidence? Maybe. But the fact that his cough has been worse in the last couple weeks makes me wonder if the massive amounts of pollen outside might be pushing that along. We shall see.

Jacob's biggest issue these days is eating. He was back down under 20 lbs. today, which doesn't surprise me at all since his feedings have been pretty awful. They'll range from 5 minutes up...his morning feeding is usually no more than 15-20 minutes, and he had some brutal ones over the weekend. Tonight, of course, he ate forever. Most nights are pretty decent. His bottles at daycare are anywhere from 5 oz. to 7 oz., and apparently it's a struggle most of the time. They've been trying everything, from putting it in his sippy cup, to playing with him in between and going back to it later. I've even been having issues at dinner time with solid foods. He hardly ate anything tonight. It's tough to tell what's going on. It could be that he just wants to get up and play now that he's crawling like a maniac. Or maybe he's uncomfortable from his post-nasal drip...I know I don't like swallowing much when mine is bad. Or maybe he's teething again. We can't see any teeth coming, but he's been chewing on everything almost non-stop. They've got to be coming soon, so I suppose that's a definite possibility. It definitely makes me nervous because I don't want him losing too much weight. I just don't know at what point I need to try to supplement with formula when he won't nurse. I know he'll eat when he's hungry, but God gave us parents for a reason so perhaps I need to step in. It's so tough to tell.

Jacob is definitely a handful these days, crawling around and getting into whatever he can. He ended up with a couple scratches and a little shiner today from his crawling exploits. I think he's getting braver and is trying some different moves, but his balance is not quite there yet and he's falling on his face a lot. Poor baby. Have I mentioned that he finally seems to have figured out raspberries? He doesn't do it a lot, but over the last week or so he finally figured out how to put his lips together and blow. It's still pretty cute because he hasn't started doing it at bad times, like while he's eating. He's getting very adept at finger foods, and that has been fun to watch. He was firing down Cheerios like crazy over the weekend. He's pretty amazing to watch these days as he figures things out and grows into a little boy more and more. I can only imagine what's in store...now if we could only get him healthy for the ride, that would be great!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Travel

If it weren't for Jacob, I would be in New York City right now. Though actually, I might be there if he were even a year older. The Knighthawks are playing the New York Titans in the first round of the playoffs. Craig left yesterday, and this morning over 250 fans boarded buses paid for by the team owner for a $10 (!) trip to the Big Apple. It was a great deal and in the past I would have been first in line. I love a random adventure like that. Even the thought of 12 hours on a bus in a 24-hour period wouldn't have dissuaded me. I haven't been to NYC since 2001 (pre-9/11) and would have loved to rewrite a memory or two since I'd like to forget my travel companion for my two trips there. This one wouldn't have been a long trip--literally the trip there, a few hours to grab dinner and maybe gawk at some architecture before heading to the game and back home right after. But to go to a playoff game and to NYC in general would have been pretty stinkin' cool, particularly for $10. As you may recall, I spent $450 two years ago to head to Phoenix for the Knighthawks championship game. It was worth every penny, particularly because they won. It was an amazing couple days, a surreal weekend that is still the epitome of freedom and adventure for me. I knew then that it was one of those situations that I wanted to take advantage of before having kids. Looking back on it all, from my perfect morning bike ride the day I left, to my first solo travel experience, to enjoying a couple of beers by the pool on an 85-degree evening with the championship trophy as the centerpiece, I just think of the amazing feeling of freedom and excitement that followed me that whole weekend. I knew it was a bit of a last hurrah since we were going to be trying to get pregnant that summer, and that was part of the reason I was so determined to go.

Fast forward two years and we have an amazing baby boy to fill our days. I wouldn't trade him for anything, obviously, but I'll admit there are days when I long for the simplicity of being able to do things whenever I want, at a moment's notice with minimal planning. Something as simple as a trip to the grocery store takes some strategizing, let alone a real trip of any length. Even if someone would have been able to watch Jacob for a day, I would have had to pump on the bus. Far from ideal. I know that one fan was planning on taking their 11-month old on the bus, but they are far more daring than me!! While he'd probably have slept for a good chunk of the ride, I can't imagine how fussy he'd be if he was awake, with not being able to get up and crawl around. Lugging him around NYC would have been a challenge, and by the end of the game he would have been wiped out and cranky. I think he'd have slept most of the trip back, but still....scary stuff. Maybe in a year or two when he's a little older, can walk on his own, and can be reasoned with a bit (I know, that's probably wishful thinking), if the opportunity presents itself we can give it a shot. But for now, no NYC for either of us. It just wasn't meant to be this time around, I guess.

Speaking of travel, I have been pondering our summer vacation plans for a while now, trying to figure out if there's a baby-friendly trip we could take. We've already got a long weekend in Pittsburgh with Craig's family planned for August. I think that will be a lot of fun, though that seems like a lifetime away right now because Jacob will be more than 13 months old by then. He could be walking, eating any number of new foods, and maybe even talking! Hard to imagine! But I'd like to do some sort of real vacation before then. I don't think I'm ready to leave Jacob behind yet, though I'm sure an adults-only trip would do wonders for Craig and me since we haven't had much "us" time in the last 10 months. But I think I would be spending most of the time thinking about and talking about Jacob, and the guilt of not being with him would be tough. So, I'm more than happy to go somewhere that he will enjoy, too. My first thought is the beach...low key but entertaining. I loved the Jersey shore and would love to go back. We could walk the boardwalk, play in the sand, dip our toes in the ocean, and enjoy the tacky shops and tasty snacks. Still, the thought of a 6+ hour car trip each way and packing for a week makes me crazy. That right there might defeat the purpose of a relaxing vacation. Still, it might be fun. Something to think about.

Well, the Knighthawks blew a late lead and lost in overtime. The season is over. I'm sad for Craig because I know how much he loves playoff runs and that was definitely not the way to lose a game. However, I am excited to start his first summer of freedom in many, many years. Every summer since our first full summer as a couple, Craig has worked at least one sport. He did color commentary for Rattlers (lacrosse) home games early on, and helped out with Rhinos (soccer) games as well. Soon he took over the Rattlers' play-by-play duties, which added six road trips to his schedule. Shortly thereafter, he took on greater responsibility with the Rhinos...including their 20-some home games. All of that definitely impacted our summer weekends, which were busy to begin with. The Rhinos were out of the picture last summer (the timing couldn't have been better!), and the Rattlers folded/moved this winter, so Craig is officially down to a normal 9 to 5 schedule (in theory) all summer. No games until October! I know he'll miss the travel and camaraderie, but it will be great to have him around. Lots of family parties, trips to the zoo, and whatever else we didn't have a chance to do the last seven years or so! Should be awesome...