Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How do you teach a baby?

That is the question I have been asking myself for a while now. I know Jacob's only a year and he's too young to pick up on a lot of stuff, but I also don't want to underestimate him or get him in bad habits in the meantime. I tend to wonder how the learning curve works. Take his sippy cup, for example. I didn't start him on one until pretty late, mostly because we didn't start solids until late, and it took a while to get successful with that. If he would have been on formula I might have also started earlier, but with him breastfeeding most of the time at home, there wasn't a lot of motivation or opportunity to really work on it. Babies aren't supposed to drink a lot of water (the sippy cup practice beverage of choice), so I didn't want to go too nuts with it anyway. As of 3-4 weeks ago, I think I would consider him to have pretty much mastered the sippy cup. Not that he doesn't occasionally have messy moments, but at that point it seemed like he could drink cleanly most of the time. Now...if we had started earlier, would he have mastered it earlier? Or would he have fumbled around longer and mastered it about the same time, just because there's a window of time where his physical ability would have clicked in regardless of prior experience? I'm sure there's some degree of both things going on....that if we would have started really early he would have fumbled longer because he just wouldn't be physically able until a certain point, but ultimately he would have picked it up earlier than he actually did because he had more practice under his belt once he hit the point of being physically able. Now, keeping that in mind...

I'm just not sure how to teach him things. I'm not sure he's got the cognitive ability to understand that he shouldn't throw his sippy cup on the floor repeatedly. That's obviously just something that babies do...but at some point that's not going to be acceptable behavior anymore. If I let it slide now, why should he listen when I try to stop him from doing it down the road? I need to be consistent, right? And who knows, maybe he should be able to understand it at this point, or soon...though he may not care, of course. But I suppose it's important to keep working on that stuff. Even still...if he can't understand the words I'm using, how can I teach him? Obviously we try taking the cup away after he drops it a couple times, though for nutrition's sake we do have to give it back after a while so he can drink...because the way he's been eating lately, the nutrition in that formula (we're onto the Next Step stuff right now to help transition...way better than milk) is probably vital to keeping him functioning. We try to teach him to set the cup down and not to throw it, but beyond that...it's hard. I've tried a gentle hand slap a couple times when he's thrown it repeatedly, or other times when he's touched something he shouldn't (usually after we've repeatedly said no and tried to move him away multiple times), but he seems to like the noise and just smiles. Even a stern "No" elicits smiles. Ugh.

His biting has been an issue as well. While it may be playful to him, or just a way to relieve teething pain, it's really a problem now that he has teeth. On Sunday at church (more on that later) I was trying to stop him from screaming by covering his mouth...not in a suffocating way, of course, but in a shushy, muffling way so his screech wasn't so ear-piercing. Again, how do you teach a baby that an ear-piercing scream is not appropriate? I figure maybe he'll notice that covering his mouth mutes the sound a little and he'll take it as a hint to quiet down. Fruitless, I'm sure, but anyway...when I tried to do that, he bit me...hard! It left teeth marks! He's bitten me almost everywhere else...my leg, my stomach, my neck, my shoulder, my face...and yet I just don't know how to teach him to stop. I say no, and lately I've been trying to put him down so he equates biting with a lack of attention. But seriously...if he's not conscious of the fact he just did it, how will he know that it's wrong? I have to keep doing it to stay consistent, but it's been brutal and yet he just keeps doing it.

Jacob's a tough nut to crack, in part because he's not a mimicker. He never has been. Most babies blow raspberries and stick out their tongue early on in response to their parents doing those things, but Jacob did neither. He finally got around to raspberries a month or two ago. He rarely repeats sounds, which is why this new "uh-oh" thing is so amazing to me. I've been trying to get him to say "Mama" for months, and still nothing. He's never opened his mouth to eat when we've demonstrated it, and he generally just doesn't bother with our suggestions. It's not that he doesn't hear or see what we're doing, it's just that he's got such a mind of his own that he doesn't bother imitating. I may still ask the doctor and see if that's a problem, but I'm guessing he's just stubborn. So as far as teaching goes, it's hard when you can't use yourself as a model.

Sunday I was losing my mind at church because Jacob just didn't want to do anything we wanted him to do. He tried crawling under the chairs, then crawled up to the windows of the crying room and banged on them. We'd try to feed him snacks, get him to play with his trucks, and hold him so he could watch the action, but inevitably that would lose its appeal and he was off to something else. Nothing really seemed to work and eventually Craig had to go out into the hallway with him because he was inconsolably screaming. And when a baby's screaming too much for the crying room, you know it's a problem! While I know he's not ready to sit still for an hour of church, I also don't want him getting used to crawling all over the place or getting to go out to the hallway. I just feel a little stuck.

It's just been a rough patch in a lot of ways lately. He won't eat much of anything, which is worrisome. He likes fruit, yogurt, and meat, but even that loses its appeal after a while. It's not that he's not hungry, but it just seems like he gets bored and doesn't want to feed himself. Day care is seeing the same thing. We'll see what the doctor says when she sees our skinny little boy next week. But how can a kid like something one day and hate it the next, or just not want to eat food at all? He's never been excited by food, but this is taking it to a whole new level. Meals are torture.

Sleep has been tough, though in a different way than before. Lately we've needed to do some sleep training when we've put him down, because he's not used to going to bed awake. We'd let him cry for five minutes, comfort him for two (just rubbing his back and shushing), let him cry for 10 minutes, then two more minutes of comforting, then fifteen minutes and so on. As rough as it is to listen to him crying hysterically, he needs to learn to go to sleep without us, and not get used to us coming in in response to his cries. Again, seems harsh, but I think it's necessary. And strangely enough, each night that we did that he slept through the night (or had one brief wakeup) and slept later in the morning. Part of that could be that the crying has kept him up later, but still...it's quite the switch from waking up four times a night. Hopefully that's a sign he's learning.

Tonight was a microcosm of all of the problems that are plaguing me these days. He was in a good mood on the way home from day care, but got a little whiny shortly thereafter. Normally I would attribute it to sleepiness, but he took a long nap from 12:35 to 3:00, which is crazy long for him so I figured he'd be good to go until bedtime. He whined right through the beginning of dinner, and then drifted off in his high chair! He slept for about 30-45 minutes. All we could do was recline the seat and let him rest. After he woke up he flashed a few smiles, but for the most part he was still cranky. All I could do was bathe him, feed him and put him to bed. He was awake but sleepy when I laid him down, and I gave him a soft stuffed bear (we hadn't done the stuffed animal thing in bed yet). He snuggled up to it, and flipped right over. Not a peep since. So I guess that's the bright side of tonight, though how sleepy he was tonight scares me a bit. But I'm still quite concerned about his eating and how off our schedules are. I still wish I could drag my butt out of bed earlier so I could get out of work earlier and get home with him earlier. Then we could eat and play and still get him in bed before he's overtired. It's just so hard. I feel so stuck sometimes. Oh, and I'm also really convinced that a lot of his fussiness has to do with him associating me with how often I have to hold him down and give him his meds. Let's hope that next week's doctor visits allow us to get off of some of them. One less battle.

I love him like crazy but this has definitely been a tough week or two. I don't want to feel like we're battling all the time, but that's how it feels right now. The hugs and smiles help, but it's not easy right now.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

What's in a year?

Now that a year has passed, it's amazing to think about the things I haven't done in a year or how our new "normal" has been in place for that long. Or even more, things that have been different since I got pregnant, or even before. Consider this...I went off the pill two years ago this month in anticipation of getting pregnant sometime in late summer or early fall. As I've mentioned before, my cycle took a while to get on track...in fact, I didn't even know it had until I was already pregnant. As a result, between hormonal issues, pregnancy, birth control and breastfeeding, I haven't had a normal monthly period in almost two years...dating back to August 2007. Too much information, I know...but it's crazy to think about. That's a long time! I also haven't consumed alcohol on a regular basis since around that time. Just to be on the safe side, I stopped most casual drinking once I knew there was a chance I could get pregnant...and have only drunk a bit here and there since Jacob was born...mostly because it's sometimes hard to work around nursing. Not that it was a huge part of my existence even before, but it was still a change nonetheless. It's getting easier to work in these days, though...just in time for summer parties!

Another TMI note...it's been probably a good 15 months or so since anything pertaining to the bedroom was normal...sleep or otherwise! Between the end stages of pregnancy, healing, more hormonal issues, exhaustion, and timely interruptions from Jacob, nothing has been easy! Sleep is still a struggle, but gladly, other things are gradually getting easier. It just amazing to think that it's been a little over a year since I've had long term restful sleep. We did pretty good for a while in the fall, once Jacob stopped waking up to feed but but before teething hit. Since then it's been pretty hit or miss, but still...very little sleeping in or eight hours of straight sleep. We're hoping to rectify that, if even for a night, by leaving Jacob with my parents at some point and spending a night in Niagara Falls. They're practically begging to get him for a night, and I'm thinking it'd be a great opportunity for us to take them up on so we can sleep well and pretend we're responsibility-free for 24 hours!

Here's a final TMI for ya...It's been over a year now since I took BM's for granted...mine or Jacob's. It was tough right after delivery thanks to the lovely hemhorroids I picked up during delivery, and they were an issue for a while until I acquired a craving for high fiber everything. Still, I think about it all the time...to the extent that I really appreciate when they're pain-free! And, of course, poop is a major topic for most parents when it comes to their baby, and keeping track of Jacob's is one of those things you never realize will become so routine. But one year later, here we are.

It's also been a little over a year since I haven't been held hostage by my boobs. Yep...for all it's benefits, nursing isn't always easy. Being held hostage is coming to an end, though, because I'm at a pretty good point right now where I go over 12 hours overnight, then about six hours during the day and five hours into the evening, all without getting uncomfortable. Not bad. We're slowly but surely slowing down the milk factory...and for the most part, I am looking forward to it. I will not miss my frequent companion, the pump, one bit!

Our living room hasn't been an "adult" space in a little over a year either. Other than the pack 'n' play, then later the jumperoo, and now back to the pack 'n' play, it wasn't too bad, but slowly but surely other toys have taken over. And since Jacob's birthday, it's official...it's a playroom! It's also hard for me to believe that Jacob's room is a year old. For the longest time, everything in there was new...and now it's been around for over a year. It doesn't seem like that long ago that I had my big nesting day, when I was doing all of Jacob's laundry and putting everything away for the first time. And now I've been doing that stuff for over a year, and it's hard to believe Jacob's room was ever anything else!

It's been a year since a shopping trip to the mall has been completely focused on myself. Even if I'm going there to shop for me, inevitably I'm looking at stuff for Jacob or wondering if he's ok at home. It's tough to have patience when I'd rather just be home with him or I get frustrated with my new body!

It's been about nine months since Jacob's parade of meds started. He got sick the first time in late August, and a month later he got his first inhaler. Since then it's been a steady stream of nebulizer treatments, oral steroids, antibiotics, acid reducers, and now we're back to an inhaler, plus his lovely Reglan and Claritin. Hopefully the Reglan (and ideally the pricey Prevacid) will be able to go away in the next couple weeks...keeping our fingers crossed). The series of meds makes for a tough morning (and may be why we have such a rough time with Jacob on the changing table now), but I know that it's still not that bad...that there are so many worse things in the world than a few medications for a relatively short period of time.

I'm sure there's more changes I'm not even thinking about. Suffice it to say that our world has definitely changed, and time has flown. That's even more true today, our 6th anniversary. I will say that our wedding day probably seems even farther away today than it did last year...probably because our world has so completely shifted from a couple carefree "kids" to Jacob-focused parents. Last year we were very Jacob-focused as well, but it was so new then that I don't think it had sunk in or had a chance to fully integrate into our existence. What a year it has been.

Oh, and one side note before I go. Jacob's second word is officially "uh-oh!" His first word is "Dada", though I've never seen him officially use it to address Craig. Craig insists it's happened, though (shocking, I know). Anyway, the uh-oh thing seemingly came out of nowhere, but Craig says that he taught it to him the other day...and I guess he picked it up pretty quickly. I think it happened when they were playing with his ball popper, since the balls always go all over the place. It's pretty funny, though. Now if only he could pick up "Mama" that fast...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Back on the roller coaster...

Remember how I blogged a while back about how good days and bad days tend to occur in close proximity to one another? How one day can be great and the next is a complete disaster? Well, I feel like last night to today is another example of that. Maybe on a lesser level than last time, but still...ugh. Last night turned out to be pretty great. I had a coupon for a free entree at Pizzeria Uno, so we headed out to Henrietta. Jacob was in a pretty good mood, and fell asleep on the way there, but woke up as we got there. He'd already napped at day care, so I think he was just bored :) I started feeding Jacob as soon as we got there because we could tell he was hungry. We had some veggie dogs, sweet potatoes, and blueberries, along with a sippy cup of formula. He ate pretty well. The last few bites were a bit of a struggle, but I'm convinced he just gets bored eating. Near the end he'll gladly eat it if we feed it to him, but he doesn't want to bother feeding himself. He's definitely into that "throwing" phase, where food and sippy cups end up on the floor frequently, but for the most part he was pretty good. He was laughing a lot and keeping other diners entertained! Our food took FOREVER to come, and Jacob was done eating by the time our food came. Ugh. Still, he was really good. The food took so long to come out that they offered each of us a free dessert! We could have had anything we wanted, but we were both already pretty stuffed and it was too hot to take anything home (we had a stop to make after), so we each just got one of the mini desserts. I gave Jacob a few bites of my ice cream and brownie (no nuts, don't worry), and he loved it. Though he did do a couple typical frustrating baby things like throwing his cup, toys and food and trying to lift up his placemat, he was really a very good little boy throughout dinner, particularly considering how long it was!

After dinner we stopped at Target and Babies 'R' Us for a few things...mostly some containers to help us with his new feeding habits (I've been wanting some cheap 2-section containers, and Take & Toss has them now...along with a certain type of snack cup and new sippy cups--Jacob bites the spouts on his and a couple are cracking). He was great through both of those stops as well, fed like a champ when we got home, and went to bed without incident. Fantastic.

He did wake up a couple times overnight again, so that is still an issue. Trying to decide if we should work on the cry it out technique sometime soon, or if we should just keep getting up with him. This morning when he woke up, he was feeling a little warm. I couldn't get a consistent temperature, though I did get one just over 100. But in general he still seemed fine...a little extra cuddly perhaps, but still smiling. He didn't eat or drink much this morning, so that was another little warning sign. Could be that he's getting sick (for the millionth time) or that his teeth are bothering him (aren't they always?). Either way I feel bad for him. He was a little extra clingy when it was time to say good-bye at day care, too. Of course, it didn't help that I dropped a jar of baby food on the floor there this morning (ugh!!), and they had to run the vacuum to pick up any stray glass. That spooked him a bit, and once I had him calmed back down and tried to leave, he got upset again. Poor baby. Hopefully he perked up as the day went on and the fever was just a result of teething and not something that's going to get worse. Guess I should double check his mouth again for any new teeth starting to show through the gums. Although, I swear sometimes the worst of it is when we can't even see them. I would hate for him to get sick, particularly because we have a fun weekend coming up. Nothing crazy busy, but a day care picnic, maybe a Red Wings game, and hopefully a visit with Jacob's little friend Colin (and his mommy Laurie, too!), who will be in town.

So, not as big of a downer as last time (yet), but after such a fun evening it was a bummer that Jacob wasn't feeling well this morning. I've also been agonizing a bit all day about his diet, because I'm afraid that some of the meat he's getting (chicken, which he loves) is a little too processed and probably contains nitrates, which aren't great for any of us to eat...but probably less so for babies. So that has me a little nervous as well. Definitely lots of questions for our next doctor visit in a week and a half...it can't come soon enough, but I don't want to keep wishing summer away either! So much to think about...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Video Fun

Since I didn't get much fun video of Jacob on his birthday and haven't puposefully taken video of him in ages, I decided to catch him when he was in a good mood on his birthday evening. I wanted to make sure I got his giggle on camera, because I love it and want to document it for posterity. Undoubtedly it'll change soon enough, so I want to preserve it...since unfortunately I've missed a lot along the way (his early "laughing" cry among them). So here is some fun video of his adorable little laugh!

This next bit of video takes advantage of Jacob's pointing abilities, but he seemed to pick up the skill pretty well on his birthday when we'd ask him the question...

Could he get any cuter?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Photo Tuesday

As promised, it's time to catch up on some pictures from a week or two ago...

Here is an absolutely adorable shot of Jacob that I took at his cousins' zoo birthday party. The kids were petting a snake at the time and Jacob was well fed, entertained and happy!


Here he is with me in Craig's parents' pool. That's how he was for most of the time we were in there...attached to me like a little monkey, face buried in my shoulder.

When I finally peeled him off me, we put him in this cute little turtle float. He liked zooming around the pool in it (with our help, of course), but eventually was obsessed with looking down at the water that collected within the seat. You can see that he's looking down here. Eventually we had to take him out because he just wouldn't keep his head up and we were afraid he'd start gulping water or breathing it in.

Slowly but surely Jacob is getting more hair, and last week I finally remembered to bring the camera into the bathroom so I could do a mini-faux-hawk! It had also been a while since we'd done any bath shots. These two are similar (and you can hardly see the faux-hawk in either one!), but I loved them both!

He's such a smiley little boy a lot of the time, which is fantastic. I don't think I have any pictures yet where you can see his top teeth, but they are definitely there, about halfway in. Speaking of which, Jacob's trying all sorts of new foods--veggie dogs, cake, and ice cream over the weekend, avocado last night (not successful, though--not sure if it was taste, texture, or general crankiness), and toast this morning (which he loved). I keep trying to think of things to try, but with only four teeth, it's not always easy to keep it chewable and healthy! We'll keep trying, though.

Stay tuned tomorrow for some videos!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Happy Birthday Jacob!

Well, as I mentioned in my post on Saturday, we survived Jacob's first birthday. The party had me nervous, for a number of reasons. I'm not a great party planner, and I just get nervous that I'm going to forget some huge but mundane detail. You know, like we'll get ready to eat and have no ketchup or something. The weather was forecasted to be terrible, and I basically had a week of evenings and one full day to get ready. I didn't feel like we needed to do a big, fancy party because Jacob isn't old enough to know better yet. I'd rather save the fun themes and any expensive entertainment for when Jacob is old enough to enjoy it. Still, he only turns one once, so I didn't want to go too low-key. We did go to Party City the other night and spend around $25 on decorations and accessories...a "1" candle, a bib, "Happy Birthday" banners, balloons, a tablecloth, a "1st Birthday" plate for Jacob's cake, and some napkins. Nothing fancy, but enough to make it look like we made an effort! It's amazing how much we could have spent...or may spend down the road for themed friend parties. Wow...that's a whole new world and a far cry from the parties I went to (or hosted) as a kid.

Anyway, one of my bigger challenges was keeping the party nut and egg-free for our nephew Grant. Nut-free wasn't hard...but egg-free is a bit challenging, primarily because you have to avoid salads with mayo, cross-contaminated meats (meaning, they can only come from meat-only processing plants...not Wegmans' meat department, for example) and any egg-containing treats like store-bought cakes or French Vanilla ice cream. Lots of label reading, that's for sure. I'm not sure how Craig's brother and his wife do it. Anyway, no egg meant that I had to make the cake myself. Fortunately there's a nifty shortcut...just take a store-bought cake mix, add a similarly colored can of soda, mix and bake. You'd hardly know it was different. It's just that I don't have a lot of cake experience, nor much equipment. Definitely investing in a pastry bag next time. Anyway, getting the cake together and decorated was probably my biggest stress, and although it's not particularly pretty, I suppose there's a certain first-timer charm to it. Jacob's little cake turned out pretty cute, too. I'll only get better with experience, I'm sure. At least it tasted good.


Here's Jacob before the festivities really got going...


On to gift opening...reading the adorable Snoopy-themed card from Craig's parents...


Checking out the Busy Ball Popper...this ended up being the first big toy we opened later on, because I figured it was high impact with minimal assembly. Jacob's still figuring it out but likes the balls and laughs when they start flying everywhere and we make a big deal out of it.


He, ummm, really liked the gift we gave him...so much so that he's eating it. Yeah, he's really got an oral fixation lately. And with teeth, that is no fun for us. Or him, for that matter. When he was really upset yesterday he gave himself a bite mark on his arm. Ouch.


So, by the end of gift-opening he was getting really squirmy and a little cranky, so I knew cake might be a problem. However, the show must go on. He mashed up the cake pretty well, but it was sort of more in anger than anything.





He didn't really get a good taste until later, when he was clean and calm and decided he wanted Mommy's cake. I got a baby fork and fed him some bites of cake and ice cream, which he really seemed to like!

It was a long day and all things considered, I guess he did well. Cake time wasn't the best time to have a tantrum, but what can you do? He was a good boy being handed around all day, and it was nice to have everyone over since we don't get our extended families out to Rochester very often. We survived the rain thanks to our large garage and our fantastic 70's-era party basement. But it was WET. Again, thanks to everyone for coming. We had a good time and I think someday Jacob will appreciate it!

Had to share...

I will post more later but for now I just wanted to share this picture. I don't know if I ever posted it before, and it was never originally one that stood out to me as a favorite, but as I've gone back through my pictures from those early days, it really jumped out at me this time around. I thought it was such a sweet picture. It really captures for me the essence of how tiny he was. He more than fills up the boppy hole now!

It's been my wallpaper at work since Thursday afternoon, and I just love it.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

One Year

Well, we've made it. We've officially survived one year as parents. And Jacob has survived one year with us as parents. Not sure who should be more relieved :) We even got through his first birthday party, though it was crazy at times. I used to think throwing a party was chaotic. Now that I have a baby, I don't think I even have a word for it. It's hard to be everywhere and do everything at once, so thank goodness for good help! My parents and Lori, in particular, were fantastic today. My parents watched Jacob while Craig and I did a last minute run to the store. While we were gone my dad hopped on a ladder (in the rain) to unclog our gutter. When we got back, my mom and Lori did a lot of prep work while I worked on the cake, and amongst all of us we somehow kept Jacob occupied and relatively happy. I felt bad about how little time I spent with Jacob this morning, and his hug felt good once the cake was done. I missed him :) The party had its ups and downs, but I definitely think I'd like to rework things when the time comes for baby #2. Jacob ended up pretty squirmy and cranky by gift opening, and was even less happy when we did the cake. Perhaps we'll have to schedule in a nap mid-party, or just change around the schedule so at least gifts come before the energy starts to wane. Let's see if I remember that by then. But it was great to have everyone here...kudos to everyone who drove in from Buffalo in the horrible rain. Thank goodness we have a pretty good party house, between the garage and the basement. Would have been nice to utilize the patio and yard, but oh well.

So, we have a one year old. He's been sleeping like a newborn lately, but hopefully it's just another phase. I've definitely been thinking about where I was at any given moment these last couple days a year ago, from my blog posts yesterday to being up at 3am wishing Jacob a happy birthday through his cries, to fleeting thoughts this morning when we woke up that he would already have been in the special care nursery. Funny how natural it is to think back on a year ago, but how a year ago I never even considered what today would be like a year later as we got ready for his party or dealt with life with a one year old. I guess it's all pretty overwhelming when you have a baby, and particularly when your baby is sick, you can't even begin to look that far ahead. You spend a lot of days over the next year just taking it day by day, unsure how you're going to get through...be it due to lack of sleep, an illness that seems never ending, or a new phase you haven't quite adjusted to. And 365 days later, we've made it this far. I still freak out a lot and wish I felt more comfortable. There are moments that mommyhood is amazing, and I hope those increase as I "get" him more. The lack of communication these days is frustrating, because you know he's close but just not there. He has a heck of a lot more to communicate about these days than the tiny little baby we puzzled over for so long, so we're often left wondering why he's upset. But of course, by the time we're done with that frustration, there will undoubtedly be other things to worry about!

It was amazing to watch him today in his better moments, with his playful nature and his ever-improving eating habits. He's such a big boy, so independent compared to the tiny, helpless little baby we brought home. I've amused myself the last week or two with a video I posted when Jacob was just a few days old. How far he's come! Of course, looking back I wish I had way more of that stuff. Even today I wish I had more pictures and better video (and what I do have I promise I will post soon) to commemorate the day, because Jacob only turns one once. But yeah, it was a busy day and it was hard to pull it all off.

Anyway, it was a great day but I am glad it's over. Thanks again to everyone who came, for being a part of the day, for the gifts, and for any other assistance you may have provided, even if it was just keeping the birthday boy occupied for a few minutes while his parents ran around like crazed lunatics! We really appreciate it. Happy Birthday, Jacob!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Update...

Well, I'm slowly but surely making it through the to do list. The last of the cake is baking and I will hopefully at least start to frost it tonight. I think I might want to get the base done and let it set before I start trying to decorate it. I think it might be a little easier to fix if my decorating stinks and the base frosting beneath it is at least a little more solid. We'll see. I've done some running around, though not as much as I actually would have liked. I had three other errands that I would have liked to run today that I just won't have time to. Nothing having to do with the birthday, but just because it was a normal business day that I wasn't stuck in the office. Craig is golfing in a charity tournament today so I'm on Jacob duty for a good chunk of the evening. He's been a little extra cranky the last couple days so I could have my hands full. I don't anticipate getting anything party-related done tonight between 6 and 9, that's for sure. We got a birthday package from Uncle John, Aunt Kristin and Kate today. I think we'll keep the gifts until tomorrow, but Jacob can enjoy the box and bubble wrap tonight! ;-) I wrapped up something for him as well, only just to give him some practice. He hasn't unwrapped gifts in six months, so I want to give him a refresher before tomorrow...although these days it's all about gift bags so maybe he'll just need to practice pulling tissue paper out of a bag! The only thing left on my possible to do list for now is some yard work. I want to go out and clean up the yard a bit before I'm off to pick up Jacob. After bedtime tonight I have a whole other set of things to do, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

And let's see...a year ago right now I was hanging out at the hospital getting pumped full of fluids. At this point I still don't think I was feeling much pain, maybe the slight beginnings of crampiness (contractions). But really, we had just spent a couple hours hanging out in the labor and delivery room watching TV and chatting, and that was about it. Within an hour or two I would start getting pretty uncomfortable, and by the mid-evening, I was getting really miserable. My parents showed up around that time and has the misfortune of seeing me in the midst of some nasty contractions. They didn't stay long, and I didn't blame them one bit. I wasn't the best conversationalist at that point. Shortly thereafter it was epidural time, and I guess I started pushing shortly before midnight.

At this point we'll just have to see if Jacob can sleep through his birthday moment at 2:40 am. The way he's been lately, there's a good chance we'll be awake...ugh! We'll see many of you at the party, and the rest of you, have a nice weekend!

Busy Day

I'm off work today to get ready for tomorrow's big party. The weather isn't looking promising but hopefully it's good enough to get us through. Thank goodness for our party-ready basement and a big garage. It's probably going to be pretty low-key, but I think we'll have a good time.

I have a lot to do today, from cleaning up the house and yard to running around to pick up a few things. My list just keeps growing, and we'll still be going back to Wegmans tomorrow, I think! I am currently baking layer #1 of the cake, and we'll see how it turns out. It's an egg-free cake so our nephew Grant can safely eat it, and I'm using a method that my sister-in-law and folks on the internet swear by. I'm a little nervous because I've never actually made a cake before. I think I've baked a couple over the years and just frosted them in the pan, and I LOVE doing cupcakes, but actually taking the cake out of the pan, adding another layer, and frosting it all is a totally new thing for me. But as a mom I wanted to do my best for Jacob, and I can only learn by doing it, right? And obviously, the egg-free thing didn't exactly leave Wegmans as an option. And as much as pro cake makers out there are tempting, it's just not worth spending the money. Someday when Jacob can appreciate his cake, maybe. Or maybe I'll just take a class sometime and learn how myself. By the way, have you seen what some people (even talented amateurs) can do? I was looking at first birthday cakes on a message board the other day and couldn't believe it. Made me think our low-key party wasn't quite enough! I do think I need a better kitchen and some better kitchen equipment (i.e., a dishwasher) before I ever become a master baker, though. I just don't have enough space to work or enough time to clean up the baking stuff AND our normal dishes. But we'll start with this cake and see how it goes. As long as it's edible and it's made with love (and isn't a total disaster) then I suppose it will be all right.

Earlier this morning I was thinking about where we were a year ago. Much like last night, we had suffered through a brutal night of sleep (last night Jacob kept waking up, for no apparent reason...it was awful). My fluid had been leaking all night, and every time I turned over it did it again. Between that and waiting for labor to start (and no doubt some excited, nervous energy), it was a rough night. I think we made it into the doctor by 9:30 or 10, and by right about now I think we were probably sitting in the other portion of the doctor's office getting monitored. After that we were off to kill time at work (crazy, I know--but it felt good to tie up the loose ends), and then we were off to the hospital by early afternoon.

I don't think I could even conceive of what our lives would be like a year later, getting ready for Jacob's first birthday party. I'd have hoped we'd be old pros by now, and with some things we are, but I still feel pretty darn inexperienced a lot of the time. Even this morning, it was a rough one. After a rough night of sleep for all of us, Jacob was cranky. He fought me on eating and getting dressed, and now I just got a call from day care that he's refusing his normal mid-morning snack and is instead reaching for other kids' food. Fantastic. And I have no idea why he's doing any of it. Seems unfair to keep blaming it on teething when he's got no new teeth in sight, but otherwise I just don't have a clue. Oy. Well, I'm off to get things done. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fifty-two weeks ago today...

...I was sitting at my desk for my last full day of work before Jacob's arrival. Of course, I had no idea that that was my last day in the office. I went home that night, watched some TV, and following "She's Got the Look" (as I blogged about last week), my amniotic fluid started leaking and set everything into motion. The actual year anniversary of that event is tomorrow, of course, but it was Wednesday of that week, which puts it 52 weeks ago today. If nothing else, today is the one-year anniversary of my last blog post before I was blogging from the hospital. Wow.

As I've often noted, nostalgia is a big thing for me, and the last couple weeks have definitely brought back a lot of memories. I just can't believe that a year ago right now I was big as a house (well, a small house) and was no doubt getting quite uncomfortable. I had just finished organizing the nursery the previous weekend and was panicking a bit about things like my water breaking or how scary my labor and delivery would be. I still hadn't packed my hospital bag, even though every week brought another centimeter of dilation. I recall that week that I just wanted to make it to my next doctor's appointment, though I don't remember now why that mattered. Maybe I had some questions or just wanted to get more stuff done, and my weekly appointment was a natural weekly target.

But I suppose what makes that time so dramatically different from now is that we hadn't had the pleasure of meeting Jacob yet. We didn't even know if he was a boy or a girl. He was this total stranger, other than me being familiar with his kicks...or whatever unidentifiable body part was beating me up at any given moment. Even now when I think back on the ultrasound photos or references on this blog to the baby in my belly, I still have a hard time connecting them to Jacob. When he was in my belly he was more of a concept or something...and then he just appeared. It's almost like his arrival just happened to coincide with my belly going away...almost like the two events were unconnected. Sounds weird, but in many cases that how it feels. He went from being the genderless, faceless "Baby" in my belly to being Jacob as we know him today. I suppose next time around when we find out the gender and hopefully have a name picked out ahead of time that the connection will seem a little more real. I will be able refer to the baby by name when it's still in the womb, so I think the mental connection will be a little clearer. No less special, but clearer.

Anyway, the second we met him, our world changed forever. It creates a stark contrast between the two periods of time...when our world revolved around us, to when it started revolving around him. And I guess as much as a birthday is a milestone for the birthday boy, it's also a milestone for us, having survived a year of parenthood. It's been a complete upheaval in the way we live our lives, from how we eat our dinner to how we interact with each other. It hasn't been easy, but it's worth it. And hopefully we'll only improve with time.

The photo below is my current desktop wallpaper at work. I thought it was fitting for this week. He was only about 15 hours old in this picture.

Is it your typical newborn baby picture? Nope...all those wires and tubes definitely make it a little different. But it's just how Jacob was...it's a part of his history, so I don't mind seeing them. I will say that looking back on pictures of him early on have a bit of a disconnect as well. I definitely see some resemblance, but it's hard to picture him as he was back then. I think the exhaustion clouded my memory of those early couple months (probably a good thing in the long run), so it's hard to recall the little details. I wish I'd taken more video or had more pictures of him with reference points to see just how small he was. His day-to-day growth is so imperceptible that it's amazing to look at him now and realize how much he's grown and changed. But then again, when I see a picture like the one below, that face I do recognize...

Turns out he still looks the same when he sleeps :) And really, isn't that the best? As a parent (particularly of a child who's had as many illnesses as Jacob), it's awesome when they're asleep because you know your child is comfortable and peaceful. Whether it's a picture like this or the real thing in his current state asleep in my arms, all I want to do is snuggle up next to him and fall asleep myself. Maybe that's a full year of sleep deprivation talking, but maybe not :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mommy Guilt

Almost every morning when I drop Jacob off at day care, I feel a twinge of guilt. On one hand I know it's not the worst thing in the world. He's getting some variety in his life--different place, different people, different toys and activities, and a generally safe place to roam around all day. In addition, not having to spend all day shooing him away from the VCR or scooping him up just before he tries to climb the garbage can probably makes the time I do spend with him better. That is, assuming I have time to spend with him. My days right now feel insurmountably full. Each morning my alarm goes off at 6am. I really should get up then, or close to it, but lately the snoozes have been taking me into late-to-work territory, around 6:40. Usually I get up, shower, make Jacob's bottles and food, and my lunch, then retrieve him, feed him, get myself dressed and ready while Craig dresses Jacob, and then it's off to day care and work. I work from 9ish to 5:15ish, hop back in the car and pick Jacob up (or if Craig's got him, run the inevitable errand), go home, make dinner, eat it while feeding Jacob his dinner, carve out a little play time, maybe a bath for Jacob, and then it's time to get him ready for bed, fed, and down for the night. Once that's done, I usually have to go back to the kitchen and wash bottles and do dishes, if I didn't take the time to do it right after dinner. By the time I start getting to my to do list, it's usually after 9pm and I'm already beat. It's unfortunate on all counts. I get very little quality time with Jacob during the week, and I feel so bad about that...and yet I still don't feel like I have the time to do much else either.

It's incredibly difficult to face that never-ending cycle each day and see no end in sight. Lately with school ending, I've been thinking a lot about summers once Jacob is old enough to go to school. Will we have to put him in day care or find someone to watch him? In theory we'd have another baby by then, so there's always the issue of whether or not it makes sense to work vs. staying home with two kids. Maybe our lives will be totally different by then and this will be a moot point one way or another. Still, I think about it because summer is supposed to be a great, carefree time--playing with friends, going outside, and whatever else. I did some of that, though much of my summers were spent watching TV (bad, I know, but really, I enjoyed it and my brain hasn't rotted out yet) and doing a lot of family stuff. Jacob may not have the option to do either of those things if he's stuck in day care somewhere. Incidentally, I actually find it funny that we haven't had much of a chance to introduce him to kiddie TV like Sesame Street--not that we should anyway, but judging by the toys out there you'd think we're way behind--because he's just not home at the times that stuff is on. It's just odd to me that he could potentially grow up in such a different environment than I did. And quite frankly, it scares me a bit. Anytime you go out of your comfort zone, what you're used to, you just wonder what's in store.

I'm still not sure I could do the stay-at-home mom thing full time. Before it was sheer exhaustion from the constant cycle of feeding, crying, and pooping, and now I think Jacob would just tire me out running around the house. I've decided that my weapon of choice would be to get out of the house. Easier said than done, but Jacob is so content when we're out and about. He just likes being in the middle of the action and looking around at everything. I think we'd have to have some sort of schedule. One day the zoo, another day a play date, the next day the playground, the day after that the mall (or something), and another day we'd walk a bike path or something. Leave time for naps and meals, and we'd be all set. Again, easier said than done, but I think it would be doable. And if I was home I'd definitely work on getting crafty and providing good, educational activities. But right now I'm lucky if we get to play with a couple toys before Jacob is cranky and ready for bedtime, let alone digging into some new, unexplored activity. I'd love to blow bubbles with him, or get him a kiddie pool, or finally get his new swing hung up, but finding time for that is incredibly difficult right now, and I feel like he's not getting a rich enough life experience right now. I know he doesn't really know the difference and is just happy to see anyone that loves him (us or his day care caretakers), but it's hard to know if there will be a difference long term. Sometimes I feel like day care is a safety net. Maybe I don't get to sit down and read with him as much as I'd like, but I know (think?) they do. He'll get to do craft projects very soon, and they'll most likely let him get messier than I normally would.

I suppose a lot of it balances out, but I still wish I had more time to spend with him, and that the time I do spend didn't have so much "background noise" from the stuff that I know I need to do next. Someday I hope I can spend more time with him, but for now, it is what it is. We can't change it, we can't go back in time, but we can always keep our eyes open for ways to sneak time in or improve the quality of the time we have. Wish us luck!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Another fun weekend!

Well, it's back to work on another Monday with another fun weekend behind us. Friday night was mostly spent packing for our trip to Buffalo, but the weather was too nice to not take advantage of, so we took a walk to get some gelato. I had given Jacob a tiny little taste last time, and this time I gave him a couple of bigger bites...but still, it's such a little spoon that "big" bites are still pretty small. He seemed to enjoy it. Saturday morning we finished packing and headed out to Hamburg. Our niece and nephew's 7th birthday is tomorrow, and they did their celebrating this weekend. We went to the Buffalo Zoo for their party with their friends, and managed to check out pretty much everything between our walk to the party spot and in the couple hours after the party before the zoo closed for the day. It seems like every time we go Jacob notices the animals more and more. Still a ways to go, but we're getting there! I really wanted him to see the giraffes, since we have a stuffed one at home and he's got one on his wall, but the giraffes were inside by the time we got there and the house was closed for construction. Still, we could look in the doors and get a good glimpse of them, though I'm not sure if Jacob was smiling at them or if he saw his reflection in the glass doors. Next time, I guess!

Saturday night we tried to take Jacob in the pool for the first time, but the air was a little cold (even if the water was toasty) and he was not a fan, so that was short lived. We tried again Sunday afternoon when it was nice and sunny. Once again he attached himself to me like glue, but we walked around the pool for a while. I think that part was so relaxing that he fell asleep on my shoulder. I carried him around like that (thanks to the weightlessness of the water) for a while. Once he woke up a little bit, we tried again, this time putting him in this inflatable turtle. He really liked when we zoomed him around the pool, but still seemed to be trying to figure it all out. He kept bending forward, which was making us nervous because his face was getting awfully close to the water. I think he was just interested in the area where he was sitting, and the water that pooled there. Still, we spent a lot of time with him attached to me! We did play a little bit, and I think he had fun. I'm sure he will come to love it more and more each time.

After that we headed to the twins' family birthday party. We had a nice time in the beautiful weather, and Jacob had fun exploring the yard, going down a little plastic slide, and attempting to eat grass and weeds. Yum. We got on the road by 6:30, though, to make sure Jacob could get to bed at a reasonable time and I could get his laundry and whatever else done before my bedtime! All in all it was a great weekend....pictures soon!

Jacob ate very well this weekend. He's really pushing back on the whole nursing thing these days. He's okay in the morning and before bed, but during the day it's a battle. We're really working on getting a lot of real food going so he's not missing out on any nutrition. It's hard, though. You just never know how much is the right amount. I've still been giving him baby food, though I think I'm done with buying stage 2s and will just focus on stage 3s (and mostly meat, at that) to get him used to chunks and slowly transition off of those foods. But for now it's insurance that he's still getting enough...finger foods make it so hard to tell! I did some major last minute cooking and dicing before we left on Saturday, and brought with us some containers of cooked carrots and sweet potato, along with some peaches. I packed them in a cooler with a couple things of yogurt, then brought a few jars of baby food and some bowls of cereal. It seemed to work pretty well. Jacob does great with the finger foods, and we'll keep adding more to the list as soon as I can get to the store and buy a new round. I've figured out how to microwave a sweet potato pretty good, and that will last at least a couple days. I want to start working in some meatless hot dogs and pre-cooked chicken, and maybe some sort of bread product. I think one of these days I'm just going to have to sit down and create a schedule for him so I can just reference that and not worry about what he's getting when. In my spare time, right? ;-)

The other big thing going on is that all of a sudden Jacob is sleeping later. He's been doing it since Friday. He might wake up briefly early, but he's been going back to sleep (with or without our help) and sleeping until after 7:30. This has totally thrown off our morning routine, but interestingly, it may just be starting the weaning process earlier than expected. Friday and today we skipped the morning feeding and he's been getting his breakfast at daycare instead. It's been weird, but since I'm not uncomfortable it's working out fine. I pump a little earlier in the morning at work, but keep my afternoon pumping as usual, so they're just getting spaced out a little more. We'll see if the trend continues...and even if it doesn't, I'll just give him his breakfast at home while I'm doing his bottles and packing my lunch, complete with a sippy cup of formula. The bedtime feeding will be the last to go, and we'll see how much longer that lasts.

We had such a good weekend that it made it extra hard to drop him off at day care this morning. He was in such a good mood. He still has his moments, but for all his craziness, he's definitely turning into this amazing little boy that is so fun to be around. He cracks me up. This will be a busy week preparing for his big day on Saturday...so much to do! I'm still in disbelief that this is happening, that's it's been a year already...but more on that later in the week, I'm sure...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Highs and Lows

I think everything about parenting follows some sort of pattern of highs and lows. Even never having experienced it myself prior to Jacob, it was touched upon in one of my all-time favorite movies, Parenthood. There's a scene near the end (and I believe this theme may have been alluded to elsewhere in the movie) where Steve Martin's character is going through some parental torture (I believe it's when his youngest is tearing apart the stage that his other kids are performing on, because another kid was mistreating his sister--in the play, of course) and you hear the sound of a roller coaster in the background...basically illustrating the emotional roller coaster you go on as a parent...the highs, the lows, the anticipation, excitement, etc. And really, it couldn't be more true. I've definitely experienced it over the course of the last year...as recently as last weekend, when we had a horrible early day on Saturday, a great Saturday evening, and a rough Sunday. Up and down, up and down...

Last night I went from a great high to a serious low....or almost serious low. I got home from work and my weekly workout and Craig headed out to play floor hockey for the first time in a couple years. So, for the first time in a while, it was just Jacob and me for the evening. He was just waking up from a late afternoon nap, and we sat down to dinner. He's been doing pretty well with eating lately, and last night was probably as good as I've seen him. He started with a few sweet potato puffs while I was getting other food ready, then ate 1/3 of a stage 3 jar of vegetable beef something with a tablespoon or two of cereal, then ate quite a few carrot bits, and then ate a bunch of peach pieces. He even learned how to feed himself with a fork! See, he loves peaches but they're slippery so he's had a heck of a time picking them up. I try to let him work on it (can't hurt the dexterity thing) but he eventually gets frustrated. So, I went and grabbed a baby fork...a nice dull plastic one. I speared the peaches for him, handed him the fork, and he actually got it in his mouth quite a few times. He loved it and it was fun to watch him! He ate everything that was given to him, and pretty happily at that, so I was thrilled.

After that we headed out to run a couple errands. He was content throughout, which was nice. I swear, he is one happy camper when he is out in the world. If he's out and has stuff to look at, it's rare for him to have a meltdown. And even then, some TLC from mama seems to help :) Anyway, it was sprinkling a bit by the time we got to Wal-Mart. Our Wal-Mart has been upgrading lately, changing their sign, repainting the facade, and making some general improvements throughout the store. Well, one of the improvements was a new tile floor in the entrance. And I suppose it was just a bad combination of smooth tile, foam flip flops, and a touch of moisture from the rain, but the second I hit it, I slipped. I went down hard, landing on my butt with one of my feet under me. I went down hard and fast, with Jacob in my left arm. The force of the fall hoisted him over my shoulder, but I held on tight and he didn't get far...maybe halfway down my back. He let out a little gasp and I was shaken and perhaps a little bruised, but fortunately, we were both fine. However, the thing that sticks in my head is what would have happened had I not been able to hold on to him. Jacob would have flown over my shoulder, head first into the tile floor. Ugh...I don't even want to think about it. I worry enough about that stuff on a day to day basis. I'm constantly worried about the hypothetical one time I'm not watching him like a hawk and he figures out how to do something dangerous. As it is I have a hard time controlling myself when he's trying to crawl off his changing table (every day) because I find myself raising my voice, almost in a sub-conscious attempt to catch his attention and stop him from taking a header off the table. Stuff like that makes me so nervous...any sort of hard floor or furniture that might be in his fall zone. There are times he's so squirmy in my arms and he almost squirms out...but fortunately I've been able to catch him every time. It's scary stuff, and it could change everything in a single moment. The thought of something happening to him makes me absolutely crazy. I'm just so in love with his smiling face, his giggle, his little noises, the slap of his hands as he crawls across the hardwood floors, how he hugs me and grabs my face...all of it...and to ever have that stolen from us by one stupid moment, one freak accident...ugh. Unthinkable. It was a scary moment that could have been so much worse. Perhaps I should have flagged someone down and milked it a bit to see if we could have built up Jacob's college fund (Craig told me some stories from his Wegmans days, and I was shocked at what out-of-court settlements ran them), but quite frankly I was just thankful we were both okay and I just wanted to do what we had to do and go home. Hopefully by next time they'll have some rugs down or something...because I can't imagine I'm the only one with soles like that, and other people may not be as forgiving as me. Let's just hope I remember next time.

This morning the roller coaster was back up to the top of the hill. Jacob slept in (of course, I couldn't) and woke up really happy. It gave us the unique opportunity to see how a morning without a feeding would go. And on my end, it was fine. I pumped around 10, which means I went over 12 hours without an emptying...and I was fine. He stayed in a good mood right through his dropping off at day care, so we'll see how his day went after I left. All I know is that I got some great smiles this morning...enough that it was harder than usual to leave him. I'm definitely looking forward to the weekend with him, including a trip to the Buffalo Zoo for his cousins' birthday party and his first real dip in the pool at Craig's parents' house. Should be fun!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

TV

I'm sure many posts in the next few weeks will be of the nostalgic sort, with little triggers here and there reminding me of the days before and after Jacob's arrival. Whether it's the weather, events this time of year, or whatever else, many things remind me of what I was going through a year ago. I've had flashes like that pretty much since the weather started warming up, because that was really when baby prep went into high gear last year. We started baby classes, we had showers, I went summer maternity clothes shopping, I spent many warm days and nights sitting in the nursery sorting through stuff, we planned which family parties we'd attempt to attend, etc. And as we've gone through the past couple months, doing some of those things again (or similar things) has taken me back to last year. I'm definitely weird like that...very nostalgic with random triggers and a vivid memory.

Anyhoo...a few television shows have been my triggers lately. A couple weeks ago the show "Wipeout" started its second season on ABC. If you haven't seen it, it's hilarious. It's based on the Japanese game show genre, basically where people sacrifice their bodies for the chance to be on TV and win some money. They go through these crazy obstacle courses and other games, and pretty much get beaten to a pulp. If you've ever seen "Most Extreme Elimination Challenge" (MXC) on the Spike network, it's not far off...though it's really an American show and not a Japanese one roughly (and hilariously) redubbed in English.

So...how does this relate to last year? Well...you may recall my mini-breakdown during Jacob's first week, when I was overtired and having major nursing issues, and just generally feeling like a failure because I couldn't spend all day every day at the hospital and keep Jacob from having to be bottle/formula fed. It all came to a head one afternoon and I was truly inconsolable for a good three hours or so, unwilling to come out and talk to anyone, eat dinner, or anything. I just sat in my bedroom for a really long time. My spirits brightened a bit after some internet research on mixing breastfeeding and formula, but what really helped me get back to some sort of normalcy was watching "Wipeout". That night was the premiere, and my parents, Craig and I just sat there and laughed. It was the best therapy I could have asked for. Immediately following that was "I Survived a Japanese Game Show", which was a reality show featuring a bunch of Americans competing against each other in a "real" Japanese game show (it's made to seem like a real show, but it's actually a show that was created for this show but based on real shows and really located in Japan). I ended up falling asleep during that show (blame it on Jacob, not the show), but spent the rest of the summer enjoying it every week. Same with "Wipeout". "Japanese Gameshow" premieres again next week, and we're definitely looking forward to it. Of course, the problem with "Wipeout" right now is that I usually watch it while Jacob is getting his pre-bedtime nursing, and he jumps every time we laugh at someone who just fell flat on their face. Sounds childish, and maybe it is...but seriously, it's funny. But anyway, I will always have a soft spot for these shows because they brought me out of my funk that night with a good dose of laughter.

Another nostalgia show returns for season #2 tonight. "She's Got the Look" is the "America's Next Top Model" for the more mature set. It's hosted by Kim Alexis and it's on TV Land. It searches for the next great model over the age of 35. Very interesting stuff...less cattiness and more well-rounded women compared to ANTM, so that's cool. The reason I hold some nostalgia for this show is because it is the last thing we watched before our entire world changed. Immediately following an episode on Wednesday, June 18 last year, I was about to get ready for bed when I felt something funny...which happened to be the first trickle of amniotic fluid. After experiencing a few more mini-bursts and being pretty darn sure it was a real fluid leak and not just a funky bladder control issue, I called the doctor, packed my hospital bag, and went to bed just waiting for labor to start. Nothing happened, so the next day we went to the doctor, stopped at our respective offices, and were off to the hospital. About 12-14 hours later, Jacob was born. And for whatever reason, it just sticks with me that "She's Got the Look" was the last show we watched before it all happened. Funny, isn't it?

Ahhh, those were the days... :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

It's official...

We have a little boy with a mind of his own! This past weekend was a bit trying because Jacob really has turned into little Mr. Independent. And when he wants something, watch out. He will go crazy trying, or will give you an earful of his ear-piercing scream if he discovers he can't do it. Whether he's trying to reach something, or crawl to something, or just get some attention, he is intent on doing it. I can't even tell you how many times he's made a break for our buffet in the dining room. The doors on it are locked so the china's safe, but that doesn't stop him from banging on the glass...which worries me, obviously. We always turn him around and try to distract him, but he inevitably turns right back around and tries again. And eventually he'll get mad and scream. If you take away something he was holding, he screams. He just doesn't give up. Craig referred to getting Jacob dressed this morning as Greco-Roman wrestling...he's forever flipping over on the table, reaching for things, and just generally making it impossible to get him dressed. And it's like that every day.

Another frustrating example of this was our little trip to Fairport Canal Days. It's a nice little weekend festival on the east side of town. It runs up and down Fairport's quaint Main Street, over the canal bridge, and into a large parking lot. It's the usual--crafts, food, and other public service type vendors. Lori came with us, and pretty much from the time we left her apartment, Jacob cried. It didn't matter how Lori tried to distract him, or how much Craig and I talked to him from the front seat, he just screamed. He screamed so much he was choking himself up. Only singing seemed to help, and even then it was just barely. Of course, when we got there he was fine. He was pretty content the whole time we walked around, just a couple moments here and there. But as soon as we got back in the car, he started up again. I think most kids would have given up or fallen asleep, but not him. He was persistent. He didn't chill out until after we dropped Lori off and I was in the backseat with him for a while. It was incredibly frustrating. On top of that it wasn't a great sleeping weekend, so we really came out of it exhausted.

On the bright side, we did get to see my parents as they passed through town on their way back from a wedding in Philly, and Jacob had a fantastic time at the Rhinos (soccer) game on Saturday. He was so content just hanging out on my lap watching the game, or turning around and standing up to look at the people behind us. He was so great! He also seemed to do well eating this weekend. We tried a stage 3 baby food (lots of chunks!) and he did great with that. We probably won't stick with that for long, but I think I'll keep with it for a bit to transition him into all table foods, just to explore different tastes and maintain some level of nutrition, just in case. He also seemed to do well with a good amount of finger foods. He's still having trouble picking up those slippery peaches, but at least he likes them! Practice makes perfect. I'm going to do my best to really push forward on table foods now...starting with sending grapes with him to daycare today. I can also do peaches, mixed vegetables, and sweet potato...he's done well with all of them. I'm going to work on pasta and chicken and maybe some veggie dogs soon.

Otherwise, I've just been thinking a lot lately about a year ago. Unbeknownst to us, we were less than two weeks away from Jacob's arrival, doing a lot of the last minute prep and worrying but enjoying our last days alone. I looked back on my blog posts and a lot came flooding back to me. I had forgotten how terribly hot it had been at this time last year...and I definitely don't miss sleeping in the basement! Of course, now we have central air and it hasn't been above 80 in weeks. Figures. I have been comiserating lately with one of Jacob's daycare teachers, who's due with her first, a girl, in a week. Kudos to her for still working...I can't imagine how tired she is after a day with all those kids! Anyway, we've discussed water breaking, labor, having to buy all the necessary stuff no one bought off the registry, baby furniture issues (we both wanted the same set at Babies 'R' Us, then there were recall issues (for both of us, a year apart!)...and we both ended up ordering online from Wal-Mart, once again the same set (a different one than at Babies 'R' Us)!), and many other things...and it's brought back a lot of memories.

We've come such a long way and our lives have changed so much. I marvel just looking at the little boy that Jacob has become. On the other hand, each day comes with its own set of struggles so I don't feel like we've made it over the new parent hump yet. However, I know I'm not giving us enough credit for all that we've survived and adapted to...because many things have become routine and I swore they never would. Still, every day is full of questions and adjustments and frustrations, so it's hard to ever feel settled. And I'm sure it will be that way for a long time to come...particularly when we do this baby thing all over again and have to deal with two sets of issues at once! Let's just hope we learn well this time around and are better equipped to deal with it down the road! But what a year it has been...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Peer Pressure

I think I've talked about this a bit before, but it's amazing how much peer pressure can impact life, even with an eleven month old. He's not even old enough to ask for the coolest toy or to need a cell phone, or to want to go hang out at the mall with his friends...and yet I'm already freaking out a bit about his friends! I think it all stems from the fact that I don't feel like I have a heck of a lot of guidance. I don't have many mommy friends, and you can only glean so much timely information from the internet. We only go to the doctor every three months, and that is practically light years in baby time. So much changes! As a result, I seem to find myself playing catch up a lot. You see, it's easy to get in a routine. We try something new and it takes a while to settle in. Once we do, it's nice to just get in a routine and enjoy it for a while. However, babies change so much that you really shouldn't stay in the routine for too long or else you'll be stuck in a rut that's no longer age-appropriate. And that's when the catch-up begins. For example, we started solid foods late...not according to a lot of standards that say that six months is a good time, but compared to a lot of other people that begin at four months. I didn't want to start that early for a few reasons...first, Jacob was quite content with breastfeeding; second, I didn't feel like there was any need to make things more complicated any earlier than we had to; third, no sense risking the allergy thing by starting things too soon. Well, once we started them we ran into issues. Jacob wasn't a fan, he was sick, etc. So, it took a while to really get going on it. Once he did we still had some challenges--teething and more illness--but we settled into a pretty basic routine. And there we sat. I mean, we moved up to stage 2 foods, ate a little more (but not much), started cheerios and puffs, and have steadily tried to add more. We're definitely in a big testing mode right now. But when it comes to daycare, I just send a thing of baby food, a thing of yogurt, and he has puffs and cheerios....plus a couple bottles worth of milk that they split up, since he fights bottle feedings now. But there are other kids that are younger than him that get a lot more...one girl had some pasta and vegetable mix today, and another kid gets four little containers of finger foods...strawberries, hot dogs, chicken, grapes, and who knows what else. I look at those containers and marvel a bit, because I can't imagine Jacob picking up and eating all of that food. Most nights he struggles to finish the 10 pieces of whatever that I put on his tray, let alone a full container of anything. Granted, I'm still giving him some baby food and cereal to keep up the nutrition, but still...that shouldn't fill him up. He just isn't that into eating. I still maintain that it may be the time we eat dinner, that it's too late and he's just cranky. In fact, tonight for the first time he fell asleep in his high chair. And it wasn't even that late! It's moments like that that make me kick myself for not finding a way to shift my schedule and get home from work earlier. It's something he'd obviously benefit from, but I'm not sure I can get out of bed at 5:30am to make it happen. It may still get easier when we start weaning and he can feed himself breakfast while I prep his food for daycare, but still...right now it's tough.

So, back to the peer pressure thing...when I see the food situation I start panicking a bit that we're not doing enough for him, that we're not pushing forward enough and he's going to get left behind. I know it's probably a little irrational when we're just talking about food, but what if things end up that way when it comes to learning shapes, colors and animals? Am I going to get too busy or lazy to really work on that stuff with him? How am I going to respond if he doesn't pick it up as easy as I'd like? I know all babies go at different rates, but it's tough to keep telling yourself that when you see your baby get passed by. Same goes for other major milestones like walking and talking. It's easy to get nervous that your child is falling behind and isn't picking up things as fast...and wonder what it means for their future. Probably nothing, but still...

Even just experiences are tough. Looking around on the internet, you see all the things people do with their babies--hiking, swimming, etc.--and sometimes I wonder if we're giving Jacob a fulfilling experience. We're so busy that we only have a couple hours with him in the evening, and usually it's filled with eating, bathtime, and sitting in the living room trying to play with his toys (notice I say "trying"...usually it's more like blocking him from getting into things all over the house). We rarely have enough time for a walk or anything else interesting in the evening. On weekends we try to get him out and about, but I still feel like we're missing stuff. He hasn't been in our yard much because our grass is awful. No kiddie pool yet because the weather has been cool. Not a lot of walking because we spend a lot of weekend time doing errands or traveling or doing things around the house. He should be our priority, but sometimes reality intervenes and it's incredibly difficult to figure out how to satisfy everyone. We've been pondering vacation this summer, and while he's probably too young to appreciate anything we'd do, it would still be nice to give Mommy and Daddy a nice vacation away (we haven't done it in 18 months, though at least Craig has gotten away on road trips...I, however, am itching to get out of the house) and still provide some sort of enriching experience for Jacob...without spending a ton of money. It's a tough one.

So, yeah, I'm having a tough time figuring out how soon Jacob should be exposed to almost everything. It's easy to make yourself feel inadequate. I know we're doing what we can but I keep trying to do more. I just want what's best for him.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The importance of a routine

I'm getting this sneaking suspicion that traveling with Jacob is only going to get harder. We went to Toronto and Buffalo this weekend, and while we had a good time with family, the rest of the trip was on the brink of disaster. Jacob used to sleep the entire trip to Buffalo without a problem. Lately he's been waking up, and waking up cranky at that. This time he woke up long before we got to Buffalo, and we still had the leg up to Toronto to go. I spent most of the trip in the backseat with him, and it still took some doing to get him to take another nap. He needed it, believe me. We finally got up to Toronto to see a lacrosse game (the team that (more or less) used to be the Rattlers), and by the time we got some dinner at a concession stand and sat down, we saw no more than 10 minutes of gametime before it started raining. It kept raining for a good hour or more, and we could only keep Jacob entertained in the concourse for so long. Eventually we gave up and headed back to NT to sleep at my parents'. My master plan of getting him in his PJs and fed was foiled by him falling asleep on the way to the car. I should have just woken him up, but I figured he'd once again wake up after we were on the road for a bit and we could just stop and do it then. Well, he woke up just before customs, so that wasn't happening. He screamed through a long customs wait, and was miserable until we stopped at Mighty Taco for the second half of our dinner and a feeding for him. He still wasn't too happy, and predictably ended up having a restless night of sleep. Short and restless...yuck. Still, we had a pretty good time on Saturday at our nephew Luke's birthday party, and he went down relatively easily that night. He slept well, just waking up once briefly, then a couple times in the morning in the midst of ultimately sleeping in until 8am! Sunday we ended up sticking around in Buffalo for what turned out to be a little too long. We were having fun and hated to leave, but we didn't get home until 10pm, and the whole thing just seemed to throw Jacob off again. He just wouldn't go to sleep once we got home, no matter what we tried. Once he was officially asleep, he woke up about four times before 6am. None were particularly lengthy, but still...they add up. Tonight we got him in bed before 9pm, and he's been sleeping soundly so far. We'll keep our fingers crossed. Long story short, it's becoming more and more apparent that he does so much better on a schedule. If he gets too tired or too thrown off, he's a mess. And with his screechy scream he's become such a pro at, it is so miserable to deal with.

In other news, Jacob has another cold...and consequently, so do I. We tried some new foods in the past few days, or at least, old foods in different forms...like canned peaches and pears, a real sweet potato, maple teething biscuits (so messy!!), and even pretzels. I had to be extra careful with those to make sure he didn't break off a big piece, but he seemed to like the taste! I think we're going to work on grapes this week, and keep trying the sweet potato. I need to perfect my microwave cooking abilities! Interestingly, I think I like them, which I never thought I did! Jacob's really starting to babble a lot. Nothing is really connecting to anything (like, even if he says "dada" it's not really directed at Craig), but it's cute to hear. His teeth are really coming in now, very quickly. So far they look to be quite cute, though I will miss the two bottom teeth look! He's definitely in a cranky phase when it comes to not getting his way, and I know this one will probably last a while. It's so hard when you can't reason with a baby and explain why he can't have something or go somewhere. It's one thing when they can sort of understand you (even if they don't listen), but it's just so hard when you don't even have a shot! Definitely need a lot of patience and good distraction/redirection techniques!

Hard to believe we're less than three weeks away from Jacob's first birthday...so crazy!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Weaning

Now that we're coming up to Jacob's first birthday, I've been thinking a lot about the weaning thing. I mean, way back when it seemed like wishful thinking that we'd make it through three months of nursing, a year seemed impossible. Once I made it to three months, six seemed doable but still a bit intimidating. Once I hit six it seemed like a year would be fine, but all bets were off when teeth started coming in. Still, through all that, here we are at 11+ months, still going strong. Granted, I only have to feed him 2-3 times per day, and some of those tend to be pretty short feedings, but I do pump twice a day at work as well, so this is still an integral part of my existence.

I had targeted a year to start easing off because it seemed like a good stopping point. A year is pretty average, and Jacob would have gotten a ton of benefit from going that long. I figured he'd be getting into more real food by that point so it would be less important, and I really didn't want to worry about wrestling with a growing toddler past that point. As it is now sometimes he seems so big and hard to control...he flails his arms a lot and gives me some pretty good smacks, pinches and scratches. Though I'll admit, sometimes when he's all curled up and sleepy, he seems just like the little baby he was during that first week in the hospital. And really, pinpointing a year seemed like a good way to avoid becoming one of those moms that thinks it's ok to breastfeed a three year old. I'm not a fan of that, but knew that the longer I went the more my judgment would be clouded and the harder it would be to break Jacob of the habit, so I just figured that having a stopping point would be a good way to plan ahead and avoid that completely.

Now that we're getting close (just over three weeks!), I have mixed feelings. I know that I can't stop cold turkey for a number of reasons, so I'm pretty much at the point of saying that at a year we'll start working down. Maybe we'll start with dropping the morning feeding and replacing another day care feeding with formula or cow's milk. Eventually we'll work into shorter night feedings, then bottle-only night feedings. I'll work down to one pumping a day, then none. Apparently you can maintain a supply for just one feeding a day, which would be nice for a little while. I'm not sure what to do about weekends, though I suppose I'll have to start doing bottle/sippy cup feedings more often. In any event, I know that it's best to do it all gradually, not only for Jacob's security, but for my comfort. Breastfeeding is a supply and demand operation, and the less you need it, the less you make. When Jacob started sleeping through the night, I used to wake up terribly uncomfortable because I was so full in the morning. Nowadays I'm fine because my body has adjusted to that long stretch overnight. I used to get uncomfortable after three hours or so during the day, and now I can go about five or six. So, the more gradual the weaning, the more comfortable it'll be for me.

Still, there are pros and cons. I will miss having the extra 500 calories a day in my diet. I will finally have to get back to really watching what I eat for the first time in over a year and a half. I am wondering if I will start getting the pudge back in my butt, hips and thighs (where it has melted away from over the past 11 months, thanks to breastfeeding physiology), and whether my stomach will stay pudgy or if it was really impacting that too. I'll miss the closeness with Jacob. It's been a nice part of our daily routine for so long, and it will be odd once it's gone. As much as I disliked breastfeeding early on, I really do appreciate those 2-3 feedings each day now because Jacob is so sweet and content most of the time. It's a nice, quiet time when he's just my little baby again. And really, when he's totally freaking out, breastfeeding is the only thing that calms him down. That comes in REALLY handy sometimes. There are moments that I'll miss my enhanced chest (cleavage for the first time ever!), but I think that most of the time I'll be happy to have my small chest back...because not only will my clothes fit better, but I just think it fits my body better in general. I'll also miss not having to spend money for that part of Jacob's diet.

However, there's a whole host of things I won't miss. In addition to getting back into a lot of my clothes, I will look forward to getting back to normal bras. I am so tired of rotating through the same batch of nursing bras that don't have good strap placements for a lot of my shirts. I've also been wearing a sleep bra to bed for a little extra support and leak protection, and I will seriously appreciate not having to do that anymore...it's the last thing I want to worry about when I'm sleepy and getting ready for bed. I will be happy to get my hormone levels back to normal and have my chest (and the rest of me, for that matter) not feel quite so utilitarian. I'm sure Craig will appreciate that change as well. I'm excited to not have to worry as much about what I'm putting into my body and how it will impact Jacob, from the milk protein debacle to peanuts to alcoholic beverages. I am especially looking forward to not viewing my body as some sort of ticking time bomb, that I need to nurse or pump every 4-5 hours in order to stay comfortable and keep my supply up. I won't miss worrying that if Jacob needs a bottle while we're out, that I might go over six hours between emptyings. I won't miss pumping at work, because even though the break is sometimes nice, there are days that I'm so busy that another interruption is the last thing I need. I also won't miss lugging that pump around, whether it's to work or on a trip. I feel like a pack mule walking into work every day. I won't miss washing all of my pump parts and bottles every day, or dealing with the frozen bags of milk in the back of the freezer. On the days that Jacob isn't as cooperative, I won't feel as personally responsible for how little he's eating or feel so frustrated when he won't focus on eating enough to stop wiggling, swatting at me, or biting me (though I will say that the bites have been minimal, and nothing more than a momentary pinch...yet...but those top teeth are still coming in!). I won't miss being on call for feedings most of the time. While it's nice to be the one person in the world that can fill that need in that special way, it will be nice to be able to pass him off to Craig if need be, without worrying about having to pump later for the missed feeding. I won't miss having to cover up when trying to feed him around other people. While it's not horrible, it's awkward and always has you wondering how uncomfortable other people are. I've taken the stance that since I'm not visibly whipping the boob out, I don't so much care if other people are bothered. In a situation like that, where they can't even see anything, it's their issue, not mine.

I'm sure there's more I'm forgetting, but it seems like there are enough cons at this point that it will be a bit of a relief to be done. It's been quite the wild ride these last 11 months, and I am so happy that I did it and it went well. I just hope next time around things will go as smoothly. Still, it will be odd to be done and I will miss the bonding. But I think I've done as much as I can and have earned the right to get my body fully back in my possession! We still have some work to do on Jacob's solid food diet, though we're working on it slowly but surely....adding more and trying to get into finger foods as much as possible. It's taking a lot of figuring out, but hopefully we'll take some big steps soon!