We haven’t put a lot of pressure on ourselves to create huge holiday celebrations for Talia this first year under the premise that she won’t really remember any of it. That being said, Laura R. reminded me a week ago that most self-respecting Texans make an annual effort to take their child’s picture in a patch of bluebonnets. I’ve never considered myself to be a self-respecting Texan, but realizing suddenly that this IS Talia’s home-state, I figured she might care someday. So, without other Easter plans, we set out to find us some bluebonnets today. The result: Easter 2013.
You might have heard that babyhood consists of three major skills: eating, sleeping, and pooping. Before Talia was born, I was most worried about the pooping because poop is gross and I don’t like gross things. Nowadays, if I could choose one of these three things to be in charge of, I’m pretty sure poop would win. It turns out, it’s the one thing you don’t have to TEACH a baby to do, and although it IS gross, you can’t go terribly wrong in trying to manage it. Also, it’s the one skill that can’t directly affect YOUR health. So, let this be a lesson to you: choose poop.
I’ve already discussed at length how nursing drove me to the brink of insanity, but even so, nursing wins second place in this competition. That first month was depressing and painful and exhausting, but at least there was a backup. If we had to, we could feed the baby formula, and she would survive and flourish and be happy. Furthermore, you could pay people to tell you how to fix things, and those people generally agreed upon the same course of action. And, fortunately, all the hard stuff lasted only 6 weeks.
Sleep? 5.5 months in and we still haven’t figured it out, which I know is common, and I know everyone survives, but man…it’s hard! Also, it’s complicated, and no one agrees on what you should do, and everyone has an opinion, and there’s not a lot of middle ground in those opinions, and one way or another you’re ruining your baby’s life.
Also, as miserable as sleeplessness and bedtime battles might make you, you’re also supposed to figure out how to enjoy it all because everyone assures you that you’ll regret not savoring these moments in the future. I get that, and I try, but as a note to my future self, please don’t be mad at your previous self for spending some of her time feeling sad and confused instead of perpetually amazed at and appreciative of how wonderful a baby is. You can feel both, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for feeling both. Honestly, your previous self wouldn’t feel sad and confused if she weren’t so amazed at and appreciative of her baby. If she could have spent those 5 hours it took to put the baby to bed either sleeping or washing the bottles or making a healthy dinner or exercising, then she would be 1) freer to spend time with the baby when the baby is awake or 2) in a better state of mind to enjoy the baby when the baby is awake. And the BABY would be happier because she would have gotten 5 more hours of sleep! But this gets into a rant I have about how your current self is always your smartest self, so of course my current self would tell my future self just to trust my current self, and my future self, when she becomes current, would tell my current current self to feel differently. But we’ll talk about that another time.
Anyway, even though I haven’t written anything of actual substance about sleep yet, I will go now…I see that Talia woke up from her nap an hour early. I’ll start writing another post with actual information next nap :)
As every former kindergarten teacher knows, the 100th day of anything is an important milestone (especially when you’ve perhaps been lax about documenting other milestones…1 week, 1 month, etc.). Every year, our class would celebrate the 100th day of school, and students would bring in representations of the number 100. As a result, I now have the uncanny ability to recognize 100 Legos, 100 paperclips, and 100 pennies in a split second. Until now, however, I never had the power to visualize 100 days:
We can now consider Talia’s 100 Day project done, 5 years ahead of schedule ;)
Talia accumulated the following list of accomplishments in her first 100 days:
- Weight Gain: 105 oz (counting from her lowest weight right after birth), for a right-on-target average of 1 oz per day!
- Eating: ~800 nursing sessions and ~60 bottles
- Peeing: ~1000 wet diapers
- Pooping: ~350 dirty diapers
- Naps: 3-5 times a day, 45 minutes-3 hours apiece
- Longest night sleep ever: 8 hours
- Average night sleep: 4 hours
- Language: Makes coos, gurgles, conversation-like “responses”, and 2 squeals as of today!
- Socialization: Makes eye contact; smiles at all faces, ceiling fans, and toys with eyes
- Motor skills: Holds up head and chest, bears some weight on legs, sucks on fists, kicks A LOT, uses arms to bring objects toward mouth, and accidentally rolled over 3 times
In case you were wondering, Talia (and most 100-day-old-babies?) cannot yet do any of the following things:
- Go to sleep by herself…let me tell you, we’ll throw a party when this happens.
- Crawl, walk, or dance, though Jonathan’s been trying to teach her Gangnam Style.
- Say anything intelligible.
- Play the clarinet.
- Baby Animals
- Guess Who!
- Baby Animals
- Toys: turtle chair, Sophie the giraffe (it’s so tasty!)
- Songs: The Ants Go Marching (it’s a good day if she falls asleep before five-by-five, especially because I don’t know the actual lyrics for it), anything on the Raffi Pandora station during bath time
Parenting is harder than we probably ever imagined, but we’re making good progress on some things:
- Breastfeeding is now the easy part of the day. It’s the single thing that we know how to do right, and it seems to have an upper bound on how long it takes.
- Although sleep is still a difficult concept for Talia at times, we’ve identified her napping rhythms, which is a major step forward. Six weeks ago, I spent most days pleading with her to nap. Now, that only happens at bedtime.
- We’re figuring out how to eat home-cooked stuff AND proactively freeze portions for future use. I actually have to figure out how to organize the freezer now.
- I started back at work two weeks ago, thereby forcing us to develop a morning routine for the first time in our lives. It feels good to know what to do and when to do it. As a by-product, we’re both eating breakfast more frequently than before.
- The balance of work days and baby days really makes me appreciate each.
Okay, that’s a slapdash summary of the first 100 days. What will the next 100 days bring?
Every year it’s the same routine. Sarah comes to me one morning and announces that we’ll spend the next weekend putting up and decorating the tree. I whine and moan about how long that’s going to take, and probably dampen Sarah’s spirits a bit. Then we get busy with something else, and 2 weekends later we put up the tree (Sarah does more of it than I do cause I’m still being stupid about it).
Finally, we turn on the lights in the evening and it’s beautiful :). And I feel bad for whining about it, but especially I feel happy that I have a wonderful wife who keeps driving to make beautiful things happen in our house.
This year, I’m especially thankful to her for that, because she did virtually all of it on her own, while Talia was napping or I was holding her (I did assemble about 1/3 of the tree branches), and I think it’s one of our nicest trees yet. And now I have the photo equipment and know-how to capture some of it, so enjoy some pictures!
For the first time in recorded history, Talia entertained herself:
This went on for 25 minutes, longer than any of her naps that day. Furthermore, she enjoyed this game for the next five days. As of this week, alas, she may have outgrown her childish ways.
As of Monday, Talia weighs 9 lbs, 15.6 oz, up 16.8 oz from two weeks ago, proving that she is capable of gaining 1 oz/day for an extended period of time. So, no more LC appointments (ever? dare I hope?), and we can move on to worrying about sleep patterns :)
Say goodbye to the scale, Talia!
Now that I feel confident that we’ll be nursing for a while longer, I’m ordering myself and Talia one of these as a reward for our perseverance:
It’s a diaper bag with a built-in nursing pillow! It should hopefully make nursing on-the-go a lot easier, thereby encouraging us to get out of the house a bit more for longer periods of time. It’s hard to live your life in 2-3 hour increments; I think we’ve earned a bit of liberation :) Thanks to Nina for telling me about these things and to Bob and Jan for a well-timed Amazon gift card! Now I just have to decide which color I want…
I’m feeling a little lost now that I don’t have to keep detailed records of feeding times and diaper contents. Even though it was a huge pain to do that, we’d diligently completed a page every day since she was born, so it was kind of a security blanket. I could always prove to myself that she’d eaten the right number of times, and I could “verify” her current cries were hunger cries by checking the last feeding time on the sheet. Now, I have to rely more on my instincts, and I don’t trust them as much as documentation ;) I’m sure I’ll feel more confident in a few days…it’s just weird how you get attached to annoyances.
And seriously, we’ve started investigating the wide world of sleep habits, and it’s terrifying. It’s making me realize that the feeding adventure may have left me somewhat addicted to “expert” advice. Alas, regarding sleep, there are a lot of varying “expert” theories, but unlike feeding where you can always give the baby formula if your first plan doesn’t work, there’s not really a guaranteed sleeping “back-up”. I can try putting Talia to bed before she’s completely asleep to see if she soothes herself to sleep, but if that doesn’t work, I still have to do some work myself to make sure she gets rest. And over the past few days, even THAT hasn’t been working. Yesterday she WOULD NOT TAKE A NAP. So, I’ll get back to you on that :)
If I’d been able to sleep during the past 8 weeks, I would have missed all of this and more…
Conversation with Lactation Specialist at Hospital
Me: The nurses insist that we feed on a schedule, but you guys [the lactation specialists] told me to watch the baby. You said that if the baby won’t wake up to eat, she’s trying to tell me she doesn’t want to eat.
Lactation Lady: Oh yes, we get that complaint about the nurses a lot. The nurses fail to communicate that feedings are queue-based.
Me: [wondering how many feedings I had backed up in my queue at the moment] Yeah, they definitely didn’t explain that.
Lactation Lady: It’s true that you might feed the baby at 2 and at 5, but 2 is a queue, and 5 is a queue. It’s not because the baby is on a schedule. It’s because of the queues.
Me: [wanting to explain that a single time can't really be a queue] Yeah…nurses.
[Lactation Lady leaves]
[Five minutes pass]
Me: [Light bulb!] She wasn’t talking about FIFO queues!
Jonathan: [No light bulb] She wasn’t?
Me: She was talking about CUES.
First Call to the Pediatrician
October 19, 8:00 a.m. – Talia had screamed like a screaming person during her previous 3 feedings, so we thought she might have the plague or something. To get an early start on parental paranoia, I decided to leave a message for the doctor. I had never called the pediatrician before, but I figured that she’d have one of those automated receptionist systems like every other doctor in the world…”Press 1 to schedule an appointment, Press 2 to speak to a nurse, Press 3 to order a pizza…” But no, she has a human answer her phone.
Human: [something something something...I wasn't planning to pay attention, so I don't know what she said]
Me: [oh no, I wasn't paying attention] Is…is this a real person?
Human: … Um…yes, this is a real person.
Me: Oh…I thought…um…sorry. I’m a new parent and haven’t slept in a week. Let me try to remember my question…
Human: [laughs, proving she is a human and not a robot receptionist] Take your time.
Talia didn’t end up having the plague. Just gas.
I quickly learned not to call the doctor for every single little thing, which is fortunate, because, in the middle of the night, it looks like there are LOTS of things to diagnose.
Turns out, that’s just Talia’s cupcake swaddle sack. It just happens to look rather flesh-colored through bleary eyes.
I Said, Hand Me the Baby!
For the first couple of weeks at home, Jonathan and I were setting an alarm on my phone at three hour intervals to get out of bed and perform our feeding ritual: I nursed the baby, Jonathan finger-fed the baby if she was still hungry, and I pumped. Over the course of those two weeks, our wake-up conversations got ever more delirious.
Here’s a good example. The alarm had just gone off, and Jonathan and I had gotten out of bed, as depicted in this diagram:
Me: Can you hand me the baby?
Jonathan: [Blank stare...as you can see, the baby's closer to me than to him]
Me: [Frustratedly pointing toward the bed] Can you PLEASE hand me the baby? I’ll change her if you can hand her to me.
Jonathan: [Looking where I was pointing] That’s your phone. Do you…want me to hand you your phone?
Me: [Blank stare] … I guess.
Also, I think we repeated the following conversation at least once a night…
Alarm: Ring ring ring.
[10 minutes later]
Alarm: Ring ring ring.
Me: [startled and panicky] Jonathan, you’re still in bed! Did you already finger-feed the baby?? You need to go finger-feed the baby!!
Jonathan: Sarah, YOU’RE still in bed. Did you already nurse the baby?
Me: Um…did I?
Jonathan: Go nurse the baby.
The end. Now I’m going to take a nap.
A side-effect of Talia not being great at tear generation yet is that she often ends up with the classic “single tear” that just tugs at your heartstrings. Here is a particularly good example.
I’ve been wanting to post some pictures of random Talia moments, but to do so, I feel like they need a theme. I’m calling that theme “milestones” not because these moments appear in standard baby books but because that title is nondescript enough to encompass all the pictures.
Meeting the Cats (3-4 weeks)
The cats have been largely indifferent to Talia. These pictures might represent their only interactions with her.
Thumb Sucking (6 weeks)
I think I’m supposed to be upset about this, but instead I was kind of proud that Talia accomplished something on her own initiative.
She hasn’t really mastered the fist part, but since the whole thing was mostly an accident anyway, that isn’t a reasonable expectation.
Bath Time (6.5 weeks)
Talia finally doesn’t hate baths. Unless she puts a soapy thumb in her mouth.
Wearing an Outfit that Fits (7 weeks)
Until now, Talia has been dwarfed by most of her clothes. However, today I correctly matched her body to a piece of the clothing.
Shopping (4.5 weeks)
The vitamin aisle at Walgreens. Talia is guarding my Sonic pop as I search for some B6. Also note the head-dwarfing effect of the hat.
Video Gaming (4 weeks?)
Jonathan only lets her play while she’s sleeping.
Smiling (7 weeks)
Talia is smiling quite a bit these days, especially at 7am. However, I’m not alert enough to take pictures at 7am, so I had to settle for this half-smile at 2pm.
I have some other pictures, but they’re not really of anything. The only theme they’d fit is something like “Nondescript Moments”. Maybe next time.
Jonathan pointed out that my last blog post didn’t really fulfill its promise of concluding our breastfeeding saga. I doubt anyone was on the edge of their seat, but as of 11:37 tonight, Talia has been breastfeeding without any magic tricks for two weeks, three days, fourteen hours, and twenty-five minutes…or so. Indeed, when we went back for our next lactation consultant appointment, Talia had gained an ounce a day for an entire week on breastfeeding alone. So, it’s official: TALIA LEARNED HOW TO EAT. It took her four weeks instead of four days, but once we gave her that deadline, she figured it out. I guess, like her mommy, she works best under pressure.
We have to go back next Monday for a two-week check-in to make sure the trend continued, but I sense that she’s been eating well, and her head is noticeably bigger. Sooo, I guess I’ll get to breastfeed her for the foreseeable future after all. I really didn’t think it was going to work out, and, like any good pessimist, I’m still prepared for things to go wrong at any point. For now, though, I’ll consider this to be a closed issue and move on to other non-breastfeeding blog posts, as promised. Thanks for bearing with me; I’m happy to say that I’m starting to have other things to talk about again :)