Drop-Down Menu

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Baby Squish : Going Public, Part 2

I was excited to share the news with my mother-in-law - she's quite excitable (in a good way) and I knew she'd be over the moon. Historically, we've had a ton of fun with announcements and Chris's side of the family (with Caleb, we had it written on a cake; with Carys, on wine bottle disguised as a Christmas present), so I wanted this one to be a fun too - but more importantly, I wanted to surprise her, since I know she's been watching for signs for the last year and was expecting it at any moment.

I ran through several ideas with my sister-in-law (who had found out accidentally when I published a blog post instead of saving it as a draft - ironically the EXACT same way my sister found out with Carys!) and decided to do it during a game night at my mother-in-law's house.

One of the games we occasionally play is Clue, and while brainstorming I thought about how fun it'd be to have the announcement  in the Clue envelope that contains the answers, and as soon as that thought crossed my mind I knew I had it. Since Margi was the only one who didn't know (since my SIL spilled the beans to her boyfriend), we could throw the game to ensure that she was the one to guess the "whodunit" first and open the solution envelope.

I designed a two-sided card to match the existing Clue cards that read "Baby 2 12.17.13," and cut it to size to match the actual cards.

For reference, here are the original cards (I couldn't get an exact match on the font or embelleshment, but I got as close as I could...and I'm embarrassed to say how long I spent looking for the closest font and swirl):

Once we arrived, I slipped it in the envelope with the other solution cards. We then played the game as normal (well, as normal as it gets for this family, since we've developed our own set of rules to speed up the game - for instance, we don't use dice).  I "accidentally" showed Margi the wrong card at one point to give her an extra edge, but I didn't have to: I was so nervous and excited during the game I could NOT concentrate, so I honestly did not have to throw the game. I had no idea what was going on.

When it came time for her to guess, she pulled out the envelope and read through the answers:


"Mrs. Peacock."

"Baby 2. What? I wonder where that card came from." [sets aside]

"Ballroom. Yes! I win!" [celebrates]

She then started putting the cards away and pulled out the 'Baby 2' card again. "Did this come from another game? What is this?"

Us, acting clueless: "What does it say?"

Her: "Baby 2...and something...12.17.13? What is this from?" [all of the sudden she gets it and SCREAMS] "Oh my god oh my god oh my god YOU GUYS!" [more high-pitched screaming]  She actually had been holding Carys and completely terrified her to the point where she (Carys) started sobbing and ran to me, which was made worse by the fact that we all were laughing at her.

So mission accomplished - it was fun and she was surprised.  If we ever get pregnant again after this, announcement number four is going to have to involve a skywriter or some crazy shit to top these.

And no, I have NO pictures from this night. I totally failed.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Baby Squish : Going Public, Part 1

We were originally going to wait until Father's Day to tell everyone after the NT scan, but the bloat/belly (yes, I think some of it is real baby belly now!) is multiplying rapidly and it's at that awkward point where it just looks like I put on a lot of weight...and apparently I'd rather tell people earlier than expected than have people think I'm getting fat. Which is pretty fucked up, SOCIETY. Look what you've done to me! (Plus, after 12 weeks, I'd likely need surgery if I lost the baby because of the cerclage, so it'd be a pretty big deal and family would know about it quickly.)

We started the announcements over Memorial Day weekend.  My aunt was having a get together with all of the family, so I dressed Carys in a tee-shirt that read "Only Child: Expiring December 2013" and let her loose.

Well, actually, I first gave her to my dad to take her jacket off, thinking he'd read or notice the shirt at that point, but no. He didn't even look at it!

I should break here to mention that Chris thought the shirt idea was terrible and that no one would read it, so he was LOVING the fact that my dad missed it and smirking to me. He was so confident in that fact that he bet me ten bucks that I'd have to tell people to read her shirt before they caught on. He's clearly an unsupportive jerk....and it was looking like he was going to be RIGHT. UGH. I hate being wrong. I had Carys standing on a chair, displaying the shirt, holding her arms out, pointing her in the direction of various relatives....and FINALLY my uncle read it! YES VICTORY IS MINE SUCK IT CHRIS. Except he just raised an eyebrow at me and silently mouthed, "Really?" so it's hard to say whether that counted towards the bet or not.  Thankfully, a few minutes later my aunt read it out loud, screamed, and then it was all over and everyone knew. Except for my sister, who missed the second announcement in a row - she was out of town the Christmas when we told everyone about Carys, and she was out of town this time too. Whoops!!! Jenna, I didn't realize it'd be twice in a row! I'm a terrible sister. We texted her a picture of the shirt to fill her in on the news, which is a lame substitution, I know.

(I can't help it - a few gratuitous Memorial Day pictures...)

Her hair was CUH-RAY-ZEEEEEE that day - heat plus humidity equals messy curls for this girl. I hope her hair stays that way. Even though her dad and I both have straight hair, my grandfather apparently had curly hair (back in the olden days when he had hair, he claims) so it's possible, right?

...now returning from cute toddler derail to our previously schedule programming....

Later that weekend we went to a friend's Memorial Day party, and while I didn't make any big announcements, I did tell people as the timing was right (normal conversation:  Them: "Lara! Take this shot!!" Me: "No, thanks!" Them: "OMG ARE YOU PREGNANT?!?"). Apparently I drink a lot usually?  (That's not actually true since I got pregnant the first time...but before Caleb, it would have definitely been true.)

I also stopped by my paternal grandma's, with Carys wearing the shirt, and she noticed immediately and was thrilled. I have a cousin on that side due a couple weeks after me who announced the day she peed on the stick (literally with a picture of the fresh test on Facebook - ah, the Facebook generation!!), so since my grandma has known about her for a while this came as a big surprise.

Telling my mother-in-law is up next - and she's ALWAYS fun to surprise, so we'll see how that goes. I'm just hoping to actually SURPRISE her since I know she's been waiting for this for a year!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

That Boob Post

Somehow I wrote this post months ago and never published it, 
but it's got some good information, so I'm publishing it now. Whoops!
**Since writing this, we've weaned, so I added weaning info to the end.**

15 months and 10 days. That's how long I've nursed Carys, as of today.  It was a hard (let me emphasize: HARD) journey at first, but the last year plus has been amazing.  Our nursing relationship is slowing - we're down to a few times a day - and I can't lie; I'm going to miss it like crazy when we're done.

When I look back, I'm mostly just so grateful that it worked for us and grateful for this time with her. I know far too many people who struggled hard and had to make the gut-wrenching (but baby saving!) decision to stop, and we were so close to being there.  I'm eternally grateful for whatever tiny graces allowed me to continue. Now, Carys is a busy little girl, and nursing gives us time to reconnect and be still together. Well. Kind of. Nursing a toddler is more gymnursetics than quiet stillness, but it's still a moment to stop together.

Nursing in the Hospital
I had hoped so much when she was born that I'd get to nurse her immediately, but the logistics of it at the time made it impractical (I had a c-section). I have some plans in place for next time and hopefully the next kiddo will get the benefit of my experience. Though I wasn't able to do immediate skin to skin contact with her, we were never apart. She was in the operating room with us as they finished, and we all went to the recovery room together. Once there, they tested her glucose level, because she was 9 pounds. She failed. (I did not have gestational diabetes.) Without really asking for permission, they gave her a bottle of sugar formula. I was and still am thrilled that Chris got to bond with her so quickly and feed her (and he loved it), but next time that will not happen. I knew at the time that I didn't want that (and had read what a nursing mother "should" do in that situation), but didn't know how to advocate for myself. Hearing one of the nurses say that she would never give her baby that disgusting formula solidified it for me.  Next time, I will ask to nurse first and then have her re-tested before consenting to the formula. She failed her next one and received another bottle as well, but passed the third. In the end, it was okay - she was a hungry baby, and latched on immediately after finishing the first bottle. We were nursing and doing skin to skin within an hour of her birth, which is great for a c-section baby.

The remainder of the stay in the hospital was a blur. I wasn't super confident in my nursing ability and I wasn't sure it was happening correctly, but none of the lactation consultants that we talked to seemed to see any issues. At this point, it wasn't painful, but it just didn't feel right. I actually stayed in the hospital an extra day (taking the full four days allowed for a c-section) in the hopes that I would be able to leave feeling confident.  I do remember that she wanted to nurse all. the. time. Which, you know, newborn. That's what they do.

Newborn Nursing (aka The Worst Days of Our Lives)
For the most part, the first month or two of her life, I wouldn't even wear a top. I was always taking it off to nurse, anyway, why bother? Plus the feeling of clothing against my skin was torture. I'm sure that the UPS guy really appreciated it when I answered the door topless on accident one morning! (It was not a pretty sight; poor guy!).  She was nursing every two hours, night and day, and would usually pass out right after nursing. She would also usually pass out WHILE nursing, so it took quite a bit of effort to get her to stay awake long enough to finish a meal. She was what they call a lazy nurser. 

Sometime in the first eleven days of her life, it went from not feeling right to being painful. Incredibly, incredibly painful. More painful than anything I'd ever experienced - and I'd just had major surgery! I would put off nursing her as long as I could in order to prolong feeling that pain. Toe curling, foot stomping, sobbing pain. I would cry through our nursing sessions, especially at night.  One of my friends came to do our newborn shoot, and she was totally alarmed at how much pain I was in because of it.  Once she was latched on, it wasn't bad, but the process of getting her latched on was quite literally torture.

Because of the pain (or maybe the pain was because of this) I got clogged ducts and mastitis.  Because of the antibiotics for the mastitis, I got thrush.  Thrush felt like a million needles being stuck in my nipples each time I nursed. Mastitis made me feel run down and like I had the flu - just overall sick.  I went through the mastitis-thrush cycle at least twice (I have tips and tricks for beating those now if you need any!).

I went to a La Leche League meeting and finally was able to get someone to agree that her latch wasn't right. She would open wide, but then as she latched on, close her bottom jaw.  They gave me some tips to work on it, which helped to some degree.  However, it was there that someone mentioned tongue tie, and, as I was desperate to blame SOMETHING for the issues we were having, I called the doctor they mentioned who specialized in nursing issues.

So when she was about five weeks old, we saw the special doctor. She confirmed that Carys had a slight case of posterior tongue tie. She could clip it, but warned me that clipping it doesn't always work for that type of tie, and since Carys was older, her latch was already well established so it was even less likely to work. I made the decision to clip it out of desperation (it wasn't too bad!).

They also weighed Carys, and I discovered she'd lost three ounces since her doctor appointment two weeks prior. She clearly was not getting enough from me - the mastitis and my avoidance of nursing on that side (I'd pump instead) had drastically affected my supply. The doctor had me start a nurse/bottle/pump routine. I would nurse Carys, she would have a bottle of pumped milk, and then I would pump. I quickly ran out of pumped milk doing that, so she did get some bottles that were a mix of breastmilk and formula, but I am lucky that we never had to do straight formula. This routine continued for two or so weeks, and it was miserable. I was *always* nursing, feeding her a bottle, or pumping. As soon as I would finish pumping, she'd be ready to nurse again. And I was pumping at least twice in the middle of the night as well. But then! She started taking less and less of the bottle after nursing, and eventually she'd refuse it altogether. At that point, we stopped offering the bottle and I nursed her exclusively.

At the meeting, the doctor also discovered I had vasospasms, and the soothies I'd been using to try to help the pain were actually making it worse.  I started taking vitamin E and using a heating pad after each nursing session, and putting a wool breast pad in my bra, and that helped to some extent.

We did have one more scary setback when she was around six weeks. I found a bottle that had been left out, and it had turned pink. Literally highlighter pink! And her diapers were turning pink too - after she'd poop, the wetness that would leech out from the solids would turn pink after a day (I noticed it as I was washing diapers). I finally found some information about a scary infection that could cause milk to turn pink (from, of all places, an episode of "Mystery Diagnosis"), so at a well baby visit, the family doctor we see decided to do a milk culture and see what she found.  Well, she found the bacteria that causes that scary infection (serretia marcesens). And clearly it was in Carys's system, too, since her poop was turning pink.  This was terrifying, but also confusing, since neither of us had symptoms of being sick. I had to go see an infectious disease doctor (two of them!) to see what was going on and get more information. In the long run, since we never got sick, they decided to let it run the course without drugs (treatment is a very aggressive course of antibiotics that would have required me to stop nursing). 

When I was first having so many difficulties, I kept reading that it would improve at around six weeks. That's what really got me through the difficult parts. I'd think, "Okay, I can do one more day. I just need to make it two weeks nursing, and then if I need to stop, I can." When she turned two weeks old, I thought, "Ok, one month. I can do this one month." At a month, I looked forward to that magic turning point of six weeks. Once we hit it, there was no improvement. It was still awful and painful and I was devastated. But I kept telling myself that any day it would get better, and then suddenly....it was.  When she was eight or nine weeks old, it just stopped hurting. I don't know what changed. I don't know if she (and therefore her mouth) got bigger so she was able to take more of the breast in while nursing, or if my nipples finally gave up and turned off their nerve endings, or what.

Besides the pain and issues, I remember most how she would pass out every time she nursed. I remember when she stopped doing that (I don't even know how old she was) I had no idea what to do with her...before, she'd pretty much be eating or sleeping. Now she was awake? And wanted to be entertained?

Why didn't I stop during any of that? I honestly don't know. It's the hardest thing I've overcome with parenting yet, and I know that she would have been fine not nursing and having formula instead. But it was important to me, and I really wanted to do it - and, other than the pain, I really, really liked it. I loved sitting with her and cuddling her and comforting her and being able to provide that for her. I wanted to continue. I REALLY wanted to continue. So I did.

Infant Nursing
Around three to six months, we hit our nursing prime. She was fast and efficient, I didn't have to carry around a million nursing accessories, and we had really hit our groove. Carys nursed every two hours during the day and 2-3 times at night at this stage.  And I was fine with that. She was actively eating, so she was clearly hungry, and she was still sleeping in our room (using the Rock N Play sleeper), so I didn't have to get out of bed to feed her.

I went back to work full time in October, when she was 12 weeks old. I pumped 3-4 times a day at work, and she had bottles while I was there.  No issues there.  That, however, didn't last long. After about a month, I realized that working full time away from her was not what I wanted and it was not what would make me happy. I stepped down from my management position and started working part-time - two four-hour days and one eight-hour day. I pumped once during my four hour days and twice during my eight-hour days. My employer let me use (and still lets me use) an intermittent FMLA, which allowed me to pump off the clock without penalty.

At around six moths, she went down to waking up just once during the night. She also was rolling over at night and escaping her swaddle. We decided to transition her to her crib at that point. She did wonderfully, and slept from about 9 p.m. to 8 a.m., and once a night I would go in and nurse.  We also introduced solid foods at this age (using BLW), but that didn't have any effect on her nursing schedule.  When I was home, she'd still nurse every two or three hours. It was also about this age that she learned the sign for "milk."

That pattern continued until she was about eight or nine months old, when she suddenly started sleeping through the night on her own.  (Don't get me wrong - there were a couple of REALLY rough nights! It wasn't all puppies and rainbows!) She also started eating a lot more during the day. I could see my supply had dropped a bit, and she started dropping a session or two during the day.

Toddler Nursing
We now nurse in the morning, before nap, and before bed when I'm home. The nap and bedtimes ones are cursory and just part of the routine; she really doesn't take in much. Depending on the day, she may want to nurse once or twice more or not at all. The morning is where she really nurses. We joke it's her morning coffee. We lay in bed together after she wakes up for an hour some days nursing (which, YAY, because I can sleep!) and then once she is awake awake, she might want to nurse once or twice more before she's ready to face the day. It's like her coffee.

Nursing now is fast and kinetic. She doesn't usually hold still except for when she's going to sleep, and she will move around and look around and kick and stand up and flip over and sometimes try to walk away with a nipple in her mouth.

I'm still grateful for our nursing relationship for many reasons, but one is because I don't have to worry as much about what or how much she eats, since she's still getting my milk, and that gives her a perfect mix of nutrients.

Nursing in Public
Ugh, yes, I'm one of THOSE. I nurse her in public, without a cover. I know, I know. I try to do it somewhat discreetly, but come on, I have big boobs, so that's a relative term. She will not abide use of a cover. And I'm not about to sequester myself away every time she needs to eat, so that equals nursing in public. Lots and lots of nursing in public.  Anyway, in my mind, if it's an appropriate situation to give a baby a bottle, it's an appropriate situation to give a baby a boob. And I won't nurse in a bathroom. Come on, that's just gross.

So yes, it's been quite the journey, and I'll be quite sad when we're done with it. I'm hoping that the knowledge I gained with Carys will help the next time go more smoothly and more pain-free, and I hope that some day Carys looks back at this, and after puking in her mouth a bit reading about my nipples, will appreciate how special this time was to both of us. Even if she can't remember...I always will.

Night Weaning  and Full Weaning
Since originally writing this post, we've weaned, so I thought I'd add a bit about that process.

She slowly started dropping nursing sessions and was down to 4-6 times a day, always including first thing in the morning, nap, and last thing at night (unless I wasn't home to put her to bed).  I was still nursing her to nap and to bed.

We were struggling to conceive and I wasn't getting pregnant, and I knew that nursing could be impacting that, so I knew that I wanted to start weaning her. I initially did “don’t offer, don’t refuse”, then moved on to offering her a snack, a glass of milk, a book to read, or anything I could think of to distract her from nursing. That worked maybe 30-40% of the time.  To push it further, I started limiting her sessions by singing a song she was familiar with (we used the ABC song). I'd let her nurse for a bit, then say, "Ok, I’m going to sing the ABCs, and when the song is all over, we’re done with milk.” I’d sing the song, then break her latch and let her repeat this (complete with the song again) on the other side. Soon enough, she’d anticipate the end of the song and finish on her own.  After a little bit of that, I moved to a shorter song, or would sing faster. This helped cut us down to just the three “big” sessions – morning, nap, and night. I think at some point she realized that she was nursing for such a short time that it wasn’t worth it to stop playing for such little gain.

The nap and night sessions were the next to be cut, and they both came at the same time. We went on a trip to Des Moines to meet my mom (who lives in Dubuque, IA during the school year). Because I had other plans the evening that everyone else was going up, my dad and sister took Carys and drove her up to the hotel. She was awake when they took her (right at the start of nap time) and fell asleep in the car – so she didn’t nurse to nap. Then, they put her down to bed in the pack-n-play at the hotel, so she didn’t nurse to bed that night. Now, that’s not entirely unusual – she wasn’t nursing to nap or bed with sitters or daycare or Chris, just with me. However, I was the one that usually put her to bed, and she insisted on nursing if I was the one to do it. So she didn’t nurse to nap or bed that day. I arrived later that night, stayed the night, and then nursed her in the morning as usual.  That day, she again fell asleep in the car during her nap, and I transferred her to the pack-n-play to finish her nap, so she skipped that nap session also. That night, we were out late, and she again fell asleep in the car, and I again transferred her to the pack-n-play without nursing. That marked two days in a row that she didn’t nurse to nap or bed. The next day, I nursed her in the morning, and in the afternoon we left to drive home. We again left at naptime so she’d sleep in the car (nap number three in a row she didn’t nurse). However, I was nervous about that evening. She’d be back in a familiar place and, I assumed, she’d want her familiar bedtime routine back. To avoid that, I had Chris put her to bed (I actually pretended to leave the house). Night number three without nursing. The next day, I continued to nurse her in the morning as usual, but when it came time to nap, I tried laying her down without nursing (since Chris was at work). And…holy crap. She did it. She asked, I said, “no milk!” and she just went to nap without it. That night, I again had Chris put her down to bed. The next day would be the REAL challenge – Chris had school in the evening so wouldn’t be home until after bedtime.  I nursed her in the morning, said no milk again at night (again no fight), and then….said no milk at bedtime, and that was it. She was fine with it.  

If you don’t have the ability to pack up your life and go out of town, I highly recommend having your partner (or even mom or sister or sitter) put them to bed and/or nap as you’re cutting the bedtime session. It definitely helps. That, and disrupting the routine.  If you can’t stand crying or begging, I also highly recommend actually leaving the house. I swear to god the kids know we are there and turn it up to 150% just to make us feel more guilty and break down and give in!!!

The morning session was the hardest to break, for personal reasons. Namely, I got to lay in bed for an extra hour each morning and sleep while she nursed. We called it her morning coffee, because she’d be grumpy and tired, and then after the morning session, she’d be bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to go.  For this session, I just had to really suck it up, meaning instead of going and laying down in bed with her, I got up and got fully dressed (to make the boobs harder to see/access) before getting her, then immediately started the day as soon as I got her.  The first couple days, I actually took her out of the house after changing her diaper and clothes – she was so distracted she didn’t even realize we’d skipped nursing. After that, when she woke up, I’d get her a glass of milk, we’d eat, we’d play, we’d go outside…anything to get her moving and take her mind off nursing.  

We officially weaned about four months ago, but even now, she occasionally asks to nurse (instead of “milk”, she now calls it “mommy’s milk…ADORABLE).  Probably about 90% of the time, she accepts a glass of water or milk in exchange, although there are a few rare times she tries to nurse. She gets nothing, but it’s still clearly a comfort to her. However, I’m definitely hoping to have it completely cut out at least six months before the new baby arrives, to try to avoid any jealousy or issues between her and the new baby. I’m also trying to prepare her, by calling her a big girl and reminding her that mommy’s milk is for little babies.   Because we went so slowly, I never had any problems with engorgement or pain with weaning (although I did have that after my milk came in with Caleb – TIGHT sports bras 24/7, even in the shower, no hot showers or water on them, no stimulation, cabbage leaves!).

If you’re in the process of weaning – good luck! It’s not easy, and I miss it, but it’s nice to have your body back to yourself. For a little while, at least.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Letters to Carrots : Month Twenty-Two

**Bear with the lack of pictures - I've been computer-free (not by choice!) for over a month now and haven't gotten a chance to sort my pictures yet. They'll be added when I have a computer again!**

April 7 to May 7, 2013
Dear Care-Bear,

Man, almost two. Almost-two is seriously fun and seriously challenging. Almost-two is full of giggles and fits and singing and licking.


Yes, licking. YOU LICK ME. What is that?? You did it at first when you were pretending to be a dog, but now you just think my reaction is hilarious. (My reaction is the rightful, honest one: "EWWW! Gross!").

You're a spirited kid. Your highs are highs, but even your lows are pretty high. You've yet (KNOCK ON ALL THE WOOD) to have a giant, epic tantrum that couldn't be calmed or that lasted longer than a few minutes.  I still take you out and about and to restaurants and stores and places where there are other people and can be fairly confident (AGAIN WITH THE WOOD KNOCKING) that you'll be good, and probably even utterly charming.

Speaking of eating out - you sit in a booster seat now. WHAT? Yes. I know. Time. Flying. Fast. You LOVE it, sitting in a 'real' chair with the grown-ups and kicking your legs over the booster. They aren't quite as stable as high chairs, so I get a bit nervous since you still have all of your acrobatic tendencies and are probably going to flip right out of the booster at some point, but it hasn't happened...yet.

Almost-two is also full of choices. "White socks or striped socks?" "Red shirt or blue shirt?" "Apple or orange?" "Milk in a sippy or a cup?" "Eat at the table or on the couch?*" "Watch Nemo or Trains*?" "Read a book or play with baby?" "Color or ride bike?" "Giraffe pajamas or frog pajamas?" "Sleep with or without bear?"  Choices are how we survive, because if there are no choices, and I pick the wrong one...ALMOST-TWO IS NOT HAPPY. Almost-two will scream! Almost-two will cry! Almost-two will forget about it two minutes later, but Almost-two is tooooouchy. Choices also give me an out when no choices are possible: "Sorry, bear, you got to pick the apple, remember? Now it's mama's turn to pick broccoli! But do you want it on the green plate or blue plate?"  Since Almost-two is a control freak, it works and keeps both mama and Almost-two sane.
*Yes, I'm a terrible mother setting up terrible habits. Sigh. 

A few weeks ago, you came home from school and told me a story for the first time. "Cici owie. Cici owie leg. Cici sad. [while doing the sign for sad] Cici happy!!! [while doing the sign for happy]." You talked about Cici all day. You told everyone about Cici. I knew Cici was a teacher at school who had broken her leg a while ago, but wasn't sure what prompted the resurgence of interest, or what was making Cici so sad or so happy. The next week I asked what had happened, and the teacher showed me a picture they'd hung up of Cici with her cast. The children were all interested in the picture and the cast on her leg, so the teachers explained that Cici had hurt her leg and was sad because she had an owie, but now she was happy because she felt better - ah! It all made sense. You still will occasionally talk about Cici and her owie, so clearly quite an impression was made.

You sing. ALL the time. I don't usually know what you're singing, but it sounds like, "Shooba shoo, shooba shoo!" Sometimes you sing the ABCs....literally, the ABCs, because you don't go beyond C.  You also sing "Go go go on adventure!" from The Cat in the Hat theme song and "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes," along with the classics of "Patty cake," "Itsy Bitsy Spider," "Twinkle Twinke," etc.  

Almost-two is a collector. At any given time, you'll be clinging to five different things, maybe a marker, a sippy cup, a baby doll, a book, and a piece of mail. These things are of UTTER importance to you at the time and you will throw a fit should I try to remove any of them from your grasp, but give it a day and they're all discarded in favor of new things. You also will pack things - your shoes in your dad's backpack, a spoon in my purse, band-aids in a lunch box. I love finding these surprises as I go about my day. 

I'm not sure how kosher it is to admit this, but you have a favorite daycare teacher, Carissa. Karisa? Hmm. I have no idea how to spell it. You will run to her with open arms when you see her, and blow kisses and say, "Love you!" when it's time to leave. While I'm a little worried about how your transition to the next room at daycare will go when Carissa doesn't follow you, I'm so thankful that there's someone there you trust and love. And let's be honest, I think you're a favorite of hers too (possible mom blindness at work there!). 

When you were still nursing each morning, you'd come into bed with us and lay for a little bit, giving me a little extra time to sleep each morning. Once we cut the morning session, we started going out to the living room and starting the day right away. However, one morning I was particularly tired, so I gave you a pouch to eat and brought you into bed and propped my phone on the pillow and let you watch Elmo while I went back to sleep. Now, every morning, you pull me into our bedroom so you can snuggle between me and dad and watch a program. I'll take the extra fifteen minutes of laying down, thankyouvermuch. 

About two weeks ago, I took you to get your first haircut. Your little rat tail (my favorite little rat tail) just kept getting longer, and was starting to look just ridiculous if it curled the wrong way (or worse, wasn't curling). I wasn't sure how you'd do with someone touching and cutting your hair, but you did wonderfully. I took you to one of the kid's haircut places that have little vehicles to sit in during the cut, and play children's videos over the mirrors, AND give prizes at the end of the cut - you did NOT want to leave. I could barely drag you out!  And now your little mullet is gone and it makes me sad. Sniff, sniff. 

We went to two birthday parties this month, and both featured bounce houses, and damn, are you in love. You get just the biggest fit of giggles ever running around them and crashing and bouncing. One was indoors, but the outdoors one took place on a chilly day, and I could not get you back inside - no matter how cold your hands got or how frozen your nose was, you just kept bouncing. Almost-two is determined!

There's not much else to say this month. The weather has been miserable and cold, and we haven't been able to get outside, so both of us are going stir crazy being cooped up. We did hit the Children's Museum with your friends Leah and Annie, and went to the zoo with my friend and her three kids (who you thought were the best and were totally mesmerized by), and we did take advantage of one rare nice day and go on a five-mile bike ride...which, while fun, was almost a mistake, since every day since then you've asked to go on another one, and thanks to cold or rain or SNOW or all three, we haven't been able to do so. I was so proud of you, though - you kept your helmet on, wore your sunglasses, and enjoyed the ride so much! We're all looking forward to your first Taco Run. We took some sunny days and were able to color outside, and I spent one afternoon doing yard work, with you "helping." Unfortunately, your "help" ended with you falling into a rose branch I'd pruned (and repeatedly warned you away from), and now, whenever we pass the roses, you point to them and say, "Owie! Hurt!"  The rare warm spring days did allow our tulips to come up, and every time we pass them you say hi to them and tell me they are pretty and give them kisses. 

Carys, you're so very many things, but most of all, you're my girl, my daughter. You make me so happy. And tired. But happy! (Yawn.) Let's go take a nap together. I love you.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Baby Squish : Eight Weeks

Today, I’m eight weeks pregnant with Baby Squish (because who doesn’t love that part of Finding Nemo? I do!).

That means I’ve known about this little tadpole for a little over a month, and honestly: it doesn’t feel any more real than it did the day I found out. It’s sort of a bizarre feeling. I’m SO excited, but it’s tempered excitement, full of “ifs” rather than “whens.” I wonder if that’s because my body knows it’s not going to end well and I’m mentally preparing for an event that will happen in the future (in which case, sign me up for the psychic hotline, right?) or if it’s just normal pregnancy (particularly pregnancy-after-loss) worries and anxiety. I lean towards the latter, but I’m terrified of the former.

We got to see Squish’s heart beat last week, and got an official due date of December 17 (that’s the third due date for those of you keeping track at home – December 20, based on ovulation; December 12, based on LMP; and now December 17, based on baby measurements).

Symptom-wise, it’s just EXHAUSTION and BLOAT. And yes, those need to be capitalized. And bolded. And underlined. I am SO tired every single day. I take a nap when Carys naps. Then I go to bed at 8:30 or 9. Then I wake up at 11. Then at 3. Then at 5. Nothing I’ve found helps me stay asleep (ok, I’ve only tried Unisom since my pharma friend okayed that BUT PROBABLY NOTHING ELSE WOULD WORK). I’m also so bloated; I have a rock-hard stomach that looks about 14 weeks pregnant at any given time. I’m on progesterone supplements until I hit 12 weeks, and two of the side effects are drowsiness and bloat. So combine the typical 1st tri symptoms of tiredness and bloat with the side effects of tiredness and bloat and basically I never had a chance. I’ve been lucky that the morning sickness has been virtually non-existent – a few mornings of feeling generally kind of hung over, but no actual puking. And it’s hard to separate the exhaustion from the hungover feeling since feed off each other.

Poor Carys has officially started feeling second child syndrome and is experiencing all the ways she’ll be shucked to the side once the new, shiny baby is here. Because of the exhaustion, she’s watched more TV in the past month than she did in her entire previous life. I’ve managed to keep it slightly acceptable by limiting it to PBS Kids shows (with a sprinkle of Thomas, Yo Gabba Gabba, and Finding Nemo) (ok, who am I kidding? This is NOT acceptable!) but I still feel terrible. I’ve also been so tired that I’ve found it hard to keep up the motivation to really cook good meals for her, so neither of us have eaten that well recently. And all the wonderful, fun activities I had been doing with her? Gone. Nary a planned craft in sight.

Completely inexplicably, she’s also taken to blowing bubbles on and kissing my stomach. She’s never been interested in it before, other than pointing out my belly button, but she must be feeding off some subliminal messages, because it’s a constant focus of hers. When Baby Squish starts moving around, her little mind is going to be BLOWN TO BITS.

Right now my goal is just to survive the next few weeks til I make it to the second trimester and a) hopefully get some energy back and b) get to see Squish at the NT scan. Going five weeks without knowing that he or she is okay and kicking….that may be the most stressful part of this whole thing.

Please be okay, Baby Squish. Please.

How I Do It : Eating Out with Baby

Carys and I go out to eat quite a bit - more often than we should, probably, but I get bored at home, I don't like to cook, and it's fun to do so.

She's my child for sure - sushi is her FAVE.

Some people are literally gasping at the fact that I just said eating out with my toddler is fun.  It might even be considered total sacrilege by the majority of the population. I know people who have not gone out to eat with their child ever, and their child is in pre-school.

A LOT of it - a LOT LOT LOT of it - is dependent on your kid's personality. I am incredibly lucky, and I have a very easy kid who loves being out in public and strangers and new places and new foods (KNOCK ON WOOD).  If yours does not, no amount of preparation is going to make your child suddenly love it, but these tips will at least help make it as painless as possible. If you are lucky like I am, these tips will make you want to go out to eat every single day, but since your wallet will not like that, please try to refrain. If your wallet isn't a concern, please send me money, and then go ahead and go out to eat.

I take these items - an Eating Out Kit, if you will - with me every time we go out to eat. It sounds like a lot of things and a lot of work and a lot of space, but it's not - and I've never regretted it! These things are designed to make the process of going out to eat a piece of cake not just for you, but for your waiter as well.  I have gotten countless compliments on how pain-free the meal was by the server and had countless people ask about my "supplies" and comment on what a good idea they are. I can't take credit, as I got the ideas from other moms, but it's definitely been a huge help for us.

My two goals for dining out are A) easy clean-up and B) a happy child. To achieve these, I take the following:

A bib
A placemat
A sippy

I usually also bring a tiny wetbag to put the dirty bib and placemat in when we're done eating (if I use the reusable placemat), but I've also forgotten that plenty of times and just thrown the rolled-up items in my bag and had no problems.

Ok, so now the details.

1. A BIB 

My FAVORITE bibs are these:
These bibs, by iPlay/Green Sprout Baby, totally cover your child's clothes in a situation where you can't easily strip them down to eat or change their clothes afterward. And not visible in the picture is a flip-over pocket that ACTUALLY CATCHES THINGS. Other sleeved bibs have pockets (like the Bummis ones), but the pockets don't gape open and therefore are pretty worthless. These pockets sit open and actually WORK. They're fantastic.  We have two of them and need to get the next size up (bonus - they make great art/craft smocks!).  For travel, they scrunch up really small and dry fairly quickly.  When we're done eating, I'll usually dump the contents of the pocket onto the plate and wipe it down, then roll it up and stick it back in my bag or put it in the wetbag.

If a sleeved bib is overkill for your kid, I still recommend a bib with a good pocket - the goal is to keep food off both the baby but also OFF THE FLOOR so your waiter doesn't hate you completely. The Tommee Tippee soft silicone ones are really great and fold up easily and are also available at Target or Babies R Us. I also like the Baby Bjorn ones, but they're more rigid and I don't think quite as comfortable for kids, nor are they as easy to store.


Pictured above are the two travel placemats we use. The blue one to the left is a reusable one by Kiddopotamus, and the ones to the right are disposable ones by Neat Solutions (but are made by a variety of different companies).  Both are also available in stores like Babies R Us and Target.  The disposables ones come in a ton of themes, from Sesame Street as pictured above to Disney Princess to Cars and more.  If I'm being totally honest, I prefer the disposable ones. There goes my hippie cred, UGH. They're just easier. They're smaller and you toss them right there at the restaurant and don't require any extra work, whereas the reusable one has to be wiped off and dumped out and takes up more room (though it rolls up pretty compactly). You can choose which works best for you based on your own level of comfort with destroying the environment.  Either way, though, they make clean-up a breeze.


Some restaurants have plastic cups with lids and straws for kids, which are great....if they have them. MANY DO NOT. So when in doubt, bring your own. It makes it worlds easier to give your child their own drink than having them clamor to drink from yours.  When I need a spill-proof cup, we prefer the Sassy Grow-Up Cups (as she's at the age where I'm trying to get her off of spouted sippy cups totally) but whatever sippy you normally use is obviously just fine.

I've yet to see a restaurant offer child-size silverware, so if I know it's not going to be food that is easy for her to eat with her hands, I'll throw a fork in my bag as well. At almost two, she's now able to use a full-size fork, so this is only if I remember it now, but when she was younger and first using forks and spoons, it was invaluable to have ones she could easily manipulate. I much prefer the metal ones (like these Gerber Graduates) but whatever you use at home would be fine.


This is going to vary from kid to kid. Our go-to entertainment are the above play packs. They contain a coloring book, crayons, and stickers and are $1 in the Target Dollar aisle (and they go on sale regularly, when I stock up and grab ten or so to keep us stocked until the next sale). I found them here at the Dollar Store online too, but it's a variety pack that might not work unless you have boys and girls. They keep her thoroughly entertained and she LOVES opening new things, so they are perfect. Again, I hate the waste, but the trade-off is worth it. Obviously, you could get a similar effect minus the "new" by just bringing a coloring book, crayons, and stickers! We've also had great luck with reusable sticker books - like this one from Melissa and Doug - or other activity books, like this build-a-face book, also from Melissa and Doug (note: they are laaaaaarge, so not the most portable, but highly entertaining for the kids). I don't bring these entertainment items out until she starts getting fidgety or whiny - I let her explore her new environment, look around, and see what's going on first. Sometimes I never have to get them out (and sometimes restaurants have colors for the kids and you can use them and save yours for next time!).

That said, you know what will work for your kid. A movie on an iPad? Small price to pay for peace. A book? A magna-doodle? A couple toy cars? Whatever small, portable toy that will keep your child occupied is key. And of everything, probably the most important.


More hints that don't involve bringing anything are:

- Ask for a seat with a view of the front door (constant people coming in) or the window (people walking by/cars/planes/etc). Both of those can serve as distractions for kids. 

- Ask for a plate of fruit/veggies/crackers immediately. Some places will give it to you free (seriously brilliant) and some will charge, but little snacks act as another distraction. Also, Carys gets that eating out means, duh, FOOD, but doesn't understand the wait for said food. So as soon as we're in a restaurant, she's ready to eat. This tides her over until the real food arrives.

- I rarely order her a kid's meal. First, because they're usually insanely unhealthy, but second, because it's usually a waste of money. If it's a buffet (or like Ruby Tuesday with a salad buffet) I'll ask the server if it's okay to just give her a plate from there, and she's still young enough that the answer has always been yes. I'll usually pair that with a side or two, and it's much cheaper than getting a full meal just for her that is both unhealthy and will mostly go to waste.

Anything else I should add? What are your go-to eating out tips?