Sunday, June 29, 2014

Five months old!

At Charlotte's four month appointment three weeks ago, she weighed 15 pounds, 2 ounces. At least that's what the nurse decided to go with after Charlotte kicked the entire time she was being weighed and the scale kept jumping all around. Ha. Her weight put her in the 75th percentile. 

She measured 27 inches, which isn't even on the growth charts for height. Joel is so proud. 

Most of the clothing being worn in our house right now is 9 month size. Charlotte can wear onesies for 6 month olds, but her PJs, shorts, etc. are all 9 months. Lately I have noticed some of her shorts don't fit well over cloth diapers. I have to decide whether that's important to me, or not. I feel disappointed that articles of clothing don't last as long as I would like, but I also don't regret our decision to use cloth. So there's that. 
Three weeks ago, Charlotte dropped a feeding! She now eats about 5 times a day, but takes more at each feeding (6.5-8 ounces). She typically eats around 7:00, 10:30, 1:30, 4:30, and 7pm. Once in a while, Charlotte wakes up to nurse once in the middle of the night, but lately she has been sleeping around 12 hours straight. What a blessing this girl is to us!
Drinking less often during the day has meant her naps have been getting longer and more consistent. She doesn't stay up for much more than an hour in the morning, so her first nap is around 7:30am. It can last for 1 to 2 hours! Then she is awake for a while and naps again around 11:30 and (hopefully) again around 3pm. There have been a few days where Charlotte cannot settle down around 3pm and the last nap of her day is a big struggle. We really hope this trend does not continue! (EDIT: This paragraph was written last week, before she started boycotting naps and staying awake all morning & afternoon! That's the trend today!)
Bedtime has gotten significantly easier since her four month update. I'm not sure if its just growth and maturity, but it think we need to give at least a little credit to her owl lovey. She snuggles that thing and bites it and puts it over her face as she settles down to sleep. It's really amazing how quickly she has gotten attached! We bought two of the owls on Amazon so we rotate them out. Recently the one we took in the car with us must have fallen out when we went into the grocery store... When we came outside, it was draped over the passenger side mirror! Goodness! I was so happy to see that thing! Thank you, kind stranger, for returning our baby's owl! It went in the laundry hamper and the other one is in Charlotte's crib. :)

Awesome stuff
The giggle!! Charlotte has started to do a tiny little giggle when she is playing with us and it's the best thing ever! She also talks to herself and makes a bunch of fun noises. At the zoo last week she was growling and roaring. Not related to the zoo, but funny timing nonetheless! 
I think last month, or two months ago, I shared that Charlotte was starting to hold onto me while nursing. Lately she has started tossing her arm over her face while she drinks... Her eyes are closed, her arm is up over her head, and she nurses in pure relaxation. It makes me giggle. And 
Our girl absolutely loves being outside. She is thrilled to lay on the grass and admire the sky. She likes when we walk her around the yard and let her grab branches. Charlotte also likes riding in her stroller. We recently put her straight into the BOB without her car seat and she can definitely fit in it like a big girl! She took some nice naps in there, too, as it can recline enough for her to lay down. I give her the owl, cover the front of the stroller with a big blanket, and get moving. She falls asleep within 10 minutes! 

Other fun things include sitting propped up, squealing, touching our faces, grinning, chewing on toys, grasping for objects and making contact with her mouth, watching us carefully as we eat, and grabbing her toes. Charlotte is such a fun baby and we love her to pieces! 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

On my soapbox

Because yesterday I got to witness the birth of beautiful baby Jasmine, today I'm going to write about natural childbirth.

Let me say immediately that I have no problem with a woman deciding to have pain medication during her labor. I have friends who chose epidurals and their birth stories are no less beautiful, and the women themselves are no less amazing. I also recognize and appreciate the reality that some situations are safer if surgery is performed or if labor is moved forward with the help of medication. 

But, I have a problem with women being pressured into things without having an actual legitimate choice. I have a major problem with the institutions that enforce unnecessary interventions, often leading to other, riskier interventions. I also have a big problem with policies and protocol and staffing structures that do little to support families in the process of birthing babies. It is my opinion that women should not be expected to lay on their backs, tethered to monitors and IVs, during their entire labor, and then be told they need an epidural to make it through, or that they need a c-section due to "failure to progress." Neither should women be led to believe that birth is always a dangerous, scary, awful experience. Many births are "normal" low-risk endeavors, and should be treated as such.

I can't imagine someone whose labor can progress, at the speed hospitals often desire, when they're tethered to a wire and spending hours in a position not only potentially painful, but very inconducive to moving a baby down and out! During Charlotte's birth, I only had to be on my back for 3 minutes at a time while my cervix was checked for dilation. Those minutes were unbearable, but I bore them because I knew my time in that position would be limited. 

One of my friends told me a maddening story. She had an epidural (by choice, which I respect) and was fully dilated, ready to push. The nurse told her to hold on because they needed to get the doctor. My friend waited to push for 20 minutes while peole were putzing around looking for her doctor. 20 minutes when your body is fully ready to push?!?! Then, after her baby was born, she held her for less than 5 minutes before the baby was taken away to have a bath, be weighed, etc. etc. etc. Why on earth did that have to be done immediately after birth? What can weighing a baby tell you that's so urgent? Couldn't the staff have hung around, or just come back, until mom and baby had snuggled adequately? 

Okay, end rant. 

If, dear readers, I have offended you at all, I am sorry. I do not mean to sound judgemental of any person or their individual choices. If, however, I have increased your curiosity, I will end with a few things I find important if natural childbirth is the goal. My experience is very limited, but I have done my research and have birthed my very own babe. 

1. Empowerment and support: having a husband on board was crucial, having another trusted friend or support person was helpful, finding care providers and a delivery place that fully supported natural birth was absolutely essential. Reading and studying and working through fears helped me feel confident that my body was designed for birth and that, with the Lord's help, I could do it. 

2. Freedom of movement: I know some places require an IV and some women have group B step and need to have antibiotics in a labor. But if not, moving around constantly is so, so productive in bringing baby down into and through the birth canal. If IV or antibiotics are necessary, those carts have wheels for a reason. Walk around the room with that puppy tethered to your wrist, if necessary. Just get moving! Rest when you are tired by laying in a position conducive to labor. Then, if possible, get moving again! 

3. Pain management techniques: read "The Birth Partner" and some other books for ideas on how to manage labor pains without medication. There are also tons of websites outlining positions, massages, and the like which really help. Having a husband and friend who know some of the techniques gives you options. 

4. A comfortable environment: my friend told me that her hospital required her to come in as soon as her water broke. She didn't progress immediately afterwards so she hung around in the hospital for hours and hours, exhausted. I was able to stay at my house for a long time, which gave me the chance to rest in my own bed, take three showers, and pace the dark, quiet hallways of my home. At the birth I attended yesterday, my friend had a dark, quiet space to walk around, only people she knew were caring for her, and she could lay on a big, comfortable bed when she felt tired. She also had the freedom to relax in the bathtub, and when her baby was coming, got to choose to stay in the tub for delivery. 

What other things am I missing? 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Dear Charlotte, 4

Little one, 

You are a mystery to us! At 6:45 tonight I started nursing you. By 7:15 your tummy was full and you were fast asleep in my arms. I set you in the crib and you stayed soundly asleep. I came downstairs, made dinner, talked to your dad, and sat down to eat. We figured you were out for the night. 

At 8:30 you started whimpering, then fussing louder, then full out crying. I went up and snuggled you, but you weren't happy with that and you cried harder when I put you back down. We waited about 5 minutes, then your daddio came up to try the same thing. You screamed bloody murder at him and wouldn't settle down a bit. 

After a few more minutes, we came up together. We changed your diaper and quietly read a book together. Then your dad kissed you goodnight and I put your owl in your arms. 

You snuggled up to me and held your owl tightly. After 2 minutes I put you quietly in your crib and kissed your chubby cheeks. 

Not a peep was hard on the monitor and when I checked in 10 minutes later, you were completely asleep! 

We are dumbfounded! We cannot fathom why you woke up or why you settled so easily after that. You sure keep us on our toes, Charlotte Adeline! 

Lots of love, 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Fancy hair

"Do you have any more errands to run this afternoon?," my hair dresser asked.
"Nope. Just going home," I replied.

She curled my hair and made it fancy anyway. Because that's how she rolls.

And I came home, ate lunch, played on the floor with Charlotte, and put her down for a nap.

The nap wasn't happening, so I strapped on the Ergo and bounced for about 3 minutes in Charlotte's cool, quiet room. Once she was asleep I walked downstairs to get some work done online.

And now we work. And she sleeps. And my hair looks fancy.

Dear Charlotte, 3

Dear little love,

At 4am today, after crying on and off from 7-9pm, then again at 11pm, you were awake and needing some comfort nursing. I was utterly exhausted and completely losing my patience. I decided to change your wet dipe before letting you eat more on the other side. Your diaper was dry, your sleep sack was zipped up, and I handed you your screech owl lovey.

You immediately grabbed it, snuggled it up to your face, and rolled toward your left side. Before I could pick you up, you rolled toward your right side.

And fell 110% asleep. ON THE FLOOR!

I laughed, despite my worn-out self, and let you sleep there for the rest of the morning. Before your dad went to work I had him go in and look at your crazy little body, snoozing peacefully on the carpeted floor in your room.

Charlotte girl, I hope you are always a little bit silly and goofy and wacky. Even when you make me absolutely crazy tired and I can't think straight, I am so very proud to be your momma.

I love you, worm.

P.S. This photo was taken yesterday, when you were actually sleeping in your crib. That wasn't worthy of a blog post in itself, but you sure looked cute.

Monday, June 16, 2014

What's in my diaper bag: the let down

Have any of you read those "what's in my diaper bag" posts?! You haven't? It's just me?! Oh, right...

Okay, so diaper bag posts seem to be a huge source of knowledge and organization and personal preferences, all wrapped into one. Choosing the best diaper bag is an actual process and deciding what goes in the diaper bag is a whole different process. Bloggers photograph the contents of their bags and write reviews of their top diaper bag picks.

Then there's my diaper bag. Womp womp.

Joel's aunt gave us a really nice, navy blue, over the shoulder bag with a clean, white lining inside. My first thought was that it would be gender neutral and that Joel wouldn't mind carrying it. I was right. My second thought was that the classy gold zipper would be so nice for keeping the contents under wraps. Thirdly, I thought how organized I could keep my items because the bag had many interior pockets.
Here's the reality: I have way too much junk in this bag. I rarely need the items I keep inside. Having so many pockets makes it hard to remember where each item is stored. My amazing jogging stroller doesn't have an undercarriage bin that's tall enough for the bag to stand upright. I never close the zipper because it's always stuffed too full. Whenever possible, I leave my bag in the car and just take my wallet/keys inside wherever I'm going. It's so awkward to carry Charlotte in her car seat AND the diaper bag all together.

I haven't come up with a solution to this debacle, but I'm brainstorming as we speak. Er. As I type. Cleaning out the bag regularly, maybe? Switching to a backpack? Carrying just a diaper and wipes in my purse? Sticking to my current solution? Reorganizing? Buying a little clutch I can tuck inside the diaper bag where I can keep my keys, wallet, phone, etc.? 

I'll keep you updated. 

Playing with the bib

Sometimes when Charlotte is awake, I find myself looking at blogs, or reading something silly online, or just spending a few minutes scrolling through my friends' pictures on Facebook. I feel a guilty twinge, thinking, "I could be playing with Charlotte right now!" Or "Oh, Charlotte will see me using the iPad and become addicted to technology."

But then I look up to see my child playing with HER BIB!

Happily grabbing for it, kicking her little toes, tipping over because she's been sitting propped up on pillows but is getting tired and starting to slouch...

Charlotte is so happy to play and learn and discover. She doesn't need me constantly entertaining her. She needs me to be attentive and engaging and kind. She needs me to talk to her, smile at her, and cuddle her close. She needs me to selflessly give of my time, my energy, and my agenda.

But she also needs me to teach her. To teach her independence and creativity. She needs me to let go and give her space to think and observe and explore. She needs me to be slightly distracted sometimes so she can do her thing without me hovering. She needs me to let her roll all over her crib so she learns to do it, even if every once in a while she needs a little rescue :)

I really want to raise a happy, peaceful, independent girl. My hope is for Charlotte to enjoy time with others, especially with her family. But I also hope she will learn to play by herself, to be at peace in the quiet, and to be self-reliant enough that she doesn't need constant entertainment.

Because really... a bib can be so much fun!

The next time

Now that summer is here and life is slowing down, I have gotten some quiet nursing sessions where I just enjoy my little love and think about the early days of her life.
In reality, I think with anxiety about those early days and silently celebrate that things are much, much smoother now. Charlotte is an absolutely delightful baby and I'm honored to be her momma. The first month of her life was super hard, but I learned many lessons and have grown a lot since her birth.

We hope to have more kids some day and often I think about what I will do again (and what I definitely will NOT do!) if there's a next time. I don't imagine myself using this list any time soon, but I want it tucked away for future reference.
  • I will swaddle. Praise the Lord for that cozy Halo sleepsack swaddle! Even though it was tough to transition out of using the swaddle at 3.5 months, it made the early days so much easier. Charlotte slept soundly in it!
  • I will try to remember that newborns nurse far more frequently than one would think and sometimes just the comfort of Mom settles them down. I won't will try not to say to myself, "WHAT?! She JUST finished eating! How can she be hungry again?!," like I did the first time around... 
  • I won't try to nurse my 24-hour old baby in a hard, uncomfortable rocking chair in her room, simply to try and protect my sleeping husband. Joel would wake up anyway, and our bed is a far more comfortable and far less isolating place to try to figure out feeding a newborn. 
  • I will have a nipple shield, vitamin E oil, and a manual breast pump ready for those early days of engorgement and horrifying pain.
  • I will nap when the baby naps (as much as will be possible with another child running around! ha!)
  • I will try to make more meals ahead of time.
  • I won't feel guilty eating takeout pizza 8 hours after my baby is born. 
  • I will try to establish a pattern of eating, awake time, sleeping. I really think this contributed to Charlotte's healthy sleeping patterns because she doesn't need me to nurse her to sleep. 
  • I will remind myself that nursing my baby to sleep isn't going to ruin her for life. :)
  • I will introduce a "lovey" around 4 months, like we did recently, to help my baby settle down for sleep. Charlotte has only been using her little owl for 10 days but she is definitely attached and it definitely helps her calm down and fall asleep!
  • I won't wait until 1 month to try cloth diapers. I had it in my head they wouldn't fit at first, but I think they probably would have.
  • I won't pressure myself to use cloth if I'm not ready or am feeling overwhelmed. I was happy to wait a month to use cloth simply because the first month was full of so many new challenges and struggles.
How about you? Any life lessons learned with baby that you're tucking away for the future?

Friday, June 13, 2014

the end of a season

Around this time last year, I was scared to death. Newly pregnant, I'd just been offered a full-time teaching job downtown.

Today, 12 months later, I'm sitting at my desk, on the second to last day of school. My baby is at home playing happily with her Grandmom and my students are at recess.

I'm scared now, too, but mostly just grateful. You see, this is my last week of teaching for the indefinite future. I get the privilege of taking a teaching hiatus to spend my days with Charlotte.
The week that I needed to sign my contract to come back to teaching, I was absolutely dragging my feet. I LOVE LOVE LOVE being a teacher. The classroom is one of my favorite places to be. But now, with Charlotte, I'm different. While I love teaching, I hate missing hours and hours watching my little girl grow. I hate missing her first roll and her millions of happy squeals. Plus, the almost-an-hour-each-way commute has been slowly killing my happiness. During that week of feet-dragging, three part-time opportunities were mentioned and I felt a huge sense of peace with not signing  my teaching contract.

So next year I'm taking off my teacher hat and spending more time wearing my Mom hat.

And also my youth leader hat!! My church has hired me to work 12 hours a week with the junior high kids!! This is an incredible opportunity and I'm so honored to have this new job. My commute will be a 3 minute walk and my hours are basically flexible enough to work around Charlotte's needs and Joel's work schedule.

The end of this school is especially bittersweet. I'm so pumped for summer and super excited to get more time with Charlotte next year. But saying goodbye to my kids makes me sad, and thinking about giving up teaching for a while is a big adjustment. My time as a teacher definitely isn't over, but this is the end of a season. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

being Charlotte's mom

A couple of weeks ago I took Charlotte to a nearby house in the morning, to help out my friend Melissa who usually watches a boy and a girl before school. Charlotte goes there with Melissa most mornings, so the kids know her.

The girl came downstairs and I introduced myself. She said, "Hi," then got herself ready for school. A minute later she walked back into the room and asked, "Are you Charlotte's mom?"

"Yup," I replied with a big smile.

The magnitude of her statement blew me away. I am this little girl's momma. My identity has grown, shifted, developed. Being Charlotte's mom is such a wonderful, challenging, scary, and awe-inspiring responsibility.
Then on Sunday Charlotte went to the nursery at church for the third or fourth time. She had eaten around 9:30 and by the time she went downstairs (around 11) it was time for a nap. We missed the ideal window for putting her down, though, and she was in unfamiliar circumstances. She didn't nap at all and apparently she cried and screamed for a while before they decided to come get me.

I walked quickly down the hall, opened the door, and met the girl holding Charlotte halfway into the room. Once in my arms, Charlotte immediately snuggled up in my neck and her volume decreased from a loud (!!) wail to a quiet whimper.

I cuddled her close and whispered softly in her ear. We sat down to nurse. As I struggled with my shirt, her entire body relaxed. Her big blue eyes were closed and her little hand was holding tightly to me as she breathed deeply and began to drink.

Being Charlotte's mom has been a job that came naturally, and one that I've had to learn quickly, all mixed in one. There's a lot about mothering her that is automatic, smooth, easy. Then there's so much that is confusing and overwhelming and just plain hard. I feel as if every day is a new adventure, a fresh start, an exciting and sacred opportunity to love this girl and help her grow.