Wednesday, April 29, 2009

TEN Months Old!

I can't believe Norah is ten months old.

This has been a really exciting month. She is standing with reckless abandon now and can do it without holding on to anything else. Of course, as soon as she realizes she isn't holding on to anything she drops to her knees (think Wil. E. Coyote who can run in mid-air until he realizes there is no ground underneath him and falls down the cavern). She cruises around all the furniture and tries to climb on anything and everything.

Her favorite thing is to pull stuff out. That includes: taking all the toys out of the bucket, all the books out of her basket, all the books off of our bookshelf, all the plastic bowls out of the kitchen cabinet.... you get the idea. She hasn't figured out how to put stuff BACK yet, but I hope that's on the horizon. She can open every cabinet and drawer in the house. She crawls so fast that I actually have to run to catch her. She goes nuts for hide and seek. She thinks if her face is covered she can't be seen and so peek-a-boo has taken on a whole new hilarious level.

She sleeps all the way through the night (as long as she is sleeping with me--hey, I will take it). She is taking a bottle AND formula--hallelujah! She loves to eat and is showing a real preference for certain foods. She absolutely hates cantaloupe and would eat green peas all day, every day if I let her. She has gone from getting 25% of the food in her mouth to getting 75% of the food in her mouth.

BVZ is her favorite person in the entire world and her face lights up like a Christmas tree when she sees him and she wails when he leaves the room. She isn't affected the same when I come and go, but when she is tired, or hungry, or sick, or sad, I am the only one she wants. Her best friend is Loretta and she spends a good part of her day chasing Loretta around. She screams with delight everytime she sees the cat. Loretta lets Norah catch her every once in a while and I think Norah is slowly starting to understand the concept of 'gentle.'

She is obsessed with belly buttons, both hers and ours. BVZ says it is because we read 'The Belly Button Book' every night, but I am not sure about that. She loves being read to and has started turning the pages herself (which means I have to read really fast because she likes to turn the pages really fast). I let her pick which ones she wants to read each night, and she definitely has her favorites. She loves the bathtub and putting her hands in the faucet stream. I think she'll really like to swim.

She loves music and 'dances' when I put certain cd's on. Her favorite toys are her blocks, her stuffed animals, any kind of ball, remote controls, my glasses, and shoelaces. She is thwarted by all of our babyproofing. She loves to play with other kids and can hold her own against the two year olds at music class. She has no fear.

She makes me laugh 100 times a day and I like to think I do the same for her. She's the best girl I could ever have imagined. I couldn't resist including all of the pictures I tried to take of her. I am continually amazed by how funny, sweet and beautiful she is.

Norah's First Word!

For a couple of weeks now, Norah has accidentally said a few words. Meaning, she makes a bunch of cute noises and sometimes they actually sound like words. Like the other day, I swear she said 'alligator'. Even though she is girl genius, she clearly didn't say alligator.

During dinner time we sing this song from her music class about all the animals who come together to hang out. With each animal you make a hand gesture and sing in the voice of the animal. So, when it is 'duck' you open and close your hand like a duck's mouth and sing 'quack, quack.' She always laughs at the duck (there are other ducks in her life, like in one of her favorite bedtime books and it is her favorite toy in the bath).

Well, tonight I swear she said 'QUACK' and moved her hand like a duck while I was singing to her! She did it at least 20 times before I wised up and got the camera, so this may be a little watered down version of what she did. It was very cool.

I am so relieved that her first word was not 'shit' (despite everyone's prediction).

#40: Make All Of Norah's Food Until Her First Birthday (FAIL)

When Norah first started to eat solid food I spent a lot of time, money, and energy making all of her purees. I loved it. I loved shopping for the perfect fruits and veggies for her and then staying up late chopping, steaming, pureeing, and freezing. I like to think she liked it too. Then one day while we were at Whole Foods I picked up a couple of jars of Earth's Best baby food to have on hand 'just in case.' One Saturday night I gave her a jar of pears and mangos because I didn't have time to make a batch of pears and mangos. If she could have licked the jar clean she would have.

A month or so later I was running out of ideas for what to make her, so I browsed the Earth's Best jars to steal their combination ideas. That's when I figured out that 'Summer Vegetable Dinner' has NINE organic vegetables! There is no way I could make the equivalent of that for only 89 cents a serving. Then when she started to eat meat and I was totally skeeved out at the idea of pureeing meat, low and behold, Earth's Best makes like 10 different dinners with meat. I was sold.

Now she primarily enjoys the finger foods, but I like to get the purees into her while I can. And she gets Earth's Best. And I felt guilty about it not even for a split second.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Shit Storm

I have previously indicated that Norah rarely has a blow-out, so I am ill equipped to deal with any poop crisis. We had such a crisis today. I am not sure I can talk about it. At least we were home. And the aftermath is cute.

Hat Girl

I get 90% of Norah's clothes used from other moms in my local mother's club. I love this outfit, but the hat really makes it work and Norah always refuses to wear the hat. On the way to baby class today she fell asleep in the car and I put it on her before taking her out of her seat. It was a good 30 minutes before she figured out it was on her head and ripped it off. Check out her shoes with no socks. She refuses to let me put them on her, so today she was sporting the old man in loafers look.

(Picture courtesy of my new iphone that Norah and BVZ gave me for my birthday. Love it.)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

#66: Breastfeed Norah Until She's At Least Nine Months

This is a long, long, long post about boobs. Namely, my boobs. So, if that topic makes you uncomfortable, look away now.

First and foremost, look how little and cute she was! I think this was taken on day 2.
My intention was always to breastfeed my kid(s). My mom did it, my sister did it, my friends have done it, and I do truly believe that it is the best nutrition for a baby. Since moms have breastfed their babies since the beginning of time, I naively assumed that it would be the most 'natural' thing in the world. We took all the pre-natal classes, including the breastfeeding one, and although all the logistics seemed pretty overwhelming at the time, I just assumed it would all come together once I actually had my girl in my arms. It didn't.

I had my girl in my arms after 48 hours of labor, 72 hours of no sleep, major abdominal surgery, and exposure to every narcotic available to me. We spent the next four nights in the hospital together with me attempting to nurse her pretty much every 15 minutes.

Unfortunately for her, there was not yet any milk. Sure, there was colostrum (which the nurses assured me was 'liquid gold'), but there was no milk. We had to supplement her with formula in the hospital (which she wouldn't drink), and then, despite our protests, they made us come home.

And there was still no milk. And she still wouldn't drink formula. It took TEN days for my milk to come in (the average is two to three days). By that time she had lost 12% of her birth weight, was yellow from jaundice, and I was a wreck. I don't even want to think about how much we spent on urgent care co-pays those first few weeks.

(At one of many doctor's visits. Doesn't she look sad? And kind of like an Oompa Loompa?)

Unfortunately, the much anticipated arrival of said milk didn't solve all of our problems, either. We just couldn't seem to make it work. Every time I fed her it felt like someone was clamping down on my breasts with a vice grip. And when said feeding has to happen literally around the clock in those early days, that's a lot of pain. As in I was screaming the f word every, single time she latched on (I really, really don't want to know what our neighbors must have been thinking). She was hysterical, I was hysterical and BVZ could do nothing (don't worry, he tried).

So, we saw a lactation consultant. Doesn't that sound like the ultimate in yuppie excess? I mean really. A lactation consultant? If you told me a year ago I would have even considered paying an ungodly amount of money to learn what was supposed to be the 'most natural thing in the world'.... well, we won't go there. But we were desperate to get our girl to eat and at that point we were willing to try anything. I give our amazing, awesome, incredible LC (like that yuppie acronym?) all the credit in the world for Norah not actually starving. She showed us how and why Norah's latch was all wrong (ironically, she wasn't opening her mouth wide enough, most likely as a result of her being two weeks early--apparently it can make a big difference). And my body wasn't producing what it should as a result of my stress level, exhaustion, and traumatic birth experience. She worked with us over the course of the next several weeks on the latch issue and gave me the knowledge I needed to deal with my supply issue (I have consumed in ten months more oatmeal, water, fenugreek, lactation cookies, and medicinal tea than any one person should--ever).

It got better. It took about six weeks for it to stop being ungodly painful, and many, many more weeks for me to be confident that I could actually supply what she needed. While it got better, it never got easy. We never had an Angelina Jolie on the cover of W magazine, moment. Norah was a thrasher. She would latch on and pull off--sometimes up to 20 times in a single feeding session (I called it her 'sharking' me). She never would eat consistently and it was difficult for me to tell when she was actually hungry because she rarely cried or fussed. Some people would curse me for complaining about a baby who didn't cry or fuss much, but it really made it difficult to know what she needed and when she needed it.

You all have seen pictures of the scale and read about my obsessive weighing tendencies. It kept me up many, many nights.

Norah has always been an incredibly alert baby. She looked around intensely from the day she was born and has always been much more interested in the world around her than her food supply. Some babies can't get enough of it. Norah has always just eaten enough to get by (oh, how I wish I had that problem). I could never discretely feed her in public with one of those nursing covers because she would just knock it away. At four months it became absolutely impossible to feed her anywhere but home. And at home it became impossible to feed her except while laying down with her in our bed. Even at her most calm, she was never content to just lay there and eat. She preferred instead to shove her hands in my mouth, or twist my eyelid, or pinch my neck, or.... you get the picture. As you can imagine, that really sucked for me. In an attempt to give me a break, I pumped every night and we would give her that milk in bottles. If we caught her in the right mood she would take a bottle, but more often than not she would hold out for me. And she could hold out for HOURS.

At a little over five months she started to eat solid food and that took a lot of the pressure off. No longer was I and I alone 100% responsible for providing 100% of her food.

She was and still is a good solid food eater. Which actually opened up a whole new realm of difficulties because sometimes I fear she likes solid food a little TOO much. Until they are a year old, a baby's primary nutrition still has to be milk or formula and she tends to want to fill up on real food, which leaves little room in her tiny belly for milk.

At right about seven months I kind-of went back to work. [For those who may not be totally up to speed on our lives, we had Norah in a nanny share that ended up not working out. Instead of finding an alternative child care arrangement at the time, I ended up extending my leave for a full year and I am home with her until July. I know, lucky me.] Anyway, during the three weeks that Norah was with the nanny she refused to drink milk during the day. I killed myself to pump milk to send with her every day and every day it came back basically untouched. Because she was not eating during the day she wanted to eat all night long. Seriously, all night long. Apparently there is a word for this--it's called reverse cycling. Even though I have been home full time with her again for months and months now she has still been reverse cycling. I think it became more habit that anything to her. This combined with the fact that she can't be bothered to eat during the day (too busy crawling, pulling up, eating electrical cords, etc.), and there have been lots of sleepless nights for all of us.

As if all of this nonsense wasn't bad enough, slowly but surely my flesh eating bacteria has begun to rear its ugly head again. Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPPS) basically ruined my life for May and June 2008. It was the worst physical and psychological pain I have ever been in and to this day I am furious that my body could betray me that way. Want to see what it looked like? I don't have any pictures of it when it was at it's worst, but BVZ took a bunch as it was healing. The reason? He says that when Norah is a teenager we'll show her the pictures and tell her, "LOOK WHAT CAN HAPPEN IF YOU HAVE SEX." I think it's a brilliant idea. This is what 85% of my body looked like. I warn you, it's gross.

Really, it's gross.

Okay, I warned you.

(That's my foot. I know, it is hard to tell. Told you it was gross.)

Don't worry, it is no where near now what it was, but the histamine levels in my body are apparently still completely out of whack. The practical effect on that is that any time any part of my skin is scratched even slightly it explodes in a painful patch of hives. Kind of a problem when you have a kid who wants to manhandle you. Constantly. My crack team of dermatologists thinks it can be easily controlled with a daily antihistamine. While safe for me to nurse while taking it, it can really kill a milk supply.

So, even though I would have loved to breastfeed for an entire year, once Norah hit the 9 month mark we decided it wouldn't be a bad idea to wean her to formula. Easy enough, right? Well, remember this is Norah we are talking about. For almost three weeks we tried just about every formula, bottle, and sippy cup (and combination thereof) on the market. I pestered my amazing friends incessantly for advice and moral support (thanks, guys!). Norah would either flatly refuse the bottle, or take a pull and then spit it out. Most times she would just give me a look of 'you've got to be kidding me, lady,' open her mouth and let the formula fall out. After a lot of trial and error, Megan turned us on to the purple Good Start and the Green Sprouts bottle. She doesn't love it and still fights me quite a bit, but she's taking it.

We dropped the daytime feeds first, and then the first thing in the morning one, and now she nurses only before bed. She has stopped waking up in the middle of the night to eat and for the most part is sleeping all night (there's quite a disclaimer there--she sleeps all night but only if she's sleeping with me. The weaning has caused major separation anxiety and sleep regression and apparently the crib is the devil again). It's a work in progress. She only has to drink formula for two more months though (is it possible I almost have a ONE year old???), so we'll deal.

Given all of our trials and tribulations, I was surprised by how emotional I was at the prospect of being done with this aspect of our relationship. Although I was (and kind of still am) ready to wean her completely, we have decided to keep the before bed nursing session indefinitely. As long as she needs/wants it, I am game. I know it is ridiculous, but I think she actually looks forward to it. She's peaceful and calm and it is some of our very best snuggle time all day (thankfully, she seems to be keeping the beatings to a minimum).

Despite how tough it was/is, I am so glad we stuck with it. Dare I say, I am actually really proud of myself. Of course if we ever have another kid I would do a couple of things differently. I would be much more consistent with the bottle, early on. I would introduce formula (maybe just a couple of ounces a day) around six months. I would work harder to establish a more predictable routine (easier said than done, I know). Despite all of our difficulties she is strong and smart and agile and beautiful.

More than anything, I would trust my body and my instincts.

And drink more.

Pool Party

Last week there were two days that were unbearably hot. So we did what every sane person would do and spent the entire day at our friend Jennifer's house (she has air conditioning). We thought the babies would enjoy a little swimming, so Jen provided the back yard and Lara brought the pools (thanks also to Lara for all of the awesome pics).

Ava lent Norah a bathing suit. Ava fills it out a bit better than Norah does.

After a while we gave up on the suit.

She much preferred to be naked anyway.

She thought it was hilarious to lean on the side of the pool and watch the water run out. On an unrelated note, look how much hair she has!

Back inside she got in some good wrestle time with the boys.

What a great day. Next time it is over 85 degrees, we'll be back....

The Gate

Even though Norah has been crawling for over four months we are just now starting to get serious about baby proofing (she's gotten a lot faster lately). Our major project has been the baby gate to keep her out of the kitchen. She thinks it is hilarious because she is IN the kitchen and I am in the hallway. I bet she thinks she outsmarted me.

When she is on the other side she doesn't smile quite so much. Instead she looks like this:

(This was after she tried to chew on the cat litter box and I took it away from her. Mean mom, I know).

Friday, April 24, 2009

Camera Troubles

We are woefully short on posts this week because something terrible happens every time I get out the camera. A very cute, very quick, almost 10 month old tries to eat it. Case in point.