Monthly Archives: June 2012

Times Have Changed

This year’s birthday celebrations occurred this weekend.  It was one of the best birthdays I’ve had.

It was also probably the most unique.  As I was sitting at lunch yesterday, with friends of years and years, I couldn’t help but notice how times have changed.

Then:  My love interest of the moment would have greeted me the morning of my birthday with breakfast in bed, mimosas, and a romantic card.  I would have likely teared up at the words in the card.  This would have been followed by the presentation of some lavish and expensive gift – jewelry, watch, out of town weekend, etc.  I would have immediately been on the phone with my girlfriends – guess what so-and-so got me for my birthday!

Now:  Hubby and I awake to the sound of crying on the baby monitor.  We stumble, bleary-eyed, into the nursery to change his diaper, and then hubby sets him on my lap in the rocker.  He leaves the room and returns with a gift bag and two cards.  I quickly ready through hubby’s card, thank him, and then pore over my son’s card.  His card makes me tear up.  I open the bag and am over the moon to pull out books by Dr. Seuss and others with titles about green eggs and ham, colors, numbers, zoo animals, and being a big boy.  I then pull out a huge photo album with pictures and mementos of our lives – from dating to marriage to the birth of our son.  I am also told I can pick something out at the mall over the weekend.  I don’t even care about that and instead immediately begin reading Dr. Seuss to my son.  Hubby tops off the moment by taking pictures of us sitting there, reading, with me in my sweats and fuzzy slippers and bedhead hair.  Messy.  Unshowered.  Happy.

Then:  I would have gone to work and seen my cubicle decorated by my work friends.  I would have had a cake, cards, and gifts, and my closest work girlfriends would have taken me to an extended lunch at a fancy restaurant.  My current love interest would have sent me a dozen roses for all my colleagues to ooh and aah over.

Now:  I work from home on my birthday and am able to spend some extra time reading to my son.  My sister calls about 7am to have my niece and nephew sing me Happy Birthday.  I throw on sweats and take care of the morning’s round of conference calls and emails in the home office.  I take a break and come out into the living room, where hubby is feeding my son pureed mango.  I take a few pictures and then cuddle and play with him.  For my birthday lunch, I ask my hubby to make me a grilled cheese sandwich.  I receive birthday flowers delivered by my family.  I handle the afternoon’s meetings and then take a break to tour a local preschool.  I come back to a few more emails and then call it a day at 5pm so I can do some Tummy Time with baby.

Then:  The evening of my birthday would have been a bash!  All my closest friends would have been there.  Pre-dinner drinks at my place or a friend’s, lavish dinner at a nice restaurant complete with cocktails, wine, and after-dinner drinks, and then dancing/more drinking at one or more clubs or bars.  Everyone would have ended up at somebody’s house, talking, laughing, drinking some more.  Rounds of shots would have been purchased and consumed throughout the evening.  Everyone having a blast.

Now:  The evening of my birthday I’m exhausted.  The baby goes down at 7pm.  Hubby and I talk a bit and then I veg out in front of the TV for an hour or two.  Hubby makes dinner and we discuss the latest episode of Shark Tank.  I put on some PJs and read my Kindle until I fall asleep shortly thereafter.

Then:  The “day after” my birthday bash I would have been ruined.  Hungover.  Exhausted.  I would have slept until at least noon, and then dragged myself (or have had current flame drag me) to a greasy spoon for some oily food to help with the hangover.  Water water water.  I would’ve vegged out in front of the TV the remainder of the day, napping, drinking water, and popping Tylenol.

Now:  The day after my birthday begins at 4:45am.  I am up bright and early, thinking about things I need to get done for the baby this weekend.  Sister texts me at 6am – RISE AND SHINE!!  By 10am, we’ve met with my sister and family and close friends with kids at the local aquarium.  The next few hours are spent checking out exhibits, taking pictures, chasing kids, calming kids, and Aunties and Uncles taking advantage of the beer sold in the outdoor lagoon.

One of my favorite moments while watching the octopus who is hiding in a small corner of the aquarium:

FRIEND:  Every time I come here it is always hiding in the corner over there.

ME:  I guess it must be camera shy.

FRIEND’S 9-YEAR-OLD:  [Rolling his eyes at us like we’re complete idiots]  It’s not camera shy… It’s nocturnal! 

Afterwards we slowly (think: herding cats) make our way to an outdoor restaurant.  I comment that I feel like we are The Griswolds.  We arrive, and a couple friends and I have a drink at the bar while waiting for a table.  Skinny margarita for me.  The irony is not lost on us that typically those pre-meal drinks would have begun about 8pm vs. noon.

We get a table and settle in.  Strollers parked in the lobby.  Niece has to use the restroom.  Son needs a diaper change.  Older kids coloring on the paper menus.  Drinks arrive.  Appetizers arrive.  Food is here.  Hubby comments that the table almost makes up everybody who had attended my college graduation celebration years before.  We look around and – he’s right!  A few missing, yet the group is larger due to all the new kids.  More pictures.  “Remember when” stories.  I lament a bit that I’ll be unable to make an evening event to celebrate one of the other birthdays – as we don’t have a sitter (wow – still feels weird to hear ME say that).  Birthday dessert arrives.  Blow out the candle while holding my son.  Feed him some mango.  No after-dinner drinks.  Bill arrives and checks are split by family.  Some have to leave for other commitments, some are heading back to the aquarium.  Sister and I decide to walk over to the local kids’ arcade.

Arrive at the arcade and we take the kiddies on the carousel.  We get a kick out of sister riding on the horse while everyone else sits in a seat.  Play the basketball game.  Ride the motorcycle.  Play Dance Revolution.  Complete a car race with niece.  Nephew falls off the chair and bruises his forehead.  Adults swarm.  He’s okay.  More pictures.  Niece picks out prize with the winning tickets.

Walk back towards the aquarium.  Come across a water taxi.  $1 a head.  Decide to take it around the harbor.  Kids love it.  Pictures.  Driver (or is it sailor??) laughing.  Niece announces herself as co-captain and proceeds to tell everyone where to sit and what to do.  As we near the next piece of shoreline she stands up on the seat and yells LAND HOOOOO!!

Exit the water taxi.  Change diaper in the stroller.  Feed baby.  Ponder whether or not we have time left (before kids get too fussy to handle) to sit for a snack and drink.  Once nephew starts crying, determine that we do not.  Re-board the water taxi and herd everyone back towards the aquarium.

Home by 7pm.  Put baby to bed and fall asleep on the couch.  Completely miss the neighbor’s reception we had all been invited to.  Solid sleep.  Deep and refreshing sleep.

And this is my new life.  Extremely different.  Filled with diapers, bottles, baby bags, and lively kids of friends and family.  A life whose focus has shifted from the late evenings to the early mornings.  A life thick with responsibility and sleepless nights.  A life with a soundtrack of coos, cries, screams, and giggles.  And it is good.

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Teething

Well, it has begun.  Teething.  And by the looks of the infant teething chart above (provided by Orajel), looks like we’re in a for a few years of fun.

True to the diagram, my son’s right central incisor is the first to erupt.  Right now it looks like a pearly white dot in his mouth; at first glance it would be mistaken for a drop of milk or formula.  But upon closer inspection, it’s clear that it’s the top of a tooth, peeking out amongst hills of red and swollen gums.  Poor little guy is gumming onto anything — bibs, toys, his own hands — any chance he gets for some relief.

Allow me to share what I have experienced:

  • DROOL:  It’s coming in gallons.  Soaking through several bibs a day.  Dripping all over his clothes, the floors, and Mommy or Daddy when holding him.  Turns out this is a classic sign of teething, especially if excessive and after 4 months of age.  I read somewhere that the drool actually helps the baby with discomfort by cooling and lubricating the gums.  Maybe so, maybe not… But it’s definitely everywhere.
  • Coughing:  All the drool has nowhere to go, especially if the baby is reclined, except into the throat.  This leads to some coughing and gagging.  At first it freaked me out until I realized what was causing it.  There’s not much I can do but encourage him to “cough it out.”
  • GUMMING:  I don’t know the official term for it, but by this I mean grabbing anything and everything he can to shove it into his mouth for some chewing relief.  His bib is usually an easy first grab, followed by his toys or even his own fists.  He loves Sophie the Giraffe and is finally getting some use out of his teethers.
  • Reduced Appetite:  Feedings have become, at times, extraordinarily fussy.  He tries to eat, realizes he is still in pain, cries/screams, tries some more, realizes it still hurts, cries some more, etc.  Frustrating for all of us.  I’ve found that alternating bottle and solids as part of the same feeding helps somewhat.  I think it’s just because of the distraction aspect – something different to keep his mind off the pain.  Whatever it takes.
  • Kidsme Food FeederBaby and I both love this little contraption!  It’s BPA free (yay) and holds little pieces of fruit or veggies for the baby to taste/eat without the risk of choking.  I use it for teething relief by filling it with frozen mango chunks  – the organic ones from Whole Foods are the perfect size.   He gums it to his heart’s delight and gets to try new fruit while the cold takes the edge off.  I also use it during flight takeoffs and descents; the sucking helps with his ears.
  • Camilia Teething Drops:  After complaining to my hubby’s cousin about trying to find a good teething relief agent that didn’t contain benzocaine, she recommended these drops.  They are wonderful!  A homeopathic remedy, they are single-dosage (read: sterile) drops that finally help provide relief for my little one.  I’ve tasted them myself and they’re mildly sweet – not offensive like some other remedies.  They guarantee both us and baby a period of calm whenever used.  Also – since they are single dosages – they are easy to drop into your purse, baby bag, whatever.  I get mine at Whole Foods although I know they’re available online as well.

Other than that, we just provide a lot of love and comfort.  Our son’s been a little trooper so far; a bit fussy and uncomfortable, but handling it overall.  Would love to hear about other relief tips if any of you have them!

Fathers Day

Dear Daddy,

Happy Fathers Day!  It’s our first one.  I wanted to tell you that I am so glad I got you for a Daddy.  I know I may not always show it, but I already recognize what you do for me and the love you have for me.

Thank you for taking care of me.  You’re always there to feed me and bathe me.  I hear of other daddies who never change diapers, but you’ve been changing mine since Day 1!  (Sorry about those first meconium ones.  I know they made a big mess, but you never made me feel bad about it).

Thank you for taking your full Paternity Leave.  I know it was a challenge for you to be off work for 12 weeks, but I’m so glad you did it.  I feel like we really bonded and got to know each other during this time.  It will never again be just you and me like that.  I will never forget our times running in the mornings (well, you running, and me watching you from the stroller), doing Tummy Time, and playing with the dog.  And I will miss our naptimes – you were always so good about not moving and waking me up when I fell asleep on you.

Thank you for being so patient with me.  I’ll admit I may have my moments, but you handle them with grace.  Even when Mommy gets all red in the face and says she needs some quiet time, you stay calm.  It helps me calm down too.

Thank you for playing with me!  I have so much fun.  I love when you fly me in the air like an airplane.  And when we play the sit-up game.  OH and I especially love the new Peek-A-Boo game; it cracks me up every time!  I even like it when you turn on the lullaby station and we sing along.  Even though Mommy says you’ll never win American Idol, it sounds good enough to me.  I love that you aren’t all uptight and that you act like a kid with me.  Everything is much more fun when I have someone to play with.

Thank you for everything you did to prepare for me before I even arrived.  Mommy told me about the work you did to put all the nursery furniture together.  Even though I heard you get angry at Dammit a few times, Mommy said you re-read the instructions and tried again until you got it right.  Everything looked perfect when I came home!  (Sorry about the spit-up stains.  Mommy said it’s time for new carpet anyways).

Thank you for protecting me.  I know you’ve always got my back.  You’re so careful when bathing me to not get soap or water in my eyes, or to not nick me when cutting my fingernails (I know you did a couple of times and it was an accident, so I don’t hold it against you).  I know I get squirmy when you are changing me but you are always patient and wait it out so you don’t have to bend my arms or legs too much.  And you are always looking after me when we are out in public – making sure I don’t touch any germy stuff and that you are with me at all times.  It makes me feel safe.

Oh and thank you for making such yummy food for me!  I love love love the avocados, sweet potatoes, and carrots that you puree – oh and the mango snacks too!  I’m not a huge fan of the peas though.  I know, I know – they will make me grow up big and strong – but maybe we can try them again some other time.

Thank you for wanting the best for me.  How lucky am I to have a Daddy who puts me first every time!  I could get used to this.  I know I’ve changed a lot of priorities around, but you never complain and are always happy to accommodate.  I will remember that when I’m raising children of my own one day.

Thank you for balancing Mommy out.  I know she just cares about me, but sometimes she really over-stresses about things.  So it’s good to have you on the other end of the spectrum.  I feel like between the two of you, I get the best of both worlds.

And most of all, thank you for loving me so much!  Even though you don’t say it all the time, I know that you do.  I know by the way you talk to me, hold me, feed me, and care for me.  You’re teaching me that it’s okay to be myself, and that I always have a safe place to come home to.  You’re teaching me how to be a good son, a good friend, a good husband, a good father.  You’re teaching me about unconditional love.

And I love you back.  You’re the only Daddy I have, and I’m so blessed to have you.  Happy Fathers Day, Daddy.

Love,

Your Son

Starting Solids

Going through this for the first time, I had no idea when or how to start solids with my son.  I had heard that formula was sufficient in terms of nutrition for the first year of life, but that solids should be introduced within that time period to begin familiarizing the child.  I was told to start at 4 months, then I was told to start at 6 months.  I was told to start with rice cereral, then I was told to start with veggies.  I was told to make my own baby food, then I was told to buy organic pre-made food.

So confusing!  (Like everything associated with new parenthood, I am learning).

So I spent some time reading about it and discussing it with seasoned mothers, and here is what I came up with for our situation.

  • When to Start.  My son had some gastrointestinal issues early on, so I definitely wanted to wait as long as was reasonable to start him on solids.  I figured that waiting would help ensure that his digestive system was built up solidly.  Plus, I remember reading somewhere that formula-fed babies who start solids before 4 or 4.5 months have a greater risk of childhood obesity.  The medical community recommends starting your baby on solids between 4 and 6 months, or when “signs of readiness” are shown.  For us, 6 months seemed reasonable and when our son seemed ready – as he had begun watching us intently as we ate, and mimicking our chewing movements.
  • Store-Purchased vs. Home-Made.  To make or not make our own baby food?  I never imagined I would be the type of person to make ANY type of food, let alone baby food.  Yet, the more packaged baby foods I looked at, the fewer options I felt I had.  I wanted organic (which, by the way, all packaged baby foods are required to be), and I wanted a variety of single ingredient vegetable solids to start him off with.  I found many single ingredient fruit options, or dual vegetable options, but not the single vegetable solids I was looking for.  Also, I wanted the ingredients to be limited to simply water and the vegetable itself – no additions.  Finally, I needed to find food with BPA-free packaging.  As simple as these requirements seem, I couldn’t find much that met them!  Ultimately I found Sprout Baby Food, which met all my requirements.  The only problem was, my local Whole Foods markets only stock two types of single ingredient Stage 1 vegetables, sweet potatoes and squash.  So I stocked up on those as back-up as it dawned on me that if I wanted more control, I was going to have to make the food myself.
  • Making Baby Food.  Anyone who knows me knows that I CANNOT cook, so simplicity was the name of the game for me here.  I was looking for a baby food processor that was BPA-free and that would be E-A-S-Y.  Finally, I stumbled upon the Baby Brezza One Step Baby Food Maker.  I’ve listed out all the details of this great device under my #1 purchase for 3-6 month olds in another post, but suffice it to say that it is truly a 1-step process (as in load the veggies, press a button, and in 15-25 minutes you have a beautiful homemade puree).  I can’t recommend it enough.
  • What’s the deal with Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3?  This really stressed me out.  What do they mean?  What if I should, heaven forbid, accidentally feed my son a Stage 2 food before he’s completed Stage 1?  At what age should he be eating Stage 3 instead of Stage 2?  Fortunately for me, it sounds a lot more regimented than it truly is.  The bottom line is that Stage 1 and Stage 2 foods are typically single ingredient foods that are the least likely to cause an allergic reaction.  Stage 3 foods begin introducing a combination of ingredients, and textures begin moving away from the Stage 1 and 2 purees.  There are no rules or exact order that you must follow, just general guidelines that you should consider.   That’s it.  WebMD offers a good general food chart that you may want to refer to.  As my son is still in Stage 1, the following is the order in which I have so far introduced new foods to him:

Avocado – loved it
Green Beans – loved it
Green Squash – loved it
Yellow Squash – was ambivalent
Peas – hated it
Carrots – loved it
Asparagus – hated it

  • Why not rice cereal first?  I know, I know, I heard from everyone that rice cereal was the “right” starting point.  But, I didn’t feel like there was much nutritional value, so I decided to go straight to veggies.  That said, I would like to introduce him to baby oatmeal.
  • What are the Color & Day Rules?  So the Color Rule, as I’ve heard it called, simply refers to keeping your baby on a certain color of vegetables or fruits before starting another one (e.g. you may begin with GREEN veggies, and then move to ORANGE ones after that).  I think it’s more to keep track of what your child has tried; I know that I haven’t really followed any color rules to date, although I have coincidentally started him with quite a few greens.  As far as the Day Rule goes, you should give your baby one type of food a day for 3-4 days to ensure there is no allergic reaction before moving on to the next.  This will allow you to monitor your child and also to identify the culprit should some sort of allergic reaction occur.
  • Making the Introduction.  Make sure you have everything ready: BPA-free food container, BPA-free baby spoon, waterproof bib, a sponge, and plenty of paper towels (and of course a high chair).  I like to begin feeding time with a bit of formula (or you can do breastmilk); I feed him enough so that he is somewhat satiated but still wanting more.  Then I give him the puree.  I let him tell me by his reaction whether or not he likes it, and he also lets me know when he’s had enough.  Then aftewards, I typically “top him off” with the rest of his bottle.  This routine works well for us, and now he starts getting excited as soon as he’s sitting in his high chair (also reviewed as part of a previous post – #3 on the list).

So far, so good.  I am excited to begin him on oatmeal, chicken and turkey (both are suitable for Stage 1), and legumes.  He is excited about all of it and his squeals prove it – as he splatters pureed green beans all over himself, his chair, and Mommy and Daddy.

10 Favorite Things About Our 6-Month-Old Baby

I can hardly believe that my son is already 6 months old… Where has the time gone??  I miss my tiny little delicate newborn.  But now that he is out of the coma phase (as one of my friends so eloquently put it), I am having the best time watching him become aware of the world around him.  This has got to be the best phase so far, and I wanted to take a moment to document my favorite aspects.

  • He recognizes us.  He lights up when he sees us, and is now reaching for us.  If we catch his eye during a crying episode and smile, he forgets his tears and beams back.  If he becomes uncomfortable being held by someone else, he looks for us to calm him.  It makes us feel like the most important people in the world.
  • He is curious.  He’s actually playing with his toys now.  Grasping, feeling… And sticking them in his mouth.  You can literally see the wheels spinning in his head as he stares wide-eyed at everything around him, soaking every bit of it in.  He reaches for everything.  And looks to us, puzzled, as if asking for an explanation.
  • He is (almost) mobile.  Not yet walking, but he is a rolling maniac.  Set him on a blanket and look away, and the next thing you know he’s rolled across the room.  He occasionally gets stuck; blocked by a toy or even the dog.  And then grunts and scrunches up his face as he pushes and pushes, absolutely determined to overcome the obstacle.  My hope as a mother is that this determination never leaves him.
  • We all understand the routine.  Although we may not always agree on it, we all acknowledge the general routine.  It makes us comfortable, it makes him comfortable.  In the beginning, I would freak out when he was crying in his crib at bedtime.  Now I understand that this is part of the routine: he turns into a little monster about 7pm, and will scream and cry in his crib for anywhere from 30 seconds to 8 minutes, before suddenly halting mid-scream as sleep overcomes him.
  • He is sturdier.  Sounds silly, but this is a big plus.  I literally refused to carry him up and down the stairs the first couple of weeks of his life, as he just seemed too fragile and I was so scared to slip.  Now that he is chubby and solid, I am so much more comfortable carrying him, playing with him, etc.  I don’t feel like he is going to break anymore.
  • He is trying to communicate.  No words yet (besides his unintentional “Mama”), but he sure is trying.  He babbles with excitement, as if trying to tell us about his day, and squeals with delight when happy.  He mimics our coos.  And yes, he has also learned to cry to his advantage.  It is a pretty common occurrence for him to be in the throes of  a wail, tears streaming down his face as the world caves in around him, to suddenly squeal and begin laughing mid-cry if we make funny faces or bring him his favorite toys.
  • He is eating solids.  Only veggies at this point, one at a time, but it’s something.  I imagine that this is a novelty for us simply because he is our first, and that with any subsequent children we may dread the day when a simple bottle won’t do the trick, but for now we love it.  We love making his food, watching his face as he tries a new flavor, trying to determine if he likes it or not, and marveling over the amount he can eat at a time.
  • He loves the bath.  And this wasn’t always this case.  So it makes it a much more pleasant experience for everyone when he welcomes the tub, the toys, the water, the splashing.  And he absolutely adores the part when he gets bundled up in a warm towel and then lotioned up.  He laughs and wriggles and squirms, happy as a clam.
  • He loves to cuddle.  He laughs and laughs when we cuddle and I kiss his chubby cheeks.  Now he reaches out and grabs my hands, my fingers, and yes, my hair.  He does squirm after a while, but he’s still small enough that he will fall asleep in my arms at the end of a long day.
  • He plays with the dog.  Our poor little shih-tzu has been trying to bond with the baby for months now.  But alas, he’s simply ignored her.  Now he finally notices her.  He reaches out to pet her and she patiently lets him.  In turn, she licks the top of his head (until Mommy or Daddy notice and stop her).  Even when he gets excited and grabs her ear or her tail, she never snaps at him.  Just whines and looks up at us like, HELP.  They’re great pals.

I’m beginning to learn that parenthood is so bittersweet.  I want this time to last forever, yet I look forward to when he is a toddler and can begin to better understand everything around him.  I want to continue to cuddle him and shower him with kisses on his chubby cheeks, yet I look forward to relating to him in a more mature way.  I want him to continue to coo and babble and squeal, yet I look forward to having an actual conversation with him.  I suppose I want time to stand still and speed up all at once.  Now, more than ever, is when I realize truly what a precious commodity TIME really is.

What are your favorite experiences with, or memories of, your young infants?