Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sometimes Nana is the Best Medicine

The kids were not in great shape today. Abby is on day three of a pretty bad cold (imagine the pathetic sight of her two nights ago, attempting to "read" Pajama Time, and instead choking out, "Bajabba Time..."), Michael was running a very low-grade fever through the morning and early afternoon (teething problems, perhaps?), and both have been suffering some mild GI issues for the past few days. Mia awoke with enough nasal congestion to warrant a nose-sucking, and otherwise had the same issues as usual: gas, tummy issues, and general fussiness between long stretches of sleeping.

It was therefore quite the miraculous event, in the end, Nana's visit. When she offered to come down a couple of days ago, I thought it would be a nice thing, but considering the long way she had to come, perhaps a little too much to expect. After all, last Tuesday was certainly not easy (it was my first solo day with all three children, as Tom resumed his once-a-week commute into the office), but I came through it just fine.

However, after Tom left this morning, I found myself counting the minutes until her arrival. Abby was cranky and required near-constant nose-wiping, and Michael was in extra need of cuddles, but I was rather tied down by Mia. I did manage to get Michael down for his nap on my own by wearing Mia in a wrap and propping him on one hip for the trip upstairs, and then turning at a rather awkward angle to reach down and get him settled in his crib for some brief back-rubbing before leaving him to sleep. Thankfully, Tom has been working hard to wean him from pre-nap rocking, so though Michael made a small complaint when I first set him down, he tucked himself down rather quickly and easily on his own. I can now officially name him the easiest of the three to get to sleep (for now). Who would ever have thought, given all of the troubles we've had with him?

Nana's descent down the stairs to the basement shortly afterward put Abby in a good mood, and the new books that Nana brought kept her well occupied until lunchtime. And putting Abby down to nap turned out to be a breeze, as well, since I didn't have to leave Michael whining in his booster seat downstairs, or wear Mia up with me as I led Abby to her room. They waited safely and happily downstairs with Nana, instead.

Michael got some nice snuggle time, which he desperately needed, with both Nana and me as we switched back and forth between babies. He was amazingly easy to put down for nap number two when the time finally came, and as I came back downstairs from his room, I realized that I had not just two babies asleep at once, but three, and I wasn't trapped beneath any of them.

Nana took up that honor instead, and Mia had a lovely nap (of  many) in her arms.

When Mia and her siblings awoke, the stars aligned. Not only did I have enough energy to set up her playmat and play goalie with her enthusiastic but rather over-intrusive big brother and sister, she was in a good enough mood to be put down.

She had a great time, lasting about three minutes on her belly and ten on her back.

Best of all, I got a chance to take a picture of her and place it alongside similar shots of her sibs.

Now you can see all three in a row.

I would challenge you to guess who's who, but I've already made it a third easier by posting Amelia's picture just above, so I'll just go ahead and point out that the pictures are in order (left to right) from eldest to youngest. Abby (at one month, four days), then Michael (at one-and-a-half months), then Mia (at one month, three days). Pretty nifty, eh?

Even niftier? Though I never consciously planned it that way, Abby and Michael are wearing the same shirt, and the two girls somehow ended up in almost the exact same pose and position on the mat. And though I've been trying to find a time to get this picture taken for the last couple of days, I couldn't actually remember how old Abby and Michael were in theirs. I managed to get them all pretty close though, in the end.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Evolution of Our Evenings

We forgot to offer Michael his pre-bedtime milk this evening, and easygoing guy that he is (when he's not madly teething, overtired or confined for too long), he let it slide. I felt simultaneously guilty and relieved when I realized my omission, shortly after Tom had already put him down. After all, I'd been planning to phase out that last sippy soon anyway, now that he's drinking with meals, eating solids well, and taking his milk cold. I suppose that I should take the ease with which he went without as a sign that there's no need to further delay.

It's just one more reminder of how big he's gotten, though, and I don't know how much my heart can take. As it is, I die a little each time I see him with fresh eyes in the morning, so big and strapping. Up until the day that Mia was born, he was my "little guy," with Abby as the only everyday comparison. Seeing Mia was a stark reminder of just how tiny he started off, and I can't "unsee" the tremendous size difference now that it's been made apparent to me.

Of course, he's not the only one continuing to grow, and sometimes I feel that my head is spinning trying to follow surreptitious changes that suddenly catch my notice and surround me on all sides now. Thankfully, a lot of the change has made life easier: Michael is going down for naps and bedtime with less reliance on rocking and soothing beforehand, Abby's new routine is getting tightened and tweaked, and causing less and less problems for us in both the evenings and the following mornings (she's finally waking at closer to her regular pre-toddler bed time).

Mia, on the other had, is in a more frequent and constant state of flux. It seems miraculous and amazing to me how easily my evenings were with her for the first week-and-a-half, especially compared to how they've regularly played out lately. She takes a good six attempts to put down, unless I have the patience to let her get a head start of an hour or more on my person before relocating her. This is now the third night we've tried the mini-crib at the start of the night, and though we had pretty good results the first night, it's been a challenge ever since. I finally gave up after several failed attempts this evening, first allowing her to snooze on my lap for awhile, and then placing her in her Rock n' Play sleeper, instead.

Of course, none of this should come as a surprise to me, and I suppose that it really doesn't. There are many reasons why the first three months or so are a bit of a blur; sleep deprivation being the primary one, the ever-present behavioral shifts and resultant need for adaptation being another major factor. It's a constant game of wait, see, and respond. Maybe she's not ready for the mini-crib yet. Maybe she's just having a bad night. I'll just have to figure out what works in the moment, and that's okay for now (or so I try to keep reminding myself).

In the meantime, I'm carrying myself through it by focusing with some admiration on the way that sometimes things just work out for the best. That one miraculous week-and-a-half that Mia gave us in the beginning aligned perfectly with the insanity that grew out of our toddler bed transition. I can't imagine trying to get through all of the difficulty with Abby while struggling with Mia at the same time. And so, while I wish I could have encapsulated that perfect bit of sleeping that Mia initially offered us and apply it to now, I will rest (to the extent that I can) content with the fact that at least Abby is mostly back on schedule, and Michael is getting closer and closer to being able to sleep through without incident, even while Mia now throws me for a new loop each night. As for that latter problem, I think I'll make no further plans beyond doing whatever needs doing to get through the next couple of months with my sanity (mostly) intact. Routines are a bear to establish, and thankfully they can wait, where Mia is concerned.

All part of the particular joy of having a newborn, I suppose. Being so acutely aware of how very precious this brief little phase is, I'm incredibly grateful to have a thorough appreciation of how much the struggle truly is worth it, this time around.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Things They Learn When You're Not Looking

Tom and I have been ordering or carrying in far more often than we should since Mia's birth, and on at least two occasions we've gone all out in our unhealthiness by adding a milkshake to the meal.

Thus, Abby has learned the word, "dessert," and has come to understand that it is a) yummy, b) special, c) restricted, and d) conditional.

I have no plans to totally shield my children from sugar or sweets, but I've been slow and cautious in introducing them because they don't really know what they're missing yet, anyway, and because (at least in Abby's case) it doesn't take much consumption to really have a negative effect on their behavior. So, I did let Abby taste my shake, but I made sure to let her know that it was dessert, and that she could only have a few sips.

As it happened,  on each occasion Tom and I had to prepare lunch for the little 'uns while either trying to scarf down our own or delaying digging in. However, the milkshake cups sat plainly on the table the whole while, so I would offer a few tastes, then give Abby her lunch and make it clear that there were to be no more until she ate a good bit of what she was given.

Having sworn off dairy these past couple of days, I had no milkshake at lunch today, but I did have fries, and Tom ended up giving a good portion of his to Abby while I prepared hers and Michael's sandwiches. Once they'd been taken care of, I finally dove into my own lunch and was surprised that I heard no whiny pleas for fries start up as I began. I thought at first that Abby didn't have a good sight line on my munching beyond the peanut butter and jam containers that sat in front of me, but as it happened, she was simply biding her time.

She'd figured out how things work- you see- and as she swallowed the last bit of her lunch, she flashed me a big smile (much like this one)...

... and said, "I finished my sandwich. Wanna have some fries!"

Impressed that she had applied what she learned about desserts to other bad-for-you treats, like fries, and pleased that she had shown such restraint, I cheerfully obliged.

She'll never cease to amaze, I imagine. I'm more than good with that.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Happy Monthday, Mia!

Despite a lazy, unproductive morning, a fussy baby, and dinnertime houseguests, I actually managed to pull off a photo shoot in commemoration of the culmination of Mia's first month.

I still don't know quite where the month of April went, and I am shocked beyond description that it's really been so long since Mia joined our family, at last. It feels like only yesterday that Tom and I went through the craziest, most beautiful, most amazing experience together in the bathroom of our tiny home while the older siblings-to-be chattered away around the dining room table in the very next room.

Paradoxically, it hardly seems possible that there was ever a time that Mia wasn't with us.

I made my first attempt to take some pictures of Mia just before our guests arrived, but Mia was still put out from having her clothing and diaper changed, and would not consent to leave my arms. She happily transferred to her father's, though, so I took advantage and snapped a few shots with him just in case I didn't get another chance later.

She's pictured there with Piglet, who I just purchased on a whim after having a conversation with Tom the other day. Apropos of nothing, he said, "So, if Abby is Pooh, and Michael is Tigger, what is Amelia? Piglet?" (Aunt Marcia bought Abby a stuffed Pooh Bear in February of last year, and Michael received a stuffed Tigger from a friend around the same time). I agreed that Piglet seemed fitting, and made sure to order one for her in time for her one-month pictures.

However, Piglet turned out to be much smaller than I expected, and I remembered that I'd actually posed Michael with both Pooh and Tigger, so I decided to use all three with Amelia when she finally provided me with a brief window of opportunity to try again.

Of course, this finally happened after Mia had spit up on her dress two or three times, and during the course of our visit with friends. Thankfully, they were very gracious and made no complaint as I shuffled about with my camera, snapping away and occasionally readjusting Mia and her pals.

The headband that came with Mia's new dress is, sadly, still too big for her tiny little head, but I endeavored to keep it on for most of the shoot all the same, because it looks so darned cute.

When I first began taking pictures, Abby was outside for a bit with her father. Upon her return, she came bearing a flower, which Tom tucked behind Mia's ear.

Unfortunately, it wasn't long before Abby tried to take advantage of the fact that Mia was so accessible. Big sister loves her little sister snuggles. And I love to let her have them, when I can, but her adorable head was getting in the way of my shots.

Of course, that's when cropping comes in handy. However, Abby's presence within the frame did ultimately throw off the focus a bit (it landed on the flower instead of Mia, because the flower was closest to the center, and I failed to notice before taking the picture).

I was pretty happy with the shots I was getting, but very frustrated with the lighting. By the time I got started, there was virtually no natural light available, so I went ahead and used the pop-up flash, but, as usual, was unhappy with its harshness. However, going without got me this picture...

... which I kind of wish I had managed to take before going off of auto, because I love it, but it's terribly dark.

Of course, it came out that dark because I initially forgot to mess with the other relevant settings, but even after doing so I wasn't getting any good quality pictures, so I switched back.

This time, I experimented with the Dynamic Autofocus (as opposed to Closest Subject), though I'm not sure that I'm happy with the results.

Though it solved the problem of out-of-focus feet in the foreground, it seems to me that I sacrificed a bit of sharpness overall by selecting that mode. But maybe it's just in my head.

So here we are, one month in, and moving steadily forward. Though I desperately want to slow the changes down, it's still exciting to observe them; to see identifiable features emerge, from the newborn awkwardness, in her face. She looks so very much like her sister, and now, so very much like- well- herself.

She's growing stronger with each day, and more alert. She's spending increasing amounts of time awake.

Sadly, though her congestion is finally clearing, she is continuing to have a bit of tummy trouble. Despite that, she's been a champ about tummy time, lasting five minutes or more before making any complaint if I time it right.

She's still not particularly tolerant about being put down during the day, and continues to stubbornly refuse any offerings of a pacifier. Her nighttime routine remains the same: a 3-4 hour independent stretch at the beginning, and the rest of the night right up next to me (though a large part of that can be blamed on me, as I'm far to sleepy and tired, once woken, to make repeated attempts to put her back down in her sleeper).

Tonight, however, marks a new milestone. She's starting it off in the mini-crib for the first time.

Though it took four or five attempts to finally get her down, she has stayed for nearly two hours, now. She seems to squirm around much more in her crib than she did in her sleeper, and even woke for about ten minutes at one point before managing to fall back asleep on her own. Here's hoping that she lasts for another hour or so more; I think we'll then officially be able to call her first night a success. 

Ha! It seems that as I typed that last sentence, Mia managed to work one arm out of the swaddle and wake herself up again. I have a feeling that I may have to intervene this time- I guess we'll see. Ah, well. Like so many other transitions are and will be, it's "baby steps," right?

Happy First Monthday, Mia! What a month it's been...

Friday, April 26, 2013

Stairs are Scary

I'm posting after midnight at this point, so technically I've missed the day (though thanks to Blogger thinking I'm on Pacific Time, my tardiness will not be indicated in the date), but I suppose that's the price I'm paying for finally trying to carve out nearly three hours to watch The Hobbit, which I received as I gift in my Easter Basket, nearly a month ago. I spent the vast majority with a sleeping newborn in my arms, but I managed it, all the same.

I haven't much energy left now to come up with any quality content, so I must admit that this post is a bit of a placeholder, at best. I do have one Cute Abby Moment to share, though, so I may as well:

Abby was quite reluctant to climb the stairs to bed, and kept leaning her head back to sneak one last peek at Mei Mei (who came for dinner) down in the living room below. At some point, she ascended so high on the stairs that she had to lean back past a point at which she could maintain her balance, and she lost her footing. Luckily, Tom was right there to steady her, but in his own panic, he chastised her rather harshly. Between his displeasure and her own bewilderment, Abby was overcome and began to cry.

Once they reached the top of the steps, Tom took a moment to gently reiterate to Abby that it's important not to play on the stairs. "Because stairs are scary," Abby offered, voice wavering.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Blowing Bubbles

That's what Abby calls this:

Blowing bubbles. As if it's not adorable enough to simply watch her cherub lips pucker up to blow the delicate seedlings out into the wind.

I try not to focus on the fact that she's helping the worst kind of weed to further invade our lawn. It really is a silly concern to have, anyway, when our lawn is about 70% weed to begin with.

And I would have loved to have taken more pictures, but my camera battery chose a moment not too long after that picture was taken to die.

It's just as well, as I haven't much time or energy to spare now for photo editing and posting. Mia's been having one of her worst nights, yet (we're talking nearly three hours straight of various attempts at soothing before finally getting her to sleep, punctuated by frequent spit-up sessions), and I've a sinking feeling that it has a lot to do with that milkshake that I unwisely drank with my lunch this afternoon.

I've been considering cutting out dairy for days and was holding off until Tom had the time to pick up some milk substitutes from the store. In the meantime, it should have occurred to me to try to cut down as much as possible, but I just haven't been thinking much about the dietary choices I've been making (beyond avoiding citrus, which seems to be a definite problem for Mia), since I haven't yet made the commitment to change.

The one good thing I can say about having gone through such an experience is that it will grant me motivation to stick to my guns. I found that one of the hardest things about giving up dairy for three weeks when I was breastfeeding Michael was that I was never sure whether it was doing any good in the end. I don't suppose I'll be completely sure in Mia's case, either, not for the first week or so, but the correlation between Mia's distress this evening and my food choices today seems far too strong to ignore.

I hope to bear my sacrifice with much more grace this time, fully cognizant of the great benefit it may potentially bestow upon my tiny daughter.

Still, after seeing her suffer so, I can't help thinking: shame on me for not finding the courage sooner.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mia: Four Weeks

I feel almost silly, making a big deal out of four weeks when the bigger milestone- one month- is creeping up in just three short days. However, it seems to me that when you've been out in the world for as brief a time as Mia has, every day is worth a celebration, so I certainly couldn't overlook the completion of yet another of her very first few weeks.

Besides, it was an excuse to dress her up in a pretty outfit and play with my camera.

Unfortunately, I waited until after dinner to attempt both activities, which is right around the time that Mia gears up to fall asleep for the night (well, until she gets hungry, that is). As a result, when she grew terribly fussy after her diaper and clothing change, my resultant attempts at soothing her only served to make her sleepy.

I wasn't about to let that stop me, however, after having taken the time to put the silly, frilly pink thing on, so I laid Mia on the loveseat and began to shoot quickly, knowing that I had perhaps two minutes in which to work before she woke up in response to being put down.

I had just enough time to capture the full length of her...

... some precious toes...

... and hands (just look how long and delicate those fingers are!)...

... and her swiftly-changing newborn face.

Having successfully gotten all of those shots in auto with the pop-up flash (to save time), I then got a little braver and began to play around a little bit.

I had a decent amount of light in the room, but all of it was artificial, and none of it was direct. After maxing out the ISO and lowering the shutter speed to 15 to compensate, I found that I still had to contend with the poor quality.  My first few attempts came out tinted a sickly yellow, like this one:

It was then that I had a sudden epiphany about how white balance was supposed to work. Thus, I finally successfully metered in-camera, setting the white balance to Incandescent. This was the result:

Sadly, though Mia stayed nice and still for me, I am terrible at holding a camera still while pressing down the shutter button, so I threw off the focus a bit.

I also wish that I'd had more time to play around with the white balance, since Mia still looks a tad too yellow for my taste. Perhaps the flourescent setting would have been a better choice, given that all of our bulbs are CFL now. But that will be an experiment for another time.

Around the time that I started looking around for my camera bag to grab the mini-tripod, I passed the two-minute mark, and Mia began to stir. Rushing back to get some last-minute shots in, I managed this one, which actually came out in better focus than the one above, despite the fact that it was rushed and taken in the midst of some amount of early wiggling on Mia's part.

Go figure, right?

The one bit I managed to still get out of focus was her feet, since they were sitting so far forward of the rest of her, which got me thinking. If, in the future, I wish to remedy that problem (which I've encountered several times before), how would I go about it? I'm guessing that it would involve an adjustment to the Aperture and/or Autofocus Area Mode. I'm hoping for an opportunity to find out for sure.

I suppose the question that remains is, will I ever find the time? Perhaps, if I take up photographing things that don't move. I don't think my kids will ever qualify, in that regard.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The "If You Are Falling" Song

Abby is big into singing lately, all kinds of songs. She never has all of the lyrics of the radio hits memorized (yet, anyway), but she captures sizable chunks, and is getting really good at carrying a tune.

I've learned to tread lightly when she begins singing, however. Often, she'll let me join in, but on many other occasions, my obvious trespass has been met with an exasperated, "No! Mommy can don't sing!"

All is well when she actually requests a song, so long as you can figure out which one she's talking about. She doesn't know the titles of the vast majority of her favorites, so she names them based on phrases from the lyrics that stand out to her. For instance, as far as Abby is concerned, Ingrid Michaelson's The Way I Am is actually called the If You Are Falling Song.

She sings it incredibly well, with a little beat-boxing thrown in, and Tom tried this evening (a little too late into it) to get video evidence, but he wasn't stealthy enough.

Abby noticed him filming and quickly became far too interested in the phone to continue acting naturally.

Smart cookie though she is, there are two things that Abby still doesn't understand about phones and recording equipment: 1) You have to actually successfully take a video before you can watch yourself being recorded (unless you're playing with the forward-facing camera- confusing, I know) and 2) though today's phones can record video, phone conversations generally are audio only. Every time hold the phone to her ear and instruct her to say hello to the caller, she waves instead.

One thing should be crystal clear from this video, brief as it is: this is why it's so hard to get good pictures of a toddler. They hardly ever stop moving.

Also, Abby doesn't seem to understand the purpose of the shortened word, 'cause, though she clearly understands its meaning. Notice that she insists on saying because, when the full word is not actually used in the song. Makes me giggle just a little bit. Stubborn girl.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Fussiness Rising

For the past week, with each passing day, it seems that Mia has gotten fussier. My anxiety has begun to creep up at a similar rate, because her behavior is following a pattern that is far too similar to Michael's, at the same age, for my taste. It's a pattern that is looking more and more like reflux to me, though I am still trying to remain optimistic.

I'm giving it a couple more days, since she's got a nasty respiratory infection going on that may end up being the sole cause of the trouble, and then I may have to start experimenting with my own diet to see if I can bring Mia any relief through the elimination of certain problem foods (which have yet to be identified, if indeed they exist).

The only thing that helped us through the worst of it today was wrapping Mia nice and tight in my K'tan wrap, and pacing the room until she finally fell asleep. Of course, though it worked like a charm in the afternoon, it didn't work as well in the evening, and I had to struggle to soothe her for about two hours straight after she woke up in it at the end of dinner.

My head is pounding now from all of the strain, and I am so ready to sleep. Regardless, it's hard for me to drag my feet into the bedroom, tired as I am, knowing that I have perhaps four good hours ahead of me. Though Mia has been doing consistently well on her first shift (once I can finally get her down), the combination of her worsening nasal congestion throughout the night, and my increasing fatigue make it nearly impossible for me to get her back down into her sleeper for shifts two and three.

Though she thankfully sleeps pretty well when squashed against a nice, warm body (nearly always mine)...

.. I sleep terribly when she's there, either because I end up with her perched on top of me, and worry all night subconsciously about letting her roll off of me, or I end up with her on either side of me, and experience the same subconscious worry regarding all of the possible suffocation hazards that exist for her in that position.

If I'm really lucky, I also get covered in spit-up before the night is through (or the bed does, at least).

I knew, when I "signed up" to be a mom, that I was signing away more than a decade of quality sleep, but it's hard not to long for a good night's sleep all the same.

How can I not be a little envious when privy to such peaceful slumber all around me?

Well, it's peaceful when it's in someone's arms, anyway.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

My Mommy Milestone

My three babies: they sure do love their Aunt Ali and Uncle Joe.


Thanks to the extra hands available during their visit, I was able to make my very first baby-free outing since becoming a mom of three. It was necessarily brief, since Mia still depends on me as her exclusive food source, but I came home rather refreshed and with an armful of summer clothes and pajamas for Abby, which she so desperately needed.
While I was out, I couldn't help myself and purchased near-matching dresses for Mia and Abby. What a treat it will be to put them on.

What a challenge it will be to get a good picture. But you know me- I'm up for it.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Many Faces of Bathtime

Calm inquisitiveness ("This water is strange, but nice and warm...")

Building apprehension ("But wait- exactly what is happening, here?)

Desperate unhappiness ("Gah! Keep that soapy washcloth away from me! And quit it with all of the scrubbing and rinsing!")

Forsakenness ("Daddy, how could you?!")

Tentative hopefulness ("It's all over now, right?")

True contentment ("I love you Daddy. All is forgiven.")

Friday, April 19, 2013

Creative Grammar and Other Developments

I've always been fascinated with language, so it's been an amazing treat for me to watch it grow and blossom, from seeming nothingness, within Abigail.

Her latest speech feat has been to attempt negation. The very first I heard of it was a few weeks ago, when she began to read a book from memory, and her Aunt Lisa continued on for her when she paused.

"No! Abby can read it!" She protested. "Auntie Lisa can don't read it!"

I've heard the same structure repeated a couple of times since: "No! Mommy can don't sing it! No! Daddy can don't do it!" Cracks me up every time. Fascinates me even more.

Meanwhile, Michael continues to be having a harder time of teething than I would ever have dreamt possible. I took a good look in his mouth this evening and confirmed that his lower-right molar has "landed," and his upper right molar has pushed out, but not yet broken, the gum line. 

The left side is another story. I was horrified to discover a bulging blue blood blister/bruise on the top, where a tooth is clearly struggling to break through, and a tiny red blood blister on the bottom, just above the topmost point of a barely-protruding point. Please, God, let the canines go easier on him. I can't believe he was in such a good mood today, considering, but if the pattern his other teeth have followed is any indication, the worst is probably over by now. It's just agonizing to look at.

And poor, tiny, Amelia. We took her on a doctor visit today to make sure that her worsening respiratory infection is under control. The good news is that her lungs are clear. The bad news is that there isn't much more we can do for her than what we've already been doing. Apparently, it's really tough to kick infections when you're only three weeks old.

Despite the difficulties she's been having trying to eat (and sleep) through all of that snuffling, throat-clearing, and coughing, she's been gaining weight at an impressive rate, and is now up to 9 lbs, 15 oz. She's also grown a bit taller, and boasts a full 22 inches in length.

Now, if only she'd get the whole "keeping it down" part, we'd be set. I've changed my shirt no less than four times today (and it takes a whole lot of spit-up to make that happen, since spit-up happens so frequently that there's usually no point). But as long as she remains a "happy spitter," I suppose I can't complain. I'll take simple laundry problems over reflux and GI problems any day.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Things We Do for Love (and a bit of peace)

I'm making a far bigger deal of this than I should, but I'll be the first to admit that I've become a bit of a wimp in my old(er) age. I no longer enjoy being outside for long periods of time.

In fact, I kind of hate it.

It's not so bad when I have something specific to do, like walk through a beautiful garden or visit a zoo. I do enjoy occasional expeditions like that for their novelty and the other benefits that they provide. However, for a long while I've made a habit of avoiding simply being outside for the sake of being outside (probably to my detriment), because I've placed far too high an emphasis on creature comforts.

As a child, I spent a large part of my existence outside: discovering new and strange creatures living under stepping stones, playing in sand and dirt, enjoying camping trips in simple tents and sleeping bags with the Girl Scouts, spending summers in and around the local pool. But now, I just like my ambient temperature controlled, my personal space bug-free, my lighting friendly and consistent (of course, friendly lighting is near-impossible to come by now that everything is CFL, but it is consistent, at least), my seating soft and accommodating.

In any case, when Tom left to take Amelia and Michael on a long walk, and suggested before leaving that I take Abby out to the backyard when she awoke from her nap, I cringed a little. For all of my talk about finally wanting to have a yard, I realized that I didn't actually want to be in it.

I knew that Abby did, though. I remembered the joy on her little face on Sunday afternoon, when she first tried out her new climbing structure. And so, when she did scramble out of bed and pull on her door after not really sleeping much at all- that's what happens when we doze off in the car on the way home from a playdate, sadly- I decided to push my own resistance aside and take the plunge.

It was no small amount of resistance that I had to overcome, either. I didn't get directly from point "A" to point "B" by any stretch. First, I sat her at the table and gave her a squeezie and yogurt. She had snacked at the playdate, but not enough to equal a lunch. Then, I took her downstairs, having an internal conversation about how it was probably best not to let her run around like a wild child just after eating, that we'd go later, all while secretly recognize that no, we probably wouldn't. I got myself comfortable on the loveseat. I pulled out my Kindle tablet. I felt guilty, but too lazy to do anything about it.

It wasn't until Abby started misbehaving that it hit me: I'd likely have far fewer discipline issues to deal with outside. And so, I dragged my lazy behind back up to her bedroom to retrieve her shoes, I put them on her feet, I pulled up a chair in the backyard, and I sat down.

Immediately, I began to remember why I hadn't wanted to do this. The glaring sun forced me to squint and made me feel sleepy, the buzzing insects annoyed and creeped me out, the cloying smell of freshly-laid mulch from some nearby neighbor's yard assaulted my nostrils.

My dear Abby noticed none of these things. She was in her element- joyful and free. And if all I had to do to grant her such an opportunity was plant my bum in a not-so-comfortable chair and endure a bit of creature discomforts- well, I suppose it was entirely worth it, after all.

Not saying I love being outside any more now than I did yesterday, just that now I have a reason to try to.


On a side note, one other thing I did before taking Abby outside was change her shirt to the one you see pictured. The top she had on earlier in the day was a bit too heavy for the warm weather, and sufficiently nice that I didn't want to see it get grass-stained. I've been avoiding the shirt in the photos like the plague, because the last two times that she wore it (some months ago, now), she threw up all over it. Terrified as I am of all things vomit, I was too spooked by the coincidence to use it again.

For some reason, I decided to try to get over it today (most likely because I was in a bit of a hurry and it was the only shirt I saw in the general area I was looking). As I put it on her, Abby said, "It has throw-up on it!"

I gently explained that I had washed it, so it's fine now, but once again I am floored by her memory. The last time that she wore the shirt was back when I was about six months pregnant with Amelia, and I know my own reasons for remembering that she had it on that day, but I'm truly surprised that she did, too.

Also, Michael is 15 months today, and is sporting the very beginnings of at least one molar. Eek!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mia: Three Weeks

It seems like only yesterday that I started working on my first "Raspberry" post- and yet- here we are, three weeks out from her birth. Such is the nature of time, and having done this twice before I am all too familiar with the whirlwind nature of it all, but somehow I am blown away by it every time.

Though we had a fairly easy first week of nights (as nights with a newborn can go), we've continued to struggle through the second two. Mia is fairly good at going down in her Rock n' Play sleeper for the first shift, in which she can usually manage three to five hours. However, getting her down for the night has gotten a bit harder lately, and has involved more frequent "false starts," and putting her back down after waking for a feed has become nearly impossible. She's ended up spending the majority of most nights in the bed with me, where she is happy to be snuggled up close by, and I am benefiting at perhaps a 40% level of sleep, nervous as I am to have her there.

I attribute a lot of our difficulties to the persistent nasal congestion she's had since week two, and I keep praying that it will clear up soon, for both of our sakes.

Though I've managed to coax an independent nap or two out of her, she generally needs to be up-close-and-personal with a warm body to sleep throughout the day, and she continues to stubbornly refuse my attempts at offering a pacifier. We've tried three brands (Soothies, MAM, and Nuk), but she prefers to nibble all day, even with a full tummy, spit up whatever she couldn't keep down, and resume nibbling again. It can get messy, and frustrating, at times, but it's what I'm here for, I suppose.

Otherwise, things are going fairly well. Mia still sleeps for a good 20 hours a day, but she's beginning to work in more wakeful periods, like the one she had this evening just after dinner. She even combined being awake with being in a good mood, which allowed me to attempt a few poses I'd been wanting to try.

As it turns out, I'm pretty terrible at taking pictures of newborns; I recognize that newborns look rather awkward, in general, but Mia is so much prettier than my photos give her credit for. Also, somehow professional shots always manage to convey just how tiny their subjects are. I haven't a clue how I would go about getting my shots to do the same. Mia looks larger-than-life in all of these.

It was an interesting exercise, nonetheless.

Of course, it still seems to me that her face is subtly changing on an almost-daily basis, anyway.

Sometimes, she appears to look so much like her sister did at a similar age...

Abigail, 3.5 weeks

Abigail, 4 weeks

... and other times, it's their differences that are much more apparent. Mia is dark-haired where Abby was virtually blond. Mia has a pretty thick head of hair and defined brows and lashes; Abby's hair was sparse and reluctant to grow, her brows and lashes virtually nonexistent. Abby's face was wider, and her cheeks chubbier. Their eyes, mouths, and noses are shaped differently.

You'll probably have to take my (biased) word for all this, since I couldn't find any similarly-posed pictures to offer a good comparison, but I think that the similarities appear in the expressions. I'll be interested to see just how alike they look as they both continue to grow and change over time.

I can say that Mia is proving equally as strong as her siblings were, already making daily attempts to claw her way up my chest. When placed on her belly, she can push up onto her elbows and lift her head fairly high in the air to look around.

She's already begun tracking faces with her eyes, and her cry is changing; gaining in strength and confidence.

I've already made several failed attempts to capture her unique hands, with their long, slender fingers and perfectly shaped nails (perhaps she'll be a pianist), so I focused on her little feet instead. Perhaps it was the lens that I was using, but I had the hardest time getting them in focus.

This was my most successful attempt, and in it, I only got one good foot. Go figure.

Mia appears to have inherited my narrow feet, where Abby's are wide, like her father's, and always have been, even from the day of her birth.

We'll have to wait and see just whose smile she ended up with, but I did get lucky enough to catch a little one from her at the very end.

I still can't believe that it's been three weeks. I'll never believe that, when it comes to Abby, it's been nearly three years.

Is that how the time gets away from me, as I linger in staunch denial?