Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

The tree is up! Saturday after Thanksgiving we drove an hour north to our favorite little family-owned tree farm and cut down a beauty. And this year we didn't inadvertently pick out a massive monster of a tree that would completely take over our sweet little old house with its charmingly tiny rooms and little walk-ways. Yay!

This place is really everything you could ever ask for around the holidays. It is quintesential Minnesotan. A family who runs it that remember you year after year, homemade spritz cookies, popcorn, and apple cider to warm you up, a bin of toys in the corner of the cabin for the little ones to play with, and plenty of room for little pent-up city dogs to run. The absolute perfect place for Gus to have his first dose of "winter wonderland".

Gus went crazy for the sled, even cried if we would attempt to take him out. He took a face plant in the snow at one point, but didn't seem to mind.


He did plenty of exploring in his ridiculous outfit that is way too small for him and is made for big babies, not little toddlers. I bought that blue Columbia suit for him last year. Yeah, he's our little guy and we love him and his tiny-ness.



Look ma! No hands! (He refused to wear his mittens, so he lost the priviledge of having hands.)


Then he went on the swing with his cousin Megan (how cute are his little boots?). Not sure what to think at first, but then loved it. And again, cried when we tried to get him down.




He loved when Daddy would throw the leaves up for Bella to go crazy at. What an insane dog.



But yeah, tree is up, lights are on, and that's as far as we've gotten. And it's crooked and we can't seem to get it to not be crooked. Ughhhh. I think we may just have a crooked tree this year, because I can't handle any more putzing with it. So all my pictures of the tree may have to be angled like this, because it sort of disguises the bastardly crookedness.


Doesn't look crooked from the kitchen.


But yeah, crooked.


Baby sneak attack!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On the other side of the dreaded Baby Cold

Wow. What a difference a week makes.

The fog of sickness has lifted from our household and we seem to be on the other side of that mess. And people, may I say, the other side is lovely.

Relief. I feel like myself again.

Gus slept like a dream last night. I woke up to him babbling to himself on the monitor in the middle of the night, and almost couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked at the clock. A quarter to two! What what?! I know, some of you who have good sleeping babies are amazed that I would be happy with being woken up at 2:00 AM, but honestly, that is HUGE for us. Gus is usually up around 10:30 PM, which corresponds to when we’re going to bed, at which time he refuses to go back in his crib.

When that becomes the norm, when there are too many nights in a row where I just finally go to bed at 10:00 PM because Gus won’t go back down by himself, I start to feel like I’m suffocating under the weight of the mass amount of nighttime parenting he seems to require. I resent him for not being able to snuggle up with my husband at the end of the night, laughing and talking about whatever it is we talk about as we fall asleep. I resent him as I lie in bed, starting at the clock, afraid to fall asleep because hearing him cry out right as I’m drifting off is just about the worst thing ever. I resent him on Saturday nights when we are hesitant to start a movie at 8:30 because it’s so unlikely that we will actually be able to get through it before he wakes up.

On Monday night, Dan and I started an episode of How I Met Your Mother at like 9:45, and when Gus woke up about 10 minutes into it, I released my inner five-year old, outwardly groaning as I whined, “He ruins EVERYTHING!” (I did not stomp your feet, in case you're picturing that.) To which my level-headed and wonderful husband replied, “No he doesn’t, you don’t mean that. It’s really not a big deal, we’ll watch it tomorrow.”

And he’s so right. This too, shall pass. I need to constantly remind myself of that, and of the fact that I am committed to this kind of parenting, because it is what I believe in. I believe that Gus will benefit from a secure attachment to his parents. He will be a better child, a healthier, more emotionally developed kid, because he has parents who were steadfast in responding to his needs, who didn’t leave him to cry-it-out, alone in the dark, hurt that no one is coming to his aid, confused by the fact that his only way of communicating is being out-right ignored.

When we decided to become parents, we knew it wouldn’t be easy, there would be sacrifices, and this first year (plus) of parenting? Well, I’m realizing it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

It’s hard to have that kind of perspective in those moments of frustration, but I’m working on it. Dan is better at it than I am. He makes me smile on those difficult nights when I am feeling bitter and annoyed, when he kisses Gus’s little head as he lies between us nursing, whispering to me about how sweet and cute our little boy is, legs all curled up into me, his arm reaching up to touch the hairs on the back of my neck.

So last night I was almost joyful as I stumbled into his room, scooped up my baby, and climbed back into bed with him in my arms. He promptly fell back asleep after a short nursing session and barely stirred the rest of the night. Maybe once or twice more I nursed him. I don’t even know, but it was a great night. And when I snuck out of bed this morning and watched his little perfect eyelashes flutter while he slept, I remembered that this was all worth it. When I had to wake him up this morning to get dressed for Grandma’s house, and he proceeded to wrap his arms around my neck and burrow his head into me, smelling of apple-scented baby shampoo and just pure deliciousness, yeah. I remembered then.

This life is good. Not always easy. But really, really good.

We had our first appointment with our new pediatrician on Monday. Since he was about 6 months old, I've complained ad naseum about the fact that I hate Gus's doctor, and this week, we finally moved on.

I knew it was time, when I realized that I had continued to put off making his 12 month appointment because I dreaded seeing her so much, dreaded her judgement, dreaded the way she talked to you without making eye contact, or the way she would answer my questions with lectures about something else entirely. It was definitely time.

I am so relieved. This new pediatrician is so perfect for us.

Perfect example... Gus has been having constipation issues for a while now, the dirty details of which I will spare you , and we're sort of at our wit's end about it. We're constantly worrying about everything he eats, when the last time he "went", trying to get him to drink more fluids, it's exhausting. And Dan and I, being really adverse to using medications when there are more natural ways of approaching things like this, were both at the point where we were ready to medicate away, if it would solve this problem. Poor guy, it kills us.

Anyway, our doctor is not ready or willing to resort to that, and I took that as a really good sign. We discussed a lot of different methods of attacking the darn pooping issue, and I feel so much better about it.

Then there's the weight thing. Our old doctor gave me an insane complex about his weight, I swear she was "this" close to suggesting we supplement with formula on multiple occasions, all because Gus was dropping percentiles very slightly at each visit. New pediatrician didn't even say a word about it until I mentioned it, at which point she looked at the growth chart and said, "Looks pretty normal for a breast-fed baby, especially one that had such a high birth weight, they have a way of self-correcting for being born big. Slim is better! Considering the high rates of obesity in children, I prefer that they're in the lower percentile range. He is perfectly healthy, perfectly normal."

I was practically grinning from ear to ear. While my instincts had told me to ignore the stupid comments my mis-informed doctor had made, that hasn't always been easy. For a majority of his baby-hood, spurred by her comments, the thoughts were constantly in the back of my head, that I didn't produce enough milk for my son. That I wasn't enough for him, that I was going to fail at this breast-feeding thing. That by continuing, I was somehow not doing the right thing for him. Ugh. I wish I could make it so that no breast-feeding mother ever has to feel that way, it is such an isolating place to be.

I am so happy to have found this new pediatrician, all thanks to Dan's mom and Aunt. And as if I need any more examples of how much we jive with her, on the sleep front she recommended a book that I have already read, cover to cover, and loved, Elizabeth Pantly's "The No Cry Sleep Solution". I openly shared that we co-sleep, and there was no judgement, no pushiness, and instead she presented a relatively good case for why we might not want to wait for Gus to just magically start to sleep better, especially since it is causing us some issues during the week with napping when he's not with us. And she didn't simply present a good case for change, she gave us ideas for how to attack the issue, gently. Without crying. All while reiterating that if we're fine with how things are going, and aren't ready for a change, that we don't need to, and shouldn't push it.

So yeah, like I said, what a difference a week makes.

Monday, November 08, 2010

A good night's sleep. What's that like again?

Whew. It was a long weekend, and not really in a good way. Gus has been sick since Thursday evening, and has basically been terrorizing our household with his runny nose and neediness and inability to sleep more than 45 minute to one hour stretches. I am exhausted. He’s only had about three colds since he’s been born, but gosh, I forget how horrible they are until we’re in the trenches again.

Of course I got whatever he has, and tending to my poor sick child pretty much all night long has not helped with my recovery. I feel like death.

In related news, I’ve created a monster. My child is obsessed with his mama and basically only wants me in the middle of the night. He gets so worked up when Dan tries to take a shift, to the point that it will take him two to three times as long to get him back to sleep, so it just doesn’t seem worth it to switch off. Half the time I lay in bed listening to them in the other room, stressing out over Gus’s cries, getting frustrated that Dan can’t do it right. Also note: I am a control freak. So yeah, my control freak ways REALLY come back to haunt me when I’m sick and my child wants me and only me.

Last week we toyed with the idea of taking down Gus’s crib and setting up a Montessori style bed on the floor in his room. This would make it easier to help soothe him back to sleep in his own room, because when I am faced with the choice of the rocking chair or our bed, in my hazy middle-of-the-night state I will almost always choose our bed. And there he will stay for the rest of the night. If I could curl up with him in his own bed and sneak out when he falls back asleep, that would be a hell of a lot more preferable to the careful dance of leaning over the crib ever so slowly, trying to be as still as possible, inching my arm out from under him ever so carefully. I hate that dance. Damn crib.

We know we need to make some sort of change because we’re going on a ski trip in January with some friends, meaning we’ll be leaving him overnight for the first time. 5 days, 4 nights at my parents’ house. Good God, suffice it to say, I am freaking out a little.

So we need to get on top of this sleeping thing a little, try to get him to the point where he will sleep by himself in his own bed for a good portion of the night, and if that’s not working, at least get him used to having someone tend to him besides his mother and her almighty boobs. We decided against ditching the crib for good at this stage in the game, (mostly because we do like having a place in the house where he can be safely contained!). So we set up the toddler bed in our room, right next to our bed, up against the wall. So basically we are a bunch of hippies with a big old family bed that takes up our entire bedroom. The plan is to get him to sleep more on his own in that little bed, where he’s still within arms reach, he’s not alone in his room which we know he hates, and he can still be soothed quickly and easily when needed. And the best part of this arrangement is that it gives us so much more room. Like seriously, the extra space is a god-send.

Since he’s been sick this weekend, we haven’t seen much progress, actually it’s probably gone the other way as anyone who has dealt with a sick baby would probably guess, but hopefully the little change will be good for our family.

Seriously though, he is such a stubborn little stinker, the kid just wants to sleep snuggled up to you all night long. If he’s not face all up in my chest, he’s spreading both of his arms out to touch Dan and me, making sure we’re both still there, and sleeping spread eagle, taking up about ½ the bed himself. Last night I kept trying to put him in his own little side bed, and he would just roll and squirm over to me within 5 minutes. At one point, I think it was around 3:30 AM, he dive-bombed over my body to get between Dan and me. And when there was no room between us, he just snuggled up, closed his eyes, and decided he would sleep sprawled out on top of the both of us.

When Dan left for work this morning he was sleeping horizontally, half in our bed, half in his, his head in my armpit and his feet up on his pillow. I mean this is what I’m dealing with. Such a character, it’s a good thing he’s so gosh darn cute.