Friday, March 27, 2009

pics from the 16th week

Lots of love from Abuelita.

Enjoying the nursery rhymes Abuelita brought. (Please forgive my cleavage. I was overheating and thus dressing as sparsely as possible.)

Riding on daddy on a beautiful spring day.

Just Caroline!

oh, you can see in this last one that caroline has taken to beating herself up at night... a new scab every morning it seems. sigh.

16 weeks!

Our poor girl... in this sixteenth week she was dropped for the first time, see below, and she certainly seems to be working on cutting a tooth or two, AND she picked up her first cold. Just the last day or so she has seemed stuffy on and off and has been coughing more and more and the cough is wet sounding and raspy. Today, when she cries, she can't achieve quite her normal volume, she sounds husky and muted. Kev thinks she could achieve more volume than she is typically attaining, but is just too worn down to exert the effort. I think this may be true, but she also has a touch of laryngitis, which is sad, but somehow sweet sounding too.

That said, it was also a wonderful week for Caroline as her Abuelita took the bus here all the way from Michigan and showered her with love and attention for three days straight. Abuelita took lots of LONG walks with Caroline and sang to her and played with her and read to her and just loved, loved, loved her. We miss you, Abuelita. We are SO glad you were here.

Abuelita's visit was perfectly timed because I felt like I was hitting a wall exhaustion wise again last weekend. Being on solo baby duty (more or less) for two nights so Kev could rest up for playing on Sunday was exhausting. Caroline was up at ready to go at 4 a.m. Sunday morning, so we decided to go with Kev to the two church services an hour away where he was playing in hopes of being hired as church musician there. Caroline delighted all those whom she met there, and her needs were such that I made it to the second half of the first service and the first half of the second service. So it's all good. I got in a service. We were WIPED out by the time we got home though. (And Kev had mixed feelings about the day- felt GREAT about interactions and thinks the church is a good fit for him, felt so so about his playing.) Anyhow, Abuelita's visit was perfectly timed because if ever there was a day on which we just needed someone to hand her off to for chunks of time it was Monday. And there she was, ready to love Caroline. Praise Jesus!

Developments this week? Other than the cold and the dropping... well... she seems to be showing signs that she really knows me. She would play with Abuelita for a good long time, but when she'd get fussy I'd come out and interact with her and she'd calm right down and start smiling again. She was calm enough that Abuelita suggested I go try to get some more studying done, but within a few minutes of my heading into my office she would start fussing again. And eventually it was clear she just needed me. She wasn't necessarily hungry, she just wanted mommy. As sad as it made me that she wasn't content with Abuelita, on the one hand, it also brought me a certain joy to know that this meant she knows me, on the other hand. And I think the same is true of Kev. We can comfort her in a way others can't. This is gratifying in a certain way. (It is also gratifying that she is quite content to be cared for by others for even substantial periods of time! And certain others especially!)

Other developments? Well, another reason it was GREAT to have Abuelita here is that she helps remind us of the new things Caroline is capable of developmentally. I don't know that she does this intentionally, but as we watch her play with Caroline (and as she pulls out toys we hadn't tried using yet, for example) we realize other things we can be doing with her. So this week Caroline started playing with stuffed animals, and rattles (sort of), and though we had tried using her linking rings before, Abuelita hooked them onto her play mat in such a way that Caroline was really able to interact with them. So it has been a big week of play development.

Yesterday night I had some alone time with Caroline and she was in a good mood so I thought I'd put her on our bed for some tummy time. Usually she fusses pretty quickly in tummy time and begins grunting and straining to roll over. Ever since first rolling over at 10 weeks, she has done so several other times, but usually with much consternation. But yesterday she stayed calm, but started earnestly working on turning over right away, and she did so remarkably quickly, without a single fuss! I think she's learned the skill, friends! And now she seems to be gearing up for rolling the other way. She frequently rolls onto her side shortly after going down on her back if she has a lot of energy (which she often does, I now have no question that she is what Dr. Brazelton would call an "active baby").

Sleeping is still erratic, but... getting better. She is sleeping in her crib quite well. That was definitely the right move to make. She seems to be in a pattern of a few good nights with long (not extremely long, but decently long) stretches of sleep, only one middle of the night feeding, and then a night or two of frequent waking. It isn't exactly a pattern, but the past two weeks have been like that- a few good nights, a few rough nights. Kev and I are now working on the model that if she wakes up less than 3 hours since her last feeding he goes to her and tries to get her back to sleep. But if it has been 3 hours or more I go to her and feed and rock her and ideally get her back to sleep. If she isn't quite to sleep after 40 minutes to an hour, Kev takes over.

One of the highlights of the week was a long walk with Abuelita (all of us) to a children's bookstore in our neighborhood (2 miles away) and a dinner at the restaurant next door. Caroline was extremely content riding on daddy for the walk in her baby bjorn. She was soaking up everything. She almost seemed hypnotized on the walk home. But... she really melted down that night. That was one of the worst sleeping nights we've had in awhile. We think she got majorly over stimulated. We're learning, slowly, what our girl can handle. She just soaks up so much and does love it, but she can only take so much.

Well, I think that's about it. I'll post some pics which will reflect some of the above in just a moment.

Oh, and she does actually seem bigger to me now. I am looking forward to the next growth report at the pediatrician (a few days after her 4 month birthday).

Monday, March 23, 2009

I did it.

About a week ago, Kev said "You know, I almost hate to say this because it might jynx us, but... I'm surprised neither of us has dropped her yet."


Now I have.

In the middle of the night, up again to feed her, hadn't slept much yet, got her out of her crib. She started to cry. I sat down in the glider. The boppy had been cast to the side in the last middle of the night feeding. I reached to the left for the boppy. She twisted dramatically to the right and then it happened. She dropped to the ground. Not a far drop, and onto carpeting, but still. She landed at least partially on her head. I cried out. She was quiet for a moment and then started to wail. Kevin came running. She cried. I cried. Kev hugged both us and soothed us. I started feeding her and she calmed right down. I realized she wasn't even as angry as she can be. Strange. We did some web research, examined her head and there were no bumps. She was falling asleep while eating, but rousing easily. She was not groggy. She seemed quite normal.

So when she was good and asleep again we put her back in the crib.

And went on with our on again, off again night.

I think she's fine. But boy was that scary. I felt awful.

Feel free to share your stories... Sigh.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Forgot to mention...

... we think our girl is teething.

We have several reasons for thinking so.

Dramatic uptick in drool being one major one.

Look at her pretty dress for exhibit A of teething evidence...

Several other random pics from her 15th week

We hung a clothesline this week because I was inspired by another blogger to do so. Any tips on avoiding stiff diapers if dried on the line? It was lovely though, hanging the clothes and listening to the birds and the dogs and the wind...

And look at the flowers on our pear tree. Ah... spring.

100th day celebration!

After a dinner of Solyanka, yum, the cake- naturally sweetened chocolate carrot cake... mmm... very good. For daddy and baby!

Our guests, Young, Sung Uk, and Jo An!

And our guest of honor... Marecha. Caroline was pretty fussy at her party, but spent a pretty contended stretch in Marecha's arms, the arms in which she took her very first nap 100 days before. Aww... she was particularly fascinated by Marecha's cell phone.

We're so glad you're here, baby Caroline! You are SUCH a gift!

15 weeks- Adventures in Sleep (or the lack thereof!)

A very tired mommy is multi-tasking again this Friday night. Watching the series finale of Battlestar Galactica with friends and trying to muster the energy for the weekly post. As any of you who follow me on facebook have at least some awareness of... this week has been one of adventures in sleeping or the lack thereof. The last few weeks Caroline has passed many nights waking frequently and eating seemingly constantly. By the time her 100th day rolled around I knew we needed a different approach. We were co-sleeping and Caroline was in a pattern of sleeping in her co-sleeper for a chunk- 2-4 hours at the beginning of the night, then getting into bed with us and eating on and off for much of the rest of the night. Sometimes Kev would take her out into the livingroom if she was really worked up, or if I really needed a break, but... too many nights were passing without R.E.M. for me, and with minimal R.E.M. for Kevin, and Caroline was clearly overtired. Somewhere in Dr. Sears book I read that one has to do what is right for one's family, though co-sleeping is highly recommended, one has to find the arrangement that allows everyone to sleep. After 100 days were were clear that we had not found it. So we decided to move Caroline into her crib, where she has passed some naps, but where she had not previously done any night sleeping. After her guests (Marecha, our midwife, and a family from school who welcomed their first child, a daughter, into the world seven weeks after Caroline entered the world) left at the conclusion of her 100 day party (and a belated birthday celebration for Kevin) we moved the glider from our bedroom to her nursery and moved all her bedtime rituals there as well. Rocking, nursing, singing, daddy reading bed time stories. When she was truly asleep we put her in the crib. We put the monitor on and then collapsed in our room.

The last time we tried a more intentional night time routine, then only no side-lying feeding in bed, getting up and nursing her, making sure to do a full feeding and then putting her down in her co-sleeper or sending her out with daddy if she needed more comforting, Juniper warned me on facebook that the second night was the hardest. And indeed it was then... confusion on the part of exhausted parents meant we missed a feeding altogether and had a grumpy, grumpy baby as a result. And so I braced myself for it to be hard again. And it was... for two days. We didn't let her cry-it-out. We still don't believe in that. We're not ready for that. But we think that being in the presence of people makes her want to stay "on" and being close to the breast makes her want to keep eating. So giving her her own space... seemed wise. But we intended to respond to her cries quickly and, at first, to allow her to feed whenever she awakened and seemed upset. Those first two nights that was frequently. And it. was. hard. The second night the hardest. But then... she slept for two good chunks the third night- 3 to 4 hour stretches. When I went to her for her one middle of the night wake-up it seemed she may have been babbling for awhile. I could vaguely remember having her her voice in the dream I had just left. But she wasn't crying when I got to her. Just waiting. Then... the fourth night... she slept for 6 hours straight, and then again for another 2-3. I was in shock! Her doctor said a week plus before that she should be able to go at least 5 hours and I had scoffed at the suggestion of this. But then... after a few weeks really of sleep deprivation- 6 straight hours! Friends on facebook were rejoicing with my vague updates, thinking she had turned a corner. The funny thing is that I was so used to waking up so frequently I didn't get much sleep on the night she slept so much. Funny and sad- two weeks in a row now I've had a night when for one reason or another I couldn't sleep when she could. I have decided this is a new definition of hell.

And then yesterday during the day... terrible... she was crying or eating or sleeping on me all day... and last night... terrible. Up again every hour or two. I think this was partially because I rehung a big map on her nursery wall earlier that evening and the corkboard I mounted it on didn't stick. We didn't hear it come crashing down, but she inevitably did, probably causing one of her wake-ups. She eventually slept for a three hour block from 4-7, but... all three of us were wiped out again today.

She is presently sleeping peacefully in her crib. We're taking it one night at a time. The next two nights I'm going to do the bulk of the nighttime care, sharing it less evenly with Kev than usual, as he has the opportunity to play two services at a church where he REALLY would like to be hired as church musician this coming Sunday and he needs to sleep. I need sleep too, but I want him as well rested as possible for a full day of sharing his gifts with a prospective congregation. So... the adventures in sleep continue.

But this week has not only been about sleep or the lack thereof.

Caroline has taken to pulling off the breast when she's getting full and looking up at me so intently. If I make eye contact and smile in those moments she breaks out into the hugest grin and squeals and then nuzzles into the breast once more. Last weekend she was falling asleep on the breast, pulling off but not fully closing her eyes- little slits looked up at me. If I smiled at her in these moments, and I usually did, slowly but surely a smile would begin to fill her face until it stretched to her big and beautiful blue eyes which then would open as she squealed and nuzzled in to the breast once more. I knew if I would just stop smiling at her she'd eventually give in to sleep, but it was too, too precious not to repeat this several times.

Today I nuzzled her belly with my nose, something she usually responds well to, but today she laughed, not just squeals and grins, but honest to goodness rolling laughter. Several times in a row. Until, of course, we turned the video camera on... then... not so much. She's a clever one that Caroline Grace! And so... so... precious.

For a few weeks now she has loved to be pulled up to a sitting position from lying down on her back. She often giggles when locking eyes after being pulled up. She also likes being pulled to a standing position from sitting. She is a strong one that Caroline Grace! So, so strong. And so, so precious.

That's all my sleepy head can remember to share tonight. I'll put up a few picture posts momemtarily.

Here's to good sleep for at least one of us, hopefully for three of us. So say we all!

Friday, March 13, 2009

14 weeks! (edited now with growth update)

We had some absolutely beautiful weather at the beginning of Caroline's 14th week. Her daddy is so grateful that the weather turned back to wintry by the end of her 14th week. Yesterday, on his birthday, it snowed, great big snowflakes here in Nasvhille! Right around noon on dear Kev's 36th day! And he rejoiced! Surely God loves him, he declared, surely if there was genuine SNOW here on his special day. But last weekend, and early this week... 70 and pushing towards 80 degree days. It was nice enough that we rented a tiller and Kev tilled our first ever garden plot. We hope to become decent gardeners and that tending a garden and enjoying the produce thereof will be a part of our dear one's growing years.

(I published this post already forgetting that included in this week were two more immunizations. She did well once again, but was not pleased. And seemed more out of sorts afterwards than before, slightly elevated temp. Poor thing. We did get her weighed, though not measured, and her weight.... 12.3 pounds. She is sticking right to the expected weight for clothing size for her age. She is smack in the 50th percentile on weight. She seems so small to me. But she's gaining, slowly, but steadily. Kev tried to figure out her length and she appears to be about 24 inches now. We'll be back to the doctor in a month for an overall check up and we'll get an accurate growth update... and more shots!)

The weather being glorious we enjoyed putting Caroline in two spring dresses (or at least I did, Kev is less into the clothing part of babyhood), one of which came in the mail just last week. We only took pictures this week on Saturday and Sunday, when she was decked out in this sweet gear. As you'll see from these pics (below), Caroline spent a lot more time in her bumbo last week. She is racing towards her hundredth day (this coming Sunday, on the 15th, in her 15th week), and two years ago we were visiting our first (and only) nephew in the days leading up to and on his 100th day, and it was then that we were introduced to the bumbo, a great seat in which even young babies can sit! She often sits in her bumbo on the table while we eat our meals. We now make a circle when we hold hands for prayer. Oh, how gratifying!

Her smiles come fast and furious now and are SO rewarding. Yes, she is still an intense crier. Yes, sleep has been all out of whack and we are all exhausted. But... she is smiling more and more and more... and it is SO worth it. Totally.

Yesterday, for Kev's birthday, I purchased two children's books from a wonderful new independent children's bookstore in our part of the city (this place is AMAZING! it was my first visit; it will not be my last!) and made up a card with one of those gorgeous pictures of Caroline from O'Hare. I wrote the card from Caroline's perspective and gave the books as a gift from her to him, as he reads to her just about every night. But I guess Caroline had a mind to give a gift of her own accord. We went out for a birthday lunch and she was IMMENSELY cooperative. She sat in her car seat and surveyed the room quite contentedly for most of the meal, sat happily with daddy for a bit, then ate peacefully. We rarely get through a whole meal together without one of us having to get up and walk with her or change her or something. But yesterday, she gave the gift of that meal.

For her hundredth day on Sunday our midwife and midwife apprentice will join us for dinner. A family from school who gave birth to their first baby seven weeks after Caroline was born may also join us. Aunt Katherine will hopefully Skype in.

100 days ago I was in labor. Wow.

Without further ado... pics of the dear...

For these last two we're standing in our yard where the garden will go!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

on NOT holding things lightly

Whenever someone is starting a trying to conceive journey, my advice to them is to hold their dreams lightly.

Why do we always advise the one thing we cannot do?

One would think that in the several years of trying to get pregnant when I learned how painful it was to hold tight to hope month after month only to have that hope break hard like waves against a rocky shore month after month... one would think that I would have learned to let go... to hold the emotional terrain of life lightly.

Think again.

Caroline has had a rough stretch with very disrupted sleeping, lots of upset crying times. It has been exhausting. All three of us are sleep deprived. Rather than simply breathing through it, I was beginning to get worn down by it. I was beginning to only be able to answer the question "How's Caroline?" with "Great, but INTENSE." (And then I was feeling like a lousy mom for not having all sorts of gushy things to say about my baby.) I was allowing this rough stretch to convince me that the next 18 years are going to be filled with only exhausting challenge (of course they will, but that is not ALL that they will be).

But for the last 24 hours or so (at least when she's been under my care) she has been quite content. She has slept beautifully- taking naps and sleeping better (though not great) at night. She has had squeely laughing moments and big smiles, curious raised eye brows and funny faces. She has been delightful. And I am conscious that I am holding just as tightly to this more graced period as I was to the rough one before. I want to announce to the world "She's BETTER! She's happy and calm again!" I'm contemplating facebook updates... But... then I remember how glorious she was Sunday morning (after a rough stretch before) and how miserable she was Sunday afternoon into evening. And then I remember that she has had great sleeping stretches before, only to be followed by hard ones.

It would be much kinder on my mind and body if I could just let every moment be, if I could accept but not cling to these moments. However she is in any moment is how she is in that moment. And however she is, she is deeply beloved. Even when we're exhausted, she's deeply beloved. Even when we don't know what to do, she's deeply beloved. In every moment. And every moment passes... which is sometimes sad and sometimes glorious. But it is what it is.

When I grow up I want to learn to hold things lightly.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

"your children are not your children..."

The Sweet Honey in the Rock setting of that quote above has been running through my head since a wonderful morning at church. We dressed Caroline in an absolutely lovely spring dress that arrived in the mail this week from the parents of Kevin's best friend from high school. I was so moved to receive this gift as these are not people with whom we maintain direct contact and yet... like so many like them... they showered us with generosity in this season of joy. Caroline does not belong to Kevin and I alone. She belongs to so many.

Before church one of the other young moms in the congregation asked if she could hold her, and indeed she could and did. So many commented on her beauty and growth. She belongs to so many.

We decided that we would try nursery care for the first time this week as the choir (that Kev directs and in which I sing) was singing, shortly after the nursery care provider, Lauren, takes little ones out of worship. I consulted with the nursery care provider before church, warning her that we were waiting on (sorry, Jack!) a BIG poop and walking her through the content of our diaper bag. Lauren was THRILLED we were planning to relinquish Caroline to her and READY for the task. I assured her that if she cried for more than 10 minutes she could and should come and get us, and that if the diaper was overwhelming, again... come get us. She said, "Fine." She was just so glad to have ANY time with her at all.

I fed Caroline shortly before the children's sermon (after which folks exit) and she fell into a peaceful sleep. Kev handed our sleeping beauty to Lauren. And off they went. And we worshipped peacefully the rest of the hour (and I even managed to finish a knitting project!) When Kev went to pick her up he got a handwritten nursery report on how she had done for the morning. She did GREAT! She spent most of the time cuddling with the Lauren's elementary aged assistant, Jessica. She didn't dirty her diaper at all though she was gassy- no surprise there. She was an utter delight. This wasn't on the hand written report, but apparently they blew bubbles (because the two year old son of the mom who held her earlier) loves them. And these were her first bubbles. She was fascinated, trying to figure out what to do with her hands, watching as Teddy, the little boy caught and squeezed the bubbles. Apparently she only fussed for a few minutes and was fine once the person holding her got up and moving. It felt so good to know that she responds well to the care of others, even the care of strangers! She does not belong to us alone; she belongs to so many.

I fed and changed her before the second service with congregation number two. I left her with Kevin at the beginning of the praise and worship time so that I could relieve myself and when I came back she was in the arms of a young girl and was totally content. She was looking up at this little girl (I want to remember her name- Cekira) with her big and curious eyes. And then a little later she was in the arms of a little boy. Both of these children held her with such confidence and shifted her around when she would start to fuss, instinctively, it seemed, knowing how to calm a young baby. And Kevin and I were able to sing our hearts out and really prepare for worship. It was marvelous. During all the praise and worship time she moved between about 5 people sitting near us, children and adults. And stayed quite content through it all. One of the things we noticed in our earliest worship experiences with this congregation was the way in which the whole community cares for all the children. Children in this church rarely sit with their parents. In fact, I'm still trying to figure out to whom some children belong. But this was the first week that I began to experience Caroline being fully woven into this web of care. And it was spectacular. She does not belong to us alone; she belongs to so many.

"Your children are not your children..." not at all. Thanks be to God.

Friday, March 6, 2009

13 weeks today!

My, oh my! How many pics can one put on a blog in one day! Phew! But Caroline's 13th week has been FULL! She wrapped up her first interstate trip- on which she met her first cat, heard her first harp and violin (live anyhow!), played with little kids for the first time... And in this week she met her Godparents for the first time- all of this is documented below in many posts!

These pics were taken today. Thanks to mom's friend for the moose onesie! And we're so glad it is blue! Blue makes her eyes pop, not that you can tell it from the recent pictures posted, but who cares if people think she's a boy? She looks great in blue! And these are her first jeans!

So, what's new developmentally for Caroline? Well... we shared that in week 10, when the A family was visiting, she rolled over from tummy to back for the first time. She's done so twice since. She really doesn't like belly time and will do her darndest to get onto her back as soon as possible. I don't think she's "learned" to roll over yet as it takes GREAT effort each time, but... she's getting closer. The last time she rolled over after great grunting and fussing in the process, she quieted immediately as soon as she was on her back, and cracked a smile. Ah satisfaction!

She is more interactive on her play mat, reaching especially for the fish that plays music when a button is pressed and Kev tells me that this morning, early, she managed to press the button herself! Hooray!

As I said yesterday, sleeping has been a bit of an issue. Skipping naps, hourly waking for at least half of each night, etc. We're not sure what that is about. We've decided to keep her in most, if not all evenings, to try to help settle her and get her into a more regular bedtime rhythm.

She had her best bath ever this morning. Content all through!

I was hoping that at three months her crying would be less intense, but... not so much. It is still less frequent than it used to be, but it is just as intense, red faced, tear streaked. And sometimes it lasts for awhile before we can get her calm. It is so hard to see her so upset. I get such mixed feedback about whether I should alter my diet to try to help her. I'm not asking for more here. Her pediatrician thinks it just takes babies time to adjust to digestion and that we should love her through it. She also said at our last appointment that if I notice that consistently 4-6 hours after particular foods she is especially distressed I should cut those out of my diet. I am not noticing any such patterns. So... we continue swaddling, gripe water, now mylicon occasionally as well, and just loving her through it. She is having her next round of immunizations on Monday morning and we'll probably ask again if there's anything more we should do or if we should be concerned. I think, though, it is her personality. She is an intense little girl. Rebecca, seminary roommate extraordinare, sent me a lovely facebook message, indicating that she links intensity in babies to intelligence. They can't just zone out and relax because they're always soaking up whatever is around them which leads to intensity. It is a nice theory. I'll take it. She is definitely VERY observant, wide-eyed and soaking everything in. Everyone comments on this when they meet her. But... it is hard to see her distressed.

Well, she's just waking up from her most recent nap. Kev is changing her and then we'll feed her and try to get her back to sleep. She really needs to sleep! And so do we! I hope you don't mind all the pics. It is just so hard to choose. And believe, I do choose. WAY more get taken than posted!

Surprise Road Trip! Caroline meets the Godparents!

We received a text from Caroline's Godparents, Katie and Haddon, when we were in Iowa and we had a good four way conversation Saturday evening about their upcoming birth (in April! their first!) And we ended up deciding to get together, half way between their home in Atlanta and our home in Nashville in lovely Chattanooga. So this Wednesday we took a road trip, had a delicious lunch, and Caroline met her Godparents for the first time, and her God-sibling to be. What a gift! We'll be meeting in Chattanooga again!

Caroline with her Godmother and Godsibling-to-be! And with mommy! She flashed LOTS of smiles at Godmother Katie! They had a bond! And Katie was very impressed with her long delicate fingers!

Caroline with her Godfather, Haddon! She likes elevation and he is MUCH taller than either mommy or daddy! She liked being in his arms!

More Hand Knit Love- from friends in the blogosphere!

Hat by Mags! Sweater by Shalom! I wish we had a better picture of this GORGEOUS sweater which arrived within days of Caroline's birth! Thank you so much both of you! Proper thank yous to follow! Note Caroline munching on the monkey! She is fond of munching on her monkey friends!

Home again!

Thanks George and Sandra for this lovely and cozy outfit! Proper thank you will follow!

On the way home

Ready to go, and blowing bubbles, at the Cedar Rapids airport. It was striking being at that particular airport. Any of you who know anything of my romantic history might know why!

Sound asleep on the flight to Chicago!

More pics from O'Hare, because I just love them all! The best ones are below in an earlier post so scroll down if you haven't seen them!