I need a baby instruction manual

I don’t even know what word I would use to describe this weekend.  Hard. Terrible. Frustrating. Painful.  There was fussing and crying and tears.  There was yelling and a head of lettuce thrown across the kitchen*.  There was bitterness and heartbreak at not understanding what she needed and pleading with her to just TELL ME what she wanted.  There was a massive glass of  wine consumed late Saturday afternoon. 

For the first time since C was about three weeks old, there was literally nothing I could do to comfort my daughter.  She didn’t want to play, didn’t want to sleep.  She was fed, dry and comfortable temperature-wise. And after a few hours the sound of her crying was literally like a knife to the heart.  I just wanted it to stop.  I tried laying her down and letting her cry while I cried on the floor beside her pack ‘n play, but frankly I suck at that.  So I walked around with her and let her cry in my arms and did my best to keep it together.  (Obviously not completely successfully – hence the head of lettuce that I threw into the kitchen sink when she screamed as I tried to make a sandwich.)  When she calmed down a little I put her in the exercauser while I took a bath.  That lasted exactly two minutes. 

When Craig came home he found us on our bed – me with my hair still in a towel and inches from losing my mind and C eating with tear-filled eyes.  He took her and gave me time to pull my shit together.  As I calmed myself down, I devised a plan.  The baby needs a schedule.  Kids thrive on knowing what comes next.  It’s what all the books say and want every friend of mine who has babies older than C swear by.  And, it’s what my gut has been whispering to me for two months.  So, OK.  I decided I would take a few days off at the end of the week, and come hell or high water,  I will put this baby on a schedule.  She will get up at a consistent time and nap at consistent time.  I expect more tears (from both of us) and more wine (for me).  But we will do this. 

Only now, 28 hours later, writing this, I’m wavering.  Because now, it’s hit me that she’s five month old and maybe, just maybe, she’s fussy because she’s teething.  I’m not sure if it was process of elimination that gave it away or Craig pointing out that she was chowing down on a teething ring like it was baby crack.  Why oh, why didn’t I think of this earlier?  And why didn’t I trust my gut two months ago when I thought she needed a schedule?  If I had A) this would be behind us or B) I could narrow down the cause.   So, now?  I don’t know.  I still think she needs a schedule and I still think I’m going to try to put her on one, but hopefully with a little more patience and understanding that what I had on Saturday. 

I hate, hate, hate that I was so flustered with my baby.  I’m annoyed at myself for being short with my husband and that when she went to bed, I feel asleep (probably from the massive glass of wine) instead of taking time to actually talk to him.  I feel guilty that I didn’t lift a finger to do any kind of cleaning and very little cooking all weekend long.  I’m anxious that I’m starting the work week with a list that didn’t get any shorter over the weekend. 

I know that this was not the norm.  (Actually the cooking and cleaning thing is, but I want to work on that.)  I’m usually a really good mom to my daughter.  I know that it will get better and it won’t always be like this.  I just really think that babies should come with instruction manuals that tell you if they are tired, teething or just hate you. 

*No lettuce or child was harmed this weekend, I swear.

Where I whine about naps (or lack thereof)

Please stop, child.  Please.  I beg you to stop with the fussing and the whining and the crying. Please cool it with the kicking and the thrashing of your head and the spitting out of the paci.  You just ate and I changed your diaper.  It has been 2 hours and 25 minutes since you woke up from your last nap.  The second of the day.  The second time today that you closed your eyes for exactly 30 minutes.  You don’t want to be entertained, you don’t want to be cuddled.  You don’t want to be in your swing or your jumperoo. 

So, you know what?  You NEED TO NAP.  You need to close your eyes, breathe deeply and drift off to sleep.  I know that you think 30 minutes every three hours is enough sleep, but as your mother, I beg to disagree.  It leaves my happy, content, easy to please baby grumpy and whiney and tired 45 minutes later. 

Napping is good for you.  I’m sure there’s a book on all the reasons, but just trust me.  It’s good for you. 

And it’s good for me.  I need you to nap.  It is 12:53PM and I have not showered, I ate a bowl of cereal five hours ago, and I’m not entirely sure that I brushed my teeth.  I have work to do, laundry to fold and bills to take to the mailbox.  These things are challenging, if not impossible, to do while you are attached to my hip or when you whine the second I leave the room.  So I’m sorry, but I need you to nap. I need a break from the constant demands of work and I think that’s supposed to happen on the weekend; but not if you don’t nap. Especially when your daddy is working. 

So, please, for the love of bottles, stuffed animals and loud obnoxious toys that make you squeal with delight.  Please nap. 

If bribery is more your thing, I will buy you a car when you turn 16 if you nap. 

PS.  And, because I’m feeling extra needy today, if you are reading this and have tips for getting a baby to nap regularly, for more than 30 minutes, in a pack ‘n play or crib, please tell me how you do it.  If it works, I will buy you a car too.* 

*Totally lying, but you will have my undying gratitude. 

Cabin Fever is Worse than the Flu

It started with a little bit of itching and dry skin.  A few days later there was an ache in my stomach and an irritation in my voice.  A week after that it was full-blown fever with the urge to crawl out of my skin.  A look back at my calendar and taking the time to ask “When was the last time I was not at work or not at home,” made the diagnosis painfully clear.  I have cabin fever. 

It is possible that I live in the snow capital OF THE WORLD.  No, I don’t live in Alaska but between the months of December and March you wouldn’t know the difference given the feet of snow that fall on us. This wouldn’t be so bothersome if:

  • It could be 50 degrees and snow.  The snow is actually pretty.  The biter, bone chilling cold sort of pisses me off.
  • I liked to ski or participate in other outside activities where your fingers get stiff, you lose feeling in your toes and the snot in your nose freezes.  Oh, and if I liked flying down a hill at breakneck speed with only a jacket and some fluffy pants to break my fall. 
  • If getting out of my town – population 7,000 with one WalMart and two restaurants – didn’t mean that you were risking your life the moment you drove (or skidded) onto the highway. 

I’m a girl who loves the days that include nothing more than cuddling up on the couch with a good book or a sappy movie.  But I can also only take so many of them before needing to DO something.  And, with the weather we’ve been having the last time I did something, other than work or take care of my child was three weeks ago.  And that was taking my baby and meeting my mom for dinner.  If I had to try to identify the last time that I went out for drinks with friends or had dinner out with my husband, well, I’m not going to do that because then I will get all bitter and dramatic and “woe is me, I’m not the same person I used to be.. blah, blah, blah.”  (And that’s a post for another time.)

Point of this story is that tomorrow is Saturday and not a work Saturday.  And it’s not supposed to snow.  Therefore, tomorrow morning, I  am will be shopping (retail therapy, my friends) by myself and tomorrow night, I will be celebrating my dad’s 50th birthday with my family.  I am not only leaving my house and my town once, I’m leaving it twice! WHOO-HOO!

Grandma is hired… or not

As the first grandchild, I had a great relationship with all of my grandparents.  I was lucky enough to know almost all of my great grandparents and have really close relationships with my grandparents.  I remember baking cookies with one of my grandmothers, my pap “letting me drive” when I was four and going to farm shows and fairs with my dad’s parents.  Because of those memories, one of my greatest hopes for C is that she, too, will be close with her grandparents. 

When it comes to Craig’s parents, the child really has no choice.  We live next door.  And my mother-in-law babysits.  (Insert raised eyebrows here.)  C loves her Nauni and Pap Pap.  Her eyes light up every morning at 7:45 when Craig’s mother walks in the door and she’s so happy to play with his dad’s watch or pull his hair.  But, my parents live about an hour away and (especially during the winter when it doesn’t.stop.snowing.ever) it’s hard for me to make sure that my daughter gets to see them as often as any of us would like. 

So, I held my breath a little when we decided that Monday would be a good day for my parents to give my mother-in-law a break from babysitting and celebrate their President’s Day holiday with C.  I was worried that she would fuss when I handed her over to my mom or be a little bit scared of my dad (and his beard.)  When they got there in the morning, she took to them immediately.  Instantly cuddled up on my mom’s chest and willingly accepted all of her snuggles and cuddles and then batted at my dad’s beard and tried to eat his hat (Dear Dad, just because she liked your camouflage hat does not mean you can buy her a baby camo outfit.) 

I left with that warm fuzzy feeling of knowing that both my baby and my parents would be having a good day.  A few hours later, I got a text from my mom that said C had napped for 2 hours and 20 minutes.  TWO HOURS & TWENTY MINUTES!  This child does not nap, and she slept for 2 hours and 20 minutes.  I was elated. Blissful even. 

Then I went home and learned that while Grammy & PapPap were babysitting my baby girl picked up some new tricks.  Blowing raspberries was one of them.  I lean in to give her kisses or a hug and she pushes me away and says PPPHHHGGGTTT.  Repeatedly.  Cute, right?  Then I discovered she learned how to squeal.  She bats at her toys and lets out a high-pitched noise that caused my in-laws dog to run around in circles.  We laugh, because OH MY GOD.  NEW TRICKS!!!  How fun??!  So she squeals some more.  The squeals get louder and each time we laugh she lets another one loose.  She is so proud of her ability to take two stuffy old grown ups and turn them into giggling freaks of nature, that she squeals and screams again. And again. 

20 minutes later I sent Craig for beer and called my mom to discuss the new tricks they taught my kid.  Something tells me they will be the ones buying her a drum set for Christmas as well.

I Want My Maternity Leave Back

I feel awful saying this out loud but I really didn’t enjoy my maternity leave.  When I was nearing the end of my 40 week stint as a professional incubator, I had visions of snuggling with my squishy baby while watching TV and reading books.  Long chats on the phone with friends and family.  Shopping trips and lunch with the ladies.  Catching up on blogging, email and Facebook.  Basically just six whole weeks of Saturdays and Sundays. 

Instead I pushed out a child and was thrust into this brand-new life with an itty bitty (well, not that itty bitty at 8lbs 4oz thank you very much) baby who was easy by most accounts, but still, a brand new baby.  And we had a lot of stuff to figure out together.  Like those hours in the early evenings when she just cried.  For no good reason.  And I wanted to throw myself on the floor and cry right along with her.  Or the times that she projectile vomited and I wanted to run for the phone to call my husband, my mother and the doctor because O MY GOD a baby should not have that much stuff coming up.  Or the never-ending challenge of trying to determine if she was hungry or tired or just pissed that she pulled the short stick and had to go home with me. 

Then there was the coming to terms with the new me.  The me that had to choose between bathing and eating some days.  Bathing almost always won because it was the only that made my lady bits feel better.  And speaking of lady bits, I spent 5 damn weeks medicated, sitting down ever so carefully and scared to death that I was going to forever feel like someone took a baseball bat to my crotch.  It took me a good two weeks to pull out a mirror and check out the damage for myself.   The new me was always in sweats, never in make up and desperately wanted to slip into my pre-pregnancy jeans. 

The thought of leaving the house seemed like both an escape and a death trap.  I wanted to leave the house, see people, be human again, but that meant leaving my child or taking her with me.  Leaving her seemed to go against every fiber in my body, but taking her?  That means putting her in a car and driving.  On a road.  With other people.   You see where I’m going here? 

I figured it out.  As my six weeks came to an end, the lady bits started to feel a bit more like normal (although it would be another four weeks until the bleeding stopped – that’s right folks, I bled for TEN EFFING WEEKS).  I got some of my energy back. I mastered the Happiest Baby on the Block soothing techniques.  I learned how to bath with the baby in her bouncy chair and grab a granola bar on the way out the door.  I took a deep breath and took C with me when I left the house.  I finally got back into those jeans. I met a friend and her little one for shopping and had a jolly time pushing the girls around in their strollers. 

And then two days later I went back to work.  So now that I sort of feel like a better version of my former self, I think I would like a redo on my maternity leave.

4 Month Shots Today. Hold Me.

Thank you, Dear Lord for making it so that children can’t remember their first few years on this earth.  Because I am sure that if C could remember that two months ago, we took her to this same place, held her down and let a stranger stick a needle in her thigh.  THREE TIMES.  That she would surely begin to scream the moment we pulled into the parking lot. 

I hate the thought of her getting shots.  I’m far more nervous about these shots than I was the 2-month immunizations.  Probably because at the 2-month appointment, she screamed and I sobbed.  Her little scream was clearly a “You hurt me” scream and it shattered my heart into a million pieces. 

I will pay a four hundred gazillion dollars to the person who invents immunization shots that will not hurt my baby. 

PS. Other than her legs being a little sore if I held her a certain way, she was totally fine after like, 2 minutes.  How did your little ones react to shots?

Work: 451 Krista: 6

Does it make me a bad mom if for the THIRD weekend in row, I call my mom and ask her to watch my baby while I go to work on Saturday?

Folks, working is kicking my ass. Like it’s the fourth grade bully that looks at me cross eyed as I walk by with my head down hoping to avoid having my hair pulled. There are deadlines looming, there are deadlines that are passed and every time I think I’m getting close to being caught up. Yeah, I’m not.

::Head desk:: I’m whipped. And I miss my child. And I miss my husband. There needs to be two of me.  Only that wouldn’t work because one of me would need to have the time to explain the work to the other of me.  One of these days I will write a post gushing about the parts of my job I really like.  But right now, I have work that I really should be doing.

Who took my happy, pleasant, smiling baby

and replaced her with a child that avoids day sleep like her momma avoids low-fat foods? 

Seriously.  I am over the moon grateful that Baby Girl now sleeps through the night pretty regularly but the child still needs to sleep during the day.  Because, you know, she’s a baby.  And she gets cranky when she doesn’t sleep.  (That’s about the only thing she got from me.  Well, that and her existance.)  Maybe I’m just noticing it because I’ve been off of work for almost a whole a week and have seen her sleep/wake habits first hand or maybe this is something new.  But we’ve spent days walking, bouncing, singing and ssshhhing her if I miss getting her down for a nap during that glorious starting to get sleepy, but not yet fussy stage.   Only to have her fall asleep, me lay her down and her wake up 15 minutes later. 

I know I need to get her in the habit of falling asleep on her own, and I swear I am thisfreakingclose to taking a week off of work to do the heaving lifiting of putting my kid on a schedule.  But when it’s the holidays, we’re traveling and life is pretty much chaos, I will settle for just having her take a nap that lasts longer than a DVR’d sit com.   

Talk to me about feedings, schedules & bedtime

I was never good at math and I still have trouble with my lefts and rights sometimes, but this has me really stumped.  I cannot figure out if I’m supposed to have Baby Girl on a feeding schedule by now and how to work that feeding schedule into bedtime. 

Background:  She generally eats 4 ounces every 3 hours.  However, some days she throws us for a loop and eats 6 ounces every for 4 hours, and then the next day we’re back to having to work with her to get her to take even 4 ounces.  At nighttime, I’ve tried the bath, bottle, book and bed series of events.  But if I wait to bath her until a half an hour before she should eat, she’s fussy because she’s hungry. But if I feed her before I bath her, she gets wide awake during the bath. 

So help me out and tell me…

  • How old were your kids when you got them on a schedule?
  • How does (did) your night time routine work? 
  • Do you stop feeding at a particular time to make sure that the baby is hungry for the last feeding of the night? 
  • Anything else I should know about feeding or putting my child to sleep – you know the basics of taking care of an infant! 

Or if I should just count my blessings that she usually only wakes up once during the night and keep doing what I’m doing – which is pretty much just letting her run things! 

Life’s Little Mysteries

So, if it’s 45 minutes before she’s due to eat and she’s fussing her face off and nothing calms her down -not a diaper change, not walking or rocking, not taking a layer of clothing off – so I feed her. And 2 ounces into the bottle she falls asleep was she hungry or tired??