Tooth #1 broke the surface today. She is only 3 months and 31 days. No fever and not nearly as much screaming as I would have imagined. Way to go, Penelope... now can you calm down for a few days?
Tonight I got in late, as usual, from Girl's Night at Amie's and so her late night feeding was even later. I could hear her sucking on her fingers as I tiptoed into her room. She was still asleep but hungry. When I picked her up out of her bed she curled her little body into my chest the way she only does, now, when she's sleeping. It used to be the way she always met me, just weeks ago, back when she was still new and larvae-like and would sleep on my chest for hours with her face pressed into my skin. We settled onto the couch and, still sleeping, she latched right on. Her upper hand stroked my shoulder and chest and arm and every so often she reached for my face. And then she was done and laid softly down into bed, one hand stretched across the sheet, the blanket tucked carefully around her. She is everything I dreamed about for 10 months and sometimes she still feels like a dream.
Posted by Annagrace at 2:20 AM
It's been another big week for you, Peanut. In the last 10 days or so you have acquired so many new skills and talents that your daddy and I are afraid we will wake up tomorrow to find that your little froggy legs have managed to clamber over the side of your crib, that you've successfully navigated the hallway, and that you are now standing next to our bed, tugging at the duvet and saying, with perfect diction, "Mummy, I would like some milk, please, and when you're done, a clean diaper would be swell." You continually surprise and amaze us, so we find it perfectly sane to think that anything is possible. Every parent, Peanut, is entitled to think that their baby is the smartest and brightest by far and we are happy to fall in line and join the crowd.
So far, in the last week and a half, you have begun to blow raspberries, grab successfully at toys, started singing or what sounds like singing, grabbing for and even sucking on your toes, pulling your pacifier out of your mouth and attempting to reinsert it, grabbing for the phone when I'm talking to someone, and teething in earnest. When we're standing in front of your picture board, in your room, and I ask you where your daddy is, you grab for the photo of you him holding you. Oh, and yesterday I sat you in the Boppy to watch Bob the Builder so I could actually blow-dry my hair (you normally scream while use the blow-dryer) and you sat up for almost half an hour--not even leaning back but sitting up. Every time I've tried this before you have screamed, but this time you were pretty happy. I know it's so bad of Mama to put you in front of the tv, and honestly I hardly ever do, but sometimes getting to blow-dry my hair correctly is enough to make my day and make me feel pretty again and so I'm sorry if it's not the best thing for your little brain cells. You will also put weight on your feet now, and when we hold you up in a standing position, our hands under your arms, you will stand on our legs for several minutes. Don't get any bright ideas.
Posted by Annagrace at 6:19 PM
Today was mostly spent recovering from our week of travel. Peas was happy to be home and around familier things but also very, very clingy. Actually, she has been getting progressively cling-ier the past few weeks, but being held by so many different people over the last few days has certainly exacerbated her condition. I am so tired from all the late nights and driving up to Bellevue and back twice in one week, but I was absolutely determined to get at least one thing done today, one thing that would redeem the rest of the time spent lying in bed or staring at the television. I picked laundry. There is just nothing better than clean sheets after a week of travel and a week of being tired and there were also all the baby clothes that naturally got pooped through. I laid Pea down on the floor on a blanket, with some of her toys and a book propped up so she had something to look at for the 3 minutes I would not be holding her. I laid her on her tummy, thinking this would give her a good 5 minutes of fun while she figured out, again, how to roll over. Then I grabbed the pile of laundry and headed downstairs.
About 30 seconds later I heard the most horrifying screams emanating from the bedroom upstairs. I went tearing up the stairs, fearing the worst: the book must have fallen on her, the tv has fallen off it's cart, the Japanese screen has toppled, an enormouse spider has bitten her, etc, etc. I ran back up the stairs to discover that she had turned herself, on her tummy, a full 90 degrees to face the open doorway out of which I had walked, and had managed to scoot herself across the blanket several inches. She was screaming because she couldn't make it any farther, and I had certainly meant for her to follow.
Penelope, you are not allowed to crawl yet, you hear? You are 4 months on Friday--not old enough, I'm telling you. Just because we tell you every day that you are so advanced doesn't mean that you should live up to our gargantuan expectations. Yes you had your first rice cereal tonight and loved it, and looked at us like it was about freaking time we gave you some real food, but you are still my little baby and I know what crawling means. Crawling means mobility, a way to get around without me, a way to access all the electronics your technological-genius father has lying around the house. Crawling means that you're just days away from walking and we are sure, knowing you, that you will skip walking altogether and just run. Yes, Mama wants to lose the rest of her baby weight but she'd rather not do it through stress and anguish. Stay a baby just a little bit longer.
Posted by Annagrace at 5:43 PM
The hardest part of mothering is this part: the loneliness. I'm reading and hearing so many different mamas say this, right now, and I agree. It's so frustrating to feel like now that I have a child I'm somehow a different class of citizen. I know that in so many senses I am, and yet, with friends I already have, I hate to feel this way. I hate being called less and emailed less. I hate the assumption that all I will do is yak about the kid and I hate that there seems to be an assumption that I don't need the same people anymore. I need them more. Mothering is so gut-wrenchingly lonely at times and yet it seems like it's really hard for people around me to see that--that as much as I love getting to spend every day with my little girl, a few minutes of someone's undivided time would mean the world to me. A few minutes when I could share what's going on in my head and in my heart. A few minutes of a friend looking back at me, straight in the eyes, and telling me I'm not going to lose my mind, that I really can do this parenting thing, and that I'm loved by people who don't just need me in the primal, milk-producing sense. I could really use some hope right now. I can't even tell you what it would mean to actually get a phone call and not always be the one doing the calling.
Well there you have it. It's my pity party. I'll cry if I want to. You'd cry too, if it happened to you. I hate, hate, hate this.
Posted by Annagrace at 10:48 PM
I honestly do not understand how this works. It's 4:30 in the afternoon and it's been a struggle just to get a couple loads of laundry in, eat breakfast, eat lunch, and strip the bed. STRIP THE BED, for god's sake! That's maybe the equivelent of an hour's worth of work and yet having one baby (ONE!) means that it's taken me till 4:30 just to do that. Am I a complete moron?
A couple weeks ago Penelope entered a new stage: the stage of, "Don't Even Think About Leaving My Sight, Mother, And Don't EVER Put Me Down Because I Will Completely Lose My Shit and I Will Continue to Lose My Shit Until You Are at Your Wit's End." You know, that stage. Now a good day means having to decide which one item on the never-ending list is truly the most important, when really there are 3-4 things, at least, that really need done. How come when I was working 50 or more pretty stressful hours a week I could still get a good weekly house-cleaning in, and catch a little TV, and see Jeffrey, and read, and cook dinner a few nights a week? How come there are women, some of whom are even my friends, who can work full-time, keep at least one child cared for, make dinner at least half the week, and have a pretty clean house? How can that be possible? And how can those women also "do the occasional bit of gardening", keep the bills all paid and up to date, do the weekly grocery run, and still see their friends? And how, how, HOW come these are the women that boast that they nurst on demand?
Do I need to check into therapy again? Someone please tell me that the only way to really do it all is to take amphetamines, because I'm looking at my list and the state of my house and thinking about how nice it would be to actually have my milk let down for the pump so I can get out of the house tonight and I think I might be losing my mind.
Posted by Annagrace at 2:30 PM
Now there's a title sure to raise some hackles! These days, very little seems to be more precious or fiercely held to than parenting styles. At least that's what I can gather from even the simplest internet searches for advice or information on parenting, child-rearing, nursing, diaper options, etc. Everyone has an opinion and it's not only theirs, they want you to know that if you don't immediately sign on you are a bad, bad parent who is only pretending to love her child. And the opinions are EVERYWHERE.
I am a firm believer in having a plan for Bringing Up Baby, or at least some semblance of a plan, or at the very least having had a few discussions with the other parent or soon-to-be-parent about what you two are generally going to do about this and that. Especially when it comes to hot-button issues like punishment and education and whether or not you really like the way those other people's kids routinely try to destroy your furniture. I do take issue, however, with being told in no uncertain terms by certain people on the internet that just by searching for a certain book on baby sleep habits I am a horrible, abusive parent. By people who don't know me and certainly don't know my child. What is especially funny to me is that the people that froth at the mouth the most are the ones who claim to have the gentler, more compassionate parenting style (aka Attachment Parenting).
The funniest part of this whole mess is that most of us with a brain know that there is no perfect way to parent every child. Children are incredibly unique from the moment of birth and will always respond differently to each method of rearing--in the same way that all of us big people learn differently based on our differing personalities. A very important part of parenting is finding out what works for your child and for your family, and yes, it's work. The following list is why certain people think I'm a horrible parent, regardless of the fact that my daughter is incredibly healthy, happy, and growing.
She sleeps through the night. Yes, I know that Dr. Sears says people only think their babies are sleeping through the night when in reality their parents are either lazy or falling asleep drunk because no baby sleeps through the night before a year old--but my baby does and she's done it since she was two weeks old. Believe me, the first few times she did it Jeffrey and I were standing over her bed every 5 minutes, making sure she was still breathing. We did not force her to sleep or ignore her or refuse to feed her or any of the awful-sounding things parents of children that sleep are accused of. We simply fed her well during the day and then swaddled her in her sleep positioner (which she loves!) and waited to see what would happen. I refuse to be called a detached parent for this. Anyway, getting a good night's sleep makes me a better mom so I'm not going to just go wake her up to satisfy the good doctor. And trust me, we already know the next child will probably not be this easy.
We do not co-sleep. We don't co-sleep. So shoot me. My child only slept in 10-minute increments when we had her in our bed and I couldn't sleep AT ALL because every sound and movement from her would wake me. We do, however, co-nap and I highly recommend it. For some reason Penelope can nap with me and we can both sleep really well but the same thing at night just doesn't work. The broad-brush theories are dumb--she's a very happy baby and very, very affectionate at only 3 months.
I don't wear my baby. Pea hates the sling. Granted, I haven't tried all styles with her as I don't have a small fortune to just throw at fancy wraps, but she screams in a different pitch and tone when I try to put her in the really cute sling I have. I've tried her in it facing every direction so it's not that. I wanted to wear my baby--I still think it's a great idea and so natural and cozy. She does like the Baby Bjorn carrier now that she has enough head control to face outward and see the world, but she is only patient with it for so long.
She likes her pacifier. Yes, I give her a binky and no, I really don't think she should always have the breast instead. She will refuse the breast unless she is actually hungry and she's always been this way. She only gets the pacifier if it's bedtime or if she's making the little noise she does when she wants it--I don't shove it in her mouth full-time or give it to her instead of love or food. Come ON, people!
So there you have it: four ways that the people behind Attachment Parenting could tell me that my child will grow up to do drugs, join a gang, and run away from home. I'm glad that their philosophy works for some people--and I'm sure it really does. I just think that it's dangerous to judge parents so harshly when people and children are all so different. My baby is the most precious gift I've been given so of course I'm going to do the very best I can. I hope we can save all the hurtful words and energy for the true dangers to children: abuse, poverty, neglect, and war.
Posted by Annagrace at 11:49 PM
Pea slept till 8 this morning--that's an hour and a half later than she usually does. Jeffrey went and got her, changed her and played with her (as is the daily morning routine) and then brought her into our bed to nurse. Normally she has a very sensitive little clock inside her head that starts cuckoo-ing madly at exactly an hour after she's awakened, and then we pop the pacifier in, hold her in her preferred sleeping position (head shoved between arm and chest, just below boob, hand grasping neckline of my shirt), and just like that (give or take a few minutes) she's off to sleep for Daily Nap #1. And then we put her in her little Sassy sleep-positioner--the BEST $10 we've spent in our lives. It's in her crib. Can you believe that we don't co-sleep? We're going straight to hell and our baby will grow up completely detached, unsure of herself, insecure, anxious, friendless, and will probably self-mutilate! But more on that later. This morning, after her first feeding and playing with us for about 15 minutes, she started acting like the birds were already jumping out of the clock and so we gave her the binky and immediately she commenced with the rubbing of her eyes and her face and head. Jeffrey and I laid down next to her and then the next thing I knew, I was looking at a clock that said 10:30. 10:30!
Pea had turned herself to face Jeffrey, faces level, and moved close enought that the button on her binky was touching his mouth. Her little hand had found the place on his neck where she could feel his heartbeat and then she hadn't moved. It was similar to how the two of them had slept in the hospital the day she was born. I hadn't been able to sleep at all with her in bed with me as every little peep from her would rouse me, and even if she had a few moments of calm I kept opening my eyes to see her little hands again, or look at her ears, or think maybe I'd already forgotten what her toes looked like. There was so much adrenaline pumping through me that even though I had been up for over 24 hours I would have had an easier time lifting a car than sleeping. But I couldn't stand to see her lying in the hospital bassinet--she looked so lonely. So Jeffrey swaddled her nice and tight and laid down on the Daddy Couch with his little baby girl facing into his chest where she could smell him and feel his heartbeat. Of course then I couldn't sleep because she wasn't near me or in my arms and every few seconds I had to peer over the side of my bed and make sure she hadn't disappeared or been a dream. Jeffrey and Penelope, however, got a solid three hours and though I was horribly jealous of how easy it was for him, just to lie down next to her and know that everything was okay, it is now another favorite memory of her birth. For three hours I watched them in the shaded early evening light of a perfect May Day; father and daughter, Daddy and his Little Pea, already so comfortable around and so sure of each other. There was even a merciful break from the constant stream of nurses coming in to wake up the baby and measure her head one more time, just in case it had changed, and poke at me and want to take my blood pressure.
Ever since that first day, if Penelope is in bed with us or lying down next to us, she falls asleep much more easily near Jeffrey than near me. Maybe it's because she is too distracted by the scent of milk on me or maybe it's because that's her first memory of sleep and so tucked up next to her daddy is always going to be the best thing. Either way, when they fall asleep together like that it's often hard for me to nap with them. I get sidetracked watching them and wondering what it must be like to have a dad that's not a complete shit--someone that doesn't tell you he loves you just before he attempts to destroy your heart; someone good, kind, protective and gentle.
I think a lot about how incredibly lucky I am, to have married someone so completely different from my father and to be able to trust him enough that bringing a child into the world feels like a really, really good idea. I have less all-good memories of my father than I have fingers. If he were still alive it is doubtful whether or not he would even be allowed near my children, much less alone with them. It is incredibly healing to watch Jeffrey and Pea, to see their mutual adoration and how secure she is in his love. Good fathers do exist, even if I didn't get to see that till now.
Posted by Annagrace at 11:35 PM
Penelope is very particular. From the first moment that air entered her little lungs, from her very first day outside the womb, she has had an opinion on things and feels free to make this known.
Feeding has been one of the greatest challenges for her, but not because she has any problems with my milk, or with the idea of breastfeeding. It's just that she's extremely particular about her feeding position. The first week of her life was more than a little exciting, in regards to this. It took me a while to figure out that in order for mealtimes to be to her satisfaction, her feet had to be touching the ground (or the bed or the chair, depending on where we were sitting). She did not like to be horizontal, but vertical. I had to sit tailor-style with a long narrow pillow against my leg on the side we were feeding. The cute, coral paisley Boppy, that I was told would be a God-send, rarely worked for us. It just goes to show that most of your baby gear shouldn't be purchased until you see what sort of personality you just won.
And then she boycotted the left breast. It didn't let down as quickly and that didn't work for her.
So the other night I was sitting in bed trying to feed her, starting on the right side as we normally do. She now allows herself to be held horizontally, with her head in the crook of my arm, but she kept pulling her head up and looking me straight in the eye while grunting. After several minutes of this, and every other possible explanation explored, I figured that maybe she wasn't wanting to eat after all but decided to try the left side just in case. She immediately looked back into my eyes and smiled, sighed happily, and then settled down to eat while patting my chest with her precise little hand.
Jeffrey looked over from where he was sitting and said, "Well... someone is going to have to learn some flexibility!"
Posted by Annagrace at 10:09 PM
You are only three months old but already you have more nicknames than anyone else I know. Each one fits a different side of your personality. Here is the current list but I'll be sure to update you as new ones are added.
Baby P.-- Daddy's name for you since the day you were born. I still remember him calling you that for the first time. We were in the recovery room at the hospital, where we spent the second night, I was in the bed watching you two, and he was holding you and swaddling you and trying to calm you. It took us a few days to realize that to most people Baby Pea sounds like Baby Pee, and by then it had stuck and we didn't care.
Little Pea-- a variation on the above.
Pippa-- I called you this the whole time I was pregnant with you, thinking this was the best nickname for Penelope and then you were born and it didn't really look like you (though Penelope really did!) I think it will fit you again when you are older and toddling around and determined to put everything in sight into your mouth.
Hot Spit Cranky Pants-- this is what I call you when you are pissed and refuse to be consoled. Stuff comes out of your mouth and nose and your hands flail about and your legs kick HARD and you are usually very tired. Normally you are a delightful baby. Now that I think of it, this name worked more during the first few weeks of nightimes, which were very hard for you but have since gotten much, much better.
Eyebrows of Fury-- your brows are very articulate. They are never half of an emotion or part of a feeling.
Peanut-- my special name for you. I called you this sort of by accident that first day in the hospital as I was trying to breastfeed for the first time ever and keep both you and myself upbeat and encouraged about the process. Nursing came much more naturally than I thought it would, but only after throwing out every single thing told me by the "Lactation Consultant" I waited FOREVER to see. She was the biggest waste of time ever. More on that, and my realization that post-partum depression is as close as a bad nurse with no personal experience and tons of book-larnin', later!
Peapod-- this is what your Aunt Tiffany started calling you a few months before you were born and what she still calls you. Sometimes your Grandma Mary calls you this too. It's very cute and very original and Tiffany even got you little Robeez shoes that have peapods on them.
Nellie P-- Daddy says this is your hip-hop name. We are not very hip-hop, your family, but it makes a great caption for many of the photos we have of you where you look like you're flashing some kind of hand sign.
Penny-- I'm just going to say right now that your Grandpa Diehl is the ONLY person that's ever going to be allowed to call you this. At least until you're old enough to spite me and my rules. With all necessary apologies to all the Pennys who may read this, Penny is not the name of someone interestesting, humorous, and fun. Penny is dull. Penny does accounting the old fashioned way, with a pencil and graph paper. Penny thinks beige is too bright and grey is too glaring. Penny is not someone you are dying to know. But Grandpa Diehl is allowed because he loves you. And it's my blog so I can say whatever I want.
Posted by Annagrace at 5:42 PM
You are three months old today, Penelope, three whole months. In two and a half hours it will be exactly three months ago that I gave three really, really big pushes, as a doctor tugged on a suction cup attached to your head, and you were finally unstuck and in the outside world. You came out bloody from the explosive tearing I had from the suction cone being fitted inside me and the accompanying episiotomy. I can still see the curve of your back as you were pushed and pulled to freedom, the midwife's hands under your shoulders lifting you, and all that dark hair on your mushroom cap head. The best moment in my life was when you were placed on my chest and I could finally touch the little body that had been kicking at my ribs for months. And now here you are, all growed up and beginning to teeth. I love you, Peanut.
Posted by Annagrace at 2:11 AM
Tonight was one of those perfect nights, Peanut. The kind I turn over and over in my mind like a really good taste. The kind of night I wish I could capture somehow and relive it over and over whenever I pleased.
You were having crying spells, the kind where the big vein on the right side of your head swells and turns bright purple as your whole face turns Crayola Red, and though you were beyond tired you just couldn't let go and let yourself sleep. After many minutes of trying to soothe you, re-inserting the binky and rubbing your little head and the bridge of your nose, your favorite, your daddy came home and your focus was shot for good. He came in to kiss you hello and tell you to go to sleep and he would see you after, but when he left your room your eyes followed him till you had to tilt your head all the way back and that's when you started crying again. So I gave in and picked you up and we went downstairs, where he was starting the grill for dinner.
You and I got in the rocking chair and you snuggled deep into the space between my right arm and side, just below the breast exactly as you like. And I know it sounds so awfully cheesy but there was music playing, a live Sting album, one of the albums that was playing while I was laboring to give birth to you. There we were rocking back and forth, you in the crook of my arm, your right hand stretched up to the neckline of my tank top, holding on like you always do. Your little face, very solemn now that you had stopped crying, was fixed on mine and your eyebrows were up slightly as they often are when you are really intent on or studying something. The windows were all open and the cooling evening air kept piling up behind the dark blue curtains and then swooshing out from the sides. Outside there was the gentle clatter of the grill being tended to and the smell of hickory smoke, and the sounds of the 6 children next door as they ran in and out of their house. The evening light had a soft smokiness to it.
Peanut, as much as I love watching you grow and change and become your very own little person, I am also having a really hard time with it. Every day you are growing away from me and I have barely begun to process the fact that you are actually on the outside of me now, and no longer something secret and new and inside. The cutting of your umbilical cord was purely symbolic for I feel it tug hard inside me as you grow more and more aware of the world and everything there is for you to see and do and touch and drool on. Your stump fell off but mine will never ever heal.
There we were tonight, rocking and holding, and I was singing all the songs to you as you stared at me from behind your binky. And then it was Fields of Gold, and again I know this sounds too cheesy to believe but it was exactly how I felt tonight, the deep desire to remember and remember everything in color. Nostalgic already for everything that's going by too quickly, your whole babyhood. I smell you every chance I get and yet I'm still so scared of forgetting--that sweet, milky scent of your little round head and soft baby cheeks and perfect rosy lips. I'm dreading the day I can't scoop you up in my arms and pull your dimples out by making silly noises against your neck, or rest my lips near your ears and feel your heartbeat pulsing against my mouth. The day you no longer wrap your arm around my neck when I carry you into the bedroom to nurse you.
And baby, all I know right now is that years from now, on nights like this, I will remember you, and remember us, and my heart will break open all over again. And I will tell the sun, in his jealous sky, that we walked in fields of gold.
Posted by Annagrace at 1:09 AM