Tuesday, December 30, 2008

6 Month Check-Up

Christmas Day was Ella's half birthday. I cannot believe that my tiny baby is 6 months old already. I'm on vacation this week, and we are sitting in the floor together, playing on our respective laptops. Hers plays music and lights up, and the best game about it is to open and shut it. She's eyeing mine like she might need to upgrade to a more professional model.

We saw both doctors yesterday for the six month visit. She weighs 14 1/2 pounds and was 25 and 3/4 inches long. He said she's petite but gaining well (still at a rate of about a pound a month, which is pretty much what she's been gaining since birth). I knew she was petite; she seems to have a small frame like her Aunt Becca. She got her long feet, toes, and fingers, and it looks like her build, too. The doctor got a good understanding of what it's like to examine my octopus baby. Her hands were everywhere trying to grab his hands, stethescope and the thing he looks in her ears with. He kept having to trick and distract her to be able to look in her ears. She flirted with him, of course, like she always does. He says that she sits exceptionally well and has very good balance. When he put her on her tummy, she immediatley pulled her knees up under her, so he thinks she'll crawl soon. I'm not sure I'm ready for that, given that just containing her hands is a job by itself. What will I do when she's mobile? Probably lose more weight. He also said her bottom teeth look like they are about to sprout. We'll see. They've been looking that way for at least 3 months now. She got her four shots again, so now we are on puke watch. She's been gagging but happily playing. This time the shots just made her MAD. Previously they've hurt her feelings, but she was plain mad yesterday. She had the screaming fit like someone was peeling her skin off - holding her breath and turning purple - and she refused to nurse, because you can't scream and nurse at the same time. Once I got her calmed down, she nursed and the happy baby was back. She has quite the temper.

We also saw the orthopedic specialist and got good news there. Her pelvic x-ray looked completely normal and she officially doesn't have to wear the harness anymore. We will have to go back for x-rays periodically, to make sure that her hips stay normal as she becomes mobile. X-rays are fine, but I hope it's a long time before we suffer through another ultrasound. The tech actually remembered her yesterday because of the fit she had the last time, and she didn't disappoint us this time either. She hates being held down.

Oh, and the pediatrician said to keep her on stage 2 baby foods for a couple more months, then switch to stage three and maybe some soft table foods. It was a nod and smile moment for me since Ella has enjoyed Mexican and Japanese food this week already. She much prefers table food to baby food, and seems to be tolerating it just fine. She completely turned her nose up at the chicken noodle dinner yesterday in favor of my soup, fried rice, and zucchini. My worries about her eating too much solid food and not nursing enough are over. She's still nursing like a champ; in fact the doctor laughed when I said she still nurses 8 - 10 times a day when I'm home with her. As long as she nurses, I don't have to worry about making sure her diet is balanced.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Ella's First Christmas

These are a few of my favorite pictures from our whirlwind Christmas. There are more in this Picasa album.
I'm editing to add some details, now that I have a minute. Everyone kept saying that she wouldn't really get Christmas this year because she's only 6 months old. She obviously didn't get the anticipation of Christmas, but the child totally understands presents (as you can see from the pictures above and in the web album). After unwrapping her first present and realizing there was something under that pretty paper, she was all about it and she thought all the presents were for her. Granted, the bows and paper were still her favorite, but she took great joy in unwrapping.
She came home with two new baby dolls, a table with a laptop, phone, piano, and book, a lion she can ride, a lion that plays music, books, stackable rings, some clothes, and a frog that dances and sings Jingle Bells. There's more, but that's just what I'm looking at right now. Everyone was very good to her, and she's been having a blast with her new toys. When I bring her into the living room in the morning, she dives toward her toy basket. She's content to sit in the floor and play and play.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Dave decided to teach a light lesson in Sunday School yesterday, so he did a sort of history of Christmas. I found it interesting, so I thought I would share it here. These are a few facts he found on the History Channel's website.

~ In the early 1600s, Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans took over England and outlawed Christmas. Charles II later restarted the holiday.

~ 1659 - 1681 Christmas was outlawed in Boston and anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five schillings.

~ Christmas was mainly a party holiday until the early 1800s.

~ Washington Irving wrote The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon in 1819, which features a squire in England who invites peasants into his house at Christmas time. This was based strictly on Irving's imagination, but it changed the nature of the way we celebrate Christmas.

~ Around the same time, Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol. Its message of charity and goodwill to all mankind was embraced in American and English cultures.

~ Christmas trees, cards, and gift giving soon followed, but Americans thought they were just catching on to the real traditions of Christmas. They had no idea that they were creating their own.

~ St. Nicholas was a saint in Turkey around 300 A.D. who gave all his possessions away and traveled around helping people. He came to be known as a protector of children and sailors. His death is celebrated on December 6.

~ 1773 - 1774 New York newspapers report that groups of Dutch families have gathered to celebrate the death of St. Nicholas. In Dutch, he is known as Sint Nikolaas, whas was shortened to Sinter Klaas.

~ 1804 John Pinter distributes wooden Sinter Klaas images at the New York Historical Society meeting. The images pictured fruit, toys, and a fireplace in the background.

~ 1809 Washing Irving claimed that St. Nicholas was the patron saint of New York.

~ 1820s - 1840s Stores began to advertise for Christmas presents, often using Santa Claus.

~ 1841 A shop in Philadelphia displayed a life size Santa and attracted thousands of kids.

~ 1890s The Salvation Army dressed up unemployed men in red suits and sent them into the streets to solicit donations.

~ 1822 Clement Clark Moore wrote a poem for his daughters, An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas. He didn't want to publish it because of his frivolous nature. This poem first presented the ideas Christmas Eve, a jolly round Santa, chimneys, a sleigh, and 8 named reindeer.

~ 1881 Cartoonist Thomas Nast drew Santa Claus with a red suit, white beard, and a sack of toys. Nast also created the North Pole workshop, elves, and Mrs. Claus.

~ Kris Kringle or ChristKind deliver gifts to well-behaved Swiss and German children.

~ In Scandinavia, a jolly elf named Jultomten rids in a sleigh drawn by goats.

~ Pere Noel fills the shoes of French children.

~ In Russian legend, Babouschka gave the wise men the wrong directions to find the baby Jesus. Babouschka comes on January 5 and leaves presents for the children, hoping that one of them is Jesus and that he will forgive her.

~ In Italy, a kind witch named LeBefana rides a broomstick down the chimney to deliver toys to children.

~ 1939 Robert May of Montgomery Ward Department Store wrote the story of Rudolph. Two and half million copies were sold that year. Johny Marks wrote the song in 1949 and Gene Autry was the first to record it on TV in 1964. It has been translated in 25 or more languages.

~ It was originally believed that evergreens kept evil spirits away. This was seen as pagan in early America.

~ 1846 Queen Victoria was sketched with her family around a Christmas tree. She was well liked and this was considered fashionable. Trees then arrived in America and were primarily decorated with food (apples, nuts, berries, etc).

~ 1931 Construction workers placed a small undecorated tree in the center of a construction site a Rockefeller Center. The tree remains in the same location today and is decorated with approximately 25,000 lights.

~ Finally, the best bit of modern history, in 1914 Allied and German forces called a truce for the Christmas holiday. They spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day together in no-man's land singing carols, playing music, trading desserts and cigarettes, and at one location, playing a friendly soccer game.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ella's Theatrical Debut

Ella made her theatrical debut last night in our church production of A Night in Bethlehem. She is playing the role of a basket weaver's apprentice. This picture is courtesy of The Shelby County Reporter's photo website.

And this is the evil King Herod.

We've had some big happenings this week, in addition to our church events. She has spent the last three nights sleeping in her crib in her own room. Sleep has been such a sketchy situation lately with the cold and the teething and everything. She has regressed to sleeping like a newborn again and I have been on the brink of exhaustion. Our typical night time schedule:
In bed between 7:30 and 8:00, then up at 11:30, 1:30, 2:30, and 4:15. Then I get up at 5:15 to get ready for work. Most of the time, she is awake as well. It's been rough. I decided that maybe she would sleep better in the bigger bed, on a better mattress since she is heavier now. The first night, she kept the same schedule. The second night, she only woke up twice and I got four straight hours of sleep for the first time in weeks. Last night, she was awake three times and again at 5; I think her teeth woke her up because she was a grouchy, crabby baby that wanted to still be sleeping. Overall, I think the transistion to her crib is a success (so far) because she hasn't woken up any more than usual.

She seems to be enjoying the extra space, because she moves all over the crib. Once I went in to find her scooched into the corner, lying on her side, talking to the animals on the bumper pads. I haven't been putting her harness on her at night anymore because I think that might be contributing to some of the wakefulness. She gets uncomfortable and can't move enough while she's wearing it to get comfortable again. Since she's out of the harness, I often find her on her hands and knees when I go in there. I'm happy to see this, because the child pretty much refuses to play on her tummy - which is important if she is ever going to crawl. I've actually been convinced that she is just going to skip crawling, but now I'm not so sure. She has a play date after Christmas with a friend who is crawling already, so I'm hoping she will encourage Ella to crawl, too. The last time we played with her, she taught Ella about tags (on blankets, toys, etc).

I also started putting her in the end of the tub where she can sit up, instead of reclining. She loved it. She splashed herself in the face, acted shocked, decided it was okay, then proceeded to splash as much water out of the tub as she could. Toys were flying out, I was soaked, and she was laughing and having a ball. Bath time just became even more fun.

She is already a complete copy cat - taking in everything and trying to do it herself. When we got home the other night, before I could get to the backseat of the car to get her out, she was sitting up as much as the carseat straps allowed and working on the buckle herself. I guess I was taking too long, and she was just going to go ahead and let herself out. She gets mad at Georgia when she's trying to pet her and she walks away. We've started working on "soft touch" because she likes to grab handfuls of Gypsy's fur (it is very soft). Gypsy is setting her own boundaries with her. Ella grabbed her the other night while my head was turned and Gypsy slapped her. She didn't use any claws and there wasn't a mark on Ella, but her little face was priceless. She looked awfully surprised and confused, as if she was trying to figure out if it was a joke, then she gave a tentative little smile. Since then, she has been gentler with the kitty. The amazing thing is that Gypsy has NEVER EVER kept her claws in for anyone, except Ella. She was banished to the porch for the rest of the evening after this incident, but I'm actually very proud of her.

We go back the orthopedic doctor on the 29th for an x-ray on her hips. I feel a little guilty because I've stopped putting the harness on her, but she really isn't tolerating it well anymore. Plus, she's been working hard at getting out of it. She slides her feet out of the little stirrups, so I'm not sure how effective it is. The other night when I put it on her, those little hands immediately started working on taking it off again. I think we are about finished with this chapter in her short life. I'm interested to see what the x-ray shows, and even more interested in what my response will be if I'm told we need to continue with treatment. I'm skeptical at best.

That was a long update.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Poopy Situation

I called to check on Ella this morning, and it seems that she had created a sticky situation for her grandparents. She was jumping along in her Johnny Jump Up (Please tell me you know what that is), having a grand ole time for about 45 minutes when her Uncle Rob came into the room and asked, "Dad, what's on her foot? It's orange."

That's right, technicolored baby poop was all over the hardwood floor. She was bouncing away, without any indication that her diaper was filled to overflowing and she was squishing out poop with every jump. Johnny Jumping is fun! When I got off the phone, they had discovered that poop was not only on the floor, but also on the toys near by. I am just picturing a happily bouncing baby splattering poo all over the living room. I could hear Grandma in the background saying, "Come home now - it's an emergency!" Ha!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I Spoke Too Soon

I guess I jinxed myself when I said that Ella's cold was mild. We were awake all night again Tuesday night because she couldn't breathe. I snorted out her nose too many times to count, and the alarm found us sitting up on the couch again. This time I stayed home to be with her. I knew the best thing I could do was nurse, nurse, nurse all day long, so that's what I did. Aside from pitching a fit and twisting herself into a pretzel every time I snorted or wiped her nose, she was in relatively good spirits. She was officially a snot-nosed kid all day. Her tiny nose was all red, just like her mommy's.

I gave her a little bit of chicken noodle soup broth in her bottle at lunch, and she loved it. I've relied on soup and hot lemon tea with honey to get rid of my cold, so I was trying for something hot for her, too. Since I cannot take cold medications while nursing (because it dries up the milk), I've had to rely on alternative methods. I have to say, I have felt better all the way through than I normally do with a cold.

Since I was home with her yesterday, I got to witness her FINALLY put her toes in her mouth. She seemed surprised to find that those little piggies really are attached to her body. She also picked up the pacifier and put it in her mouth, the right way, for the first time. I put it on her tray in front of her and turned my back. Then I heard a little slurping noise and turned around to see her in full-out Maggie Simpson mode. I was so proud.

The independent little imp is also demanding to feed herself with her spoon now. She was fussing and fussing at me while I was feeding her, and I knew she wanted a bite, so I finally gave her the loaded spoon. She put it right in her mouth and sucked the food off of it. Then she put it down, I loaded it up again, handed it to her - rinse and repeat. Is she old enough for all of this?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

My Little Elf

Doesn't she look completely impish in this picture? All that's missing are the pointy hat and funny shoes. Grandpapa sent this picture today. She seems to be making a speedy recovery from the cooties we suffered yesterday. I wish The Mommy was recovering as quickly.

We've both had a cold - mine is nasty, hers has been relatively mild. We spent nearly all of Sunday night awake until I finally threw in the towel and moved us to the chair in the living room. We managed to sleep sitting straight up from 3:30 a.m. until the alarm went off at 5, when I made the executive decision to stay home. Last night I went all out with Vick's and the vaporizer, and I propped us both up as much as possible. We both slept much better, and she has had a great day today.

On top of that, she pooped! This event was worthy of a happy dance when I got the phone call this morning because we haven't seen poop since Friday night. I'm not ashamed to say that this is not the first time I've happy danced over poop. We've have many Poop Watches in Georgia's four years with us. I told you animals can prepare you for babies. :)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Ella Met Santa!

Christmas is upon us, and we have been busy little elves already. This morning, Ella had her 6 month pictures made and then she got to meet Santa! We took her to the Child Study Center at the University. I thought she might cry, because most kids do and we passed many blotchy, tear-stained faces on the way in, but she just seemed intrigued.
Then she decided he was pretty funny. She loved all the kids running around, and she laughed out loud when one little girl walked up and started playing with her. I think she liked meeting Santa. She would have been dressed up, but after her portraits she had a fit because she hates wearing tights (She's my daughter, alright), so she was in play clothes to meet Santa. I'm trying hard not to be bothered by the fact that she is wearing pink and Santa is wearing red and my tiny compulsive side thinks that doesn't match. The pictures turned out cute, and the program seemed really neat. Santa was there for 2 hours for breakfast, and we paid three dollars for a disc of pictures.
Last weekend we decorated the house. Tonight, I worked on my Christmas cards. I've already done most of our shopping and half the wrapping. I spent several hours at church painting the backdrop for our Night in Bethlehem production, but it isn't finished yet. I put out Ella's nativity scene tonight. It's a Little People nativity scene, made by Fisher Price, so it's all bright and plastic and non-chokable. I can't wait for her to see it in the morning. Thanks to Ms. Laurel for giving her that. It's even better that I first thought. : )
Now, my baby is sleeping and since she might be awake in 2 hours, I'm going to bed now.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Piglet Eats Food

I was dead set on waiting until Ella turned 6 months old to feed her solid food. However, she convinced me otherwise by consistently diving into my plate at meal times. The child is ready to eat what we are eating.

We started with sweet potatoes over Thanksgiving, then moved onto squash. Today she had peaches for the first time, and threw a little fit when Grandma stopped feeding her. Since she is new to this, we are going very slowly in the amounts and frequencies so that her little body can adjust to processing food. I also want to ensure that she drinks all the milk she needs because that should be her primary source of nutrition until 12 months. She likes to eat and drink apple juice from her cup. She seems very proud of herself, too, opening her mouth for more and reaching for the cup when she needs a sip. To quote her father, "She's an eater." As if there was any doubt.

We did the naked baby in the high-chair thing the first time we fed her and took video, but I had already cleaned her up when I remembered that I needed a picture. I'll have to restage it so I'll have a picture for the baby book. However, I received this picture via email from Grandpapa yesterday.

Ella enjoying squash.Notice the little foot sticking up? One of her newest tricks is to grab her feet. She hasn't managed to get them in her mouth yet, but she tries. She also floats herself in the tub now, meaning that I'm not only nursing an octopus, I'm bathing one, too. Her control of her hands gets better every day, so that she's now fairly accurate when grabbing things with one hand. She can sit in the floor without assistance, but she needs to be padded for the fall because she can't balance very long yet. It's incredible.

Kudos to My Husband

I am married to a fabulous man. Oh, we have our moments when neither of us can be considered fabulous, and bringing a baby into a marriage definitely throws a few kinks into things. But, generally he is very good to me, and I would be a lot crazier and more tired if he didn't do so much for me.

Upon returning to work, the delicate life balance I managed to achieve while on maternity leave got all out of wack. I guess being away from home for approximately 60 hours a week will do that. As a result, I had little time for him and even less for myself. Being a person who needs a bit of Me Time every day, I was on a fast track to insanity. After a few weeks and a particularly ugly discussion, we came to the realization that a little more help would make me a more pleasant person to be around. It's quite humbling for me to admit that I can't handle it all by myself, because that's how I try to do everything (a fault of mine, I know). I'm so very grateful to have Dave's help and I work daily on banishing the guilt I feel for relying on him to do "my" jobs.

How are we managing, you ask? (You probably don't care, but I'm going to tell you anyway.)

1. We hired someone to clean the house. Given that we can afford to pay for that service, I refused to be responsible for all the housework and work full-time and care for Ella.

2. We take turns doing laundry.

3. He exercises the dog when he gets home before me. Last night he picked Ella up from Grandma's for the first time so I got to go straight home since I was running late.

4. Several nights a week he washes pump parts and bottles while I pack the bags for the next day and reconnect with Ella. He also makes bottles for the next day if I don't get to it first.

5. He feeds us. If it were left up to me, we would have eaten approximately 10 meals since I went back to work in September. By "feeds us," I mean, he usually cooks and fixes my plate and drink so that I can eat while I nurse Ella to sleep at night. I love to cook, but I can't seem to figure out how to do that and everything else that needs doing in the three hours before bed time.

6. He carries my things for me. :) This doesn't seem like a big deal, but I love that he meets me at my car to carry my stuff so that I can carry Ella into the house. He also loads my bags into the car in the mornings.

7. In a recent development that made me fall in love with him all over again, he came and got Ella at 6 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving so that I could sleep another hour and a half. Then he did it again the next day because he wanted to. I told him that we should establish this as a normal weekend routine.

8. He generally follows behind me, picking up my slack (paying bills, taking out trash, putting gas in my car, feeding/watering the pets, etc).

I don't know what I'd do without him, or the rest of my family for that matter. I am blessed to have a very strong support structure around me.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Five Wide

Recently I wrote that if every being in our house is asleep at once, we are all in the room together. Cold weather makes this practice even more amusing because everyone wants to snuggle. When Dave turned out the lamp last night, our sleeping situation was as follows. Dave on the oustide edge of the bed, then Georgia, then me, then Gypsy, then Ella in her little co-sleeper. Jewel was asleep in the middle of the dog bed in the floor. I told him we were sleeping five wide.

Ella acheived a milestone I wasn't looking forward to this week. She managed to roll over during the night while wearing the harness. I was really counting on that harness keeping her less mobile for a while longer because I'm not ready to move her to her own room yet. She still fits in the the co-sleeper and is no where near the weight limit, but I won't be able to keep her in there once she's flipping and flopping because there is not enough room for that business. Sigh. She's growing so fast. Also, as a result of realizing she can roll over while wearing the harness, she's been waking up increasingly more often to practice this new skill. One reason the 4 - 7 month time period is so sleepless is because they reach a plethora of developmental milestones during that time and they have a tendency to obsess about them until they've mastered them. We had gradually gotten back to one waking per night after she finally rolled from back to tummy. However, since she rolled over in the harness on Sunday night, she has woken up two or three times a night and I firmly believe that it's just to practice rolling over because that's what she's trying to do when I wake up. I find myself reminiscing about the magical few weeks that she slept through the night, but I do enjoy the little bit of extra snuggle time we get when she nurses in the middle of the night. They are only little babies for such a short time, I wouldn't dare wish it away - even for sleep.

We had a very exciting happening this morning. When I left for work, she waved goodbye to me!! It was so cute. She is in the phase where she is trying to copy everything we do, and it seems she finally figured how to wave! We are also teaching her sign language, and I've seen her attempt to sign "milk" back at me. I know that she understands a few signs (milk, diaper change, all done, and cat), but I'm not expecting to see her sign until after 7 months or so when her hands are more coordinated. This is an exciting time period, providing even further proof that God is an amazing engineer of the human body and mind. If you doubt that, just observe the minute to minute transformation of a newborn baby into a walking, talking little person within about a year's time. It's astounding, and I know that science explains the working of the brain and child development and all that jazz, but even so, it took a master craftsman to create it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Music Lessons

Last February, for a combination Valentine's Day/Anniversary/It's a Girl! gift, Dave bought a keyboard and a couple of books to teach himself how to play. He's wanted to learn to play an instrument for a long time, and he'd like to be able to teach the baby how to play. The whole time I was pregnant, I would sit in the chair beside him and read while he played, and Ella (then known as Timothia) would kick and squirm. There were certain songs she liked better than others, and Can You Feel the Love Tonight is still her favorite. Incidentally, that's the one he was practicing the most right before she was born. I passed by the dining room yesterday to find this scene. She sat there quietly watching him play for a long time. It's looks like he'll get his wish of teaching her to play.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Little Kisses

This has been such a fun week with Ella Grace and it's not even the weekend yet. I hope she's as happy tomorrow as she has been most of this week.

Monday evening was the first time she outwardly expressed excitement at seeing me when I got home from work. Her whole face lit up and she grinned and laughed and talked to me. Then she "asked" to go back to her Grandma for a minute and she initiated a baby kiss! That was the first time I'd seen her do that. She's starting to initiate kisses more frequently and it is so very cute. Of course, you have to be paying attention because it's the typical open-mouthed baby kiss. We know she's kissing because she opens her mouth and leans toward your mouth. She's also started hugging. I don't know if there is anything better than tiny baby arms wrapped tightly around your neck. It certainly makes it hard to leave for work in the mornings. I've decided that I really love this age.

She is becoming more mobile every day. This week she rolled from her back to her tummy for the first time. I haven't seen it happen yet, but I can attest to her squirminess. Changing her diaper becomes a bigger adventure every day as she twists her body in every direction to see what's going on around her. She also attempted to escape her bouncy chair. I don't know where she was going, but she had plans for something.

We've officially reached the point of not leaving her sitting anywhere without tying her down. I usually leave her propped against the pillows on the couch in the mornings while I run around doing last minute headless chicken things, but not anymore. Yesterday, I came back into the room to find her lying on her stomach on the couch with one leg behind her and one stuck under her. She was yelling for assistance. Now she has to wait in the floor, but that's fine with her, she just plays with her hands and talks.

Monday, November 03, 2008

It's Not Really About the Milk

I came across this article on the Internet last week, so I thought I would share it here. This pretty much sums up how I feel about nursing my child. These are not my own words; the article was written by Diane Wiessinger, who is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).

It's Not Really About the Milk

You won't "get it" at first. At first it's all about technique, and position, and time, and swallowing, and soreness, and feeling as if your whole world has narrowed to Feeding The Baby. Those of us who have enjoyed nursing our children are on the other side of a great emotional gulf from you. We can't explain it, we can only try to help you across the bridge, to where you can see for yourself. If you stay caught up in this as a feeding method, you may never get all the way across the bridge. But oh, the view from the other side! Those of us who "got it" wouldn't feel guilty if we were prevented from nursing our next child. We'd feel anguished. "Guilt" means you didn't do something for someone else that you "should" have done whether or not you enjoyed it yourself. "Anguish" means great pain and grief, as if you've had a piece of yourself torn away. Imagine moving by shifting your weight left, moving your right leg forward, knee slightly bent at first but gradually straightening, right heel landing as you rise on the ball of your left foot, left arm forward in reverse synchrony with your right as it moves back, then performing a mirror image of the whole process for the next step. Not fun, not easy, not graceful, not something you want to keep working at. But imagine the ease and pleasure of simply... walking. Now imagine someone telling you that you have to give it up. Guilt? Or anguish? I wish I could convey to you the simple, thought-less, vast, delicious pleasure of nursing my children. Once I "got it," I didn't "feed" them, didn't worry about intervals, didn't hold back. We nursed when they wanted and when I wanted - even just to keep them quiet while I was on the phone. At night, nursing was a quiet mending of the day's disorders. Oh, not always, but as someone said, "Of course there's an inconvenience to nursing. But there's an inconvenience to being a mother." Breastfeeding was a fundamental, essential connection for us, and made everything else - from newborn diapers to two-year-old tantrums - far, far simpler. Then there's the ego-building experience of being the perfect center of another person's universe. Can you achieve the same bond through bottle-feeding? No. Remember that a breastfeeding mother is in a specific hormonal state. Her whole body responds to her baby in a way that a bottle-feeding mother's or a baby-sitter's or a father's cannot. Her infant receives all his calories in a full-bodied, full-mouthed, skin-on-skin embrace, always from his beloved mother. Her older child comes to her to have growing pains of all kinds soothed simply in a way unique to breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is a newborn's first relationship, designed to continue throughout a child's early years. As a culture, we tell ourselves - without evidence - that the absence of this fundamental human relationship has no longterm implications for mother or child or family or society. I have enjoyed our children at every stage so far - and they are now adults. Their father and I felt as if we did no real parenting after the first ten years or so; we sat back and enjoyed them. This is unusual in America today. Is it partly related to our start in a long, luxurious breastfeeding relationship? I think so. And like every woman who has reached the other side of the bridge, I hope I can extend a hand back to help you across. The view is irreplaceable!

©2008 Diane Wiessinger, MS, IBCLC http://www.normalfed.com/

I couldn't have said it better. We have crossed the bridge. Nursing isn't just about feeding Ella; it's an elemental piece of my parenting style. It breaks my heart when I see a mother give up before the nursing relationship is established, or choose not to nurse altogether. She doesn't know what she's missing.

As with other personal decisions, I support a woman's right to choose to breastfeed or not. It's her body, it's a very personal experience, and if she chooses to bottle-feed formula, more power to her. However, I believe that she has a responsibility to make an informed decision based on research and factual information. In this day in time, there is a plethora of excellent information available, but you'll have to look past the formula companies' propaganda in your mailbox and the "breastfeeding support kits" that your doctor will give you. My go-to website of choice is http://www.kellymom.com/.

Happy Late Halloween

We went trick or treating at Grandpapa's house Friday night. I was a little girl with my teddy bear - in case you didn't get it. Some didn't. She wasn't the happiest camper because the evil fever was still going strong and the costume was too hot. We got our pictures and stripped it right off.

As you can see in this picture, we believe in co-sleeping. Jewel has decided she really likes Georgia's bed. If Georgia is on it first, she just claims a corner. If Georgia hasn't gone to bed yet, she circles up right in the middle.

A funny thing about my house right now, if there is ever a time (rarely) when all the living things are asleep at once, we are all in the room together. Oh, and the baby is not the worst sleeper. Why is it that everyone wants to know if the baby (any baby, not just mine) is sleeping through the night? My 30 year-old husband doesn't, and hasn't since I've known him. I bet a lot of adults don't sleep through the night, so why the big obsession with a tiny baby sleeping through the night?

This might be my new favorite picture. We fell asleep together during nap time, and I had to put her down to get ready for a meeting at church. She slept just like this until she rolled over and woke herself up. Look how chunky she's getting! That's all Mommy's milk, by the way, so don't let anyone tell you that babies can't be exclusively breastfed.
Lastly, a picture of her waiting to go to church yesterday. This is the first time I've put her in the whole get up - tights, hairbow, shoes, and all. I'm not especially fond of tights. I hate them myself, but if she's going to wear dresses when it's cool out, she needs something on her legs. For now. I'll not be forcing that issue later if she objects.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Vaccines are Evil

Don't get your panties in a wad. In spite of all the media attention and the growing trend of skipping or delaying childhood vaccines, I am having my child vaccinated per the recommended CDC schedule.

It's the aftermath of those shots that sucks. Between 9 a.m. yesterday and 7 a.m today, I've done the following.
~ administered 4 doses of infant Tylenol
~ bathed and massaged the stiff, sore little thighs
~ stripped her naked and wiped her with a cold wet towel
~ put a wet towel on her head many times
~ changed bed clothes and pajamas
~ calmed the panic and snorted out her nose after she threw up violently
~ cleaned up two puddles of puke
~ prayed fervently for a reprieve from the fever and a good night's sleep for all
~ stripped her naked and plunked her in the tub
~ washed bedclothes and pajamas
~ scrubbed poo out of the harness
~ sanitized the mattress and changing table
~ nursed, nursed, and nursed some more

The fever keeps spiking suddenly, and that's when the throw up happens. The poo mess met me when I got out of the shower this morning. She, her clothes, her sheets and blankets, the harness were all covered in it. Poor baby. Even with all of this, she's trying hard to be happy and play. Seeing my otherwise healthy baby sick makes me question those vaccines.

Top all that with the fact taht Dave hurt his foot yesterday and was stuck on the couch with an ice pack last night. He couldn't put any weight on it. At one point, I had a screaming baby, a barking dog, two puddles of puke, dirty sheets, and a ringing phone. I said bad words when the phone rang.

My prayer was answered. Ella slept all night and Dave's foot feels better today.

Aside from the shots, we had a good check up. She weighs 12 lbs. 11.5 ounces and she's 23.5 inches long. That's a weight gain of about 2 lbs. and growth of about an inch and a half since the 2 month appointment. She's healthy and right on track.

Oh, I almost forgot. One year ago today, we found out I was pregnant with Ella. I peed on a stick and, in disbelief, left it on the bathroom counter. Dave came in, saw it, and said, "Oh no." Then we had dinner at Olive Garden and I left town for three weeks the next morning.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

While I'm Working

Ella is also busy working with her Grandpapa.

Monday, October 27, 2008

More Pictures

Here are a couple more pictures.

Here she is figuring out the sippy cup. I try to give her the cup at least once a week to get her used to it because I want her to be able to drink from a cup when she starts eating solid foods. She's pretty much figured out how to get the milk out, but we are still working on holding it and getting it to her mouth. She was actually pretty accurate over the weekend. She emptied the cup, but since it's very different than the bottle, at least half of the milk went down her chin and onto her shirt.
And here you see her studying her new bunny slippers. Sadly, the bunny slippers aren't going to fit for much longer - but that's okay because she has some reindeer for Christmas time.

Weekend Update

We had a fun-filled weekend with lots of pet activities. Dave and Jewel started with some leisurely reading of the paper.
Then we got ready to walk to the park for the 2nd annual Critters by the Creek. It was a beautiful, sunny day, so shades were in order.
There were lots of dogs and people in the park, so Georgia needed a minute to herself after we'd made a round to all of the booths.
We stayed to watch the Bama Air Dogs perform their frisbee routines. It's a cool program because the people rescue animals from shelters and teach them the routines. Dogs need jobs if they are going to be good dogs, and these people get that. Although, I'll have to agree with Dave that watching them catch frisbees isnt' as amazing as it once was, since Georgia is pretty good at it herself.
On the way home, we stopped to play on the playground. This is one of Georgia's favorite things about a walk to the park. She loves to slide.
As you can imagine, we were all pretty tired once we got home. It was time for a little rest and football watching.
We spent Sunday afternoon at the high school football field so Dave and Georgia could kick field goals. He kicks and she retrieves the balls. : ) Ella Grace and I strolled a couple of laps, but she decided that made her too sleepy, so we mostly played in the grass and watched. I entertained her with my ability to burp on command. I never knew how handy that childhood skill would be, but it makes her laugh out loud.
We went back to the orthopedist today for another ultrasound on her hips. He told us the same percentages as last time (55% and 65%), but he also says there is a 5% margin of error in the ultrasound so she could be completely in the normal range (could have been last time, too). For good measure, and because she is sleeping fine in the harness, she has to keep wearing it at night for two more months. We'll go back the week after Christmas for an x-ray, because at that point the femoral head will be solid and the x-ray will be more accurate than an ultrasound.
She has her four month check up this week. I cannot wait to see how much she has gained and grown. The child is getting long!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Piglet Update

We haven't seen the piglet roll over again, but I think that's because her newest trick is more fun. She is "crawling" on her back. She looks a lot like an inch worm, scooting all around. She's pretty quick, but gets frustrated that she can't change directions very easily. Everything about the child's body language says she is ready to move! If she's lying down, she bends in the middle, trying to sit up. If she's sitting up, on the floor or in your arms, she's rocking back in forth in the direction she wants to go. She gets MAD when she can't get there. She does the same scooting routine when she's on her belly, but she's not as fast and it makes her mad. It's so cute because she pushes up on her hands and bends her knees like she's going to crawl, then plants her feet and pushes herself forward. Have mercy on all of us because when she gets it figured out there will be no stopping her. She has also perfected her squeal, and loves to practice it with others, by herself, at her toys, etc.

These new tricks were coupled with a huge physical growth spurt. She spent last week eating constantly and ravenously (which was disconcerting for the grandmothers, who questioned if I might be starving her), but her milk intake has leveled off this week. And she has grown, seemingly overnight. A shirt that had too-long sleeves two weeks ago had too-short sleeves (by an inch and a half!) on Sunday. Her knees are bent in her harness so much that diapering around it has become trickier, and that just happened over the weekend. There are new rolls on her thighs, and she has developed wrist creases now that her arms are filling out. Good grief. It's almost like you can see her growing before your very eyes.

With all this physical and developmental growth, she has entered the "wakeful fourth month" phase. She will be 16 weeks old tomorrow! Over the weekend, she has become a very distractible nurser. She likes to drink a little, look a little, drink a little, look a little. It makes nursing interesting, and explains some of the new night waking we are experiencing. She had been sleeping through the night since right before I went back to work (this is not normal behavior for a three month old, so don't stress about it when you have one) but now she wakes up once or twice a night to catch up on eating (because she's too busy during the day) and to practice her new tricks (pushing up and squealing with a giant smile on her face - at 3 a.m.). Because I knew this phase was coming, she is still sleeping in the co-sleeper beside the bed. When she wakes up, I just plop her into bed with me and nurse her back to sleep. I don't even have to sit up.

She is out of the harness for 10 hours a day this week. It takes less and less time for her to adjust to being out of it when we take it off every day. She is almost always in motion, and now that her legs are free for most of her waking hours, I feel like I'm nursing an octopus. Arms, legs, and head move in every direction, constantly. It's an adventure, and it makes me laugh.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

"To the best of my ability."

Dave won his second jury trial this week on a felony burglary/theft of property case involving a generator. That gives him a personal record of 2 -0. While the victory was sweet, I think the highlight of the trial happened just before the defense (Dave) rested and they moved on to closing arguments.

Let me set it up for you.

Dave's client, we'll call him Judd (to protect the innocent?), and the co-defendant (a.k.a. partner in crime, whom I'll call Bob), are no strangers to the criminal justice system. Both men had to be shipped to the county jail from prison for this trial. They are most likely guilty of some crime in this case, even if it isn't what they were charged with. That's just the way it works when you are providing indigent counsel.

The co-defendant, Bob, happened to be one of the state's primary witnesses. Obviously, if anyone could implicate Judd, it would be the man that was with him at the time that the crime allegedly took place. Dave and the district attorney both interviewed Bob on several different occasions to get an idea of what he would say on the stand. The first story he told Dave was that Judd was present, but he did not steal the generator in question. He, Bob, stole it and they pawned it together (pawning a stolen generator carries a receiving stolen property charge, which is not a felony). Early last week when Dave met with him, he told him that he had found the Lord while in prison (Amen.) and he was conflicted because he needed to tell the truth but it would implicate Judd. According to that version of the tale, he and Judd did the stealing and the pawning together (stealing a generator is a felony - which Judd was charged with). He told this same story to the district attorney the next day. This was on Monday and Tuesday of last week. Well, it seems that while the two men waited in jail together, they may have consulted a bit on the actual events of that day.

When Dave spoke with Bob again on Monday morning, Bob mentioned that he thought he should plead the 5th (refuse to testify because his testimony might incriminate himself). According to Dave, when people start talking about pleading the 5th, things start getting interesting. When Bob took the stand for questioning by the district attorney, he told a different tale. While sitting on the cell block in the county jail, he had invested some time in remembering the events of that day. It seems that neither of them stole the generator, they found it and then pawned it. As you can imagine, the district attorney was incensed at this unexpected change in the story. He questioned Bob again and again, asked him why his story was different this time (apparently, Bob was on a lot of drugs at the time the crime allegedly took place and, thus, his memories are foggy), etc. When Dave cross-examined Bob, the following conversation took place.

Dave: Bob, did you take an oath to tell the truth when you talked to the district attorney last week?
Bob: No.
Dave: Did you take an oath to tell the truth today?
Bob: Yes.
Dave: Are you telling the truth today?
(One would expect the witness to answer "yes" or possibly "no;" after all, lying under oath is a criminal offense.)
Bob: "To the best of my ability."

The judgle let that answer stay on the record. Maybe that isn't very funny to some, but Dave and I found it hilarious. Are we all exempt from perjury charges if we are unable to tell the truth?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Around the House

One of the gifts we received before Ella Grace was born was a matching towel, bathrobe, and washcloth set. It is really cute, but I'll be honest, I thought a bathrobe for a baby was ridiculous. I tried to return it, but I didn't have a receipt to know where to return it. It hung in the closet for 3.5 months while I pondered when exactly she would wear it. She doesn't care terribly for clothing - LOVES to be naked, and HATES getting dressed most times. We use the cute hooded towels to transport her from the tub to the changing table to get her pjs on, and there is no way I am going to dress her in the robe after her bath just to undress her again 2 minutes later. Sunday morning, it finally occurred to me that the cute little robe would be quite handy when I got my naked baby (her father hates wrestling her into pajamas) out of bed and didn't want to dress her for church yet. I usually let her go naked, but it was too cool in the house and keeping a blanket around her is nearly impossible. Together, we wore our robes and lounged around the house until it was time to get dressed for church.

Two weeks into this working mom business, I got the first phone call to tell me I missed a major milestone. She rolled over by herself - from tummy to back - for the very first time on Friday. Sad as it made me that I missed it, I was so excited. Apparently, she was very non-chalant about the whole thing. We got her to do it again Saturday morning, and the look on her face said, "What? This isn't a big deal." She acts like she'll be rolling from back to tummy in no time.

She's becoming such a big girl. I gave her a sippy cup Saturday for the first time and she loved it. She loved it so much that I had to remove it from her sight while I was working in the kitchen because she was getting mad that she couldn't get it to her mouth by herself yet. It won't be long before she masters that. She also stayed in the nursery during Sunday school and church for the first time. She did great for the most part, and she really enjoyed being around the other kids.

I visited my college roommate over the weekend to see her new baby, and realized I already have a hard time remembering Ella being that small. She looks so big and grown up compared to the newborn!

A few pictures from the weekend..

We practiced a new hold in the wrap. I think she likes this one because she can see everything.

Watching football with her daddy. Incidentally, she is mesmerized by football on TV.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Baby Blues

I had my last postpartum check-up yesterday, and everything is great. The even better news? I am 7 pounds UNDER my pre-pregnancy weight! (So, a big, fat "HA!" to everyone who told me how huge I was.) I love nursing. It is literally melting the pounds off of me, and for the first time in my life I can eat what I want and not feel guilty. I think my behind is smaller now that it has been in 15 years. If these stretch marks keep fading, I might wear a bikini next summer.

I feel good about myself again, and it's a really good feeling. People warned me about a lot of things about having a baby, but the one thing I was completely unprepared for was how bad I felt about myself right after she was born. They use the term "baby blues" to describe the normal but wacky feelings you have right after the birth of a child. I'm sure it depends on the individual, but that term does not adequately describe my crying, grieving, and intense need for affirmation. I remember crying and thinking, "Why am I crying? I'm not a crier." Most of the time, it wasn't sad crying; it was like I was overflowing with love for her and for Dave. Even TV made me cry, and that NEVER happens. I remember looking at myself in the mirror and grieving because my midsection was completely distorted. I knew I would still look 5 months pregnant, but I was caught off guard by the jiggly mass that used to be my belly. Not only was it jiggly, it was covered in angry, red stretch marks that looked SOOOO much worse once the baby was born. I was swollen from the surgery, and it was hard for me to imagine that I would ever look normal again. I never had an issue with my huge pregnant belly, but the aftermath of it was devastating. I had a great need to be told that I was still beautiful, to be cuddled and loved on. I was devoting so much energy to cuddling and loving and caring for Ella, that sometimes I would break down because I felt like no one was loving me. That wasn't true, but it sure felt like it at 2 a.m. when I was by myself with a crying, week-old baby. Top that all off with the fact that I couldn't leave the house of my on volition for two weeks because I had just had a major abdominal surgery, and you've got a hormonal train wreck. All of that mixed with overwhelming joy and a love that I've never felt before made me pretty nutso for about three weeks. I've always been pretty secure about myself overall, so it was a little disconcerting. If it had continued for longer than that, I definitely would have sought medical help because there's no way I would be able to live that way long-term. And, this was normal; this is what they were describing when they used words like "baby blues" and "emotional." The craziest part is that I didn't realize how crazy I was until several weeks later when I was thinking back on it.

Don't get me wrong, having a newborn at home was a wonderful, exciting, joyous occasion. I looked forward to and loved every minute of caring for her (still do). I love being a mother even more than I imagined I would. But, I didn't know that "baby blues" meant "crazy." I decided to write about it because I know that I am not the only woman who was caught off guard by this experience, and there are several young women who read this blog that might benefit from knowing that you just might be crazier and more hormonal right after you have the baby than you'll ever feel while you are pregnant.

The good new is, it's not permanent and you will feel normal again someday. Just don't expect the same kind of normal. Becoming a mother changes you forever, but that's another story for another day.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Inherited Personality Traits?

This is what I found this morning when I went to wake Ella up. Where is she, you ask? I have suspected that she inherited my morning disposition, but these pictures give me solid evidence. She covered her head with the blankets because the lamp was on. I know this because her head was out when I got up to take a shower in the dark. While Dave is getting ready, he turns on the lamp and she starts scooting around in bed. When he kissed her goodbye, he adjusted the covers and did not turn off the lamp. Then I went to wake her up and found her completely covered. I know it's because of the light because I do the same thing when he turns the light on while I'm still sleeping.

In addition to covering her head to block the light when she isn't ready to get up, she also doesn't want a lot of talk in the mornings. Which is fine, because I don't either. She might manage a smile for me once she pries her eyes open, but she doesn't want any funny business. Just change the diaper, put on the clothes, and get down to eating. Once the tummy is full, she is happy to start her day, but don't expect anything before then.

It took Dave a while to learn that I am not a happy morning person, and the more you talk to me and the louder and peppier you are about it, the grouchier I become. I have to have a shower before there is any human interaction, and then I need it to be kept to a minimum. Now, if I'm left to wake up on my own time, I'm happy to start my day cheerfully, but when I have to get up with the alarm - keep your distance. Apparently, my daughter will be the same way. I'll be honest, I'm glad about it. I don't think I could handle another person in my house who jumps out of bed ready to rock at all hours of what can hardly be considered morning.

The sweet princess has also inherited a trait from her father. The man gives no warning of transistion when he is ready to eat/leave/do something, etc. He goes from happy, mellow hanging out to packed up and ready to leave a place in under a minute. It's amazing to me, and often a source of conflict seeing as how I don't get a warning when something is about to change and I'm often to slow to react. Like her father, the child can be happily playing or talking or singing one minute, and screaming-at-the-top-of-her-lungs mad the next because she's just decided she is starving to death. You will read that babies give cues before they start to cry, and that if you pay attention you can meet their needs before they start crying. Crying is the last cue. That was true when she was brand new, but now, the fits come virtually without warning. It's amazing to watch the transistion. I often tell her that tiny babies don't starve to death in a matter of minutes. She begs to differ.

I haven't posted any pictures in a while, so here are a few from around the house.

This is AFTER she has eaten in the morning, when she is content to chat with me while I eat.

I'm not sure if you can see it through the red gleam, but there is abject terror in Georgia's eyes here. I can see her thinking, "WHAT?! Why are you putting that thing on me? I can't be responsible for that!" I had to force her to stay while I took the picture. I tried to get a second one, but I had to catch the baby as George jumped off the couch. : )
No animals or infants were harmed in the making of this photograph. After the bath (her bath, not mine, obviously).

Friday, September 26, 2008

One More Reason to Breastfeed Your Baby

Have you paid attention to the news lately? Babies in China are DYING because of tainted milk powdered that is used to make formula. Others are deathly ill. Can you imagine?

I was horrified about the massive dog food recalls and the number of dogs that were dying because of that contamination scare. I was terrified of feeding Georgia dog food, and actually did lots of research and changed food because of it. I seriously considered a RAW diet for her. I could not imagine losing my dog because of something I fed her that was made for her.

I felt strongly enough about my dog to change her food; the thought of something like that happening to my child is beyond my comprehension. I'm so very thankful that God equipped my body to feed my child. I don't have to worry about what is in her food because I already know - I'm making it. Even if I am affected by contaminated food, she will not be.

One of the greatest gifts God has given to mothers is the ability to breastfeed their children. I wish that more mothers would choose to do so - for so many reasons.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Wonder of Modern Technology

While I was away on maternity leave, my team moved to a new building with snazzy, automatic bathrooms. The toilet flushes for me, the faucet turns itself on, the soap dispenser dispenses soap at the mere sight of me, and the paper towel holder rolls one out without me touching a thing. Ahh, life is good with an automatic bathroom! Just think of all the germs I don’t have to touch anymore!

As convenient, sanitary, and cost-efficient as all of that is supposed to be, I kind of miss stomping on the flush lever of the regular old toilets (You didn’t think I would touch that with my hand, did you?). I think I am automatic toilet handicapped. On my first trip to the bathroom on Monday, the toilet flushed as soon as I sat down on it. Before I had finished my transaction, it flushed again. TWO flushes in a two minute timeframe! It seems that 2 out of 3 times that I use an automatic toilet, it is flushing WHILE I’m still sitting on it. And this doesn’t even account for the times that I’m wearing hard-to-unbutton pants! How does one relax in an automatic toilet stall? Personally, I feel pressured to move as quickly as possible in order to be off of the toilet before it decides to flush. Just picture the race that happens every time I enter a stall with one of these new-fangled toilets.

Enter stall, lock it quick! (It won’t lock! Now it is!), stand as far from toilet as possible, unbutton pants (They won’t unbutton! Try again – there, finally!), pants down, sit on toilet, transact business, clean up, jump off quick! And FLUSH! Pheww! I made it.

Only, sometimes I don’t make it and there aren’t many grosser things than a toilet flushing while you are using it. The last time I traveled for work, there was a day that every airport toilet I used (in three different airports, mind you) flushed while I was still using it. There must me something wrong with me. Does anyone else have this problem? Don’t even get me started on the automatic soap dispenser that withholds soap until you perform the exact right, pleading give-me-some-soap dance in front of it, and then it continuously spits it on you the entire time you are battling to rinse said soap from your hands under the automatic faucet that only turns on half of the time you stick your hand under it.

All I know is, the day they make toilet paper holders self-dispensing, I’m doomed.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Two Down, One to Go

I just thought I lived for the weekends before I had a baby. :) I cannot wait to spend the day tomorrow watching her smile and laugh. I have missed that child so much.

So far we are both doing okay with this new routine. Well, Ella is doing wonderfully, but I'm just okay. It's so hard to leave her in the mornings and so hard to put her down in her bed at night because I have approximately 3 waking hours with her. I won't lie; I hate it. Someone else gets the best of her during the day and I get the worn out baby in the evenings. There are two consolation prizes for that, of course: 1) I get her when the harness is off and she's so happy to kick her legs and have a bath and 2) it's my mothers who get the best of her, not a complete stranger who is responsible for ten other kids at the same time. I can live with that if I have to, and I have to. :)

She spends her days reading books with Grandma, and she absolutely loves it! I'm so happy that she loves books already. When I got there to pick her up yesterday, they were on the porch reading, and I could hear her reading along. :) It's amazing to me that she already loves to listen and look at the pictures.

The second day was the hardest for me because, after putting her to bed on the first day I was facing the stark reality of how little I would be seeing her during the week. Knowing that she is happy during the day and that she's taking the bottle without issues makes me feel better. Yesterday, she actually refused the last bottle and waited for me to get home to nurse her, so that made me feel great! Most of my worries about leaving her are gone now, I'm just dealing with guilt because those giant eyes look at me imploringly in the mornings, and that toothless smile takes up her whole face and I think to myself, "How can I possibly leave this child?" even though I know she's getting the best care possible (second to myself, of course). I was warned of the guilt, but there's no explaining that feeling to someone who isn't a mother who has left her child to go back to work.

Here's that toothless grin. This is my new favorite picture of her. Those eyes are so expressive. You can already see the devilment in her in this picture. :)

Monday, September 15, 2008


When we let the dog off of the leash we yell, "Freeeeedoooom!" as she runs down the street to our house. That's what I felt like yelling today when the doctor told us we can start weaning out of the harness!! We start with two hours of freedom a day and increase that time by two hours each week until we get to 12 hours a day. She will have another ultrasound done in 6 weeks, and hopefully then she'll just have to wear it at night for a while. Her right hip has improved from 40% coverage to 65%, and her left hip improved from 30% to 55%. That is great improvement and it's right on track for what the doctor expected to see at 6 weeks. Normal is between 65 and 70%, so we aren't far from normal at this point. We also got a brand new harness because when he adjusted the old one he decided we needed a bigger one. It's amazing to think the old one was ever as sparkling white as this one. :) We'll start dirtying it up right away, though I will leave the socks in this one for a while since the weather will start getting cooler soon. Oh, and in case you are wondering, I did keep the old one for posterity. It's in her keep box (that's the box of randomness that I'll be keeping all her life). I'm so excited because bath time is back!

We had a bridal shower at our house yesterday for a friend of ours, and Ella was so good. I had been telling her all weekend that we were having a girl party (or a panty party, as Dave calls it), and she was taking it all in. She sat in her chair in the kitchen and watched and watched as we all buzzed around her getting ready and then cleaning up afterward. She did great with a house full of strange women in her face, cooing over her. Here are some pictures of the occasion.In this one she looks like she wants to eat my cake. She did watch in wonderment while I iced it on Saturday.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Fountains of Puke

We had an exciting weekly Wal-Mart trip last week. I was wearing Ella, as I usually do in Wal-Mart, and she was staying awake to see everything. This is a fairly new thing she does since she really doesn't want to miss a thing. We were standing on the baby aisle, picking out nipples in preparation for my return to work. Imagine my surprise when I felt a warm, squishy feeling INSIDE the wrap. She had puked a puddle in there. I folded it down so that her head was exposed and she proceeded to continue puking all over the floor in Wal-Mart. We had to get a lady with a mop to clean it up. And, since this was the first time I've ever gone into Wal-Mart without the diaper bag (of course), I did not have a change of clothes for her. She had to go naked (in public!) through the rest of the store. Needless to say, our shopping trip was cut short. I was covered in puke, she was naked, and I just needed to get out of there. :)

She woke up during church this week and tried to engage Dave in conversation during the special music and preaching. She kept smiling really big at him and talking to him. When he would turn away from her, she would smile really big again to try to get him to look at her again. It was so cute. I ended up taking her out of the service because she was getting very enthusiastic and she cued to nurse. It was lunch time, and everyone knows that tiny babies starve to death in a matter of minutes. She can go from smiling and happy to starving, mad in half a second. I understand, the hunger hits me like that, too. :)

I know I've said it before, but I feel like my life is passing before my eyes as I watch her grow up. In the last week she has become such a big girl! She's staying awake and happy most of the day, she talks and smiles when people talk to her (even people she doesn't know), she can sit up in my lap and look all around with minimal support, I can carry her on one arm without supporting her head and back anymore, and she wants you to hold her standing up so she can see everything. It's amazing to see how much she has developed in such a short time. She is so alert and she hardly misses anything. Oh, she has starting paying close attention to the pets and she smiles when they come close to her. I could (and sometimes do) just sit and talk to her all day long. Lord have mercy on me when I go back to work because I am going to miss her so, so much.

Friday, August 29, 2008

My Little Piglet

Ella Grace had her two month check up on Wednesday and she weighed 10 lbs. 13 1/2 ounces! She was also 22 inches long. I knew she had gotten longer because I had to take the harness off recently to wash it, and I was amazed at how much lower her feet hit my body when I held her on my hip. You can't really tell how long she is because the harness keeps her legs bent, but she has really grown! I'm just imagining the stack of barely worn onesies we'll have to retire once the harness is gone and I know what fits and what doesn't.

She was a wonderful baby, smiling and flirting with the doctor! She can be very charming these days. I asked him about acid reflux because she's been showing some signs of it, and it could be an explanation of some of her crying fits. He decided to try her on some medicine to reduce the acid production to see if that would make a difference. I'll say that after 4 doses, she is a different baby. She's much happier, even during the evening witching hour.

The shots hurt her feelings, but she did much better than I expected. The first one shocked her, the second brought tears and crying screams, the third and fourth just happened in a blur. The nurse gave them really fast and as soon as I picked her up she started to calm down. I nursed her for a few minutes and they were all but forgotten by the time she finished nursing. Nursing is a gift from God!! :)

Here she is practicing her newest skill. I turned around the other night to find her chewing on the duck's beak. She managed to get it into her mouth all by herself. I was so proud!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Life's a Beach

We had a great time on our mini vacation, even if we had to cut it short thanks to Tropical Storm Fay. We had one beautiful day on the beach and Ella Grace loved it. She slept and slept out there. And, can I say there is nothing more convenient than breastfeeding when you take a tiny baby to the beach?

She did great on the ride down, and even though she barely slept at all that day, she was a happy baby. You could tell that she knew she was somewhere different and she was trying very hard not to miss anything. She finally took a nap at dinner when I wore her in my wrap. Her little eyes were so red and puffy and she was still holding them wide open to see what was going on around us. We didn't have the animal mobile with us, but there was a nice ceiling fan in the bedroom that provided good entertainment for her.

The drive home was not so pleasant, but she was in the carseat for a really long time. We were all worn out when we finally got home. We stopped in Foley to shop and eat, but I think it still took us about 6 hours to get home. It poured - I mean, pounding sheets of rain you couldn't see through - all the way home. Dave drove the whole way and I felt so bad for him because it was nerve racking and Ella was unhappy most of the way, which made it even worse. Cars would pass by us (where were the Troopers then when people were driving 80 in rain you couldn't see through?) and disappear because it was raining so hard. We finally made it safely home Saturday evening. I think it took us all a day to recover from that car ride. :)

If you've never been to Lambert's (Home of Throwed Rolls) in Foley, stop there for lunch the next time you go to the beach. It's an experience you shouldn't miss. This was the second time for both of us and we really enjoyed it. The food is good, the atmosphere is fun, and the staff are really friendly. I wore Ella in my wrap (because that's the easiest way for me to eat out with her) and I've never had so many comments and questions about it. People loved it and asked me over and over where I got it. One lady asked to feel it and a guy stopped Dave in the bathroom to ask, "Was that your wife with a baby tied around her neck?" Most people just stare, but everyone there was commenting and asking about it.

We had our 3 week appointment with the orthopedic doctor today. He adjusted one of the leg straps on the harness and gave me permission to cut the little socks out of them. Her feet have gotten so long that her toes were curling up inside of them - well, the ones that were still in it. I had already opened the ends for her big toes to poke out. At least now she doesn't look like a hobo baby with holes in her socks. :) We have our next appointment on the 15th of September for the ultrasound and to find out if she has to keep wearing the harness full time. We are really praying that the answer to that is no.

This week she also has her two month check up with the pediatrician and her first round of vaccinations. I'm so not looking forward to those shots. I know it will only hurt her for a minute, but it breaks my heart to think about them making her cry. Mostly I'm really hoping we don't have any adverse reactions to them. I know that kids get vaccinated every day, but it doesn't make me less nervous about it for my kid.

It is so fun right now to watch her develop a personality. She has really started "talking" more, conversing with me by fitting her cooing noises in the pauses of my ongoing commentary about everything. She also talks to the animals on her mobile and the frog on her carseat toy bar. She has started playing with the frog toys in the car. It's so cool to hear her hitting them and entertaining herself while we drive. It has made riding in the car with her much more pleasant. Her cries have become more organized and distinct, including a new one to tell us when she is really mad. She has quite the temper, and she lets you know when you've made her mad. :) She pauses in anticipation when she signals for something, and gives the mad cry when you don't respond the way she anticipated (for instance, if I don't feed her when she's telling me she's hungry). Her hands are very busy these days, finding their way into her mouth more readily and generally just entertaining her. I'll catch her holding them in front of her face, just looking at them. She smiles and laughs now in response to your smiles, too. She can be quite charming when she wants to be - especially in the mornings when she's well rested. Today was the first time I've seen her startled to the point of tears. Georgia barked a giant booger bark (that's the really loud, scary one), and scared the pants off of both of us. We both jumped and I looked over at Ella to see her face scrunch up, her lip poke out, and tears squeeze out of the corners of her eyes as she gave a cry. It was really cute. :)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Road Rage

This story came from my sister last week, and I thought I would share it here because I completely agree and it made me laugh. It has been edited to protect the innocent.

"As you all know, I have a rage against bikers and runners doing their thing on major roadways because they insist on being on the pavement; God forbid they move over so they are not upsetting the flow of the motor vehicles all around them that are so much larger than them. So, you can imagine my complete disbelief and violent rage this morning when this happened. I was driving down Hwy 281, just minding my own business, driving on the roadway that was built for cars and trucks to get from here to there, when I spot an older white male walking down the side of the road. He also insisted on being on the pavement. He had this stick in his hand that I would estimate to be about 4-5 ft long. When a car approached him he started swinging and twirling the stick into the roadway- his actions mimicked those of a flag girl. He was doing this, I am assuming, so that cars would swerve away from him. I saw him do it to other cars and then my own and he very purposely came close to hitting the cars. Please keep in mind that it was morning time, there was on-coming traffic, so we unfortunate souls who had the displeasure of driving by this lunatic could not swerve very much. I was WISHING he would hit my car because I wanted to get out and BEAT him with his own freaking stick. And he was just old enough, and I was just pissed enough that I'm pretty sure I could take him. Who in the fiery pits does this monkey face think he is?? There are only 50 neighborhoods on that one stretch of road, and I'm willing to bet he lives in one where he could safely have his morning walk."

I told her that I completely agreed with her rage and she should have stopped and beaten him with his stick anyway, just for good measure. I'll concede that cities around here are not built for pedestrians, but come on! Use some sense! Don't walk on a major roadway during rush hour traffic AND have an attitude about it! That's just moronic.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Few New Pictures

This one shows a little of the harness she is wearing. It actually goes over her shoulders and around the middle of her chest, too. We originally thought it wasn't bothering her, but I've changed my mind about that. She has been very high-needs since we got it; she needs to be cuddled a lot and is refusing the bottle in favor of nursing. We really need to be weaning off of the harness when I start back to work. Here she is getting ready for our walk this morning. She loves to stroll around the neighborhood, and if my legs could handle it, we'd walk 10,000 miles every day.Finally, here she is in the wrap, which is the reason I can get anything done (read eating or using the bathroom) on really high-need days, and sometimes the only way to stop the crying when she gets started good. I don't mind it. I'll do whatever it takes to make her more comfortable. How miserable would you be if you couldn't straighten your legs for 6 weeks? In all, she's pretty good natured about it, it's just sleepy times that are really an issue, and that's why she's in it right now.
Oh, Iforgot to mention that she weighed 10 lbs. 1 oz. at the doctor on Tuesday. She's growing like a weed. Her face is changing and she finally looks a little like me now. I love watching her grow. She laughed for the first time recently. There isn't a better sound in the world. I'm completely addicted to her.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My Slow Ride to Insanity

This is a story about jumping to conclusions. Disclaimer: It has a grossness factor, so reader beware.

The past couple of days with Ella have been a little trying. She hasn't felt well and she's been very clingy and almost inconsolable at times. There has been lots of gas and poop and baby puke, and very little sleeping. It seems that every time I tried to put her down for a MUCH needed nap, she would wake up screaming 20 minutes later. She has needed constant motion so I've probably walked 10 miles around my house and yard. After a day of this by myself, I was at my wits end when Dave got home last night. He took her and walked her and tried to comfort her while I cooked dinner and raced around trying to do some things in the house. I took her back so he could eat before a meeting at church, and this meant that I ate with her in my lap. Not an unusual occurrence in our house. She started crying again so we went for a diaper change. When I opened the diaper, I was horrified to find something foreign in there. This was my thought process: "WHAT is that?! It looks like rice, but it can't be rice because breastfed babies don't eat rice. Rice doesn't come out whole in breastmilk. What else looks like rice? Tapeworms. Tapeworms! That would explain the horrible gas and stomach pain that's been upsetting her all day, and probably the green poop, too. Oh my, my baby has worms! People are going to think we are nasty! How did she get worms? The pets are up to date on all their medications, we don't have fleas, I know that tapeworms come from eating infected fleas. Can humans even get the same tapeworms as animals?....." This went on for two hours while I Googled it and waited for Dave to come home so I could tell him what a horrible mother I am because my baby has worms. Fast forward to this morning when I called the doctor's office and spoke to the nurse. She didn't seem at all phased by the whole worm thing and told me that the doctor might just call something in for us. Good! That means this happens sometimes because she didn't act like it was a big deal. A couple of hours later, she called back to tell me that the doctor wanted to see us. We were there at two, worm in purse so that they would know what kind of worms we were dealing with. I explained all the symptoms to the doctor and gave him the worm. We went through several scenarios in which she could have gotten the worms, but she hadn't been in any of them. He said, "The thing about worms is that you have to get them from somewhere." I said, "I know! This doesn't make any sense." He took the worm to look at it under the microscope.

Twenty minutes later he was back with questions.
Doctor: When did you find this in the diaper?
Me: Yesterday evening.
Doctor: Did you have rice yesterday?
Me: Yes! We did have rice for dinner!
Doctor: Is is possible that you dropped some on her?
Me: Well, she was in my lap while I was eating.
Doctor: This worm doesn't have any digestive organs, like the mouth. It's a solid piece of something. Do you think you might have dropped rice on her and it got in her diaper?
Me: Oh my God, I'm so relieved!!

My baby does not have worms, but she does have one half-crazy mother who is only getting crazier by the day. The gas and upset stomach could be explained by the spinach I ate for lunch on Sunday. I did thank the doctor for humoring me. He said he didn't mind, it broke up the monotony of the regular runny nose visits. :)

While we were there, I had him take a look at the big toe that Georgia kept sniffing. I broke the rules this morning and took the boot off to look at it. It was gross, so I cleaned it up and trimmed the toenail as best I could while it was kicking frantically. He said it was a little ingrown and might be getting infected, so we have some antibiotics for that. Georgia was right about that toe after all.

It's been said that God put that piece of rice in her diaper so that I would ask the doctor about her toe. That's probably the truth, especially since we are going to the beach next week and we don't want a sick baby, and I've been praying about that.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Queen of the Argonauts

One of these days, Ella will start talking and her first words will be: "It is I, Ella Grace, queen of the Argonauts, and these are my Argonaut parents."

When she first started cooing at us, it sounded like she was saying, "Whoooo?" So we, of course, say "Whooo?" to her all the time in an attempt to get her to talk to us. Dave started answering with this Argonaut business. I had to Google it to make sure it wasn't something bad, and I found out that Argonauts are sailors from the ship Argos. This is something from Greek mythology that he picked up in his fraternity days. That's all I know. :)

If animals could babysit, we'd be all set around here. They are all trying to tell me what to do with this child. When the baby is crying in the evenings and we can't get her to stop, Jewel chimes in and fusses at me as if to say, "Something is wrong with her! Fix it!" This morning, Ella started crying in her cradle, and Gypsy was yelling right along with her. When I came into the room to get her, Gypsy was sitting on the arm of the couch closest to the cradle, yowling, "Mo-om, the baby is cryyying!" Like I didn't know. Georgia thinks it's her job to tell me when the diaper is dirty by giving it a good sniff and looking at me pointedly. She also smells the little feet, which are wrapped in booties because of the harness, as if to indicate that I need to wash them. I'm sure they need washing, but that will have to wait until the harness comes off. They are very helpful.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Hip Dysplasia

I just experienced another great irony in my life. As the owner of a large breed dog, I know quite a bit about canine hip dysplasia; the irony, of course, is that my daughter, not my dog, has hip dysplasia. Luckily for us, the human kind can be detected at birth and corrected before the bones harden completely - not so for our canine friends.

We had our orthopedic appointment yesterday. I must say that I love Children's Health Systems. The doctor was very good about explaining to me exactly what is going on with Ella's hips and what we will be doing to fix them. She has a very mild case of hip dysplasia due to her breech presentation. As he explained to me, when the baby presents head down, its legs are in the perfect position for hip development - pulled up and folded at the knee, think Indian style. Ella sat butt down, basically folded in half with her legs straight up in front of her face. The hip is a ball and socket joint, and both of hers are in the sockets and stable, they just aren't in there deep enough. They want to see the socket cover 60% of the femoral head (the ball), and at our three week ultrasound she had 30% coverage on one side and 40% coverage on the other. They aren't too bad, but they treat them anyway because there is no guarantee they will correct themselves. From what I've read, first-born daughters are most likely to develop dysplasia - especially when they were a breech presentation.

Her treatment consists of wearing a Pavlik harness full time for the next 6 weeks. Full time means ALL the time - no taking it off for anything. We have to sponge bathe her and diaper around the harness. If it gets dirty, I'm supposed to wipe it off with a rag. I think that part bothers me most of all because I can just imagine how gross and stinky the thing is going to be in six weeks. People who say babies don't get dirty are just wrong. The harness holds her legs in a bent postion so that they are positioned optimally for development. Right now the cartilage in her hips is still very soft, so it will mold over the femoral head as it hardens. We go back in three weeks to have the harness re-fitted, and in six weeks we will have another ultrasound. At that point, the doctor will decide if she needs to continue wearing it full time or if we can start weaning her off of it.

The minor inconveniences:
1. We have to diaper around it.
2. No more real baths for a while. This makes me sad because she loves them so much and baths are an excellent tool for calming her fussiness in the evenings. Oh well; she still likes having her hair washed and being sponged off.
3. No more swaddling because it pushes her legs too close together. This isn't so bad because we had reached a point where swaddling just made her madder anyway.
4. No more wearing her in a sling for the same reason. I had already started wearing her in a wrap anyway because she has gotten too heavy for me to wear in the sling for long. I'll be getting a backpack carrier for Dave to use.
5. Most of her clothes won't go over it. We will be in t-shirts and dresses only for the next six weeks.

The blessings:
1. We don't have too worry about losing those tiny socks because the harness has it's own sock boots built in.
2. I get to add a new backpack to my babywearing collection. I LOVE wearing her - it's an easy and miraculous way to stop the crying and have my hands free.
3. It's August - the hottest month at 100 degrees in the shade - so I don't really have to worry about the clothes fitting over the harness.
4. All newborns are screened for hip dysplasia - especially those with a breech presentation - allowing early detection and correction before the bones are too hard. The prognosis for complete correction is very good, especially since her case is mild.
5. The harness doesn't bother Ella at all. She doesn't seem to care in the least that she's wearing it.
6. It makes my squirmy worm just a little less squirmy. :)

If you would like to pray a specific prayer for us, please pray that both hips have 60% coverage at the next ultrasound and we can start weaning off of the harness. God is good all the time, even when we don't understand what He is up to.