Infancy

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Beach Day | nextlifechapter.comYesterday was a great day and worthy of note. We decided to spend the day at the beach and Tim insisted we drive a little further to the “real Florida beach” at St. George Island. I’m not sure it was worth the extra 45-minute drive, but the sand dunes were lovely and the beach accommodations were better than those at Bald Point.

We bought boiled peanuts along the side of the road on our way out (a true Southern treat…salty and soft like beans, not crunchy like roasted peanuts). We did get some rain and even had to eat our lunch in the van due to a passing storm, but in true Florida style, the bad weather passed quickly. It was a fun afternoon of jumping in the waves with Adelaide, playing in the sand, and resting in the shade of the beach umbrella while June napped on my belly.

On the way home, we hoped for good seafood and chance found us at the Seineyard Seafood Restaurant where we had a delicious meal and super-friendly service. (Tim can convince me to go to St. George Island any time if we can stop there on the way back.)

But what made the day truly remarkable was what happened the night before we went to the beach. For the second night in a row, June slept seven hours straight, in her crib in the room she and Adelaide share. It may not sound like much, but we haven’t had many nights like that since moving to Florida.

And–this is the biggie–Adelaide went to bed and slept the entire night without her pacifier. Aside from perhaps a few weeks of infanthood, this was the first night of her four years of life without a paci. This is a big, big deal in our house and for Adelaide. We have attempted to wean her from the paci several times in the past. “But I love it,” she once told me, such a sincere, yet sad plea.

When June was born, we decided to pick our battles and let it go. She only used the paci when she slept at night and it brought her such comfort that my post-partum self couldn’t emotionally handle the fight. I figured (hoped? prayed?) that she would give it up when she was ready. We did hang the carrot of “an awesome prize” over her head, telling her that she could choose something awesome at the store when she decided to give up her paci forever.

Well, tonight makes the third night in a row that she has gone without. I’m so proud of this young lady before me. I swear she seems to have grown an inch in the last month, and while it’s probably just coincidence, she’s been particularly pout and whine free this last week. My baby is growing up. And maybe, just maybe (knock on wood), I may once again get to regularly have a good night’s sleep.

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When I first started this blog, I named it “Next Life Chapter” because I was starting the new chapter of motherhood. Plus, I liked that the blog could grow with me. There will always be a next chapter.

I started a new chapter in January with the birth of Juniper, our second daughter. However, that chapter will be titled “The fourth trimester,” and it will be superseded by another exciting new chapter that’s about to begin.

Philly LOVE necklace  |  nextlifechapter.com

I gifted myself this special “LOVE” necklace as we prepare to leave the City of Brotherly Love.

Tim and I have been thinking about moving to Tallahassee, Florida for a while now. Tim’s parents are there, and with the arrival of Juniper we’ve dreamed of being closer to family. It’s a huge decision, but we are officially moving! I have accepted a Communications Coordinator position at Florida State University, and Tim is interviewing as well.

We told Adelaide last week, and she seems excited. Since I’ve accepted a new position, things are happening fast! The idea of moving to Florida has always been just that, an idea. It’s all happening much more quickly than I imagined. I’ll be starting my new job on May 8, so we’ll be leaving Philly on May 2. I’ll still be returning from maternity leave next Monday and working for two weeks. My official last day at work is Friday, April 24. Then, we’ll have a final week at home before heading out. (I’m flying down with the girls this time. We drove down when we went to Tallahassee to interview, and I don’t want to make that road trip again anytime soon.)

There’s so much to do and sort and pack. I go back and forth between feeling excited and feeling overwhelmed and sad about leaving. I’m going to miss my Philly friends immensely, and I feel dumb/scared/crazy for quitting a job that’s been good to me for the last seven and a half years. I know part of it is just the fear of the unknown. I’m comfortable in my job here and at a time when I’m trying to navigate the waters of being a new mom of two, starting from scratch somewhere else is a lot to bite off all at once. I’ll miss being so close to NYC (although we don’t take advantage of it as much as I’d like), and I’ll miss all the culture and opportunity that comes with living in a large city. Tallahassee does have a better cost of living, but it’s not THAT much better.

It’s all so bittersweet. I have to remind myself why we’re doing all this, and there are a lot of factors. One being that Adelaide will start Kindergarten next year–what!?!–and the Philly public schools (at least in the neighborhoods we can afford) are struggling. Plus, putting two kids in daycare is ridiculous. Tim’s parents are going to watch June this summer and then there’s the possibility they will continue to watch her two days a week into the fall and winter. It’s also going to be nice to have a free babysitter once in a while when Tim and I just need a date night. I think this will be really good for our marriage as well as our girls growing up near some of their extended family. Hopefully not having to travel to Tallahassee will allow us to visit my side of the family in Illinois more often–or *gasp* dare I say, take a vacation that doesn’t involve visiting family.

Overall, I know it’s a good move for our new family of four to be closer to Tim’s parents (they’re newly retired and ready to help), and the sunshine won’t hurt either.

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One-month survival

Rock 'n Play for newborn sleep  |  nextlifechapter.com

Resting peacefully in her new Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play.

The babe is one month old today. I appreciate your patience in my lack of blogging as I enjoy my maternity leave and this special once-in-a-lifetime period with my family.

The last four weeks have flown by, as expected. We enjoyed visits from our parents–Tim’s parents drove up from Florida and later my mom flew out from Illinois.  It was nice to have the extra hands and especially helpful to have sources of entertainment for Adelaide. Now we are on our own, trying to figure out our new normal.

Tim is convinced that June is more “fussy” than Adelaide was as a baby. I think he might have selective memory. Sure, Adelaide was a pretty chill baby, and June really likes to be held (plus, June seems to inhale a lot of air when she nurses and it makes her very gassy). Still, I don’t remember Adelaide being especially “chill” during the first four weeks. That time is mostly a blur, but my memories of Adelaide being a laid back baby were from when she was a bit older.

There was recently a thread on the Longest Shortest Time Mama’s Facebook page asking people to name their most useful baby item and least useful one. Over and over the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper came up as the “can’t live without” baby accessory recommended by moms. I had heard good things about the Rock ‘n Play, but we didn’t have one for Adelaide. After a particularly bad sleep night this week, I decided we would give it a try.

The Rock ‘n Play is positioned on an incline to help babies with reflux and gas, and I thought it might help a baby who constantly wants to be held. I was apprehensive to have her use it for night sleep because I didn’t want to create a bad habit. Plus, June had a surprisingly good night on Wednesday and slept 4.5 hours flat on her back in her bassinet (fluke? maybe).

The Rock ‘n Play arrived yesterday and so far, so good. We didn’t use it overnight, but June seems to like it for naps. We’ll see if that continues. I did appreciate a little hands-free time today–I did the dishes,  a load of laundry, and was able to write this update.

 

So, what was your most useful baby item? What could you totally have done without?

 

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She’s here!!

Newborn hospital photography  |  nextlifechapter.com

Photo by Helen Horstmann-Allen

I’d like to formally announce the birth of my second daughter, Juniper Love. June was born at 3:01 am on Tuesday, January 13. She was a surprising 9lbs 4oz and 20.5″ long. (Birth story coming soon!)

She looks like Adelaide’s twin as an infant, with the exception of a lighter hair color. Big sister is doing well. Adelaide was a little apprehensive when first meeting her at the hospital, but she’s now full of hugs and kisses. It melts my heart when she calls her “sweetie” or “sweets” (pet names I often use for Adelaide), and “my June.”

We’re completely exhausted in the newborn survival haze, but I’m trying to enjoy the newborn snuggles and squeaks and sighs. June is nursing like a champ, and she not only gained her birth weight back but she’s now up to 9lbs, 8oz–gaining 13oz just this week! (Makes me feel less guilty about those biscuits and gravy I had for brunch today.) Since we’re nursing on demand, I’m constantly at the ready and not spending much time in front of the computer. If it was easier to create blog posts from my iPhone I’d be posting more, but for now I’ll settle for checking email, Instagram and Facebook, even if in the middle of the night.

Tim’s parents have been visiting from Florida for the last week and have been very helpful in entertaining Adelaide and keeping us well fed. I know we’re in for a lot of changes in the upcoming months, but I’m feeling so blessed for our family of four. I know it’s cliche, but I feel as if our family is now complete. It’s incredible how even a full heart can expand when a new love enters your life.

Newborn hospital photography  |  nextlifechapter.com

Photo by Helen Horstmann-Allen

Newborn hospital photograph  |  nextlifechapter.com

Photo by Helen Horstmann-Allen

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At a family baby shower the month before Adelaide was born, we received a beautiful 4th of July dress. It was size 18 months, and I could hardly imagine the baby girl who would wear it the following summer. Fast forward to Wednesday, and we had baby’s first Independence Day. I knew she would wear the dress, but we didn’t have much planned for the day. All I knew was that I wanted to “go” somewhere and “do” something.

A friend suggested the 4th of July activities in Narberth, Pa., a suburban town on Philadelphia’s “main line.” I had never been to Narberth and had heard they had a cute downtown area, so I looked online to see what was planned. The activities reminded me of the small town activities hosted by my rural Illinois hometown. So, Narberth it was. We headed out early to beat the heat and met Aunt Adrienne and Uncle Ben there. We arrived just in time to participate in the “Diaper Derby” for crawling babies. Adelaide’s first competitive sporting contest!  Well, Adelaide didn’t move an inch. She just sat back on her bum and took in the sights around her — the crazy adults shaking their keys and trying to get the babies to come toward them, the crowd of people gathered around to watch, the other babies decked out in their best red, white and blue.

What can I say, the competition was tough. I joked that Adelaide will be a writer like her mom – more content to sit back and observe rather than “do.”

The adults shared cotton candy (I can’t remember the last time I’d had some), we bought Adelaide a star-shaped American flag balloon, and we supported the local vendors and had a little picnic lunch in the grass. We then drove to Ardmore for some frozen yogurt and went back to Aunt Adrienne and Uncle Ben’s to test out our sparklers. In fact, they still had some of the sparklers left from our wedding four years ago, so we pulled those out too.

That evening our friend Kendra invited us over for an impromptu BBQ, so after Adelaide had a quick nap at home, we took our dog Hugo and the whole crew over to her house. We grilled up some salmon, veggie kabobs and hotdogs, and lit the sparklers again. It would have been a near perfect 4th of July celebration if it weren’t for the hours of obnoxious neighborhood fireworks that didn’t end until 1:00 am.

Tim pointed out that this was the last of Adelaide’s “first” holidays. We had baby’s first Halloween, first Thanksgiving, first Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter. Now, she’s almost a year old, and while I’m sure there are still many “firsts” in her future, this was her last “first” holiday. Her first birthday party is now less than three weeks away – yikes!

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A few months ago I created a Vimeo channel for my blog. So far, it’s mostly just been for family – so they can see Adelaide’s day-to-day life and milestones – bath time, laughing, crawling, pulling up. As I’ve mentioned before, both my parents and Tim’s parents live far away. My parents haven’t seen Adelaide since Christmas, and for reasons out of their control (stupid cancer), Tim’s parents haven’t seen her since the beginning of October. I’m so completely in love with her that I want to show her off any chance I get – at brunch, at the grocery store, on the subway. I want to share her infectious smile with others. It breaks my heart that those who love her so dearly (namely her grandparents), get to see her so rarely. I knew it would be this way. I knew we lived far away and that they would only see her about twice a year. Still, that knowledge is hard to swallow when actually put into action.

To console myself, I try to do little things to make our distance feel shorter. We Skype with both sets of grandparents around once a week or so. I mail them photos when I send cards for holidays (yes, actual printed photographs like in the olden days). My Vimeo site is just another way for me to feel as if I’m bringing family one step closer. It took me a while to catch up with uploading all the videos we had taken since Adelaide’s birth, but I think they are now all there. The quality isn’t always great – I didn’t realize that I could only film horizontally and that the vertical recordings would appear sideways on screen (neck cramp, anyone?). I also had to teach myself that I couldn’t switch from horizontal to vertical mid-video. Oops. I also started to realize that I narrate the filming too much. Sometimes I think it’s important to say the date or how old Adelaide is, but sometimes I filled the down time with needless chatter and watching the videos back, I sound pretty goofy. My more recent versions feature more silence on my part, which works out well as Adelaide becomes more vocal.

Adelaide turns 11 months today (I know it’s cliche, but this small fact blows my mind), and while I was preparing for this post last night, I uploaded a few recent videos to Vimeo. My little netbook laptop doesn’t stream video very well, so we used our Roku to bring up Vimeo on our tv. It was fun to watch my little videos on a big screen. Tim and I watched several of the most recent videos and found ourselves taken with serendipitous smiles. Then, Tim went back a few months and found the video of Adelaide first trying solids. The video is a little long, and maybe it’s not as heartwarming to those who aren’t family, or who aren’t her mother for that matter, but this three-minute video had me with tears streaming my face. The video was taken on Adelaide’s 6-month birthday, and I just can’t believe how much she has changed. In some ways, she looks the same and has many of the same expressions, but she’s just so much bigger, more controlled, and less round.

Happy 11 months, Adelaide. It’s been an awesome ride.

 

6-months eating “solids” video

10-months eating video

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Parenting

At Christmas Tim and I watched “Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas.” It’s a Jim Henson tv special Tim remembered from childhood, and he wanted me to see it.  It doesn’t take much to make me cry these days, and this show totally made me cry. It was so sweet to see people”(otters in this case) who have so little and still are so willing to give and make sacrifices for each other.

I was touched by the story in part because it made me think about how completely innocent and pure Adelaide is right now. She has never sinned; she’s never lied or intentionally hurt anyone.  She is a blank slate. I know I am going to be responsible (with Tim’s help of course) for teaching Adelaide right from wrong. I want her to be a considerate, giving person.

So far, I have done very little parenting. The work I’ve done the last nine months could be described as nurturing or mothering, but for me, I see parenting more about raising the child, teaching, disciplining etc… We haven’t had to do much of that yet.

On this Father’s Day, I’m so grateful for the parenting I’ve received, for the parenting my husband has received. I still have a lot to learn, but I guess I’ll continue to take it one step at a time.

Happy first Father’s Day to my Tim and a big thank you to my dad, my father-in-law and all the other dads out there.

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As I mentioned in my previous post, Adelaide had Roseola this week. Decreased appetite was a symptom. Adelaide was nursing less and she even threw food on the floor instead of devouring it (so not like her).

The first sign she was nursing less came Saturday morning when I woke with sore, almost painful breasts. Adelaide had been “on the boob” like normal, but she must have been consuming less. Still, I didn’t realize how this was affecting me until I went to work on Tuesday and got very little milk when I pumped during the day. Since she hadn’t been eating well all weekend, she had been signaling to my body that it didn’t need to produce as much milk – it just wasn’t needed. While I had been getting between 12 and 15 ounces each day (it used to be even more in the fall), I only got 6 ounces on Tuesday. Some people might take this as a sign to begin weaning. I am not one of those people.

So, I’ve decided to step-up my game. I’ve been pumping three times at work instead of only two. I’ve been pumping at home before I go to bed – something I’ve never needed to do in the past. I’m determined to get my supply back up – or at least to try. My fridge is full of breast milk. With pumping just a few ounces a day at work, I could probably make it another month and a half and accomplish my goal of nursing until Adelaide’s first birthday. But, I’m not done with nursing. And I don’t think Adelaide is either.

Everything I’ve read says that there’s no reason to stop just because she turns one. One year is a good goal, but as a stop date it’s pretty arbitrary. While Adelaide can technically consume cow’s milk at a year old, cow’s milk is made for baby cows. Human milk is made for baby humans.

Now I want to pause here to say that I do not judge others who may be feeding their babies cow’s milk or formula for whatever reason. I’ve always said that I wanted to breastfeed if I could. I wanted to do it for the first year and made six months of exclusive breastfeeding my goal. I wasn’t sure how breastfeeding would be for me or how I would handle pumping while working outside of the home full time. I have friends that have struggled and for different reasons have already weaned. I’m of the opinion that “breast is best,” and as a breastfeeding advocate, I think it’s great when mom’s try to breastfeed – whether that be for two years or two months. Even two weeks is better than nothing! For me, it’s important to try and to seek out support when it’s tough. It’s not the same choice everyone makes and I support that. Fortunately, I’ve had a pretty easy time of it. If things had been different, my choices might have been different as well.

Anyway, I recently ran across this list of reasons to breastfeed beyond a year from BestforBabes.org. I didn’t always think the way I do now, so I feel it’s important to post the reasons here and not just link to the article. These are the reasons I want to continue to breastfeed, the reasons I’m working hard to regain my good supply.

  • After 1 year, human milk has significantly increased fat and energy contents, compared with human milk before 1 year.  Babies’ brains are growing and NEED the extra fat & especially human cholesterol.
  • In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides (Dewey 2001):  29% of energy requirements, 43% of protein requirements,36% of calcium requirements,75% of vitamin A requirements,76% of folate requirements, 94% of vitamin B12 requirements, 60% of vitamin C requirements . Note that this is exactly what baby humans need; cow’s milk is designed to grow baby cows which have smaller brains per body mass.
  • Nursing toddlers between the ages of 16 and 30 months have been found to have fewer illnesses and illnesses of shorter duration than their non-nursing peers (Gulick 1986).  In other words, the longer that toddlers are allowed to nurse, the lower their risk of disease.  There is also a proportionate increase in IQ for babies and toddlers who breastfeed longer, i.e. higher IQ for breastfeeding over 1 year vs. 6-12 months.
  • Some of the immune factors in breastmilk increase in concentration during the second year and also during the weaning process. (Goldman 1983, Goldman & Goldblum 1983, Institute of Medicine 1991).
  • In cultures where mothers and babies are not pressured to wean prematurely, babies self-wean  naturally between 2.5 and 7 years of age, with most babies self-weaning around age 3 or 4. (Dettwyler)
  • The longer babies are allowed to nurse the better socially adjusted they are. Per the researchers, ‘There are statistically significant tendencies for conduct disorder scores to decline with increasing duration of breastfeeding.’”
  • Breastfeeding toddlers (babies > 1 year), helps them learn to self-soothe and self-regulate, manage frustrations (some parents report avoiding the “terrible twos” altogether) and lessens pain from bumps and bruises (breastmilk contains analgesics, i.e. natural pain-killers).  Nursing toddlers are easier to handle in the doctor’s office, too!
  • Breastfeeding toddlers (babies > 1 year) helps them make a gradual transition to childhood, “Meeting a child’s dependency needs is the key to helping that child achieve independence. And children outgrow these needs according to their own unique timetable.”  Children who achieve independence at their own pace are more secure in that independence then children forced into independence prematurely.
  • The longer mothers breastfeed, the lower their risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and heart disease.
  • Older babies/toddlers nurse fewer times per day, most people are usually unaware they are nursing.
  • Babies that are old enough to “ask” to nurse are also old enough to say “thank you”, one of the sweetest experiences any mother can experience!

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Adelaide had her first fever this week. Thursday night she woke crying around 11:30pm. It wasn’t a little fussy, “I lost my pacifier” cry. Those usually just take a minute and she settles in and puts herself back to sleep. This was a full-on “I’m hungry” or “I’m completely upset” cry. I went in and picked her up and her little body was on fire. It’s funny, I always thought it was strange when parents felt your forehead to see if you had a fever. I always wondered how they could tell. Well, it’s no mystery. I could easily tell she had a fever just by holding her in my arms. I nursed her until she calmed, and then I took her temperature.

The next two days, Tylenol worked for bringing the temperature down. We weren’t sure what to make of it since she still had energy and acted basically fine. We thought she was getting better so we went ahead with our plans to make a day trip to NYC on Sunday – baby’s first time in the Big Apple. We had a great day. Adelaide was maybe a little fussier than usual, and while at one point we thought she felt a little hot, it wasn’t anything a little Tylenol didn’t get rid of. We just wrote it off to teething. Then, when we returned to Philly that night and I woke Adelaide and got her out of the car, I knew the fever was back up. I felt bad for going on our trip. I guess we should have stayed home.

That night I emailed my supervisors to tell them I wouldn’t be coming in on Monday. Even if Adelaide woke without a fever, she needed to be fever-free for 24-hours before going back to daycare. The next morning I called the pediatrician. The nurse asked me several questions about her appetite, wet diapers and stools, whether she had a rash or had been pulling at her ears. My answers didn’t cause an alarm that we needed to be seen immediately, but she said that any time an infant has a fever for five days they like to see them. “If she still has a fever when she wakes in the morning, bring her in.”

Tuesday morning the fever was gone. Tim stays home with Adelaide on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so he was planning to be home with her anyway. That afternoon a rash developed on her back and torso. Tim had class that night so in our “switch off” of baby duty, he forgot to mention it  to me. Tim and my reactions to this rash were very different. I discovered the rash on my own and knowing she had just come off of a four-day fever, I immediately went to the Internet to try and figure out what was going on. I even tried calling the pediatrician, but their office had closed for the day.

Playing Dr. Mom I have diagnosed Adelaide with Roseola. I’m almost positive this is what she has. It is very common between 6 and 24 months, a virus characteristic of a high fever and then a rash just after the fever breaks. Symptoms: Fatigue? Check. Irritability? Check. Mild diarrhea? Check. Decreased appetite? Check.

That’s it. That totally describes her! And medicinenet.com says, “What is most striking is that the child seems so well despite having a high fever.” The rash will take a few days to completely disappear, but there is no treatment other than Tylenol to help bring the fever down. I’m relieved to have figured out what was wrong, and for it to have been something common and fairly benign. I also think Adelaide had a mild case. We’re lucky to have made it this long for baby’s first fever.

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