Thursday, April 22, 2010

Stroller nap training, week 2

Yeah... not so much. She screamed/cried on-off (mostly on) from about 2.15 until we got home at 3.30pm

It was nice to see people but when she's not feeling well, like today because her mouth hurts her, she's a total PITA. And you know what? I know it's not her fault. I understand completely that she wanted to be at home in her bed, where it's quiet and soft. I know Manhattan isn't that place. But, dammit, *I* wanted to go out. I realize that's immensely selfish and as "punishment" she cried, I was completely embarrassed and frustrated, and we came home early.

I feel like such an asshole even thinking this way, but it's how I feel about it.

I left the apartment today with Carolina, loaded up with her favorite snacks, a bottle of water, diapers, change of clothes, blanket, blanket to cover the stroller to help with the nap, 3 toys, sweater, jacket. I was set. It was too warm for all those clothes and she didn't want to eat much, her gums/teeth were bothering her (again) and she didn't sleep. I was really looking forward to being out today. It was nice weather, she was happy, I was happy.

Then it wasn't.

I am envious of other moms who have babies that sleep in their strollers and let them have social lives. I don't know what those babies are like at other times. Maybe they're dull and boring and less cute. Maybe they're not as smart. Maybe they're just the same. I don't know for sure.

All I know is that I'm frustrated and exhausted and feel spent. I just want to start screaming "IT IS NOT BLOODY FAIR." And then I know it's nothing to do with 'fair' or not. It's what she needs when she needs it. That's my job.

I still miss my old life in a way. In fact, I wish I could have a modified version of our old life WITH her in it. But maybe she's too little for that? Maybe when she's like 3? Maybe never. I guess I just have to give in.

We stopped breastfeeding about 3-4 weeks ago. And yesterday and today I kind of wished that I didn't for a moment. When she looked crazy and exhausted and I desperately wanted her to relax. And I knew if I was still breastfeeding, she could do that more quickly.

But we're not. And the rest of the time I'm confident that is a good decision and I'm happy with it. She doesn't seem to mind, either.

In fact she's kind of overly excited when she sees the bottle. Like "I must have that immediately or I will suffer the worst kind of pains!"

Anyway, if someone needs a good book to read I can recommend "1491" by Mann, I finished it and I'm still thinking about it a lot. I took it out of the local library (love! the library) and have started to read "The Big Oyster" by Kurlansky -- a history of New York City.

If and when we leave New York, I will miss it as if I was leaving a friend. I've wanted to live in Manhattan since I could remember having an opinion about living anywhere. It was really great to live in the East Village. Even in a super-small studio. It was probably that nice because it was with Ismael. He's super.

I guess what I'm saying is, I wish my life was different. And I'm not accepting that.

Guess it's time for therapy!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I am a good mom, dammit

The worst thing that ever happened to me as a mother was that I read too many baby advice books. The best thing I ever did was listen to my husband who told me to put them down. And for some reason it just occurred to me today that I'm doing a pretty good job.

Every one of those books did very little except make an over-achiever/student type person like me, who was anxious about being a mom and 'doing it right' all the time, feel like I was doing it all wrong. There was less than a handful of actually really great advice that I got that helped with Carolina specifically.

Carolina is a bad sleeper. I didn't train her that way, I just followed her insistance when she WOULD NOT sleep in a stroller, or baby carrier. She has 'the whine' and it's the most potent thing she's got in her arsenal to get me to pay attention to her and simultaneously lose my cool.

But, given the serious sleep deprivation I went through her first 10 months of life, I did a good job, dammit. I do say so myself.

In other news, she's really really getting close to standing up from a dead sitting position and walking. She's been cruising around the living room more and more, and getting up on her knees and almost up to a stand.

I know other babies in the neighborhood who are around Carolina's age by a few weeks either side and some of them can stand up but don't walk. So I know it's not necessarily that one follows the other. But you should see the look of envy and wonder on her face when she sees the toddlers in her Friday morning music class running around. She's in awe.

It's great to watch her and then when she comes home that day, she's figured out something new. It's like a petri dish of advancement that music class.

(And, of course, as I've just finished typing this up. Feeling positive and good about myself. She starts to cry and bump her head against her crib bumper, only 15 minutes into her nap. Yeah... talk about keeping it all in balance.)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

10 months: travel, sleep, fun

While Ismael was away on business for almost 2 weeks, Carolina and I stayed with my parents. I thought it was going to be a good idea for her to spend more time with her grandparents, while I simultaneously got some intermittent babysitting so I could do my part-time PM work on the project Ismael was participating in.

The week+ was both a surprising lot of fun and total disaster. Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration. I found out Carolina adores blueberries. Frozen, warm, partially frozen, on chicken, with carrots, with yogurt, whole, mushed up, whatever. At the end of our time on 'vacation' if it didn't have blueberries she almost didn't want to eat it. The only food she wanted more than something with blueberries, was something a grown up was eating.

Now, I thought this wasn't supposed to happen (table food envy) until she was older. So we had some screaming tantrums, very short lived but still, when she wanted something I had that she wasn't allowed. Like chocolate, coffee, or ice cream.

I've resisted giving her ice cream since she's not supposed to be on whole milk (vs. formula) until after she's a year old. To prevent allergies, I hear. But we were at Whole Foods and having a gelato, she was carrying on so much, and I figured -- well, a little can't hurt.

She had already eaten so much I was surprised she was hungry. She gobbled up every mini spoonful of malted-balls gelato I was willing to give her. Later that evening, she threw up. Twice. Not a lot, but enough. And on my shirt. She smelled like ice cream.

Then she had a terrible sleeping night and proceeded to poop about 8 times (seriously). So between the gelato and blueberries -- she had too much going on in her belly and it eventually all made its way out.

She also re-developed the habit of getting up for the day at 4 or 5am. Yeah. And neither my parents nor my mother-in-law have any stomach for Carolina crying out. So I had to go into the room to comfort her, which ended up being 'playing with'. So after working most of the day, and then playing with Carolina, and she not taking her normal 1-hour naps and not twice a day -- I was beyond exhausted by the end of the first 5 days. The last 3 days were the worst. She knew I'd run in there, so she took full advantage. AND AND AND she was super, super teething.

I'd like to know why when we spend time with my parents, she's always teething. They are both so quick to 'get the orajel' to relieve her pain, that we went through a whole tube in about 4-5 days. I was tired of arguing against it, so I went along with it. I think that was too much. I mean, sometimes, it's bad - yes - but sometimes nothing helps and she just has to get through it. Right? Maybe I'm wrong and cruel. I think not, but what do I know? (I've learned I know a lot but I have to keep that to myself.)

The night we came home, she slept her normal 12 hours, and only cried out twice for only a few seconds. Didn't get up until 6am, and the rest of the days she's back to a 7pm to 7am (maybe 6am) days. And she was a super-napper the first two days back. Poor thing was totally tired.

We've had a few great, fun days. Now today she's back to being irritable and chewing on everything. Frozen blueberries have helped.

I hear from other moms that after the first few teeth came in, their babies didn't complain and teeth would just come in. Yeah, not my Carolina. So I think she's working on either just tooth #7 or both #7 and #8. I can't tell. But I can tell you that the top teeth seem to be on a rampage and she's just got the bottom two in the front to represent that lower jaw. Ha!

I'm having a lot of difficulty with working part time, because it turned into a bit of crisis management that entire week+ and was full time, while being a full-time mom at home. So I'm going to call a local, recommended babysitter to see how that works out. It's proven to be impossible for me to work at home and Carolina be at home, too. No matter who or what is around, she wants to be with me. So either she leaves or I leave if work is to be done.

I'm debating whether I need the aggravation and we need the money or not.

It's not THAT much money, it's a ton of aggravation so far, but - honestly - it's also nice to do something 'grown up' for a while. I might be great at project management, but I don't really enjoy it.

So, the jury is out if I'm going to continue. I'm leaning towards 'no'.

I do think, however, that having a babysitter for Carolina is still a good idea. Get her used to someone other than me, Ismael, and my parents. I'm totally against putting her in daycare, if only because those kids get colds all the bloody time -- and jesus, it's expensive.

ok, end rant here. :)

In other news, she took a decent (30 min) stroller nap after only whining/crying for about 5-10 minutes in Central Park. While Jee and I walked down 5th Ave (from 81st to 14th St), Carolina slept until about 42nd St. I was impressed that she slept with all that traffic noise for that long. Stroller naps are going to be a minimum of a once-a-week event since I gotta get this kid used to being in the stroller (not just having me carry her in the carrier all the time, she's getting heavy), and also sleeping somewhere other than her bed. Otherwise, traveling becomes complicated and stressful, and I feel we'll be doing a lot more traveling in her future.

Finally, she's developed a real like of Dora the Explorer. She is usually only interested in the opening song and animation, and maybe another 1-5 minutes more -- but she truly smiles at Dora and jumps up and down on her knees in excitement. Spongebob Squarepants is still a favorite too, but I think Dora has moved up a notch.

I've also showed her a few minutes of The Backyardigans a few times. I think they might be for slightly older kids. Actually, I know all these shows are for children older than 10 months. I'm just amused she likes Dora and Spongebob so much.

Recently, she had a growth spurt. I think she gained almost an inch in a week because she was eating like a horse and I couldn't get the food in fast enough. There were about 4 days when she was eating at least a full, adult cereal bowl full of food. I mean like chicken, carrots, apples, blueberries, rice, beef, avocados, spinach, etc. Anything I could grab to feed her, it went in and was followed by crying if I didn't get more in there fast enough.

Occasionally, when she's tired but has to eat dinner and she otherwise refuses to let me put any food in her mouth, I'll put an episode of Dora on my iphone in the kitchen. That usually gets me about 3 minutes of her opening her mouth to accept food without realizing she's doing it. Ah, the diplomatic treaty negotiations have begun...

Friday, April 2, 2010

what it is, instead of what it's not

Walking around Sunnyside this Good Friday afternoon, Carolina and I heard singing down on Skillman. So I walked us down there and there was a huge group of people walking west on Skillman towards the local Catholic church, and cops blocked off Skillman just after 46th St. I guess it was a procession of some type for Good Friday. It reminded me of a similar procession that Ismael and I saw one Sunday afternoon in the East Village, from a local Polish Catholic church. Theirs was all in Polish, today's was in something I couldn't hear and then I think Latin.

Either way, I was glad to see it. It could have been for any religion or local group. I was just glad that the community did something together. I missed it last year since I was spending my days in Manhattan.

Sunnyside can be defined as a small neighborhood in Queens bipassed with a 6-lane highway known as Queens Blvd, and defined on the northside with the LIRR railyards and on the southside by the other, actual 6-lane highway, the BQE. With the lovely 7 subway line running above Queens Blvd. Doesn't sound like much to live in.

Walking around the Gardens area, you can almost forget you're surrounded by noise and air pollution on all sides. And the people who take care of their homes, make it nice for everyone. Carolina and I walked passed two men leaving their attached homes, one from Ireland the other from (I think) Pennsylvania. They were exchanging pleasantries and you could tell they've been neighbors for a while but don't really have much to do with each other. Pleasant as it was.

But they know each other by name. How many kids they each have and some other personal details.

I knew the neighbors I had in Manhattan because I made it my business to know. I could have easily gone invisible there. Knowing your neighbors, to me, makes it your home.

I guess with Carolina in toe, I'm warming up to the area while the weather is warming up outside.

I'd still prefer to be in 'the city', but for now this isn't half bad.

Carolina isn't a great sleeper in general. Her recent leap into all night sleeping will maybe turn into great napping. Maybe not. But that's what she's not doing. What she is, is a really sweet little girl who is gentle, smart, and funny. When her belly is full of gas (still!) or poop, or her new teeth are coming in and giving her mouth some agita, she's got the world's most irritating whine. So, if I'm going to look at it positively, she's accomplished a whine that has my full attention. So far, no one else can claim that trophy. (Thank god.)

When she's good, she's golden. When something's off, she's a pain. I love her both ways. I just prefer her when her world is in harmony.

A working mom, injured

Earlier this week I threw out my neck. It's a super old injury that just never goes away and occasionally pops up to haunt me when I've either been stressed, curling my hair too much, or holding my shoulders/neck wrong. Usually because of too much work, late into the night. That was this week and last week. Part time freelance, you'd think I could handle that without throwing myself into a tizzy.

Thought I was doing so well, and the last two days my mom had to come over to help me with Carolina since it was impossible for me to lift her up, carry her or even stand up on the first day.

Today I'm much better. Carolina, on the other hand, has refused to take her afternoon naps for the 'full amount'. I think the last two days she was worried why I wasn't carrying her around.

But very interestingly, last night at about 5pm we started to give her dinner. A little bit of chicken and filling from a spinach pie. She scarfed it down! Was crying for more! Unheard of. So I hurried up to make her more. Same thing. Cried for more! So we went on to: apples, blueberries semi frozen, yogurt snacks, rice cracker snack, and something else I can't remember.

She ate for about 50 minutes. Not every second of it, of course, but a damn lot of the time.

I think she finally realized that it was the last stop on the train before bedtime and a bottle. Last night was the first night she didn't make a peep between 7pm and 7am.

She's now getting used to not having a bottle before her afternoon nap. I think that's a lot to do with why she's not doing the afternoon nap so well. She's tired, trust me. But not so much on being able to relax. I'm still working out what her 'routine' should be. Right now I'm trying to hold her sideways, sing her the bedtime song we have, with the chupon in her mouth. It sort of works, until she feels the crib mattress under her and then it's all crying.

Day 3, so far still working it out.

Any suggestions?

In the meantime, I'm still assessing my ability to keep better boundaries between work and home and considering if I should have any work at all. The income will be nice. I'll be calling a babysitter based on a mom-friend recommendation. I'm going to try having someone come over once or twice a week for like 2-3 hours to take Carolina out for a walk, park, whatever.

She can handle being away from me if I'm not there. If I'm in the apartment, I must be playing with her at some point. I can't work while she entertains herself with someone else. Sang proved that to be true!