5 months

Harper’s fifth month has been a rather sleepless one. The four-month sleep regression is no joke — hers basically lasted the entire month. I heard the same from enough other moms to think this is some kind of developmental thing.

The good news is that she is getting closer to sleeping through the night again (which she did for two whole months!). And thank goodness, because I am no fun on no sleep. I think the combination of constantly interrupted sleep, being sick, slow sales, and fewer moms meetups since everyone went back to work started to make me feel really emotional, missing family and friends. I think Mike and I could really use a date night, too. Thankfully we found a babysitter who’s going to make that happen.

We’re finding parenthood to be such a roller coaster. Some days are so easy and fun, full of giant grins and lazy strolls with a peacefully sleeping babe. Other days we find ourselves nodding off at 9:30, not sure how we made it through the cacophany of bawling and dogs barking that sometimes is our life. Some days the weight of caring for this tiny person is so intense I don’t know how I will manage. But then I see that I have already managed so much, and there is no human on this earth who ever did parenting perfectly.

At 5 months, Harper has developed some quirks that we can’t help but laugh at. Sometimes when we bring her to bed in the mornings, hoping she’ll drift back to sleep for another hour, she lays there babbling and slapping poor Mike in the face as she tries to figure out how her hands work. Other times she’ll examine her fingers like a blissed-out stoner. It’s kind of hilarious.

One quirk I could have lived without was the week she decided to scream instead of babble all day. She wasn’t crying, just playing with her voice at full volume. It sounded like a wounded cat. Thank goodness that phase ended.

Also, girlfriend drools constantly. I’ve started calling her Droolia or Droolia Goolia. She gnaws on our fingers and our clothes, leaving little wet patches everywhere. We don’t even notice it anymore.

The biggest change this month is that she really seems to be able to grasp things with her hands. She grabs at everything — my hair, my watch, the tablecloth, etc. But she can finally hold her toys and shove them into her mouth. It must feel good on her gums, which don’t have any teeth yet, but seem to cause her a fair amount of discomfort.

I love that her personality is starting to develop. Whether it’s happy or sad, she is really expressive. We’ve figured out ways to make her giggle, so we’ve turned into those people who are constantly making fart noises and silly faces. The jumper swing remains one of her most smile-inducing devices. We got her a Go Pod where she can sit and play with toys, but at this point she prefers to bounce.

You can tell her motor skills are improving because she’s also figured out how to wrap her chubby feet around the bars of her play gym like a little monkey. She still doesn’t seem to care about rolling over, but she is wiggly enough to cause my heart to skip beats when she nearly slips out of the spot I put her in.

She’s grown into some of her more girly outfits and I must admit I’ve enjoyed dressing her up a little more. People still call refer to her as “him” all the time. But she gets lots of compliments on her eyes, which are almost white-blue at the center with a dark blue rim. Her skin is so fair that her cheeks turn bright pink when she gets too warm. With her hair sticking out she looks like a Kewpie doll. My sweet, chubby, drooly, smiley Kewpie.

One other note: We might think parenting is rough, but our Des Moines friends Tim and Gretchen just had triplets! Tim has been writing an excellent blog about the process leading up to the birth, which you should definitely check out here.

4 months ago…

I just found some photos from Harper’s birth day that I never shared. I guess things were a little hectic at that time and I never got around to it. So many friends are having babies this month, it sort of takes you back to that time. It’s amazing how much your life can change in 4 months!

So I found this one from right before I was in labor. Look at that belly!

Apparently I wore that shirt basically all the time.

Here are some from right after Harper was born.

This is my post-birth glamour shot.

And this one is probably more accurate. More like happy trainwreck.

This was right before we left the hospital. I remember wanting to go home so badly.

I can’t believe she was ever so tiny.

It didn’t take long for her to grow into a little chunky monkey. But she sure is cute!

4 months

It seems like time is speeding up now. “They grow up so fast” is finally starting to ring true.

Harper is almost double her birth weight now — all soft, chubby rolls.

It’s hard to get a photo of her these days because she is constantly in motion.

The best $20 we’ve spent in a long time went to a Jenny Jump-Up, which she loves to bounce in.

I just had a feeling she needed something to do with those flailing feet. I have to strap her into her little chair now or she can wriggle out.

She doesn’t roll over yet, but every morning I find her in some diagonal position in the crib. She finds ways to be mobile, even in a sleep sack.

She still has her auburn hair, but much of it has fallen out in the back. Poor baldy! (I am also experiencing post-partum hair loss. I feel like I lose the equivalent of a small mammal with every shower).

It has gotten even worse since I took this photo.

I don’t see any teeth poking through yet, but she seems to be teething. She puts everything in her mouth and drools constantly. She figured out how to suck her thumb, which is cool.

She’s also found her voice. She kind of talks to herself, and then if she wants more attention the “talking” turns into yelling, as if to say, “this is your warning, I’m going to cry soon.” It’s a nice change of pace from newborn screeching, but it has made eating out somewhat difficult. You can’t really tell a 4-month-old “That’s not polite!”

I felt like we got to a really good place just before she turned four months where she was getting better at taking naps, but still sleeping through the night with one feeding in the early morning. And then bam, major sleep regression. It’s like she’s a newborn all over again. One night she was up every hour from 10 until 3. So we are tired, but just trying to remember that everything with babies is temporary.

I may have to revise my stance on pink clothing. Everywhere I go, people think she is a boy, even in gender-neutral clothing. Maybe it is her perpetual faux-hawk. 🙂

Thankfully it seems like she doesn’t experience the witching hour much at all anymore. But if she does get cranky I always know what to do: take her outside. She loves to be outside, even if there’s a little chill. I lay out a blanket and we just hang out. She usually falls asleep eventually.

As much as I also like to be outside it’s sometimes hard to drop everything and just lay around with a baby when you know you have a million things to do. But so much of parenting is about being present. Someday the last thing in the world she will want to do is hang out with her mom, so I have to soak it up while I can.

Plus, it won’t be long before I’ll be chasing her around the yard.

Beach baby

Last weekend we decided to take advantage of the good weather and go to the beach at Point Reyes. We went back to Limantour beach, the place where we saw the whales.

It was wiiindy out there, but it is so beautiful. Something about the sand dunes and tufts of beach grass is so idyllic it feels like a movie set or something. Maybe it’s because I grew up in Kansas, but it doesn’t seem real.

Thankfully Harper abided the car ride, which is more than an hour each way. She loves to be outside, so we made her a little tent out of a blanket and just hung out.

Didn’t see any whales this time, but we agreed that it would be fun to try the horseback riding thing sometime.

3 months

I know it’s sort of cliche, but I was thinking in honor of Mother’s Day that I would write Harper’s 3-month post as a letter to her. So here goes:

Hey puddin’,
So many people have said to me that three months is when babies start to turn a corner, becoming less fussy and more fun. Not that the past three months haven’t been fun. But they have certainly been the wildest three months of my life. So I have to say it’s true. At three months you are full of smiles, babbles and raspberries. You seem to be picking up a lot more with your eyes, and you’re constantly trying to figure out what to make of your hands and feet. Your pouty lip when you start to get upset is so cute I have to hold myself back from laughing.

The best part of my day is walking into your room when you wake up in the morning. You used to cry to be picked up, but now you just babble in your crib until someone comes in. Then you smile a huge grin, as if to say, “I’m so glad you’re here!”

I know every mom thinks this about her child, but you are off-the-charts cute. From your chubby cheeks to your round belly to your adorable toes, you are infinitely kissable. I probably give you at least 100 smooches a day. I love your auburn hair, especially the way it sticks out in all directions, just like your dad’s. Your eyes are such a pretty bright blue. I’m not sure they’ll stay that way, but according to my limited knowledge of genetics it’s a 50-50 shot. I could stare at you all day and I pretty much do. When you’re resting on my lap after a feeding, with a little dribble of milk running down your chin, it just kills me.

So far your personality seems to be that of a girl who knows what she wants (how familiar). You love to eat (also familiar) and you love being outside. In fact, we spent so much time toting you around outside during the witching hour(s) that we ran into some neighbors with twins born on the exact same day as you. They were out walking, doing the same thing. In fact, I’ve made a lot of new friends through moms groups. We have our babies to thank for bringing us together, which is pretty cool. Imagining you all eventually crawling and then toddling around together is even cooler. Also terrifying.

All that eating has made you grow and grow. Some days I notice you growing out, some days growing up. You’re already in a six-month sock (which you definitely didn’t get from me). All those growth spurts come with a lot of middle-of-the-night feedings. But generally you are like your mom — you love a good night’s sleep. Thank goodness! You don’t love to nap, though, so we’ll work on that.

Your lack of napping has made me realize that I can’t be the relentless multitasker I used to be. When I’m with you I have to slow down. Dinner might come together over a three-hour period. TV watching comes with a lot of DVR pauses. Orders get made, but much more slowly. In short, I can’t do everything I want to do the minute I want to do it. And that’s what parenting is all about. There are great sacrifices. And there are big smiles. It’s a wild ride. Some days I have wanted to get the heck off. But other times I am so overwhelmed with love for you I couldn’t possibly put it into words.

I am really looking forward to this next month with you. You’re getting closer to being able to hold your head up and grasp things with your hands. You kick so much I’m thinking we need to get you a jumper thingamabob. You’re on the verge of giggling, and I can’t wait for that. For you, everything is new and anything is possible. I can’t imagine being on this ride without you, peanut.


Comforting words

Every once in a while something seems to fall in my lap at exactly the moment I need it. Last week was a rough one with the baby. One day I was sick (and there is nothing worse than having to take care of a baby when you are sick yourself), and she seemed to be going through some kind of distress that we could not figure out. A friend told me about the “wonder weeks,” periods of development that result in an extra fussy baby. I don’t know if it was a wonder week or the week from hell, but it was tough. Lots of walking the halls, lots of her wanting only me, lots of high-pitched wailing. I thought it would never end, but of course it did.

Anyway, right in the middle of that chaos, a friend posted this story about remembering the first tough weeks with a new baby. It totally resonated with me. It’s sort of the idea that you feel like you’re supposed to be on cloud nine, but sometimes you are just miserable. And there should be space for you to feel miserable and not guilty about it either. Because eventually it will pass, but it will be hard in the meantime.

You should read the comments, too. There are all sorts of confessions by moms of colicky babies. I know in my moms group we’ve all confessed to having moments when we needed to just walk away and catch our breath.

So yes, as hard as it is, I want to remember this time, too. Because I would never want another mom to have to pretend that everything is perfect when she is really struggling and could use some support. I think we’re programmed to forget the bad parts, as I have mostly done with the birth experience. But they are what give us our strength. They are the times that teach us what we’re capable of. I know my marriage is stronger for having been through the last 10 weeks.

But I have to say, after last week, this week’s smiles and drools and peaceful naps have been oh-so-sweet.

More useful products (and some not-so-useful ones)

One thing you find with baby stuff is that different items are useful at different stages. For example, Harper didn’t seem to even notice the mobile when we got it for her. Now she loves it. When she’s having a meltdown, sometimes we just put her in the crib and she starts smiling at the animals. Okay then!

Note to self: Next time get one that plays more than one song. 

But then there are other things that your baby just won’t care for at all (or you won’t care for at all). So I thought I would compile another list of things that have been working for us, and some that haven’t. I’ll start with the most useful ones:

Breast pump

Initially we rented a hospital-grade breast pump. But I knew I wanted a more portable one to have permanently, so I got the Medela Pump in Style Advanced. It seems just as powerful as the other one to me, and it comes with a nice looking bag and all the accessories you need. Due to the timing of us renewing our insurance policy, we were not able to get Blue Shield to pay for this. But I think women having babies this year should be able to get breastfeeding supplies covered. It’s definitely worth a call to find out.

Wet bags

Now that we’re cloth diapering we use our wet bags all the time. We have one large zip bag by Planet Wise in the nursery. I would say it is just big enough to hold a load’s worth of cloth diapers. We have a small-size one to carry in the diaper bag. I might get a medium-size instead because the one we have is a little too small.

Vibrating chair

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I just want to emphasize how useful this little chair is. When you need to set the baby down so you can have both of your hands, something like this one we borrowed is great. Sometimes Harper watches me cook while she sits in it, which I love.

Video monitor

We have this one by Philips. When Harper was sleeping in our room with us we didn’t need it, but once we put her in the crib we checked it like crazy. It provides a lot of peace of mind when you can see them moving around.

Comotomo bottle

We each have our drinks.

When we were trying to transition Harper from bottle feedings to breast feedings, we struggled to find bottles with a slow enough flow that she wouldn’t devour the whole thing in 2 minutes. Well, we never found one of those. But I heard from other moms that these Comotomo bottles work best to imitate a breast, so your baby can go back and forth without getting confused. Lately Harper seems less jazzed about the Medela bottles, but still likes this one.

MAM pacifier

Every time we gave Harper a Soothie she just spit it out. So I thought I would try a different shape and see if that worked. She’s been using MAM pacifiers ever since. We definitely don’t leave home without them. They’re called pacifiers for a reason…

I also like that these came in a little case you can use to sanitize them in the microwave.

Aden and Anais swaddling blankets

I don’t think there is a single mom in my moms group that doesn’t use these swaddling blankets. They’re nice and soft and have adorable patterns. You can use them to swaddle, obviously, or as a regular blanket, or to cover a stroller when it’s windy or sunny, or as a changing pad, or a spitup rag, and on and on.

Zip pajamas

It didn’t take long for us to realize that the only baby sleepwear we would ever buy from now on would be zip pajamas. In the middle of the night when you’re bleary-eyed and need to change a diaper before your baby gets to screaming, you don’t want to mess with buttons or snaps. My favorite PJs are the Circo sleep n plays from Target. They’re nice and soft, come in cute patterns, and the new ones have reverse zippers so you can change a diaper without unzipping them all the way.

In the not-so-useful department:

Sleep Sheep

I heard that babies (and parents) will sleep much better with some white noise, so we got one of these adorable sleep sheep that plays four different ambient sounds. It may have helped a little in the beginning, but we never use it anymore. She doesn’t need help to get to sleep at night (woo hoo!), and as much as I wish it would help her nap during the day, it doesn’t at all. She laughs in the face of a sleep sheep. Oh well.

Travel bassinet

This one by Brica has actually been somewhat useful to us. We used it when she was really little, moving it to different rooms when she needed to sleep. But it’s too big to fit in bed with us (our original plan). And now that she sleeps in the crib we don’t need it. Can’t say we’re doing a whole lot of overnight traveling either, so the fact that it folds up nice doesn’t mean much. If I had to do it over, I think I would have either gotten a sidecar co-sleeper or one of those bassinets on a stand that you can rock.

Flannel blankets

The hospital sent us home with a flannel receiving blanket for swaddling, but we had our own blankets and swaddles for that anyway. These Gerber receiving blankets have just sat on a shelf for 10 weeks. They’re adorable. We just don’t really need them.

My Breast Friend

I heard such good things about this nursing pillow and I really wanted to like it. But it’s just not the one for me. I feel like I’m always trying to wrangle it around me and close the clip with one hand while holding a crying baby with the other. It’s kind of hard to get the cover off and back on when you wash it. I find myself wishing I had just gotten a Boppy, which can also be used to prop up your baby.

Baby T-shirts and socks

Until your baby’s umbilical cord falls off it’s nice to dress them in tiny T-shirts. But after that I found that onesies or zip pajamas are much easier to deal with than T-shirts and pants. I end up spending all day pulling shirts down over her big belly. It’s kind of the same thing with pants and socks. I put them on in the morning, but after a few diaper changes I get tired of taking them on and off and just leave her in a onesie. Also, with socks, they have to fit well or you end up picking them up off the floor all day long. My favorite socks are the little Mary Jane ones (similar to these) I got at Old Navy.

7th Generation diapers

Only the best for this butt.

Like I said before, we had tons of blowouts with these disposable diapers. If I had to do it again I think I would order the Honest Company diapers. For the amount we used they come out to about the same price, and theirs are so much cuter!

Graco car seat

I guess you can’t really know what you need in a car seat until you have a baby, but I wish I’d realized how hard all the clips on this thing were to operate before we chose it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve struggled to get her out of the seat or the seat out of the car while she’s screaming at me. Not fun!

We got a Graco Snugride 30. It looks great, but it’s ridiculously heavy without a baby in it. I know most of them are heavy, but there have to be some that are more lightweight. We’ll have to buy a different car seat when she grows out of this one anyway, so I think we’ll just stick with it until then.

More baby must-haves here, and more to come, I’m sure.

2 months

NPR onesie from Raygun.

Just looking at pictures of Harper at one month old I can see that she’s really changed. She’s not a newborn anymore, she’s a baby. She shot over 10 pounds really quickly, and now she’s moving into that adorably chubby stage.

People always think she’s a boy, either because of her name or because they see her dressed in blue. We’re not big fans of pink, but I guess the joke will be on us if she becomes a big girly girl someday.

She loooves bathtime.

Sometimes I look at my red-haired, blue-eyed, long-limbed baby and think, “Is this really my child?” She looks so much like the Corey side that I don’t really see myself in her. Except for one thing — her hands. Something in the way she holds her tiny little fingers reminds me of me.

She is kind of balding in front, just like an old man. But she has this little peach fuzz coming in. I’m not sure what color it is yet. Her eyebrows have started to darken. To me they look red just like her hair.

I wanted so badly for her to start smiling, and not just the contended little smiles she makes in her sleep when she’s finished eating. And she did! In fact she makes these huge grins and little coos that are so adorable. One time I was holding her in front of a mirror and she practiced her big grins for a few minutes. Ah, I live for that stuff.

I don’t think she is an overly fussy baby, but when she does cry she goes to Defcon 1 in about 2 seconds (and with real tears these days, which makes me so sad). She’s got some lungs! And as my friend Brigid said, when a baby cries like that, 5 minutes feels like an hour. I get desperate to fix whatever is wrong, but sometimes I can’t figure it out, and that is so frustrating. Combine that with the lack of sleep and we are all cranky sometimes. I am nowhere near, as Oprah says, my best self. In fact I’ve been closer to my worst self more than I care to admit in these two months. But it’s amazing how just one night of good sleep will restore you to normal. Moms-to-be, take heart in that, because it really is true.

Speaking of sleep, she seems to be an exceptional baby for her ability to sleep at night. I’m sure that will waver when she gets to different stages (teething and such), but she pretty consistently sleeps most of the night. Early mornings are the only problem, since we’d like to keep sleeping and she often doesn’t. I actually think overall she needs to sleep more and take more naps during the day, but I’m not sure how to get her started on any kind of schedule. I just kind of let her sleep when she wants to, but she often wakes after 10 minutes or so. Does anyone know of good books related to baby sleep schedules?

Yes, I did this to my child.

The other day I watched the documentary “Bully” and I think it upset me in a way it wouldn’t have before I had a child. I was just thinking how much I wanted to protect her from those kind of things out in the world and I won’t be able to. I know what it’s like to be a shy, introverted child who lacks confidence. One of my biggest hopes for her is that she feels confident in who she is, even if she, like me, is the kind of kid that would rather have her nose in a book than anything else.

But there will be plenty of years to worry about those things. For now we’re taking it one day at a time, marveling at how she changes every day.

We took her to the Golden Gate bridge to take some pictures last week and it was so foggy we didn’t get any with the bridge in them. It was sort of a metaphor for life with a baby — there’s a lot you can’t control, and you just have to roll with it.

At least we get great views at the dog park.

7 weeks and chubby cheeks

One of these days I’ll have something to write about other than my baby, but she’s kind of my whole world right now. So you’ll just get more cute pictures!

My little cheerleader.

Actually today was the first day I thought I might be ready to open my shop again. I don’t have a lot of hands-free time to work, but I do have some. And I am starting to feel that itch to work again. In my moms group, most of the women are getting ready to go back to a job. And though it’s stressful, it’s also a break that I think some of them will relish.

Plus, I have bills, yo.

I think Harper is definitely in some kind of growth spurt because she goes back and forth between sleepy days and hungry/fussy days. And she is definitely growing! I love her little chubby fingers and toes, and of course those cheeks.

One of Mike’s co-workers loaned us this baby chair that vibrates. It is the best! Sometimes I just need a place to set the baby down for a few minutes and she seems to like it there better than anywhere else.

We also found that she doesn’t really like to be swaddled anymore, but a sleep sack is the perfect bedding for her at night. And we pretty much can’t live without a pacifier these days (although she would never take the Soothies we had originally).

We started cloth diapers this week. They make her pants look comically tight. 

I’m mulling a post about post-baby bodies. To be honest I haven’t had time to think about it much, but I do think it’s important to be at peace with the changes your body goes through. Between breastfeeding constantly and lifting/bouncing/toting a baby around all the time it shouldn’t be too hard to lose the extra weight…