June 22, 2013

Baby Shopping

Since becoming a parent, I've come to enjoy shopping for baby things more so than shopping for anything else! Here are some items I've been eying for Emilia as well as my new parent and parent-to-be friends.

Row 1: Dress, Doll, One Piece, Book
Row 2: Dress, Mobile, Doll, Blanket with Hat
Row 3: Dress, Leggings, Manhattan Toys, Crib Shoes, Book

June 17, 2013

Father's Day

Chris and his dad snuggle Emilia

I've already written about dads in this space and have loved seeing Chris become a dad over the last few months (I've also loved seeing my dad and his dad and stepdad be granddads!) but I wanted to commemorate that this time last year, I gave Chris a little dad-to-be baby gift. And this year our little baby got to wear it to celebrate her dad's first Father's Day!

Thank you to the great dads (and granddads) for all that they do for their families!!

June 5, 2013

Six Months Postpartum

We both always look this happy! Except for when we aren't.

At six months, postpartum I feel pretty good. Some days are better than others. I start back in the classroom for a condensed summer course soon. So that will be interesting! I've been juggling working at home (on research, writing, revisions, and various service commitments) while taking care of Emilia for a few months now. And I have a defense date set for my dissertation (finally!!). On the whole, things are going really well when I think about what I've been able to accomplish with regard to a work-life balance. I really hustle during her naps out of necessity. I also try to use the time when she is in bed for the night. Sometimes I stay up later than I should but it's the only way to still be as productive as I need to be. I'm sure all of this will shift again when I have to be apart from her to teach for several hours, a few days a week. 

(all photos taken by my friend Sarah with my camera)

I feel more confident in my ability to mother Emilia. She's so fun and lovable. I'd shout from the rooftops that this girl hung the moon if I could! I have more experience under my belt and have been told by many parents more seasoned than me that she seems extremely pleasant and "easy" in demeanor. As the person who spends the most time with her, I would agree with that assessment but include that even "easy" babies have their moments. And that is ok! Growing up and developing are hard work. It is necessary for me to remain empathetic to and respectful of her needs, while being flexible overall.

Breastfeeding has become such a joy and I feel so fortunate to be able to do it after struggling. Snuggling while nourishing her brings me so much happiness! We have both learned so much and are really good at it now. My milk supply is going through some sort of renaissance where I am again dealing with overproduction. I pump and stash the extras on those days when I have the good sense to do so before I go to bed. She goes to bed between 7-8pm and often sleeps until 6-7am. Sometimes she'll wake once in there to eat. And if I have an inkling that she might wake, I don't pump. But she's unpredictable and when she doesn't wake and I don't pump, I wake up engorged and uncomfortable. I hate having to wake the baby to nurse her if she's slept in, but I do so when I'm otherwise ready to be up for the day.  On the nights when she wakes up right after I pump... Ugh. It's usually the start of a long and rough night for me. I'd much rather get engorged!

I still need to go back to the gym (I say with some embarrassment). Physically, I still feel sensitive and tender. I have lingering soreness at my incision and occasional pain on the side that has nagged me most from the beginning. My body is softer and bigger all over. I have definitely lost a lot of muscle tone which explains why the scale says one thing but my mirror says another. My hair is still falling out but in smaller volume than it was during the peak of my losses. I'm trying to be kind but at six months postpartum I honestly thought I would be closer to my previous self. My body is hanging onto the winter weight I gained in advance of pregnancy that I normally have shed by now. I've heard that many women experience this until they wean their babies. I'm in no rush to do that so I really need to adjust my expectations.

Because the weather has been nice, I have been walking a lot more which is good. Most of my summer clothes fit oddly and I'm going through some renewed struggles with body image, in part because summer is a season in which bodies are more visible. When we were in Cleveland, I wore a (technically non-maternity) bathing suit that I had bought last summer to serve as my maternity suit. It felt awkward because that suit is too large while my pre-pregnancy suits remain too small. Every year during the transition from tights season, I feel exposed and uncomfortable. But right now I feel doubly uncomfortable. And dressing to breastfeed continues to present constraints.

Regarding my overall mood, it varies. There are good days and less good days. I wonder in retrospect if I should have really pursued placenta encapsulation to help mitigate the chances for postpartum emotional swings? I tried but after a few initial emails I never heard back from the person I found. I definitely should have pursued counseling after my birth but there didn't ever seem to be enough time (not to mention the logistics of leaving Emilia when she was so little). It's difficult to know if the hard adjustments were due to my recovery from surgery, my emotional state after a traumatic birth, or just a "normal" processing of this new role?

Some long-winded stuff about birth, under a cut...

June 3, 2013

Six Months!

I am amazed by how quickly Emilia develops and changes. For the sake of documenting, I wanted to share some of her current skills.

She has much more refined motor skills than ever before. She grabs, passes, and reaches for things now. It's especially fun to watch her maneuver a food spear (since we've just started trying Baby Led Weaning).

She enjoys bath time and really loved when we took her swimming. She was splashing and grabbing and laughing with delight. 

She loves when we sing and read to her. Sometimes if she is fussing in the car, I will sing "It's You I Like" and she'll calm right down. I've been singing that one to her since she was a week old and we started reading to her around then too. I'm working on a post about our favorite books which will be up soon.

She likes Itsy Bitsy Spider and Paddy Cake. She seems less enamored with peek-a-boo but I don't do that one as often as I should.

She gives baby kisses where she basically leans into you, mouth wide open and you're left with a very slobbery cheek. But you don't care 'cause it is the cutest!

Although when especially hungry, she presumes that every part of my body might "produce" if latched, she has become very adept at tugging on the necklines of my dresses and tops. It's so interesting to see her develop a firmer understanding of where to find her food. Although rooting is a reflex that communicates the same drive, this tugging seems so purposeful. And she's been tugging at my necklines for a while now.

She has so many sounds. Consonant sounds, vowel sounds, growls, squeals, laughs, giggles, little loving grunts, and more. She babbles as though she's really giving us a piece of her mind. This melts my heart and cracks me up.

She knows her name, she knows where to look when I say "puppy," she seems to know daddy and mommy. I try to sign all of these when I say them with the hopes that she will be able to communicate back, soon. Signs I do consistently: milk, more, eat, all done, baby, puppy, and one of the most important ones: ceiling fan! From what I've read, you want to introduce signs that are helpful as well as ones that "matter" to the baby. And ceiling fan has always loomed large in Emilia's hierarchy of favorites.

She is such a roly-poly. Changing her has become challenging because as soon as I take something off, she's flipped over and is scooting away from me. When I watch her on the video monitor, I see her go back and forth and back and forth.

She prefers to sleep on her belly now and no longer gets stuck there which is good.

She loves being supported to stand. When she's standing I recite this little happy rhyme about how tall she is and she smiles and squeals. "Emilia's tall! She's not small. She's so so strong and tall!"

She does full push ups with her arms (if you are familiar with yoga, it's basically the cobra pose) rather than resting on her elbows.

She loves to sit up and can do so by herself if she starts at an angle. She can't get there from laying flat yet. But she's way less wobbly than she was even a week ago.

She kicks like a maniac, while on her back. She loves her feet. She loves to kick around while nursing which can get a little harried because... that's attached to me!!

She's just so fascinating and fun! I love getting to know her personality and feel so lucky to get to witness her develop and grow.