Monday, January 28, 2008

Faster than a speeding bullet

This girl is growing SO FAST! We spent the weekend sorting through clothes to put away those she has grown out of and bring out those she is growing into. At eleven weeks old, our Olivia is solidly into the 3-6 month clothing!

It amazes me that this has happened before my very eyes, and I somehow didn't notice. But then this morning, when she sat in her baby papasan and I noticed once again that her legs were hanging over the edge...I finally realized that this wasn't because she had wriggled around and scooted herself down...her legs are hanging over because she's TOO LONG FOR THE CHAIR.

In other news, the baby is sleeping through the night. And no, this is not a fluke. For the better part of two weeks, she has slept 8-9 hours straight at night without difficulty. This makes for a very happy baby and even happier parents.

This, however, does not translate into a good nap schedule. She has no nap schedule. Some days she will take 2-3 long naps, and other days she won't sleep for more than 40 minutes in a stretch. And these naps cannot be timed. She sleeps when she's good and ready to sleep.

We can't really complain about the naps much, though, since it doesn't seem to affect her amazing ability to sleep through the night. It would be nice to finish a blog post, though, without her waking and demanding attention (which is what she's doing now). So we'll have to cut this short. I must go attend to the princess.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

On Pain and Growth

As I made the long drive home yesterday, I reflected on the changes that have happened since Olivia came into our lives. I never would have imagined that it would be this way.

I always assumed that once we had kids, I would quit working and stay least through those formational early years and until the babies were all in school for the majority of the working day. I looked forward, for many years, to seeing this dream become a reality.

Now that I am here, the transition from employed professional to SAHM is proving to be more challenging than I thought. I'm in the unique position of still being employed for the moment, undergoing a period of transition that is longer than most people give as notice when they leave a job. I still have around six weeks left to wrap up and hand off what it took me more than eight years to build.

I know it sounds weird to some, since I doubt that many desk jobs have as much hold as this one does on me. What I do, though, is plan ministries. I plan retreats and workshops and offer coordination and support of others who do similar ministries. And although I inherited some of these responsibilities from my predecessor, I'd say 80 percent of my responsibilities stem from projects that I started. Projects in which I am emotionally invested. Projects that came about not just because of a perceived need, but because I personally felt called to do something about it.

To add to this, I am the type of person who needs to feel in control. Infertility and then dealing with a demanding infant have done a lot to temper this need, but it's still there. It is HARD, people, for me to delegate anything that I feel is particularly important. I just have a hard time trusting that it will get done if I'm not in charge of it.

So here I am, beginning the process of surrendering control of huge projects and ministries, many of which are dear to me, so that I can be home with my baby. And it's HARD.

Luckily, I know my successor, and she will do an amazing job. Additionally, there is a level of burnout that comes with eight-plus years of ministry that has stifled my creativity. My successor can come in and create all kinds of new projects of her own that I could never have dreamed of. Turnover is, occassionally, a very good thing.

For the most part, I've made peace with the impending change in my life. And yet, there are still daily reminders of what I'm leaving that cause me a twinge of pain here and there.

Even with all the pain that comes with transition, I know that this is the right direction for us. I know this because, right now, I also deal with the daily pain of being separated from my baby.

By 2-3 p.m. every day, I start getting this nagging twinge of anxiety about the baby. Is she doing OK? Does she miss Mommy? Is she napping well? Will she have a good night or a fussy night? And then I get this overwhelming urge to go pick her up and take her home. I miss her. I want to see her playing and comfort her when she cries. I want to talk to her and make her laugh. I want to be there as she explores and learns about the world around her.

We have this painting that hangs in the baby's room. It says something like, "Change is the tearing pain that a rose feels as it goes from bud to bloom".

I feel like that today. As I deal daily with the reality of preparing to leave my job, I know that the pain I feel is just a consequence of change, and it will lead to growth. Our new reality will be beautiful in ways I can't imagine now. And I'm looking forward to my SAHM life and all the challenges and blessings that will come.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A movie review

As promised, this post is not about sleep. Although, that is getting even better lately too.

Yesterday, my husband and I went to see the movie "Juno". It's about a pregnant teen who chooses to place her baby for adoption.

It was, in my husband's words, irreverant. But I thought it was pretty honest. There was a lot of teen-speak that didn't always translate well for us "old folks", but I am not so far removed from those years that I couldn't relate to the barrage of emotions that Juno was feeling.

It was different than I expected, with some disappointing twists, but the movie still stuck with me for hours afterward. I think I was most moved by Jennifer Garner's character (as the prospective adoptive mother)...always proper, trying to portray herself as impeccable and perfect to this young pregnant girl, but all the while being incredibly insecure about the whole situation. I relate, because I've been there.

I won't say anything else about the movie, so as not to spoil it for those of you who haven't yet seen it. It just made me think and reflect back on where we were just a few short months ago. Things have changed so much. And despite all the sleep interruptions and fussy times, I am happier than I ever imagined I would be. I am a mom, and I feel like I am right where I was always meant to be.

Friday, January 18, 2008

We knew it was too good to last...

The sleep thing, that is. What else do I talk about here but sleep?

Olivia woke at 4:45 this morning. *Sigh* Luckily, today we had a little bit of flexibility on our leave-the-house-time, so I did get to go back to sleep for a bit. I just think it is harder on her to eat at 4:45 and then HAVE to be fed again before we leave the house. It would be much easier on her (and us) if she'd just wake around 6:00 and eat and start the day. But she doesn't seem to listen to reason on this point.

We've determined a pattern in her daytime naps too. She seems to be in a 48-hour day she will want to take long naps all day and goes down easily for each one while maintaining a sunny disposition when she is awake. The next day she fights sleep with all her might and is overly fussy and tired all day. And....repeat. This has been our day-to-day pattern for the last 8 days. Nighttime sleep does not seem to be affected by whether or not she naps well during the day (she sleeps about the same at night regardless).

Has anyone else experienced this? It has me totally baffled, and I was just wondering if it's common.

I promise that my next post will be about something OTHER than sleep. Seriously, I'm even starting to bore myself.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Please, do not jinx it.

The baby slept through the night. For the past three nights.

OK, I guess we really can't count Monday night, since she didn't actually go to sleep until midnight. Since she usually sleeps six hours at a time when she goes down for the night, I guess this doesn't really count.

But Tuesday night and last night...eight straight hours. Asleep by 10:30 both nights. Had to be awakened by her daddy by 6:30 a.m. to eat and get ready for the day. Very happy and better rested parents.

We are praying, praying, PRAYING that this continues.

Last night, we played with her on the couch for hours since she refused to nap, and she was mostly content. Actually, she entertained us for quite some time with her big cheesy smiles and funny faces that she likes to make now. She is getting to be more fun every day, and we are learning to relax and just enjoy her more every day. She's such a blessing.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Still, it is all worth it.

I meant to post something long and profound on Saturday, along with the two month photo. Unfortunately, our wireless keyboard quit on me (right after typing the post title) and didn't respond to new batteries, so all I could manage was the two month photo. Which was, of course, all you people wanted, anyway. Who wants to hear me babble on when you can gaze at another adorable photo?

I am "working at home" on Mondays now, which has become a struggle for both me and the baby. I struggle to try to get the baby down for a nap so I can work, and she struggles to stay awake and prevent any form of productivity. This results in a very irritated Mommy and a very overtired baby, and I'm just not sure how to remedy this situation. I've found that she naps much better on days when she's with Grandma, but that may be due to the hour we spend in the car before dropping her off so I can get to work (yes, I commute that far to work, but luckily, Grandma is only a couple of miles from the office). The car starts her day off right with a nice, relaxing nap. And I HATE the fact that she appears to NEED the car to nap. This does not bode well for the future staying home plans that we have.

Luckily, she continues to sleep well at night, regardless of her daytime schedule. Getting her down for the night continues to be a challenge, but once she's asleep, something in her brain tells her that it's night and time to be asleep for many hours at a time, and this is a huge blessing.

Though you are all thoroughly bored with the discussion on sleep, it continues to be the topic that rules our lives.

Despite the limited "work" time I am getting on Mondays, I have learned to be MUCH more efficient with the time I do have. This has translated to my days in the office as well. I've been in the office for an hour, and I've already knocked several things off my list before checking in to post this belated and not-so-profound post. It might be the caffeine. I should start a tab at the local donut shop, which has my coffee business for the next seven weeks.

Yes, it is a daily struggle to figure out what the princess wants or needs. Every time we think we have her schedule down, she changes something on us.

And still, it is all so worth it.

As I sat in the recliner and rocked the baby for the millionth time trying to get her to nap yesterday, I saw a commercial on TV that featured a mother and daughter in some sort of tender relational moment. And I started to cry. I felt this overwhelming sense of joy to realize how blessed I am to be able to be this little girl's mommy. There are moments when I stop and look back on the last few months and realize what a miracle it was that circumstances brought us to this place. Everything fell in line when there were a million things that could have interfered with this adoption placement. And yet, it all worked out.

Yes, it is a constant challenge to adjust to our new reality, but I know that God led us to this child and has given us the Grace we need to be the best parents we can be for her. And I feel so blessed.

Well, that's about as profound as I can be this morning. Must get back to work and take advantage of the caffeine rush while I still have it.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Thursday, January 10, 2008

If nothing else, at least I know I'm not crazy

To those of you who still have advice for the sleep situation and are holding out on me, please continue to comment on that. Whether it ends up being helpful or not, it's good to know that there are others out there dealing with the same situation.

Yesterday was better. For some reason, the princess decided that yesterday was nap day, and she took two super-long naps at the sitter's house. She settled in for a couple of short naps after I picked her up last night, but the important thing is she went down for the night with relative ease and slept a six hour stretch before getting up for her nighttime bottle. And, for the SECOND night in a row, she went back down after that nighttime bottle and put herself to sleep.

Yes, I am amazed.

Oh, she fusses a bit, but mostly she just talks to herself until she's bored and just drops off to sleep. Now if we could translate this into her pattern for naps and going down for the night, then we'll be in good shape.

Last night, I had to pack away five more sleepers that Olivia has grown out of. Two of them were among my favorites...the type that get a lot of wear because they are just so darned CUTE. But, alas, the baby is GROWING, and now she's too long for these, and as I was putting them away it occurred to me that she will never be that tiny again. Aauuughhh! Yes, I want her to grow out of this crazy fussy stage, but where did my tiny sweet little baby go?

Luckily, we have a constant supply of next-size-up clothes. Some friends of ours have designated us as the recipients of their daughter's hand-me-downs. Since their daughter is a few months older than ours, we are constantly supplied with lots of cute outfits and sleepers that are barely worn. These are on loan until Olivia grows out of them, and I think this is a FABULOUS idea! Babies at this age grow out of their clothing in about 20 minutes, so why be forced to constantly buy a whole new wardrobe? I'm thinking we should start a baby network among friends here and start doing the clothes swap thing for everyone. This works for cribs and changing tables too, especially among couples who space their kids by a few years. Saves on storage space and someone else gets some use out of it in the meantime. Yeah, this won't work for people who want everything new and special and matching (like furniture) for their baby, but we are into being economical, people! Besides, if the rest of the furniture in our house doesn't match, I see no reason why the baby's furniture should. She can't even see past the footboard of her crib right now anyway. And someday she's going to be very happy that Mommy and Daddy put all that extra money into her college fund instead of new clothes and matching furniture.

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

One long night...

Yesterday, I had an evening meeting to run, so my husband picked up and cared for the baby until I got home at 9:00 p.m. The sitter said she hadn't napped well in the afternoon, but she was fairly happy when she got home...for about 20 minutes. Then she began crying and continued for the better part of three hours.

By the time I got home, both of them were stressed out and exhausted.

With some finesse and fancy maneuvering, I was able to get the baby to calm down for awhile. She ate and then sat in her bouncy watching me wash bottles in the kitchen for about a half-hour. Then after much fussing, we finally managed to get her to sleep around 11:00. She slept fairly well last night, going back down without much difficulty after her 3:30 a.m. bottle, but this fussing thing is really tough.

My theory is that she's not getting enough sleep. She just doesn't nap well. She will usually take one or two sufficient naps (1-2 hours in length) at some point during the day, but all other naps are fitful and range in length from 20 to 45 minutes. I think this leaves her grumpy and makes it difficult for her to settle down at night. She's 8 weeks old. She needs more sleep!

So I have a question for you, blog friends. How do we get this girl to settle down and nap better? I don't know why she doesn't sleep well during the day. Perhaps she's overstimulated, or bit bewildered and anxious because she's spending her days with people other than Mommy (who spent most of her first seven weeks with her). Maybe that's why she can't settle down. But that doesn't explain why I had the same napping problem with her this weekend when we were both home with her. When she sleeps well at night, or after a long nap, she is so much happier and more cheerful, so I'm relatively sure that this fussiness is simply overtiredness. For instance, yesterday between 3:30 and 10:30, she had a total of 20 minutes of napping. She HAD to be exhausted. I don't want my baby to be exhausted. I want her to be well rested and well fed and happy, with thoughts of butterflies and rainbows and goodness and a perfect world where babies are always cherubic and their mothers are well-rested and glowing with pride.

**Big Heavy Sigh**

I know this stage is finite, and I only have a few more weeks left of work before I can devote all my time to discerning and meeting the baby's every need. But any thoughts or advice about how to cope in the meantime would be welcome.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The dryer does eat baby socks

I've always thought that people who complained that the dryer ate their socks were either just sloppy and dropped one somewhere or they missed left it in the washer. But my dryer seriously eats baby's socks. I have two lonely socks looking for their mates. If you see a little sock with pink trim and another with pooh on it lying around here, please let me know. I'm baffled. Maybe they get eaten because they are so tiny and sweet. I don't know.

All this to say that I'm too lazy today to load up more photos on this blog. I did load a couple of cute ones from the end of December on my photo blog (see profile), so go there if you want to see them.

Sorry so short. I'm working from home today (ha!) and MUST get something done while baby is taking her long nap. She should be down for a good two hours now, which is a rarity for my baby, who resists napping as much as possible.

Friday, January 4, 2008


I cannot even believe I forgot to report this. At today's appointment, Olivia weighed in at 11 lbs 8 oz (with clothing and wet diaper on, but still). Also, almost 23 inches long. We must be doing something right, because she's definitely growing.

To the doctor...

This morning, Olivia and I visited the doctor. This was primarily due to my throbbing throat last night and the desire to diagnose anything she may have caught from me before it got out of hand.

Well, turns out I just have a nasty cold, and the baby doesn't seem to have it. But they decided, since she's due for her "well baby visit" later this month anyway, to just go ahead and do her measurements and shots and save me a trip.

Of course, I forgot to pack the baby tylenol this morning. And the baby was all fed and changed and happy when we put her up on the table, cooing and making faces at the nurse. And then came the shots. Good heavens, you would think we were trying to rip her leg off!

She looked at me like she had been betrayed and just screamed. You know that really, really mad scream that babies give when they just go on and on for what seems like minutes in the midst of the same wail without taking a breath. I seriously had never heard her scream so long without a breath before, and her face was beet red. After the first two shots, she was ready, and as soon as the nurse stuck her in her other leg, she pulled that leg back and held it tight. Of course, this resulted in much bleeding and probably more pain for the baby, but it was her only defense mechanism.

Needless to say, after leaving the doctor's office, the first thing we did was head to a pharmacy for some baby tylenol. Poor little thing. Now she's sleeping. I think the whole ordeal overwhelmed her. It certainly overwhelmed Mommy.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Another blog title change...

I know, talk about indecisive. But this title may be a bit more descriptive. What do you think?

I'm rapidly approaching the afternoon sleep/caffeine-deprived brain meltdown. I'm just SO thankful that this work week is only three days long. I hope the baby is faring well with her Grandma today, because we desperately need her to sleep well tonight. We are all coming down with nasty colds that are compromising our ability to sleep, so anything that baby can do to NOT compound the problem would be good.

Also, I think the baby grew yesterday. Seriously. I think she was bigger when I got home than when I dropped her off in the morning. Does this happen to other working moms? Does the baby grow rapidly in your absence? It was amazing to me.

I promise a picture post as soon as I locate my camera and find time to load up some appropriately adorable photos of our angel. Yes, she is the cause of our sleep deprivation and irritability, and yet one little smile and our hearts melt. This must be some sort of God-designed instinct built into the parent-child matter how much the wee one drives you to the brink of insanity, all it takes in one cute look and all is better. Or even one complaining cry look, which I find to be hilarious. Our baby has several cries, but the complaining cry (which sounds like a cross between a yell and a whine) is just so funny. I'll have her on my shoulder to burp or whatever, and she turns her head to look at me and just opens her mouth wide and yells. "Mwaaaahh!". Almost like she's making an angry statement. With her little pouty lip. So funny. Except, maybe, at 4:00 a.m., but still.

The beginning of my coffee addiction...

I have liked coffee since college, but I don't particularly care for the effect of the caffeine. So I have previously tended to limit my coffee-drinking episodes to dessert decaf only.

No more of that, my friends. Yesterday, I picked up a cup of hot java on my way in to work for my first day back. The caffeine got me through the first several hours of the day. And then I crashed. Hard. And came home to a fussy baby who refused to go to bed until about half-past midnight.

It's all our fault, really. I mean, we let the baby sleep in until 9:00 AM or so for the last three weeks. We had it bed before 11:00 (not a consistent time, but usually before 11:00), up around 3AM and 6:30 AM, and then we all went back to sleep until 9:00. It worked for us. Until we both had to go back to work, of course. Then all hell broke loose.

Now we wake her to eat at 6:30 AM, whether she's ready or not. Then she's off to one sitter or another until we can bring her home for the evening routine. Which is anything but routine at this point.

My husband bravely offered to put the baby to bed last night so I could go to bed at an unbelievably early hour to prep for the night feeding(s) ahead. And then the baby proceeded to fuss and complain, eat, and fuss and complain some more. For three solid hours.

By her cry and her afternoon schedule, it was obvious to us that she was simply overtired, but that didn't help us get her to sleep. I keep telling myself that it will get better as soon as her body adjusts to the new schedule we have. Is this true, internet? Because I desperately need it to be true.

This working mom stuff is HARD. I am so thankful that, for me, the work part is temporary. But at the moment I'm just not sure how I'm going to survive the next couple of months.

So today I brought my coffee from home. And I'm going to have several glasses of iced tea for lunch. Because I learned my lesson yesterday. Caffeine and I must become friends for awhile. At least until the baby learns to go to sleep at night and stay asleep.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

I thought we needed a new title...

It occurred to me today that perhaps this site needed a new title. The above title is the best thing I could come up with on little sleep and a brain full of caffeine. If you can suggest a better title, please leave it in the comments.

Well, I'm back at work today. A full working day. Weird. But I have discovered a few things.

1. I am relieved to have some time away from baby.
2. I miss the baby.
3. Although I always had planned to become a SAHM, I have spent eight years in the professional world and will have a hard time parting from it.
4. I have eight weeks left of work until I quit to be a SAHM, and I'm not sure it's going to be enough to get everything settled.
5. Eight weeks is too long to be away from my baby.

As you can see, I'm a bit conflicted.

I find myself oddly energized being back at work after a seven-week baby hiatus. I find my job to be stimulating and exciting. In an ideal world, I would take on one or two of my bajillion projects on a contract basis (as in, get paid to do them) and come to the office one or two days a week to accomplish those things. Then I could happily spend the rest of my time at home with the wee one.

Unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal world, and there's no money to replace me AND have me do some contract work as well. Even though this position could be expanded to two full-timers and still have room to grow.

You see, I work for the Church. I plan certain types of programming for this Catholic Diocese. I LOVE it. For years, I have been expanding the programs and program areas offered by my office. And there are a million other programming areas that could be explored by this position (as always in ministry). There are infinite possibilities. Lots of people out there who could be served. But there's only one me (and one me-replacement). Seriously, we could staff an office of six or eight people devoted to this work and still have room to grow. And I LOVE doing this work. (Did I say that already?)

On the other side of the coin, there is NO WAY I could continue doing this full time. It is too hard to be away from the baby that often. But as much as I love my baby and love spending time with her, I need both the social and professional stimulation of working in these ministries. So, it looks like I will be volunteering my time for a project here and a project there. Not that I mind volunteering, but it would certainly help our bottom line (and my motivation) if there were some money behind it.

Now on to some baby talk. The baby is off schedule. Like SEVERELY off schedule. During our Christmas "vacation"...the week between the holidays when we were both off work, we did not spend even one full day at home. We were off to this party and that gathering, and the baby suffered. Which, of course, meant that we suffered. On the days when were weren't required to be anywhere before noon, we all slept until about 9:30 (the baby, of course, waking to eat a couple of times). This has royally screwed up the baby. We had to wake her at 6:30 this morning to get her fed and clothed and off to the sitter, and I think she was a little bit upset with us. But now, it's up to us to get her up at 6:30 every morning so that we can start training her little body to be on a consistent schedule. We'll see if this holds up on the weekends when we sleep-deprived working parents have to be motivated to wake a sleeping baby instead of continuing to sleep ourselves.

Eight weeks people. This is what it's going to be like for EIGHT WEEKS. Serious sleep deprivation ahead. Be warned that it may affect the content of this site. This is my venue for serious complaining, so I'm just letting my three readers know now that I may be a little grumpy. Now on to something productive, before the caffeine wears off.