Monday, June 30, 2008

The giggles

Parenthood is always throwing something new at me. First it was exhaustion, then a complete lack of confidence in my parenting ability, then I got over myself and started to relax, and then Olivia got a little less "demanding" and a lot more fun.

Now that she's a speed crawler and furniture cruiser, we've entered a whole new realm of parenting challenges. Luckily, she's getting much better on the balance thing, and we're getting much better on the strategic placement of toys to distract from dangerous areas (so as to avoid picking her up and redirecting her every two minutes). So now, it's quite typical that I can spend a full half-hour sitting in the middle of the floor while my baby crawls circles around me and plays with her array of books and toys without hurting herself or the DVD player.

This is what I was doing this morning when I noticed the giggle. It's something she's been doing for the past several days, but now I notice that it's a completely spontaneous thing. Any little thing can make her giggle. This morning, it was one of her blocks that made her giggle. Then the rattle, then the doll, then the toys on the exersaucer. At lunch with Daddy, it was the buttons on his shirt that made her giggle. I guess she's just in a giggling mood lately.

Another one of Olivia's new favorite things to do is spitting. I'm talking about a cross between blowing raspberries and what cartoonists always characterize as "Thbbbtt" while sticking your tongue out. She does this constantly...when she's not giggling. It's another one of her "happy sounds", and she thinks it's hilarious. Come to think of it, it may be the cause of some of her giggling. It's very cute.

So when I slowed down this morning long enough to appreciate the giggles (and the spitting), I realized that I LOVE being Mommy to a seven-month-old. She's just a little ball of energy, full of joy and enjoying life and new discoveries to the fullest. I wish I could be that carefree.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Finalization on the horizon

While our attorney had planned to schedule finalization for sometime in April, somehow life and schedules pushed us back, and here we are at the end of June and still not finalized.

HOWEVER, our attorney called earlier this week to say that we have a court date at last! Next Wednesday, July 2nd, we will FINALLY be able to appear for our finalization of adoption.

When I heard the news, I had this giddy, excited sort of feeling. I looked at my sweet baby girl and said to her, "We're going to court and the judge will say that you are our little girl forever." And she stared up at me with a puzzled look.

It struck me right then how ridiculous it all seemed. I mean, to her and to us, she's already our little girl forever. We could not love her more if she came from our own bodies. And to her, we are the only parents she's ever known. We're the ones whose presence makes her comfortable, whose smiles make her giggle, whose arms she seeks when she's scared or upset. She knows who Mommy and Daddy are, and while I hope she is all smiles and happiness at the finalization hearing, I don't need the judge or attorney to see how attached she is to us to know that she IS our daughter.

We invited a few people to the hearing, but I don't think anyone is coming. Most have to work or have other obligations already on their calendars. And while this is a little disappointing, it's really OK because I can't even explain to them the significance of finalization or why it's a momentous occasion. I really can't even explain it to myself.

Besides the fact that finalization brings the legal process to a close so we can stop receiving bills from our attorney, I'm having a hard time seeing how our legal standing as Olivia's parents is much changed by next week's events. As I understand it, in our state, the birthmother's consent is practically irrevocable from the point of signing. Because there is another state involved, though, we have to abide by that state's laws as well. That state, I believe, allows a year AFTER finalization for the birthmother to contest the adoption. But in both states, it would be darn near impossible for her to make a case against us because she'd have to prove, in court, that returning the child to her would be in the child's best interests. Given her living situation and life circumstances, she would never be able to make that case even if she were motivated to do so and could afford the legal fees. Besides that, we are in regular contact with her and know with a high degree of certainty that she continues to be happy with her decision and believes that Olivia is better off for it.

So, I guess we still technically have a year of "risk" after finalization, but I'm going to stop explaining that to people. It just confuses them, and me, so we're just going to tell everyone that we've finalized and move on with our lives as a family.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Summer breeze

We have had extremely nice weather in these parts for the past ten days or so. The temps have been in the 80s with low humidity, making the air feel fabulous.

Our way of enjoying such weather is to eat dinner every night on our screened-in porch. This is, perhaps, my favorite "room" in the house, but we don't get to use it much because of the nasty humidity we usually have in the summer.

Olivia enjoys meals on the porch. She usually chews on toast or a cracker while we eat, and then we feed her vegetables or some other sort of pureed delicacy. If we are lucky, she'll play with her spoon for awhile after eating. This buys us some time to just sit and relax and enjoy the breeze. This is the scene from yesterday:

She began by chewing on her spoon and banging it on the tray happily.

Then she held it up to her eye and took a long look at it...

...and then she flung it.

At this point, she was ready for a bath (having bits and pieces of cracker and sweet potatoes stuck in her hair). We went for a long walk after her bath, another favorite pastime in seasonable weather. Ah, summer. But today we return to 90s and humidity. Blech.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


If I have learned nothing else in the past seven months, I have learned that parenting requires heaps and heaps of flexibility.

Case in point. After several weeks of glorious, sleep-through-the-night joy, Olivia has started waking in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. This has only happened a couple of times, but it has sent me into flashbacks of middle-of-the-night feedings. Only this time, she doesn't want/need to eat. I pick her up, cradle her and give her a pacifier, and she is completely still and calm. It takes 15 or 20 minutes to get her to close her eyes and go back to sleep, but when she does, she's down for the count. In fact, she's been sleeping later in the mornings.

Some say she's teething, and that could be true. She is more drooly and spitty than she's been in awhile. I can't imagine what a nuisance that teething thing must be for little ones. Imagine, as an adult, having a hard sharp pointy thing protruding slowly through your solid gumline. Pain.

We seem to have made it past the crawl-out-of-the-crib terror. It has become evident that she can't actually accomplish this (yet). And we've gone back to the former "don't enter her room for ten minutes and see what happens" approach to mid-nap or mid-night crying. Even though she can (and occasionally does) stand up and move around in her crib, she's getting better at locating her pacifier and putting herself back to sleep. In fact, she found her sleep sheep during yesterday's nap and successfully pressed the "heartbeat" button before laying back down and letting the rhythmic beating lull her back to sleep. She's getting back to sleep sooner and sleeping longer when she is left alone, so I think that's a good thing.

Flexibility applies to the nap thing too. I've decided that there's no such thing as a "nap schedule". She can do the exact same thing for two weeks and then BAM!, it completely changes. The best way to schedule our day (if we absolutely need to go somewhere) is to wait until she's ready to go down for a nap and then put her in the car. Accomplish whatever you can in the remaining time before she decides that she's DONE, and then be OK to drop everything and go home.

Random subject change. New moms, do any of you have problems with your knees? I have always been careful to protect my back by lifting with my legs, but it seems to have backfired after seven months of doing this with baby. In the stage between stationary and mobile, I hauled Olivia all over the house and would clean or cook with her on my hip. I still do this when she's fussy. This has resulted in a lot of deep knee bends to pick up toys, pans, whatever. Now my knees pop and crack and HURT. Maybe I should do some muscle strengthening exercises, but still I'm a little puzzled about these hurting knees. I've never been overweight and have never had problems before. I guess it really puts into perspective how an extra 17 or 18 lbs can really put stress on your joints.

Of course, she's totally worth it. On Saturday, she spent the day with her godparents and cousin while we went to a meeting. When we returned, they were all playing outside with the water table, and she was having the time of her life.

Between the splashing and playing and being outside and with her cousin (whom she LOVES), she was oblivious to the fact that we were even gone.

We MUST get one of these water tables! Olivia is quite the water baby. I can tell we are going to go through quite a few swim diapers this summer.

She is such a happy baby. And totally worth every ounce of flexibility required to keep up with her.

Friday, June 20, 2008

If you're only here to read about the baby, you can skip this post.

I'm pretty accustomed to blood tests. Since I was a kid, I've had labs done at least twice a year to monitor a chronic problem I had developed as a child. Over the past several years, my visits to the lab have increased as we've been trying to fix and measure my hormones with this infertility mess. And, since I visited with some frequency, the nurse working the lab and I became friendly. Not to the point where we actually exchanged phone numbers or anything, but she remembered me and we would engaged in friendly chit-chat about her kids, our husbands, the weather, etc. It made the whole needle-in-my-arm thing a bit more bearable.

Three months ago, I had some labs done at the same lab and found a new nurse working there. She was not friendly or even nice, and I hoped that she was a fill-in and just having a bad day.

No such luck. I had labs to do this week and found the same not-nice nurse. I had Olivia with me and she was at her adorable best...smiling and babbling and entertaining all the people in the waiting room. Nurse Evil was not impressed. As the other nurse was going through my data on the computer, Nurse Evil asked if my information was the same. No, I informed her, I have a new insurance card. Nurse Evil inquired if I was still employed full time. No, I'm doing this full time, motioning to Olivia. She scowled and barked to the computer nurse "Unemployed". No smile, no polite remarks, nothing. She was really irked when I pointed out that the lab sheet also asked for a u/a, which she had overlooked. (I've done this before.) No apologies. Just threw a cup at me and pointed to the bathroom.


So, I'm seriously considering switching to the main hospital outpatient lab...the place where I have, in the past, been kept waiting for LONG periods of time only to be jabbed by rushed and bruise-inducing nurses. I've always hated that place because I felt like a number and didn't really get the personal attention and small talk that I got at the other lab. Although my recent experience makes me think it may be preferable.

What is it with people? I have no patience for anyone with no sense for customer service. It's just common decency. Show some respect for other humans. Seriously.

On the flip side, I also visited my FABULOUS Ob/Gyn this week. I know a lot of people dread doctor visits, but the people at this office are so great, I can't help but leave with a feeling that they care about me and what happens to me. That's a great feeling. Equally great is knowing that my doctor is a good Catholic NaproTechnology-trained physician who is working hard to figure out what's causing my ovulatory problem and helping me treat it in ways that are 100% compatible with my faith. I trust him with my life, and my visits are always worthwhile, even though I have to drive several hours to see him.

So today is shaping up to be a rainy, gloomy day. And I have laundry to fold before the wee one wakes up, so off I go...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What in the world has brought this on?

Oh, I am beside myself. Remember that cute little photo from yesterday's post of Olivia standing so adorably in her crib? Well, I may have forgotten to mention that yesterday was the first time she discovered that she COULD stand up in her crib. And once she discovered that, the crib became a whole new place to play.

Which means, it is certainly not a place to sleep.

Yesterday afternoon was torture. PURE TORTURE. Olivia took only a half-hour nap in the afternoon, and then she was tired again by around 4:00. But she WOULD NOT NAP. Every time I laid her in her crib, she started laughing and kicking and immediately rolled over and crawled to the bars to pull herself up. Party time!

I thought this might bode well for an early bedtime, but no such luck. She fell asleep for 20 minutes in the stroller on our evening walk, and that was enough to keep her awake until 9:50 p.m. Not happily awake, though. And I tried...I TRIED to get her to go to bed, but she kept standing up, and then she'd fall because she was so tired, and then the screaming. Oh, the screaming. At one point, I held her in the rocker for 10 minutes while she screamed and thrashed and looked about as exhausted as a person can look. We finally decided to feed her again just to settle her down, after which she decided it was grumpy playtime again. I think we repeated the crib/standing routine a few more times until she was finally so exhausted that she passed out.

You can imagine that this translates to a bad nap situation too. I haven't had much trouble getting her down for her morning nap. This morning she was too exhausted to protest (which isn't surprising after going to bed late and then getting up at 5:45 a.m.). But this afternoon we played the crib/standing game for awhile, during which I try to lay her down, give up, bring her back to her toys, have her play for two minutes before she melts down, which is then my cue that she's WAY tired and we try the crib again. Repeat.

I finally resorted to holding and rocking until she settled down. Which she did. And after an eternity of rocking, she fell asleep in my lap and I was able to lay her in her crib.

I hope this isn't our new trend. It's not that I mind the rocking, but Olivia fights it, and sometimes she works herself into a frenzy before I'm able to get her to calm down. It's exhausting for both of us.

So, does anyone out there have any suggestions? What did you do once your baby started standing (and falling) in the crib? And what do you do about climbers? I saw her try to climb the bars today to get out. I'm concerned about her safety. I always thought the crib would be one of the safest places for her, but I'm starting to question that now that she's CLIMBING! Any help would be welcome. Please let me know I'm not the only one with a crazy climbing standing baby.

Monday, June 16, 2008

I wish she would walk already...

I know everyone says that you're in big trouble when your baby learns to walk because nothing in the house is safe after that. But seriously, I think we're past that point at the moment, and it would be immensely safer FOR HER if she would just learn to walk already.

Somewhere around five and a half months, Olivia started scooting/army crawling around. She quickly mastered this and then moved on to knee crawling. Then she discovered that, hey, I have a really strong grip, and if I reach up like this and grab onto something high, I can pull myself up to standing.

And she's been crashing into furniture and toys ever since.

It took Olivia exactly one week to master the pulling up technique, to the point that she could bring herself to a weakly-supported standing position with the help of any toy taller than six inches. But she doesn't have a great sense of balance yet, and she's a bit impatient. So she'll be standing up next to the coffee table/exersaucer/shapes barn/toy box and then spot her musical toy/burp rag/ball/pacifier across the room and decides she wants that and will just walk to it. She knows very well that she is capable of crawling to it, and she knows how to "plop" down so she could do so. But she insists on lunging instead. It's as if she knows that she wants to walk and firmly believes that one of these tries will be successful, but she just turns and sort of leans, and down she goes. She hasn't figured out the "balance on one foot while moving the other foot forward" move. I think she really believes that if she leans in the direction of the wanted item, inertia alone will turn her into a walker.

Let's just say that this attitude has led to more than her fair share of bumps in the last couple of weeks. We have to keep our eyes on her CONSTANTLY. And even then she's not really safe from bumps. We want her to learn, so we don't hold her or even try to steady her unless she's in danger of falling, and we aren't always quick enough to prevent that either.

So, walking would be a welcome blessing. We are already at the "nothing is safe from baby" stage, so she might as well walk.

I know. She's seven months. Most babies don't walk at this stage. But she's exceptional, I tell you. She's going to be walking early whether we want it or not.

I have to cut this short. I have a mobile little human terrorizing my office. She was sleeping when I started this post, but then I heard some noise, and went into her room to find this:

And, no, that was not staged. This is really what she was doing. It is how I've found her after both naps today and this morning when she woke up. I'm a little concerned that she's going to actually try to climb out next. Seriously, she's a busy little person on the move.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Seven Months

Somehow, our sweet baby girl has turned into an active, on-the-go seven month old. Suddenly, taking the requisite monthly perspective photo on the chair has turned into a physical challenge of the wills. Olivia used to sit quietly, and our only challenge was getting her to smile (not much of a challenge). Now, we have to get her to smile while also maintaining rear-to-chair contact. Not an easy task. The above photo is the closest I could come. After that, we got this:

And also, this:

More 7-month photo attempts on her photo blog. Also there: swim photos from yesterday. So cute!

Monday, June 9, 2008

So full of energy

This afternoon, I was working in the office when I heard what sounded like a little kick thump coming from Olivia's room, where she had been napping. I went to check on her and found her on her knees, hands on the bumper and crib rails, seemingly trying to figure out how to free the bumper from the crib, and perhaps free herself from the crib as well. I so wish I had a camera in my hands at the time, because when I turned the light on, she just looked at me and grinned, like she was caught in some fun and forbidden game.

Olivia is down to two naps a day, but they are always substantial naps...usually around two hours. The rest of the day she is on the go. There is nothing that slows this girl down. She wants to see everything and learn how everything works. She's also pulling herself up to standing, which means we're going to have to figure out what to do about the coffee table. I'm afraid she's going to lose her balance and come up with a nasty bump on the head.

This past weekend, we did our best to wear her out by taking her on an overnight trip to visit Daddy's college. She had a great time. Here's a photo of her riding the mascot.

I also took her swimming for the first time in grandma's pool. She LOVED it!

Now she's trying to free herself from my lap. There's so much to do, Mom! Let me down!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Unexpected blessings

In my last post, I mentioned an incredibly long drive I would have to make to get my husband home from his business trip. We booked a hotel on Priceline in St. Louis (sort of midway on our trip home) so we wouldn't have to drive through the night.

I was a little disappointed in my Priceline attempt. My husband uses it ALL THE TIME for work and gets AMAZING deals. I thought my bid was a little higher than I should have gone, and I had to change my preferences and add the downtown area in order to get accepted. I like downtown, but you always have to pay for parking, which is a major drag.

Anyway, we got the Hilton, a boutique hotel in downtown St. Louis. Nice rooms, great beds, beautiful lobby. But we had quite a bit of trouble parking. They gave us a card to access the garage, and it wouldn't work. When my husband went back inside to try to figure it out, he ended up mentioning the reason we were staying in St. Louis in the first place...the awful ear infection and inability to fly home from his trip.

Well, the desk clerk felt so bad about our situation and our trouble with the parking garage that he valet-parked our car for free. AND he gave us two complimentary breakfasts. Which doesn't sound like that big of a deal, but I LOVE breakfast, and this was a full, hot breakfast, with sausages and eggs and french toast and breakfast potatoes. AND, it was $16.00 per person. So we never would have eaten there otherwise. If not for these free vouchers, we would have picked up fast food breakfast on the road and wouldn't have had the opportunity to enjoy a leisurely, delicious breakfast in the beautiful hotel restaurant before getting back on the road for our day of driving.

So yesterday wasn't so bad. And then we picked up Olivia, who was so happy and surprised to see her Daddy. (When you've been away for almost a week, I would imagine that little ones think it has been a long, long time since they've seen you.)

This morning I'm packing for yet another trip. This time it's an overnight trip to visit my husband's college for an event. Olivia is coming with us, and she spent a good deal of the morning napping in preparation to keep us up in the hotel tonight (I'm sure that's her motivation). No worries, though... her long nap gave me an opportunity to pack and then write this blog entry. I just checked on her a few minutes ago. This is how she looked. I thought it was cute that she and her little dolly were sleeping in the same position.

She loves her dolly and cuddles with it when she is awake and playing in her crib. Honestly, I'm not sure, though, how they both ended up in this position. When I laid her down, her head was on the other end, next to dolly's head, and she was covered with a blanket. Somehow, she got turned around and is sleeping on top of both blankets. Whatever. She is pretty warm natured and would probably sleep naked if I let her.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A rather awful week

So, my husband occasionally has to travel for his job. We were lucky enough that he had no long trips for the first 6.5 months of Olivia's life, and he has only had two overnight trips so far.

However, it couldn't last forever, and Saturday he left on a five-day business trip.

He was supposed to be back Wednesday. However, life sort of fell apart on us in the last few days. His ear was hurting on Saturday before he flew out. And then I guess the plane really screwed things up. After a trip to an urgent care center and then to the ER the next day, he discovered that he has a very nasty ear infection and was told not to fly. And he's 10 hours away by car.

Luckily, a friend there has offered to drive him part of the way home, but I still have a seven-hour trip ahead of me tomorrow. And we'll be stopping at a hotel on the way home, so we won't return until Thursday.

Olivia will be spending the night with her aunt, uncle and cousin. I'm thankful that they were able to take her on short notice.

So, I'm a little frustrated. Not with my husband, but with the situation. Between gasoline and the hotel, this will not be an inexpensive trip. And I wasn't exactly budgeting for it, so our budget is pretty much screwed.

However, I am really looking forward to having him home again. I had underestimated how difficult it would be to be at home with Olivia by myself for five consecutive days. I'm not really sure how single moms do it. It gives me a whole new respect for those who can.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Party time!

Olivia and I went to a birthday party on Saturday for a little girl who is turning three. Olivia was, by far, the youngest guest, but she had a fabulous time anyway!

Olivia crawled right into the mix of gift opening...

Something over there catches her attention.

Olivia tries to do some "hands-on" admiring of the gifts.

The party was a luau theme, so Olivia took some time to inspect her party favor...a colorful lei.

I had plenty of photos of the birthday girl too, but I don't like to publish photos of other people's kids without their permission, so this is all you get. Plus, this image: Olivia laughing and squealing as she watched the other kids laughing and squealing during their limbo contest. :)