Momma Chat

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“‘I love you as high as I can reach,’ said Little Brown Nut Hare.

‘I love you as high as I can reach,’ said Big Brown Nut Hare. That is very high, thought Little Brown Nut Hare. I wish I had arms like that…”

This is how Toby reads stories to our son. I was coming up the stairs and burst out laughing to hear of the love between the brown nut hairs. The story is actually about nutbrown hares, but as Toby protested, it’s a bit of a tongue twister to read aloud. I wonder if the author really considered how the story sounds while he was writing it.

Note to children’s book authors: read your stories out loud before submitting them for publication.

_1050846A year ago, I was just beginning to suspect I was pregnant. My parents, who had been steadily increasing the requests for grandchildren, were living with us at the time, and just about to head back to the States. I didn’t want to tell them I was pregnant just before they had to leave because I didn’t want them to feel bad about not being here. So I snuck out of my own house on some pretext about needing a couple of groceries and went to the drug store to get some tests. I bought four. I couldn’t wait to get home to find out the results though, so I took the tests right there in the grocery store bathroom.

Positive. I took the test three times because, after two years of trying to conceive, I both couldn’t believe it and wanted to be sure. Positive three times. I remember how flushed I felt, and how my head buzzed as I headed back to my car and tried to think about how to tell Toby the news, tried to imagine how our lives were about to change.

And now our little man turns four months old tomorrow.

_1050814Instead of trying to imagine what our child might be like, we’re busy reading bed time stories to him. Instead of trying to picture his face, we get to kiss it every day.

I had in mind to tell you about how his sleeping patterns are changing, but now as I sit down to write this, I know what I’d really rather say. I’d rather talk to you about how most days, even though I believe in the decisions I make as a mother, I simultaneously wonder if I’m doing it right, even as I don’t believe there’s just one right way. I reach out to my other mother-friends to compare notes, to learn, to share in the triumphs and trials. Seeing their babies thrive makes me happier than I imagined too.

It’s beyond challenging, but it’s the kind of challenge worth every iota of your strength, compassion, patience, imagination, humility, and determination. When his laugh bubbles up because you’ve nuzzled his neck, it’s the best sound you’ve ever heard. When he wakes up and smiles to see your face there beside him, it’s the kind of moment that seems to give life meaning. When you’re trying to stuff down a quick bite of dinner, and you hear your husband singing softly to him and he coos back, it feels like winning.

Those happy noises tell me all I need to hear: We may not have it perfect. We may not have it “right.” But he seems to think we’re doing pretty okay, and that’s just right by me.

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Thing I Love About Cy Today: He has an owl toy–a gift from Toby’s aunt–and the owl has wings that velcro together and then a tiny baby owl in the front pouch. Toby calls it the “marsupi-owl.” Cy has learned how to pull the wings open when you ask him to, and also how to pull the baby out. I love to watch his little hands reach out for the baby and tug it free. His eyes light up whenever you bring him his owl toy, like it was a long-lost friend.

 

 

Momma Chat

_1050758Happy New Year! Have you all survived the holiday season? A friend of ours who also recently had a baby said that this was the first holiday season that they were glad to have over with. Would I be a curmudgeon if I admitted I was inclined to agree? Don’t get me wrong–there were tons of really sweet and wonderful moments. They blossomed out in between the madness, in spite of all the hiccups in our routine. And really, the holidays were only part of what kept us so busy. December marked the end of the third year we’ve lived in Thailand and all the things that we did to set up life here (Toby’s visa, driving licenses, lease agreements, et cetera, et cetera) all came up for renewal at the same time. Plus we had to get Cy’s American paperwork in order. Each thing required several steps of bureaucracy, each squeezed in between Christmas shopping, work, house maintenance, and taking care of Cy.

Anyway, that’s not what I wanted to talk about. Really, I wanted to talk about the eggnog party we hosted at our house, the first party I finally got to host here with my proper dishware shipped from the States, instead of the plastic plates we’ve been using in the meantime. I wanted to talk about how, the night before the party, Cy woke up at 2:00 a.m. and just would not go back to sleep. I tried everything: nursing him, rocking him, changing his diaper (three times). The boy was wide awake. So, out of desperation, I made him do tummy time, determined to wear him out. And you know what he did? He rolled over for the first time! Twice! Apparently, he decided 2:30 a.m. was an appropriate time to hit a developmental milestone. He did go back to sleep after that…

_1050768I didn’t have time on Christmas Eve to make my especially spiked eggnog (since we had to spend that day at immigration), so on the Sunday before New Years’, I had a little eggnog party with appetizers–cheese tray, nuts, and whatnot, served only because we needed something with which we could absorb all that liquor. Everybody ate so much (and drank so much) at the party, we all skipped dinner and were in bed by 7:30 that night, and fully asleep an hour later.

I slept until Cy woke up to nurse at 1:30 a.m. I came downstairs to make sure we had locked up for the night, and discovered that Toby hadn’t been asleep that whole time at all. He woke up at some point to come down, wash all the dishes from the party, clean up, and go back to bed. I fell in love with that man all over again.

_1050789I think parenting has brought Toby and me together in deeper, maybe unexpected ways–despite the fact that we don’t have nearly so much time to talk to each other any more. Our best conversations–like a back and forth about The Beatles’ and what songs or Beatle we love best and their place in social history, sparked by Cy being such a Beatles fan and us singing the canon to him all the time–tend to come in pieces spread out over stolen moments over several days. Or in the car, as the one time Cy doesn’t need to be entertained for long stretches of time, and we don’t have to be quiet as he sleeps. The other day, we went to lunch at a restaurant in the mall, and I got Cy down to sleep in my arms (and felt like such a mama rockstar for this piece of jiujitsu) and we actually got to eat together and talk, a rare treat. I guess sharing the challenge of raising a baby together makes us a team in more ways than we were before, and the connections we make in unexpected moments like that are all the more precious now for being more rare.

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Cy turns four months old next week. How did that happen? It seems like just a week ago we were slogging through the first month of newborn, and now suddenly, Cy’s new favorite thing to do is to try to stand. He still doesn’t have a habit of rolling over or trying to crawl. He’s just skipped straight to wanting to sit and stand (with our help). His legs aren’t strong enough yet to hold him up for more than a few minutes at a time, and that frustrates him. We tell him “Baby steps, Cy. Baby steps.”

I’m also about 80% sure he’s teething. It’s on the early side, but he’s showing all the signs of it, and there are a couple of white bumps in his gums that I think are teeth, but I won’t call it for sure until I actually see some pearlies pushing through. It’s the saddest thing in the world when his gums bother him though. He makes this cry I’ve never heard him make before: a sad mewling sound, like a lost kitten. Perfectly calibrated to break a mama’s heart, and so hard to not be able to do much to help.

But when his gums aren’t plaguing him, he’s just a treasure. He’s more interactive now, which means he just loves to chat with us, especially in the mornings as we’re rousing from bed. He loves to be tickled, and I’m always happy to oblige. He has a little polar bear stuffed animal whose snout he loves to eat. And he thinks getting washed under the armpits is just tops._1050807

Thing I Love About Cy Today: His little head on my shoulder. Whenever I carry him on my shoulder or burp him, I peek over at the back of his little head, the way it bobbles a little uncertainly. The curve of his ear. The tufts of soft, downy hair. Something about it looks so sweet and vulnerable, and makes me want to protect it forever. I suddenly realized just how big he’s getting when I went to burp him and he stood up on my leg. That little head won’t stay so little for long.

 

Momma Chat

photo(33)Tonight I had been trying (and failing) to get Cy down to sleep. I had hoped it would happen quickly so I could get to writing this post before too long. As I lay next to him, with my eyes closed in an attempt to nurse him down for the night, I noticed he had stopped nursing. I glanced down at him and found him staring up at me, eyes all big and round, and he smiled. In quiet whispers, he cooed at me, like there was a secret he just had to tell me right then, and his little hand wriggled out from under the swaddle to hold on to mine. We lay there like that for several more minutes, and I whispered back. I knew I should be getting him to sleep, but how could I say no to a little boy who just wanted to tell me a secret and hold my hand?

Last week I mentioned that I’ve still been battling PPD, or at least some version of the baby blues. It’s not constant. It comes and goes. Sometimes I think I’m over it, and then I have crying jags for several days straight. Sometimes I think I should be over it by now and get mad at myself for not. Most times, I’m able to keep it under control by just making sure I get enough rest and by getting out of the house. Even if all I can do is take Cy for an evening walk, I try to get some fresh air each day.

If I were in the U.S., I would have gone to see a doctor about it by now. But psychiatric services here are still a relatively new phenomenon, so I’m not sure I trust what’s available. I’m dealing with it as best as I can on my own. I believe we have the power to exercise at least some discipline over our own minds, so when I’m feeling down, perhaps counter to a culture that emphasizes getting in touch with our feelings, I remind myself that not all feelings are important or true feelings, but all feelings are fleeting. Happy or sad, both shall eventually pass into something else, so enjoy the happy while I can, and when the sad or crazy steps in, remember it’s hormones and not me. My feelings aren’t me.

(I’m not a therapist, so I’m obviously not prescribing this approach for anyone else. It’s just how I choose to cope with this right now.)

Three months post-partum, and I have gone through so much change. I mentioned last week that Cy lost his baby hair (supposedly typically due to a drop in hormones). Like son, like mother I guess because I’m also losing mine. The pregnancy books all told me my hair would get thicker during pregnancy and then fall out and return to its normal state after birth. It didn’t do that. After birth, however, my hair came in so thick, but now it’s falling out. It makes me wish there were a hormone treatment that could make all that thick hair come back.

Three months post-partum, and I am about 7 pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight. It turns out nursing and babywearing makes for the best weight loss program ever. I get plenty of exercise lugging around 15 pounds of baby every day, and well, I think I can also attribute the weight loss to what I call “the mommy diet”: fast, and eaten with only one hand. I’ve gotten adept at scarfing down dinner, although if I’m holding Cy, I will inevitably get food on him. Sauces, bits of rice, morsels of meat have all landed on his wee head. One night, I had been carrying Cy while eating a large, pulled-pork burrito and didn’t notice how much I had dropped onto him until we got into bed and realized he smelled like a cantina. Oops.

It’s been cold over here the past few days–enough so that we actually need to pull out the sweaters and socks. Instead of onesies, I can finally dress him in proper pants and long pajamas. They’re more work to deal with, but so much cuter on him.

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Cy is starting to grab objects more confidently. He’s able to lay on his tummy with his head up for long stretches now, and even shows signs of trying to roll over. He’s become quite the chatter box, and he loves having conversations with his friend, Mr. Monkey. When I put the little stuffed monkey in Cy’s hand, he’ll stroke the face and he gazes at this toy longer than any other.

We play airplane together, and today, when I lowered him down, I nuzzled and nibbled at his neck and he giggled. I did it several more times, and with each giggle, I keeled over in love one more time.

When he wakes in the morning, after a nursing session, we’ll snuggle in bed together and quietly read a story, while his dad continues to sleep beside us. I whisper the words to him. He likes to feel the pages of the book.

And when we’re winding down for the night, we’ll climb into the red chair and read a goodnight story before going to sleep. He’ll sit still through it, even though our goodnight story is a relatively long one for him. That’s one of my favorite parts of the day: him sitting in my lap as I tell him how much the night wind, lady bugs, and polar bears celebrated on night he was born. We say good night to Mr. Monkey, Mr. Lion, and Miss Sofie, the giraffe, and then we head to bed.

Thing I Love About Cy Today: The way he coos after every good sneeze, like it was the most satisfying thing in the world.

 

Momma Chat

_DSF2126I hardly know where to start, so much has happened in just the past couple of days. Today, Cy turned three months old, and he has been demanding changes in his life, most notably with sleep. He has a bouncy chair that I use to reliably get him down to sleep for naps. As of Sunday, he was no longer having it. After a long period of fussing and refusing to settle, I took him out of the bouncy chair and put him on the bed for just a minute, thinking I would carry him in the sling and wear him down to sleep. But I noticed he calmed down just the tiniest bit when I put him on the bed, instead of crying more, which is what he would normally have done. I had been dreading the day he would outgrow the bouncy chair, not knowing how I would convince him to move to his crib when he needed the bouncing movement to sleep well. But when I saw him settle just that bit, I got the idea to give the crib a shot and just see what would happen. So I carried him and sang to him until he got drowsy, and just before he fell asleep I lay him in his crib–and he fell asleep! He woke two minutes later, and I did it again–and then he slept for a half hour. I stood by the whole time, certain he would wake, but he didn’t.

Well I thought I would try it putting him in his crib, just once a day for at least a week to see if he would take to it. On Monday, it took just one try and he slept for a whole 45 minutes. I was astounded. I even got a catnap myself. I began to see how I might actually be able to have some time to myself. Little snatches of time just for me! What a novel concept. Meanwhile, he does not want to be in the bouncy chair anymore. He refuses to sleep in it now.

This should make me happy right? Well.

My boy is growing up and that’s exciting. Moreover, he is letting me know, under his own aegis, when he’s ready for a new stage. All I have to do is pay attention and help him a little bit. Which means I don’t have to fight him on it–also exciting.

But carrying all fifteen pounds of him in my arms until he drifts off to sleep is no joke. It can take up to half an hour to get him to drift off, even when he’s super tired. And he naps about 5 times a day. I wear him in the sling for 2 of those naps…the rest…well, let’s just say the bouncy chair was way easier than this.

However, I’m committed to giving this a shot for a week to ten days, and hope as he gets used to it, he’ll go down to sleep more easily. Ha! I say I’m committed. I don’t really have another option if he won’t take the bouncy chair anymore.

There’s something else I’ve discovered too. He’s been super fussy for the past few naps, until I figured out today that he no longer wants to be swaddled. More changes! I can barely keep up. I would be all for him shirking the swaddle too, except he still startles himself awake. I got him to sleep in the crib today, but it was only 15 minutes before he woke himself up again. And then, fuss, fuss, fuss.

_DSF2127Other changes in the past couple of days? He’s started to reach out to touch his toys (always an awkward moment for me when I’m playing with him in his activity gym… Want to touch your monkey, Cy? Here Cy, grab your monkey!) and even will hold on to his rattle for a bit. And suddenly his cradle cap is starting to flake off, which is nice, except that it’s taking his hair along with it. AND he grabs fistfuls of his lovely locks and yanks them all out (I’m guessing because it’s itchy?), which means he now has bald patches all over his head. He looks…mangy. I’m loathe to bring him out in public for fear everyone will think our child is diseased. Thankfully the cradle cap, once it decided to go, seems to be beating a hasty departure, so one can hope this will clear up in a day or two.

And last night, he laughed for the first time! All thanks to Dot licking his feet. It was such an ebullient laugh too.

So many changes, and with them comes major fussiness, so that his mood swings back and forth between a smiling, cooing, chatty Cy and a shrieking, inconsolable Cy, with just occasional moments where he’s trying really hard to cry but we’re so rudely making him smile despite himself. I was so proud of him on Sunday for sleeping in his crib, and when he laughed for the first time? I called my mom to share the news, I was so excited. But these amazing changes–so many in just a few days–exact their toll, too. With growth, comes growing pains, both for Cy and for me. I think all the changes must be hard on him, which is why he’s suddenly fussy every time we hit a growth spurt. As for me, it always takes a gear shift to figure out how to meet his needs anew as they continually change. I’ve learned not to count on anything with a baby. The minute you think you’ve figured something out, they grow up on you.

_DSF2129Still, the three month mark is a special one. He’s starting to fill out as a real person, with a real personality and a budding character. I still battle the baby blues (a topic I’ll probably discuss another time), and there was a day when I hadn’t gotten much sleep…I put him in the sling and started walking with him and the tears came. But then he looked up at my face and stared at me with such adoration, the tears that came were not of exhaustion, but of a heart overflowing.

I don’t know if babies really feel love at this young of an age. It could be he’s just fascinated by the details of my face, now that his eyesight is getting stronger. But it looked a lot like love.

I felt loved anyway, and maybe that’s the part that matters.

Thing I Love About Cy Today: When he’s fussing, I can totally make him smile instead if I blow raspberries on his cheek.

Momma Chat

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Someone recently drew my attention to this series of posts on the surprising aspects of parenting in various countries around the world. I was so fascinated I read all the posts on the tiny screen of my phone, snatching every moment I could when Cy was sleeping or nursing. Maybe one day, I’ll share the surprising things about parenting in Thailand, but if you’re itching for a sneak peek now, I’ll just mention a few things:

* On breastfeeding in public: I almost never see Thai women nursing in public (the only one I did see was in a designated breastfeeding room in the mall). I suspect this has partly to do with modesty, but mostly to do with the high prevalence of formula feeding here. While I might not see moms nursing, I do see them whipping out bottles all the time to feed their young ones. That being said, I don’t think anyone has ever looked twice at me for nursing in public.

On the other hand…

* On babywearing: We do get funny looks all the time for wearing our baby in a sling. I think this is because only very traditional, poor, rice farmer type women wear their babies in slings. Everybody else has fancy strollers and expensive carriers, so I think people get weirded out seeing well-off foreigners going “old school, rice farmer” style. Toby, of course, gets way more attention because men generally are not the ones carrying babies.

Though I must admit, he does cut quite a figure:

_1050570_DSF1991* On babies in public: While in the States, babies in public are often thought of as a nuisance (like to the other patrons in a fancy restaurant, for example), in Thailand, babies are just absolutely adored. Thai people LOVE babies. I had heard about this before, about how waitstaff in restaurants often will gladly take a baby and play with him while the parents eat their meal. But I didn’t know the extent of this deep love for wee ones. Everywhere we go, it’s like we’re suddenly local celebrities. Neighbors who never talked to us before are suddenly chatting us up like old friends. We can’t walk ten feet in a mall without people cooing over our child and quizzing us about his age, weight, and whether I breastfeed. And restaurant managers rush to help in whatever way (“Do you want a child seat?” “Would you prefer this table instead? Your baby might get too hot over there.” “Is the fan okay? Do you have a blanket so he’s not too cold?”) I always worry about bringing Cy to nice places, for fear he might fuss, so it’s nice to feel so welcomed.

Mesmerized by his activity gym

Mesmerized by his activity gym

In the meantime, Cy is turning three months old on Tuesday. We spend a lot of time playing in his activity gym. He doesn’t seem to care about holding or playing with the toys yet, but he is fascinated by the sounds they make and watching them bounce. He likes to lie on his mat and kick out with his legs until his left foot hits one of the bars on the gym, which then makes a toy bell ring out. He hits it so regularly and precisely, we’re starting to think he’s doing it on purpose, that maybe he has figured out that he can make the bell sound if he kicks the bar. I don’t know yet if he gets cause and effect, but it happens so regularly that it doesn’t seem to be entirely due to chance.

And just look at that look of concentration!

And just look at that look of concentration!

And he can do that for long stretches of time, sometimes up to fifteen or twenty minutes. I’ve noticed he tends to do what I call “getting stuck in a loop.” He sometimes gets so fascinated by something, he’ll just stare and stare and stare for ages, until you finally distract him. He does that in his little play gym, and he often does it as I put him to sleep in his bouncy chair. He’ll stare at the window or at me, and seem to get locked into that until I move and get him back to the business of falling asleep. It makes us wonder if he might turn out to be an intense little one when he gets a bit older; that he’ll be extraordinarily focused and earnest when he’s trying to figure something out.

Anyway, Christmas is in the air in our house. We haven’t put up any decorations…and I suspect this year might be the first one in which I don’t put any up (thankfully my parents will step in and dress up their new home). But we’re singing all our favorite carols to Cy, and Silent Night has turned out to be the new favorite lullaby to get him to sleep. The excitement this year for me isn’t gifts. It’s that it’s Cy’s first Christmas. I can’t wait to see his face when he sees his first Christmas tree.

Thing I Love About Cy Today: The way he furiously works his mouth and tongue when he’s deep in concentration.

Communal Global has switched to Wednesdays! So I’m sharing my Momma Chats with everyone at Communal Global. Feel free to join in, and link us up to what’s happening in your pocket of the world!



Momma Chat

_1050705The other day we were at the mall, a big one that had just opened so it was loud and crowded; full of shoppers, marketers announcing promotions, and live shows blasted at full decibel. It’s a paradox, really, how Thais are individually such quiet, gentle people…but get them in a mall and they aim to blow your eardrums. Anyway, I digress. We brought Cy in the sling, and he stared in wide-eyed amazement at all the colors and lights and sounds, until he hit system overload and passed out. He woke over an hour later, hungry as the proverbial wolf, and we hightailed it to a breastfeeding room (There’s a breastfeeding room in the mall! Hallelujah!) He and I settled into the chair as he nursed, and when he was done, he pulled away and blinked up at me…and then let out the longest stream of the most excited babble I’ve ever seen come out of his mouth. What I wouldn’t give to know what he was trying to say.

You won’t believe what I saw, Mama!

The developmental changes are coming so fast I’m caught afresh by something new almost every day.

Our boy has never been much of a fan of tummy time. All the parenting articles and books tell me I’m supposed to give him his little workout every day so he can build strong muscles and eventually learn to do more things like sit up and crawl, but almost every time I flop him over, no matter how slowly or gently I try to go, he ends up freaked out and crying. He does have strong neck muscles–did from almost day one–and I’ve encouraged their workout in other ways, like having him hold up his head when I burp him, or having him sit up for at least an hour or so every day in the sling. And he can lift up his head for quite a long while, but the thing is, I think when I put him on his tummy, he hasn’t yet figured out that he should. He does a face-plant and scares himself.

But the other day, I was nursing him on a pillow in bed, and when he finished nursing, the light from my nightstand and all the various detritus that had collected there caught his eye. He rolled himself off the pillow to get a better look. Seeing this new development, I hastened to grab each object and introduce him.

This is Mama’s water glass. Isn’t it pretty?

This is Mama’s lip balm. What color is that? It’s peach!

This is Mama’s hair clip. Look how it catches the light! He really liked that hair clip.

Still staring at the light bouncing off the curtains and glass, he started pushing his feet against my legs, I shifted down to accommodate, and inch by inch, he scooted himself all the way up my torso.

Before having kids, you’d never think that something as small as scooting a few inches would be anything to write home about. But after weeks and weeks of seeing this tiny creature be only a receptacle (albeit a very cute one!) for love, attention, entertainment, comfort, security, and food, you want to sing from the rooftops when you see him do something so miraculous as to act of his own volition. It wasn’t fear or hurt that caused him to act. It was simple, beautiful curiosity. He didn’t need anything. He wanted to find out what all that light and color was all about. He didn’t just passively stare. He actively tried to get closer. Those little grunts and struggles to scoot himself a few measly inches was in essence an act of his own free will.

Seeing how powerful a motivator his curiosity is, I’m now looking for any opportunity to exploit it to encourage him to try things. My MIL was quite brilliant raising my husband. She told me that she figured out pretty early on that all Toby wanted was freedom. He was determined to strike out on his own and do things his way. Once she figured out what made him tick, it was just a matter of measuring out how much to give and how much to withhold to help him grow into his independence safely and securely.

I can’t wait to find out what makes Cy tick. Mostly because I can’t wait till the next time I see him so excited.

In the meantime, I can still nibble on his toes.

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Thing I Love About Cy Today: When his bestepapa (grandfather) started talking to him in Zulu, he got the biggest grin on his face and started babbling back. I think we’ve found his native tongue!

Momma Chat

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Chatting up Mr. Turtle

Before I had Cy, I used to make a promise to myself that I wouldn’t lose myself in motherhood. I have been a part of the mommy blogger community long enough to know how easy it is for mothers to get so consumed by being a mother that they let all the other parts of their identity fall by the wayside. Then, as their kids slowly grew into independence, these mothers would be left without their sense of purpose–who they were before kids no longer fit, and as their primary function as mother no longer brought so many demands, they faced a crisis of identity.

Now that I’ve been a mother for two months, I can see more clearly how easy it is to let motherhood become one’s entire identity. I find myself giving over entirely to him. My previous interests fall into the background as I spend more time obsessing over his needs. Whatever time is left is dedicated to the basic requirements of survival and maintaining a functioning home. And I don’t really miss what came before.

Sometimes I do get impatient with the demands of raising an infant. Sometimes I long for him to grow more quickly so that I can catch a break. But when I try to formulate in my head what that “break” really means, what it is I’m longing for, the only things I find I really want is a decent cup of cappuccino, and for him to be able to play a little more independently for at least a few minutes at a stretch so I don’t have to be ON all. the. time.

I wonder if this state is a natural biological imperative, arising simply because his needs right now are so big and so much, and if as he grows in independence, I’ll start to want to reclaim mine. I wonder if I’ll be so attuned to him that, as he grows, I simply can’t let go, even if I might theoretically want to.

_1050680This week our mostly quiet, cheerful infant has suddenly become supremely fussy. I suspect it’s partly some minor gastrointestinal discomforts, which may or may not be related to a possible growth spurt. He’s suddenly growing a lot longer these days, so maybe there’s some growing pains thrown in the mix. Whatever it is, he’s been crying more often and longer, once or twice apparently inconsolably. I mean, he’s not colicky or anything. It’s just more crying than we’re used to, when before, I could probably count on one hand the number of full minutes he’d cry collectively in one day.

At first, I fought against this change in our son. Mentally and emotionally, I chafed against it, and the more upset he was, the less calm or patient I could be. Previously any crying was directly tied to a discoverable reason. Now sometimes there is no discernible reason. I fought it hard. But in the last few days, I’ve found myself surrendering to it. I just do my best and ride it out. Most times we figure it out. Sometimes we don’t. But either way it’s easier on me when I just go with it and stop expecting life to be different than what it is.

Yesterday had been a long, fussy day. In the early evening, however, he fell asleep while nursing on the first side, so I sat with him, not moving until he awoke, wanting to give him a chance to finally get a decent nap. He woke a half hour later, and I brought him to bed and lay down with him, nursing him down to sleep on the other side, allowing him to use me as a pacifier. I normally don’t do that, but he seemed to need it, and I needed the rest too. My friends, he slept for FIVE hours. It was amazing. And when he woke, all fussiness was gone. He giggled and cooed at us, making us smile and laugh for about an hour before signaling that he was ready to go back to sleep. We swaddled him up, and he slept again for another four hours.

In that time he was awake, I played with him, I wooed him with my songs. I snuggled right up to his face and he snuggled back. And that moment right there…it made up for the entire day.

And, come on, just look at that smile

And, come on, just look at that smile

(And today, he started to seem more like his usual self–gastrointestinally and behaviorally. Fingers crossed, we’re through the growth spurt–if that’s what’s to blame.)

Aside from growing longer, several other developmental changes have shown up this week. He found his fingers and has started sucking on his fist. He’ll catch your eye and hold a gaze for a long time. He’s starting to enjoy hanging out in his little activity gym; he likes the mirror best (little narcissist) and listening to the tinkle of little bells inside one of the toys that dangles from the bars. He’s not interested in the toys yet, but there’s a large orange circular piece that connects the bars, and he’ll stare at that, enrapt, for many long minutes. And his little vocalizations are getting louder and longer. I love his little voice. I can’t get enough of it. He’s hardly talking and already I can’t wait to hear what he has to say.

And I tell him, “Hey, little man, you and me. We’re a good team, aren’t we? You and me.”

Thing I Love About Cy Today: That even when he has a rough day, like on Monday, when he had to get two immunization shots, he still has the wherewithal to smile at us and coo.

Momma Chat

Baby & Mama selfie

Baby & Mama selfie

If I invited you over to meet Cy today, you’d totally laugh because he’s been one serious fart machine all day long. Farting while eating, farting while diaper changing, farting while playing, farting while sleeping…waking up, farting, then going promptly back to sleep…he’s done it all. His dad is very proud. I’m wondering if it had anything to do with the green mango I ate for lunch yesterday. I looked up green mango online to see if it causes gassiness in breastfed babies and I came across a site that advocated variety in the breastfeeding mother’s diet, then listed all the things one should avoid eating, such as: spices, dairy, vegetables, citrus fruit, caffeine, and of course alcohol. I think meat and carbs were the only things not listed. Sounds like a fantastic diet to me.

_DSF1984

Speaking of breastfeeding…I’ve developed a curious habit. Whenever I nurse Cy, I find myself picking at him: clearing out the shmuckus of cotton fibers that collect between his fingers, wiping away at any stray hairs, and cleaning any crusty bits that have accumulated. I think it’s probably some kind of primal, primate grooming instinct. Call me Mother Gorilla.

Another bit of weirdness: I have absolutely no trust in my ability to sense temperature any more. When I was pregnant, I became several degrees warmer, and felt hot all the time. When Cy was born, I seemed to go back to normal, at least, I thought so because I could suddenly get cold again. But now, I think it’s warm, others say it’s freezing. I’m cold; Toby says he’s roasting. Sometimes I feel warm, but my skin is cool to the touch. Crazy hormones, maybe? I blame them. Either way, I’m still usually hotter than I like, and I long to be somewhere that I can actually wear a sweater. Or socks.

Finally, a picture of all of us!

Finally, a picture of all of us!

Anyway, Cy just turned 8 weeks old, marking now what people say is the tail end of the crazy parental hazing period. Things are getting easier–though I can’t always tell because sometimes I do feel like I’m still recuperating from the earlier hard. Taking care of the little one is easier in the sense that he is sleeping longer at night (usually), we’re getting better at figuring out what he needs and getting his needs met, and we’re freaking out less about the little things that used to be a challenge. Things are also getting better because he’s more interactive. He and I share a lot of moments that I wish I could freeze frame and hold onto forever, like when I make a funny face or sound and he smiles like it’s the best thing in the world, and I love his how happy he looks, and feel sad at the same time for being the only person in the world who got to see that cheeky grin and look of surprised pleasure.

Now, the challenge is figuring out how to balance Cy’s needs with our needs and with the demands of regular life. The past few days, I’ve gotten a bug up my butt to knock off all the items on our to-do list that have been piling up or gone neglected while we’ve been barely treading water taking care of a newborn. It was a productive string of days, but it sure did catch up with me. I’ve been exhausted and feeling like I’m fighting the beginning of a cold. And with the lack of sleep comes also the hints of Crazy Town Jade again. So we’ve been real careful to make sure I’m getting rest again, and that has helped a lot. But it is oh so clear how easy it is to overdo things, and how quickly things can get out of whack. So. Balance. That’s the next bit to work out. I sense that’s probably going to be an ongoing challenge.

But it’s okay, really. I don’t expect to get it right. We’re finding normal again–a different kind of normal, but our new normal. It may be hard, but I’m actually looking forward to it.

How can I not, when I’ve got this little one to love on?

haz hat

Thing I Love About Cy Today: He makes a little cry that sounds like “mmm….LEH!” and pouts so hard, I can’t take it seriously because it’s just too friggin’ cute.

Momma Chat

Wine, muchly needed

Wine, muchly needed

So…last week was HARD. The kind of hard you’re not sure you’ll survive until well after you’ve already come out of the haze that the hard was. It started with Cy having some issues with gassiness, then escalated into Mama’s got a case of mastitis….add in hot & cold compresses, vigorous boob massages, painful inflammation, feeding every 2 hours, and no sleep longer than 30 minutes at a time for 5 days straight…You get lots of tears. Lots and lots of tears. Most of them mine. The real irony was, just before that week hit, I had hit a sweet spot with Cy where I felt we’d found a groove, I could read his cues most of the time, and that I was finally healed from the c-section.

Lesson #1: As soon as you think you’ve got this, prepare for it all to prove you wrong.

Turns out what I really needed was a course of antibiotics, sleep, and friends. I can’t begin to describe how deep into Crazy Town I was last week, but between my family and friends, I managed not to get totally lost. It was in a (tear-filled) Skype session with an amazing friend and mama that I found some clarity. She shared a bit of wisdom that her cousin had once shared with her:

I never have a perfect day.

That may not sound very comforting on the face of it, but to the straight-A student who doesn’t grade on a curve, it was blessed relief. Lesson #2: Adjust your expectations. Because, yeah, maybe my boob is a little bit broken right now, but you know what? It’s still producing plenty of milk for my baby, who is happy and healthy, and full of smiles for his mama. And that IS what matters. I can’t say the day has gone totally smoothly, but I can say we learned a new game to play together. I can say I might have figured out how to get him to sleep in his bouncy chair so I don’t have to carry him to sleep. I can say that we had that really sweet moment when I booped him on the nose and he gave me the biggest grin.

I can say I got a really good nap. And I can say that when I got up to leave the room, he followed me with his eyes.

(I used to freak out when he would spit up a bunch all over while my boobs were leaking down my clothes and onto the floor. Now I keep a towel on the floor that I can push around with my foot, and call that a job done well enough.)

_1050653

 

And here’s Lesson #3: Mamas need other mamas. There was no advice on the internet, no book, no single anecdote or time-worn wisdom that saved me. It was other mamas. My own, my friends…others who’ve walked the path before me, who could tell me that the only way to get through this is to go through it, but that I WOULD indeed emerge out the other side.

Cy is 6 weeks old today and I tell myself we’re in the homestretch of the hardest of the hard. And honestly, as hard as last week was, there is SO MUCH love. And, thanks to Cy’s dad, a lot of laughs too. On this motherhood trip, I may make occasional visits to Crazy Town, but I am so lucky to have people in my life who make sure I don’t stay there.

Including this little one:

_1050652Thing I Love About Cy Today: I love that a really satisfying poop totally makes him smile.

 

Momma Chat

_1050642People weren’t kidding when they said this time would go by fast. It didn’t feel that way, especially not at first, but tomorrow Cy will turn one month old. It’s hard to believe it has been a month, and the surprise is how fast he changes. I remember when he hardly did more than sleep and nurse. Now he coos at us, gets transfixed by light coming in through the window, and loves nothing more than to listen to music from the comfort of our arms. He rang in his 4-week mark with an exuberant fart and a cheeky smile.

Already, he stays awake in that quiet, watchful state for longer periods of time. We take that time to talk with him, sing to him, read to him, and blow raspberries on his various appendages.

My grumpy dumpling

My grumpy dumpling

Toby has been making it a duty, after having read this article, to talk to Cy every chance he gets, to fill up his little word tank. Here’s a sample snippet from a Toby-Cy conversation (or Toby monologue, as it were…)

On being a good listener, the value of making eye contact:

Toby: Eye contact is essential, especially when you’re listening to a girl talk, because otherwise it’ll seem like you think that what they’re saying is…you know…less than spell-binding. And now, eye contact, contrary to what you might think, does not actually mean touching somebody with your eyeball–which I discovered at an early age–because, well, it tends to disturb them and you get stuff stuck to your eye. It also doesn’t mean touching them in the eye. I mean, it might depend on who you do it to. If you do it to Dot, she’ll probably just blink at you. But if you do it to Mom, she, you know, might “accidentally” drop you. Accidentally is in air quotes. But I can’t do air quotes because I’m busy carrying you.

I love their conversations. I eavesdrop on every one of them.

Made in Thailand!

Made in Thailand!

It’s funny; now that a month has passed, there is a part of me that meets the passing with a sigh. It’s the part that sees the piling up of regular life outside our front door. Toby only took two weeks off for paternity leave, so already he’s juggling work, helping me with Cy, getting dinner and groceries for us, etc., while I’m on the perpetual cycle of nursing, burping, changing Cy, and putting him to sleep. While we’ve focused on getting through this month, there’s so much that needs attention. All three of our vehicles have decided to stage a strike, needing new tires and service of various sorts. We need to get some paperwork done for Cy. Toby had to do a border run last weekend. Doctor visits. And so on. I guess the baby moon is over, and just as we’re starting to get a handle on things, more demands need to be met. Funny how life works like that. It pushes you to your edge, and in time you find how to stretch just a little past it so it’s no longer the edge, then life gives you just a little bit more.

We’re growing. That’s a good thing.

Thing I Love About Cy Today: I love the way he clasps his hands together while nursing. It looks like something halfway between hand wringing and a tentative prayer.

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