Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chicken Killer, but Baby Lover

I put Caro down for a nap in the rock n' play sleeper in our bedroom.  The bathroom is just across the hall, so I felt comfortable leaving her in there while I hopped in the shower (leaving the bathroom door open).

Cooper spends his days snoozing on the sofa in the living room so that he can spy on the neighborhood out our front window and bark his everloving head off at delivery persons, joggers, and dog walkers warn us of intruders.  Since we've relocated his sleeping arrangements to the living room, he rarely comes in our bedroom at all, as it's at the back of the house and he can't see out the window.

But when I got out of the shower, he was in our bedroom.  Watching the baby sleep.

(our sheets are in the wash--that's why the bed looks like that)
Our camera was sitting on the dresser, so after my heart melted at the sweetness, I took this snapshot, then told Cooper what a good boy he is.  Once he saw that I was in the room to get dressed, and therefore staying in the bedroom with the baby, he jumped off the bed and resumed his post on the living room sofa.

I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Here's looking at you, kid.

Monday, July 30, 2012

What a Difference a Day Makes

When Caroline was born, one of David's wonderful and thoughtful co-workers sent home a sweet, personalized Cardinals nightgown for Caroline, and included another gift for David and me:

excuse the blurriness - camera issue!
Those of you who are on Pinterest may have seen similar projects.  My jaw dropped when David showed it to me because THAT VERY DAY I had pinned that on my "She's Crafty" board (Do you think anyone recognizes that as a Beastie Boys reference?  Man, I was so almost cool once upon a time. Okay, not really.)  I had wanted to try to make one myself, and then all of sudden, there it was!  Perfect, and requiring zero effort on my part.  It's prominently displayed in our living room, and almost everyone who has come over to visit Caroline has commented on it.

Anyway, it should go without saying that I love this print.  I love seeing those dates as a permanent record of what's really important in our lives, and of course I love seeing both my girls' names in a lovely script.

Eliza Taylor & Caroline Audrey
I know it won't be often that I will get to see their names listed side by side, as sisters.  Having Caroline here has been as good as I imagined, and even better.  But it has also made me grieve for Eliza's impermanence.  I cherish Caroline's solidness, her warm weight in my arms, and I still ache for the dream-baby Eliza is now.  I have Eliza's portrait hanging in our little photo gallery in the hall, near the framed picture of her name in the sand at sunset.  I have another print with her name and birthdate on it in our dining room.  But it will never feel like quite, enough, you know?  Not when you compare those little memorials to the thousand pictures (seriously!) of Caro that are already on my harddrive, and the hundreds of thousands more that we're sure to take over the course of her life.

I like that Caroline can use Eliza's things.  I'm truly glad--relieved, in a way--that the clothes that I so carefully chose for Eliza can be shared by her little sister.  I'm using many of the same nursery decorations and I'm happy to let Caroline have the crib mobiles and piggy bank and teensy little baseball glove.  But there's something especially heartbreaking to me about seeing "This book belongs to Eliza" in a few of our little books (those that we bought for Eliza or received at baby showers), knowing that Eliza never got to have them read to her, except when she was still in my belly.  I'll never buy another book that just belongs to Eliza.  In fact, as time goes on, the opportunities to write down her name (or hear it spoken, I'm afraid) are few and far between (except on this blog, of course).

On the other hand, Caroline's name (like her adorable little face) is everywhere.  On the cards attached to all the lovely gifts we've received.  On nightgowns or bibs embroidered with her name or monogram.  On her social security card.  On the paperwork to add her to our investment accounts.  On her birth announcements.  Her presence is so solid and definite, and it makes Eliza feel all the more ephemeral and absent.

I know I'll never get Eliza back.  I know I'm lucky to get to have her sister.  But the unfairness continues to shock me.  The jealousy and anger has not subsided entirely, and sometimes seeing Caroline sleeping peacefully makes me cry for Eliza and wonder why our first baby didn't get the chance to come home with us.  Why couldn't things have worked out like this for Eliza, too?  Why am I someone whose baby DIED?  How on earth did that happen to ME?

The pity party could go on forever, except that it can't.  It comes in waves, but I can't sustain it forever, and it feels now like it would be a disservice to both of my daughters if I tried.

What I'm trying to say is that it's a gift whenever anyone remembers or mentions Eliza.  And it gives me a tiny bit of comfort to see Eliza included in our family, her birthday listed in black and white, right alongside everyone else's, with qualification or explanation.

In some ways, she was a baby who never lived, but in every way that matters, her life was incredibly significant to David and me, and it just doesn't feel like there are enough ways to make that known.  She is our daughter.  December 6th is her birthday.  We love her.  We miss her.  That's all that matters.

December 6, 2010 was the day everything changed.  Our first baby girl was born, and our happy, perfectly-planned life came crashing down around us.  We lost our baby girl and we lost our innocence along with her.

But even in the shock and terror and grief of that day, I think we knew that the reason we were so shattered was because we loved her so much.  You can't just ignore or wish away love like that, no matter how much it breaks your heart.  We discovered how much we could love by way of finding out how much we could hurt.

Eliza's birthday was nothing like we had hoped, but it was still her birthday, and it is a day that we will always recognize and honor with all the bittersweet truth that it represents.  We love both our girls so much, and--as this simple little print states--each of their birthdays made all the difference in our lives.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

What a Difference a Year Makes

image posted on Pinterest with a bad link--sorry
It's my birthday.  Another year older, wiser, sadder, happier.  

And, no, this isn't a ploy to get everyone to wish me happy birthday--it's a happy day already, trust me.  Not perfect by any means, but as close as I'll ever get.

This was the longest year of my life.

I guess birthdays tend to invite reflection (at least for the self-absorbed analytics in the crowd), and in the last few days I've found myself thinking a lot about where I was a year ago, and how glad I am to have come so far from there.

One year ago at this time, I was more than half a year out from the loss of Eliza, but the pain was still incredibly fresh.  Six months is nothing when it comes to that kind of grief.  I was still neck-deep in it.  Life still hurt.  Even simple pleasures (favorite foods, good movies, white wine...) also registered as Things I'd Never Share With Eliza, or things that didn't matter in comparison with the death of my baby.  At best, they were minor distractions to keep the tears temporarily at bay.

Life was not sparkling.  It was barely in color.  I was going through the motions pretty well, but everything was forced and the effort was exhausting.  This is evidenced by the fact that I can barely remember last summer.  Looking back, it's foggy and soaked with tears.  I cried every. single. day of last summer.

I was broken hearted, and also reaching the point where I started to wonder if I'd used up my quota of sympathetic understanding.  I had friends tell me they thought I'd be "better" by now.  People--friends and acquaintances and my in-laws--started asking when we were going to have another baby.  I couldn't even talk about it because I didn't know WHY I wasn't pregnant (it wasn't for lack of trying, let me tell you) and I was devastated.

I couldn't let go of the fact that my perfectly planned life had fallen apart.  I didn't want to make a new plan because I loved the old plan so much.  I didn't know how to move forward with a life that felt like it would always be worse than it should have been. I was both utterly grief stricken and trying desperately to get pregnant again and it was a horrible place to be.

A year ago, I couldn't look at babies or pregnant women.  I barely talked to my friends who had new babies or were expecting babies.  In fact, I barely talked to my friends at all, except for a few die-hards (God love them) who kept calling and texting and e-mailing me anyway (thanks, guys).

A year ago I was teaching a class on banned books.  It had its fun moments, but I wasn't really enjoying myself.  I was still in survival mode, taking it one day at a time.

A year ago my family took a vacation to the wonders of Canada (Vancouver and Whistler) and being outdoors there was the first time since Eliza died that nature seemed beautiful and God seemed possible again.

A year ago I was making an appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist because my biological clock had me in a PANIC.  It may have been irrational, but it was nonetheless real for that.

A year ago I was seeing a grief counselor every other week.  I was still sobbing my way through most appointments.

I wanted desperately to be pregnant and all I could think about was that something mysterious was wrong with me, and whatever had killed Eliza had also rendered me infertile and incapable of ever having a child.

A year ago, I was actively researching international and domestic adoption.

A year ago, I was in daily contact with three other moms who had lost babies and were trying to get pregnant again.  No detail of grief, hope, or ovulation was too personal to share with those ladies, and their e-mails (along with texts and e-mails and blog comments from other BLMs) were quite possibly the only things that kept me sane.

A year ago, all I wanted for my birthday was another baby.

This year, she's here.  

I can hardly believe it.

I say this not because I'm gloating or because I'm all better now or because life is sweet again (although in so many ways, it is).  But because I want you to know that if you are in someplace that feels like the darkest, scariest, most hopeless place you could be, it is very possible that a year from now your life will have changed immeasurably. 

A year is long enough to soften even the sharpest pain and make it bearable.  It's long enough to give you to the confidence that your most important relationships can survive a tragedy.  It's long enough to make it clear which friendships are worth hanging on to and which aren't.  A year is long enough to make new friends that you'll have for a lifetime.  It's long enough to adjust your expectations of certain family members, and to be pleasantly surprised by others.  

It's long enough to have a positive pregnancy test, survive a stressful pregnancy, and bring home a healthy baby.  

A year gave me enough time to really figure out that what I read somewhere is true--happiness and sadness are not two sides of the same coin.  You don't experience only one or the other.  You find a way to reside with them both.  My joyful experience with Caroline in no way softens or cancels out the pain of losing Eliza. But in the same way, the trauma and grief of losing my little Eliza does not diminish or overshadow my happiness at having Caro here with us.

I don't know how that works.  I didn't quite believe it when other people told me it worked that way.  But it's true.  

A year is long enough to prove that no matter how much time goes by, you'll never get over the heartbreak of your great loss, but you can get back to yourself.  

And this year was enough time to get myself to a better place than I ever dared hope I'd be.  (Although, of course, I was hoping for this all along.)

So hold on.

You never know where you'll be in a year.

I'm putting this print up in Caroline's nursery.  You can get the free printable here.

Friday, July 27, 2012

She's From the Lou and She's Proud

Earlier this month, Caroline's cousins visited from California.

cuteness obviously runs in the family
They hit a lot of major St. Louis attractions, including the zoo and the botanical gardens.  On their last full day in town, we took them to the arch.  The cousins (and their mom and grandma) went up in the teensy elevators to check out the view from the top.  They said it was awesome.  But Caroline was perfectly content to roll around the museum in her stroller.

Caroline, David, Kailer, and Taylyn
After we saw the museum sights, we left the cousins in line for the elevators and braved the heat to have a quick photo session outside.  

Caro and Daddy

Caro and Mommy

Neck control would have been helpful in getting this shot
Photo session ended abruptly with a major FIRST:  Caroline's first diaper blow out!

changing the dipe
So she can cross "Getting naked at a major tourist attraction" off her bucket list.

Because that's how we do it in the Lou.

Who's coming to visit?  Caroline would love to take you on the Anheuser Busch tour!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Caro, Cooper, and Little Mac

A lot of people have asked us how the dogs are adjusting to having a new kid in town.

It's true that naptime has gone from this:

to this:

But Cooper seems to be handling things pretty well.  And Little Mac still wants to be left alone, which isn't a problem at this point.

I goez my own way
Amazingly, things have been a little easier than I expected because the dogs are totally NOT interested in the baby.  Coop was momentarily intrigued, but it was short lived.

Baybee doez not smell like chikn.
Little Mac has looked at her curiously when she squawks in her swing (which is a small travel swing, so it sits low to the floor), but now they both pretty much ignore her entirely.

I've felt a little sad when Cooper wants to join me in the recliner, but my lap is full of baby and bobby and boob time, but he settles right down in his bed next to the chair and seems perfectly content.  And sometimes he joins us:

I triez to snuggle, but the baybee in mah way!
The biggest hassle has been the level of obnoxiousness that the dogs have when it comes to visitors and delivery persons.  I love having people come over to meet the baby, but Cooper gets freaking INSANE.  He has always been annoying when people first come over--lots and lots of loud barking until everyone settles down and sits--but I swear he has amped it up in the last few weeks.  Little Mac joins him in the incessant barking and we've been tempting them outside on the deck with treats, but it's so freaking hot we can't leave them out there for long or Cooper is scratching the hell out of the back door.  So our guests have to deal with a hyperactive, incredibly loud puggle barking AND jumping.  The jumping up is a new thing and it is the WORST habit.  So that's aggravating.  I'm constantly apologizing for the dogs when we have people over.
Where iz the luv?
The other thing is that deliveries have been more frequent than usual in the past few weeks, and Cooper goes ballistic at the SOUND of the FedEx or UPS truck.  Even if the blinds are closed, he can HEAR the truck pulling up in front of our house, and he can tell the difference between a delivery truck and our neighbors' cars.  He goes completely bananas (which sets off Little Mac in a barking frenzy) until the package is dropped off and the delivery person leaves.  The mailman is a daily occurrence that also makes Cooper bark his head off (he does not CARE that the mailman is providing a public service and that we appreciate it).

Fortunately, Caroline sleeps through our dogs barking like it's white noise.  This had been a concern for me, but obviously she got used to it when she was still in my belly.  Wen my friend Jamie was over with her 7-week old baby, Nathan, Cooper's barking (at the mailman) made Nathan cry.  Caroline didn't even flinch.

I know Cooper probably is a bit starved for attention and exercise, but the only reason he's not getting walked is because the temperatures are still in the triple digits here.  Even if we didn't have a baby, I wouldn't be traipsing around the block with him in this weather.  As soon as it cools down, we'll be hitting the sidewalks with the stroller or the Ergo.

All this to say...  the dogs are as annoying as ever, but they seem to have accepted that their new sister is here to stay.  In fact, last night David and I were having a conversation about how sweet it is when all of the kids are asleep--Caroline's pack 'n play sits between the dog beds in our living room, so they all line up together for nap time.  It's pretty cute.

THEN I headed into the kitchen to refill my glass of water and stopped short in the dining room.  I let out a horrified gasp that made David ask what was wrong.

It wudn't me!
Little Mac had left a little "gift" on the floor of the DINING ROOM.  We are talking a HIGH TRAFFIC AREA.  She didn't even TRY to hide it.  

And this did NOT occur while we were gone.  When I picked it up to flush it, it was STILL WARM AND SQUISHY.  

This means that David and I had been sitting in the living room, and instead of scratching or barking at the door (which she is PERFECTLY CAPABLE) of doing, Little Mac just went into the next room (which is actually in VIEW of the living room) and took a shit.

wut?  u r cleaning up baby shit all the time, I just give you a bit extra.
She was probably glaring at us through the doorway when she did it.

So... maybe we're still adjusting.

WTF u mean that baybee iz here to stay?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Caroline's First Cardinals Game

We went to the ball game on Saturday night with Caroline's Grandma and Grandpa Lee.  They were in town for the weekend, and they treated us all to Red Bird Club seats.  This means we had a great view behind home plate, and access to a nice air-conditioned concession area, where I was able to nurse Caro after the never-ending seventh inning.

She ate right before we left, fell asleep in the car seat, stayed asleep when I loaded her up in the Ergo, and probably would have slept through the entire game except the seventh inning stretched on forever (because the Cardinals scored TWELVE runs in one inning--looks like someone is a lucky charm!) and I started to worry that she'd wake up hungry and cranky just as we were leaving.  Anyway, potential crisis was averted.  She ate, went back to sleep, and snoozed all the way home.

People around us were commenting on how beautiful she is and what a good baby she was.  I told David that it was a good thing she had that hearing screening at the hospital, because otherwise I'd be worried that she didn't wake up when the entire stadium was cheering for David Freese.

lounging on Mom's lap on the Ergo infant insert
But, you know how it is.  Looking this cute is just exhausting.

Also:  this hair bow was a fashion risk that totally worked for her. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


It's such an annoying cliche, but my brain really feels like it's severely limited in function these days.  I'm really hoping this issue resolves itself before long.  In the meantime, I'm answering questions instead of trying to string together ideas of my own...

Current Book(s) -- I'm not reading anything at the moment.  First time in my life?  I was reading three books a week in June and then...  well, everything changed in a good way, but my reading time got a severe hit.  I got about halfway through The Song of Achilles after Caroline was born, but then someone else requested it at the library and I couldn't renew it and I knew I wouldn't be able to finish it in two days so...  alas.  I need to get some books on the Kindle, because I think it would be easier to read one handed.  And extra hands are something I could use these days...

Current Playlist --  Lullabies, white noise, and Vivaldi's Four Seasons during awake time.  Also NPR, which Caroline finds very soothing.  Perhaps because she listened to so much of it in the womb during my commute?

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure -- Bunheads on ABC Family.  Whatevs.  It's great.

Current Color -- Pink.  What else?

Current Drink -- Sticking with the iced water with lemon.  I guzzle it.  I'm so thirsty these days.

Current Food -- In addition to be thirsty, I also be HUNGRY.  Like, ravenous.  I'm still eating a lot of my go-to pregnancy snacks:  trail mix, string cheese, granola bars.  But I'm also eating pretty much anything else I can get my hands on.  David's been great about doing the cooking (which is nothing new) and we're still eating lots of garden-goodness, including homemade salsa.  Nom.

Current Favorite Show -- Still with Veronica Mars.  But I also watched the first season of Episodes (which was on Showtime).  It's hysterical.

Current Wishlist -- I'm going with the superficial version of this answer:  Clothes that fit.  I'm cycling through the same three tank tops, stretchy capri pants, and elastic waist skirts.

Current Needs -- A laundry service.  See the limitation of three outfits, add bath towels, baby clothes, sheets, blankets, cloth diapers, David's work clothes and his gross work-out clothes.  Multiply times HOW THE HELL DO WE PRODUCE THIS MUCH LAUNDRY?

Current Triumphs -- We're cloth diapering!  This is day 2, so it's not like I can claim success.  But you've got to start sometime, right?

Current Bane of my Existence -- The non-existent storage at my house.  Somehow this very cute, perfectly lovely home was built WITHOUT a pantry or a coat closet or attic space or a basement.  When we had a spare bedroom, none of that mattered because we had enough space for the overflow of coats, off-season clothing, wrapping paper, and other miscellany.  Now that a certain Little Miss has moved into the guest room (yes, we've started putting together the nursery--more on that later) and brought an assload of clothing and accessories with her while at the same time eliminating the under-the-guest-bed-storage...  Well.  We need to find a home for all the stuff that she has displaced, and so far it's stacked in the dining room.  We are swimming in plastic storage containers and have nowhere to store them!  Ah, these are the problems to have.  Let me tell you.

Current Celebrity Crush -- Still with Logan Echolls on Veronica Mars.  Also, if you can have a crush on a couple, then I have a crush on Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds.  Are you KIDDING me?  Most beautiful couple ever?

Current Indulgence -- My mother-in-law gave me birthday money when she visited the baby, and I hit Sephora when we stopped by the mall (so she could buy the baby a St. Louis Cardinals outfit).  Tarte make up is free of the yucky-stuff that I try to avoid, and cruelty-free, so it's my new favorite.  But it's pricey.  Hence the indulgence.
Current #1 Blessing --

Current Slang or Saying -- "You hung-ees?  Don't fuss!  Mama feed you!"  (I say this at least eight times a day.  I swear sometimes I talk not in hicksville baby talk.). 

Current Outfit -- Nursing tank (white) and yoga capris (black).  Evidently there's only room for one fashionista in this house, and she is currently rocking this outfit (thanks, Vicky!):

Current Excitement -- I bought a groupon to a drive in movie theater so we can see the new Batman movie!  Isn't that fun?  Fingers crossed that Caroline cooperates with our plan.  Now the challenge is staying up for a movie that starts at 9pm...

Current Mood -- Swinging.  Most of the time I feel pretty content.  Then I'm totally overwhelmed by the laundry and lack of storage issue.  Then I'm feeling teary-eyed because I'm SO lucky and my baby is SO gorgeous and amazing and brilliant.  Then I'm worried that she's not getting enough to eat  and these cloth diapers are so big that they are going to make her bow-legged for life and OMG I haven't looked at her for five minutes is she still breathing?  Then I'm totally offended because I swear David rolled his eyes at something I said.  Then I'm melting because there is nothing sweeter than seeing him holding Caro (see above for evidence of this).  Then I feel guilty because the dogs aren't getting enough attention (and they are not getting walked in this godforsaken heat).  Then I'm exhausted because I'm responsible for sustaining the life of another human being with nothing but my boobs and that kind of freaks me out.  And then I'm just feeling hungry.  

Friday, July 20, 2012

Five Things on Friday Night

1) My adventures with natural deodorant continue.  Adidas Cotton Tech is still the clear winner, but it's freaking expensive, so I keep looking for another one that's just as effective but cheap.  I ordered a deodorant cream from Etsy that was highly recommended in a magazine.  It's made from all natural materials and essential oils, but evidently my armpits are sensitive to one of those ingredients because I ended up with red, itchy, irritated pits.  Totally uncomfortable!  I didn't notice it until I went to bed, and then thought, "Oh, that's weird."  By morning, it was worse.  I couldn't believe how irritated my poor little armpits were.  So then I couldn't put any deodorant on the next day because my pits were inflamed!

I created my own remedy out of Caroline's Butt Paste (I figured if it worked on diaper rash, it would work on armpit rash) and some baby powder, and that helped with the itching/burning and smelled pretty nice, too.  But I still spent a lot of time whining to David, "My pitters itch and hurt and stink!"

The pits have since recovered, and I'm sticking with the overpriced Adidas deodorant that has to be special-ordered from Amazon since it's evidently not sold in stores.  Because my armpits are totally high-maintenance.

2) Caroline had her first trip to Target today.  David went with us (at my request) and I quickly realized that of the two of them, Caro is a far better shopping companion.  She never asks how much things cost or whether we really "need" a particular item.  And if she's tired, she just falls peacefully asleep.  David, on the other hand, gets cranky at Target and has to be told to take a nap when we get home.  Next time it will just be a girls' trip and I might even buy a new shirt or something.

3) My friend Jamie and I met up yesterday to go to a nursing moms' group together and then out to lunch.  After lunch, she gave me an early birthday present, which included this book:

image from here
It made me cry in the best way.  So many people have celebrated Baby Caroline with us, but the best gift of all are those who let us know that they are remembering Eliza, too.  I don't want Caro to ever feel overshadowed by her sister, but I don't want Eliza to be forgotten either.  I want Caroline to grow up knowing that she has a sister we love and miss.  This book is perfect because it's another sweet way to talk about Eliza.

4) Speaking of lovely gifts, Caroline receive a mystery package in the mail the other day.  It was from an Etsy shop called Trafalger Square, which is where I ordered this print for Eliza's nursery:

A Jolly Read (available here)
The package included two more beautiful prints.  This one:

bunny and duck available here
and this one:

bunny catching falling stars available here
Aren't they darling?  

I absolutely love them and can't wait to find a spot for them in Caro's nursery (we're setting it up next week!), but the mysterious part was that there as no note or receipt included in the package, so I don't know who sent them!  I don't know if I should assume they were sent by the artist herself, or if they were a gift purchased by someone else.  I'd love to know whom to thank for them.  Whomever you are, THANK YOU!  The prints are beautiful and they make me smile.

5) I have tired of daytime television.  It's so inane.  And the local news is SO depressing.  I've started watching Veronica Mars again.  Best show EVER.  I'm watching Season 3 right now.  I still have a mad crush on Logan Echolls (he's just so moody and intense and so cute!) and I still want to be just like Veronica.  It's such a smart and interesting show.  I can't believe it got canceled after three seasons.  If you haven't watched it, do yourself a favor.  It's available on Netflix, but totally worth the purchase on DVD.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

8 Years, 1 Week, 1 Day, Still Married

We got married eight years and one week and one day ago.

Which means we've stayed married eight years and one week.

(Staying married is actually much harder than getting married, if you were wondering.  Also your parents don't pay for it, and you have to buy your own booze.)

On our anniversary (July 10th), David and I actually left the baby with my mom and went out to dinner, just the two of us.

And we talked about the baby the whole time.

We had planned to go to one of our favorite restaurants downtown (locals:  it's Bridge) and I was actually going to have a small glass of wine, but then I freaked out and decided the ten-minute drive downtown was "too far."  So we went to one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants instead (locals: it's Onesto).  Not as fancy (we ordered pizza) or special-occasion (we go to Onesto pretty frequently) but I just wasn't ready to be that far from the baby!  And since it took less than an hour, we decided to get Ted Drewes for dessert.

It was not lost on us for a moment that we thought we'd have an eighteen-month-old baby by the time we'd been married eight years.  Our master plan for our lives has been seriously rewritten, and I still don't understand why things didn't work out for us.  I had some real moments of sadness throughout the day, reflecting on how different our family is than how I expected it to be, how so much of our lives has gone perfectly according to plan, and how so much of it has not.  I thought a lot about how good things are, and how good things should have been.  I loved on Carol, but I really missed our sweet Eliza, and I got teary-eyed at dinner when we talked about her.

But of course, it was not lost on us that we were so freaking lucky to have a 12-day-old baby waiting for us at home this year.

I enjoyed our dinner and adult conversation that occurred without a small human sucking on my boob, even if the conversation was mostly about the small human who sucks on my boob.  It was nice to have a little bit of time with just the two of us, and the sips I took of David's sangria were heavenly.

But taking the time to pose for our annual anniversary photo was probably the best moment of the whole day.

And, yeah.  We're still in it to win it.  Here's to staying married.

(For all our previous anniversary pictures, you can click here.)

After we'd gotten ready for bed, I was holding Caroline when she made an amazing discovery:  her thumb!

This tastes AMAZING!
She latched on to that thing and slurped away at it for a few minutes.  It's a tricky little bugger, though--she hasn't been able to find it again since that day, although she keeps trying!  A for effort.  Her fist and pointer finger frequently make their way into her mouth, but she hasn't had the same delighted reaction.  

The possibility of future orthodontic work and a germ phobia both have me hoping she won't be a thumb sucker (mommy wasn't, daddy was), but it was still one of the cutest things I've ever seen.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Good Times Never Seemed So Good

So this is it.  The happy, gushy, smushy post about how much I love this girl.

Looking at her face fills me up with this rush of love.  I want to hold her and squeeze her and kiss her cheeks and protect her from anything bad that might ever happen.

She's so impossibly perfect.

I knew that her arrival would not fill up the broken places in my heart, but I didn't fully understand what it would feel like when my heart expanded to love this baby, too.

I look at her face and I see her sister.  But mostly I see just her--Caroline Audrey--the best baby I could imagine.  Every day she amazes me and makes me laugh.

On the list of all the best things in the world, at the top of mine is the feeling of a fussy baby relaxing in my arms.

 Sometimes a baby just needs her mama.  

David said to me last night, "You're her comfort."

But the truth is that she is mine.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

5 Post-Pregnancy Products

** Quick Update:  Whatever Caroline's issues were Thursday night, they seem to have been resolved... at least for now!  She's back to her normal self--we'll see how long this version of "normal" lasts! **

So...  let's talk baby stuff.  I was determined to keep things pretty simple in terms of baby gear, both when I was pregnant with Eliza and with the Deuce.  Our house is tiny and we just don't have space for that much stuff.  Babies seem to come with so many accessories, but only a few that are really necessary.

That said, there are a few things that I have found enormously useful, although not necessarily essential.  So here I am passing on my unasked for recommendations and unsolicited advice.  You are so welcome!  Here are five not-really-necessary things that are making our lives a little bit easier.

Thing 1:  The Woombie.

My mom bought this at an adorable little specialty shop in my home town called Belles & Beaus (cute name, right?).  It's essentially a straight jacket for infants that works as a swaddle blanket.  Don't get me wrong--we looove the Aden & Anais muslin swaddle blankets and use the heck out of those as well--but this never comes untucked, so no worries about her squirming out of it during the night.  It's the perfect summer weight, and works on Caroline like a baby Ambien.  We call her our little glow worm when she's wearing it.

zipped up in the Woombie
Thing 2:  The Snuza.

This literally makes her our little glow worm, because it has a small flashing light you can see through the Woombie.  If I hadn't lost a baby, I probably would have thought this was "silly," but I cannot tell you how much better it makes me feel to know she's wearing this at night.  It's a tiny baby monitor that attaches to her diaper.  It's really small (like the size of a baby's hand) and very lightweight, and the rubber tip that touches the baby's belly is soft and flexible.  It works as a motion sensor that senses the baby's breathing and beeps if it doesn't detect movement for 20 seconds.  Of course, it nearly gave me a heart attack when it slid off her diaper the other day and the alarm went off (fortunately she was grunting at the time so I knew she was ok, but STILL).  This little gadget helps us sleep peacefully at night.

Thing 3:  The Wedge.

I bought this Boppy pillow from Amazon when I was pregnant and used it to support my belly when sleeping on my side, or lying on my side on the couch doing kick counts and watching TV.  It's also come in super handy to use with the regular Boppy or by itself when it comes to nursing or just snuggling with Caroline.

the Carolines and the wedge
Thing 4:  Belly Bandit

Let me just say that I did not buy this because whatshername Kard.ashian used it.  I got it after we lost Eliza because I was horrified at the idea of looking post-pregnant without having a baby to show for it.  I wore it under big, baggy sweaters when I went back to teaching.  And I hated it.  I remember feeling like it was uncomfortable and suffocating, but actually I think that was my grief.  This time, I tried it because my core muscles seem to have completely disappeared and it was all I could do to get myself out of the recliner while holding a baby.  So I skeptically strapped on the Belly Bandit, expecting to feel confined and uncomfortable and instead...  my stomach and back felt supported.  In a good way.  And yes, it's hot outside, but all I do is sit around in the air conditioning so it hasn't bothered me to wear it.  And I have the bamboo version, which is supposed to be breathable.

mine is plain black, no fancy pattern.  image from here

Their website recommends wearing it constantly for six weeks postpartum.  I don't know that I will be a 24/7 wearer of the Belly Bandit (it does need to be washed occasionally!), but so far I have had it on a lot (and I've slept in it) and I think it's kind of awesome.  No idea if it will really make a difference in shrinking my stomach and hips, but it just feels comfortable in a kind of weird way (I guess it's sort of like a nice supportive bra for my stretched out belly--how gross is that?).

Thing 5:  Creepy Bear

We call this guy Creepy Bear because he's a bear and, well, he looks totally creepy.  When David first saw him perched in the corner of the Pack 'n Play, he said, "Um, is that thing old?"  Why, yes.  Creepy Bear IS old.  He was my brother's and my brother is now 28 years old.  Also my mom thinks that she might have bought Creepy Bear at a consignment shop, so who knows how far back he goes.  Anyway, my dad had to get Creepy Bear back in working condition and when you turn him on (rotate the dial on his belly) it sounds like an old-time radio with lots of static.

sweet baby and creepy bear
There's a magic point when the dial is just right, though, and that's when Creepy Bear makes white noise and a heartbeat sound to mimic the womb.  Caroline seems to like it and it totally puts the rest of us to sleep.  Including Little Mac.  Creepy Bear FTW!  (Here's a version that's not three decades old.)

So... what am I missing that you can't live without?  Baby-related or otherwise?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Tummy Trouble?

Of course the day I blog about how I was worried that my baby was sleeping so well, she decides that she has had enough of that nonsense.

I honestly don't know what was going on with her last night, but it had all of us worried (including my mom).

Normally, our nighttime routine is easy.  Caroline is an enthusiastic and efficient nurser, finishes nursing with that happy, milk-drunk face, belches loudly, squawks for a minute when she gets her diaper changed, and then passes out and gets put to bed.  This has been her routine literally since the day she was born.

Last night, after eating around midnight, she never settled down.  She ate longer than usual, but when she quit eating, she started screaming (that had never happened before).  She didn't burp for me, and her fussing wasn't typical crying but was the full-out screaming where her mouth was wide open and her tongue was pulled up.  Sure, she's done her share of crying, but we had never seen her like that.

We finally got her to settle down, but even when she went back to bed she wasn't fully relaxed.  She was making grunts and groans and doing lots of moving from midnight until 4am.  She wasn't sleeping well, and neither were we.  At 4, I got up and fed her again,.  She seemed to want to eat, but she never relaxed.  And when she was finished, she did the same freak out thing, screaming when I tried to burp her.  It really seemed to me that she was in pain, although I had no idea WHY.  She would only settle down if I held her upright against my chest and even then she was tense.  Anytime I would shift in the recliner, or try to change her position, or if she started to fall asleep and then her position changed, she would cry.  Not a wimpy cry, but a seriously LOUD screaming cry.

So I held her in the recliner (trying not to move) until about 6am, when I thought she was settled enough to lie back down.  Nope.  She started screaming again.  By this time, my mom was up and she took her and tried to walk around with her, but she was having none of it.  There was nothing we could do to chill her out.

I was starting to get seriously worried.  I couldn't stand to listen to her scream, or to listen to her whimpering when she wasn't screaming.  She'd barely slept all night and she was definitely not acting like herself.  My mom took her temperature under her arm and it was 99.5.  Her head felt warm to my touch, and her little body was still so tense.  I took her back from my mom and tried to rock her in the recliner and get her settled down.  She was crying so hard that it made me start crying.  It really seemed to me that she was hurting and I didn't know how to fix it.  In desperation, I tried to giver her a pacifier, but she was having none of it.

She finally dozed off for a little bit, but after eating again around 9am, she did the same thing and we decided it was time to call the pediatrician.  I don't know if two weeks is really long enough for babies to have a pattern, and I know that things change as they grow, but she was just acting so unlike herself.  I was scared.  David made the appointment and they got us in right away.

I hated the thought of putting her in the carseat since she was crying so much whenever we moved her, but we got her strapped in and she actually settled down when the car started moving.  She was still whimpering and groaning a little bit (sooooo pitiful--it broke my heart).

We got to the doctor's office by 11am and David checked in while I got her out of her car seat to hold her in the waiting room.  I was anxious and I'd been up since 4am and I hadn't showered and I was so worried that she was going to have a fever or an infection or we were going to discover a serious health issue.

And, for the first time in TWELVE HOURS, she snuggled up against me, relaxed, and fell fast asleep.

Are you FREAKING kidding me?

By the time we went back to actually see the doctor and get checked out, she was so peaceful that when I laid her on the bench to undress her, she sprawled out on her back and only woke up when I pulled her onesie over her head.

Her temperature was down to normal.

She woke up for the exam and sat, perfectly content on David's lap as the doctor moved the stethoscope over her chest and tummy.  He checked her ears, listened to her heart and lungs, and found nothing wrong.  And she had magically morphed back into happy baby.

CLEARLY she is trying to make me insane.  Or at least make me appear that way to our pediatrician.

Fortunately, our doctor was supremely nice and understanding about everything.  He compared it to taking your car to the mechanic--once you're there, it quits making that weird noise.  He said that he was sorry he didn't have an answer for us, but was glad that whatever had happened was no longer happening.  His best guess was that she really needed to poop, as we mentioned that she'd had two small dirty diapers overnight and then a huge poop around 10:30am.  Of course, it's weird that a breastfed baby would have that kind of issue, but it did seem like she had a tummy ache.  And then it cleared up...

We left the doctor's office feeling a little foolish, but mostly relieved.  I guess if we'd waited it out, she would have been fine, but I was not going into the weekend without knowing that she was okay.  I had NEVER heard her scream like that before!

She's been back to her usual happy self ever since the doctor's office.

So instead of declaring myself crazy, I'm just going to hope that she's cured.  We'd all like to get a little more sleep tonight.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Baby Updates, Some Boob Talk, and Pictures (not of boobs, sorry)

Baby Caroline is almost two weeks old!  So, some updates...

She's a great sleeper.  Don't hate me, but she's so great at sleeping at I worry about her.  Shouldn't she be waking me up crying every two hours all night long?  Not so much.  She sleeps for 3, 4, and even 5 hour stretches at night, and usually I'm the one who wakes up because my boobs are about to explode.

I think we've gotten the hang of this nursing thing.  With the help of Lanolin, soothing gel pads, these plastic air-bubble things that look ridiculous but keep your nips from rubbing against your bra or breastpad, and trial and error on the latch technique, we are past the toe-curling, skin-crawling agony of those first few days of nursing.  How thrilled am I that my nipples are no longer bleeding?


Very thrilled.

Caro is a very efficient eater, which has also had me worried.  (I know, I'm totally obnoxious, I really need to shut up because my baby is SO GOOD at EATING and SLEEPING.)  But seriously.  You know I'm going to worry no matter what is going on.  She attacks my boob like a starving baby vampire, sucks and gulps like crazy (sometimes choking and coughing, which scares the hell out of me, even though she seems totally unfazed and just gives me this tired little sigh after coughing like, "Okay, already, put me back on the boob, I'm good.").  And then...  she's done.  After like 5 or 6 minutes.  So I switch to the other side and she does the same thing.  I can tell that my boobs go from feeling full to feeling empty and squishy (Is this the sexiest post ever?  I think so.) and I can see her get all limp and milk-drunk, so she seems to be getting full, but it just doesn't seem like enough time, you know?  Especially when I was reading about newborns eating for 20-45 minutes.  On EACH boob!

So I went to a nursing moms' support group today at the hospital and talked with the lactation consultant and some other moms.  It was slightly awkward because there were moms there with serious supply issues, with thrush, with bleeding nipples after eight weeks of nursing, with babies who are twelve weeks old and still nursing every two hours around the clock, and then I was there to ask, "Should my baby really be eating for fifteen minutes total and then sleeping from midnight to 5am?" without sounding like a totally obnoxious douche because SERIOUSLY it's freaking me out that she's not the high-maintenance newborn I expected.

The thing that eased my mind the most was weighing her and seeing that she was up to 8 pounds 7 ounces.

So... here's her growth chart (because of course everyone on the interwebz cares about this as much as I do).

June 29:  8 pounds even
July 1:  7 pounds 9 ounces
July 3:  7 pounds 12 ounces
July 7:  7 pounds 15.5 ounces
July 12:  8 pounds 7 ounces (enormous sigh of relief!)

Of course, the July 12th weigh-in was back at the hospital, not at our pediatrician's office (where July 3 and July 7 occurred) so it's possible that the scales are off an ounce or two, but I still feel okay about that.  I figure that either way, it's a good indication she's getting enough to eat.  I'm totally psycho with tracking what time, how long, and how often she nurses (and then worrying vaguely about whether having my iPhone next to us at all times is exposing her to radiation) so it was SUCH a relief to see that things are working.

So far we're still exclusively nursing.  I'm sort of dreading the pump (and just now feeling like we're getting the hang of nursing), so I haven't messed with it yet.  But I talked with the lactation consultant about this, and she suggested introducing a bottle when she's about a month old, so I still have some time (well, only two weeks!).  I want to do it because I want David to be able to feed her at 5am (yesssss!) and because she needs to get used to taking a bottle before I go back to work, but I'm still a little unsure how to balance feeding and pumping.  I guess we'll figure it out.  I mean, that's what you have to do, right?

One thing that my pediatrician discussed with me is the fact that part of the reason that nursing seems to be going well for us is because this isn't really the first time my boobs are doing this.  I mean, obviously I haven't been able to nurse a newborn before, but the hormonal changes, the milk coming in, all of that happened after Eliza was born also (in fact, physically it was as traumatic for me as her birth).  As excruciating as that experience was, it helped to prepare my body for this time around.  Knowing that information makes me really sad, even though it's a relief to not be struggling with a low supply--I'd much rather be struggling to breastfeed and have two living babies.  I guess that's obvious.

As we started the little group meeting, everyone went around and introduced themselves.  We told our babies' names and then said whether the baby was our first (everyone there was there with their first baby).  I talked a lot about Eliza when I was pregnant with Caroline--it actually got easier to talk about her--and I told almost everyone who asked that this was not our first baby, so I felt like I was an old pro at this kind of thing.

But today when I said that we lost our first baby, I cried.  It just felt so unfair to be there with all these moms who had their first babies who were just fine, and to think about all of them feeling sorry for me, and at the same time feeling so glad that I was able to be there with Caroline.  It was too much.  Cue the tears.  I couldn't even finish my sentence because I got all choked up.

Fortunately, it wasn't a huge deal.  The lactation consultant leading the group was super nice and understanding and said how glad she was that I had a healthy baby there with me now, and then someone else's baby started crying so at least I wasn't alone...  The rest of the meeting went just fine, and the weigh-in was reassuring.  Plus I figure that no one is begrudging me my perfect eating/sleeping baby, considering what I've been through.  So we just keep on doing what we're doing.

Which is a lot of this:

flash card tummy time with Daddy

Sitting out on the deck in the evening

Snoozing - the dramatic arm over the face was a favorite pose of hers during ultrasounds

blurry, but adorable smile

shopping with Grams

more snoozing

tummy time!

zonked out after nursing group

cutie cute - we love the ducky headband!