Friday, November 27, 2009

Date Night - New Parents Style

Author's Note: This post was started Friday night... and just finished Sunday night. Such is my new life.

Benny and I just got back from our first date night since Hazel's arrival. My mom and dad graciously offered to babysit the Lioness to give us some much needed adult time. Of course, we jumped at the opportunity. And by "jumped", I mean that I only had one minor meltdown as we were pulling out of the driveway and I made Benny holler and carry on like Hazel does so that I wouldn't be too heartsick from being away from her.

We went to lunch at Sonora Grill... which happened to be our last pre-Hazel date and, now, our first post-Hazel date. While there, we discussed just how bad it would be if we went to the Marriott across the street and checked in. To sleep. And not "sleep". Actual SLEEP. If we rented the room for like three hours just to sleep, would they believe us?

Afterwards, we went to The Blind Side... which I highly recommend, btw... and then headed home to see if Hazel's screams had left my parents the quivering piles of protoplasm that it leaves us. I didn't know what I hoped for when we returned home... did I want her awake or asleep? If she was awake, she was probably screaming bloody murder. But if she was asleep, I couldn't love on her. It was quite the quandry.

But, when we walked through the door, my parents were calmly reading... all of their brain matter securely in place. And Hazel was sound asleep in the bouncer. Peacefully. And had been for like an hour or so. WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH MY BABY?

When we asked how it had been, we fully expected them to say something like: "Wow! You deal with that every night? No wonder Benny needs a beer (or 20) each night. You two deserve an award for living through this every day!"

But... no. Grandma and Grandpa said that it had been enjoyable and could they come down and babysit for us more? Because next to butterfly farts and rainbow colored puppies, little Hazel could not be more precious.


Turns out, Hazel loves her Grammy and Pappy... possibly more than her Mommy and Daddy. Who. Knew? Also, we picked up some hints from my parents... apparently, Hazel loves whistling and Benny's been whistling to her ever since whenever she gets a little fussy. So, we've got that going for us.

And, in all reality, Hazel is a good baby. And she doesn't scream or cry any more than your average baby. But, when you're the baby of two people who have been used to a quiet house with the exception of the clickity-clack of the dogs claws on the hardwood floor and the occasional barking freak-out at the dragonfly outside, any noise you make is likely to make their heads explode. So, it's been a bit of an adjustment. Not Hazel's fault... our fault. We asked for this, remember?

And, we're figuring stuff out as we go along. Like for instance, who's in charge around here. It's amazing how something that weighs a little over 10 pounds can run a household. For real.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Die of Cuteness in 3... 2... 1....

Moments before she spit up all over the blanket my aunt made.
I should have known... this is her Uh-Oh Face.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Scheduling Through The Haze

Benny and I have been attempting to get sweet Hazel on a schedule that helps me not lose my mind. Eh, who am I kidding?... A schedule that helps both Hazel and me not lose both of our collective shit every day.

Upon the recommendation of several people, I decided to read BabyWise, although I had heard a lot of bad things about it. I decided that I could read the book and make a decision as to whether or not I thought it could work and would be healthy for Hazel. And her very tired, frustrated parents.

What I liked most about the BabyWise philosophy is that it emphasized flexibility so that we as parents could make a decision on what Hazel really needs. So, we instituted the plan Friday night. And let our sweet baby cry for 45 minutes. Or, you know... ETERNITY. And then... silence.




For a minute, we thought we'd gone deaf. It was bliss.

Bliss short-lived, but bliss nonetheless.

You'll have to forgive me, as having a baby has affected my temporal awareness and the days and times simply run together... but I believe that it was Friday night that I wasn't feeling well enough at the 10:15 feeding to actually drag myself out of bed and let the Lioness latch on. (Oh, yes... Lioness is what we call our sweet little Tweet because that girl has gone from sweet chirping as her nickname inspired... so a full-grown ROAR. Turns out that our little Tweety-Pie has got some LUNGS.)

So, Benny took matters into his own hands and gave her a bottle of (gasp!) formula and then literally hooked me up to the breast pump and had me pump while he fed her. What followed was 4 oz of breast milk from me, Hazel pounding 4 oz of formula... and then sleeping for 3.5 hours!! And do you people know what 3.5 hours - IN A ROW - can do for a new mommy? It's the equivalent of finding $20 in the back pocket of your jeans that you haven't worn for a few weeks... and then buying $20 of lottery tickets and hitting the JACKPOT.

It was THAT huge.

The next morning, I thought that we'd finally figured it out... and after only a month! Give her a bottle of formula at night and she'll start to get through the night eventually. By God, we've got it!!

And then reality came crashing through the roof of the house and landed directly on my face... because Sunday night, our little girl was gassy, gassy, gassy... and unable to pass it. In the last week or so, we've moved from co-sleeping (because while it was great for me, Benny was STRUGGLING with it and not getting any sleep at night), to having Hazel sleep in the Pak & Play next to our bed. She loved it. I loved it. Heck, even Benny loved it. But the big drawback to THAT was our little Lioness... well, she makes a lot of noises when she sleeps. Especially when she's trying to push a little hiney burp and it's not going well. While technically, she was still asleep, the noises that girl made all through the night kept both Benny and I wide awake. Every snort, grunt, grown, growl, burp (both ends)... we heard it. And worried about it. And we kept checking to see if she had spit up and was rolling in it... which is something the Lioness has been known to do. Much like wild lions that roll in their food. Another sign that our little one relates more to felines than the birdies outside her window.

To combat this problem, we moved the Pak & Play into the nursery on Sunday night. Not that there's really that much room for it in the nursery. I suppose we could have transitioned her to the crib, but I feel right now that it's still too big for her and wouldn't help her sleep. It's gonna be another couple of months, I think, before we put her in the crib.

But, I digress. Best night of sleep for both Benny and I in WEEKS. Hazel is still grunting, but until we hear her cry out in the middle of the night, we sleep soundly. In fact, last night when I put her down after HOURS and HOURS and HOURS of fussiness that neither Benny or I could soothe, she put herself to sleep for a good 10 minutes. And when she started crying, I made an executive decision that she still had 15 minutes before the next feeding and my breasts just weren't up to the task yet, and I let her cry. And what do you know? She either stopped crying or I fell asleep listening to it because I woke up 45 minutes later when I heard her cry.

Anyway, she's doing well with the Pak & Play in the nursery. She doesn't seem to mind at all. I think I'm more bothered by it than she is... but the good news is that I've got my bedroom back and am getting some sleep at night. Which makes me a better Mommy to Hazel in the morning.

We're still figuring things out, though. While Sunday was a good day, Monday night was pure hell for Benny and me. Mostly for Benny because I'd had enough of the crying and handed her over to him almost the minute he walked through the front door. Which is not what I want for him. Or Hazel. Or ME. I don't want to be that woman who dumps the child on the husband right after work. So, today I made a special effort to stick to the schedule as I believe is best for us... and when our Lioness started to get fussy around 4:30 and wanted to feed after only an hour, I jumped on that grenade and when Benny finally got home at 5:45, I had baby girl sleeping next to me with a binkie in her mouth.

It was pure genius on my part... and I was able to keep her down until 6:30!! And Benny got to come home to a non-crying child! Woot!

Hopefully, tonight's schedule will be conducive to a good night's sleep for all of us. Benny's rocking her to sleep as I write this and I think we'll be able to eat in peace and quiet for the first time in a couple of days.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

One Month Update

Dear Hazel,
This could either be a very quick letter, or a very long letter... it all depends on how long you decide to stay in dreamland and let Mommy have some much needed ME time.

Where to begin? You're almost a month old now and I cannot believe how much you have changed from the time we first brought you home. Actually, I can't believe how much you change day-to-day. It's staggering, really. You used to be this skinny, long bundle of nerves and limbs that coo'd and grunted from time to time. Now? Well, now you're getting to be a chunky, long bundle of nerves and limbs that does more hollering (that is slowly morphing into screaming) than cooing. And can I just say that I prefer the cooing? Really. Bring the cooing back, Hazel. MAMA NEEDS MORE COOING.

These last four weeks have taught me more about myself that I though possible. First and foremost, I've learned that I have more patience than I realized. As much as I hate to admit it, Hazel... you can sometimes get so fussy and holler so much that it would try the patience of a saint. Enter your Mama, stage right. And, yes... there are times that my patience runs out and those are the times that your Papa jumps in on the metaphorical grenade that is YOU and I run to the bathroom for some alone time where I can pop my zits in peace... or rather, just pop my zits. Because let's face it, when Hazel Baby is not happy, NO ONE IN THE HOUSE IS HAPPY. In fact, I do believe that the only being that is happy during these periods is the cat... who is actually grateful at this point that we kicked her out of the house. Even if she did get her butt kicked in a cat fight last night. She keeps looking in the window at me as if to say: HA! Serves. You. Right.

But, let's be honest here... you really are a good baby. It's my own failings and missteps that cause you to wake the neighborhood with your hollering. And usually, once we figure out what needs to be done to calm you (do you need more boob? how's your diaper? need to burp or fart? are you just lonely and need to be held?) you calm right down. And your Papa is probably better at getting you to calm down than I will ever be. I'm going to stick with the theory that it's because you can smell the breast milk on me (either fresh from the well or freshly vomited, you have no preference)

The first couple weeks of your life were really hard on both your Papa and me. I think mostly because we are totally rookies when it comes to babies and because both sets of your grandparents had rave reviews about us when we were babies and how we NEVER cried... we assumed that you would be the same kind of baby. BOY WERE WE WRONG. And boy do I have a bone to pick with your grandparents for prematurely rubbing our non-crying babyhood's in our faces pre-YOU. And post-YOU.

You've got a touch of reflux and do a lot of spitting up and sometimes projectile vomiting.... through your nose. I wasn't too worried about it until I did some reading online and discovered that OMG! IF YOUR BABY VOMITS THROUGH HER NOSE, SHE COULD DIE OF PNEUMONIA OR AN EAR INFECTION. AND IT'S POSSIBLE THAT'S NOT VOMIT BUT BRAIN MATTER COMING OUT OF HER NOSE. GET HER TO THE DOCTOR ASAP.

And here, Hazel, will be the first time I tell you not to freak out over every little thing you read online. Like your mother did.

We got an appointment with your pediatrician who calmed my frazzled nerves and suggested that we limit your feedings to 8-10 minutes per breast (down from 15!) as you are a pretty ferocious feeder and were probably tapping the well anyway and just sucking in air which would make the reflux worse. So... we did that yesterday. And you ended up feeding EVERY HOUR ON THE HOUR and I ended up not being able to stay awake past 5:30... which means that I missed Brian Williams signature opening "On our broadcast tonight...". Which is completely unforgivable, baby girl. With time, you'll figure that out on your own.

But, in the good news department... no spit-ups or vomits yesterday! Which means that you stopped smelling like spit-up and vomit and smelled like a baby girl.... after I bathed you. And, you only ended up needing to get up twice last night. You slept for almost 4 hours IN A ROW!

Today, however... was a slightly different story as it appears that you had decided that you DID NOT LIKE ANYTHING. Not the swing, not the bouncy chair, not the bath (well... to be fair, you never have liked that) NOTHING. Well, nothing but the boob. And spitting up. You definitely made up for yesterday's lack of spit-up by soiling two outfits in quick succession. Finally, after a couple of hours of hollering, I decided that Hey, I don't really need to do my hair or put makeup on... let's just get the hell out of the house and see if a car ride would help you. And the answer to that was: DO. NOT. LIKE.

After I finally got you buckled in to the car seat... and after you woke the neighbors as I was getting you into the car..... and after driving down the street about a mile, you finally calmed down and dozed for about an hour. Which gave me time to go see your father at work so I could sob on his shoulder, and then head to WalMart (yes... I know, I'm weak for cheap clothing right now) to return some items. You woke up in WalMart and started hollering for the whole store to hear. I couldn't really blame you... I would cry too if I woke up in a WalMart. OH THE HUMANITY.

And then you cried alllllllllll tttthhhhheeee wwwwaaayyyyyy hoooommmmmeeee. Kind of like the little piggy... that nursery rhyme I haven't told you yet because I have to look it up to remember how it goes and since the only time I have my hands free is when you nap... and since you NEVER nap... you can see my dilema.

We finally got you home and immediately got you fed and TA-DA! A whole. new. baby. One who fell asleep on my lap and let me fall asleep with her for a good 90 minutes. And then after another feeding, TA-DA! Here you are asleep in bed next to me while I blog. Meaning that I'm NOT HOLDING YOU and you're asleep. ON. YOUR. OWN.


And I do believe that's a coo I hear. Which make me wonder if I'm really awake or just in the most delicious dream.

Okay... so the sleeping arrangements. You do not like the crib or the bassinet, and you only like the Pak & Play for taking short naps... occasionally. When you feel like it. So, the first three weeks were looonnggg nights for me. And usually ended up with me holding you all night in the rocking chair... which was no bueno. Oh, you loved it, but I knew that it couldn't be good for you in the long run and I knew that it was NOT good for me period. So, we finally decided to co-sleep with you in between your dad and I in bed. We borrowed a sleeping unit from some friends and crossed our fingers that you wouldn't fuss about it... and it may be the single greatest invention we've ever come across. I can guarantee you it saved not only our sanity, but our marriage. And, yes... there are a lot of anti-co-sleeping parents out there who I'm sure will explain to me in detail how I have ruined your life by co-sleeping with you. But I will be quick to point out that there are so many other ways in the future that I plan to ruin your life that this will seem minute in comparison. And yes... it may also ruin OUR lives. But at this point, I'm making the only decision that makes sense for us, and everyone else will just have to remember that IT'S NOT THEIR BUSINESS, mkay?

You're starting to make more eye contact with us now... and sometimes while you're feeding and I'm watching re-runs of the Daily Show online, I'll glance down and see you staring up at me with your beautiful blue eyes with a look of profound innocence, confusion and awe. And that's when I smack myself on the forehead because WHAT AM I DOING? Ignoring you for a couple of jokes about Sarah Palin's book? By the way, that book will never be allowed in this house... not even as a joke. But then, when I look down at you and start talking to you, you immediately look away as if you weren't really interested in me... and Hey! Look at that bright light coming in the window over there! Cool!

You also grunt. A LOT. And it's not very ladylike... especially when you do it at your dinner table. But it still adorable. As are your smiles. I can't wait until you start interacting with us more. Neither can your Papa... as he feels like he's on the sidelines right now until he has to jump on a grenade for me. But I think that once you start interacting with us, it'll be a whole new story.

I'm calling these first few months with you the fourth trimester because it's all give on our part. But you know what? Totally worth it. Because you're amazing. You're beautiful, you're loving and you're all ours.

What more could we ask for out of life?

And, now you're awake and needing to be fed again. Thank you for giving me this time to document your incredible awesomeness. Hopefully, we have more of these quiet times in the future.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

By Popular Demand

Another slide show of our baby girl.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Two-Week Update

Dear Hazel,
Well, it's been two weeks since you joined our little family (or it will be in an hour!) and I finally have the time and the energy to write you a little something as a first-time mom.

Wow. I'm a MOM! Unbelievable! Can I just tell you that it's a role that I never really considered and yet wholeheartedly love? Even at 2 a.m. when you just won't go back to sleep because you've got a gas bubble that's causing you some serious pain, or because you slept all day and 2 a.m. is party time... I love being a mom. Partly because it's made me value what little rest I can manage to squeeze in between your feedings, but mostly because of the way you look at me when your eyes are actually open. I know you can't really see me yet, but you can sense me and that just sets my heart all aflutter.

Two weeks ago today, your dad and I headed to the hospital and began the process of bringing you into the world. We checked in at 8 a.m., and they broke my water at 9 a.m. By 10 a.m., I had had enough of the pains of labor and got an epidural and some other pain medication that made my hearing all "tinny" and left my eyes working in slow motion.

Your dad kept himself busy by attending to my every whim.... including (pre-epidural) helping me to the bathroom. And quite frankly my dear, if that's not love, I don't know what is. He also made sure that I had all the ice chips I wanted and was also there to hold my hand and look me in the eyes while "coaching" me to breathe during each contraction. All of this while wearing a surgical mask so that he didn't get anyone sick.

And it was during those contractions that the nurses and doctor started to get concerned about your safety, as your heart rate would plummet during each contraction. And by "plummet", we're talking NOSEDIVE... as in going from 150 bpm to 30 bpm. The doctor told us to prepare ourselves mentally for a C-Section as it was likely that the cord was being pinched with each contraction which would cause problems if we continued to try for a regular delivery. Not the type delivery we expected or wanted, but your safety was important so we adjusted our expectations.

The doctor also gave me a shot to stop contractions and about an hour later, we re-started the pitocin drip and apparently, the cord had moved and was no longer being pinched because your heart rate was solid and even during the contractions. Even better, while I'd been stuck at a 5 for HOURS, things started to move along rather quickly and I moved from a 6-10 in just a couple of hours! It went quick and the next thing I knew, the doctor was telling me to push!

Funny thing about an epidural... sometimes it doesn't numb everything it's supposed to numb and the result is NOT OKAY. And maybe someday when you're old enough to understand a bit better, I'll tell you all about it. For now, just know that I have never experienced that kind of pain before and hope to never experience it again. But, we got past the NOT OKAY part, and a mere 35 minutes later, ended up with a beautiful baby girl.

I could not believe it. I could NOT believe that you came out of me. That you... our perfect, beautiful, healthy baby girl that was part me, part your dad... were actually here after all this time! And then my waterworks started as I watched you get your nose and mouth suctioned out and I remember holding out my arms hoping the doctor would get the hint and I wouldn't have to say what I wanted to scream: GIMME!

And then there you were... in my arms after your daddy cut the umbilical cord. And it still didn't seem real. God you were so beautiful!

After you got cleaned up, Daddy and I realized that we probably ought to give you a name. Now, I want you to know that your Aunt Kaycee will probably try to tell you that you were named after a cat that we had on the farm growing up. THIS IS A LIE! Just remember that your Aunt Kaycee is a trouble maker, okay?

The real story of where you got your name is rather simple. You dad and I had been throwing out names for months and had a list of about five that we both somewhat agreed upon, but none of them had really caught my heart. Then, when I was about six months pregnant, I was watching the USA Track and Field Championships on TV and the woman who won the 800-Meter race (and is the five-time champion in the event) was named Hazel Clark. And, no... you weren't named after her and her athletic prowess. I just loved the name. I mean... it's beautiful!!! And even if it is a bit old-fashioned, we think that it's a strong name for a woman who can do or be anything she wants to be. Which is what we hope for you.

So... now your middle name. It's not a family name like a lot of people's are. Your dad loved the name Reese, but not as a first name. Actually, you came awfully close to being a Chloe Reese, as he discovered that name while shopping at a high-end baby store downtown and one of the clothing line manufactures name was Chloe Reese. We decided that we'd use Reese as a middle name long before we knew what your first name would be. So, no... it wasn't a family name, but it is now.

Of course, we had to actually meet you before we knew that Hazel Reese was the right name for you. We had a couple of other names on our list that we were prepared to use if Hazel didn't fit. Luckily, though, Hazel Reese was all we could both think of when we first saw you. And that's where your name came from. It's a strong name that belongs to a girl/woman who can do anything... that's your namesake.

It's been two weeks since you joined our family and made us whole. And in that two weeks, you have completely changed in your looks. You're no longer a newborn with a touch of jaundice.. but are instead a robust and healthy baby girl... 95th percentile in height and 50th percentile in weight. Who knew that your dad and I would produce a skinny tall baby? In two weeks time, you've gained 4.5 oz, and grown over two inches!

October 24, 2009

November 5, 2009

You make the most amazing faces and I could spend hours watching them. You do a GREAT Robert DeNiro and if we ever get that on camera, we will make sure to show it to the first guy you bring home to meet us.

And even though they say that babies your age don't smile yet... and that it's probably just gas... I don't care. Your smile of contentment - or gas - melts my heart. My favorite expression of yours doesn't happen much anymore, but when you were first born and learning how to breastfeed (we were BOTH learning) you used to latch on to the nipple, and then it was as if you couldn't believe that you were actually allowed to do that... like it was something that should be illegal because you would move your eyes from side-to-side rapidly, much like the Pink Panther cartoon with the eyes moving in the dark... I could almost hear the theme song.

We never would have guessed it, but your Tweet nickname while you were still in my belly could not have fit you better! You make the most adorable chirping noises throughout the day. I think that "Tweet" is gonna stick around for a long time.

You are definitely your father's daughter at this point. I mean, really... besides the fact that you have hair and the wingspan of an eagle and clearly have my kind of upper-body strength, I'm not sure what I've really contributed to your genetic code. Although, you do sleep a lot like I do.

You look just like your father, including the amazing facial expressions. I knew the first time I saw your Robert DeNiro that you got that from your dad... who thinks that he can make a face like Tom Cruise. I'll just say that your DeNiro impression is MUCH better. You also have your daddy's feet and toes and he's convinced that you have his calf muscles... but I gotta think it's a bit too early in the game to make that judgement.

Your dad got to give you your first daddy kiss today since he's finally feeling better. Trust me when I tell you that he could not wait for this moment and I'm so glad that we captured it on camera. Hazel, your daddy loves you more than anything and not being able to kiss his baby girl for fear of spreading germs to you was devastating for him. But he has done so many other things to show you how much he loves you that I know that you won't hold these two weeks against him.

Well, it's getting late... and you should be ready for a feeding at any minute, so I guess I'll wrap things up. I just wanted to check in with you while I had some time... weird how time becomes so impossible to take advantage of nowadays. Between feedings and naps, I'm lucky if I brush my teeth once a day.

We're hoping that things calm down in the coming weeks and that you continue to be the wonderful baby that you already have been. Thank you for that. And thank you for coming to be a part of our family. I can promise you that you'll never regret it. Why? Because Aunt Helen sent you this wonderful cookie bouquet last week and we've put the cookies in the freezer and will hopefully hang on to at least one of them to celebrate when you're old enough to enjoy one!