Archive for December, 2012

December 31, 2012

Reviewing My Pledge

Last new year I made a promise to myself and other moms. I promised not to be part of the mommy wars, not to judge and not to respond to being judged, least an overzealous defense leads to someone else feeling judged. Now that I’ve been the mom of an “outside” baby for almost six months, I thought I would revisit my pledge.

Not judging others

If I was grading myself I’d give me a B on this one. For the most part I think I succeeded.

I fully recognize that every baby/parent/family is different and what works for one might not work for another. Further, while I may have opinions on the latest baby trends, I recognize failure to prove an approach or strategy works is not proof that it doesn’t work, and vice versa. I also recognize the placebo effect is a powerful thing. Just the act of doing something with a positive attitude could have positive benefit, even if the ‘something’ itself doesn’t work. I don’t begrudge anyone from trying any approach they think will work for their situation.

But, as I said, I do have opinions. There are some trends that go beyond silly and seem downright dangerous. When I voice my concerns over some new gimmicky gadget or baby strategy to my husband I can get snarky. If I’m not careful my opinion might leak out to someone less receptive. While I may be thinking “that strategy is stupid” what the other person might here is “anyone who considers that strategy is stupid”. I am by no means a baby expert, I should learn to just let it go.

Not getting defensive

I give myself a C on this one.

I sometimes feel like I have a scarlet f (for formula). The breast is best mantra is so ingrained in western culture that I feel as though I’m always bring judged. Even by complete strangers who have no idea how I feed my baby. If they know they will think I am a bad mother. I am in the formula closest, afraid to come out and be judged.

I’ve tried to write a blog post several times about our trials and tribulations nursing. Every time I start to I feel compelled to point out she’s mostly drinking expressed breast milk, or that we still do nurse. I think by making such comments do a disservice to myself and others if similar situations. By treating formula like “The Great Evil” I perpetuate the environment that leads to the feelings of guilt and shame for someone else forced into the same situation.

There is no shame in formula.

If I firmly believe ‘whatever works’ and ‘every situation is different’ for everyone else, why can’t I accept it for myself?

Do not, repeat NOT, feed the baby solid foods the day before the flight.

Happy Little Frequent Flyer

I thought I was being all clever putting Nicki in overnight diapers for the plane. Airplanes have such small changing tables in the restrooms, and with the possibility of turbulence I thought we the extra time an overnight diaper might buy us might be a necessity to get us to our layover destination. What I did not count on was poop. Oh, and there was poop. Lots of poop. On both legs of our trip. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Overtired parents

The day started out way too early. We had a 7:30 am flight, which would not be a problem pre-baby. When I booked the flight, however, I forgot that it generally takes us (or at least me) 2 hours from waking-up to out-the-door these days. I also forgot that the airport is about an hour away and that we were up late last night finishing up packing (and laundry and dishes, etc.) It was also the Saturday before New Years, one of the busiest travel days. Mommy did not plan the start of our travel day well, and she paid for her mistake with sleep deprivation.

Fussy baby won’t sleep.

Our trip out east went beautifully. Nicki fell asleep on the first leg of the flight, and was in a well rested happy mood on the second leg. (If she was going to only have one good travel day, I’m glad it was the one out east! Otherwise, our whole trip I’d be worrying about the return.)

This time? I knew we were in trouble when we had to wake Nicki up to go to the airport. She was so comfy and warm in her sleeper, and so unhappy about having to get out and have her diaper changed. Overtired and fussy, she wasn’t happy about the long security line to check a bag.

Nicki usually falls asleep when being rocked. The light vibrations of the car can also do it. She fell asleep during takeoff during our first flight. Since the flight was so smooth, she didn’t stay asleep and couldn’t go back to sleep. Once she was up, she was up. And cranky.

It wasn’t until we arrived at Las Vegas and I got out the ergo that she took a little cat nap on me. And by little I mean just enough that she wouldn’t fall asleep on the second flight until we were halfway through our final descent. She stayed asleep until our luggage came off the carousal. This second cat nap was just long enough to keep her from going to sleep on the drive back to the house. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s one ten minute name, one half hour nap, and one 15 minute name.

Fussy Baby won’t nurse

Another thing that went well on the trip out was nursing. It was my first time nursing outside the house, and also my first time nursing with a nursing cover. Neither seemed to bother Nicki. She was a champ. We had expressed breastmilk and formula (first time mom is always over prepared!) The formula was never used, but the expressed breastmilk looked like it was going bad well before the four hour mark, so we decided to skip expressed breastmilk for the flight home.

This time? She wasn’t having any of it. Not one drop. We tried to nurse four separate times. Not only did she refuse, but she would grab and pull at the cover while screaming at the top of her lungs. If anyone at the airport didn’t know we were trying to nurse, they did after that! Good thing Domingo insisted we bring four bottles of emergency formula. She consumed the fourth and final bottle on the drive from the airport home.

Lessons Learned

(1) Don’t plan the flight too early. The day runs much better when the baby gets a full night of sleep.
(2) Overnight diapers are the way to go (but they aren’t full proof.)
(3) New toys only help for a few minutes. Keep a set of five toys (new or not) and cycle through them to keep baby distracted.
(4) Try not to take the baby out of the carrier close to landing, she will not want to go back into it!
(5) Relax. Much like weddings, something will go wrong no matter how much you plan. It wasn’t all bad, and now she is sleeping quite soundly.

December 27, 2012

Nicki’s First Christmas

Domingo and I are in trouble. This kid seems to have an innate sense that December 24th is not for sleeping. Not only did she take a while to fall asleep, but she woke up two hours early. So what’s a mom to do? Picture Time of course!

Smiling under the tree on Christmas Day

Nicki had a lot of fun. She loved being the star of the show and seeing so many new people. At one point she was sleeping on me (in the ergo) when my first cousin once removed arrived with my great aunt and uncle. When she woke up and noticed three new pairs of eyes on her, she was ear-to-ear grins. She eat up all the attention!

When she wasn’t meeting new family members, she was helping Mommy and Daddy (and Grandma) with their presents. Everyone cheered the first time she ripped the wrapping paper, so she started making little pulls and looking up for praise. So cute!

Helping Mommy with her present

She also made out like a bandit. My sister, Emily, found this great set of alphabet links by sassy. They’re multi colored and textured, just like the bright stars set, only Alphabet! Big hit. She also got some great clothes, which was great because someone decided to grow out of all her clothes two days after we arrived! I brought one 6-9 month outfit because I thought she might grow a little, I didn’t expect her pants to suddenly look like capris!

Yesterday we visited a hallmark store for those coveted post Christmas sales. You know my predictions on what ornaments would sell out? Yeah… Those ornaments I was waiting on? Gone. The ones I bought early? Still available. Postal Penguins was gone, so I correctly predicted that one. I was stunned at the number of Deerly-Loved Cookies, and Cookie Cutter Christmas available. Ah well, clearly I am never going to make my fortune in the secondary hallmark ornament market. I didn’t end up waiting for the after Christmas sale for Baby’s First Christmas ornament, after all. Hallmark had a facebook coupon for $5 off a month ago and I used it. Turned out to be a good thing too, it was also gone!

It was a great holiday. Lots of family, Lots of food (turns out we love squash!). All mommy could ask for is a little more sleeping.

More photos of my little Christmas elf.
December 19, 2012

Legos are for Boys, Apparently

My sister and I had those big boxes of legos and k’necks growing up. They came with instructional booklets on how to build twenty to thirty different things. After building everything at least half a dozen times, we started coming up with our own designs. We built race cars to launch from the top at the stairs. At first the goal was to have the car that remained the most intact and go the furthest, but it quickly devolved to whose car could break apart the most.

We must have thought we were boys.

Domingo and I were in the toy isle at Target and noticed that the toy that is the basis of so many child hood memories is not the same. Gone are the generic kids with large instructional booklets in favor of very specialized kits, and they’re no longer gender neutral.

Boy legos are for building and exploring new worlds: the wild west, dinosaurs, space travel and deep ocean adventures. What could be cooler than building your space station, and then visiting the National Air and Space Museum? Or building your deep ocean explorer and seeing the sharks in the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Legos are a great learning tool in their own right, building toys promote spacial awareness, but you can build on the interests sparked by those kits for all kinds of opportunities to learn.

Girl legos are pastel. You can build beauty parlors and bakeries. Where do you go from there? Good job with the bakery, Nicki, now let’s make some cupcakes? I love to bake, and I hope my daughter enjoys baking with me as well. I also like pink, and pastels, but that doesn’t mean I want Nicki to be awash in pink things. I hope she dreams of space travel, or exploring the ocean in her own submarine one day. Why should she be regulated to little plastic figures with budding breasts, and focus her attention on beauty and food?

I don’t fault Legos for this ‘girl legos’ design, it’s a response to consumer demand. If they didn’t sell, stores would stop carrying them and manufactures would stop making them. And the good news is there is a consumer shift. Swedish toy manufacture produced a gender neutral catalog, and while there was a backlash to the catalog, Metal recently announced they’re making a Barbie construction set. Although, I’m sure it’s primary color will be pink.

In the mean time, this consumer has made a decision: Nicki will be playing with boy legos too.

It’s Christmas card time! I know, I’m so so late. I’m ordering them tomorrow.


Nicki was not in a cooperating mood, but I managed to snap this – my new favorite photo of Nicki. It’s not the one I have on our card. It’s better than the ones I choose, but doesn’t match the idea I have for the card.

Anyway, I showed it to a few friends and one got concerned for Nicki’s safety (because of lead exposure, risk of electrocution, strangulation, etc, etc). Let me reassure you no babies were harmed in the making of this photo. I realized that I never really talked about safety in all my newborn and baby photography posts and that maybe I should.

I have two different modes in taking photos.

When I’m using my phone I’m in mom mood. It’s quick snap a picture when the baby is doing something cute mode. I’m right there, focused on the baby.

When I’m using my DSLR, I’m in photographer mode. This is the mode where I spend time setting up, and plan out in advance what I want to do. Im concentrating on how the photos are turning out. In order to use certain lenses I need to be 5 to 8 feet back, that’s not necessarily close enough to react should baby stick something, like an electric cord, in her mouth, or roll off a raised surface. In this mode I use a safety spotter.

When I set up – because there’s always at least a minimum of testing the light and setting the exposure settings – I discuss my plans and any safety concerns with my spotter (usually Domingo.). He then stays just barely out of frame, focusing on the baby while I snap away.

Having a safety spotter is great for a couple reasons.
– I don’t think of everything. When I mentioned this picture idea to Domingo, he was concerned about the possible electric shock that could occur with the baby drool if the lights weren’t shielded enough and suggested indoor/outdoor lights to be safe. That hadn’t occurred to me.
– My attention is divided. During one of the newborn photo shoots Nicki managed to maneuver close to the edge if the couch. My mom noticed it before I did because I was looking through the viewfinder. I didn’t want the edge of the couch in the picture, so the couch edge wasn’t visible through the viewfinder. I had no way of knowing how close she had gotten to the edge.

I don’t always use a spotter. I’ve taken pictures of Nicki in her crib without a spotter. Then again, I have dropped the iPhone on her before (just once!) so maybe I need one when in mom mode too.

December 14, 2012

Why not just Cry-It-Out?

Crib training, for lack of a better phrase, is going about as well as to be expected. Which is to say, not particularly well. For the past couple nights, Nicki has been up just about every 90 minutes (the length of a typical baby sleep cycle.). I turned to Facebook to vent/commiserate with fellow parents, but most of the suggestions were to try cry-it-out, and specifically to let her cry. It’s not that I have a problem with cry-it-out; I expect to be employing that technique in the next month or so. I just don’t think it will work for us now, at this point in time.

The point of cry-it-out is to give babies the chance to develop a new skill, that of falling asleep on their own. That way, when baby inevitably stirs or starts to wakes up in the night he or she can put him or herself back to sleep. That may seem like our problem, but it’s actually not.

Nicki knows how to go back to sleep in her rock-n-play. Both Domingo and I have seen her do this on the video baby monitor many times.

Diagram of Rock n’ Play Sleep Position

The problem is the rock-n-play is very different from the crib and she hasn’t been able to transfer that skill to the crib yet. When she starts to stir in the crib she tries to get back in a position that she’s familiar sleeping in, the pike position from the rock-n-play. When she starts to wake up, she sticks her feet up in the air.

Rock n’ play sleep position does not work in the crib!

Of course this method, despite being very cute, doesn’t work. Nicki wakes up and becomes very frustrated and upset. She wakes up fully and breaks down.

The second, and much larger issue is that Nicki has never slept we’ll in the crib, even despite our nap time efforts. In terms of nighttime, it’s a different room, different way of sleeping and she’s alone for the first time ever. That’s a lot of change for a baby! If she doesn’t yet associate the crib with sleep, I don’t feel we can put her down “drowsy but awake” and hope she can figure it out.

So our first goal is to teach her that she can sleep in the crib. Then we’ll work on falling asleep on her own.

Our bed time routine is the same, right down to rocking her to sleep. When she wakes up we let her fuss. Unless the light turns red on the baby monitor for a sustained period of time, we let her be. Once she starts crying, however, we go get her, regardless of how long (or short) she’s been up.

There is a silver lining. Nicki tends to wake up more when she’s on her back than when she’s on her side. (I always put her down on her back per AAP’s recommendation.) I’ve noticed Nicki sleeping on her side from time to time. Last night she did go back to sleep once on her own. Maybe she’s learning after all?

Aside: there are lots of different cry-it-out strategies. The phrase uses the term ‘cry’ because crying is often inevitable, but that is obviously not the goal. Our wait-and-see approach is similar, but not a standard cry-it-out approach that I’ve seen.

December 11, 2012

Ode to the Rock N’ Play

It’s time. We made the decision today to move Nicki to the crib from the rock n’ play tonight. I had been holding off because she was sleeping through the night so well, and because she hasn’t been napping well in the crib. (And because I wasn’t ready.)

Nicki hasn’t been sleeping well lately. She’s now waking up two to three times a night. I think that part of that could be that she’s outgrown her rock n’ play. Her feet have been dangling out of the rock n’ play when she stretches out, and when she gets excited she kicks the frame.

The rock n’ play has been so incredibly useful these past five months. Being able to rock her without getting out of bed? Priceless. The incline let us zoom in on her face more easily with the baby monitor, which made for some adorable photos as well as gave me peace of mind while I was downstairs doing chores. Our birth announcement photo was even Nicki in the rock n’ play.

The Rock N’ Play was without a doubt one of our best baby purchases.

First night home (2 days old)

Birth Anoucement Photo (9 days old)

One month old

Nicki TV

Night Time Vision

Morning smiles. I loved waking up to this face!

Today, last time in the rock n’ play. I’m getting teary eyed just thinking about it.

Tonight’s going to be hard. Waking up (assuming we get any sleep) without her next to me will also be hard. I know the goal is to have them grow into happy, healthy, well adjusted adults, but why can’t they stay babies forever?

December 1, 2012

Nicki at Five Months

Dear Nicki,

This probably doesn’t come as a shock to you, but your parents are baby novices. This month really highlighted that fact.

In the middle of the month you started getting really fussy at the bottle. Mommy and daddy noticed you seemed hungry, but kept pulling away. I mentioned this to Grandma over skype and she asked if we had switched you over to the size 2 nipples yet. We had forgotten nipples came in different sizes. Woops! Apparently size 1’s were just for babies 0-3 months old, and size 2 are for 3-6 months. You were already halfway through the size 2 period!

We also noticed you seemed hungry all.the.time. We talked to the doctor and devised a plan to start introducing you to solid foods around Thanksgiving time. After the nipple incident, I started to wonder at what age parents shifted from the 4oz bottles to the 8oz bottles. Apparently this month. Again, Woops!

Lovin’ your bigger bottles

We also broke in your new high chair. You weren’t sure what to think about the rice cereal at first, but quickly got into it. A little too into it, actually. You keep grabbing the spoon. You’ll let me pull the spoon away from your mouth an inch before shoving it back in. Mommy needs to put more rice cereal on the spoon first, sweety!

More please

Our plan is to try sweet potatoes and squash over the next few weeks (when you’re closer to six months), then on to peas. Mommy can’t wait!!

Of course, another month meant another change in clothing sizes. That’s what, four straight months of wardrobe changes?! You are now in 6-9 month sleepers. Quite growing so darn fast! Mommy is now starting to question weather I bought your “baby’s first Christmas” clothes in the right size! That’s the second holiday Mommy incorrectly guessed your size. We only got Thanksgiving right because I bought your outfit the Tuesday night before Thanksgiving!

Thankful for baby snores

Thank you for your continued patience.

Love always,
Mommy and Daddy