Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Status report: Month 1 (Maia)

Maia's first month has been a blur of feedings and diaper changes. And more feedings. The feedings are going fine; she seems to be healthy and happy, except in the evenings and also, when she's not feeding. Ahem. I am a little biased on this topic. We're leaving Maia and Chloë with their grandmothers for a few hours tomorrow to celebrate our anniversary and I don't know what I'm going to do with myself, not having a baby attached to me that long.

Maia came into the world smoothly, after an induction and a happily short labor with an extremely precipitous delivery--her father didn't have to catch her, but possibly only because the midwife decided not to leave the floor after I was six centimeters dilated. She was born mid-afternoon and met her sister, one grandpa, and two grandmothers not long after, and has been meeting more people all month. We woke her up more than we apparently had to her first couple of days, for feedings, to make sure she didn't get jaundice the way her sister did. I miss that lost sleep. Ah well.

Her sister has been and continues to be fascinated by her; she's been kissed and prodded and her hands and feet touched and examined more than any baby not in the hospital probably ought to, but it's all been in the name of love, or at least interest. She's just started smiling, and half the time it's at Chloë rather than at us.

We're all starting to settle into the routine, or at least the routine until I go back to work. We feed every hour and a half to two hours; she sleeps sometimes, often on Mama or Daddy's chest, sometimes through Chloë's "indoor voice," sometimes not. She gets cranky in the evenings, and prefers to be on the move. Eric and I expect to get plenty of exercise if this keeps up. She likes to be shushed (apparently it mimics the sound of my heartbeat in the womb) and swung back and forth, but isn't keen on her swing unless she's already mostly asleep. She does like baths, as long as she's nice and warm and not slipping down--sponge baths were bad, but the new baths in the tub are great.

She's starting to grow into her skin, filling out and looking less like Gollum and more like, well, a baby. I can see her sister in her, and sometimes have to remind myself that this is an entirely different baby. It's not so hard to remember when she screams; her scream is different. People say she looks like me; the technician at the hospital, who was the same one who helped out at Chloë's birth, said to Chloë when she first visited, "I don't think Mommy and Daddy make babies that look like Daddy." But Eric's mom and some other people say they see him in her. That's only fair. I don't see either of us in her (I didn't with Chloë either until relatively recently). I see a baby of ours, and that's all. That's enough.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Chloë - Status report: Month 22

Chloë's twenty-second month was punctuated by the arrival of her new baby sister Maia, and that's been the big story of the month: working out how life with a baby sister works. She's been a champ mostly. She was so patient while we were in the hospital and she stayed first with Mimaw and Omi and then with Grandpa and Halmoni--though Grandpa tells me she was getting sad and bewildered by the end. She hangs on my legs whenever I'm nursing Maia, and tends to ask for food and drink and books and hugs more often during those times. It's heartrending and also slightly annoying to see her plead for a hug when I'm in the middle of nursing the baby and she knows quite well by now that I'm not going to move for the next forty-five minutes unless it's an emergency.

She's definitely jealous, but she's also our "big helper," fetching things and putting diapers in the diaper pail and being pretty good about our constant injunctions to be gentle around the baby. And she seems to like Maia herself (though I'm not a hundred percent positive that this isn't because we praise her whenever she shows signs of affection); she's always asking to see or hold her, and likes to kiss her head and stroke her hands. She's started chanting "Dubuduba Maia" in the car (when she tends to babble nonsense, for some reason). I vaguely wonder if she's using it as an epithet, the way I say "Oh brother," but it's adorable anyway.

She seems to have developed a favorite color: green. She has a pair of green shorts, and now that it's finally warm enough to wear them, she's obsessed. "Green pants?" she asked multiple times. "Green pants icky?" she said sadly when we convinced her that they were in the wash and couldn't be worn. We went shopping recently and bought her a bunch of 3T summer clothes (also bathing suit and hat and life vest in anticipation to a water park trip with family later this summer), and looked almost desperately for more green shorts, but there were none. Today we went to Target to get, among other things, blackout curtains for her room, and after she picked out the ones she liked (green) I spotted a pair of green boy's shorts. I pulled the 3T size off the rack and waved them at her, saying, "What do you think?" She responded, "Green pants!" and started to pull down the shorts she was wearing.

She's become more interested in her clothes recently; she often picks out her pants or shirt, and often her socks. She likes playing with her jewelry box and the bracelets and earrings ("ingy") inside. One thing I've noticed is that her memory is better than it used to be, and it shows up with the jewelry--she keeps her earrings in a little bag, and if I ask her where they are, she can tell me if they're in the bag or on her bed or what. She can take complex instructions now ("Put down your sippy, then pick up that green ball beside your coloring table, and put it in the box."), but is also showing more willfulness. She has a hat and sunglasses and hairclips and various other things, but it's anybody's guess as to whether we could actually get her to wear them for appropriate lengths of time; it's all we can do to get her to wear them long enough for pictures.

Her language continues to develop at an astounding rate. It's incredible how quickly she picks up words and their meanings, just from hearing two people talk--I mean, I know it's not just us, she hears other people and watches TV and such, but still, it's amazing. She's up to four-word sentences ("No go see Mama," "Chloë have some yogurt raisins?") and is game to repeat pretty much anything. She discusses the people she sees ("go see people?" she said excitedly when we mentioned a shopping trip the other day) and when things fall or roll, and who's coming down the stairs, and what's going on in her shows, and what she's doing, and what we're doing, and on and on and on.

She's fascinated with computers and cameras; as Eric said earlier today, while he videotaped her turning somersaults ("tumbling"), it's difficult to capture the native Chloë because when she sees a camera, she wants it so she can look at the pictures. She wants everything these days. She's constantly saying "Chloë have some-a?" which is her way of saying "I have the munchies." If we have something, she wants a bite. If we bring out something new--a pen, say, or an old toy she's forgotten--she wants to hold it and play with it. At Target we stopped in one of the toy aisles to look for tricycle pedal blocks (no luck) and she wandered to a nearby stand of cheap toys. She picked up several things in turn, squeezing them and saying "Chloë have yellow ball?" "Chloë have red ball?" and just "Chloë have?" when she couldn't identify the object (it was a mold for sand at the beach, so fair enough). We didn't respond to these requests, if they were requests, and she didn't object when we walked away without any of them, but I don't know how long that will last.

Now that it's warmer she's finally been able to go outside more, which has been great. She still likes walks and just wandering around the yard; she loves the sidewalk chalk she got for Easter; and Grandpa and Halmoni bought her two early birthday presents: a tricycle and a slide. She's too short for the tricycle (thus the need for pedal blocks) but loves being pushed around on it, or even just pulling it behind her as we walk. She loves the slide, too...theoretically. We've gone to the park several times lately, and while she talks excitedly about the swings and the slide, she's had a hard time actually using either one on her one. On our last visit she finally used a swing by herself for a couple of minutes, and was eventually coaxed into going down a baby slide by herself. (She likes going down the really big slides on Mama's or Daddy's lap, though.) She hasn't yet gone down her own slide. We're thinking we may need to have her cousin or her friends model for her.

Eric's been talking a lot lately about how big Chloë is, and how sweet, and how autonomous. Having Maia around as comparison helps, of course, but she really is seeming way more grown-up and more a person than she used to be, even than last month. She can do and say and understand so much, and she has her own little quirks, some adorable and some maddening, and she's so loving and so fun to be around when she isn't driving us crazy. But we'll take the crazy, and the love. We're all about both of those in this family.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Music to my ears

Chloë has started to sing. It's very short, hesitant phrases now, reminding me of when she first started to laugh. One of her favorite shows is Sesame Street's "Going Green," known in our household as "Green Elmo." We have this whole coding scheme for her videos. There's Number Show, Monkey Show, Sky Babies, Water Babies, Color Babies, Flower Babies, Big Bird, Elmo, and Green Elmo. Oh, and Snowman Show, by which she means the Baby Einstein Christmas video, which we stopped showing her long before she could say either "snowman" or "show" (and don't let her watch now) but evidently she remembers it.

Ahem. Anyway, Green Elmo contains a number of songs on the subject of saving the Earth. One of them contains the line "You and me Earth, we're best friends," and I heard her softly singing "Hue me Errr," after it came on. I sang it for her, and she beamed at me and said, as she does lately for anything upon which she looks favorably, "One more time?" We did the same thing with a later song. I love her baby singing. I sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" when we were working on dinner (after a ridiculous meltdown about whether she could have the entire pancake or just a bite) and she loved it. I can't wait to share my favorite childhood songs with her.

(Not music to my ears: Maia's crying whenever she isn't eating or sleeping. For a while she seemed simply to be hungry all the time. Now she's just cranky all the time. I caught myself thinking tonight during dinner, which she slept through, how nice it would be if she never woke up. Which I didn't mean literally, of course, but...yeah. Silence is nice.)

Friday, May 20, 2011

A new era begins.

"Mom! Can't you see we're busy discussing policy?!"

Thursday, May 19, 2011

On communication

Last night I went into Chloë's room to put her blanket back on her, as I often do, and discovered that she was lying right next to the edge of the bed, having moved the blanket barricade we erected when the bed rail turned out to be a bad idea. (She loved leaning on it and climbing over it and basically daring it to turn on her. We figured we'd better move it before it did.) I didn't want to risk waking her by moving her, so I fetched a spare pillow and put it down on the floor beneath her, just in case. In the morning when she fetched me and we returned to her room, she pointed to the pillow and said, "Bloody nose."

I examined the pillow. It was clean. I examined her nose. It was also clean. "You had a bloody nose?" I said, doubtfully. (Note: no one ever told me that so much of my conversation with my toddler would consist of repeating what I think she's just said.) She nodded. Then she said, "Mama help."

This didn't seem to be a request for assistance, rather a report on past events. (Note: conversing with my toddler has also taught me that way more of communication than I thought is nonverbal.) I said, to be sure, "I helped you with the nosebleed?"

She nodded. "I didn't help you with a nosebleed last night," I told her. "Are you thinking of some other night?" She wasn't too sure about that one, but I was satisfied in my own mind...except that I don't know what connection the pillow had to a memory of a nosebleed. In any case, I moved the pillow, and she was happy (until the next time she found some miniscule crumb or thread on the floor, which she always picks up and hands to one of us with a concerned expression, as if to say, "Get your housecleaning act together, people").

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hey jealousy

Everyone in the house other than me is sleeping. I should be sleeping, too, theoretically, but this morning Eric let me sleep in until 9:30, which gave me something like a reasonable amount of sleep (after eleven hours of trying. Part of the problem is that I forgot to put Maia in a nightgown for bed, and also decided to be serious about putting her in the bassinet rather than with me, so when she unwrapped herself from her blankets she was cold) (also, she's currently happily asleep in the crib but tends to go down hard in the bassinet. Maybe it's just not comfortable enough?), and I don't get these alone moments often. Perhaps I should be doing something with this one other than being online? Oh well.

Chloë is becoming shorter and shorter of sleep. She routinely wakes up between six and six-thirty in the mornings, and her naps have been shortening from two hours to between one and one and a half. Sending her to bed later hasn't helped, so we're going to try earlier in the hopes that she'll at least be better rested, if not any later in rising.

She's whinier and shorter-tempered than she used to be, though I can't say for sure whether that's from the lack of sleep or the jealousy. Last night Eric said to her, after pulling her off of me so she wouldn't continue to trample my feet and climb on my legs and pull pillows down on me while I was nursing Maia, "I know you're jealous." She repeated anxiously "Chloë jealous? Chloë jealous?" and rubbed her nose, as she does when she thinks she's got another nosebleed (she's had several lately). Eric told her, "Jealous is a feeling, like happy or sad," but she kept repeating and rubbing. I told her "Jealous has nothing to do with your nose," but I'm not sure she understood.

She does continue to like to look at Maia, and kiss her head or investigate her fingers, but I'm not convinced that this isn't partly because we praise her for doing so. I don't suppose that's entirely a bad thing, though. I have to interrupt my time with her so often to go pick up Maia or nurse her, and I'd hate it too if I were Chloë. Heck, I don't like it myself. Last night after a midnight feeding I sat up a while to rock Maia to sleep, and after some creepy-looking eye-opening and shutting with only her whites shutting and lots of limb twitching, she woke up and wanted to nurse again. I put her down and went downstairs to where Eric was working on grading to complain. "Why am I so much more impatient the second time around?" I wondered.

"I think it's because last time you had PPD, and your brain wouldn't let you go in that direction," Eric said.

"Well, which one's better?" I grumbled. Maia had been crying all this time, and I started hearing some blanket-rustling that wasn't her, so I started back up the steps, saying, "I better go get her before the daughter I actually like wakes up." Which is not to say I don't like Maia. I'm finding myself much more fond of her than I was of Chloë at this age--again, probably due to the PPD that time and the lack of it this time. But at one in the morning when I think I'm fully due a simple hour of sleep and being denied it, I'm not much better than a nearly-two-year-old who just wants some time with her mama.

I want some time with my oldest daughter, too. (And also my pillow. Pity Chloë won't sleep with me. She says she wants to when I try to take a nap, but her "Chloë sleep" really means "Chloë lay down by Mama and pull the blankets away from her and chatter incessantly and, if the chatter gets no response, poke at her.") I'm not seeing how to get it yet, much, since Maia nurses mostly every 1.75 hours, but I'm going to try. And we're going to try to get Chloë more sleep, and if possible, some patience. And keep on going.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The parrot and the banshee

Chloë is a regular parrot these days. She still can't say S or R or L or TH or W or F, but she's evidently gained enough of a grasp on language that she's able to start repeating what we say--so when I say to her, "You like playing in water, don't you, sweetie?" she says back, "Water don't you sweetie?" Or rather, "Howah doh hoo teevie?" I would love to know how she decides what consonants to substitute when. Why does "there" become "bear" and "that" become "dat"?

"Maia Maia Maia" is a frequent refrain these days. She hangs on my legs while I'm nursing Maia and pats her sister's head, or kisses it, or points at her long, slender fingers and says knowledgeably, "Tingah." She's also started pointing at random things and saying "Maia!" so that I'll correct her with "That's not Maia, that's Mama!" or "That's the couch!" or "That's the Boppy!" She's not excited about my unavailability when I'm behind the Boppy (for that matter, neither am I), but she's dealing with it pretty well. She delights in taking diapers to the trash for us--usually saying "Baby diaper?" when accepting one, and calling "Diaper in garbage!" as she runs back. She's up to four-word sentences on occasion. Her aunt says she misses this stage in her own daughter, and I can see why. It's so interesting to hear Chloë's thoughts coming out as speech. I wonder whether having words to put her thoughts into speeds them up or slows them down.

Maia, on the other hand, is mostly pretty quiet. This is not, happily, due to unnatural sleepiness such as Chloë had when she was this age, just that she hasn't fussed much except when she's had an exceptionally yucky diaper or when we haven't attended to her nutritional needs immediately. Kid loves to eat. At her checkup it turned out she'd gained seven ounces in five days. She generally falls asleep about every ten minutes of a feeding, and a full forty-minute feeding lasts her a little under two hours unless she has a sound nap, so if I didn't wake her up she'd be eating pretty much, oh, constantly.

She has had a few opportunities to exercise her lungs, though. She cried herself to sleep, or maybe to resignation, on the way home from her checkup because I just didn't want to sit in the pediatrician's for an extra hour to nurse her. And the other day Eric was trying to soothe her while I finished something up--or just sulked at the prospect of yet another feeding an hour and a half after the last, I forget which--and her cries turned to what sounded like actual screams. All was forgiven once we were settled and the R.I.N.D.S. was in place, but I was fairly alarmed. I never heard this before. Her cries don't sound like Chloë's did, either. I can't say I remember exactly how Chloë sounded, but this wasn't it. Maia has this burst of particularly demanding vocalization in the middle of every cry that Chloë didn't. I'm having this feeling that it's a good thing Chloë is the oldest, because otherwise Maia might run her right over.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A mother's memory, refreshed

I forgot how warm a newborn's head is.

Miss Maia is doing well, settling into home life, I think. Mom and Dad are here for another day--they arrived the day she was born--and have been a huge help in keeping the house running and getting us all a chance to take a breath and sort out what this new life is going to be like.

Labor and delivery were delightfully short and uneventful. I'll post a birth story later...hopefully less late than Chloë's. It'll also be shorter. I must say, I'd forgotten how annoying those hospital beds are, especially when you've got an IV in one arm and three hospital bracelets in the other. Also, how many different nurses you get in the course of a two-day stay.

Nursing is going well this time. It's still in the hurty stage, but Maia's weight is about where it should be, according to her pre-discharge and first-checkup measurements, and she's happy to latch on and stay there, except for a penchant for drifting off for five-minute naps and then waking up, ready for another refreshing drink, just when I've gotten up and am trying to use the bathroom or get a snack or a glass of water. I'd forgotten how thirsty nursing makes me. Also how sleepy. And how, when everything is quiet, you can hear the milk moving through a baby's tiny body as she drinks.

Also, I'd forgotten that moment at the beginning of nearly every nursing session where I feel awful and everything in the world is hateful. Ah well.

I've been told I can start lifting Chloë again, which is good because she's been very annoyed about being denied. She likes having a baby around to kiss and point at and say "Baby baby baby baby baby baby baby" to, but she's not so hot on being forbidden to climb on me because she's in danger of squishing her sister. I've been trying to have one-on-one time with her when possible. Having Maia around makes me notice how grown-up Chloë is, so loose-limbed and tousle-haired and talkative. And fun, except when she's being whiny, but I can understand that at a time like this.

We've been tense as Maia has gotten yellower, but we discussed jaundice at her checkup yesterday and the pediatrician had us go get a bilirubin level, and she's fine. We're going back later this week for another checkup, just in case, but I think she's doing fine. Everything is so much easier this time around. I know about changing diapers and clipping nails, and while I dislike the nighttime wakings as much as ever I know exactly what to do during them. I'm a little concerned about Thursday, when we wake up and have no Grandpa and Halmoni around, but every other family of four is able to deal with it; we will too.