Saturday, December 29, 2012

Babyness

Amaliya,

A few things I hope I always remember about your infancy, that no picture or video can capture:
  • Those moments when I'm laying down to feed you while playing on my phone; you are suddenly still and quiet and I assume you fell asleep, only to look down to see you flashing me the biggest grin with a nipple hanging out of your mouth.  Priceless.

  • Your sounds.  You make this creaky door sound whenever you're concentrating, or when we touch your nose, or when you're trying to get something into your mouth.  After you sneeze you let out a long drawn-out sigh.  After you yawn, you make a beautiful cooing sounds that reminds me of singing.  Even when these sounds wake me up at midnight (and 1am, 3am, 5am...) I can't mind, because they are so sweet. 
  •  The smell of your newborn head.  Before I had you, I heard people go on about how good babies smell - I thought they were talking about baby oils and freshly laundered onesies.  Now I know better - there is a perfume you exude that is uniquely yours and totally intoxicating to me.  Pheromones, I guess?  Whatever it is, you smell better than anything in the world.  I love to lean close to you first thing in the morning and smell your fresh baby breath too.  I guess all the wonderful good smells that come out of you compensate for the diaper "events" that are not too pleasant.
  • The look on your face when we hold up the water pitcher during bath time.  Your eyebrows draw together in intense concentration, your mouth falls open, you reach out your arms and make the creaky door sound until you can get your hands on it.  

  • Your poo face, a look of utmost seriousness.  Which is always accompanied by about 15 minutes of hard, LOUD grunting and straining.  I would especially like to remember the day I took you to Kohl's, which was extremely crowded, and you grunted up and down aisles the whole time.  Heads turned, eyebrows were raised, an old lady asked me if you were okay.  I tried my best not to die laughing, but I kind of failed.  (With that said, the moment I would like most to NOT remember is that diaper blowout while IN the Baby Hawk, on our way into Joanns.  Not our finest mother-daughter moment.) Edit: As I was writing this she was simultaneously experiencing the MOST MASSIVE DIAPER BLOWOUT OF ALL TIME OMG which I had to take a break and clean up.  Showing me who's boss, I suppose.
 I know you're probably not incredibly unique - I mean, you ARE, as a person, but most of the things you are doing now have probably been done by all other babies since the dawn of time.  I don't know if it's my total inexperience with babies before you came along, or your particular combination of quirks and the style with which you deliver them, but I find you to be the most fascinating, adorable, entertaining individual I've ever met.  I wish I had started writing some of these things down earlier - I'm sure there are plenty of moments that I've forgotten during the first couple months of new-mom delirium. 

I love you - and I don't want to forget a second of your delicious babyness.

-Mom


Monday, December 24, 2012

By the Light of the Moon

Let me start by saying: I love my husband more than I could possibly put to words.  He is truly my better half and his love for me and our family inspires me every day.

With that said, it must be acknowledged that we come from drastically different cultural backgrounds, and that fact is never more apparent than around the holidays.  All that sense of "Christmasness" that I get.... which involves decorations, carols, ridiculous amounts of delicious food, cards, potlucks, gift exchanges, classic movies, silly hats, eggnog, family.... you know what I mean?  The "spirit" of Christmas, I guess you can call it.  It's an extremely American phenomenon.  My husband didn't grow up with any of the same traditions, and for a multitude of personal reasons finds very little cause to be festive around this time of year.

I still partake in Christmas festivities with my family and at work, but at home?  Not so much.  Sure, we turn on Christmas music now and then.  We went shopping for gifts for his parents.  Our only decorations are Christmas cards that friends have sent that I stuck up on the fridge.  I watched Love, Actually mostly by myself this afternoon.  But that whole vibe of peaceful sweet Christmas wonderfulness just isn't there.

Tonight?  Tonight we went to my parent's house, ate, opened gifts, and I had a great time.  We were home early, by 6pm.  My husband retired to the computer, his parents dozed in front of the TV, that's all.  Nothing special.  And I was resigned to it.

But then Amaliya wouldn't sleep, due to a late nap and maybe some teething issues.  I took her into the bedroom, closed the door, sat in the rocker with her, and read her the Polar Express (which she seemed to enjoy!)  We laid down in bed together where I intended to nurse her to sleep, but she was too awake and too happy.  Instead we sang every Christmas song I could think of - I sang, she cooed and grinned, snuggled up close and grabbed my face with both hands.  It was, quite honestly, the highlight of my holiday season.

 
Caroling in the darkness
I'm excited for all that the future holds with my little family, but one of the greatest things I think will be developing our own traditions.  I can't wait until next Christmas when she's old enough to care - both her dad and I agree that, whatever our personal hangups and incompatibilities, we have to do everything we can to make the holidays a special time for her growing up. Innocence is a wonderful thing, and there's nothing quite like that feeling of pure faith and belief in magic.  I'll do anything to give her that experience.

In the meantime, I have my daughter to thank for making my Christmas one of the best ever.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Amaliya at 20 Weeks



I meant to do these updates every four weeks, but somehow week 16 came and went without me finding the time to write!  I blame school, which is finally done for the quarter (I start another class in just a couple weeks, but let's not talk about that, shall we?)

Weight:  12lbs 7oz (18th percentile)
Height: 24.5 inches (43rd percentile)
Head circumference: 41cm (55th percentile)



Amaliya Likes:  Music and dancing, watching her daddy talk (he's a hand-talker, and his gestures just crack her up!), bath time, putting everything in her mouth, "standing" up while we hold her hands (her legs are ridiculously strong), being held up so she's taller than us, sitting on our laps during meals and watching us eat, her grandmas, faces (she loves reaching out to touch our lips, noses, eyes), watching us cook, watching just about anything in motion really, and being outside.


Terrible picture, but LOOK how long her hair is when it's wet!  It's insane.  She also has her daddy's ears  :-D
Amaliya Dislikes:  Getting dressed after bath time, sitting in her high chair, not being able to see people, being left to play by herself, sleeping in past 6am, being awake past 6pm, wearing socks. 



Feeding: I'm back at work 5 days a week now, and let me just say, pumping breast milk for her is not as complicated as I thought it would be, but WAY more annoying than I anticipated.  It's very much a mental block - sitting in the storage room amidst the dust and Christmas decorations and spider traps, exposing myself while listening to a meeting in the conference room across the hall, and trying to "relax."  Right.  But anyway, for now it's working.  The schedule goes something like:

5:30 - 6:30am - I give her a solid feeding, and then top her off before I rush out the door to work.  If she's been up every few hours to eat all night, she's not very hungry.
9am - 4oz bottle
11-12pm - I come home for lunch and breastfeed.  Usually I just keep her on the breast until she falls asleep for her afternoon nap.
2pm - 4oz bottle
4pm - Breastfeed
5:30-6:30 - She gets a bath and I usually breastfeed to distract her while I detangle and comb out her hair (ridiculous).  I then top her off right before she goes to bed.

She usually eats a couple times during the night as well, depending on how often she's up, and how restless.  Feeding her is a lot less time-consuming these days;  she only takes 5-10 minutes to eat instead of 20-30.  I'm still planning to exclusively breastfeed for 6-months before we start solids.  The pediatrician told us that we can start adding a bit of rice cereal to her bottles, but I'm inclined to skip that step - I don't like the idea of empty calories.  We'll start her slowly on more nutritious solids soon enough, probably in late January.


Sleeping:  Oh dear.  Remember how in her 12 week update I was boasting about what a great sleeper she is?  Yeah.  I should have kept my big mouth shut.  Pretty much right after that her sleep went epically to shit.  I'm going to do a separate post just on her nighttime issues, so I won't get into it too much now.  Over the last couple of days things have slightly improved, so we'll see what happens...

I'm pretty sure she got dressed in the dark here - there's no other explanation for why she's rocking a sherpa hat and Saturday Night Fever pants simultaneously.
Another bold fashion statement.
What's new?: So much!  All of a sudden, my tiny baby girl seems ginormous and incredibly independent.  She has awesome head and neck control so I can just throw her up on my hip and carry her around.  She reaches out to grab everything, and everything goes directly into her mouth.  She's discovered how to stick out her tongue and blow raspberries, and to make a super high-pitched pterodactyl-esque shrieking sound.  She babbles - lots of "gah"s and "bah"s and "goo"s.  If I stand her up on a soft surface, like the bed, and hold her hands, she can stand up by herself.  She laughs, not often and usually at very unexpected things, but it is the most beautiful sound. She's almost ALMOST rolling over from back to front.



The biggest change is how hyper-aware of her environment she is now.  She no longer tolerates being left on her playmat or sitting in the high chair while we get stuff done.  She wants to be close to the action.  Especially when one of us is in the kitchen making something, she's not happy unless someone is holding her up so she can see what's happening on the stove/sink/counter.  She watches intently when someone enters or leaves a room.  She's having the beginnings of separation anxiety - if she can't see or hear me, she's fine being held by anyone; as soon as she sees me though, she starts crying until I come hold her.   Gone are the naps in the Baby Hawk while we go out for coffee and grocery shopping - she can't stop staring at people walking by, she's fascinated by cars - I doubt she blinks, let alone close her eyes long enough to sleep.  The world is just far too interesting to miss a moment.


And Mom?  I'm fine, really.  The sleep deprivation is taking a toll and going back to work has been a major adjustment, but... so it goes.  I'm excited for the holidays but equally excited for it to be OVER.  I'm looking forward to February - as troubling and stressful as it will be to send my sweet beastie girl to daycare, I'm anxious to take the plunge and finally establish a routine.  I'm still counting my blessings every day for this loud, willful, introverted, serious, joyful, curious, adaptable, gorgeous little person whose personality becomes a bit more intricate every day.  I can't imagine my life without her.  I CAN imagine my life with more sleep though.  One day at a time  :-)

I love her so.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Adjustment



Amaliya,

I've written you letters before but none have been typed, or put out there for the Internet to read.  This one is, because to be perfectly honest.... I'm a mess, and I need an outlet. I had everything so together for the first four months of your life.  My hormones were stable, my stress was managed, I felt like a rockstar most of the time for taking care of a you, and your dad, and a house, and training for races, and going to grad school.

Then work happened - 40 hours a week that I have to be away from you.  House guests (your grandparents) arrived at about the same time.  Three classes remained to be completed.  And you, my dear sweet girl, you who were sleeping 8-9 hours at a stretch from your second week on earth, you have stopped sleeping.  Not entirely, of course, but you are waking up every 2-3 hours all night long. My foundation is starting to crack.

I am not taking great care of myself right now, I'll admit.  I'm still running many, many miles each week -  it's not optional, my mental health depends on it -  but I don't have time for the complementary stuff like weights and stretching that enable my body to run long and feel good.  I'm not drinking enough water to compensate for running and breastfeeding, but water consumption cuts into coffee consumption and, sadly, coffee triumphs most of the time.  I either don't eat enough, or I eat way too much of all the wrong things.  I can't nap when you nap, because I'm too anxious about everything that's not being done.

I often find myself angry - inexplicably angry at just about everything. Angry at our financial situation that demands that I have to work a full-time job (and likely always will); Angry that our guests have taken over your room so you have to sleep in the pack and play in our walk-in closet;  Angry that I have to come home from work and make dinner for a bunch of people instead of spending alone time with you; Angry that my breaks at work and rare free moments at home are spent hooked up to a breast pump like a dairy cow;  Angry that I have to take herbal supplements just to be able to produce enough milk to keep up, and they make me feel bloated and nauseous;  Angry that I ran a half marathon two weeks ago but have been too tired and busy taking care of everyone that I can't feel any joy in the accomplishment;  Angry that I have to share you with anyone, even your father and loving grandparents.

Angry that, what was one of the best periods of my life, has become one of the worst seemingly overnight.

Except, of course, that it's not the worst.  Not even close.  I am writing this lying on my side, with you tucked into my right arm, tummy to tummy. You are passed out, milk-drunk, mouth open, gently breathing.  I came home on my lunch break just to have this moment with you, to suck up your love and warmth and baby smell. I try and steal moments like this with you a few times a day.  Sometimes they come at 5am, when you wake up far too early but oh-so-happy, and I bring you into bed with us.  You squeak and squirm until you catch sight of the alarm clock and stare at it - motionless, transfixed - while I doze, until it goes off at 5:42.

Sometimes they come at 3am, when I hear you crying in the closet and go in to pick you up.  You're not really awake, not particularly hungry, but you want to nurse and cuddle and be wrapped up in arms for a while, just because.  It's like you want to be sure I'm still there, and of course I am and always will be.

Sometimes they come when I get home from work, snatch you from your grandma, and retreat to the bedroom to spend a few minutes alone with you.  I hold you up high and walk around so you can see the artwork on the walls.  Occasionally I dance with you and sing you all my favorite Broadway songs with some of the words changed ("Don't Cry For Me, Amaliya").  Lately we lay on our backs, side by side, while I try and convince you to roll over.  You try so hard, and get so frustrated, until you catch my eye and we smile at each other.  Rolling over is important, no doubt, but no need to rush these milestones; they're piling up too fast as it is.

Mothering is hard.  Trying to do it all, be it all, have it all, fulfill multiple conflicting roles without losing myself or a single moment with you is.... impossible?  Maybe.  I guess I want to write you this letter because you might be in a similar position one day.  Feeling despair.  Trying your best and coming up short.  Angry at the world for making your best efforts seem like a waste.  You'll likely be in good company - women have faced this issue for hundreds of years and likely will for hundreds more.  I want you to know that you'll be okay.  I'll be okay too.

And I will try to be less angry, because anger interferes with my overwhelming sense of gratitude for your presence in my life.  When I embrace the gratitude, and dismiss the anger, I am happy that I have a good job to go to.  Proud that I can demonstrate for you that a woman can express herself through a career and other passions without sacrificing her identity as wife and mother.  I'm more than happy to stuff myself with fenugreek and lock myself in a dusty storage room to pump breastmilk for you, because being able to bond with you through breastfeeding is a privilege that I do not take for granted.  I am glad that your grandparents have been able to spend time with you, and that I haven't had to deposit you into the arms of strangers at daycare just yet.  I don't mind at all when my evenings are spent cooking and doing laundry and endlessly ENDLESSLY washing bottles and pumping supplies, because it's all part of keeping our household together and our family strong, and you deserve to grow up in a stable, functional, loving environment.  The night-wakings, the hysterical overtired screams, the soul-crushing exhaustion... it's all fleeting, and none of it matters too much.  Soon these bad times will be in the past, and so will the days of you gnawing on my shoulder and sweetly sleeping on my chest.

I can't be mad that life continues to intrude on our time together.  This IS our life.  It's going to be messy, fractured, full of missed opportunities and lost moments and bittersweet feelings.  What matters is the love that is the reason for our struggles.  Your dad and I love you enough to make any sacrifice necessary; you love us enough to forgive us for all our many failings.  As for the rest, it's all a matter of embracing, adjusting, and moving forward.

<3  Mama

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Amaliya at 12 Weeks

Very serious eyebrows
 Weight:  11lbs 7oz at her 2 month appointment (10 weeks), so she must be over 12lbs by now.

Height: 24 inches, give or take (so hard to measure a wiggly baby!)

Nicknames: Peanut (Peanut Head, Peanut Face, etc), Beast ( Drool Beast, Poo Beast, Sweet Beast, Silly Beast, etc), Sweetie Sweetie Banana, Brown Girl, Chai Masala, Little Tyrant... basically anything that comes to mind.


Amaliya likes:  eating her hands, smiling at strangers, talking to us (lots of ahhhGOOOO's, baggghhhhhh's, and raspberries), being naked, bathtime, being carried in the Baby Hawk, taking walks, sitting in her high chair and watching us cook, being swaddled at night, eating (sometimes), having her gums cleaned (weirdo), sleeping, holding hands when riding in the car.




Amaliya dislikes:  Getting dressed, being tired (the only time she screams like a banshee), eating (sometimes), having her hair combed and nails filed, not monopolizing our attention.


Feeding:  Breastfeeding is going extremely well!  My supply is well established, I'm able to pump enough for her to have 1-3 bottles a week while I'm out and 6-12oz left over to freeze, and I'm no longer sore at all.  The reason I included eating in both the likes and dislikes above is because she and the breast have developed a contentious relationship.  When she's really really hungry, like in the middle of the night, she latches on right away.  But during the day she doesn't want to latch!  She'll jerk her head around and bite at my nipple, grab handfuls of flesh (ouch!) and push herself away, and occasionally push herself away after she's latched; holy elastic nipples Batman, that hurts!  I've tried only offering the breast when I know she's very hungry, which makes the act of feeding much easier, but then she only eats every 4 hours or so.  After a day like this, she's up every 3 hours to eat at night, which makes me think she's not getting enough calories during the day.  So.  For now we'll continue to fight the good fight and hope she reverts back to the enthusiastic sucker she was a few weeks ago.


Sleeping:  Amazing.  She's absolutely done with life by 6pm every night, and spends 6-8pm sleeping off-and-on on either my husband or myself (though this last week she'll only sleep during this time if I'm wearing her; if not, she's screaming).  At 8pm she gets changed, swaddled, fed, and put to bed where she sleeps for 6-7.5 hours straight, on average.  I wake up to her fussing and spend about 20 minutes feeding her - by the end of 20 minutes she's already put herself back to sleep, and back in the crib she goes for another 2.5-3.5 hours.  About once a week or so her sleep periods are shorter and she wakes up for a second time around 5ish, and if that happens I can nurse her back to sleep for another 1-1.5 hours.  Generally, she gets about 11 hours a night with 1 or 2 wakings. 


Napping is another story.  She tends to need a lot of sleep during the day, but she won't nap for longer than 45 minutes in her crib (usually about 20) and that's after some serious feeding and holding.  So, either I spend my entire day living from nap to nap, or I strap her into the Baby Hawk and let her get a solid 1.5-2.5 hour nap a couple times a day.  Our days are infinitely better when this happens, but a) I'm worried about making this a habit (.... oops, too late); b) it's hell on my back and legs; and c) it still limits the things I can do during the day (like sit at the computer and work on my mountain of homework, because she tends to wake when I'm sitting).  I'm just going with it right now, but in the next couple weeks I need to think about weaning her off the carrier naps.  I don't want a situation where a frantically overtired baby spends the day screaming at her caregivers when I return to work.

He's never looked sexier
How is mom doing?:  Honestly, I feel fantastic.  I get anywhere between 5.5 and 8 hours of sleep per night, which is very manageable.  I'm not the most patient person in the world, so I was nervous going into this about how I would handle a complicated, grumpy, demanding little baby dictating my days.  But I've adapted, and tapped into reserves of zen and patience that I never knew I had.  There are plenty of evenings where she's screaming her face off and breaking my eardrums, and though it's frustrating, I can handle the situation (more or less) calmly.

It helps that I really try to take time for myself.  My half marathon training is going well (10 mile run last week!) and I leave Amaliya with her dad on Wednesday evenings and Friday and Sunday mornings for 1-3 hours at a time so I can get my runs in.  School is beyond hectic (3 classes!  I'm insane) but I just try to be super efficient and get work done after baby girl goes to bed at 8pm.  My mom has also been wonderful and comes over on her days off so I can sneak off to a coffee shop and get a solid block of work done.

It's not easy and it's not always smooth sailing.... there have been a few evenings where I'm teary-eyed, exhausted and despairing, feeling like I'm on the verge of failing at everything.  In moments like that, cliche as it may be, snuggling up to my baby and looking at her smiling face is enough to remind me that it doesn't matter if my grades suck, if my running flounders, if my choices aren't always healthy.... because the most important thing, I did right.


Seriously?  I pinch myself every day.  It's still hard to believe that this beautiful, healthy, independent-minded, smiley and talkative little girl is mine, that I made her.  I kiss her chubs at least a million times a day and am consciously grateful for this little life that gives my life a new and greater purpose. 





<3

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Busy busy busy...

 Hello!  School is back in full swing, and my weekly workload consists of two case studies (8 typed pages each), problems and a quiz on Operations Research, and problems and a quiz in Statistics.  I'm drowning!  And I don't have much time for blogging sooooo I'll throw a random fill-in and a baby picture at you. 


I know right?  I can't believe it's October, and I'm the mom of a two-month-old.  I wonder when I'm going to wake up from this haze...

I wish babies were born with grown-up sleep habits.
I want to be done with my MBA already.
I always start my day with coffee, and end it with wine (since having a baby, anyway).
I need love. And a chiropractic adjustment.
I feel generally in control of my destiny.
I think a lot less than my husband.  That's a good thing.
I ask my husband to fill my water bottle countless times in an evening, while I'm glued to the couch breastfeeding.
I hear my baby's sweet squeaks and sighs while she takes a nap on me.
I smell coffee.  Yes, at 3pm.  So what??
I ponder constantly about the state of my relationships.
I seek ways to get out of the house - I can't spend a whole day inside without feeling unhinged.
I play with my daughter, and she's starting to play with me too  :-D
I try to always challenge myself.
I prefer unsalted peanuts.
I wonder when I will have time to train for a marathon (not "if").
I believe that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to.
I mean what I say, generally.
I never want to jump out of a plane.  Or bungee jump.  Or anything that involves hurtling myself to the ground for "fun."
I plan to be physically active for the rest of my life.
I hope that I can give my daughter a wonderful life and set a good example for her.
I worry about the people I love.
I dislike cigarette smoke, extremists, bad drivers, and dishonest people.
I struggle to let myself rely on other people.

Hopefully I'll be checking in later this week.  Take care, guys!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

To every thing, there is a season




I've mentioned this before, but I spent the first month or so of my daughter's life waiting (sometimes not so patiently) for her to grow up.  Not that I didn't love her immensely, and enjoy her sweet newborn smell and warm cuddles, but still, those first few weeks were draining as much as they were joyful.  I know it was partially due to how having a baby instantly changed my entire life, down to the fundamentals.  My sleep/eating/exercise patterns were turned upside down, every single relationship I have was suddenly different (all for the better though, I see that now), and my 24/7 was dedicated to caring for this little being who, I felt, didn't know me from Eve.  Whatever love and affection she felt for me was based solely on the fact that I was the provider of milk.  I didn't take this personally at all, and it was never particularly upsetting to me, but I was still waiting anxiously for the day when she would seem like a real person to me, instead of a purely instinctual little creature.

The first time she opened her eyes, she looked right at me.
I can't pinpoint exactly when it happened, but sometime during her 5th week of life, she started locking eyes with me and briefly smiling.  She would fuss when held by anyone else but calm instantly when I held her, like she knew me.  She began to look around intently when I carried her over my shoulder.  In the last week, she's started moving her mouth when we talk to her, and cooing back at us like we're having a conversation.



By following her cues, I've learned how to interact with her too.  I take her to all her favorite walls in the house and describe what she sees (she likes it when we stand by the bookshelf and I read her the titles).  When I lay down with her on her play mat, her eyes will wander and her limbs flail until her gaze finds mine; then she breaks out into the biggest grin and excitedly gurgles at me.  I inquire about her day, or tell her little stories, occasionally pausing so she can offer an opinion.  It's silly, and so much fun.

Yesterday, we stood by the mirrored closet, and she smiled and conversed with the "other" baby she found there.



Though I am fully, wholeheartedly enjoying this stage of her development, I have discovered another problem. See, now that the initial sleepy newborn stage has passed, I am absolutely staggered by how fast these milestones are piling up.  She batted at toys on her play mat this morning, and grasps toys when I place them in her hand.  Pretty soon she'll be grabbing for them on her own, and rolling over and babbling and crawling and walking and OMG.  It's exciting and scary and.... a little bit sad.  See, I only have about 8 more weeks at home with her before I have to go back to work.  Suddenly it will be other family members, and eventually daycare workers, who will be with her every day.  For five days a week, I won't be there for her happy waking up time or morning naps.  There are milestones I might miss, because I just won't be there.  I get teary just thinking about it.


I know I'm lucky to be able to take so much time away from work - I won't be going back until Amaliya is almost 4 months old.  I'm also fortunate that my mother-in-law will be staying with us into January, so I don't have to ship my baby off to daycare right away.  Instead of mourning the lost time before I actually lose it, I am trying my best to live in the moment and make the most of every smile, fuss, diaper change, nap on my chest, long walk, and 3am feeding.  I really will miss them when they're gone.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Amaliya at 8 weeks


For the first month of her life, Amaliya existed.  Slept, pooped, ate, cried, expressed the occasional preference for a motion or position, but there was not much of a personality there.  During the second month, though, she really started to BE.  These last few weeks have been truly amazing in terms of watching her grow, seeing her begin to recognize people and things, and become very vocal about what she wants and needs.  Sometimes I watch her looking intently at something, and I can picture all the cells in her brain multiplying and making new connections.


Amaliya likes: Making eye contact and smiling, talking to mama, touring the house, laying on the guest bed and looking out the window, wiggle time and tummy time on her play mat, eating her hands, napping in the Baby Hawk, walking around outside, diaper changes (unless she's hungry), bath time, boobs, bottles, being snuggled, dancing to all kinds of music.... basically everything.  She's a very happy baby!

Amaliya dislikes:  outfit changes, being away from mama, too many hands passing her around, overstimulation, napping in her crib (or anywhere besides strapped to my chest), waiting for bottles to warm up or diaper changes when she's hAngry.



She takes so much interest in the world around her now.  She stares at the bookshelves, pictures on the wall, herself in the mirror (and there's nothing cuter than watching her lock eyes with herself and break out in a giant smile); she follows objects with her eyes, and will grab at toys if you hold them at just the right angle; She looks me in the eye, smiles, and "talks" to me; her head and neck control are getting better every day.



This new sensitivity to the world around her is too much for her to handle sometimes.  She gets overwhelmed easily, especially by people - it doesn't take long for a few new faces and pairs of hands holding her to max out her social abilities.  That's the only time she really cries inconsolably, and it's only solved by mom's arms and voice (and if that doesn't work, a quick nursing session never fails to mellow her out).

The sleep situation deserves a post of it's own, but in short, she is an AWESOME night sleeper and I couldn't be more grateful.  (I hate to post specifics because I might jinx it... but...) for the last few nights she has clocked almost 8 straight hours of sleep.  I put her down about 8:00pm, and don't hear a peep out of her until 3:45am.  I pick her up, fix her swaddle, feed her for about 5-10 minutes on each side, and she's asleep again before I lay her back down.  She'll generally rest for another 2-2.5 hours before she's up for the day.

Naps are challenging, but she'll sleep for 1.5-2.5 hours at a time on my chest if I put her in the carrier.  Crib naps are variable - sometimes she'll spring up (figuratively) after 10 minutes, sometimes she'll go down for 45 or so - either way, she gets more sleep when I wear her.  Not ideal for the long term, but for now it enables her to rest well and me to get things done.  When she gets closer to 3 months, I'll work on transitioning her to full time crib naps if it doesn't happen naturally before then.

The best part of her naps in the Baby Hawk: getting to look down at this face all day!
Though she's exhausting, Amaliya is so much fun to be around now that she can really interact with people.  I never get tired of putting her up on my shoulder and explaining the world to her, or laying down and looking at toys together.  Every time she turns her head in the direction of my voice and gives me that special grin (which is different than the smiles she gives anyone else, I'm convinced), my heart grows by three sizes.



I never thought I would love being a mom so much  <3


Friday, September 21, 2012

On the horizon

Exciting news - I signed up for a race!


 I ran the Mission Inn 10K last year and had a wonderful time!  I went out WAY too fast and ended up dragging myself through the last 1/3 of the race, but it was still a great experience.

I was actually already pregnant when I ran this, though I didn't know it.  I'll get to tell my daughter one day that she ran her first race as an embryo!

I'm only running the 5K this year, but I'm super excited because I'll be running it with my mom!  She's been a gym-goer for years but never run a race or trained for anything specific, so for her birthday this year I registered her for this event!  Her half-hearted thanks will be more sincere after she sees firsthand how much fun these things are  ;-)  She recently started the Couch to 5K program and we're planning to run at her pace.  The race is November 11, and I can't wait!

I'm almost hesitant to mention my next goal race, because it's quite ambitious and borderline ridiculous considering I'll only be 4 months postpartum at the time.... but....
I was thisclose to doing a half marathon last year - I worked up to a 12 mile long run and registered for the Surf City Half, but then I found out I was pregnant so all running ambitions were put on hold.  I would feel so accomplished if I could still do a half this year.  This is a small race put on by the running club I belong to, the Lopers Club in Loma Linda.  We will run along the same course I train on during my long runs on Sundays, which is good.  The route is very hilly, and I mean steep hills, which is not so good.... but I'm scaling back my expectations.  If I walk part or even most of the race, that's okay.  I have no time goals whatsoever (well, secretly I might, but I'm trying to talk my overly-competitive self out of them).  I just want to finish, have a great time, and cross another item off my bucket list.

If I'm still on track with my training and do well on my upcoming 7-mile long run, I'm going to register.  I love having goals lined up!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Paleo apple-plum upside-down cake

I'm not a big recipe-sharer (because I'm not a big recipe maker), but I threw this together on Sunday for my mom's birthday and it was FABULOUS!  So fabulous that I didn't take a picture before devouring it, so you'll have to use your imagination.

This is technically a "paleo" cake, meaning it's grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and supposedly caveman friendly.  I'm not a proponent of any diet ("diet" in this context meaning "a way of eating," not "a method of torturous self-deprivation for the purpose of dropping a few pounds").  I'm gluten-free because I have to be due to Celiac disease, but otherwise I believe in eating a wide variety of foods (mostly whole and unprocessed) for good health.

However, I suspect that my little one might be disturbed by dairy in my diet.  I don't eat much generally, but every time I've eaten a dairy-heavy meal (e.g. a big bowl of greek yogurt for breakfast) she gets super fussy, gassy, cries more, and the diapers.... oh dear.  I cut out all dairy for a little while and she was fine, but the next time I ate yogurt she was miserable.  SO, I'm limiting my intake for the moment.  I'm generally not worried about a sprinkle of cheese here and there or butter in my baked goods, but no more yogurt or big bowls of ice cream for me!

When searching for a recipe that is gluten- and dairy-free and doesn't use refined sugar (something I try to avoid anyway), paleo pops up everywhere!  I find the whole premise of the paleo diet suspect, personally, because I don't believe we have enough information to really know what our paleolithic ancestors were eating.  And, of course, our environment has changed and our needs may have changed with it.  I do like many aspects of the lifestyle though - the emphasis on whole, unprocessed foods, and taking in most of your carbs through fruits and veggies instead of grains.  I am guilty of eating sweet potatoes for lunch and making a turnip stir-fry for dinner in an effort to incorporate more paleo principles into my daily life.

And paleo-baking?  Kind of amazing, if I do say so myself.

Paleo Apple-Plum Upside-Down Cake

For the cake:
2 cups almond flour (I used the almond meal from Trader Joe's - cheap and delicious!)
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 t. seasalt
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
4 eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 T. vanilla extract (you could probably use less, but I like a strong vanilla flavor)
1/2 cup honey

For the topping:
4 plums, slightly firm, sliced thin
1 large apple, sliced thin (I left the peel on)
1 T. coconut oil
1 t. cinnamon

Mix all ingredients for the topping in a bowl, pour into a springform pan and spread around evenly.

Mix all dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls.  Add the dry to the wet and mix well.  The batter will be very thick.  Pour the batter on top of the fruit in the springform pan and gently spread so the fruit is evenly covered.

Bake in a 350 degree, preheated oven for 40ish minutes (I didn't time this precisely, my bad, but consider it done when the middle is springy to the touch).

I imagine that this would be delicious when served warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Not that I've tried it that way, of course  :-(  I dare you to try this with pineapple!

Will a super-smiley baby picture compensate for the lack of imagery to go with this cake?



I thought so.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

An exercise in happiness :-)

If you glance at the Daily Mile widget off to the left, you will notice that I have returned to the world of regular workouts!  This makes me happier than I can put into words.  Pretty much since I got pregnant and quit distance running (and all running, after 16 weeks), I've been planning my fitness comeback.  I'm really proud of staying in shape during my pregnancy - I gained 37lbs, but I was attending Body Pump 3x and walking 4-6 miles every week up until the day before I went into labor.  However, I missed running, like a LOT, and couldn't wait to get back to it.  Nothing beats the feel of wind in your face, the alone time out in nature, the burning in your legs/lungs/butt.... etc.  :-)



As I've said before, I know that staying in shape throughout my pregnancy helped me immeasurably during labor and delivery.  My pelvic floor was really toned, so when I was pushing, I could feel the muscles working and direct energy where I needed it to go. I labored without medication, meaning that I was up and moving pretty much the whole time; Being able to stay on my feet for the better part of 11 hours, including one hour where I was doing squats every couple minutes during a contraction to cope with the pain, was a definite perk of staying in shape.  The mental conditioning really helped me as well - I was so prepared to "pace myself" during a long and grueling labor that I almost couldn't believe it when the handed me my baby.  I felt, in body and mind, that I could have handled a few more hours with no problem <-- I never thought I'd say that!

Now, seven weeks removed from the experience, I can also acknowledge that staying in shape during pregnancy has contributed to a quick recovery.  I mentioned in a previous post that my stitches never hurt - once the swelling went down in 2-3 days, I felt perfectly fine.  I went on a run two weeks postpartum and my body felt okay - strong, even.  I lost a lot of cardio fitness (my lungs were burning and I still wheeze my ways through runs, and my heart rate skyrockets quickly) but muscle-wise I felt similar to before.  I returned to Body Pump after 3 weeks for an easy workout, and now four weeks later I have bumped up to lifting my pre-pregnancy weight.

I'm also trying to get back into yoga, using videos on yogadownload.com, but that's been tough both because I seldom have 30-minutes during the day without a baby strapped to me, and because I DID lose a lot of flexibility over the last few months.

Heading out for a walk with my little one
Even though I leapt back into exercise right away, it was definitely not easy.  My first couple weeks of runs were very discouraging - it hurt, having to stop and walk so often took a mental toll, and I didn't have a single enjoyable moment throughout an entire run.  Normally, I slog through the first mile or two and then reach a happy place, where my stride and breath fall into a natural rhythm, the endorphins hit my brain, and I feel like I could go on forever.  Last week during our group run, I found that place again for the first time since having my baby.  I ran in the last mile of that run feeling on top of the world, which I REALLY needed.  I haven't been cleared by a doctor yet, but I can say that I'm feeling 100% recovered from childbirth and confident that my body is up to achieving the lofty goals I have set for myself over the next couple of months.  More on those later!

How are YOU feeling today?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Amaliya at 4 weeks



What a month it has been!  My baby girl clocks 4 weeks today, and she's starting to look so big to me.  Her first couple weeks were spent sleeping, eating, and sleeping some more.  Her limbs flailed, her eyes wandered, and though she was adorable, she hardly seemed like a real human being; she was a fragile little creature whose life had been handed to me to guard and nurture.  Loving her, caring for her, came naturally to me, but I was still overwhelmed at times.  The sleep deprivation took a major toll during those first two weeks.  I felt guilty for not enjoying her more, for thinking at least once a day that I can't wait for her to grow up and become a little more independent.

1 Week
Be careful what you wish for!  Babies change so much, so fast, that it doesn't make sense to despair.  Just when you think you can't go on another day with the current situation, it will change, and leave you scrambling for answers.  Amaliya really woke up during her third week of life.  She's alert and looking around all day, she screams to let us know that she doesn't like how we're holding her, she's starting to talk to herself and make sounds that are unrelated to feedings, changings and sleepiness.  (And gas.  Oh, the gas). Speaking of sleep, she excels at it, and we get a 4-6 hour stretch followed by a 2-3 hour stretch every night.  For this, I am eternally grateful.

2 Weeks, first bath
 As her personality develops, and I see her becoming more and more her own person every day, it's easier for me to appreciate the little moments with her.  We have a great time in the mornings when her daddy goes to work, I toss her up on my shoulder and we dance around for an hour or so, then she'll roll around on the floor while I stretch and do my ab work.  She spends her afternoons nursing and napping on my chest, or spending quality time in dad's arms while I make dinner.  Her eyes get heavy at 8pm every night; I swaddle her, feed her, rock her to sleep in her bedroom, and put her down in her crib for the night.  It's a demanding, but blissful, routine.  I'm doing my best to stay in the moment and enjoy every snuggle.  They really do grow up fast.

3 Weeks


Amaliya likes:  dancing around the house to my running playlist, sucking on her fists (and anything else that comes close to her mouth), being talked to, laying on the floor and staring at the blinds, warm baths, nursing, being swaddled, falling asleep on mom.

She dislikes: dirty diapers, people ignoring her, napping, tummy time, the Moby wrap.

Not impressed
How's mom doing?:  I'm really good!  My pain pretty much went away the first week and was never very bad (I only needed to pop a couple Tylenol on the first day, otherwise never needed a pain killer), and my stitches are dissolving slowly but surely.

As far as exercise goes, I jumped back in as soon as I could.  I was walking miles at a time the first week (slowly), went for my first run at 12 days postpartum, was back to Body Pump at 3 weeks, and rejoined the Lopers club to begin half-marathon training today!  Still - and this is just me being ridiculous, I know - I'm frustrated. The two mile run I took today was HARD, my body feels soft, I'm up 12lbs from my starting weight, and I'm in a big fat hurry to get back to the fitness level I achieved  before getting pregnant.  Wah.  BUT, as my husband keeps telling me, "You just had a baby!  The fact that you're doing anything is an achievement!"  Point taken.  I'll stop complaining now.


And dad?  He's in love.  I tell you, it's not easy to balance a marriage and a baby.  You really do go into survival mode for a while, your entire life revolves around taking care of a little person and sneaking in sleep whenever possible.  I was worried going into this about how I would balance my love and attention between my daughter and my husband, but it hasn't been so difficult.  We may not have much alone time, long walks together are temporarily on hold, the bed exists strictly to facilitate sleeping... and yet it's okay.  He wakes up with me at 3am just to fill my water bottle while I'm breastfeeding.  He keeps the bathrooms scrubbed so I don't have to touch the cleaning chemicals.  He takes care of the fussy baby after a long day of work so I can fit a run in.  These days we show our love more through little, considerate acts, and through a mutual adoration of the life we brought into being.  This man.  This MAN.  I don't know where I'd be without him.



4 weeks and surging forward, growing every day.


Slow down a little bit, would you?


Maybe not  :)