Friday, September 30, 2011

12 Weeks! Car Friendly?

...And we have lift off! PJ is officially 12 weeks old today.

Since about birth PJ has been both a stroller and a car screamer. I fluctuate between thinking both offer too much sensory information at once; offer too little human contact; and/or the kid just gets motion sickness. However, today a small miracle happened. During a short road trip to Speyer, PJ fell asleep in the car. Maybe this is a nice step in a good, car-friendly direction?

The phrase “never count your chickens before they hatch” comes to mind, balanced out with “hope dies last.” Lets see where this goes!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Appreciating the Little Moments

PJ was born in July 2011. It is now September 2011. Between then and now – and unlike the mythology of motherhood – there have been more dark moments than moments of joy. Going into pregnancy I knew that I was at high risk for postpartum depression but what I did not know was that the support I thought I would need was far from what I really needed. I was also ignorant that breastfeeding, something I had planned on doing since I watched my mother breastfeed my sister, was a learned skill for both myself and my son and it is a difficult skill for us both to learn at that. There were other things I had failed to understand: the power and the pain of short bursts of sleep; what colic is; how much a new mother needs her mommy.

To say we struggled would be an understatement not unlike saying the Grand Canyon is „big“ and German „a little tough to learn at first“.

Thankfully, my husband was also able and willing to take the first month of our little boy's life off of work. I'm not sure what would have happened had I been alone. With him in the house, cooking, cleaning, shopping, encouraging, reassuring me and PJ (often literally at the same time), I could yell at him, slam doors at him, cry at him, and – most importantly – blame him for all this insanity instead of our little boy, just days and then weeks old.

Not that our son remained untouched by all of this. Breastfeeding was so difficult and so painful that I exuded fear every time he cried and every time I held him in my arms. Infants, like animals, react to our feelings and PJ's reaction was natural: my arms were not a safe place and he screamed for safety. Based on the bad advice we got during his first few weeks, I'm pretty sure he was also screaming out of hunger but that's another story.

I cried on the phone, I cried on skype, I cried going to the bathroom. Everything was too much and my world was wrapped in dark fog, a fog I hadn't seen in years since my last true depressive episode. I got scared and so did my husband.

"What do you need? How can I help you?" he kept asking over and over again, desperately ready to do anything to help Fix This.

"I don't know," I kept answering in many vague ways. Like so much, I didn't know what I needed or what would help.

Time crept past and after four weeks my husband went back to work. I learned about the La Leche league and got the patience, understanding, support, and expert guidance I needed for breastfeeding to become successful. I went onto Facebook and asked for support between 12 and 5, when my son was the most upset and I was alone. People - some of them surprising - started coming. I got up the courage to go to mommy groups. My mommy came for a visit. I went to my first MOPS meeting. My sister arrived to help.

And things got and are getting better. Breastfeeding is established and going well. My son has almost doubled his weight, grown out of his 0-3 month clothing, and had learned to smile and coo. And I have proven to him that my arms are the safest place to be. We all sleep a little more. The colic is basically gone. My husband is and continues to be an outstanding husband and father. I see and feel now that I am not alone.

Which brings us to a recent morning, 11 weeks into this adventure. After a rocky night, my husband, son, and I all laid down for an early morning nap. I nursed our little man to sleep and then I gently rocked onto my back, placing one hand on my husband's thigh. My right arm was wrapped around my son and my left hand was resting on my husband. Both of my men were peacefully, deeply breathing in their sleep in our dark bedroom and I looked at them both and tears rolled down my cheeks as I thought, "This. I really like this moment."

Here's to appreciating more of these moments. 


Monday, September 26, 2011

New Friends and Festivals

It is fall festival season in Germany. PJ has visited two small town festivals and one large one in Heidelberg. Each time my carry kid was carried in a sling or Baby Björn and was very happy. 


Friday, September 23, 2011

11 Weeks with the Auntie

PJ is 11 weeks today! Incredible, right? Even better: PJ is celebrating with his favorite American aunt, Little One, who is visiting us for a few weeks.

Fun has been and will be had!


Monday, September 19, 2011

Things to Say ... and Not

I am in the double digits of motherhood: Friday PJ turned 10 weeks old. In the past 10 weeks I’ve learned a lot about myself, my husband, and my little boy. For example, sleep is really important to me but I can function/survive on surprisingly little sleep. Not well and I’m sure my husband and boy like me more when I’ve slept more, but I can survive. Also water is really important. Really, really important. Right above food. And just on latte a day makes the Mrs. a happy lady.

No big surprises there, I suppose, dear readers. But (at least for me) I’ve also learned that some of things that I said to others during their first weeks of motherhood/fatherhood were just rude. I’ve learned that by getting those same things said to me. Thankfully, I’ve also learned that not everything I said to others was crappy; some things were just great. Again, I learned this one from the amazing people who have given me support in person or virtually. To help remind myself (and maybe save you some time and hurt feelings) in the future, here are some of the top things to say and NOT to say. These lists aren’t comprehensive and they are absolutely formed by my personal experience, I could be missing some good stuff.

Things Not to Say:
1. Wow, I’m so tired.
This is particularly awful to say when you mean that you stayed out too late with friends at an awesome party, drinking excellent cocktails, dancing to great music, and flirting with adorable women/men.

2. Got any food? / I’m hungry/thirsty.
What?! You didn’t bring any with you for us? I’m a little up to my ears in the chaos of early motherhood and your needs are quite low on my priority list.

3. Babies cry.
Really? Thanks - you aren’t helping. I think I’ve figured out that all babies and especially my baby cries. For hours. On. End. But thanks for pointing that out. Maybe you haven’t felt the biological need to calm your own child, Mr Obvious.

4. He wants his mommy.
A lot of the time this is a GREAT thing to say but not when mommy really needs a break and baby is fed, clean, and is crying to cry. Which is why you are here to help, right?. And if you aren’t here to help, why are you here?

5. Yes, I’d like to help. Come to my house / Lets meet at [enter location here].
The first part is awesome but the second part is lame-o. If a mommy or daddy asks for help and you really want to help, hop in your car. A mommy that needs help isn’t a mommy that is mobile. And no one wants to show up at a café with sore nipples and a screaming child.

6. Like mommy, like child.
Really? So its my fault that he cries for hours on end? I appreciate that.

7. He doesn’t need to breastfeed again!
How do you know that? Are you sure? Because he seems thrilled to be getting some food. Do you mean that you just want to hold him longer or feel uncomfortable with my boob? Cause I’m too tired to read into what you really mean.

8. Oh, I totally understand. My dog/cat/hamster did that and …
Really? My child, your pet? Um, thanks, I think we aren’t quite on the same wave length.

Things to Say:
1. Yes, I’d like to help. Where are your cleaning supplies?
The first part is, again, awesome. The second part is amazing because it is a concrete and not a vague “how can I help?” Cleaning for me is an amazing thing even if I don’t really care if my  house is clean or not. Strangely a clean toilet or kitchen sink makes me feel like not everything is out of control. Thank you.

2. I brought food for you / us.
Thank you because I most likely forgot to cook or can’t imagine cooking anything or forgot that I’m hungry. Or I just want those 20 minutes my husband would have spent cooking to spend with him, pretending to be adults. It doesn’t matter what you brought. Thank you for bringing something, anything.

3. Breastfeeding takes so much and you are going a great job. (said with awe in voice)
You are so right, it really does. It’s the hardest skill I’ve ever learned and it is an incredible responsibility. I worked really hard to get to this point with my son and sometimes I feel overwhelmed so thank you for the vote of confidence and the encouragement.

4. Wow, its rough that he cries so much. May I carry him around for a while?
You are so right - it is really rough and even if I can’t lay down, just sitting down on the couch with the knowledge that while he isn’t happy, he is getting the movement he wants, helps me. And it is so respectful that you ask to make sure that you carrying him is what I really need. Thank you.

5. It will get better and you are doing a great job.
Again, thank you. If you are a mommy/daddy this means even more. Please repeat this to me over and over and over again. I will believe you and in the moments when I just don‘t know what I‘m doing or why, I will think of you. If you aren’t a mommy/daddy, this is still an awesome thing to say. Often.

6. Wow, you look amazing / You don’t look like you gave birth X weeks ago.
Thank you. I’m really not all that worried about how I look these days but a compliment is always welcome! Feel free to comment on my skin, hair, nails, just about anything.

7. You are really lucky to have your husband. You can tell he loves PJ and you.
Remind me of how lucky I am because I am. I’m too tired and tried to notice it some days and you reminding me - especially with a bit of warmth in your voice - is excellent for me and my marriage.

8. You are doing such an amazing job. / You are an awesome mommy.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Thank you - I can’t see it and I need you to tell me over and over and over again. Thank you. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

What about you? What would you add to either or both lists?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Another Growth Spurt? 10 Weeks!

Today PJ is 10 Weeks old and it seems that we are headed into another growth spurt because the little guy is showing me about every 30 minutes to 1 hour:


Monday, September 12, 2011

Sleep: The Good News

Everyone told us before PJ arrived how important sleep was going to be. At the time I recall getting annoyed with how everyone (it seemed) advised us to "sleep now!" with a knowing smile on their face.

Yeah, they were right. I stand humble before the throne of Need-To-Sleep-a-String-of-Uninterrupted-Hours-Soon (and that with the Mr. taking over one feeding so that I can enjoy one extra hour a night). But the good news is that as PJ grows and gets older and the colic goes down, he is begining to sleep more often and for slightly longer period of times. Not at night, yet, but during the day naps aren't quite as rare. Today he even slept on his own for about 45 minutes. Sweeeeeet.

Yet, his favorite place to sleep continues to be on mommy and daddy.

and in totally unrelated comments: Aren't my boys just absolutely adorable?!?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

PJ x2

PJ is destined for greatness for so many reasons, including the fact that he shares a nickname with one of my favorite people: the Mr. from the Vancouver food-sharing-profis. Earlier today worlds joined and the two PJs got to meet.
 Our PJ quickly taught the other PJ his favorite position, smiles were shared all around...

and the world will never be the same.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Excellent Taste in Music

My little man has excellent, excellent taste in music. Not only is he a fan of Adele and Coldplay, but he can rock it to hits from the 50s and 60s as well as Pink Floyd and The Beatles. Recently he has even begun to sing and dance along (with a little bit of mommy-interpretation).

 (he even picked up a few moves from daddy)


Sunday, September 4, 2011

How to Make a Breast Feeding Mommy Proud

Get milk drunk!

PJ is such an active little guy that from the 8-10 times I feed him every day, he only gets "milk drunk" and falls asleep after a feeding maybe twice a day. But it is such a great feeling when he does!


Friday, September 2, 2011

8 Weeks - Who Can Believe It?

Today PJ is 8 weeks old. He is celebrating by sleeping through a 45 minute walk with the stroller (yeah!) and having a series of crying fits (not so yeah!). Breast feeding is going well and we are supplementing in the evenings so that I can get some more sleep. It turns out that I am a much nicer and more pleasant person and mommy when I’m not completely exhausted. Thankfully we live in a world where supplementing is possible.

PJ continues to grow out of adorable outfits but we’ve got some lots more. Most adorably the onsies that my family and friends made at our American baby showers. Here are three new ones:

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