Posts Tagged ‘babies’

All the Cries

Friday, August 29, 2014
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Babies cry. Everyone knows this. Baby cries have never bothered me. Not on an airplane, not at the grocery store, not in a restaurant. I hardly notice a baby crying unless it’s in a very silent place (like church). When I do notice, it doesn’t annoy or upset me; I feel more for the parent trying to console his or her baby than anything else.

So I’d say I was significantly unprepared for how much I would be affected by my own baby crying. Her cries break my heart. I can hear her from anywhere in the house. If I’m sleeping, and she so much as makes a little coo, I wake up. And can’t go back to sleep, even if I’ve just fed her and it’s dad’s turn to soothe her. My mind races: Does she need me? What’s wrong? What does she need? I guess it’s that motherly instinct kicking in. One whimper and my senses shoot to attention, ready to meet her every need (if I can figure it out).

The baby books say you’ll be able to decipher your baby’s cries and respond based on what they need. Only in the last couple days have I started to notice different patterns of crying and sometimes been able to soothe her by meeting the need of her cry.

A single ‘wah’ is a cry not to be taken seriously; it comes out of nowhere and disappears just as quickly. I try not to let this cry bother me.

‘Ack, ack, ack’ is her tired cry. When she starts crying like this, I’ve learned it’s best to just hold her in my arms and be quiet and still. Eventually, she’ll doze off.

‘WaUH, waUH, waUH’ is her hungry cry; feed immediately or face the consequences.

‘Grunt wah, grunt wah’ means it’s time for a diaper change. But don’t change immediately; the grunts tend to come back after five minutes of silence.

‘Sob sob, whimper whimper.’ That’s her…oh wait, that’s ME crying. Hormones, exhaustion, hunger, not being able to figure out what your baby needs…there are many reasons new moms cry.

‘WAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH AHHHHHH WAHHHHHHHH’ is the worst cry of all, impossible to interpret and inconsolable. It’s this cry that makes me shed my own tears and hurts my heart the most. This cry comes at any time and lasts for a long time. Earlier this week, it lasted for three hours. I’ve tried everything I know to console her, and nothing works. I dread this cry. When she cries this way, my emotions range from sad to frustrated to desperate to sad again.

At her two-week checkup this week, the doctor said AJ has the symptoms of acid reflux. This may be why she has the terrible cries. I had acid reflux while I was pregnant, and it made me want to scream for hours on end too. I’m following various instructions to try to soothe her reflux. I also was given the go ahead to give her a pacifier, which has worked wonders.

Soothing her reflux may help, but the fact of the matter is, babies cry. Sometimes they cry for what seems like no reason. I won’t always know why she’s crying or be able to soothe her. I know this, like everything, is a phase, and we will get through it together. Holding her and comforting her is the best thing I can do, even if it doesn’t stop her crying. As I’m sure any mom knows, hearing your own child cry is worlds different than hearing a stranger’s baby cry.

And on that note, I better wrap this up…I think I hear a hunger cry starting.

Poop, Spit Up and Tears – Baby’s First Week

Friday, August 22, 2014
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Taking a cue from news anchor Savannah Guthrie and sharing my no-makeup hospital photo

Taking a cue from news anchor Savannah Guthrie and sharing my no-makeup hospital photo

“Come watch how funny this is!” I said to my brother as little AJ grimaced. Squirt. Time for a diaper change. I took her over to the beautifully set changing table and began to take off her diaper. As I went to make the switch between dirty diaper and clean, SQUIRTTTT, out came another round. All over her new, white Pottery Barn changing pad, diaper caddy and changing table runner. All over her diaper pail. All over the carpet. All over me (brother was thankfully spared). We could barely contain our laughter. Looks like the joke was on me.

And so goes many similar moments in the first days of AJ’s life. My husband Chris and I have laughed often, slept little and loved more than words. Both AJ and I have shed tears. I’ve only been projected pooped on once twice.

My labor and delivery was quick and relatively routine. The nurses and staff at CAMC Women and Children’s Hospital are amazing and I owe them and my doctors a huge thank you. I would never have made it through without their caring and generosity.

I got the epidural I swore I would not get. I only realized after it was all over that I had a notion in the back of my mind that getting an epidural would be “taking the easy way out.” Trust me – there is NO easy way to birth a baby. After everything was said and done, I felt like a superhero at the end of a movie – beat up, barely alive, but I had just saved the world.

The first night at the hospital was by far the hardest. AJ cried almost all night and the only way to soothe her was to nurse, which neither of us knew how to do yet. She would only come close to sleeping while in my or Chris’s arms (still the case some nights). Come Wednesday morning, we were more than ready to get out of the hospital, go home and start our new life.

Nursing was difficult and frustrating to start. I could not have done it without the help of the lactation specialist at Women and Children’s. It’s still a heavy responsibility to bear, being the only one that can feed your child, but it gets significantly easier with each feed.

I wouldn’t dare say we’ve formed a schedule yet, but we have started to get into a semi-routine of feeding, cuddling, napping and trying to take care of ourselves. She feeds every two to three hours throughout the day and night, some days more regular than others. Diaper changes are almost constant, and we’ve learned that diapers need changed with speed similar to a NASCAR pit stop to avoid a mess on the changing table or ourselves. Sometimes she sleeps soundly in her bassinet, other times we stay up holding her in her rocking chair. Spit up has become my clothing’s constant accessory.

Although we’ve learned more about parenting in the last week and half than I could imagine, this is only the beginning. When she cries, we don’t always know how to soothe her. We don’t know if we are doing things the “right” way. But we are trying our hardest, and we love her more than we thought possible. Chris goes back to work on Monday, and I don’t know what I will do without him. I’ll face an entire new set of challenges taking care of her alone during the day. I do know I will cherish the first two weeks of AJ’s life for as long as I live; a time when the three of us had no obligations other than each other, when we began to learn to be a family.

An honest answer to a common question: How are you feeling?

Friday, July 25, 2014
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“How are you feeling?”

It’s the question I’ve been asked by at least one person every day since I announced my pregnancy. A simple question that shows the asker’s concern and that they care. Although it’s a logical question to ask a pregnant woman, it perplexes me every time it is directed my way.

I think there’s a few reasons why this simple, seemingly straightforward question always makes me pause before I respond.

My first thought is always, “Do you really want to know the answer?” I could talk for hours about how I’m “feeling” if someone really wants to know. So I try to gauge – does this person really want to know how I’m feeling or are they just trying to be nice? Are they really interested in my pregnancy or just making conversation? The answers to these questions can significantly affect how I answer their question, or more likely how scared the person is after I give them a 10-minute answer involving phrases like “dropped” when all they really wanted was a quick, “I feel fine!”

Next, I move to, “How am I actually feeling?” A pregnant woman feels a thousand things at once. Her mental feelings often do not match her physical feelings either. Unbeknown to the asker, their question can set off a string of thoughts that can totally change my mood. I don’t like to say “bad” or “good,” because most of the time it’s a little of both.

So for those that really want to know, this is how I’m feeling:

My hands are so swollen that my skin is burning; my head hurts; my mind is scattered and I can’t focus on one thought; I need a nap after walking from the basement to the upstairs; I kind of feel like crying but have no idea why; I could use something sweet; I have to pee; I feel like there is a ball of fire in my esophagus; the inside of my stomach is sore from a small person kicking me; I’m so excited I don’t know how to contain myself; my legs are sore for no apparent reason; and I’m not quite sure how I’m going to make it several more weeks.

As you can see, asking me this question could get you way more information than you bargained for. I guess a shortened answer would be, “I feel like I’m growing a baby.”

Asker beware: If you ask a pregnant woman how she’s feeling, make sure you’re ready to hear the honest answer!

A wonderful preview

Friday, July 18, 2014
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There are a few things I’ve learned about having a newborn from the many blog posts, articles and books I’ve read. These insightful tidbits of knowledge include:

  • I will be up all night for endless nights and basically turn into a mix between a vampire and a zombie
  • My baby will cry all the time and nothing will soothe her
  • I will not be able to take a shower except for maybe once a week
  • I will not have the time or energy to do anything – cook, clean, talk, breathe
  • Breastfeeding will be terrible and make me want to cry
  • I will not leave the house for weeks on end
  • Basically, I will go crazy

As you can see, the typical “Five Things I Wish I’d Known about Having a Newborn” articles don’t paint a pretty picture. In fact, these articles make it sound quite miserable. So when I went to visit my good friends and their newborn baby this weekend, I expected the worst. I figured I would find my friend in a zombie-like state, barely able to form words. I thought her house would look like a tornado had come through, and that she and her husband would be weak from not being able to cook dinner or grab food. I thought their baby would start screeching the minute I tried to hold her. I expected to hear a labor and delivery horror story (since it seems everyone else that shares theirs with me had a horrible experience.)

So, armed with a few grocery bags of snacks and a mental attitude of “whatever I see I will not let it scare me,” I went to meet the newest member of their family. What I found when I got there could not have been more different from my expectations, or more wonderful.

I found my friend looking the most beautiful I’ve ever seen her. I’ve heard of a pregnancy glow, but there must be a new mother glow, and it is radiant. I found the new parents energetic, talkative and relaxed. I heard a normal story of labor and delivery that lessened my own fears instead of increasing them. And I found the most beautiful, sweet little baby, contently napping in whoever’s arms were holding her at the time. I didn’t see red eyes, fights, dirty hair or tension. I saw so much love, beauty and happiness in this family that it made me cry right then and there.

I get why there are so many articles about the difficulties of bringing home a newborn. It’s important to portray reality so a new mom can know it’s normal to be tired, frustrated and confused. I’m sure I’ll have a few of my own posts about the unexpected difficulties I will face. But lately it seems I’ve read and heard so much of the negative and none of the positive. There is nothing in the baby books that could have prepared me for the joy I found in my friend’s home. That’s the joy I imagined I’ll have when my time comes.

Thank you friend for sharing your experience with me. Thank you for giving me such a wonderful picture to look forward to.

Ready, but not quite prepared

Friday, July 11, 2014
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It started around 2 a.m. I woke up in pain. It took me a few minutes to gain my focus before I realized I was having contractions. I didn’t panic right away – the doctor had explained to me that this was normal and I should expect it. I tried to remember what I was supposed to do: time them to see if they were coming in regular intervals and move positions or walk around to see if that would make them go away. I did both and the results told me that I was simply experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions, a way my body is preparing itself for the birth process.

But there was a short moment when I thought, “What if this is it? What if I’m going into labor?” and subsequently, “I’m not mentally prepared to go into labor yet; the baby’s not ready to be born; I haven’t finished my childbirth classes; am I prepared to bring a baby home?” I was having these thoughts while looking at the time, so I quickly realized nothing was happening at regular intervals, and I was not going into labor.

Lately I’ve been having a reoccurring dream that I haven’t had since college. It’s a common dream – the kind where you show up to a class on finals day only to realize you have never attended the class before, or it’s the end of the semester and you just discover you were enrolled in classes but never attended a single one. The night of my “practice” contractions it dawned on me why I’ve been having this dream – I’m scared I’m not prepared to have and take care of a child.

I’ve read the entire “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” book. I follow countless pregnancy and parenting blogs and forums. I’m currently reading a guidebook on baby’s first year week by week. I’ve already told you about my nesting phase. My husband and I have taken not one, but two childbirth classes. Even my body is preparing itself, as I learned through my late night experience.

And yet, despite all these preparations, I still feel an overwhelming sense of heading into the unknown. I didn’t realize I had these feelings until I felt the Braxton Hicks contractions, but my recent dreams tell me these thoughts have probably been in the back of my mind. I have a feeling I’m not the only soon-to-be new mom who’s felt this way. I also realized that I can read guidebooks and take classes and set up baby gear until I pass out, but there is nothing that will truly prepare me for motherhood. It can be scary, but it’s also exciting. I’m ready for the test, even if I feel a little unprepared.

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing

Friday, June 20, 2014
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Sitting, Waiting, Wishing – the title of a Jack Johnson song and an accurate description of the third trimester of pregnancy. Here’s a peek into what’s going on at this point in the journey to have a child:

You’ve come so far in the past seven months. You’ve made it through the emotional and physical rollercoaster that is the first trimester. You waited weeks and finally got to see an ultrasound of your baby, and if you chose to, find out the sex. You’ve looked at baby names, registered, and maybe even had a baby shower. If it’s your first (like me), you’ve probably been planning, preparing, researching, painting, purchasing and more. Most of your to-do-before-baby items are completed, except for the ones that you need to do in the couple weeks leading up to your due date.

So now, in weeks 30-35, the first half of your third trimester, your life pretty much boils down to sitting, waiting and wishing.

Sitting often, because you get out of breath from just walking to the bathroom. More than likely you are actually lying down, because even sitting can be pretty uncomfortable. Not to mention you need to keep your feet raised as much as possible to keep down the swelling. Sitting because your legs are not used to your additional load and they wear out easily. Sitting, then standing, then lying down, then sitting up again, because it’s impossible to find a comfortable position.

Waiting for baby. At this point, you’re probably going to the doctor every two weeks, but not every week. You count down the days until your next doctor appointment because it means the progression of time. But nothing really happens at the doctor visits – which is a GOOD thing, but leaves you feeling like nothing has changed. You can see the finish line, but it’s still in the horizon. Even though you try not to, you look at the calendar every day.

Wishing for so many things. Wishing for time to pass faster, while at the same time wishing you could simply live in the moment and enjoy this time. Wishing that your baby will be healthy. Wishing that your delivery will go smoothly and quickly. Wishing you could eat sushi. Wishing you could distract yourself. Maybe wishing that something was going differently in your pregnancy. Wishing that you will be a good parent to your child.

The baby will be here before you know it. But for now, it seems like even further away than when you found out you were pregnant. Yes, you could find something productive to do, but getting through a normal day is exhausting enough, and at the end of the day you can’t muster the energy to do anything but sit, wait and wish.

I’ll be sitting, waiting and wishing for a few more long weeks. When I’m at week 39, I’m sure I’ll look back and wonder how time passed so quickly. But for now, I’ll just try to enjoy the calm before the storm.

A cute look at Bucco babies

Saturday, October 5, 2013
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The Pirates are in the playoffs. Let’s hope these newborns will experience the postseason before they, too, are old enough to buy a beer.


These are the 'rally babies,' and may be the cutest Pirates fans ever

Los Angeles had the rally monkey in 2002. St. Louis had the rally squirrel in 2010. Could the 2013 rally mascot be the rally baby?A Pittsburgh-area hospital is dressing its newborn children in Pirates clothing, giving them Pirates bandanas and miniature bats.@TheCUTCH22 All newborns at St. Clair Hospital are “Bucco Babies” decked out in Pirates Gear pic.twitter.com/YkkAPj381T— St. Clair Hospital (@StClairHospital) October 3, 2013Check out the rest of the St. Clair Hospital Baby Bucco bullpen! #Buctober pic.twitter.com/7PQmhqLrYL— St. Clair Hospital …

View “These are the 'rally babies,' and may be the cutest Pirates fans ever” on Spundge

One is the loneliest number

Wednesday, February 1, 2012
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If you, the loyal Mommyhood readers, will allow it, I’m going to be a little melodramatic for a moment.

In the past two months(ish), every, single woman that was pregnant at the same time I was pregnant has either had another child or announced her second pregnancy. I can think of ELEVEN off the top of my head.

Combine the rising number of friends announcing their first pregnancies with the fact that MY baby is now an independent 2 ½ year old, and I’ve got some major baby envy. It appears as baby fever, but that’s just a nice word for what it really is: a big, green, ugly womb of envy.

Photo courtesy of Jillian's Drawers

I want another child. If I could, I would have an entire houseful of children. As it is, we live in a tiny house and two children and whatever pets exist would more than fill it. Being the eldest of four, I believe four is a great number. Three is good, so is two. One is phenomenal, but it just feels lonely.

This pity-party leaves me a bit guilty, because I have so much. I don’t have infertility issues to contend with. I don’t feel a longing that many women feel — for just one pregnancy, just one child to carry in my body — and I’m so thankful I’ve had that experience. I don’t want to take anything away from it. However, this mama is ready for some more sleepless nights, 24-hour nursing, diapers and sweet, little baby clothes. Oh, the sweet, little baby clothes that cover the sweet, little baby toes…

I’m not romanticizing the affair, really. I remember our newborn and infant phase. It’s exhausting. I remember the pain that came with the childbirth recovery, and not being able to walk or sit normally for two weeks. But I knew, the minute I started pushing my son out, that I could do it all again.

This article by Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution, offers a few questions to ask before you add another child.

  • Do I want another child? Absolutely.
  • Will another child change our economic situation? Not really. If you wait until you can afford a child to have one, you’ll never have one.
  • How will life change, and are we ready for that change? Life change will be minimal, providing any future pregnancies and children are like the first.
  • How will a new baby affect the lives of your existing children? My son can’t get enough of babies. He’s a little jealous, but that’s a good trait to overcome, and it’s easier to overcome at a younger age.
  • Are you and your partner on the same page? Oh… that. That is where the issue lies. My baby-makin’ partner in crime (an only child himself) is more hesitant to add another to our brood. Lately, he’s warming up to the idea, but I brought up potential baby names the other day and he turned a sickly shade of green and started tapping his foot incessantly.

So, there’s only one question left: When? When will I be ready for another baby? I told new mom me that I would be ready for another when my son weaned. OK, done. Then I said I’d be ready when he was potty-trained. That happened in September. He sleeps through the night pretty well. He can talk, feed himself, undress himself, bathe himself. He’s a boy, not a baby anymore.

What do you think? How many years are in-between your children? When did you know it was time for another?

What’s the right space between siblings?

Thursday, December 29, 2011
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I think someone is trying to tell me something. I have four friends due to have their second babies within one month this spring.

Erica has a daughter who will turn 3 in March and is due in early June. Tori has a daughter who will turn 2 in January and is due in June. Molly has a son who will turn 2 in May just days before her due date. And Jen has a daughter who won’t turn 2 until November and is also due in early June.

Erica lives in Tennessee, Tori lives in Nebraska, and Molly and Jen live in Charleston. So I can’t blame it on the water.

I guess it’s like the year my husband and I went to something like seven weddings. Our cohort is in the baby-having phase. Still, four in one month is a lot.

Before you ask, I’m not pregnant. Nosireebob. But I’m feeling the pressure. My daughter is three months younger than Molly’s son and three months older than Jen’s daughter. So we’ve been in this together so far.

Are we ready for a second kid? I don’t know. But I dwell at length on spacing between kids.

I don’t really think there’s a right or wrong spacing for kids. Every family is different, and there are pros and cons to every approach.

For example, my husband is one of four, and they are on average five years apart. He was 15 when his youngest sister was born. On the plus side, each child had the spotlight for a decent period before a new baby came along, and their sibling rivalry isn’t bad. On the con side, my in-laws have a both a tween at home and a granddaughter.

When my mother-in-law and I talk about this, she always cites the example of her friend Lisa’s family. Lisa had her three kids at two-year intervals, so she had three under five at one point. While it seemed crazy while the kids were little, my MIL sees the virtue of it now that they’re all three done with college and married and Lisa and her husband are free to enjoy the next phase of life.

My brother was born two months before my third birthday. We fought a lot up until I got to high school, but we get along now.

The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy says that a mother is physically best suited to conceive a second child 18-23 months after the birth of the first. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve recited that fact. My daughter is just shy of 17 months. I’m not there yet!

My mom says that when she read about spacing, she concluded that the easiest spacing in terms of child-rearing is seven years (for only two kids) because the first is old enough to be independent but also help out with the new baby. My dad is seven years older than his brother, and they are very close as adults.

I don’t think we’ll wait seven years, but I don’t know if we’ll be ready next month either.

I know I don’t want to own two cribs, and I’d rather not have two in diapers at the same time. But I want them to be peers, to go to high school together. That really narrows it down, I guess.

So tell me, moms, what have you learned about spacing kids? Is there an ideal interval?

Tickled Pink and Blue

Monday, April 4, 2011
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CORRECTION: Meet our bouncing baby BOY.

Last month, I blogged about our new arrival — a beagle pup to be named Betty.  As you may recall, I went all out for this pup… special food and water bowls, a pretty collar and leash, and a tartan plaid bed with her name prominently monogrammed on the side.

Well, Betty turned out to be…a boy.

A very long story short, we simply came up short.  There were several girls to choose from, but our deposit held a selection spot, not necessarily a particular puppy.  The night before we were scheduled to pick up Betty, we were informed a few pups in the litter developed pneumonia and died, and only three girls survived.  Based on our place on the list, we’d have to take a boy if we still wanted one.

When I told my husband that the pup, which I had branded as Betty the Beagle since Christmas Eve, wasn’t coming to live with us, his eyes lit up like blue C9 bulbs.  “Ha!” he exclaimed. “Outnumbered no more!”

I wasn’t upset, because I had said up front that I didn’t care about gender as long as the pup was healthy.  My reaction was also due to experiencing something like this before.  As Yogi Berra once said, it was déjà vu all over again.

During my second pregnancy, I went through quite a few ultrasounds to make sure everything was progressing normally.  During one of the first scans, the technician turned to us and said, “I know what that is, and that means you’re carrying a little boy.”

Off the table I jumped and down the road I drove… to Lowe’s… for blue paint.  I had it all planned: blue walls, chambray and red linens, and a giant stuffed moose head for the wall above his dark cherry crib.  I had planned a wild animal theme… lions, tigers and bears, oh my… and a pair of denim overalls from Gap.  Twenty-four hours later, I was trying on baby names from my favorite mini-series, The Thorn Birds.

My husband was not impressed with my source of creativity.

“You’re not going to name our son Stuart. He got killed by a wild boar.  And you are not naming him Dane, either, because he drowned in the ocean. And you can forget about the other brother who died when a burning tree fell on him,” Mike spat.

What about Ralph? He was sitting in the rose garden when he slumped over.  Does that make you feel better?

Three appointments later, a different technician scanned again to check the baby’s development.  “How’s he doing?” I asked nervously. “He?” the technician replied. “You mean SHE? She looks good so far.”

But… but… we were told we were having a boy! What happened to that certain something the other technician was so convinced of?  “I have no idea, but this is a little girl for sure.”

A few months later our second daughter, Maryn, was carried into a bedroom painted a pale, spring green (to be on the safe side).  And, I’m pleased to report that she’s 100% all girl.

BUT, getting back to my story about our beagle blooper:  Since Betty would not be joining us, I had to find a name within 24 hours for our baby boy.  And, if you hadn’t already guessed, I pulled The Thorn Birds novel off the shelf and began flipping through pages.

Paddy? Hal? Luddie? Bob? Jack? Hughie? Rainer?

Mike, proving to be the alpha in the family, took the book and gave it a toss.  “His name is Copper,” he stated.  From The Fox and the Hound?  A Disney movie?

After an hour of debate, I realized that I didn’t have a dog in this fight.  The story of a deep friendship between an unlikely pair (also true of a Roman Catholic priest and his mistress) would serve as the inspiration for our little “surprise”. Copper the Beagle has become man’s best friend.  Sometimes, that’s simply ‘howl’ the ball bounces.