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Eight months!

Eliza is eight months old!  We watch 90% less television than we did pre-baby!  These things are related.  Two days ago, Eliza spent a HOUR wrestling with a giant stuffed broccoli while we just laughed at her.  That about sums it up.  

What, you want more?  Ok fine.  Eliza loves playing peek-a-boo, and she loves it the MOST when you really hide behind something big, like a pillow or a wall, and come out at different points.  She likes to play upside down bear, which is a genius game I invented where you fling her straight backwards and say “upside down bear is upside down!” in a ridiculous voice.  She really gets into it - she’ll throw her arms and head back over and over, so you better want to keep playing for awhile.  She crawls very fast now, cruises a bit clumsily along furniture, and likes push things - the kitchen stools, cardboard boxes, etc. - all around the kitchen and living room.  She has just started letting go of stuff for a few moments while standing, so I think that bodes really well for her not learning to walk soon, right?  Oh god.  She’s eating more and more real food - very good at chewing despite only having the two bottom chompers so far.  Her favorites to date are strawberries and salmon.  She’ll eat pretty much anything, but those two she gets enthusiastic about.  She learned to use a straw cup and sippy cup a while back, relatively well, but lately would prefer to spit the contents all over herself for fun.  
We got to do a lot of fun stuff last month, some of which I covered in my belated seven month post.  Last weekend, we went to Ohio for Poultry Days, our annual weird frisbee tournamant,  It involved five (5!) airplane rides, three nights of camping in the midst of a field of insane(ly loud) frisbee players, and one unexpected night in a hotel after a flight cancellation on the return trip.  It involved temps in the 80s/90s, humidity, and very little shade.  She was a champ and a charmer for all of it.  It was great to get to spend several days in a row with our friends, so that they got to see E in all her chilled out glory.  Also, we would like a gold star for not sunburning the baby, cuz DAMN that was hard.  We did end up sunburning ourselves eventually, because we just got really damn tired of applying sunscreen.  We also got to go to the swimming pool in Ohio. E did pretty well - she didn’t really cry, but she wouldn’t relax or let go of me.  I got her into her shoulders, but she’d climb me like a monkey when i tried to lay her on her back to float.  It was pretty damn cute though.  
So, if you’re keeping track, we have camped three out of the last four weekends.  The house is an impressive wreck, so of course my mother-in-law arrived yesterday to visit for a week.  This is great, as she is wonderful, but I do wish the house weren’t so embarrassing.  We are heading to Seattle to surprise some friends, so there is little chance of the situation improving during her visit, but she only has eyes for Eliza, so it doesn’t actually matter.  

7 takes of varying length

1.  I just turned 28 a few weeks back. I almost forgot my birthday - like, had to be reminded of it several times in the weeks leading up. Kind of unlike me, but life has been busy. Kevin planned a very small low country boil with our in-town besties, and I think two in a row means that’s now a tradition. I will never argue with a tradition involving sausage, or eating food directly off the table with my fingers.

2.  Kevin also asked me, several days before my bday, all nonchalantly, what I thought about getting an iPad to replace his shitty shitty laptop. This thing is a piece - it blue screens regularly, the cursor jumps all over the place unbidden, making it damn near impossible to type without developing homicidal rage, it’s hot and stupid and Eliza eats the cord. So, naturally, I got REALLY EXCITED about an iPad. And then he didn’t get one. I asked him a few weeks later what that was all about, and he was like, oh I just wanted to know what you thought about it. Apparently he had NO IDEA that asking me about a shiny beautiful Apple product days before my birthday was kind of a HUGE TEASE.  Gah!  He said he is working on something else for me, but um it’s June tomorrow so I think I’ll stop holding my breath.  Also I realize this is quite a contrast to the “forgetting my birthday” thing but bite me, this is my blog.

3.  ALSO relating to my (apparently not remotely forgotten) birthday, I decided that it is high time I start to dress like a grown up.  Maybe it’s the recent kid-having or who knows what, but things are a little… haggard and unwashed up in here.  Since I’m a scientist, judged 90% by my brains and productivity, and 10% by my ability to chop up animals, it doesn’t actually matter what I wear to work. We have no dress code, save for closed toed shoes in the lab. But, I’m feeling kind of frumpy wearing the same jeans and glorified t-shirts everyday, with my hair inevitably ending up in a pony tail.  In the original spirit of this blog, as a tracker of my monthly resolutions, I resolved to work on being a grown up lady, who wears matching clothes, different hair styles, and (gasp!) make up.  So far I am hitting like 50% on coordinated outfits, 75% on hair, and 90% on make up.  It’s a start. I am hindered by my lack of style and inability to use eyeliner, but I am making baby steps.  I’m considering May a warm up, and in June I’m hoping to be a bit more dedicated to the goal of not looking like crap.  I need to get some new shoes, but am 90% lost in that regard… I wear flip flops almost every day, it’s not good.  Ugh.

4.  It is high frisbee season, and we have tournaments every or every other weekend through July. Great for staying in shape, bad for keeping the house clean.  I’m trying to go to practice/pick-up at least once a week, too, but it’s hard - when I go, I don’t get to eat dinner until 8:30 pm at the earliest, and everything crumbles if I’m not asleep by 9:30. Add in a shower and I end up needing a time turner.  Or, more realistically, to actually TAKE my narcolepsy medicine everyday, which I do not like to do. I don’t like the idea of becoming reliant on a daily  medication this early in my life, but … oh well?  Exercise is important, right?

5.  I have recently developed an allergy or sensitivity to EGG WHITES.  I have considered jumping off a cliff as a solution, but Kevin talked me out of it.  Basically, back at the end of March, I started feeling super ultra nauseated for many hours of every day, usually in the morning. Brainiac that I am, I eventually deduced that it was food related. I started looking into elimination diets and decided that would be hard, so I made a giant vat of chicken pho to drown my sorrows.  When you make pho, because of the enormous volume, you end up eating that and only that for many days in a row so that it doesn’t go bad. I stopped eating breakfast because I was scared to, and ate pho for a week, and then returned to my customary habits.  When I ate my plain old scrambled eggs that morning, I immediately turned green, laid down, and puked my brains out.  Eggs are not the best, in reverse, FYI.  Anyways, since then I have further learned that it is egg whites specifically that I have issues with (so, thank GOD, I can still eat creme brulee) - even in baked goods and cooked foods.  SO, goodbye cake, and pancakes, and BREAD omfg, and PASTA and all of the good carby things.  Also goodbye to my standard breakfast (eggs, sausage, cheese) and the most sensible pathway to the paleo diet I’ve been dancing around for a few years (MANY, MANY EGGS).

6.  Also recently, I have started actually INTERACTING with the people whose blogs I have been reading for years. One day I woke up and decided it was kind of weird that I had been reading for like 5+ years in some cases and hadn’t actually TALKED to these people. Because I don’t comment regularly, or blog regularly myself, because I can’t at work and I don’t actually compute much at home.  I DO twitter, though.  So… I just started saying hey. Turns out these people are actual nice humans who respond!  Who knew.  So far, since I started interacting, I have learned many useful things, about babies and clothes and food and even some science.  

7.  I finished the Graceling trilogy recently and CANNOT find a new book to get into. That is always the problem with good books, for me: once I finish, nothing else is worth it for a good while.  I would go as far as to say I get mildly depressed after finishing a good book - all I want to do is read, and I keep trying new books, but none of them make me happy, so I turn into a grumpy anti-social DELIGHT.  On the bright side, playing with Goodreads helps a bit, both in finding new books AND in distracting me from my woe.

Hat tip to Adele for the 7 quick takes format, and I apologize for my failures to adhere to the ‘quick’ part.

Eliza is 7.5 ish month old, and I am slow.

Seven months, hoo boy. We are getting some personality up in here. Eliza can crawl pretty fast now, and has started pulling up to standing on the furniture.  Her balance is shit, but I’m sure that’ll change in a matter of weeks.  Apparently my nephew also learned to crawl and pull to standing in the same week, right at 7 months, but took another seven months to start legitimately walking.  The thing that makes me think she’ll walk early is that she tries to stand up in the middle of the floor, holding objects. Like, hey, I think I can do this, so I’mma just keep trying until gravity quits winning. Also, I’m taking this ball with me. 

She continues to make hilarious noises and faces - snorting, babbling, giggling like a tiny crazy person.  Everything is especially hilarious at night, barreling towards a crescendo of hysterical laugh-crying that signals bedtime was 15 minutes ago.  She is doing great with her floor bed - remember this, self.  It is way, WAY easier to plunk her down and pick her up from a mattress on the floor than to lift her in and out of a crib.  My back is much happier.  Also, it’s adorable, and the room seems a lot bigger, and it’s a lot easier to change the sheets.  Check back once she eventually tips over the diaper pail.  
She has her two bottom teeth pretty much set now, and it’s adorable. You can see her top two coming down, which is frankly kind of creepy.  I’m sure they will start to cut right when we head to Ohio next week for Poultry Days.  Probably the second we get on the plane.  But no, the first two came with minimal fan fare - occasional squawking but really no big deal.  Far less of an ordeal than when we forget to feed her the right amount of green veggies, oh my dear.  
She shakes her head ‘no’ all the time, but doesn’t seem to know what it means yet… soon.  We should be signing in earnest, but are still having trouble remembering sometimes.  Hopefully she cottons on, I can’t wait until she can really communicate with us.  Everytime she copies me, it blows my mind - this tiny little person and I are talking!  Kind of.  Hush, don’t disabuse me of my fantasies.
We have gone camping twice, the last two weekends. First to Wenatchee for a frisbee tournament, and Eliza’s first ever camping trip.  Then last weekend our first trip to Rainier for the year, to camp at Ohanapecosh.  Both were just Saturday night, and the overnight lows were in the 40s - we were pretty worried about how that would go, but it was GREAT. E thought setting up the tent was about the most hilarious thing in the world, like why are we all on the floor? Why are there blankets everywhere? Is this real life?  And then she slept for 11 hours straight. So, I guess we are moving into a tent, is what I’m saying.  We will tempt fate by camping in Ohio for a three night excursion, complete with airplanes.  If we survive that, we win at parenting.  (Right?  Right?)
No really, this is the easiest baby ever, she is such a delight.  We have basically stopped watching TV, as rolling around on the floor with her is the most fun thing ever.  Even though her favorite activities, by a long shot, are hitting us with her wooden hammer and pulling out our hair.  I’ll allow it, on account of how ridiculously adorable she is when she laughs.

Here we go!

Ok, I’ve been terrible.  There are just so many things - blog, pictures, facebook, LIFE.  I know I want a record of some kind, though, not just having to check dates on photos and videos, so hopefully we can make this work.

Eliza is nearly 7 months old.  Part of the distraction from 6 months was that, what with her being sick half the month, not much had changed beyond the calendar.  Apparently Miss Bear was saving up, because the past few days have been an EXPLOSION.  

Eliza has learned to sit up unassisted (right around 6 months).  She eats a variety of foods now - we started with avocado, which wreaked gastrointestinal havoc, and therefore started a variety of purees in hopes of fixing her issues.  I had originally hoped to do baby led weaning - no purees at all - but now, I realize it’s pretty fun and a short period of time (this is a lesson I keep learning - nothing is permanent).  Right, so she could sit, she ate, and she began pushing onto hands and knees and rocking right around 6 months as well, but wouldn’t move her hands.  She stayed put that way for a few weeks, until this past weekend.

Sunday, she started crawling for real.  Lifted her hands a few times and was off to the races.  She is a bit clumsy, and has since discovered that a mix of crawling and rollings is faster (albeit more circuitous).  Yesterday (Tuesday) she pushed into sitting and pulled to standing on a book, of all things.  Kevin is 100% delighted, while I am 95% delighted and 5% terrified (slash considering pushing her over). 

She has also begun cutting her two bottom front teeth on Sunday, with relatively little fanfare - a bit more squawking than usual, but still quite calm about the whole ordeal.  

And, she started babbling - consonant sounds that sound very much as if she is talking.  Dadada, Bababa, and a bunch of adorable mumbling.

Less important developmentally, but totally hilarious: she started snorting like an angry badger when she gets excited.  It is my favorite thing ever.  

Sick baby is sick.

Well, it took nearly six months, but Eliza finally proved her immune system is not  impenetrable.  After playing with her little friend Calvin a week or so ago, we heard he came down with RSV shortly thereafter so I was on high alert.  She started developing cold symptoms on Friday, coinciding perfectly with Kevin going out of town for 9 days, and my parents arriving to visit - of all the luck!  I’d say she’s been going steadily, albeit slowly, downhill ever since.  We took her to the doctor yesterday just because we wanted to make sure her lungs were clear (they are so far), and he suggested giving her pedialyte or juice so her milk doesn’t thicken her mucus, and told me when to worry (very labored breathing and/or high fever).  The hardest thing is that she is sleeping very poorly.  It’s too bad I’m a dangerous narcoleptic, since she sleeps best on my chest, but I am not to be trusted co-sleeping.  Plus the lack of sleep is exacerbating my narcolepsy, so it’s getting ridiculous over here!  How do people deal with really sick babies?  Because she really isn’t that sick in the grand scheme.  Can people just…. not sleep, for many days in a row?  I can’t imagine.

So, anyways, we are just trying to keep Miss Bear as happy as possible and not go totally stir crazy.  We had grand plans to go on some NW adventures, to Mt. Rainier and other places, but now we are just hoping she improves before my parents have to leave.  Major bummer, but at least she is still managing to be a little bit smiley for at least a small part of every day.  Hooray for easy going babies!

Eliza at 5 months

Whew, a little late on this one - it was a busy month!  Lots of working for me and Kevin, capped off with a business trip for me and a visit from the paternal grandparents.  Miss Eliza continues to be a delightful little thing, giggling more and more every day.  Just about everything we do is hilarious in the evenings now, except for when it’s not.  She loves it when we pretend to eat her tummy, opens her mouth up big in a gleeful smile and grabs on to our faces.  She reaches out for us now, reaches out for lots of things.  Both hands means she’s excited, and one hand means it’s going into the mouth. Eliza rolls from her back to her belly with wild abandon, but forgets she can go the other way.  She does impressive push ups, sometimes holding herself up with hands and toes alone.  She is starting to move around a bit, but hasn’t learned to do so with intent.  It’s more that she happens to wiggle or roll a bit, or “crawl” half a foot, but not necessarily where she wanted to.  She can sit unassisted for many seconds in a row before pitching off headfirst towards the floor, and if you give her something to hold on to, she can brace herself quite impressively.  She still goes nuts for her bouncy chair, and sometimes is obviously tired of her lame parents and would prefer jumping for a bit now, thanks.  Favorite toys are Phillip the spider, Frank the duck, Earl the butterfly, and Darryl the dinosaur.  Reading to her has become harder, as she wants to suck on the board books - so Grandma Sherry got her a soft taggie book to hold while we read.  Genius!

She’s been waking up in the night a few times a week this month, and once again her bed time seems to be a little after mine (about 10).  We just decided to stop swaddling her last night, since she can turn over so well now, and I can’t actually swaddle her anymore because she is too big.  She cried and cried when we tried to put her to sleep (and by we I mean Kevin, since her crying makes me irrational) - he tried a few times over the course of a couple hours, to no avail.  The AAP recommends against letting babies under one have anything with them in their cribs, so she was just in footie pajamas, wailing.  I eventually suggested letting her have her blanket that she usually naps with, and the second she got her hands on it, she passed out hard.  We did some research about the risks, and feel pretty good about letting her sleep with the blanket.  I really hate the way risks are communicated to parents, but that’s a can of worms for another day…
Also on the parenting choices front (and another can of worms), I had to wean Eliza at the beginning of March so I could take some medicine.  Weaning made me very sad for about a week, and then the hormones started to clear and I can see that it was the right decision (though I still wish it had worked out differently).  Eliza seems not to care a whit one way or the other, as long as there is milk to be had.  We’ve begun giving her solid food off our plates to play with, but so far she hasn’t been that interested in eating anything.  I let her suck on some pizza crust and some banana, and she mostly looked confused.  More of that in the weeks to come… 

Eliza at 4 months

Miss Bear’s repertoire of tricks now includes blowing raspberries, grabbing toys and getting them into her mouth, and playing with her feet.  This month Eliza has started giggling, though goodness knows what she thinks is funny.  We spend a lot of time making asses of ourselves trying to get her to giggle, usually to no avail, and then she’ll bust out laughing at something unexpected (like the snot sucker, hoo boy!).  She can prop-sit unassisted for a while, leaning forward with her hands on the ground, but she’ll fall over if she tries to grab anything.  She wants to stand up all the time still, and loves to be in her bouncer.  Her hand-eye coordination and motor skills improve visibly every day, which is really cool to watch.  She is still remarkably laid back - if she is crying, 99% of the time it’s because she is hungry or tired, and it only lasts a moment.  We’ve had a minor sleep regression the last week or so (right on cue - 4 months is a big growth and developmental spurt!), so she’s been waking once in the night for a snack.  Funny how painful that’s been for me and Kevin - the newborn days are apparently a distant memory!  

E has gone snowshoeing twice, hiked Badger Mountain once, and has gone to frisbee many times this month. She has been pretty agreeable for most of our adventures, tolerating long car rides fairly well (sleeping mostly, and occasionally requiring a buddy in the backseat) and kind of hit or miss with hiking/snowshoeing.  Sometimes she just doesn’t want to be in the carrier, other times she passes out or quietly looks around.   We are still resisting putting her on any sort of schedule - she sleeps and eats whenever and wherever the mood strikes her - so that we can continue going on adventures.  This is working well for us for now, probably just because she is so laid back, but we’ll take it!  

Stats at 4 months:
Weight: 13.94 lbs (58%)
Length:  24.5” (60%)
Head Circumference: 16.5” (75%)

Playin’ with Squish, a.k.a. starting to pull her weight.

Continued from Part One - breastfeeding hurts, and maybe I have Reynaud’s - and Part Two - is that a light at the end of the tunnel?

TL;DR version: ouch that hurts real bad, vasoconstriction is for lamers, drugs are good and so is sleep and books and growing babies with bigger mouths.

Around the middle of January, I seemed to reach a place that seems fairly sustainable.  I pump four to six times a day, while reading books on my shiny new bribe kindle.  I nurse the baby when it’s convenient - when she is hungry and I don’t feel like going upstairs, when we are somewhere where I can’t pump easily (like a frisbee tournament, or on a long car ride).  We are both a lot better at the mechanics, but she still doesn’t stay full for very long - usually no more than a couple hours on the outside.  We always give her a bottle before bed because she’ll sleep all night that way, and I usually have to pump before she wakes up in the morning due to discomfort.  In terms of pain, we have reached a much better place.  75% of the time, pumping doesn’t hurt at all.  It doesn’t feel good at all either, but it doesn’t hurt.  I’m not sure why it hurts the other 25% of the time, but it’s usually no more than a 4 on the pain scale.  Nursing is pain free but unpleasant about 50-75% of the time.  I do not enjoy the sensation, I don’t experience warm fuzzy bonding feelings.  I spend the time thinking about when we should get a bottle ready for when she is still hungry, or wishing I’d remembered to grab some ice water before I sat down.  

I have a host of issues relating to breastfeeding - I hate pumping at work, I feel some degree of shame when I have my door closed, thinking about how everyone can hear the pump working as they walk by.  This was compounded after a janitor walked in on me (my door doesn’t lock, he knocked and entered in one single motion).  I was incredibly anxious about breastfeeding in front of people, which I did for the first time at a frisbee tournament in January, out of necessity (the baby was hungry, and full boobs meant I was very uncomfortable).  It ended up being no big deal, but I still get stressed about breastfeeding in public - I won’t do it in front of people if I can help it, even with a cover.  I hate how I have to plan every little thing around my breasts - pump right before leaving the house, which means I have to factor in an extra 30 minutes to everything I do.  If I forget anything for work (cooler, flanges, valves, bottles), I have to go home.  I get a three hour window to accomplish anything, unless it’s exercise - then I get an hour and half before I get uncomfortable.  between pumping, breastfeeding, and my full time job, I have maybe 1 or 2 hours not accounted for, in which I play with the baby, do chores (dinner, house cleaning), and have me time.  As I try to get back into shape (previously I played a good bit of sports, frisbee and soccer), I find that I don’t have time.  Breastfeeding (or, having to empty my boobs) makes planning adventures - out of town trips, day trips to snow shoe or ski, etc. - much more challenging.  

I’m also absolutely terrified of what will happen to my body when I stop.  I lost the baby weight easily, without trying, I assume because that’s just how my body reacted to nursing.  I’m about five pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight, or at about what I weighed when I started college.  I like my body more than I ever have - it’s not perfect, but I’ve always liked its lumps and bumps best when it is doing something for me.  That used to mean when I was doing best at sports, but apparently extends to carrying, birthing, and nursing a baby.  I have friends who gained significant weight as soon as they stopped nursing, and I’m scared of that happening to me.  I’ve always had a pretty tenuous relationship with my body image, so it wouldn’t necessarily be a win, trading in the fretting I do over hating breastfeeding for fretting about my body. 

And yeah, I still spend a lot of time wanting to throw in the towel.  But I feel very guilty about it - like, it doesn’t hurt that much anymore, sometimes not at all, so it would be entirely selfish if I stopped.  There are bright spots, or advantages - sometimes I relish the luxury of reading (13 novels since Eliza was born!!), and sometimes when I don’t feel like doing something else I have used pumping or breastfeeding as an excuse to zone out.  Both of these bright spots actually make me feel worse - the only good things I can come up with are actually bad!  They are selfish too!  And then the sillier ones: maybe it hurts and I hate it, but if I do it, I can eat cookies without gaining weight!  And, maybe it hurts and I hate it, but if I do it, I don’t have to make formula and clean as many bottles and I hate formula!  

It’s like my brain is kind of warped, at this point. I think I am motivated to continue by this guilt over feeling selfish, worry over what other people think, and some degree of wanting what is best for my child.  That last part - only some degree - that’s because, as a scientist, studying what I study (toxicology, physiology, and development), I know that the effects of breastfeeding are quite subtle even at the population level.  That is, if I switched to formula, or had only ever fed formula, there would be no measurable effect in Eliza herself, because the sample size is just too small.  I know this - I understand it, and I could probably convince most people of it.  But on some irrational level, I still feel like I have to keep doing this if at all possible because it’s so much healthier for my baby.  Like the reasons that make me want to stop are all about me, and now I need to be all about her.  

But lately, I’m feeling like even if it is a ton of tiny little reasons, nothing so huge all by itself (like the initial pain was), it still adds up to something big.  And that over time, if I keep it up, it’s akin to putting her oxygen mask on while ignoring my own. 

I just wish there were an obvious line, a clear point at which I could say “enough is enough,” quit doing it, or at least quit worrying about it, and get on with the rest of this parenting business.