Tuesday, February 24, 2009

And Then There Were Two

Two teeth, that is. I came home from work yesterday to find a fussy baby who had refused to nap all day. I reached into his mouth to massage the gums around his tooth, only to discover that next to his tooth was ... another tooth. Poor guy had less than 24 hours before sprouting the second one.

So, now we have twice the crying. Twice the sleepless sobbing. Twice the chewing. Twice the ability to inflict puncture wounds.

I went out last night and bought an assortment of teething toys, hoping that he'll decide that at least one of them is really cool, so that we can all have some relief. (He was up much of the night whining and sobbing on our shoulders.) So far this morning, we've had a limited amount of success with this bizarre thing. He likes the "bristles" at one end, it's easy for him to grab and hold onto, and he can get relief by chewing on absolutely any part of it. We gave it to him cold from the fridge, but he held onto it long after it had warmed up, so we may have a winner! All of the other teethers I bought were very cute (chewable snails and turtles and fish) but he seems to go for the purely functional. He gets that from his parents.

In other news... I ran into a (male) coworker yesterday who had a baby about a month before LL was born. I hadn't seen him since returning to work, so we stopped and exchanged baby stories. I'm still kind of cringing over their birth story: they had been given a 10-day range instead of a solid due date. On the earliest of these dates, his wife announced that she was ready to have the baby. She wasn't actually in labor... she just decided that since her due date had arrived, she should have the baby. So, they drove to the hospital and announced that they wanted to be induced. She wasn't at all dilated or anything, and her doctor thought that her actual due date wasn't for another week or so, but for some reason, they went along with her and did an induction. After a few hours, she was at 3 cm dilated (pretty reasonable for an induction starting from 0). But, she decided that it was going too slowly, and elected to just do a c-section instead. (And not because she was tired... her husband said that she wasn't in any pain yet, she was just impatient.) The baby was born weighing barely 6 pounds. Stupid stupid stupid. I waited as far past my due date as I could before consenting to an induction, then did everything in my power to avoid a c-section, and this woman wouldn't stand to be inconvenienced by her baby. I asked how things were going now (the baby is 6 months old) and this guy explained to me how annoying it is to spend time with babies... he works as much as he can to avoid being at home. His wife quit her job when she was 2 months pregnant because she didn't like working and couldn't handle working while pregnant, but is now looking into going back to school so that she won't have to stay home with the baby. He then started asking me questions about where I thought he could find the cheapest possible childcare, because he doesn't want to waste money. Um... okay. I'm torn between "To each his own" and "Why the hell do people like this have children?"

Sunday, February 22, 2009

When You Have a Tooth, the Whole World is ...

... yours for the chewing, apparently.

Milestone! Milestone! LL has a tooth! At the ripe old age of 5 months 3 days, he has gained the ability to Chew On Stuff. Both LL and I would be very excited about this new development, except for two important facts:

1. Apparently, sprouting a very hard tooth through very soft tender gums for the first time is rather unpleasant. LL started the process by just being fussy and drooling a lot, and he has now progressed to really pathetic crying jags several times a day. It's very sad. The only thing that makes him feel better is Chewing On Stuff.

2. LL is very particular about what Stuff he wants to Chew On. We have a wide assortment of teething toys, all of which he has rejected. We tried cold wet washcloths. We tried small ice cubes wrapped in cloth. All rejected. The only things he wants to Chew On are things that he was already putting in his mouth before the eruption of the tooth. Pacifiers are okay to Chew On. (He pulls them from his mouth and chews on the hard handles.) His own fingers are okay to Chew On. My fingers are sometimes okay to Chew On. But you know what his very favorite thing to put in his mouth has always been? My breasts. See where I'm going here?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Five Months

After everything that happened last week, you know what rounded out my life this week? My grandfather was just diagnosed with cancer. Hey Universe -- thanks again!

On a brighter note, LL is doing much better. The temporary fix that the pediatrician recommended that we try while we wait for our appointment with the specialist seems to be working wonderfully, and LL's symptoms have completely disappeared. I'd rather not continue with this temp fix, since it isn't very enjoyable for anyone involved, but it's fairly small in the grand scheme of things, and if it works, then fine.

The new nanny worked two days this week, which means that I got to work two days this week. She's working out wonderfully. We're going to call her Rosie, because she's so happy and cheerful and LL adores walking around the park with her. And she reads lots of books to him, which he doesn't really get at Natasha's.

We're trying to examine our budget to see if we can keep Rosie on one or two days a week even after Natasha gets back. Natasha's daycare normally closes at 3:00, which is a bit early for me to end my workday. Having Rosie stay until 4:30 makes a huge difference in taking off the pressure for me to run to work, rush to get stuff done, and get out of the office on time. Even having just one a day each week when I can work a little bit later, or even go grocery shopping on my way home, seems like it would make a huge difference in my sanity.

For Valentine's Day, S and I stayed in and ate homemade risotto and watched a bad movie. It was nice. Every year, starting before we were even dating, S has bought me roses on Valentine's Day. He forgot this year, and I was kind of surprised to find that I didn't really care. I'm not sure what that means.

LL is five months old today. Sometime in the last five months I must have blinked or something, because he's suddenly looking less like a baby and more like a little boy. He enjoys tummy time for long stretches now, propped up on his elbows so he can look around, which makes him look... older. And his hair is filling in remarkably evenly, so it looks like he has a classic little boy haircut. People keep asking me whether we've cut his hair, but we haven't... it's just growing that way on its own. He's learning some games that I play with him, and reacts differently to different games. He knows Itsy Bitsy Spider, and Peek A Boo, and This Little Piggie, and How Big is LL. We video-chatted with my parents on the computer, and we got them to make funny animal noises to make LL laugh. He was very accomodating, even though Grandma's sheep sounded different than mine. And he gets all these complex facial expressions that give the strong impression that he's wise beyond his years.

Maybe he really is that wise. He wasn't just born yesterday.


When LL started at Baby Factory in mid-January, he was on a sort-of schedule. He was taking three naps a day, but there was a lot of variation in length of nap. Since his next nap depended on when he woke up from his previous nap, we never really knew when each nap after his first one was actually going to happen.

When we hired Rosie in mid-February, he was starting to get more regular, to the point where we could tell her approximate times for each of his naps. We gave her a lot of flexibility, though, to move naps forward or back if the previous nap went long or short. Still, for the sake of being able to look back later, I wanted to record his schedule as it existed at the time.

The basic structure of this schedule was in place by the time LL was 4 months old. It was starting to be more regular by the clock when he was approximately 5 months old. It was clock-predictable by 6 months. Sometime after 7 months, he would sometimes drop the third nap. By 8 months, he was regularly dropping the third nap, and moving towards dropping a bottle as well.

Recorded for posterity:

LL's Daily Schedule:

7:00 -- wake up (we tried not to start his day any earlier than this, even if he woke up)
7:30 -- milk (and after 6 months, solid food)
9:00 -- nap
10:00 -- wake up, milk (sometimes he would sleep longer; he ate whenever he got up)
12:00 -- nap
1:30 -- wake up, milk (sometimes only 1 hour instead of 90 minutes)
3:30 -- nap
4:30 -- wake up, milk (and after 6 months, solid food, usually around 5:00)
7:00 -- bedtime routine, milk (in the beginning, closer to 6:00, whenever he looked tired)
7:30 -- sleep

From 4 months to 7 months, he would wake up once each night to eat. For a while, it was reliably between 3-4:00am, but as time went on, it got more erratic. After 7 months, he would occasionally skip it, leading to us purposely eliminating the middle-of-the-night feeding (except when he was really really upset or sick) by 8 months.

Friday, February 13, 2009

When It Rains

Holy crap. Too much happening. Cannot cope. Seriously. Let's recap my week:

After some unusual and odd symptoms in LL, I innocently called his pediatrician to make sure that everything was okay. I expected to hear, "Yeah, don't worry about it!" over the phone. Instead we had two emergency pediatrician appointments, a just-in-case exam that made him screech in pain, and a referral to a specialist. Right now, we don't think that it's anything too serious, but whatever it is, it will need to be taken care of, and it's breaking my heart.

Next, S's grandfather suddenly and unexpectedly passed away this week. He lived far away from us (as in, there's an ocean between us) so he hadn't met LL yet. We had mailed him lots of photos, and we were planning on bringing LL to visit him in April, which ended up being two months too late, though there was no way we could have seen this coming. He had been so excited to meet his first great-grandchild. We've been asked not to bring LL to the funeral, but S is trying to decide whether he will be able to fly there himself. Given LL's medical problems, though, he's understandably reluctant to leave us alone, even for a few days.

Next up: S's company had major layoffs this week. S's job is still safe for now, but several of our close friends lost their jobs this week. And the layoffs mean extra work and longer hours for S, which is particularly stressful on top of everything else going on right now.

The layoffs and longer work hours for S means that he isn't able to stay home at all with LL, so I didn't work again this week. (We had been planning to trade off, so that I could work a few days, too, but alas, it's not going to happen that way.) We did hire a part-time nanny, who worked one day this week, but since it was her first day, I stayed home to show her the ropes. Some friends of ours who recently moved out of the area referred her to us, since she was a nanny for their daughter for more than a year. She's only available two days a week, so over the next two weeks, I'll be able to go into work for just four days. It's just as well, since LL isn't feeling that great, and I want to keep an eye on him. Also, one day of the nanny costs almost as much as a full week at Natasha's, so we couldn't afford more than two days each week anyway.

And, just in case a death in the family and layoffs and childcare problems and LL being sick weren't quite enough to deal with, S was in a (very minor) car accident this week. With my brand new car. No injuries, but it was unquestionably S's fault. (Yeah, he's distracted. See above.) It ended up being cheaper to pay for the damage (our car and the other car) out of pocket rather than making a claim through insurance, so we've been dealing with the other driver and repair estimates all week.

To cap it off, my brother called last night because he thinks that he's starting to see early Alzheimer's signs in my mother, and he wanted to know if I'd noticed anything. (I haven't, and I think he's imagining things, but holy cow it's hard not to be paranoid and over-analyze everything now. Alzheimer's does run in our family.)

Also, LL has been waking up several times each night, then getting up at 5am, and wanting to be held for the rest of the day. And he's not napping. I'm averaging 4 hours of sleep a night. This morning, I had my first shower all week.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Random Thoughts

I'm at home with LL (still) and jotting down notes during his naps. Another week without being able to go into work. Anyway, this post is going to be really random. Don't even bother looking for a common theme or anything.

There are a lot of icky daycares out there. Like the one where the woman wanted to give my child some bizarre herbal supplement, and I got the sense that she'd start adding it to his bottles (against my wishes, obviously) if we left him there. Or the woman who held LL for 30 seconds, then handed him back to me in a panic the moment he started to fuss a little. Or the woman whose extremely creepy husband and heavy-metal-t-shirt twentysomething son are both also in the house all day. Or the woman who happily told me that she and her two assistants take the 15 kids (including infants) on field trips once every week or two; when asked how they get around, it turns out that the three women take all 15 babies and toddlers on city buses. Or the woman who told me, when I asked why she likes running a daycare, that she only does it because her husband doesn't make enough money. (At least she's honest.) Or the woman with a house that is even less childproof than mine, who told me not to worry about it because the children spend the entire day in the playroom, which is a room the size of a small walk-in closet, with no windows.

One of the daycares that we visited was called Julie's Little Angels Day Care. On the printed information that Julie gave me, there was a typo so it said "Little Angles" instead of "Little Angels." S suggested that maybe it's Little Angles because all of the babies are so acute. I really love my husband. But we still don't have childcare.

I recently took an online quiz in which you answer a bunch of questions about your interests, your climate preferences, hobbies, outdoor activities, career, and family, and then the site recommends that top 24 cities in the US where you would be happy living. Out of these 24 cities, my number one city ended up being the city in which I was born and raised. (I haven't lived there since I left for college at 18.) Number six on the list was where I went to college, more than 1,000 miles away from where I grew up. Of the remaining 22 cities on the list, 18 of them are within 150 miles of where I grew up or went to college (and most of them are actually within 50 miles). None of them, not a single one, is within 1,000 miles of where I live right now, where I've been living for the last 10 years. And people wonder why I plan to move after I finish my PhD.

LL finally, finally only woke up once last night, instead of the 3x he's been doing for the last few weeks. Sadly, the I'm-up-for-the-day time seems to have permanently moved from a reasonable 7:30am to a pre-dawn 6:15am. I think that's something I'm just going to have to live with.

LL is starting to wear 9-month clothing. The 6-month stuff does still technically fit him, but when he's in cloth diapers, they're very tight at the crotch. Now that I've emptied his dresser of all 3-month clothing and a good deal of the 6-month clothing, it is obvious that we're starting to run out of clothes. The mountains of clothing that we received as gifts seem to taper off around the 6-month mark. I think we'll still have enough clothing to keep LL comfortable while he's in 9-month sizes, but once he outgrows those, we're actually going to have to go shopping. To date, I've purchased three outfits for him, and everything else has been gifts or hand-me-downs. That's going to have to change in a few short months.

LL's consistent rolling from tummy to back seems to have stopped. (It only lasted one week.) Last week, it seemed like an awesome way for him to avoid the work of using his arms and abs and neck muscles when put on his stomach -- he could simply flip himself to his back. This weekend, he discovered another way to effectively avoid tummy time, without even having to do the work of rolling over: simply rest your head on the ground. We put him on his stomach, he briefly lifts his head, then he turns his head to the side and rests his cheek on the blanket. No exercise required. This maneuver seems fairly obvious now that he's doing it. Any suggestions on motivating a lazy infant to exercise on his tummy? Shaking toys above him doesn't do it. He just gives me this look that seems to say, "You want to play? Move me to my back! Otherwise, I'm just going to rest right here and suck on my fingers."

S and I are both only fluent in English, but people sometimes assume that I speak Hebrew, and that S speaks Japanese. Someone asked me the other day what LL's first language was going to be, and I said "I dunno, maybe Lisp." It wasn't until I got a really blank look that I realized what they actually meant. You think that LL is doomed to be a nerd?

LL and I visited my tech start-up again yesterday. He thought one of the robots was really cool until it moved its arms, which seriously freaked him out. So I guess we're not ready for robots yet.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Rolling, Sleeping, Partying, Oh My!

LL is 20 weeks old today. That's kind of an unwieldy number for weeks... I'm pretty sure that I'm only supposed to be talking in months at this point. He's four and a half months. And we had a few new milestones this week!

LL rolled over! LL hates tummy time with a passion. He rarely tolerates it for more than a minute, whining uncomfortably for 30 seconds, then moving to all-out hysterical screaming until he is rescued and returned to his rightful position on his back. Nonetheless, we've been told that we need to keep attempting tummy time, to strengthen his upper body. On Monday, he realized that, when he was put on his stomach, he could Do Something About It. He rolled to his back. And gave me a smug what-are-you-going-to-do-now grin. I thought that it might be a fluke, so I returned him to his stomach. Nope, he definitely knows how to roll. Every time he is put on his stomach, he now rolls to his back within 30 seconds or so. Every single time. The era of tummy time is over.

Possibly related to the increased strength and flexibility needed for rolling: he has fallen in love with his own feet. For a while now, he's had a habit of holding onto his knees, but he wasn't interested in reaching all the way to his toes. Now, he grabs each foot in his hands and stares at his toes in amazement. Endless entertainment.

Also, a milestone for me and S: we hosted our first party since LL was born! (I'm not counting the bris, which was a big party, but it wasn't at our house, and we did most of the prep for it before he was born.) We had 20-some friends over to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, including several children, which was a lot of fun. It did bring about several annoying conversations, though. ("Your house isn't childproof." "Yes, I know, we haven't done any childproofing yet." "You know you're going to have to childproof." "Yes, I know." "That right there? You're going to have to get rid of that. It's not childproof." "Yes, I know. We know what we have to do, we just haven't needed to do it yet." "Also, that over there." "YES, I KNOW.")

We're also firmly in the middle of the infamous Four Month Sleep Regression. LL had been so fantastic about going to sleep easily around 6:30, sleeping until 4am, going immediately back to sleep after eating, and then getting up sometime after 7am. Now, he struggles more in the evening, not wanting to go to sleep. He wakes up around 10:30pm and insists on eating. He wakes up again around 1am to eat some more. He refuses to go back to sleep after eating, a problem that we haven't dealt with since he was two months old. If we try to soothe him back to sleep without eating, he gets hysterical. And then he wakes up at 5:30 or 6:00am and will not go back to sleep. Last night, S had to walk him around the house for an hour, from 2-3:00am. I also don't entirely know what to attribute it to. Yes, it could be the normal four month thing. But it also coincides with me returning to work, and I've read that lots of babies start waking up more frequently at night, wanting to play more at night, wanting to nurse more at night, after Mom returns to work, to make up for missed time during the day. It could also be that my menstrual cycle returned this past week, which I've read can alter breast milk and throw babies for a bit of a loop. S and I are both exhausted from dealing with it all. Hopefully LL will calm down soon!

Also exhausting us: the search for daycare. We've looked high and low, investigated lots of possible solutions, interviewed several more places, and we've got nothing. I've been home with LL all week. Natasha isn't reopening her daycare until March 2, which means that we've got three more weeks to figure out. And to answer some questions on this topic: yes, we had a plan for backup childcare, for when Natasha was sick: I could take a few sick days, S could take a few sick days, and a few friends could take LL for a day or two if necessary. But none of that covers the scenario of having no regular childcare for an entire month. As for having our parents help us out... my parents aren't retired, so they can't fly here for a month. S's parents are retired, but they still have very busy lives. They might be willing to come out here for a week, but that's about it. And even if they could come for longer, I think that I'd go nuts having my mother-in-law living with us for a month. Seriously, I'd go batty. Nevermind that she refuses to follow any of our wishes for how LL should be cared for; she doesn't believe in naps (!); she doesn't like cloth diapers; she wants to feed him every hour; .......

So, for now, I've just warned my advisor not to expect much out of me for a while. Which didn't go over very well, but there's nothing I can do about it. Our search continues.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I am the stupidest woman alive. Seriously, the absolute stupidest. Yesterday, I had the nerve to tempt the Universe by saying this: "After just a week of leaving him at Natasha's, I find myself already more at ease. So, with the daycare situation hopefully resolved, I can focus on other problems." (Yes, I'm quoting myself. From yesterday's post.) The Universe took less than twelve hours to laugh in my face. "You're at ease?" the Universe snickered, "You think that your daycare situation is resolved? Here -- let's see what you do with this!"

LL's new daycare provider, Natasha, called last night. Her father suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. She's shutting down her daycare for the next several weeks so that she can fly back to the Ukraine.

I'm going to pause here to say that, obviously, Natasha is suffering more than I am. She's basically around the same age as me (thirtysomething) and I can't imagine losing a parent at this point in my life, especially while living so far away. I feel terrible for her. Also, she's probably going to lose some clients. All of her clients, myself included, are going to have to find alternative daycare solutions for the next several weeks, and odds are, some of them aren't going to come back. So when she gets back from the Ukraine, she's going to have to fill a lot of open slots. It's probably going to suck for her. In a minute I'm going to resume pouring out my anguish over how the situation is so incredibly sucky for me and S and LL, but I want to be clear that I understand that it isn't all about me.

Having said that... this situation is totally sucky for us! To recap, LL has had one week at crappy Baby Factory, then one week sick at home with me, then one week at Natasha's, and now another week at home with me. And next week, he's going to have to be in yet another new place (if we can even find someplace decent, again, on incredibly short notice). I don't know how many times I can expect him to recover from us totally scrambling his little world.

I have no idea what to do now. Natasha thinks that she'll be gone for at least three weeks. I have a huge deadline at work in eight weeks. It is absolutely not negotiable, and I'm barely going to meet it if I work straight through. It would be impossible to meet the deadline if I took the next three weeks off. S's situation isn't much better. He was just transferred to a new leadership position at work, and taking on a huge responsibility only to immediately take several weeks off would be, um, career-limiting, to say the least. So we need to find a new daycare, and fast.

We could probably cobble together care for LL among several friends and neighbors, but I really really don't want to make LL adapt to that many new caregivers in quick succession. Having four caregivers in five weeks is bad enough. Having a different caregiver every day for the next three weeks would be way too hard on him.

So. Tomorrow I start calling daycares. Again. And hoping that I can arrange to visit, interview the caregiver, call references, make a decision, and start easing him into a new place next week. For this week, I'm just screwed. I probably won't be able to work much next week, either.

Yes, Universe, you got me. You win.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sigh of Relief

First off, thank you thank you thank you to those of you who left comments about home daycares! You really helped to put my mind at ease as we left LL at his new daytime digs last week.

We went ahead with a trial run at the small home daycare that looked so promising, and so far, it is working out wonderfully. Better than I could have ever hoped for, in fact. So good that I need a blog nickname for LL's new daytime caretaker. I'm going to be racist and call her Natasha, because she is so stereotypically Russian that I just can't help myself. She was a Russian ballet dancer, before she had kids and moved to the US and became a preschool teacher. She keeps making random comments like, "You breast feed and use cloth diapers? How unusual! I thought most Americans like to take the easy way out!" and "I'm actually Ukrainian, but you Americans don't know the difference, so I say that I'm Russian." and "I'm glad that LL isn't bundled up too much. Americans dress their children too warmly. We Russians know that the cold makes children stronger." This last one is particularly funny to me, since I grew up in Wisconsin but now live someplace where the coldest it gets is usually in the 50s, so any mention of "cold" around here makes me giggle a little. And when I picked up LL one day last week, one of the toddlers explained to me that Natasha made them borscht for lunch, but LL didn't get any because babies don't eat borscht. Natasha felt the need to explain to me what borscht is, so that I wouldn't be concerned that she was feeding the children something too weird. Everything about this makes me smile, especially since I myself make an awesome cabbage borscht (my great-grandmother's recipe -- she was Ukrainian, too). So, yeah, on the blog, I'm going to call her Natasha.

Anyway, LL is having a fantabulous time at Natasha's. Whenever I picked him up from Baby Factory, he was sitting alone somewhere, and then he was despondent and lethargic for the rest of the day. In contrast, when I pick him up from Natasha's, he's happy and smiley and giggly. He's napping well there, he's eating well, and he spends time playing outside. Natasha gives me a full report not just of how many diapers she changed, but also details like what toys he enjoyed playing with, and how the other children interacted with him. It's awesome.

He is also clearly loving being around the toddlers, and they seem to have adopted him as the coolest baby doll ever, so everyone is getting along. And LL is so enamored of the place that he has been on his very best behavior there as well. In reference to my previous post, his adorable behavior has even made Natasha comment to me that she's having so much fun with him that she mentioned to her husband that maybe they should have a third child.

When LL was at Baby Factory, I got no work done because I was constantly worrying about him. After just a week of leaving him at Natasha's, I find myself already more at ease. So, with the daycare situation hopefully resolved, I can focus on other problems. Like how in the world it will be possible for me to pump enough milk while I'm at work to keep up with my incredible growing baby....