Sleepy Time: Part 2

Emily has actually been doing better (finally) with the sleep training. After months of sleeping with her in a recliner, I may possibly be able to sleep in a bed again. My back will be thrilled. I think Mark will be happy, too, though he has gotten used to having a queen bed all to himself.

I’ve been reading a lot about sleep training lately, and thinking about why we’re doing it. Because it’s what you’re supposed to do. Because both grandmothers said we need to get her to sleep in her crib. Because co-sleeping is “bad”. Because the pediatrician said if we co-sleep past 6 months, we’ll be co-sleeping until kindergarten.

Did you notice none of those reasons were based on what I think? Sometime over the last week, I realized I was the problem, and the separation anxiety wasn’t on Emily’s part. As much as I want her to be able to put herself back to sleep when she wakes up (something we all do without even remembering it), I’m not ready for her to sleep alone. I like the fact that she needs me.

After 10 days of sleep training, I’m more sleep deprived than I’ve been since the first few weeks home from the hospital. I’m emotional, and irritable, and the crazy weather in Chicago has my sinuses acting up, which just makes everything worse. My almost 5 month old baby is sleeping peacefully in her crib, and yet, I’m miserable. I hate it. I know she’s going to grow up too fast. I realize that working full time means I get an hour with her awake in the morning and an hour at night, and that’s at best. Her morning wake up smiles and stories are the best part of my day. Is it any wonder I want her sleeping next to me at night?

So, yes, Emily won. And I’m okay with that.

Sleepy Time

Sleeping is for the weak!

Sleeping is for the weak!

Round 1.

Seriously, just when I think I have Mommy & Daddy trained, they do something dumb. Like put me in my crib and tell me it’s sleepy time. They try to trick me with that toy that has animals running in circles, but my stuffed dog (Tags) and I know better. They’re trying to get me to sleep by myself. Mommy says I’m smart and she knows I can do it. You know what? I am smart. Just because I can do something doesn’t mean I will. We have a good system! I sleep with Mommy! It works!

Daddy says I’m a big girl and big girls sleep in their crib. If big girls have to sleep without their mommy, then I don’t want to be one.

It took me an hour, but I won.

KATIE SAYS: You only won this round, kiddo…
MARK SAYS: You missed the part where you did sleep in the crib but then woke yourself up after 40 minutes and were royally cheesed off.

Round 2.

I’m really confused. Last night I clearly voiced my disapproval of this new sleeping arrangement. I really thought Mommy understood that the idea of me sleeping in this prison was unacceptable. I’m not sure about Daddy, sometimes I think he hears me but doesn’t listen. Anyway, here we are again, and Mommy LEFT, so I’m stuck with Daddy. Maybe she doesn’t know. Tags agrees that our situation is more dire this time. I told him to go find Mommy and tried to help him escape, but Daddy noticed and returned him to the cell. Eventually I decided I should rest and wait for Mommy to rescue me. Surely she won’t stand for this treatment of me.

Emily helping Tags escape the crib

Emily “helping” Tags escape while giving a very impassioned soliloquy about one of them must be free to tell their story and to not look back but onward to the future.

Round 3.

MOMMY WAS IN ON IT! I’m so sad. I wish Tags would stop smiling at me. I know he’s trying to cheer me up, but I just can’t handle it right now. At least Mommy picks me up and feeds me when I wake up starving. Daddy just does this thing he calls a “pick up and put down”, which is a complete waste of time, because as soon as I calm down, he puts me back in my crib and I just have to start all over.

Round 4.

Ha, I figured out their routine, and started telling Mommy not to put me in the crib as soon as she started it. Even Daddy didn’t let me cry today, because I told him how sad I was. I won. I don’t think it’s what Mommy meant when she said she knew I could do it, though. Thank goodness that’s over. Mommy (and even Daddy) makes a much better mattress than the one in my crib.

Round 5.

What the!!!! Mommy messed up the routine and caught me off guard. She says she had to give a presentation at bed time so hid in Mommy & Daddy’s room. (Although I really don’t know why it’s called Mommy & Daddy’s room since she shares a room with me.) She left me with Daddy.

Daddy doesn’t seem to understand I don’t like sleeping in my crib. He gave me clean pants and read me a story, but he doesn’t have boobs! He gave me a bottle. I know he’s trying really hard so I play along during the day and take a bottle because he says it’ll make Mommy happy, but when it’s night time I get fresh milk right from Mommy. I messed up and ate so much I got full and sleepy. Daddy put me in the crib, and I was so full I couldn’t really argue. I thought Daddy had figured out last night that the crib was a bad place and I don’t like it. I don’t know how Tags can stay in there all day. I don’t know if it was the extra naps Daddy got me to take today or the whole bottle he just fed me but I had a hard time telling him not to put me down. I tried to cry, but he left me! It felt like ten whole minutes before he came back in to check on me, by then I really just needed to chew on his hand for a minute and maybe doze off for a bit. Maybe if I sleep a little I won’t be so full and can tell Mommy to pick me up when she’s done…

Round 6.

Daddy put me to bed again, but I was ready this time. I’ve been thinking about it and planning all day. I yelled at him for a little while, but then I rested. I’m good at naps. When I woke up from my nap, I yelled some more, then took another nap. I know they try to sleep when I do, and if I keep it up, they won’t be able to sleep either and will pick me up. You can’t do this to me! I OWN YOU!!!

Round 7.

I love sleeping with Mommy! Zzz…

MARK SAYS: Mommy and Daddy failed.

Event Planning for Nursing Moms

Last weekend I attended a conference on big data. It was hosted by a local university and promoted through the grad program I’m attending. I was excited to go and network with classmates, especially since it was reasonably priced and on a Saturday. (I hate using up my PTO!) I realized about 2 days beforehand that attending a conference was suddenly not as simple as it might have been six months ago.

You see, a conference on big data doesn’t exactly cater to nursing moms. (For some reason, we’re not the target demographic. Go figure.) Now, I know the law states that companies with more than 100 employees have to provide a location for moms to use, and while it would be awesome if that extended to events with more than 100 people, it’s not something I’d expect. Even I will admit, pumping never would have entered my mind as a consideration when planning an event until very recently, and I bet it’s probably not even on the radar for the people who coordinated this one. (One of my friends attended “Mommy Con” the same day, which is probably the only exception.) I brought an insulated lunch sack with an ice pack and a manual pump, and figured I’d probably be pumping in a bathroom stall. No problem, I can handle this!

While I anticipated the lack of pleasant accommodations, I have to say, I didn’t count on the lack of breaks. I mean, wouldn’t everyone benefit from a 15 minute break every 3 hours? Especially considering the prolific availability of bottled water all day! (Kudos to them on that, though.) I ended up skipping question & answer sessions and missing half my lunch. Even when the one afternoon session offered a 15 minute break, I spent 5 of it trying to find the restroom on that floor.

Lesson learned- Next time, review the schedule ASAP and determine when to pump… and then show up early and scout out restrooms near every room so you don’t waste time looking when minutes count.

Oh, and if you’re the one planning the event, well, you’d have the gratitude of nursing moms everywhere if we even crossed your mind.

Why is the box more interesting?!?

I don’t want to add up how much all this baby stuff has cost us. Other than a few very well pitched useless items, I think they have all had a use (btw get a bottle warmer, screw using a pot on the stove or microwave, set it and forget it). Sorry minimalists, but you lose this round.

KATIE SAYS: “If he’d used a microwave I would have shot him.”

MARK SAYS: “To heat up the water that you set the bottle in, give me some credit. It’s not like you saw the time I let her play with power tools.”

So back on point, of all these amazing developmental milestone supporting toys out there, what’s my daughters favorite toy…

A bloody cat toy, that our cat never once showed any interest in. She will grab it with her little baby talons and nom until the cows come home if we let her. Just like when they play with the box for hours and the awesome toy collects dust in the corner, a cat toy we spent a couple of bucks on has riveted her attention better than all the singing sea horses, dogs with tags, and sock monkeys combined.

To Grandmother’s House We Go

On the plane and powering down!

On the plane and powering down!

Let me just say, my magic seat isn’t very fun after about 30 minutes. I try telling Mommy and Daddy, but they just don’t listen. I don’t understand, because when I’m not in my magic seat, they pick me up as soon as I tell them to. It must have to do with that safety thing Mommy talks about.

Anyway, Mommy and I went to somewhere called the airport the other day. It was kind of like the place with all the people and stores that Mommy calls the mall. There were lots of people, and Mommy pushed me around in my seat. We had to wait in some lines, and people kept saying how little I was. They must be comparing me to Mommy, because I’m so big! Mommy put all our stuff on a moving belt, and it went through a box while we walked along next to it. It seemed kind of silly, because Mommy picked it up like 5 feet later. I wonder what was in the box. Maybe next time I’ll try to get Mommy to let me ride through the box on the belt.

KATIE SAYS: Tip #1 for traveling alone with an infant- O’Hare on a Saturday night was practically empty. It was great not having anyone behind me at security, so I didn’t feel rushed getting all of our stuff through. The TSA agents seemed much more friendly as a result, too.

We walked for a long time, and then Mommy fed me and put me in clean pants. We waited around awhile, and then she put me back in my seat. We walked out to something she called a plane, which had a bunch of seats in rows. The buzzing helped me nap awhile, but when I woke up Mommy wouldn’t pick me up right away. I really need to figure out what “not safe” means. My ears felt a little funny, but then Mommy unbuckled me and I hugged her. She let me sit in her lap for awhile before putting me back in my seat. Then we got off the plane and talked to the people while waiting for someone to bring my stroller.

KATIE SAYS: Tip #2- I picked the seats all the way in the back of the plane so we would hopefully disrupt fewer people. Between that and the plane noise, apparently a number of people didn’t even realize there was a baby on the plane, even though she cried a fair bit at the beginning.

Once we got my stroller, we walked some more, until we saw Grandpa! He helped Mommy with all our bags, and then took us to his house, where Grandma, Great Grandma, and a Great Great Aunt were waiting to see me. It was really late, but Mommy let me stay up a little while longer to visit with them. I wondered where Daddy was, because he’s always around when I go to bed. Mommy said he was on a trip for work. It didn’t sound like much fun. I’ll have to give him extra hugs when I see him. And make him some extra special presents. I practiced making presents for Grandma.

When we woke up, Daddy was still missing, but I got to see more aunts and uncles, and met one of my cousins and a doggy! My cousin is even bigger than I am. She showed me how to roll over, but I still can’t do it myself yet. She gave me some of her toys and clothes that she’s too big for. Mommy let her hold me, but she and my aunts stood right next to us. Her lap isn’t very big. I felt like I was going to fall off it. Everyone took lots of photos of us because we’re so cute. Grandma bought a bathtub and a bouncy seat for me to use when I visit. The bouncy seat is really pink. Mommy hates pink, but the seat has lots of tags on it, so I think it’s ok.

I like visiting people because they all like holding me and telling me what a good girl I am. We’re supposed to go home tomorrow, but Mommy says we might have to stay longer because of the snow. We have lots of snow at home, so I don’t know why it’s a big deal here. I like having extra people around to cuddle me, but I miss Daddy, so I want to go home soon.

Flying's no big deal. I've done it twice!

Flying’s no big deal. I’ve done it twice!

Eating for Two

So a post on cooking from a woman might not seem like “breaking roles”, but it is in our relationship. It was decided very early on that Mark owns the kitchen, probably about the same time that I tried to help him cook something and he ended up hugging me while laughing maniacally.

While you’re supposedly “eating for two” when pregnant, I don’t feel that my eating habits changed that much until after Emily was born and I was nursing. Mark claims that all I was doing at the end was pointing to my mouth and grunting, but I’m pretty sure that’s an exaggeration. Being home on maternity leave, I’ve actually had time to eat decent breakfasts, but I’ve found Mark doesn’t really appreciate it when I wake him up just to ask him to make me food. Thus began the great experiment involving forays into the kitchen for things other than beverages. This is actually a big deal- I’ve been known to melt butter lids and silicone oven mitts (bet you didn’t know that was possible), which resulted in Mark forbidding me from touching his Calphalon.

Armed with my trusty pots from Mark’s college days and frying pans from IKEA, I’ve actually been doing pretty well with breakfast foods (my favorite meal of the day). Once upon a time in Home Ec, I learned to make waffles and pancakes, but that’s just way too many dishes, so I’ve been eating a lot of eggs and toast. Eggs also have the advantage of being a protein, which means I last longer before pestering Mark to feed me lunch. I’ve made hard boiled eggs before, which are about as easy as it gets, but for some reason I end up wanting to eat more of them due to the tiny portion size. Alton Brown’s Unscrambled Eggs are pretty fool-proof, so that’s the method I use for scrambling, but when I want to go for quick and easy, fried eggs are where it’s at. I’ve been eating a LOT of fried eggs with my toast. I like my eggs a bit more done than over easy, which is still hit or miss. When Mark told me to branch out, I decided to be adventurous and learn to poach them… I think he meant to make something other than eggs, but oh well.

Being that Alton Brown is my culinary hero, I decided to follow his recipe, which calls for poaching one egg at a time. My very first attempt was flawless, and I went on to round two. I discovered that first one was beginner’s luck, and, half a dozen attempts later, have yet to duplicate it. Mark even went so far as to buying me a poaching pod, which only helps slightly. The egg maintains a nice shape, but it seems near impossible to have the white cooked properly without overcooking the yoke. My experiment with cooking is drawing to a close, though- I expect that once I go back to work on Tuesday, I’ll be back to donuts and bagels.

Beginner's Luck (left) and Attempt 2 (right)

Beginner’s Luck (left) and Attempt 2 (right)

On Diaper Sprayers (when you start a title with ‘On’ you sound schmarter)

Everyone poops, babies more than most. I forget which nurse, lactation consultant, pediatrician, parent, friend, or random stranger on the street told us that some breastfed babies may poop with every feeding or up to every other day. I’m fairly sure my dear sweet Emily poops every time she sneezes, smiles, blinks, yawns, or grunts like she’s passing a stone (okay the grunting is kind of entertaining, even if a bit on the nose with what’s going on).

If you use disposable diapers, I imagine your thoughts on baby poop end when tossing the little present into the ever ravenous maw of the Diaper Genie and praying that this isn’t the one that breaks the miracle machine, unleashing smells no mortal was meant to smell.

If you’re cloth diapering, like us, I’m sure you’ve become intimately familiar with your child’s bio waste unloading procedures. I have to say that a diaper sprayer attached to a toilet is without a doubt the single greatest baby related item we have in our household. Forget the Sleep Sheep (sorry Linda) or the Mamma Roo (4Moms you need to get on making one of those for adults), this lowly sprayer hanging silently and dutifully off the side of our toilet is just short of getting written into our will.

Initially, I had planned on dusting off my DIY hat and jiggering one together myself. Please see my other post for that experience. That post coming next week.

We (well, I bought and Katie wasn’t present to stop me) picked up the Bum Genius Diaper Sprayer from a local cloth diaper store (Fluff Envy in Elgin IL). While I ended up paying full retail price, I’m happy it went to a local business rather than a large chain. This thing is amazing and sprays out Emily’s diapers like a fire hose. I actually have to be careful not turn the valve up too high, otherwise I could power wash all the walls in the bathroom in a flash.

Compared to washing diapers out in the sink, a sprayer is quicker, easier, and honestly, I seem to get a fair bit less poop on me. Also, as a monumental victory for men everywhere, Katie does not mind that the toilet seat tends to be left up, because she found it a hassle (yes, I said SHE found it a hassle) to lift the seat and spray the diapers…

KATIE SAYS: “I’m in there more often to spray a diaper than use the bathroom myself and that is the difference.”

I think she just does not want to admit men have been right for centuries, or as long as there have been lift up toilet seats. In related news, we’re on the same page for installing a wall urinal with some clips to hold a diaper, so we can spray and forget it. Let’s be honest if I had a urinal in the bathroom, I’d be happy to super glue the toilet seat down and never think about it again.

I should probably talk about the actual diaper sprayer, which I do RIGHT HERE! Which I’ll write up when I’m less tired

Newborn Diaper Rental

You may have noticed I said in a previous post that one-size (OS) diapers start to fit at 8-10 lbs and wondered what we did before then. Using cloth on a newborn is a whole different ballgame. They’re just so itty bitty! There are pretty much three options- use disposables for a month or two, buy a stash of diapers that are the newborn size, or do a rental. Remembering that we’re admittedly cheap, we basically approached it from a financial perspective, and our initial plan was to use disposables until she fit in OS. I’ve heard that you can do a pretty cheap newborn stash using covers and prefolds or flats, but since we were new to cloth, we weren’t quite ready to start with that level of effort.

MARK SAYS: “We’re cheap and lazy”

But that was when I discovered the rental option. A bunch of cloth diaper stores do them, but we found one for a steal from Itsy Bitsy Bums (IBB in the rest of this post). I looked at a lot of sites’ rental programs, and no one else really comes close on cost, though IBB only has one option for the type of diapers. You could either choose to rent brand new diapers for $295 or used diapers for $195, and keep them for 3 months. Once returned, you either get a $125 refund or $155 store credit for those OS diapers you’d need later. So $40 plus return shipping would diaper our daughter for 3 months. When I looked online, I found you could get a package of 234 Pampers for $47, so as long as we used at least that many changes, we’d break even. I talked to Mark about the change in plans, and ordered the rental when I was about 37 weeks… a little past the 4 weeks in advance they ask for. Then Emily came early, and we of course hadn’t received the rental yet. The customer service at IBB was great, though, and it shipped within a few days of me emailing.

The rental includes 4 Thirsties Duo Wrap covers (with velcro) and 25 Kissaluvs cotton fitteds (snaps). The amount worked pretty well for doing laundry every other day- you alternate between covers unless they get dirty, and just change the fitted inside. The system is pretty friendly for those new to cloth. No need to learn how to do an origami fold or deal with Snappies at 3 am. They fit well when we first got them, but we discovered the problem with snap closures is that sometimes the baby is between snaps. We solved that by occasionally using a Snappi to close the fitted, which looked a little funny, but worked ok. It took a little while to get used to the fact that the fitted would get completely soaked, front and back, inside and outside, but the cover is waterproof so as long as we put it on snugly, we didn’t get leaks. Fitteds were also great at containing runny newborn poop.

Unfortunately, Emily is turning out to be a tall and skinny little girl, and started to outgrow the rise in the fitteds pretty quickly. By 7 weeks, they barely fit, and she was soaking them fast enough that I tried not to leave them on for more than an hour and a half. (Thanks to my baby tracking app, I know we’d gone through over 275 changes, so we did make it past the break even point.) Since we’ll probably have the same issue with any younger siblings, doing a rental next time is TBD. It was certainly worthwhile for a parent with a newborn who has never used cloth, though. The Thirsties covers at least still worked, and we had purchased a few OS diapers that were supposed to fit earlier by that point which helped tide us over.

We did have a few snags ordering our OS replacements. After doing more research and deciding what to spend our credit on, I placed an order in the middle of December, assuming we’d have them by Christmas. We had an assortment of snafus- my sleep-deprived brain ordered the wrong size on the one sized diaper cover I was going to try (luckily I caught it before the order shipped), then they were out of the print I wanted, plus my back up, for the correct size, and the USPS 2 day delivery turned into 4, on top of all of the non-business days for the holidays. While I was frustrated and impatient by the time the diapers arrived on Jan 2 (impatient to get diapers- who’d have thought?), I can’t really fault IBB. Holidays are pretty crazy for retail, and since my earlier experience with them was positive, I’d still shop with them again for brands that aren’t carried by our local store.

Take Mommy to Work Day

Emily in her car seat

All set in the magic seat

Mommy’s been acting kinda crazy lately. She hadn’t put me in that magic seat that takes me to new places recently and keeps talking about something called weather. Daddy seemed distracted this morning and not really interested in playing. After getting clean pants and second breakfast, Mommy put me in that seat that moves back and forth in the living room. It’s ok, I guess, but gets boring. I’d much rather cuddle. After a couple minutes, Mommy got me out and put me in the magic seat. Yay, an adventure! I’m so happy, I pee. I wish I could figure out how to tell her my pants are wet. It’s uncomfortable, but I’ll try to suck it up. She’ll figure it out, right?

Nope, she took me to the white box in that cold room and left me alone. I can hear a voice that sounds like her, so I cry so she’ll come back. She doesn’t, and we start moving. Ok, this is not cool. Maybe she can’t hear me. I’ll cry louder to get her attention. I keep hearing her voice. My pants are really wet. This is awful. I wish I could figure out how to poop on command. Or even just how to make the poop noise. Mommy always changes me when she hears that. Oh, oh, we’re stopping now! Mommy’s back, and she took me out of the magic seat! Argh, she keeps putting her boob in my face. Seriously, I just ate. I’ll keep crying. She’s smart, she’ll get it. Now she’s standing up and swaying in this cold place. I’m wrapped up, though, and at least it’s new, so I guess it’s ok. I like swaying. Ok, now she’s sitting back down and trying to feed me. Again. Why isn’t she getting it? Alright, I guess I could have a little snack. Snacktime makes me sleepy… wait, she’s putting me back in the magic seat!! No, Mommy! I better really scream. Mommy pulls out her red toy and I hear Daddy’s voice. I can’t see him, but I cry really loud so he can hear me, too. Mommy looks like she might cry. Don’t cry, Mommy! Maybe Daddy will tell her I need new pants. She takes me out of the seat and we cuddle. At least she’s trying. I love cuddles. We need a better system, though.

Oh, I think she got it! She’s laying me down in her lap and taking off my tights! I’m so proud of her. I give her a giant smile to encourage her. (I think adults need encouragement. They seem so much happier if I humor them with smiles.) Yes! She figured it out! Mommy’s so smart. I’m so happy! Now that I have clean pants, I’m ready for our adventure! She puts me back in the magic seat and I doze off.

When I wake up, we’re in a new room with boxes on the ceiling. That’s new. I don’t remember seeing boxes on the ceiling before. There are a bunch of people I don’t know, and Mommy lets some of them hold me. One of them seems really interested in what I have to say, and we talk awhile. Then I show everyone how I can do backbends. They tell Mommy how cute I am. I’m pretty sure she knows. It’s kind of obvious. I’m starting to get hungry again, so I stick out my tongue a few times. Mommy seems to understand that one, and we go somewhere else so I can eat without people demanding my attention. Then Mommy talks to some more people. I’m bored. The ceiling is more interesting. It has boxes. And lights. No ceiling fans, though. I like ceiling fans. Man, all these people are exhausting…

When I wake up, Mommy changes me, and we leave. Back to the magic seat! I’m so happy, I pee.

The End?

Adventures in the Life of a Working Mother: Part 1

With the new year, I’m starting to think about my upcoming return to the working world. I’m sure I’ll miss my daughter terribly, but that’s actually not my first concern. My more immediate worry: How to get out the door. Our office has a fairly flexible start time; I just need to be at my desk by 9:30 am. Prior to being pregnant, my goal was to get to work by 8:30, which sometimes translated into 9. After two and a half months at home, I’m still usually in pajamas at 10. Ok, ok, I’m in pajamas all day as often as not. This led to my decision that we should spend the month of January getting our morning routine down. I figured we’d start with a realistic goal, and move the time back each week…

Week 1: Be fully dressed and ready to walk out the door at 9:30 (not that I’d actually be going anywhere).

Day 1: Emily 1, Mom 0. I set my alarm. I woke up when it went off. Emily didn’t. I should probably note here that she sleeps with on me. We sleep in a recliner in her room. I never intended to cosleep, I know you’re not supposed to, but the dirty little secret is that most moms I know do at the beginning. We’ve tried putting her in her Rock-n-Play, in her swing, in her Pack-n-Play, and in her crib. If we’re lucky, she gets 15 minutes of sleep before screaming. Anyway, I digress. I didn’t really want to wake a sleeping baby, so I turned off the alarm. She started stirring by around 9 am, and I thought, “I may still be able to make it.” Emily opened her eyes, closed them again, smiled, and continued sleeping. Five minutes later, she did it again. She finally woke up around 9:15. I fed her, and handed her off to Mark at 9:30, noting that she needed a diaper, and started getting ready. While I wasn’t ready to walk out the door at 9:30, I had at least given her to Dad by then. Not horrible for our first try, but clearly, we need some practice at this, so I’m glad we have a few weeks!

I had originally thought about actually leaving the house at the designated time to also give Mark some practice at parenting solo, but today happened to have a high of -13 with a windchill of North Pole. There’s no way I was going to walk to the mailbox to mail thank you notes from Christmas, let alone walk across parking lots when I don’t have to. So once I escaped the clutches of cuteness, I went downstairs to make myself a real breakfast and start on schoolwork since my class started this week. All the while, I hear Mark talking to Emily, knowing I’d overhear… “Wait until I tell your mom you punched me in the face/drooled all over me/clawed a hole in my chest.” My response of “I’m not here” was met with a video call. This little experiment is not going well.

To be continued…