Monday, June 27, 2011

Reading List: Let the Baby Drive

Since becoming a mother, I've discovered that reading  is something that quickly falls off the list of things you'd like to do, right along with 1) taking a long, hot bubble bath 2) getting a pedicure and 3) going to live shows (which primarily begin after 10PM. yeah right).

But I've been lucky enough to find some quiet moments lately where I can curl up with a book, and I just had to share about this amazing find. Let the Baby Drive, is less of an instruction manual, and more of a personal account of motherhood that explores the joys and struggles of crossing over from cool, successful, confident woman to I-don't-have-a-clue mom.

It explores the mixed feelings parenting can stir up (I love my baby to death vs. this adorable baby is preventing me from being able to function), the weird world of trying to make "mom-friends", the strain a new baby can put on marriage (even when you're crazy about each other), and the major identity issues that inevitably surface along the way. The book is so candid and heartfelt, that I honestly cried as I read it, feeling like I had FINALLY found a friend who got it.

It's truly a must-read for new moms, "old" moms, and especially expecting moms. Check it out! Also, there's a website oh me oh my.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Fathers' Day, Scott!

Photo by Image Market Photography

For those of you who don't know me, my husband Scott is currently a stay at home dad/artist/college student. That's a lot of slashes, and many times the stay at home dad role takes up waaaaayyyy more time and energy than the last two, leaving little time for his career, studies, and everything else. I wanted to take some time to recognize him on this day.

Dear Scott,

You've  been a dad for almost 19 years already. It was one of the things I always loved about you. Early in our relationship, you made it clear that Tory was the most important thing in your life. After seeing you interact with her, I thought, "this is the type of father I want for my children". 

Every day, you give of yourself. You entertain Ev while I get ready for work, and then you feed her breakfast while I run out the door. You two play together, read book after book, talk to each other, go on walks. You are always engaged, always present. 

When people make you feel uncomfortable about your nontraditional role, you shake it off. You know you're building a foundation with our daughter that will last a lifetime.

I know it's tough sometimes, and I know every hour you spend with Ev is an hour you could have spent painting. But I thank you for being such a wonderful stay at home father, even if it wasn't how you imagined spending your forties. Every time I see the way she looks at you, I fall in love with you a little more.

Happy Father's Day.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Look Back: Coping with Colic

Now that Everleigh's crossed the 12 month threshold, and is officially a big girl :), I'm constantly reminded of little and big things that transpired in all her babiness that I want to document. When you're in the thick of it, sometimes it seems like it will be that way forever, so writing about it seems silly. Then you blink and she's bigger, things have changed, she's on to something new.

One thing that keeps coming back to me are memories of the long days and nights of colic. When it was happening, I didn't know what to do. It turns out, there's actually not much to be done. But what I wanted most in those moments was support. A feeling of normalcy. Someone to share their story with me.

So here goes:

When Everliegh was 2 weeks old, her crying intensified. At first, we were quick to dismiss it--all babies cry, right? She's just tired or sleepy or gassy, or whatever. But that wasn't it. She cried and cried and cried.

I looked up all the information I could find on colic and tried to follow tons of advice. I got a Moby wrap and wore her as frequently as possible, when she would let me. A friend loaned us her Baby Bjorn and we tried that too. I nursed her frequently and slept with her at night to help give her that physical closeness. I gave her gas drops. I gave her Gripe Water. I changed my diet. I watched The Happiest Baby on the Block 10 times and tried to swaddle her, hold her correctly, and shhhush her just right. We ran the vacuum cleaner to give her the hum she liked. Sometimes the vacuum would be the only thing that would stop the crying. Then we discovered the loud and aggressive "white noise" womb sounds in the Happiest Baby dvd under bonus features. We played it constantly.

And she cried and cried. There were days where she literally cried every moment she was awake and not eating. Scott and I were not expecting this. We worried for her and we worried for us. Sometimes I cried while she cried. We tagged each other out when it got to be too much. We slept on the couch a lot with the baby because once she fell asleep we did not dare move her and start the process all over.

I kept reading about it. The literature stated that most babies outgrow colic between 12 and 16 weeks. I could not imagine making it two more weeks, let alone a couple more months.

I have to say, it was additionally stressful because I had to return to work at 6 weeks, and she was still crying and refusing to take a bottle or binkie. I was feeding her before work, and taking 2-3 small breaks each day to run home and nurse her because she was hungry and refusing to take her bottle. I felt like a crap mom. I felt in over my head and I felt alone.

It seemed like everyone else's babies were so easy, so happy, so chill. And mine was angry, in pain, or just plain overwhelmed. Very few pictures were taken during this time, because she would literally be crying or asleep in every one.

Then magically at 3 months old, she began to get better. She cried less and less. She decided to take a bottle when I was at work. She relaxed more in the car and would sleep sometimes. She found a binkie she liked and found little ways to self-soothe. We made it over the hump, and luckily, we were so sleep deprived that most of it's a blur now.

Here's my advice for parents coping with colic:

  1. try all the remedies and recommendations. Few will actually help, but between the reading and the experimenting, it will busy you enough to feel like you're doing something (which is important)
  2. take a breather. Have your partner or supportive friend/family member tag you out while you shower, nap, or sit somewhere quiet. You need the time away to refuel.
  3. understand that every baby is different, and try to focus on at least one positive thing about your child each day. Who knows? With pipes like that, she might be the next Aretha Franklin ;) 
  4. even though it's hard, try to enjoy your time. You hear it over and over, but they grow SO fast. 3 months fly by, then 6, then a year. Take pictures, go places, and try to really savor the tiny baby stage, even if it's not what you envisioned.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Quiet Moments

These are some of my favorite times. When the sun sets while Everleigh sleeps and I can see the golden downtown skyline from my back deck. When I'm nursing Ev at night and she's all cuddly and sweet and warm. When I watch her sleeping and breathing and thank God she is mine. When she touches my arm as soft as she can with her little open hand and whispers "mama".

That's it. That's all that matters.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

When the Going Gets Tough...

This week I've been thinking a lot about resiliency and how important it is to practice good self care, especially when things are overwhelming.

I hate to feel like I'm a complaint machine. I really try to reframe and keep a positive outlook. I know I am blessed in so many amazing ways and I'm grateful for my life. But sometimes my small problems really seem huge.

This week my car finally decided to give up the ghost...the transmission went. It has also been air condition-less for a couple years now (because it was going to cost $850ish to replace the whole system). In light of these 2 huge issues, we decided to trade it in. The car we want is being transferred in from South Carolina and will be here next week. So in the meantime we're borrowing my mom's car and then getting a rental to get us through ($$$). The bad news is, I paid my car off last month and was SO thrilled about the prospect of having that extra money. The good news is I got a raise in June and can now afford a car (and warranty. fool me twice, shame on me), and I'm excited about driving the new (used) car around. So yay to new cars, and boo to cars crapping out on you and draining your pocketbook.

Also, Everleigh is going through a major growth spurt right now, which is awesome cause she's growing so fast, and her hair's really coming in and her teeth are popping through, and she's learning words right and left. She's also not sleeping. Like--waking every hour during the night. I've read that during growth spurts, babies will sometimes have sleep difficulties from being hungry and from all the extra brain activity. But seriously? Mommy is tired. Last night I hit a bit of a breaking point where I could tell I was going to crash. My heart slowed down and my eyes started pounding. I felt moody and exhausted. I bathed Ev and did her bedtime ritual, then called Scott in to help while I crashed out.

Sleep deprivation can make a girl crazy, and it certainly makes me less pleasant to be around. Today I feel a little more rested, and feel terrible about the moodiness I was putting out there for a few days. Ha-rumph.

Also, I feel bad about not blogging much lately and wanted to say that I plan to kick it into gear soon with fun updates and more pictures (if I can get the girl to stay still for long enough to capture anything but the top of her head while she walks away from me :)

Here's to a fresh start next week!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Vote For Us! (Pretty Please?)

I've been a member of Top Baby Blogs for several months now, and while I'm never at the top of the list, I have gained lots of exposure through the sight and been able to meet lots of awesome new readers from all over the globe.

If you enjoy reading my blog, do little Everleigh a solid and take 10 seconds to vote for Babique!

Just click HERE, then click above the owl on your left.

Thanks for all the love and support! Keep reading :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Clingy Phase

Right now Everleigh is in a real I- want- mommy- all- the- time kind of phase. Which basically makes me feel awful because I have to leave her every day to go to work. Scott reports that she says my name (mama) over and over while I'm gone and stares at my painting.

When I get home, god forbid I try to take a restroom break or brush my teeth or anything that may involve being out of her line of vision momentarily or she will lose it. I mean, fall on the floor crying with the saddest face you ever did see, real tears streaming down her face.

Times like that make me SOOO happy that my girl loves me, and also make me wish I never had to go. Last night I had terrible guilt-fueled dreams about leaving her standing somewhere crying.

Ahh...motherhood. The most rewarding and guilt-ridden job you'll ever have.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mommy Job Hazard: A Rooster Might Get You

If you had asked me last week how likely this was to happen to me (scale of 1 to 10) I'd have probably said  0. If you're from good ole' Missouri like me, you probably would agree. If you're not and you think everyone in Missouri lives on farms and such you may take a different bet.

And yet there I was. Attacked by a rooster.

Here's my amazing tale ;)

My husband and I were visiting relatives in "the country"--a 15 minutes drive from Columbia, MO for a family reunion. Yes, they had some chickens and a couple sheep. Since Everleigh is WAAAYYY into animals right now, I thought she'd love to check out the little lambs. I asked the 4 year old second cousin who lives there to be our guide. I could have probably chosen a little wiser.

So out we go (with Ev on my hip). We walked passed the chickens, looking but avoiding contact. We headed towards the lambs, when all of the sudden Allison (the 4 year old) says, "oh no! Here comes the mean one. I'm scared." The rooster stared at us, then crowed. I asked Alli if she wanted me to pick her up. She said YES.

So there I was with a baby on each hip, trying to slllloooowwly ease away from the rooster. Just easing away. nothing to see here. When he comes flying at us. I took off running. He pecked me over and over--probably 4 or 5 separate attacks as I made a beeline for the porch with the girls. Upon arriving to safety, I noticed blood trickling down my leg. He got me.

I'm okay, but I have about 5 or 6 bruised/scraped areas where he pecked me or clawed me, and one small beak-shaped puncture where he got me good. I didn't know to kick him. I'm new to this. Yes, I'm from Missouri but I live in the middle of the freaking city people. My view is of downtown. I'm not familiar with this whole cock-fighting thing.

But now I know. And knowing is half the battle right? Next time I'll be ready :)

Dear Everleigh (12 Months!)

Dear Everleigh,

Today you are officially ONE YEAR OLD.

A year ago today your dad and I met you in the hospital after 17 hours of labor. You had a cord around your neck and you were mad as all get out. But everyone knew from the moment you arrived that you were special. I was so amazed to be holding your little 6 pound 2 ounce body in my arms and staring at your perfect little face. I could not look away.

The comment everyone made over and over was that you were so aware, so observant. You looked everyone right in the eyes and made them squirm a little. You seemed like such an old soul.

Then the crying started. It didn't stop. Your poor little colicky self would cry for hours, and hours, and hours. Sometimes I would cry too. You cried most of the time your were awake for the first few months of your life. Maybe you missed the comfort of the womb. Maybe you had tummy troubles. We may never know. We just held you, wrapped you up, nursed you, sang you songs, and tried to make sure you felt loved.

You grew out of it. You got happier. You got bigger and stronger and more curious. You crawled at 6 months old. That same week, you started pulling yourself to stand. You took your first steps at 9 months, and perfected walking by 10 months. You have slept through the night ONCE in the past 12 months (hey, you can't win them all right?). You are strong and brave and smart as a whip.

You love people, animals, plants, flowers, the outdoors. You make a friend just about everywhere we go, which is something I love about you.

What you're doing right now:

You have your bottom front teeth, and finally are getting your top front teeth. You've had a tough time with these, and it bothers you a lot, but I'm convinced you're going to have an awesome smile when you finally get em in. You know what it means if we ask you if you want your teething tablets or your Oragel, and you usually tell us yes or no with an excited point or a shake of the head.

You are constantly moving--running, walking, sometimes even crawling just for kicks. You love to chase mommy and daddy, or to be chased. Sometimes you let us catch you on purpose so you can get tickled. You don't like being held unless you're sleepy.

You love books and have us read the same ones over and over and over and over and over. Your favorites are the Gyo Fugikawa books: Babies, 10 Little Babies, Puppies, Pussycats and Other Friends, and Let's Play. You like to look for all the "doggies" and "kitty cats" in the books and point to them excitedly. Oh yes, you now say (in your sweet little baby voice) "mama", "daddy", "doggie", and "kit cat". You tried to say balloon, but it came out more like "ahh-oooh". I can't wait until you're in full on talking mode. It seems like you have a lot to say!

You really honed your ability to tell us no by shaking your head this month. You will shake your head no if someone tries to hold you or kiss you and you don't want them to. You shake your head no if we ask you "do you want some food?" "your sip cup?" "some milk?". It sometimes takes several tries to guess what you want, but it's cool to know for sure you want or don't want something now.

You flipped when we took you to the pet store. Your love for doggies is huge right now. While we never fancied ourselves as pet people, both daddy and I were a hair away from buying you a puppy on the spot just to make you happy.

You love life. You're difficult, but worth it. You seem really smart--you only have to be told once to get it (whether or not you follow rules is another story). Your curiosity is contagious.


I could go on and on about how much I love you and how amazing you are, but people have jobs and lives and other things to attend to :) I guess I just want you to know how much you mean to me--how much you've changed my life in so many ways. I'm so lucky to be your mommy. Happy Birthday, Ev.

With all my love,