Baby

7 things to teach my daughter before she turns 10

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The city has for a while been full of reminders that Irish Mother’s Day is coming up next week.
So happy early Mother’s Day Ireland!

 

1// Remember who you are

This is what my own mom would say every day when we left for school. Remember who you are is still a phrase that I give a lot of thought to as an adult. Remember that you are loved. Remember that you are valued. Remember your principles. Remember your talents. Remember where you come from. Remember your dreams.
It meant a lot to me that my mother thought it important that I keep all those things in mind throughout even the most regular boring days. I think that it is during the uneventful unchallenging times of our life that our true selves are revealed. (more…)

14 months old – an update on the toddler

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I was just reading through my old weekly pregnancy updates – Ugh! I love that this blog allows me to easily rewind to and study past events, it’s seriously a bigger help than I thought! – and I realized that I’d documented my daughter’s development for almost 2 years, and then I just stopped 3 months ago.
So here’s another update to catch you up – and for my future self to laugh about.

I remember being so addicted to studying up on every tiny milestone she should be reaching during her first months that it seemed like she wasn’t changing at all. I can’t say the same for the first months of her second year. I’ve probably lost my Pinterest-addiction a little but she’s definitely changing every single day. I’m so amazed at how quickly she picks up on things – and especially the things that I’m not by any means trying to teach her.
If we’re watching a show or if Marcus and I are having a conversation she’ll just randomly repeat sounds or words she hears. She mimics my workout exercises and especially my exasperated exhales. She always, – and this one almost freaks me out – always knows when to start waving bye-bye even before she’s encouraged. After close observation however I have a hunch that she might pick up on key phrases like “I love you”, “I miss you” or “see you soon” that indicate that a conversation is coming to a close. Genius!

Another thing that surprises me is how feminine she is already now. I haven’t really encouraged this either, mainly because I thought she was too young to pick up on it. But she looooves dressing up! In pretty much whatever she can find. A typical “outfit” right now is her winter boots (she’ll bring her boots to me about 3-4 times a day exclaiming “tsch!” (shoes), hand them to me with a smile, neatly sit down in my lap and lift one of her feet), a kui kui nut lei we brought home from Hawaii, and her Halloween pumpkin bucket (and she doesn’t just hold it in her hand, she wears it on her elbow with her hand and fingers strutting up in the air). She’ll walk around like that, maybe swapping the necklace for a random clothing item she finds, like her father’s tie or one of her onesies, and stop and admire herself in the mirror. Like.. is she really old enough for this??

She is pretty strong-willed, but I guess we’ve suspected that for a while. It used to just be cute and we’d just laugh and shake our heads when she’d scream a high-pitched squeal when she didn’t get her way or she demanded assistance. But I’ll admit I’m starting to find it a little embarrassing. I want her to know that’s not a way to communicate. And soon!

More than anything she’s growing so fast physically. She can reach more and more things and unfortunately also climb up on more and more things. It’s not uncommon for me to turn a corner, tear through the room to barely grab her hand as she’s falling off one of the chairs with a move so swift that Spiderman’s jaw would drop through the floor.

Being the mother of a toddler feels strangely empowering as opposed to having a small baby, I think. I’m getting a glimpse of what it’ll be like to teach her manners, morals and standards and it’s forcing me to set higher standards for myself too. It’s making me really curious how being a mother is going to change me as a person.

And now I’ve made myself miss her so much I just want to run to the bedroom and wake her up even though it’s 11pm!

We had a magical day, you and me

It’s been another one of those days. I’m just leaning back and taking it all in. You’re like my little fairy guide. A patient one, even though I can be pretty boring and clueless you’re always stubborn enough to get me back in the game. Recently you learned that you had the power to take my hand and lead me to the things you wanted to show me. I’ve seen a lot of stuff since then, thanks. Sometimes you’ll even drag me to the front door. I think it means you want us to explore beyond our apartment. I know I’m right when you patiently sit down in my lap and hold out your arms so I can put on your coat and shoes.

I carry you down the stairs and open the heavy doors but once we’re outside you don’t need my help anymore.  We almost run across the lawn. We’re so eager that it’s difficult to watch out for rocks and branches. We only stop when we reach the edge of the playground and we take a minute to carefully climb down the steep hill onto the sand. It’s a lot faster if we don’t lose our balance so it’s important to get down on all fours. Once we’re safely down we can go anywhere we want. The feeling of freedom gets to our heads and we set out for the farthest corner of the patch first. We quickly forget about our goal though because you show me all the small pebbles and pine cones we come across. If only we could fit all of them in our hands. We have no choice but to put down the old ones to make room for the new. It’s very important to hold them tight in our hands so we don’t drop them.

We approach the slide. I suggest we slide down from the top but you prefer climbing up from the bottom. It’s difficult but in the end I agree that it is fun – especially with the loud sound our shoes make on the hard plastic. There’s a panda nearby. We know it’s a nice one because it’s smiling. It wants us to ride its back but we’d rather just talk. You tell me it says ‘mooh’.

A lady comes around the corner with a dog. This is the moment we’ve been waiting for and it is so exciting that we forget what we were doing and start our pursuit. The dog is pretty fast though and it takes too long to climb back up the hill onto the grass. The dog is gone and we feel a little sad. We walk back to the swings and talk about the dog for a little bit to try and cheer up. We sit there swinging back and forth for a bit. It’s soothing and we start to feel tired. I turn to you and suggest we go home and take a nap. You understand and agree that that would be nice.

You’re asleep now. I don’t think I will because I like to watching you. Your pine cone and rock are on the dresser. I should throw them out but I’m not sure I want them out of our lives just yet.

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Baby girl is 10 months!

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Hello funnest age ever! It’s 10 months and it’s a whole new world!

Motherhood all of a sudden became a completely different ball game. Up until now I’ve marveled at the fact that most moms can actually take care of a baby AND keep a house clean AND run errands AND put dinner on the table AND still be alive to tell the tale. But just over the last few weeks I see something at the end of the tunnel and I’m pretty sure it’s a light!

The new stuff

She plays! Oh she plays! Like right now I’ve got her breakfast on the table all set but she’s too busy playing with her toys. I’m not picking her up, cause THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE! My time as a full-time entertainer is finally over and I can take a seat with the audience for a few stretches a day.

She has taken her first three steps – withOUT falling! She was so startled that she did it that she stopped and sat down. Scary stuff!

She waves. All the time. At anyone! She does understand that “hi” or “bye-bye” means it’s time to wave, but it is also her default action if she gets that we’re clearly asking her a question but she’s not entirely sure what. We get a lot of waves.

She has a total of three teeth now and one that’s gonna surface any day now. I know. Because the week she’s discovered how entertaining it is to bite her mom and giggle when she screams and jumps. And not just when she’s eating. She bites my hands, my stomach (that’s a fun one!), my face.. and I’m still trying to figure out how to best react so she’ll realize it’s not okay – or at least not funny. Any tips are very very welcome.

Generally speaking actually she’s getting more violent every day. Other than biting she hits, smacks, scratches and throws herself on you. It’s fun that she’s getting more playful but.. makeup can only do so much to cover the scratch marks on my face and neck!

She imitates and it’s so fun! Whenever someone laughs she does her own little fake laugh, she waves, she follows, she talks back, she goes “Mmmmm!” when she eats..

Peek-a-boo is the funnest game ever! And she’s really good at coming up with the most creative ways of playing it. With a blanket, under the chair, behind the bed, without a blanket, behind her arm, with her forehead on the floor. Sometimes I wonder if it’s actually a game of be guessing when we’re actually playing Peek-a-boo. I must say she outsmarts me half the time!

The hates

The vacuum

The blow dryer

The door bell

She cries whenever either of these come on. Hysterically! Although the other day when I was cleaning she seemed to be examining the vacuum. Patting it, feeling it. After a while she stopped crying and was more fascinated that it seemed to be moving of its own accord.

 

Before I know it I’m gonna have a one year old on my hands!

Baby Girl is 9 months!

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Nine months in, nine months out! The nine months out were definitely more pleasant. I can’t believe this huge child ever fit inside me. It’s incredible to think that 18 months ago she didn’t exist in this world. And she’s already learned so much and is developing skills every day.

 

The new stuff

She has teeth! I honestly think she got the first one like the day after i wrote her 8 month update. So she has two now and the next ones seem to be coming out any day now! She wasn’t incredibly whiny when they came out but she did get sick with a fever a couple of weeks before.
This has also made it easier and more fun for her to eat solids. She’s still not very excited about food but we’ve come a long way since we started. By now she does open her mouth when the spoon comes but I’m not sure mealtimes are something she looks forward to yet.
She stands up for several seconds now without support, and she could definitely stand up for longer if she didn’t chicken out when she realized she was doing it all by herself. Neither myself nor my siblings walked till we were 1 but I expect that she’ll be on the go any week now.
She doesn’t quite wave or do the gestures for itsy-bitsy spider but she does lift up her hands and wave them around whenever we do either. Also, her vocabulary has reached beyond the letters A, B and M. Every day now she throws in a G, L, D or even an E! It’s so fun to hear her try to talk!
We think she is actually giving us kisses now! When she’s in a really cuddly mood she’ll snuggle up and give you a big slobbery kiss just about anywhere in the face – although she still prefers noses.

 

She loves

Walking! All the time! Everywhere!

And stairs! She’ll gladly crawl up the same flight several times in a row. And she’s as impressed with herself every time.

Chit-chatting and screaming. Yes, screaming is back. I don’t think she’s screamed this much since she was 3-4 months. The stairway in our building is especially echo’y and she loves shouting and screaming whenever we walk in the door – and aaaall the way up the stairs to our apartment. I swear the neighbors always know when we’re home.

Uhm, I think I’m going to mention being rocked to sleep here too. Up until about a month ago I’ve pretty much always breastfed her to sleep. It was the only way. But from one day to another she just wouldn’t anymore and Marcus was forced to wrap her, pick her up and rock her to sleep. He’s done that almost every night ever since. I hesitate to claim it to be one of her favorite things, because on some nights she definitely hates it. But then there are a lot of nights where she lies down and let’s him wrap her, smiles when he picks her up and calmly falls asleep in a few minutes.
Generally speaking she’s been a lot better at sleeping in her own bed this last month than the previous.

 

She hates

Waking up in her own bed. As well as she has slept this past month, she has learned that most often she finds herself alone when she wakes up at night. This means that she wakes up all the way and certainly does not just go back to sleep on her own – even if she actually wakes up between us in our bed.

When anyone she knows leaves the room. She really seems to dread being left alone more than anything else. She’ll start crying even if her grandparents or aunts or uncles leave the room. And even if her mother is holding her.

She really just hates being alone. She always follows me around the apartment and hardly ever leaves the room on her own. I guess I don’t actually have an independent baby yet.

Baby Girl is 8 months!

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The other day I sent my mom a random picture of Baby sitting in her high chair drinking water from a bottle. My mom’s reaction was, ‘she looks so different!’. We’ve only been gone for what.. three weeks?

It is insane how quickly she develops. Sometimes she’ll do a face or bust a move or make a sound that for a terrible second makes me think she’s turned into a toddler before time! Then she loses her balance, rolls over and takes a while to work her baby abs into a proper sit-up – and I know all is well.

 

Favorites: As she is on the move, now faster than ever, she absolutely loves being left on the floor to explore   anything.

She loves her toys! And most definitely the ones that aren’t actually toys. We keep her stuff in a little bag, and its contents are everything from rattles and balls to bag clips and measuring spoons. A few weeks ago I bought her a new binky (in our desperate attempt to teach her to take one – any good tips?) and ever since she has played much more with the box it came in than the actual binky.

I’d have to say that her absolute favorite thing to do is standing up and walking. She stands up everywhere now! She’ll grab hold of whatever’s close and try to hoist herself up – even with things that don’t support her weight (like my hair). Getting to her feet is something that is sure to always bring a triumphant smile to her face.

 

Hates: Uhm.. I honestly don’t think she has any major hates for this month.

She got sick a few weeks ago and she absolutely hated having her nose wiped. But who likes that?

 

The new stuff: I can’t even remember.. did I write that she was crawling already last month? Let me check real quick…

It appears that she was army crawling a month ago. But folks, she is crawling for real now! We got all excited the first few times she did it, but then I watched her the other day and it kinda looks like she doesn’t really move her legs much. It’s like she only uses her arms and her butt just kinda wiggles along behind her. Not quite sure, that might just be when she’s in a hurry. She was venturing into my sister-in-law’s room for the first time at the time. Pretty hyped.

Just the last few days she’s actually sat patiently and opened her mouth at the right times when we’ve fed her. To say that I was beginning to lose hope is an understatement. I’m not sure I even ever had hope. – I haven’t been the biggest fan of spoon-feeding her. I might write a blogpost about that later.
I guess I just expected that she’d be more excited about eating by now. At least some things. Granted, there are some things she will eat more of, but so far it seems that eating pureed food is more of a chore for her than an exciting part of her day. Is she my daughter? I guess she hasn’t tried cake yet…

A new thing that especially her parents have noticed is that she is tons more cuddly now than she’s been since she was a newborn. Especially when she’s sleepy she doesn’t mind lying on us. She’ll even (on purpose!) crawl up in our arms when we’re in bed and lie down her head and even fall asleep! Oh my tender little mommy heart! It’s the best feeling ever! When will she learn how to give me hugs and kisses??

My breastfeeding story

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Being a survivor of getting pregnant, morning sickness, evolving into a whale, contractions, labor and then the whole dewhaling process, I have experienced many things that have left me thinking, “why didn’t anyone tell me this??”.

Breastfeeding is on that list.

I’ve always known that I wanted to breastfeed, that wasn’t a big decision for me. Throughout my childhood I’ve watched my mom breastfeed my four younger siblings and heard her speak of what a wonderful thing it was. So, naturally, I wanted to do it too.

I say that there were things that I wish someone had told me. I wish I’d known or at least to some extent been more prepared for how hard breastfeeding would be. Having said that, I don’t think my mother lied to me or tried to keep the truth from me. But I really think that mothers are designed to focus on the beautiful things and to forget a little about just how hard the hard times were (thank goodness for that!).

So, I’m writing it all down – putting it all out there while it’s still fresh in my memory, to any expecting mama out there who wants to read a true story.

Here is my true breastfeeding story.

I think the first question I asked after I became a mom was to my mother just a few minutes after giving birth, “should I just try to feed her right away?”. It wasn’t asking permission so much as asking for a confirmation that my instinct was correct. Our newborn baby seemed to latch on pretty perfectly right away, and I leaned back, exhausted, and soaked up that first real moment of motherhood.

Other than bringing on a bit of pain in my healing abdomen, breastfeeding proceeded quite effortlessly the next couple of days. In the evening of the third day we were having take-out with both of our parents and I started noticing that my breasts were hurting a bit. After they left we went to bed and one of the hardest nights of my life began. My milk was coming in – fast! My breasts were swelling to the size of melons and they were so sore that I couldn’t even lie on my side. By morning they looked like balloons that had been blow up way more than they were supposed to and they just hurt so bad. I quickly found out that the nipples were stretched so tight that the baby was having a hard time getting it far enough into her mouth to eat.

That and the next couple of days I had to call my mom and midwives several times to help me feed my baby. After trying several techniques, the best one we found required me to use both of my hands to squeeze the tip of my boob into a more pointy shape, and someone else to jam the baby’s open mouth onto the nipple until she latched. Once she had latched, all there was to do was keep her on there and endure the burning pain from my now bleeding nipples. – I’m very sorry for being so bold and illustrative, but it really hurt so bad that I shut my eyes, let the tears run down my face and rocked backwards and forwards rapidly to keep from crying out.

It was really bad like that for about two weeks. Then it was only bad. After about a month it was painless.

Those first weeks were tough. I don’t think I hardly wore a bra – or a shirt. I remember getting out of bed at night when the baby woke up and doing the two-man breastfeeding maneuver on the couch in the livingroom where there was more light. I would always wake up in a puddle of milk – nursing pads are pretty useless when you leak about a cup of milk at night, I slept wrapped in a cloth diaper. I felt pretty weak in those days and there was only so much I could do to not start crying or knock someone silly when they said, “make sure to enjoy these first weeks!”.

Then it got better. Do not underestimate nipple butter, or the element of time. And for goodness sakes, trust the annoying women who keep telling you that it’ll get easier than breathing if you just hang in there!

Because they’re right. A good month after giving birth it was over. And painless.

Then came all the figuring out how to integrate breastfeeding in my daily routines. I had to make sure to have a cloth diaper on me at all times, and a blanket to cover up, I had to wear practical clothes (which meant no dresses in church) and develop a skill for locating corners and secluded areas in public places.

I really tried to enjoy breastfeeding. But I realize now that I was a bit traumatized from those first weeks. Breastfeeding wasn’t fun, it was a chore. About a month in, our doctor informed us that Baby hadn’t put on enough weight in here first month and suggested that I supplement with formula until she gained her weight back. It was a little discouraging. I’d slaved for weeks to get food into this child and now it seemed it hadn’t been enough. I wasn’t about to give up though. I asked the doctor if we could have another week to try to get her weight up on my own. She said that was okay and we scheduled a weigh in the week after. For that next week I felt like I fed her more than not. When in doubt of what to do, feed the baby. Up until then I’d been bad at keeping her on the boob for very long at a time due to pain, so I did my best to keep her on for as long as possible to make sure she got the fat milk. Also, I’m not a huge fan of feeding schedules. If I learned anything back then it was that newborns don’t have routines. If she wanted food, I fed her.

The week after she was back to a normal weight and we haven’t had any major problems since.

We started her on solids about two months ago and I’m still figuring out how to balance that with breastfeeding. My plan is to keep breastfeeding till her first birthday. Since she turned 6 months I’ve started to dread that day. When I won’t be nursing anymore. Because yes, now I love breastfeeding. I think I just had to learn to enjoy it despite all the hard times. I realize it’s probably like that with many things with your first baby. I expect that things will be much more enjoyable with the second when I know what is coming and how I and my body will react.

These days I actually mostly breastfeed lying down when possible. I find that Baby can better relax and get comfortable that way? She often puts a hand on my face or squeezes one of my fingers while she eats. I love it. I feel like those are our own little special moments just for us.

I’m not gonna lie. There have been so many times when I’ve wished I had chosen to bottle-feed instead. The freedom of leaving her with someone else for more than a couple of hours or even letting Marcus feed her for a change. It would certainly have made my first month less dramatic. But now that I’m on the other side I can truly say that I’m glad I hung in there. Glad that I don’t have to drag bottles and formula around everywhere I go. I’m also really thankful that I haven’t had trouble lactating or had any major latching problems.

I’m sorry for rambling on for so long, and if you made it to this part I’m truly thankful that you let me finish. Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing and I just wish to encourage anyone who wants to or is struggling to stick with it.

Because it really gets better. 

Baby girl is 7 months!

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It feels more like we’re the parents of a kid than a baby lately!

She’s crawling! Or.. army crawling. The point is that she can get from A to B on her own, and that she’s pretty fired up about it. And so are we! Most of the time.. Just the other day she ventured into the kitchen for the first time. She was so excited that she was breathing like a sweaty dog, before I snatched her up and away from all the dangerous objects.

It’s like I see danger everywhere now.

It won’t be long before she’ll be pulling herself up to a standing position on her own either. In the meantime she has figured out that if she can manage to grab someone’s fingers in each of her hands, she’ll be able to pull herself up. I figured that one out just the other day when I was sitting with her in our bed and she started patting my arms in search for my hands. Once she had a finger tight in each of her fists she clenched her abs, grunted, and stood herself up with a triumphant “Ah!”.

She inspires me! I wish I was as eager to learn and get stronger as she is.

It’s so much fun to observe her little baby logic. If she wants to get to an object she’ll look around to see if someone is standing close and raise her little arms to make them pick her up (she’ll move from arm to arm to get close to my parents’ oven). If the object is however too far away, she’ll see reason and settle for an alternative.

All this moving around makes it hard for her to stay asleep in her own bed. She rolls over a lot and especially pushes herself “upward” and when she reaches the head of the bed she’ll wake herself up every time she moves.

She hardly ever sleeps on her back anymore. She’s almost always on her belly with a face plant in the mattress that worries her parents sick.

So far, it seems that her favorite food is avocado.

No teeth yet! I’m not even sure we’re getting close. She hardly ever drools and I expect her to get a lot more whiny when that time comes.

Her vocabulary has now stretched to “Ah”, “Mah”, and “Bah”. Marcus and I both get really excited about “Mah-mah” and “Bah-bah”.

I do miss having a tiny little baby but I’m not really sad that she’s growing so fast. I’m way more excited to see what kind of person our little girl is going to be!

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Mounting the shopping cart

For a small carless student family, borrowing a car for even a day is pretty much the coolest thing. We have had one all week and it’s been the best! A couple of days ago we went big time shopping in the biggest store in town, just because we could. It worked out nicely since we’d also been looking forward to Baby’s debut sitting by herself in a shopping cart. Exciting stuff, I know! As we don’t have a car, most of Baby’s shopping trips are experienced from the stroller or from an arm.

So we all jumped in the car in high spirits. I told you that Baby has been more happy about car rides lately.. so we enjoyed a nice quiet drive to Bilka and found Baby happy and excited to get out. I wheeled around a cart, put in her baby duvet for support and finally dropped Baby into the seat. And she sat up straight and tall with an excited grin on her face!

It was the happiest and easiest shopping trip we’d ever done! We could take all the time we needed without breaking our backs from carrying Baby or having to rush out because she’d had enough. She enjoyed the entire ride looking at all the colorful groceries and fellow shoppers. I felt so grown up pushing my kid in a cart like that.

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