Tuesday, May 24, 2011

dear Lydia

It's been a while, sweetheart. I need to actually start writing you these letters in your @$*##*$(%* baby book, you know, the one I haven't touched for months. Actually, that's not true. I did record your first tooth in there in March.

And now, you have three of the little buggers. And an accompanying crabby disposition, runny nose and god-awful diapers to boot.

Yesterday and today you hit some major milestones. First of all, you have gotten a booty-crawl down pat. You scooted five feet yesterday, ten today. Who knows how far you'll go tomorrow? For some reason crawling isn't where it's at for you. You drag one leg under you instead of bringing it up like the other one. Don't get me wrong, we're not worried one bit. I'm actually a little relieved that I can set you down to play and know that you'll stay within a ten-foot radius for as long as it takes to do whatever little task that required putting you down in the first place. Nowadays I can't get away with setting you aside while I do dishes or laundry, though...there are cupboards full of pots and pans to explore at my feet, and knobs to turn on the washer and dryer.

And you're talking more! You've always been much quieter than I ever, ever expected a daughter of mine (and your father's) to be. Here I thought we would surely have a chatterbox, babbling incessantly. Not so much. You ponder, observe, and study the world seriously and throughly; nothing misses your gaze. You can be brought to a chuckle by being tickled in the right spot (armpits) or by being chased around the house, but for the most part you've been a soulful, silentish little girl. Until recently, that is. Now you've mastered "Huh?!" and repeating noises back and forth with us, usually short "Ah!"'s to get our attention.

You're home with Daddy much more. The two of you are starting to understand each other; Daddy does an incredible job of taking care of you while I'm at work, which makes me happy. I have no doubt that your father loves you with every fiber of his being, but (and I'm being selfish/judgmental/etc. here, bear with me love) I was scared to begin working more because your father simply isn't me. After months of my being there for you day after day, second after second, knowing your language and anticipating your needs, how could you possibly switch over to your father's way of doing things so fast?

Well, you have. I come home at night and you're smiling away, playing with Daddy and loving every minute the two of you have together. It warms and breaks my heart at the same time. Now that we're slowing down with nursing, and losing that special connection that only you and I had (damn it, getting weepy!), I watch you become more independent by the minute and wonder if my little girl isn't going to need me anymore. I guess I'm scared for you to grow up, to shed my protective arms and reach for the world on your own.

Not that you shouldn't. My darling little sweet pea, I want you to embrace the world the way you were born to with your inquisitive, restless spirit and awareness that knows no bounds. I promise that I won't hold you back just for my personal benefit of keeping you my baby for longer than I should.

Easier said than done, I assume.

So Lydia, beautiful daughter of mine, keep hitting those milestones. Reach for the coffee table tops that hold your shaky legs up; I'll always rescue you if you can't see your way down again. Keep trying new things every day...butt scooting, clapping, different foods. We'll be there to guide you and hold your hands every step of the way. Just remind me when I'm interrupting your learning.

With gratitude, baby angel girl,


Sunday, May 22, 2011

cloth wipes and a booty spritzer!

So, we're using mostly cloth wipes!

I haven't invested enough time and money in cloth diapering yet, which is somewhat disappointing.  Once we have enough cash set aside to purchase enough for a steady rotation, I'll get a few more Mud Butts and FuzziBunz. In the meantime, however, I switched us over to cloth wipes, and we've saved maybe $10 so far with it.

The wipes are 5" squares of pretty flannel, serged on the edges by our local seamstress.  The wipe solution that we use with them was super easy and cheap to concoct.  I mixed it in a Mason jar, poured some into a little spritz bottle, and every time Lydia's got a diaper change I spray a little on her tushy and wipe it with a cloth wipe:

1 tbsp sweet almond oil (you can use baby oil, apricot kernel oil, etc.)
3 cups filtered water
2 drops lavender oil
1 tbsp lavender-scented baby soap

I'll post pictures later :) Happy wiping!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

a little bit of magic

On Monday Lydiebug and I found a little magic.

We were on our way home from getting some goods at the health food store (Omega 3-6-9's, fennel tea, sunscreen...) and were juuuuuuust about up to the front door when I hear a little "donk", as in, bird hitting the window kind of "donk." I looked down and there, fluttering around completely out of it, was a tiny yellow warbler.

I set Lydia in the grass and went to pick up the bird. It seemed fine, albeit dazed, but didn't try to escape my hands. So I brought it over to Lydia and set it gently on her foot:

what in the world...?

so sweet
Lydia, be gentle...gentle...there, just pet her nicely....

"thanks for saving me, yo!"

Monday, May 16, 2011

a bit fretful

Last night I Googled. And texted my cousin Becca. And called friends. I was a bit fretful trying to figure out how much breastmilk Lydia should be having on any given day. With the advent of my working more than 30 hours a week now in our lives, my pumping has been in the tank and my supply has dropped substantially. As Lydia has grown I've noticed that what was an extra six ounces at a pumping session had dropped to four, but now we're talking close to maybe an ounce or two depending on when I pump. I remember my breasts feeling hard as rocks if I didn't nurse or pump in the early months, but now they're as soft as they were after going an hour without feeding, just a little firm. I'm not sure if that's normal, that my body is getting used to the extra fluids and is getting better at storing more milk with less pain, or if my insecurities are coming true and it's really my breastfeeding relationship with Lydia beginning the end of its long journey.

I need to call an LC, or at least read more about it. I never thought I'd have to do all of this so
suddenly: worry about having time and a place to pump, carefully store ounces, admonish Charlie to keep track of bottles for me while I am away at work...it's hard, and painful, and I can begin to get a glimmer of light into why mothers who pump would give it up. I know that I'm still doing wonderful things for little Lydia by giving her as much milk as I can at this point, but Charlie reminded me last night that Lydia is an active, bright, beautiful baby, with or without my milk still being her primary nutrition source. I don't know how I feel about that; he mentioned that he wouldn't mind giving Lydia a bottle of formula every now and then, but perhaps I haven't accurately conveyed how much of a failure I'd feel like if I stopped nursing before my goal of at least a year.

Right now I have two active jobs: Prairie View, Inc. and Shetek Lutheran Ministries' Environmental Education co-director. Both add up to about 40 hours a week. The job at PVI is well...a job. A very fulfilling, hard job. PVI is home to severely physically and mentally handicapped people who need caregivers 100% of the day; SLM's EE position is more of a career move, and something I really enjoy doing. I'll be building curriculum and teaching environmental ed to counselors and kids alike for one job, wiping butts at the other. Actually, PVI isn't just that. I love the consumers (residents), and my co-workers so far have been friendly and helpful as I try to navigate the murky waters of being essentially a CNA. The shifts get to be long, and I have limited time to pump, maybe once or twice during a shift, which doesn't help keep up the supply.
Today was a good day, though. I nursed Lydia a lot, and pumped diligently as well. Here was our schedule for the day:

  • Pumped at 2:30am. Got 1.5 oz.
  • Nursed at 5:30am
  • Pumped at 7:30am. Got another 1.5 oz.
  • Fed Lydia at 8:30: 2 Tbsp. mixed grains cereal with applesauce, some banana pieces, a sprinkle of ground flax [hey, what's good for the goose is good for the gosling, right?] and a couple blueberries. I myself had oatmeal with flax, bananas, blueberries and my own secret chai spice blend. :)
  • Nursed at 9:30 (although this didn't last too long)
  • Nursed at 10:45 to get her down for a nap.
  • Nursed at 12:00 lunch
  • Nursed at 2:45 for another nap
  • Pumped at 3:30. Got 1.5 oz.
  • Nursed at 4:00. Lydia also had a snack of some green puffs and yogurt.
  • Nursed at 6:00
  • Nursed at 9:00
  • Pumped at 10:00. Got 1.5 oz.
 Now tomorrow should be similar in the morning and afternoon, but I work 2:45-8:30pm at PVI and won't have nearly the time to pump/nurse like I did today. I use free days to nurse as much as I can to bolster my supply and to get some good time in with Lydia (it's the hardest part of losing nursing time with Lydia, I miss the quiet moments with her).

On Thursday I'll be running to Marshall to purchase another set of pump flanges (the things that go on your boobies) and some Medela pump cleaning wipes to make pumping easier. If anyone's got any tips on how to put my days/pumping together better, I'd love to hear it. Can I bring back a healthier milk supply, or should I resign myself to the fact that Lydia's diet's changing and that it will never be what it once was?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

running them into the ground

These busy, warm days are lending themselves well to running little Lydia into the ground; she's slept so well in the last few days because of the new pace we've set with the beautiful weather and massive to-do lists. When I can lay her down in her crib at night without nursing or rocking and get the tiniest little protest before she conks out, that's saying something!

Yesterday was a fantastic day. 85 degrees before noon and sunny. We spent the better part of the morning gardening and cleaning, went out to Shetek Lutheran Ministries in the afternoon to play and talk about my new job, and walked all over town in the evening with good friends. The night culminated with a drive to Currie for supper with my mom and her boyfriend, and then dessert at his home...Lydia fell asleep two minutes before we got back to our house for the night, and it's an unbelievable feat to be able to put her down for the night without some form of protest. Awesome!

I wonder sometimes about infants and kids these days, about their sleep habits, about their play time...are we running our kids into the ground anymore? Are they coming in for supper and baths completely worn out by playing outside, working hard on their tree forts (okay, maybe not infants doing that) or by having so many new experiences throughout the day that it takes twelve hours of sleep to process them? Ever since the weather's gotten so nice out and we've been able to do more outside and work at gardening and such, Lydia's napped and slept beautifully. I know this is true for other kids we know who are out working and playing alongside their parents and friends all day too.

My mom always regales me with her tales from back in the day about what she and her siblings did for fun, and what was expected of them in terms of work...honestly, sometimes I think we need to get back to that. I'm not sure what we're expecting out of our kids today in terms of the amount of physical exertion dedicated to wholesome work and play, but it can't be enough these days. With child obesity and other health problems at record highs, as a concerned parent I look forward to raising Lydia with a strong work ethic and knowledge of how to ingest and use good energy.

Running her into the ground as a baby may or may not be the most ideal way to go about doing so :) but I tell you what, she looks so peaceful after a good, long day of meeting people, going to the greenhouse, bouncing in her jumpy thing (for the life of me I have no idea what to call that contraption), helping me plant seeds, eating and nursing like a champ, taking good naps, walking all over the place...

Who knows, maybe the seeds I'm planting aren't so much the kinds that grow veggies and flowers. Hopefully I'm planting in Lydia a desire to be aware of her surroundings and a love of working and playing hard. The best smell on this earth is a kid that's had a load of sunshine and smiles in a day...I bury my nose in the crease of Lydia's neck, kiss the top of her head and set her down for the night knowing she's had an awesome day :) 

It doesn't get much better than that.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

so sweet
Happy Mother's Day to all you beautiful, amazing moms. I'd be lost without mine, and I'm ever grateful to be Lydia's.

Friday, May 6, 2011

out of the woods

Or maybe back into them?
It's been one heck of a week. Lydia and I are sick, Charlie's been working entirely too much, I picked up two new jobs to equal 40 hours a week, and Lydia's still teething to boot. Things have been crazy around here, and it hasn't been that healing of an atmosphere. Just tired, moody and blah.

With being so stuffy I haven't wanted to eat at all; consequently I've lost three pounds and my milk production is in the red. And with starting these new jobs, one of which has been my dream job since I was in second grade YEEEEEEEEEEEE!, I'll have to really boost production for pumping to make sure my milk is still Lydia's primary nutrition source. Or pumping for production. Either way, start buying stock in Medela now, because I'm about to invest some serious time in their product line.

Our plot!

We've been incredibly lucky in that I've been able to stay home with Lydia this long. Seven and a half glorious, albeit short, months together, nursing away the days and keeping up the homefront. But now it's becoming apparent that there need to be more of a balance in earning, Charlie needs time at home to rest and spend time with his beautiful daughter, and I need to be out working and spending time out of the house doing what I love...playing outside with kids all day and calling it work. I'm stressed about starting all of this at once, but I'm sure it'll all work out. It always does.

From a greenie perspective, most of my seeds have arrived! Our community garden plots are getting tilled this weekend, and pretty soon the weather will be nice enough to load Lydia in the stroller with all the little seedlings and head out there to plant and play. Right now I have basil, lavender, thyme and a bunch of other culinary herbs started; on order are flowers (calendula and bergamot) and heirloom tomatoes.

Isis Candies...yummi!
 After poring over descriptions and drooling all over the keyboard, I finally settled on the Black Prince, Heart of Compassion, Amber, Marianna's Peace, and Isis Candy Cherry varieties of heirlooms. They look so delicious! Our plot is huge, but I plan on utilizing the space by planting the plants pretty far apart and leaving room to weed and water as needed; for just the three of us, we don't need too much or we'll get overwhelmed.
Marianna's Peace

Speaking of kids being outside, we've taken Lydia outside quite a bit. I've let her sit on a blanket or bounce in her jumpy thingy while I plant all our yummies to put in our community garden spot. We go for lots of walks when we have sunshine, and sometimes even when there's not. Being outside with her is such a great way to while away the time we have together, and Charlie and I both want to instill in Lydia a sense of stewardship and an environmental ethic as she grows older. As Lydia ages the world population is going to grow exponentially, very soon reaching almost 9 billion people. We struggle with being global citizens, our rights and responsibilities...with an ever-growing population it would seem globally irresponsible to add to our family, yet as citizens with free will and our accorded rights, we by all means have the right to do as we please. But is it "right"? Who knows. All we can do is teach Lydia and her subsequent siblings the importance of doing right by our planet. Our human impact is already too noticeable; I harbor concern over what our lives will be like in the years to come. Part of me doesn't want to dwell on things like that and ignore the associated thoughts, but as an environmental scientist and concerned global stakeholder (as all parents are) I'm always thinking about it. Anyway. Time to go outside with Lydia...it's a beautiful sunny spring day :)

Ready  to get to work :)