Monday, July 22, 2013

By the way...

I totally jinxed it.

But it was a solid 8 days of all-night slumber.

Plus, it's a promise that I will indeed sleep again.

Not now and not consistently. But someday.

I'll take it.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Great Preschool Saga

You may recall that Will's preschool closed last December with little warning.

Since then we've spent hours and hours researching and touring new schools. We found a school that we really loved right away. Let's call it the "awesome" school. We were referred to the awesome school by a close friend whose daughter will be attending in the fall.

We trust this friend implicitly, so we were thrilled to have her recommendation. We toured the school and LOVED it. It's a very small Montessori-based preschool (12 students total, ages 3-5). The teacher is awesome and the curriculum is exceptional. We quickly submitted an application and crossed our fingers.

Unfortunately though, they were unable to offer a spot to Will for the 2013-2014 school year. In addition to spacing out the students' ages, they also try and keep a gender-balanced classroom (6 boys, 6 girls). Not only had they filled all of their three year old spots, but they also had more boys than girls enrolled due to sibling preference (siblings of current and prior students are guaranteed enrollment).

So we kept looking. We toured six different schools over the course of two months. Nothing felt great, but Will needed something for the fall, so we selected another local Montessori preschool. The curriculum and philosophy of this school was good, but the tuition was outrageous. Let's call it the "stupidly-expensive" school.

Ben and I went round and round on whether we should enroll him there. Ultimately, we decided that a Montessori preschool was the best environment for Will, and the stupidly-expensive school was the best local Montessori after the awesome school. So we sent in a check to reserve our spot at the stupidly-expensive school for the fall. (You still with me? Great, hang in there.)

Fast forward several months: We got a call from the awesome school offering us a spot for the 2013-2014 school year! I just about died. We accepted immediately, hoping that the stupidly-expensive school would give us a tuition refund. The awesome school is the best place for Will, and we were willing to send him there even if we received nothing back from the stupidly-expensive school. (Although I think Ben would have had a coronary if we ended up paying tuition for two different preschools.)

We reached out to the stupidly-expensive school and heard nothing for several weeks. Honestly, I wasn't optimistic that we'd receive any reimbursement. We had already made a commitment to them and they were counting on Will to be there in fall. Until today, when we received a full tuition refund along with a notice that the stupidly-expensive school would be closing before the 2013-2014 school year.

I'm still in shock! Not only that we got a spot in the awesome school, but that I'm holding a check reimbursing us for a sizable tuition payment. Although it's unfortunate that our community is losing another option for Montessori education, I'm reminded...

What's meant to be will find a way.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Feel Free To Punch Me In the Face


I hesitate to write this because...

a) I don't want to jinx it, and

b) when Will was little (and not sleeping) I wanted to punch these people in the face, but...

Charlotte has been sleeping through the night for the past week.

Girlfriend goes to bed at 7:00 PM. Ben wakes her around 11:00/11:30 PM to give her a bottle. Then I wake her at 7:00 AM because my breasts are so full I feel like they're going to explode. Except for the 10-15 minutes that she's taking the bottle and getting a diaper change, she's sleeping.

Let's just take a moment to reflect on how awesome that is... 12 CONSECUTIVE HOURS, PEOPLE. At three months old. I'm pretty sure that Will didn't sleep for 12 consecutive hours until he was almost two.

So I'm kind of in awe. It can't possibly last, but I'll take it while I can get it. It feels ah-mazing to sleep all night (except for the overwhelmingly painful breast fullness when I wake up). But the sleep. Bliss.

I feel like a fully functioning member of society again.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Three Months Old

Not late! Well, only a week late. But still, an improvement.

Charlotte Louise (July 2013)

Dear Charlotte,

Sweet baby girl, you are growing so fast! I can hardly believe the first three months are behind us already.

You are becoming very alert and watchful. You love to sit in my lap, facing out so you can see what's happening around you. Unsurprisingly, your favorite person to watch is your brother. You seem absolutely fascinated with him, and will track his movements across the room. You also love it when he talks to you... smiling from ear to ear and cooing back at him.

You recently found your hands and love putting them in your mouth. You also firmly grip anything you can get your hands on. I've noticed you batting at toys in your play gym, but I think it's mostly involuntary yet. You seem so surprised when you strike something and it moves!

You love your pacifier, and almost always need it to fall asleep. You're also a fan of white noise, or any sort of background commotion. We still swaddle you at night, as you have an unbelievable strong startle reflex. You sleep so soundly wrapped up like a little mummy... the tighter the better! I'm dreading the next big milestone (rolling over) as we're supposed to stop swaddling you then.

You're getting quite comfortable with tummy time. You like it when we prop your chest up with a little pillow so you can pick your head up and look around. You'll stay on your stomach for quite awhile if you can watch Will play, but you will also "help" me fold laundry that way.

You are a very vocal baby, cooing and "talking" constantly. You love to lock eyes with people and give them the sweetest coo/grin. You also have this adorable complaining voice when you're feeling cranky or bored. Daddy likens the sound you make to an episode of The Simpsons, where Homer is having night terrors. As a result, we've taken to saying "ah, cobras!" virtually every time you squawk.

You are an overwhelmingly happy baby, but if you get mad, WATCH OUT. When you get upset you let us have it, unleashing what can only be described as a mad scream. You have a pretty high tolerance for most things, but you straight up yell when you've had enough. You tend to get pretty upset in the evenings, especially if Mama isn't here to put you to bed. Daddy reports that you pretty much scream at him for 15 minutes before settling down and going to sleep. It's almost as if you want him to know that you're mad that Mama's gone!

You love, love, love being outside. If you're fussy, I can usually take you outside and you'll calm instantly. You love the breeze and the sun on your face. Often times, I'll bring your swing outside so you can nap under the patio umbrella while I garden or read. It's so awesome having an infant over the summer months!

It is our greatest joy to watch you grow. You bring so much happiness to Daddy, Will and me. We love you so much, darling girl!



Wednesday, July 10, 2013

We've Come A Long Way, Baby

Last week, I was sipping coffee with a friend when an elderly woman approached us and asked how old Charlotte is. We exchanged pleasantries and gushed over my beautiful baby. As the woman was leaving she said, "Motherhood suits you, my dear! You're a natural."

Fast forward to today as I stopped to nurse Charlotte at a local parenting store. I entered the lounge area, which was empty except for another mother who was trying to soothe her fussy little one. The woman looked frazzled. The baby was cranky, her diaper bag had spilled all over the floor, she had spit-up on her shoulder. She was pretty much a hot mess. I slipped her a sympathetic smile, glided over to a chair and started nursing my smiley, serene baby when it struck me:

I was this woman just three short years ago.

The baby's grandmother was also with them, and we started chatting. "How old is your baby?" the grandmother asked. "Three months today," I responded. "Maddy just turned two months," the grandmother replied. "Have you found it gets easier each month?"

At this point, the mother looked up at me with that frazzled, stressed out look I remember too well. That look of... "Please, just tell me this is going to get better." That look of... "This can't always be this bad, can it? CAN IT?!?"

I smiled and said that Charlotte is our second baby, and that it's been a much easier adjustment this time around. Then I looked straight at the mother and said, "My older son was a really challenging infant. How are you doing?"

And the floodgates opened. She teared up and told me about how her baby doesn't sleep. How her baby screams for hours a day. How she's pumping because the baby won't latch. How her milk supply is running out. How she feels terrible for having to start formula. How she's desperate for her husband to come home in the evening because she just can't take it anymore.

I listened. I empathized. I avoided giving advice because she's doing what she knows best. It's not like there's a magic formula for dealing with a colicky baby. Other than time. And alcohol.

What I did tell her is that I'm a strong believer in the "fourth trimester" (the three months after birth in which the baby is adjusting to life outside the womb). That things did get easier as Will got older. That he's a bright, curious, sweet, sensitive little boy now. That I still think back to his early-infancy and shudder (seriously people, if you've never had a colicky baby, you just can't imagine the hell). That it took us a long, damn time to even think about having another kid. That finding other like-minded mom friends was the only way I survived (and continue to survive). That I eventually found my footing as a parent, and she will too.

It's almost as if I was talking to myself three years ago. I wish I would have had more people around me back then to help normalize my experience. To remind me that I'm not doing anything wrong. That I'm doing the best I can. That I'm not failing as a mother.

As they got up to leave, I looked down at my sweet, sleeping Charlotte and realized...

We've come a long way, baby.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Two Months Old

Once again, this is late. Le sigh.

Charlotte Louise (June 2013)

Dear Charlotte,

Oh, you are such a smiley girl. At two months old, you are smiling constantly. You love to catch someone's eye and grin from ear to ear. You give the most smiles to Mama, Daddy and Will, although you'll grin at just about anyone.

We've started calling you "bug" and its variations, including "baby bug", "smiley bug" and "bug-a-boo". The nickname just suits you. You have these comical cartoon faces and big, gorgeous eyes. You're the most darling, little, smoochable baby!

One of the biggest developments from the past month is that you're now sleeping in your own room. This happened right around the five week mark, and you've been a champ ever since. Although I miss snuggling with you at night, this transition has been best for everyone. I believe we're both sleeping more soundly now. Shortly after you made the transition to your crib, you started sleeping for longer and longer stretches... generally giving me 4-5 hours once a night.

In addition to sleeping in your own crib, I believe part of what's made you a better sleeper is your noise machine. You sleep so soundly during the hustle and bustle of our daily activities, yet we were putting you to bed at night in a completely silent room. Ambient noise seems to help you settle and stay asleep, so we run your noise machine on the "white noise" setting all night long.

Breastfeeding is still going great, and you've settled into a very predictable feeding routine. You generally wake around 7:00 AM, then eat every 2-3 hours throughout the day. You are a very efficient and eager eater... you take both breasts for most feedings and finish eating within 15-20 minutes.

We introduced a bottle at the 4 week mark, which you took no problem. You seem a little overwhelmed by the flow of the bottle at times, but it's great for Daddy to be able to help with feedings now (especially in the middle of the night!).

You are generally a happy baby, but you've been a little fussy in the evenings lately. One thing that seems to help you settle is a bath. Daddy usually bathes you, which is very special bonding time for both of you. You look up and coo at him in the warm water. It's so sweet.

The past month also brought your first cold. It was heartbreaking to see you so uncomfortable (runny nose, congestion, cough), but such is the plight of the second child. I don't think Will got a cold until he was over a year old, but you have the benefit of all his activities and friends to help boost your immune system.

My darling, you are such a precious, wonderful little girl. We love you so very much.