Saturday, December 20, 2008

Jonah is 1!


Jonah is 1 year old today! Happy Birthday little boy, my sweet little baby, who is growing quickly into a toddler. We are home for the holidays and had a party for Jonah today at Auntie Dani's house. We are spending the week at Pepe's house, and as we were getting ready to go to the party this morning, Matthew said to me, "Well, we made it to a year." "I know!," I said. "And, we're still married!" Then, Pepe said, "Wait, the day's not over yet!" Meanwhile, Jonah has started walking. Motivated by the overwhelming desire to touch Dani's kitty, Ted, Jonah took one ... two ... three ... FOUR! tentative but exciting steps. Oh my, he's a walker! Oh ... my ... he's a walker now. Doesn't leave me much time for reflection. Ah, my baby. How he has grown. He's lost the new baby smell but still smells sweet. A full head of hair and three haircuts under his belt already. Loves kitties, doggies, birdies, trees, wind, buses, trucks, his Pat the Bunny. Mama calms him while Daddy makes him laugh. Or, Daddy cradles him while Mama sings and dances for him. Beautiful boy with the most kissable cheeks. Sweet little chubby hands that are learning to do so much. He's a delight. So happy. So smiley. And, also, a bit quick to frustration. Wants it now. Like his mama. And, now he's walking. The little boy who took 62 hours to come into the world. And, now he's off. Toddling around on his own two feet. And, we will be right there with him, every step of the way.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I'm home

I'm the luckiest girl in the world.

I went out to dinner with my good friend, Jessica, tonight. I drank a little beer. We caught up on our lives. I stayed out late, for me. It was quite a lovely, fun night.

But, I have to say that the best part was coming home. The boys are both asleep (for now). The house is quiet. The kitties are curled up together on their bed. I imagine Jonah snoozing away in his crib where I left him earlier this evening, smelling fresh and clean from his bath. Matthew is slumbering, too; he's been working hard at daddy-hood lately.

I sure do like to complain sometimes when things aren't feeling right or there's too much to do or this or that has to be done right now. But, man, tonight, I just have to wonder, how in the world did I get so lucky?

I have changed into my pajamas, brushed my teeth, and the house is warm and cozy. I will tiptoe down the hall past Jonah's room and slip into the soft flannel sheets next to my husband. It was fun to go out tonight. I walked alone. Who would know that I was a mother, a wife? But, now that I am home with my family, I can think of no where I would rather be. ~ Nicole

Friday, December 5, 2008

Random thoughts

I am feeling especially scatter-brained lately. Sometimes, I feel like my life is one, long, never-ending "to do" list. I have felt that way a lot in my life, but now, it takes me much, much longer to actually complete most tasks. For example, I know I probably owe lots of people thank-you notes for various gifts they have given or favors they have done. I probably need to let this go, but I feel this bit of guilt gnawing at me about not writing them. Starting when I was little, my grandmother always stressed the importance of sending thank-you notes to people. And, back then, and even more recently, it was fun to pick out the paper or note cards, find a nice pen to write with, and compose a thoughtful and sincere note of thanks. Somewhere along the way, though, it became more difficult to find the time to do them, and started to feel like a chore, which is totally wrong to say since it sounds like I don't appreciate the thing for which I should be giving thanks. Like I'm not grateful. And, then, I wonder, why not just do it now? Just sit down right now and write out those thank-you notes, instead of scribbling down random thoughts from my addled brain. If I knew the answer, I probably would have done them already.

Last night, I went out with friends. Ladies' night dinner. I wore my high-heeled boots from Italy! I carried a purse (not a diaper bag)! I wore mascara and, gasp, lip gloss! Granted, I was late, by, like an hour, and I didn't eat dinner, and the waiter thought I was weird when I asked if I could order a half of a beer, because I just can't drink a whole beer anymore, and I tried hard to keep up with the banter about Capitol Hill gossip that I used to be so accustomed to participating in, when really I was just waiting for the chance to whip out a photo of my adorable son to show these ladies, some of whom I haven't seen since I was pregnant over a year ago. But, the waiter obliged me with my half-beer -- Stella! -- and I did keep up with the political conversation and talk did wander toward babies and motherhood -- it helps that the woman who organized the dinner is pregnant with her first child -- and I did get to show off the cute photo of Jonah. And, even though it was kind of hard to get out of the house last night and I was really only gone less than two hours, I arrived home feeling a little bit refreshed, glad to have a few laughs not related to baby poop, a little bit more rounded out.

Now, about that to-do list...
~ Nicole

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My First Thanksgiving

By Jonah Thomas Cavanaugh

I knew this wasn't going to be a typical Thursday. Auntie Eliza, Uncle Gerard and Cousin Hugo were visiting us. I think they live very far away, but when they arrived, it seemed like no time had passed since I'd last seen them, except that Hugo is bigger, sitting up. I mean, he's still a baby compared to me, since I can stand up and have taken a couple of steps all by myself. But, he's still fun to hang out with. Hugo and I were very busy, as usual, pushing board books around the living room floor and chewing on blocks. Obviously, as babies, we still had a lot to do, even though it was Thanksgiving! Like looking out the window pointing to birdies, sharing my sippy cup and inspecting almost every piece of Tupperware, sucking on them and spreading them around the house. But, Mama and Daddy and Auntie E and Uncle G just sat around most of the day staring at us with these goofy looks on their faces, smiling a lot and laughing. I think they were cooking some big dinner, but mostly they just looked at us or hugged us. All morning I kept pointing at my turkey card from Auntie Dani, asking to play with it. I was dying to chew on it and slide it around the floor and tear it up. FINALLY, mama let me have it. Then, we went for a little walk in the strollers. I showed Hugo around my neighborhood and he was really happy when the supermarket cashier said nice things to him. I knew he would be! My friend, Ken, stopped by with his friend, Robin. Ken's cool. We hang out sometimes when Mama and Daddy go do stuff. As usual, Ken took a lot of pictures of me and Hugo. He's always doing that. After that, I had some lunch. Mama kept talking about the turkey that I was eating for the first time ever, but I just kept shoveling things in my mouth like I always do. Then, I got very, very sleepy. Apparently, Hugo was sleepy, too, because I think he was already napping. After a nice, long nap, I woke up and Dad came and got me. I hugged him and snuggled with him, but soon, I was ready to resume my work and show Hugo how to read books and stuff. I'm not sure if he minded when I got so excited and started patting and hitting him. I just couldn't help myself. He's so cute and nice. I just wanted to put my hands on his face and in his mouth. Who wouldn't? While we were playing on the floor, all the grownups ate a lot of pie and ice cream. I mean, they ate A LOT! No wonder they started getting tired for bedtime even before Hugo and I did! Pretty soon, Hugo had to go because it was his bedtime, and I knew that meant my bedtime was coming soon. I listened to some lullabies and read some books with Mama and Daddy. Daddy gave me a bath. Man, I LOVE taking a bath! It's so fun to splash around in the water. SO fun! After that, I got very, very tired and wished Dad would hurry up putting on my pajamas so we could read The Bear Snores On, my current favorite bedtime read. Then, Mama came in and snuggled me into her arms and I nursed and felt warm and safe and cozy and sleepy. I would say it was a pretty darn good Thanksgiving. I hope they are all this fun! video

Monday, November 17, 2008

Video Explosion

Hi Folks - Just a note to let you know there are a bunch of new Jonah video's on Flickr as of a little while ago. The cutest one can only be viewed by Flickr friends, so if you don't have a flickr account, log on and sign up. It's free and fun. Once you've signed up, send a friend request to "mattycav"

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hope

The noise of celebration woke Jonah tonight. There is lots noise in my neighborhood, in our building, at a time of night that is usually very quiet. Voices are carrying through the streets. Horns are honking. Music is blaring. Jonah doesn't know that there is cause for celebration. When I went to him in his crib, he seemed scared and confused to be awake at this hour. It took quite a while to calm him down, to reassure him that all is well, to soothe him back to sleep. I have a feeling it may be several hours before things really quiet down around here. The celebrations may wake my baby again before the sun rises over this city. But, Jonah doesn't know that history was made tonight, and may need to be held close, reassured that everything is OK. He doesn't know that tonight begins a time when there is finally, finally real hope for erasing prejudices among people. That we have tangible and overwhelming evidence that the people of this country want things to change for the better. I was moved by Barack Obama's words tonight in a way that I have never before been moved by the words of a politician. As I sat rocking Jonah, I wondered how will I rise to the challenge of service to my country, as we were tonight asked to do. There are many things we can do, but, as Jonah stretched and yawned in my arms, as his breath slowed and deepened into sleep, I realized that I am already doing it. I am mothering a son. And, at the beginning of a new era. He will grow up in a world that has known a black president and seen women run for both president and vice president. But, it is not Barack Obama who will guide Jonah through his young life, ensuring through example that he will have empathy and compassion for other human beings, regardless of race, gender or anything else that we have until now used to separate us from others. I'm sure there are plenty of other ways that I can be of service to America, to our world, but right here, right now, my service is my motherhood. Every day, every minute, every second, to ensure that there is one more gentle, kind, sweet, loving, caring and compassionate man in the world, I am giving it every fiber of my being. ~ Nicole

Monday, November 3, 2008

Amazed

Today, Jonah was sitting on the floor in the living room playing with a coaster. He would pick it up and slide it through the slats of the baby gate, then reach through and pick it back up again off the floor on the other side of the gate. I sat down on the floor facing him the and watched his game for a while. At one point, I picked up the coaster and said, "Here Jonah," holding it out to him. He smiled and took the coaster from my hand. Then, I said, "Give it to mama?" and held out my hand. He slid the coaster through the slats and into my hand. We went back and forth like this for a few minutes, with him smiling and bouncing each time we passed the coaster through the gate.

Later, I was changing his diaper. Sometimes, he doesn't like to have his diaper changed. I think it's because he hates to be confined to the changing table, now that he is so good at getting himself around. So, I do what I can to make it pleasant and help cheer him up. There is a small, plastic toy lion that I keep near the changing table. Jonah likes to hold it and "talk" to it and chew on it when he's getting his diaper changed. Today, when he started to complain as I lay him on the changing table, I picked up the lion and said, "Here's your little lion friend" and made the lion "walk" through the air into Jonah's hands. Today, I made kissy noises at the lion. When I did this, Jonah held the lion toward my face. I said, "Can mama kiss the lion?" Jonah smiled and held the lion up for me to kiss. I hurried to finish changing his diaper because I couldn't wait to pick him up and squeeze him tight, my amazing, sweet, smart, growing little boy. ~ Nicole

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sigh . . . again

OK, I know it's kind of lame to post two poems in a row, especially since I didn't compose either of them. But, these poems about mothering just slay me. This one could easily be titled, "Jonah's Scent." And, I'm sure every other mother in the world could just as easily insert her own baby's name into the title. It reminds me that being mother is joyous, sensual and also a little bit heartbreaking. Enjoy. ~ Nicole

Sebastian's Scent

By Anna Kiss

munchkin breath,
sugar boot,
my squish,
the smell of you intoxicates me,
i sigh, long for you,
i breathe you in, your hair rising in my nostrils
the plump skin of your cheek
moves forth and back,
ears rising and falling
sucking,
it does not react to my inhale
your brown eyes stare off
as your fingers twiddle
and legs kick lazily.

you are home as i cannot remember feeling,
my embrace your sacred feeding, weeping, sleeping ground,
soon enough you will outgrow me,
yet i will forever remain open to you,
i will hold you in my lap and breathe you in
when you are twice my size and the weight of you crushes me
when you are a man and have given your heart to someone else
still i will cherish the pheromones seeping from your scalp,
and hope to recognize the bit of you that came from me.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sigh

A poem for you
By Rebecca del Rio

Between these lines is a poem
The words are, by turns, wise, foolish and always beautiful.
They are the instructions you need
To live this life.

These spaces describe your first memories:
The sound of branches groaning in the wind,
The smell of your father's shoes,
How tears tasted and felt.

Here is the first dream you thought worth writing down,
The first verse you committed to memory,
A list of the lies you told to get out of trouble,
An explanation of the animal you chose
For a totem and how it chose you.

Between these lines is a tale of tragedy,
Of hilarity, the telling of your first kiss,
Your first betrayal, the first time
You felt different. And why.

Next you tell when your parents failed you
and how you learned to forgive them.
You list all your teachers, beginning
With the one you could not charm who taught you the most.
This space names the birds at your grandmother's feeder
And describes the sound of your grandfather's snoring.

These numbers count the times you were forgiven
For ignorance, malice and sheer stupidity.

This is the list of the countries you visited,
the ones you went back to see again underlined .
Next follows a list of the friends you had and kept. First names and last.
Another names the trees that surrounded your house.
This shaky cipher numbers the times you wished you could touch
Your mother's cheek one more time.

These spaces describe the smell of your child's hair,
How her hand felt in yours when you slept in the same bed,
Here is the first sentence he uttered about the moon and
a figure for the times you wished you could still
Hold her in your lap or caress his hair without rejection.

Between these lines is a story.
It is at times comical, at times confusing,
But it is yours.
I started it for you. Now it's your turn.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Separation anxiety

For about 30 minutes yesterday, we didn't know where Jonah was. Actually, he was right where he was supposed to be, sort of, and everything was fine, but it gave us quite a scare, like nothing I have ever felt before.

I dropped Jonah off at the babysitter's house at 1 p.m., as usual. My friend, Brie, and I have babies of the same age and recently started swapping babysitting for each other twice a week. She watches Jonah for three hours each Monday and Friday afternoon and I watch her daughter, Tatum, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The routine is pretty much the same every time. Jonah and Tatum play together for a bit at Brie's. Then, it's time for a walk and naps in the big double stroller we have borrowed for this purpose. The babies usually nap from around 2 to 3 p.m. Then, it's back to Brie's for more playtime or sometimes they end up at a park or playground in our neighborhood.

Yesterday, after I dropped off Jonah, I headed to a cafe just down the street so I could work on my computer without the distractions of home, like piles of laundry and dishes to do. (I recently started working part-time from home.) By 3:45 p.m., I felt like I had been very productive and done about as much as I could do, so I packed up my stuff. Just as I was leaving the cafe, Matthew sent me a text message saying he was on his way home from work. Perfect timing, I thought. I walked over to Brie's house and arrived a few minutes early.

It wasn't that unusual that Brie didn't answer the door when I knocked -- she is often occupied wrangling two nearly 10-month-old babies -- so, as I often do, I pushed the door open and said, "Hello!" Strangely, the apartment was dark. And quiet. Well, I thought, I am a bit early. Maybe the babies took late naps or maybe they are playing outside somewhere. I bet they will be here any minute. I decided to sit on the front steps and wait for them. At 4 p.m. I sent Brie a text message saying I was at her house. After a few minutes and no reply, I gave her a call. After I dialed her number, I got a strange message saying that the call could not go through. This is when I started to worry.

I called Matthew, who was almost to our neighborhood. He reassured me that everything was probably fine but said he would meet me at Brie's and we'd try to figure out what to do next. I walked back in the house and found Brie's landlord. "What time did Brie leave with the babies?" I asked. "Oh, some time ago," she said. By now, Matthew had arrived. I decided to check Brie's apartment one more time, on the off-chance that she and the babies had been in the back bedroom and didn't hear me the first time. "Hello!" I yelled. "Brie?" No answer. No sign of the stroller.

We called Brie's husband, who works nearby. He hadn't heard from Brie but didn't seem alarmed about her phone. "Her phone does that sometimes." For some reason, that didn't make me feel better. He offered to walk over to one of the parks where we sometimes bring the babies to see if they were there.

"It's just not like Brie to be late," I told Matthew. "It's not like her to not let me know where she's going to be."

I called Brie's cell phone a few more times. I still couldn't get through.

Matthew decided to drive around on some of the streets where Brie usually walks. I would wait at Brie's.

Before Matthew got in the car, I realized that about 25 minutes had passed since I had arrived at Brie's house. For the first time ever, I had no knowledge of Jonah's whereabouts.

"Where could they be?" I said. I searched the streets with my eyes, wondering, where is my baby? Where is Jonah? I sat on the curb and put my face in my hands and let the fear that had been building up inside me overtake me. After a moments, I pulled myself together and sent Matthew on his way, clutching my cell phone tightly in my fist. By now, it was nearly 4:30 p.m.

Suddenly, my phone rang. I looked at the screen. Brie!

"I'm at Walter Pierce Park," she said. One of the playgrounds near our house. One of the parks where we always take the babies to play.

Everything was OK. Nothing bad had happened. Brie had sent me several text messages, but because her phone wasn't working, I never got them.

"My phone said they went through. I thought it was weird that you didn't reply, but then I just figured you were really busy working," Brie said.

I started walking really fast toward my house, where Brie said she would meet us in a few minutes. I called Matthew to tell him everything was OK. He picked me up along the way and we headed home.

"That was such a scary feeling," he said after I got in the car.

A few minutes later, Brie walked up to our house, both babies smiling happily, chomping on their sippy cups.

"I'm so sorry," Brie said, a little out of breath, as I picked up Jonah and held him close.

"It's OK," I said, kissing my baby, taking in his scent, touching his soft hair. I looked into his eyes, blue like Matthew's with some flecks of brown, like mine, and said, "It's OK." ~ Nicole

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Teef

Jonah cut his top teeth this week. They are still just barely there, but they are coming in. He is chewing on just about anything he can get his hands on. He especially likes his friend Tatum's toys. Today, he crawled around with her teething butterfly in his mouth most of the afternoon. It was very cute and funny. I know he probably doesn't even know he's being funny, but sometimes I wonder if he does. He's such a happy boy. I love his giggles, his belly laughs, when Matthew is "chasing" him around the living room on all fours. And, his big, wide open-mouthed grin, sporting two new adorable teeth. My baby is becoming a little boy.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Latest stats

At 9 months, Jonah weighs 19 pounds, 4 ounces and he is 29 inches long, though since he is more and more vertical these days, perhaps we can say "tall."

His favorite words are "bus" and "kitty." Bus sounds like "Da!" and kitty sounds like "kihhy." In addition, "da" refers to lots of other things, including "I want more food" and "Mommy" and even sometimes "kitty." Other fun Jonah sounds that I have yet to interpret include "nya nya nya" and "itah!" and "mmmmmm" and "ah" and "ba ba ba ba ba."

His favorite foods: all of them. Yup, so far he has yet to turn his nose up at any foods I have offered him. He loves eating with his hands best, everything from bits of carrots to clumps of oatmeal. He has a good appetite. Always has. (Maybe that's why I can fit into my skinny jeans now. My real skinny jeans!)

Favorite activities: Standing up and pushing something along the floor to use as a walker. He also enjoys sitting on the front steps watching the buses go by. Every time he sees one he says, "da!" He also loves waving and clapping.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A very good day


Today was a good day.

Jonah's cold is almost gone -- his nose has stopped running. He took two good naps in his crib today. (Hallelujah!) He was cheerful, as usual, all day. Despite the rain this morning, we took a nice walk outdoors. I clipped most of his nails while sitting on the front stoop watching the trucks, buses and doggies. I didn't freak out when I nipped his skin.

He had a good check-up at the pediatrician, weighing in at 19 pounds, 4 ounces. His development is perfect and he is exceptionally healthy. We got the green light to add some exciting new foods to his diet. And, I think I let go of my irrational paranoina about him weaning too early if I feed him too much food. He cried a little when he got his shots but he recovered quickly, and he got to play with all kinds of fun toys at the doctor's office.

Matthew got home from work early after a very busy week. We spent some time at the playground and Jonah climbed some steps and watched some older kids, seeming to soak it all in.

Jonah and I spent most of the day alone together and I realized that I didn't feel lonely. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Jonah is very good company.

Things change every day, but we seem to finally be settling into a nice routine. I am starting to learn the truth in "this, too, shall pass." ~ Nicole

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Eight years

Married eight years now. We still read our wedding vows every year. We still buy each other cards on our anniversary. But, tonight, we ate dinner in instead of out at a nice restaurant. Takeout. After putting Jonah to bed. He has a cold. Or, at least a stuffy nose. It could be a rough night. The poor little guy is restless. We will take turns tending to him. We won't get much sleep. But, I will remember tomorrow that tonight was perfect. My little family tucked in for the night. In our little home. Snug. Happy. Content. I couldn't think of anywhere in the world I would rather be. I'm so in love. ~ Nicole

Thursday, September 4, 2008

What I did on my summer vacation

We traveled a lot with Jonah in August. First, a week on the Cape followed by a few days at Pepe's house. Then, a few weeks later, Jonah and I spent almost two weeks at Pepe's while Matthew flew out to Denver for work and then joined us over Labor Day weekend.

Here's some of what I did, a not all-inclusive list, in no particular order:

Held my breath to hide my fear of Jonah's first dip in the ocean with Matthew. Jonah loved it. Matthew held him tight. And, I then breathed.

Watched Jonah's face light up when Pepe took him swimming in the pool. Learned not to hover.

Took a swim in the bay with Matthew, just the two of us, while Mia and Rosie watched over Jonah as he slept on a towel on the beach.

Got a luxuriously relaxing facial in a salon overlooking the Saw Mill River next to the Book Mill, then lingered over a (decaf) coffee before returning home to my baby.

Had some much-needed retail therapy with Debbie in Provincetown while Matthew and the guys hung out with Jonah.

Drove Jonah from Turners to Hadley and back in a failed attempt to get him to take a nap in the car.

Sweated my ass off and got a sunburn as I walked miles and miles in the midday sun while Jonah napped in his stroller.

Drove to Bellows Falls, VT while thirsty, hungry, had a headache and had to pee so Jonah would keep napping.

Counted the days and then the minutes until Matthew got back from working in Denver.
Acquired piles and piles of "new" clothes, books and toys for Jonah, from the N. Truro dump, thrift stores and other baby friends.

Went tag-saling with my dad and Jonah.

Ate a gourmet, home-cooked meal every night on the Cape, thanks to Debbie "it's so easy" Kates. Plus, homemade dessert!

Watched Jonah learn how to army crawl.

Watched Jonah really crawl on hands and knees for the first time.

Watched Jonah master crawling.

Watched Jonah pull himself up to standing.

Marveled at how Jonah quickly learned about the birdies on Pepe's singing clock.

With Matthew's help, succesfully changed one of Jonah's most poopy diapers on a picnic bench in Provincetown while waiting for our lunch.

Let my sister babysit Jonah, walk him in the stroller for his naps, give him a bottle and even take him in the car by herself so she could show him off to her co-workers. Noticed she looked a little tired by the end of that day.

Felt thankful that Ken was around to help. To help us drive to Massachusetts. To feed Jonah his baby food when I was too tired. To drive Jonah around for his naps. To entertain Jonah, and to photograph him so Matthew could see what he was up to while he was away.

Stole a few moments of time alone lying by the pool.

Bought US magazine for the first time in 8 months.

Finished reading Mother Shock by Andrea Buchanan.

Took every one of my showers on the Cape in the outdoor shower.

Enjoyed a small glass of beer every night on the Cape.

Delighted Jonah's interaction with his cousin, Hugo, and his friend, Jack.

Met Rex the day after he came into the world!

Taught everyone who entered Pepe's house how to step lightly while Jonah slept downstairs.

Looked for Matthew on TV during Obama's acceptance speech.

Noticed how quickly Jonah remembered his family even though he hadn't seen them in a while. How he calms down in Meme's arms, how he giggles at Papa Bill, how Papa Tom pretends to eat him just like Matthew does, how he bounces up and down when he sees Auntie Dani and Uncle Marc, how his eyes get wide with happiness at the sight of Auntie Jen, how he often barely notices Auntie Eliza and Uncle Gerard because he's way too excited to see his cousin, Hugo.

Called Matthew many times while he was working when I thought I was at my breaking point.

Felt bitter about having to take care of Jonah all alone.

Felt thankful that I had family and friends to help me.

Wondered how single moms do it.

Imagined what it would be like to move back home. ~ Nicole

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A mantra (for a weary parent)

Remember this time. I say this to myself when I have been rocking Jonah for what seems like hours as he ever so slowly, slowly falls asleep after nursing. I just want to get up and make my dinner. I get impatient. If only he would sleep so I could put him in his crib without him crying, I could finally get up and get something done, I think. I look down at his face in the soft light, in the twilight. I see his long, beautiful eyelashes. His perfect skin glows. His lips make a soft, sucking motion as if he is still at my breast. I feel the weight of his growing body in my lap, in my arms. Remember this time. I say this to myself. Remember this time. He grows and grows every day. Today, he pulled himself up to standing. It was amazing. I remember when he couldn't even lift his own head. When he cries and wails because something is not right in his world, I hold him. Frustration could get the best of me. It has. It does. Sometimes not. He seems inconsolable. I hold him and bounce him in my arms and tell him it is OK. I try to be patient because he needs me but I wish I could just put him down and play with him. I wish he would be happy so I can continue on with my plans for the day. But, as he cries and whimpers, I think, remember this time. It will not last forever. He will not be a baby forever. He will not be my baby forever. Soon, he will be walking, talking. I don't want to forget these times, even when they are trying, even when things are tough. One day, I will long to hold him on my lap, in my arms, as he sleeps. I will long to wrap my arms around him and whisper in his ear that it's alright. One day, he will not let me do these things. I won't remember my impatience, my frustration. I will remember the heft of his small body. I will remember his warm, salty tears. I will remember this time. I remind myself to try every day. ~ Nicole

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Camping was a disaster.

Camping was a disaster. Jonah's first teeth broke through the morning of our trip. As you can probably guess from my last post, I was pretty excited about it. Seemed like a real milestone. Something to celebrate. I never took a step back and thought to myself "camping - in a tiny tent - with a teething baby - in 90 degree weather ...let's do it!" As it turns out, camping in a tiny tent with a teething baby in 90 degree weather is about as fun as eating a rusty coat hanger and then punching yourself in the face. Basically Jonah didn't sleep - he screamed. Even during the few moments when he was quiet (when there was a boob in his mouth) we couldn't sleep. I set up the tent on a slant and it was too late to fix it. The zippered window screens in the tent were apparently made of a high-tech material that allowed light, sound and tiny bugs to pass through - but not air. It felt like a sauna. When the sun came up, Nicole wanted to pack and leave immediately but I wanted to stay for the day and salvage what we could of the trip. A major fight ensued and I packed up the tent while being as much of a jerk as possible to punish Nicole. After a couple hours of not talking, yelling, seething and crying, we ended up salvaging a little piece of the trip and then driving home Saturday afternoon. Now that the smoke has cleared, I do remember some parts that were good:

1. Jonah sleeping most of the way there.
2. Buying Dale's Pale Ale in cans and drinking them.
3. Successfully setting up a tent without instructions. (It was Nicole's tent, but she had no idea how to set it up.) I high-fived myself repeatedly after this triumph.
4. Eating S'mores by the campfire.
5. Seeing stars again.
6. Taking Jonah swimming in the lake. His first swim. He loved it so much he looked like he was going to jump right out of his little swim diaper/rubber pants combo.
7. Sleeping in our own bed Saturday night.


Friday, July 11, 2008

TEETH!!!

We have teeth! Details to follow after this weekend's camping trip. Wish us luck. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Shift Down

I learned about this website called Conscious Consuming from Mothering magazine. It is sponsoring something called Downshifting Week July 7-13. According to Conscious Consuming, "To downshift means to eliminate unnecessary expenditures and cultivate a simpler lifestyle (and leave a lighter environmental footprint) to free up time to do more of what you want."

I think becoming a stay-at-home-mom was in some way my attempt to downshift my life. Making less money forces you to downshift. I have quickly realized that I don't need most of the stuff I thought I needed when we had more income. And, our life is simpler with less money, which is good because keeping things simple has to be good for Jonah. The simple act of walking him to the playground and pushing him on the swings brings smiles and happiness to all of us.

In other ways, having a baby has "upshifted" things. I'm busier and do more "work" than I ever did at any job. I remember counting how many hours I worked at one of my jobs during a particularly busy, stressful week. I clocked more than 60 hours that week and couldn't believe my job required that much of my time and energy. Sixty hours! Now, I know, that's nothing! On the other hand, even though I am more tired than ever, I feel more alive now than I ever did working at one of my super, crazy, busy jobs.

The press release on Downshifting Week was a good read: www.consciousconsuming.org/events/NationalDownshiftingWeekrelease.pdf. It encourages people to look at the silver lining in the bad news about how hard it is to get by in today's economy. "A positive approach to living with less helps you re-think ways to enjoy time with your loved ones without reaching for your wallet; changes to your spending habits should happen because you want them to."

I applaud anyone's effort to create a more positive environment, even if it is simply to change one's mindset. Or, really, just to TRY to change your mindset. The effort itself is enough. It's something I work on every day. It's not easy, but I have the most motivating thing in the world to keep trying to make do with less and to have a positive attitude about it: Jonah. ~ Nicole

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sweet dreams

I've talked a lot of about sleep here. Or, lack of sleep. My lack of sleep. Jonah's frequent night wakings. My craziness due to my lack of sleep. Well, finally, finally, we are all sleeping more. It only took an intervention by Jonah's pediatrician. That, and a huge change in our sleeping arrangement.

From birth, Jonah slept with us in our bed. It was really nice having him there. We always knew he was OK because he was right there between us. And, it was so sweet waking up in the mornings with him, especially as he got bigger and started interacting with us more. A nice bonus for me was that I could feed him in the middle of the night without having to get out of bed. I just latched him on and we both eventually fell back to sleep. I loved having him close, my warm, soft baby. That was great, for a while. By the time Jonah was about 3 months old, his stretches of sleep were getting longer and longer. I thought it would just continue, though I never had the unrealistic expectation that he would sleep through the night like an adult does. But, I was hoping for at least 4 or 5 hours at a stretch. Well, at about 3 1/2 months old, something changed and Jonah started nursing more frequently again, like every two hours. Or, sometimes even more frequently than that. Like a newborn!

I tried all sorts of things to encourage him to sleep longer at night, but this pattern continued on and on and on. I'd get a bit of a break for a few days, but then he'd be right back at it, waking me up off and on all night long. After a month or so, I started to understand why sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture!

Then, about 3 weeks ago, we took Jonah in for a "shot-only" visit. We expected to be there all of 10 minutes. His doctor took one look at me and asked how I was sleeping. I told her I wasn't. She said, "Come in and talk to me." Our shot-only visit quickly turned into a sleep intervention. She explained how important it is for the whole family to get better rest, including Jonah, who needs more consolidated sleep to grow and develop. She gave us some tips, a pep talk and permission to do something different than what we had been doing. She also told us to have a talk with Jonah to prepare him for the change. The very next night we moved Jonah into his crib in his own room, put him to sleep on his belly, which he prefers, got rid of the swaddle and aimed to reduce the number of times he nurses at night. We decided to just do it all at once, rather than a gradual transition. I'm not sure why, but we just felt is was the right way for him. We told him we loved him and that we knew he could sleep for a long time, and if he woke up, we reminded him to suck his fingers or thumb or his taggy blanket if he needed help falling back to sleep.

We decided to handle nighttime wakings like this: If Jonah wakes up before 4 hours has passed since his last feeding, we give him a few minutes to see if he will go back to sleep on his own. If he doesn't, Matthew handles soothing him. If Jonah wakes up after 4 or more hours since the last feeding, I nurse him.

The first night, we were prepared for the worst, expecting him to wake up every 2 hours like always. We were truly amazed when he slept for 5 hours! The second night, he slept for 6 hours during the first stretch, with one waking when he cried a bit but quickly stopped and went back to sleep. About two nights ago, he slept for a record 8 hours!

Since this change, there have been only two nights so far when Matthew had trouble soothing Jonah back to sleep. There was a lot of crying on those nights, mostly in Matthew's arms. Our pediatrician does not advocate letting him cry indefinitely but did encourage us give Jonah a chance to settle down on his own. It is truly amazing that if we don't jump at every peep, he actually does often go back to sleep on his own at night.

At first, I really missed Jonah in our bed. And, both of us had to get used to not being able to see him and check on him all night long. But, like we always do, we adjusted. Jonah adjusted faster than we did!

Jonah still needs our help falling asleep initially at bedtime or for a nap, whether it's by nursing him or bouncing him in the carrier or walking him outside. We know that we haven't succeeded in helping him learn to put himself to sleep yet, but we feel that we have made such a huge improvement in our nighttime sleep that we are fine with it for now. We'll keep working on it.

Meanwhile, because I am getting so much more sleep, I feel like a new person. The fog has lifted a bit. And, I can tell that Jonah is generally more well-rested, too. He's always been a happy guy and full of energy, but now I realize some of his energy may have been agitation. He definitely seems more content and focused now, and his naps are getting longer and more regular, too. Matthew, on the other hand, is involved much more at night, and I think he's a bit more tired than usual. But, he no longer has a crazy, sleep-deprived wife, so I think he's OK with the trade off. He's also showing Jonah how much he cares for him, even in the middle of the night, and I can tell that Jonah feels closer to Matthew lately. It's sweet to watch.

When we saw Jonah's doctor the other day, several weeks after her "intervention," we just wanted to give her a big hug! She encouraged us to keep working on teaching him to fall asleep on his own and told us that he is asking us for our guidance. He has to cry to ask for help because he doesn't have words yet, but he can understand a great deal already. I know that he understands that he has his own room and his own bed and that he can do a lot of things on his own, including falling back to sleep in the middle of the night, but that if he can't, his mom and dad will be there for him, just like we always have been. ~ Nicole

Friday, June 20, 2008

Jonah is 6 months old

Jonah had his 6-month doctor's appointment today. He's still extraordinarily healthy and a very, very happy little guy.
Here are his latest stats.
Weight: 18 pounds 6 ounces
Length: 28 inches
Head size: 17 3/4 inches

Jonah has been busy learning a lot over the last 6 months. Here are a few milestones: He has mastered rolling over and is learning how to sit up on his own. He sleeps in his own room in his crib and we're all sleeping much more these days! He's been really good at making vowel sounds for quite a while, but yesterday I heard him make his first consonent sound when he said, "Ma." He's SO close to "Mama!" I just know it. He got a high chair today and may get his first taste of solid foods this weekend -- probably some sweet potatoes. Or, maybe avocadoes. Stay tuned for some cute food-all-over-the-face photos. Meanwhile, remember when he was just a few minutes old? Seems like it was just yesterday. It has passed like the blink of an eye. ~ Nicole

Monday, June 16, 2008

Website Update

Hi Everybody - 

With a lot of help from Gerard, I've updated my photography web site. It's sort of bloggy now. Please check it out and let me know what you think. 

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

Jonah sure loves his daddy. And, he has the best dad in the world. I think he knows it, too. Just look at how happy he is riding on his dad's shoulder this morning on the way to the playground. Jonah has a great guy to look up to. I love my boys. Jonah is also lucky to have three fantastic grandfathers. Happy Father's Day to Matthew, Pepe, Papa, Papa Bill, Uncle G and all the other great father's in the world. ~ Nicole

video

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Life is Long

I turn forty today and I think I'm ok with it. Naturally I've been taking stock lately and thinking about all those years. The fact is, I'm happier than I've ever been and that makes getting older a lot easier. Not that I like the sound of forty - I don't. There are implications to that number. It's comes with a lot of negative hype that's hard to shake.

When I was younger, I assumed life at forty would be life with all the fun sucked out. I could have never imagined what lay ahead of me. In short, I figured some things out and I found love. I should say, I found love and then I figured some things out. Love is the best and most important thing that has ever happened to me. I never knew how deep and layered and complicated love would be. Or how the hard parts would make it better. Or how love could actually give birth to new life. Last night Nicole and I, after an exhausting day-long road trip, decided to take Jonah out for a stroller ride. We needed two things: to get Jonah some fresh air and to get us some take-out for dinner. As we sat outside the restaurant waiting for our order, I held Jonah and he squeezed my neck with his little arms and put his head down on my shoulder. It was a beautiful night and I felt so happy, so thankful. I met the love of my life and she loves me back. We made Jonah and he is the greatest thing in the world. I have good health and good food to eat and a nice place to live and a fun job and great friends.

I remember sitting in my dear friend Debbie's kitchen some 20 years ago, worrying aloud about some relationship turmoil and the state of my crazy family. At the time I remember feeling like my life was such a mess. Like things were so screwed up and would never be right. She said "Matthew, don't worry. Life is long." She was right. It is long and it is good. Happy Birthday to me.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Milestone alert!

Jonah rolled over today! Matthew saw it first when he mercifully took Jonah out into the living room after the baby woke up at 5 a.m. (!!!) today, letting me sleep a bit longer. I first heard the news of the rollover when Matthew brought Jonah back to me a little while later when Jonah was ready to eat again. When I got up, I put Jonah on the floor and watched him all morning. He kept rolling from his back to his side, but didn't seem to be able to make it any farther. Then, we went out for a while this morning, met some other stay-at-home moms and did some baby yoga. Then, it was home for a nap (for both of us). After the nap, I put Jonah down on the floor on his back, and within seconds, he did it! He rolled quickly from back to side and then with one more push he was over on his belly, looking happy and very pleased with himself. Jonah is already a very active little boy. I'm sure this is just the beginning. Oh, and he turns 5 months old tomorrow! ~ Nicole

Saturday, May 17, 2008

My fabulous Saturday night

6:16 p.m. Jonah looks sleepy. Change diaper. Strip down to just onesie and socks for bed.
6:26 p.m. Lie in bed reading "Time for Bed" and "Good Night Moon." Jonah acts hungry toward end of second book. Skim last few pages and start nursing.
6:45 p.m. Jonah is holding his feet, ala happy baby yoga pose, smiling and rocking. Does not seem sleepy. Rubs face once in a while so I know he is tired.
6:46 p.m. Move to rocker to nurse on other side. Jonah seems less sleepy than before.
6:56 p.m. Move back to bed. Try to nurse Jonah to sleep. No cigar.
6:57 p.m. Jonah spits up on his onesie.
6:58 p.m. Change Jonah into footy pajamas. Put in Ergo carrier and head out for a walk.
7:17 p.m. Jonah asleep in carrier.
7:30 p.m. Carefully unload Jonah. Swaddle him - badly. Swaddle him again. He fights it and cries. Hold him, pat his back, sing to him. His eyes are wide open and he's looking around the bedroom.
7:35 p.m. Take him to rocker. Undo top of swaddle. Nurse him some more.
7:40 p.m. Jonah is asleep. Redo swaddle. Again, he fights it, wakes up.
7:45 p.m. Back in carrier. Back outside.
7:46 p.m. Jonah spits up, but just a little. I wipe it off and keep walking.
7:48 p.m. Spits up again. A lot!
7:52 p.m. Back home. Change Jonah into new pajamas.
8:00 p.m. Call Matthew, who is working, in desperation. Tell him I'm tempted to just keep Jonah up until he gets home.
8:05 p.m. I put Jonah on the bed and feed the cats. Jonah cries. The cats cry. I cry.
8:10 p.m. Jonah is in bouncy seat. I'm drinking chamomile tea. Jonah fusses. Then cries. I just look at him.
8:11 p.m. Back in carrier. Back outside. Jonah cries up and down several streets. People stare at me. I can't remember the last time I looked at myself in the mirror and wonder what's going on with my hair. People are walking to their Saturday night activities, dressed nicely, carrying bottles of wine, flowers. High heels click on the sidewalk. I hear every sound.
8:22 p.m. Jonah quiets but is still awake. He rubs his face on his hands, my chest.
8:40 p.m. Jonah is asleep. I walk a little more for good measure.
8:50 p.m. Slowly and carefully unload Jonah from carrier into swaddle. I do the swaddle as fast as possible. Jonah fusses and cries. I pat his back, sway, sing. His head droops. He lifts it up. It droops again.
8:56 p.m. I slowly lower him into his cradle.
8:57 p.m. Matthew sends me a text saying he'll be home soon.
9:00 p.m. I pour myself more tea. As I'm about to sip, Jonah cries. I pick him up, pat his back, sway, shush him. He drifts off. I lower him back down.
9:05 p.m. Look in mirror. Examine lines in my forehead. Consider going right to bed. Decide to finish tea.
9:37 p.m. Jonah sleeps. The cats sleep. I will sleep ... soon.
~ Nicole

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Perhaps this poem should be our new mantra . . .

Reality
By Elsa Haas

Why does the baby cry?
(Dressed in his brand-new, powder blue, flame-retardant pajamas)
Why does the baby cry?
(Freshly laundered, recently fed, newly changed, just burped, and provided with a night-light)
Why does the baby cry?
(In his safety-sealed crib
All smoke detectors in working order
Temperature medically adjusted by thermostat
Baby monitor on
Emergency numbers in the speed-dial
Loving parents at the ready)
Why, oh WHY does the baby cry?

The baby cries
In the jungle or on the savannah
The baby cries
As the marauding beasts edge forward
The baby cries
For protection
The baby cries
To signal his tribe
The baby cries
(Hearing no heartbeat
Touching no warm skin
Mouthing no soft breast
Breathing no shared breath)
The baby cries
Alone in the wilderness

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother Love

OK, so Matthew and I are both beat. Like dead tired. Me because I wake up repeatedly each night with Jonah and Matthew because he was out late partying last night. As for the partying, that's another story altogether, but the point is we decided to turn in early tonight. Like 8. So, now it's 9, and both Matthew and Jonah are fast asleep, and the house is quiet and peaceful, and I should be sleeping, but I realized I just couldn't end the day without writing a little something for Mother's Day.

I had my first Mother's Day today. It got off to a bit of a rocky start (a little something related to the partying story, but, again, I digress), but then quickly smoothed over into a very lovely day. After I napped with Jonah, Matthew retrieved the boy when he woke up so I could stay in bed a bit longer. When I got up, Matthew fixed breakfast for me, including scones he baked himself. Nice touch. Then, he gave me my gifts. A framed photo of my beautiful baby and a DVD of a slide show of photos of Jonah over the four months since his birth, set to a couple of Jonah's favorite songs from his "You are my little bird" CD. Of course, from the first image, I was a gonner, tears streaming down my face. It was so beautiful and sweet. Jonah loved watching it, too, I think.

In the middle of the day, we took Jonah out in his new stroller (yay, we finally got a lightweight stroller we can take travelling!) down to the farmers' market in Dupont Circle. Jonah snoozed a bit on the way home. Clearly, he likes the new ride. We picked up some yummy olive bread and tapenade to take with us to our friends' house, where we gathered this afternoon with several other young families to celebrate Mother's Day. It was great. We chatted with our friends about our kids, our work, politics and ate some yummy food. Jonah and another baby were the youngest kids, at four months old, and the oldest was 2 1/2. At around 6, Jonah started getting squawky. When he gets tired, he sometimes gets a burst of energy and starts squeeking and yelling. He's not crying, but he's vocalizing and it's very cute and he seems quite delighted with himself. Around 6:30, we knew it was time to head home. I sat in back with Jonah since there was a very real possibility he'd have a meltdown if we missed his sleepytime "window" and he got overtired, but he was quite cute and smiley in the car, even giggling at me now and then.

Sometimes, I still can't believe I'm a mother. Of course, I can't help but think about my own mother today. I remember quite vividly the last Mother's Day I spent with her. She was sick and my sister was living far away from all of us. My sister and I hatched a plan for all of us to be together and surprise my parents with Dani's arrival. I have a photo from that day, not of my mother, but of me and Dani curled up together on my parents' couch. It was a nice Mother's Day. Ever since then, Dani and I have made a point to wish each other a Happy Mother's Day in some way, as a way of remembering Mom. But, this year, for me, it was different. It was better. Mother's Day took on a new happiness for me. This morning, when Matthew and I were getting Jonah ready in the stroller in front of our house, a small group of people walked by. A young woman looked at Matthew and Jonah on the sidewalk, and then up at me on the top of the steps. "Happy Mother's Day," she said, looking right at me. "Thanks!" I yelled. I thought that was very nice. Very cool. We called Matthew's mom during our walk. "Happy Mother's Day," I told her. "Happy Mother's Day to you, too," she said, adding, "Don't you just love hearing that?" Indeed, I do. Of course, I talked to my dad today. He wished me Happy Mother's Day and said, "It's nice to say that." I knew what he meant. It's nice to say that again. And, I said, "It's nice to hear it."

To all the mothers, past, present and future: Happy Mother's Day! ~ Nicole

Friday, May 2, 2008

More today than yesterday

Not in a million years would I have imagined myself doing the following: Baking oatmeal cookies while singing and dancing along to "Reggae Playground" on the Putamayo Kids CD for the entertainment of Jonah, who smiles and giggles at me from his Baby Einstein Exersaucer, his favorite new toy, as I await the arrival of my playgroup of moms from my birthing class and their babies, all right around Jonah's age. I guess I had a burst of energy after taking three naps yesterday (while Jonah napped) in a desperate attempt to catch up on some sleep. Here are the cookies to prove it. Full disclosure: Cookies not from scratch.

***

The phone rings as I am changing Jonah's very poopy diaper . . . for the second time in five minutes. It's Matthew.
"Chip called and he and Gina were wondering if we wanted to meet them for dinner at Mixtec."
"Hmm." I pause. I want to go, but I also want to keep Jonah on track with his bedtime routine. "I don't think we should. It sounds fun and I'd like to, but I want to give this bedtime thing a little more time to work. Maybe we can try going out next week."
"OK," Matthew says, and we hang up.
Suddenly, I have visions of yummy chicken salad with avocado and delicious cilantro dressing. I look outside. It's still very warm and very sunny and people are strolling the sidewalks. I look at my now freshly-diapered baby, smiling up at me, cheerful as ever despite having no real afternoon nap. Chip and Gina have a 16-month-old daughter, Eloisa, and will totally understand if Jonah is cranky or we have to bail mid-dinner.
I pick up the phone.
"I changed my mind," I tell Matthew. "If we can't go out with our friends who have a kid, who can we go out with?"
"Excellent point," he says.
I look at Jonah. "Yaaaayyyy!" I say to him. He beams at me.

***

Nursing Jonah to sleep. In his blue footless jammies, he is curled in my lap. The fan hums. In the glow of the night light, we rock. He kicks one leg up and down like he is kickstarting a motorcycle. "Kicky leg," I whisper. "Shhhh." Gradually, his movements slow. His hand drifts slowly up and down, up and down, sometimes grasping my shirt, other times his fingers lightly brushing me as he nurses. His eyes are still open but he is in another world, relaxing, getting sleepy. After a time, he drifts off to sleep, no longer nursing, but his mouth still makes a soft sucking motion in his sleep. He is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. He squeaks and I think he will wake up, but he sighs and sleeps. I can't believe that I could ever love him more than I do right now. But, I remember thinking that just yesterday, or maybe earlier today, and right now, I do indeed love him even more than that. ~ Nicole

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Self Soothing

We had sort of a break-through the other day. We've been struggling with Jonah's unwillingness to sleep for weeks now. Nicole has been struggling a lot more than I, since she is home with him all day and has to wake up to feed him many times during the night. The lack of sleep really makes everything harder. You can't think clearly - in my case it meant I was unable to pull my head out of my ass until about three days ago. We were at the end of our ropes and, as it turns out, my rope is considerably shorter than Nicole's. She really needed my help but I was so consumed with my own frustration that I just couldn't see it. Apparently throwing your hands up and stomping out of the room doesn't qualify as support. Who knew? Although the night I'm about to describe didn't lead directly to our breakthrough, it did help get us there. Each night when it comes time for Jonah to settle down and sleep, he often does one of two things: cries like hell or gets super happy and excited. Neither of which involve sleeping. The shushing/singing/rocking thing sometimes works but lately, more often than not, it has no effect at all. So Jonah gets more and more unhappy and I become more and more frustrated. I'm just standing in the bedroom, holding a crying baby and wishing I knew what to do. Knowing that Nicole, who is out in the living room enjoying a few rare minutes of time to herself, will have to come to my rescue yet again.  Jonah could be easily soothed by the breast, but he'd already eaten and we are trying to break that pattern so that he doesn't wake up every hour needing Nicole. We haven't had that many sleepy baby tricks up our sleeves because Jonah seemed to be sleeping more and more, until a couple weeks ago. So, the other night, without a clue as to how to settle the boy down, I put on the Baby Bjorn and headed out for a walk. It was dusk and the temperature was perfect. The moment we stepped outside, Jonah stopped fussing and a calm look settled over his face. I walked back behind our house into the Kalorama neighborhood, between Columbia Road and Connecticut Avenue, where the traffic noise drifts into the distance. So many of the houses in Kalorama have beautiful gardens in front, full of flowers and flowering trees and people sitting out on their stoops, sipping glasses of wine and watching people like me walk by. Jonah, so quiet and still, just took it all in. As we walked past the Chinese embassy, we caught the last few seconds of the nightly free tibet rally when the protesters stand facing the building and sing a song about Tibet. As we continued west, past the beautiful home that serves as French Ambassador's residence, I realized that I had let go of all the tension and frustration that I had been carrying when I left the house. I had been soothed by this quiet, lovely walk. It felt good to be out in the air with Jonah, even if this wouldn't necessarily lead to better night's sleep, I knew it was good for both of us. I looked down and smiled at my son, bobbing along in front of me, sound asleep.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A rainy day

Matthew is away. He's chasing Hillary Clinton around Pennsylvania. It's the first time he's been away from us since Jonah was born. And, tonight will be my first overnight alone with Jonah.

Matthew left pretty early this morning, so it's been me and Jonah all day. It was raining when we got up and for that I was kind of glad. Sometimes I really like a rainy day. It's relaxing. It makes you feel totally OK about staying in your pajamas all day. Though, I had a feeling Jonah wasn't that interested in laying around on the couch with me all day watching bad TV or catching up on my favorite blog.

I did get dressed today. By midday, the rain seemed to be clearing. I decided that we needed to get out for a bit. Maybe hit the grocery store. Or, see if the farmers' market was happening. We need food since yesterday, instead of doing errands, our little family went on a picnic. Since I planned on shopping, I took the stroller so I could load the basket underneath with supplies. (I always feel a little guilty when I go out and don't "wear" Jonah. I don't want Jonah to be a "bucket baby." That's what our midwife, Alice, calls the babies who are carried around in their car seats all the time. It's not like we NEVER do that. Sometimes it makes sense if it's really cold out or the baby is sound asleep and you don't want to wake him from the only good nap he's had all day. But, I really don't understand why people do it as a habit. Alice argues that babies should be held close as much as possible and wearing them in a carrier helps with their socialization because you talk to them more, as well as their coordination and balance. Well, that's great, but frankly, it's just easier to wear my baby than to carry him around in a car seat. I mean, first of all, it's just awkward carrying a car seat, even an empty one, because you have to really use your arm to hold it out far enough so it won't bump you in the leg as you walk. But, when you add a baby, it feels like my arm is going to fall off! I mean that thing can be heavy! I think of this when other parents inquire about my Moby wrap when I'm carrying Jonah, as if they can't believe I'm actually doing it. "Isn't he heavy?" they ask, as they plop down their own bucket baby with a grunt.)

It's not exactly easy getting Jonah and the stroller and the diaper bag out of the house and down the front steps. I'm not strong or courageous enough to move the loaded stroller containing Jonah down the steps, so I have to make several trips, in exactly the right order -- stroller first, leaving the 4-month-old baby momentarily alone in the house (eek!), then run back up, sling diaper back over my shoulder ala messenger bag style so it doesn't slide off, then pick up baby, making sure house key is in my hand or easily accessible so I can lock the door with one hand while holding heavy, squirming baby with the other, then back down the stairs, carefully now because I'm carrying the baby and loaded down with the diaper bag, strap Jonah into the stroller (making sure the wheel lock is on so the stroller doesn't roll around as I adjust things), then clip the diaper bag to the handles of the stroller (a very handy feature of our diaper bag). Whew! Then, we're off. Or, we would have been off if at that very moment the skies hadn't opened up again, as a sudden downpour drenched me and the stroller and the diaper bag and threatened to seep into Jonah's area if I didn't act fast. I brought an umbrella but this was one of those downpours when it's just easier to let yourself get soaked in order to get back indoors quickly. I did my best to get Jonah and all our stuff back inside, but I wasn't even outdoors 10 minutes and my jeans (the one pair that actually fits me) were soaked almost to my knees and Jonah was screaming. He calmed down quickly -- I think he just caught a few raindrops -- I changed back into my pajamas and we spent the afternoon listening to his music -- "Rockabye Baby, the lullaby renditions of Radiohead," and "You are my little bird" by Elizabeth Mitchell -- doing yoga and playing on the floor.

Later, Jonah helped me tidy up the house. I wore him in the Moby and vaccuumed. This mellowed him out, I think, and he went down to sleep around 8 with little fuss. Somehow, I managed to feed the cats and fix myself dinner, too. Now, Jonah and the cats are fast asleep, and I'm finishing off some leftovers and hoping that the baby sleeps for several hours or more. (Like, perhaps, through the night? Yeah, right, but a girl can dream.)

Matthew will be back on Wednesday, but thankfully this is the only night I'm home alone. My sister arrives tomorrow and Jonah -- and mom -- can't wait! ~ Nicole

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sleepytime

It seems like all I do is think about sleep. It’s easy to obsess about it when you’re not getting enough.

About 10 days ago, Jonah started nursing more frequently through the night, like every 90 minutes or so, as if he was a newborn again. You’d think I could handle it, since I survived this kind of sleeplessness in the early days after Jonah was born. But, this time around, after just a few days, I was spent. And, I felt like I was going a little crazy. Or, a lot crazy, if you ask my husband.

Then, at the peak of my sleep deprivation, the Pope came to town. This complicated matters because it meant that Matthew was really busy at work photographing “Papal movements” around Washington, D.C. For several days, he was out the door very early in the morning and often home late.

To try to catch up on some sleep, I did my best to nap when Jonah napped. But, this often left me feeling as if I’d slept the day away, just when it started getting really nice outside. A few days I just gave up my chance to nap to get outside, strolling Jonah through the zoo as he slept. I watched the animals as they slept. I observed other people, studying their faces carefully, wondering how much they get to sleep. Everyone looked much more well-rested than I felt.

I’ve been trying to get Jonah to nurse better during the day so he’ll be less inclined to wake for feedings at night. But, this can be a challenge now that we are out and about a lot more. I’m totally pro-breastfeeding in public, but now that Jonah has become more aware of his surroundings, all he wants to do is look around. I don’t blame him. Pretty much everything he sees is new for him. Imagine how exciting the world would seem if you were seeing birds and trees and cars and buses and hearing all their sounds for the first time in your life!

It’s amazing to think about all the new things he is learning and the connections being made in his brain, but I have to admit it’s hard to think about all that when I’m sitting on a park bench trying to discreetly nurse him and he suddenly turns his head and flips his whole body around, exposing my breast to the whole wide world, my milk squirting all over him and me, as I struggle to hold on to a squirming and strong 16 pound baby while also covering myself up. So, we’ve been staying a bit closer to home, where I can nurse him in the rocker, in the quiet of the bedroom, with the curtains closed, the cats banished to another part of the house.

It can be hard to make plans around this sort of routine. I do my best to get Jonah out of the house every day and interact with other people as much as possible, but the fact is that for large chunks of every week it’s just me and Jonah.

A friend ask me recently, “What have you been doing?” I said, “Um, I don’t know.” At first, I couldn’t really think of what to say. In the past, I would have said something like, “Well, work is crazy busy, but I try to get to yoga or the gym a few times a week, and Matthew and I are going to the Bahamas in a couple weeks, blah, blah, blah…” I guess I could have said, “Well, I change Jonah’s diaper about 10 times a day and then I usually check his neck rolls for dried milk and I still can’t seem to get all the lint out of his belly button. Frankly, I’m worried it will stay there forever! Oh, and I had to change my shirt three times yesterday because Jonah spit up on it.” Luckily, this friend is also a stay at home mom, so she just laughed at my lame answer. Finally, I said, “Well, I sing a lot these days.”

I do get out. Thank goodness for my weekly gathering with several of the women from my birthing class. We take turns hosting the gatherings of moms and babies and we just hang out and talk. It’s the one activity that I’m usually willing to sacrifice Jonah’s nap for. I think it’s the same for the other moms, too. But, it’s because we moms desperately need that connection. The babies were born within a few weeks or months of each other and we are all first-time moms, so meeting up every week allows us to learn from each other and to feel a little less crazy.

Yesterday, all the babies were fussy about an hour into our gathering because they were ready for naps and a couple of us had trouble nursing our curious babies and had to go into a separate room to feed and calm them down. But, none of us skipped our meeting and none of us left early. It’s just that important to us to get together and since it’s only once a week no one feels that guilty about messing up their baby’s routine.

This group has helped me learn that all of us moms and babies have so much in common, but also that no two babies are the same. What works for one baby won’t necessarily work for another.

My friend Maria’s baby is sleeping through the night. She’s a little older than Jonah (no more than a month) but has been sleeping this way since she was 8 weeks old. She is fed exclusively breastmilk, just like Jonah. (I’ve heard that formula babies sleep longer because it takes babies longer to digest the formula.) As far as I can tell, Maria and her baby aren't doing anything drastically different than what we're doing, so it must just be the babies.

Jonah is napping now. He’s so beautiful when he’s asleep. I can’t believe he is real sometimes. I don’t know when I’ll get a full night’s sleep again, but I doubt it will be any time soon. I’m trying hard to not let my sleep deprivation get to me. Acceptance is a huge part of it. I got a little derailed recently and was having trouble accepting things as they were. I’m getting back on track now. This morning, Jonah woke me up with his tossing and turning. He was on the way to waking up himself, but still mostly asleep. I turned on my side and just watched him stretch his small arms over his head and arch his back a little and then just relax again into sleep, his legs frog-like and his body open and vulnerable and totally trusting of his surroundings, safe under the covers in my bed. He sighed and whined a little, like he was going to cry. I said, “Hi baby. Hi Jonah. Good morning.” He opened his eyes and looked at me, blinking and squinting. He smiled. Small at first, and a little crooked. Then, he gave me the big, wide, open-mouthed grin, the kind of smile you can see in his eyes, before shoving his fists in his mouth and squeaking and gurgling, seeming absolutely pleased to see me again. ~ Nicole

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Weighing in

Jonah had his 4 month doctor appointment yesterday and he weighed in at a whopping 16 pounds and 9 ounces. And, he's grown to 25 and 3/4 inches long. He's perfect and healthy and seems to be a very happy little boy. We love him so much! ~ Nicole

Thursday, April 10, 2008

An Outing

I went out without Jonah last night. To my book club. It was ridiculous how excited I was on my way there. I didn't even know for sure if I was going to be able to go until the very last second. Jonah hasn't yet mastered a bottle. We're still working on it. And, that didn't matter anyway because Matthew had a meeting last night. We worked out a plan. I would put Jonah to bed and Matthew would come home a little early from his meeting. If all went smoothly, Jonah would have a full belly and be just falling asleep as Matthew arrived home. I was skeptical it would work, but while Matthew was out I got ready for book club -- I even showered! -- while Jonah sat happily in his bouncy seat looking at his animals and sucking on his taggy blanket. I watched the clock and Jonah closely for signs of sleepiness. His bedtime is right around the time I wanted to go out, so it meant that everything had to go smoothly -- change diaper, jammies, nurse, swaddle, sleep. Fortunately, Jonah usually goes to sleep rather easily at night. Naps are an altogether different story. But, once in a while, he stays awake longer than expected and needs extra help falling asleep. Matthew told me he'd be home at 7:45 p.m. and I wanted to be able to run out the door as soon after he arrived as possible. I couldn't believe it when I put Jonah down in his co-sleeper, fast asleep, that the clock said 7:44. Then, I heard the click of the key in the door as Matthew arrived home! I grabbed my sweater, purse (my awesome purse from my sister and NOT a diaper bag!) and the gingerbread I made earlier that day and ran out the door. I turned the ringer on my cell phone on the highest possible setting in case I needed to race home for some reason. If Jonah woke up before I got home, he would most likely want to eat and I didn't have any milk ready in the fridge for Matthew to give him a bottle. I was nearly running with excitement as I made my way across the bridge to the subway. By the time I got to the apartment where the book club meeting was being held, I was giddy. Way too giddy for a book club for sure. Jonah was always on my mind, but I did manage to really enjoy myself. I sat around a small, lovely apartment and discussed a book I didn't read (I tried!), ate a delicious meal of butternut squash lasagna and just breathed. It was so great to reconnect with a group of amazing women again after my four-month hiatus. On my way home, I called Matthew to tell him I was on my way, that I was just getting onto the metro. "Metro?" he asked, with a hint of confusion in his voice. "Yeah," I said. "I'm taking the metro." I didn't understand why he was confused. But then he said, "I left the car out front for you. It's been double parked with the flashers on this whole time!" Oops! Apparently, he forgot that my meeting was very close by and even funnier, in my haste and excitement, I apparently didn't even notice the car parked RIGHT OUTSIDE OUR APARTMENT! I was cracking up as I walked down the sidewalk to our house. When I went inside, there was my lovely husband AND my lovely baby, both awake in the living room. Jonah woke up before I got home, but Matthew successfully distracted him long enough -- he was sleepy but happy and not crying. I retired with my baby to the rocker and nursed him back to sleep, happy to have had a little outing but even happier to be home. ~ Nicole

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Yawn

So, so, so tired today. Jonah has had a couple of restless nights. That means no one sleeps well. (Well, Sammy and Pete, the cats, sleep well pretty much no matter what. And, they seem to sleep ALL DAY LONG. Little bastards.) Everything is harder without enough sleep. Not that I've gotten enough sleep in a long, long time, but there have been plenty of nights, especially during the past month, when I felt like I got an adequate amount of sleep and felt ready to face the day. And, there were plenty of nights when Matthew said he barely heard a peep from me and Jonah all night. That amazes me, since I seem to wake at the slightest noise lately, particularly if the noise is coming from a small baby boy called Jonah. Well, Jonah is napping now. Who knows how long this will last? If I knew what was good for me I'd go join him. But, there's always this pull between catching up on my sleep when Jonah is asleep -- because it's frankly the only time I'm allowed to sleep, unless Matthew is here to watch Jonah while I nap -- and trying to do a few of the other things that are hard to do when Jonah needs my attention, like email, bills, laundry, dishes, phone calls, reading the newspaper, cooking, cleaning, reading books about how to take care of babies, etc. Jonah just squawked. It's probably just a noise he made in his sleep, but my ears perked up. He didn't cry and all is quiet now, so I guess he's asleep. Ah, sleep. I'm kind of obsessed with it, but so is every other new mom that I know. Jonah is swaddled and dozing. The kitties are cuddled together in their favorite chair, fast asleep. Hey, I'm the only one in the house who is awake! I think I'd better go take a nap. Sweet dreams. ~ Nicole

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Hugo, Hugo and more Hugo!

We know this is a blog all about Jonah, but we are just so thrilled to see some of the first photos of baby Hugo, Jonah's very first cousin. Here he is! Hugo, Hugo and more Hugo!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Welcome to the world, Hugo!

Our family is growing. Our darling nephew was born yesterday. Hugo Joseph Cavanaugh Gualberto arrived at 6 p.m. on April 2, 2008, weighing in at 9 pounds, 2 ounces. We are so very excited about his arrival, as he is only about 3 months younger than Jonah. We hope that they will be good friends and pals. We can't wait to meet Hugo in person and wish we could see him right away. (But, he lives far away from us.) Meanwhile, we eagerly await photos of the new boy. His parents, Eliza and Gerard, rock, so Hugo will obviously grow up to be a very cool cat. ~ Nicole

p.s. Apparently, Matthew's mom used to call him "Hugo" when he was a baby, so little baby Hugo is sort of named after Matthew. Sweet.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I like this poem

Nursing Finn

Six times a day
for the past ten months,
in the rocker, on the sofa,
in lawnchairs on the porch,
wedged between two businessmen
on a flight to San Jose, cramped in the cab
of my father-in-law's truck, by the river, in a mall,
at the edges of festivals and moies,
we have settled in, Finn and I, his cheeks fluting
like a small bellows at a great fire, his eyes fluttering
like the most ephemeral of moths.
If I practiced the flute so often, I would be good.
If my garden received such attention, it would fruit
like the arbors of Catherine the Great, where her pensive
son Pavlosk wandered for hours. If my breath stayed so steady,
my body so still and soft, and if I, and everyone else
gave life so freely day after day, would there be
a single problem in the world?

By Leigh Hancock


~ Nicole

Thursday, March 27, 2008

When will we see the light?

Did you catch this? A 160-square-mile chunk of ice broke off Wilkins Ice Shelf in Antarctica and now glacial ice is just floating around in the ocean. Scientists believe global warming is the likely cause and are worried that the ice shelf is in danger of breaking apart even more. Stuff like this has always bothered me but it bothers me even more now that I have a kid. I mean, what is the world going to be like when Jonah is my age? It's scary and I feel guilty that we as a society are not doing more to fight global warming. I feel bad that I'm not doing more personally. I recycle and all that, but I know I am sometimes wasteful because it's easy to be and harder to conserve. It's nothing at all really, but I did make a small effort today to save energy. I was nursing Jonah in bed and hoping that he would fall asleep so we could take a nap together. But, as I lay there I remembered that I had left three lights on and the radio in the living room, as well as a radio in the bathroom. (Now more than ever, I gotta get my NPR fix in the morning or I'd feel totally out of it.) It would have been so easy to just drift off to sleep rather than get out of the warm, cozy bed, and I almost did. But, I couldn't get the thought or the photos of that ice shelf out of my head. I know one could argue that my electricity usage has no direct link to the ice shelf melting and breaking apart, but doesn't it at some level? I mean when do we wake up and start holding ourselves accountable for the state of the earth we live on? As Jonah drifted to sleep, I slipped out of the bed and went around the house turning off everything and then joined my tiny boy for a nap.

I read Mothering magazine and I also get weekly emails from them. This week, the email had information on something called Earth Hour 2008. To be part of Earth Hour, you commit to turning off your lights for one hour starting at 8 p.m. on on March 29, 2008. You can even register your intention to do so online. It's a small thing, really, to turn the lights off for an hour on a Saturday night. It seems merely symbolic, really. Except it does have a major impact. The first Earth Hour was held in Sydney, Australia last year and 2.2 million people and 2,100 Sydney businesses participated. According to Earth Hour's website, if the greenhouse reduction achieved during that one hour in Sydney was sustained for a year, it would be equivalent to taking 48,616 cars off the road for a year. And, we all know that cars are a major polluter and source of greenhouse gases, which scientists believe are contributing to global warming. And, that's why we have polar bears swimming for their lives these days and giant masses of thick glacial ice falling to pieces. This year, Earth Hour is world wide. It may be a symbolic thing to turn of your lights, but it's worth thinking about. And, maybe, just maybe, we can help save some of this world for our babies. ~ Nicole

Monday, March 24, 2008

An Errand

Sometimes I feel like I'm the only mom who doesn't have her shit together.

It still feels like a huge production for me to do the simplest things. Like run out to the grocery store for a few items (because our cupboards are nearly bare). It sounds easy, right? But, with a 3-month-old baby, it can be a major challenge just getting out of the house. (It's difficult staying in the house, too!)

Today, Jonah and I got up a little before 8. I'm sure this sounds like a luxuriously late hour to lots of other new parents. We are lucky that most of the time Jonah sleeps "late" -- as in he doesn't wake up at 5 a.m. every day -- but I know that it's partly because he's still small enough to need a lot of sleep and because he and I wake up often throughout the night to nurse. I know this won't last forever.

When Jonah is well-rested I like to take advantage of his quiet alertness as a good time for him to learn things, so I talk to him, show him what's outside the windows in our bedroom and in the nursery, and have him look at me and himself in the mirror. He smiles at his reflection and at mine. He seems riveted by the pigeons on the sidewalk.

Soon, it's diaper time. I tend to linger with this task, too, because it's one of Jonah's favorite activities. He's super smiley and happy when he's on the changing table and loves looking at his elephant toy hanging above him, which giggles when you pull it. I talk to him a lot during changing time and he seems to love it and babbles back at me. After this, it's anyone's guess whether Jonah will be content when I put him on the floor under his Gymini or in his bouncy seat. He really loves the Gymini but sometimes cries a little at first when I put him down. He isn't crazy about the bouncy seat, but will sometimes tolerate it long enough for me to get myself ready for the day and make myself some breakfast.

Getting myself ready is often done in small spurts. Put Jonah down. Run to bathroom. Brush teeth. Start to wash face. Jonah cries from the living room. I finish my face quickly and jump out of my pajamas, finding pieces of clothing to throw on that look halfway decent and aren't covered in spitup. Jonah is now yelling. Brushing the hair will have to wait. I go to Jonah and talk to him and he's instantly happy and smiling again. I step into the kitchen while I keep talking to him and make some tea and a bowl of cereal, feeling guilty that I should make something more nutritious for myself like oatmeal or scrambled eggs, but who has the time? I plop down on the living room floor with my breakfast and eat while I talk to Jonah and attempt check my email quickly and glance through the newspaper.

Jonah seems content so I slip away to finish getting ready. I run a brush through my hair and take a real look in the mirror. I don't look terrible today, so that's good. An improvement. I could use a little more sleep. I notice that my jeans aren't really fitting any better. My rapid post-pregnancy weight loss seems to have leveled off. Ugh. I trot back to the living room to spend some more time with Jonah and shield my eyes from the piles of laundry and dishes I encounter along the way. "Housework can wait." That's what everyone tells you when you have a baby, but at what point does the dirty house become a health hazard? I'll worry about that later, because now Jonah is screaming. I pick him up, and he is all red-faced and intense. I pat his back a little and lets out a tiny burb, then spits up all over my clean shirt. He is smiling again. He seems happy but starts rubbing his eyes and sucking on his hands. I glance at the clock. Where in the hell did 2 hours go?

Jonah is hungry and tired. Time to nurse. And, then, time for Jonah's morning nap. I relax into the nursing and decide a nap is a good idea for me, too. "Sleep when the baby sleeps." Another thing you hear. Good advice, as long as I can find my bed under the laundry and burp cloths. I take Jonah to bed with me and he nurses and we both doze. I push out thoughts of all the other things I could be doing while Jonah sleeps. The housework, the bills, my "to do" list of random tasks that have been hanging over my head for weeks, like call cell phone company to find out about getting a cheaper plan and other money-saving tasks. I hope for a nice long, two-hour nap. The kind that all the books say babies are supposed to take. The kind that all those "sleep-trained" babies supposedly take. (I'm skeptical.) Not quite an hour later, Jonah stirs. No, I think, I'm not ready to wake up. I was just getting some good sleep. I pat him on the back, hoping he'll drift off again. Nope. I offer him my breast, hoping that if I top him off a little, he'll go back to sleep. Nope. He needs to burp. Which means I need to sit up. I lift him, all 15 pounds of him, and he lets out a nice burp. I catch his reflection in the mirror and see that he is wide awake and bright-eyed. I, meanwhile, look sleepy and disheveled. My stomach growls. It's going to be lunchtime soon and I've got to go to the store. I decide to take a stroller (the Snap 'N Go!) so I can carry the groceries in the stroller's basket. Normally, I put Jonah in a carrier or sling when we go out because it's easier to get around and he likes to be close to me, hear my voice, see the world. Despite the benefits of being able to carry more cargo, it's harder to get out the door with a stroller. But, after three trips up and down the front steps -- stroller base, then baby in the car seat -- we are off!

I whizzed through the aisles to make this errand as short as possible in case Jonah decided he was over it. (Last time, he began to yell just as I was checking out. Fun! The other customers really seemed to love that.) Today, Jonah seemed enchanted by the grocery store, taking in all the sights and sounds. I managed to shove most of the groceries into stroller by the time the cashier handed me my receipt. (Usually, I'm the one holding up the line as I struggle to load all of the groceries without squishing the bread.) Outside, we get about a half block away from the store when Jonah's eyes start to droop. This is nice, except, he'll be just falling asleep by the time we get home. The trip up in the stairs and into the house will no doubt wake him. I decide to take the long way home. I walk around the block a few times before heading home. I'm feeling pretty good about my day so far, despite the fact that I'm wearing a crazy outfit (a dress over jeans, which is so not me, and dirty jeans at that) and my hair is still slightly disheveled because I think I forgot to fix it after our nap.

As I ponder my fashion choices, I see two strollers coming my way on the sidewalk. From a distance, all I can see is that one stroller is bright orange and the other is bright blue. As we get closer, I notice that each stroller has a color-coordinated baby inside. As in, each baby is wrapped in a snuggly thing the same exact color as the stroller. I glance up at the women pushing the strollers. One woman is blond and pushes the blond-haired baby in the blue ensemble. Her hair is pulled back into a nice pony tail. She is smiling, looks well-rested and may even be wearing makeup. The other woman has brown hair cut into a smart bob and pushes the orange stroller. I notice that she is even wearing an orange coat. They both smile at me and part a bit to make room for me on the sidewalk. They say "hi" as I pass and I greet them in return. I was hoping that they were nannies because how else could they look so good? But, the resemblence between the women and their babies left no doubt that they were mothers. Moms, like me, out with their babies for a walk. Only, they looked much more put together while I suddenly felt like I might resemble a homeless person. And, at that moment, I just felt, well, inferior. And, I wondered, how do they do it? I imagined them talking about me after I passed and saying something like, "Aw, that poor dear. She must be a single mother. Did you see the baby? He was wearing socks on his hands instead of real mittens? So sad." Or something like that. I know it's crazy but that one encounter nearly erased my entire sense of accomplishment for what I had managed to do by myself today. Those must be their second babies, I murmur to myself. Or third.

I turned the corner to my street and noticed our car parked out front. Is Matthew home already? I thought, excited about being able to have lunch together today. He opened the door and I handed him the car seat containing his sleeping son. "Where'd you go?" he asked as he kissed me and then gazed down sweetly as his baby boy. "Oh, just to the store," I said, like it was nothing at all. "I missed you so much this morning," he whispered to Jonah. "My baby boy." As I fixed us sandwiches while Matthew played with Jonah -- all three of us in smiles -- thoughts of those weirdly, perfectly color-coordinated supermoms faded away, for now. ~ Nicole

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Naptime

Well, we didn't make it to baby and me yoga today despite my best intentions. Jonah had other plans for us today. Namely, more naps. None of us slept well last night. Jonah was tired today, and so was I. In the wee hours of the night, after nursing, Jonah tossed and turned. I tried my best to sleep anyway and hoped he would eventually get bored and fall asleep, but he just kept wiggling and wiggling around. After a while, I couldn't take it anymore, so I took him out of bed and swaddled him and put him in the co-sleeper, hoping that being swaddled would settle him down. Nope. He just kicked and kicked and wriggled about so much that he shook our bed! Eventually, I drifted off, but it only felt like a moment passed when Matthew started snoring. I shook his shoulder and he rolled over. I dozed. But then, just as I was falling asleep, something woke me up again. It was a cat. A big cat. A big orange cat named Pete, jumping on my head. I couldn't believe it! I scolded Pete and unfortunately woke up Matthew who was a bit startled by my mood, oblivious to the fact that I hadn't slept for more than a few minutes in about three hours. I can't remember right now exactly what eventually settled Jonah down. Maybe I held him. Maybe Matthew did. Maybe I nursed him some more. I do know that Matthew was kind enough to take Jonah into the living room later in the morning when he woke up for the day to let me sleep a little longer. I woke up a little later to nurse Jonah again and decided that it was time for a nap, for Jonah and for me! After nursing, Jonah slept on my chest -- this is one of my favorite things, feeling his warmth and heft on my body, his breath on my neck, his soft hair a little sweaty when he sleeps -- and I finally pulled myself out of bed about an hour later. I decided to get ready for yoga so that when it was time to leave the house everything would be ready to go. Just getting Jonah ready for the day took a lot longer than I expected. He had a poop extravaganza. Just moments after removing his full diaper, cleaning him up and putting on a new one, he pooped again before I even got him off the changing table. I took that diaper off him and cleaned him and he pooped again on the changing table before I could even get another diaper on him! Then, it took a while to find clothes for him. He's outgrowing everything so fast. I decided it was better for him to wear stuff that's a little too big. I'm pretty sure everything he wore today was made for 6-month-olds, if not older. I had to roll his sleeves a bit and cuff his pants, but he looked perfectly adorable. Once Jonah was set, I had to get myself ready, have something to eat and pack the diaper bag. By the time I did all of this, Jonah was grumpy. I figured he was just hungry, so I nursed him a little, but it was clear that he was more than hungry. He was tired and cranky and desperately in need of another nap. I put him down but knew that this would leave no time to get ourselves down to the yoga class. I was bummed but knew it was the best thing for Jonah. He had a nice nap and woke up about 15 minutes after the class would have started, but he awoke a much more cheerful baby. He actually seemed content to lie in his co-sleeper while I rubbed his back and talked to him and tidied up the bedroom (something I rarely get to do since Jonah is always sleeping there). I was sad to miss yoga, for me because I crave exercise right now but have no time to do it, but also for Jonah because he likes the class a lot and loves looking at all the other babies. But, I know I made the right call because Jonah was a happy little boy today. And, after my nice long naps today, I was happy, too. ~ Nicole