Friday, February 29, 2008

I'm not really sure what to say about this, because I've already said most of what I feel, but I feel like I need to acknowledge it somehow anyway. This Sunday will mark one year since the miscarriage. In some ways, it feels like a lot longer -- so much has happened in this past year.

It's been on my mind a lot lately, not in an overly emotional way, necessarily. I've just been thinking about it, and how hard it was, and how dark the time after the miscarriage was. I don't even remember March or April, save for one or two events like Carolyn's visit and Easter with Caleb and Marci.

We were singing a song at church on Sunday, and there's a line that says, "I will arise and go to Jesus. He will embrace me in his arms. And in the arms of my great savior there are ten thousand charms." I suddenly teared up, remembering the image Annie had of me getting to heaven and being embraced by the baby we lost and by Jesus.

Definitely, having Elanor here has helped immeasurably as I remember this time last year. It doesn't take the pain away, and certainly she doesn't invalidate the baby we lost, but it helps. I can look at her funny little face and feel happy that she is here, and she is ours, knowing that she couldn't have been if I hadn't lost our first baby.

So, yeah. What a year it's been. A really tough first half, with the miscarriage and then me being so very sick during my pregnancy with Elanor, followed by a wonderful second half.

I feel so blessed, especially as I look back to this time last year and how bleak everything was, between the miscarriage and Brett's struggle to find a job. Today, we have our little girl, Brett has a job he enjoys that seems like it was made for him, we are living in a house we love...really, there is not much more I could want.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

another first -- not so fun

Today was our first one of "those days," as I've heard my friends call them.

Elanor has been fussy (read: inconsolably screaming) nearly all day, unless she is nursing or I am holding her just. exactly. right. And that just exactly right position tends to vary by the second, apparently, because it seems like she is only calm for a very brief period once we find a comfy position for her and she calms down. Either that or by the time I get her calm, my leg or arm is totally asleep and I have to move it because it hurts so badly.

My normal tricks, like letting her suck on a finger, or putting her on her belly, or wearing her in the Moby, or dancing around the living room and singing to her are not working at all. I have a headache, I am sore from nursing her so much, I have no idea how I am going to manage eating dinner like this, let alone how I am going to cook it. Plus, Brett is out tonight so I am flying solo. Him going out is something we'd planned on for at least a week -- not that that makes it any easier, I'm just saying.

It's frustrating that she's so fussy today. We've been out and about almost every day for the past two weeks, and I was really hoping to just take it easy today and rest a bit. But that's hard to do when your normally mellow baby has turned fussy. So now, of course, I'm not only feeling frustrated because she has been grumpy today, but I'm also feeling stir-crazy from having been home alone pretty much alone all day. (Brett was here for about an hour, during which I was able to switch the laundry and shower.)

When Brett left, I went upstairs to change Elanor's diaper and sleeper, since she'd somehow peed through both of them. As she screamed on the changing table (a place where she is usually totally calm), I had to fight back tears myself. Ugh. That's the first time that's happened since she's been born, that I've been so upset and frustrated with her that I wanted to cry.

Sigh. If I thought she'd sleep, I'd just go to bed in a couple of hours in hopes that tomorrow, and with it, a fresh start, would come a little sooner.

(Ok, just as I finished typing this, she seemed to calm down and I was just able to put her in the Moby...I hope she'll be content for at least a little while!)

Monday, February 25, 2008

yummy? I think so!

I've heard lots of people refer to babies as being "cute enough to eat." I've also heard people say, "I just want to gobble him up!" in reference to a baby.

Well, we've discovered a new spin on that concept.

Let me preface this by saying that I wear Elanor most of the day, either in the Moby Wrap (our favorite!) or in the Ergo Carrier. I've told Brett that wearing her on the outside bears a lot of similarities to being nine months pregnant: your center of gravity is totally different and you are front-heavy, leading to backaches and a skewed sense of balance, and also you have a giant baby in between you and whatever you want to do, whether it be wash your hands, pee, do dishes, cook, or, the one that I struggle with the most, eat.

I usually wind up eating my meals with Elanor in one of the carriers because while she'll sleep contentedly in one of them, she'll scream if I put her down. This results in a curious problem: trying to avoid dropping food on the baby.

Brett and I are both guilty of dropping food on her, no matter how careful we are. There have been many times I've gone to change her diaper and found toast crumbs in her onesie, or have leaned down to kiss her head and noticed it smelled like coffee, or have taken her out of the carrier to change her diaper and found a macaroni noodle stuck to her pants. The best is finding crumbs in her neck folds. I don't know how they get in there because her neck is so fat I can barely get at it to clean it, but somehow crumbs seem to work their way in regardless of any fat rolls in the way. (I try to wipe her neck off a couple of times a day; between the crumbs and the spit-up, it gets nasty pretty quickly.)

I suppose this is just something that comes with the territory of figuring out how to be a parent, and balancing taking care of her with taking care of our basic needs -- like eating.

Sure, it's a little grody to be finding crumbs in her neck fat. But there's not really much I can do about that other than clean it up often -- that is, if I want to eat regularly.

All that said, I think she cleans up pretty nicely, don't you? (And yes, that was a shameless and not-very-seamless transition to showing photos of my kid.)


Thursday, February 21, 2008

photo update

I was going to post a photo recap of just our weekend, but then I realized I should probably go ahead and catch myself up and post a photo recap that would get everything up to date. As always, photos are on Flickr as well.

We took Elanor to meet Brett's Grandma Dori on Friday morning. She didn't know we were coming over -- hence her pajamas. But, we really wanted her to have some one-on-one time with Elanor apart from the party on Saturday, since we knew a lot of people would be wanting to hold her then. I'm really glad we were able to let Grandma meet Elanor in a quieter, more peaceful setting. Elanor was really good; she let Grandma hold her for almost two hours, and was even awake and alert an quiet for a decent portion of that time.

First photo of the two of them together.
Displaying a bit of personality for Grandma.
This picture cracks me up.
And so does this one.
I love this picture. They are so snuggly.
On Friday night, we went over to my mom's house to spend some time with her and my sister and my niece and nephews. We went out for dinner at this Mexican restaurant, which was an interesting experience for a few reasons. One, they could NOT get my order right, and messed it up two times, despite me giving very clear instructions on what I wanted. It was really frustrating. The waiter came back three times and asked if I wanted sour cream, which I didn't. It was totally bizarre, and by the third time, we all just looked at each other and cracked up as he walked away.

The second reason it was an interesting experience is that as we were sitting there, who should walk in but Brett's parents and sister Amy and her husband Seth! It was totally random and coincidental, but funny all the same.

Mema and Adeline with Elanor on Friday night.
The big party took place on Saturday. There were about 40 or maybe 50 people there throughout the afternoon. Elanor did well; she didn't start to get fussy until the early evening. I think it was much harder for me than it was for her. I have to admit that it was really hard for me to let her get passed around so much, and it was really tough when she was fussy not to just snatch her out of the arms of whoever was holding her and run back into the bedroom where it was quiet and calm. But, it's over, and she's been introduced to the family and friends, and that is a good thing.

I didn't take a ton of pictures; I was busy talking to a lot of people I hadn't seen in a long time while simultaneously fighting the urge to grab my baby! :p

A sweet picture of my nephew Zachary holding Elanor.
Cousins: My sister Melissa with her kids and Elanor. Zachary is holding Elanor, Adeline is on his right, and Jacob is the little guy.
Four generations: Walkers. Brett's Grandpa Buz, dad Jeff, Brett, and Elanor.
Four generations: Naudains. Brett's Grandma Dori, mom Priscilla, Brett, and Elanor
With her Noni on Sunday morning.
In the Walker family bassinet, in Brett's childhood bedroom, where we stayed over the weekend. The bassinet was new when Brett's Grandpa Buz was a baby, and every Walker baby has slept in it (or at least had their picture taken in it) ever since. The tradition goes that the ribbon gets changed to the appropriate color depending on the baby's gender.
Close-up in the bassinet.
Relaxing after a diaper change in her new pink elephant outfit that my mom and I got at Old Navy over the weekend. I think it's really cute!
On Monday, we had to return the rental car that we drove home from Portland. The car return was downtown, so I met up with a friend for lunch and then did some shopping. (Yay for the Old Navy kids and baby sale!! Isabel -- I did get some good bargains; they actually had a lot more there than I was expecting.)

Having lunch with Isabel. I love how snuggly Elanor is in the Moby Wrap! (Thank you, Julie and Karen, for passing it on. We LOVE it!)
I'll share one funny anecdote from our trip downtown. After lunch, we went to browse around in the stores. As we were leaving Old Navy, I noticed that Elanor was getting cranky and I knew she needed to eat. So we headed across the street to Nordstrom, so I could nurse her in their mothers' room, which has couches, a really nice changing table, and its own sink. (Which, I might point out, all of the teenage girls kept coming in and using to put on their [garish] makeup, but whatever.)

The second I opened the door to Nordstrom, Elanor started screaming. Not just crying, but full on, I'm-pissed-off screaming. I panicked and went back into the vestibule to try to calm her down. I thought I had her calm enough to where I could at least get to the elevator without further incident, but boy, was I wrong. The second I opened that door again -- screaming. The entire floor got totally quiet and everyone looked at me. At least that's how it seemed...I'm sure it wasn't that bad. But boy, her screams did carry. Those marble floors really make the sound of a screaming baby echo!

She was fine once I got her upstairs and nursing. It was pretty funny, albeit embarrassing, though, that she kept freaking out when I opened the door. I guess makeup and shoes don't yet appeal...

Waiting for the bus at Third and Pine for Elanor's first bus ride, going home from downtown after returning the rental car and having lunch with Isabel on Monday.
The bus stop. We catch the #17, which runs within a block and a half of our house. It's very convenient!
On the bus. She slept quite a bit during the ride; I think she liked the vibrations from how bumpy it was.
Official five-week-old photo from Monday night. It looks to me like she and the pig are conspiring to create some kind of mischief.
And, because I can't resist, a photo I took yesterday afternoon with my cell phone while we were playing. I think she is the cutest baby I've ever seen!!!

So that's the update, photo-wise. WHEW. It was a busy weekend and it's been a busy week. She is a little cranky today, and she hasn't been sleeping as well as she did over the weekend, when she slept from about 11 pm to about 5 am two days in a row. It was heavenly, let me tell you! Last night, though, as well as most of this week, she was up several times, probably four or five altogether, and the only way she would go back to sleep was to be latched on and nursing. Thank goodness that we can do the side-lying position with more skill these days! Even if I wake up with spit-up everywhere and everything hanging out, at least I was able to get some sleep!

Speaking of eating, it's time for me to feed her again, so we'll head upstairs.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

why is it...

...that when I'm lying in bed at night, trying to go to sleep, I can think of about 7 things I want to blog about, but when I sit down at the computer to type, I can't think of what I wanted to say?

So annoying!

Oh, yeah -- I guess one thing I was going to do was post a recap of the weekend.

Elanor's first road trip went moderately well. She definitely got tired of the carseat at times, necessitating Brett to contort his arm behind the seat and pop a finger in her mouth (I don't know how he does it, especially when her seat is right behind his; I guess his arms are a cross between those of Inspector Gadget and Gumby).

Traffic was terrible on the way down to Portland last Thursday, so after having been sitting for over two hours and only being just to the north part of Tacoma (a trip that usually takes about 40 minutes), we decided to stop and find some food for us and feed and change Elanor.

We pulled into a Taco Time and Brett stayed in the car with her while I ran in to go pee and get our food. We had decided to have what Brett's family always called a car picnic (a fancy way of saying that we would just eat in the car) so we wouldn't have to bring Elanor inside.

I came back out with our food, and as luck would have it, Elanor was really hungry right that second. (She seems to have some kind of radar about being really hungry just as Mama is getting ready to eat.) So, I started feeding her right away, while also trying to eat my dinner. (Have you ever tried to nurse a baby while eating a fast food burrito? Yeah, it's definitely not easy. But thankfully, I did it without dropping beans & cheese on myself or the baby, so all things considered, I would say it was a success.)

I wanted to change her diaper before we got on the road, so I got in the back and set everything up with the changing pad on the seat, a task which required that I move everything that had been packed on the back seat into the way back. (We were not thinking clearly when we packed the car. Then again, when have we ever needed to change a baby on the back seat before?)

Finally, I had everything ready and Brett handed her back to me. I set her on the pad and got her diaper off. As I moved to put the diaper in the garbage bag, I realized that she was peeing, all over the seat.

I shreiked, then started cracking up. Brett was laughing, too, and then he said, "Happy Valentine's Day, Leen. Sorry it's not more exciting and that you have to spend it in the back seat of the car with a peeing baby in a Taco Time parking lot in Tacoma."

And that was when I realized that next to the Valentine's Day five years ago when Brett proposed, this Valentine's Day, spent in a Taco Time parking lot in Tacoma, trying to eat my burrito while feeding a baby, followed by watching my baby pee on the back seat -- well, this Valentine's Day was probably the best one yet.

More trip recap to come...including Elanor's first meeting with her Great-Grandma Dori and her first big party.

Monday, February 18, 2008

quick update

The weekend went fine, despite being very tiring and somewhat overwhelming. But overall, it was good. We got home about 9:30 last night, and this morning Elanor and I spent a few hours running errands which are easier to do with a car before we returned the rental we drove back from Portland -- grocery shopping, buying cat food and cat litter, taking some groceries for the week to Papa at work, etc.

Then we headed downtown to return the rental car, have a very fun lunch with Isabel, and then do one of my favorite things: hang out downtown and browse through the shops. The afternoon was capped off with a huge first, as the two of us rode the bus home.

A post about Elanor's big weekend and about her first bus ride are forthcoming, hopefully tonight. (I'm working on uploading the pictures to Flickr now.) I've also got a post in the works about our decision to be carless with a baby. It's taking longer than I wanted to write but I'll work on it this week and get it posted soon.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

daunting

Before we had Elanor, I always said that when we had kids and traveled with them, I wasn't going to be one of those moms who brings everything including the kitchen sink "just in case" -- we'd travel light, like we always do, just with a few tiny clothes thrown in. How much room could they really take up, anyway?

Yeah. Right.

In about four hours, we are leaving to go out of town to see our families in Portland for the first time since we had Elanor. I feel like we are taking 10 times as much stuff as we normally would -- the Boppy, the breastpump, the bathtub, a duffel bag of clothes with (literally) 2/3 of Elanor's current wardrobe (I should note that before, Brett and I could fit all of our clothes for a weekend in that bag), a suitcase with (literally) 2/3 of MY current wardrobe (dude, people, the spit-up is intense...some days we change clothes up to six times), a bag of cloth diapers, a bag of disposable diapers, the Moby Wrap, the diaper bag, the carseat and base...and we aren't even taking the co-sleeper, vibrating chair, or swing.

Thank God we are driving both ways and don't have to deal with lugging all this crap on the train. *shudder*

(Aside: I just looked down at Elanor and she smiled at me with half-closed eyes. I think she's the sweetest baby I have ever seen.)

I hope this trip goes smoothly, both in terms of schlepping all of her stuff as well as in terms of balancing time with our families. I thought it was stressful before Elanor was born in terms of trying to balance seeing everyone and trying to make it fair. Well, that was a walk in the park in comparison...I really hope it goes ok.

I'm sure that no matter what, we'll have lots of pictures to share next week as Elanor gets to meet all kinds of family and friends!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

February 11: One month

Note: I know this is a couple of days late, but this week has been really busy so far. I haven't had much time to be online. So, a bit belatedly, here you go.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Elanor,

It's very hard for me to believe you are already four weeks old! The time since your birth has, in some ways, flown by -- it seems it was just yesterday that I was still pregnant and waiting for you to arrive. And yet, it seems like you've been a part of our family forever.

You have grown so much in the past few weeks. Although you were large when you were born (9 pounds, 7 ounces), seeing pictures of you from that week makes me realize how much bigger you've become. You seem so tiny in comparison to how big you are now. Papa and I were just remarking last night how heavy you are getting, and that it is starting to make our arms sore if we hold you for too long. I'm sure you are bigger now than you were at your doctor's appointment on the 31st -- a whopping 10 pounds, 8.5 ounces.

You make grunty, squeaky moans when you are asleep or when you are awake and trying to suck on your hands. Papa and I love watching you try to get your fingers in your mouth; the gusto with which you attempt the task is truly hilarious. You still love to suck on one of our fingers. Sometimes that is the only way to get you to calm down or to sleep. I have to admit that I have contorted my hand in ways I never dreamed possible over the past few weeks, all in an effort to get a finger in your mouth when you're fussy.

You've started moving more on your own, too. You can roll on your side and actually prefer to sleep that way, snuggled up next to your papa or me. You like to grab things -- one of our fingers, a toy, your sleeve, Papa's beard. You can grab on (especially to his beard!) so tightly we have to literally pry your fingers open. You've also started being able to scoot your body around by kicking your legs if there is something to kick against. It's a little scary how quickly you've become semi-mobile!

The spot on your head where it was bruised and scabbed over because it kept hitting my pelvic bone is finally almost all healed. There is just a tiny bit of scabbing left; Papa and I call it your road rash. Your hair is getting lighter, too. It's not nearly so dark as when you were born, and Papa and I think it has a little reddish tinge to it.

I've started to be able to read your cues more and to be able to tell what your different cries mean -- you're lonely, you're hot, you're hungry, or you just want a snuggle.

One of my favorite things is when you sneeze. You usually sneeze at least two or three times in a row, and it's adorable! You take a deep breath, and then out comes this little baby sneeze. You look around, confused, just as another one hits you. Sometimes you sneeze as many as five or six times in a row!

You love riding in the Ergo carrier or the Moby Wrap, although you do protest (sometimes loudly!) when we first put you in. However, you soon settle and either look around at what we are doing, look at our faces, or fall asleep.

Over the past week, I have noticed your desire for interaction increase. You are no longer the sleepy baby with unfocused eyes. You look right at your Papa and me with a sense of calm and recognition. When you are upset and crying, if one of us picks you up, you usually settle down in our arms. It feels so good that you know who we are!

You enjoy playing "This Little Piggy" and you enjoy it when you and I play the kisses game -- where I kiss you and you grin.

We haven't been as good as I would like about reading to you. We've read a few books, but it hasn't become a part of our routine yet. Papa and I were talking last night about starting to read a book a night; I think we'll start that tonight.

You love to snuggle with either Papa or me. You don't sleep well at night unless you are touching one of us. My favorite way of sleeping with you is to lie on my back, with you on your belly on my torso. It's so sweet and snuggly; I can kiss your little head and I can give you my finger to suck on easily if you like. The only drawback to that position is that when you get excited, you kick me right on my c-section incision -- OUCH.

You love it when Papa holds you on your belly across his arm. I came upstairs the other night to find him sitting on the birthing ball, holding you like that and bouncing while watching an arty foreign movie.

We've had many fun outings and adventures since you were born. Your first outing was when we went out to dinner at the Kebab House and to church when you were six days old. You did great! You slept almost the whole time, although you did cry a bit when you got too hot during dinner.

Your second outing was monumental. At a week old, Papa and I took you to Ikea. We were probably crazy to do so, but we were going to be near Ikea anyway and wanted to go while we were borrowing a car. You did great! Papa carried you all the way through the store, and all of the older ladies in the checkout line oohed and awed over you.

We've gone lots of places since: the grocery store, the doctor's office, running errands in Ballard, Target, the coffee shop, Papa's work, Rosanna's studio, and you've even gone to Moped Monday with just Papa.

We've had lots of visitors, too, both friends and family. Everyone is very excited to meet you and to get to snuggle with you.

I can't believe how much you've changed over the past month. It's so apparent when I compare photos of you from the first few days to photos taken more recently.

My girl, I can't believe that you are here and that you are ours. This first month has been a complete joy. I have loved almost every minute of it and I cannot wait for all of the many months to come.

I love you more than I could ever tell you.

Love,
Mama

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Fun with Flickr

Last night, Brett took Elanor out to Moped Monday, just the two of them. It was so hard to see them go! I nearly cried when the door closed behind them and I heard them drive away.

As a consolation to myself, though, I came straight downstairs to our computer and bought myself a Flickr Pro account, so that I can upload and organize all of the adorable photos we've taken so far and all the ones we'll take in the future.

So, if you ever want to see some Elanor cuteness, you can just go here, to the collection I made of Elanor photos. It's where I'll post new ones as I upload them, so check back often.

That doesn't mean I won't post some photos here on the blog; it means that I'll post a selection here but that all of them will be on my Flickr site. I'll post the link in my sidebar, too, so it will be handy if you want to click over and see what's new.

(Brett said she did great, and wasn't really fussy at all. He apologized after they got home, because he said he hadn't thought about how hard it would be for me to have him take her somewhere without me. I appreciated that; it was definitely hard. But it's something I want him to do, take her places, I mean, and we all survived, so it's ok. Plus I got a Flickr Pro account out of it. Heh.)

Monday, February 04, 2008

For a very long time, two of my biggest fears about having a baby were related to two things after the baby was born: sleep deprivation and post-partum depression.

I've always needed a lot of sleep; I'm talking at least 7-8 hours per night or I am a wreck: spaced-out, bitchy, and not very fun to be around. My ideal is actually closer to 9 or 10 hours: pretty much impossible under the best of circumstances, let alone with a baby. So I'm sure you can understand why the idea of having a baby who woke up all night long was scary, considering how irrational and irritable I can be if I don't get enough sleep.

I really hope I'm not jinxing myself by saying this, but oddly enough, it really hasn't been bad. Elanor does wake up several times at night, and yes, some nights are worse than others, but overall I don't feel the level of exhaustion or desperation that I thought I would feel. I can still function moderately well during the day, thankfully. Granted, I'm not working, so that plays a big role, and, yes, I'm tired, and you'd better believe that some days a nap is necessary if I'm going to make it, but it hasn't been nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

The other thing I was afraid of was post-partum depression. With a history of depression in my family and in my own life, I was terrified that I would have to deal with this. Again -- it really hasn't been an issue, something for which I am so very thankful.

Really, the first week-and-a-half after she was born were filled with an extreme sense of euphoria. I was on top of the world and I couldn't imagine being happier.

Now, things have settled down and I don't necessarily feel euphoric, but I don't feel depressed, either -- more just content, for the most part. Sure, I have my hormonally-induced grumpy times, sometimes a little more often than I would like, but it's not like it's depression or like it's out of control.

The grumpy times are not fun; I hate being a grumpy person. Somehow things (and people) just push my buttons waaaay more easily right now than they would otherwise. But I remember after the miscarriage that it took a good 6-8 weeks for my hormones to settle down. Why should I expect anything less now, when I've actually been pregnant to term and delivered a baby?

Honestly, there's a lot about this parenting thing that I didn't expect. Or maybe a better way of putting it would be there is a lot that no one could have prepared me for. It's not bad stuff, though. Like how I don't mind when I have to change her poopy (or as Brett calls them, "Poopie-woopie-woopie!") diapers. And how I don't really mind when she spits up all over me. And how I don't mind waking up to feed her in the night. And how it is so hard not to snatch her out of the arms that are holding her when she cries. And how sad I feel that she is already growing and changing so much, and how much I miss the tiny newborn she was. And how amazed I feel when I look at her and realize she is my child. And how wonderful it is to watch Brett with her. Above all, the thing no one could have prepared me for is how much I love her.