Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sleepless Nights and Favorite Moments

I started this post last night, and finished this morning:

Yummmm. I just finished a mixture of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and chocolate chocolate fudge (with a bit of peanut butter mixed in- I guess I was craving something sweet AND salty).

It's been a while since I last posted and a lot has been happening. First let me start with a description of one of my favorite moments lately (minus the ice cream bliss mentioned above): Will is finally asleep, I place him in his crib (my back aching from minutes of walking and bouncing which is the only way he'll fall asleep). I walk out of the room, quietly close the door and....freedom!!!!!

Until...25 minutes later...

A cry is heard on the monitor. I'm home alone tonight so I'm taking turns with myself (atleast until Rodney gets back from poker). Yeesh. I walk into the baby room, pick Will up and start the back-achy process anew. If I'm lucky it should only take a few minutes. It does. Yesssss. The other night it took 40 minutes to get him back to sleep during one waking episode.

Rodney was gone this past weekend on a bike trip with his dad and brother and I was able to do quite a bit of reflecting and reading regarding this whole sleep situation. After 4 straight months of not getting any myself, I'm ready for things to change. In my reading I found that if a baby is not sleeping through the night on their own by 3 to 4 months you need to take certain steps to encourage it. Things like set bedtimes and naptimes, a sleep routine (i.e. bath, storytime, prayers, lullaby), and napping in the same place as nighttime sleep. Also, babies Will's age are capable of going atleast 6 hours without food, so the idea is that you should try to soothe them with other things when they wake instead of feeding them. I knew this would be the hard part. You see since we saw the lactation consultant a month ago we were feeding frequently and on demand, which meant nightly feedings of every 3 to 4 hours. Well, now that things are going well with breastfeeding, this is no longer necessary. I decided I wouldn't do anything different until Rodney got home as far as nighttime wakings and I would just get through the weekend. But I did decide it was time to move Will into the nursery and start the napping and bedtime schedule/routine. This was actually fairly easy because Will has already gotten himself into a predictable rhythm. He has one short morning nap, a long afternoon nap, and occasional late afternoon nap, and he goes down for the night at 8pm.

When Rodney got home on Sunday night, we put the baby to sleep in the nursery and plugged in the monitor. The plan was to take turns with Rodney doing the first shift and me on the second. The first few nights were hard because I actually had gotten used to just pulling the baby into bed when he woke in the night and nursing him with the side-lying position so I could get some rest. So after feeding him at 7:30 and putting him down at 8, our goal was to get to 1 am before feeding again. Doesn't seem like a great stretch, but for Will it was. Rodney and I took turns trying to get him to get close to 6 hours and after 3 or 4 tries he got to 5 1/2. By the fourth night he went 7 hours (between feedings) on his own and one night he even went 8 1/2. Yay. The past two nights we haven't had to do any prodding and we've actually eliminated one night feeding. I suppose we could continue on this thread and get him to go the whole night, but we've heard excellent things about the Ferber method and we decided to do this in a couple of weeks if he's not already sleeping through the night on his own. The great thing about Ferber is that it also teaches them to soothe themselves to sleep, so when they wake up between sleep cycles, no back-achy rocking and bouncing. Oh, how I look forward to it...

With a plan in place I feel so much better. I've really been enjoying Will during the day lately (when he's not a complete fuss-bucket). He's at a fun stage where he can actually play independently for 15-20 minute stretches. I put him on his back in the activity gym and he plays with the dangling toys.

Also, we started using the exersaucer since he's gotten fairly good at holding up his head on his own. He gets frustrated after about 10 minutes, so that's as long as we leave him in it.

It feels like Will is growing up in the past week. I guess this is because I've been saying, "O.K. Will, time to grow up- you're not a newborn anymore!" This is a bittersweet feeling for me indeed. I'm ready for the independence that this stage will bring, but it also means he's growing so quickly already. One day he will be a big boy, then a man.

And then I'm sure I will ask myself, what was I so worried about?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What do you do when your dreams come true and they're not the good ones?

Well, it finally happened. I had my first "freak out" mother situation today. This morning we woke and had a perfectly normal, wonderful morning until:

I was eating breakfast in the sunroom with the baby contentedly sitting in his bouncy seat, smiling, blowing bubbles (his new fun thing). I then needed to use the restroom. I usually have two options when this happens.

#1. Put him in his crib to watch his mobile, or
#2. Pick up the bouncy seat with him in it and move him into the bathroom with me.

I decided on #2 because he seemed so content in his seat. Halfway down the hallway with one hand on the top and one on the bottom of the seat, it collapsed on what must have been a hinge used to close it up, and down fell baby, cradle and all. You cannot imagine how completely hysterical I became. I immediately picked him up (he was crying ferociously) and dialed 911. He had hit his head on the hardwood and I was not taking ANY chances. Plus I was hysterical, remember? After yelling at the 911 operator (well really I was trying to get my info across over a crying baby ) and being told to keep him still, the EMT was here within minutes. The baby calmed down after 3 minutes of hard crying and actually seemed O.K. I put him down on the couch to check him out while we waited and he actaully smiled at me (how could he).

The EMT checked him out when she arrived and said he looked O.K. but maybe we should go to the emergency room "just for your peace of mind." So, I shakingly consented and ran and got the car seat. We hopped into the back of the ambulance and started driving off. Then the real crying started. I'm sure this crying was not due to any physical trauma, but simply due to the fact that William seems to HATE his carseat. So, he screamed the whole way to the hospital as I sat next to him foolishly trying to "sh" him in his ear. He finally calmed down when we arrived at the hospital and we were seen quickly. His vitals all looked normal, reflexes were fine. He was alright. I felt a little stupid, but I would have done the same exact thing in hindsight. We eventually got discharged and went home. I spent the rest of the day looking at him gratefully acting "normal" and every so often replaying the scene in my head. Every veteran parent I've talked to about it today has said: "Oh, honey. I'm so sorry. You're first fall. It's the first of many!" They, of course, were referring to me, my first, not the baby's. My first "freak out because my child fell" episode. Apparently it happens to everyone. I was unprepared.

I looked back at my posts this evening and noticed the post last week about my dream that woke me in the middle of the night. It was about Rodney bringing the baby inside after he fell and said that he was probably not O.K. Wow. Was I secretly worried that this was going to happen to Will? I have wondered how easy it would be to take a misstep as we're out taking walks with Will in the Bjorn, causing a scary fall. Why does dropping/falling scare me so?

Tonight I had a voice lesson and Carol, my teacher, has a 26 yr. old son. She has shared plenty of anecdotes about parenting that have been so fun and helpful to hear. She assured me that she reacted the same way when Ryan first fell on his head as a baby and that these falls are bound to happen over and over again into toddler years. She said that it's perfectly normal to want to protect them from it but in a way it kind of prepares them (eventually) for how not perfect life is. She also said she wondered if the constant worrying would stop when Ryan left home. "I was so pissed when it didn't," she laughed.

It's incredible how much I want to protect Will from all the hurts of the world and how I simply cannot. May God protect my little one and keep my heart strong in the meantime.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

What's in a Name?

Something, I guess. Whatever it is, I decided that "The Malones" just didn't fit what this blog has become for me over the past few weeks. It's become a place to write thoughts and reflections, document events in my growing family's life, and even release a little creative energy. So, a few days ago I began going over possible titles in my head and coming up with really lame things like: 'A Penny for My Thoughts' and 'Say Wha?' (don't ask). As I was going over lots of other clever titles, I decided to stop the search for a little while and sit down and read. I'm reading this great book called "Travelling Mercies" by Ann Lamott, someone whom I described to one of my friends as a 'woman who is a real person who just happens to be a Christian.' Anyway, I was reading this chapter on waiting on God when I read:

'Sometimes when you need the all-embracing nature of God, paradoxically you need to hang out in ordinariness, in daily ritual and comfort. What is that old song? "Same old, same old pair of slippers, same old, same old bowl of rice, same old, same old glimpse of paradise."'

Just as I was reading this excerpt, a wonderfully cool breeze gusted into my sun porch. It was as if the heavens opened and blew in the new title of my blog.

At first I decided it would be "hanging out in ordinariness," but I new it needed that paradox that Anne was talking about, so it became "hanging out in extraordinary ordinariness" which was then shortened to "extraordinary ordinariness."

Ahh. That's it. My life summed up.

The mundanely holy, the ordinary extraordinary, inspiredly boring living.

...or something like that.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Oh, What A Beautiful Morning

This day's got me singing like Curly in Oklahoma! I am LOVING this new cooler weather. This morning we had to take the car in to the shop and I decided that since the baby and I had to walk home anyway, we would stop by Hartford, get a coffee, and then go for an invigorating morning walk. And that is exactly what it was. I'm still not totally convinced that it's here to stay, however, but maybe I'm wrong. Rodney seems to think so because yesterday he was ready to take out the window unit in our bedroom, but I vetoed. It still gets in the 80s during the day and I atleast would like the option for a cool room.

I was so inspired by the cool morning air and the beauty of the park (and I'm sure the caffeine had something to do with it) that I was ready to set all these personal goals for myself. Like lose 10 lbs, try out for American Idol (or, this new one Laura's been bugging me about, "America's Got Talent"), spend money more wisely so I can get the things I really want, finally finish Ulysses, and find a cure for cancer (well, actually I'll leave that last one up to Kyle). Anyway, it was so great. Great enough that it made me want to get my butt out of bed early every morning just so that I can have that fix of inspiration again (even if it means taking a nap later). We'll see if it catches!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Che's Tennis Toilet

Here’s a hilarious picture.

So, Che, our dog, is extremely single minded. He is a lover of the game of fetch and will drop random fetch-worthy items at your feet all day long. One of his favorite items is an old tennis ball which he often drops at our feet, even while we're going to the bathroom. Yesterday he followed me into the bathroom as I went in to get ready for the day and in his excited fetch-state, he proceeded to drop the ball into the toilet! If he only knew that this would result in his ball going directly into the trash can, I’m sure he would have hesitated. Hee Hee!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mister Sandman

It's 1 am and I cannot go back to sleep. Maybe it's because of the coffee that I had at the hair salon ealier this evening. Maybe it's the awful dream that I just had. Let me tell you about it. I dreamt that Rodney, Will and I were going somewhere and Rod and the baby went outside to wait for me (as usual). I was nervously trying to get myself together knowing that at any minute he would come back inside and ask what was taking so long. He did come back inside only he looked liked he'd been crying or something and the baby didn't look right. I asked what was wrong and he said he'd fallen and the baby was probably not o.k. I woke with a start and haven't been able to go back to sleep. What a horrible dream. I sat up immediately and checked on Will, who was of course sleeping peacefully. Then I touched Rodney's shoulder as he slept as if to say, "everything's alright, thank God." I'm not sure if I'm one of those people who read into dreams too much because sometimes I think they are truly just random. But, I wanted to analyze this one, if only just so that I can go back to bed.

Maybe the events of the evening have some insight. Ever since we stopped giving bottles to help with breast feeding, I have not been pumping as much so the result is that we don't have too many stores on hand when I am not around, which at this point isn't too often. Well, tonight I went to get my hair cut and it took a little longer than I thought. As I soon as I was finished I called Rodney and the baby was crying in the background. Luckily, we only live a few blocks from the salon, but I couldn't find my car keys in my diaper bag, so I actually started walking home when I eventually located them (long story). Anyway, by the time I got home the baby was screaming, even though Rodney had given him the 5 oz. of breast milk that was in the fridge (our only reserves) about an hour previously. I quickly sat down to nurse Will and within seconds everything was calm again. There was a sense of desperation in Rodney's eyes when I walked in as if he was thinking "what took you so long?" Perhaps this was because he was very tired from his long day and didn't have a full set of nerves to deal with a screaming baby, but at any rate I felt horrible even though I could have done nothing to get there any earlier. I think I see the connection to my dream. When I came home to see Will crying uncontrollably and Rodney rocking him gently with an almost tearful look on his face, I felt like I had something that the baby desperately needed and I was too selfish to get home to provide it for him. What a powerfully intense feeling this was. As I sat there watching a calm contendedness wash over Will's face as he ate, I felt a huge sense of relief. As I remember this feeling now, I realize how important my role is in this little baby's life and how important it will be for the rest of his life. I pray that God will guide me (and Rodney) gracefully and mercifully as we try to make the best choices for him. Time to go back to bed...

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Kangaroo Kid

Yesterday I decided to try out the front facing position in my Peanut Shell sling, called the "Kangaroo Carry." I bought this sling a month or so ago and really love it. I’ve used it to calm Will to sleep, to take walks, and even to breast feed while in the mall (with a blanket wrapped over Will’s head/my shoulder). I had tried on a couple of different slings but liked this one the best because it is one continuous piece of fabric. Up until yesterday I would put Will in it facing me and, unless he was asleep, would have to hold him with one arm (I could sort of tuck him down inside the sling if he was asleep). There are different positions suggested for different ages/weights and the newborn position was tricky for William because he preferred being on his side and not on his back. Here are some of
the suggested holds from the Peanut Shell website:

Cradle Carry, Kangaroo Carry, Waist/Hip Carry

Here is Will in the Kangaroo Carry:

He’s getting so curious about the world around him that he LOVES being able to look around while being carried. If you curious about the benefits of carrying your baby in a sling, here’s an interesting article from the La Leche Legue

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Labor Day, Smirnoff Ice and Psychology Class

I don't know why, but it seems to be the most difficult thing in the world lately to remember my camera!!! So, I have all these stories about what's been going on and only Labor Day photos from my mother-in-law's camera! I will definately have to work on this one, if not for my future daughter-in-law (hee, hee).

Our Labor Day weekend was kicked off Saturday with a Smirnoff promotional party given by our new friend, Jesse and hosted by us. Let me tell you about this phenomenon. Smirnoff says you can have a party with either 15 or 50 of your closest friends (or anyone you'd like to invite) and they will provide all the alcohol (Smirnoff Ice) AND barbeque meat plus a few side dishes. So, basically all we had to do was send out invitations and dress up our backyard a little and they dropped off the drinks and pre-made bbq and said "see ya" (the representative stayed for about 10 minutes at the beginning, took some pictures, and then she was gone for the rest of the night). What's the catch, you may ask? This is the exact question that kept our conversations going during the party whenever we couldn't think of anything clever to say (or when we were just so amazingly suprised at how easy it was to have a party without spending a dime on food or drink). I believe 5 or 6 people of the 40 that came decided to look into having such a party at their place. So, maybe when I get invited to those I'll actually remember to take some pictures!

Early Sunday morning, as I slowly awoke from my sleep-deprived state, we got ourselves together, baby, dog and all, and headed for Kansas City to hang out with Brett and Rodney's parents. This was the first time we had visited Brett since he started med school and we had a great time. Nancy and Jerry graciously put us up in a very nice hotel within walking distance of the Plaza. We hung out at the pool, visited Brett's favorite local grocer, oohed and ahhed over his new $2500 laptop (included in his tuition), and ate great food. We left at about noon on Monday and I was sad to go. I don't know what it is but lately I've been feeling the need to be around family. Perhaps this is because my 94 yr. old grandfather was in the hospital this week and we were all scared that he may not make it. He's fine for now, but here's a funny story that Nancy (my mother-in-law) told us when we got to Kansas City:

Sometime last week Nancy got a phone call from my mom in Florida, which was bizarre because they rarely have occasion to talk (even though they have a fine relationship as far as it goes). My mother launches into an update on my grandfather without giving Nancy a second to say a word, besides "hello." Somewhere in between my mother's report on the lesion on grandpa's pancreas and the surgery that they were prepping him for to remove some blockage from his intestines to his stomach, Nancy is compelled to ask: "Now, how old is he again?" to which she recieved total and complete silence on the other end. After about a minute, my mother says, "Is this Nancy Malone???" Then they spend the remaining minutes of their conversation laughing over the fact that my mother meant to call my aunt Nancy in Michigan and dialed the wrong entry in her cell phone. Needless to say, we got an update on my Grandpa LaCroix from my mother-in-law Nancy Malone when we got to Kansas City and laughed over this hilarious interchange. If you know my mother, it makes the story even funnier (she's a bit eccentric).

My grandpa is doing fine for now. He had the surgery and has responded well in the first few days. They are keeping him for a week and a half to monitor his condition and will most likely release him to hospice care, which he has had before. Keep him in your prayers, as well as all the LaCroix fam in Michigan and Florida who care for him regularly.

Today William was Rodney's specimen in his Psychology class, and I'm the most upset about not taking any pictures of this particular event. I brought the baby into his class and sat in the back and watched while Rodney and his students discussed the stages of human and cognitive delelopemnt (Piaget and the like). Will was a picture of calmness and was so cute in his little blue romper that I dressed him in. Lately he has been so calm and it's been great. For instance, yesterday Marisa, Preston, Will and I were at the mall for a few hours and he slept for a little while but was up and happy for a good portion of it. I guess this means he's coming out of his colicky newborn stage. We can only hope!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Feeling Guilty

Marisa and I talk almost everyday. Sometimes we talk about completely random things, sometimes we talk about very important and relevant events in our lives. The great thing is that we are just free to talk about whatever is on our minds. I've decided that part of the reason why I'm not such a good "blogger" is that I don't think of my blog like my friendship with Marisa, a place to write my random and sometimes not-so-random thoughts. The first thought that I'm going to write about is a response to something that I read in the MOMS Club newsletter this month that is very relevant to what I am experiencing as a new mother. (MOMS Club is a national organization that I'm thinking of joining. The St. Louis city chapter happens to have their monthly meetings at my church). Here's what one mom wrote:

"I am sick of feeling guilty. I feel guilty spending time with my kids when I should be cleaning, guilty for cleaning when I should be playing Candyland. I feel like a bad mom when one of you whips open your diaper bag to reveal an array of healthy, fiber-filled snacks when my bag is filled with items laden with trans fat and sugar. I feel guilty when I see Noah's beautiful baby book filled with anecdotes, photos and artfully scrap-booked pages next to his siblings' mostly blank books. I often feel guilty for not working outside the home and showing my children that I have a profession, a career, a life outside of them. Am I abandoning my feminist principles? I feel guilty when my kids misbehave because I should be able to control their every move, right? The list goes on and on. Stay at home vs. working outside the home. Breastfeeding vs. bottle-feeding. Cloth diapers vs. disposable. Harsh consequences vs. loving prodding. Organic vs. Non-organic. And I know I am not the only one agonizing about my choices. Why do we worry so much about everything?"

She goes on to say that she wants to be done with the guilt. To celebrate her strengths and weaknesses as a mother and stop wasting so much mental energy on questioning herself all of the time. I too, like this mom, want to be inspired to change the things that need to be changed and start living in the moment. I want to stop agonizing over what I'm gonna write in my blog and just write whatever is on my mind! I want to stop worrying whether or not I'm spoiling my 3 month-old by picking him up whenvever he cries and just relax in knowing that I'm his mother and I am responding to him the best way I know how. What an important reflection this has been for me. I welcome any thoughts or comments you may have.

Another comment that I've been mulling over in my head was said to me by my friend, Becca who has a two-year old. She said, "advice from others doesn't really mean that much unless you share the same parenting philosophies. I think the only thing that matters is that your children are generally happy and you have a happy family unit." Obviously, this would only apply if I am also trying to instill character qualities in my children, but I have a while before that becomes necessary!

Here's what's been going on in our household lately. We went to see a lactation consultant last Saturday, which ended up being a huge blessing. I was truly on the verge of quiting when I decided that I just wasn't ready to do that until I met with a lactaction consultant to try to find out if these problems could indeed be fixed. I got some real answers as to why it was hurting so much and why Will has ALWAYS been a fussy breast-feeder. It turns out that I have an over abundant supply of milk and it is "shooting" him in the back of the mouth causing him to pull his tongue back to slow it down while in turn hurting me. She told us no bottles or pacifiers for atleast a week and that she thought we'd see great improvement by the end of the week. Today it has been one week, and I already hurt much less than when we first started. I am so happy about this. Now if we can only get him to start sleeping through the night!

Here are some recent pictures:

We have a busy weekend in store. Tonight we are hosting a Smirnoff promotional bbq at our house with free Smirnoff Ice and free bbq meat. Tomorrow we are visiting Brett in Kansas City. I'll be sure to have lots of pictures and anectdotes to share on Monday!