Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Eli has a new trick

He has mastered the flip out. He is now able to go from easy-going baby to what the heck happened we were all happy 0.2 seconds ago. Those of you who are parents perhaps know the cry of which I speak. The coughing- spitting- red in the face- I refuse to breath cry.

For example, we were driving home from a new mom class that Women & Babies Hospital offers every other Friday, both very happy campers. Eli had just been weighed (12.5 lbs!) and then after all the babies are weighed by the lactation consultant you can stay for a class if you like. This week it was on Baby Massage. (I learned a really cool move to help Eli deal with gas pain!) After class we loaded up in the car - Eli having just been quite relaxed.

Less than a mile down the road, it hit. The spit cry. I never know how to handle it when Eli cries in the car and it's just me. Do I pull over? is he hungry? Do we ride this out? Can I sing over his cries? Is it bad to turn the radio up? Can we please, Lord, get all green lights. His little cry was gut wrenching and I pulled over into a gas station thinking maybe he's hungry. (Is this something you only do with first babies?) I can't get him out of the car seat fast enough, fumble around trying to get my shirt up, and regret having chosen the sketchiest trucker gas station in Lancaster at which to try clumsily to discreetly feed him.

He nurses for all of a second and then passes out. Oh, gosh. Thoughts fly through my head like, "have you passed out from hunger?" - surely not. "Did you hold your breath so long that no oxygen got to your brain?" "Are you seriously asleep so quickly after all that racket and after I had to whip'em out at a truck stop"? EAT!

I proceeded to do what I (unfortunately) always do when I can't tell if he's asleep or stopped breathing. First, I stick my finger under his nose to see if I feel hot breath. This almost never satisfies my wondering. Then, I watch his chest or clothing or head to see if I can tell if he's breathing. This second test only works about half the time. If neither of the above tests work, I poke him until he startles or grunts. Sorry baby.

Why do I wonder if my baby is not breathing? Well, I think to a certain degree every new parent may wonder this. However, this initial "normal" new parent wondering (I believe) was compounded in the hospital the day Eli was born. There was a bit of hubub after Eli arrived about his breathing because he was a little early. He didn't pink up right away (most likely a result of being born so quickly) and he did what the nurses called "singing", which is basically a newborn that whimpers, hums, breaths loudly, to get the amniotic fluid up and out of their lungs. They basically took a wait and see approach to determine if any additional help would be needed and sent us to our recovery room. The nurses settled us in for the night and were about to leave when in my blood-lost, post delivery, first time mom stooper asked, "but don't we need to make sure he doesn't stop breathing. Doesn't somebody need to stay awake to make sure he's breathing." He's never had to breath before and maybe it's a lot of work for such a little guy? I don't know. Instead of the nurse laughing at me and saying "Don't be silly. He's fine." She very seriously replies, "make sure to keep his head elevated and call us if you need any help." What kind of answer is that? One that has left me startling my son awake long after the "singing" stopped.

Sorry for the tangent. To remind you where we are in the story, we're still at the sketchy trucker gas station and my very unhappy baby is now peacefully concked out. So, I poke him- to make sure he is just sleeping. He startles without waking. And I put him in his carseat and we finish the journey home.

This along with a few other instances have left me sure that the spit-cry (for now)is almost always an indicator of exhaustion and need for nap time.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

alphabet fridge

The day before Eli was born, I was at Target and bought the mandatory alphabet magnets for our fridge.
In the weeks since his birth, Rob and I have had fun arranging them. First it started with me pulling out the letters for Eli's name, then Rob added Boy and for the remaining letters, we had a contest of who could come up with the longest word with the remaining consonants and only vowel u. We tied, Rob with Struck and me with Trunks. Last week, we were finally able to use all the letters at once. Ah, the things that amuse new parents.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Change is Gonna Come

"You guys are Crazy" is a phrase Rob and I have heard quite a few times in our young married life. In fact, let's recap:

We got engaged and planned a wedding in 2 1/2 months. Then, moved into a foreclosure house and fixed it up WHILE IN graduate school living on 2 stipends. A short time later, we picked up and moved to Rwanda. We've recently moved back to the US to a place where we knew virtually no one and had a baby. Whew, I know.

Well, we'll soon be provoking that ever familiar refrain again. Rob has left HOPE and is pursuing a position in church ministry. Our dream is ultimately to begin an urban church plant, but in our near future pursue a position that will place us in a church that shares this vision. This new endeavor will most likely lead to another big move (our 4th big move in 3 years of marriage) and brand new everything. Tired?, you may ask- absolutely. Scared?, yeah a little. You have a brand new baby, aren't you WORRIED? - not at all. Through the experience of the new married foreclosure-house-graduate-school mega combo, searching-for-jobs-and-landing-in-Africa tour, and then the move to Lancaster, I’ve ever so slowly and with many set backs begun to learn to let go of my plans; that life is better when you’re not afraid to trust God.

Perhaps it is merely acclimation that I’m able to handle this transition; but I would like to think that it's maturity and peace that Rob has (we all knew it would happen one day) accepted his (hmm, I’ll avoid the weird churchy word "calling") desire, ability, gifting to be in ministry. And crazy as we may be, I like to think that we're really living. Feeling all life's bumps and bruises, joys and trials as we stretch to be the people God made us to be.

So, stay tuned to the blog and I'll post developments. And you never know, perhaps the Hartley family trio will be coming to a city near you soon.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mama's got a brand new do

A little postpartum primping was in order when, for the 3rd day in a row Husband asks "don't you want to go get your hair cut". Of course I had been wanting this but fear of a total melt down kept me away from the chair. I pictured one side of my head cut and then... Eli would wake up and it would all be over. Or, me and my postpartum hormones would hate my hair and have a meltdown of our own.

After picking up the phone to call and cancel my appointment for the 5th time, I told Eli, "nope, we're doing this." I told my stylist, "This may be a really bad idea and a complete disaster, but let's give it a try".

I like it. And my perfect baby slept the entire time.

Spring is Coming

Even to Lancaster County. The Farmers' Almanac predicts a record amount of snow for us this March... Let's hope they're wrong.

flowers from Market

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Day in the Life

With grandparents, family and friends far away, Eli and I wanted to show you guys what we do all day long by posting some pictures of Eli's favorite things

It's a good day for Eli when he gets to wake up in the big bed.

Eli's just started liking to kick it in the Pack n Play and watch the birds fly by

We spend some time together in the Kitchen; Eli in the bouncy while I do the dishes

We both like to go to market

And afternoon walks to the park keep us both sane

A fresh diaper makes everyone happy

Friday, March 5, 2010

The first 6 weeks

My thoughts on the first 6 weeks of mommyhood

Shortly after Eli's birth I got a parenting magazine in the mail, one that described the first 12 weeks of surviving after baby's birth as "the trenches". About 3 weeks into it, I definitely understood why.

Week 1 we were mostly on survival mode balanced with a good helping of awe at our baby's arrival. My mom's presence was a great comfort and Rob and I had no worries of feeding ourselves or keeping the house clean. It was a great time to bond with our little one and adjust to being parents. Nights of less sleep were eased by long day time naps. There were plenty of post-partum tears and learning the how-tos of mommy-dom seemed endless but overall mom's homecooking at the end of everyday made life seem manageable.

When she left Rob's week of paternity began. Rob did a great job of easing the transition between easy street with my mom and the reality of day to day life with a newborn. When my mom left it felt very reminiscent of when Rob and I left the hospital with Eli. We were on our own. I was still spoiled with breakfast, lunch and dinner; but getting time for a shower became trickier. I still cannot comprehend how such a little person who sleeps so much can cause 2 adults to sleep, eat, and shower so little.

The 3rd week Rob went back to work and between the hours of 9-5, I was responsible for not only taking care of Eli, but me too. By friday I was utterly exhausted.

Weeks 3,4, and 5 progressively became more challenging. Our quiet baby "woke up" with gas pains and a seeming inability to burp. It was nothing short of depressing to realize at 4 weeks after his birth, it had been 28 days since I'd gotten a solid 8 or even 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Seriously baby is 5 too many to ask for? I finally understood what sleep deprivation does to a person. During the early weeks (before I guess my body adjusted) I awoke from:

- trying to nurse a pillow
- in an absolute panic having forgotten where I put the baby (no worries he was in his bassinet)
- waking Rob up with crazy nonsensical questions
- a really vivid dream of overdosing on prenatal vitamins (I hid them from myself the next morning)

It seems odd to me that the time in life when the most energy is needed would correspond to receiving less sleep that a gnat could function on. One morning at 4am, after just getting a newborn whose days and nights were confused back to sleep, I found myself in the kitchen crying from utter exhaustion and frustration; wondering why in the world having a baby sounded like such a good idea 10 months ago. Little sleep coupled with countless winter days of changing diapers and feeding baby made every day seem like the baby version of the movie "groundhog day". I saw no end in sight, and couldn't imagine a day when I'd have time to shower and eat breakfast before 1pm, when would I ever be able to get us both out the door for anything? Forget labor, these weeks were hard I would compare them to transition during labor. I felt completely ill equipped for the demands of motherhood at times during these weeks.

At a full 6 weeks, we're not out of the woods yet by any means. Baby boy has reverted to waking every 2 hours during the night for snacks. I'm thinking its due to his latest growth spurt. But breasting feeding is easier now (even though we still have our ups and downs with it) so night time feedings are not the production they once were. I can function quite happily with less sleep and enjoy the occasional afternoon nap when I can catch it. Me and baby have had many successful outings, the grocery, a la leche league meeting, wal-mart, the library, a new mommy class, a friends house, church. I've been able to learn how to mommy and sometimes do the dishes, prepare meals, do some light cleaning, etc. But overall, I think the turn came when I submitted to being less productive (or as I confided to Rob- less busy).

I thought after the initial 3 weeks, I'd be myself again. Running around town, handling the affairs of the house, back to outings with friends- so when feedings were still taking an hour, anything outside baby's needs felt overwhelming, and at the end of the day the sink was full of dirty dishes and I was unshowered, life felt rough. But once I submitted to a slower pace and less busy life, life has gradually gotten better and I can see that one day, we'll have our new normal that will work.

Even though life with a newborn has been totally unglamorous and often times downright dirty, there is a distinct feeling of sacredness. The messy kind that we seem to have the most of in our lives. I've treasured quiet times of nursing in the afternoon, singing him to sleep at night and waking up to the russeling of little baby feet under the covers in the morning. It's been amazing to take my place as a woman in the process of life; to watch my baby grow and know that he's getting all his nutrients from me. I can't wait to see Eli running down the hall in his footed pjs, smiling at me, hearing "mama", kissing skinned knees and Saturday mornings full of cartoons and demands for pancakes. So, no worries, grandparents, Eli will have plenty of little brothers and sisters. Like labor pains, I'm guessing we'll look back on these first weeks with rose colored glasses, remembering our baby's first coos and yawns and not poopy diapers at 4 am.