I've become addicted to FB. I used to be addicted to MySpace. I still love my MySpace page, but can't use it anymore. What is the point of putting that much effort into a social site when no one you know uses it anymore? I loved the way I could decorate my page. My page was VERY awesome. I had some awesome embedded pictures and had set the colors up myself. But, my favorite thing was the blog. I used to be a very avid journal writer, but came to a lull in my life and stopped. Blogging on MySpace filled that void and I wrote a lot again most of the time. But then came FB. How can it have no blogging application!! I'm sorry, but that Notes thing just didn't do it for me. So, I went without. This makes me sad that I didn't write for the past year because the biggest thing in my life happened: Having a baby.
So that is the story of how I came to be here. Having a 7 month old daughter allows me a surprising amount of time to be on the computer. She is really an angel and plays with her toys allowing me to do my own thing a few feet away from her a lot of the time. This does make me feel bad at times though. But, I just talked with my mother within the last few days and she confirmed something I remembered. My mother didn't play with us when we were little. By the time I came along, she had an 18 month old and a three and half year old. By the time I was walking, I had been diagnosed with serious food and environmental allergies as well as asthma. Between keeping the house clean, feeding us, and caring of our other basic needs, I don't think she had much time to play with us. Yet, we all turned out okay. Shy and unpopular, but successful adults. So, why do I feel guilty when I make my daughter play alone? Probably because I'm not scrubbing the floors. Still, the reason doesn't matter I guess. Now, I wasn't very close with my mother until I got to be an adult. She was overprotective of me to a point that it started to smother me, yet we never had any real communication. I've always known that I didn't want that to happen with me and my children, especially any daughters. But will not giving her my attention as she plays with her teething rings and blocks really do any harm? I can't believe so. Yet, of course, I still feel guilty when I read while nursing instead of gazing at her gorgeous little face, or when I type on the computer instead of engaging her in a game, or when she fusses when I get up to go get a snack.
So, motherhood is complicated. I've wanted to write about it before, but didn't have the medium to do so. I just didn't see myself pulling out a notebook and writing it out by hand in my sloppy scrall. I'm just too out of practice. Without MySpace, I didn't have an electornic outlet either. But, now, I do. Now, some of that time I spend on the computer not playing with Natalie can be writing about us. I want her to know what it was like for me at this time. I want to be able to tell her things when she is older about herself as a little girl. And I want to be able to answer her questions when she has children.
I have a huge urge to go back and write about all that is past. But, that would be too overwhelming. I'm sure that those stories will come up as needed. So, I am just going to go with what we did today and this last week or so and start from there.
Natalie turns 7 months old on Friday. She was so squirmy from the start that we thought she was going to be crawling by this point, but she isn't. There was a gap there when I thought she was going to skip crawling all together. See, we started to make her walk as kind of a joke. This was back around the holidays. We would move her sholders to make her feet move as we held her up. Well, surprise, surprise, Natalie loved it. Now, she can basically run holding on to our hands. We thought with her enthusaism for this she would never crawl. But, in the last four or five days, she has made huge progress. She is flipping over off her back all the time now. She could do it before, but just never did. Now she is constant danger of falling of chairs and beds because she lunges forward or flips over. When she tips over while playing these last two days, she has been happy to stay on her tummy. She had started moving in a cirlce, and now she is sliding backwards. She is starting to lift her butt up in the air, too. She can't quite get it all together yet though, but I now know that she will. It is just so amazing to me that 7 months ago she could barely move and see, and now she is on the cusp of independent movement. The world will be her's to explore. And maybe I won't have time to blog anymore ...
Our days are usually very routine. I get up just before Mike leaves for work. He is very routined as well. I know that I have to get out of bed after he takes his lunch out of the fridge, goes out to start his car (if its cold), washes his glasses, and lint rolls his clothes (unless its Friday). He then goes in to wake up Natalie. She is always happy to see him and is always awake already sucking her thumb and staring at the wall. (This used to make me feel guilty as well. Isn't she bored out of her mind? But she doesn't cry. Now, I think she often is staring at her Glow Worm from Nana instead). This morning though, the flipping got in the way. She was awake and happily babbling for a while. I was awake, too. Mike's alarm needs to go off several times for him to get up so I'm awake too even if I'm still in bed. I listened to Natalie talk through the monitor as I dozed. Then she started to fuss, then cry. Mike hadn't yet lint rolled, so he wasn't ready to get her, so I got up. Natalie was on her tummy and not happy about it. Why she doesn't roll over is beyond me. So, I got her up and we proceeded through our morning routine of diaper and nursing, saying goodbye to Daddy somewhere in the process.
When we first had Natalie, I was very worried about being alone with her all day. I was worried about her crying and crying and me not being able to get her to stop. Well, that has never really happened. Largely it is because Natalie is such a sweet child. But, I will give myself some credit and say that I also have learned to meet her needs. There is nothing like having Natalie show me her love as thanks for caring for her. When she is upset, she will reach out for me out of Mike's arms. I feel bad for him when she does this, but secretly, it makes me know that all the grumpy likes are worth it. Even better though, is when she is walking using Mike's hands and she runs at me with her mouth wide open panting her happiness. I just scoop her up in my arms and relish holding her. This always works at warming my heart. Even if I've just passed her off to Mike because she is driving me crazy with fussiness, if she comes running at me like that, I'm in love again and take her back. Usually, a minute or so later I'm like: Wait, didn't I just give her to you to get a break?
The days used to be harder. The winter was harder. In the very beginning, I spent most of my time in Natalie's room. I didn't watch much TV, which was a huge change from the latter half of my pregnancy when I vegged on the couch reading with our cat Snickies behind me and the TV on. But around two months I'd say, I started to venture out in the living room and nurse her in front of the TV with the lap top at my side. Our electric bill went up from the TV being on all the time, but I wasn't as lonely and the house wasn't as quite. Natalie napped a lot on me, or more on the nursing pillow on me, and she still does, but for a while there, it felt like I spent the whole day with her there. But, as she got older, she spent more time on the floor under her gym or in her Bumbo chair, and then sitting on her own. But, she also became more aware and I needed to be more involved in making sure she was entertained. We created our routines and they change slightly every month or so. Right now we are working on adding tooth brushing and solids for lunch and getting rid of her 9 o'clock nap.
After Mike leaves in the morning, Natalie gets plopped down in her play pen (some people hate that term, but it doesn't bother me. Its way easier to type than Pack'n'Play). She has certain toys that stay in there and she has gotten really good at reaching all of them. We have tons of toys for her because I bought pretty much everything I could find for infants in the beginning because I didn't want her to be bored and we had Christmas when she was young. She comes out of the play pen around 8 usually (oh, we get up at 6:50, and usually make it to the living room around 730). This gives me enough time to get breakfast and login to FB and Goodreads. Our next item on our schedule is to watch Jack's Big Music Show at 830. So, before then, Natalie mostly plays on her own on the floor next to me, but we do a diaper change in there and get her dressed, including brushing her hair and playing on the bed in her room, which usually involves peekaboo over the side of the bed and reading a book. During her show, I used to stand her up and make her dance, but now that she can walk, I try to avoid standing her up because she wants me to walk her all over the house. I have to hunch over holding her hands. I can only do that so much a day, so I try to save it for as late in the day as I can, although we usually do walk from room to room rather than me carrying her.
After her show, its nap time. Yesterday for the first time, she skipped this nap without us doing anything else different, like running an errand or being away from home. She wasn't even cranky! Usually though, like today, I have to put her down because she is starting to fuss and thumb suck. Luckily, today's 9 o'clock nap didn't involve any crying or flipping over in the crib. While Natalie sleeps, I usually do not make good use of my time. Some days, especially Fridays when we have story time to get to at 10, I get washed up and dressed, but usually, I waste time doing stupid things, like being on the computer and I barely get the essential things done that I have to do before she wakes up, which are to pump some breast milk and get things set up for her cereal. I'm a big fan of setting up things before we do them. It seems to make everything go so much smoother when its all ready to go in advance. I was like that as a teacher, too.
Natalie is a very good eater. We have yet to have her refuse to eat something. She might make a face, but she never refuses the spoon or spits things back out. She's tried rice cereal (including with some fruit mixed in, and I don't think she liked the bananas), carrots, squash, green beans, apple sauce, bananas, sweet potatos, and peas. We are ready for our next new food. In the house we have oatmeal, peaches, pears, mangos, and baby yogurt (vanilla and banana flavors). But, I'm struggling with deciding if she should try a finger good next. She is starting to use her pincher grasp to pull on teh zipper of my hoodie, so I am dying to see her pick up little things with it, but food is the only safe little thing to give her because she puts everything in her mouth now. She has four teeth that are in well and two more that have errupted, but she can't really chew. The whole food thing stresses me out because of my food allergies. I am afraid to give her anything with wheat, but many of the next things in line to try have wheat in them.
After cereal, its Sesame Street time. Natalie plays while its on. I really enjoy Sesame Street. I love all the celebraties and paradoies. I also love the cohesiveness of each episode as far as the content. Sometimes I sing along or point things out to Natalie, but she doesn't know what's going on and thinks I'm nuts. We usually don't make it to the end of Elmo's World before its time to go nurse in her room. I read while she sleeps. The last few days, after eating, she has really slept. Usually she will just doze off and on. Yesterday I thought it was the lack of her 9am nap, but today I think it was the rainy weather. Back a few months ago, she used to always take her long nap at 1030 or so and I would be stranded on the couch for up to four hours, but now it is only two hours and that seems long. I guess how long it seems depends on how good my book I'm reading is. Right now I'm reading Caddie Woodlawn. Two hours felt long, but maybe that was also my need to pee. When I was finishing Memory Keeper's Daughter and Water for Elephants, or reading Al Capone Does My Shirts, it didn't feel long. I used to read aloud to Natalie all the time when she nursed, but that was when she was very small and all we did really was nurse.
When she gets up from this nap, she is usually in a good mood and we snuggle for a bit. She pulls on my curls, I boop her nose, ect. I love this time. But eventually it has to end. We head back out to the living room and I have some lunch while she plays. I usually write Mike an email during this time, or more Natalie does. I write it from her point of view telling him how the day has gone so far. I try to make it funny and usually can get at least one joke in. After the email, is when the afternoons start to become hard, because we no longer have a pattern or schedule. Everything that comes next is variable. If its nice out, we try to go for a walk. Natalie loves the out doors I've discovered. Maybe she will just be a true woodsy Mainer or maybe it is because it is so new to her since she's been cooped up all winter. Natalie doesn't necessarily love walks per say though. She usually falls asleep. That is partly because I use them against her. Its a conflict I have. We usually go on the walk when she is just about ready to take a nap. I hate putting her in the crib and her crying and fussing to sleep. But, if we go out on a walk, she doesn't do that. She eventually just conks out. Plus, I get to go for a walk. I even bought the fancy $100 Stechers Shape-Ups walking shoes just for these walks. We walk around a little block near our house and then down the busy street we live on for about a block to a group of col de saqs, then back down to our house. Natalie usually stays asleep for another five to ten minutes after we get home and I sit on the steps, take off my shoes, drink the rest of my water, and maybe read.
Today, we couldn't go for a walk because it was raining, but yesterday we did. Yesterday was perhaps the best walk ever. Usually, we go down the short circuit first and see if one of our nieghbors is out for a chat, but some days I don't want to chat and yesterday was one of them, so we went off towards to the col de saqs instead. Natalie was loving looking up at the sky and having bare feet. I kept ticking them and she was laughing showing me those adorable front teeth in her new smile. Natalie isn't a serious baby. She smiles a lot. But she doesn't laugh, like really laugh, often. We get that breathy panting a lot, but that's more excitiment. Laughs are a big deal. And she was laughing at her feet being tickled on our walk yesterday. Then she fell of to sleep and I kept adding on to our walk so she would get what she needed for sleep.
Because of the rain we did what we usual do if its bad weather, or what we did before the snow all melted, which is to go shopping. We went to Shaw's today. We generally do our shopping at Walmart because its cheaper and easier, but there are things we can't get there, namely my wheat free bread, dried cherries that aren't manufactered in a plant with nuts, and Mike's Aunt Annies Mac and Cheese. Recently, shopping has become more fun for Natalie. She has graduated to the shopping cart seat. She gets very happy when I come to get her out of her seat in the back of the car. Ladies in the store love to talk to her as well as older men. She gets a lot fo attention in the check out line. Today was the same as usual. The bagger lady touched her face today, but it was only just slightly. Natalie's checks are pretty hard to resist. (My favortie story about this is a little three or four year old at story time just walked up to Natalie and smooshed her checks like Mcaully Culkin in Home Alone. She was like Ramona Quimby unable to resist boiiing Susan's curls).
Once home from our shopping trip (or walk if its one of those days), its time to nurse again. We have this session on the couch. Even though the TV is there as well as the lap top, I've tried to get out of the habit of using them and often read then. If we've been out, Natalie often falls asleep for a bit. After this snack (and maybe nap) we are in the home stretch. Its usually about 330 and Mike is due at 515. Natalie plays some more and I don't really know how I spend this time. Hmm. Anyway, when Mike gets home, I'm usually ready for him to take over so I can have some baby free time. Even if she has been prefect all day, I just like to have some time when I don't have to be worrying about if she is happy and safe. But, its not really a break. I usually make dinner, clean up the kitchen, get us set up for bed time (cleaning up Natalie's room, getting out pjs, setting up to nurse), set up for bath if needed, make Mike's lunch (I do this mostly so that he will watch Natalie instead of doing it himself), and get her dinner ready.
Natalie eats before we do which isn't the best plan. Today, we managed to keep her in her high chair through both of our dinners, which worked out well. Mike fed her some squash and she tried apple juice for the first time in her sippy cup. She has like a love - hate thing going on with the sippy cup. She loves to suck and chew on it, but she can't really drink from it yet. What does get out goes all over her bib. I'm glad that I water the juice down because as it is, it is a huge waste of money. What we really need is a cup that has a straw covered by the nipple like nub, but we can't find one. My mother says they exist because my cousin's daughter had one. When in her chair with her cup, Natalie usually yells a lot and likes to band her right foot on the barrier between her legs that helps keep her from falling out. Today though, she didn't do those things and we had a very quite dinner. We were both surprised how smooth it went.
I usually clean up after dinner too to continue my baby free time. I usually see after dinner though as more of an oppertunity for Mike to play with Natalie. Tonight, I hadn't yet had time to get her room ready for bed time, so I did that while they played and watched Nick Jr. I even had time to fold some laundry. We decided she was ready to start bed time just after 630. Mike starts bed time. He gets her diaper changed, puts on her lotion, gets her in her pjs, then I come in to nurse. I somehow have gotten him to read to us, too. In the beginning, I read to Natalie. Then I asked if he wanted to read some at some point. He read sections of Wind in the Willows to her and Tale of Despereau, but it was Harry Potter that got him hooked. Mike has never had the oppertunity to reread all the Harry Potter books and reading them aloud to Natalie gives him a chance to. We are on a mission to finish reading them to her by the time the 7th movie comes out. We are on Goblet of Fire and have to read 13 pages a night to get there in time, but we are a little behind. So, reading is an ingrained part of our bed time routine. At some point, we will have to switch to stories that Natalie will actually be more a part of, but for right now, she falls asleep after nursing for less than ten minute usually, so its really more for us. I'm glad that reading is such a big part of our bed time. The rest of bed time just sort of came to be one day. It seems like in the beginning we just barely hung on getting through dinner and me getting shower, and then one day we had a routine and had more predictable evenings.
Tonight, Natalie did not fall asleep nursing. Most nights she does because she is so tired by the time we get to bed time. She often has not napped late enough in the afternoon. Today, she had a nap at 430 while I started dinner and loaded the dish washer, but usually she cried if I try to put her down for a late afternoon nap. So, because she didn't fall asleep and instead of nursing he was commenting on the story, we had to put her in the crib awake. She is able to deal with this and goes to sleep quickly, but she was not pleased with the move tonight and let us know. She was happy with Mommy and Daddy snuggling her and didn't want to be alone and go to bed. I can't blame her. We really didn't want to stop either, but knew we had to follow our routine or she would be confused.
After Natalie is the crib for the night, we have the night to ourselves. Natalie sleeps through the night. She wakes up sometimes, but doesn't need us to put her back to bed. I'm worried that with all the flipping over she's been doing, that this will start to change. Its been odd these last few days going in to get her or check on her and find her on her stomach. Once, she had also turned herself around and was lifting her head up looking at me! I've gotten used to peeking around her door, but if she is going to continue that manuevor, I won't be able to do that. I've often wondered if she ever sees me or sees the door move and if that creeps her out. It sure as hell would creep me out if my bed room door was moving for no reason.
Well, this has been quite the entry and I haven't even touched upon all the thoughts that were wondering through my head about motherhood. Its sad that I was really thinking about it the other day and now most of that has sort of faded away. I know part of my thoughts were about how Natalie is still very much a stranger to me. Her personality is still unfolding. Without her being able to communicate with me, I go through my days with her and we don't really know what the other is thinking the vast majority of the time. I've also thought about how amazing the idea of being a mother is and how her love for me is so strong. Oh, I remember what I was thinking of the other day. Mike was on vacation this past week and one of our big jobs was to reorganize our storage unit in a logical fashion. Mike never knew where anything was, whereas I seemed to have developed that wide and mother characteristic of knowing where everything in the house is. Anyway, I wanted to really do the job well and seize his being home to go through all the old papers I had saved. I'm talking about mementos, cards, letters, notes, play bills, everything from college and high school. I then decided that I didn't need to have all the prints of the pictures I had on cd. Basically, I get very deep into my life in high school and college. It was very odd for me to be looking back on this and then have my little girl to take care of. These two lives weren't quite gelling for me. That is something I would like to think about more.
Well, I will save one thing to write about tomorrow at least. That is more about food. I have what seems to be the most common mother worry and that is if Natalie is eating enough. She is definitely thinner than she used to be, but use did gain a little weight over the last month and got taller. I worry that she falls asleep too soon when nursing to get enough to eat. Wouldn't she be complaining if she was not eating enough, though? Well, that is a thought to investigate more another day. I believe I've been at this for about two hours now, so its time to end.