msLaura: Modern Mama Laura Hamilton + Dan Baker = Julian Hamilton Baker & Adrian Hamilton Baker "When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her."
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June 28, 2004

One more week of maternity leave

One more week of maternity leave. One. More. Week. Aaaargh!

Tomorrow Julian and I are going to the childcare center in the morning to get his paperwork turned in. Then we'll play over there for a few hours...eat, visit with the teacher, try to nap in the crib there, hang out with the other babies. Since he is so social, I'm thinking that he'll really enjoy being around the other babies. He always loves his playgroup time with his baby friends.

I'm not going to go on Wednesday, since we have playgroup that day at Kelly's house, but I'll try to go again on Thursday and Friday with him for a few hours. Hopefully that's enough to get him feeling somewhat comfortable and used to the place. Thank goodness next Monday is a holiday. It's nice to have the first week be a short one. My boy...I miss him already.

I'm looking forward to getting a paycheck again, that's for sure. My savings account is dwindling down to a pretty low level. Time to fatten it up again.

I got my hair cut and highlighted on Friday. I held Baby J on my lap for the first hour and a half while I got my highlights, then Dan came down and watched the boy while I got my shampoo and haircut. Worked out pretty well.

And hey! I am back into my old pants! Even the small ones! It's a different belly and hips than I had before...I still have a funny-looking roll of loose skin around my waist, but it's still shrinking back, so I'm not too worried. I still have ten pounds to lose to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but I think some of that might be boobs. The most important thing is having my pants fit.

Julian's tooth is coming in quickly, getting long and very sharp! I forgot about those serrated edges that new teeth have. And every day he gets closer and closer to sitting up on his own. He can sit on his potty by himself as long as I keep a careful eye on him. Sometimes he tilts over sideways. Mostly he likes to lean *really* far forward so that he can grab his own toes...then he can fall off the front of the potty if I don't hold onto his shirt. Sitting is fun though.

The newest development is Grabby Hands! In the past week or two, Baby J discovered that his hands can be little tools, they can hold toys and smack the table, and wave around when he is excited. When he is happy he will lift his arms up and then smack his belly or legs...pretty funny! He used to just grab my hair, but now he grabs everything. I took him on a tour of the backyard last night and we touched the prickly tomato plant, a fuzzy fern, a soft rose, etc. Fascinating! Paper is another big favorite. It's great to grab a piece of paper and then CRUMPLE it, makes a good sound too.

June 25, 2004

A new, sharp tooth, and getting ready for daycare

So much to write about, and so little time to do it! Julian got his first tooth on Wednesday. His two front bottom teeth have been just about to break through for a while now. On Wednesday morning he was fussy to beat the band, just inconsolably crying, crying, crying. Nothing seemed to make him feel better. He didn't take his usual morning nap either.

We went to our playgroup at Julia's house, and seeing his baby buddies distracted him for a while, but not for too long. He started fussing again towards the end. I tried to nurse him, but he didn't seem interested. When we got home he melted down and was almost hysterical...I was finally able to nurse him to sleep and he slept for a few hours. When he woke up he seemed much better, so I took him with me to Whole Foods to get diapers and fruit. When I was taking him out of the car seat I poked my finger in his mouth to play with him, and lo and behold...a new, very SHARP tooth! Just one on bottom, the other one still has to break through. Which I think is happening today, because he is again inconsolably fussy and crying.

Nothing seems to help much. He puts everything in his mouth, but nothing seems to please him for long. I have tried all kinds of teething toys and rings. He likes his fingers the best, and has them in his mouth whenever he is awake. Him and me both! I am stressed out about him going to daycare and have started biting my nails again, so we both have our hands in our mouths all the time.

I finally tried a wet baby washcloth wrapped around an ice cube today and he sucked on that like crazy. I gave him some liquid Tylenol too, but other than those two things I'm not sure what else to try, so I am just nursing him a lot and trying to give him extra cuddling. I hope that other tooth comes in soon! I have a 3 hour hair appt. this afternoon, and he will be with me for the first hour and a half before Dan comes down to take over. Normally he does fine playing on my lap and in his bouncy chair, but with this teething going on...yikes. He is taking a good nap right now, hopefully he feels better afterwards. His naps are all over the place lately and he gets overtired as a result. Poor baby. This is a rough period for him.

Last week was a bad week. Julian had started cutting these teeth, but I didn't know what was going on at the time. I just knew that he wasn't sleeping nearly as much as he had been, he was extra-fussy, and he was also stricken with stranger anxiety. I felt overwhelmed by caring for him 24/7 without any breaks and started getting depressed. I felt like I couldn't get anything done, even simple little things, I couldn't run errands, I felt my to-do list piling up into a huge mountain of overdue tasks! I was trying to comfort poor Baby J, but I was exhausted and overwhelmed and stressed out.

Finally I realized that I needed a break from nonstop baby care, so I set up an appt. for Julian with the childcare at Swim and Racquet to get a little break. I dropped him off at Kidz Club and got in the pool for a calming restorative swim. It was great, but 10 minutes in I heard a page come over the club PA system..."Laura Hamilton, please report to KidzClub." NOOOOOOOO! I jumped out of the pool and ran dripping to see what was wrong. There was Julian screaming his head off in the arms of the caregiver, who was frazzled.

"He was OK for about ten minutes, but then he just started screaming and he hasn't stopped." Gah! In my wet bathing suit I grabbed him and he calmed down right away. I held him for a minute and then tried to put him back in his bouncy chair to rock him to sleep but no dice. The scream-a-thon began again, so I spent the next 40 minutes calming him down. I finally had him all nice and calm in one of the baby swings there. He was almost asleep, so I left to go take a shower and get out of my bathing suit in the last 20 minutes before they closed. Well, when I got out of the shower I could hear him screaming through the wall between the ladies' locker room and the KidzClub! Ugh, awful! I absolutely threw on my clothes and flew back over to KidzClub. Yep, there he was, screaming bloody murder like he was being tortured with hot pins.

Well great, this was a fantastic f---ing BREAK from baby care. NOT. Ten minutes of swimming, ten minutes of showering, and one hour ten minutes trying to calm down my screaming baby in a wet bathing suit in public! I just started bawling, and I bawled all the way home, I bawled the whole time I nursed him to sleep, and I kept on bawling.

Dan asked me what was wrong and I told him I needed a BREAK because I wasn't able to be a patient, fun, loving mama when I was so tired and overwhelmed. I mean, I was still being loving and patient with Julian, but I felt like I was about to lose my mind, and this was not good for anyone. If Mama is not happy, no one is happy. From now on, evenings would be his time with Julian and I was going to go fold laundry or read a book or do something else and take a break. Everyone needs a break from caregiving at some point and I was way overdue. I love our baby more than anything, and he's wonderful, but I still just need a break on a regular basis, and I'm not getting one.

Dan was great, he went into action right away. He took the baby, called his mom about future babysitting, and told me to go do something fun for a few hours. Of course, I couldn't even think of what to do first with my time off, because I had a list of things as long as my arm to get done, but instead I just read my book and sent a few emails....and felt a lot better.

The next day was the beginning of our new regime. The baby must take a bottle once a day, he must learn to nap without being nursed to sleep, and I must get caregiving relief on a regular basis. Tall order. We started immediately on the bottle. Dan sat with Julian trying to give him a bottle while Julian screamed for an hour and my nerves shredded into tiny particles. Both of them were sweaty and frazzled and traumatized at the end of it and Julian hadn't even taken one ounce of milk. So much for the hardline approach! I got him to take a bottle later on by giving it to him in his carseat while we were driving. For some reason he chugged down half of it all of a sudden, and then the drank the rest of it at our friends' house while he was sitting on my lap at the dinner table.

Dan's mom Ida watched Julian for a few hours on Saturday while Dan and I went to the gym, which was fantastic. So nice to be alone with Dan for a few hours sans baby. I forgot what that was like! Unfortunately she had to walk him around the entire time we were gone, AND he refused a bottle, AND he only napped for ten minutes. He was hysterical when we came to pick him up...sigh. Poor Ida, I felt really bad leaving my screaming baby with her, but I really needed the break, and it was good practice for Julian to have someone else take care of him besides Dan or me.

Ida came over again on Monday to watch Julian for a few hours while I took a shower and got some chores done. He was fussy again, cried a lot, refused a bottle...but she got him to sleep (which has been another challenge lately), so at least we made some progress.

In the meantime we are still working on getting him ready for daycare. Dan got Julian to take a bottle by letting Julian hold the bottle and manipulate it himself, rather than Dan holding it for him. Sometimes he just plays with it instead of drinking it, but at least he doesn't scream anymore.

I am working on naps with him. I put him down on the bed when he's tired and sit next to him. If he cries, I will let him cry for a few minutes while I rub his back and sing to him, then if he *keeps* on crying, pick him up to comfort him until he calms down. Once he's calmed, I put him back down. This worked twice. He stayed calm and drifted off by himself once I put him back down.

The last two days it didn't work. He was soooooo tired, just delirious with exhaustion, so I put him down and he started crying. I tried picking him up, calming him, and putting him back down, but it wasn't working. Finally, I decided to just let him cry it out for a little bit. I mean, he HAD to sleep. He was crying with his eyes closed, he was so tired. I could have easily nursed him to sleep or rocked him and had him asleep in a millisecond, but...sigh...that won't work at daycare.

Yesterday he cried for about ten minutes before going to sleep, which seemed like an eternity. Today it was less than five. I don't know if we're making progress or not, that's only two days. We'll see how it goes.

This baby training is hard work, and stressful. I have bitten all of my nails off, down to the quick almost. Arrgh. My sleeping is off as well. I just hope he'll be OK. I hear that babies do things at daycare that they never do for their mamas at home, but so far that hasn't been the case with Julian.

June 16, 2004

Four months old

Julian had his four-month checkup yesterday:

Weight: 16 pounds, 6 ounces

Length: 25.5 inches

Head: 43 cm around

Overall he is in the 75% percentile for all three categories, perfectly proportional and big for his age (bigger than 75% of all other babies). Dr. S was commenting that he is unusually strong and well-developed. He is almost sitting by himself, can stand unsupported with something to hold for balance, and he is very social. Yay! So glad to have a healthy, strong, beautiful baby.

I told Dr. S that I was worried about him refusing a bottle, and also not napping well on his own. He naps fine if I nurse him, rock him/walk with him, or lay down with him, but not otherwise. Both of these factors really worry me...I am going back to work in a little over 2 weeks ! She said that I shouldn't worry so much...experienced daycare providers tend to have *lots* of experience with these issues, and he may cry a bit at first but will rapidly adapt...he *will* take a bottle if he gets hungry enough and he *will* nap when he gets sleepy enough. She said in many cases the baby takes a bottle and naps fine in daycare, things that they will refuse to do at home. So here's hoping for the best.

I'm still not convinced that he will *need* a bottle, as I will be going to spend my lunch hour with him, and only four hours on either side of my visit. He routinely goes that long without getting hungry at home, though he does like a warm breast to take a nap with.

Everyone's asking me when I'll start feeding him solid food. Pretty much whenever he asks for it! He watches food go back and forth from our plates to our mouth sometimes, but otherwise he hasn't tried to grab at it or any of the other classic signs. So whenever he wants to eat solids, he can. I'm not really in any hurry, he has the rest of his life (well, until extreme old age, I guess) to eat solid foods, and also, I'm not looking forward to big smelly food poops.

Julian also has two little tooth buds...his two bottom teeth are coming in.

I was looking around in the New Mom Support Group today and lots of the babies that I thought were newborns were just a few weeks younger than Julian. They still looked so newbornish, had that sort of pinched, undeveloped look and were laying back cradled in their mamas' arms. Then I look down at my Little Man and he's doing a Tarzan yell and beating his chest and trying to stand up. The thought of him being mobile someday soon is a little scary.

June 13, 2004

La Vida Loca Mexicana

We just came back from a trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, to attend the wedding of our friends Lisa and Ray. Well, we got back on Tuesday night, but you know how time flies. Faster and faster every day!

We all had a wonderful time. Julian was fantastic on the plane ride down and back. He started to fuss a little bit when we got on the plane for the first time, but I think it was because *I* felt nervous that he would fuss. I calmed myself down and told myself that if he fussed or didn't fuss, it would all be fine, and he calmed right down. The boy has an amazing ability to pick up on tension. If you worry that he will cry, he is guaranteed to cry. If you are calm and relaxed, he stays calm and relaxed.

I nursed him during the ascent and descent, and he slept most of the time in-between. I had him in my Girasol sling, so if he started to fuss, I just stood up and rocked back and forth and he was happy as a clam. There was another little girl, 2.5 months old, behind us, and she was good too. I don't think I would like to test a plane ride past three hours though. That was plenty of time on a plane for all of us.

We stayed at the Hotel Fiestamericana outside town, on the beach in between San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas. It was lovely, sort of chaotically mananged, but lovely. Our first room had a beautiful ocean view, but there was a tremendous vibration in the room that periodically got much worse, you could hardly stand to be in the bathroom without having a seizure. It seemed to be coming from under the bathtub. Unacceptable. And there was a windowless shed down under our window that emitted a loud noise as well...the desalinization plant? Anyway, Dan got us moved to a VIP room in the Grand Club section of the hotel, which was quiet and lovely, and on the ground floor. Much easier with the baby. We had our own lounge with drinks and appetizers throughout the day, our own separate pool, all kinds of fringe benefits.

We got settled in to our new room and headed to dinner. They were having a big Fiesta Mexicana dinner that night, with different cuisines from all over Mexico available. Delicious. I love Mexican food in Mexico. It's so much better and different than the BS you get in the US. I have read that there are only three great cuisines in the world: French, Chinese and Mexican...based on the sophistication and quantity of techniques, variety of ingredients and flavors, etc. True, in my opinion.

Dan was talking to one of the chefs and introduced me. By coincidence, his wife's name was Laura as well. We finished dinner and went to bed. The baby was up several times that night to eat, so I woke up more than usual, and then at 4:15am the phone rang! It was a Mexican male voice..."Miss Laura? I am coming to visit you. Do you want me to come and visit you, Miss Laura?" CRAZY! I hung up the phone, but in the dark I couldn't find the cradle, so it took me a minute or two, and I could hear him talking in the meantime. I got out of bed to go check the door and make sure it was locked. Scarily enough, it was not shut all the way, so the lock hadn't clicked! I turned the deadbolt and went into the bathroom to pee. The phone rang again! I picked up the phone next to the toilet and said nothing. It was him again, saying more stuff about coming to visit me. I hung up.

Ring number THREE was the front desk...was I expecting a visitor? NO! Of course not! I hung up. And the fourth call was from him again. I told him he had BETTER stop calling, as my husband and baby were sleeping. He said, "Yes, I know, I'm very sorry...", actually sounded somewhat sad, and hung up the phone. That was it. I'm sure it was the chef. I seem to have an affinity for inspiring sudden passionate love in Mexican men. I guess I should be slightly flattered, but it wasn't that fun at 4:15 am.

I was so proud of myself, I packed Julian's things and my things for an entire week PLUS diapers, all in one medium-sized suitcase. Then I had one more little carry-on bag and that was it. I was awed by my own minimalism. We took his bouncy seat, because it folds completely flat and is super-lightweight, but no car seat or stroller or anything bulky like that. The bouncy seat definitely came in handy. We carried it on the plane and used it at restaurants, poolside, in the room, all over the place. He figured out how to bounce himself and has been going to town in it. I mean, we've been using it since he was born, but now that he can bounce *himself*, it's a whole new world. So I just had the bouncy seat and my Girasol sling and we were set for anything.

We mostly hung out at the hotel all week. It was a lovely spot. Breakfast in the morning in our room, while Baby J did tummy time on the bed. Then we went down to the pools about midday, Dan worked on his tan, Julian and I got some hammock time, or lounged under the palm trees overlooking the beach. We would order lunch down by the pool on most days. Sometimes we took an afternoon nap back in the room, other times we just napped by the pool in the shade, waiting for the magic hour of 4:30-5:00pm. when the sun was down enough so that we could swim in the pool without worrying about getting fried. We would lounge in the pool until 6:00-7:00pm or so, and then head back to clean up for dinner. Apart from the hotel scene, we spent time with Lisa and Ray and their families, with lots of helping hands to hold Julian so that we could have time to eat and dance and do fun stuff. The wedding was beautiful, and it was really fun to spend time with such warm and loving people, in a lovely setting, with no jobs to go to!

I ended up wearing a bikini almost the whole time instead of my one-piece. I just figured...screw it, I want to wear a bikini, it's much more comfortable, and in the grand scheme of things I don't really care all that much if somebody sees that my belly is still floppy. I did wear my one-piece one day, but when I got out of the water it stayed wet forever, and then when I held the baby on my lap he got wet from the suit...it sucked. So I just put on my bikini and forgot about it. Having said that though, I looked at the pics below and I can't believe how LARGE I look in them, so I'm really making a determined effort to get back to my pre-baby weight. I'll just have to somehow carve out the time to work out more often than 2x/week, and maybe eat something else besides what I'm feeding Dan.

I'm so glad we took the baby. I had a few moments of really wanting to go swim in the ocean or do *whatever* and Dan was not immediately there for a passoff. Baby J cried one afternoon when he was extra-tired for a solid hour, that was definitely not fun. But I can't imagine NOT taking him, that would have been miserable. Dan and Julian got some good father-son time that they hadn't really had before. I mean, Dan works from home, so he's always around, but when he's working, he's working...same as anyone else. He does an hour or two of baby care in the evenings while I make dinner, but that's about it. It was wonderful to be on vacation and have Dan available to hold Julian and play with him all day long without distractions. Nice for me to not have to make dinner, run errands, or do any household chores! Julian got both of us to himself 24/7. It was great to just enjoy our cute baby instead of trying to distract him to get some chores done.

A woman came up to us on our last day there and she and her husband had left their six-week-old baby at home with Grandma to go on vacation. Seeing Julian made her miss her baby...yeah, no doubt! No way could I have left Julian at that point. I still don't know when that point will come! When we are done breastfeeding, I guess. Her baby must be formula-fed. I don't know, six weeks is just too little. My personal opinion. I couldn't do it. And if you're breastfeeding, a week away from your baby would be a disaster at that point.

Being on vacation was great for his potty-training as well. Ugh, I should really call it "elimination communication", because that's definitely more what it's about than "potty-training" per se. But EC sounds so clinical, and somewhat bizarre. Anyway, since it was so warm and we were outside so much, AND because the sheets got changed every day (and not by me!) we let him go diaper-free for a good deal of the time when we were just lounging around in the room or out by the pool. I held him over the sink or tub whenever it seemed like he had to go, or it was time for him to go. We only had one miss all week, and that was because I let him go too long without taking him to pee. He did a little squirt of pee onto Dan (surprise Daddy!) and then he held it again until I took him in to finish over the tub. No big deal. I should be more relaxed like that at home! There's really no reason not to be, we have Pergo floors and I have a wool pad on the bed with cloth diapers over it, in case he spits up or a diaper leaks. So I should just let him go diaper-free more often and see what happens. It keeps me from getting lazy and just making him poop and pee in his diaper.

Only a few more weeks until I go back to work. I just can't even imagine it right now. It's stressing me out, but I'm just trying to think of the paycheck, which will be most welcome. Really, it's a wonderful situation. I get to work part-time, I like my job, I have a fantastic boss, I can go see Julian at lunch...but it's going to be so hard at first. Right now I have a hard time getting things done, I don't know how in the world I am going to be able to do all my regular chores PLUS baby care while I'm working. Anyway, I'm trying to just think positive. One of the moms in my support group said that she thought it would be the end of the world, but it turned out to be OK. Her baby is flourishing in daycare, likes it fine, and she likes being back at work more than she thought. So who knows?

Gotta run, the baby is awake.


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