Sunday, December 26, 2010


Whenever it's time to change Charlotte's diaper, I sing "Ch-ch-ch-changes!" to her. I'm no match for David Bowie, and I sing only a couple of bars of the song, but I figure that she can understand "ch-ch-ch" more easily than "It's time to change your diaper." And, soon enough, she'll be able to imitate the "ch-ch-ch" to tell me she'd like a change.

But that's not what I'm talking about. Other changes have suddenly occurred. Charlotte began feasting on 2 solid meals each day once she was finished with daycare (just a week ago). I was a little embarassed to be packing two solid meals for her since I wasn't sure what to feed her. It was easier to just toss a bottle into the cooler than try to dream up/whip up a second solid meal. Now that we're together all day, though, we've become quite adventurous on the food front. Multi-grain R*tz crackers are almost as exciting as cheerios, and she's actually asked for a cracker (by signing) when none were even in sight. Yesterday, she had grilled cheese... thin-sliced home-made whole wheat bread sprinkled with shredded cheese, toasted, and cut into tiny bits. A big hit! This morning, C and I enjoyed eggs and home fries with onion and ham. Charlotte had already nursed, but looked so longingly at my plate that I just had to offer her a taste. Egg yolk went over well, but the potato in my home fries proved to be the highlight of her morning. I stayed away from the ham since she can't really gum that into oblivion, but she may have gotten a bit of onion. Again and again she signed "more," and tried to grab my plate. Yesterday, at Christmas dinner with my parents & siblings, she had squash and sweet potatoes served from the same bowl as all the big people and discovered that celery is a fun thing to gnaw on. I'm ready now to feed her essentially anything C and I eat- cut into tiny bites, and avoiding anything that can't be gummed instead of chewed, of course. (We tend to leave salt and sugar out of our home-cooked foods, regardless of whether or not Charlotte will partake)

That's not entirely the change I'm thinking of today, either. Nope. The latest big development (aside from adult-style poop in her diapers, which began when she was consistently enjoying a daily solid meal) is that Charlotte has suddenly dropped one meal each day. My plan was to nurse every other meal with her during this 2-solids/day phase. Her morning nap has shifted later. The break between meals has gotten longer, too, so she's gone four days in a row now with just four meals each day. I've quite abruptly gone from nursing 4 times every day to just two- first thing in the morning, and right before bed. I'm fighting the urge to make up the difference by pumping. We'll see how long it takes for AF to come back under these new circumstances. It's been a terrific break, these 18+ months without AF, but I do look forward to her return... and eventual departure once again (I hope).

A post about Charlotte's first Christmas is coming soon...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

in/out, 9 months, three weeks

I thought at this point I'd marvel at the symmetry of Charlotte's existince. Nine months on the inside followed by nine months out, punctuated in the middle with a miraculous dream-delivery. But I almost never think about my pregnancy now. Time with Charlotte is so precious and fun and memorable (even changing poopy diapers is memorable) that I spend all of my thoughts in the here-and-now or looking forward... to her first steps and clear words and friends and interests and songs and favorites. I haven't even calculated how many days she existed before birth, nor how many days she's been in my arms. I hardly remember life without her. Life has never been better.

Tomorrow, Charlotte will become nine months old. True-to-form, she developed a new talent yesterday and began clapping with two open palms. Previously, one hand was always closed in a fist and her clapping was essentially silent, but now she can make noise by slapping her palms together. She's delighted. Noise is fun. Banging things together is fun. Banging hands together to make noise is GREAT- even when she has nothing to play with, her hands are available to slap together.

On the food front, we graduated to one solid meal per day about 4 weeks ago at the suggestion of her daycare's owner. That went well, so we're beginning to transition to two solid meals each day now. Favorite foods include plain yogurt, prunes, Cheerios, bread, sweet potatoes, squash, bananas, cheese, and crackers. Peas still result in gagging and a full-body shudder, but she doesn't seem to mind anything else we've tried. I can tell the difference between tolerance and enthusiasm by whether or not she grabs the spoon- if she really likes something, she leaves the spoon alone so I can quickly shovel more into her open mouth. If she doesn't mind a food, but isn't crazy about it, she grabs the spoon and tries to feed herself. She drinks a couple of ounces of breast milk from a sippy cup with each meal.

Charlotte still eats 5 times each day, except for when she's super tired and goes to bed before her last meal. That happens about once each week, and sometimes she's down for the night before 5:00pm. Her norm is 6:45, though, and regardless of when she went to bed she wakes up around 6 each morning. She naps 2 or 3 times each day, depending on how much sleep she got the night before and how long each nap is. Naps are always in increments of 45 minutes, usually 90 minutes in the morning and another 90 after lunch, but she sometimes splits one or the other into two 45-minute cat-naps. In her final week of daycare, she finally settled in enough to take a nap comparable to what she'd take at home. That's one of a few reasons I'm thrilled to have her out of daycare- I don't want her sleep interrupted by other screaming babies. A well-rested Charlotte is a happy Charlotte.

Charlotte has two teeth now. The bottom left popped through on 12/1 and the bottom right on 12/13. She's working on more and chews on anything she can get her mouth around. My sleeves are a popular target, as are her toes.

Daycare ended last week. We had to give two full weeks' notice, and since we paid for those last few days, I was certainly going to use them. I would have given two weeks' notice if I'd decided to quit my job. It's too bad that courtesy didn't extend in the other direction. I can understand lay-offs, but I'm annoyed/bitter/pissed about the lack of notice. Is the company so arrogant that they thought I'd try to sabotage them somehow if I knew I was being let go? Anyhow, I've been out of work for three weeks. This is the first week that Charlotte and I are together full time.

Yesterday, we visited the breastfeeding support group that we frequented back in April. Because of a snowstorm, we were the only attendees so I got to talk privately with the nurse who runs the group. I asked her about weaning without ever having to use formula or compromise Charlotte's health, and she was very encouraging. We're aiming for 3 solid meals each day by the third week of January, with breastfeeding continuing until then as needed. By the beginning of February, if all is going well, I'll stop offering the breast but will nurse if Charlotte specifically asks for it (pulls up my shirt or tries to nurse through my shirt, for example). I curently have 280 four-ounce bags of frozen milk in the deep-freeze, and will continue my early-morning pumping for another 10 days (the end of the year). Charlotte has had defrosted milk by bottle before without any problems, even from me on a few occasions, so I expect that nursing will end completely by the end of February. Between now and then, I hope that AF will return so we can launch Project Sibling before my 43rd birthday at the end of March.

All plans are subject to change (I wrote that on my birth plan, too) in the interest of Charlotte's health and well-being.

More about Charlotte...
She's still army crawling, but gets up on her knees to do it now, instead of dragging her legs along behind her. She often rises to her hands and knees, but only while stationary. She has no trouble pulling herself up to her knees and then to her feet using my outstretched legs for balance, but hasn't pulled herself up on anything else yet.

We lowered the crib matress to the bottom position when I saw Charlotte reaching up to the top of the rail as if about to pull herself up. She hasn't figured out yet that the vertical slats make good handles too.

Charlotte loves to walk with someone holding her hands. She tries to let go with one hand, though, and then falls over (not really a "fall," we lower her to the floor gently with the remaining hand). She will stand unassisted beside the couch or her exersaucer, and has taken a couple of steps while holding on before losing her balance. Cruising is coming soon, I'm sure.

She loves to sing. We practice our duets daily until the perfection of the moment steals my breath and makes me teary and choked up.

She's the most amazing sleeper I've ever heard of. She makes it abundantly clear when she's tired- rubbing her eyes, laying her head on my shoulder or the floor, spinning around in my lap instead of sitting attentively to read a story. As long as we put her in her crib before tired becomes overtired, she simply smiles and babbles until we leave the room, then settles down to sleep. Sometimes, it takes her 20 or 30 minutes to actually fall asleep, but she happily scoots around the crib until she's ready to close her eyes.

When she's overtired, she wants to be held and rocked and sung to for about 10 minutes. Then, she tries to climb out of my arms and into her crib, signalling that she's ready to fall asleep now. Only rarely does she ask to be held until asleep, so we know something else is going on when that happens- a new tooth breaking through, gas pains, or something like that.

Size-wise, I don't really know how much Charlotte weighs or how tall she's become. Her 9-mo ped appointment is in 2 weeks, so I'll find out then where she lands on the growth chart. I'm not at all concerned. She's wearing 9- and 12-month clothes now that the 6-mo size has become a little short in the torso and snug in the shoulders. I'd guess she weighs about 17 pounds, and she's taller than her caterpillar now (I'll post some photos later).

We're now well into the second 45-minute interval of her afternoon nap, so I believe I have another 35 minutes or more before she wakes. That's my cue to take a shower and go shovel out the car. I'll post some photos before she turns 10 months old. Promise!

Friday, December 3, 2010


I can't decide if it matters or not, but I feel the need to vent just to set my thoughts straight. Maybe I'll feel less stressed if I see it in writing.

We have health insurance as a family through C's 2009 employer. Having worked X-number of hours in 2009, he earned coverage for 2010 without any premiums to be paid. As a result, we did not take advantage of the insurance offered by my employer, which did involve monthly premiums. COBRA availability is based on an employee's selections that are in effect at the time of termination, and C works for the business we started this year so he did not log any union hours that would have earned us coverage in 2011. So, in addition to losing my paycheck, we are now slapped with the cost of health insurance for the three of us. I'm not even sure that COBRA would have been any less expensive than buying coverage privately, but I'm miffed that they did this just as we were about to depend on my job for health insurance. That was one of the biggest reasons why I returned to work at all after Charlotte was born... so that we would have employer-sponsored health insurance in 2011.

My calculations...
Unemployment pays out roughly half what my salary was (it is half, but I think there's an additional allowance for dependents). Since there will be no contributions to my 401K or FSA, take-home will be a little more than half even after taxes are taken out.
My salary paid our mortgage. That's it. That's all my salary covered. Low salary? Too-big mortgage? Maybe both.
Health insurance for our family will cost about half as much as our monthly mortgage payment. So, unemployment will cover our new monthly insurance premium and C's paycheck will have to cover the mortgage and all our other living expenses.
I decide how much C gets paid, since I own the business. Luckily, we have no investors to appease. It would have been nice to run a profitable business, but I'm glad C isn't in his old union job because if he were, we'd both be laid off right now. I guess the business will earn just enough to cover expenses and the rest will be our income.

Nope... I don't feel any better. I'm very worried about our finances, but I'm also relieved that our insurance decision has been made (for us). We'll be buying insurance privately for the whole family, and since we're buying it in MA all MA mandates will apply. IVF will be covered. It won't be a luxury purchased just so we can launch Project Sibling. Some of my guilt over considering buying redundant insurance has lifted now that the redundancy has been eliminated. And since my mother was laid off too (we worked in the same office), I have a willing babysitter for those daily monitoring appointments.

Damn... even unemployed, I'm still finding a silve lining everywhere I look.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

8 months. Time on my hands? Sharp!

Big happenings around these parts lately.

First, Charlotte turned 8 months old 9 days ago. I did snap some photos of her with her caterpillar, but haven't had the chance to retrieve them from the camera yet. I'll have plenty of time now, though. Explanation to follow. In her 8th month, Charlotte remained convinced that she can walk. The fact that someone needs to provide balance for her is inconsequential. She has the strength and knows how she should move her feet, so it is the job of anyone within arm's reach to help her remain upright while she struts about. When not walking, she's slithering around in an army crawl toward the nearest thing she'd like to climb, or chasing after the cats. She's remarkably quick, especially on our slick new hardwood floor, so I don't dare even run to the kitchen 20 feet away when she's playing on the floor.

Charlotte has always loved bath time. Now, she has discovered SPLASHING! She does it with such enthusiasm that I feel compelled to capitalize. In spite of my ancient-before-their-time knees, it's time to move her tub off the kitchen counter and into the big bathtub. We tried that, once, a couple of months ago when she still needed a little support sitting up in the slippery plastic. Now, though, she's steady as can be and loves to play with the water. She doesn't even flinch when her biggest splashes go right into her face, and the only reason she willingly exits the tub is because the water cools off after 20 minutes or so.

Banging things together is the greatest fun ever! We picked up a set of 1-inch blocks (easy for little hands to hold, but C is afraid she might be able to fit one entirely into her mouth) about a month ago. Charlotte loves knocking two blocks together to make clicking noises. In the bath, she plays with plastic measuring cups and has a ball whacking those together, as well as slapping them into the water. In her exersaucer, she loves to smack the Earth with her bendy dragonfly and crash the monkeys into each other on their wire loop. When her hands are empty, she likes to clap them together although she doesn't do it hard enough to make any noise that way.

Solid food remained a game for Charlotte throughout her 8th month. The only thing she really seemed to dislike was peas. She gagged and gave me a full-body shudder when I snuck a spoon of peas into her mouth. We never made a "meal" out of solids and just introduced a few different foods to make sure there aren't any allergies to worry about. Cheerios, though, have become Charlotte's crack. If I want to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee, I sit Charlotte in her chair and give her a handfull of Cheerios. If she's squirmy and fussy in the grocery store, a Cheerio from my pocket turns her into a charming, docile, smiley baby. Honestly, it's almost freaky how content she becomes with a Cheerio in her fist. C and I even went out to dinner with some family AT Charlotte's bedtime a few weeks ago. She was wonderful- sitting happily in anyone's lap as long as she had Cheerios on the table in front of her.

I have to rush now... baby sleeping, my mom on her way so we can go xmas shopping, and I need to pump. The other news includes...

TOOTH! Lower left, appeared today. It must be exhausting, revealing a tooth, because Charlotte went to bed at 4:50 last night and didn't wake up until 5:00 this morning.

Time- well, I can personally attest that the recession is NOT over and the economy is not improving in every corner of the country. I lost my job yesterday. We'll make do, and now I have the time to manage the business C and I started this year (which has been sorely neglected, bookwise). The big bonus is that I get to spend a lot more time with Charlotte. She'll stay in daycare for another 2 weeks (it's already paid for, so she'll go), but then she and I will be frequenting playgroups and library story hours. I was so annoyed that those things are always scheduled during "working" hours, but now we'll join right in.

So- photos to come soon. Happy December, everyone!