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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Mal is Three Months Old!

Crazars, isn't it? But before you say, "Wow! That was fast! It doesn't seem that long!" rest assured that it's felt very much like three months to me. Verrrry much. :)

Whether we've broken through a wall or I'm just comparing now to a very difficult week about a week ago, things seem to be calming down a bit. Mal still wants to eat every hour, but I can usually put him off for a while if it's nice outside or we have things to do that involve other people or driving in the car.

Mal's crying episodes (what some call "colic") have diminished a great deal, so that now they're the rarity instead of the norm. He still prefers me and will sometimes scream and fuss when James tries to hold him so I can get stuff done, but usually he'll put up with other people loving on him at least for a little while.

We started putting him in his crib a few weeks ago, and he sleeps there until he wakes up to be fed. Sometimes, this is under half an hour. Sometimes, it's 3-4 hours. Whatever. I've read all of the sleep training stuff, and it just makes me want to punch someone. "Drowsy but not yet asleep," they all say. My son doesn't have that speed. He's either wide awake, asleep, nursing, or screaming. He has never just fallen asleep when he was sitting around. He's fallen asleep in the car seat. He's fallen asleep in the stroller. He's fallen asleep in the carrier while I'm holding him. But he doesn't reach a sweet little half-drunk calm phase where I can put him down and he'll drift off. So guess what? I'm doing what works for us. Take that, people who don't know me and don't live in our house but still have an opinion.

Also, because of a rather shocking episode a couple of weeks ago in which I broke down bawling after Try #4 to put him, sleeping, into his crib only to have him wake screaming... and then a full-on FUH-REAK OUT (by me) after Try #5, we've decided that every night, we try up to three times to put him in the crib. After that, we fold, and I go to bed with Mal and we all get some sleep, which is kind of the point, anyway.

I am also pleased to announce that I ATE CHEESE and Mal doesn't seem sensitive to it anymore. I'm still going to ease back in to dairy (and I kind of prefer almond milk, anyway), but I'm SO HAPPY that I can have pizza again!

Being able to read and sort of predict Mal's moods, and his stabilized days, makes me actually look forward to our upcoming vacation.

Everywhere we go, people notice Mal and comment about how good and smart and "alert" he is. He is very charming, even to me, even when I'm really tired. I think this is why God made babies the way that he did.

I'm hoping that by this time next month, he will be able to start eating foods, which should buy more time between feedings and maybe even help with sleeping. But for now, we're doing really well. Love my little guy!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Some cool stuff

A few random neat things that have happened with Mal...

Last week, D and I spent a pretty significant time at the Apple store waiting for tech support. It was madness, and Mal and I spent a good deal of time walking the store so he could look at the displays. Daphne, unfortunately, had to sit at the "Genius Bar," but it was her device, so don't feel too badly.

Anyway, I was grumbling about Apple in general when I walked past an elderly gentleman. When I say "elderly," I mean ANCIENT. He was emaciated, with braces on both knees, and sitting on a stool attached to a walker. He saw Mal and held out his finger, so I stopped. He wagged his finger at the baby, who rewarded this man with a giant grin. The man beamed back and looked at me, saying, "Eh? Eh? Eh?" "Yep, you got him!" I assured him.

And that, friends, is the entire reason we were at the Apple store that day. It might be why Daphne dropped and broke her iPad. If so, it was totally worth it.

Twice now, I've had people (an adolescent girl and a man) tell me how beautiful Mal is, with the caveat, "I'm not one of those people who thinks all babies are cute."

We get lots of chats when we're out on the front porch. That's a good thing because we're out there as much to stave off a fit of colic as we are simply to enjoy the weather.

Our mail carrier is obsessed with Mal. She always stops to touch his face when she sees him, and asks how he's doing and how old he is now.

The other day, we were sitting out there when two ladies walked by, going back to their office after lunch. One lady pointed Mal out to the other, who actually walked up onto the porch to look at him. She petted him and asked a few things, then said, "God has blessed you with a beautiful baby."

And she was right.

Today, actually about an hour and a half ago, I texted my sister and said, "This is one of those times I wish we didn't live in town, because I want to go outside and scream or cut down a tree or something." It's been a rough one. But I'll say this: Having a child after having a couple of years of low-maintenance parenting, wherein I have pretty much done whatever I wanted, has certainly held a mirror up to me and shown me how selfish I am.

God help me to be a worthy parent, both to Malcolm and to D, who is a teenager with all of the stuff that entails.

It's interesting to me how often God sends strangers to point out the obvious to me: I am blessed, I am fortunate, I am the parent of some awesome kids.

Also, God had mercy upon me today in that as soon as I hit "send" on that text to my sister, Mal fell asleep. I was/am wearing him, so I haven't been able to sit down for the past hour, but that's fine by me. I'm enjoying the time and the quiet and the sweet, restful breathing of the child at my chest. Also, Daphne sent me a link to a video that made her laugh, and that's practically like a big hug and an "I love you," right?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Mission, should I choose to accept it...

It's been a while since I've posted to this blog, but I have a good excuse! I have a two-month-old who LOVES his mommy and can't seem to be around me enough. It's flattering, if exhausting, but I miss writing. Hopefully, within the next few months, we'll get onto some kind of nap schedule that allows me to do it some more. Baby steps. Literally.

I'm writing this because I want some accountability to do something that's way out of my comfort zone. First of all, I'm sad to say that I haven't seen "Grandpa" in months, and I hope hope hope that means he got into a long-term shelter or even that he was able to get off of the streets and into a permanent living situation.

The other day, I thought fondly and sadly of him when I saw another (unfamiliar) older guy walking around with his face pretty beat up: puffy (new) black eye with cuts and bruises, forehead bruise, face scratched up. I made it a point to make eye contact and say, "Hi." I wonder what caused the fight, and if it were reciprocal.

We love living near the UT campus and downtown, and homelessness and "feral people" are things we see every day. Still, we have a roof and doors and we are so far removed from it.

There is a gentleman who we've seen ever since we lived here, and he looks like a healthy and reasonably mentally sound person. I don't know where he sleeps, but he spends several hours of each day in the same place: a parking garage stairwell. It's right at the corner of Martin Luther King and Nueces, in the building that houses a dry cleaner and a Subway. It's where we climbed to the roof to watch fireworks last New Year's Eve.

But he doesn't just while away the hours staring off into space or talking to his invisible dog. No. This guy... crochets. He is always crocheting when I see him sitting there. The last time I saw him, it was a small white square using very fine yarn. I've seen him do longer pieces with bulkier stuff. I've never seen something as recognizable as, say, a sweater or anything... and here is where I'm challenging myself:

I want to ask him what he's making. I want to engage him. He is my neighbor. I see him at least twice a week, which is a lot more often than I see the people who live next door (which is about 5 times this whole year, although on Halloween the girl did offer to help me with the baby if I ever needed it... bless her).

As I was thinking about this, and in the middle of writing this blog post, yesterday, I saw him walking down our sidewalk, in front of our house. I was nursing at the time and while I don't mind nursing in the public that is our front porch, it's not the time I want to initially introduce myself to a potential friend. Besides, he seemed to be on his way somewhere. He has his backpack, and he has a crafting bag. I've seen him up Guadalupe a mile or so, too. But he's always around. And I want to know his story.

Maybe it's stupid that I have to put it out here and make it a "thing." My introvert husband just naturally connects with people. I wish that were the case with me, but it's not. So I'm asking you: In early 2015, ask me if I've talked with this gentleman. I hope I can tell you something more about him.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Right-handed update

It is 3:11 PM on December 2 as I start this post. I am typing one-handed and my shoulder is already burning, but I have wanted to update for weeks.

Mal is getting big! At his two-month well check-up last week, he weighed 12 pounds, 10 ounces (up from a birth weight of 8 pounds, 2 ounces). He was 23 1/2 inches, so had gained 2 inches since birth. And his head circumference was... big. In the 86th percentile.

Here's an average day: Mal wakes up around 7 AM and is in a great mood. He usually hangs out with his dad for a while, and then when breakfast is ready, we all sit down and eat together. Malcolm wants to eat during or after that, and then we hang out for a while. Mornings are the best; when Mal is "fresh" and awake, he is so much fun. He is happy and... well, when he gets really happy and giggles, he gets the hiccups.

(4:57 PM)

After James leaves for work, the day is pretty much a game of my trying to keep Malcolm distracted as long as possible between nursing sessions. He *loves* to nurse. He wants to be on my breast at all times, even when he's not hungry. We're trying to train him on a pacifier, and sometimes, he will really get to going on it (like 4-6 good sucks) but usually, he chews around on it and it keeps him amused for about ten minutes before he's like, "That was fun, now let's get back to the real thing."

Also, I spend a lot of the day trying to put Mal down for a nap. It goes like this: he nurses to sleep. I lie him on the couch. He immediately wakes up... and will be consoled by nothing other than nursing, which often lulls him to sleep, so I'll wait a little longer to put him down... and he wakes up.

I have experimented with trying to train Mal to do things other than nurse, but he gets inconsolable (as you know, sometimes he's that way, anyway, as he has what people think of as "colic," though the episodes persist, they are not every day at the same time anymore; sometimes, we get a break of a day or two or even as many as five days) and it stresses me out a lot to hear him cry like that. A few weeks ago, I actually ran an errand, leaving the house when he was crying, and came back half an hour later without his having calmed down in the least. He doesn't know how to self-soothe yet, and it doesn't "feel" right to my parent heart to let him throw a fit for too long...

...So, I spend a great deal of my day with half of my chest exposed. And I'm going back into that newborn exhaustion phase.

On Thanksgiving, I actually had a bit of a meltdown because we'd spent a good deal of time at friends' house, and as the day wore on, I was expending more and more energy trying to stave off his crying, including my not being able to play a game because I needed to sit on the couch, reclined, and let him (surprise) nurse. James had won the game, and was finishing up a piece of dessert when Mal started to cry. I walked over to ask James if he was ready to go, and instead started sobbing. (He got that hint.)

The next day was another stressful one, with more crying from the baby... AND me. It was even starting to wear on Daphne, who typically just turns up her music when he's at his finest.

That's the tiring stuff. I make it worse by projecting. If I could stay in the moment, it would be fine. But instead, I worry that he'll be wanting to nurse every waking moment a year from now... or even two months from now, when we're going to be on vacation. And this makes me feel like I'm doing everything wrong, like I should have this "fixed" by now, even though, as I mentioned, it doesn't feel "on" to me to really do much in the way of work that makes him wail. I still feel like he's too young, but I don't know when "just right" is. I'm hoping my mother heart will tell me.

Now for the cool stuff:

Malcolm is delightful, when he's fully awake and not focused on my bosoms. He smiles and giggles and attempts "protoconversation." He is very strong, preferring to stand up rather than lie down. In fact, I worry that I'm going to bruise his armpits, I hold him upright so much. He will push off with his right leg a lot, and yesterday was alternating, so that it almost looked like he was walking on my lap. We got him a Bumbo, and as of about two days ago, he can actually sit in it. I don't keep him in for very long, because it's still a core work-out, but I think he'll enjoy that a lot more than the bouncy seat when we're eating, and I would LOVE to get him out of my arms and onto the table (even though the Bumbo is a floor seat!) so I can stop dropping food all over him. Also, I don't like having a teat pulled out for every meal, pardon my farm language.

(8:35 PM - too tired; giving up for today :) )

(8:53 PM December 3) Mal likes bathing and being outside. He does not like driving slowly (he gets that from his mom) ...

(8:28 AM December 4) Wherein I just say, "Screw it" and post this. You get the idea. He's a cool kid, parenting a baby is hard, and we're still transitioning.

A bit of important advice to expectant parents: Do not buy any shirts that don't snap under the crotch. You might think that's a darling outfit, but you'll just spend your life pulling it down. Trust me.

Chilling with Aunt Sister at the Christmas parade.