Monthly Archives: December 2010

She Says… Neuroscientist in Training

Boston is chock full of teaching hospitals and medical research facilities making huge strides towards curing and treating bajillions of diseases and cancers and syndromes and illnesses. It’s one of the reasons I love living here; people are doing some really important stuff. And although I’m not a scientist or doctor or specialist, I am happy to be able to do my part. Well, I guess in this case Owen was the one doing the work, but he couldn’t have done it without me 🙂

Last week Owen participated in a neurological research study at Children’s Hospital in Boston. This particular study looked at how infants process facial expressions of emotions and how their processing changes between 5 and 7 months of age. The hope is that the results will help them better understand brain and behavioral development during infancy. As a new mom who spent most of her college career as a psychology major, this topic is incredibly interesting to me. I believe the conclusions drawn from this particular study are going to be used as the control group in studies to identify and better understand autism markers in infants as well. Another hot topic for moms (and dads!).

Owen’s participation in this study had two parts. On one day he sat in my lap and looked at a computer screen that had images flashing on it. Some were faces with various emotions, and some were shapes and colors. There was a really cool camera that could tell exactly where his eyes were focusing on the screen, and I think the idea is that they will examine his “behavior” (i.e. where and when his eyes moved) as the images change. Pretty easy! Owen had a great time, because for once he was allowed to watch tv. Usually I turn it off when he starts looking at it.

The second day the task was similar (looking at a computer screen with various images), although this time he had to wear an EEG cap to record his brain activity while he watched the screen. Don’t worry; no crazy radiation or waves were going IN the cap, it was just passively recording what was going on INSIDE his little brain. Check out my little neuroscientist in training!

All in all he seemed to really enjoy it! If nothing else it was a good opportunity to get him out of the house and doing something special and out of the ordinary. They even let him choose a prize each time he came, so we scored two awesome toys. The researchers said he did a fantastic job and he got through all of the videos (each a few minutes long) without breaks or getting fussy. What a good little participant.

Now Owen can rest assured that he has done his part to further scientific advancement.

She Says… 5 Months

My sweet boy,

It’s Christmas Eve and you are 5 months old. I’m sure this will not be the last time I say this, but I wish I could freeze time right now and keep you at this stage forever. You are an absolute joy. You wake up in the morning grinning your gummy grin, and we pretty much laugh and play all day. Sure, there are days when you don’t nap well or are out of sorts, but in general you are the sweetest, happiest, easiest baby I could ever imagine.

You are spoiling me, Owen James. Spoiling me and making it VERY hard for me to go back to work. In a matter of days. I can’t believe our days of spending every minute together can be counted on my fingers. It is very important to me to be a strong role model for you as a working mother, but this transition will be the hardest one yet for me. Today we visited your daycare (again) and I felt the tears prick the backs of my eyelids from the minute we walked in. Who am I kidding, the tears threaten to spill down my cheeks every time I think of missing out on an instant of your life. But it’s bound to happen. Whether it’s now or in a few years when you start school, I’ll have to let you walk through those doors and be your own person without me. And I have to be my own person without you. And you know what? We’re going to be awesome. You are such a bright-eyed, alert, social baby, and I will thrive on challenging myself professionally again. Once we get our new routine down, we will be better for it, I’m sure.

A few weeks ago you slept through the night and you haven’t looked back since. Woo hoo! Thank you, thank you, thank you for hitting that milestone before I return to work. I am a happy Mama! You are beginning to consolidate your daytime naps too, but you’re not quite there yet. Your morning nap is generally about 2 hours (sometimes less, but our fingers are always crossed for 2!) and you wake up refreshed and happy. Afternoon naps are more like 40 minutes to an hour, and you usually do 2 depending on our errands/dog walks/playtime.

We started solid food a few weeks ago too. YOU LOVE FOOD! Judging by how much your Daddy and I love food, it’s no surprise, but you would gobble down bowls and bowls of food if you could. You almost never give me the “I’m done” signal… you want me to keep shoveling it in and I have to cut you off so we don’t upset your little tummy. We started with avocado, and now you’ve also tried peas, butternut squash, carrots and brown rice cereal. I have made all of your food myself except for the carrots (apparently there are too many nitrates in carrots to make your own… and frankly they would take a LOT of blending to get to the right consistency, so I think I’ll buy those guys). I have a policy of trying everything I put in your mouth, and I have to say, the homemade baby food is awesome! The flavors are so fresh and the colors are so bright; I can’t blame you for preferring that to breastmilk or formula. Speaking of breastmilk, you had your very last sip of it about a week ago. While I do wish that breastfeeding had been easier for us so that we could have continued it longer, I am thrilled with the changes that have occurred since you started on all formula. You drink more, you are calmer and happier when you have a bottle, and we’ve completely taken you off of the reflux medicine! I am calmer and happier too, and it’s much easier to get out the door to run errands and see friends without worrying about pumping and refrigerating milk and calculating ounces.

You still love to stand. Your little legs are so strong. Recently you’ve made some great strides in learning to sit as well! You are pretty good with the tripod sitting, propped up on your arms, although you don’t seem to understand that you’ll keel over to one side when you turn to look at me or Schnitzel. You plop right over on your side and look surprised every time.

Your favorite Christmas present this year was your newest cousin! Victoria Joy was born on December 24th, so you guys are exactly 5 months apart. You will have so much fun growing up with your cousins. So far you’re the only boy, which means you may have your fair share of playing dress up and babies. I have no doubt that it will make you a better man. Just look at how Uncle Chris turned out with three sisters!

You’re so cute I just can’t stand it. Honestly, Daddy and I just sit there and stare at you and marvel at how we created someone so precious. You are our favorite entertainment, by far.

I love you, my baby boy. Forever and ever and always.

She Says… Snow Day!

“The Great Blizzard of 2010” has arrived.

Only kidding — we got a lot of snow (about 18″), but it certainly wasn’t the Armageddon that the news stations were predicting. And we live in NEW ENGLAND, so we should be ready to get dumped on once in awhile. I, for one, love snow, so I was thrilled to see the flakes coming down.

You know what’s a little harder in the snow, though? Pushing a stroller. Especially while walking an 85 lb dog down un-shoveled sidewalks.

On Sunday I took Owen out in the Baby Bjorn instead of the stroller, thinking he’d be warmer up against my body and his face would be protected if he faced me. Wrong! We had to cut our walk short because he was covered in snow and his little cheeks got chapped from the cold wind. Poor thing. So I guess the stroller is the best option because I can put the plastic rain/wind cover over him once he’s bundled in there. But pushing it over snowbanks is a serious workout!

Seeing as our days often include at least 1 and usually 2 walks (both for the dog’s sake and to act as a distraction when Owen is getting a little cranky), perhaps it’s fortunate that Owen will start daycare just as the weather turns a bit too cold for the little guy to be outside for too long. I’m trying to concentrate on the upsides of this big change. T minus 5 days until I start back at work. Oh my.

She Says… Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays everyone!

The last few years, Benjamin and I have made a video instead of sending out Christmas cards, and this year we knew exactly who would be the star.  It took us a little longer than we expected, though, because our actor had some diva-like demands.  Naps every two hours?  Warm milk in special bottles?  Even diaper changes and wiping up spit-up!

Here’s what we came up with.  I hope you all have a great holiday!

She Says… All I Want For Christmas

…is Benjamin, Owen, Schnitzel and I smiling in the glow of the Christmas tree. And you know what? That’s exactly what I’m going to get. Although I am a little sad not to be with my parents and siblings like every other year, it’s pretty exciting to imagine celebrating with my own little family in my own little house.

I’m going to bake the Christmas rolls my mom always makes for breakfast and we’ll have a leisurely morning opening presents and letting Owen eat wrapping paper. Other than that we don’t have a lot planned! This year has had so many firsts for us, and our first Christmas with Owen is one of the best. Still, it’s sort of funny to be at square one, creating our own family traditions from scratch. While I know they will develop organically over the years, it feels like we should start some this year, too. Maybe we’ll read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas or The Polar Express to Owen on Christmas Eve. What special traditions does your family have around the holidays?

Although it’s not under the tree, I already know what Owen’s favorite Christmas present this year will be. A COUSIN!!! My brother and his wife are having a baby… today! Her water broke last night and she’s waiting for labor to begin right now. We can’t wait to hear if the baby is a boy (so far Owen is the only boy) or a girl (along with my older sister’s two girls). So excited for them. They came pretty close to having a Christmas baby!

He Says… Snow Day

We had our first snowfall in Boston the other day, so we took Owen outside to see his first flakes.  We only got a light dusting, but it was still very pretty.  Of course, we had to document the occasion.

She Says… And the Winner Is…

Drum roll please!

The winner of the Barefoot Books giveaway is Robin, comment #25. Thank you all so much for entering and sharing the Barefoot Books link. They are beautiful, aren’t they?

Robin, I’ll email you to get your shipping info. Congratulations!

She Says… Nursery Reveal!

To those who were reading back in July and care about how the nursery turned out, sorry to leave you hanging! We worked so hard on Owen’s room, but when he arrived 1 1/2 weeks early, there were still a few things left undone. The big stuff was in place, but some of the little things, like pictures in picture frames and some art on the walls, were not quite ready. I’m sure he didn’t care, but I wanted it to be “finished” before we took pictures for the blog. And so, here we are, almost 5 months later, finally taking pictures 🙂 Such is life with a new baby, huh?

Anyway, here are some pictures of the room. It’s teeny tiny and a strange shape, especially given the angled converted attic walls, but I think it makes the room quite cute and cozy.

If you missed our other posts about putting the nursery together, check out these posts:

crib and changing table
custom bedding and changing table cover
time lapse video of painting the room
finding the perfect rocking chair

The shallow display bookshelves, the shelf next to the changing table and the mobile above the crib were all DIY.

And the art on the wall was a photo from my maternity photo shoot with Katie Ring turned into a canvas print by Za Za Gallery.

Ta da!

In other news, don’t forget to enter the Barefoot Books giveaway! We’ll choose a winner at 6pm Eastern time tonight.

She Says… Cabbage Boobs

That title sounds like a bad spell check suggestion… but really, it’s true. I have cabbage boobs.

The last chapter of Owen’s and my breastfeeding saga is here. I’ve decided to stop pumping. I’m going to preface this post with a request that I have never made before: If you do not agree with my decision to stop breastfeeding, please keep that opinion to yourself. While I’m generally very open-minded about others’ opinions, I don’t want to hear it this time. I have thought long and hard about this decision and it has weighed heavily on my heart for awhile. So, please. I have enough guilt already. It was hard enough to make the decision and even harder to write about it, but I am confident that it is the right decision for our family at this time, so I will promptly delete and ignore any comments or emails that make it any harder for me.

That said, here’s how it all went down. I had originally envisioned breastfeeding Owen for a year. When we were in the throes of figuring out the complicated mess of issues that made breastfeeding impossible for us (reflux, a tongue tie, low milk supply, latch issues, etc.), I could barely imagine going one more feeding with nursing, let alone another day or another week. As time went on and we teased out the issues one by one and addressed them, we fell into a happy pattern of exclusively pumping and supplementing with formula whenever I couldn’t pump enough on a given day. A few weeks ago I realized that my entire freezer stash that I had worked so hard to save was unusable because I have excess lipase, and Owen refused to drink the funky smelling milk. Still, that was not the final straw. I continued pumping and planned on doing it until Owen was at least 6 months (January 24th).

However, as I begin to imagine how our lives are going to change when I return to work and Owen starts daycare in two weeks, I realized something important. If I have only an hour to see my son in the morning, I don’t want to spend nearly half of that pumping and sorting milk. And I don’t want to waste my brain space on counting ounces and calculating bottles and thinking about how many hours milk has been out or if it’s gone bad. And I would really like to get back into a routine where I can do things like work out and run errands on my lunch break or after work and not sit chained to my pump.

Still, there is a large part of me that feels like a terrible mother for making this decision because of things that I don’t want to be doing anymore. That’s where the guilt sets in. But, as Benjamin reminds me every day, people make most of their decisions based on their own wants and needs. I am certain that I have given Owen an outstanding start to a healthy life. And the whole family has sacrificed a lot to give him that in the last 5 months. Now that he’s eating solid food like a champ (he can’t get enough), I feel comfortable knowing that his palate is getting a wide range of flavors and textures and his body is getting tons of nutrients and vitamins from natural sources… and they don’t have to come from my body. And, bonus, he loves formula! Once he’s getting all formula, we may even be able to take him off of the reflux meds, because formula sits heavier in his stomach and he may not have the same issues with stomach acid.

The only problem now is how to stop. Since I have always been a low-producer, I thought it would be easy to stop pumping. Boy, was I wrong! Our bodies are made to feed our babies, and it’s not like a faucet you can just shut off. Hence, the cabbage boobs.

Now that I’ve made the decision to stop, I would like to be completely weaned from the pump by the time I return to work on January 3rd, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for slowly removing one pumping session a day, and gradually cutting back the amount of ounces I’m pumping. Instead, I opted to go cold turkey. Or, as cold turkey as I could handle, which is turning out to be a LOT more painful than I expected. I’ve read that putting cabbage leaves on your boobs can help manage the pain and swelling. I’m not sure what’s so magical about cabbage… maybe it’s just that it feels like a gentle ice pack when it comes straight out of the fridge, but I’ve been doing that for the last day or so. I’m also wearing a sports bra instead of a regular bra, since I’ve heard that compression can help keep the swelling down too. I’ve taken Tylenol a few times to reduce the swelling, but I don’t like popping pills if I don’t need to. And even though I’m trying not to pump, I’ve had to pump off 3 ounces or so every 6 hours during the day because the pain has gotten unbearable. I know I’ll have to stop doing that, too, so today I’m going to try to pump even less.

But… wow. It is pretty amazing how much it hurts, and how hard my boobs can get! They feel like rocks. For the first time in my life I feel like Dolly Parton.

Anyone else gone cold turkey on nursing/breastfeeding once your milk supply was established or struggle with engorgement? Any remedies I haven’t tried that worked for you? I’m desperate! But I sure am glad that I’m doing this now and not while I’m sitting at a desk trying to work (and leaking milk all over my nice work clothes).

She Says… A Change in Schedule

I know “schedule” is a relative term with a baby. Believe me, that’s one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in the last 4 1/2 months. I am NOT in charge of the schedule, the schedule is GOING to change and I have learned to be HAPPY with letting go of my timeline and living within Owen’s. That said, our whole family functions best with a bit of routine and a plan for the day.

Owen has been pretty regular from day 1. I don’t know if that’s a product of the fact that Benjamin and I value predictability in our days (and so we automatically guided Owen’s days into a “schedule”, albeit a very flexible one) or if Owen was just born that way (as a product of two very scheduled people, nature might have had a hand in it as well). But even as Owen’s schedule has ebbed and flowed over time, our days generally followed a pattern.

Recently (since Owen started sleeping through the night and hasn’t stopped yet — woot woot!) our schedule is kind of like this:

6:30am Wake up (anywhere between 6am and 7am, whenever Owen starts stirring). I pump, give Owen a bottle, we let the dog out and feed him, I eat breakfast with Owen playing in his high chair, we play on the floor/in his jumperoo/on the couch until he starts rubbing his eyes and looking sleepy.

8:30am – 10:30am Nap. This nap ranges from 40 minutes to 2 hours, but my fingers are always crossed for 2 hours 🙂 If he wakes up early he’s usually cranky, so we take the dog for a walk. I pump again.

11:00am Bottle time. Then we walk the dog if we haven’t already, play for awhile and then wait for sleepy signals again.

12:30pm Nap. This nap is usually only 40 minutes to an hour. Once in awhile it’s longer, but usually short. Thankfully he usually wakes up pretty happy! After this nap we can go out and run errands if need be, and we try solid food if he’s in a good mood.

3:00pm Bottle time. Then more playtime.

4:00pm Usually another dog walk while Owen sleeps in the stroller. If it’s freezing or raining and we don’t want to walk the dog, he’ll nap in his crib again. This nap is usually really short — 30 or 40 minutes.

5:00pm Solid food time. If he ate earlier in the day, we just do a small amount. If he hasn’t eaten yet, I give him as much as he wants. Then more playtime.

6:15 Bath time (one of our favorite parts of the day!), PJ’s and lotion/massage, and bedtime bottle. Then pop him in his crib and [hopefully] don’t hear from him until 6:30am!

I love this schedule. I get a little me time while Owen naps and he is well-rested and happy napping after about 2 hours of wakefulness. By bedtime he’s always tired and falls right asleep.

The only problem with this schedule is that it’s going to have to change when I go back to work. As in, we’re going to have to start a LOT earlier in the morning, since I usually need to leave by 7:00am so I can get to work by 8:00am, and we’ll need to get Owen to daycare as well. And changing the wake up time will change the naptimes. I’m scared to rock the boat that drastically, but it’s bound to happen.

Can anyone whose children go to daycare share their routine/schedule? I can’t really picture how it’s going to work without getting up at 5:00am. And maybe that’s what we do… get up at 5:00am. But if that’s the case, then will Owen need more night time sleep, meaning that we should move bedtime earlier? And how do you do that if you work all day and don’t get home until 5:30pm or 6:00pm? Enlighten me, please 🙂