Bittersweet

Last night, after 2 years, 9 months and 3 days, I nursed Julia for the last time.  I have so many emotions surrounding this important milestone but most of all I’m feeling lots of love… love for Julia, love from so many other moms who have supported me along the way (including my own and Ken’s), love from Ken, and love for our family.  In the beginning, breastfeeding was not easy and I remember thinking, “If I can just get through this next week of breastfeeding, I’ll be happy.” Well one week turned into two, turned into a month, then a year, then two years and then Julia and I were both enjoying nursing so much that we just kept going.

Some kids wean on their own, naturally… around 18 months or 2 years they’ll just decide they don’t need breastmilk anymore and they’ll stop asking for it. The last nursing session comes and goes without really realizing what’s happening. Well Julia is almost 3 and as far as I could tell, there was no slowing down, no end in sight and I’ve been feeling like it was time to give her a little push towards weaning.  We’ve been talking about trying to have another baby (sometime in the not-too-distant future) and I would like to have my body back for a little bit before I become pregnant again and start nursing another baby.  Some mothers feel totally comfortable nursing through a subsequent pregnancy and even enjoy tandem nursing (nursing an older toddler while also nursing a newborn), and while I give so many props to those moms, I did not feel that was something I wanted to do.

Over the past couple of months we cut out the morning nursing session (except for a few exceptions here and there), then we cut out the naptime nursing session (again, except for a few exceptions here and there) and we just continued with the bedtime nursing session.  Well for the past couple of weeks we warned Julia that there would be a day when she would have her last mommy milk.  As much as I loved our nursing/cuddle sessions, it’s time for her to take another step towards independence.  My mom has always told me that our job as parents is to help Julia become independent–to give her the tools and the decision-making capacity to make her own decisions about right and wrong, about safety, etc. and this is one small step towards becoming independent, towards becoming a big girl.  So for the last week we talked about how on Sunday, she was going to have her last mommy milk and that after Sunday there would be no more mommy milk. I think she understood it for the most part because this morning when I asked her about bedtime, I asked what we’re going to do… I said, “we can cuddle and read stories and sing songs, but there’s no more what, Julia?” And she responded, “no more mommy milk.”  We’ll see how she actually does with bedtime tonight.  I’m sure that if she asks for mommy milk I’ll cry my eyes out but I’ll remind her that it’s okay for us to both be sad together but that we can always snuggle, there’s just no more mommy milk. It’s very bittersweet… I’m sad that she’s not my baby anymore, that she’s growing up, that she won’t fall asleep nursing in my arms ever again, that we won’t have any more nursing/naps together, but at the same time, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I want her to grow up, I want her to learn, develop, become independent, and learn to do all the things big kids can do on their own. With time, we’ll develop new routines–for bedtime and for naptime–and with time she’ll learn to appreciate our cuddle time, even when she can’t nurse, and hopefully she’ll still want to take naps with me!

Last night as we sat down to nurse for the last time, I asked Ken to take a picture of us.  I love this picture! 7.13.2015I think it shows all the emotions I was feeling at once… joy, love,  happiness and sadness… She was giggling, being silly as she often is before bedtime, and was playing little games with my hands.  Ken and Julia did their bedtime routine… “Goodnight, I love you, I’ll see you in the morning.  Sleep well, sleep tight.  Feel daddy’s scratchy beard? Hug, kiss, squeeze! And now it’s time for Mommy Milk! and night night!” and then she nursed.  She was so exhausted after a busy day at the Orioles game so she nursed on one side, asked for the other side and then fell asleep nursing.  I stayed in our chair, holding my sleeping baby for a few extra minutes as tears rolled down my cheeks and then I put her down in her crib and said, “Goodnight, I love you and I’ll see you in the morning!”

And now we move on to the next stage and the next big milestones… potty training and transitioning to a toddler bed and then a big girl bed!

Old Wisdom

Sometimes old people have the best wisdom, even if they do seem crazy at times.  My mom’s told me that my Grandma used to say, “One good sleep brings on another” and I’ve heard several people say, “Early to Bed and Late to Rise.”  The idea behind this is that the more tired you are, the harder it is to sleep and the earlier you will wake up.  Well last night, we inadvertently tested this theory and found it to be true.

After work yesterday, I picked up Julia and then we had a few errands to run.  We didn’t get home until about 6 PM.  I nursed her and she fell asleep by 6:30.  11.6.2013

I figured she would sleep in my arms for 15-20 minutes and would then wake up for dinner and her bath and then I’d put her down at her usual time of 7:30 PM.  So after 20 minutes, she was still sleeping.  I did the little test to see if she was sound asleep (picking up her arm and letting it drop)–her arm dropped like that of a rag doll.  So, I repositioned her since my arm was falling asleep.  She stayed asleep: 11.6.2013(2)

And 15 minutes later, she was still asleep: 11.6.2013(3)

So I said to myself… “Okay, I’ll take her upstairs and put her in her crib.  If she stays asleep, great.  If she wakes up, I’ll bring her back downstairs for dinner and then she’ll go to sleep at 7:30.”  Well, I brought her upstairs and put her down in her crib and she stayed asleep.

And then…

she slept until 6:30 this morning!!!!!  She woke up briefly at 5:30 but we watched her playing with her hands on the monitor and then she went back to sleep.

So maybe all those old people really are wise and I should start listening to them!

We’ll try this new 6:30 bedtime for a few nights but to be completely honest, it will be very hard to maintain.  Ken often doesn’t get out of work until 6:00, and with traffic he sometimes isn’t home until 6:30.  It will be very sad for Ken to not get to see Julia before she goes to sleep at night.  Also, I sometimes don’t even get home from work until about 6 PM, which would mean having to immediately give Julia dinner and a bath and then put her to bed.  But… if it means that she’ll get 12 solid hours of sleep and will sleep in until 6:30 and be in a better mood in the morning, it may be worth it.  I’ll keep you posted to let you know if this works!

And on a completely separate note, I saw this car this morning on my way to work and had to take a photo of its license plate.  Apparently the driver (who I sneaked a peek at, and was not particularly attractive) is too sexy even for spellcheck!11.6.2013(4)

Fully Transitioned

This week will be my last week pumping breast milk for Julia.  For the past few weeks she has been getting a combination of breast milk and whole milk in sippy cups but I have seen that she will take whole milk by itself without a problem.  I’m feeling somewhat bittersweet about completing this transition.  I’m sad that this stage of our breastfeeding relationship is over, but I also am feeling very liberated from the breast pump.  I am feeling relieved that I will no longer have the pressure on me to provide a certain number of ounces of milk each day.  After this week I am going to slowly use up the frozen breast milk that we have saved in the freezer and then Julia will drink only whole milk when she’s at daycare while I will continue to breastfeed her when we are together.  The plan is to continue breastfeeding when we are together either until she self-weans or until I decide that I have had enough.  Another reason this is bittersweet is that it means I may (in fact probably will) get my period back in the somewhat near future.  As it is, I have not had a period since January of 2012–it’s been almost 2 years since I have had  a period!

I have known for months now that I needed Julia to be fully transitioned by this past weekend, or if not fully transitioned, at least willing to drink whole milk by itself.  The reason this past weekend was a cutoff for me was because Saturday I spent the whole day in DC for the Mandatory Course on Professionalism required by the DC Bar.  11.4.2013While I was in DC, Ken stayed home with Julia for the whole day.  This was his first time spending a whole day by himself with Julia and, from what he said, it went very well!  They played at home all morning, which wore Julia out since she started falling asleep eating her snack in her high chair.  Ken then put her in her crib and she took a nap for 2 and-a-half hours!  In the afternoon, he gave her lunch and then they walked over to the Hopkins campus and watched the end of the Hopkins football game.  When I got home, she was in a very happy mood!  I’m just glad that the day went so well since it means that now I’ll be able to leave Julia with Ken much more easily.  Next step: Ken putting her to sleep at bedtime so I can go out before 7 PM!

Saturday night, once I put Julia to sleep, our friends Praem & Shannon came over to hang out for a bit.  While they were over, I baked 3.5 dozen pumpkin muffins for a party we were invited to on Sunday.  The pumpkin muffin recipe came from my friend, Kathleen!  They are delicious and are very similar in taste and texture to the pumpkin muffins from Panera.  Thanks, Kathleen!  11.4.2013(2)

Sunday morning, I took Julia out to go grocery shopping so that Ken could get some work done.  When we got home from the grocery store, Julia ate lunch (in her adorable new bumble bee hat!) and then we got ready to go!11.4.2013(3)

Like I mentioned, we were invited to a party on Sunday–it was a “Holiday Cookie Exchange” party hosted by our new friends Sam & Mark, who have a little boy, Lincoln.  The idea was that everyone brought 2-3 dozen of their favorite holiday treat and then everyone got a little plastic baggie to fill up with treats.  People also had printed out the recipe of their treat so that you could ultimately go home and recreate the delicious holiday treats!

They also invited people to stick around after the party to watch the Ravens game.  So of course we were wearing our Sunday best (i.e. football jerseys!)  Here’s Julia & Daddy in their Patriots football jerseys:11.4.2013(4)

And I snapped this (rather adorable) photo of Julia playing with a football at Sam & Mark’s house.  When we first got there, their son was napping so Julia had the living room full of toys all to herself for a while.  She loved this football, in particular!  11.4.2013(5)

Sadly, my New Orleans saints lost their game (as did the Ravens) but the Patriots won by a landslide so Ken was a happy boy at the end of the day!

By the time we got home, we were exhausted–Julia had some turkey and broccoli for dinner and then Ken & I watched “A Mighty Wind” before going to bed.  I was probably asleep by 9:30 last night, but then our happy little alarm clock woke us up at 5:22 this morning!

A day in the life of Julia

I think it’ll be fun to look back in a few years at this blog and remember what life was like with Julia as a baby.  Some of that involves all the fun things we do but some of that also involves the mundane.  On an average day, what is our schedule like?  It’s different on weekdays and weekends since she goes to daycare during the week but she’s home with me on weekends.  So let’s see… Julia’s daily schedule is something like this on the weekends:

Sometime between 6 AM and 7 AM: Wakeup, diaper change (usually poopy first thing in the morning), nurse in bed with Mommy

8 AM Breakfast: Usually yogurt and fruit, or a waffle with almond butter, blueberry pancakes, or some oatmeal with fruit

8:30 AM: Snuggletime in bed with Mommy and Daddy 9.8.2013(10)

9 AM-10 AM: Nurse, then Nap time

10-11:30: Play time!  Sometimes we play in the living room or in Julia’s room with toys, sometimes we’ll go on a walk around the neighborhood in the stroller, sometimes we go to Story time at the Hopkins bookstore, on Saturday mornings we have swimming class from 9:45-10:15, sometimes we’ll go to the Farmer’s Market in Waverly… our options are endless!

11:30-12: Nurse, then Lunch!  These days lunch usually consists of some protein of some kind (chicken, fish,  yogurt, cheese), veggies (peas, string beans, broccoli, etc.) and fruit (mango, cantaloupe, banana, berries, peaches, etc.).  Julia still eats some baby foods (purees, pouches, etc.) but she loves to feed herself these days.

1-2: Nurse then Nap time (or struggle to get Julia to take a nap time) & snuggle in bed.  This often turns into photo session time if Julia’s not really in the mood to nap. 9.8.2013(4)

9.8.2013(3)

2-5: Play time/running errands.  Especially if Julia hasn’t taken a good nap, I’ll often use this time to get some errands done in the hopes that she’ll fall asleep in the car on our way to wherever we need to go to run our errands.  Sometimes we’ll use this time to go to a playground and go on the swings or to have an afternoon play date with some of our new friends!

6:30: Nurse, then Dinner time.  Dinner is usually similar to lunch for Julia.  It usually involves some protein, some fruit and some veggies.

7 PM: Bath Time

7:30 PM: Pajamas, Bedtime stories, Nurse, then sleep!  These days Julia normally falls asleep between 7:30 and 8 and sleeps until about 6:30 or 7.

Daycare, Doctors, and Pumping at Work

As you can tell from the title of this post, there’s a lot I want to discuss in this post… these are some of the things that are on my mind these days:

Daycare:

In an ideal world, money would be no object and I would be able to stay home with Julia until she’s ready to go to preschool.  At that time, we would find a reasonably affordable preschool with an educational philosophy we wholeheartedly support and with teachers who are loving, nurturing, supportive and understanding.  Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world and, as a family of three, we cannot live on Ken’s salary alone so I need to work.  I also think that for my own sanity and peace of mind I need to work and I would not enjoy staying home with Julia full time (which is why I am very glad to have a part-time job with very flexible hours for the time being).  Working gives me time to be an adult, to exercise my intellectual capacity and helps me to appreciate the time I have at home with Julia so much more than I would if I were home with her full time.  So with all that in mind, we had to find a daycare… and since my boss wanted me to start working very soon after we moved here, we were in somewhat of a bind and needed to find a daycare very quickly.  Luckily we were able to look at daycares during our first week in town when my mom was still here with us.  What we decided to do was send Julia to one daycare for her first 6 weeks and then to switch her to a second one at the beginning of the official “school year.”

There are pros and cons to both daycares but the longer we have her in the first one, the more excited I am about switching her to the second one… I don’t want to give names but here’s the scenario:

Daycare 1: It’s great because it’s very convenient.  It’s RIGHT across the street from the Hospital so in an emergency, I could be there in 5 minutes.  If I run I could probably be there in 2 minutes.  It’s also nice because they provide breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack for the kids, which means that at Julia’s age, all we have to provide are bottles of either breast milk or formula.  It is quite expensive–with the discount we get for being hospital employees, it’s $346.50 per week.  It’s also very corporate because it’s a chain, so they have corporate policies they have to follow.

Quite a few issues have come up in the past few weeks that have made rather upset with them, though to be honest, I have not been good about voicing my dissatisfaction.  First, they had a “cookie day” theme day, when they gave all the kids cookies.  Julia is 10 months old and should not be eating cookies unless I am consulted first.  Under the age of 1 kids really shouldn’t be having unnecessary sugar like that.  It’s not that hard to pick up the phone and call me–“Hello, Mrs. Julia’s Mom, today’s cookie day at school.  Would it be okay to give Julia a cookie?”  Chances are I would ask what kind of cookie it is, how much sugar it has, etc. and I would probably say it’s okay, but I would rather be consulted first.  Second, one kid brought in cupcakes for her birthday and Julia was given a cupcake.  Again, I should have been consulted before giving my baby a cupcake.  It’s not that hard to pick up the phone and call to check that it’s okay to give her a cupcake.  What if she were allergic to gluten or eggs, or the food coloring used in the icing?  Third, there was one day I dropped Julia off earlier than usual and when I dropped her off, I told them that I was going to be later than usual picking her up because I had an appointment and for that reason I brought in 3 bottles, whereas I only normally bring 2.  When I picked her up at the end of the day, she had only been given 1 of the bottles.  (They gave some BS reason about how they tried pouring the bottle into a sippy cup but she didn’t seem to want it so they gave up and didn’t give her the bottle.)  Finally, yesterday I brought her to daycare with her usual 2 bottles of breast milk and for some reason they gave her both bottles before 11:30 AM.  That means that between 8:30 and 11:30 she drank 10 oz. of breast milk.  They should have spaced out the bottles a little better so that she didn’t have to go without a bottle from 11:30 until 4 PM when I picked her up.

Daycare 2: On Monday morning we are switching Julia to a new Daycare… it’s actually a preschool that goes from the age of 10 weeks up to 5 years old when kids can move on to kindergarten.  Julia will be in their older infant room that normally starts around 11 months (so she’ll probably be the youngest baby in the room).  It’s affiliated with a reform synagogue, which is nice because the activities she does, the songs she sings, the art projects she works on will be Jewish themed.  She’ll come home with “Happy Passover” art projects instead of “Happy Easter” projects.  They’ll sing Shabbat songs every Friday and if they get snacks provided by the school they’ll be marked kosher.  The daycare also doesn’t allow pork products or shellfish so if she happens to share her lunch with another kid, she won’t be picking up a piece of bacon from someone’s plate.  This daycare does not provide food so we’ll have to pack breakfast, lunch and snacks to send with her each day, but the tuition is much more affordable (around $1200/month instead of $346.50 per week–doesn’t seem like a big difference but if you add up the difference over the course of the year, we’ll save quite a bit of money in the long run).  The big downside is it’s farther away.  It’s about 15 minutes from the hospital, which means an extra 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon.  But I think in the long run, it will be worth it… we’ll see!

I’m sure this daycare will have its fair share of issues too, but so far they’ve already made a much better impression… we even got a postcard from Julia’s teachers saying they’re excited to meet her and have her in their class, and the whole place just feels a lot more cozy and nurturing.  I’m sure I’ll have complaints about them a few months from now, but at this point in time, I’m looking forward to her starting there on Monday morning!

Doctors:

Since we moved here, I’ve been on the hunt to find Julia a new pediatrician.  We moved here in June and wanted to find a doctor quickly so we could have her 9-month check up in July.  Luckily, I found a doctor quickly who was able to see her for her 9-month checkup but I was not a huge fan of his.  Part of the problem is that he is in solo practice.  There are 4 doctors who are all in solo practice who cover for one another if one of them is out of town.  The problem is they’re in 4 different places, don’t have access to the same records, and you never know who will be on at the time that you need to see the doctor.  Also, because they’re all by themselves, it’s hard to get an appointment.  When I tried to schedule Julia’s 1-year checkup, their “next availability” wasn’t until the 23rd of October (she’ll be 1 on the 8th).

In New Orleans we took Julia to a group practice that we loved.  They had 5 doctors so there was always someone available.  If you didn’t like one of the doctors, you could see a different one.  They had sick visits available on Saturdays and an answering service available after hours and on weekends.  We found that we didn’t like one of the doctors in the practice but we were generally able to schedule Julia’s well visits with a doctor we did like and if Julia was sick, we would just see whoever was available.  We hoped to find something similar here in Baltimore.

I got recommendations about two different group practices but unfortunately one of them is not included on our insurance at the highest level, so we would have to pay higher copays and 20% of all costs.  I went to visit the one group practice that does take our insurance, and I liked the doctor I met there.  They seem to have good appointment availability (we scheduled her 1-year checkup for October 9th), they have drop-in hours from 4-6 every day and sick appointments available on weekends.  It’s fairly convenient (about a 20 minute drive from our house) and has easy and inexpensive parking (it was $1 when I went for the “meet & greet” appointment).

In New Orleans, if we had a question for the doctor after hours, the doctor would call us back to answer our questions so that if other questions came up in the meantime, or we needed clarification on something, the doctor was on the phone with us and we could ask additional questions.  The other day, I had to call Julia’s doctor about a few things, so I called the group practice here in Baltimore where we have scheduled her 1-year checkup… I spoke with an assistant first who relayed my questions to the doctor and then the assistant called me back.  I wish the doctor himself had called so that I could have asked for additional clarification or any follow-up questions that came up.  Also, the answers he gave were very conservative (to be specific, I asked when it’s okay to put blankets on Julia in the crib, and when it’s okay to put the bumpers on the crib.  He said not until she’s 2 years old for both of those!  But then I looked up the recommendation on the AAP website and there they say that it’s generally thought to be safe at 12 months.)  When I asked a follow-up question, the assistant said she would check with the doctor and get back to us so she did just that, called the doctor again and called us back with his answer.  Rather than making multiple phone calls it would be easier to just have the doctor call in the first place to answer our questions.

When looking for a pediatrician, you want someone who will be able to give sound medical and parenting advice but who will also not be too conservative in their recommendations.  You want someone who will respect your judgment and instinct as a parent but who will also answer any questions you have with answers that are well-informed, researched and have some reason behind them.  We will go back to this group practice for Julia’s 1-year checkup but we’ll have to see how we like them when Ken is there with me and when we are able to ask follow-up questiosn and ask for the reason behind their answers.  Hopefully we’ll like them as much as we liked her doctors in New Orleans!

Pumping at Work:

I LOVE breastfeeding.  I HATE pumping.  It’s not that I hate the act of pumping.  It doesn’t hurt, I don’t find it uncomfortable and I actually love that pumping at work helps me to maintain the breastfeeding relationship we have when we’re together.  What I hate about pumping is the stress, the constant worry that I’m not making enough milk to send with Julia to daycare each day.  I also hate that ever since she started daycare, I’ve gotten pushed by her daycare providers to either send more bottles or bigger bottles.  We started out sending 3 3-oz. bottles.  That wasn’t enough so we increased it to 3 4-oz. bottles.  That wasn’t enough so we increased it to 3 5-oz. bottles, but that was more than I could pump each day which meant saying “goodbye” to our freezer stash.  In New Orleans toward the end, she was getting 3 5-oz. bottles a day.  That’s 15 ounces of milk each day that I needed to pump.  I was pumping every 2 hours plus once after she went to sleep.  But, if you look at Kelly Mom, or most websites about breastfeeding, they say that the average is 1-1.5 oz per hour that you’re away from the baby.  So if I’m away from her for 7 hours, she should need 7-10 oz. of milk during that time.  These days I’m sending her with 2 5-oz. bottles each day which should be enough.

Part of the problem is this: there’s no way to know how much milk Julia consumes when she is with me since I nurse her on demand (i.e. whenever she wants to), so I never know how much milk to send with her to daycare.  I’m not interested in drinking gallons of water every day, taking Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle, eating Lactation Cookies every day and putting yucky-tasting Brewer’s Yeast in my Oatmeal every morning.  I will do what I need to do to make enough milk for her but I don’t want to stress constantly about trying to increase my supply.  Also, when I was doing all of those things a few months ago, I didn’t see a huge increase.  Maybe I would make 1-2 more ounces each day but it’s not enough that it’s worth all that stress.

I am very much looking forward to the day she turns 1 and we can start giving her whole cow’s milk.  It’s not that I want to give her cow’s milk INSTEAD of breast milk since I do want to keep nursing her when we are together.  It’s that I want to be able to add cow’s milk in with her breast milk so that I don’t have to stress about being the ONLY source of her milk.  I also want to not have to worry about pumping and using up our freezer stash if I need a day out and need to leave her with Ken.  It will be much easier to leave her during the day when she can have whole cow’s milk.  If she’s a little thirsty after finishing a bottle, it’s easy to just pour more milk into a cup for her.  I generally pump 10-12 oz. of milk each day between 2 pumping sessions at work and one after Julia goes to sleep at night.  What I would like to be able to do is to give her 3 bottles (since daycare keeps saying she needs more bottles) with 4 oz. of breast milk and 3 oz. of cow’s milk (since they also say she needs bigger bottles).  I don’t necessarily want to stop pumping since I think pumping will help me to maintain our breastfeeding relationship.  I just don’t want my pumped milk to be the only source of her milk.

That’s all for now… if you read all that, you get a cookie and a high five!  Thanks for listening 🙂

Happy Anniversary to my Love! (A few weeks late)

Tonight, almost 4 weeks late, Ken & I are finally going out to celebrate our anniversary!  Our actual anniversary is on July 5th, but because we had just started our new jobs and had not yet received our first pay checks (and because Ken was on call!), we decided it was wise to put off any celebrations until we were both paid.  We also decided it would be nicer to go out and celebrate without bringing the baby with us, which meant we had to find a babysitter!  We love Julia and love taking her out to eat at very family friendly places, but we decided it would be fun to go somewhere a little special.  So tonight, we are going to Petit Louis Bistro, a very classic French restaurant in Roland Park!  We used to go there for special occasions when we lived in Baltimore back in the day.  I’m looking forward to getting dressed up and having a special night out just the two of us!  Maybe we’ll even go out for a romantic glass of wine afterward… ooohh la la!

Our babysitter for tonight is a girl, named Geena, who is going to be a senior at Hopkins.  She’s also a Kappa and we met her through the Chabad House at Hopkins.  Hopefully tonight Julia will go to sleep before Geena even comes over and she’ll be able to just read, watch TV, and relax.

Lately, we’ve had a really great bedtime routine with Julia… around 6:15 or 6:30 we feed her dinner (which these days consists of usually a jar of baby food as well as some pieces of whatever we are eating–last night she had a jar of baby food and some pieces of beef, carrots and potatoes from the beef stew I made).  Then when she starts to show signs that she’s getting sleepy (usually around 7 o’clock), we take her upstairs for her bath, then we’ll read her a story or two, and then she nurses mostly to sleep and goes in her crib.  Usually she goes right to sleep.  On a “bad” night she’ll cry for maybe 15-20 minutes before going to sleep.  These days she generally sleeps through the night and wakes up sometime between 5:30 and 6:30.  Once a week she wakes up in the middle of the night to nurse or because she has a poopy diaper, but usually she just sleeps right through till morning! Julia after bath

Ken and Julia reading Pat the Bunny

Saturday we are leaving on a jet plane for a family trip to San Francisco!  We will be there for a whole week and we are very excited to see lots of friends and family while we are in town.  This will be Julia’s 4th Plane trip already, and she’s not even 10 months old!  I don’t want to jinx anything by saying that so far, flying with her has been relatively easy.  She nurses during take-off and landing, she usually sleeps for a bit while we’re in the air, and she’s generally happy to play for a bit on my lap.   This time we will probably also take a jar or two of baby food with us so that we can feed her some solids on the plane (though that might mean having to bring several extra changes of clothing as well in case she gets food everywhere!) and we’ll probably be taking several walks up and down the aisle of the plane to let her smile and wave at everybody, look out the window and distract her from the boredom of sitting on a plane for hours at a time.  I’m also planning on bringing my breast pump this time, along with a couple of bottles of breast milk, in the hopes that we can go out and about on our own for a little while in San Francisco and leave Julia with my parents for some Julia & Grandma/Grandpa bonding time!  I’ve heard that some of the TSA Agents make you take the breast milk out and sniff it or taste it to prove to them that it’s not explosive but hopefully that’s just a rumor and they’ll just let it through without any issues.  This time I’m a little nervous about flying with Julia because she’s much more active and vocal, so I’m hoping she doesn’t disturb people too much but I just have to remember that chances are we won’t know anybody on the plane and most of the people on the plane we will never have to see again so it’s not the end of the world.  Also, most people are generally pretty tolerant of babies, and especially cute ones like ours!  The one thing I am a little worried about is that the 3-hour time change is going to throw things off and that it will be hard to get back into a good routine with bedtime.  I think the most important thing is just that we stay as consistent as possible, and hopefully she’ll just adapt!

When we come back from our trip, Julia has just one more week at her current daycare and then we are switching her to a different daycare where she will (hopefully) be for the long run (at least until we move out of Baltimore or move her to a preschool).  Here she was at daycare the other day eating some cheesepuffs:Julia eating cheesepuffs

And I have one last IMPORTANT thing to mention…

remember a few months ago when we entered that contest through Parents Magazine to have Julia chosen as the Kid of the Week?  Well… we didn’t win.  But, we entered the contest again this week and as of this morning she was in 7th place!  With your help and vote, she might be in 1st place by the end of the week!  You can vote once a day every day this week, and the contest ends on Sunday.  So PLEASE cast your vote using this link:

http://www.parents.com/photos/kid-of-the-week/2013-07-29/102vo

and vote for Julia!  This is the picture we submitted this time: Julia at wedding in instagram

Lasts and Firsts

Now that we’re getting ready to move so soon (we are leaving New Orleans a week from tomorrow!), this past weekend we did a lot of reflecting on our time in New Orleans.  Friday night and Sunday night there were two great events at our synagogue to say “Farewell” to the Rabbi and his family.  They are moving up to Maryland in July so we will be able to see them there but for us it was also a chance for us to say “Farewell” to the synagogue and the New Orleans Jewish community.  We were able to enjoy ourselves at both events since we left Julia with a babysitter for the first time Friday night and again on Sunday night (that is a topic for another day).  It was really nice to have that time to just talk to our friends as adults and enjoy the party without having to entertain the baby and keep her quiet and occupied the whole time.

Saturday morning, we had time to just snuggle and play first thing in the morning (I am very excited to have more time like this in the next few weeks while neither of us is working!) photo

Our friend Caitlin, who went to Med School with Ken, was in town this weekend for a wedding, so we went out for a walk and to meet her for breakfast at Coulis.  After breakfast we walked with her back home through the Garden District, and then we drove down to the French Quarter. image_1

We walked around Jackson Square and picked up a really fun piece of artwork for Julia’s room, then we went to Cafe du Monde for one last beignet and cup of cafe au lait! image

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After beignets, we were all pretty exhausted, so Caitlin went back to her hotel to get ready for the wedding she was going to, and Ken and I went home for naps!

Saturday late afternoon we took our cat, Penny, to her new home with my friend Michele’s sister.  I had been feeling really distraught about our decision to find Penny a new home but after meeting Mignon and her two sons, seeing their other cat, and seeing their house, I feel much better about our decision and I am confident Penny will be happier in her new home.  It also makes life a little easier for our family, moving to Baltimore with only one cat and, as Ken so eloquently puts it, only having to deal with “2 small mammals” (one being our baby!)!  We first adopted Penny in January of 2010, so she was with us for 3 years and was the first cat we adopted together!  We’ve still got Boudreaux coming with us to Baltimore, but it definitely makes life a little easier with only one cat to deal with than with two.

Here’s Penny:Penny3

Sunday morning I went out with Julia for one last play date with our mommy & baby friends from the Pumpkin Patch Facebook group.  We went to Palm Tree Playground in Metairie for a play date and then we went to have lunch at Caffe Caffe.  It was really nice to see everyone one last time before we head out of town!  I really hope I find a good group of Mommy & Baby friends in Baltimore!  Last week I did send an email to the owner of a Baby Store in Hampden called Soft & Cozy Baby, to ask about their Mother’s Support Group, their Mommy & Baby Yoga classes and to find out whether they have a Breastfeeding Support Group. image_3

In the afternoon we got little bit of packing and some errands done before the babysitter came over to spend the evening with Julia while Ken and I went to the Rabbi Uri & Dahlia Farewell Party!

It was a wonderful last weekend at Beth Israel and reminded us of what we will look for in a Synagogue and in a Jewish Community when we move.  New Orleans has a very unique Jewish community but we will try to find a community in Baltimore where we feel as welcome, valued and appreciated as we did here.

Now today is my last day at work!!!  We’ll be spending the rest of this week packing, getting ready for our move, and saying goodbye to people!  Tomorrow I have my last La Leche League meeting at Zuka Baby, and Thursday night we’ll be going to our friends Stephen & Mery for dinner.  Friday I’m getting a haircut (my first one since before Julia was born!!!) and we’re taking Julia to her 8-month checkup.  Hopefully we’ll have everything packed before the weekend gets here so that next weekend we can enjoy our friends’ daughter’s first birthday party and just finish up with the odds and ends that are left to pack and with selling/donating any furniture we still want to get rid of.

I’ll try to write again soon, but like I mentioned last week, I won’t be at a computer as much in the next few weeks as I have been at work so my posts might become somewhat sporadic for now.   Until next time…!

Ladies Night

Last night, I went out to dinner with my friend Ani-Jane!  Just the two of us.  We left our babies at home with their Daddies.  We went to a restaurant close to our house called Salu, where they have a special on Thursday nights: if you get paella, you get a free bottle of their house wine.  So that’s what we did: we shared two small plates as an appetizer and we got paella with a bottle of wine.  The timing ended up working out perfectly: I put Julia to sleep and then left to meet Ani-Jane at the restaurant.  We had a lovely time!  We talked about grownup things unrelated to babies (for at least part of the time!) and of course we talked about our babies, too!  photo(61)

Julia sure does have perfect timing: as we were paying, I sent Ken a text message to see how things were going.  Right after I texted him, Julia woke up.  Since she’s sick, we don’t want to let her cry… Ken went up to try to comfort her but nothing seemed to be working, so I went home.  I nursed her and then she went back to sleep.  She woke up again at about 2:30 AM for a diaper change and to nurse, then she went back to sleep until about 6 AM.

Once she’s feeling better and not sick anymore, we may have to hop back on the sleep train but for now, while she’s sick and not feeling well, and she could be in pain or discomfort, we are not going to make her cry.  I have a feeling our big move to Baltimore may put a wrench in her schedule, too, so we may have to work on sleep again once we are settled in.  For now, I’ll enjoy the extra snuggles with my baby girl!

Hair and Periods

Someone asked me the other day what the most surprising thing has been about becoming a mother… I don’t know that I can think of one thing in particular that I can say was the single most surprising thing but I have thought of two things that you don’t really think about or hear much about before hand…

1) Hair Loss

I know, from reading various forums online and from participating in various online mommy’s groups, that this is a totally normal response to the hormonal changes that happen after having a baby, but the amount of hair I lose on a daily basis is unbelievable.  It’s gotten to a point where I dread brushing my hair because I know that it will look like I have killed a small animal with the amount of hair that I lose each time.  I almost avoid washing my hair when I take a shower, too, since I know that the drain will be filled with hair when I step out of the shower.  I’ve always had very thick, curly hair and I’ve always really liked my hair but since having a baby, my hair is gross.  Just gross.  And it makes me not feel very pretty… 😦

Luckily, I have an appointment on June 7th (3 weeks from today!) to get a haircut, and the woman who’s cutting my hair is a mom herself, so she will be able to hopefully give me some pointers for things I can do, and ways I can wear my hair that will not make me feel like my hair is quite so disgusting.

2) Periods

I always knew that breastfeeding is supposed to delay the return of your menstrual cycle after having a baby but I never realized that it could go on as long as it does… my last period started on January 17th, 2012, 16 months ago!  If I continue to breastfeed Julia, and she continues to like nursing as much as she does, it could, theoretically be another year before my period comes back.  This is lovely!

7 Months!

Today Julia is 7 Months Old!  We will be taking her this afternoon for her 7-Month Checkup so I can give you updates tomorrow about her height and weight.7 months 3

JRL

Milestones: sitting up really consistently now.  Still not rolling over or crawling yet.  7 months 4

Eating: at Daycare she takes 3 5-oz. bottles and in addition to that she nurses 3-4 times/day.  On the days we are together, she generally nurses 6-7 times per day.  She’s also eating solids now but not very consistently (we haven’t really figured out the timing as far as when she nurses, when we should give her solids, etc.)… so far she has liked sweet potatoes, avocado, pears, bananas, and she LOVES baby yogurt!  She also eats baby oatmeal cereal and we have stopped giving her rice cereal (it made her poops rock-hard and I’ve read a lot of negative things about rice cereal).  So far peas were not a hit and she also has not liked the apricot and sweet potato blend that I sent her with to daycare.  We need to start working on more vegetables though, so we’re going to be trying carrots and maybe spinach or broccoli in the next few weeks.  One of the ladies at daycare suggested disguising the vegetables by mixing them with fruits, so we might try mixing

Sleeping: Julia generally goes to sleep sometime between 6:15 and 7:15 and wakes up sometime between 5 and 6.  Sometimes she will wake up once in the middle of the night for a diaper change and feeding, but she usually goes to sleep very easily after that feeding.  7 months 2

Playing: Julia loves to play with her feet, and she’s definitely at the stage now where she will put everything into her mouth.  At restaurants if we have her sitting on our lap, we have to be careful about what’s in front of us (food, silverware, napkins, drinks, etc.) because whatever is in front of her, she will grab and put in her mouth.  If anything even comes close to her mouth, she grabs it and puts it in her mouth.  She loves it when we sing to her, especially if the singing involves any kind of hand motions, clapping or gestures, and she loves getting kisses and raspberries.  We don’t ever have her watch TV but if the TV happens to be on where we are (a restaurant, someone else’s house, etc.) she is absolutely enthralled by the colors and the movement on TV.  I can see why for some parents it’s very tempting to just plop their kid down in front of the TV.  Julia is also very fascinated by the baby she sees in the mirror.  Whenever possible, I show her the baby in the mirror since I am curious to see when she starts to realize that it’s her and not some other mysterious baby!  She also loves to go in her “exersaucer” or “activity center” as we sometimes call it, and she likes to go in these at daycare, too!

Talking: There are still no discernible words but she’s doing a lot of babbling.  I’ve heard a lot of “bababa” and “dadada” and even some “gagaga” but still no “mamama.”  She also likes to make raspberries a lot and blow bubbles!

That’s all for now… I’ll give another quick update tomorrow with her height and weight information after her doctor’s appointment this afternoon!