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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Four Months

There's this thing that happens every year during Dickens. There's just more to do than there's time to get done. Things get put off. Near the end of the run, the cupboards are bare, the house is a mess, the car needs an oil change, things that were meant to be mailed weeks ago are still in a pile on the table, and so on. After a month back at work, we're now in that state. The car needs an oil change and the back seat is full of empty water bottles. The fridge needs to be cleaned out. There's an eggplant in there that was meant to go into soup 2 weeks ago. My hair has long grey roots. The Netflix discs have languished unwatched for weeks. The email I need to put together for Gaskell has been started and put off multiple times. And so on. Work is crazy busy and hasn't let me have a moment of mid-day downtime, up to and including several lunchtime meetings.

Let's be clear - the Dickens Fair lifestyle is not a sustainable model, so something has to give here. Trouble is, this is way more important than Dickens. This is juggling work and baby and keeping things prioritized, and the cost of messing it up at either is just too high. I'm just not sure how to fix it yet.

The cost of all this recently was in the passage of my birthday. I turned 38 with little fanfare save for a couple of cute presents from my husband, some cards in the mail, and a maniacal insistence on Brussels sprouts from the Naglee Park Garage for dinner on my birthday proper (with many thanks to Jeremy and Laurie for joining me so I didn't feel like a complete nutter). I didn't organize a mass outing to a silly summer blockbuster. There was no group outing to Forbidden Island or other similar establishment. I didn't have pie or cake or some special sweet treat with a candle flickering gently on top. I just sort of took care of the baby and got older. This isn't a good precedent.

Athena is doing well. She's four months old now. A couple of weeks ago she started grabbing for her toys. She loves her Skwish and will cheerfully play with that in the car for quite some time. It's fun hearing her swing it around in the backseat while I'm driving. Her other favorite thing is a puffy book that Karen brought from Cape Cod. She loves flipping the pages. She likes the Shell and Bucket pages best. She flips, and I read her what is on the page. I know it's not connecting yet, but it will. And really, she loves flipping through a book at four months old!!! She's so totally our kid.

She's also figured out her Fisher Price bouncy seat. If she kicks the seahorse or the fish, it makes different sounds. Last week, she started leaning forward to grab the seahorse. She clearly gets that her actions are impacting the sound effects, and this makes her so happy that she just kicks for joy.

She's also taken to holding on to things with her left hand. She holds on to the changing table while getting her diaper swapped. She holds on to the edge of the car seat. It's always the left hand. The right hand is clearly for doing stuff and playing with a toy and for reaching. The left hand is for holding on. She's even been using it to reach up and hold on to her bottle lately. That caught my attention two weeks ago at ceili as I was teaching Wives and Mistresses. I was a bit distracted by the dancers, but when I looked back to her again, she had the bottle in both hands and was holding it up for herself (since clearly mom was not doing a good enough job). This led to a couple of long blinks while I internalized this, and then thought, "Well, looks like she's got that. Moving on." (Also - teaching W&M to a bunch of folks again was a hoot. Snaps me right back to 1995 every time, with Christyn and Forest and I all taking hands, then giggling, then Terry saying, "No wait... let's work with that.")

Speaking of Christyn, Athena went to her first wedding a couple of weeks ago. She wasn't too keen on the ceremony, but loved the reception.  In general, she seems to really like parties and dances where there are lots of people to watch and music and dancing. This is a huge relief, because it could have been very different, but we managed to get a baby who is well-suited to our lifestyle. We are so very grateful for our good fortune. Again, she's so totally our kid!!!
Athena at Christyn and Brian's Wedding   
On the other hand, Athena is starting to have strong opinions about her food. At the end of April, she started being less than cool about breast feeding. When she first wakes up (either from a nap or overnight), she's happy to breast feed. When she's tired and about to go to sleep, the reaction is screaming. It's as if she's yelling, "Get that thing out of my face you damned hippie! Give me milk in the speedy noms device!" This has led to some awkward moments where Erik gets to feed her pumped breast milk while I go pump. This is dumb. But, since I can't exactly make an issue of it with her as I'm at work all day and she does have to eat from a bottle routinely, I get to be the reed in the stream. So now I've pumped breast milk in all kinds of places. I do have to wonder what the folks think as I sit in the back seat of the car, cones attached to boobs, with baby in the car seat next to me, hurtling along at 65 mph down the freeway. And yet, it has become routine.

The next pickiness emerged a bit over a week ago. At bedtime, Athena is starting to refuse formula. So she wants food, but won't take a breast, and won't take formula. Only the finest fresh-squeezed will do. Sigh. And yet, no one I mention this to is surprised that MY daughter is opinionated.

Last night we hired a babysitter for the first time. Luckily, it was Sarah Kramer, who we've known since she needed a babysitter, so it's really like leaving her with a good friend who could use a few extra bucks. We went to PF Chang's for dinner with Laurie, Jeremy and Fred before heading to see The Understudy at SJ Rep. We have season tickets with Fred and Malaya, but Malaya was feeling ill, so Fred joined us for dinner on his way home, and Jeremy and Laurie took over their tickets. It was a really entertaining show, written by the creator/exec producer of Smash, so the dialog was definitely snappy.  Heading home, we fully expected to have a fussy bedtime baby, but our baby is weird. She was totally happy, and in a miracle moment, opted to nurse direct from the taps until she passed out for the night around 10:15 p.m., then slept til 9:30 this morning.

They say babies like routine. I'm going to say that most babies like routine. Our baby likes novelty. She is most likely to be especially upset at the end of the day if we haven't left the house all day. On Tuesday she was happy as a clam as long as we were at ceili and dancing. I had to turn on Irish music in the car to get her to stop crying on the way home. The next night she was totally happy to spend the evening with a near stranger. Last Friday, she was totally happy at Friday Night Waltz til 11 p.m. The times she gets fussy in the evening seems to correlate to the times that she's spent too much time being burped while facing a wall or the blue sofa cushions. So, we're throwing conventional advice to the wind and taking her wherever she wants to go. She loves people and loves watching the world, so we'll make that happen.

Athena had her 4 month well-baby doctor's visit today. She's 13 1/2 pounds (in the 46th percentile and 24 1/2 inches (in the 48th percentile). That means she's one seriously average baby. Previously she'd been in the 40th percentile for length and head circumference, but only 23rd percentile for weight. Now that she's off the normal formula and on Nutramigen for her supplement, everything is evening out, so that's a big win. She got her next round of shots today and seems none the worse for it (so far). I'm home for the evening with her and she's cheerfully playing in her bouncy chair, grabbing the seahorse and seeing how far it will flip up.

I started writing this most of a week ago now. Since then I've managed to get my hair dyed, Erik made Eggplant Soup, and I walked to the post office at lunch and mailed some things. Sure, the car still needs an oil change and the fridge still needs to be cleaned out, but we're getting by. And when I get overwhelmed by the clutter in the house, I can just turn to the happy smiling baby and remember what's really important. And after 3 weeks in a row of pretty busy weekends, all we've got planned this weekend is a trip to PEERS for a couple of hours. It's the Some Like it Hot Ball, and as Osgood says, "Nobody's Perfect," but we're bumping along doing pretty darned well.


3 Comments:

  • Corwin prefers novelty too :) Thank you for the invites out. I finally got our car oil changed just recently after way too long. I don't miss the pumping one bit, it takes a lot of dedication to do what you are doing.

    By Blogger Laurie, at 8:40 PM  

  • You should have a belated birthday thing sometime this summer. BBQ at house, or outing to movie or Forbidden Island.

    By Blogger Chrisfs, at 10:18 PM  

  • Josh didn't get to preferring routine until later. Now he's fussier if we have a 3 day weekend. He's okay with doing stuff, but he expects his bus into daycare, and if he misses it for too long it bugs him. He's also started noticing and complaining if we don't get off at our normal stop on the way home. Thursdays we go strait to dance and he fusses.It sounds like you're discovering this, but you'll find a new normal. It won't be just like the old one, but it will be so much richer.

    By Blogger SarahJoshMom, at 1:05 PM  

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