And we’ve verified that the hands work!

A few days ago, you’d think every toy Charlie had was kryptonite. He’d look, but he wouldn’t touch a single one, no matter how colorful, how fun or how interactive it was.

And then suddenly, he realized he had hands. And they do things.

a ball

The rings

Stuffed monkey

Owl Taggies Rattle

And after all that grabbing and playing, a kid is sure to get tuckered out.

Two month wellbaby visit

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Believe it or not, Charlie is already two and a half months old. At such an age, he is bestowed the honor of his first real round of immunizations (with the exception of his first hep B shot at birth).

His appointment went very well. His crooked neck is straightening out on its own as he strengthens it with normal activity and his blocked tear duct also healed normally.

He was a whopping 13lbs, 6oz and 24 inches long. He is in the 72nd percentile for height, weight AND head circumference. We have a perfectly proportionate baby.

Charlie is also on target with all of his developmental milestones and even tolerated the three shots well. Although he was tired and dozed or cuddled throughout the rest of the day and those busybody legs didn’t kick as much as normal the next day (likely due to tenderness–the nurse administers all the shots in the thighs), he had minimal crankiness and little fever. Nothing his first (and so far only) dose of grape flavored baby Tylenol couldn’t handle.

For weeks now, he’s been sleeping through the night–and do I mean sleeping. He usually goes down by 10pm with minimal fuss, wakes for a bottle around 6am (perfect timing as I get ready for work right afterward) and then sleeps until 10am. Evan gets him up, feeds him again and they play until I come home from work.

The trade off is that Charlie’s napping schedule doesn’t exist. Sometimes he doesn’t nap at all (unless you include a couple 10-15 minute shifts in which his eyes lightly and briefly close. Other times, he’ll crash for 5 hours straight and I start to wonder whether its a sign this kid will be partying all night. Surprisingly, although a long, late nap might defer his normal bedtime by an hour or so, it hasn’t impacted his overall sleep. And after a couple times when I attempted to wake him and keep him up, only to be stuck with a miserable baby, I learned to let him do his thing. If he’s tired, he’s tired. It must be fatigue from all the activity when he’s awake. With any luck, once daycare starts next week, he might naturally slip into a more predictable schedule.

My return to work is going well. Half days are wonderful–before I have a chance to get stressed out or irritated by work, it’s time to come home. Also, we’ve had a ton of changes (new policies and new software for our student conduct process), so I’ve been doing a lot of training and catch-up reading. Next week Charlie starts daycare, and I’ll be at work full time.

And we’ve learned a new skill!

Since I’ve used most of my vacation and sick days to cover my maternity leave and as a result, won’t have much opportunity to travel to see family this fall, Charlie and I decided to take a road trip to Connecticut to see my family for Labor Day weekend. Sadly, Evan had to work. My family seemed a little disappointed they wouldn’t get to hang with Evan–it’s always a blast to see him, my brother and my sister’s boyfriend Andrei cracking jokes and keeping the family in full belly laugh mode–but fortunately Charlie distracted them from the loss.

Although at times, Charlie was overwhelmed by the number of people, he really enjoyed one-on-one time with each relative and tolerated the long drive (5 hours) well. We were quite entertained to see him so mesmerized by the ceiling fans at my parents house. When we laid him on his back on the floor for play time, he’d giggle and smile as he stared at the ceiling fan, kicking his feet and waving his arms with excitement. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this lasted for hours.

Developmentally, he’s growing by leaps and bounds:

  • he’s sleeping for longer periods at night (12 hours, only waking once or twice for feedings) and taking shorter (30-60 minute) naps during the day
  • he’s actually sticking to a bit of a schedule… our nighttime routine has been key to him going to sleep well and staying asleep: we watch Jeopardy, take a bath and then either go for a little walk or have a little play time before having a bottle and going to bed
  • he’s doing a great job holding his head/neck up and is starting to learn how to control the muscles
  • he smiles ALL the TIME–seriously, all it takes is softly having a conversation with him and making eye contact to get a huge grin
  • he’s moving his legs in a crawling motion, but doesn’t really get anywhere
  • he loves looking at his reflection in the mirror and likes rattles
  • he’s starting to understand that his hands actually do things–he’s attempting to hold his bottle and since we returned home from Connecticut, he’s started to grasp at objects
  • His favorite toys are a Taggies elephant, this mirror and this mobile which we recently attached to his crib (it’s what finally got him sleeping in the crib), but he’s also totally content just making eye contact with someone as they talk to him.

For weeks now, I’ve been saying that Charlie is going to be a thumb-sucker. He’s been desperately attempting to suck on his fist, but wasn’t managing more than a punch in the face. It was hilarious, really. The kid would make a fist, his thumb tucked neatly between his pointer and middle fingers, and then he’d spastically draw said fist towards his face, never managing to land closer to his mouth than his cheek.

Leave it to my brother to fix this.

Apparently, my brother spent some quality time bringing Charlie’s fist to his mouth repeatedly, so Charlie could get used to the movement and the placement of his hand to his mouth. Now, the kid is the loudest and most enthusiastic fist-sucker out there. We have video evidence, but sadly, I can’t figure out how to upload it. Hopefully, Evan will teach me when he gets back from Chicago so I can post it next week. In the meantime, here’s a photo:

"I think I see a fist..."

"Gotcha!"

Also, this Labor Day, Charlie went for his first swim. The pool was a little cooler than he’s used to, but as long as he was close to me, he was okay. I fully anticipate he’ll be a full-blown water baby by his first birthday.

This coming week (the week of the 12th) is a big week for us. Evan is currently in Chicago doing Big Important Things for Threadless–namely, attending their annual meet-up and giving a presentation on what kind of magic he’s been doing as an Ambassador. He is one of four ambassadors appointed by Threadless and their job is essentially to generate team spirit for Threadless and encourage active involvement in the site. It’s a brilliant new way of social marketing.

Additionally, this week I return to work part-time (mornings), we register Charlie for daycare at this pretty awesome place, and he has his two month well visit. I can’t wait to find out how much he’s grown in the 7 or 8 weeks since his last visit. (I’m less eager to see how he reacts to his first round of immunizations.)

I’m sad to see my maternity leave come to a close, but I feel really fortunate I got as much time off as I did (10 full weeks and then I ease the transition of returning to work by working part-time for 2 weeks), and I’m really happy Evan got to have a full-month off as well. Our house feels like a well-oiled machine: we’re becoming accustomed to Charlie and understanding him better, he’s becoming more patient with us, and we’re getting decent sleep (or at least more sleep than I thought we’d be getting at this point, thanks to Charlie’s ability to sleep from 10p-10a with only 1-2 wakings for feedings).

Despite the smoothness of our current schedule, I can say that I finished NONE of the projects I wanted to accomplish during my leave (updating my iTunes, creating kid-appropriate playlists, organizing my recipes, purging my overabundance of magazines); however, I did (almost) complete one project that I came across recently. Since so many of Charlie’s relatives live so far away, we’ve created a book that has pictures of every family member holding Charlie. We still have a few more pictures to take and/or print, but the book is mostly done.

And I started another project:

Each month we’ll be taking Charlie’s picture to chronicle his growth. The project was inspired by this blog and uses spongy bathtub letters that we picked up for a couple dollars. Already, he is outgrowing many of his 0-3 month outfits and getting longer and longer!

I leave you with a few of my favorite pictures from the past couple weeks:

Loves kicking those feet!

Head lift & turn!

I have Evan to thank for taking this awesome picture. We were at Barnes & Noble and Charlie was especially alert that day. I love this pic because you can see that he has Evan's full cheeks and my pointy little chin. The kid looks older than his age here--he has such a serious look on that punim!

Businessman Charlie. He's falling asleep on the job. I guess he's not a fan of a 9 to 5 desk job.

When we returned to NJ from CT, Charlie was a little cranky after a day in the car (and I think he missed the ceiling fans). I held him as his fussed and said "Charlie, are you being a grouch today?" He went from pouting and being near tears to lighting up with this awesome smile. Sorry it's so dark, but I knew the smile would fade quickly, so I snapped a pic with my cell phone.

The cloth diaper experiment

That’s Charlie in a cloth diaper, my friends.

I never, EVER thought I’d want to do cloth diapers, but after reading some momblogs about how much they love them, how easy they are to use and–let’s face it–how much cuter they are than the standard white Pamper, I decided we’d try it. We purchased 6 cloth diapers from two different brands–these and these. Not enough to get us through a day with a newborn, but enough to decide if we like it enough to invest in them and also enough to decide which of the two brands we like better. Both have super high ratings from Amazon customers, various blogs I’ve read and from friends who have used them with their kids.

Additionally, recently I reconnected with a high school friend who had a little boy on July 3, 2010–exactly a year before Charlie. She used cloth diapers with her son and sent me the ones she used with him. (That’s what he’s wearing in the photo above.)

They’ve come quite a long way since the days of using a heavy, thick white pad of cotton, rubber pants and safety pins large enough to worry the most adept of mothers that they’d stab their kid in the gut.

The ones we ordered are completely washable and one-size fits all. Snaps along the waistline and adjustable elastic at the legs allow parents to adjust the size for babies ranging from 7lbs to 30lbs. That should last most kids until potty-training time, although many have said that diapers are still a must for many newborns–especially kids that are on the small side or who don’t have chunky legs.

The ones my high school friend passed down to us are sized–we have smalls (8-14lbs) and mediums (15-28lbs). They have a cloth outer shell with a waterproof liner that snaps in. We can either pad them with reusable, washable pads or get disposable pads. The disposable pads produce less waste than disposable diapers, but are still convenient. These diapers (with the washable pads) are the ones we’ve been using most frequently.

Believe it or not, although we’ve had a few wet leaks, we haven’t had ONE poop blowout. (The disposable diapers, on the other hand, seem to be made for poop blowouts–especially on his left leg.)

We’ll definitely still use disposables when traveling and at night; however, they’re also known for being least likely to suffer poop blowouts–WIN!). It means more laundry but with a washer and dryer (free) on the main level of our house and no folding necessary, I don’t imagine these will make a big impact work wise. If anything, Evan gets off easier because it means fewer trips to the Dumpster. So far, it’s only added a load of diaper laundry every other day.

And did I mention how cute they are?

Seven Weeks Old!

Charlie has a knack for pooping on his bouncy seat. I’ve decided that the chair must relax him so much, it shakes the shit (literally) out of him. This is one of those experiences.

WARNING: lots of adorable baby smiles & lots of gross poop.

 

Also, this is forgotten video that Evan recently discovered–taken July 4th!

Six weeks old!

It blows my mind how quickly the past month and a half has passed. It seems like just yesterday Charlie was born:

And now, here he is at 6 weeks old, going a good 6-7 hours in between feedings at night, learning to smile and staying alert for up to 2 or 3 hours at a clip during the day:

If you’re interested and haven’t already heard the story, my labor and delivery story starts here and ends here.

Here’s what we’ve been up to:

Charlie was in the hospital and extra day and a half due to high bilirubin levels. That’s where we took his famous Jersey Shore beach bum pose when he was resting under the bili lights, gradually getting healthier and stronger.

We came home from the hospital Wednesday, July 6th. The rest of that week was pretty tough–Charlie was getting used to being home and every morning, we had to drive the 20+ minutes to Princeton (after being up every 2-3 hours at night!) to get his blood tested to ensure his bilirubin levels were continuing to decrease.

On Sunday, Evan’s mom (Arlene) and stepfather (Denis) visited to get snuggles from Charlie–and they brought us an Outback feast. It was our first “real” meal since having Charlie. Until that point, we were living on take-out, sandwiches and leftovers.

The week after Charlie was born, we started getting back into the swing of things. I made a menu plan for the week and started cooking again. We gradually got used to Charlie’s schedule. We made sure to shower and brush our teeth daily ;) We even found time to run errands and on July 20th, decided to take a risk and bring Charlie along for a lunch date at the Olive Garden.

Since then, we’ve been continuing to ease into our old routine and start some new routines.

Evan’s back at work. We’ve been shift parenting. I get mornings with Charlie–he eats, we play and then he naps just before I pass him off (typically just before noon) to Evan. Then I get a few hours to go to the gym, prep dinners/lunches, get a pedicure or run errands. Evan leaves for work at 3 now. Once he leaves for work, Charlie and I hang. He’s usually awake for at least two 2-3 hour stints and cranky for an hour or two anytime between 7pm and 11pm. I’ve started a routine of going for a walk with him if the weather’s nice after the sun goes down. That usually takes us about 30-40 minutes and then it’s usually time for a bath, feeding and bed. If this trend continues, I think that by the time I return to work (September 12th I start part-time, returning on a full-time basis September 26th), he’ll be asleep by 8 or 9pm, waking for one feeding before getting up around 6:30/7am.

Charlie’s great when we’re out and about–largely because the movement or the excitement of it all lulls him to sleep. As a result, he’s had quite the collection of field trips in his short 6 week life:

  • Olive Garden
  • Ruby Tuesday’s
  • On the Border
  • the nice Thai restaurant in town
  • Evan’s brother’s wedding in north Jersey
  • Target
  • Wegman’s
  • Stop & Shop
  • Starbucks
  • Tina’s work
  • Evan’s work
  • and several different malls

At home, he gets more antsy, but if I need to get things done or he’s just fussy and in an “I need to be held” mood, we strap him in the Baby Bjorn and go about our day. He usually quietly hangs out in that or falls asleep.

Here are a few of his favorites:

The Taggie Toy Mon Oncle Michael gave him

The activity center mom splurged on

The old t-shirt quilt he sleeps peacefully on

Watching Jeopardy with mom & dad:

Cuddles with mom…

And dad…

And here are some of his new faces:

Smiling:

Playing:

Pooping:

Hopefully, now that we have a schedule, I’ll have time to update this weekly and will be sure to add pictures. He’s growing WAY too fast!

Week 38 BUMPdate

Okay… I’m ready to evict this kid. All but one major work projects are wrapped up and the folks covering for me (yes, it requires more than 1 person–ha!) all know where things stand and what to do. My plan was to start maternity leave July 1, which would mean just 1 more week of work, but I don’t see the point in doing that without knowing when the end (of this pregnancy) is in sight. I’d hate to be off from July 1 and then not give birth until the 15th–or worse, the 22nd. That’s 2-3 wasted weeks, twiddling my thumbs and lazing on the sofa watching The View. I would drive Evan nuts.

Speaking of Evan, his brother called earlier this week to see how we were doing and how I was feeling. I was flipping through the Hallmark Christmas Ornament catalog, not really listening until I heard the following:

Evan: “Pretty good. But Big.”

I looked at him, saw panic in his eyes and asked, “me?”

After some stammering, stuttering and more looks of panic, he finally gets out, “Oh. Shit.”

Yup. That’s what I thought.

To be fair though, I feel huge. And uncomfortable. I need a forklift to roll me over in bed and also to get me out of bed. This week, I had heartburn all day Tuesday and part of the day Wednesday. Nothing a McDonald’s soft serve ice cream cone can’t handle, I suppose. I’ve also had some small rehearsal contractions and it feels like every muscle in my stomach, back and thighs ache. Not sure if it’s from the swimming (20 minutes, 3-4 times a week) or the walking (slow, leisurely, short walks daily) or the weight gain or these practice contractions.

We had our midwife appointment Friday. Nothing new to report. I told her about the contractions this week and she said:

“Well… you need more than a couple of contractions to have a baby.”

I should note: she’s German and sounds like Doctor Ruth. She thinks this kid is coming late and says that all of those labor instigators I’ve been reading up on are useless. Labor is started by hormones–apparently, not spicy food and jumping jacks.

The trend now is apparently to develop a birth plan that you give to your midwife/doula/doctor/nurses, but everyone I know who has developed one wasn’t able to follow it due to circumstances beyond their control. Although I considered writing one in the beginning, I decided that I didn’t want one. I don’t have control in what happens during this birth, and quite honestly, neither does the doc or midwife–my body & the baby is boss. That said, I’d prefer to have as few medical interventions as possible–meaning no epidural, no pitocin, no being strapped to the bed with a fetal monitor and IV during the entire labor. So I liked when the midwife asked us our birth philosophy this week. I told her we wanted to go with as few interventions as possible, but if something was medically necessary, I wasn’t going to protest. She suggested we labor as long as possible at home and said that even with a 20 minute commute to the hospital, we could stay at home fairly long into labor. (She also said that our labor would last 20 hours, but I’m pretending not to hear that and will instead focus on how she said she thinks Evan and I will make great parents because we are both laid back and knowledgeable.)

Next appointment: next Friday afternoon.

Sunday, we had Evan’s friend Scott over for dinner, and I was surprised to see Evan give Scott (who could probably care less, but feigned interest anyway!) a tour of our baby stash, explaining everything from the swing to the vibrating seat to the Pack and Play. I thought for sure since we had just finished rescuing baby raccoons from the Dumpster THAT would be the first thing he talked about. But, nope, apparently his baby excitement wins.

Finally, people have asked us what we think it will be like to have a baby at home. I’ve said that I’m fairly certain that we’ll leave the hospital, stop at Wegmans to pick up beer and subs (I haven’t been able to have alcohol or lunch meat since getting pregnant) and then get home, sit the baby in the carrier on the floor of the living room, look at each other and say “Now what?” This is another outcome I imagine.