Thursday, November 3, 2011

NaBloPoMo 2: The quick fail

Wow, it didn't take me long to fall off the bandwagon on NaBloPoMo, did it? I thought about posting twice yesterday. The first time I was at work and my brain was on rapidfire, trying to find ways to avoid grading a set of tests--but I quashed that little thought and got the tests done. The second time I was at home, but it was late and I wanted to get a stew into the crockpot for us to eat for dinner tonight since I knew I wouldn't have time in the morning. I admit that I decided that we needed to eat more than I needed to blog at that moment, but I also figured that I'd blog after I finished putting the stew together. Then Ellie woke up and that was that.

But here I am. I refuse to give up and at some point, I will do an extra post to make up for it.

So much has happened with Ellie in the last few weeks. She got her first two teeth within 3 days of each other--they're the bottom middle ones and she is adorable. I'm very grateful that she's not a chomper while nursing. She doesn't show them off very often but they're well above the gums now. She's also this.close to crawling. She gets up on all fours as often as possible and rocks back and forth, but hasn't figured out forward movement yet (though she does sometimes end up going backwards). I also appreciate that she waited until a normal age to start crawling. She's been able to sit for a while, and also get herself onto her stomach without falling, but now she's trying to get herself from her stomach into a seated position. She hasn't managed it yet but it's coming. She can also stand on her own for brief periods as long as you give her some back support. I'm just astounded at how strong she is.

She's been talking for two months or so. Just a few words and she doesn't say them often, but they clearly have meaning. She says Mama, Dada, na (for nurse), and broh (for brother). Jason and I think she's working on da (for dog) and also heh-oh (for hello). The last one sounds a lot like uh-oh and I thought that was what she was saying for a long time but she didn't seem to care when I would repeat it back to her. When I say "hello!" after she makes that sound, she gets all excited.

The boys are just enthralled with Ellie. We chose to have another child because Jason and I wanted another child, but watching Patrick and Melkamu with their little sister is just as close as it gets to perfect happiness. They are sweet with her, always wanting to make her happy and smile. Patrick loves to hold her and Melkamu loves to make faces to make her laugh. They are excellent at trying to make her happy if we're in the car and she's crying, and she loves them more than anyone else in the world. We wanted our children to be close to one another and it's so wonderful to see them caring so much about each other.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Oh no, it's time for NaBloPoMo!!!

I've been particularly slack about writing this year and so I'm making the committment, for the third year in a row, to do National Blog Posting Month. Every day in November, I pledge to post something on my blog. I am, as always, taking suggestions for what you'd like me to write about.

The year has been a year of transitions. Having a third child in general is pretty easy--a lot easier than I was expecting it to be. Ellie as a third child is challenging. She's got SUCH a strong personality. She's amazingly sweet and lovable but never, ever stops. Anything. I have to hold her legs still while she nurses and even so, she's windmilling her arms around when I do that. She flat-out refuses a bottle or sippy cup of pumped milk while I'm gone, which means she nurses most of the night. The idea of her sleeping through the night is laughable. Co-sleeping is saving my sanity.

I'm still sane. Shut up.

The boys are great. Melkamu is thriving in pre-K and loves it. He's learning to write and all sorts of other things, and he loves his class and teachers. He'll be 5 in less than 3 weeks and has been eagerly anticipating his birthday party (which isn't even scheduled yet) for months and months. Patrick is doing well in second grade. He's in the regular gifted program and also the separate math gifted program, and those are keeping him challenged. That's been a problem for him in the past--he doesn't like to fail and so he'll only do things he already knows how to do--but he's really starting to step up and try new things, and be persistent in figuring them out! We're thrilled. They're playing with robots and doing programming in the gifted program and it sounds like lots of fun!

Jason's been in transition all year with regards to jobs. First, his job ended in February. Then he had a temp job in South Carolina from June through July. Then he had a temp job here for three weeks in October. He's starting a new temp job here mid-month. He likes the variety of the document review, which is great, and there's a lot of flexibility with it, so it's actually working out well for us. If it were a steady job, it would be perfect for him. But the temp jobs are doing well enough for us and we're maintaining.

Caesar is in transition--we think. At his annual appointment in July, we were told that he has a splenic tumor and only had 1-3 months to live if it was cancerous. There was an 80% chance that it was cancerous. We elected not to have it removed and biopsied because at his age (he turned 12 last month), it just seemed like unnecessary pain and trauma for him without much gain. He's at the top end of his expected lifespan anyway. So we figured we'd just love on him and make him as comfortable as possible. He started getting skinny and we were watching for signs of pain or discomfort, knowing that we'd have to bring him in if that happened.

He's doing fine. We started feeding him a bit more and he plumped right back up. He doesn't seem in pain at all. He seems completely normal. Maybe he lucked out and has a benign tumor and we'll get to have him around for years to come! (I hope, I hope.)

Anyway, it's required a constant shift around here to stay balanced this year and that killed me for writing blogs. But I'm going to make the committment that BOTH OF MY READERS will find new posts every day this month. And there will be pictures. Lots of pictures.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My baby amuses me

Or..."No one believes how hard Ellie fights sleep".

Seriously, people don't believe us when we say she doesn't nap.  They think she probably naps but a little less than other babies, or a little less regularly.  But it's true:

Ellie. Almost. Never. Naps.

There was one day when we thought she'd had a great napping day. She napped for about 90 minutes and we were thrilled.  Of course, she did those total of 90 minutes in 5 separate sessions, none of which were longer than 25 minutes.  Generally, she'll sleep for a total of 30 minutes a day.

Did I mention she still doesn't sleep through the night?  'Cause she doesn't.

To be honest, it really doesn't bother me that she doesn't sleep through the night.  She'll sleep in her pack n play in our bedroom for a few hours, then I'll get up and go into her room with her.  We'll nurse and co-sleep the rest of the night.  It doesn't feel burdensome and I know that it's limited in time, so I'm enjoying the extra cuddling time. 

But this video?  That's what she does.  And just so you know, she never did fully fall asleep in there.  When I took her out, she acted as though she'd never been tired at all.  She stayed up until 7:00, then slept for 10 minutes, then woke back up.

Her total napping time today (in 2 sessions) between 7:00 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.?  Less than 30 minutes.

Watch and be amazed ;-)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

5-minute post

Just a few things because I'm going to bed in a few minutes but it's been a while since I've posted.

My brother came to visit last week.  It was great.  He hadn't made it down here since Patrick was just under a year old (though we've seen him when we go to NY) and it was so nice to have him visit.  The kids just loved having him here.  Well, Ellie took a couple of days to warm up but the boys had a blast playing soccer and reading and generally being insane with Uncle Sean.

My camera's flash card is missing.  I am freaked out because my regular laptop has already died and ALL of my digital pictures are on it.  I know those can be saved, so those don't worry me too much, but every baby picture of Ellie since about 3 months on is on that flash card and I have no idea what happened to it.  I'm about to conduct a completely throrough search that involves moving major pieces of furniture and/or appliances as necessary until it's found.

Melkamu loves loves loves pre-K so far.  He gets to play with his friends everyday again (he's been out of daycare since shortly before Ellie was born) and is so proud to have little homework assignments to do.  Yesterday he got to fill in a page all about himself and he drew pictures of our family, glued on wooden beads, and wrote his own name.  It's awesome to see how much he loves school already!

Ellie's decided that moving is fun.  She actually decided it months ago when she started rolling but now she log-rolls, wiggles, army crawls, and squiggles until she gets where she wants to go.  It's surprising how fast she can move when she wants!  Today, for the very first time, I watched her pushing herself up as high as she could on her arms and also trying to raise her bottom at the same time.  Since she can get her knees under herself and push already, once she manages to get her bottom up with her arms also, she'll be off and crawling.  I hope I'm not off on my crawling estimate of 7 1/2 months but I'll be surprised if she's not crawling by then.

OK, bedtime!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Awesome things about being a parent...

1. Indoctrinating your children to be the next generation of fans to your favorite sports teams! Oh yeah, they're all wearing their Dolphins shirts! Are you ready for some football???

(And yes, they all also have Red Sox shirts.  They may also get Falcons shirts.  They will not, however, be getting Braves shirts.  I grew up too much of a Mets fan for that.)

2. Seeing your oldest child so excited to start second grade, and to know he's off to a really good start! Patrick has a new teacher who seems great so far.  We're hoping for a great year for him and know that he's going to learn a ton!

3. Watching your middle child write his first words on his own, without any help from Mama or Daddy! Melkamu's really wanted to learn to write for the last few weeks.  We've been trying really hard not to push him until he was ready but, like he often does, he decided he wanted to do it and is figuring it out.  He's been working on the letters of his name and has that pretty well--needs a little help but can write it entirely himself.  Today, though, he was watching Elmo's World on Sesame Street and, after the intro was over, he went and got a piece of paper and a crayon.  He wrote the "ELO" part and then asked me what it said.  I knew where he was going with it and said "If you put in an M, it will say ELMO."  And he did!  I could not be prouder of how much he is learning lately, and can only imagine how he will blossom when he starts Pre-K in 10 days.

4. Realizing your youngest child can sit on her own for 20 seconds or more at a time!  Ellie's been pushing up so high on her arms and I knew she could hold herself up with minimal help but I discovered today that she really doesn't even need the minimal help as much as I thought she did.  I am constantly astounded by how strong my daughter has become!

It's been a good week for us, in case you couldn't tell :-)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ellie at 5 months

I love watching my kids growing and turning into the people that they become.  It's one of the most awesome things about being a parent.

Eleanor turned 5 months old yesterday and is such a unique little person in this family!  She is such a big girl, so long and perfectly chubby, and is so strong.  I don't think I posted that at 4 months, she was 16 lb 7 oz (93rd percentile) and off-the-charts for height...but she has my little pinhead in the 40th percentile.  Those are exactly the same percentiles as when she was born, so she's staying the course! 

She was holding her head up briefly the night she was born and has continued to have fast muscle development ever since.  She rolled front-to-back at 5 weeks 6 days old old, back-to-front at 3 months 12 days old, and is currently working on pulling her upper body into a sitting position (and I really mean currently, since I'm typing one handed with her on my lap).  She can stay sitting without support briefly and is getting better at balancing like that every day.  She pushes up so far on her arms while she's on her stomach that she can get her whole upper body off the floor and can also get her knees under herself and tries to push.  If she puts those two together, we're in trouble ;-)  I'm predicting 7 1/2 months for crawling for her.  Let's see how close I am!

Jason and I have always subscribed to the belief that babies can't do everything at once--they'll develop physical skills for a while, then hold constant at that level of physical development while they work on verbal skills, and so forth.  Ellie kind of does everything at once.  She's doing wonderfully on physical skills, and is such a talker!  She babbles all sorts of sounds--dadada, bababa, nanana, mamama--and recently has taken to blowing raspberries.  The other day she was babbling "Dadadada" and then blowing raspberries.  Jason said "Oh great.  She's waited 5 months to tell the world that Daddy is gassy."

Here she is with Jason and her crinkle lion.  She also has a crinkle elephant and crinkle dog, and they are her absolute favorite toys.

She also recognizes certain words.  One of her all-time favorites is "nurse", as in "Do you want to nurse?"  It calms her instantly if she's upset and frequently she'll use her "na" sound when I say that.  I don't think she's *quite* to talking yet but she really, really wants to.  Who would have figured that we'd have another chatterbox in this family?  I figured she'd be very close-mouthed and taciturn like her brothers.

I think I just cracked a rib trying not to laugh.  BWAHAHAHAHA!


Speaking of her brothers, nothing--and I mean absolutely nothing, not even nursing--makes her happier than Patrick and Melkamu.  She lights up as soon as she hears their voices, turning towards them and smiling and babbling to them.  She grabs for them (especially Patrick's hair), smiles and laughs when they give her hugs and kisses, and tries to get to them if they're not right next to her.  For their part, they are awesome big brothers.  Patrick sings to her whenever she's upset and Melkamu always wants to give her hugs and kisses.  They both adore her and the level of hero-worship that she has for them is impossible to resist!

Ellie still doesn't nap much or sleep through the night but we do think the napping is improving in the last two weeks.  She's actually started falling asleep during the day and, as long as we don't move her from where she is, she'll stay asleep for a while.  Unfortunately, as she usually falls asleep in some inopportune place (the couch, the floor, our waterbed), we can't leave her there to sleep unattended and trying to put her in her crib generally wakes her.  Since she's nursing, we co-sleep a lot at night.  We usually start the nights in our own beds (her in a crib, of course) and then when she wakes up hungry, I'll lay down with her, latch her on, and go back to sleep.  She does sleep for one or two 4-5 hour stretches most nights, along with some shorter ones, and stays asleep until about 7:30 a.m.  Because we co-sleep, I don't feel particularly sleep-deprived.  It's not much interruption in sleep to grab her from her crib and lay down with her nursing so the fact that she's not sleeping through the night really isn't a problem.

My Ellie-bean prefers draft exclusively--straight-from-the-tap or not at all, in her mind.  And hey, who doesn't prefer draft to bottle?  It's made things a little tough for her at times when I've had to teach in the late evenings but up until now hasn't really been an issue.  It will become more of one when I go back to work in the days next week.  Jason will be home with her but since she won't take a bottle and won't start solids for another month, she may be hungry quite often.  I suspect they'll take some trips to my office so I can nurse her.  We've also got some new sippy cups and are going to see if she will drink expressed milk from them.  If not--well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.  I have heard about reverse-cyclers who won't take a bottle during the day while the moms are at work but nurse a lot more at night to make up for it and suspect that's probably what will happen.  It's also the reason that I haven't worried about her not sleeping through the night.  Why try to get her to sleep through now when she's going to need more nursing time then if she still refuses to take her milk any other way?

She's changing so much every day.  Her eyes are still a pretty blue-gray but are showing a little more brown, so it will be interesting to see if they stay blue-gray like Jason's or turn brown like mine.  Her hair is definitely blonde and is starting to get longer.  Poor baby is going to have a mullet for a while.  We're about to switch to 9-12 month clothes (hello fall consignment sales!) and are getting a highchair so she can sit with us at meal times (since her current mealtime position, sitting on my lap, is harder to maintain now that she can reliably grab my plate and try to pull it off the table).  She likes to be in the middle of everything and doesn't want to miss a minute of the excitement.

I love getting to know Ellie and finding out who she is!  The first term I used to describe her is always "sweetie", closely followed by "strong-willed".  Both of these are good qualities to have and I can't wait to see what she does with them in the future!

Friday, August 5, 2011

*Tap tap tap*

Is this thing still on?


You may have noticed that I disappeared for awhile.  I know you were anxiously awaiting another installment of The Morrey, The Merrier's antics because it is such a shining beacon in an otherwise dreary day.  I'm sure that this blog signifies hope, love, light, and courage that brings you joy and happiness.

The silence coming from your end suggests that I might have been mistaken.  How embarrassing.

It's been an interesting summer at Casa Morrey. Jason was gone for 7 weeks. It was a tough 7 weeks, though I have to admit that I feel something of a sense of pride that I managed to hold everything together on my own.  We saw Jason several of those weekends and I did have a lot of help.  Jason's wonderful mom came in to help me during a week when my babysitter was away, other friends helped when I had meetings, and my dad came to help during finals--but all of us were surprised and thrilled when Jason was able to come home for good at the same time!

Despite being insane with work (3 classes, 2 of which I'd never taught fully online before), I survived the summer home with the kids by not sleeping much and consuming copious quantities of sugar and caffeine.  The boys say they had a good summer and that's really what matters--they were already going to be dealing with enough with Jason being gone, so I didn't want them also to have a mama that was always working during the day.  We had fun with playgroup, lots and lots of playdates, trips to Charleston and Florida, and canning.

OK, *I* had fun with canning.  I can't vouch for the kids.  They had fun with the berry picking and the farmers' market outings to get the things that went into the canning process, at least!

I'm sensing thoughts of "Where are the damned pictures?" from your end of the computer.  I'll just get to them, shall I?

The trip to Charleston!  We spent a day on the beach. Kamu got knocked down by a wave within the first few minutes and decided he didn't like the ocean, so he spent the day building sandcastles.  Patrick was in the water, out to build sandcastles, back in the water, out to eat some snacks, back in the water, bodysurfing, out to play catch, back in the water...

Ellie looks adorable but hated the beach that day.  This was about the only time she was out of my arms and not crying.  But check out the hat!  I am not a girly person except for accessories.  Ellie's hat collection is awesome.  Sadly, she's growing out of them.  Happily, that means I can buy more!

The boys were worn out after the beach.

We took a trip to the USS Independence the next day.  The kids were awed by the size of an aircraft carrier!

I talk about how big Eleanor has gotten but it's hard to put that together with how tall she really is.  She'll be 5 months old on Sunday.  I took this picture about a month ago.  She's wearing 6-9 month clothes in this picture. By now, that outfit is *almost* too small.

Patrick, age 7 1/2, self-portrait.

Ellie gets some quality time with Patrick's favorite stuffed animal Shamoops while laying on Kamu's bed.

All three of my munchkins!

Ellie meets her Great Grandma Lore for the first time.  I hope I look half as good when I'm 3 months shy of 90!

The whole family (plus an astronaut) at Kennedy Space Center.  Ask Patrick about the Saturn V...but only if you have LOTS of time free!

And peach salsa, pre-canning!  (I couldn't let the whole post go without a picture of it ;-) )  Isn't it pretty?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Got it!

I finally got Ellie on video rolling over from back to front!  I've been trying to catch this for the last week.  It's quick, since she was already 3/4 of the way over when the camera finally turned on, but I've already posted photos of her most of the way over and so you've seen that part.  You can tell from the ease with which she gets that bottom arm out from under herself once she's on her tummy that she's been practicing this A LOT this past week! Fortunately, she hasn't put together the fact that she can now roll both ways, or even that if she gets herself onto her tummy, she can also roll back off of it. (Phew!)

Don't blink or you'll miss it!

(And there will be a new post soon about our weekend in Charleston, which was great.)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Passing time

The kids and I get a lot of calls from concerned people lately.  We really are doing OK, though we do love having so many people supporting us through Jason's job away from home.  Jason tells me that, from what he's seen of me, single parenting requires a lot of caffeine.  Thankfully this doesn't seem to bother Eleanor--she doesn't really sleep much during the day anyway and I haven't noticed a decrease in that little bit of sleep, or in fussiness or anything.  This is a very good thing.

We're keeping busy.  Last summer I worked while being home with the boys and didn't do a great job of keeping work separate from spending time with them.  I was so focused on getting the work done that I spent way more time working during their awake hours than I would have liked.  That's changed this summer.  I do some work during the day but mainly while they're in quiet time.  Most of it gets done after they go to bed.  I'm spending more time letting them have fun this summer--we've been going swimming a lot, going to our playgroup, just spending time with friends.  The kids haven't gotten really bored yet (of course, it's only been 3 weeks) and I find it's easier when they're not bored.  I have a couple of things I'm saving for rainy days or those times when they get really bored.

OK, I know you're not here to listen to me blather about things like that.  I actually have some more substantive posts that I'm slowly writing piecemeal but it's hard to find time to do this at all.  Ellie is getting more and more fun lately.  She isn't screaming as much of the time, to the rejoicing of my ears, and spends an awful lot of time cooing and babbling and such. 

She's taking an interest in toys...particularly in eating them.  Caterpillars are especially tasty when one is teething.

She's also decided that rolling front to back is all well and good, and she'd like to find out more about this whole rolling back to front thing.  In the last two days, she has managed to turn the lower half of her body from back to front and get her upper body onto the side.  All she needs is a little more upper body momentum to get that arm out from underneath and she will have officially rolled back to front.  Today I helped her with that last little bit of arm movement to get her onto her stomach, and she promptly rolled onto her back again.  It was basically her way of telling me "I've mastered about 3/4 of rolling.  One of these days, you'll look over and I'll be halfway across the room."  Because what I need is a rolling 3-month-old.

The kids are particularly cute these days.  Last night they were all sleeping in amusing ways, so I broke out the camera!  It's 95 degrees here (76 in the house).  The boys consisently choose to wear fleece and flannel pajamas.  I don't get it.

Last night Patrick also chose to bury himself in his blankets, because that's what you need in Atlanta in June.

Melkamu slept on top of the blankets but decided his feet needed the pillow more than his head.

And Ellie has been choosing to sleep sideways in the bassinet.  I put her down normally every night and she immediately squirms sideways.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Making adjustments

Ellie turns 3 months old tomorrow.  That, in and of itself, is an adjustment.  She's such a fun little baby girl.  Definitely still very temperamental but hey, at least you never have to guess what she's thinking!  I'm not sure exactly how big she is now but at 2 months she was in the 92nd percentile for weight (13 lb 1 oz) and 96th for length (24+")--these are about the same percentages as her birth percentages, so she's staying on the same track.  I think she's getting it from Melkamu's side of the family.  Naturally, to maintain this rate of growth, she eats all the time still.  She slept through the night on one glorious occasion last week but other than that, she wakes up twice a night or more to nurse.  I don't actually expect her to sleep through the night regularly anytime soon.  During the day, she nurses once almost every hour.  She might go 90 minutes between nursings but somewhere within the 3:00 hour, the 4:00 hour, the 5:00 hour, the...anyway, she's probably eating. 

I'm teaching two online classes and a face-to-face lab class this summer.  It's a huge amount of work but so far it's going OK and I'm keeping up.

The biggest adjustment for us has been Jason's work.  As you know, his job ended in February and he's been looking for a new one ever since.  He got called by a legal temp agency about 2 weeks ago to do a job for most of the summer, which was great...

...except that the job is in South Carolina.  We live in Atlanta.  Atlanta is not in South Carolina.  Atlanta is too far from South Carolina to commute.

This poses several challenges.  First, a normal summer schedule at my college is two classes--the summer semester is only half the length of a normal semester, so there's twice as much work each week as in a normal spring or fall semester.  I took on a third class because Jason wasn't working and it would help us financially.  However, I also arranged these classes so that I could still be home with the kids in case Jason got a job (silly me expected that if he got a job, it would be here).  Hence, I leave to teach my lab two nights a week at 7:30 p.m., when the boys go to bed, and do my online classes whenever I have a free minute, and most other evenings.

So basically, it's worked out like this:  I am currently working 50% more than full-time, while also home full-time with the kids, one of whom is a newborn who doesn't sleep through the night and won't take a bottle.  (Don't ask me how it works to be a full-time SAHM and a full-time WOHM/WAHM at the same time.  There is no answer.)  Jason is renting a room in a house in South Carolina and came home last weekend, but won't be able to come home again for several more weeks because he's expected to work on the weekends.  Which means I am also doing everything around the house that I'd normally do plus everything he normally does.  Like mowing our lawn.  Have you seen our lawn?  It's like mowing a black-diamond ski slope in 95F temperatures.

I miss Jason and his lawn-mowing prowess.

The kids are bearing up as much as possible.  Melkamu says "I miss Daddy" at least 10 times a day.  Patrick will be doing something and say "I have to remember to tell Daddy about this when we talk to him."  We're doing all we can to keep up and keep the house together.

And we really, really miss Jason.  It was such a nice surprise to have him come home last weekend--we didn't know he'd be able to but they apparently got their first weekend off--but know that he won't be able to do it often.  He won't be home for Father's Day weekend, and our 12th anniversary is the next day.  That's particularly hard, knowing he won't be here to celebrate his first Father's Day as a dad of three.

We'll adjust as much as we can, and hope that he's home as soon as possible.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Kids, kids, kids

I have awesome kids.

They are all my sweet of them almost literally ;-)

They look cool.

They love to read.

They are creative.

They love to cook.

My kids rock.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Just a quickie

(As a side note, have I mentioned how much I love the movie "Mr. and Mrs. Smith"? I could watch it all the time. And "Ever After".)

I finally got Eleanor smiling on camera! This is the cutest picture ever. She still has her dark blue eyes but they are starting to turn a little more gray. She is such a sweet little girl. Definitely more temperamental than Patrick was as a baby, with her own ideas on everything, but sweet as can be. She rolled over front-to-back for the first time at 5 weeks, 5 days old. I told her how impressed I was and promptly told her not to do it again--she's too young to start things like that ;-) She weighed in at 11 lb 10 oz at 6 weeks old, up from her birth weight at 8 lb 14 oz. She comes with me to teach my pharmacology class each week and either stays with my department chair or sleeps in the sling while I talk.

My baby girl is growing up way too fast, but we are loving every day of it.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Three is even more fun than two

One of Ellie's nicknames is "Wiggle Worm". She was just introduced to the play gym two days ago and so far, she really likes it. It's about the only place that she's willing to be put down while awake without screaming her sweet little head off.

Caesar likes having Ellie down at his level.

Patrick and Kamu love Ellie to pieces. They sing songs to her when she cries, hold her hands, give her hugs and kisses, and are really gentle with her. Kamu occasionally gets a little tired of how often she eats ("You nursing the baby again?!?!?!") but other than that, his transition to big brother has been remarkably easy--much more so than I'd expected. He does take advantage of anytime I put Ellie down to cuddle with me but that's certainly to my benefit as much as his :-)

Eleanor doesn't mind tummy-time too much because it gives her easy access to slurp on her fist, which she loves. (And yes, I know she's in pink and flowers and ruffles in this picture. Some of it is kind of cute. Most of it makes me itch.)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A little bit of Eleanor in my life

I've been told I'm not blogging enough since Ellie came.  Mind you, I would argue that having blogged twice in the last month is pretty darned good for me but apparently my mom and sister others have a different view.  I admit that it is hard to blog with a baby who refuses to be put down for more than two seconds while awake or five minutes while asleep, primarily because I can't sit close enough to the desktop to type or put the laptop on my lap.  And the fact that she nurses all the time which means, at best, I have one hand free while the other holds her.
Then again, I can't argue with wanting to see more of this sweet pea.  She is a month old today--I can hardly believe it!  It feels like she's been with us forever and yet no time at all.

Eleanor is a wonderful little girl.  (Look, I almost caught her smiling!  She's been smiling at me for about two weeks and has just started smiling at other people.)

She's always on the go with her big brothers (though no one ever sees her since she's always in the sling).

Here she is on top of Stone Mountain!
I admit that I'm having trouble getting into girl-type clothes, but there are some awfully cute ones out there that are not pink and flower-covered and ruffly.  Then again, Ellie looks cute in everything...
...dressed like a little pink teddy bear...

...frogs and Spiders... (She was mad at us for not having her early enough to work on her brackets.  She rooted for Richmond, of course, though she cried through much of the Kansas game)

...and anything else she wears.  For the record, she's wearing 3-6 month sizes as of her one-month birthday.  Yikes, this girl can grow!

Eleanor is starting to get onto somewhat of a more typical newborn schedule.  She's up a little more often at night, to the detriment of my sleep, but we do often take a morning nap together.  Actually, in the last few days she has started to take a morning nap and an afternoon/evening nap, so it's a little more predictable.  She's much more alert during the day, which is lots of fun.  While she still cluster nurses, she doesn't generally do it for 3-4 hours at a time's usually only 1.5-2 hours, which is a vast improvement.  Lately, she's decided that she won't cry when she's not hungry or overtired as long as you don't stop moving.  "Moving" involves bouncing her, swaying, and walking--all at the same time.  Sometimes it alxo involved patting her back and shushing her.  This may be why I've lost weight so quickly.

We are indeed lucky to have our baby Ellie in our family!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"Oh, she's going to be a delightful 2-year-old"

Our Eleanor has a temper.  Everyone told me girls were more dramatic than boys, but I kind of thought we had more than a week before we were forced to admit it.  Silly me.

She is the sweetest, most content baby most of the time.  When she is awake, as long as she's not hungry, she is happy to play the tongue-sticking-out game, the finger-grabbing game, etc.  She can hold her head up for a few seconds at a time and enjoys looking all around.  She likes dancing around the kitchen and prefers hip-hop to anything else I've tried, though she will tolerate country and rock.  She likes to be held all the time and is sleeping with me in the nursery for now because she doesn't like to be alone in the bassinet.  She'll wake up a few times to nurse at night but I fall back to sleep once she's latched on.  We generally get a 4- or 5-hour stretch of sleep (after a 3- or 4-hour stretch of nursing--she is a cluster nurser to the nth degree) and a couple of 2-3 hour stretches out of her.  Yesterday and today, Ellie and I got up with the rest of the family while Patrick was getting ready for school, then took a 3-hour nap after he left.  Given that she's a newborn, we're reasonably well-rested.  I don't expect it to last but each day she goes like this is certainly helpful!

But woe betide you if she's hungry.

Ellie doesn't cry.  Ever.  If she's not hungry, she's not crying--she's either sleeping or happy to be awake, looking around with her big blue eyes.  If she's hungry, she screams.  There is no warning beyond some squirming and turning red for a few seconds.  Then she yells with all her might until she has no choice but to take a breath.  She flails her fists (Patrick came down the other day and said "I got beat up by a baby girl!").  She arches her back.  She turns bright red.  She tries to nurse on your chin or arm, or any other body part she can get her mouth on.  She is the angriest, hungriest baby ever because the food is not there RIGHT THAT SECOND.  It doesn't matter if she's eaten 2 hours before or if I'm just switching her to the other side after finishing the first.

If the food doesn't come fast enough, in her opinion, she does what Jason calls "playing dead" (this only happens if someone else is holding her).  She stops crying and goes entirely limp.  She closes her eyes.  As soon as I take her, she immediately opens her eyes, yells at me, and starts trying to nurse through my shirt.

Today, I had the selfish notion that I should feed myself--after all, if the food source does not occasionally get nourished and watered, she has trouble producing food for Her Highness.  And shamefully, I wanted warm food--clearly, that was taking way too long.  Jason was holding Eleanor.  He tried rocking her.  She yelled.  He tried putting her in the bouncy chair.  She screamed.  He picked her back up and rocked her some more.  She yelled louder until her voice started going hoarse, then played dead.  (This all took a grand total of no more than 5 minutes.)  Mind you, I'd finished feeding her right before I handed her to Jason. 

When I sat down to nurse her 30 seconds later, she was all sweetness and light as soon as she latched on.  She spends 99% of her day like that.  It's only the other 1% of the day when she's hungry and not actively eating that she turns into this 9-lb raging red ball of baby.

It's impossible not to be head-over-heels in love with this little girl, even when she's not so happy.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Eleanor Desta has arrived!

We welcomed our daughter, Eleanor Desta, to the world on March 7!  She sure took her sweet time in arriving but as she is such a sweet little baby, it seems appropriate that she made such a wonderful entrance.  Ellie kept us guessing about when she would come right until the end--well, she kept me guessing until the end.  Everyone else who was here seemed to know a lot sooner than I did :-)

I started having the contractions that ultimately led to her birth at about 11 a.m. on March 6, while I was waiting for Patrick's Sunday school to end.  We got home around 1 p.m. and I told Jason that I was having contractions about 4-5 minutes apart and had been for a couple of hours.  "So, just another Sunday?" he asked.  "Yep, pretty much," I told him.  I'd had contractions like those multiple times in the last few weeks.  One of those times they were like that for 22 hours, so I didn't read anything into them.

They started getting the tiniest bit stronger and around 3 p.m. I decided to take a nap.  After laying in bed for about 15 minutes, I had one and actually felt downward movement from the baby, so I thought I'd call my midwife and give her a heads-up that something might be happening (this will be a recurring theme).  I had a contraction while on the phone and apparently my midwife said to herself "Oh yeah, she's in labor."  She called her apprentice to let her know. 

I got up since I didn't like being in bed anymore and just hung around downstairs for a couple of hours.  My midwife called back around 5:30 to see how I was doing and said she and her apprentice would just come over and see what was going on.  They came around 6:15 or so and listened to the baby's heartbeat, asked how I was doing, etc.  Around 8 p.m., we'd put the kids to bed and everyone started bringing equipment in from the car.  I called my friends who were coming and told them that the baby would probably come that night.  Mind you, I didn't believe it but figured that if my midwife was bringing things inside, it was a reasonable thing to do.

My friends got there within the hour and we all sat around waiting for something to happen beyond the contractions. And waiting.  And waiting.  They were pretty regular and certainly stronger compared to earlier, but I didn't buy it.  I did get into the birth tub at one point but my contractions basically stopped after that, so I got back out and went back to what I'd been doing.

I did a lot of laboring like this.  Jason was an awesome coach, of course.

At around 1:30 a.m., I decided to lay down for a while.  I was tired and nothing seemed to be happening, so Jason and I went upstairs to take a nap.  I slept until about 4:30 a.m., then Jason suggested we walk around downstairs for a while.  We did that for a little over an hour and the contractions picked right back up.  I still thought it might fizzle out again, but my midwife's apprentice watched me labor for a while and called my midwife to come back (she lives close by and had gone home to get a bit of sleep so that her apprentice could use our guest room).  It was a good thing everyone else believed I was really in labor, because I certainly didn't!

Still, we kept on all morning.  I spent some more time in the tub, more time laying down, a little more time sitting.  I was able to eat and drink as I needed.  The kids were awesome--they watched videos on iPads and played upstairs and read some stories.  My friends Rachel and Lovisa were fantastically helpful--making coffee, entertaining the kids, helping me with whatever I needed, keeping me entertained between contractions.  We talked a lot and it gave Jason the freedom to help me emotionally and physically.  He was the one always there wherever I was, to help keep track of how things were going, giving me lots of excellent massages, encouraging me every minute.

I'm not sure when I got back in the tub for the last time but I was in there through Ellie's birth.  I'd been having really powerful contractions--the last of which actually had me in tears--but when I got back in, they became so manageable!  I could still feel them but they didn't hurt much anymore, even though they were clearly just as strong as they'd been.  It was wonderful.  I was able to eat some lunch about an hour before she came.

Everyone else knew what was happening.  I, despite being the one actually in labor, didn't really believe it was going to happen.  At 3 p.m., we heard Patrick's bus come by and Jason remarked that Patrick could have gone to school that day.  I said "No, the baby will probably come today so I'm glad he stayed home."  And immediately, everything picked up.  I went into transition and had a couple of contractions that had me sobbing.  My midwife checked me because I felt like I wanted to push and said "There's the baby's head."

Me (now sobbing semi-happily): "Oh, I'm so glad.  I was afraid you'd check and I'd be like 5 cm."  Everyone else laughed but I'd been serious--that's how much in denial I'd been all day.  (Mind you, it was the one and only time I was checked.)

Push #1 was at 3:02 and was so intense that I felt there was no way I could do it (I yelled a lot more this time around than I did with Patrick).  My water broke with push #2.  I could feel the baby's head with push #3--that was when the kids came in and I told them that it was OK if I yelled, it was hard work but I was OK.  Push #4 had the baby's head out.  Push #5 brought our beautiful baby out into the world at 3:18 p.m., screaming and pink and perfect and chubby.

I asked Patrick whether he had a brother or a sister and he said "Brother."  Then someone moved the umbilical cord and asked if he wanted to look again, and he said "It's a girl."  We told him her name so that he could share it.  Melkamu came over and touched her head, smiling the whole time even though he'd said he wanted a brother.  I said that she was so big and thought she was around 8 lb--my midwife said "Maybe 7 1/2 or 8 lb."  And I said "She has hair!"

We didn't weigh her for several hours but when we did, we found that she was actually 8 lb 14 oz.  I can't believe I grew an almost-9 lb baby girl to 40w2d and delivered her naturally at home!  (For reference, Patrick was born at 37w5d weighing 6 lb 11 oz.)  Her head is so perfectly round because my water didn't break until minutes before she was born, so she was cushioned the whole time.  I look at her now and wonder how she could possibly have fit inside me!

We are incredibly lucky to have her.  She is a cluster nurser and will nurse basically every hour for several hours, then sleep for about the same number of hours.  She only cries when she's hungry or needs to be changed, and has been much more alert today.  Her name, Eleanor Desta, is a very special one to us--she is named after Jason's grandmother Ellen.  Her middle name is an Ethiopian name that means "Happiness", which honors Melkamu's firstmom since her name, although different, means the same thing.

My blue eyed, dark-haired baby girl.

I can't tell you how my heart filled with happiness when Jason said "Hey, how are my girls?" as I nursed her the other night.

The boys really, really love their baby sister.

A lot.

Jason could not be happier to have a daughter.

She's been out for fewer than 60 hours but has already helped make our family even more complete.  Welcome, my Ellie.  We've been waiting for you for a very long time.