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I’m hoping to make the final Paulie preparations at the very beginning of May, since he’s due at the end of May.  I’ll get the car seat taken care of in April, and maybe order the rest of the diapers then, too (yeah for Amazon’s free shipping!).  I’ll pack the bags for the hospital at the beginning of May.  There are a bunch of little things that he still needs, like baby shampoo and baby wipes, but we can get most of that in town when we need to.  And really, at the end of the day, I’ve already got the breastmilk, and that’s what he needs most!

My mother-in-law gave us a *fabulous* baby food maker for Christmas.  Very fancy– it steams the food and does all sorts of neat stuff!  Definitely the fanciest item in our kitchen 🙂  She also gave me a really helpful baby food cookbook on what to feed babies at each stage.  Sweetie and I exchanged baby presents for Christmas and for my birthday last year, and so we already have a diaper bag, a soft infant carrier, the basics. No stroller yet, but I can walk with him snuggled up next to me in the infant carrier.  I’m trying not the let the Babies R Us culture convince me that I’m not ready for the baby unless our house is overflowing with stuff.  Paulie’s already got all of the love in the world.  That, plus a full belly, a clean bottom, and two parents to cuddle him, and he’ll be the happiest baby in the world.  🙂  He already has all he needs 🙂

So I’ve been reading lots of pregnancy and baby magazines.  Every time I go to the obstetrician’s they give me free pregnancy magazines, and I’ve been checking out back issues of Parents magazine from the library.  One thing that I read really cracked me up.  The magazine article recommended packing make-up and hair products in your hospital bag, “because you’ll be in lots of photo ops!”  Please!!  If I look like I’ve given birth after Paulie is born, well, it’s because I have!  The last thing I’ m going to be worried about is what my hair looks like.  I hate the idea that women have to put on a perfect face to the world, even right after they’ve given birth!  Besides, the star of the show (and the photos) will be my precious, sweet, perfect little Paulie 🙂

In less than a week I’ll be in the third trimester!  Oh my goodness!  This month has really flown by!  The third trimester has really snuck up on me!

I don’t think I’ll be having a baby shower, which makes me more than a little sad.  My family of origin is not in my life at all, and I was kind of hoping that my friends would rally around me to support Paulie.  I have wonderful friends, it’s just that my closest friends live out of town.  I have a lot of friends in town who would come to a baby shower, but none that are close enough that they’d be the one to throw the shower for me.  So I’m kind of bummed about that.  I was really looking forward to having a chance to celebrate Paulie.

My mother-in-law has been *awesome,* which I’m so grateful for, especially since I don’t have a mom in my life.  She and my sister-in-law took me shopping for maternity clothes, and we’ve spent so much time cooing over baby clothes in the outlets 🙂  It was actually my mother-in-law who did all of the mother-of-the-bride stuff for me when I got married– made flower arrangements, even took me shopping for my dress.  She’s been a really awesome support for me throughout my pregnancy with Paulie.  I can always talk to her when I’m worried, she always makes me feel better.  She and my sister-in-law took me to Ikea where my mother-in-law bought Paulie his crib!  She’s also made a couple of homemade blankets for him, and even bought him a little shirt that says “Small Paul” (too cute!).  She’s making little stuffed animals and a quilt for him as well, I believe.  I am so, so grateful that she’s so wonderful to me, and she’s not even my mom.  Who knew that the best husband in the world would come along with the best mother-in-law ever 🙂  I often hear disparaging comments about people’s mothers-in-law, but I’ve got the best mother-in-law ever!

I freaked out the other night when I realized that I’m almost in the third trimester.  I thought, “oh my gosh, I’m not ready for him!  The crib’s not put togther!  We don’t have all of his diapers yet!  He hardly has any clothes!”  But hopefully we have another three months before he comes.  I talked to Sweetie and we’ll order Paulie’s carseat in early April.  That way we should get it by the end of April, and then I’ll get it installed at the fire station right away.  I did a mental inventory and Paulie does have enough clothes (Sweetie’s bought him all sorts of adorable little t-shirts and onesies– too cute).  And we have most of the Fuzzi Bunz that we need.  The rest are just an Amazon order away.  I figure that it doesn’t really matter that the crib’s not put together (judging by the box it looks like it’s probably in 50 pieces– *gulp!*) because Paulie will be sleeping with us anyway.  I’ll put him in the crib when he takes naps by himself, but I have a feeling that, for at least his first month of life, I’ll be taking naps with him!  So he and I can just cuddle in the big bed and breastfeed and sleep 🙂

I do wish that I had a mom of my own to share my pregnancy with, and that I could celebrate my pregnancy with a baby shower.  But at the end of the day, I’m incredibly, incredibly fortunate.  I have the most wonderful Sweetie ever and a precious little baby on the way.  Sweetie’s family is very supportive, and I have lots of great friends.  So while I’m sad about the things that aren’t there, I don’t want that to stop me from being grateful for the copious riches of love and joy that surround me 🙂

My friend’s sister is expecting her first child, a little girl who’s due any day now.  Since this little girl (Atlee) and Paulie are going to be so close in age, I can’t help comparing their life situations– and the comparison makes me ache for little Atlee. 

I’ve known my friend and her sister for most of their lives.  We grew up together, more or less.  My friend has always been exceptionally mature and competent; I wish that I could say the same for her sister.  Her sister has always been incredibly immature and self-centered.  She’s in her late twenties but just never seemed to grow up all the way.  She has a steady job, I’ll give her that, but she’s lived with her parents for all of her life, with the exception of just a few months.  She’s unpredictable and, well, not the kind of person who should be a parent.  There, I said it.  I try really hard not to be judgemental, because goodness knows I am far, far, *far* from perfect, but darn it, when it comes to children, they have basic rights.  They deserve to have their basic needs met.  And I just don’t know that my friend’s sister is going to be able to do this.

Paulie has the most wonderful daddy in the world 🙂  Sure, I know I’m biased, but Sweetie is exceptionally kind, loving, giving, generous, and sensitive.  He’s already such a wonderful daddy to Paulie– he makes time for him every day, and talks and sings to him so lovingly 🙂  Atlee, on the other hand, doesn’t have a daddy at all.  Atlee’s mom has not revealed the identity of Atlee’s dad (if she knows who it is), and who knows if Atlees’s dad even knows that he’s fathered a child.  It may have been a one-night sort of relationship.  Who knows.  So not only does Atlee have a less-than-stellar mom, but she has no dad whatsoever.  I don’t say this to criticize single parenting.  No dad is always better than a horrible dad.  I just really wish that Atlee had a quality parent in her life, someone who could somewhat compensate for her mom’s many shortcomings.  I know that, at the times when I feel overwhelemed by the magnitude of parenting, by the extreme importance of it, I’m reassured knowing that I’m not in this alone.  I have a mature, competent, stable partner who will also be there for Paulie.  A partner whose heart has a special place in it just for Paulie, just as mine does.  I wish that Atlee had at least one parent like that.

I ache for my cousin’s kids, too.  I hadn’t thought about them in a long time, maybe this is just triggered by being pregnant.  My cousin is in her mid-twenties and has had three babies by a drug addict who’s had “problems with the law.”  He went through rehab, and I deeply admire him for that, but he cheated on her after he got out of rehab– oh yeah, while the kids were around.  Sorry, I don’t mean for this post to sound like a soap opera, it’s just that my heart breaks for these kids.  I wish that there were something that I could do for them.  My cousin lost custody of the first child because her life was such a mess.  The people who have custody of this child should never, *ever* be allowed around children.  I would never let them within 100 feet of Paulie.  She struggles to care for the other two on her own.  Now, I can’t say that I would have been any better of a mother had I had kids as young as she did.  I really don’t want to judge her.  But at the same time, damn it, these kids are being  hurt.  These kids are getting a sore excuse for a childhood, and I suspect that some things are going on that are definitely awful.  I want to be understanding of everything that my cousin’s been through, but damn it, once there are kids involved, you’ve just got to suck it up and grow up.  There’s no excuse whatsoever for her own pain to be transfered down to these kids.

I just wish that there were something that I could do for these kids…  I feel so helpless.  I want every child to have the love, security, consistency, and safety that Sweetie and I are able to give Paulie.

When my brother was little (about Kindergarten age, I think), he received a cassette tape that had his name in the song.  He absolutely *loved* this tape.  He played it over and over: “Hey Joshua, it’s your birthday!  I come from the stars and I’m here to say– Hey Joshua!  It’s your birthday!”  He thought it was the best thing ever.  I came across a site that personalizes all sorts of products for children, including music! and so I thought I’d share.

http://www.musicformeandmore.com/index.htm

The site lets you pick out your child’s name and hear it in a sample song.  You can purchase CDs from all sorts of popular characters,  including Sesame Street, the Wiggles, Disney, Veggie Tales, and yes, a Happy Birthday song!  Each CD’s description lets you know how many times your child will hear his name.  There are CDs available in both English and in Spanish!

I can’t wait to find out what Paulie likes when he’s older, so that I can delight him with neat stuff like this!

The other day I watched Dr. Harvey Karp’s DVD on the “No-Cry Cuddle Cure.”  On it he demonstrates the “5 S’s” that he describes in his book: Swaddling, Side/Stomach Position, Shushing, Swinging, and Sucking.  I’d read his book, The Happiest Baby on the Block, and I watched the DVD so that I could see his baby-calming magic in action!

After watching the DVD, I was scared out of my mind!  All of the parents featured in the DVD had come to Dr. Karp for help with their inconsolable babies.  One woman said that her daughter could cry for six hours in a row!  *Gulp*  I’m wondering, is this normal for babies!?  Is this a common problem?  I’d love to hear from other parents out there about their experiences with their babies.  Did you experience three months of colic?  What are your best baby-soothing strategies?  Help!  I’m scared!

Dr. Karp mentioned that in some cultures babies cry for less than a minute a day.  Does anyone have any idea why babies in the U.S. might cry more? 

Sweetie and I will be cosleeping with Paulie, and we’ll be wearing him or otherwise holding him a great deal.  Are most babies happy as long as they’re being held?  (assuming that their bellys are full and their diapers are changed?)

I would love to hear about your experiences!  Thank you!!

I plan to learn Spanish along with Paulie once he’s in preschool.  I hope to do so by using CDs, DVDs, and computer games designed for kids.  I’m especially interested in material that takes an immersion approach.  Does anyone have any recommendations?  Has anyone used the Sesame Street, Muzzy, or Spanish for Beginners DVD series?  What about the JumpStart Spanish software?  If so, I’d love to hear your opinions of those or any other Spanish programs for kids!

Our local library has some children’s books in Spanish that come with CDs.  I figure that, once Paulie and I learn some Spanish from watching DVDs, we can check out those books and listen to them together.  I speak some French, but I figure I’ll just teach that to him informally.  Our library has Green Eggs and Ham in French– so fun!

The American Academy of Pediatrics: http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/pediatrics;115/2/496.pdf

The American Academy of Family Physicians: http://www.aafp.org/online/en/home/policy/policies/b/breastfeedingpositionpaper.html

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: http://www.acog.org/departments/underserved/breastfeedingStatement.pdf

I came across some wonderful information on breastfeeding toddlers.  I hope to breastfeed Paulie until he weans himself.

This first blog post has great references on the benefits of breastfeeding for both toddlers and their mamas!:  http://codenamemama.com/2009/12/01/mama-milk-dance/

This website also has thorough information on the benefits of extended breastfeeding– the best site I’ve found so far: http://www.kellymom.com/bf/bfextended/ebf-benefits.html

Here’s a post from another blog: “Breastfeeding until Age 3, 4, or 5: More Common than You Think? http://crunchydomesticgoddess.com/2009/01/02/breastfeeding-until-age-3-4-or-5-more-common-than-you-think/

I had to include a link from Mothering magazine, because I just love this magazine!  http://www.mothering.com/Extend-Breastfeedings-Benefits

I would love to hear about other people’s favorite resources for extended breastfeeding, or about any of your personal experiences!

I love being pregnant.  I definitely would not have said that during the first trimester (oh, no), when I was floored by all of the morning sickness and fatigue.  But now, in Paulie’s second trimester, pregnancy is wonderful.  I love having a big belly that advertises, “I’m pregnant!”  I’m so proud of my expanding belly– my little boy is growing big and strong!  I love being able to feel Paulie move– he’s so interactive!  He responds to his daddy’s voice, and he also responds to the base when I play music in the car.  Lately Sweetie and I have been playing a game called, “Where’s Paulie?”  Sweetie will say, “Where’s Paulie?” and Paulie will get really still in anticipation as Sweetie and I say, “I don’t know, where his he?”  Then Sweetie will say, in a super-excited voice, “There’s Paulie!!” and Paulie will go nuts.  He does his excited “daddy dance” and I just laugh and laugh because it tickles me from inside!  Paulie’s caught on to this game– he ‘s so smart, already!– I can tell because he anticipates the excitement that follows “Where’s Paulie?”  Such a smart little boy!  He takes after his daddy 🙂

Being able to interact with Paulie, and to interpret his movements to the world, has been one of the best parts of being pregnant.  I know when Paulie’s asleep and when he’s awake.  I know when he’s excited and, yes, even when he’s annoyed!  He’s not a morning person, and so if daddy tries to talk to him in the morning, Paulie gives a feeble kick as if to say, ‘Uuh, leave me alone!”  Again, like his daddy– not a morning person.  🙂

I have to admit, I love the way people treat me when they see that I’m pregnant.  They make me feel so special 🙂  A clerk at the grocery store actually had one of the employees someone push my cart out to my car with me and load up the groceries!  Wow!  I was blown away!  I’ve shopped at that grocery store for years and that’s never happened before!  It reminds me of when I was young, and living in a small town in South Carolina.  A clerk would push my mom’s grocery cart out to the car for her and hold it while she loaded us into our car seats.  So special 🙂  I love living in the South.

I’ve really loved sharing the miracle of this pregnancy with Sweetie.  Sweetie has always been exceptionally kind, loving, tender, thoughtful, considerate, and romantic (I know!  I’m so lucky!)  So he sets the bar pretty high to begin with.  But since I’ve been pregnant, I feel like a queen on a pedestal.  I love the way that he looks at me, with the love in his eyes and the admiration for what my body is doing.  I feel like, by growing Paulie, I’m giving him (and me!!) the best gift ever.  This pregnancy hasn’t been easy on Sweetie.  I’ve been sick and tired a lot, and we’ve had some real scares with Paulie.  But Sweetie has been by my side every step of the way.  He left work early to accompany me to an emergency ultrasound.  (It turns out that everything is fine– PHEW!!).  He strokes my hair lovingly when I’m having morning sickness.  And last week he was up in a flash in the middle of the night when we had to go to the hospital because we thought I was having contractions (turned out to be a different, non-dangerous side effect of pregnancy– what a relief!  It’s way too early for Paulie to be born).  Before I was pregnant, I would have said that anyone would be hard-pressed to find a man as loving, gentle, and faithful as mine.  And since I’ve been pregnant, I have to say, he’s even outdone himself!  I am so lucky.  And so grateful 🙂