Thursday, January 29, 2009

Heavy Lifting

Recently I've been reminded of the movie Lady In the Water (not one of M. Night's best). One of the characters in the movie only works out one arm, leading it to be substantially bigger than the other. The thought leaves me somewhat concerned.

This whole mothering thing has turned out to be quite a workout. Not only does feeding Jack help me burn hundreds of calories each day, but lifting and carrying the little dude has definitely been working my muscles. I remember how sore my shoulders and back were the first few weeks after he was born, I'm pretty sure mothering involves muscles I'ver never used before!

We're guessing Jack weighs around 18 lbs., based on our primitive measures (a.k.a. stand on the scale with the baby, stand on the scale without the baby, subtract; repeat process until the numbers make sense). And he's only going to get heavier. Some people suggest keeping diaper changing supplies on all floors of your house, to avoid having to trek up and down the steps each time. I purposely did not do this just for that reason. Jack pretty much only sleeps in his bed for naps and nighttime, and I only change his diaper up in his room. That adds up to toting "Tank" up and down the steps for quite a few trips. When he's in his car seat carrier that's another 5 lbs. or so, and since our living area is on the second floor, it can be pretty exhausting to lug the baby from house to car and back again. Any mother knows how difficult it is to appear graceful while carting around a baby carrier. I'm sure my neighbors get a kick out of watching me leave the house carrying baby, diaper bag, work binder, and lunch, lock the door, and struggle to lift Jack-and-carseat into the Jeep and maneuver him to the middle seat. All while wearing heels. Phew!

Since I'm right handed, I tend to favor my right arm when carrying Jack around. I've recently noticed it's been a little sore. Immediately I thought of the one-arm-workout man. So I've been checking in the mirror to make sure both my arms are a similar size and trying to switch Jack over to the left side when I think of it. If anyone's looking for a great workout program this year, I'm open to babysitters!!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Progress is a Spiral: Jack Throws Mom for a Loop

I haven't written an update on Jack's nighttime sleep in a long time. Partly because, until recently, not much has changed. Jack started sleeping a straight 7 hours at night around 8 weeks, and aside from the holidays, pretty much stuck to it through January. Occasionally he'd shock me with a 8 or 9 hour stretch. And then last week he really threw me for a loop. One night he slept 10 hours, the next night 8, then 6, then 9 again. Every night was like Christmas Eve, not really sure what I would be waking up to in the morning. Really. A little consistency would be nice here. Do you know how hard it is to stick to a routine when every morning is a new situation?
Then I read about "progress as a spiral." How true. Just when I think I'm getting somewhere, I recognize landmarks from where we were a few weeks ago. It's so easy to get discouraged, to wonder if my baby will ever take a normal nap again, if I'll be feeding him 6-7 times a day for the rest of his life, if my mornings will always start at 4-5am? And then I realize, these are the same fears I had 2 or 3 months ago, just not quite as severe. Back then I was afraid that Jack would always require a 2 hour process to get him to sleep, that my entire day would be spent feeding my child, that he would sleep so much during the day that his brain wouldn't get enough exercise ... :)

Progress is definitely a spiral, and 2 months from now I'm sure I'll be wondering about a whole new set of issues, and the fact that Jack doesn't sleep the same amount of time each night will be a laughable event. I'm working with the overall goal in mind - to give Jack peaceful nighttime sleep, enough food to keep him growing healthily and the right amount of fun and stimulating activity to keep his little mind developing - and letting the individual days fall as they will.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Now showing!

This week I purchased Jack his first Baby Einstein DVD. I've heard good things about this series and how it aids in childrens' language development. A quick search on Wikipedia though quickly counters everything I've heard. Oh well, I'm not too concerned. Occasionally watching small children play with toys to the tune of classical music can't be that bad. Besides, it's much more on his level than the History channel. But have you ever seen these Baby Einstein movies? They're kinda creepy ... Jack seems to enjoy them though. He's enthralled by the drip, drip of colored water. Notice the little bald spot on the back of his head. :( At least he still has the majority of his hair left.

I love the way he clutches his little blanket these days. Unfortunately, the only blankies he likes to hold are the ones I use for drool and spit-up. Try as I may, I just can't get him attached to his adorable sailboat blankie or stuffed monkey that I force him to sleep with. They might as well not exist.

Now back to the show, and watching wooden toys move all by themselves in front of a white backdrop.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Phantom Baby

I think a mother is created with this unequivocal ability to "tune in" to her baby's cries. I can hear Jack when no one else can. And while his cries may not bother some people, they go straight to my heart. Yesterday Jon asked me how it felt to know that when Jack cries, he's crying for me. I'm sure that unless he's truly hungry, he'd be more than satisfied with his dad, but it is nice to know that you're wanted.
From that very first ultrasound so long ago, I was relieved to learn that we would only have one baby to care for. Eight months later, little did I know, that in addition to Jack, I was also bringing the Phantom Baby home from the hospital. The Phantom Baby always shows up when Jack is on his best behavior. He wakes me up at night, and keeps me on my toes during the day. Sometimes I think I hear Jack cry during a nap. I run upstairs to check on him only to find him sleeping soundly in his bed. I hear a chair squeak in the office next to me, and I'm positive that Jack is somewhere in my office crying for me to get him. I'll wake up in the middle of the night to feed Jack, only to find that the Phantom Baby has struck again... Jack is out cold, not even remotely hungry.
It would seem that the Phantom Baby steals more hours of my sleep than my real baby. I cannot tell you the number of times I've dreamt that I was feeding Jack, only to awake in a panic because I couldn't find him anywhere. How many times have I shaken Jon awake asking him where Jack was? Or the nights I've woken to find myself half-sitting, my arms laying across my belly, rocking my Phantom Baby to sleep. Last week I was afraid that Jack might be getting sick, I dreamt that he was throwing up. I went rushing into his room at 3:30am only to find him perfectly peaceful.
Over 3 months since Jack's arrival, and Phantom Baby is still a figment I'm forced to contend with on a daily basis. Not sure how long this one will last, I just hope he makes his exit before Jack starts walking. I certainly don't want to be chasing two toddlers around the house!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Just one complaint

Like I said, I'm really enjoying mommy-hood and I've learned to adjust to a life of less sleep, lots of messy diapers and timing challenges. But one thing I've not yet become accustomed to, even after 3 months, is the whole spit-up deal. But while I haven't gotten used to it, I have learned when to expect it: (a) right after I've changed my clothes, (b) right after I've changed Jack's clothes, (c) right when I need to be out-the-door, (d) when I'm on the phone or (e) when I'm not paying attention and then I get to work and realize there's a patch of dried milk on my shoulder. My laundry load has doubled with the added "spit cloths," and I've been smelling sour milk in my sleep. Not to mention the throw pillows we've already had to toss. It's a good thing our landlord installed carpet the color of curdled milk, and kuddos to my honey for picking out a beige sofa, otherwise our home might resemble a landmine. Jon and I have considered getting a new couch this year, but what's the point? Might as well wait until we're through having kids.
I've heard mixed reviews on spit-up. Some say it's the result of an immature digestive system, others say it could be overeating, or maybe it's that I'm jostling him too much. Naturally, I checked things out on Babycenter. Apparently it is all these things, and doesn't appear to be one in particular. Since spitting up is natural and common, I guess I'll just learn to deal with it for the next 3-4 months. As with all challenges of baby-rearing, it's only temporary.
The other night I was feeding Jack for the last time before going to bed. It was late and we were both tired from a busy day at work and the sitter. Jack always poops while I feed him, so I usually wait until well after he's finished to change his diaper. The only problem is that at night he'll just be starting to drop off while he's eating, and then I have to change him and smiling, giggling, playful boy is back in full force, just in time to lay down for the night. So anyway, the boy that was sleeping in my arms only seconds earlier is now squealing with all his might. I try to be quiet and serious during this time, just so he knows it's time for bed and not for play, but it's pretty hard when twinkle-eyes here is thumping his legs on the changing table and pounding his fists in the air. Just as I go to sit him up, he lets out an "Ahhh" that sounded about 15 years too early for a baby. I was laughing so hard I missed the signal and was soon covered in Jack's delicious night time snack. In my hair, down the shirt I had just pulled out of the clean laundry basket, trailing down my pants and puddling on the floor. I had to keep laughing, I didn't know how else to respond. So I decided to try to feed him a little more to see if he'd calm down for bed, within seconds I heard the all-too familiar gurgling sound of a Jack poop. Right into the freshly changed diaper. So it was back to the changing table, and back to more toothless smiles and high-pitched laughter. And then right to bed where Jack smiled himself to sleep and mama scrubbed herself down for the night. I think my husband finally understands why I prefer to "dress-down" during the day.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Changing Times ... Timing Changes

Jon and I are fairly organized, efficient people. Ever since the days of being the last kid picked up from piano lessons or field hockey practice, I've vowed I would never be late. I may have taken things a little too far. As my one friend puts it - "Janine is notoriously early." But having a baby around has definitely challenged our timing. Running errands is no longer a spur of the moment decision, now I must plan them into my schedule. We no longer have leisurely Sunday mornings, as both of us our tag-teaming with the baby to get out the door by 8:15. And getting ready to head to work and drop Jack off at the babysitter requires more than one trip to the car to get everything in.
Jack got dedicated in our home church while we were in over Christmas. The night before, Jon's final words to his sister (who is nearly his opposite in matters of timeliness) were, "If you're late to church you're un-invited to my birthday dinner." [As a sidenote, Rachel does have 4 active little boys to get ready for church]. Sunday morning rolls around and what-do-you-know Rachel and her boys have second row seats, and the junior Tillman's nearly miss Jack's dedication when they arrive two-minutes late. Jon says it's my fault. I will admit to being the last one out the door that morning, but only because according to his watch I had 10 minutes to spare. Apparently his watch was wrong. So thank you Jack for that delicious slice of humble pie, it was the perfect dessert to Jon's birthday dinner.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The 45-minute intruder

So Jack and I have been working on naps this past week. Jon has been out of town and it was a good opportunity to just stay home and focus on teaching Jack to take solid naps in his bed. We'd been working on this before, but after spending 10 days traveling, meeting new people and spending the majority of time in sleeping in someone's arms, we needed a refresher course.
Jack's been super about going to bed at night. He goes down without a peep and sends himself off to sleep with no trouble. But for some reason naps have been a little more difficult. Babies must be much smarter than we realize. I've always wondered how he knew the difference between a nap and his real bedtime. He must be very intuitive.
At this point, Jack takes about 4 two-hour naps a day, he usually starts out strong in the morning, but like most babies, finishes off the day a bit more fussier than he started. One thing I've noticed is that he wakes up about 45 minutes into each nap, but if I went to get him he was still clearly tired. Tracy Hogg (author of the Baby Whisperer) calls this the 45-minute intruder. How clever! Apparently, babies' transition from REM to deep sleep after about 45 minutes, during which time they are easily woken. Most times Jack's able to get himself back to sleep, other times I have to give him a little assistance, and still other times it's a hopeless cause and he just needs some snuggle time with mommy. But I'm learning to be patient and wait it out a little before rushing in to rescue him from The Intruder. Oh the monsters we moms must learn to battle!

Friday, January 9, 2009

The skinny on mom

I'm doing well, thanks for asking! I'm happy to report that I have officially lost all my baby-weight, in fact, at this point I've even dipped below the pre-pregnancy poundage. I'm not too concerned just yet, but I have to admit, eating 700 or so extra calories a day sounds a lot easier than it is! Between baby, work, and house stuff, I'm hard pressed to find a moment to eat, much less create a decent meal. But I am trying. Being a nursing mother has really caused me to consider what I eat, especially when I see it go in, and out, my sweet little boy. And being sick for those two days over Christmas definitely didn't help. I was trying to drink extra water and eat as much as possible, but it seemed Jack never got to reap the benefits of my labor. Oh well, he didn't appear to suffer any. I can definitely see why it is NO FUN to be sick and a mom. I'm a pretty healthy person (I attribute this to not being a germophobe, yes I eat things off the floor and no I'm not a fan of hand sanitizer, although that is just my personal opinion). And I've somehow been successfully able to avoid my annual sinus infection this season. So my plan this year is to not get sick, at least not as long as I'm Jack's primary caregiver. And to eat more calories! How's that for a New Year's Resolution?
Weight's not the only thing I'm losing. It's truly a wonder I have any hair left with the way my shower drain looks each morning. For Christmas my parents sent me to my former hairdresser back in PA to get my hair cut and highlighted. It's the first time I've been back there since two weeks before my wedding, and I'm so happy to return to my favorite, and affordable, hair-do. But it's frustrating to watch all those newly-blonde locks get sucked down the drain. (Don't worry, I rescue them before they get too far, otherwise my husband would have a fit!) Fortunately, I've always had lots of hair to spare, and my hairdresser assures me it will all grow back eventually. So as long as I don't discover any bald spots, I think I'm okay with this.
Also, my hands have improved immensely. I still wear splints to bed, but only as a preventative measure. They no longer go numb while I'm driving, talking on the phone, or changing diapers. And my rings happily slide right back on. (I've heard too many stories about not being able to fit into rings and shoes post-pregnancy, thankfully I can do both!). So my doctor was right, it took 3 months for things to get back to normal but at least I'm there.
Finally, I absolutely love being a mom. Let's be honest, those first few weeks, or months, I just wasn't sure if I was cut out for this. There were definitely days when I wondered just what we had got ourselves in to. But in the end even the tough times are worth every minute! I now know what people mean when they say their kids are their pride and joy. Nothing I could ever do in work or school will compare with my task in raising Jack. I get to participate in the wonder and excitement of my son experiencing life for the first time. And not a day goes by when he doesn't make me smile ... over and over again. Being a mommy has been the most difficult, but most rewarding, job I've ever had. And it just keeps getting better and better!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Funny Boy

Time flies when you're having fun! It's hard to believe the little man playing on the floor next to me just arrived 3 months ago! Is this wide-eyed observer really the same baby who preferred to sleep the day away? Is this hungry 15+ pounder the same boy who had me in tears more than once when I couldn't get him to eat? Is this kid sleeping 8-9 hours a night really the same little dude who just wanted to stay up and play after midnight? Is this smiley, gigglebox the same grump that was just here in November? Well, those same chubby cheeks are a dead give-away, this baby and that baby are one-in-the-same, but my how much has changed! Needless to say, Jack is growing each day! Both Jon and I are delighted to spend as much time as possible with our precious, adorable little boy. And we are constantly entertained by his wide smiles and baby chatter. Even diaper changes have become something to look forward to. Suddenly, Jack LOVES to get his diaper changed. As Jon says, "It's almost like he appreciates it." I have to admit, it is nice to enjoy a somewhat "dirty" task. And it's also much easier to get Jon to complete his "one-diaper-a-day" obligation. Even Marmie and Great-Aunt Julie were anxious to take their turn at this fun experience. For those of you who can't, or won't, (ahem Poppa, Uncle Micah) join Jack in the fun, here's your own taste. Obviously, it's difficult to change a diaper and record a video at the same time, so this is Jack as soon as he hits the mat and right before he gets the strip down.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A good year

Happy New Year! What an awesome year we've had! We drove up to Williamsburg to ring in 2009 with Jon's uncle, aunt and cousins and on the way there Jon and I took turns ringing off the events that made this past year one to remember. I truly believe that life just keeps getting better and better so I'm looking forward to creating even more memories over these next 12 months.

This past Christmas was the first that we sent out Christmas cards. I was a little too busy to handle this task on my own, so Jack pitched in a chubby hand to help out. For those of you who are not on our card list, below is a copy of our year-in-review newsletter:

Greetings from Virginia Beach! My mom wasn’t going to write a newsletter this year, but I told her 2008 was just too exciting to pass over, so I volunteered:
In February, my parents found out that they would be celebrating this Christmas as a family of three! I got to spend the next nine months with my mom, we went for a lot of walks on the beach, we traveled home several times to visit family in PA, and we even flew down to Key West to visit friends. At night, I’d do a little dance in her belly just so Dad could feel me kick. After a few weeks of sickness, I decided to take it easy on my mom and she thought being pregnant was pretty cool. I didn’t want her to like it too much so towards the end I packed on the pounds and threw in some swollen ankles so she would be more than ready for me to arrive. And then I broke her water a week before my due date just for fun! Twenty-three hours later, at 1:39am on October 12, I entered my parents’ world and it hasn’t been the same since! They named me Jack Lawrence, after my Great Grandpa Lawrence Tillman, who I get to meet in a few weeks. At 8 lbs 14 oz and 21 inches long, my parents were very thankful for a big, healthy baby and a great labor and delivery!
I’ve been with my mom for her last two semesters of grad school, and just this week I got to sit on her lap as she typed up her final project. Now I can call her “Mommy, M.Ed.” and next spring I get to watch her don the funny hat and get her diploma. This summer my mom switched jobs at Regent so she could work from home and spend the day with me. We have lots of fun together talking to students on the phone. Sometimes I feel left out so I make her hold me while she types emails with one hand. And other times, when she thinks I’m sleeping and is on the phone, I surprise her by letting out a wail and making her students wonder what’s going on! I think the first few weeks of my life were a bit of a challenge for my mom, but we’re beginning to work better together as a team. I try to be very good and quiet when I go down to sleep, and I only wake her up once a night now just so she knows I love her and I’m thinking about her even in my dreams.
My dad has also been busy; he’s halfway through his graduate program studying Terrorism & Homeland Defense and International Relations at Regent University. Dad has been teaching me a lot about the topic of terrorism. Dad has also been teaching me about my Constitutional rights, more specifically, my Second Amendment right to bear arms and has even showed me how to field strip a 9mm handgun. My mom wasn’t too happy about that. Dad got a new job in the Coast Guard this summer and now he’s home every night and doesn’t have to work weekends. Dad was also selected for Lieutenant this fall and will put his new rank on in May. I love hanging out with him in his easy chair and he was very happy that I arrived just in time to watch the college football season, and cheer on my Uncle Jared’s school – Penn State. Dad is still trying to talk mom into getting a dog this spring since I foiled those plans this past year. He promised we would all go on lots of walks together, so I’m looking forward to not being the “new guy” anymore!
Well my mom says it’s time to get my diaper changed, and I can’t argue with that. It’s tough being two months old! I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and blessed New Year. I can’t wait to meet everyone when we come home to visit!
Love, Jack
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