Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lvl Up: 7 Months

Dear Baby,

Wow. Seven months already. I'm pretty sure just yesterday you were barely four months. That's what sleep deprivation does to you though! Just kidding; but I am actually rather sleep deprived, so this post won't have the same personality I try to inject in my ramblings to you. I apologize, but I promise to spice up the next one! So, here we go:

Achievement Unlocked:
  • Roll Over - The physiotherapist came by recently to check on your motor skills. You're only behind in your ability to roll from your back to your tummy and sit unaided. You're making incredibly progress in rolling from your back to your tummy though. You've done it a few times by yourself by accident, but then I see you lying there trying to figure out what just happened and how and why. Good learning!
  • Pass - This may seem insignificant, but it's actually a huge milestone in a baby's development: You've figured out how to seamlessly pass a toy from one hand to the other! Sometimes you'll sit there passing the same toy back and forth and back and forth for quite a long time. I love watching your baby-brain analyze and comprehend the new things your body is able to do!
  • Daddy - Finally. Your first "real" word. When you first said "Daddy" I was amazed, but I didn't know if you realized what it even meant. You've said "real" words by accident before. However, when you saw Daddy the next morning, sure enough, you recognized him and said loudly, and oh-so-clearly, "Daddy!" Now you love looking at him and going "Dadda, Dadda, Daddy". Also, when you haven't seen him for a while, you look at me and raise your little eyebrows up and say "Dadda". Then I explain that Daddy's at work, and I tell you when you'll see him again. I guess you understand because you'll sigh and go back to whatever you were doing beforehand.
  • Nutrition - Congratulations, you're now eating actual (home-made) baby food on a daily basis. We're sticking with half a serving, of one fruit or vegetable, once a day for now. We don't want to push your little preemie tummy! You seem to be tolerating this schedule well, so we're going to keep it up for a bit. So far, you really like bananas; but you just can't deal with the texture of potatoes. I gave you a spoonful of it at the Nans' place, and you spewed everywhere. So we'll be avoiding potatoes for now. I've just made a batch of peas and a batch of carrots, so we'll see what you think of those very soon!
  • Favourites - You have a favourite animal now. Guess what it is: Doggies! The first time I've ever heard you laugh a big, deep, belly laugh was when you were listening to Daddy's family's dog barking his head off. You laughed so hard and for so long you actually spat up a little. You want so badly to pet him, but you get too excited right now and just grab a hand full of his hair and hold on tight. Doggies don't really like that, so Momma's helping you practice how to pet nicely with your toys. First Momma pets the toy nicely, then she holds your hand and shows you how. I hope you pick it up soon, so you can pet all the doggies your little eyes see!
I'm sorry this post is so short and straight forward. I like to make my posts to you at least somewhat fun to read, but Momma needs to go to bed! Daddy and I love you so much, and I promise to make a much longer, more involved post next time! Keep on growing and developing as much as you can, Princess!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lvl Up: 6 Months

Dear Baby,

I've been seriously neglecting my correspondence with you! I have a list of posts I want to make; however I've been very busy...with you! You're so much more interactive now, and you sleep a lot less. This means you're getting more mature; and since you're now 6 months, this makes complete sense!

Achievement Unlocked:

  • Food - You've been doing great with your rice cereal, and you've made the transition to Stage 2 formula with no issues. Guess what time it is now! Time to start baby food! In a few weeks, I'm going to the Farmer's Market to pick up a yam (aka sweet potatoe) for your first meal! Momma and Daddy have worked out the routine: Momma will cut and steam your foods, then Daddy will puree it in the Baby Bullet the Nans bought for him at your shower. We're all very excited to start this next step in your eating evolution. You're probably the most excited: You love to watch Daddy and me eat!

  • Vocalization - Daddy got scolded for all the groaning he does, because you've now picked it up too! I understand that you want to practice all your sounds; so I don't stop you when you groan, but after hearing it 348927398473 times Momma gets slightly annoyed. But I'm more than happy to let you groan all day long, because I know that every new sound needs to be practiced to help you develop your language skills.

  • I Love You - Speaking of, well, speaking: Your Uncle Josh has been trying to teach you "I love you", and you've even started saying it back (in baby-talk of course). When you want to tell someone you love them, you say "Ah-oo" or "Ah-loo". The way we know that's what you're saying, is because you say it with the exact same inflection as Uncle Josh does. One day, you and I were chatting while you dozed off for a nap, and you looked at me and said "Ah-loo, ma ah." Since you were obviously trying to say "I love you, Momma" I excitedly said "I love you too, Baby!"

  • Mimicing - Also, under the vocalization category, you're starting to do well at mimicing sounds other people are making. Sometimes you like to sing (and by sing I mean yell), so Momma is trying to teach you "La la la" and after I repeat it a couple times, you usually start saying it too. You also like to make funny "brrrrrrt" sounds with your lips that Momma taught you. You're a good little parrot!

  • Toys/Hands - You have pretty much mastered your hands! You now hold toys, turn wheels on activity sets and have even tossed a couple toys at your feet. You still love to play with Momma's hands as you fall asleep, and you're very good at being gentle but confident when you're handling things. I guess you don't like tags on your toys, because you try very hard to pull them off. Your eye/hand coordination is excellent!

  • Mobilization - Even though you hate tummy time, Daddy and I still have you do it for a few minutes every once in a while. We don't like making you do things you hate, but tummy time is very important for developing your muscles. Daddy does tummy time the best, though, so Momma lets him do it as often as possible (you don't fuss nearly as much for Daddy's tummy time). Yesterday you even started doing very deliberate crawling motions. You didn't get very far, because your arms still aren't incredibly strong, but you seem to understand the concept now. Now that you have a goal, perhaps tummy time will be more enjoyable to you!

  • Choices - You're now able to make choices! That's a major mental development! A little while ago, we went shopping to get you a sippy cup (among other things). Momma couldn't decide between three, so you got to pick! I held up all three, but there were only two that you were focusing on. I put down the one you weren't interested in, and held up the remaining two. After a bit of deliberation, where you focused on one then the other, you reached for the green and purple one. That's the one we bought, and you love it. Sometimes Momma and Daddy will hold up two toys, or two pairs of socks and let you choose which one you want. Whichever one you reach for first, or focus on the longest, is your choice. You're actually very quick in your decisions; just like we suspected, you know what you want!

  • Sleep - You're so close, so close, to sleeping a full 12 hours at night. You sleep from 8pm to 8 or 9 am with only one or two interruptions. Lately it's just been one, at about 5am, for a big feeding. If you wake up twice, the second time is around 1am for a quick feeding. When you wake up in morning, you only stay up for an hour or two. Right around 10am (just as Daddy is leaving for work), you get super cranky and go down for your nap (this is anywhere from 2-5 hours). Then you're up for the rest of the day (with only 1 or 2 quick, 20 minute cat naps thrown in). At 8pm you're ready and willing to go to sleep for the night. Now I just have to make sure I go to bed at 12am at the latest (not the earliest, which is what I have been doing!), and we'll both be well rested for the days!

  • Those are all the developments I can think of for now. You had your 6 month boosters, and took them like a champ! You are now 15lbs 1.5oz! This means you're caught up to your fullterm counterparts. You're not at the 50th Percentile on the growth charts, but you're very close: This means that you're at a healthy weight for a 6 month baby that was born fullterm. Good growing, Princess!!!

    Saturday, January 28, 2012

    Lvl Up: 5 Months

    Dear Baby,

    Wow, time is going fast and you're growing fast too! We haven't officially weighed you this month, but you're definitely over 12lbs! Your facial features are maturing (and you're really so pretty), and your eyes are definitely going green. In the sunlight, there's no blue left in them, just a pretty light green colour. Your hair is growing and darkening, and you finally fit into 3 - 6 month clothing! Since you were born 2 months early, it seems your growth is right on track!

    Achievement Unlocked:
    • Hands - You're much more confident in your hand movement now. You move them with purpose, and you can grab and hold things now. You're already trying to hold your Nah by yourself, and sometimes you can do it but momma eventually has to take over. You hold your toys and sometimes you even get them to your mouth to suck on. One of your favourite things to do now when you're tired but not ready to sleep, is to hold my thumb in one hand and my pinkie in the other. Then you study my hand and you make the fingers move. It's good for developing your eye/hand coordination and learning cause and effect. You seem to explore things more with your hands than with your mouth at this point. Honestly, the only time your hands aren't moving are when you're deep asleep!
    • Vocalization - You tell whole, long stories now. Sometimes you'll sit, facing someone, and just babble on and on. It's adorable! You also communicate with baby sounds now, instead of just different types of crying. If you're sitting up and you start to get tired, you make a quiet whine/groan sound to signal that you want to lie down. You still say Nah and Nee (although you've been asking for your Nee less often now). You even laugh when other people are laughing now!
    • Big Girl Baths - We don't need to use your princess tub anymore. You love the big bath. Most babies are scared of it at first, but not you! You LOVE all the room you have to kick your feet and float around. Momma puts you on your back, and keeps a hand under your head, and the other hand under your baby-bum, and lets you float. It's your favourite thing to do. Sometimes, when it's Daddy's weekend, Momma has a bath with you!
    • Scootching - You've started your first mobilization! When you're on your back, you've learned to put your feet down and kick. This way you scootch up. You scootch all over your crib in the morning if you're not asleep, and one time you scootched across the couch so you could lie closer to Grampa. It was adorable.
    • Big Girl Food - I saved the best for last, Baby! Daddy and I knew you were ready to start food, but we waited an extra month to make very sure that your tummy was as ready as your mouth! A week ago, I bought some Rice Cereal pablum-stuff. It's mostly liquid, but it's thicker than your Nah. You loved it! The only reason any dribbled down your chin was because you were smiling so big the first time you tried it! Every few days, I give you some big girl cereal in the evening. That way I can make sure you don't have any trouble with it (because I'm still awake), but it keeps you full longer, so I can get some solid sleep. You still wake up twice a night, but with the Rice Cereal, I can get about four or five hours of sleep before you wake up for the first night feeding.

    That's that. You still have a routine that you're sticking to. You're having longer wakeful periods, and you're doing better in your Jolly Jumper. Daddy and Momma are so proud of you. You really are developing fast!

    Monday, January 16, 2012

    Momma's New Years Resolutions

    Dear Baby,

    I want to thank you for blessing Daddy and me by choosing us to be your parents. There's no easy way to say this, but your momma is fat. I don't mean a little pudgy, or that I have left over flabbiness from our pregnancy; no, momma is considered morbidly obese. I weigh about 270lbs, and I'm only 5' 1.5". That's very fat.

    The worst part is, Momma can be skinny. In fact, I was a size 4 by the time I graduated high school. Although I had always been a little pudgy, I started running on a treadmill when I was 17. In the end I looked and (most importantly) felt great! Then some not-so-happy things happened in my life. Then even more not-so-happy things happened. Over the years, I sort of gave up on myself. I guess I didn't really feel I was worth the trouble of maintaining a healthy body. A cycle started: The more weight I gained, the less motivation I had to take care of my physical health.

    Here's where the blessing of you comes into play. Maybe I wasn't enough motivation for myself, but you are! I was thinking about how happy I am now that I have you and Daddy in my life, and I remembered how great I felt when I was in good shape. It's not even the fact that I looked good; it's more that I felt good and I was healthy. Being healthy in all aspects of your being (mentally, emotionally/spiritually, and physically) is very important. I'm probably going to touch on the subject of taking care of yourself a lot in this blog, because I truly believe it's one of the most important things you can do.

    Anyway, while I was thinking I started asking myself how having a physically unhealthy momma would affect you. How will I keep up with you when you finally learn to crawl, let alone walk? How will I be able to run after you and keep you safe when you go barrelling out into the road without looking first (as every child does at least once in his/her life)? How will I play outside with you, or swim with you, or take you on a nature walk? How will I be able to teach you how important it is to take care of your body, if it's obvious that I don't bother to take care of mine? I refuse to ever be a hypocrite to you!

    I'm sure, eventually, I would have decided to focus on recovering my physical health on my own; but since you're here, the need to be a good (healthy) momma far outweighs all my lame excuses. That's why I made my New Year's Resolution for 2012 to be much more focused on my health. I plan to change how Daddy and I do groceries, so that we're not eating so many TV dinners or simply snacking on junk food for dinner. I want to start making meals. I'll start off slow, though, so that I don't overwhelm myself. In the meantime, I also bought an elliptical machine to work out. At first I'll work out when you're sleeping, but once you get more confidant in your Jolly Jumper (which Daddy finally let us use, and you love it!), we can work out together! I'm going to put on happy music and face your Jumper to Momma's elliptical machine, and we can have exercise time!

    Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for being such a great motivator for Momma. You really inspire me to be a better person in all ways!

    EDIT (Jan. 31, 2012): I changed the title to pluralize "Resolution". I figure since I'm telling you my biggest resolution, I may as well follow up by listing my other resolutions. I've decided that this blog isn't just for you, Baby. It is mostly for you, but I also want to help out other Mommas and Daddies. One resolution is to start making some posts on here for parents too. Hopefully, although I know times change, the parent-focused posts will help you later in life too.

    Anyway, here are my other resolutions:
    • Start a blog focusing on other mothers as a target audience.
    • Make more meals (healthy meals!). Daddy works all day at a hard job, then he comes home and usually is the one that makes the meals; and, because he's so exhausted, it's usually something quick and over-processed. I want to start making our dinners, and I want them to be made of REAL food! Momma's going to be using her Crock-Pot a lot, because I just have to add the ingrediants and the machine basically does the rest!
    • Do more crafts/DIY projects. Momma's really artsy, and she hasn't really had much of an outlet for her creative side over the last year or so. My usual hobby is playing on the computer. If I switch to doing more crafts, I'll have a hobby that makes me feel productive, and I'll have something to show for it afterwards. Plus, when you're older, you can help me or make your own crafts, and that way Momma's hobby will be easy to make into something that can be our hobby!

    That's about it. At the end of the year, I'll go over this list and let you know how I did!

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    The Secret To Our Success

    Dear Baby,

    A lot of people, including the nurses at the NICU, have asked me what my secret was to giving birth to you at such a healthy weight. As I've said before, at the time you were born most babies at your gestation weigh only 3.5lbs; however you were born at 4lbs 2oz. Even when you lost weight (as every baby does when he/she is first born), you never dipped below 3.5lbs. Many people, again this includes the NICU nurses, have said that this is one of the main reasons why you not only survived being born so early, but actually thrived (and continue to thrive).

    I figure it's about time I let everyone in on my little secret. I do believe there is one thing I did that decided your happy fate.

    Instead of driving us down a particular path; instead of going on autopilot; I did nothing but give the wheel to my pregnancy. I listened to my body; and, by doing so, I did nothing but listen to you.

    The first trimester we were both very tired. Babies probably do the most physical development during the first trimester, and my body was a host to that development. I didn't force myself to be active, or to eat any particular thing (or to eat at all if I didn't feel like it), or to do any preparations for your arrival. For the first trimester, Baby, we slept for about 22 hours a day. No exaggeration. The couple hours we were awake, I'd eat, tidy the apartment a bit and socialize. That was it. I might get some grief about not following a specific diet or exercise routine, especially during the first trimester, but you were so little that you didn't require any extra fuel. Also, we're lucky, because my cravings at that time were for water and healthy foods. I slept through the majority of my "morning sickness" (which came on in the evening actually), so we didn't go through any of that stress either.

    Unfortunately in the fifth month, Momma was very sick. Luckily you had already had a great start, so the lack of food didn't put you at any risk.

    Here's where I'm going to get major criticism from other people: In the last six weeks before you popped out early, all I craved was burgers. Red meat, lots of cheese and creamy sauces; and I gave in to those cravings every time they struck. I was on Zofran by then, so we were able to keep the food in my tummy. I still craved water and apple slices and other healthy foods sometimes, and I ate a ton of those whenever those cravings came around; but mostly, Baby, we pigged out. I still slept a lot, and I didn't do any vigorous activities (like cleaning the floors). Luckily Daddy helped a lot. Basically I gave my body to you for your development, and I didn't use it for very much for myself.

    If I had carried you to full term, I would feel very guilty about all the junk and fast food we ate in the last six weeks of my pregnancy; however, you came out super early and I think part of the reason why you were such a good weight was the extra fat we had been eating. I only ended up gaining 5lbs. All the rest of the weight was you, extra blood circulation and fluids. With the way we were eating, I have no doubt that almost all the fat and calories went to you. I should have been as big as a house even after the pregnancy was no longer affecting my body!

    There you have it: My big secret of our success. I let you take complete control of my body, and I really feel that this decision was what made all the difference! A lot of women force themselves to eat a certain way or to maintain a certain (pregnancy-safe) exercise routine. They ignore their cravings for junk food, and they fight off the sleep their body screams for. I, personally, encourage women to make the effort to become very attune to their bodies and their developing babies. If they listen closely and follow the requests of their bodies and babies, I think they'd have a much more enjoyable (and in some cases more successful) pregnancy!

    Sunday, January 8, 2012

    Male Versus Female Bonding

    Dear Baby,

    When you were first born, Daddy didn't hold you right away. At first I thought there was something wrong, but that wasn't the case. Now, for you, Daddy didn't hold you right away because he was afraid he'd hurt you since you were so small. However, I've noticed that a lot of male relatives are usually hesitant to hold a baby (not just preemies). I was wondering about it, then I remembered something I learned a long time ago, and it helped me to understand.

    Now, obviously the whole idea of males being nervous to hold a baby in case they hurt them still stands. Guys are constantly being told they don't know their own strength, but I really feel this reason is only part of the story.

    Men are visual creatures, whereas women are more sensual. Men need visual stimulation for many things, whereas women do not. I think this includes bonding with other people. Women need to hold and touch a baby (especially their own) in order to bond with it. That's why all the female relatives will usually clamber all over each other to get their turn to hold a new baby. Men tend to let the females go wild and simply sit back and observe. They catch a lot of flak for it, but I think this might actually be a perfectly suitable way for a male to bond.

    Admittedly, I pressured Daddy a little to hold you, because these thoughts I've written didn't occur to me then. However, Daddy spent a lot more time staring at you adoringly. I guess that's all he needed, at the time, to feel a loving Daddy/Daughter bond.

    So, if you ever have kids and your husband/bf/etc doesn't insist on holding the baby right away, take it easy on him, ok?

    Friday, January 6, 2012

    Lvl Up: 4 Months

    Dear Baby,

    Well, Baby, it's that time again! Sorry this post is a little late; Momma has been recovering from emergency surgery to finally get her gallbladder out. There's a long list of new things you've discovered you can do, so let's get to it!

    Achievement Unlocked:

  • Laughing – You're getting more confident with your laugh, although it scares you sometimes. You laugh or chuckle a lot (especially at Daddy), you're starting to get ticklish on your sides, and you still laugh your little baby-bum off in your sleep! Nana asked you where you go in your dreams that make you so happy: I think that's the time you visit Poppa Rick. It's too bad he's not here, physically, to meet you; but it makes me happy that you two can spend time together in your dreams. One day I'll write a whole post about Poppa Rick for you, so you can know him better!

  • Smiling – I'll never forget the first time you stared at me and recognized me as your momma! Your eyes got very bright, and I could see the familiarity dawning in them, then you gave me the biggest, sweetest smile ever. Now you recognize Momma and Daddy, and you smile at us all the time. You also recognize Nana and almost all your other relatives too. You have lots of smiles for all of us.

  • Words – You're trying so hard to talk now. You make lots of baby grunts and oohs and aahs. When someone asks you a question, you respond with enthusiasm. You try to have conversations, and you even grumble when you're upset now. You say Momma and Nana sometimes, and you still refer to your bottle as Nah and your pacifier as Nee. You don't have any other "real" words, but you're trying really really hard! You especially try hard when I ask you if you can say Daddy. Daddy is a hard word to learn to say, but you want to say it so badly! You make all sorts of noises when you try to say Daddy. Don't worry, you'll get it soon!

  • Hands – This one gives me mixed feelings: You're now able to suck on your fingers/hands. It's a great accomplishment, because it means you're more aware of your body (being able to get your hands to your mouth successfully); you're more independent (able to recognize that you want sucking-comfort and being able to address that need on your own); and it means Momma doesn't have to get out of bed every two minutes because your Nee has fallen out! However, I believe that letting a baby/child suck on their hands/thumb/etc isn't the healthiest choice. During the day, I replace your hand with your Nee. If you make it obvious, though, that you want your hand specifically (by getting upset and spitting your Nee out right away), then I let you do what you want. I also let you suck your hands at night.

  • Practice Steps – Now when Momma holds you up to exercise your legs, you try to walk. At first you were very hesitant, but now you're quite confident and determined in your practice steps. One day, you practiced so hard, you actually looked like you were trying to run!

  • Flashdance – This isn't an "accomplishment" per se, but it's awesome anyways. Sometimes you get so wiggly that you kick your little legs, and swing your little arms so much that you look like Jennifer Beals from "Flashdance" doing her warm up. You do this a lot when Momma or Daddy are trying to change your diaper!

  • Routine – You've set up a good routine for yourself, all by yourself! You sleep from 10pm – 5am. Then you have an early morning feeding and sleep until about 8am. At that point you wake up for a feeding and some cuddles for an hour. Then you sleep until noon. From noon onward you have your wakeful period. You still have little naps here and there, but for the most part, you're up for the day. I let you have half an hour of TV time when you first wake up. Then we play and talk and cuddle, etc. At around 8pm you get really fussy, so we have more TV time and lots of cuddles. At 9pm you have a bath, get dressed for bed and I read you a story. Then we cuddle until you fall asleep (you rarely make it through the story though). At 10pm you're sound asleep, so Momma puts you in your crib for the night.

  • Also, you're ready for your Jolly Jumper, but Daddy isn't. You and I have decided to let Daddy have one more month to be confident that you'll be safe, and then we're going to try it out. If everything goes well, you and I will have Exercise Time each day. I'm going to set up your Jumper and Momma's elliptical machine so they face each other. We can put on happy music and exercise each day!

    A couple days ago, you had your 4 month immunizations. You now weigh (are you ready for this?) 11lbs 5oz. You're 55cm long; and the nurses all say that despite the fact that you're a preemie, there's no need to worry about your growth. You're still a superstar!!