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Month: July 2008

11 weeks – first baseball game

We took Zeke to his first A’s game today – and you know what? He seemed to really like it! I was completely prepared to leave after just a couple innings with the little guy crying hysterically. But after sleeping through the first few innings, he woke up and actually seemed interested in the game – or at least in the sights, sounds, and smells of the Coliseum.

We had him in the Bjorn for awhile, then I actually managed to breast feed him. (I now know I can breast feed anywhere.) He spent a good long time after that just sitting in our laps taking it all in. He didn’t cry, he didn’t fuss – he just sat there – looking a little spaced out, but awake – for almost the whole game. We ate sausages, drank beer, sang take me out to the ball game. (My friend Tam took a video of our first family 7th inning stretch and posted it here.) We did pretty much everything we used to do at the game – except watch the game. It was so much more fun to watch Z ๐Ÿ™‚

We even stayed into extra innings – here’s all three of us with our rally hats in the bottom of the 10th. Unfortunately, the A’s couldn’t pull out a win for Zekey’s first game, but I know there will be many, many more.

Other 11 week happenings:

The Swing: The swing doesn’t seem to work anymore for long naps. I don’t know if he’s tired of it or if he’s just too interested in everything else going on in the living room, but he won’t sleep for more than 30-45 minutes and we used to get two hours. He also doesn’t like the super high setting anymore – prefers a more mellow pace. (In positive nap news, I noticed he was starting to get fussy and tired the other day so I swaddled him and before I could even start bouncing, he passed out. Slept for 45 minutes in his co-sleeper. Why can’t every nap be like that?)

Little Grabbers: He’s reaching and grabbing for everything – the toys on the gymini, the buckle of his car seat, my glasses, hair, nose. It still doesn’t seem entirely intentional – he kind of reaches out randomly and hopes to land on something good. And if he does, he holds on for dear life – grunting in concentration. And if we come over to see what he’s doing, he smiles up at us with his infectious grin. Ridiculous.

Late Afternoon Sing-A-Longs: We’ve found a new fun way to curb the late afternoon grumpiness – sing-a-longs! We bought a used Dutailier rocker off craigslist and I unburied an old Children’s Songbook I’ve had since I was a kid. We’ve found that we can entertain little Z for up to 30 minutes, rocking and singing with him in my lap. I was even inspired to bust out the guitar while Dave was holding him, and Zekey was totally fascinated – even though I don’t remember how to play a single chord. (Add that to the to do list.)

As Z approaches that magical three month mark, I’m realizing it’s not so much about him changing overnight and becoming an easier baby. He is who he is. But I do feel like things are gradually getting easier – partly because he’s learning how to cope with he world better, and partly because we’re learning how to cope with him better. He definitely cries less, but I don’t know if that’s because he just cries less or because we’ve learned to head off the tears before they happen. In any case, I can honestly say that while we still have difficult moments every day, this is actually getting kind of fun. I hope Zekey feels the same way.


our problem child

No – it’s not Zekey. It’s our elder child – our 10-year-old green cheeked conure, Amelia. I’ve heard lots of stories of pets being pretty significantly thrown when a baby is introduced to the family. And I fully believe that birds are just as demanding of their owners’ time and attention as cats or dogs (if not more so). But I didn’t expect our feathered trouble-maker to be quite so affected by the arrival of little Z.

We don’t clip Amelia’s wings, so she pretty much has full reign over the house. She formerly kept to her few favorite places: her cage, the large metal picture frame over the couch, and the top of the blinds leading out to the porch. She caused minimal damage in these spots and the poop was manageable. (poop is not something we’ve had to get used to with Z – we were well versed in it long before he arrived.) Now that Zekey’s here however, and we are pretty focused on someone other than the bird, Amelia has expanded her territory to get herself noticed.

She now lands on whatever surface is closest to where we are, and she watches everything we do. If there’s nothing convenient for her to land on, she does these low “fly-bys” which are kind of startling, especially to anyone who’s not used to having a bird around – which is most people. Guests beware. We actually couldn’t find her the other day… finally heard her gnawing away at something and discovered her in between the slats of our living room blinds.

She’s started destroying pretty much anything she can get her beak on. She chews a wooden picture frame hanging over my desk, and when we chase her off of there she nests herself in a tissue box below the frame and rips up every tissue in the box. She grabs other things off the desk too – pens and pencils, computer cables, phones, money, calculators, Dave’s physics homework…

And if anyone in the house has food? Forget it. She’s all over it. We’re used to her sharing our cereal, pasta, rice, and chips and salsa. But now she dives into whatever we’re eating – lands on the edge of the bowl, plate, cup – and helps herself. She almost landed on the stove the other day.

The good news is that she hasn’t actually tried to attack Zeke. She seems pretty afraid of him – and flies away whenever I try to introduce them. Zeke doesn’t really seem to notice Amelia – which is probably for the best at the moment. Dave and I both fear the day when he becomes aware of the bird and wants to pet her. She will bite him and it won’t be pretty. But for now, we try to remember to give the bird as much love as possible and hope that we don’t lose our entire security deposit on things the bird has destroyed around the house.

PS: The turtles and fish seem to be adjusting just fine.

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10 weeks – first shots

Z had his 2 month pediatrician appointment this week and he’s nearly doubled his weight since birth. He’s now 11.4 pounds and 24 inches long – actually a little less than average according to percentiles, but pretty impressive to us. He also had to get his first shots. A lot of folks question vaccinations for infants these days (pointing to possible links to autism, etc.), but everyone we know who has done the research has ultimately gone with their pediatrician’s recommendation – so we just went for it. But it wasn’t fun for any of us.

There were six vaccines total – 5 combined in 3 shots, and one oral. Zekey handled the oral one pretty well – took it down in 3 quick gulps. And then, before he had a chance to realize what was going on, three stabs in the thigh. Poor guy opened his mouth in a silent scream, his whole body turned bright red, and then he let out an awful wail. I teared up in sympathy and swept him out of there as fast as I could. (I prefer to think of myself as the person who saved him from the evil shot lady rather than the person who brought him there in the first place.)

Once outside, he cried hard for a few minutes (complete with little breathy gasps and sobs) and then fell into a deep sleep for the next few hours, just like after his bris. He woke up in a pretty good mood so we thought we were in the clear, but he freaked out again when we tried to put him to bed that night. I wanted to avoid putting anymore foreign fluids in his system if we could, but he just was so upset and we thought he might be in pain, so we gave him some baby tylenol and he eventually fell asleep. And he was totally fine the next day. We were all very happy to have that over with. Next shots happen at four months.

In other ten week news, Z has really started reaching for things and occasionally grabbing and pulling. It’s so cute to watch his great focus as he bats the toys on his gymini over and over again – mesmerized by the power of his own hands. It’s amazing really, to be able to witness a person learn and practice a new basic skill like this – I could watch him for hours.

He’s also become much more tolerant of tummy time and can spend close to ten minutes lying on his belly or propped up on the boppy – sucking his hands and occasionally squealing and grunting his fascination (or something) with this new angle. He lifts his head and holds it up for a few seconds every once in awhile, and I think he’ll have a pretty sturdy neck in a matter of weeks.

Finally, since my last post his sleeping patterns have more or less gone back to normal. He actually had his longest sleep yet recently – a close to 7 hour stretch followed by 4 hours. But the next night he was up every hour and a half, so I think it will still be awhile before we get through the whole night. But I have hope.

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I was kinda tired before

I feel like I’ve been handling the lack of regular sleep pretty darn well since Zeke came along. Granted, I haven’t had the best attention span and I have snapped at my dear Dave a number of times unnecessarily, but on the whole, I’ve felt pretty okay. However, Zeke has developed a new habit over the past few nights that is seriously testing my ability to function.

It’s always been a little tricky to get Z to sleep at night, but once he was out he would sleep pretty well for most of the night. He would wake up every few hours and we’d change his diaper and feed him, but after that he would pretty much go right back to sleep. But for the past three nights, Z’s had other ideas.

First, he wakes up more often in the night – after four hours the first time and then every two hours after that. (It used to be after 5-6 hours and every three hours after that.) When he wakes up, he’s super fussy, but while before I could feed him and he would eat really well and calm right down, now he fusses and fights and barely eats and kind of hurts me in the process. After the little he does eat, I try to put him down the way I used to, but now he either immediately starts writhing around and fussing, or he’s quiet for about 10 minutes and then he starts complaining (grunting and whining and acting just generally miserable).

If we pick him up and hold him or bounce him, he’ll fall back to sleep. But as soon as we put him down he wakes up again. We must have done this 7 or 8 times last night between 11:45pm and 1:30am before I finally just held him until he went into a deep sleep (which every sleep expert will tell you not to do). Then we did it again between 3:45 and 5am, when I actually fell asleep sitting up in bed with him in my arms.

I am at a complete loss for how to handle this, and the thought of having to deal with this night after night makes me want to jump out a window – with a certain small person in tow. My (slight) hope is that because he’s not eating very much when he wakes up, maybe he doesn’t need to eat and he’s just waking up out of habit and this is a step (albeit a frustrating one) towards him sleeping through the night. My fear is that our bouncing him to sleep the first time and letting him sleep so much in the stroller/carrier/swing has finally convinced him that being held and/or in motion is the only way to sleep.

Either way, I feel tired like I have never felt before, and something better change soon or I am truly going to lose my mind.

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two months

My little boy is two months old today. I really can’t believe it. And despite all my posts about how fussy he is and how challenging these first two months have been, today I’m overwhelmed with love for the little guy. He’s so freakin’ cool. And for every time he makes me want to cry, he makes me laugh a dozen more. Happy Birthday, Zekey!


meeting the fam, part 2

I was lucky enough to know my great-grandma (Nana) Mary Saul. And Zeke has the privilege of having not one, but three great-grandparents. My Omi and Opa and Uncle Peter came to visit a couple weeks ago to meet the little guy. We’re affectionately calling them Gomi and Gopa since the German names for great-grandma and grandpa are too hard to say. Here are some highlights from their visit:

(Aren’t they cute in their matching outfits? They swear they didn’t plan it. I guess that’s what happens when you’ve been married for 65 years.)

Uncle Josh and soon-to-be Aunt Kate also came to visit a few weeks ago. I can’t believe how tiny Zeke looks in these pictures!

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things to remember

Here are some things I’d like to appreciate now, and remember later:

  • tiny little hands – pawing at me like a kitten, resting against my ribs, accidentally brushing my cheek and lips, grasping my finger.
  • wide blue eyes that stare at me with a desperate need that only I can fill.
  • the moment he goes from screaming to silence when I pick him up and cuddle him to my chest.
  • the fuzz on the back of his neck – so kissable.
  • late night moments of primal hunger when he looks just like a baby monkey ๐Ÿ™‚
  • little puss face – bottom lip pushed out like a caricature of sad.
  • the heavy feeling of his body when he’s completely wiped out, draped over my shoulder – one hand on my collar bone and the other hanging across my back.
  • the contented sound he makes when he’s eating calmly – a sigh with his mouth full.
  • his serene and slightly surprised look when he gets in the tub.
  • the rare but amazing times when Z wakes up from a nap, looks up at me, and smiles.
  • extreme stretching: arms over head, back arched, butt out.
  • butterfly kisses, and the “aw mom” look he gives me afterwards.
  • tiny little body – my hand covers his entire back from shoulders to hips.
  • pucker face – tiny pursed lips, no chin, all eyes.
  • fast asleep in a carrier, warm and completely relaxed against my body.
  • goofy, gummy smiles.
  • the feeling that this little creature truly loves and needs us, for food, for comfort, for everything. Amazing.
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8 weeks and counting

Zeke turned 8 weeks old today and I’m trying very hard not to count the days until that magical 3 month mark – partly because I know I can’t count on a miraculous overnight change, and partly because I really want to enjoy every moment of these first months, as challenging as they are. Back to that in a moment.

Again this week, the major milestones have been mine, not Zeke’s. I returned to my yoga class for the first time in almost a year. It was hard, and I really felt the time off (especially in up dog – which put pressure on my chest and belly and reminded me how much strength I’ve lost in my arms and core), but it felt great. I think I left class about three inches taller, and I felt centered and calm and relaxed in a way I haven’t felt since the boy came along. It also gave me a sense of normalcy that I haven’t felt in awhile – a feeling that I may actually get my life back (improved with Z of course) at some point in the not-so-distant future.

I also took an afternoon off from the boy and went shopping with Aunt Sarah. I’m not a big shopper, but it felt great to be out and about with a friend – not worrying about how long before Z will need to eat or sleep or get changed. We were gone a good three hours, and it felt good to miss him.

Zeke is growing like crazy. He’s well over 10 pounds now and his arms and legs are getting nice and pudgy. His little legs are all stretched out. In fact, I almost forgot how curled up he was for the first few weeks. His baby acne has cleared and his hair is a sometimes blond sometimes brown fuzz covering his whole head. When he’s happy, he smiles like crazy and makes the most adorable sounds – cooing and squealing and caterwauling. Sometimes he sings with me. We think he’s starting to reach for things, but it’s a little hard to tell yet if it’s on purpose or just a happy accident as he flails about.

Z is still super fussy – going from perfectly happy to wailing without much warning. He hates tummy time. Everything we’ve heard and read says that tummy time is the key to all these other developmental milestones – namely crawling – and we are fighting the desire to just leave him happily on his back all day everyday and let him waste away with no neck or arm strength to speak of – just to save ourselves the hassle. (Only the fact that he gains weight so fast keeps us forcing him into tummy time every day.)

He fights going to sleep each and every time he’s tired, but we’ve discovered the magic of the swing. We put him in it, he passes out within ten minutes (or less), and he can’t seem to wake up until we stop it – which I’m usually not guilted into doing for close to two hours. (I am an evil, evil mom.)

So things are still hard, and I’m so looking forward to a time when Z’s little nerves aren’t so frazzled all the time, when he can enjoy the excitement of the world without getting so overwhelmed. But in the meantime, I’m doing my best to appreciate Z for who he is now.

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This post comes with a disclaimer: We fully understand that this routine could likely change tomorrow, and any number of sleep experts could give us any number of reasons why our methods are ruining Zeke’s sleep habits for life. However, this method has been working for us for at least two weeks, and considering the relative lack of screaming compared to a month ago, I feel it’s important to have some record of the process.

We generally begin the bedtime ritual each night between 7-8pm. (or at first sign that Zeke has reached his limit for the day – yawning, whining, moving his head from side to side, frantic flailing of his arms and legs. We don’t wait for all out wailing.)

The first step is to pick him up and snuggle him for a few minutes, slowly and calmly carry him to the back room where it’s warm, dim, and quiet. Then it’s bath time.

Bath time is another routine where we’ve made great progress, from this:

to this:

We still haven’t gotten an actual smile in the tub, but I’m convinced he thoroughly enjoys himself. Dave sits in the tub with him and keeps him from flopping over while I scrub him with a washcloth. He especially loves the head scrubbing. We pour water over him to rinse him and wrap him in a big fuzzy towel to dry him. (This part of the process needs work – he still cries every time we take him out of the tub.)

I put him on his changing table and finish drying him with a hair dryer which calms him down either because of the soothing sound or because he’s so surprised by the quick warm air. I put him in a clean diaper, and recently, I’ve been giving him a massage before putting him in his pajamas. (I’ve been winging it so far, but there’s a free baby massage class in Berkeley that I plan to check out. Zeke really seems to love the rubbing – especially on his little feet ๐Ÿ™‚

I carry Zeke, all warm and clean, into the bedroom and we walk and rock and I sing him a song or two. His current favorites are Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and Tender Shepard. (I know they’re his favorites because the others I’ve tried all make him cry.) Then, the key to the bedtime ritual – the swaddle. We wrap him as tightly as possible in a light blanket – arms secured to his sides – like a little burrito. Then we bounce.

Dave and I both use some of the techniques recommended by the Happiest Baby on the Block guy – the swaddling, the shushing, and the side-to-side motion of the bouncing – making sure we hold Zeke gently enough to let his head jiggle. But Z doesn’t seem to like side lying very much, so Dave holds him cradled in his arms horizontally and I hold him upright with his head by my left shoulder. (I feel like he smells milk if I hold him horizontally, which makes him a little crazy even when he’s well fed. We try to make sure he’s eaten before we begin the bedtime routine – trying to keep nursing separate from sleeping. But I will fed him to calm him if he’s still crying after the bath, swaddling, and bouncing which is rare.)

We both bounce him until his eyes start to close – usually between 5-20 minutes depending on the night. Then we gently place him in the co-sleeper and walk away. About 2 seconds later, he starts to cry. And this is when we still get a bit of screaming. I realize this may change, but for now it seems like he needs at least a few minutes of screaming to get to sleep – like it’s a kind of stress or energy release for him. We don’t let him cry it out, and he pretty much stops crying as soon as we pick him up. We go through this cycle over and over again – bouncing and putting him down again each time until he tuckers himself out and ultimately falls asleep.

Sometimes we have to pick him up ten or more times, but sometimes it’s only two or three, and in any case, the whole process (from bath to sleep) doesn’t usually take more than an hour or two. And once he’s asleep, he stays asleep for about 5 hours. This is by far his longest stretch of sleep, and since it starts so early we don’t really benefit from the hours of uninterrupted sleep ourselves. But it does give us a few hours to ourselves in the evening – to eat dinner, watch TV, read, whatever. It’s really, really nice.

Again – I recognize this may not last very long, and that we may be encouraging some bad habits in the little guy (like the bouncing to sleep). But this process is so much better than the four hours of screaming we were dealing with before. I’m willing to accept the potential consequences.

PS: The only problem with this process right now is that we couldn’t possibly take him out at night – something we thought we might do with him at this early age. But maybe it’s for the best not to fool ourselves into thinking we have lives after 7pm.