Sunday, May 31, 2009

Back to the Grindstone

I have learned this week that I am meant to be a working mom. Everyday, I left the house feeling excited about two things. I was excited to see Lydia when I got home, but I was also excited to get to work, see my co-workers, and yes, see (most of) my students.

My measure of how the year went academically had to be my TAKS scores, since I went on maternity the week after the test. Throwing all humility aside, I have to say that my kids rocked the test. In my at-level classes, which had their fair share of "difficult" kids, I had nearly 90% of my kids pass. My pre-AP numbers were lower than they had been, but this was not a surprise to me, and considering the circumstances, there will some miraculous passing students in the class. Like any dedicated teacher, it is hard to completely celebrate these numbers without thinking of the handful of kids who worked really hard and didn't pass--it is always hard to see them after receiving that news--but I am pretty proud of them and proud of myself.

As I worked with my kids last week, I realized that there is a separate measure of the year that I got to see upon my return. 1.) The kids seemed generally happy to see me and all asked about Lydia. They were very concerned about where she was and who was taking care of her. 2.) Most of them did not buck back when I promptly asked them to get to work, even though it was the last week of classes. (This week is finals week.) and 3.) My students really seem to be friends with each other. They are dating each other. (I am not a fan of this. Having couples in classes is annoying.) They know each other's names, have each other's phone numbers, and joke with each other.

I really love my job, and for me, going back to work is the right thing to do. I am also proud that Lydia will grow up with a mom who has a challenging job and does it well. I am happier when I am working, and I think a happy parent is ultimately a better parent. So back to the grindstone, I will go.

A Quiet House

Last night, Robin kept waking up because our house was so quiet. I was out like nothing, and Lydia has nearly solidified her 8 hr. sleep pattern. (She has hit at least 6 hrs. in a row for the past 10 nights, usually at least 7.) And of course, my mom, aunt, brother, and the two renegade shih-tzus were on the road to Minnesota.

Going back to work last week would have been infinitely harder if I would have had to leave Lydia at daycare. I'm just not quite ready for that step. My mom and Judy got Lydia on a nap schedule--she slept for two hours straight yesterday--and showered her with clothes, toys, and general affection. So thanks, Mom, Judy, and Markus... Robin, Lydia, and I really appreciate all that you did during the week!

We will be going to the airport today at 2 to pick up Robin's mom to take care of Lydia this week. Robin and I have been enjoying our quiet house for the 28 hrs. between my family's departure and his mom's arrival, but I am very excited to show Lydia off to Marie!

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Woman's Right to Shoes

I am an avid Sex and the City fan. Before Lydia was born (and we got DVR), I would sit and watch episodes on DVD for hours sometimes. There are a few episodes where Carrie loses a pair of shoes. Once at a party, once at gunpoint, and once when her newly moved-in boyfriend's dog goes to town on one.

I now know her pain.

Last June, I bought a way-too-expensive pair of shoes. I had just learned I would be getting a huge bonus, and I fell in love with them. They were on sale, and that was the only way I was willing to spend the money, and I really loved those shoes.

Let's just say that they have died a sad, painful death, and I am having a really hard time.

It's not really about the shoes. Maybe a little bit. But not mostly.

I found out I was pregnant about two weeks after I bought these shoes. As I processed all of the feelings--excitement, anticipation, joy, fear--I also realized that this would be the end of splurging on myself, at least for a long time. That everything--our money, our time, my body--now was shared with the baby. Amongst all of the things I looked forward to, this was something I really struggled with. Maybe this makes me shallow or self-centered or materialistic, but that's a part of me I will acknowledge. I think we all have our little things that maybe aren't virtuous but make us feel good.

Having a baby is hard, and really, the sleep, the food, all of the things that people talk about, are the small stuff. What is truly difficult are the moments when you feel like your "self" has been usurped by this other being, albeit a beautiful, healthy, loving being.

Yes, the shoes were beautiful, but in a weird way, they represented this little piece of a former life in which I could stop in to a boutique, and if I really loved something, spend a little money on it without thinking of health insurance premiums, diapers, the double mortgage we are currently saddled with until the second house is sold, and all of the things I want Lydia to have or she needs to have. A life in which 80% of the clothes that I picked out because they made me giddy and excited were not packed in a box in my closet because they no longer fit the 34Es that have accompanied nursing Lydia.

I will go on record as saying that I know I have been blessed with an extremely fast post-partum weight loss, and I am very thankful for that. I am very happy with my 11-weeks-out-from-delivery body, and I am thankful that I have been able to start a work-out program that makes me feel a little more balanced and healthy. This just doesn't erase the very normal postpartum struggle with body image that occurs in the face of all of these other major life changes. The frustration with the stretch marks that somehow sprouted on my ass rather than my stomach, the skin that just got a little stretched out over the 9-plus pound Lydia, and yes, the gargantuous nursing breasts that are the price paid for a healthy, breastfed baby.

There are things people tell you before you have a baby. Some of these things are comforting, and others just end up not being "you." Before Lydia was born and I read things about pregnancy and body image, I would read quotes like, "When I feel sad about my postpartum body, I just look at my beautiful baby, and it all goes away." That after I had Lydia, my values would change so much that clothes and body image just wouldn't matter. For me, my body image and my love for Lydia are totally separate, and it irks me when people imply that one should erase the other. I look at Lydia and think she is the most amazing, beautiful, funny, adorable child ever. I can't even explain how proud I am of her. When I read other people's baby blogs and watch the growth of babies that I have come to feel so affectionate towards, I secretly think, "Not as beautiful or perfect or amazing as my baby," and I know that all moms do the same thing when they read mine--think that about their baby, I mean. But this doesn't negate the personal "stuff" that comes with such a major life transition.

I know that the shoes will eventually be "replaced" and possibly even repaired. (I am emailing with the designer, who is in Spain. We shall see.) But for now, I am trying to let go of the very symbolic woman's right to shoes.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Back to School

Today was my first day back at school. The kids have this week and then finals next week, and I felt that it would be wise to go back before summer break so that five and a half months wouldn't pass before I had to be away from Lydia. These two weeks provide a nice ease into the real deal that will be next year, largely because Lydia is home with my mom (and aunt and brother) this week and with Robin's mom next week. It is a lot easier to leave your baby with family than at daycare.

Today went well. It was hard to see my classroom running differently than when I left it, but that's a simple result of a different person teaching. It also felt strange when a student told me it felt like I was the sub because I had been gone so long.

The sheer logistics of today went smoothly. I figured out that I prefer to pump in my classroom as opposed to the bathroom/"lactation room" upstairs, as I wasn't a huge fan of coworkers walking in to use the restroom and seeing me with breast pump attached. I then stashed the bottles of milk in a paper bag and put them in the lounge fridge (a lovely surprise for someone looking to snatch pretzels or a sandwich), since I didn't have a good cooler ready to go. I have a glimpse of the stress that accompanies working and breastfeeding, as I am really nervous that during the next two weeks, Lydia will plow through the milk I pump at school, as well as my freezer store. As with many things, I had heard stories of how difficult the balance of work and feeding can be, but I didn't really believe it until today.

It was wonderful to see co-workers that I have missed a lot during my leave, and I enjoyed seeing (most of) my students. I was able to tell 90%(!!!) of them that they passed their ELA TAKS (the big Texas Assessment), as well as explain to those who didn't pass the things they did well and not so well on the test and give them a little hope for passing next year. The next couple days will be spent reviewing for the final and hopefully getting some assignments in so their averages will go up a bit.

All in all, I'd say it was a successful return. I got there on time, I finished the work I needed to finish, I didn't have a meltdown, and Lydia did not run out of milk. We'll see how tomorrow goes.

Monday, May 25, 2009

She Must Have Known...

I will be going back to work for the last two weeks of school tomorrow. It hasn't really sunken in that I will be away from Lydia for the longest time yet, but I am really looking forward to seeing my co-workers and my students. The whole transition is made easier by the fact that it is only temporary and Lydia will be at home with family instead of at daycare.

I think Lydia must know that I would prefer to be a little less exhausted when I go back to school, so she has stepped up the already stellar sleeping. Friday night she slept for 7 hours in a row, and both Saturday and Sunday nights she slept for 8 in a row. I feel more rested than I have in approximately 10 1/2 weeks.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Full House

My mom, aunt Judy, and brother are here for the week, along with my parents' two dogs. Lydia will have lots of entertainment when I go back to work on Tuesday!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

She's In!

Lydia officially has a spot at Gethsemane Lutheran Childcare Center. They had told me in February that she would have a spot, but we didn't receive the "official call" until yesterday. The center is five minutes away from the school I teach at, and I was really pleased when I visited. It also comes highly recommended by one of my administrators. 

I know that childcare can be a huge source of stress for parents, so I feel very lucky to have this out  of the way!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Big Brother Stan

There has been lots of concern as to how Stanley is adjusting to life with Lydia, especially after he seemed to have chosen the nursery as his indoor litter box. In general, Stanley is doing well. He is getting used to not getting as many baths, he is learning that Lydia's toys are not for him to play with, and he is figuring out that Lydia is not to be stepped on or licked on the face. All in all, he is learning to be a good big brother. Here are some photos that cement his big bro mentality!

Thursdays with Lydia - Week 9

Monday, May 18, 2009

That's How She Rolls...

Lydia rolled over today!! She has had a few close calls, once on the changing table (I stopped her, putting the health of her skeleton over developmental milestones) and today while she was laying on the bed (the slant may have aided her a bit) but this evening she made it official. We have been doing tummy time after every diaper change; something about changes makes her a bit more alert and energetic, and she really props herself up on her elbows and looks around. After her diaper change this evening, I put her on her tummy time mat and after a bit, she flipped over onto her back! So exciting!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

30 Hours

Robin has returned from Las Vegas and had a good trip with his dad. It's always nice when he gets to do work-related things with his dad because it gives him a chance to talk with someone about things that I'm not so good at 1.) understanding and 2.) carrying on a conversation about. 

As I said, Brittany was here, but left yesterday. She was a huge help; when she left on Friday, I realized that I had more energy than I had had in a long time. Because Robin's been working, Lydia and I spend a lot of time together during the day, and while I obviously love Lydia, she can be pretty exhausting. Having a second pair of hands to help with the house and Lydia and a person around to keep me company was invaluable. Thanks Britt!

After Brittany left, there were 30 hrs. before Robin's flight was scheduled to arrive. After last weekend and living in the vomitorium, the poop strike of the previous week, and a few rough nights Lydia had this week, I was really nervous about how these 30 hrs. would go. While I had thought of all the things that could go wrong with Lydia, I failed to think about other factors, and of course, Stanley got into something that made him sick. His energy level and appetite are fine, so I'm not too concerned. That is the thing about life here, though. We're doing a pretty good job with Lydia and adjusting to life with her, it's just hard to manage other things that don't go as planned.

Now that all is said and done, I think I did pretty well. Elizabeth, Brian, and Oliver came over today with lunch and kept me company for a couple hours, which made the day go by a lot faster and kept me in good spirits. (30 hours would have been a long time to go without any adult contact.) Lydia slept well, so I felt relatively rested. (I am insanely jealous of the uninterrupted nights of sleep Robin got while he was in Vegas.) And I have taken care of Lydia (almost) by myself for a full 30 hours.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Relaxing on the Porch

Brittany is here helping me while Robin is in Las Vegas for a convention with his dad. Here are some great photos she took of Lydia while we were eating dinner on the patio. Please note the adorable sundress Lydia is wearing, picked out for her by Grandpa Hahn.

Thursdays with Lydia will be up ASAP.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Motor Skills!

Look at Lydia grab and hold her toy! Lydia is not normally this exposed, but this was at the tail-end of her illness following her immunizations, and she kept throwing up and pooping on her clothes. To see the video without the side cropped off, visit

Monday, May 11, 2009

That's My Man

I spotted Robin on my way home from a rare errand by myself. How adorable is this?

An End to the Strike

Lydia's digestive strike is over. She has returned to her usual schedule, which is a huge relief (literally!) She is much happier, which makes us happier, too! She has also gotten over the nasty side effects caused by her immunizations. Now if only Robin and I could kick the bug we both seem to have picked up that has left us feverish, queasy, and achy...

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Word to Your Mother

Happy Mother's Day to our moms, Jeanette and Marie! I have learned from the best! We are also celebrating and remembering our grandmothers and Lydia's great-grandmothers, Georgiann, Gloria, Lovella, and Mary Grace!

I also want to give a shout-out to all of the people in our lives who are celebrating their first Mother's Days, in order of babies' appearances: Jessica, mom to Aidan, Natalie, mom to Gabriel, Angela, mom to Dax, Noelle, mom to Elijah, Kelsey, mom to Drew, Jenny, mom to Josephine, Elizabeth, mom to Oliver, and Sarah, mom to Sam. Happy Mother's Day!!

Weathering the Storm

Lydia had her 2-month immunizations yesterday, and they have made her miserable. She has thrown up three times (twice yesterday, once today, and twice in great quantities all over Robin) and had huge diarrhea diapers twice (once yesterday, once today, and once in great quantities all over me.) This of course led us to be concerned about dehydration, so we called the on-call line for our doctor. 

This is really the first time that Lydia has been sick. She had a low-grade temperature after her Hepatitis B vaccine, but no symptoms other than fussiness. So when we decided to call the doctor after the third vomit episode, I was pretty upset. I was put through to a nurse who works for another doctor in our pediatrician's group. 

The nurse gave us what seemed like very extreme directions. She told me to stop nursing Lydia until tomorrow so that my breastmilk wouldn't make her throw up. Instead of breastmilk to hydrate her, she told us to give Lydia 1 teaspoon of Pedialyte every 5 minutes for an hour. Then she said to give her 2 teaspoons of Pedialyte every 5 minutes for the second hour, and 3 teaspoons every 10 minutes for the third hour. I swear, she wanted us to give Lydia her body weight in Pedialyte. This really made me panicky, because I felt like if we were supposed to be doing these 

I hung up and felt really uncomfortable with these suggestions, especially with not nursing her just because she had thrown up (remember, only one of the three times was today.) So I called back and was put through to a doctor. He basically said keep feeding her, and she'll be fine. His advice couldn't have been more different from the nurse's. He didn't say anything about Pedialyte, and he wanted me to keep nursing her. 

We have kept giving her breastmilk, but from a bottle so we can see how much she is taking in.  No Pedialyte. No water. We're still giving her Infant Tylenol to make sure her temperature doesn't spike, but she seems to be doing fine; hopefully we are on the home stretch. I am going to talk to our pediatrician to see if there is anything we can do to avoid this when her four-month immunizations come around. When all is said and done, Robin and I will be able to say that we survived the first time our baby was sick.  

Friday, May 8, 2009

Wellness Check - Two Months

We brought Lydia in for her two month wellness check and immunizations. She is off the charts in weight at a hefty 14 lbs., 1 oz., in the 95th percentile of height at 23 1/2 inches, and the 95th percentile of head circumference. The pediatrician was very pleased with her growth and said that everything looked good.

We also talked to our pediatrician about a few things we had questions about--how we need to address the heat this summer and taking Lydia outside, when she can go swimming (of course this is a big question for me), and when we should start moving towards her soothing herself to sleep rather than us putting her to sleep by rocking her and then moving her to the crib. For the fellow new parents, she said that outside is okay during the summer as long as she is not in the sun, that we are not out for too long, and that we should avoid the hottest hours of the day. She said the concern with swimming has more to do with the sun than with the water, but that if we have an umbrella and a sunhat for her, swimming is okay as long as the water isn't super cool (Deep Eddy is okay, Barton Springs is probably too cold), and she suggested waiting a month or two before we begin working on self-soothing, which I think we are going to. (I realize that the whole self-soothing thing is really controversial, but that is the way we are leaning.)

Lydia also got her two month immunizations, which is never fun. We have preemptively given her Infant Tylenol in hopes of staving off an intense fever. So far, she seems a bit drowsy, but good.

Can You Teach a Baby to Nap?

We are very lucky to have a champion sleeper for a baby. Lydia very rarely wakes up more than once a night, usually giving us at least one stretch of 5-6 hrs. of uninterrupted sleep. We have established a set bedtime routine for her that she seems to respond to. Robin carries her upstairs, changes her diaper, wipes her face, neck, and hands (if it's not bath night), and puts her in her onesie. He swaddles her while I get set to nurse, and then I nurse her and rock her to sleep. Maybe it's coincidence, but in the past few weeks, she noticeably mellows out pretty fast once she hits that changing table, and she has been falling asleep so well that I usually only have to rock her for 15-20 minutes. (We refer to this as the 15 minute rule. We always rock her for fifteen minutes after she appears to be sleeping well enough that we could put her down. This usually allows for a few early startles that would normally wake her up and cause her to cry, but if we are holding her, she goes back to sleep pretty quickly without the tears.)

Napping is another story. She has seemed to establish a general nap schedule, at least in the morning, and usually drifts to sleep around 9:30 or 10. The problem is, this is never in her crib, and the sleep does not last for very long. Instead, she drifts in and out of sleep and tends to fuss if I am not right next to her. 

As a result, this week I am going to try a little project. In the mornings, I am going to try to teach Lydia how to nap. When she starts getting sleepy, I will do a miniature version of her bedtime routine and put her down in her crib. We'll treat it like bedtime, so if she wakes up, I'll try to rock her back to sleep. If this seems to work, I'll introduce the same thing in the afternoon. 

We'll see how this goes.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thursdays with Lydia - Week 8

Lydia in the adorable outfit given to her by Great Aunt Pat!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My Life Revolves Around

poop. I never understood this before--the whole thing about new parents only talking about their babies' bowel movements. Now I understand.

Lydia has not pooped on her own since Sunday. I will not go into detail as to what "on her own" indicates, though I'm sure some of you can figure it out. This means that Monday was  spent with her crying, grunting, making some pained faces for the vast majority of the day. She never went more than 20 or 30 minutes without crying. Tuesday was a good day. Today resembled Monday, but not quite as bad. 

So here I sit, thinking about poop. Hoping that we will change a diaper and it will be dirty, not wet. Yes, we have called the pediatrician. She said that this sometimes happens, that babies' digestive systems take time to coordinate themselves, and she outlined things that would be cause for concern, none of which apply to Lydia. We have her two-month (yes, two months!!!) wellness check on Friday, so hopefully, this will be resolved by then or the doctor will give us some suggestions as to how we can remedy the situation without literally manipulating Lydia's system. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Yoga yoga yoga!

This morning I returned to yoga for the first time since I was 39 weeks pregnant. It was quite the difference--40 lbs. lighter, feeling in my hands, normal-sized feet. It felt fabulous! I took a class from Malia, who taught all but one of my prenatal classes. I went in with minimal expectations of myself; I just wanted to make it through the class. Malia incorporated some great core work, something that pregnancy obviously affects, and I think I did a good job of being kind to myself instead of getting frustrated, a lesson I learned from practicing yoga while being  pregnant. I "felt" the aftermath of my pregnancy and Lydia's delivery mostly in my back, abs, pelvic floor, and hips, and I look forward to feeling those areas rebuild and reopen, so to speak.

I can't say enough how grateful I am for yoga during my pregnancy, and now I think it will be equally rewarding during these early postpartum months, for both physical strength and emotional health.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Grumpy Girl


A gift from Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa Laqua, here is Lydia at the Farmer's Market on Saturday snoozing in her sun bonnet.


Lydia is at the stage of development where she has discovered her hands. She plays with her hands and will grab objects if they are touching her fingers. The next step will be reaching out for objects that are in front of her. (Right now, it is hard to tell if she is doing this on purpose or if the movements are random--probably the latter.) In order to encourage this, we have started putting her under her activity gym with toys attached to it. She really loves this and almost immediately starts smiling, kicking her legs, and flailing her arms around. Here are some photos of Lydia hanging out under the gym.

Rough Day

I have some cute new photos of Lydia I was hoping to post today, but...

she was a grump. All day long. Thank goodness she slept well last night, or I don't think I would have made it through the day. We're pretty sure she's having some digestive...difficulties. We called our pediatrician's office and they gave us some suggestions to get things moving, so hopefully she will be feeling better soon. Pictures will be soon to come, I promise.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Welcome Samuel Steven Roberts!

Congratulations to Jess and Sarah Roberts on the birth of their son, Samuel Steven Roberts. Sam was born this morning around 4:00 after nearly two days of labor, and the little guy weighed in at 7 lbs., 1 oz.

Robin and Jess were roommates in college, and they have remained good friends since. Knowing that Sarah's due date was approaching, he called Jess to check in and wish him luck. When he asked Jess what he was up to, Jess answered, "Not much... having a baby." We can't wait to meet baby Sam!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Recommended Read: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Last week, I finished Animal, Vegetable, Miracle a memoir written by Barbara Kingsolver, one of my favorite authors. Kingsolver and her family decided to eat locally for a year. They grew an enormous garden, made friends with nearby dairy farmers and butchers, the whole works. 

Her book details both the deliciously described culinary side of things, as well as the environmental and health reasons that motivated their choices. She writes about making mozzarella cheese in her kitchen, canning tomatoes, harvesting vegetables from their garden, even teaching her turkeys how to mate and nurture their eggs so they would become chicks. 

It took me a long time to pick this up, but it is one of the rare books that has actually influenced the way Robin and I shop and eat. The book motivated us to get our Community Sponsored Agriculture share, and now is the reason we make a point to go to the Farmer's Market at least once a week, sometimes twice. I highly recommend it!