May 2006

Update

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I have gotten an overwhelming amount of correspondence in the past two days, either wishing me luck with the transition or inquiring about how things are going thus far. It’s so nice to know that people are thinking of us! Things have been crazy, to say the least, but I did want to post an update.



Day One



Pat and I got everything prepared Sunday night, so I felt like we were in good shape for the following day. I had to get up at 5:30 to get to work by 8:00, but that’s not too bad. At least Greta only woke us up twice Sunday night. As far as my anticipation for work went, I didn’t have first-day-of-school stomach too badly. I was also quite optimistic about Greta going off to day care. I only teared up right when I kissed her goodbye. Work wasn’t too bad, in general. I sorted through 10 weeks of email and helped out coworkers here and there. Every 20 minutes or so, panic would set in when I’d wonder if Greta was at day care, crying alone in her crib. My fears were confirmed when Pat stopped by at lunchtime to check in on her: she was crying alone in her crib. No doubt, the therapy bills that she is going to accumulate from this ordeal are going to be sky high. Pat gave her a bottle and got her settled down. When he went back to pick her up after work, he said she seemed genuinely happy. She also seemed quite happy all evening at home, so that was a relief.

I, however, was not so happy when she first got home. She was in her spare outfit, which was covered in milk. Her original outfit was wadded up in a Weggies bag, covered in doody. (I'm assuming the doody belonged to Greta.) Also, she was a sweaty mess, because their A/C was busted. Also, they had to give her formula (gasp!), because I didn’t send her off with enough milk. Since we don’t give her bottles enough to know, I sent along what I had read a baby her size should need, and then added what I thought was “plenty extra.” Apparently, this girl downs four ounce bottles of milk like they were half-price margaritas from T.G.I. Friday’s. Not that I’m surprised.

We spent the evening eating dinner, going to run errands to get some stuff that we realized we needed to help with this whole me-working-and-Greta-going-to-day-care thing, and got ready for the next day. By the end of the day, I was truly exhausted. Dude, I can’t believe how much is involved with getting a tiny baby ready to be away from you for a day.

Here's a picture of me and my little girl on her first day of "school."

And Greta and her proud daddy. Pat always coordinates himself with his babies.



Day Two



At 7 A.M., the phone rang. It was the day care center. I immediately assumed they were calling to tell us they gave Greta the nickname “Rosemary’s Baby” and ask us to never bring her back there. Fortunately, that was not the case. They were calling to say a pipe broke and that the infant rooms were flooded. So, I contacted the powers that be at work to tell them I would need to work from home. I was tickled pink that I would get to hang out with my little girl all day! Especially since Pat installed A/C into the office for us. The morning was delightful. She slept the whole time and I got lots of work done. I had high hopes for the afternoon, but she turned into a beastchild. Working at home with an infant is not as easy as it sounds. I did get some things accomplished though, which is good.

So, that pretty much covers most of it. Tomorrow, we should all be able to go to our respective daytime locations, and hopefully there will be enough milk for Greta, and the only clothes changes are due to a baby fashion show--not erupting bodily fluids--and Greta won’t need swim fins to get to her crib.

Woe is me

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I can't believe my first born is going into day care tomorrow. I keep telling myself she will get exposure to good things that we could never expose her to on our own. (I'm sure I'd be such a lazy stay-at-home mom. Picture it: "Greta honey, shhh. Mommy's watching her stories.") It's just going to be a little bit of a rough transition at first. Any bets on how many times I cry tomorrow? I'm getting a little choked up just thinking about it now. It's a good thing Pat is going to be the one dropping her off.

By the way, I can't believe Greta's head is only in the 18th percentile for her age. Look at how huge it is!!

I had a good last weekend before I enter the workforce again. Friday night, Pat and I had a pretty low key night at home. We got some Dino pickup and I think just kind of hung out.

Saturday morning, we took our weekly trip to the market. We are addicted to tacos from that taco place that used to be in the Richport Bakery, and to coffee from Java Joes, and to those delicious baked goods the Amish kids sell. In the afternoon, I got to redeem my massage that I had gotten for Mother's Day. It was EXCELLENT. If you're from this area, I recommend Gallery Spa on University. Andrea has magic fingers. Anyhoo, it was great. She was pretty amazed at what a mess my muscles were. She asked me if I was left-handed, and I said no, but that I usually carry Greta with my left arm. Then she asked me if I did any type of manual labor for work. Ha. I was like, no, that is just from all of the nesting I did pre-baby and from carrying around a "13 lb. turkey" all day long. Saturday evening, we went over to Cimicata/Scott's for a little BBQ. I stuffed myself silly.

Sunday, we ran around and did some errands. In the evening, we watched Grandma's Boy. We slept on this hit when it first came out. Neither of us remember seeing previews, but on Netflix, it got good reviews for a comedy. As expected, it was dumb/funny. It had pretty much all of Adam Sandler's posse in it.

Today, we're just getting everything ready for Greta to start day care. There are quite a few little details to take care of. I'll probably, like, forget to dress her tomorrow or something. I'm hoping we have a good night tonight so sleep deprivation won't be a factor in our days tomorrow. Judging by how bad she was last night, tonight should be [fingers crossed] okay.

Oh, and Greta's smiles are the highlight of our lives. We are constantly making asses of ourselves in the interest of getting her to smile, which she does very often. It's the best game ever.

-Fran

Somebody is smitten with her daddy...

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...and it's Greta.

My Maternity Leave by Frances Shannon McCarthy Reed

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For about the last week, I’ve been looking back at my maternity leave, and I’ve started lamenting that I didn’t get more “accomplished.” Yes, I head back to work on Tuesday, and I’m really starting to dread it. While it will be nice to interact with more adults and not have to care for something 24/7, I am getting apprehensive about putting Greta in day care. It’s frustrating, because I feel like Greta and I got off to a rocky start, so I spent the first 7 or 8 weeks wishing I were back at work, and now that things are finally getting better, it’s time to go back. Plus, even when I did “want to go back to work,” I think I was suffering from selective memory. I try to make a point to not talk about work here, but let’s just say I had some plans for *ehem* career advancement during my leave, and that goal didn’t quite pan out. (Yet.)

It’s such a conflict, because I know I took damn good care of my kid, which is what I was supposed to be doing, so I deserve a pat on the back for that. On the other hand, I feel like I could have done much more. I kept saying, “I can’t do X now because I’m so busy.” Well, it’s not like I’m all of a sudden going to have more free time anytime before, oh say, Greta goes to college (God willing). Sigh. So, I’m kind of mopey. Not that bad, but a little bit.

One thing I can say is that I got a lot of reading done during my time off. Well, a lot for me at least. I started out by reading baby books and decided that was bunk. I call this, My Reading List for my Spring Vacation.

The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp

This book was okay, but it was way too repetitive. He definitely could have summed it up with, “swaddle ‘em ‘til they turn blue” and been done with it. This book made me realize I didn’t really want to spend my only “me time” reading about babies.

Sippy Cups are Not for Chardonnay by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor

Okay, so this is technically a “baby book,” but it was filled with so much levity that it hardly counts as one. I would say I was reading this at the height of my sleep deprivation and the tail end of my “baby blues,” and it really helped me laugh for the first time in a while and know that all new moms pee a little when they sneeze. Well, at least ones that had natural births. Sorry, TMI.

A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel

This is a book my best friend got me for my birthday that I never read at the time since I was too obsessed with reading baby books. This book was a good start into my foray of not reading either baby books or Kurt Vonnegut. This book is a memoir of a girl’s meager and fairly bizarre childhood. I like that she didn’t complain at all; she just kind of told it like it was. I don’t have much else to say about this book. So there you go.

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

This book is inescapable. I won’t bother reviewing it, because if you haven’t read this yet, you may be living under a rock. Either that or you’re probably not interested in reading it. All I’ll say is that I don’t usually sign on for books like this, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Bagombo Snuff Box by Kurt Vonnegut

Okay, so I couldn’t stay away from the Kurt Vonnegut. I love Kurt Vonnegut. I appreciated this book more for what it was than the actual writing. This book is a collection of stories that KV (I can say KV because we’re tight like that) wrote back in the 1950s. They are stories that he himself never kept. They were written as fiction for magazines (back when people used to read rather than watch TV) that he wrote to make some benjamins. Some guy (Peter Reed, as if you care) took it upon himself to dig up these stories and write a boring preface. For that, I am thankful. Anyone familiar with KV’s writing knows he tends to write some pretty dark literature. One would think that his writing wouldn’t go over well in, say, Cosmopolitan, but he made it work. What I really appreciated is that the stories themselves stayed true to his form but just happened to end happily right at the last minute (so he could make those bengis). Also, he wrote a killer introduction to the book in which he gave some Creative Writing 101 advice that I thought was pert-near brilliant. KV also wrote a coda to this book in which he pretty much apologizes for some things he wrote. Keep in mind, he wrote these in the ‘50s when things were different. I appreciated that he made a point to acknowledge some of the things he said rather than just shrugging and saying, “Eh, it was the ‘50s.” He is quite the stand-up citizen and a damn good writer.

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

Hm, so I did start this but I never finished it. For one, I like my occasional chili from Wendy’s way too much, and for another, this book was BORING. There was too much history in this book; I just wanted the dirt.

Name All the Animals by Alison Smith

I’m not quite done with this one, but I will be soon. Anyhoo, there is this place in Rochester called Writers & Books, which I can see from my house, and it has this thing called “If All of Rochester Read the Same Book…” I’m sure you can gather what the idea is. This year’s book is Name All the Animals. The author grew up in Rochester and the book itself is a memoir of a three-year period of her life, starting at age 15 with the loss of her brother. By page 12, I knew I was going to love it. So far, so good.

How did I get all that reading done? I read almost every time I fed Greta, which as previously discussed, was a lot. Other than in the middle of the night, when I would watch Conan or the infomercial for this [potentially not safe for work] or whatever else was on, and sometimes when I’d watch the Today Show or Dr. Phil (sorry, guilty pleasure).

Other than that, I tried to keep the house relatively clean, get out with Greta at least once a day, and cook at least two new recipes for dinner a week. And there you have it. PS - did I mention I don’t want to go back to work?

-Fran

2006-05-21 20:01:32

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Greta likes staring at bears' butts

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See??

Happy nine weeks to little (big) baby Greta!

Yesterday, I took Greta to the pediatrician for her two-month appointment. Those with children know that means immunizations. A couple people suggested I give her a little baby Tylenol before the visit. I called the pediatrician first to make sure that was okay, and the nurse I spoke with said, “Yes, you may want to give her some. Some babies get a little cranky from the shots.” So I was picturing a little cranky*, in my head, and it was absolutely nothing like Greta’s actual response. I am guessing Greta got her dad’s pain tolerance and disdain for needles, because she was pissed! Poor little pup. It was horrible. She was crying; I was crying. Pat is definitely going to take her for her future shots, because it was a little too stressful for me. After Greta’s initial reaction, she conked out, and she actually did quite well the rest of the day/evening. She was by no means happy, but she was fine. Pat or I held her the entire rest of the day, because the minute we’d set her down, she’d howl. It was actually nice to be able to console her and snuggle on a cruddy, rainy, Rochester day.

We got all of Greta’s measurements too. She is a tad out of proportion. Apparently, she got my small head, but she got her dad’s long, big body. She is in the 18th percentile for head circumference, 66th percentile for height, and 81st percentile for weight. Hm. I’m sure she’ll even out eventually…yeeaaah. So, as it turns out, she is 12 lbs. 6 oz. now, which means our scale at home is a little off. That is a good thing. Somehow, that weight sounds so much better (to me) than 13 lbs.

In other news, Greta has been a total dove recently. The last three days/night have been fantastic. Pat and I think we know what the problem was and why she was gaining so much weight so quickly. Basically, I was totally bombarding her with food, so she would get an upset stomach and want more food to soothe it, which would help temporarily, but ultimately make her stomach hurt even more. Thus, a baby who is a little cranky*. So, we’re regulating things more now and everyone seems much happier**. Keep your fingers crossed that it lasts, ‘cause we surely need a break from the evenings we’ve had the last eight-some weeks. Oh, and lately, she has been a little smiling machine. That is the best thing ever.

Greta's new disposition is great, because now we can actually plan to do some things in the evening rather than just carry around a shrieking baby. For example, on Wednesday night, we went to a dessert/coffee soirée at our friend Matt’s. It was neat. And Saturday, we plan to go to our friend’s Justin and Tracy’s for “beer and chatter.” Delightful.

-Fran





*A little cranky actually means a lot cranky, in case you didn’t know.

** Much happier actually means much happier, silly.

Oh my goodness

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Guess who just smiled at me twice??

-Fran

2006-05-16 10:01:10

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I’m sure you’re all wondering how my first Mother’s Day was. Well, it started with a tour of the city’s north-east side and a trip to Taco Bell. Unconventional, I know. Greta was having a rough night (morning, technically), so Pat and I drove around for about an hour trying to get her to fall asleep. It actually was kind of fun, but I do regret eating two Taco Bell tacos at 1 in the morning. Somehow that loses its luster sometime after college. The drive did get Greta relaxed enough to sleep though, which is what’s important.

The *real* Mother’s Day morning was just lovely. Pat made me a wonderful breakfast of pancakes with this sugary, bananay sauce. It was so good. I also good nice cards from Pat and Greta, and a gift certificate for a one-hour massage. That’s exactly what I wanted! Then, we stopped by the market real quick to grab coffee, get a tree for my mom, and walk around a little bit. We then headed to Skaneateles to celebrate with my family. It was such a nice day. I think Mother’s Day might be my new favorite holiday. I am just sad it only comes around once a year. Everybody took turns holding Greta, and she was so good all day.

My dad is going to be motified when he sees this, but I couldn't help myself. So cute.

In other news, my diet change and giving Greta the gas medicine isn’t the magical cure we had been hoping they’d be. She’s quite testy in the evenings still. Yesterday, for example, she was atrocious from 4 in the afternoon until midnight. But then she slept until 5:30 AM. Yes, I said 5:30 AM! I’m sure it was a fluke, but I enjoyed it for what it was worth. We’re taking her to the pediatrician this week, and we’re hoping to get some good suggestions from him, or we’re going to try to trade her in for another baby.

-Fran

2006-05-12 21:06:06

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Someone's a big, tough girl.

Happy Eight Weeks, Greta!

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Dear Greta,

Week five was my favorite to date. Up to this time, I loved you very much. This week was the first time I really liked you though. I know you’ll know what I mean by this some day. Up to this week, I sometimes dreaded your presence in my life. Sorry to say this, but it’s true. This week, it seemed like I finally figured out how to help you more when you’re upset. You definitely seemed a lot more content with me as well. After I would feed you, you seemed to want to hang out rather than just sleep or cry. I would put you on my chest and let you hang out or sleep there until my arm feel asleep or felt like it was going to fall off – whichever came first. For the first time, when I left the house (with you in your Grandma McCarthy’s loving care), I didn’t feel like driving to, oh say, Canada. I actually missed you, and couldn’t wait to come home. I’m sorry I ever felt like driving to Canada without you, but again, you’ll understand this better some day.

With this week, you also started to really take in your surroundings. You now love to look all over and study things: my face, your mobile, the ceiling fan, the curtains, the changing table. I like to walk you around from room to room and let you look all over, and I announce what room we’re in and what the room is for. “This is the office; this is the room with the computer that we use to email our friends and family. This is your room; this is where you’ll sleep when you get a little bigger.” Etc. Sometimes you’re really sleepy, but you still want to check out the scene and take in all of the world’s juicy bits, so you will just open one eye and look around. That is so cute.

Also with this week, we had another appointment for your hip. Your dad and I were so scared, because we both kept hearing your hip click, and we thought it was dislocated again. Fortunately, the sonogram showed that your hips were still normal, and even though we’re a little skeptical about the whole thing, we were very happy with the news. The doctor said you could get a new brace (one that was bigger to fit you better), and that you only needed to wear it at night!

Week six brought out a new facet of you: your pipes. Man alive, girl, you can scream. You used to give us a warning before you got really upset, especially at night. While that was kind of a bad thing, because you’d fuss a bit for almost an hour before you actually got up, now you go from zero to the-world-is-ending in about 10 seconds flat. I’m not sure what is worse, to tell you the truth – the former really cut into my beauty sleep, but the later feels like it may be shaving a few years off my life. Seriously though, the extra sleep now is kinda nice, so I guess that change is for the best.

This week, you’re still madly obsessed with the curtains and the ceiling fan. It’s too funny: you hate getting your diaper changed, and you’ll be screaming your head off while we’re changing it, and then you’ll happen to look over at the curtains, and you just stop crying. You furrow your brow and purse your lips, and you look at the curtains like they’re the most interesting things ever. The new thing you discovered this week was the stained glass window in the front of our house. You love when we walk you up and down the stairs (I can tell because it’s the only thing we’ve found that calms you down), and when we get to the stained glass, you make that same funny little face.

Week seven we’ll just call “Cryfest ’06.” I don’t want to give you a hard time, but you cried a lot, and it made me kind of sad. I haven’t thrown this info around, but I think you might be a little colicky. The thing is, I don’t really know how much babies cry, but you seem to cry an awful lot, like for hours at a time in the evenings. And based on the sound of your cries, I’d guess someone just told you that the Backstreet Boys broke up. (Sorry, bad example.) All I can say is, I’ll be very happy when you outgrow this crying jag. I don’t want to dwell on the bad stuff, though. Oh, the good news is that your dad and I figured out that the vacuum instantly puts you in a trance. I mean, instantly. It is truly bizarre. The bad news is we can’t run the vacuum all evening long.

One great thing about this week was that you really seemed to have gotten day vs. night down. While the evenings have been tough, the nights have become quite nice. You wake up, eat, and then go back to bed. It’s a wonderful thing.

Week eight, we took you for another sonogram for your hip and met with your orthopedic specialist again. We got some great news: you no longer have to wear your brace, and you just need to see the doctor again in four months! Your daddy and I were so excited, we were tempted to go home right then and polish off a bottle of wine between the two of us. (We didn’t though.)

This week, you were like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. You were either horrendously awful baby or atrociously cute baby. It’s a good thing you were atrociously cute sometimes. I’m not saying I got the phone book out to look up adoption agencies, but it the cuteness certainly helped your cause. Also this week, you had what I’ll call your first good evening. You had two this week, actually. For the first time, you didn’t start screaming during dinner and then keep that going for a few hours. During the time you would have normally been screaming, I accomplished so much; it was a tremendous gift.

There are a couple things I wanted to talk to you about, in general. One is your size. You’re a huge baby. You have almost doubled your weight since birth. Again, I hate to give you a hard time, but I just don’t want you to grow up too fast. Maybe, next time you get hungry in say, the Home Depot parking lot, you could let us get you home first before you demand that I feed you. Impromptu breastfeeding sessions just aren’t my style. If that’s not feasible, then I’ll always pick making you happy over my own embarrassment.

Finally, the most important thing I wanted to talk to you about is when you’re going to smile at me. I know you’re on the verge of smiling. I ask you many times every day to smile at me, but you haven’t yet. You did smile at your dad a few weeks ago, but I’m guessing that was a fluke since you haven’t really smiled since. You also crack little almost smiles at your toys. Now, I don’t like to have to pull out the big guns, but I feed you, little girl; I change 90% of your diapers; I hold you all day long and a lot of the night. Perhaps you could smile at me soon? I keep hoping maybe you’re saving it up for Mother’s Day. If so, that’s okay with me. I just want to see it very soon.

Love,


Mom