28 June 2011

High-Need?

I've been quietly asking myself this question. Is Ezra just a high-needs baby? Or is this what all babies are like? Or are we doing something wrong?

That may sound drastic, but still. Ezra will be four months old next week, and he still nurses every 2 hours (except at night, where he gives me 4-5 hours). He has a very hard time sleeping for naps, and almost never can sleep away from home unless he's nursing at the same time. He goes from neither pleased nor displeased to wailing in about 90 seconds. And, while we've gotten a type of routine, there's no telling if what worked yesterday to get him to sleep will work today. He also just generally doesn't like to be out of the house, and quickly gets uncomfortable if people he doesn't know hold him (parents and grandparents are excluded, PTL). And, when he gets tired in the evenings, often the only person that will do is Mom, not even Dad. He lasts about 20 minutes in the grocery store before I have to hold him, and then he'll last 15 more minutes before he has had it (which tends to coincide with being in the checkout line).

Is that a normal baby? Because I just don't know. Stephen went digging and found the 12 Features of a high-need baby on Doc Sears' website. Here they are:

1) Intense. Ezra is certainly that. What I love about it, tho, is he's intensely happy as well. The joy of my days are giggling sessions we have from little things like kisses (he LOVES kisses, especially on his tum), to making a crinkly toy crinkle oh-so-satisfyingly, to things only he knows are funny (is it my face? I don't know it I appreciate that...). This is one I don't usually mind except when we're at a wedding in Houston and I don't get to enjoy any of it because Ezra's having a complete meltdown. Things like that. But I'd rather have a baby that laughs than a baby that doesn't cry.

2) Hyperactive. I'm not positive about this one. He does like to do things and does get easily bored (usually. There are some amazing times where he sits in the bumbo on the counter for a good 20 minutes watching me make dinner. He's well away from the edge, so don't fuss.). And he often tries to swan dive as you're holding him, and he's so far hated being in the sling. But he likes to be swaddled and I do still think he genuinely enjoys being held. I'm on the fence with this one, mostly because I don't have any other baby to compare him to.

3) Draining. Well, this one's a bit unfair, isn't it? What first-time, full-time mother isn't frequently drained at the end of the day? I mean, I'm usually drained after I finally get him down at night, but I generally feel pretty good at bedtime. Generally. ;) So yes, he's draining, but I don't think he takes everything he can. There are definitely 20-minute periods of time where he'll play with his toys on his mat, and I don't have to interact with him.

4) Feeds frequently. Oh yes. Definitely yes. But still, he often does well at night. I'd say at least four nights a week he sleeps for four continuous hours before needing to nurse again. But still, I wish he could go three hours, and that never ever happens unless he's been asleep for the majority of that time. It doesn't usually bother me, it's just hard when I'd like to run all my errands in one go, and he can't make it the hour and a half between the end of one feeding and the beginning of the next.

5) Demanding. Again, I'm not sure! If he's bored, he'll usually complain for maybe two minutes before losing it. When he's hungry, it's less, but if I want to, I can often stave him off for about five minutes by holding him and walking around. But he won't cry himself to sleep, or at least not in the fifteen to twenty minutes I've let him wail a few times. He just gets so frantic so quickly if he's hungry or tired. So I'd give a hesitant yes.

6) Awakens frequently. Sort of. He used to sleep much better than he currently does. It's mostly napping that's so hard. But of course, the one or two nights a week where he only goes three and then two hours between nursing, or decides he's up for the day at 5:45 are hard. I don't think he needs less sleep, because he gets inconsolably miserable if he cannot sleep for three or four hours. I just often have to nap with him, and even then sometimes he won't sleep for more than twenty minutes. Is that normal? I have no idea.

7) Unsatisfied. This one I feel is a pretty clear no. If he's unhappy, nursing almost always works, even if playing or walking or singing or swinging or swaddling or driving. There have only been three times now where he was inconsolable, and every time there was a logical explanation for why he was miserable.

8) Unpredictable. Yes. He never ever ever wakes up at the same time, or decides he's tired at the same time, or goes to bed at the same time. Unless by "the same time" I mean within a two-hour time table. And he often messes with my trying to help him sleep, play, and nurse cycle. And almost every bedtime now is an hour and a half of me trying things that have worked previously until one actually gets him to sleep and stay asleep. He also has pretty massive mood swings. I'll frequently take him to the store to get two things, holding him the whole time, and he'll burst into a whole-store-can-hear-you-over-the-music wailfest. And then stop after ninety seconds. Is that common? I mean, I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

9) Super-sensitive. I'd say quite sensitive, not super. Maybe just because I'm a little defensive of him. He has a hard time in loud places, or big places, or not-home places, or places with lots of new things or new people. And, as I've said, he pretty much cannot sleep in a new place unless he's nursing. But he doesn't get upset when Stephen does the dishes (and he does them loudly! But hey, he does them. I'll 100% take it!). But he has done really well with several of his shots.

10) Can't put baby down. Eh. I'm on the fence with this one. He certainly can't be put down for as long as some. He's getting better about playing on his mat or with a toy in the bumbo. But. after the first two weeks, I couldn't just put him on the couch and him be fine for more than a minute, maybe. But he sleeps well in his crib, and the transition from our bed to the crib was bump-free.

11) Not a self-soother. This is 100% true. Ezra cannot yet deescalate himself. Once he starts getting upset, he needs someone else to calm him down. He sometimes enjoys the swing for a short period of time while awake (I think to help him calm down from so much stimulation), and the swing helps him stay asleep during naps, but I no longer can put him in the swing and expect him to fall asleep. Alas, that first month was so nice!

12) Separation-sensitive. Ha! Me or him? ;) No, he is separation-sensitive. If I leave him with the grandparents and go do something, he almost always has been wailing when I get back. I'm sure that will change with time.

I want to add a post script that lets everyone know on no uncertain terms that I absolutely love Ezra. He is exactly who he should be, and he delights me every single day. I know he's already an amazing person. I just want to know how to parent him well!

Okay, this was a massive post. Sorry about that. I'm honestly just insecure. Is Ezra a normal baby, and my lack of structure for him is making his life harder? Or is he just a little higher needs than other babies?

New Mom Syndrome?

I'm not positive why, but I've been in a pretty sensitive mood today. I don't think it's "woman troubles, " but I guess that could be coming back (if so, LAME). It's probably a large mix of a hard, hard weekend, reading a beautiful book on grace-based parenting, and watching a couple of movies in the past couple weeks where a mother and very young child are separated. I'm tearing up just thinking about it.

What would I do? Would I be able to let go of Ezra if it would somehow save his life? Would I survive if the best thing for Ezra was to go be with the Lord at a young age? Do I trust Him with this child? Practically, in real life, do I?

I now understand Jesus said the end days will be terrible for new moms. I thought I new before, but now I do. I know the Lord is so good, and Ezra is so safe with Him, but it is scary. Will I always feel this way? How could that work, with the pain associated with growing up? Surely this feeling will calm a little, right? Is it because he's helpless now? Or do you, as a mom, just get used to feeling this way about your kids? Or am I some sort of freakmom who doesn't know how to correctly view her child?

Surely this isn't how God feels about us? I mean, maybe sometimes. I don't know. For now, I'm going to nurse my son and go to bed with the prayer that the Lord would grow in me His love for E.

20 June 2011

Dance

I watch So You Think You Can Dance. Think what you will of that - I love dance. I'm not positive what exactly it is about dancing, but I have some theories.

I have this thing about joy. I greatly desire it. I love expressing it. I think it is probably one of the fruits of the Spirit that comes more naturally to me. So it makes sense that I love happy music. Not silly music or fake happy music, but music that makes you want to jump around your house like you've gone mad. The best music makes you feel like you're about to burst out of your skin and fly away (in my opinion anyway).

Why is it so hard to dance sometimes? I'm not saying I need to be good at it. I mean, I love watching others dance well, and what the human body is incredible and capable of such beauty. But I'm alone in my house - there's no one to impress. Even if Stephen's home, he's even worse of a dancer than I am (look, it's just true), and he really loves the dancing part of me anyway, so I have nothing to be worried about from him.

It is hard to dance when you're pregnant, or it really was for me, and I think that's really gotten me out of my routine. But I think it's something else. Honestly, I got really down on myself for the way I looked when I was pregnant, and I allowed that negative self-talk to rob me of the gift of enjoying things. Honestly, God has give me so many reasons to dance with joyful abandon. He is so good to me. You really don't know. But I do, when I take a moment to look around me.

I'm going to work on it. If it's true that I can be a channel of grace to others by engaging with the Lord in the ways He's gifted me, I want and need to be practicing the discipline of joy and the very-related discipline of thanksgiving, because what leads to joy but a realistic view of all that He has given?

If you're wanting to start a routine of dancing for joy, I highly recommend Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion. It's weird, but these guys know how to make really happy music (with fabulous beats). Love.

13 June 2011

Crushes

...on blogs. The thing about my crushes is that they don't last long (and this is across the board; when I wasn't in love with my husband, I would have crushes on guys for like a day or two. Activities hold my attention for a little longer, but not much). Here's hoping I'll continue to pursue both of these activities.

The first one is Our Best Bites. I've cooked several of their recipes, and they are fresh and delicious (and sometimes quite spicy, which is great for my husband). The only downside is that they aren't always meant for young moms - LOTS of chopping involved. Lots. Ezra is often good during the time I need to prepare for dinner, but he can be a bit capricious. So, I've been trying to chop what I can beforehand, during a nap or the night before. Still, I'd love some fresh meals where I don't have to chop/dice/slice 5 or 6 different foods.

The second one is Shabby Princess. Now I actually a little hate "shabby chic" because it takes the cheapness out of household items that look cheap. And I hate lace and rose-printed fabric. I'm a modernist, whatever. The name aside, this website has lots of free downloads for digital scrapbooking that look really great! And they have ones that are good for boys without being trite (look, I don't like football, and neither does my husband. I'm unwilling to presuppose that Ezra will. He may, but it'll be his choice).

So that's that. I've been flirting with Jamie Oliver's cooking, but his recipes use an awful lot of pancetta. Just sayin.

11 June 2011

Laughing!

So, I know not everyone is going to want to watch tons of videos of my baby (I get it; it's okay). But this one is short and SO CUTE!
video
That's the most he's laughed so far. LOVE IT! :^D

07 June 2011

Umm... Eww


Viewer discretion is advised...




Okay, this is what we found on our front door-frame as we left to go see Kung Fu Panda 2 Sunday night:

I used to think cicadas were nostalgic, and I loved to hear them... buzz? hum? And finding their shed exoskeletons was fun when I was little. Whatever. No more nice bug. This thing is a nightmare.

I'm really not sure this picture shows the full horror of a bug slowly shedding its skin in some sort of skin-crawlingly disgusting swan dive. I hope I never ever ever ever see this again. Ever.

On a mildly-related note, we enjoyed our first movie as parents. Stephen thought there was too much action, and I can see what he meant, but I still loved it. and CRIED at one part. But I'm a crier...

05 June 2011

Scrapbooking Attempt #1 (&2)

So, I decided, if I'm gonna do what all the cool kids do, I might as well do it all. But we do NOT have the money for me to run around buying paper and ribbon and cutesie cutouts and buttons and flowers and everything else. So, following MacKenzie's advice, I decided to try my hand at this business.

Two things must be noted. Thing 1: I don't have Photoshop. However, I've already worked with GIMP: slightly less user friendly, but gets all the jobs done that I need. Thing 2: with GIMP, you HAVE to save your work frequently. Being a free program, it sometimes stops working and shuts down. Favorite.

So, attempt #1 was lost after 1.5 hours of labor. Very lame. But after another 1.5 hours, here is attempt #2:

For a first try, I think I did pretty well. Everything (but Ezra) is from Shabby Princess, which has lots of amazing free downloads!!! I LOVE FREE STUFF! Of course, the jury's still out for me - I need to see what this comes back from printing looking like before I'll be fully into it. But it's a fun challenge for me - I'm not very scrappily-minded. But hey, a girl can try. :)

04 June 2011

Oh, a Year Ago.

Going to Mary's high school graduation got me thinking. I got to cheer for some of the students I'd met in previous years through substituting and volunteering at the high school. It was, honestly, bittersweet.

This time last year, I was being interviewed for the teaching position of my dreams. I could teach a subject I love to a group of students I (by and large) really, really enjoy. I already have rapport with many of them, and I was familiar with the program. It was ideal, more than I had hoped for. I hadn't even specifically applied for the position; they had my application for a different position already on file and called me.

This time last year, I was raising support to go on staff with GCM at Fellowship Church. It was one of the most difficult things I'd ever done, and I wasn't enjoying it one bit. It felt like the Lord had called me to do something just so He could make my life difficult. My progress was embarrassingly slow, with a lot of tedious work and not much reward.

This time last year, I was pregnant! I didn't know for certain yet (as of this date), but I was pretty sure.

My life hit a fork last year, and I chose the one I felt very strongly God leading me to. That doesn't mean it hasn't been difficult to give up. I honestly had to make myself stop worrying about the students - if their new teacher would treat and teach them well - and to stop dreaming about what I would have been teaching them.

I would never have wanted to give up the time I have with Ezra, and, when I think back to him being 6 weeks old, I really don't think I would have been able to leave him to go back to work anyway. I'm also very glad that we didn't have the extra salary coming in (forgive my honesty, but teachers in TX are paid more than I am) because it brought me closer to becoming free from the love of money and things. I am glad the Lord wrested things from me, even dreams of a nicer-looking home, financial security, and a fulfilling teaching career.

That doesn't mean my relationship with Him hasn't suffered; it definitely has. I've felt a lot of hurt towards Him. I've thought mean things about Him, honestly, like that He enjoys making my life difficult, or that He'll never give me one dream without taking another. I'm still working at trusting a God who is wild, who takes from me everything I can bear to give up to that moment. I know it's for my good and for His glory. and I know it's my decision, every time, to let circumstances alienate me or draw me nearer. I'm working on it.

The good news at the end of this wandering post is that the Lord and I are in a covenant relationship far more powerful and permanent than the one I am in with my husband (that one only lasts until death). God and I will be together forever. That adds a lot of stability, and gives me comfort. One measly year of a rough patch is nothing in the span of always. As surely as the sun arises, He will restore my soul.

Isaiah 43:19 "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." I will call upon You, Lord.