Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sunday Fun-Day

We typically have very lazy weekends these days. With Asher waking up several times a night, Crockett and I were too tired to do much of anything, so hanging out at home and catching naps whenever possible has been the plan for most weekends the last four months. Fortunately, the sandman has finally found our house, and we're slowly coming back to life.

Somewhat amazingly, the day after I wrote a post about Asher waking up all night, he suddenly slept a full 8 hour stretch. Granted, that first night, it started at 4 PM, but it was a start. The next night he stayed up a little later and slept 6 hours, and that trend has continued. Our trip to Alabama disrupted things slightly, but now that we're settled back at home and his ear infection has resolved, he has developed a relatively predictable sleep schedule, which includes a 6-7 hour stretch of continuous sleep starting around 8 PM. He seems to feel better now that he is more well-rested, and Crockett and I feel like new people.

This past weekend was the first time we've been able to have some well-rested fun (I was on call our first weekend back), and on Sunday we got a chance to visit with some of our favorite people.

Sunday morning, we met our good friends the DeCourceys at the aquarium. It was the first time Asher got a chance to meet our "Chinese godsons" Tyler and Alex, who are 13 months older. We met at the Splash Zone, where Asher got a chance to look at bubbles and bounce on a waterbed-like platform.

Soon thereafter, Tyler came to check him out, and both boys played with their dads.

After a while, Alex decided to join in, and the body-slamming began.

Obviously, it's going to be a while before Asher is big enough to play along, but I have a feeling that in a few years, he's going to be teaching those boys new ways to get into trouble.

After a messy lunch outside at the Cannery Row Brewing Company, it was past everyone's nap time, so we all headed to our respective homes, where we were expecting another treat: a visit from Mama Katie and Daddy Brad, who have a conference to attend in San Francisco this week. They arrived in the area on Sunday evening, and we had a great time relaxing at our house that night. It was fun to let them get to play with Asher in his normal environment.

Monday was more of the same. I had to work, but I got to meet Asher, Katie, Brad, Crockett, and Nanny Annie for lunch. That night my parents joined us at our house for dinner, so lucky Asher got to hang out with FOUR doting grandparents all at once.

Now it's back to business as usual, and in an hour we're headed to the doctor for Asher's 4-month checkup. I'm excited to see how much he's grown. Not so excited to deal with the post-vaccination fussiness!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sweet Home Alabama

Once we arrived in Alabama, it was quite a whirlwind trip. We had a ton to squeeze into our 6-day stay.

We stayed in Birmingham our first night and had a casual get-together with friends' families. It was great to catch up with old friends and especially to meet some babies who had been born since our last visit, kids we hope will be Asher's life-long friends.

The following day, we had a nice lunch with our friends Mia and Greg so that Asher could get to know his future wife, Alexandra Callie Umphrey.
OK, I realize the arranged marriage thing is probably not too cool, but how awesome would it be if my college roommate's daughter ended up being my daughter-in-law?! And plus, see how cute she is!

From there, we drove to Lake Martin to meet up with Mama Katie, Daddy Brad, and Great-Uncle Joe Vaulx. The family's regular lake house is being rebuilt this summer (awesome Aunt Rebecca is the architect!), so we stayed in a great rented house that could accommodate quite a group. Later that night, Uncle Clay, Aunt Rebecca, and cousins Tirza and Aldo joined us, and the following day, Great-Aunt Nancy, Great-Uncle Charlie, and Mimi (great-grandmother) joined us. We owe Charlie a big favor; we realized upon arriving at the lake that we had left Asher's suitcase at the house in Birmingham, so he stopped by and picked it up for us before heading to Montgomery to pick up Mimi. After more than 24 hours in the same outfit, Asher was terribly stinky and sticky, but we were very happy to find that his diapers and formula were packed in a box that had made it into the car! Of course, getting to spend time with Mimi was the real treat (no offense to the rest of you). It is really special to have so many generations together, and it was a privilege to introduce Mimi to her third great-grandchild, whom she clearly adores.

Our plan was to spend two nights at the lake and then head back to Birmingham to attend a surprise birthday party for Greg. Unfortunately, Asher managed to come down with his first cold in the interim, which he subsequently passed on to the rest of us. The drive back to Birmingham was an unpleasant experience that Crockett and I would love to erase from our memories, and because Asher had a very runny nose and generally seemed not to feel well, we decided to skip the party, lest we pass his germs onto the lovely Alex. The one big disappointment of the trip is that we didn't get to spend more time with Alex and her parents.

Of course, Asher's cold had us extremely concerned about the return flight: how would his ears hold up? I spent all of Labor Day debating internally whether or not to take him to urgent care to get his ears examined. I decided against it and was glad for that because he did even better on our return flight on the 6th than he had on the first flight.

As it turns out, Asher did inherit his parents' ears. His little cold became an ear infection shortly after we landed, so he has already completed his first course of the pink stuff. But all in all, we feel that the trip was very successful. Go Team Awesome!

Da Plane!

It's been forever since I've had time to post. Work has gotten crazy again (I think my patients finally realized I was back), and Asher is a busy, busy boy the rest of the time. A lot has happened since my last post, but the most notable is that Asher has become a frequent flier. Literally--he has his own United Mileage Plus number!

On September 1, a week after his 3-month birthday, we took a trip to Alabama to visit Crockett's side of the family. Over the years, Crockett and I have found the easiest way to get back there is to take a 6 AM flight out of the Monterey airport to Denver and then connect to a flight direct from Denver to Birmingham. We have the airport routine with Buttercup down to a science, but it was a bit daunting incorporating a 3-month-old into the plan. We managed to get out of the house within 15 minutes of our planned departure time, so we were quite proud of ourselves.

Check-in at the airport was easy, as it always is in Monterey (for those of you who live around here but never use that airport, it's time to start; we love it!), even if we did look a bit like the Griswalds...if the Griswalds had a baby and a dog.

Getting through security was a bit more challenging. Fortunately, one of my patients' husbands was the TSA guy checking ID's. He recognized me and gave us VIP treatment, including leaving his post to help us organize and get all of our stuff through the x-ray and all our mammals through the metal detector. Sometimes it pays to be a (minor) local celebrity--ha ha!

The biggest obstacle was actually ourselves and our stuff on the first flight. Expecting to be given the chance to pre-board, we were surprised to find that "travelers with young children" were not asked to board in advance. Unfortunately for the rest of the passengers, this meant that we bashed them with our bags and car seat as we tried to squeeze through the aisle of the plane. I guess it serves them right for boxing us out of the boarding line (why are people in such a hurry to sit on a hot plane anyway?).

From there, it was a smooth ride. Asher alternately played with toys and slept the whole way.

And he enjoyed people-watching in Denver.

And just 8 hours later, we were in a new state and time zone, ready for the biggest adventure of Asher's life!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sleepless in Salinas

Asher turned 3-months-old last week. It is amazing how fast the time has gone. He keeps hitting milestone after milestone, which has me proud and teary at the same time. He is officially moving into his 3-6 month wardrobe, right on schedule. It's such a relief to see my small-for-gestational-age baby catch up so nicely, but I hate the reminder that he won't stay small and snuggly forever. With school starting this month and all of my Facebook friends commenting about their kindergarteners eschewing hugs and kisses (or, occasionally, a friend's amazement that her kid accepted a hug on the first day of school), I am acutely aware of how quickly Asher's "little kid" time will pass. Even more acutely, I feel regret for not enjoying "every moment" (as we have so often been advised, even by the people eating dinner next to us last night, while I was bouncing him and Crockett was asking to get our entrees to go).

The truth is that every moment that I spend with Asher is not a Hallmark moment. Like most babies, his good time is in the middle of the day. Via the nursery webcam, I get to watch Annie snuggle and play with him throughout the day. When I get home, he's fussy and tired, and I spend the next hour pleading with him to go to sleep, knowing that once he does, I'll get a few hours of peace. And a few is all it is. At this point, Asher sleeps well for 3-4 hours at a stretch initially but still has a lot of trouble sleeping from 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning on, at which point we sometimes have hourly wake-ups.

As it turns out, the other thing I'm learning from Facebook is that people like to comment A LOT about how well their babies sleep through the night at ridiculously young ages; no one admits that their 3-month-olds still wake up 5 times a night and that they're exhausted and routinely think about throwing their beloved babies out the window. I've gotta admit that it makes me feel like crap. As happy as I am for those friends, I am also insanely jealous.

So we muddle through, investing countless dollars in books about baby sleep, disappointed to learn that he's still a little young for sleep training and confused by contradictory advice--one book says that to make babies sleep better at night, put them to bed earlier, while another says to keep them up later. Add to the mix a trip to Alabama later this week...I'm pretty sure we won't be sleeping well any time soon.

But the reality is that these few months are a tiny portion of our lives and that we'll all get some sleep eventually. And I need to cherish this time, however it comes, because soon he'll be on to the 6-9 month outfits. Time goes way too fast.

Here's to everyone else's sweet dreams tonight! One day I will join you!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Swimming with the Fishes...Sorta

Now that I'm back to work and we've settled into a routine, it has been harder to keep up with all of the changes we see in Asher from day to day. He has quickly gone from being a lump who eats, poops, and cries to a little person who is interested in exploring the world around him. And although he still doesn't let us sleep much (he's still eating every 2-3 hours all night long and only takes short catnaps during the day), hanging out with him is increasingly fun, which makes the exhaustion a little more bearable.

Since my last post, Asher has reached several milestones. At 2.5 months old, he smiles and coos all the time now and even laughs in his sleep. He is very interested in people, especially new ones, and he clearly recognizes his mommy and daddy. Of course, his favorite person is the baby in the mirror. We have several mirrors positioned around his room, and his favorite seems to be the one above his changing mat. Every diaper change, he talks to and smiles at his image. We guess he is a little vain. Of course, if you were that cute, you probably would be too. He is also noticing objects in his environment more. Whereas he used to be focused solely on black-and-white, high-contrast images, he is now interested in all brightly colored things. Recently, Mary Kay, my nurse, gave him an activity mat, and it is now one of his favorite places to hang out. He has begun to realize that he can touch things if he moves his limbs, and he has started batting at the toys dangling overhead.

Also on the motor skills front, his neck is now strong enough that he supports his own head most of the time (unless he's really tired), and this weekend he sat upright for the first time in his Bumbo chair. The upright position opens up a new world of possibilities for him, and he was obviously thrilled with this new perspective on his world. We have a jumparoo on order, which should arrive on Tuesday, and I can't wait to see how much fun he has bouncing around in it while he explores the attached toys.

This weekend we had one adventure after another. Our friends John and Emeline Minor visited on Saturday night and were Asher's first overnight guests. Asher greeted them with his newly mastered open-mouth smile, which is by far my favorite of his new skills. We took advantage of the extended summer weekend hours at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and took the Minors and Asher there for the first time to see the newly reopened Open Sea exhibit. We were fortunate to run into another friend, Rene, who is an aquarium tour guide and was visiting on his day off with a friend, so we got a private tour of the exhibit. We aren't sure how much Asher cared about the fish, but he definitely liked the activity and all the lights and colors. After a brief visit there (one of the advantages of being aquarium members is that costs us nothing to pop in for a few minutes to see one thing and head out--I think this will prove to be very useful while Asher is little with a miniscule attention span!), we headed to Tarpy's for dinner--our first dinner at a nice restaurant--where Asher ate a little and then slept soundly, clearly wiped out by his aquarium adventure, while we enjoyed a great, leisurely meal on the heated patio. Overnight, we had to make some adjustments to our routine so that our guests could sleep in peace without hearing Asher cry every 2 hours. The intent was for Asher to sleep in his pack-and-play in our room, but in the end, he spent most of the night in bed snuggling with us. I guess it was a special occasion, so it's OK. This morning we went out to brunch at First Awakenings, and again Asher was a great dining companion. The last time Crockett and I had been there was the morning before Asher's birth, so it was a little nostalgic. At the same time, it was such a relief to see that despite Asher's increasing inquisitiveness and wakefulness, we can still manage to keep him quiet and entertained enough to have an enjoyable meal out and not ruin the experience for the other diners. This afternoon, after a Skype session with Mama Katie, Daddy Brad, and cousins Tirza and Aldo (who are staying with their grandparents this week), was nap time for all of us as we gear up for the week ahead.

Our next planned adventure will be a grand one indeed: a flight across the country to visit our family and friends in Alabama over Labor Day weekend. We're intimidated by the prospect of keeping him quiet for 6 hours in flight, but his tolerance of this weekend's events is encouraging. We're currently reading up and preparing for how to travel with a 3-month-old. Any tips?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Two Months Old!

Asher is two months old today! We had a combination celebration on Friday night with Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Robin, and Uncle Chris, as we also had Robin and Chris's birthdays to celebrate and the 1-month anniversary of Grandpa's surgery to commemorate. Chris made a great dinner, and everyone enjoyed hanging out with Asher and seeing how interactive he is becoming.

Asher decided to spend his 2-month birthday NOT sleeping. He didn't cry all that much, considering how tired he must have been. He has just been discovering how interesting the world is and seems to fight sleep. He took a few 10-minute catnaps (what a strange term, considering that our cats are practically comatose all day and for a good part of the night), but mostly wanted to be entertained and carried around. We did take the obligatory monthly photo. I'm afraid he wasn't feeling too photogenic ;)

The last one was a busy week for us. I went back to work on Monday, and although we are all still adjusting to the new routine, things seem to be going well. On Thursday my office had a surprise baby party for me, which Asher, Daddy, and Nanny Annie attended. Everyone loved spending time with Asher, who was quite charming, smiling at all the pretty ladies. My staff chipped in to buy us a BOB jogging stroller, which is a great gift and also relieved me of the task of deciding which jogging stroller to buy (I had been weighing the pros and cons of the different brands for months).

Asher continues to grow at record pace. His last doctor's appointment was on Friday, and he weighed in at 9 lbs 8 oz, which is nearly 5 lbs above what he was when he came home from the hospital, and 21 inches. He took his first set of shots like a champ.

Our new speedbump (it seems like there's a new one every couple of weeks, doesn't it?) is reflux. A couple of weeks ago, Asher went through a phase where he shrieked in the middle of feedings and appeared to be in pain. At that point, he wasn't spitting up at all, and the episodes stopped after a few days, so we never bothered to look into it further. Then on Wednesday this week, Annie commented that he had spit up a lot that day, which surprised me. Considering how many babies Annie has cared for, the fact that she thought this was noteworthy spit-up got my attention. And she was right. Huge spit-ups. Very messy and annoying to us, though they didn't seem to bother Asher at all. Worse, the screaming during feedings has returned, which is the real problem. In the last couple of days, we have started him on Zantac, and he seems to feel better. We also are keeping his head elevated all the time, which helps keep stuff down. Unfortunately for Mommy and Daddy, one of the mainstays of therapy for reflux is frequent small feedings, which means that Asher won't be a good candidate for any sort of sleep training until the reflux resolves at around 6 months of age. So much for our plans.

Time to buy some more bibs ;)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The End of an Era

Today is a somber day, as I will be returning to work tomorrow. I know Asher will be in good hands--our nanny, Annie, has stayed with him for several days and was perfect with him and a huge help to us--but it's sad to realize that eight weeks have passed so quickly. Once I'm working, I know the weeks will fly by even faster. Since I can't stop time, I feel an impulse to preserve each moment, and it seems that there aren't enough ways to do that. We've got photos, videos, and outgrown clothes, but how do I can the way it feels to have him cuddled on my chest when he naps in his carrier while I wash bottles (or write this blog, as he is doing right now)? I guess Asher hasn't technically been a newborn for a while, but my return to work is for me a definitive transition. We are moving on to a new chapter.

The last couple of weeks with Asher have been a challenge but also wonderful at times. Two weeks ago, he entered a seriously fussy phase and spent most of the daytime hours awake and screaming if not properly entertained. In the last few days, he has reverted to his calm, good-natured self. We don't know to what we should attribute the change. Maturity? The "sensitive stomach" formula we started him on last Thursday afternoon on a whim (we had a sample gathering dust in the pantry)? I am thankful that we've had several good days recently because I know going back to work would be doubly hard if the last few days had been frustrating ones.

The one big challenge for us is that Asher still wakes to eat at least every three hours throughout the night and even more frequently starting around 3:00 AM, at which time he sometimes is completely awake, alert, and ready to start his day, sometimes not sleeping at all between 3:00 and 5:00 feedings. Crockett and I continue to search for a rotation that will allow both of us to get sufficient sleep, and it seems like we try a new routine weekly. Certainly, tomorrow will be the first real test of our current schedule.

Aside from seeing no change on the sleep front, we see other changes in Asher almost daily. Last week he seemed to be growing before our eyes; one day Crockett and I both noticed that suddenly his head seemed bigger, and with his new chub, he doesn't look a thing like the scrawny baby we brought home. He is interested in everything and wants to spend most of his waking time studying his environment. He is also showing increasing interest in other people and was very content when he and I went to a happy hour gathering on Friday. He also has become extremely vocal and "talks" to us more than he cries, which is a welcome change. Smiles are becoming more frequent as well.

As far as his likes and dislikes at this point, his dislikes are few and his quirky "likes" are many. The most notable of those is that he loves it when we blow on him with the hair dryer. We originally started using it on his bottom when he had bad diaper rash and have since found that the warm air is quite possibly his favorite thing in the world. He is not as big a fan of his swing as he once was, but now his Ergo carrier is his favorite place to hang out. I have gotten quite good at doing just about everything with the Ergo on, which can be a bit of a challenge because it blocks the view of my hands. When not in the Ergo sleeping or studying the world around him, Asher's favorite thing to do is to dance to Erasure, the Pet Shop Boys, and the other 80's pop that we find on Pandora. Much to his grandparents' dismay, gentle swaying isn't enough for Asher--he wants big movements, the bouncier the better. He provides quite the total-body workout! Asher grows and changes, I guess so does the rest of our family. Tomorrow will be a challenge, but I think we will all be better for it, and I know that the time I do spend with him from now on will be all the sweeter. It's funny--when I started this blog three months ago, I couldn't imagine not working; now that it's time to go back, it's hard to imagine what getting up and going to the office every morning will be like.