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Friday, March 19, 2010

More Pics

At the usual place, starting here:

I'm officially back to work (as of yesterday), although for these first two days back I'm actually working from home. I'm not looking forward to Monday, not because I don't like my job, but because I'll be missing Amelia all day long...

I doubt her grandparents will be overwhelmed with sympathy :P


Sunday, March 14, 2010

More Vids

(See? I told ya!)

My Wit-List Is Empty :( I can't think of any more interesting or catchy blog titles. I'll probably just post with things like "More Pics" and "More Vids" from now on. Whatevs!

The usual link. New pics start here. I also added some old ones I missed; see them here.

A brief sampling!


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Monster Baby!

Fig. 1: before...

Fig. 2: ...insert "mute button"...

Fig. 3: ...after!

These and other new pictures to be found at the usual link. Newest images (monster baby not included) start here.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Phone Call

We put Amelia on speaker phone while Sam spoke with her parents and grandparents (Amelia's Mamaw, Papaw, Greatmamaw, and Greatpapaw). They couldn't really hear what we she was saying to them, so I makka blog post!

Also, "Greatmamaw" and "Greatpapaw?" Is that how those words are supposed to look?


Various Vivacious Videos

Here's a quick look at what it's like to deal with Amelia right after waking her up. She was actually awake for a solid four hours today--a first!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

We're in for it.

Amelia has rolled herself over multiple times. I witnessed it once, and you've seen the video evidence of another instance. As of this sentence, she is *checks clock* one week, 2 days, and 13 minutes old.

We're definitely going to need a playpen with a lid--especially when Aaron teaches her to climb. :-\


The other day--couldn't tell you which, but it doesn't matter--we were getting ready for bed. Mark knelt next t the bed and played with her on her tummy while I went to the bathroom. When I came back in, this conversation happened:

Mark: "She just rolled herself over!"
Sam: "No she didn't."
Mark: "Yes she did! She got her arms under herself and braced one leg and flipped herself onto her back."
Sam: "Holy shit!"
Mark: "Pretty cool, huh?"
Sam: "No, it's impossible. They can't roll over until they're 5 or 6 months old. 3 or 4 at the earliest."
Mark: "Really? You sure?"
Sam: "YES."


Sam: "You swear she really rolled over?"
Mark: "YES."
Sam: "Go tell Noelle. She knows--she'll be just as amazed as I am."

So he tells Noelle, who doesn't believe him and says maybe its just a fluke. Um, yes, it's definitely a fluke. I looked it up and says 2-3 months for front to back, 5-6 months for back to front.

I kind of didn't believe him either, or thought he'd leaned heavily on the bed. But, as I told Noelle: he had no idea it was unusual, so why would he make it up to mess with us?

Then a few days later, she did it again. On her own. On a changing pad. On the floor. And I saw it.

I yelled: "Holy shit. She just rolled over!"

We didn't get it on video. We DID however get the video below. To which I say again: Holy shit, did you see that?

Mark and I expected a sturdy child, but she exceeds anything we could have imagined. Our baby is stubborn and built like a tank. Watch out.

On depression, fear, and getting back to normal

Amelia's such an easygoing baby. We've had so few challenges and she's obviously growing and getting more alert and curious by the day. So few things to worry about.

We've been home for a week, and we're settling into a new routine. We go to bed later at night, around midnight or 1:00 am, after waiting on her last feeding, put her to bed and set an alarm for 4 hours later (in case she doesn't wake us up), sleep, wake up 3-5 hours later, Mark gets her out of bed and changes her, I nurse her and put her back to bed, set an alarm for 4 hours later, sleep, wake up (usually) 5 hours later, Mark gets her out of bed and changes her, I feed her while he showers, he takes her upstairs and plays with her while I shower/get dressed, and I come upstairs. This is usually around 1:00 or 2:00. I usually have to feed her again before I can get breakfast myself, but then she usually goes right to sleep again. Occasionally bouts of bad gas mess up the schedule, but it's pretty predictable, and we're getting better at burping her, so she's getting fewer of those. During the day, she's easy to wake up every 3 hours or so with a diaper change before a feeding.

She's most alert at night right before bed and in the morning before and after her second long sleep. She's a pro at stretching, and does that for a good 5 minutes during and after her morning diaper change. Then she gets fussy and tries to eat her hands and twists and squirms and gripes until I pick her up and talk to her: she knows I have the food. She'll take a long time to nurse in the morning, keeping her eyes wide open and taking little breaks to look around, sometimes focusing on close things and sometimes staring at the large blurry shapes in the distance.

She's obviously gaining weight. She's right on target for her input and output levels, and we'll discuss her strength in a later post--I just have to interject: holy shit, did you see that?

I've been able to bustle in the kitchen, and Mark is actually playing a video game with her sleeping on his lap while I write this post.

So things are going really well.

But, occasionally, like last night, I look around at how...unexpectedly easy a transition this has been for us, and I wonder if we're missing something. Are we really just lucky that we have an easy baby, (yeah, mostly) or were we really prepared and excited for her, (definitely) or--and this is the problem--are we really neglecting her? My worries say new parents aren't supposed to have time to do parents aren't supposed to have time for parents aren't supposed to be so calm...should I really be letting her sleep in her bassinet in the dining room while Mark and I make dinner?...should I really read my library book in the next room while she sleeps on Mark's lap in the office?

I can account for some of our free time--and this is the problem: the urge to account for it--with all that Noelle has been taking care of around the house, (and Aaron when he's not at school, and Chuck and Clara when they were here) but not all of it.

(ETA later: my worries conveniently ignore the fact that this post has been interrupted by baby tasks 3 times, and I'm currently typing one handed because a sleeping and potentially still hungry infant is in my left arm.)

I'm also recuperating well, but I'm still dealing with the hormone...flood (ok, really, it's more like a backed up toilet) that makes me feel exhilarated, possessive, exhausted, awed, terrified, and so many other extremes. I've heard and read so many attempts at describing the bonding process (really, more like a flood than a process--an actual flood this time, not a toilet) with your infant, but nothing ever described it accurately, or believably. Without the hormonal overload, it's hard to understand how these apparently jumbled and incoherent feelings can possibly happen to one person all at once--or how new parents deal with them.

Which is where depression comes in.

I never thought I'd say this, but I'm actually really glad Mark and I went through my depression. We've learned how to deal with extreme and conflicting emotional fluctuations constructively. So, when there are moments like last night (when Mark took her onesie off and her head bonked down on the changing pad from an inch up and I completely lost my shit and even after calling the nurse on call at our clinic who was old and said it was absolutely fine because she was on a changing pad on a carpeted floor and she didn't have any reaction to it at all other than to screech and fight at the clothes that were stuck on her face, I still cried for 20 minutes and all kinds of fears and stress came flooding out) we're better equipped to deal with it. When Mark thinks he hasn't been doing enough when he's been running up and down the stairs for everything and cooking and cleaning and changing 90% of the diapers and rubbing my back and getting her up at night while I stretch and get ready to nurse her and blogging and posting pictures and videos and putting her in her car seat and playing with her in delightful ways and generally being the very best possible husband and dad he can be even though he'd never taken care of a baby in his life before last Friday...we can deal with the crazy.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Even More Video!

Wherein we attempt to document Amelia roll away from her belly and are surprised by the outcome...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Carkeek Park

We took Amelia out to the park today. It was great. The skies were sunny and clear, the air was warm, and the wind was minimal.

We stayed there long enough to enjoy a late breakfast from CJ's, take her for a quick walk around the park, and sit and enjoy the sun and the view for a bit. I even managed to take her on a little scramble through the woods, the real purpose of which was warm up Sammy to let me take her for a hike in the Cascades this summer.

By the way, I leave it to an exercise to the reader to find out whether Noelle or I was right about the world's oceans :)


More Pictures

'Nuff said. The newest pictures start here.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I shall call her... "Button"

It's funny how you can sometimes spend so much time and energy worrying about doing something just right, only to have all of that intellectual effort become meaningless when the planned moment arrives.

Amelia's original name was Natalie. After a while, though, we started seeing the name pop up literally everywhere. One of Sam's key name requirements was that it not be a very popular one. Her classrooms had all been just too full of other Samanthas, and she wanted Amelia's name to be her own. So, after a little while, we moved away from Natalie and towards Ivy, then Maria, and finally to Amelia. I liked Amelia in particular because it still went really nicely with our chosen middle name of Erin. The only problem, I figured, was that there wasn't an obvious nick-name to associate with it.

In the months leading up to her birth, I tried to muse over a couple of the permutations. I like "Milly" and "Amie," but Sam didn't warm to them very much so I tried to think of something else. Most of the names were arbitrary and didn't have much to do with her actual one, and that kind of bugged me a little bit. None of this was active, foreground thinking, mind you--more like a little thing that just kept popping into my head at random. By the time Sam moved into labor, I still hadn't arrived at any kind of conclusion.

Fast forward a couple of days, and I was rubbing her little nose while she slept, saying "you're such a cute little button." Sam laughed, looking down at us, and said, "you sure do call her 'button' a lot." I smiled and looked at Sam, and then back at Amelia. "Button it is," I said. It wasn't deliberate, and that's what made it so magical. I'm honestly not even sure where it came from: I am actually not in the habit of looking at cute things and comparing them with the aesthetic qualities of buttons. In fact, I don't think I ever saw a button that I would describe as cute, or even very interesting, for that matter.


Funny how that works, sometimes.

Anyway, a couple of new pictures at the usual link.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Yay for video!

Tough Love... a phrase that has some new meaning for me now. I've always really considered tough love as meaning roughly "I know this sucks, but it's for your own good," but there's a different angle to it that took me by surprise a few days ago.

Amelia was about three weeks early. Although she was born during the official "full term" window, most of the doctors and nurses at the hospital considered her a borderline case. For example, she has a slight bit of jaundice, slightly low birth weight, and started off with slightly low blood sugar, but none of these things are uncommon in babies her age. Basically, they were OK with us going home after 24 hours, but only on the condition that we made sure to do things by the book for the first week or so: routinely record all of our observations, do regular temperature and jaundice checks, and follow a strict feeding schedule.

That last one has proven to be pretty difficult. Not because we have trouble actually feeding her, mind you, but rather because Amelia is a zen sleeping master. Seriously. I mean, I thought I was capable of falling asleep anywhere and staying that way, but she has truly humbled me. Seriously.

Let me give you an example: when we took her in for her first well-baby visit at our clinic, the pediatrician (who was awesome, by the way) felt that her jaundice needed a closer look. The way doctors do this is by taking a blood sample and doing some fancy science on it. Unfortunately for the baby, they need 400 milliliters of it. And the only way to do this is to punch a little hole in her skin and squeeze the stuff out of them. This squeezing process needs to go on for as long as five minutes, depending on how willing the baby is to bleed. When they needed to do a similar test at the hospital, all I could think about were Aztec sacrifice rituals! (OK, that's pretty dramatic, but you get the point.) Anyway, this kind of thing hurts just to watch. It really should go without saying that babies do not like these procedures. DO NOT WANT. Well, when it was her turn, Amelia slept through the entire thing. Seriously! And it lasted a long time, too! The nurse was squeezing her foot for over four and a half minutes (I timed it). The only reactions she got out of our daughter were a couple of kicks and an indignant scowl. Seriously! (Have I said "seriously" enough?)

So, as you can imagine, it can be really hard to wake her up for her regular feedings, which need to happen every two hours. Rarely, it's OK for one or two to be as far apart as four. But if we let her, Amelia will sleep as much as a teenage boy, so we pretty much have to wake her up ourselves every time. At first, we'd try to gently coax her awake, and if we failed, we let her sleep some more and try again in 10 to 30 minutes. By her third morning, however, she had been asleep for eight continuous hours, and we were therefore well past our feeding window. Getting nervous, we decided to phone into our clinic for some advise. The physician on call wasn't too worried, but she said we definitely needed to get her awake and feeding. In her words, "you really have to be a bit nasty."

"A bit nasty" ended up being way more than I was prepared for. We tried a lot of different things before we got her up, and by the time she was awake she was justifiably pissed the hell off. We tried holding ice cubes to her feet and underarms. We dripped cold water on her forehead and on her chest. I (gently) slapped a damp washcloth against her face. We made loud noises. We stomped the ground around her. None of this was working, and we arrived at a painful realization that the reason it wasn't working was because we were still following our instincts and trying to keep her safe and comfortable. So, we finally kicked it up a notch.

Research that I'm too lazy to Google and provide links to shows that when babies are left alone (especially on hard surfaces), their stress mechanism flies into hyperdrive. They'll start kicking and screaming, trying desperately to attract sympathy and attention. This response, it is surmised, evolved for a very simple reason: babies who are left alone in this manner (presumably on some rock in a cave somewhere) are going to die. They are going to starve, or they are going to be eaten. Maybe something worse, I dunno. Anyway, the stress is so palpable that it actually results in physical pain. Obviously, modern babies (especially those in the Biddlecom household) are in no such grave danger, but this is a pretty low-level reflex.

So, after we had been trying to wake her up with the afore-mentioned discomforts for about 20 minutes, we decided that we should stop talking to her. Stop making noises of any kind, actually. I continued to hold the ice near her feet and we went dead silent. That did the trick, to say the least. In about half a minute, she went from dismissively annoyed to full-on panic. There were five of us there (myself, Sammy, Grandma and Grandpa Biddlecom, and Noelle), and all of us were shocked at how upset Amelia had become. What was worse (yeah, worse) was that experience had already shown us that if we stopped right then, she'd get comfy again, dose off, and we'd have to start all over. So we had to wait some more (I don't know how long, it felt like an eternity) and make sure she was good and terrified before passing her over to Mommy for some soothing feeding time. The good news, at least, is that breast feeding is the polar opposite of leaving a baby alone. Once they're with Mommy, and their attention is focused on each other, all's right with the world. Amelia calmed down almost immediately and it was as if the whole thing had never happened.

I think it's pretty clear that as far as the baby is concerned, none of this is really a big deal. We got her awake and fed, and she clearly has no memory of the nastiness. She still feels safe with Mommy and Daddy, and she's even started smiling at us. (It could, of course, just be bad gas, but I'm perfectly happy to call it a smile, thankyouverymuch!) The "tough" part of this love wasn't really Amelia's. It was ours. I really am not exaggerating when I say that waking her up this way was one of the hardest things I've ever had to to do. In retrospect, it all sounds kind of trivial, but the instinct to protect your child and make everything perfect for her is powerful. It was an intellectual and emotional battle for me to keep at it. The only way I managed is that I was pretty worried about her not getting enough to eat (you know, starving).

This all has a very happy ending, of course. Amelia is now fine, and we're having to wake her ourselves less and less frequently. Each time we need to, it's easier to do. You'd be surprised at how quickly you learn to innovate as a parent. And, now that Sammy's milk has started to come in, Amelia's a lot more eager to feed. For the first time, she woke us up for a feeding session. (That's why the time-stamp on this post is so early, by the way. I never expected that I'd be relieved to be woken up at 3am by a stressed out, crying baby.)

Still, I've come out of the experience with a renewed sense of awe for the sacrifices parents make. This particular instance was, by all measures, pretty trivial. It was resolved quickly, without a lot of effort, and with no lasting trauma. But it was still really hard to do. Anybody who's been serious about wanting to start a family has heard the chestnut about being a child's parent first, and friend second. It never occurred to me how heart-wrenching that imperitive could be. I can't even imagine how hard it is for parents who have to deal with serious behavioral problems, and I have a new sympathy for those whose kids are a little messed up just because they never got the tough love concept down.

But, this is just life's mechanism for preparing us to handle such difficulties. Little challenges right off the bat help us build character that I hope will come to bear when I've really got to be tough with Amelia. (Oh good grief, did I just say "build character!?" I don't want to be that much of a cliche'... yet!) Although this little thing shocked me pretty bad, it's helped make me confident that I'll be able to deal when I need to.

So we emerged from the experience happier than we went into it, and I think that's a very reassuring thing. Still, I had no idea how tough "tough love" could really be.


Sammy Thoughts

Sam had started writing this post at the hospital the day after Amelia was born (and the day we brought her home). She never got around to finishing it, but she said I should just hit the "Publish" button as is.


Writing quickly and one handed because little miss here will probably wake up soon and try to find another wildebeest to temporarily quench her insatiable hunger.

Mark requests that I write a mommy post.

I'm sore, exhausted, stunned and exhilarated--so, pretty typical of a new mom.

2 hours later...

where was I?

Well I AM back where I started. :p After a few people came in to check up on us and give me lots of information, she's back asleep in my arms. She is SUCH a single minded thing. After lots of work, I managed to wake her enough to nurse for a solid 10-20 minutes. When she wants sleep, there's no changing her mind. When she wants to nurse, there's no changing her mind. As an extreme measure, we stripped the child naked and held her under her arms, dangling. First time, she got mad and i managed to get her to latch. She went right back to sleep. Second, third, and fourth tries? She slept right through it. Once making a face, once making a big spit bubble, and once ignoring it entirely, with as much of her wounded dignity as she could muster.

After that, I just let her sleep. She eventually got a little fussy and I got her to nurse a bit, but little miss is a formidable opponent.

Maybe she'll rest in her bassinet so I can catch a nap before Mark returns with a clean car and Los Abuelos. If


Monday, March 1, 2010

Aaron, meet Erin

Anybody who knows Aaron understands why we find this picture so damned funny. (And yes, he's the guy we named her for.)

<injoke>This picture is getting tagged "iconic."</injoke>

With macro shots, you can't help but see the cute

Auntie Noelle took some great macro shots of Amelia yesterday, which you can see below (and, of course, at the usual link):


Grandparents [Updated with 61.11% more Grandparents]

Amelia's grandparents (on Mark's side) came up for the weekend. They've been a great help--I don't think this first weekend could possibly have gone as smoothly without them.

They were desperate (desperate!) to get some pictures to show off at work, and here they are: