Weekend Fun

Our weekends tend to be pretty full, but I never really write about them. Every once in awhile we get one of those really nice relaxing weekends where I spend hours nurse/napping with baby in our bed, reading the internet or a book on my kindle. Those are rare.

This weekend we drove the the Flagship REI on Friday night to get a new commuter for my wife (she had been saving up REI gift cards for about a year). She wanted a specific type of bike to put the baby seat on, so we had to go to this location to buy it. Saturday morning we pulled up carpet out of the baby’s room. We have been replacing the flooring in our condo, because the main areas were an AWFUL tile and we wanted something cleaner. A few months ago we did the living room, kitchen, and hallway. The new wood has been amazing. But we’ve been biding our time until we were prepared to do the next phase: bedrooms. So, this weekend we sucked it up and moved all the furniture out of the baby’s room (which is really more of an extra-large closet, since she doesn’t sleep in there). We pulled off the baseboard, pulled up the carpet, and pried up the tack strips. My wife ran to home depot to rent the chop saw and I laid the underlayment. Finally we were off and running laying floor. It took Saturday to clear it out and Sunday to install. This is a small room, so it was much easier than Phase 1. Now we just have to finish our bedroom/closet/hallway. After that, we’ll tackle baseboard and some of the door trim. And painting the awful DARK BROWN doors that are everywhere in the house. The previous owner went crazy with this dark brown stain and it is just atrocious. I cannot wait to be rid of it! Also, I found this super cute rug for baby’s room, but I think it might mean I need to paint over my modern grey paint job. Ideas? Find a new rug that matches the walls or suck it up and paint the walls AGAIN before we replace the trim? Also, ignore the light switch hanging out of the wall above the dog. It’s totally safe and up to code. The dimmer box just doesn’t fit back into the hole in the wall. :/

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Between work tasks, we managed to get the bike seat and install it on the new commuter. It’s hilarious. I mean, the minimum weight requirement is 20 pounds, but hey, why not start at 14.5 pounds?? (Don’t answer that – I know why and I promise, we’re really only working on getting her acclimated to it – she’s not hitting the roads). She overall seems to like it. There is still a decent amount of head movement, especially if the bike sways side to side, so we have to be pretty controlled and steady in starts, stops, and pedaling. That’s okay – it’s really just for some fun loops around the parking lot until she gets a little bigger and stronger. Also, did you know they made helmets this small? Hilarious! As an aside, when I texted this photo to my mom, her response was “Her feet are going to get sunburned!?!?!” Leave it to grandma.

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Lastly, after a few other chores, I finally got to bottle my kombucha. I’m attempting raspberry/lemon/ginger. I cannot WAIT to find out if it takes even remotely like it should. My first ferment went pretty well – I was surprised at how much it tasted like GT’s kombucha that you buy in stores. I’ll find out on Tuesday or Wednesday if this all worked out. Meanwhile, I started my SCOBY up with another round of tea for my second batch. I need more jars!!

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Kombucha

Completely unrelated to pregnancy or parenting of children, I’m now “raising” a jar of kombucha. I’ve been super annoying about it – wanting my wife to leave one of the kitchen lights on over the sink because it warms the area juuuuust enough, not wanting the jar to get jostled, peering in at it 6 times a day to see how much it is bubbling. I’m a little obsessed, and SO excited. I pay like $3.50 for a bottle of this stuff from the store, so I typically have one every few weeks or so. Soon? I’ll be drinking it daily! I can’t wait to start experimenting with flavors.

When we lived in Eugene, Oregon, I thought folks were nuts for trying to brew their own kombucha at home. Mind you, I’d just moved from Vail, where such granola crunchiness was not en vogue. Now? I’m thinking, why didn’t I start this sooner! Next up…sauerkraut. Yay, home fermenting!

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And for fun, here’s a picture of my kid choosing her own eggs from the dozen my mom’s chickens just produced. Don’t we sound like hippies?!IMG_1344.JPG

TTC#2 Update

We’ve now done four rounds of IUI with my wife. The first three were natural – waited for OPK+ and then inseminated at the office. The last one was medicated with low dose of clomid and a trigger shot. The second and fourth both gave us HPT+. Both ended very early.

During our follicle check for IUI#4, wife’s lining was only 4mm at CD10. They immediately started estrogen pills up the hooha, and at insem (CD15) the lining was only 6mm. We still got a positive at home, but then the betas were decreasing (I don’t remember the actual numbers but something like 180 on CD17 and 130 on CD19). We knew right away that it wasn’t going to stick around. Unfortunately, wife’s parents were in town when we got the positive, so we told them. I called the lab to find out the beta the same day they were flying out. I had to tell my wife that the beta was dropping, which had to be one of the hardest phone calls of my life. She then called her parents at the airport. Big bummer. At least we found out early, before we became too attached and before we made too many plans. It was extra hard to lose the baby that was due on Christmas, because we thought that would be fun.

We watched the beta slowly drop over the next week, and finally she bled at about 6 weeks. It passed relatively painlessly – she said cramps were worse than with a period, but not so much that she needed anything but advil.

Our clinic won’t try again until the beta reaches zero, so this cycle means we sit out (her beta was still around 40 right before she miscarried). It’s looking like her next cycle, which we hope will be IUI#5, will start around May 25th. Theoretically that would mean a March baby, which is always one of the first things I consider. Spring birthdays seem great, so we hope that works.

Hopefully this cycle the doctor will do something to increase her lining. I’m almost positive that’s what is causing these early miscarriages. I think the little nugget is fertilizing and trying to implant but just not getting enough blood flow to dig in. On the upside, she’s shooting a 50% success rate at insemination, anyway. Anyone have any experience thickening linings? We’ve only done one cycle of clomid, and they may try femara this round, so I don’t think that has had a huge effect on lining yet. Meanwhile I think we’ll be doing raspberry leaf tea, pineapple, pomegranate, and beet, because why not?

Nap Training

So, this 10-month old has now made clear that she does NOT want to sleep without a nipple in her mouth. This has been an evolving theme. Early on, she would nurse and then often take a pacifier. It would sometimes pop out or sometimes she would keep it in while she slept, but either way, she slept. As she became more aware and more assertive, she decided that she didn’t really like pacifiers. She would take it occasionally to soothe herself in the car, but when it was offered as an alternative to the human nipple, she raged. Around the same time, she started rejecting bottles, because, well, synthetic materials just don’t meet her standards. I used to be able to at least get her near to sleep by nursing, and then let her fall asleep on her own, next to me. At this point, though, if the nipple leaves her mouth, she immediately starts whining, writhing, and push/kicking me to give it back. When I do manage to sneak out of the room with her asleep, she’ll only stay asleep for 20-30 minutes before she realizes that her nipple is gone and she wakes up.

While I’m still willing to accommodate her for at least a few more weeks, the nanny is STRUGGLING to get any decent naps in. Last week, she mentioned that she would like to start some kind of nap training. At first my stomach clenched and I thought NO WAY. I just don’t really want the baby to lay there and cry, wondering why she is not being helped. I know that’s silly. I know there is nothing wrong with her figuring out that she does NOT need a nipple (or someone holding her) for her to sleep. It’s just an emotional reaction. Also, I figure I’m paying the nanny to tend to her, so if it’s burdensome, oh well.

After several days of reflection, I’m actually considering letting the nanny try to let the baby cry it out just a little bit. For one, she does need better naps – two or three broken 20/30 minute snoozes are not enough. She gets to me at 3:00 and could nap for 3 hours straight (with nipple). For two, my back freaking hurts from laying in the position that allows her to nurse endlessly all night long. For three, it’s got to happen sometime, right? For four (fore), I can tell that her self-awareness is MUCH greater than it was a few months ago when her cries signaled fear and confusion. At this point her cries mostly signal irritation, frustration, or outright anger. I’m more okay with her working through those emotions than I am with her lying there scared and confused about why she is alone.

So, hive-mind, what say ye? Tips, tricks, advice to teach a 10-month old to nap? I’m open to hearing anything you have to give. I haven’t read any of the sleep books since the first few weeks postpartum when I was just SURE we were going to avoid bad habits, create a restful, healthy, sleep pattern, and do ALL the right things as new parents! Ha!image1(12).JPG

Babysitting

You guys, we babysat. To those of you with multiple kids, feel free to roll your eyes and laugh at my naivete. To those of you with one bebe like us, HOLY SHIT, IT WAS HARD! Our friends are photographers and they needed some help with their two month-old while they did a shoot from 4ish to 9ish. I was more than happy to help out, and we prepped our house to host two nappers, eaters, etc. Our friends hung out from noon to 4, so they were managing their own daughter for that time. She’s cute, snuggly, and still so floppy. I FORGOT how floppy! I remember being the nervous parent instructing friends and family to be EXTRA supportive of her body parts, but then I was the one holding the baby while nervous mom hovered nearby to make sure I used enough care/support. I felt like such a noob!

After our friends left, I seriously felt panicky about tending to two babies. Was it rational? No. Were we matched man-to-man? Yes. But for some reason, I was sweating bullets! I also had some SERIOUS mom guilt…was I able to provide our daughter with the care/attention she is used to? Did she notice that I was distracted and not truly focusing on her consumption of sweet potatoes and beets in her dining chair? I know this all sounds crazy. It felt crazy.

I eventually took both girls for a walk – the 10 month old in the Lillebaby and the 2 month old in the bassinet/stroller. That worked fine for about 30 minutes. Then, the little one couldn’t fall asleep in this foreign environment. I let her fuss for a few minutes thinking maybe she would work herself into a snooze. Nope. At one point, because she’s so little and I’m now used to a 10 month-old whine/cry, I was asking her, “Are you really crying? Like, is that for real? On a scale of 1-5, would you say this is serious?” I promise, it didn’t last more than 2-3 minutes. At that point, I pulled the big girl out of the carrier, set her sitting up in the bassinet, and gingerly picked up the crying (it was real) newborn into the chest carrier. My daughter then played with every single fold, zipper, button and wrinkle while sitting up as we carefully continued our walk. About 10 minutes later, the wee babe was asleep and the big girl started to fuss, reaching for me. Ugh. I momentarily contemplated whether she could ride on my shoulders while I pushed an empty stroller home. I was able to plop the big girl on the ground where she happily started grabbing bark and twigs, carefully transfer the sleeper into the bassinet, then move the other one onto my chest. Anyone watching this debacle out their window had to think I was nuts. At that point, my daughter wanted to nurse, which is not the most comfortable or convenient setup in the carrier, but we made it work. The little one soon started to fuss and I texted my wife for reinforcement. She laughed at me.

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We were all smiles at the beginning…

I was surprised at how strong my “divided loyalties” guilt was. I was also surprised at how my 10 month old seemed to understand that at certain moments, she just needed to ride along with the circus, because the baby was demanding some attention. It SERIOUSLY made me reconsider my commitment to having 3 kids. I suddenly understand how 2 is plenty for many people. I am in absolute AWE of those who manage more than two, especially with just one parent home! It also gave me a newfound respect for our nanny, who manages her 4 year-old with our daughter on some days.

Obviously, if we’re lucky enough to have a second (or third) the older sibling(s) will be much more competent at the time (I think?). It will be less like a baby juggle and more like a toddler chase with passenger (I hope). And I’m sure that it is like a lot of parts of parenting…you just have to jump in and things will get easier with practice and confidence.

My hats are off to you, mamas and papas of multiple kids! I now understand how having more than one kid simultaneously sleeping in the evening is one of the most gratifying feelings in the world!

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My wife trying to button the last button on our daughter’s pajamas while our visitor relaxed on her lap.

The (anticipated) delights of being a NGP

I have a million things I’d like to write about (Baby’s two brand new teeth, the horrible cold we’ve endured this week, the constant struggle to get this kid to eat enough to gain weight, etc.). Instead, I’m going to write about how much I’m looking forward to being the Non Gestational Parent.

First, let me say that I LOVE being mommy to this baby girl. I love that she seeks me for comfort, our breastfeeding relationship, how intimately and instinctively I know her and her wants/needs, etc. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love that there are moments when she looks just like me (even though she has blue eyes and blonde hair and I have green/brown, er…grey?). I love glimpsing certain quirks of her personality that I already know and understand because they are oh so familiar. I also love watching her relationship with her Momma, the NGP. I love how funny she thinks Momma is, and how they share a special cuddly and silly dynamic.

But can I say? I cannot WAIT to be the support parent during those first few days, weeks, and months. I cannot wait to NOT have the burden of making sure baby is fed enough, with all the right nutrients, from my boobs every day. I cannot wait to drink coffee or wine everyday and not have to worry about whether it will cause reflux. I cannot wait to offer the support pillow, a glass of water, a snack to my wife when I know she’ll need one because I’ve been there, attached to a kid who is sound asleep and needs sleep as badly as mom needs a stiff drink. I cannot wait to not shoulder the guilt that comes with feeling like the it’s my sole purpose in life to ensure that this child eats, breathes, poops, and sleeps to her maximum potential or I might damage her. To be fair, maybe I’m being overly optimistic and the NGP DOES feel this way. Maybe I’m being short-sided and this is a feature of my personality that will come through even if I don’t birth the next baby. Of course it does not mean I will love a baby that I don’t birth any less, but maybe I’ll be able to just enjoy the ride more. Maybe I’ll be able to have a healthier and more balanced approach to parenting – doing the best you can every day and letting go of the rest.

I’d love to hear the thoughts of others – do you think you feel more responsibility or guilt when you birth versus when you don’t? Do you think this has nothing to do with birth and postpartum hormones and more to do with who we are as parents? Or are there pros and cons to each role, inherently different?

All this to say, I am putting the cart WAY before the horse. We are 1DPO on IUI#4 (first medicated cycle) and the lining was only 6 mm at insem, so I’m not SUPER hopeful for this cycle. However, hopefully in the next few months I’ll get to start experiencing the other role. Even if it’s not as carefree and delightful as I hope, I cannot wait to find out!

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She LOVES her Momma.

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And Momma loves her!

Obligatory Sleep Post

Right after the usual questions: “How old is she?” and “What is her name?” people often ask “How is she sleeping?” I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because they don’t know what else to ask about a baby. Maybe they want to commiserate from their own experience with young children. Regardless, I have absolutely no idea how to answer. Honestly, I usually say, “I don’t know. She wakes up sometimes, but overall she’s a pretty good sleeper, I guess.”

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I have absolutely no judgment on any method of sleeping or parenting. I know that parenting is all about doing the best you can do in the circumstances you are in. Clearly, what makes sense for one family does not make any sense for another, and that’s totally okay.

We attempted the crib in our bedroom at first. We tried to put baby down “awake but drowsy” during those first few weeks home from the hospital. We got solid stretches of 4ish hours at the first part of the night, and then she’d wake up a few more times before morning. I remember one night of a 5 hour sleep stretch. I would wake up and nurse her in a chair next to her crib, staring at my wife who was sprawled out in bed, snoozing away. The first wake-up was fine. The second wake-up was pretty unbearable. I started to take the baby back to the bed with me to feed, then transfer her to the crib. Eventually, I gave up on the transfer, and we all snoozed away.

The crib thing lasted about 4 weeks, as best as I can remember. After that, I pretty much gave up and just started putting the baby to bed by nursing her in our bed. Very bad habits, I know. Once we started that pattern, she would nurse to sleep around 7:30 p.m., snooze until we went to bed closer to 10, eat again, and then periodically have a snack or few in the night. The pacifier would work sometimes. Other times she would want to eat. The pediatrician frowned on us for these bad habits, but we were also dealing with a baby who does NOT gain weight, so the doctor wanted us to keep getting calories into her through the night.

I was blessed/cursed with an oversupply of milk. It’s wonderful to have enough to feed my baby and donate my surplus, but it’s also challenging managing a supply that will soak every item of clothing and bedding I own. This meant that I couldn’t “sleep through” any nighttime feedings, because I would have to pump anyway. Not pumping or feeding would mean soaking in a puddle of milk all night. So, even though my wife was willing, I had to feed the baby.

So we ended up in the co-sleeping pattern of feeding baby as we both slept and cementied habits that I’m sure we will regret later. Around 6 months, she stopped taking the pacifier, so it’s nipple or nothing, and if she doesn’t get nipple, she escalates. A few mornings I have had a sore back from falling asleep with the nipple held jussssst the right place for her. Most nights I pull it away and roll onto my back and she keeps snoozing.

Back to the original question of how is she sleeping, I truly have no idea. I don’t have a clock in the room. I don’t usually fully wake up when I need to shift her over to the other side, and when I do, I fall right back to sleep. Some nights I know she spent nearly a whole night on one side or just had one shift over, and I consider those good nights. Some nights it seems like I shifted her over 4-5 times, and I consider those bad nights. But even on those nights I have 4-5 wake-ups of about 2-5 minutes each. I’m usually up for the day at 5:30, and I go to bed about 9:30, and I feel pretty rested overall. Unfortunately, I can’t have coffee or caffeine, because it doesn’t sit well with baby’s reflux, but I would rather keep breastfeeding  her than enjoy an Americano, so Starbucks will have to wait a few more months.

All this to say, I know many moms who are battling through these issues and trying to figure out what works for them. Our method is not perfect. It would be nice to have my bed back and be able to be closer to my wife, but I also cherish the snuggles, because I know that someday they won’t be so freely offered. I am sure that we will have a war to wage when we eventually move her into her own room and/or wean her from feeding through the night. We’ll just cross that bridge when we get to it, even if it feels a little irresponsible to be sowing the seeds of our demise in the present.

Good luck to all my friends sorting out the sleep issues and trying to remain sane! This is not easy stuff and there are no clear answers!

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A Miniature Baby

Well, despite using a 6’5″ donor and being 5’7″ myself, I somehow birthed a miniature human. She is now 8 months old, and she just weighed in at 11 lb, 2 oz. She’s 25.5″, which is at least ON the growth charts, but only about the 12th percentile for height. Her weight is so far beneath the bottom of the growth charts that it could be estimated as -10%ile, if that even existed. That’s “negative tenth” percentile…

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As I’ve written, she came about 5 weeks early, but she was a healthy 6 lb, 6 oz when born. She was not really very interested in eating, so we worked on breastfeeding and bottles in the NICU while she got fortified breast milk through a feeding tube until they deemed her big enough to go home. At home, we breastfed and continued to use some bottles, but she really prefers milk straight from the tap.

For the first six months, our pediatrician took a wait-and-see approach, which was fine with us. I know that the baby had some reflux, and at it’s peak (3-4 months?) she would vomit once or even twice a day, but she would usually recover the milk by re-eating from me. Luckily I have a prolific supply, otherwise those huge throw-ups would have been heartbreaking.

The reflux largely subsided by around 6 months, and we started introducing solids. She has a VERY sensitive gag reflex, so we lost some more food from vomit, but we persevered through trying all kinds of methods of eating (her holding larger items like apple slices, her feeding herself things like peanut butter with a spoon, us using a finger to deliver liquidy sauces, her sucking on the tips of food pouches, us using a spoon to shovel purees, etc.). The most success we’ve had is through spoon/purees, so we’re going with that for now. She has a great palate – she’ll eat almost anything…pesto, mexican food, indian food, fruits, tomato sauce, smoothies, yogurt, etc. (as long as it’s smooth and semi-liquid). She WANTS to eat bigger and chunkier things, but she can’t foresee the guaranteed gag and puke when she tries.

Once we started introducing foods (and I returned to work 100%, up from 75%), her growth seemed to slow even a little bit more. We went in for an 8-month appointment, because we knew weight was not picking up. At this point, the doctor decided we needed additional testing. She ordered blood work and a urine sample. Luckily, we avoided the catheter because the World’s Tiniest Baby has pretty much potty trained herself at 8 months, so all I had to do was catch the pee. I’ll write more about the whole using the toilet thing later. The blood draw was the WORST…holding her down while two nurses attempted to find her tiny vein and she screamed at me to help her.

So far, half the tests have come back normal…no signs of scary things like cystic fibrosis, celiac, liver disease, diabetes, etc. We’re waiting on the other half, but the pediatrician with whom I spoke yesterday (because our normal doctor was not in the office to relay results) seemed equally perplexed. She ordered a fecal sample, so I brought that in this morning. Her only guess was the baby isn’t absorbing something as well as she should (protein? fat?). The only other alternatives are that she’s simply not getting enough calories, or she has an insanely fast metabolism.

As far as calories, she admittedly refuses the bottle of freshly-pumped milk a lot of the time (though this has improved in the last month or so), but she reverse-cycles, meaning she eats a LOT from me when I get home at 3:00 and often eats through the night. She has started getting a few calories from food, but not really enough to matter.

In good news, her head is above 50th percentile, which just makes her look silly. One of our nicknames is “Starving Martian” because she has the skinniest, longest body with a giant head. In other good news, she’s very smart, developmentally average for an adjusted 7-month-old, and very happy. She sits with great confidence, plays with her toys, has excellent fine motor skills, talks and sings (without real words), and has started “scooching” forward in a method similar to crawling with her belly on the ground. She has also had a grand total of one short cold in her entire first 8 months.

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I don’t know…on one hand it’s bizarre to have what could be one of the smallest healthy babies on record. On the other hand, I really don’t feel very worried about it. Oddly, I’m more anxious about doctors knowing and believing that we are truly feeding her as much as we can possibly convince her to eat and we’ve tried nearly every method of increasing calories, including adding my own pumped milk fat to my own milk to make it richer. (We’ve also tried adding organic formula powder to my milk…doesn’t seem to make a difference).

The pediatrician referred us to a nutritionist (because she was grasping for any possible idea) and happily obliged when I suggested an occupational therapy referral to figure out how to get her chewing/swallowing in a more functional way. If the nutritionist suggests anything other than using breast milk as the foundation of the baby’s diet, I don’t think I’ll really entertain her.

One other bit of data we have is that I donate my extra milk to an adopted baby boy who was also preemie, and he’s a normal, healthy weight.

So, we press onward and wait for more test results. I’m pretty sick of people saying “oooh, a brand new baby!” whenever we’re in public, but I don’t really mind that she’s still so tiny that I can easily and comfortably carry and snuggle her all the time, haha.

Babysitting Offers

I am sure that in my past pre-parenting life I did this too. I’m sure I casually offered to every friend with children that I would be happy to watch their baby if they and their spouse wanted to get out for a date. It’s a sincere and thoughtful offer. I appreciate the positive sentiment. I honestly have two internal reactions that I won’t share anywhere but here. Inside I think, “Thank you for your offer, but…”

  1. my sensitive daughter would be TRAUMATIZED if I left her with someone other than her other mom, her nanny, or her grandma (or maybe my best friend). While your offer is kind, she would scream the entire time I was away and wonder who in the hell you are. Lately, I’ve had a surplus of casual “dog park friends” offering to babysit. I’ve never been to their homes, they have never held our baby, and I have no idea what their infant experience is. Being on the parenting side of things, it strikes me as absurd that anyone would consider this scenario.
  2. I do not want more time away from my daughter. I am away from her for about 40 hours each week while I work. That is plenty. I cherish and relish every moment we have together, and I co-sleep in part because I want more time and contact with her when I’m home.

I am pretty sick and tired of people asking if my wife and I have gone on a date alone together. (BTW, we did once, and I basically spent the whole time wondering why we hadn’t just brought the baby). I am REALLY tired of people acting like I need to get out! go to a movie! have fun! Blech. I get out to work, go to coffee shops, take long walks and hikes with baby and dogs, have at least two social engagements each weekend, and go out to dinner with my wife (and baby) at least once or twice a week. I don’t need to go out without the baby, so quit implying there is something wrong with taking her (nearly) everywhere I go.* Truly, if I felt like I needed some time away from her, I would happily make arrangements and take it. I don’t know why people seem to think I secretly want or need to take that time and am somehow denying myself the pleasure. It makes me wonder whether they needed more time away from their kid(s) (which is totally fine!) and so they assume I do too or whether I have some sort of separation anxiety and in a healthy world I should WANT more time for myself.

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Who would want more time away from this little peach? (Also, smoothie, not murder)

*I am not referring to events or activities NOT suitable for a baby, like formal weddings, loud concerts, etc.

Parenting and Pets

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With my brother’s dog on a road trip home from Oregon!

My wife and I often say that the hardest part of parenting is our pets. I’m not sure if this is unique to us, so I thought I’d put it out there and see how other people feel.

Let me start by saying that we are animal people. We have two dogs, but we both love all dogs and most other animals. Our dogs have always been included in every aspect of our lives, from hikes to trips to just lounging on the sofa. We have always bought them nice, comfy beds, toys, collars, and other accessories.image2(5).JPG

When we initially brought home the baby, our younger dog was positive we had brought her a prairie dog with its very own cage for our bedroom (crib). She was THRILLED and we panicked a little, researching high-priced, specialized trainers to help the dog understand she couldn’t eat the baby. It took her about 48 hours to realize it was a human, and then she kind of kept her distance. The older dog experienced a LOT of stress. He would hide in the closet when she cried, and he really started to keep to himself. I know he could sense my stress hormones with being a new parent, and this stressed him out too.

Cut to six months later and the baby loves the dogs and the dogs love the baby. They are at that really cute phase of sniffing her and she giggles when their whiskers tickle her or she reaches for them to touch their fur and they think she is scratching them. She lights up when one of them walks in the room. It’s cute.

Here’s the problem…as much as I love them both, the dogs have been driving me CRAZY for the last seven months. They have an uncanny ability to shake their heads and jingle their collars within 15 seconds of the baby falling asleep at least twice a day. The older one has really increased his bunny-chasing dreams, meaning he wakes us all up running and barking in his sleep in the middle of the night. The younger one steals pacifiers and delights in chewing the tip off and then tossing it around the house with glee. They also, both, for some reason now STAND exactly where I need to walk in the house, ALL. THE. TIME. Lastly, and this one isn’t really fair, but walking them has become SUCH a burden. I walk them morning and night between 20 and 60 minutes (sometimes even longer), and I usually have the baby strapped to me in the Lillebaby. In concept, it’s not such a big deal, but every afternoon it feels like such a chore. I used to enjoy the dog walk, but now I just daydream of strolling along with a sleeping baby and no dog insisting on sniffing EVERY BLADE OF GRASS or while the other dog is yanking and pulling toward the squirrel she saw cross the road 3,000 feet ahead of her. Alternatively, put the baby in the stroller and walk the dogs? No. The stroller wheels might touch their legs, because they persistently try to walk in front of the stroller on their leashes, and they jump 3 feet in the air like you’re clearly trying to murder them.

Maybe it’s just that we’re more tired, so we have less patience. Maybe the reduced attention is making them act out. Maybe I’ve just become bitchier with parenting. I feel terrible about it. I know that they are impacted, and they are coping in their own way, but sometimes they make me want to pull my hair out! I truly spend a LOT of time trying to remain calm, patient, and understanding with the dogs, because none of this change is their fault. I’m hopeful that this phase will pass and they will magically blend back into our daily routine and not feel like an additional burden on top of parenting a young child.