Who Are You and What Have You Done With Little Bear

I don’t know what’s going on. About two weeks ago someone switched out my fussy, grumpy, overly needy baby for a happy, laughing, independent one. They look the same…they make the same crazy bird noises, but they certainly don’t act the same. It’s as if the moment Little Bear turned six months old someone flipped a switch.

Little Bear has been so sweet lately (not that he wasn’t sweet before). He finds everything hilarious and is laughing all the time. And the most amazing thing…he’s craving time to play by himself! I’m seriously enjoying this new found independence. It means I can actually get things done around here and the layers of dust are finally being swept away! And lets not get carried away with it. He is definitely still the same child; he needs his mommy time; which is good because I need my Little Bear snuggles!

Most of all I’m just happy that he’s happier. It had to be a stressful existence being upset all time! Now if he could just get the hang of putting himself back to sleep….

He went from this….

…to this!

 

Finding My Passion

Being a SAHM is hard. Really hard. I never expected it to be this hard. Apparently my mind lives in a place full of gum drops and unicorns, and when that reality is crushed I tend to cry. Not only is being someone’s sole source of entertainment for twelve plus hours a day completely and utterly exhausting, but it also leaves very little time for me to do anything for me. For instance, I’m not even a full paragraph into this post and have been called away by Little Bear three times. I had visions of fun outings, cuddles, and nap times that lasted two hours or so. 

We do have fun outings, every now and then, but there is only so much that you can do with a five and half month old and only for so long before he starts to freak out! There are lots of cuddles…and lots of crying too. Don’t even get me started on nap times.

Please, don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else with my time. I have no desire to put Little Bear into daycare. Being with him is the most wonderful, joyous thing in the world to me. I can’t imagine someone I barely know being there to experience all of his “firsts” instead of me. But I must admit that this whole SAHM thing leaves me with a feeling of wanting more.

Where did I go? Before Little Bear there were so many things I was passionate about and loved to do. I was in the middle of starting my own business. I had a direction that I was headed in and my future was a little uncertain but I at least knew the general path it would take. Now I feel lost. I’m not used to not contributing financially to our family and that is something I find myself struggling with quite often.

I thought about opening an Etsy shop, but unfortunately my sewing skills are not quite good enough to sell anything that I’ve made (So now Little Bear has an overload of stroller toys to play with!).  I’ve thought about writing a children’s book, and might still do, but I can’t draw more than a stick figure so that puts a bit of a damper on that possibility. I do love street photography and have quite the collection of shots from when we lived in Amsterdam, but at this point in time getting them all together is just a little too time consuming.

I guess I’m facing the conundrum every mother faces…can we have it all? At this moment my answer is no. Me time will just have to be put on the back burner. Because for now Little Bear time is just too important to miss out on. He needs me a lot more than I need to feel totally “fulfilled”. In the meantime I’ll try to suppress the guilt I feel for not wanting to spend every waking moment with him!

 

Five Months Old

It’s been another month, and this one certainly brought a lot of changes. We seemed to have skipped the “four month growth spurt”, so I’m sure another one is coming soon enough, because he’s only gained a pound and a half (16 lbs 12 oz) and grown about an inch (26 1/2″) since the last time we were at the doctor’s; at the beginning of the month when he had his last ear infection. However, there has been a lot of other stuff happening!

The biggest things that happened this month are that Little Bear learned how to roll over from his back to his tummy and he got his first two teeth!!! We’re a bit early in the teething department but now hopefully we can just get it out of the way! (Is this wishful thinking?) Surprisingly he hasn’t been any more grumpy than usual.

He has also started to reach out for things that he wants and is showing a definite preference to being held by me (poor Daddy!). Currently his favorite thing to try to get to, besides me, is Roo. Or any other dog for that matter. Seems like he’s going to take after his Mommy and be canine crazy! He just loves to pet him and can’t stop laughing when Roo licks the drool off his face.

Little Bear’s “vocabulary” of noises has also expanded dramatically this month. He is still babbling up a storm and using all the goo and ah-gee noises that he used to, but has now added “raspberries” and what sound like high pitched bird calls to his repertoire. The razzies are hilarious, and he knows it too! His favorite time to do them is when he’s eating his rice cereal and consequently getting it all over himself. And me. And pretty much everything else within a three foot radius!

Not all the changes have been fun though. Just when I thought we had a sleep schedule down he’s decided to go on a complete sleep strike! Before, he was predictably getting up at 11, 3, and finally waking up at 6. Now he is up almost every hour! We are all feeling the sleep deprivation, and it’s not pretty. I just hope and pray that once the pain from his teeth breaking through subsides he will go back to being a better sleeper.

I know I say this every month but he is just growing and developing at breakneck speed and it is always so astounding to me how much he changes. Not only from month to month but from week to week as well!

Cloth v Disposable

Little Bear has been in cloth diapers since he was old enough to fit into them; at about two weeks old. Before he was born I was a bit nervous about using only cloth, but determined nonetheless. I knew, if for savings reasons alone, it would be worth it to have him wear fluff. Still, it was intimidating. There is an OVERabundance of information out there, so much so that I caused myself to have a mini panic attack over what I was going to put on my baby’s butt! (Diving Into Fluff) Thankfully after all the research I did…who knew one person could become so obsessed with something that catches poop…I was completely prepared and the system we chose was the perfect one for us.

As it turns out my stressing and panic attacks were for naught. Cloth Diapering is in fact incredibly easy. The most important thing is to find a system and brand that works for you and your little one. Because I’m a SAHM I don’t need to use a diaper service. I just throw everything, wet bag and all, into the washer, set it to sanitize and three hours (!) later they’re ready for the dryer. I have to admit if we didn’t have this amazing washer and dryer with their sanitize/antibacterial settings I may have used a service; but we do, so…

We do use disposables at night. Little Bear outgrew his newborn size All In One’s before we even had a chance to put them on him, and fitting a prefold into a cover in the dark at 3am is just a little too much to ask of me when I’ve got one foot in dreamland!

Recently, though, we’ve been having to use ‘sposies a lot more than usual. Little Bear has had two ear infections in a row. Anyone who has experience with babies, ear infections, and antibiotics knows that they will go #2 anywhere from 5 to 6 times a day, if not more. Frankly, that is just too much laundry for me to do. Call me lazy if you want but that’s how I feel about it!

Here’s the thing…when we were talking about using cloth the one thing all the skeptics said to me was, “Aren’t you worried about how much they leak?”. Turns out the disposables leak more than the cloth do! Just this morning Little Bear woke himself up because he had leaked out of his ‘sposie and it was ALL OVER EVERYWHERE. That wouldn’t have happened if he’d been wearing cloth. I can’t tell you how many pairs of pyjamas I’ve had to bleach because of disposables. There is no way that we could do disposable full time. Even Hubby, who swears he can’t fit the cloth onto Little Bear as easily as I can (which is just nonsense), prefers to use them over the disposables.

Little Bear is growing at such a break neck speed that he’s about to outgrow the newborn size and move up to the One Size diapers. These will last us until he makes the big boy step of potty training in a couple of years. Another thing that cloth has over disposables is that they’re so darn cute! Have you seen the patterns on them? I mean, whoever decided diapers could make a fashion statement…genius! I can’t wait to go shopping for new covers! As if I needed another excuse to go shopping for Little Bear…. 

Parenting is a Contact Sport

Hair pulling, scratching, kicking, throwing fists. No, I’m not talking about a typical day at the Jersey Shore house. I’m talking about my house, and more specifically my life with Little Bear. Who knew a four month old could be so, um, violent?! Not a day goes by that I’m not kicked in the boobs or scratched in the face. I even have a bruise on my jaw from a wayward tiny fist! Having such a wiggly butt baby is becoming a danger to my health! Silly boy.

Little Bear is ALWAYS moving…even in his sleep! He goes to bed facing one end of the crib and by the time he wakes up for a feeding (two hours later) he’s done a 180 and his head is at the opposite end from where he started out.

If he’s this active now I can only imagine what it’s going to be like when he becomes mobile. There’ll be absolutely no stopping him. At least by the time he can start walking (or more likely, running) around he’ll know not to hit and I won’t feel so much like punching bag. On the bright side, an active baby is a healthy baby, and who knows maybe him being so super active this early is a sign he’ll be talented at all sorts of sports, just like his Daddy.

Either way, I’m exhausted!!!

Three Months Old and An Ear Infection

As usual I am behind. Little Bear actually turned three months on Tuesday, but hey, at least I’m managing to get this written at all. Unlike two months which I started and is still in draft mode on my dashboard…oops!I still cannot believe that it’s been three months since we welcomed our Little Bear into this world. Where has the time gone? It’s so amazing how much he has changed and grown in such a short period of time.

In the past month he has:

-Discovered that his hands are attached to him…and they couldn’t be more delicious!    -Put on more than a few pounds…he’s a little chubba weighing in at 14 pounds!             -Started being able to recognize the difference between “new” people and his favorite people…for the moment, he is a serious Momma’s boy!                                                     -Begun to reach for toys and things that interest him, his favorite toy is his “kitty”; a light up cat that plays music.                                                                                              -Been trying to learn to roll over and sit up. He can’t do either yet, but wants to so badly and gets very frustrated that he can’t yet!

My favorite new development is that he has just started to laugh. It is so cute! It’s not a full on belly laugh yet but it’s a definite laugh that is interspersed with a few squeals of delight. One sure fire way to get one out of him is to play patty cake or sing the cookie monster song, he loves them!

Unfortunately, this month hasn’t been all happy moments. My Little Bear is sick for the very first time and it is breaking my heart. He has his first ear infection, and for a few days he was absolutely miserable (which means Hubby and I were miserable too). Frankly, I’m not sure who was more upset…me or Little Bear. Probably him but it truly hurt my heart to see him in even the tiniest amount of pain. All I could keep thinking was how much I wished that it was me with the ear infection instead of him. That I would do anything to make him not hurt anymore. It was such a powerful “Mother” emotion.

I always love him so much more than I will ever be able to express in words; but seeing my sweet baby boy in pain and feeling this overwhelming feeling of “I wish it was me instead” made me realize what a mother’s love truly is…selfless. It was the recognition of how I would do anything for this sweet little creature that I am more than blessed to have been given. That my first and most important job in this life is to protect and love him…above all else. Very powerful stuff. All from an ear infection.

Thankfully we caught it early and the little bugger is on its way out and Little Bear is, for the most part, back to his usual smiley happy self. Which makes his mommy very happy…and now I can get back to making sure the house doesn’t become one big pile of dirt and junk; because trying to get ANYTHING done when there’s a sick baby in the house is like trying to build an igloo in the desert…it’s just not gonna happen!

Sweet Slumber

Little Bear slept through the night. Once. About a month ago. And only because he had spent the majority of the day before screaming his adorable little head off. 

Every now and again we have a *lucky* night where he will sleep for 5 hours in a row. Five hours that, and I say this with no tinge of jealousy whatsoever, are usually at the beginning of the night during Hubby’s shift (yes, I’m VERY lucky to have a husband who doesn’t mind being on baby watch from 9pm-2am. God knows I’m grateful and love him for it!). And I do mean now and again…certainly not on a reliable basis, and unfortunately for Hubby when he does wake up between 9 and 2 it usually takes about an hour for him to fall back asleep. Once 2am rolls around Mason is well aware that it’s “Mommy Time” and he plans on taking full advantage of that!

So it is that we have taken to spending a good portion of the wee morning hours sleeping in the rocking chair. Thank goodness my mom talked me into buying the recliner/rocker/over stuffed all around amazingly comfortable chair for the nursery because we sure do spend a lot of time in it!

It seems that once your child hits two + months the favorite question of friends and strangers alike is “How is he sleeping?” Meh. That’s my answer. A better question would be “How are WE sleeping?” because truthfully, as I’m sure most mothers can relate to, even when it’s not my shift I’m lying there in a state of half sleep justincase. We have both entered into a zombielike existence…and I’m pretty sure it’s starting to show; because everyone and their mother has some sort of advice on how to get him to sleep through the night.

I’ve heard everything from routine is key {obviously…and don’t you think we’re doing that?!?!} to “once he reaches 12 pounds he’ll magically start sleeping for longer periods” {uh, when I was a baby I didn’t sleep through the night until I was well over a year old and I’m sure I weighed more than 12 pounds; and dear God I hope that’s not genetic!}. In my opinion, as long as we keep up our routine, and once he’s old enough to not be exclusively fed quickly digested breast milk, he’ll start sleeping for longer periods. For now I’ll just remind myself that when he’s having a fussy day it means he’ll sleep better!

Night night, sleep tight Little Bear!

My Baby’s Better Than Yours

We all know them, those parents who can’t seem to stop talking about just how wonderful and happy their baby is and how they never cry. Not that I can blame them. But I would like them to please shut up and stop rubbing it in the faces of those of us whose life with their children is not all sunshine and butterflies.

Frankly, I would give anything for a day without screaming and tears. It doesn’t just give me a headache it gives me a heartache too. There’s a reason I call him Little Bear; he’s a very high needs baby. Unless he’s being cuddled he’s not happy, and while giving him cuddles is my absolute favorite thing in the world it also makes it almost impossible to get anything done (especially blog posts, which fall distantly behind all the cleaning I need to get done!). He can placated by his bouncy seat and a soothie for a few minutes but soon figures out that they are a poor substitute for my arms and quickly fires up those vocal chords. It makes me feel terrible that in order to cook dinner I have to listen to him cry. But we have to eat. And Hubby is still working while I’m cooking, so what choice do I have?

I love this smile…

…But he does this a lot more

So when I look at Facebook statuses from other new moms about how their baby is all smiles all the time and are the happiest baby ever I feel all sorts of upset. It‘s like saying that because Mason cries he’s unhappy, and that’s just not true! And I’m also jealous, because, of course I don’t want him to cry or be fussy. And truly being a new mom is a lot harder when your child is screaming than when he or she is laughing and playing peacefully by themselves.

But the worst part about it is when you get asked if your child is a “good” baby. What exactly constitutes a BAD baby?? Because my child needs to be held makes him bad? I don’t think so.  The three year old, I used to nanny, that told me he was going to cut my throat with a knife because I turned off the TV at dinner time (seriously!)…that’s a bad kid. But even that wasn’t all his fault; that was his parents allowing him to watch R rated movies and living in an incredibly dysfunctional household. Babies are not bad. Some may be a little more challenging than others but in the end won’t that just make me a better parent for having gone through it? The way I see it, I’ll be this much more prepared for days of temper tantrums and teenage hormones because I’ll already have experience. And lets face it…no child is happy all the time. At some point your “perfectly content” little one is going to have a bad day.