A Much Overdue Attempt to Catch Up
It's been a while, so there's a lot to write. December was a busy month for our family. Ethan got a new job, and is in the middle of his second week at Self-Help. It was a good move for him and we expect he'll be a lot happier there. We also decided to buy a house, and we're both excited and anxious about the entire deal. It's a good choice: a good price, a modest and comfortable home, large cul de sac lot near a neighborhood park. We feel good about what we're doing, but it is scary to make the largest financial decision of our lives and commit to a mortgage payment that we're not used to.
And the most exciting of the life-changing news: Ethan and I are expecting our second baby! We had an appointment with our midwife yesterday and we were told the baby should arrive somewhere between Aug. 25th and Aug. 28th (thought of you, Katie). Although we'd already done five positive home tests, going to the doctor really sealed the deal in terms of this "feeling real". We had an ultrasound and everything looks good and we got to hear the baby's heartbeat. That one always elicits tears. We're all excited and Harper can say, "Harper big sister", but she clearly has no concept of what that is going to mean. I am constantly asking mothers of more-than-one how to help the big kid adjust but I haven't yet heard the magic fix to make it easy. I suspect, given how attached Harper is to me, that it will be a tough adjustment for her, but in the end she'll thank us for it. Having a sibling is such a wonderful joy in life; Ethan and I enjoy ours so very much.
And now on to Harper. It really is amazing how much she changes in a month! Since we suspected I might be pregnant, I've cut back on nursing Harper this month. We were nursing only morning (around 5 AM) and at night before bed. Both of those were a full-on feedings, multiple let downs, switching sides, etc. We worked on eliminating the morning nursing by gradually lessening the amount she was eating while also moving it to later and later in the morning until she'd have only one side, one let down at like 6:30 AM. Finally, we stopped nursing in the mornings at all. That's been for about the last two weeks or so. The first few days were tough-- nothing gets past this girl. She definitely felt the change and would say "Mama hold you" and reach for me all day. She needed reassurance that we were still lovey and on good terms, I guess. We have also reduced the night feeding to just one let down per side. At first, after we'd finish, in order to sort-of keep her distracted and get her to sleep, I'd stand up, take her to her room and sway and sing (like we do for her naps) until she fell asleep. After a few nights of this, Harper did something very sweet. Immediately after I took her off the breast, she'd crouch and lie her head on my tummy, both hands touching it too, and stare off silently. She didn't want to be stroked or sung to, or anything at all, just lie there close and quiet. Now that is the routine-- a quick nursing, which is just for comfort and getting smaller/quicker all the time, and then quiet, skin to skin holding in the dark. After she falls asleep I move her to her crib.
With the change in the night routine (shorter nurse time), Harper wasn't as deeply asleep when we'd set her in her crib this month. She'd cry when we set her down. For about a week and a half, Ethan and I had to work on helping her understand that she needed to sleep. Ethan was really great with her. When she'd start to cry, he'd say "No! Time to sleep." and she'd stop crying and eventually, she learned that she could go to sleep on her own. In the past we'd heard about different cry-it-out approaches to "sleep train" your baby and none of that felt right to us. Now, however, Harper is older and can understand what we're saying. Although she did do some crying over the week or so that she struggled, she was never alone to cry, and either Ethan or I would always say the same, consistent thing which helped her learn that much faster. Now, if she wakes when I set her down and cries out, I tell her, "Time to sleep" and she does!
She still wakes in the night, although I think the lack of AM nursing is helping to push that later and later. Her first waking is lately around 2 or 3 AM. She likes to come into our bed and lie on my arm while rubbing my belly. She falls right back asleep. Speaking of my tummy, Harper has become obsessed/in love with my tummy over the past few months. She squeals with delight when she catches a peek of it and she loves to bury her head on it and pick at my belly button.
Also connected to the weaning-- Harper has begun to drink milk! I had tried various cow's milk (whole, 2%, nonfat) in the past and Harper never took to it. Since we've cut back on nursing, Harper now has an 8 oz. sippy cup of half organic whole cow's milk, half organic soy milk every morning (first thing) and another one after her nap! This is great because babies need that fat for brain development and I don't have to worry as much about making sure she gets fat elsewhere all day! She guzzles these cups of milk, too-- like nonstop sucking. Super cute.
This month, some new play has emerged. Harper adores coloring! She has a table where she does her artwork and she's always saying "Mama color too!" She's also obsessed with pens, always asking for one to doodle wherever we are. She seems to favor the color blue and she definitely favors her left hand. She makes a lot of "lines and dots". Harper speaks in sentences most of the time. (ie. "Elmo thinking hmmm interesting" or "Dada here?" <- asked any time we go somewhere while Dad's at work, or "Mama nice too", or "Sat Taz go?" or "Where's Mama?") Where's Mama is now a hide and seek game that she really loves. During the Christmas season, we had a tree this year and Harper loved the glass balls. She'd say "Harper and Mama!" and stand by the tree, wanting me to come over, crouch down, and admire our reflection in one of the balls. She'd ask for others this way too-- "Harper and Dada!" or "Harper and Nana!" (that's Harperese for Grannie).
Harper received many thoughtful gifts for the holidays and among them was a new tricycle from Grandma. She loves being pushed around the neighborhood on it (it has a parent control handle/ override). She keeps her feet on the pedals, but can't reach far enough to actually rotate them yet. You can tell she feels like a big girl on it though. Every few minutes she pushes the bell button and you hear a sweet little "ding!".
Harper remains a joyful fun girl. She'll no doubt make a fabulous sister!