Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Musings on Macie's First Year



Year One A.M.K. (after Macie Kate) is complete- Macie turned one at 2:01 a.m. (July 20, 2011). I have spent a lot of time these past few days reminiscing about her first year- the good, the bad, and the ugly. There were moments of delight, moments of extreme anxiety, and plenty of in-between. The first two months seemed like the hardest at the time, but looking back I wish it was that simple again. I wasn’t sleeping many consecutive hours and I was a nervous, hormonal wreck, but at least Macie slept MOST OF THE DAY. Now I do a happy dance if I can get her to take two naps, totaling three hours, during the day. Sure Macie sleeps great at night, but during the day she is a ball of energy and by the time she goes down for a nap I am begging for a break. Macie is constantly getting into things; her favorite game is to destroy. But when she flashes me the biggest, most mischievous, gap toothed grins I can’t help but join her in creating chaos. The cleanup is worth it when you get to see the satisfaction on her face as she pulls all of her books off the shelf and sits in a heaping pile of the best children’s literature money can buy, the pleasure she experiences as she removes all of her toys from the toy box, and the mischief in her eyes as she heads towards her shoe and bib drawer and extracts them one by one. Basically, the point here is that the enjoyable moments greatly outweigh the unpleasant experiences. Below are some highlights from year one with Ms. Macie Kate. Sprinkled throughout this blog post are a few photos of Macie that I have taken today to commemorate her birthday.
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The Good

First Smiles
The first few months with an infant are a lot of work with seemingly little reward. Newborns spend so little time interacting that you would do anything for something as simple as prolonged eye contact. Just when you begin to crumble under the pressure of parenthood, they flash you a hesitant grin and you ooh and aah like the baby just completed her Ph.D in physics.

First Kisses
Macie started giving kisses around month five…and then she stopped. There is nothing sweeter than your child physically pulling your head near hers and planting a big; open mouthed wet one on your cheek. You are so in love that you don’t even mind wiping away the pool of baby drool hanging on your face. Once she even licked the makeup off my face….you could literally see the line she wiped away from my cheekbone. Again, we made a huge deal every time she gave a kiss because we wanted to encourage her to continue. Unfortunately, she stopped giving kisses about a month or two later L. Now I would perform any act of public humiliation just to get one smacker from her- saliva and all. 

Saying “Momma” and “Dadda”
Macie first started saying what sounded like “momma” around month four. Even though I know that she did not associate me with the word at the time, I still got a huge high from hearing her accidentally put the syllables together. Her first real parental shout out was to her father….of course. Josh will never forget the first time she called him “dada”- when she was seven months old and he was changing a dirty diaper. After she started saying “dada: I worked my tail off to try to get her to say “momma” to no avail. After about a month she started calling me “momma”, but by that point I was old news. Still, it is pretty heart-warming when she calls out for me…except when she is being difficult- then she can call for daddy. 

Cuddles
Until two months ago Macie was the most social butterfly you could meet. She had little to no stranger awareness and seemed to enjoy other people almost as much as her parents. At times I would get upset because she would lunge out of my arms into the babysitters…like she couldn’t wait to get away from me. Because she is so busy wreaking havoc each day, there is little time for cuddles. So judge if you must, but I kind of like the fact that the stranger awareness has set in and she snuggles up against me when we are around people. Baby affection is like crack- you get your fix wherever/whenever you can.

Baby Talk
Macie has always been a vocal baby, but these past few months it seems like she is constantly “talking”. Sometimes it sounds like she is speaking in one long, run on sentence (like those really bad Facebook status updates without punctuation). She just wants to speak as quickly and loudly as possible- and don’t you dare interrupt her or she will have to repeat it again. Other times she deliberately fluctuates her tone and sentence flow, like she is trying to have an intelligent two-way conversation with me. Macie’s facial expressions are priceless- she raises her eyebrows, makes eye contact, shakes her head, and furrows her brow to accentuate her point (as if I can understand what she is saying). When I respond appropriately she continues on in the same vein. Recently she has started opening a book and appears to be “reading” the story…upside down.

Developmental Milestones
Watching Macie grow and develop has been one of the best parts of this past year. I will never forget the first time she rolled over, her first giggles and coos, crawling, and furniture cruising. Naturally, I am invested in ensuring that Macie meets age appropriate developmental milestones. Each time Macie learns a new “trick” I again resort to the kind of applause and enthusiasm that is usually reserved for much more significant achievements (like graduating from Harvard at the age of 13).

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The Bad

First Day of Work
Macie’s first day of daycare was around six weeks after her birth and I was a nervous wreck. I was still in a hyped up hormonal mother bear state, so to say that I was overprotective is an understatement. I remember wondering how our babysitter could handle a tiny newborn and a handful of other children three and under at the same time when I had difficulty with just one. Dropping her off that first day was like ripping off a Band- Aid. I made it as short and sweet as possible, knowing that the longer I lingered the harder it would be to leave. Driving away I admittedly shed a few tears, but quickly pulled it together by reminding myself that Macie would only be in daycare two days a week. The world was not ending…even though it felt like it. Motherhood is full of guilt, but one of the most omnipresent is the worry that you are not giving your child enough of you. Sending your child to daycare for any amount of time only compounds that guilt.

Sick Macie
There is nothing worse than a sick baby. We have been through a year of illness, mostly in the winter and early spring, which kept us on our toes. Each time Macie came down with something, especially when she was six months and under, I was continually fearful that she was going to die (crazy, I know). Probably the worst side affect of many of Macie’s viruses and colds was the diarrhea. I don’t want to gross you out too much, but let me just say that cleaning up sick poo is not my idea of fun. Even worse was when I had to scrape/squeeze specimens from Macie’s diaper….not sure I will ever forget that.

Sleep Training
When our Parents as Teachers educator first mentioned sleep training to me at Macie’s three-month visit I was highly skeptical. Seriously, who wants to leave their fragile infant in the crib to cry themselves to sleep? Not me- no way. Tina, our PAT educator, could see the skepticism written all over my face and asked me just to give it a try. Reluctantly I caved in (I’m a yes person), one hundred percent sure that this attempt would fail and dreading the next few nights.
Here’s how it works:
1) Go through the bedtime routine and place Macie in the crib, leave the room even if she is crying
2) Set the timer for 3 minutes and enter the room if she is still crying, pat her back, leave in less than thirty seconds- DO NOT PICK UP
3) Repeat the next two times (every three minutes)
4) For the remaining bedroom visits reset the timer for 5 minutes
5) Repeat until she falls asleep and when/if she wakes up the middle of the night

Josh was on midnights so I was on my own. It was miserable and after the first night of limited sleep I almost gave up. Fortunately, by the end of the third night Macie was “sleep trained” and we haven’t had sleep problems since.

Emergency Room Visits
It’s hard to remember the exact number of ER visits we had, but I think it was around four- all within Macie’s first seven months of life. Of course Macie had to get scary sick in the middle of the night or on weekends….when it costs $200 to go the doctor instead of $20. The most memorable ER visit was right before the huge ice storm that the weather forecasters were predicting would shut down the city. Josh was on midnights again (how convenient) and I was alone with a baby that was having difficulty breathing. I started to panic, fearing that Macie was going to stop breathing and die. The phone nurse suggested I get her straight to the hospital….by myself. Fortunately, my mother-in-law was able to go with me. She was pretty surprised to get a panicked phone call from me in the middle of the night asking her to come to the ER with me, but she was a trooper and made the experience so much less stressful. 

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The Downright Ugly

Tantrums  (see Macie Meltdowns 101 blog for more information)
The onset of temper tantrums is a fairly recent development. The frequency has certainly increased in the past month from a few times a week to a few times a day….I’m not exaggerating.  Now I consider it a good day if we have multiple stage one meltdowns (as opposed to multiple stage two or three meltdowns). Again, you take the good with the bad, but sometimes she is like a person with bipolar disorder- one minute she is laughing and smiling and the next she is on the floor crying and convulsing.

Blowouts
New parents live in constant dread of diaper blowouts, assuming that they are bound to happen. When they occur less frequently you start to relax, so when a blowout does happen you are completely caught off guard and even more repulsed. Macie’s two most memorable blowouts happened in the car. The first was on our first trip to Bourbon with Macie when we stopped at St. Clair to feed her. While she was nestled on my lap I heard the worst sound ever- a baby fart- and felt her pants fill up. Luckily, she was wearing pants over her onesie, otherwise I would have had baby fecal matter all over my lap. The most recent blowout was in the carseat on the way to a friend’s house. We heard the telltale sounds and the foul smell of baby poo filled the car. We didn’t realize that it had gone completely up her back and front (like above her waist) until we got her out of the car. We literally had to cut her onesie off because there was no way we could take it off her without smearing poo all over her head. You don’t realize what your vomit threshold is until you have experienced baby blowouts.

Teething
Teething is the devil’s way of punishing parents for procreating. I blame teething for many of Macie’s stage three meltdown days, which I have described in ample detail. Enough said.

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Cupcake Cheers

This concludes my blog of musings about Macie Kate’s first year of life. If you have a child I’m sure you have similar stories and can relate. Hopefully this has inspired you to recollect the good, bad, and ugly moments in your child’s life. If you don’t have a child just image what you have to look forward to, but remember- when in doubt don’t procreate. Actually, that’s not necessarily true….I took the pregnancy plunge because my husband was all about it (I wasn’t so sure I was ready, or that I even wanted children). It turned out to be the most rewarding and joyful decision in my life to date.

So please join me in raising your cupcakes (or chocolate milk) in honor of Macie’s 1st birthday.  May she continue to grow and develop, remain healthy, and get out of this “terrible one” period. She has been the most delightful baby I never thought I wanted (sappy, I know, but that’s what happens when you become a mother….it messes with your hormones).

Here’s to Ms. Macie Kate! CHEERS!!!






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