Saturday, October 28, 2006

10/28/06 Gabriel and Julian's costumes

Tough night. Katrina woke up at 2:30am, nursed, went back to sleep...for about 5 minutes. Then she was pretty much up until 4:30am, fussing and crying and holding her body tensely. Much of that time I spent rubbing her belly, feeling the gas churn around inside, and trying every position I could think of to help her burp or fart it out, futilely.

She finally settled down around 4:30 lying down next to me, and I tried to put her in the bassinet at 5:30, but she woke right up again. More nursing, more lying next to her, and finally at 6:30am, I was able to move her and lay down for real myself. Lying next to her isn't really sleeping for me; I can't move much, only have the covers partly on, and have to stay slightly awake to monitor her and help her back to sleep if she starts to stir.

Still, Katrina slept much of the day and let us get a few things done, such as move our bed into our new bedroom and do some more cleaning. Mom is coming on Wednesday, so I'm psyched to get the room somewhat ready for actually staying in it.

The light at the end of the remodeling tunnel is in sight: our general contractor got rid of the new guy who was stressing us out, and has some good old competent guys back on the job; everything's been ordered, the electrician's been here putting real lighting in, and things are finally falling into place. When the new doors are in, it's time for flooring and paint, and we'll be done!

Gabriel gets a huge kick out of running around our room testing all the light switches. He's not really allowed to do that, but I pretend not to notice since he's having such a good time.

The real highlight of the day was going to my 2004 Las Madres group's Halloween party today. And, I managed to get all three kids in a good state for my costume photos! I still don't think they're as good as the ones I got last Thursday, but they'll do. I'm just starting to get to know my new camera, though I also took photos with my old one.

I took all three to the party on my own, where many moms exclaimed how brave I must be. Brave or foolish! But really, it's easier to take them out than it is to be at home with them, and it's good to give Dave a break.

Once again, I got a lot of help from Betsy, of all people, since she has two very active ones of her own, and is pretty close to 9 months pregnant! She kept track of Gabriel and Julian outside, tied shoes, helped with juice drinks, opened bubble bottles; all the little things I could barely think about while trying to keep Katrina happy. I hope I can do the same for her! If nothing else, we'll be kindred spirits having three children pretty much all the same age.

Before we left for the party, Dave enjoyed some rare moments of Katrina being awake and content, a nice treat. She liked looking right up at him.

But as I type, she's awake and crying tensely again. I'm back on!


Friday, October 27, 2006

10/27/06 Mom recovers from the camera crisis

Today was the last day I have all-day childcare for the boys.

I deliberately got a lot of time from Tonya in October to recover from having the baby, but now it's time to buck up and face facts. We have three children, and I have to be able to deal with it. Of course, I'll still have a lot of time "off," since Gabriel goes to pre-K every weekday morning, and Julian will still go to Tonya's MWF mornings for pre-preschool. But I'll have all three every afternoon from now on.

Katrina's starting to give us a little more awake-happy time. Today she spent about 10 minutes under the Gymini, and another 15 or so in a bouncer as I had lunch. I discovered she likes -- well, tolerates -- the Baby Bjorn, though unfortunately it puts pressure on the still-sore incision cut just under my bellybutton.

I went back to the Pumpkin Patch with Katrina today, in a desperate and futile attempt to recover my camera. I'm baffled -- if I really did stick it in someone else's stroller, wouldn't they have noticed it when they folded up their stroller when leaving, and turned it right in? What on earth will someone do with this beat-up camera, besides look at great photos of my kids?! In any case, I have to accept it: it's gone.

So I went straight to San Jose Camera and Video and bought a new camera, a Canon this time. I'll use my old Canon for a few days until I get the new one all set up and learn to use it, since I can't be without a camera around Halloween!!

It was a lot different camera-shopping this time, since I have a lot more experience with picture-taking now and know the limitations of these cameras, and my own limitations. My needs are a lot simpler now. Though it will be a necessary evil sometimes, I've given up on indoor onboard flash shots. They just suck, and there's no point in trying to pick a point-and-shoot camera that will do a good job. I don't care about megapixels; the lens can't keep up with all the pixels and it just makes for a lot of unnecessarily unmanageabe large files. I do care about a good self-time mode; my old Olympus forced you to go through the menu to set self-time mode for every shot!

I did manage to get in a photo session with Katrina this afternoon, with my old camera, same shots as I'd gotten yesterday just before leaving for the Pumpkin Patch. And I love these. It makes up for a lot. This little Halloween outfit is adorable, I love it.

Next step in the recovery is getting the boys in their costumes, and somehow getting Katrina in a good state for that photo session too.

More baby fusses tonight, but not quite as bad, starting around 7pm. I think she's just plain old tired, but keeps waking up to spit up, poop, or do anything and everything gastric. She also gets hiccups all the time, several times a day. She got a lot of hiccups inutero, including when I was in labor!

Tonight during her now-routine tense crying session, I took her out to do some quick grocery-shopping, and she actually settled down in the car and in the stroller. That was a much better way of spending that time than pacing her around the living room, which I'd already done so much of today that my back is about to break in half. Still, it's hard to complain when I'm still so happy that I CAN move around the living room, as compared to just a few weeks ago.

Gabriel earned himself some candy tonight by eating all his dinner...but then lost it when he was rude to Dave in a completely uncalled-for way. We've been having some serious backtalk problems with him lately, in which he is rude, threatening, bossy and says entirely inappropriate things to us. Much of what he says sounds a lot like us when we sternly warn or threaten him with some punishment. But of course he's not allowed to threaten to take something away from us. I shouldn't even tolerate "poopy mommy," which I ignore, since reacting to it will only cement it in his mind -- and Julian's -- as a great thing to say. I've got to find this kid's currency, but I know better than to hold my breath.

The scary thing is that Katrina reminds me more of Gabriel than anyone else!


10/27/06 Katrina sleeps through the night?!

Newsflash! After another evening of miserable, tense crying, Katrina slept from about 10:30pm to 5:30am! Then nursed and went right back to sleep until 8:30am. I know better than to think this will persist, but it was a welcome relief.

However, if I'm following Babywise, which I sort of am, then I actually shouldn't let her sleep more than five hours at night. According to that book, a breastfed baby needs to eat more often and more frequent nursing is necessary for proper lactation.

Still, I wasn't about to set an alarm. I've never been very good at book learning.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

10/26/06 The 5:00 Horrors

I remember fretting during pregnancy: "What if we have a colicky baby this time?!" I'd heard such awful stories about that. Especially after the luxury of Julian the Angel Baby, I felt ill-prepared.

Well, we might actually have one on our hands. I don't know if it's true clinical "colic," the definition of which is controversial, but there's a definite pattern developing of evening crying for no apparent reason. Last evening, Katrina cried on and off pretty much from 5:00 until 10:00, making a nice visit from Aunt Laura (in town for management training for eBay) impossible to truly enjoy (though Gabriel had a lot to do with that too, and we've long since given up finding an explanation for him!).

But, when Katrina finally did settle down, she'd wiped herself out enough that she only woke up once last night, around 4am, and went right back to sleep after nursing. I can live with that.

Or can I? More of the same tonight, starting at Jake's Pizza after the Pumpkin Patch. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Our Pumpkin Patch outing with my 2002 Las Madres group is one of my favorite days of the year, and one that gives me a necessary deadline and kick in the pants to finish the boys' costumes. Gabriel and Julian were adorable as Mars and Saturn, and I even dressed myself and Katrina in Halloween-themed black-and-orange. I took some great shots of the boys and their baby sister together before leaving, and then more in the pumpkins at the pumpkin patch.

The boys had a great time at the pumpkin patch, riding the train, running through the hay maze, climbing haybales, looking at the animals (Julian) and the train tracks (Gabriel). I hope they enjoyed it, because this is this particular pumpkin patch's last year (something about the farmers not renewing their lease). Katrina obligingly slept through the whole pumpkin patch experience.

But -- camera crisis! Somehow, in the space of 5 seconds, I misplaced my camera. I could swear I stuck it in the stroller, then moments later went to pull it out, and it wasn't there. All I can think is that I stuck it in someone else's stroller, though now I wonder if I did stick it in my stroller earlier than I remembered, and it bounced out as we crossed the train tracks.

I am SO bummed -- the pre-patch costume shots are some of my favorites, the culmination of all the costume work, the costumes are clean and fresh and the boys willing to pose. And even Katrina was awake and happy for once! I don't care about losing the camera, but I'm SO sad about losing those pictures in particular. Halloween and costumes is my favorite time of year for photos, and looking at these photos when the kids are asleep and angelic and I've forgotten the day's annoyances is my reward. And getting all three of them to cooperate for a photo session again will be a real feat! I'm actually dismayed at myself at how upset I am about those pictures. Why can't I enjoy the moment like my friend Heike, who shrugged and said, "I didn't even bring a camera, I really should get one one of these days!" She's way more level-headed than I am, even when I'm not particularly frantic as I have been lately.

Thankfully, Stacey sent a few photos she got of the boys. Julian's sporting his Mars costume (those are Martians peeking out from a canyon on the back), and Gabriel had already given up wearing his Saturn.

Anyway, at Jake's Pizza, I had so many kind offers from help from my mom friends, and their nannies and husbands too. I really have to learn to stand on my own, but Danielle holding Katrina while I took Julian to the bathroom was a big help, then Benny getting our pizza and Vic getting Gabriel's lemonade, plus the moral support from Kristi, Stacey, Carmelita, Lisa, Betsy (who offered the apropos term "5:00 Horrors"), and lots of other moms my addled brain can't think of at the moment, made it all possible and worthwhile.

Good thing, because Katrina woke up while at Jake's Pizza and was in full form. I nursed her, changed her, held her, rocked her, tried to entertain her, but it was WAH-WAH-WAH for half the time there...then all the way home.

Still upset about the camera loss, I resurrected my now-ancient Canon Powershot, just to take a few photos of my Halloween outfit. Though my old Canon is slower and clunkier, I'd forgotten that I always liked it better than my Olympus. If my Olympus doesn't turn up at the pumpkin patch tomorrow, I may buy another Canon tomorrow. Halloween is not the season to be without a camera, and my old one won't cut it, as it really needs new (expensive) batteries. These self-time shots are pretty bad, but I had to do something while attempting to calm Katrina, though it was futile.

She cried pretty much up until 10:30pm or so, including through a "warm soothing" bath and a walk around the block. Finally, I think she just wore herself out, and relaxed when I lay down with her and gave her a pacifier. But after half an hour of lying with her, she was calm, but still awake, so I put her in the bassinet, with regret. I love lying with her when she's calm, babies smell so nice and are so soft, but I absolutely HAD to finish cleaning up and get the boys' clothes set out and write checks for daycare and ten other things. Incredibly, she fell asleep in the bassinet, pacifier in mouth, where she still is after over an hour. Whew.

I got so, so many comments today about how I look, including a telling one from Heike who observed that I look more slender now than I did before I got pregnant. So I took a good look at myself when I got home today, and indeed it does appear I'm in an unexpected skinny phase, three weeks after having a baby and after having been positively enormous in pregnancy. Indeed, yesterday at my first postpartum OB appointment, I weighed in at 4 pounds less than my pre-pregnancy weight (though there's still a big ring of flub around my middle, which experience says will never entirely disappear). I've done nothing differently than with the first two; it's just how my body is responding this time. I doubt this will last long, given my indulgent eating habits and aging metabolism.

Katrina is starting to lose her hair already; her forehead gets bigger every day. That means my hair loss isn't far behind either...I dread that! Months of hair falling out, then years of growing out dorky little fringe bangs.

Why, when I have so much to do, and am so behind on writing thank-yous to the many kind, wonderful and talented moms who've been taking care of us with meals, do I blog like this at night? It seems silly, or like misplaced priorities -- especially when my fussy baby is actually asleep. Shouldn't I be sleeping too? But it's almost essential to unwinding and spinning down my mind. It just can't handle too much information, especially now, and writing seems to flush it out.

I think it's also a sign I need to exercise regularly again, as I worked through a lot while swimming (though I definitely got my best thinking done on long rides, I do miss that). My commitment to exercise has always been about managing my tenuous hold on sanity, not so much my body. Writing, even inanely, or to no one in particular, is another way. I can't imagine what it'd be like to be a normal person who isn't compelled to put it all down on paper (well, e-paper).

Let's hope this long note gives me enough buffer to deal with another evening of baby fuss tomorrow. And here I thought that before junior high, girls were supposed to be easier than boys! (I can feel the whoosh from the collective "yeah RIGHT" nod of girl-moms out there...)


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

10/25/06 The cycle continues

Decent night.

Great day.

Lousy evening.

Not looking good for the night either.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

10/24/06 Mom's first afternoon

The day did not bode well.

Baby had me up pretty much from 1:30am to 5am last night. People often refer to the strain of nighttime "feedings," but I have no issue with feedings -- it's the awake-unhappy-crying for an hour after feeding that kills me.

Finally Katrina fell into a good solid sleep in the early morning -- just in time for Gabriel and Julian to take over. We think Gabriel woke Julian up this morning, but he won't admit it. Julian resisted every step this morning, screaming at each stage, pretty much for two solid hours. He gets kicked out into the backyard for excessive screaming, and while I'm all in favor of that, I let him back in this morning when I saw him give up and start to go to the neighbor's fence, bawling. How pathetic is that? But once inside, he picked right back up screeching, and I banished him to his room.

What a way to start a day when I'd have my first afternoon alone with all three.

But the rest of the day proved anticlimactic, until the evening. I took Julian to the park for a playgroup, where he happily played with Kristi's talented nanny, Danielle, while I took care of a mostly cooperative Katrina and yakked with my terrific mom friends.

After picking up Gabriel from pre-K, Katrina was asleep, so I took Julian straight upstairs for a nap, and got him settled at an unusually early 1:30. And he napped until 5:30pm!! He clearly needed it, he'd been horrible this morning.

Katrina also slept most of the afternoon, and no wonder -- she was exhausted from keeping me up all night. So I napped myself, worked on Halloween costumes, and chatted with Gabriel. Incredibly, on a day that Julian picked to resurrect his mondo naps, Gabriel was the perfect child, helpful and sweet and cooperative, playing and singing on his own much of the afternoon.

The evening got harder though. Dave worked late, so I had to give the boys dinner while carrying Katrina around. But, she did have some peaceful moments in a bouncer, and later, under the Gymini, where she received some tender affection from her older older brother.

I have to be so careful setting her down, as her brothers can barrel over her. But one time tonight, I'd set her down on a bed for a moment, and then quickly snatched her up when I heard Gabriel and Julian approaching. Gabriel looked at me with genuine wide-eyed innocence and said, "I wasn't going to hurt her, Mom." Oh boy did I feel bad! I hugged him and told him I knew that and what a wonderful big brother he is.

Tough evening with a fussy tired baby who couldn't stay asleep though. Finally Dave got her to sleep around 10pm, hopefully for the night. Hah.

So on the whole, I survived the afternoon alone with all three. It's much like the first few times of having two: you get more efficient, you have unexpected easy moments and then it can all hit at once. My one-handed skills have returned instantly; dinner was pretty much prepared and served with my left arm cradling baby the entire time (I'd like to try the Baby Bjorn, but any carrier that places any pressure on my abdomen is still out of the question). It's intense, but I know it will only get easier...well, mostly.


Monday, October 23, 2006

10/23/06 Katrina's "Liza Look"

Somehow yesterday after Katrina's bath, the hair on top of her head got stuck straight up -- and stayed that way all day today! I swear she reminds me of Liza Minelli sometimes, with the spiky hair.

Katrina actually had some peaceful moments today, a few of which were spent under one of three Gyminis we've been handed down.

Unfortunately, she wasn't peaceful during my friend Paul's visit -- too bad, because he brought his new SLR camera and is an excellent photographer. Kids never cooperate.

Then after a short nap, she was all relaxed and sweet again. I got lucky while experimenting with taking photos with the flash forced off, and got a lovely photo of her with the spiky hair.

An otherwise good day and evening was marred with yet more backtalk from Gabriel. He's been unbearably rude and insulting to us lately, and as usual, his response to warnings, scoldings, threats, punishment and even being ignored, is to escalate. Still, most of the time, he's agreeable and helpful, but when something rubs him the wrong way, he is downright nasty. He's nothing but tender and loving with Katrina though.

It is no fluke -- Katrina often "smiles" with her eyes wide open, usually just before or just after a drowsy state. I finally managed to capture one such smile on camera.

Tomorrow is my first afternoon with all three of them all afternoon -- wish me luck!


Sunday, October 22, 2006

10/22/06 An old habit anew

It was dicey, and timing off, but today we had a fairly regular Sunday in terms of activities.

My favorite Sunday activity is sleeping late, which today proved to be necessary thanks to some unexpected Happy Baby Fun Time from 3am-4am. Well, sort of; mostly I lay with Katrina, gave her the pacifier on and off, sat up and held and rocked her, then lay back down; constantly changing strategies as each thing led to another Fuss. So I needed to sleep late when she did, and didn't get up to start breakfast until almost 10!

While this is great for me, it's hard on Dave, as he's got to keep the boys off each other, and he doesn't like to go out or do anything until he's had a shower and breakfast, which doesn't happen until I get up.

But later, I took all three out of the house, on our first Sunday afternoon excursion together in a long time. This was a simple one, just walking down to the ultra-lame playground at the end of Linnet Lane, but it's more than the boys have gotten from me in a long, long time.

We had fun, with the boys showing off jumping for pictures, climbing, and running together. Then we walked back a roundabout way, and the boys were very good about holding the stroller across the numerous parking lots and un-sidewalked alleyways.

And I was actually able to walk the whole way without any serious compromising pain! I still get out of breath if I have to even so much as talk loudly for any length of time, but I'm definitely on the mend. I love that I can zoom around the kitchen and get five things done in 30 seconds, change direction and shift weight quickly, make a quick dash into the dining room as needed, and just be able to put one foot in front of the other normally.

It's timely that I'm getting my energy back just as Katrina is finding hers. She still demands 100% attention when awake, though curiously I found tonight that she'd stop crying and listen when I took her upstairs as the boys were getting ready for bed. The crying, shouting, running mayhem seems to overwhelm her and she just stops and listens. I wish I had my camera to capture some very nice moments of her lying on the floor peacefully during that time, and then looking into Gabriel's eyes. She really likes Gabriel, and he is very tender with her.

Gabriel also takes his "homework" very seriously. Kids Inc sends home worksheets for him to do with his parents, though there's no time limit and no penalty for not doing it. But Dave enjoys sitting with him, and Gabriel works very very carefully and meticulously. Today he must have spent an hour tracing the letters B and C and various words that start with those letters.

This is a picture I'd better get used to. Three children. I still can't believe it.