Friday, January 27, 2012

The Great Bumper Debate

Most parents that I talk to have their own first-time-parent "if I only knew" laments when it comes to baby gear and accessories.  I can't count the number of times I've heard someone say, "Oh, I just HAD to have (insert currently trendy baby item), and I only ended up using it twice."  Therefore, I was in serious minimalist mode when I started the baby registry.  I wanted the best essentials, skip the cutesy nonsense (wipes warmer, really?), thank you very much.  If our friends and family were going to be generous enough to shower us with gifts, I wanted to be certain they would be put to use.

Between friends and family who helped determine what loosely classified as "essential," and my penchant for trolling forums and customer reviews, I felt that my final registry list was perfect.  The one place where I gave myself a break from "essential" was the nursery.  I just HAD to have the  theme with matching bedding  and window valences. Yeah, the bunny meadow lamp was $50, but look how cute it matches the bedding!  We'll momentarily ignore the fact that the $50 lamp barely puts off any light, thus necessitating a second lamp in the nursery.

Naturally, this is the exact area where I have run into my very own "if I only knew...." If I only knew that babies can't actually use crib bedding! A big ticket item on the registry!  I knew baby blankets/quilts are a no-no in the crib, but I use ours to warm my feet during nighttime feedings so it's not a total waste.  What I did not know was that crib bumpers have been categorized as a suffocating hazard.  So, there ya go, the meat and potatoes of the bedding are basically useless. 

Until recently, the bumpers were set up in the crib and the nursery looked as adorable as I had hoped.  But once we started the sleep transition from our room to the Grub's room, we dutifully removed them.  This is when the bumpers became a thorn in my side.  What the hell am I supposed to do with these things? I tried using them on the floor as a sort of throw pillow, but then I'm tripping all over them during night feedings.  I tried looking up DIY craft projects to turn them into something usable, but then I remembered that I'm no Martha Stewart.  And I certainly can't get rid of them because they match the damn theme.  So they are piled up behind the rocking chair, awaiting their fate..

But, in the back of my head, I keep thinking, really? If bumpers are so dangerous, why are they still sold with virtually every bedding set on the market?  Is this anti-bumper movement just the latest trend in radical over protective parenting?  Or am I just wanting to use them so badly because our parents spent all this money on this fancy bedding that I HAD to have?

On top of this, for the seventh time in as many days, I've had to rescue my screaming baby from her crib because one of her little limbs was stuck in the crib slats.  The lovely time lapse photography gif to the left confirms that the little wiggle worm moves around a lot in her sleep, just like her parents.  

I'm really on the fence about this one.  I certainly don't want to endanger my baby.  But now that she's finally getting comfortable with the crib, I don't need her making negative associations with being in it; besides that fact that her sleep is being disrupted. Going to have to give this one some thought and see how things go the next couple of days :(

Mommy milestones

Babies aren't the only ones that get to have milestones.  Parents have plenty of firsts, too!  Lucky me, yesterday I got to experience my first "I heard a crash from the next room and came running to see what my kid got into."

And was met with this sight:
 Oh no, a collapsed playmat!  Someone doesn't know her own strength!

Luckily, it was nothing major, so I settled down and made sure to take some pictures of the wiggle worm.

Haha, she really looks like a little grub here:

Hi, Mommy!  Don't worry, I'm fine!

Gah, I need a drink!!  Haha! 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bath Time!

Because even the cutest little babies get stinky sometimes :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

To market, to market...

We kicked off a fun today with the introduction of a new toy - the Exersaurcer! 

This allowed for a full 20 minutes of independent playtime while mommy and daddy got to drink their coffee and enjoy our daily wake-up ritual of watching stupid videos and pic clips on ebaumsworld.  

JK was initially surprised that the traditional "walker" version of this gear is no longer available and that the exersaucer is stationary.  Then my mom filled him in on a fun story from my childhood when I dismantled a strategically placed chair blockade, allowing my sister, Kim, to take a tumble down the stairs while my mom was cleaning.  My mom's favorite part is where she heard Kim crying and came running; I was sitting watching Sesame Street, completely unconcerned with the fact that my wailing sister was still in the walker, which was lying on it's side at the bottom of the staircase.  Apparently, I was not yet cut out for babysitting duty.

So, Monica had a fun time investigating her safe, stationary exersaucer with it's 360 degree rotating seat. She caught on very quickly and was alternating between watching us and John Stuart, on whom she seems to be developing a crush.  We'll have to keep an eye on that.

As if this wasn't enough fun for one day, Monica and I decided we were going to try something very scary:  We were going to go to the supermarket....ALONE.  Yikes!

Monica has been to the supermarket a couple of times, but always with both mommy and daddy, who take turns alternating between pushing the shopping cart and her stroller.  As the lone adult, this put me in a bit of a predicament because I didn't really see myself effectively pushing/pulling both the stroller and a cart.  I briefly considered putting her in the strap-on baby carrier, but with the bulkiness of both of us bundled in our winter weather gear, this sounded like a recipe for crying.  

Finally, upon arriving at the store, we opted for the ghetto option - I just put her carrier in the large basket of the shopping cart and piled the food around her.  Now, I know there are all these warnings out there about the dangers of shopping carts tipping over, blah blah blah, but let's be honest - the cart itself is probably more stable and less likely to tip over than her actual stroller. 

To my delight, Monica was a lovely little shopping companion and didn't make a peep until we were paying and she was charming the check-out woman.  I think she's trying to use her good looks to score free stuff.  Good girl!

While we did compromise on the overall amount of food we could buy, it was well worth it to avoid the hassle of dragging her in and out of the carseat.  Additionally, this meant that I had to limit my purchases to "real" food, skipping a lot of snacks.  Maybe this will help with getting in shape for summer!  But after this trip, I have to say, I'm REALLY looking forward to (a)warm weather and going out of the house without all these extra layers of clothes, and (b) the days when Monica can ride up front in the shopping cart seat.  All in due time, I know!

Friday, January 13, 2012

"Solid" Foods

The term "introducing solid foods" is a joke, right?

When the pediatrician told us at the 4 month wellness visit that we can go ahead and introduce solid foods to the Grub, I cheerily skipped off to the supermarket to pick up some single grain rice cereal mix.  This is super exciting for me, since this child continues to refuse a bottle.  Basically,  she is glued to my side (and my boob) for "on demand feedings" 24/7.  When I try to leave the house for more than an hour, odds are that I'm going to return to a grumpy baby and a grumpy husband. But if someone other than me was able to successfully offer her a meal...oh, the possibilities! 

As visions of freedom danced in my head, I prepped the grub with a bib and carefully followed the directions on the package to mix up the first batch....and then re-checked the box....and then added a little more of the rice...stirred...hmmm...a little more??....

The resulting mixture is the opposite of solid.  It is liquid with some teeny tiny pieces of solids floating within.  I believe the term "slurry" can be loosely applied. But, having already nearly doubled the amount of the rice mix and increasingly nervous about ruining my child's first "meal," I resisted the urge to create a more oatmeal-like consistency.  

Then I tried to actually use the spoon to pick up some of this mixture.  A baby spoon is literally almost flat - very little concavity to the utensil! So basically, I was precariously balancing a tiny amount of liquid on an nearly flat surface.  When JK (who was hopping around in the background, entertaining Monica, and turning on the video camera) suggested that I "airplane" the food towards her, I just gave him the People's Eyebrow and continued about my business.  

Luckily, the fun was just beginning!  For those of you who haven't been around a four month old baby, all they want to do is grab EVERYTHING within their immediate reach put it in their mouths.  So every time I tried to approach her with the spoon, she would wildly wave her arms in attempt to grab the spoon.  I decided against restraining her arms for this exercise and plunged ahead, reminding myself that I am the adult and could most likely outmaneuver a four month old (she set me straight on that thought - thanks, Grub). 

After a few false starts, we found our rhythm, and I realized something - she was actually eating this stuff!  Despite the fact that the consistency is gross, and (to me) it tastes like crap, it appeared that she was actually swallowing more of the cereal than she was spitting out.  We'll ignore the amount that I was spilling onto her :)  

Side note - in this picture, that is her father feeding her.  No, I don't have man hands!

I was really on the fence about starting solids already, having heard conflicting information on the best time to start.  The pediatrician also warned me that she might not have outgrown the reflex to push the food out of her mouth, in which case we should wait.  But the Grub is doing just fine!  Although my initial inclination was to give in to my lazy nature and wait another month (as this is going to mean MORE laundry and MORE bathing), I think we're going to forge ahead and build this into our daily routine.

Happy Friday!

- Melissa 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Two Big S's....

We're having a big week here in the Stasul Household as we have introduced both (a) sleep training, and (b) solid foods. Yes, I must be some sort of glutton for punishment. 

The first four nights of sleep training have gone much better than expected, compared to our first attempt six weeks ago.  In our house "sleep training" translates into getting Monica to sleep in her own room.  Truly, I have no issues with her sleeping in our room for the foreseeable future, as she is only four months old.  The main problem is that she has outgrown the bassinet, and the only other place she has wanted to sleep is in her swing, which she is also rapidly outgrowing.  We have tried the pack n play in the bedroom and she wakes up after four hours, which feels like a regression compared to the glorious eight hours she will sleep in her swing.  Combine this with pressure from more experienced moms to move her into the crib, as well as recently reading this Scary Mommy Post , we're beginning to fear that this kid might be trying to permanently move herself into our bed until she moves out of the house.  And THAT, my friends, is not happening.  

 In attempt to maximize our chances of even placing her in the crib without her screaming till her head explodes, JK  relocated the humidifier, radiator, and night light to her room.  We also set up the remote thermometer so I can check the temperature in her bedroom without going in there (that room has issues - it's always freezing!) as well as her swing, which is only to be used under the most desperate of circumstances.   Yes, our electric bill is off the charts since this baby got here.

I am not a fan of crying babies - mine or anyone else's.  I am not a person who hears a baby cry out in a restaurant and thinks "oh, how cute!"  Rather, I think, "why the hell didn't they leave this kid with a babysitter, I'm trying to eat my meal in peace."  And if you think I'm mean, my husband is much worse.  This may or may not come into play here, but we are not on board with many aspects of the "cry it out" sleep method, nor are we interested in spending entire nights listening to our baby scream her head off while we pace back and forth in the hallway, periodically asking each other what we should try next.

So we devised an extremely loose plan and, god save us, it seems like it might actually be working.  Knock on wood, we've only done this for four nights, but we already seem to be making progress.  It is more or less the same plan we tried six weeks ago, but for reasons unknown, it is now being met with success.  I take Monica up to bed for "snuggle down time"  and nurse her.  She is usually pretty much asleep at this point.  Then I creep over to her crib and put her down.  When we tried this six weeks ago, she would immediately start screaming like a banshee.  Now (for whatever reason - age? trust? I have no idea) she either stays asleep or just cracks open her eyes.  I make sure NOT to make eye contact and skedaddle on out of there as quickly and quietly as possible. 

Then we wait for the inevitable crying/whining, which is guaranteed to ensue... if not immediately, within the next 45 minutes.  This is where JK's part comes in to play.  If the crying/whining becomes actual crying, he goes in and checks her diaper and tries to rock her to settle her down and then put her back in the crib.  It is KEY that I do not go in to her first, otherwise she just wants to nurse, and then I'm stuck in there for an hour.  I only get involved when crying is approaching a hysterical brink of no return; at which point I do nurse her and get her back to sleep and start the process over.

After this, she has been waking once more, but it is just crying out in her sleep.  She goes back to sleep within five minutes without us going in to her.  Again, if she went beyond whining, we would start where JK goes in the room to her to check the diaper and take it from there.  

Per night, two rounds of this whole process where I have to get involved is probably my limit. Things might play out differently if she would take a bottle, but...that is another battle for another day.

So, key learnings thus far:
  • DO NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT - this only wakes up the baby and results in cutesy attempts at engaging in playtime.
  • I cannot go in there first - she is much more clingy with me in general and will just try to nurse off and on all night long if I keep going in to her first.
  • Recognize the difference between whining/fake crying and real crying.  When she is whining, she is not in distress, just trying to get our attention.
Here's the breakdown on actual sleep time - which is what we're all really interested in here, right?  It's not the method so much as how much sleep we're actually netting!!

Once the Grub actually settles down and is asleep (normally my last time going in there to feed her is around 11:30pm), she is sleeping until about 4:30.  A solid five hours total.  I get up and feed her and then she usually goes back to sleep for another two to three hours.  And, lucky her, 4am just happens to be the WORST hour for me to do ANYTHING, so more often than not she just ends up right back in our bed until we get up for the day.  I try to convince myself that this is as much for her safety as anything else, as we're very much at risk for me falling asleep in the chair and dumping her on the floor if I try to stay in her room and feed her in the rocker.  Therefore, I'm still waking up to this in the morning:

Hopefully over the next couple weeks, I'll be able to draw on some ever-depleting reserves of stamina and try to stay up at 4am until she is back in her crib.  And THEN maybe we can work towards skipping the horrid 4am feeding.

Next post we'll talk solid foods....and when I say "solid" I use the term very loosely.... 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Playing Opossum

My sister, Kim, and I shared a room for our entire lives until we were in our early 20's.   I'm two and a half years older than her and I have no recollection of ever having the room to myself; for me, she was always there. Our room was actually the master bedroom of the house, at the top of its own short staircase.  My parents, most likely, were trying to corral the two of us and our overflowing collection of Barbies, Cabbage Patch Kids, and stuffed animals.  Unfortunately for them, our crap was still everywhere.  Luckily for us, they didn't mind too much :)  They were, and still are, the two most tolerant parents I have ever met.

Anyway, we were in total bliss in our shared bedroom.  Kim and I rarely fought - both as kids and adults - and we're the closest sisters that I know.  As kids, we would spend hours upon hours playing and pretending and dressing up.  Our room was little girl heaven for many years...

Until...enter one demon spawn little brother into the picture when I was about 7 years old and Kim was almost 5.

The first year wasn't a big deal.  We carried on with minimal interruption to our young lives.  Then Jim learned to walk and all hell broke loose.  This little terror just LOVED to come creeping up the stairs to our bedroom and tear through the room Tasmanian devil style.  There really aren't words to describe the phenomenon.  I'm sure that we tried to play with him and he was just a terror. 

That's when we had a genius idea:  we would play opossum!

Our plan:  The second we'd hear him giggling his way up the stairs and scratching at the door like the little animal that he was, we'd immediately jump into our beds, pull up the covers, and close our eyes.  We'd even incorporate a little fake snoring for good measure.  Jim would creep up to us in our beds, stare, give us a few pokes, and, if we were lucky, leave. If we were unlucky, he would start jumping on us and beating us with anything he found on the floor, usually clothes hangers.  But that is a scary story for another day. 

 Fast forward 20-some years

Since about month 2, naps with Monica have been a bit of a trial.  The Grub wants to hang out with mommy ALL DAY LONG.  Playing with mommy, cooking with mommy, running errands with mommy, and...when she's really tired...sleeping ON mommy.  Exhausting for me, to say the least.

Therefore, several times a day when she gets cranky, I take a deep breath and pray that my endeavors at a settling her down for a nap will net me a minimum of one hour to myself.  Really, Monica, one hour is all I ask. Just take a nap for god's sakes!

The Grub does not care for an elaborate routine before sleep, whether it be a nap or bedtime at night.  Of this I am certain.  She wants to play play play, and when she is tired, she immediately wants to nurse and sleep.  So when she is cranky, we head upstairs to "snuggle down" as we call it, and I nurse her and pray that she falls asleep without too much fuss.

In the beginning, I was seeing a lot of this:

The suspicious half-lidded stare.  She's exhausted, but she knows something is up, and if she closes her little eyes, she knows there is a risk of mommy sneaking away, leaving her in a solitary slumber...

OR...and this is even scarier...this:

Smiling, giggling and wiggling, accompanied by coquettish batting of the eyelashes

Then I remembered Kim and I tricking Jim...  I would play opossum with Monica!  If she thinks I'm sleeping, she will go to sleep, too!'s working!

So, now when we snuggle down, I pretend (and trust me, it is not that hard to pretend!) to sleep as well.
Now, when I crack an eyelid open and look at her, I am more likely to see this:

A sleeping angel. 

At this point, I can attempt to ease her into her swing for an actual nap, during which I can sneak away to do (oh joy) chores and whatnot.

Unfortunately, this only lasted about two months, until Grub caught on.  Now she is employing a new tactic:

Her left paw strategically grasps my shirt in a death grip.

Extracting myself has about a 30% probability of her waking up.  On a confident day, I press on and attempt the transition to the swing.  But on a rough day preceded by a sleepless night....well, playing opossum sometimes leads to a little nap of my own, and that isn't so bad at all :)

Monica's Four Month Check-up Stats

Monica had her four month wellness visit today.  She is happy, healthy, and the little grub spent most of the visit giggling and wiggling all over the table.  Naturally, the pediatrician was completely enchanted by her cuteness, and loathe to move on to the crying baby down the hall.  I mean, look how cute she is!

Weight: 14 lbs, 7 oz, 65th percentile
Height: 24 and 3/4" long, 92nd percentile

Milestone updates:  We have a somewhat mobile grub now!  Monica is able to roll both front to back and back to front, and she can pivot a full 360 degrees on her tummy.  She's starting to use a combination of these three techniques to move herself into grabbing range of out of reach toys as well as out of reach parents.  Full baby push-ups - no problem!  She can also stand and support her own weight (with mommy or daddy help for balance) for a couple of minutes at a time without tiring.  She's not yet able to get up onto hands and knees in the crawling position, but she's definitely working in that direction.

Additionally, the pediatrician has said that we can start Monica on solid foods (rice/cereal) now, or we can wait.  I had read that the general recommendation was 6 months to start solids, but the pediatrician said closer to 4 months is not uncommon, especially in babies that are big for their ages.  Her recent nighttime wakings to eat may be an indication that she is ready for some solids in her daily diet.  While always excited at moving on to a new chapter in this baby's life, I'm not sure I'm quite feelin' the mess involved with actual "food," such as even MORE frequent bathing and laundry.  Maybe we'll see how I feel about this next week.... :)

Daily Grub Life:  Monica is extremely interested in her toys.  We spend our days moving between her playmat downstairs, to the high chair in the kitchen, to the play area in her bedroom.  She is able to grab items, move things from one hand to the other, and she's an absolute expert at getting toys into her mouth.

The Sleeping Grub:  Monica is sleeping through the night (8-10 hours), but ONLY in her swing in our bedroom.  Earlier attempts around the three month mark to utilize her crib were met with failure :( However, now that the holidays are over, JK and I are going to fully revisit two dreaded words:  SLEEP TRAINING.
 Stay tuned for updates!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


I've put a lot of thought into how to start this blog - - - do I start at the beginning of (my) time?  That would take forever!  So we're going to keep it simple and start with the reason I am starting this blog:

The Grub, aka Monica
Monica came into this world on August 29th, 2011, and just celebrated her four month birthday.  She's our first child, and, surprised by how frequently she wanted to eat - this kid can EAT! - she was dubbed "The Grub" by her father and I because she was always "grubbing around" for a feeding.

So...why did I start this blog?

On top of all the baby-related adaptations we are making in our lives, about a month ago, I decided to throw one more change into the mix by quitting my job and becoming a stay at home mom (SAHM).  So I thought I'd start a blog for a few reasons:

  •  To keep our family and friends up to date with all things Monica.
  •  To log all the priceless anecdotes that JK and I are experiencing as first time parents.  Sleep deprivation these past few months has taken a toll on the memory, and we're saying/doing some really funny things here in the Stasul household.  Plus, I'm sure a lot of the things that aren't so funny now will be funny in retrospect. 
  • To save my sanity!  Taking care of a baby 24/7 wears on your mental stability, and I'm hoping that using writing as a creative outlet will help me to put things in perspective when I'm tired or frustrated.
  • And, last but certainly not least....I'm hoping to champion and revive respect for the stay at home mom. I truly had no idea what those four words fully entailed, and I have am amazing amount of newfound respect for my mother, my mother-in-law, and all the women out there that have taken this path.  I'm so grateful and appreciative that I have the option to stay at home, but trust me - it's not the bed of roses that a lot of people seem to think it is!
So, stay tuned for Stasul family funnies, Monica milestones, and me complaining about not getting to shower as often as I would like.  Cheers!