February 2012

Allie helped us prepare for the tax appointment, made at the awkward time of 6p-7p (Allie’s bedtime routine usually starts at 6:45-7p), by deciding to take an extra long nap around noon. She slept for 3.5 hours, past her usual 1pm-ish feeding, thereby fixing the timing of it all by having her subsequent feedings around the time of the appointment. I called the tax guy before we left the house and learned he was running behind, so I fed her at home at 5:15p before we left. That would place her next (bedtime) feeding around 8:15p, way later than she’s used to, but at least she wouldn’t be crying from hunger while we’re there. That was a good move, since after we got there, he turned out to be more like 45 minutes behind. Ouch.

Allie cooperated and was in such a great mood after her great napping day that she charmed the receptionist. The woman literally gave us her phone numbers on our way out and offered to be our nanny. She was only at the tax guy’s job during tax season. Of course, once people heard we were contemplating a nanny charging $600/week net, tons of people, half-seriously, offered to quit their jobs and be our nanny. Yeah, okay, but are you certified in child-infant CPR?

We expected to get, like, ALL our taxes back this year because of our newest little tax deduction. (That was how I introduced her to the receptionist. “Hello, I’m Cindy, and this is our newest tax deduction, Allie.”) The out-of-pocket medical fees were a TAD on the high side. We didn’t get back what we expected, but it was close to 5 figures. Geez we pay a lot of taxes.

Turned out our tax guy does W-2s for a few clients who have hired in-home nurses, so he could do the same for us. He had another guy after us and since he was running so late and we finished in half an hour of the hour we had reserved, he gave our extra half hour to the next guy (making him just 30 mins late for the last guy) and kinda rushed us out, charging only for the half-hour we used. So we aren’t clear to our satisfaction on this, since this came up in the end, but he seemed to say that the taxes and withholdings and stuff we’d be adding to a $600/wk take-home would be something like $90/wk. $80/wk federal taxes, $6/wk state disability insurance, and social security would be $350/year. That’s so far off from the $600-becoming-$880/week total in the example we read online that we were baffled. I told him I knew the example came from a Maryland tax frame. He said, “Well, that’s why. It’s Maryland. They have county taxes, and separate this tax, and that tax…” He actually recited the taxes but he’d lost me already. He said the only state possibly worse or close to Maryland in these things is “Tax-achusettes.” I thought CA was one of the highest tax states. We still noted on our way out that he didn’t address CA tax withholdings and some other stuff, so we’re still not totally clear on total damage for Susanne’s asking price. I’m gonna try to call a domestic payroll service and see if they’ll help if I’m a potential customer.

Allie was such a trooper. She was so tired she actually dozed in her carseat on the way home (usually she can’t sleep in her car). She didn’t cry until the very end, when she was asleep and something her daddy said startled the bejeezus out of her. I rushed through her nighttime routine an hour late at 8:15p, she ate and was put to bed. She’s sleeping in just a tad this morning, although I see on the camera now that she’s awake, sucking on her hands, and laying on her side, kicking around. This is her “private time.” She hasn’t called me, yet, but I’m gonna let her have an extra half-hour or so this morning because she got to bed late.

By the way, today marks the third straight night she slept entirely through — no nighttime feedings between her 7pm-ish bedtime feeding and her 7am-ish morning feeding, when she gets up to start her day. *crossing fingers* It wasn’t “convenient” to plan my day around her needs, but I’ve been following her cues, guided by the sleep book to learn to recognize her needs as her brain develops. I feed her when she’s hungry, change her when she’s wet, and let her sleep when she’s tired. Some people assume I’m setting her routine, but I’m really not. I try very hard to be home at the times when I know she starts giving her drowsy cues (within 1-2 hours of being awake) or hunger cues (between 2.5-3.5 hours), and she decides when she’s going down for the nap (typically 8:45a-ish, 11:45a-ish, 3p-ish, and possibly a 5p-ish), how long she needs to sleep. The result is a baby who smiles at me from the crib whenever I go get her, an attentive and laughing girl during her awake and alert times, and a generally healthy girl based on all technical medical factors.

We had two nanny interviews this past weekend, the 31 year old German, Susanne, on Saturday and the 29 year old Brazilian, Fernanda on Sunday.

For me, it was love at first sight with Susanne. The conversation at the interview flowed for almost 3 hours. Allie was crabby and hungry by the end and I had to feed her in the car (we met at the Irvine Spectrum outdoor food court by the fountains both days). Susanne is WAY more competent and capable than her profile let on. She’s got tons of recent infant experience, is very knowledgable about child development and such, and has taken courses in it. Her CPR and first aid certifications are updated (as recent as February this year), and when she was a school teacher in Germany, she’d had to use a lot of first aid skills, such as giving CPR to premies who’d stopped breathing and turned blue, giving shots to babies, taking care of a boy who’d fallen on the playground and gotten half his teeth knocked out (as the other teachers ran around panicking, so she had to get rid of them before the boy himself started freaking out seeing their reactions). One of the infant twins she’d nannied for a decade ago had a lot of medical issues she’d tended to. She left Germany on a church mission trip to Mexico, and from there, she came to CA to found her church here. So she’s one of the original founders and is the current principal of a Children’s Ministry part of her church. She explained that she’d been delegating her duties and aside from teaching on Thursday evenings and something to do with the church on Sunday, she is free to nanny for us full time. She had amazing reference letters from families of 5 kids, families where the mom left her young daughter with Susanne (as a live-in nanny) for 6 weeks on a business trip. She has zero issues with the cameras all over the house and thought the technology was great, and was fine with getting her background checked, altho she said a local police department had already taken her fingerprints as she deals with teaching children for church. She majored in Child Education, minored in Psychology, and has a separate degree in Theology. She works out regularly, cooks, has no problem transporting Allie anywhere and said she would take her to Gymboree if we wanted, she’d done everything we need before, including managing sleep routines and making organic baby food. Occasionally cooking for the family if asked to. WE LOVED HER.
Here’s the crux. She asked for $600 weekly take-home. That didn’t seem like much, and we were happy and fine with it. Then we came home and Mr. W started researching online what it meant to pay this take-home, because she definitely doesn’t want to be paid under the table. With the social security, state and federal taxes, disability, unemployment, blah blah and blah blah crap we have to pay to the government, this means we’re looking at approximately $880 out-of-pocket for us a WEEK. That’s $46,000 a year. OUCH. I don’t think we can afford that, and I’m heartbroken. We’re going to talk to our tax accountant when he does our taxes on Tuesday evening to see what the ramifications are. Then I’m going to beg her to lower her cost a little.

The interview with Fernanda yesterday went well. She was less talkative because she was nervous, and I kept inadvertently comparing her to Susanne. She’s less experienced with infants this young; her youngest had been 6 months (which isn’t a HUGE difference in age, but developmentally, there is). I asked her what she’d do with Allie in Allie’s awake time, and she said sing, play peek-a-boo (Allie’s too young to understand peek-a-boo). Basically, she had no idea. She’s never dealt with a baby who’s on milk only, and had never dealt with frozen breastmilk. That’s not a huge deal, she’ll just learn once I show her. I’ve defrosted a pack of my breastmilk and put it in a bottle so how hard could it be? It was a little scary when her childrearing philosophy was that a baby shouldn’t be held too much because they need to learn to be independent. Allie’s still young; she’s able to go 15 mins or so on her own without being held, and she’s self-entertained in that time which is amazing for me to run around and get stuff done, like laundry or make/eat food, but after that, she should be interacted with. I suddenly pictured Allie lonely and crying, confused as to why she was feeling abandoned. She has no CPR or first aid certification, but said her au pair program from 2007 had taught them a week of classes in child care and American culture, and that CPR and first aid was addressed in one of the seminars. She’s also active and works out, cooks and cleans for the baby (and maybe somewhat for the family if requested). She left Brazil for the east coast to get an AA in Marketing and Masters in International Business. She currently lives with the last family (3 kids) she’d nannied for. They loved her so much they adopted her into their family rent-free. She still occasionally babysits for them in the evenings and for their friends when needed. The only reference she gave us was for this live-in family.
She’s asking for $400-$500 a week take-home, but doesn’t have a preference whether to be paid in cash or through the crazy W-2 style. Mr. W, after reading all the information on paying domestic workers under the table, is terrified to do it in cash. Apparently, all the employee has to do is apply for social security benefits later on at any time in his/her life, and we’re on the hook for being audited and we would have to pay all of the employee’s SS needs ourselves as punishment for not having timely paid them when the employee was under our employment.

So now is the dilemma. When asked for the online profile how much I’m willing to pay weekly, I’d clicked the categories from $300 to $700+. This is because how much I’m willing to pay, to me, means gross. Apparently when the nannies are asked how much they want to be paid weekly, they’re thinking net. There’s a HUGE difference (apparently, like 30%) between net and gross. Mr. W and I were madly calculating over the weekend. In order for me to pay Susanne what she wants and still pay half the mortgage on our house and all the mortgage on my rental property, I would have to give her the ENTIRE remainder of my work salary plus the small profit margin of rent on my rental property. That leaves no money to pay for my cell phone, for credit card expenses, for the gym membership, Gymboree membership, property taxes, gas, etc. unless I dip into my savings. I’m willing to do that, but Mr. W is very discontent over the idea that I’d be working for nothing in order to pay a stranger to care for our baby; he thinks I should just quit. My thought is that paying a nanny for Allie is temporary (maybe 2-3 years, depending on what we can afford) until we can put her in daycare, but the job is more than money to me; it’s interaction with adults, it’s sanity, it’s a sense of self-worth and independence. I’m willing to hand over my entire salary to a nanny that I can feel completely at peace with (like Susanne; I know that Allie will be in more capable hands than mine if I leave her with Susanne), but what Susanne has requested is still more than I can afford.

In case you’re wondering why I’m calculating this as my salary alone, it’s because Mr. W’s money has been pretty much been coming in one hand and out the other since his renters are still waaay behind in rent and because he’s still supporting 2 adult kids financially. There’s fat he could trim, but he’s already trimmed a lot more than he was ever used to trimming before. Plus, he pays way more of the household bills than I do.

So there’s the dilemma. Pay a lot more for the nanny I love, or less for a less experienced nanny that I’m gonna be a little nervous about? It’s kind of a like a you-get-what-you-pay-for dilemma. The two are similar in a lot of ways in that they’re both trying to get their US residencies established and are currently under a religious or student visa. They both seem wholesome and responsible, are into organic foods and not junk food (they both brought this up assuming we’d think they’re weird, but we totally embraced it cuz we’re like that ourselves).

Other nannies seem to have eliminated themselves; just stopped responding via email despite our being at the “let’s decide when to meet for an interview” stage. However, late yesterday, I got a phone call from the older nanny from Carlsbad who didn’t get back to my email about rescheduling her interview, and she left a vm saying she was still interested and would like to interview. And then I got a late email from another older nanny who wants to interview on Thursday. I wonder what their delays were; makes me think they have other things going on. Both appear to be professional nannies with amazing credentials on paper, but at this point I have serious doubts I would want anyone more than Susanne to be our nanny. The chemistry was just right, we all felt. I truly LIKE her, like I want to be her friend and hang out with her and have her teach me stuff like-her.

I hit a realization yesterday. My being a first time mom with zero baby experience is big-time screwing with me because I don’t have context to evaluate any issues to come up. Like yesterday, Allie rejected the bottle. She was given a bottle a day a few times a week to keep her bottle-trained so that when I return to work, she could take to the bottle. However, when she got sick and rejected the bottle (probably due to congestion and/or need for nursing comfort), I indulged her and we didn’t bottlefeed for 10 days. When Mr. W touched the bottle to her mouth yesterday at a feeding time, she wailed and screamed and cried like she was in pain. I knew I wasn’t supposed to be around so she doesn’t think, “Hey, mom’s right THERE, I’m just gonna scream until she puts her boob in my mouth.” So I hid out upstairs, afraid to pump because I may have to nurse her if she won’t eat. Listening to her crying downstairs, I felt miserable and scared, like this is The Worst That Could Happen. Eventually, Mr. W worked on her for an hour upstairs as I researched madly on the PC downstairs for a magical cure to bottle rejection (also emailing pediatrician, calling the lactation clinic which was closed for the weekend, emailing the 2 nannies we’re interviewing this weekend to see if they have suggestions which, btw, turned out to be a great test), and suddenly the crying stopped. Soon he presented me with an empty bottle. He said she’d drank all 4.5 oz in 10 minutes, after crying an hour and exhausting herself. She knocked out in a long nap soon afterwards. Mr. W said that he knew I’d be freaking out, which is why he tried so hard to get her to drink the bottle. If it were just up to him, he would’ve said, “No biggie, we’ll try a bottle again some other time, just nurse her.” (Altho apparently, after talking to lots of people and reading lots of suggestions, is the worst thing to do cuz then the baby thinks, “Hey, I just have to hold out and I’ll get a boob.”) Because to him, this isn’t the end of the world.

In response to a status message about this I’d posted on the social networking site, a lot of people online who are parents addressed the crying aspect, telling me it’s okay, babies cry. Don’t let the crying get to you. That confused me, cuz I was like, “How can you not see? It’s not the CRYING. She’s REJECTING THE BOTTLE! What can I do?! She’s gonna STARVE TO DEATH if she won’t drink out of a bottle when I go back to work! This is The Worst That Could Happen!” It wasn’t until a friend said, “Chances are good that even if she’ll never reliably take the bottle, she’ll adjust once you leave her with the nanny. I’ve never heard of anyone who had to quit work because of that :P”, that I got some perspective. I’d read that this is common at Allie’s age of 3-4 months; even college roommie Diana’s baby, 2 weeks younger and who never had a break from the bottle since she was days old, suddenly rejected the bottle a few days ago. They’re just at a point where they realize they have a preference, and the preference is mommy’s breasts. You just have to keep at it (and there are tons of suggestions out there with distraction methods to get the baby to take the bottle again), and the baby may miss 1-2 feedings doing a stand-off with you or rather, with the person who’s preferably not mommy who’s giving the bottle, but the baby will take to the bottle instead of starve. So it’s the first of many battles of wills, I guess, and persistence wins out. Allie, in the case of yesterday, held out an hour. Today, after Allie again cried in a standard cradle hold once the bottle nipple touched her mouth, Mr. W held her facing outward and walked her around and fed her the bottle from behind, as she was distracted looking around. The crying lasted minutes, if that. Hopefully she’ll get used to the bottle again very soon, no more than a few days of rejection. I’m not going to take any more breaks from bottle-training.

Apparently, bottle rejection is NOT The Worst That Could Happen. It’s just foreign to me so I assume everything that’s unexpected and troublesome is The Worst That Could Happen. I’m sure there are people who are as ignorant of baby issues as I am but who don’t assume that every new thing is The Worst, but instead, don’t think or even realize how bad something is until someone, like a pediatrician, tells them so. “What? Our baby needs to be hospitalized? We just thought it was a little cold!” I think those people have it easier, mood-wise. I’m told that I instantly jump to The Worst because I’m a perfectionist (Mr. W) and because I don’t do well being taken by surprise (Rebecca) and the pessimistic fear is a product of postpartum depression (doctors). I used to roll with the punches more easily, but I’m unable to now, thanks to this biochemical imbalance crap going on. Everything feels like it rests on the moment being perfect. That’s a lot of pressure on each moment.

So, I need to remind myself of the bigger picture. She will survive this, and that, and even those things I still don’t know could happen cuz people don’t talk about it (which I’m pretty ticked about, btw). I am not going to be prepared for every complication that could/will happen, but I’m going to try not to assume each of those complications is The Worst That Could Happen. Most likely, it’ll just be a step-by-step resolution, like bottle rejection. Oh, she’s being stubborn about eating from a bottle? Okay, we’ll just keep trying the bottle for awhile, comfort her in between bouts of crying so it doesn’t become traumatic, and try different holds and distractions, and when she gets hungry enough, she’ll take it. She won’t skip more than 1-2 feedings (according to lactation nurse advice given to Diana), even tho it may happen each bottle for a few days. Then after that she’ll be accustomed to the bottle again. No biggie. No kid has ever been refused from a college because this bottle didn’t go down easily. And an even bigger picture than that — this is about the evolution of Allie’s soul; she’s here as my daughter to learn some things about life and my job is just to make sure she’s as safe, healthy and happy as I can reasonably control as she walks her life’s journey. Her choices and growth are independent of me; I have influence, not control. Her soul is not mine to control. Her paths and footsteps are not mine to map out. So this one too-short nap, this one irregular night, this one off-moment, is just that: one nap, one night, one moment. Nothing in the overall course of her existence here.

So stop worrying about every moment, Cindy. She’s healthy, bright, and seems mostly happy. That’s all the positive influence you need to and can give for now.

I *just* realized Allie’s 3 months old today!

*Now she wakes up pretty regularly on her own between 6:45a-7a, and just lays there looking around and kicking, smiling, until I go get her. She greets me with a big smile and sometimes a laugh.
*Dr. Weissbluth’s sleep book says around 12-16 weeks, the “morning nap” is developing (due to brain maturity), and we should see this happen at between 9a and 10a. I would put Allie down for her morning nap when she starts showing drowsy signs of rubbing her eyes and yawning, but after about 10 mins of serious soothing (which she fights now cuz she wants to play) and she konks out, she’d been only staying down for half an hour or so. Her long naps had been the later morning one, around 11:30a, when she’d be out for almost 2 hours or more. However, yesterday and today, after she fought the morning nap a little, it’s gotten long. Yesterday’s morning nap started at 8:30a and went till 10:30a. Today, she got up a bit later (7:30a) for having gone 11.5 hours overnight without waking for a feeding (whoa! …and, ouch for my boobs! I got up at 5:30a to pump a little) so she didn’t go down for her morning nap till 9a, but she’s still sleeping. It’s been over an hour. So this might be the morning nap draining from the late morning nap that she’s going to start to minimize or eliminate. The late afternoon nap (1pm-ish) is supposed to develop on its own around 5 months.
*I was concerned the past few days since she’d been sick, since she doesn’t stay at the breast long. Flip Flop Girl suggested yesterday that she is just more efficient at eating, so what may have taken 10 mins before now takes 5-6 minutes, doesn’t mean she’s starving herself. What Allie does is pull off my breast, turn her upper body to face up (and away from her food source), and smile at the ceiling. Or, she talks to me, as she’d been doing the past few days. “aaaAAAAAaah! Gggkkkkk!” She’s practicing her gutteral sounds. Sometimes it sounds like she’s saying “milkkkkkkk.” She waits for me to do the “ggggkkkkkk” back, and when I do, she laughs. Then she does it again. “Aaaal ggggkkkkkkkk!!” And I do it back. She laughs. I tell her I’m going to stop playing with her now cuz she needs to eat. Then I find myself doing it again. “Ggggkkkkkk!” Allie laughs. That trickster.
*She found her thumbs yesterday. Since then she’s been happily sucking.

*She loves to stand. She sits like a big girl in the hole of the Boppy, but she’ll reach for my thumbs, one in each hand, and wants me to pull her to standing, slowly. She kicks up against the couch she’s sitting on to help me. If I don’t help pull her up and I’m too busy entertaining her with songs, she’ll start leaning forward and kicking up and down with her feet, eager to get up.
*Yesterday, I watched Mr. W do the funniest thing with her. He had her laying on his lap vertically, her head at his knees and her feet on his chest. He leaned forward, pushing her knees into her chest and bringing his face to her face. “Aaaah-aaaah!” she’d say to him. He leans back. She stops. He leans up. “Aaaah-aaah!” Back. Stops. This happened over and over, like his leaning up was triggering her sounds. Two separate occasions they played this game, and both times I ruined it by laughing so that it distracted Allie and she turned to look at me, and stopped responding to Mr. W’s movements.
*She says “Ell” the most, which sometimes sounds like “Allie.” Since most of the questions I ask her are things like “Who’s that pretty girl in the mirror?” “Who’s sitting like a big girl?” “Who’s got a big diaper full of pee?”, it sounds like she’s answering correctly.
*She grabs cloths, brings them to her mouth and leans her head down to greet her hands so she’s curled forward, and I guess it works cuz it helps me hold the burp cloths in place and she ends up wiping her own mouth and chin.
*She’s started drooling.
*She bats at toys that dangle over her hand and face. It may be accidental, though. But she definitely grasps things from the high chair’s table and pulls them on her lap.

For the most part, she seems recovered from the RSV infection. She may cough a couple times a day, but no crazy spasms, no vomiting. We’ve stopped using the nebulizer, and lowered her mattress back down. The inclined mattress was a pain, making her slide down to the rail when she’s kicking around during/after sleeping. I still run the humidifier in her room for most naps and overnights, but not all naps.

I’ll respond to your awesome comments in the last post later on…I just need to blast this out.

Day before yesterday evening, I started getting physical stress symptoms of lightheadedness, nausea, throat tightening, and cried a lot. I put on the social networking site that I needed a hug. Next thing I knew, I got tons of cyber hugs and Coworker Sandy and her husband Rich stopped by after work to physically give me a hug. Since Mr. W had also gotten home shortly before, the 4 of us plus baby went to Claim Jumper for a quick bite. She started fussing just a teeny bit in the restaurant, but Mr. W was able to rock her to sleep for half an hour in her carseat. I had a great time and felt much better.

Yesterday morning, it happened again. I was thinking about all the crap I had to do and remembering being woken up at 10:30p by stepdaughter’s return (I was asleep in the baby’s room and the garage door opening and closing woke me up) and having to deal with…stuff. I started feeling dizzy and faint again, the nausea came back even as I tried to eat a waffle for nutrition’s sake holding the baby. I called Mr. W and left him a vm just to tell him what I was feeling in case something happened to me (like passing out) while I’m caring for Allie. He was concerned and immediately got the rest of the day off and came home mid-morning.

He pushed me to get an appointment that day with a doctor or a therapist, asap. I managed to get one with someone who’s not my doctor, but is in the same building, and after that, Mr. W dragged me and the baby to San Clemente beach for lunch.

Allie didn’t sleep much during that period, but did take a quick 20-some minute snooze in her stroller. We had lunch waterside, and a nice hilly walk to and from where we’d parked. I felt immediately much better. Oh yeah, while I was feeding Allie before we left the house, Mr. W went downstairs and had a private talk with stepdaughter. When he came back up, he said he could think of a few options: we hire a nanny to help right away; I go to my parents’ house on weekdays, or he drops me off in Vegas to live with his parents for awhile so they could help me care for the baby. I was unhappy with the solutions that suggested I leave with Allie; I feel like I’m the least portable person there due to Allie’s needs. He also thought I should go on medication. That means breastfeeding is over. The one thing I thought I could do sorta right was breastfeed; if that’s taken away, then I feel totally useless as Allie’s mother. At least the consistent thing from pediatricians and baby nurses was that Allie is very healthy and her growth is excellent and they credit BFing for that. The last pediatrician said I must’ve been giving her good antibodies in milk or she’d have been a lot sicker with the RSV infection.

Before leaving the house, I popped in stepdaughter’s room where she was watching a show on her laptop. I said I just wanted to give her a hug, and she hugged me and told me she didn’t leave because of me; she left to see if it’d be better for everyone if we weren’t living together. She was reassuring, saying now that she knows what’s going on, we can figure out how to do this living situation thing, and she knows it’s hard, but it’s not my fault. We hugged again as I kinda lost it in tears again (all day). Yesterday I was in the baby’s room when she came home and I didn’t even know because she used the front door!

Anyway, the appointment went well. Dr. House (yes, it made me nervous, too) was very sympathetic, also felt I have postpartum depression and that I’m physically healthy. He urged me to keep my therapy apptmt next week, and when I asked if he were comfortable doing all my therapy documentation in a note for work, he looked up my info on the computer, saw all the prior diagnoses by my primary care doc AND the therapists, and immediately did an off-work note from the date I gave birth to the end of March. When I got home, Mr. W immediately scanned and I emailed it to my timekeeper person at work. She said it was perfect, and immediately passed it on to payroll downtown. She said this note will change all the vacation and other time they’d been using for my being off to “sick” time. Yay! Two things off my plate. The doctor also ordered a blood test to rule out any possible random physical reasons for my physical symptoms. The lab results were all within the range of “normal.”

I DO feel better. I didn’t want living with the stepdaughter to start off with both of us tiptoeing around each other and resentful, but it started off fine. The work issue is resolved. AND Allie slept through the night last night. 7:40p and still down now. I’m gonna go back to bed.

Mr. W got a text yesterday morning where the stepdaughter said she was “coming home” that night. That to me sounded like she was calling this “home,” which means things didn’t work out at her mom’s place and she’s coming back to live with us. I instantly got nauseated and dizzy thinking about all the stress coming with stepdaughter’s past resistance to the household’s current needs for quiet and privacy, and the sleep I’d be losing, and how much harder it’d be to put the baby to sleep and keep her asleep with noise I can’t control. The cat yowling is already bad enough, but I’ve been able to cut him off by making myself visible to him. He’s too polite to yowl when I’m there, and the deep loud territorial sounds will instantly change to gentle softer “meows” as he greets me. And then he stops altogether.

I actually considered taking my mom up on her offer to stay with my parents for awhile with the baby. Mr. W was understandably frustrated. “What do you want me to do?! She has to have a life, too! She’s my daughter, just as SHE (*pointing upstairs toward Allie’s room, where she as napping*) is my daughter.”
“I’m not trying to pick a fight and I can tell by your tone you’re upset at me. I feel like I’m pressed against a wall and I have nowhere to turn. I’m just trying to figure out what to do here. And it’s not just me having a hard time; [stepdaughter] was so resentful of having to live with the new lifestyle of being with a newborn that she tried to move out. I just think it’s easier for a 21-year-old to modify behavior than it is for an infant to modify behavior.”
“So I’ll talk to her. Write down a list of things you me to address with her and I’ll address it.”

Turned out she didn’t return last night, but had texted him saying she’d be here the next day (today). I just did a list, and they’re pretty common sense stuff:
*Respect current household hours (then listing the times her dad’s up in the mornings, the time the baby’s up to start her day, the fact that the baby’s down for the night at 6:30-7a, and her dad and my bedtimes of around 9p or earlier).
*Use front door and not garage whenever possible, especially after household is asleep; garage door rumbles & vibrates beneath baby’s room & sometimes wakes her up.
*Try to keep noise level to a minimum if you observe baby’s napping in the day, and after household has gone to sleep.
*Give prior notice if someone is coming over. Make sure guests respect household hours, too, i.e. with their own noise level.
*Note that noise carries easily upstairs, & altho the baby’s door is somewhat closed, she’s sensitive to sudden noise, & our master bedroom can not be closed becuase Dodo goes in & out, and the baby’s crying needs to be heard. Light therefore also goes in the master bedroom from the living room.
Examples of noises heard: garage door, door between garage & house slamming, talking on cell phone in regular voice in kitchen/hall areas, pots/pans banging in kitchen
*Clean up after self: shoes left in living room over several days are a tripping hazard when carrying baby; put dishes, blankets, etc away after use. Dishes go in dishwasher (instead of it drying out in sink), trash goes in trash cans & not countertops (wrappers, etc). Leave common areas in a condition where others can use it immediately after you without having to put things away or clean up after you first (i.e. laundry half-done in washer & dryer when you leave the house).

I can see Mr. W rolling his eyes at this list, but I think they’re very basic considerate things that anyone ought to do when living with anyone, even a roommate.

My anxiety level is cranked way up right now. Earlier in mid-post, a streetsweeper truck rolled by outside and I watched the monitor in horror as it woke Allie up from her nap. I couldn’t convince her to go down again because she’d napped long enough to not be as tired, altho she really didn’t nap enough at less than an hour. An insufficient nap after soothing her screaming and crying in my ear because she didn’t want to nap and resists when she feels tired, despite all her yawning and eye-rubbing… I was so frustrated I wanted to cry or puke or both. She’s old enough now to be somewhat self-entertained for a least 5-10 minutes, so she’s in the swing right now cooing along with the swing’s music, practicing raising her arms and legs.

I’m totally freaked out.

Allie had a bad night. We went out to a local fish place (Boneheads) for dinner, and she didn’t sleep in the car on the way there, so she basically missed her evening short nap. She did sleep about 20 mins or so in the carrier at the restaurant, after fussing, but that was hardly enough. Since she didn’t get good evening rest, I figured she’d be down solid overnight.

I fed her around 7p, she ate well and actually ate both sides (a feat these few days), and again, I was encouraged, thinking, “She’s well-fed so there’s no reason to get up. Maybe tonight she’ll go back to her normal sleep of 1 awakening overnight or better.” She did fall asleep pretty solidly at 7:40p. But then after that it all unraveled. She was up every 3 hours for food, starting at 11:30p (not since she was a newborn), then 2:40a, then was up at about 3:30a, kicking around, tossing her head left and right, eyes wide open. She’s had 7-8 feedings in 24 hours as opposed to the old 5-6 feedings. I told Mr. W to leave her alone as he started to get up to give her the pacifier, and she did settle down and go back to sleep, but that only lasted until 4:15a or so. At that time, Mr. W wanted me to get sleep, so he went in there and gave her the pacifier. Seeing her settled and sleeping on the monitor, I then fell asleep until almost 7a when I heard a single cry from her. I found out later that since he went in there, she did not sleep for more than 15-20 mins at a time, and he had to keep getting up to put the fallen pacifier back in her mouth, he tried taking her bear “bed” out and putting her on her stomach on the mattress, nothing worked more than that small increment of time. He finally stopped soothing her around 7a knowing that’s when I normally start the day with her with a feeding. Yes, he checked her diaper, and that wasn’t it, either. She just tossed and kicked, wide awake.

Before he went in there around 4a, he suggested that I may be overnapping her in the day, hencing making her less tired at night. I said that day naps and night sleep are independent mechanisms in their heads (something I learned from Dr. Weissbluth’s “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child,” or what I’ve been calling “The Sleep Book” on here). He said that the book was not written by God and I’ve been treating it like gospel, and maybe it doesn’t apply to every child. But Dr. Weissbluth’s a pediatrician specializing in child sleep. 🙁

So now I’m completely lost, like a piece of splinter after a shipwreck tossing about the open sea. Mr. W tried to soothe her into her morning nap and I heard her crying and resisting worst than she’d done in awhile. I went to take a shower, and when I came out, it was quiet. I saw him sleeping on the recliner in her room, holding her, also asleep. I had heard him try to leave her once, before I started my shower, and heard her start crying, then heard him go back in. Now she’s crying again. I know he’s exhausted, frustrated and stressed, and I feel responsible for his exhaustion and stress because they’re caused by my baby, and that, along with my own stress over the baby’s mysterious behavior right now, has me doubly stressed.

Why does this shit always happen on the weekends when I can’t email my pediatrician?!

Grandma (my mom) came over yesterday and gave Allie a new hat she’d knitted.

It was a little big, but I think Allie’s going to grow into it really soon. How else could I explain the extra feeding she’s been cramming in the past 6 nights straight? Must be the 3-month growth spurt. For the past week, she hasn’t been sleeping through the night anymore. She has her last meal for the day at 7pm (I advanced this from 8:30ish, so this may have something to do with her awakenings, too), hits the hay, then wakes up around midnight-ish to eat, then again around 4ish to eat. Taking away a 9pm-ish meal drops her feedings to 5 a day instead of the usual 6, but I thought she was ready for it. At least, she was before she got sick. So some of the night feedings could also be because she doesn’t feel good so she eats so little in the day now; 5 minutes, 1 side, and she refuses to eat more, so she’s making up her calories in the middle of the night. I guess time will tell.
“Thanks for the hat, grandma!”

Since finding her fingers, Allie has been busy tasting them. Given that, I’ve also paid special attention to her hands, making sure her nails are short so she doesn’t wake up with new scratches on her nose and then eats whatever’s in her fingernails. It’s amazing the random lint you find between baby finger and baby palm crevices.

This photo doesn’t depict it, but her feet already reach the BOTTOMS of her long sleep sacks. I wonder how tall she is now. When she stands (assisted for balance, but she carries pretty much her own weight on her legs), she seems pretty darn tall. My mom says, “What are you gonna do? When she’s older and you need to slap her, you’d have to reach way up!” *making effortful-sounding grunts as she makes a motion like she’s attempting to spike a volleyball over a high net* “You’d have to tell her to bend down so you can hit her!” Ah, first generation parents. The stuff they think about.

Nebulizer treatment given…check.
Baby changed and fed…check.
Baby napping…check.
Baby laundry done and put away…check.
Dishwasher unloaded and dishes put away…check.
Lunch eaten…check.
Checks for bills and stuff written…check.
Got mail and package…check.
What’s missing? Oh yes, the hubby. =/

A friend had once said that the thing she hated most about married life is the constant waiting. Feeling like her day isn’t complete and her evening hasn’t started until he comes in the door from work. Life is on hold while waiting for him. I’ve certainly been watching the clock more rigorously than before I was on maternity leave. “He’s just starting his work now.” “He’s almost at lunchtime.” “He should be back from lunch now.” “He should be getting ready to leave now.” And then, in what seems like forever and yet oddly quickly when counted in terms of baby nap periods, “YAY! DADDY’S HOME!,” I tell Allie.

The package I received was from BabyComfyNose, the mouth-powered booger sucker thing I ordered over the weekend. I was eager to try it, but wouldn’t you know it, by the time I had the package open and the tube set up, Allie was looking at me innocently from her high chair at the dining table, lips sealed, breathing comfortably through her nose. I laughed at her. She laughed her toothless gummy wide-mouthed laugh back.

I’ve noticed when feeding her on the living room couch that when I sit her up to burp, she looks with intense interest at something toward the front door, probably about 7-8 feet up. As she learned to smile socially in the past month or so, she’d break out in a big open-mouthed smile in that direction, her eyes curling into little downward-facing crescents in her jolliness. Today, she did the same thing, but made laughing sounds. It seems like she’s staring at the silver-framed engagement photo of her father and me, hanging on our wall near the front door. (See 3rd photo from the bottom for a picture of said photo and frame from this previous wedding post.) “What’re you smiling at?” I’ve asked her often. “Do you recognize that photo? Were you there in spirit that day when we took it?” She’s remained as silent about that mystery as she remains entertained by the photo.

Maybe she just thinks it’s funny to see her mommy and daddy all dressed up and spiffy-looking cuz we certainly don’t look like that anymore. Especially not me; it’s a rare day if I even pop in contact lenses.

Yesterday morning started out a little rough; Allie had a coughing fit so bad that she vomited again. She whimpered, eyes and nose red from the strain, then jumped right back into her smile. She napped pretty decently all day, sleeping past the time I’d expected and missing a feeding. Maybe it was the hard rain pouring that made her sleepy. Late morning, she woke up sloshy and congested and seemed crabbier than normal, so I did the saline + nasal bulb aspiration. Of course she cried. I got some stuff out, but not an incredible amount. I’d read the instructions on the nebulizer while she was napping and tested putting it together, so I gave her a treatment. She struggled, screamed and cried through the whole 15-20 minutes, a heartbreaking little tear trickling out from the outside corner of each eye.

It started raining harder during her afternoon nap, which seemed to make her sleep deeper. I had plenty of time to research RSV viruses and it scared me. I went on the social networking site and shot out a status message regarding the rain and the nanny interview scheduled for that evening in an outdoor shopping mall where I’d have to take the baby in a stroller and hope she doesn’t get too wet from the parking structure to the meeting place. Should I change the meeting place to our home? But then given how contagious and bad this virus is, it’s pretty effed up to risk giving it to someone else. With the encouragement of friends, I called Susanne (the German lady) and left her a voice mail about 2 hours 15 mins before we were supposed to meet. I explained that as it was raining so hard and Allie has a bad virus, we should reschedule our meeting. I figured she lives about a half hour from the location, she wouldn’t have left yet, but when I got her voice mail I was concerned. She called me back when I was changing Allie and left a voice mail, saying she’d left to meet us already and was driving so she couldn’t pick up the phone. She was nice about it, said with the baby sick and the rain, she understood, and we’ll just reschedule the interview. When I called back later, I again got her vm and I apologized, saying I didn’t realize she would’ve left that early and sorry for the drive for nothing. I explained it’s hard for me to get the phone sometimes with the baby and maybe email is better. Later in the evening, I got an email from her that I was afraid to open, but she was very nice, again.

“Hi Cindy,
sorry it didn’t worked out today. I hope the baby is doing better soon. I completely understand that you didn’t wanted to take her out in the rain today and it wasn’t any problem for me. I just hit the freeway and wasn’t far away from home at all so I just took the next exit and turned around. So no worries… I love driving 😉
Well just let me know for when we could rearrange the appointment and I hope to meet you soon.
Have a great night and Happy late Valentines…

Mr. W was sure we’d lost her. Now I almost feel obligated to hire her. =P I also emailed Diane, the woman with the looong drive to come to us, and explained about the sickness and asked to reschedule. She also wrote back nicely, said her son had the same virus when he was a baby and it was scary for her. She wished our family a speedy recovery and asked me to schedule the interview once we’re well.

The rest of the evening and so far today, Allie seemed a little better. Altho she still coughed and occasionally gags after a coughing fit, she didn’t vomit again. Mr. W had her between 6-7p while I took a shower. At one point I heard him say he needed to clear her nose and I heard crying (from the baby). Later I peeked downstairs to see Allie sitting on his lap looking at the computer monitor while baby rock music (Journey) played on media player, and he was giving her the nebulizer treatment…with no protest! Allie was fed at 7p, fell asleep soon after, but woke up again around 9:30p and had a hard time going back down. I stayed with her in her room until past 11p to do the pacifier thing.

She was napping nicely but now is having a fit. I thought she was better but maybe not yet… Gotta run to her.

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