Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thoughts on a Sunny Day

It’s finally warming up. That’s a funny statement on many levels—mostly because the “cold” we’ve been having hasn’t been colder than low-40s, with most afternoons getting into the low-50s. But to this Californian—and by “Californian” I’m referring to the fact that my blood, now thin as water after two and half years, makes me so—it’s been cold, cold, cold. I can’t seem to warm up. It could be because it’s rained nearly every day for two weeks, making everything damp and chilly, or because I can’t seem to stop losing weight. (It was fun to fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans again…and now they once again don’t fit—for the opposite reason). Whatever the case, Skeleton Mommy here is quite glad to see the sun for the second day in a row.

I think Lucia is going through a growth spurt. Once a through-the-night sleeper, she’s now waking up twice to eat. And she’s been fussy the past couple of days, refusing to breastfeed—I think she’s just so hungry she wants a no-work-needed bottle. This makes my days somewhat chaotic, as I have to juggle a baby with pumping, but we seem to be back on track today.

Lucia is still thrilled with her new trick of blowing spit bubbles, and she’s more smiley than ever. She also has a cute new way of staring to wriggle and smile excitedly when she catches sight of us when she’s in her crib or bassinet, as though we’ve made her the happiest baby in the world by coming to pick her up. And she seems to be enjoying our nightly story time, even though it sometimes winds up with Andrew reading the story out loud to himself while I try to calm her crying. Last night, however, she really seemed into Bedtime for Frances; she was actually studying the illustrations.

Our “marriage class” last week was fine. We heard about what makes a good marriage, and got a handout about natural family planning. Then we answered 165 questions about our relationship, which we’ll be discussing with the deacon in the weeks to come. I certainly hope the survey proves we’re compatible.

Not much to blog about these days—the dreary (cold!) weather has sapped my energy a bit. Got to get back to it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Talking 'Bout Marriage

Tomorrow morning, Andrew and I (and Lucia) are going somewhere new and exciting: marriage class. Yes, marriage class—as in Catholic pre-marriage counseling classes, even though we’re already married. Well, to us and the government, we’re married. To the church, we are not. And so, as part of my “return to the church” (i.e., doing what I have to do to get Lucia baptized), Andrew and I are going to get a convalidation—an official recognition of our marriage by the church. And this will involve three sessions with the deacon.

My meeting with the deacon on Wednesday actually went very well. He didn’t ask any probing questions about why I haven’t been going to church for the past ten-plus years, and there was, fortunately, no reason for me to discuss my views on gay marriage, abortion, or contraception. Get the convalidation, go to confession, schedule the baptism for Lucia—and that’s that. He’s making the whole thing quite easy, and so I can’t complain too much about the classes (I’ll leave the complaining to heathen Andrew). A few hours of our time and we’ll be legit in the eyes of the church. I’m not sure why, but this pleases me, as though I’m putting the final touches on a complicated tax return. I guess I just like the idea that should any church-related business come up in the future with Lucia or any future children, we’ll be all squared away.

So, tomorrow we’ll sit in a room for two hours with several unmarried couples, talking about marriage. Andrew and I thought it would be funny if we went in and complained about marriage the whole time—“Guys, seriously, don’t do this. I can’t go out whenever I want to anymore. It’s like I have to always consider this other person. So annoying!” (Our evenings are quiet. We amuse ourselves.) More realistic is that Lucia will wake up tomorrow as Fusskins and legitimately scare everyone off from the whole idea of a marriage and family. We’ll be the bearers of fear and doubt! I’m sure the deacon will be thrilled.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Center of Attention

Aside from when Lucia is napping or asleep for the night, there are very, very few moments during the day when Andrew and I are not interacting with her in some way. We play on her floor gym; we do tummy time; we chirp at ourselves in the bathroom mirror; we swat at things in our bouncy chair; we read; we make faces at each other on the couch; we feed; we walk around the house; we look out the window; we lie on the bed.

But sometimes, sometimes, I deign to multitask. This morning, as Lucia played on her floor gym, batting around jingling objects, I ate some nut bread and tried to read the paper. I was right on the floor next to her, but, I admit, I was not gazing at her intently. Suddenly, the jingling stopped, and I looked over. Lucia was giving me a slight baby-frown. Then she turned her eyes to the newspaper, and I swear she gave it a dirty look. She was not the center of attention, and she was not amused.

Later today, as she was breastfeeding intently, I slowly, surreptitiously, reached over for a magazine. She didn’t notice. But then I lifted the magazine, turned a page, and began reading. Abruptly, she stopped eating, pulled away, and stared up at me. “This won’t do,” she seemed to be saying. “I’m so cute when I eat. You must gaze down at me in adoration. No reading.” As soon as I lowered the magazine, she gave me a brilliant smile and returned to her meal.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

To Church We Go

I went to church on Sunday on a reconnaissance mission. Andrew and I have agreed (or, rather, I proposed and Andrew amiably went along with it) that Lucia should be baptized, and so I found a local Catholic church and went to check it out. The logistics of a baptism are challenging, seeing as how I’m a lapsed Catholic, Andrew’s not baptized at all, we were married outside the church, and we’re not members of a parish. And the reasons for pursuing it are murky, even to me, even though I do feel it’s the right thing to do—despite the fact that the things Andrew and I will teach her are at odds with most, or all, of current church doctrine. An unwise perusal of the Catholics Come Home website last night, where I read that not only are homosexual unions “disordered” but childless married couples are as well, reminded me that for a liberal-minded person living in 2010, being a Catholic necessarily means cherry-picking from the less astonishingly outdated and intolerant parts of the faith.

But it’s hard, very hard, to simply set aside 12+ years of Catholic schooling and 30+ years of actually being Catholic when it comes to thinking about baptism for Lucia. To this day, sometimes when I drop a pen and bend down to pick it up I can still hear the voice of Sr. Regina, one of my elementary school teachers, instructing me to “offer [the action] up to the souls in purgatory.” Offer it up, she said. Offer it up. Baptism has always seemed like a necessary rite of passage, something you just do for your baby. Like a good life insurance plan, it seemed morbid but never optional.

I’m not really being clear; and my reasons for wanting Lucia baptized aren’t all rooted in morbidity and fear. I was thinking recently about our trip to Seville and Granada for Holy Week a few years ago—those candlelit processions, those fervent crowds. It’s a breathtaking spectacle no matter what your faith; but it feels like something more—something more intimate, more moving—when the faith driving the processions and rituals is your own. It connects you, somehow, to something larger, gives you a sense of belonging. Whether or not Lucia will embrace or renounce that belonging will be up to her.

Tomorrow I meet with the church deacon to see if a baptism will be possible.

Friday, January 15, 2010


We’re hitting a kind of stride, Lucia and I. We have fewer fussy days than splendid smiley ones; we have a quasi-schedule of naps and playtime. We’ve even been getting out of the house together. And I’ve been getting lots of work done. It’s been a good week.

The weak link in all of this is the feeding. For weeks we’d been doing wonderfully—and then, on Tuesday, for an unknown reason, Lucia embarked on a one-day nursing strike. She refused to breastfeed, would scream when she got anywhere near the breast, and generally did her best to give her mama a nervous breakdown. I pumped and bottle-fed her all day. The next day, she was back to normal. Who knows why it happened?

In any case, I worry quite a bit about whether she’s eating enough, whether I’m producing enough, whether her naps are too long, whether she should be eating more frequently, for longer periods of time, and so on and so on. I feel mildly—well, not mildly; fully—obsessed with her eating, and each time she latches on and nurses successfully I feel a rush of relief. I don’t know why I’m so worried about it. She’s clearly thriving—she’s happy as can be, active and playful, and nicely filling out her three-month outfits. An unofficial weighing on our bathroom scale this week put her at eleven pounds.

So we continue on with our routine, generally smoothly, until a day like Tuesday happens. Andrew can’t understand why her breast-refusal upsets me so much; the way he sees it, as long she’s eating, and as long as what she’s eating is breast milk, then what’s the big deal? But it does seem like a big deal to me, like something is awry in the mama/baby synergy, in my ability to provide what she needs.

Fortunately, such troubled days are rare, giving way to days when breastfeeding seems to absolutely delight her, when she’ll pull away and look up at me and give a thrilled little cry—which I’m sure translates to “What wonderful milk, mama! How fun it is to eat!”—before nuzzling in once more.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Baby in the Mirror

After weeks of screaming and blatant looks of hatred and disgust, Lucia has finally come around to tummy time. Her ability to roll over seems to have transformed things for her; whether it’s “fun” for her to roll over isn’t quite clear, but it’s certainly not unpleasant, and she even smiles now when she does it. This weekend, we also bought her a mirror to encourage her to keep her head elevated for longer periods of time—and she loves it. She stares at herself, smiles, gurgles. She and her reflection blow spit bubbles together. It’s adorable.

Here's our first video uploading attempt:

Saturday, January 09, 2010

A Night Sans Papa

We made it! Our first night sans-papa was uneventful—which, when Fusskins takes such pleasure in dramatically grand and prolonged entrances, is a good thing. Lucia was a little angel all day and all night. Thursday morning, we went to a baby-and-mama workout class, where she sat peacefully in her car seat while some of the other babies cried and cried (the roles, surely, will be reversed at some point). She was wary when Julie, the teacher, greeted her, giving her a serious, appraising stare that made her look older than twelve weeks. For the rest of the day she napped when I wanted her to, ate peacefully when she wanted to, and went to bed with nary a Fusskins in sight.

Friday was fine as well; these regular naps—two hours each, morning and afternoon—seem to be working wonders. She’s more cheerful when she’s up, content to sit on my lap and read books, dance with me to a variety of songs, and roll over again and again on her blanket on the floor. It seems to be getting more fun for her—she even smiled a few times when she did it, although that could be because of my wild cheering each time it happens.

Friday afternoon, we had visitors—a girl I met in prenatal yoga, along with her six-month-old baby. It was nice to chat about babies and etc.—look at me, being social, talking to other human beings, making plans to (gasp) leave the house. If you’re thinking it sounds like a new year’s resolution, you’re correct.

And then—yay—Andrew came home Friday night. We picked him up at the airport, and we were all in one place once again.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Letter to Lucia: 12 Weeks

Little Lucia,

You’re three months old today, becoming more baby-like and less infant-like by the day. We’re marking your three-month milestone with a milestone for me, too: my first time alone with you overnight. Daddy’s on a business trip all day today and most of tomorrow, so it’s just you and me. Will you understand someday how scared I am about this endeavor? It’s such unreasonable anxiety—if you cry, well, you’ve cried before, and you always stop crying eventually. I’ve cleared my work schedule today so all I have to focus on is you. You, and maintaining my sanity. I’m fine so far and am determined to, as your dad so kindly says, “get out in front of it” should I start feeling overwhelmed.

You have a new trick: rolling over from tummy to back. You did this once or twice before Christmas, but now you do it consistently. You always look a little surprised when it happens, but today you looked a little pleased, too. When you’re on your back you can roll firmly onto your side—surely it’s just a matter of time before you’re even more mobile.

It was so much fun to have you with us this Christmas in Jacksonville and Connellsville, where you smiled and cooed and—we have many witnesses—said “Hi!” over and over again. You are getting very chatty in your charming baby way, and also quite good at mimicking facial expressions and sounds. You seem to recognize me and Daddy, too.

In the last two weeks you took six flights and handled them swimmingly—I hope you’ll be an excellent traveler, though I know we might have our challenges once you’re a toddler. Part of me (probably the part of me that thought having a baby wouldn’t be that hard) wants to believe you’ll be a champion traveler simply because your dad and I love to travel so much—that a kind of travel-grace will be in your blood. This kind of wishful thinking may last only until our next flight, but I can hope.

You are around eleven pounds now, and have outgrown your newborn-size sleepers. I’m sad to put them away—they seem so much a part of you—and it’s strange sometimes to see you in your new three-month outfits, as though you’re a whole new baby.

You’re napping right now. I’m determined to get you onto a nap schedule, for both our sakes, and have started to enact a naptime ritual consisting of feeding (if you’re hungry), swaddling, rocking, and a Calming Seas CD. You do love the white noise; it settles you in a way nothing else does.

It’s 10:30am, and the day stretches ahead, just you and me. Work with me here, my sweetie. Together we can do this.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


We’re back from the holidays, tired but happy after a lovely and lengthy two weeks in the villes of Jackson and Connell. Lucia handled the flights—all six of them—with as much suavity as an eleven-week-old can muster; she cried only a couple of times on the descent, but otherwise slept quietly in her sling for most of the time, occasionally waking up to nurse. She was all but invisible.

It was fun introducing her to new family and friends, and she handled her change of surroundings quite well—even sleeping through the night for eight straight hours, which is more than she’d been doing here at home. And she’s all smiles these days, and a bundle of adorable coos, and everyone—in both of our families—is convinced she can say “Hi.”

Today was a rough day—Fusskins seems to have found her way out of the suitcase and blessed me with a day of more or less constant fussing and crying—so I’m ready for bed. But here are a few pictures from our trip.

A reluctant winter princess

Zen master

Molly, en route to Tampa, with Lucia and puppies in Jacksonville

In a 100-year-old cradle

First Scrabble game

Smiling in Cville

Ready to go out in the freezing cold