New Dawn. New Day.

>> 11.30.2012

And I'm feeling good . . . because last night's fortune cookie was right.

Today has been a good day. Ada woke at 7:30 -- smiling and singing. I got all my work done. I caught up with a friend on the phone. Ada's currently passing the 2-hour mark on her nap. Outdoors, it looks like we're living in a snow globe. We just got Ada's ultrasound results and they were clear with no immediate need for additional testing.

Things change so much from day to day, it's incredible. Wild, even. It's not in my personality to roll with it, but I'm up for trying new things these days.

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Making Lemonade

>> 11.28.2012

I feel bad for my little outburst this morning. Since Ada's 2-hour nap (!!!), she's been quite a delight. Don't confuse her concentration-face with her grump-face. They look exactly the same, I know.

Should have taped the paper down. Rookie mistake.

Take 2.

Paint, paint everywhere. In our ears and in our hair.

Afterward, I gave her a nice, warm bath. Scrubbed down the floor, high chair, and curtains (yes! another rookie mistake!). We listened to some Queen and danced around the living room. She walked from the armchair clear to the Christmas tree. Good times.


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It's all in my head, isn't it?

As I lay here on the floor -- head propped up by three mismatched decorative pillows; knees bent with my laptop perched precariously atop my hipbones; feet wedged under our fake wood stove (all of these positions begging comfort, mind you) -- I can't help but wonder if it's all in my head.

My self-diagnosed "high needs" child, that is.

I've come to fear hearing a cry scream from the baby monitor after putting Ada to sleep. I also fear garbage day (the loud trucks), recycling day (more loud trucks), and so on.

Back to the baby monitor. It's to the point that I don't turn it on until a good 15 minutes after she's down, all the while cowering on the floor as detailed above with soft music blaring, which only makes sense to me because I've figured out the loudest volume level I can maintain without disruption upstairs.

Oh, and the white noise of our forced air heat. Yeah. I turn it up a degree so it will kick on and alleviate my need to remain silent until the sleep cycle truly kicks in. It's an absolute necessity, too, as we learned yesterday when Stephen accidentally dropped the TV remove onto the wood floor in the living room, waking Ada in what is now known as the "Great Afternoon Sleep Upset of 2012".

It ruined the rest of the day for this one.

Things aren't this bad all the time. Not at all, I'm being dramatic because today is a bad, bad day. And when our days are bad, they are really, r.e.a.l.l.y bad. (All repetition is for emphasis, of course.) Ada woke at 5:50 AM today. By "woke" I mean she screamed MANY times at 5:50 AM. By now, I've learned to put myself on autopilot and commence the shushing and rocking.

She doesn't settle for Stephen anymore in the night. Or at any other time of day, for that matter. It's all on me. Lately when I try to put her down, she physically clings to me. Like she doesn't want me to ever let her go. It's sweet until it's all the time.

When she's awake, there are times when her cries get out of control. When nothing will stop them and she's ends up shaking, gasping for air -- almost in spasms. I thought it was a newborn thing. But it's continued to this day.

There are so many times I've asked Stephen if something is wrong with her. When I've warned my parents or in-laws or friends that if they want to watch her, and many have generously offered, she might get out of control and they won't be able to calm her. (Most notably is the time Stephen and I went to see Hunger Games. It was the one time I decided to turn off my phone, be a "relaxed" mom, and truly disconnect. It's a long movie, right? Well, we found out during the credits that Ada had a mental breakdown the entire time we were away.)

Thing is, most of the days are very good. It's just in the bad when I wonder if I wasn't staying home with her how she'd survive daycare. Am I enabling her to be a wreck? When she was a newborn, I'd vacuum right outside her nursery. I'd walk normally in the hallway, not tiptoe up the stairs avoiding creaky step landmines like I'm in some James Bond movie.

Am I just some overly emotional Lifetime movie mom who's baby is actually entirely normal? Am I really the crazy one in this situation? Because, Hunger Games incident aside, Ada rarely and I mean RARELY reproduces this behavior with anyone else. Hence the wonder if it's all inside my head. She's a doll with other people. She can miss all her naps, get overstimulated, miss feeding sessions -- anything out of the norm -- and be beautifully, magnificently fine.

I sound like a mom who needs a break. I also sound like a mom who needs to let go and chill the **** out. But honestly, when I do that, Stephen ends up spending over an hour trying to calm Ada -- ultimately and always failing.

The minute she's in my arms? Silence. Sweet, sweet silence. Until I put her down again.

(And I am just realizing a lot of what I've written sounds contradictory. How can she be fantastic with others and a mess with me. Yet when she's a mess, she only wants/needs me?)

I'm thinking it's late-onset separation anxiety. I'm trying my best to stay calm, cool, and collected. I'm trying to wear her in the carrier -- though, she's not having it because all she wants to do is practice walking. But writing this out has made me feel much better. Thanks for listening.

Writing and healing is a course I took in college. My classmates and I sort of made fun of it at the time because we had no idea how cathartic writing can actually be. If you're looking for an outlet, you should seriously put pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard) sometime. I promise it will help. At least a little.

It's a good sign that I wrote all this and she's still asleep!

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Ada at 12 Months

>> 11.27.2012

Ada's first birthday came and went. The song was sung. The presents were opened. The candle, blown out. The cake . . . consumed.

Now it's over a week later, and I'm realizing that life still goes on after the one year mark. I guess those first months, I just kept thinking ONE YEAR OLD would be magically different. In many ways it is.

In many ways, though, it's business as usual with this one.

Here's a rundown:

Clothing size: Mostly 12-18 month because the 6-12 is too short. I also brought out a bunch of 18-24 month and even 2T and just roll stuff up. I figure why not get more use out of it? (PS: What's the difference between 18-24 month and 2T? Just length?)

Teeth: 12. TWELVE. All her molars are well through the gums. I even suspect she might be working on incisors now.

Meals: 4 breastfeeding sessions, 3 meals, and the occasional snack. We stopped feeding her at 11pm over a month ago and, after only a single night of weird sleep, it was dropped. I delayed the change for months because I was sure she'd stop sleeping through the night. But now, she's sleeps from 7:30 PM to 7:30 AM pretty reliably. (But I'll get to that more in a minute.)

Naps: Two, but I can tell something's up. The morning is usually 1 to 1.5 hours. The afternoon is usually 1 to 1.5 hours. It's been harder to get her settled these last couple weeks. She's needed more rocking and singing. She also started clinging to me when I put her in her crib.

Walking? Yes! Ada took her first steps a few days before her first birthday. Then nothing for a week. And all of a sudden, yesterday she started walking around, sometimes 10 or more steps at a time!

Words: This girl is getting chatty. She often has conversations with her toys. To add to all the "real" words last month, she now can identify an owl (awww-wahhhl). She also says ball, this, and even occasionally Santa. Really, she's starting to say a lot more, but it just takes a bit to realize it.

Beyond words, I can tell she's understanding much more.

We have this shape sorting cube, and I ask her to hand me the pieces -- and she does. I can also say "How big is Ada?" and she'll throw her hands in the air like we taught her (SO big!). Her newest trick? "How old is Ada?" -- emphasis on old because she'll get it confused with big -- and 8 times out of 10, she'll throw up a pointer finger to say 1 (but for whatever reason, she says "one" as "da").

Favorite activities: Reading books. Especially the ones with flaps (I'll need to do another favorite books post soon). Today, she's "reading" all about dinosaurs.

Other activities: Pointing at things everything. Checking out the Christmas tree ornaments. Trust-falling (she started doing this in our bed one day -- she just looks behind her briefly and falls back. BAD habit when not in the bed!). Oh, yeah. And dancing. All the time.

Favorite toys: My old cell phone. She loves our iPhones and remote controls. The other day while I was cleaning, I found an old flip phone of mine. I took the battery out of it and took off some of the smaller plastic pieces. She loves opening an closing it.

And, of course, she loves saying "bye" to the imaginary people on the other end. That's still her favorite word.

Weaning plans: I think we're going to cut one of the mid-day feeds soon. Ada doesn't eat food well at lunch, so I'm thinking she might be filling up on too much mommy milk. I have been reading that as long as a baby is nursing 3 times a day, there's no need to supplement with extra milk.

So, we'll see how 3 feeds goes. I'm not in a huge rush, though I would like to get down to only morning and night before 18 months. And if we do choose to supplement, I have a freezer full of pumped milk that isn't getting any younger.

Schedule: Pretty much the same as last month, minus the night feed.

What our house looks like:

I'm thinking about checking out the Toy Cure over on Apartment therapy. It's the curse of a birthday so close to Christmas, I think. Ada got some awesome toys at her birthday, and I think many that we're still holding onto might be too baby for her now.

It's so hard getting rid of things, though. Toys really do hold sentimental value. There's this one toy that particularly annoys me, but I just can't get rid of it because I remember the very first time she actually PLAYED with something was when she turned the wheel. I'm weird. Anyway, I think we'll just be packing a lot to go to the attic for whenever #2 comes along.

Sleep: Ada's been having what I can only figure to be night terrors. Always a couple hours after she's been asleep at night, she starts SCREAMING. I go up to her room and she's standing in her crib, not totally aware, or so it seems. It takes between 1 and 5 minutes to calm her down, and sometimes I have to turn on the light or go back in after a few minutes because she's screaming again.

I know she doesn't have an ear infection because we were just at the doctor. Her teeth are all in for the most part (and she doesn't have any of her other teething signs like drooling). So, we're keeping an eye on it. My parents tell me that I had night terrors. It's so hard to see her like that!

This is happening right now. So, I'd better go! (Stephen is home sick today, so he's taking care of it. Or you're sure I'd be running over there instead of snapping a photo.)

I'll be back tomorrow with a post about me a year after baby. Spoiler alert: I'm not steady back at my pre-pregnancy weight and I sometimes feel more like a mess than I did in the newborn days.

Oh, (pre)toddlers!

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Our Holiday

>> 11.26.2012

I'd definitely say our holiday weekend was overshadowed by Ada's testing. And even before we get to all that, the poor little thing has been so different since her last round of vaccinations. Trouble not napping, waking up screaming at night, cranky, clingy, ravenously hungry or completely refusing food. All four of her molars are at least halfway poked through the gums as well.

It's been a rough time. We feel exhausted. As horrible as this sounds: Thanksgiving -- I'm just thankful that . . . it's over!

Ada's ultrasound appointment was Friday. Actually, we ended up spending half the day at the hospital between a routine 12-month lab workup, the head ultrasound, and an unexpected trip to our pediatrician. (Ada fell into a rail on her crib and her frenulum got lodged between her two front teeth. Oh, the blood!)

We ended up driving around our neighborhood for 45 minutes between appointments just to get Ada to nap. She cried so much during the blood draw and ultrasound, too. By the time we go to her last appointment, simply sitting her on the table had her in a panic attack. I sensed that she felt betrayed that we were letting all this poking and prodding go on. Even assisting when we had to hold her still.  It was absolutely heart-wrenching.

Stephen and I were both in tears. It was one of the hardest days we've ever had emotionally -- and these tests weren't even that invasive! Imagine if we need to get a better look. Which, we very well may need to do since they were able to see some areas with the ultrasound, but not all. So far, there isn't any sign of hydrocephalus, which was a main concern. But we're still waiting on the results directly from our pediatrician.

Before all this bad stuff, we had Thanksgiving dinner with my mom's family down in Pennsylvania. Here are a couple photos. I wasn't terribly shutter-happy because -- to add to everything else -- I was carsick most of the day! Hopefully I'll be back and in a better mood tomorrow.

Hope you all had a beautiful holiday! I'll be back later today on (never)homemaker with some recipes from our own Thanksgiving feast. For a preview of what was on our table, you can head over there now.

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>> 11.22.2012

We're thankful for so many things today. Family most of all. And the gorgeous, sunny weather we've been blessed with this week is certainly a rare treat. Though Ada's first Thanksgiving was technically last year, she was just over a week old. Stressful, tiring times. I imagine that this year it will feel much more real to spend the holiday season as a family of three. Bring on the festivities!

Hope you're all having a great day.

PS: We're also very thankful to have Ada's ultrasound appointment tomorrow afternoon. To have health insurance that helps us afford testing. To have wonderful people -- like you -- pulling for her. Hopefully we will know more soon about everything -- good or bad.

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12 Month Checkup

>> 11.20.2012

Remember how I was trying my best to put worries out of my head after Ada's 9-month checkup? I did a pretty good job, actually. I'll get to that in a moment, though. Yesterday, Stephen joined me for her year appointment -- complete with shots -- and, as much as I love our doctor, we waited f.o.r.e.v.e.r to be seen.

REALLY forever. This girl was a trooper, but ended up having am mini-meltdown as we waited over an hour in our little room. In between all the waiting and nurses and shots, etc., we were at the office for over two hours.

That expectant look on her face says it all. We, too, thought someone would come through the door at any moment, Ada.

First, Ada's stats before I forget them.

Length: 29.5 inches (65th percentile -- up from the 50th) 
Weight: 19.6 pounds (25th percentile -- up from the 15th, yay!)
Head circumference: 19 inches . . .

For those of you who read my last post about Ada's macrocephaly (big head), yes. This measurement -- taken three times, I might add -- is off the charts. Again. Even more than last time. I almost started crying when I saw the nurse plot the dot on Ada's chart way up there in 100th+ territory.

I know a big head isn't always a reason for concern. However, in our case, I think it might be. You see, Ada hasn't always had a big head. It started out in the 50th percentile. Steady. Then somewhere along the way it jumped and keeps jumping. The doctor said it's this rate of growth that's the concern, not the actual measurement.

We now have to have an ultrasound to see what's going on. I won't write anything more since we don't know anything more. I am trying my best to stay cool until we know something more concrete. And I am hoping so much that it's just a fluke.

Everything else looks great. Ada's development is right on track. She's totally off her reflux meds now (and has been for months). We're supposed to continue an iron supplement, but I'm really not keen on that (she's never had blood work showing deficiency -- do any other of you parents give iron just because? I'd love more info.)

Of course, after all this head stuff and the rest of the checkup, we had to get on to the shots. Lots of them. And we did end up opting for the flu shot because Ada seems to relatively prone to illness. Despite staying home with me most days, she's had quite a few colds and viruses. We think it may be from Stephen's job as a high school teacher.

She was very tired an absolute mess when we got home (since the appointment ran through her usual afternoon nap). So, we let her do something we've always been told not to do. She napped from 4 till 5, breaking the whole no-sleep-past-4 "rule". She still slept through the night from 7:30 pm until 8:00 am, though.

Besides some grogginess, she seems OK from the shots, but I'm keep an eye on her. I'm honestly extremely preoccupied today as I wait to get her ultrasound appointment. I just want to get it done so we know something, even if that something ends up being nothing.

I plan to write another year update soon with more fun topics, like new words and stuff she's doing. For now, I'm off to finish some work!

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Party Scenes

>> 11.19.2012

We fit crammed 23 people (6 of them kids) into our tiny house on Saturday to celebrate Ada's first birthday. Signs of a successful bash? Very little food and drink leftover. I will have many more details about decorations, party foods, etc. -- as well as photos (yes -- there are even more photos!) -- soon.

For now, have a happy Monday!

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>> 11.16.2012

This time last year, I was just arriving at the hospital, getting checked, and discovering that I was already 5 centimeters dilated. My mom told me everything would come rushing back to me today, and it certainly has. At every half hour increment this morning, I have been thinking in this then-and-now sort of way.

I told Stephen last night that I didn't think I was in labor when I woke up early in the morning with abdominal pains last year. No. I thought I was having digestive issues from poor dinner choices the night before. Albeit bad, painful issues that were coming in waves. But certainly Ada wasn't arriving 2 weeks early. I was going to go over my due date by a few days . . . and labor was going to take over 24 hours.

I still had a long, lloonngg, or possibly lllooonnnggg way to go.

For whatever reason, I hopped in the shower in the wee hours to help ease the pain. With candles. Still didn't think I was in labor. (Deluded much?) I dried off and crawled back into bed for some tossing and turning, which I had come to know as sleep that last month of my pregnancy.

I woke with more pain when Stephen's alarm went off and -- after a w.h.i.l.e, mind you -- thought maybe these sensations were the early stages. I told Stephen to go to work, though, expecting to being in this weird early labor-limbo for the rest of the day.

I wrote up the rest in my birth story, which I know I'll be reading again later. After I got to the hospital, things didn't take long. It's really true that you don't remember too much about the actual physical pain. (What it even feels like to be pregnant? I sometimes can't believe I was for 9 months. Distant, distant memory.)

Everything happened so fast.
I was in my own world.
It was chaotic and challenging.
10 centimeters already?!!?
I pushed, pushed, and pushed some more.
(It was nothing like A Baby Story.)
Then when I thought I couldn't do it anymore, she was here.
At 3:02 PM on November 16th.
Only five hours after getting to the hospital.

I always nurse Ada before bedtime. Then I hold her and rock her gently for a minute or so before putting her in her crib. Or, at least, I used to. Lately, she's been resisting this cuddle. Immediately pushing away and making herself comfortable. We tried for months and months to get her to settle on her own, and she's a pro.

Of course, last night was no exception. I came downstairs sobbing, telling Stephen how she's not a baby anymore. So much change this year. So much change ahead. I was overwhelmed.

I know she'll always be my baby. My first. The little girl who changed my world forever. All that intense stuff. But just as I can't seem to hold onto Ada in the same way physically . . . I, too, can't hold onto the past. Things don't stay the same because we want or need them to.

We adapt.
We grow.
And Ada still has a lot of growing to do.
We all do.

Today, I see things anew. I'm ready and excited for what this second year of Ada Mae's life will bring. The pre-toddler year, as I'm calling clinging to it. But enough sappy stuff. I have guests arriving in a few hours and a kitten party to plan!

Happy birthday to you, Ada Mae.

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One Year: Photo Shoot

>> 11.15.2012

As if those weren't enough. This next one couldn't be more perfect.

Don't even ask me how I was able to get her to pose like that. Again. It's so crazy, but I love having it for comparison. LOVE!

And sincere thanks to Lisa for the idea with all the text in the first photo. It's not the last you'll be seeing of that cute way to record Ada's life this next year (and beyond).

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