Spring has sprung!

I took Monday off to stay with Libby since my mom was still out-of-town and J has school. So, I decided to take Libby down to Woodward Park and snap some pics oh her cuteness next to the blooming daffodils and tulips. Even though she only looked at the camera once and, in general, complained for the majority of our time there, I did manage to get some nice shots:

Afterwards we went to get some groceries and she was so cute walking with me and pushing the cart. We got home and she had a fantastic nap! She seems to be settling back into her normal routine now.

Tuesday with had our visit with our Parents As Teachers Educator. It went well and we're happy to know that Libby is measuring well ahead on most milestones. She's talking more and more everyday. New words include "strawberry" and "barbecue sauce" two of her favorite things to eat lately.

And she's still in love with her blanket...
She loves to cuddle with it and really wants to take it everywhere. I got her a smaller version that's more manageable for her to walk around with but so far, it's not working out and she likes her FULL sized one best!

I cannot believe how in just two months Libby's gone from a growing baby to full-fledged toddler! She's 14 months old and so much fun!

She's Back!

Hooray, my sweet little girl is back. The past two days have been SO much better. She's gone down at her regular bedtime. Last night, she slept SO well. She was down at 7:30 p.m. and woke up to nurse at 1:30 a.m. and then went back to sleep until 8:30 a.m. It was awesome! I attribute it to this:

We welcomed the first day of Spring with a trip to the park at 41st and Riverside Drive:

We picked up some bagels from Old School Bagels in Brookside and then headed to the park on 41st and Riverside. We had about an hour at the playground. It was so fun to see her playing like a big kid. She climbed on the equipment and went down the slide. She spun in the spinning cup thing (I swear this playground is so modern I have no idea how half of the equipment even works) and ran around. It was a nice 78 degrees and breezy! A perfect day.

We got home and she had a great nap! I needed to vacuum and she's terrified of it so I strapped her into the Scootababy and we got the job done. Then, she decided she wanted to try her own "vak-oom" and figured out how to use her popper. Until now she's just carried it around! So cute to see her figure it out!

All that activity definitely tired her out (and the pugs too)!
Now that Spring has sprung and we have nicer weather, I want to be sure she gets at least a hour a day outside to play. Even if it's divided throughout the day. It's SO important! And it obviously makes her sleep so well! It'll be good for ALL of us to get outside and enjoy all that Mother Nature has to offer!

Slight Improvement

I've been home since Friday and will have Monday off too, so Libby's been getting lots of one-on-one time with me. She's been better about going down at her bedtime (7:00 p.m.) but the past two nights she's been waking every 60-90 minutes and is angry. Screaming and grunting. And flailing her limbs and tossing her head back. Tonight, she was so beside herself for a good 15 minutes that I started to get a little scared. I thought she might be having a night terror. But as soon as I turned on the light she stopped and said, "book!" So I guess she just didn't want it to be nigh-night time. Ugh. So I read her a book and turned out the light, held her for a bit and put her back in the crib. She fussed for a minute and then was asleep.

But even after I've gone in and nursed/rocked/snuggled her back to sleep as soon as her she's placed in her crib she starts up again. I feel horrible. We had a really good nighttime routine going before I left town and now, I feel like we're back to square one. Tonight, during bath time, which she usually LOVES, she didn't want to sit in the tub and wanted out about 5 minutes after it started. She just seems so angry since I've come home and I am not sure how to help her.

We were supposed to have awesome weather this weekend, but so far it's been chilly and gray. I hope tomorrow will be sunny, or at least warm enough for us to get out of the house and go to the park. Today was fun, we went for pancakes at Jimmy's Egg and then ran an errand at Ace Hardware. They have miniature shopping carts and Libby had a blast pushing it around the store. The shoppers got a kick out of her cuteness too!

Speaking of cuteness...check it!

Libby's First Pedicure! L'Oreal's Trust Fund Baby is a good shade of pink for the first toes of Spring! I painted our toes last night after her bath. She liked getting them painted but didn't want to wait for them to dry! This morning, she saw my toes and then remembered hers were painted too...so cute! The nail polish was pretty stinky though, so I am thinking of getting this eco-friendly Piggy Paint to have for the next time.

And despite the overcast weather, I had enough natural light coming through the window to snap this:

She is so sweet. Which is why it's killing me right now when she's so unhappy. So, I am continuing with giving her tons of my undivided attention in hopes that she'll come back to her happy self. I am sure my mom's return on Monday will help too...as things will be "back to normal' in our household. The last several week's have been quite tumultuous and I am sure that is affecting my little greatly.

Toddler's Revenge

I've been home for four days and apparently Libby is not happy. According to J, while I was gone she was LESS fussy that she is now that I am home. She is being aggressive towards me and even deliberately bit me while nursing. She looked me straight in the eye and chomped down. When I removed her I told her firmly, "no biting" and she had no reaction whatsoever. She just looked at me with a blank expression. Usually she'd either scold herself by saying, "no, no, no!" or become embarrassed and crack a smile. This is the first time I've ever just seen her be defiant. Her sleep has gone to hell in a hand basket. Some of this could be due to Daylight Saving Time and "springing forward" an hour. But her sleep routine is off by two to three hours, not one!

Like today...she awoke at 4:30 a.m. which isn't out of the norm. She went back to sleep from 6:30-8:30 a.m. which is fairly predictable. But then, she didn't nap until 3 p.m.! This is 2-3 hours later than her "normal" time. And she slept until 5:30 p.m. So I knew her bedtime routine was out the window. Especially since we're usually having dinner by 5 p.m., so that was also pushed off about an hour. 7:00 p.m. is her normal bedtime and even with the change in time, I'd be okay with 8:00 p.m. But tonight, she didn't go down until 9:00 p.m. and that wasn't without a struggle. Since I've returned she wants to be at my breast for 45-60 minutes! She hasn't been like that in months!

So I am trying to be as gentle and patient as possible. Thankfully I'll have Friday and Monday off so we'll have four whole days together. I am hoping to just give her as much attention as possible and try to get her back to her regular schedule. I feel horrible that my time away has sent her off on an emotional roller coaster...I just want my sweet, lovable little back.

Home Sweet Home

I arrived home late on Saturday to a completely quiet house. The dogs didn't even bark. I quickly changed out of my clothes and into my pjs and said a quick hello to my mom, who was watching TV in her room. Within seconds, I heard Libby. She must have heard me talking with my mom (their rooms are right next to each other). So I went in and took her from her crib. It was about 11 p.m. I nursed and rocked her, thinking I'd get her back to sleep. Not so. She wanted to be up. So I turned on the lamp and we visited for a while. We read books and played with her dolly. My mom came in and filled me in on all that had happened that week. Nice weather meant a walk to the park and looking at the trees with their new blooms. Separation anxiety at night meant not too much sleep for anyone.

Finally, at around 1 a.m. Libby went back to sleep where she stayed until 9:30 a.m. It felt so good to sleep in my own bed, next to my honey. Even with losing an hour "springing forward," I felt well-rested. We got up and had a leisurely morning before heading out to a friend's first birthday party. It was an especially touching milestone to celebrate since she had lost her first daughter just days after she was born. En route, I dropped off the 75 ounces of milk I had pumped while I was out-of-town. I had no issues bringing it back through TSA.

This week was a tough one. To be away from Libby for the first time. And also with all that has gone on in the world...far away...with the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the continuing unrest and violence in Libya. To a little closer to home with my friend Sarah unexpectedly loosing both her aunt and then her father. At 38 weeks pregnant, she was unable to travel to either of them to say goodbye. My heart just breaks for her. Her sweet boy was born on Saturday, just a day after her father died. And my friend, to whom I've been donating my milk, she was to finalize her baby's adoption on Thursday. Only to find out that a man has come forward and is claiming paternity. This is not the same man who terminated paternal rights on the paperwork at the hospital back when the baby was born. It's someone new. And it means awaiting the results of a DNA test before any decisions can be made. What's worse is this guy is a convicted felon, meth cooker and drug addict. My friend is just beside herself with anxiety about the unknown. So I am praying hard...for her and her family, for my friend Sarah and her family and for all of the people in Japan and Libya and anywhere else there is suffering. And I am hugging my loved ones a little closer tonight. Because, as we've been reminded with these events, we never really know what tomorrow will bring. Or if tomorrow will ever come.

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave bereft
I am not there. I have not left.
~Mary Elizabeth Frye

Missing My Family

I've been away for three days and two nights...half way there. When I am busy with the conference, it's not too bad. But the down time is killer. That's when the loneliness creeps in. I miss my husband's hugs and kisses. I miss my baby's snuggles. Today, I talked to her on speaker phone and sang Itsy Bitsy Spider to her. Then she said, "mama, mama, mama..." and as she repeated it her voice changed from happy to sad. Almost desperately so. And it made me choke up. I cannot even imagine what her 13-month-old self must be thinking about my being gone. I know when she's older she won't remember that I was gone for 5 days when she was just one year old. But right now, I really wonder what is going through her head when she looks for me and I'm not there.

My mom assured me that Libby's eating and sleeping just fine, so that's a comfort. Especially since I just found out I'll have to be away again next month for a working trip. I've opted to take the late flight home after my meeting so I will only need to be away one night (two whole days). As someone who's always loved to travel...even for business...it's weird to feel this way now. But life has changed. I want to be home with my family. I want to sleep in my bed. Two years ago I would have been so stokked to be in Chicago for 5 days. But now, I'm just hoping the days pass quickly so I can pack up and get back to the airport on my way home.

Tonight, I was lucky to meet one of the women that I chat with in an online forum...we chat online daily, are Facebook friends, but we've never met in life until tonight. She lives about 40 minutes from Chicago and wanted to do dinner. So we met at a great tapas bar, had a lovely meal and great conversation. She is a music teacher who has a son who's about 6 months younger than Libby and she and her hubby were married in Hawaii, so we have much in common. I really appreciated her taking the time to come out, on a school night, and meet me for dinner. I've met some really fantastic women online and we're all friends who have genuinely supported each other through wedding planning, being newlyweds, trying to conceive, pregnancy and now, motherhood.

Planning for this trip, I turned to them for advice on how to maintain my milk supply. So far, I am pumping 5 times each day and eating oatmeal. I brought fenugeek tea, but haven't used it yet. When I pump I am getting 5-6 oz. per 10 minute session, so I feel confident that my milk supply will no suffer from this trip. I've rented a mini-fridge for my room so I can store the milk. My plan is to bring it home for the mama who I have been donating my milk to for her baby. As if pumping while away on business weren't challenging enough...with my excess lipase issue I had to bring a hot pot so I could scald the milk. I essentially came with an extra suitcase because I couldn't fit all of this paraphernalia into one suitcase along with my clothing, shoes and toiletries. But I figure if I'm going to express 100 ounces or so of "liquid gold" the least I could do is try to bring it back home! I'm armed with my TSA print-outs too, since the agents are notoriously ignorant of their own policies for women traveling with breastmilk, especially those who are not accompanying a baby on the trip. So wish me luck that I get a good agent who knows the deal and doesn't hassle me about my carry-on, soft-sided cooler filled with milk.

Leaving My Baby

Libby has fully recovered from her mild case of the chicken pox. The blessing of her getting it last week was that it allowed me to be home with her, which was extra special since I'll be leaving her for 5 days and 4 nights this coming week. I have a conference in Chicago to attend for work and we've decided that rather than have her and mom come with me, like we did in October when I had to go to Seattle for work, we'd just have her stay home with J and my mom and I'd go alone. I am nervous and anxious about it. Not so much about Libby...she'll probably do just fine with daddy and grandma!

I've never been away from Libby for longer than 18 hours! And we're still nursing so I am worried about how she'll do without her "mama milk" and how my supply will fare. I've only ever pumped once a day and never relied on pumping alone to maintain my supply. So I plan to pump at least 5 times each day that I am away (Tues-Sat). I've arranged for a mini-fridge in my hotel room so I can store the milk. Since Libby won't do previously frozen milk, my hope is to bring it back and give it to the adoptive mom to whom I've been donating my extra milk. I want to bring it back refrigerated, not frozen, so the mom can either use it right away or freeze it and use it when she needs it. If I try to freeze it at the hotel I am worried it will defrost by the time my flight home lands and then she'll have to ALL of it within 48 hours or toss it. We shall see.

For now, my plan is to pump, scald using an electric hot pot (I did this in Seattle) and then cool the milk in the fridge. Once it's cool I'll transfer it to a Lanisoh Milk Storage Bag. I'll collect all of those bags into one or two gallon Ziploc bags and place in my soft-sided cooler bag to bring home on the plane. When I check out of the hotel, I'll get a bag of ice to keep things cool until I get to the airport. Then, I'll toss that and once I clear TSA with the milk, get some more ice from a vendor on the other side. I hope this works! I've been scouring the Internet for tips from other pumping-and-traveling mamas and this is what they do (except for the scalding thing...which only mamas with excess lipase have to do). I know it seems like a lot to manage and it would be so much easier to pump-and-dump, but that's a lot of precious breastmilk to waste when it could feed a baby! I am guessing I'll have 100+ ounces to bring back...hopefully TSA will be cool about it. I've downloaded their latest guidelines for nursing mothers traveling with milk but without their baby and plan to have a copy on me if I am given any hassles about it. I pray that I don't end up in a scenario like this nursing mother! Sadly, this went down in November 2010, so I am hoping the TSA in Chicago know better than these morons in Phoenix.

Libby has never taken much expressed breastmilk in my absence. She definitely prefers her mama's milk straight from the source. Typically, she'll take 1-2 oz. by cup in the mornings, before breakfast, while I am at work. I usually come home at lunchtime and she nurses. Then she'll hold out until 4 p.m when I get home and nurse some more. Between 4-7 p.m. she typically nurses 2-3 times and has dinner. These nursing sessions include the one before bed. And she'll wake 1-2 times before 5 a.m. and nurse. Since we're doing Baby Led Weaning and still actively nursing she gets the bulk of her nutrition (probably close to 75%) from my milk still.

So I am really anxious to know how she'll handle me being gone for 5 days. I hope deciding not to take her is the right choice. She refuses to take any previously frozen milk and doesn't like cow's milk. So, I've been pumping like a mad woman since Tuesday to store as much "fresh milk" for her as possible. I've got about 30 oz. in there now and think I'll be able to add 15-20 more to the stash before I depart on Tuesday morning. So that'll give her about 10 oz. milk/day. The rest? I've told my mom and J to get as much food in  her as possible, especially higher-fat foods like full-fat yogurt and cottage cheese (which she likes to eat) and offer her cow's milk at regular intervals. If she refuses the cow's milk then offer her water. Luckily, she's in the 90th percentile for weight so even if she drops a little weight while I am gone it won't be detrimental. I am hoping she'll take the cow's milk if she's really wanting milk and has had all of mine for the day. If it's gets desperate and she's hardly eating anything, they can give her a little fruit and vanilla ice cream milkshake. I've also asked my mom and J not to share too many details about how much she has or hasn't eaten or how much milk she's taken because it'll just make me insane to be a thousand miles away and unable to do anything about it.

Wish me luck. I hope it goes well for her. And me. And J and my mom. Right now I just have a pit in my stomach even thinking about it.