Friday, September 26, 2008

Indian Summer

Strolled out with baby to the physical therapist this afternoon. Another generous gift from the French health system, 10 sessions for abdominal exercises to regain that muscle tone. On this early autumn day we’ve got brilliant blue skies and very little wind. Everyone seems to know it could be our last few days of lovely weather and we’re not gonna take it for granted. From inside the therapist’s office I have a view of the cobbled square and the arcades of the facades on the other side. I dutifully do ten minutes on the stationary bike occasionally glancing at baby in her rocky car seat beside me. She’s doing her angel act. Pretending that she always sleeps like this in the afternoon.

I decide to take the long route home as baby’s sleeping so peacefully and the weather’s so nice. I walk against the stream of middle and high school kids who are getting out for the weekend. Always the people-watcher, I study the types of kids who walk past me. The little middle school boy who still resembles the elementary student. The slightly roly-poly girl who’s doing her bit by the current fashion trend here, dressing mildly like a rocker. Black Converse style shoes and shirts that go a bit past the waist. A thin girl with a little overbite wearing a trendy skirt. I wonder where my girl will fit in one day. I’m so not ready for her to be in middle school. Adolescent outbursts and just worrying about the drama that goes on in preteen life. My husband would already like to lock her up from boys till she’s 30. More on that later.

So now she’s still dozing in her crib. Must be that runny nose that’s tired her out. Chat-chat aggressively nuzzled my hand as I tried to type this and now he’s sunning himself on the balcony. Poor thing is so neglected by us now. But he doesn’t do himself any favors by annoying us with cries for food at any hour and nearly tripping us as we go into the kitchen. I am threatening him with cat liposuction without anesthesia.

Ciao for now…

Monday, September 22, 2008

Le jour et la nuit (day and night)

Miracle of miracles. She is actually sleeping. In the morning. Has been for 30 minutes. And she fell asleep by herself in the playpen. Hmm. Has an alien replaced my baby without me knowing it?

However, I cannot cry victory yet. My nights still generally have some interlude that goes like this. I creep back into bed after having put her in her crib. She has fed and I am literally crossing my fingers that she'll stay asleep. Moonlight slits through the blinds and the street outside is dead quiet. Normal for 4 a.m. I snuggle into my husband's sleeping arms and wait for baby to make strange chirping noises that mean she's still hungry. After a while her breathing becomes regular. Or I can't hear anything at all, so I delicately put a hand on her chest to make sure there is that rise and fall. Phew, she's sleeping. Now I can. Until she wakes again...

But she's developping something of a pattern at night. Generally drifts to sleep after a feeding around 10. Stays asleep 4 to 6 hours. Feeds, sleeps some more. It's so much better than before. Amazing how a bit more sleep can make you feel so much more energized. I no longer dread the nights. I should be sleeping now in fact, but must keep an eye on kitty who is curled up in his basket. He has been known to try and jump in baby's play pen while she's in it.

The day is still rather random. Feeds frequently, or at least I offer this as a solution when the crying persists. Sometimes naps in the afternoon if I take her for a stroll. Sometimes continues napping when I put her back in the crib after said stroll. She was actually a little angel last week and stayed mostly asleep when I went to see my colleagues Friday (thanks for the Subway cookie break, Crystal and Caro!).

If I know my little one, she'll probably develop a fine pattern just as I have to go back to work.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

You’ve been here how long?!

This week marks an anniversary. Six years since I came to France. Six years that I arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport to meet up with a boy who was sort of my boyfriend and is now my husband. And of course now there is a chat and a bébé in the picture.

Six years ago I knew just enough French to get me by (barely) and the three-year old in the host family knew way more than me. Now I can pretty much understand an inane French slapstick comedy (and there are too many of them), but I still get stumped on words like “curtain rod”. Six years ago everything about this country was exciting and novel. Now a lot of that initial euphoria has worn off and I grumble about France’s flaws and am sometimes tempted to go on strike like those train workers.

But more than all that retrospection, this anniversary shows me how fast time goes by. I’m really starting to sound like an adult when I say, wow, it’s already been six years. Where did the time go? It’s like when you see other people’s kids and say, my, you’ve grown. It’s not so much that the kid has reached our height that bugs us, but that time is going so quickly. And we didn’t even notice, and worse, haven’t perhaps been using our time wisely.

So I don’t know what the next six years will bring. Of course, this little one I’m propping up in my lap to write this post will be high on stories from her first grade class. I just hope I won’t be regretting missed opportunities, but I know I’m the only one who can fix that…

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Meow's Side of the Story

Chat-chat here. Let me say that the arrival of this thing has been difficult to say the least. I thought I could put up with a lot, but even I am becoming sleep-deprived because of all this crying. And my sleep is of vital importance as I’m a supreme being (Editor’s note: cat). The thing takes up all the attention of my servants (Editor’s note: cat owners). Female servant used to spend all her free time with me, but now she seems to hiss at me (my job, not hers) if I dare to jump on the table (normal activity).

Take today for example. Apparently the thing had what’s called a diaper emergency. Female servant rushed leaking thing out of the room. She left her piece of quiche on the table (invitation). It’s only normal I should investigate. Being so very smart I knocked over the plate (without breaking it). And proceeded to sample the quiche on the floor. When she returned she slapped me on the cheek which is just not nice.

Then there’s all this new equipment in the apartment which I need to check out. The stroller and playpen, they’re called. They belong to me as far as I can see it. They are perfect sleeping places. But the servants had the gall to put a balloon in the playpen (to dissuade me from entering, which is my right) and when I jumped in it popped. I was so horrified I had to compose myself by resting in the litter box for a while.

So if they would just listen to me for a second, I could tell them that I am infinitely easier to take care of than the thing. I know how to use a litter box (or the bathtub). I admit I’m demanding about food but I don’t ask for it as often as the thing (Editor’s note: yes, he does). I don’t like making ultimatums but if they had to choose between me and the thing, I think the choice is pretty obvious.

Chat-chat (and I’d like a real name, please)

My side of the story

Mom won’t let me have my own blog so I’ve got to use hers. Next thing she’ll be telling me no cell phone before 5 years old. First of all, has anyone seen my other shoe? I think I lost it on that stroll in the park last Sunday. It’s not my fault they put shoes on me. It’s not like I can walk yet. It’s purely decorative. Just like pockets on my dresses. But I was hoping to get a bit more wear out of those shoes before my feet grow too much.

Secondly, for someone who was a baby herself, mom doesn’t know much about them. I mean, it’s pretty simple. There’s the hunger cry, the sleep cry, the I-don’t-want-to-sleep-now cry. The my-diaper’s-dirty cry, the I-preferred-my-diaper-dirty cry. Well, I guess I need to make her a list.

Then there’s this obsession of hers about sleep. I’ll sleep when I want. See the part about the crying. For nine months she didn’t bug me about this, now it’s every minute! I think it’s getting to her ‘cause she’s been sneaking off for pieces of dark chocolate when she thinks I’m not looking. That’s not good for her figure, I know that much, even if I am just a baby.

Oops, she’s coming. I guess I’ll have to end this for now.


Monday, September 8, 2008

When does she sleep?

Was reading in a little booklet about babies from age one to two months. They say they sleep 16-20 hours a day, from feeding to feeding. They haven't met my baby. This has got me worried. Is she getting enough milk? She certainly takes her time at feedings. I certainly offer her a lot. But it's quite rare that she falls asleep and more importantly stays asleep after a feeding.

What do you get when an Anxiety Prone Mom and Perfectionist-but-he-won't-admit-it Papa have a child? Super Alert Baby. Take a look at her sort of smiling. I guess only a mom would qualify it as sort of smiling.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

In between

I don't have full out baby blues, but motherhood isn't always rose, either. Last night I started feeling rather down, and I think sleep deprivation has a lot to do with it. Wondering if it will ever get better. If I'll ever have days when I can really accomplish what I set out to do. Believe me, my list isn't as long as it was pre-baby, but it just seems to take forever to do the littlest things. I have let housework go, and perhaps I spend a bit too much of my precious free time online. But I need an outlet. I need to stay connected to the old me who is still me, after all.

Those pregnancy hormones were powerful, I can see that now. I remember driving to work and practically humming, seeing things so very positively. I imagined life with baby as always good because she would be there, of course. After being so superstitious during pregnancy, I told myself as long as she was here, I would be happy. And of course I am happy she's here, and healthy and precious and all those things. But I know (as I knew in the back of mind anyway) that having a child doesn't magically fix all your woes. You still have the unstable, low-paying job. You still have to deal with domestic overload and taxes and disputes about what's for dinner. (Though my husband has been cooking most of the time now, which helps out a lot.) And that pesky cat who is ALWAYS underfoot. But don't get me wrong, I am very conscious of how lucky I am to have a little one. It's just human nature to complain.

And French administration gives me ample reasons to complain! Though it was quite easy to apply for my visa, retrieving it has been infernal. The first time I lugged baby there in her sling with a chance of rain, thus my bulky umbrella in tow. Only to find out that Wednesdays in August the office for purchasing the fiscal "stamp" was closed. Due to reduced personnel in that month of eternal vacations. Then another day only to find that the other office I needed was closed in the afternoons for renovation. Third time's a charm: today, finally got the durn thing. Saw my favorite smiley fonctionnaire (civil servant) who even jokes about being one (I'm serious about him being my favorite). Said, you see, we fonctionnaires do work. Until 1 p.m., I joked back, since they're closed in the afternoon. Met an Algerian couple with their two little ones. The mom said her little Sabrina started sleeping through the night at 1 and a half months. So jealous.

Please take a nap on my behalf.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Tales from the baby front

So the only way for me to write this is with baby cradled (safely) on my lap. Since I last wrote, the nursing has become easier though not without little difficulties. I have to say I'm glad I stuck it out after such a rocky start though. At the beginning I was pumping in the hospital and she was given the milk in a little cup or bottle (and you can see my favorite midwife feeding her way back when). Now we can do it without all those unnecessary steps!

As for the night battles, well, sometimes she wakes me for a brief (hour) feeding, or like last night, 2 and 1/2 hours of wakefullness. Hmm. I'm praying for the day she sleeps through the night. In the meantime I'm sleepy in the day. When she finally settles for some napping herself I must prioritize and do the following: eat, sleep, bathe, email, whatever I haven't been able to do while she was awake. Housework is still low on the priority list. Or I put her in her crib even if she's fussy and do microtasks. Clean the sink, load the washer. The apartment is still far from clean. But as my auntie said, a happy baby is more important than a clean house.

Here in France the kids are starting to go back to school. It always makes me feel nostalgic for my own school days and that fall feeling in the air. This year there's no school or work right away, though my own return to work will be in about six weeks. I'm already feeling rather torn between finding my old independent self and being a full-time mom. Financially I must go back, and I know baby will have a good, state-approved sitter. But I've already found myself getting teary about it. Separation anxiety on my side.

Chat-chat continues to be his pesty self. Sometimes a bit too curious about the stroller as you can see here. No babies were harmed in the taking of this picture. He doesn't know how close he's come to being abandoned when he decides to jump on the door handle at 4:30 a.m. and I've just gotten bb to sleep! Or his continual obsession with peeing in the tub. Sometimes I swear he looks at me when baby's crying and says, are you sure you wanted that thing? My husband tries to spend some time cuddling him so he won't feel left out.

Well, who knows when I'll be able to post again. I'll let baby sign off for me.