Obviously I’m not finding time to post anymore. We’ve made a commitment not to allow Gia any screens outside of FaceTime with family, which means we can’t even show her our phones or computers. If she even sees me send a quick text she goes crazy screaming “pit-tire!” (picture) and crying. Especially with the new guidelines out about no screen time at all before two years old, we’re not exposing her to television or laptops. She also still isn’t sleeping well so I don’t even have time to myself every day before I got to bed – we go to bed immediately after Gia does since we know our hours are numbered. 

This means I have to say good-bye to my blog and amazing blogging community for awhile. It was amazing to share so much while I was pregnant and follow your stories. I miss it. I wrote blog posts in my head. But when it comes to even writing a five-minute post, it’s time I need to shower or make coffee or just go to sleep!

Thanks for all the wonderful support! 

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We’ve been in Europe since Sunday morning and Gia isn’t sleeping. This is different from her usual sleep issues though – it’s worse. She has been awake from evening until around 3am for the last three nights, four counting tonight. It’s 11:54 pm and she’s been crying, walking around our room, eating and reading books since 8pm. That’s FOUR HOURS. I feel awful that jet lag and traveling to new places is affecting her like this. Questions have been running through my head: did we make a mistake? Are we selfish? Mean? Expecting a toddler to travel around with us? We knew it would be a tough adjustment, but I never would have imagined it would be this bad. 

She’s been passing out around 3am and we’ve all been sleeping in until 9 or 10 and missing half our day, although our days have been miraculously nice. We’ve have an apartment in Menton, France for three days. Tomorrow we drive back to Italy to hang out on 0the Italian side of the riviera. Gia is enjoying the food and the sun and loves exploring. Just not sleeping. 



Gia’s sleep in the past two months has completely deteriorated. Leap 8, or the cognitive surge that happens around a year old, or whatever you want to call it, hit our household like a devastating hurricane in mid-July – three nights in a row in which Gia was awake for 3-4 hours in the middle of the night, followed by a night later that week in which she was awake from 11pm – 3:30am. I waited for it to subside but it didn’t. 

Gia would have trouble going to sleep, then wake up a couple of hours later and no matter how much breast feeding, rocking, playing, feeding or CIO we did, she wouldn’t go back to sleep until the wee hours. Even bed sharing doesn’t work anymore – she just gets exited and babbles and does acrobatics. The worst was the couple of times we did let her cry for awhile out of sheer desperation, and she sobbed for so long that she fell asleep in a heap on top of her sea horse toy and we had to wake her up to move her, then be up with her for another two hours. 

I felt desperate and angry. I yelled in the middle of the night. It went on for weeks with only a couple of nights of relief here and there. It’s been chronic and the fallout has been humbling – issues at work, issues in my relationship, all in a haze of exhaustion. The feeling of waking up AGAIN to her cries is awful. It feels like I’m being burried alive or tortured (no disrespect to actual tortire, I know it can’t compare it’s just how I feel in the moment). I haven’t been excited to see Gia in the morning because I’ve been up with her all night. The last night I was up with her – four nights ago – ended with me taking her to bed with me, sobbing into my pillow while she nursed and flailed around for another hour. 

Our pediatrician said he didn’t think sleep training would work at this point – she’s too excitable. He also thought that when she started walking, she would start sleeping. Well, a couple of nights after that appointment, she did start sleeping – she slept COMPLETELY THROUGH THE NIGHT FROM 8pm – 6am for two nights in a row. It was the exact night she took her first real steps! Last night she was awake for an hour so we don’t know if it was an anomoly or if things are getting better for now. 

Either way, I decided to night wean her cold turkey. She doesn’t need to nurse all night anymore and it agitates her. J thinks she’s waking up to nurse and is willing to take care of her in the middle of the night and re-evaluate things in a week. For now, I’m not seeing her in the middle of the night at all – only J is going in because when she sees me she cries and fusses and wants to nurse for a long time. We will see what happens. 

And of course, now that she’s sleeping and the pressure of being up with her for hours has subsided, I miss her so much. She’s been hilarious and adorable these past few days. I wish I could go get her and cuddle with her all night. I hope that we can keep creating a healthy routine and setting limits with her so we will all start getting some sleep and feeling better. 

Gia has been one year for a week now. It’s crazy. Someone asked me today when she started crawling and I couldn’t remember. That’s when I realized it’s time to start keeping updates. They may not be on adorable chalkboards or unique fabric every month, but at least they’ll be done!

We had her birthday party early in the month in Minnesota, but also had a little birthday dinner for her while my mom was in town. My mom made spaghetti and meatballs, since Gia likes to slurp up the spaghetti. For dessert I made whipped cream over fresh berries and almond biscuits. We got her the radio flyer tricycle!


Gia has reached some milestones and is racing towards others. She says actual words now – when you ask her what a crow says, she says “Caw! Caw!” She says “apple,” “up,” “agua” and “uh oh” in the correct contexts. She also says “hi mama” and “buh bye”. 

She’s taken a couple of steps here and there, but she prefers crawling. She crawls at lightning speed. She can open the door to her bedroom and crawl away during bedtime routine. 


We took her to the beach for the first time on Sunday. We held her over the water and she loved the waves so much that she cried out in ecstasy as they crashed over and under her. She crabwalked over the sand and right back into the ocean by herself. 


She eats everything and yet she’s particular. One day she’ll shove spinach and chicken in her mouth; the next, the same foods will be gently removed from her plate and dropped onto the floor. She usually peers at me while she’s doing this to see if I’m watching. Tonight while we were eating dinner, she rocked back and forth and shook her head to Credence Clearwater Revival. She’s been nursing a lot on weekends and still nurses to sleep each night. I thought I’d finished pumping at work, but J and I have had some after-work dates and wedding meetings, so I’ve had to keep it up. 

I can’t talk about her turning a year old without discussing Leap 8. It has been the worst growth spurt so far. All of the leaps manifest in sleep in our household. Two weeks ago, at around 51 weeks, Gia stopped going to sleep on time and started staying awake in the middle of the night for two full hours, sometimes more. This happened for three week nights in a row and it was Hell. She then slept ok for one night, then was up from 11:30 pm to 3am on a Friday night. We tried everything – nursing, bottles, snacks, toys, letting her cry; nothing worked. I’ve called into work and gone in late a few times, and reinstated lunchtime car naps. I think the worst is over. For those of you who have the Wonder Weeks app, the storm cloud passed two days ago and we’ve had one good night of sleep so I’ll keep you posted. 

This is a video of how whiny and clingy she’s been during Leap 8:


For all the sleep deprivation, I can honestly say that what comes to mind when I think about the last couple of weeks is just pure joy. Her smile and laughter and antics have changed. Watching her learn and grow is beyond incredible. 

I have to just take the plunge and write a quick post because I miss this community! My posts will probably be shorter and less reflective, and more about Gia and wedding updates, but I’m going to try to be more active. 

Last night Gia took a bottle from me for the first time since she was a month old. I was away from her for four days while she stayed with Jen at her childhood home. I missed her but thoroughly enjoyed going to see Tarzan by myself with a waterbottle of vodka and lemonade and a bag of coconut curry cashews… 

Anyway, despite pumping four or more times a day, by the time they got back I had barely any milk. I was pumping nothing and even with her nursing on one side, just a dribble. Now we have to give her bottles after nursing but since my supply isn’t completely gone, I’m trying to get it back up by nursing and pumping and eating lots of carbs and fats and drinking water and lactation tea. She got used to taking a bottle while we were separated and now she’s nursing and then drinking a bottle all in one cuddle session. 

Gia has overall been sleeping a little better with only one wake-up around 2am, until she got a cold, and another leap started. This week I’m dragging myself out of bed after just a few hours of sleep and getting through work bleary-eyed and hyped up on caffeine again. She is doing great though, crawling, standing, climbing onto to couch and getting down carefully all by herself. She even opens her bedroom door with the handle. She also says “up,” “mama” and “uh-oh”. I’ll do a one-year post soon. 

Here are some pics from her birthday party at my in-laws!

Cake time:

Smash cake: whole-grain banana cake “iced” with Greek yogurt and fresh strawberries by yours truly:


Wonderful old friends and my very pregnant SIL!


Opening presents with Mama:


Wiped out from all the partying:

July 4th boat ride:

Happiness:

Uncle and cousins!

As much as I want to blog, it’s just not happening right now. I’m not giving up. I want to continue sharing our adventures, especially with so many coming up (Gia’s first birthday, wedding, trip to Europe). I will try. I hate feeling built that I haven’t posted updates on her though. Especially since this is the only baby book I have. I will try to do an update and maybe share some wedding stuff. I’m following everyone though!

We’re finally planning our wedding! We really committed to our six weeks of DIY couples therapy, which has improved our interactions a lot. We got excited about wedding planning and have come up with an affordable and fun weekend plan. As some of you know, we had planned our wedding for Sequoia National Park while I was pregnant, but medically, it wasn’t a good idea, and since Gia was born, we haven’t exactly been in a place to plan a wedding. 

It’s not the hippie wedding in the woods I planned two years ago, and it’s not in the Tuscan countryside we considered, but it’s convenient for our family and close friends, especially now that there are SEVEN baby and kid cousins between our two families! When we looked at our priorities, having our community there was really important. Keeping it low-stress and outdoors-y was also important. 

I planned the whole thing in about a week  and it came together so easily. The ceremony and reception will be at an amazing brewery in north San Diego (craft beer country). There are gardens, a koi pond, stone walkways and a small green lawn where the ceremony will be held. My best friends from college are doing the officiating and music, and another talented friend of ours is doing our photography. Afterwards we will have a farm-to-table meal on the garden deck. 

Here are some pics from someone else’s wedding in the same spot:


And some pics of us checking out the ceremony space and trying the food (Gia loved the sautéed greens):


We found a fun hotel near the brewery and stayed there Saturday night to see if it would feel right for the wedding. We booked one of its cottages on a lake to stay in on our wedding weekend. It has its own porch and fire pit, plus a kitchen to make cocktails and snacks, and the hotel has two really nice pools and hot tubs. 


I’m excited to share this here, and wish I had more time to write about my thoughts and daydream about my vision. I’ve waited so long to plan my wedding and now that it’s here, it’s also bringing up some difficult feelings, of course, mostly fear and perfectionism. I had mixed feelings about the hotel, but after a lot of processing and analyzing we decided to go ahead and embrace the plan. Today we put down deposits, sent out save-the-dates, and launched our website! 

 Gia has been sick and work has been stressful. We sleep-trained using the happy sleeper for three nights and she responded well, then promptly got sick and has mostly been in bed with us for two weeks. In reaching a breaking point again, but when she gets better we will do sleep waves and get her back on track. 

9-month update to follow!

  
Gia has been in swim lessons for three Saturday’s now at The Rose Bowl Aquatics Center. It’s two outdoor pools with a gorgeous mountain backdrop. 

The first week she cried most throughout most of it. The second week was overcast and the pool was heated and she was just kind of skeptical. By last week, another sunny day, she was smiling and laughing, especially at the end when J would sit her up on the wall and let her fall into the pool in her arms (one of the instructed exercises). I love her little swimsuits and hat and her face absorbing the new sensations… SO cute. One of us goes in and the other hangs out with my friend’s husband, cheering the babies on. They do tummy floats, back kicks, doggie crawl, hold onto the wall, and fall into the water, plus singing circles and splashing. 

  

Now that Gia goes to music and swim each week, it feels like the beginning of many years of classes and sports; this is both overwhelming and exciting.

  
At the end they release a ton of rubber duckies into the pool!

You know when one drop of ink taints a crystal clear bowl of water? My work situation is tainting an otherwise beautiful time in my life. I won’t be listing all of the horrible awkward details here, but they include our program head making passive-aggressive comments in meetings, calling me out on mistakes no one else would have even noticed, and hiring people who don’t fit into our clinic and make everyone uncomfortable. Many of the coworkers I was close to have left or are waiting for their new hire dates – seven, to be exact, in a clinic of only about thirty people altogether. The program head has stopped making weird comments about my pumping and now is uber-sweet about it. Then today she called me out on a mistake which was really embarrassing and then told me (with a falsely sympathetic and patronizing look on her face) that I could come to her if being a new working mom is too difficult and I need to talk. 

The thing that’s bothering me the most is how I respond. I’ve spent the last few months processing all of these happenings in my coworkers’ cubicles or in the hallway. I’ve given one of our new “supervisors”  who doesn’t fit in and acts better than everyone else (mind you, I have a higher degree, have been licensed longer and have worked at the clinic for longer) the silent or bitch treatment, depending. I’ve said things to this woman that shock me. And recently, since she’s started being grossly sweet, I’ve made myself vulnerable to her, ie, admitting how tired I am, identifying my weaknesses. Suffice it to say, I just don’t feel comfortable about how I’m handling it all. 

When I began to realize how serious the situation was a few months ago, my intention was to rise above and end up proud of how I handled it. In some ways I am – I haven’t quit, I’ve delivered what I believe to be excellent services to my clients, and I’ve supported my interns the best I can. In other ways, though, feel ashamed of my mistakes and sometimes dirty for venting so much. 

It took me a long time to learn how to behave at work and in social and professional situations. I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD  twice by specialists who do extensive testing. Usually people grow out of this disorder, but I was re-diagnosed at age 25, which is rare. Because of my inattention and related anxiety, I do make small mistakes. I do behave impulsively sometimes. I do lapse into fight or fight reactions. I’m also really emotionally sensitive. I want to be strong and deal with this situation effectively, but it’s hard. Every day I leave my awesome child and COMMUTE to a job that then makes me feel sick. I drive away from my family. I pump three times at work and get barely any milk. Sometimes in meetings I’m so anxious and offended I’m shaking and my heart is racing. I’m on high alert all the time. And now, tonight, I’m feeling like some of it’s because I’m not smart enough, professional enough, organized enough. 

I’ve known for awhile that I need to work in a certain type of environment with a boss who is supportive, easy-going and appreciates my strengths. This is NOT that environment anymore. It really was when I started, so it’s very disappointing. I am working SO hard, seeing clients back to back, working with women who refuse to see the new therapists because they don’t like them (she hires people who don’t fit into the culture) and supervising the two psychology interns day in and day out. I’m working so hard and things just get worse – I feel defeated. 

I’m not sure what the universe is trying to show or teach me, but I know it’s something. Hopefully writing this will help me come to that realization. I’ve tried mindfuless, being strong, recognizing myself as much as possible, and always getting support from J. I’m hoping things will get better soon. And a little surprise if you’ve made it this far – we are seriously considering moving back to San Diego soon! So maybe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel…

Better post this before the 9-month mark!

This month has been a game changer in terms of both physical and cognitive development. Gia’s movements, social interactions and interests have taken a huge leap!
 
Weight: 21.5 pounds 

Size: 12 months/18-24 months, depending 

Teeth: four on top, four on bottom

Development: fully crawling, pulling herself to standing, starting to cruise, carefully sitting back down by putting one hand down first, playing peek-a-boo,  turning pages of books, mimicking sounds like “up” and “uh-oh”. I think she may still be slightly cross-eyed so we are going to have our pediatrician refer us to an optometrist. 

Naps: 3 with nanny, 2 on weekends with us

Favorite activities: reading books, clapping, knocking down block towers, standing up and walking while holding our hands, and LAUGHING while we’re being silly. 

Food: loves zucchini and apple oatmeal with flax seed, vegetable soup with beans, pieces of beets, broccoli, asparagus, etc, sautéed greens, berries, and noodles. Oh, and definitely breast milk!

Sleep: Not fun. Leap 6 has been a bitch, and interesting considering how alert and interactive Gia is. A lot of her ability to self-soothe is still there, but it’s as if she’s moved on to needing new ways of connecting anyway. Some nights she has trouble going to sleep, and she’s harder to settle after her night feeds. She wakes up twice. I’m planning to wean her from one of them once her teething and sleep regression settle down. I nurse her in bed and we sometimes end up bed sharing in the early morning hours; the rest of the time she’s in her crib with a knitted blanket and her fox lovey. We’re doing some research and consideration of how to organize Gia’s sleep again now that her behavior has changed so much. I need to figure out how to help her sleep better now that she stands in the crib staring at us!

 

 
  
  
  
  
As far as mom life goes, I’be been struggling with my work environment not being as healthy as I’d like, low pumping productivity, and sleep. On the positive side, being a mom just gets better and better. I find it easier to care of Gia without feeling anxious and overwhelmed. J and I have started going out more during the weekend days since we’re always home at night for Gia’s bedtime, and it’s been FUN! We are working on our relationship too, and it’s slowly paying off. Playing with Gia together is the best – she loves to read books, dance to Paul Simon, and ride around with J on my exercise ball chair. Making her laugh is more fun than going out drinking any day! Well, we least for now.

 
The other day I was watching Parenthood and there was a cheesy, cathartic but well-edited scene tying an episode of parenting strife together. I thought, very clearly, I can’t believe I almost missed out on this. I can’t believe I didn’t realize how incredible having a baby is. I am so, so happy.  Being Gia’s mom is the best thing I’ve ever done.