Hazel has hit a bunch of milestones in the past couple of weeks, though. All of a sudden, she can sit up unassisted. She doest even need to tripod (hold herself up with her hands in front of her). She has been doing an Army crawl, backwards for a couple of weeks now, but this week she has been able to get up on all fours and rock back and forth. Her understanding of object permanence has grown by leaps this week, as well. I noticed it when I would find her chewing on something I didn't want her to have. I would take it away and where before she would simply move on with a shrug, now there is a full on meltdown. I'm talking a dramatic, toddler-sized tantrum.
Also, I can't turn my back on her. Not necessarily because she is going to get into anything (but she does) but because her separation anxiety is in full swing! Aside from Jamie and myself, she is not thrilled about anyone else right now. She will not be held by anyone until she has been around them for several hours, if ever. Her bottom lip comes out in the most pathetic little pout before she lets out a long, high-pitched whine that becomes a howl. Sometimes, she doesn't even like it when strangers look at her! Its pretty funny, but also pretty tiring for me. When she is feeling particularly insecure, like when she is tired she doesn't even like it when I break eye contact with her for too long. Ill have to get a video of her emotional 180. When I leave her, she falls apart into this dramatic psychic crisis, crying so hard that she starts choking. But as soon as I turn and bend down with my hands out like I'm going to pick her up, she starts to laugh and kick her legs so hard. She is also "talking" more ad more. The exuberant, high-pitched screeching is still her primary mode of communication, but she has started to fit some other, more speech-like sounds in. When she wakes up, she spends a bit of time "talking" to herself and her toys before she calls us in to get her for the day. I love to eavesdrop on her...
Of course, I'm getting crap from the....."older generation" to not spoil her by taking her back from a strangers arms when she is crying so hard she is gagging. Puh-leeze! Like I'm going to let my baby continue to melt down in the most hardcore way in the arms of someone she is totally unfamiliar with, just so they can get a cuddle (even a forced one). Not going to happen. I do know just a little something about child and infant development (shocker, I know), and I know I've been out of the field for a whole 6 months at this point, but I'm willing to bet that I'm still more hip to current research than the folks who look at me soothing my crying baby and say, "Awww....she is a spoiled little baby, isn't she mommy?" I know it's a radical idea, but crying babies need to be soothed. Separation anxiety is not only a normal developmental milestone, but it's a sign of a secure attachment. Securely attached Hazel is! Every time I get irritated, I try to remind myself how lucky Hazel is to have such an attachment, and how strong and independent she will be as she grows because of it. It is a small comfort though, when 72 hours goes by and she won't let me put her down, or look at anything other than her. "I said UNDIVIDED attention, mama!"
In other news, today was Hazel's six-month checkup with Dr. Sleeper. He was very impressed with how strong she is, and how well she can push up and sit. It is pretty amazing. I think that she is just so determined that she will fight through any physical limitations. I do think that part of why she has been so fussy lately is out of frustration that she can't do everything she wants to do. She is very impatient, and wants instant gratification, just like her dad.
Here are the six-month stats!
Weight: 17 pounds and in the 66th percentile
Length: 27.5 inches and in the 86th percentile
Head Circumference: 17.5 inches and in the 82nd percentile
Future Sports Illustrated cover.
Wanting to touch it.
Hazel was so brave! She let the waves come in and splash her all the way up to her belly! I was so proud of her, because it must have been a little scary.
A beautiful day.
Sometimes I can't get my lips off of her, and I fear that one of these days I will swallow her whole! I feel like my mom-friends and I could sit around all afternoon talking about how delicious and yummy our babies are, and how we want to eat them up! I just look at her thighs and I swoon! I catch a whiff of her and I cant resist it. I actually gave her a hickey the other day. She was standing up in my lap and I looked at that little spot just behind and below her earlobe and I had to have it! I went for it and was giving her loud, sloppy kisses and she was laughing and cracking up, egging me on and I loved it, the sound of her laugh is intoxicating, and I'm besotted! Unfortunately for Hazel, when I came up for air, she had a big old hickey right on her neck. Oops. I cannot be expected to restrain myself though. She is too perfect. Oh, how I'm going to miss these days! I know that I'm going to look back on this time in our life as the most euphoric, and I'm trying to drink it all in but it happens so fast. Hazel, I know you won't remember this time, but let me assure you that I love you with every cell, every thought, every breath and I could just lay in the grass and look at the leaves with you forever.
So, the rain has finally stopped. Everything in the woods has grown to ten times its normal size. The lawns are greener than they have ever been. It has rained for two months. Finally we got some good beach weather, so my little family headed down to the water for dinner and the sunset the toher night. We decided to try Hazel in the water again, since the first time we tried it, things did not go over so well. She hated it before. She touched her toes in the smallest bit of ocean, her eyes bugged out of her head, and her little feet and legs sucked up into her pants so fast before the screams started. We went a bit slower this time, and since Hazel is so much older and wiser now, she handled herself much better.
Here it comes!
Not as bad as we expected.
If I'm not getting the stink-eye from my daughter, I'm getting it from my husband.
I love the way she is looking at him...
Let me say that Jess and Erik are perfect. I know it sounds corny and cliche, but they were made for one another, and I could never picture them with anyone else. They are the most amazing couple and are going to have such a beautiful family. If you had told me at my wedding five years ago that Erik, who's antics that night I won't repeat here, would be married to a woman like this I would have called you a damn liar. He has made a perfect choice.
Here is one example of why I think they are so awesome. Follows is the copy from the wedding invitation:
"What's a shotgun wedding with out a pig roast?
Please join us for a night of
Pork, Booze, and Dirty Dollar Dances
**with the lovely Sada D_**
The rest of the dancing will be pretty dirty as well.
Saturday, the Ninth of August
Two Thousand and Eight
Half Past Five O'Clock in the Afternoon
Ye Olde Sex Farm (Our New Home)
Expensive Gifts Appreciated
"Don't Bother the Livestock or Poke the Hay"
The best part is that this was printed on formal invitations. I love them. And the pig was delish.
The tent set up at Erik and Jess' house.
The rear of the farmhouse.
The "after" picture! I wish I had taken a "before" picture because you wouldn't believe your eyes.
Falling apart. This was the best picture I got of Hazel and Evan, who was born the day before her. Becky and I found out we were pregnant at the same time last year. They also live in Vermont and Becky's first crush was also David Bowie in Labyrinth.
Just one of Hazel's hilarious new pacifiers.
Hazel was such a trooper. I thought she would sleep reclined in her stroller with a blanket tossed over it, but the band was kind of loud and she was so excited by everything going on. There was actually about four other babies there Hazel's age, and all of them were wide awake at 11 o'clock and all were glassy eyed and exhausted. Everyone was doing laps around the perimeter of the tent with the kiddos in the strollers trying to get them to sleep. You can tell how tired Hazel is by how wonky her left eye is.
The Little Family!
This little camp belongs to Jess and Erik's neighbors. They loaned it to us for the night so we wouldn't have to drive 30 minutes to the nearest motel. This camp was 1/4 mile up the road so we could just hop back and forth and Hazel had a quiet place to sleep at night. Most everyone else was camping in tents on their land, but I hate sleeping in a tent and I think Hazel is too young for that. Next year we will reconsider...The morning after, a quiet breakfast with the hosts on a lazy hung-over Sunday. That's Erik in the background on the far left. Hazel barfed on their rug three times that morning. *sigh*
Hazel and Estelle, two little old ladies.
Hardy and Laura, also from Vermont. Hardy, inspired by the invitation, penned a song for the new couple titled "Sex Farm". Upon announcing the name of the song to the guests and receiving an uncomfortable silence punctuated by chirping crickets and clattering silverware, Erik informed Hardy that there were in fact two separate invitations that were mailed. I would post the lyrics here, but I would have to reclassify this blog as containing "Adult Content".
A rest stop at University of New Hampshire to roll in the grass and air out.
Hazel can sit up on her own, using her abs and back muscles to hold her trunk up, as long as I hold her feet for balance so she doesn't fall ass over teakettle.
I've never seen a cuter butt.
Hazel has finally discovered the Exersaucer! It says it can be for babies from 4 months, but when we put her in it, she just hung there with her arms at her sides, staring at us with the same perplexed expression as her car-seat picture when she was 2 days old. Something happened in her little brain because when we put her in it the other day, she went wild with laughter and grunts and "oooooo"s and "ahhhhhh"s. Then she became very focused and "worked" on all of the toys in bizarre, highly attentive and methodical manner.
After giving birth, I nursed Hazel in the delivery room, our cord still attached to one another. It didn't go well, but that is to be expected and I didn't let it get me down. In my 48 hours on the maternity floor, I met with the Lactation Consultant four times; Hazel wouldn't open her mouth wide enough, it was hurting me, I was getting a blister, it hurt it hurt it hurt. Hazel's latch was terrible, and she wasn't getting anything from me, falling asleep, not swallowing. The LC trained me in how to use the SNS (supplemental feeder), a terrible contraption that would allow Hazel to breastfeed, but would be getting formula. I also had to use a nipple shield because of the pain involved. I thought things would even out soon enough. I made a follow up appointment to come back and meet with the LC's two days after discharge.
By the time I came back in to see her, Hazel was very jaundiced and we had to push fluids. I would nurse Hazel with the SNS and shield for 40 minutes (20 each side), bottle feed her the rest to help her metabolize the bilirubin, pump for 20 minutes, wash out the SNS, ice my boobs with the gel packs, and start the whole cycle over again. The most I ever got pumping was some condensation in the shields. I never got engorged, never leaked, never had anything...my milk never came in. I ended up on a regimen of fenugreek, Mother's Milk tea, massage, acupuncture, acupressure, chiropractic medicine, pumping like a mad woman, and relaxation. All while using the horrible SNS and meeting with the LC's. I kept this up for 17 days, sometimes without leaving the second floor of my house. Jamie brought me healthy meals and water. He took care of all of Hazel's other needs. I was getting depressed, crying all the time, sleep deprived, miserable, feeling like the worst failure. I knew things were getting really bad when I decided that I was never meant to be a mother; I was unable to get pregnant on my own and now I had to artificially feed my artificially conceived baby. When it was time for Jamie to go back to work, I knew that I couldn't keep it up all by myself. I had zero support from my family. No one came to help us when Hazel came home. I knew that after 17 days, the chances of my milk coming in were slim to none. I cried and cried. I didn't even own any bottles or formula. None of my books that I had bought for support told me what to do. They didn't even mention that this could even be a possibility. I was so angry. My OB offered me this drug called Reglan which can cause lactation, but a primary side effect was paralyzing depression. I think that was the last thing that I needed.
When I stopped nursing, and my breasts started to heal, I mourned. I was so sad, and I still am. I hate that I never had the chance to experience nursing Hazel, but part of me felt overwhelming relief. Trying to breastfeed was emotional torture for me, and I knew that I was about to enter a very dark place of shame and self-blame that is almost impossible to get out of. I was yanked back from that at the last possible second, but the feeling remains with me.
When Hazel was two weeks old, I started going to a mothers group at the hospital where she was born. Though the group was facilitated by a Lactation Consultant, and many women had breastfeeding questions, it was not a Breastfeeding Group. A couple of times, women new to the group would try to engage me in some trash talking about women who formula feed, but for the most part, I felt very comfortable. The women that I associate with from the group are amazing and supportive and non-judgemental. I would still feel a pang of shame mixing a bottle of formula in public though, and sometimes I did get "looks", especially when Hazel was very young. People would act shocked when they discovered that I was not breastfeeding, and I found myself explaining my situation a lot.
However, these are some of the gems that I have received from strangers: "You and all your formula feeding friends are ruining everything!" "I hope that your formula fed baby gets cancer and dies!" and my favorite, "Your formula fed baby is going to be serving fries to my breastfed baby!" Really? You're going to let your little genius eat fries? Methinks that they will be cancelling out some of those breast milk IQ points you're banking on.
Obviously I know that the people who say these things are horrible and nasty and stupid. I know that my brilliant, perfect daughter kicks a lot of ass just as she is. For centuries women have done whatever they needed to do to keep their babies alive. Parenting decisions are personal, and not for public comment. The loud and extreme minority feed off of this sort of self-righteous judgement that they feel is their right to broadcast without pause to the rest of us, who frankly just don't care what they have to say about our boobs. I and other mothers who have had a hard time breastfeeding due to a legion of possible variables gone wrong, are tired of defending our decision to keep our babies alive by whatever means necessary.
The promotion of breastfeeding, especially in certain socioeconomic and cultural centers is important. There is no question that Breast is Best when All Other Things Are Equal, but the promotion of breastfeeding over and above the support of other mothers in one of the most difficult parts of motherhood is not something that I support for a moment. If my daughter chooses to have children, I will do everything in my power to support her through that horrible first month postpartum, even if it means running out for a can of formula when her nipples are cracked, bleeding and burning from yeast and her baby is screaming bloody murder.
If you nurse your children, then way to go, mama. If you weren't able to nurse your children, then I feel you, girlfriend. And if you chose to not breastfeed for personal reasons, then I get it, sister. Either way, you're a warrior.
Queue the abusive comments........NOW.
Park Management saw Hazel with her Spinners shirt and sunglasses and they said, "We have to get this picture! Wait here. CAN SOMEONE PLEASE FIND THAT PHOTOGRAPHER!" Not too surprising since Hazel was the cutest superfan ever to enter the park. Turns out the official Spinners photographer was down on the field, and since Hazel was about to fall apart, we couldn't wait for her. The park staff was so disapointed! It was cute. Hazel was this close to being famous! The new Spinners mascot.
After the game, they invite all the kids in the park down to run the bases. It was adorable, and unlike Fenway, it didn't end with a half-drunk rent-a-cop chasing them down, beating them senseless and dragging their limp bodies over home plate. Score one for the Spinners!
As close as Jamie would get to the alligator-thing. He was really dirty.