I’ve been dragging my feet trying to find the time to do a 5 month update on Uma ji. But she’s growing so much, learning so much everyday, that I’ve been enjoying these fleeting moments of her babyhood. And mourning the notion that it’s almost half way over – and celebrating her new found intelligence every day!
In the meantime, we spent most of her 5 month of life here on earth traveling. Almost the whole month actually, a good chunk towards the end of our adventures taking place in the Outerbanks in North Carolina, where we attended my cousin in law’s wedding, and where Uma met the bigger part of her family. No family could give a new baby a more loving and warm welcome to the fold. Dear Uma ji, you are a Bean, a Rudman, and a Haney, and very lucky for it.
I was never allowed to play sports as a kid. To the contrary, this is a very competitive family, and we played a furious game of wiffle ball as far into the night as our eyes would let us.
dudes night swimming.
and sudden storm!
BEST STROLLER EVER.
ARE YOU SERIOUSLY MINE??
Uma: 4 months. Her cousin Jameson: 13 months. And they are practically the same size. As a matter of fact, Uma’s head is most certainly bigger!!
The nightly reception of Uma ji into the blonde side of the family.
First time toes in the sand.
Uma ji says, “I’m gonna stick my foot in your mouth, and wait to see what happens next.”
My baby girl is beautiful. I’m sure there is some biological imperative at play in my unshakeable notion that she’s the most beautiful thing EVER, and certainly some belief that Husbone and I are pretty nice looking to make such a nice looking baby together. In those long ago days of wishing for things I’ll never have any control over, my one and only inclination was to pass on my big, brown eyes to my baby girl. If not in color, in shape, in thick, overcrowded lashes, perhaps not in their raccoonish tendencies – but I always enjoyed having big brown eyes. I always enjoyed people complimenting my eyes and my eyelashes – it is the most praised feature on my person. And while I don’t consider myself that shallow, honestly it’s just a small happiness I’ve enjoyed that I wished my child could enjoy too. But it could be here nose, her lips, her hair, her legs… She’s bound to be beautiful all over even if she bears no resemblance whatsoever to me.
But it’s her eyes.
What beautiful eyes! Strangers constantly coo! Their big, steelish grey blue, they are my very own gift to her, thick, long lashes that will one day make wearing sunglasses slightly uncomfortable for her. At her birth, they were big and greyish blue, bluer when she wears pink, greyer when it’s a gloomy day. And they are turning brown.
What beautiful blue eyes! they coo!
Thank you! I happily say, and perhaps for conversation I say, She’s going to have beautiful big brown eyes!
oh. frowns flash across faces. that’s too bad. no, no, they won’t turn brown, don’t worry! (or some combination of these delightful insights.)
Ummmmm…. excuse me? No offense to people with blue eyes, but what’s so great about them anyway?? What makes blue eyes better than brown ones? I have brown eyes!
One this day, 8 years ago, I couldn’t sleep. I was reeling from earthen green eyes I discovered in a bar in Queens. An inner rim of golden and earthen brown surrounded by a rim greenish, greyish blue that couldn’t make up it’s mind. In this period of transition, I see a man known as Husbone, known as Baba ji, in her eyes. And I see myself there too.
Hello again! I’ve been missing for a few weeks – but I thought to myself, now that she’s so officially not a newborn any more, it might be fine to just keep a monthly journal instead of a weekly one. That, and we’ve been pretty crazy busy for the past month! Since I last posted, Uma has traveled to North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming! We just got back day before yesterday – and Tuesday we leave for New York, then it’s Washington DC, Virginia and North Carolina again, where she’ll finally meet all the members of Husbone’s family at his cousin’s wedding in the Outer Banks. I plan on doing a post later about what it’s been like to travel with her and some travel tips – however all of that starts with the fact that despite some minor protestations, we have an extremely amenable baby on our hands.
But funny – since I decided to post a monthly journal, I realized – THIS is the time when everything is happening in rapid order. Since my last post, my dear sweet one has begun laughing, putting things in her mouth, rolling over from back to tummy, and from tummy to back by accident a few times. They are big changes – it’s like I can see her brain waking up and become ever more aware, not only of the world, but of her own choices.
I sat her up on my hip, about 4 weeks ago. She was smiling a lot, and I proceeded to make all kind of weird sounds, as they seemed to please her! When suddenly burst forth this sudden guffaw!! I got so excited and yelped with joy and scared that laugh right out of her. I scrambled for my phone, careful not to make her laugh again in case she might get tired of my jokes, and resumed the sound that made her laugh. And she did it again. I am so grateful that I was able to capture her FIRST laugh. We were all alone in the house, and I just wanted to shout this discovery from the rooftops! So I put it on YouTube :).
Also she’s so fair skinned – there have been an unsettling number of instances where I was out in public and strangers asked if she was mine. Yikes! With each day that passes, she looks more and more like her baba ji. I think she’s beautiful. But I also know I’m incredibly bias, as a. I made her, b. biological imperative and c. she resembles so dearly a face I fell in love with roughly 8 (8?!?!?) years ago.
Now I don’t know if you can tell shyness at this age, but when we were in Wyoming, The Gentlemen played a wedding (that’s one part Husbone and one part Uncle the Councilman if you are new to this blog!), and we dropped in for a bit before Uma ji’s bedtime. It was her first time present at a large gathering of people towards one social purpose, and she recieved a good amount of attention while in her baba ji’s arms from many different folks. And it was the sweetest thing! She stuck her hand in her mouth and pressed her head against her baba ji and wouldn’t acknowledge or make eye contact with anyone who tried to talk to her. Granted, I think she was a bit tired, but it was so sweet I had to take a picture!
If this is any indication of who she takes after, that would certainly be me. If you know me very well, you know I’m actually quite shy. Most people think I’m pretty outgoing, but it’s just a show I put on to hide the fact that I’m terrified of talking to new people. I used to hide behind my mother when I was a babe, but get me alone in front of a mirror and I could reenact Le Mis with a ferver no one would know until I had perfected it. My sweet baby ji.
Monday of last week I put her on her tummy, and as usual she protested. But not for long, because she pushed up on her arms and suddenly, surprisingly, ended up on her back! She had a funny look of bewilderment – as I don’t think it was her intention to make the world turn upside down. And just a day later she flipped over from front to back – which requires a considerable more coordination but she mastered it within just a couple of days and still has yet to learn how she managed to do it the other way. Though it seems she tries to flip back to her back. But for the most part, if I put her down for ANY purpose, if I don’t hold a firm hand on her belly she’ll end up like this in no time:
And she’s still enduring a love hate relationship with this position, as she’ll soon get tired and then angry that she hasn’t the strength to keep her head up. She doesn’t last like this for long until she grunts and screeches in despair. She does her loudest crying this way, but it’s more funny than emotional. For us, anyway :). But her deep passion for being on her stomach rendered her Rock n’Play moot just overnight.
One thing no one ever warned me about at this stage was SLEEP REGRESSION. I, after some toil, will put her to sleep on her back. Then she’ll try to turn, while half asleep, onto her tummy. Sometimes she makes it. If she doesn’t, she descends into despair and I have to put her to sleep all over again. If she does make it, she’ll have an arm stuck under her, and will still descend into despair. If she manages to get on her tummy, half asleep, without a hitch, she’ll start eventually screeching and screaming her protests about being on her tummy. One night there was nothing I could do for her but pat her but as she yelled herself to sleep. She has two very distinct cries that almost sound the same. One is with tears, one without. If she’s crying without tears and it’s not escalating too much, I’ll pat her butt for 45 minutes until she falls asleep. If there’s tears, I pick her up and we try again – usually only to end up at the 45 minute whiny butt patting phase, and we’ll rinse and repeat until she’s not REALLY crying. But for a few nights there it was all that I could do to get her to sleep.
Once she does fall asleep, she wakes every 3 or 4 hours, but if I stick a bottle in her mouth (this is why Playtex nursers are awesome! I can push out the air and feed her at any angle!) while her eyes are still closed, she’ll suck on it for a bit and fall back asleep with no more help from me. But every now and then She’ll sleep for NINE HOURS, and I cross my fingers she’ll be doing that more often someday soon. But either way, once I actually get her to sleep, I don’t have to put her to sleep again save sticking a bottle in her mouth for 13 hours.
She goes to sleep anywhere between 9 and 11 (thank goodness! I was afraid I’d never have time with my Husbone again!!) and wake up around 9-11. She is awake for an hour in the morning, then naps for an hour, then she is awake 1.5 hours, asleep for 30 minutes at a time until bed time, so she gets about 4 naps a day for a total of 15-16 hours of sleep a day. As each day passes I try to get her and keep her on a schedule. I’m a nervous nelly about it because I don’t have any desire to revisit her former 1am bedtime. Our travel schedule has been so insane that it’s important for me to keep her on a schedule. So no late night club shows to see baba ji play! Sorry Uma ji!
Also. This is a neat trick she’s learned!
I live for the day when I’m driving and she’s hungry and I can just pass a bottle to her and I don’t have to pull over! Another reason why I love Playtex Nursers – she’s less likely to swallow air if she’s feeding herself. Hah – this lasts for about 10 seconds though, and it’s closely supervised!
And that is our dear Uma ji at 16 weeks!! I can’t believe she’s days from being four months (calendar months, that is!). I get so sad when I think about the fact that her babyhood is already almost halfway over! But I’m so excited for the time when she’s more like a little person, and we can share more of the world together.
And so life resumes, and I’m just beginning to feel, well, not normal, but more like that one day I will feel normal again. The situation down there has left me with a one-day-at-a-time attitude towards my recovery. I wouldn’t be surprised if a year from now I still wasn’t quite myself. Not my old self of course, that body, that person has transformed into something else – but the body I’m in now is not one I feel entirely comfortable in – for no other reason then the blunt end of a pencil stabbing me from day to day (oh, and the slightly saggy belly, but that part isn’t so bad). But I’m going to get there. And that’s how I feel now.
I can’t believe it’s been 12 weeks – 12 WEEKS! An eternity and a blink all in the same breath. For some reason, it feels ages longer to say 3 months, and our dear little Uma is no longer a newborn. But that makes sense to me anyway. On that first unbelievable night with her, she slept easily, her palms open and relaxed, as if floating in water, her gaze pensive and serene, and I thought, it’s like I gave birth to a one month old. I mean, she was so big, long, chubby and squinty, she looked strong and healthy and sturdy. And so I guess she never really seemed like a newborn to me.
There have been a few remarkable developments in these past couple of weeks. She’s clasping her hands, constantly drooling and gnawing on her knuckles, she likes to chew hard on my fingers (is she teething already???), and she LOVES TO STAND. I mean, let’s not understate that. It’s her greatest passion. If ever she’s on her back, she’s straining to sit up, her eyebrows shoot up and she grimaces with effort beyond her little body’s capability to do what she desires. If you pick her up only to set her down, her legs unfold and stand sturdy and straight so you have no choice but to stand her up or lie her down. If she’s fussy, upset, cranky, just stand her up and she will reward you with an instant smile and some very persuasive coos. Hah, no smile here, as she was ready for her nap.
do you see this?? I can’t stand this crazy cute little girl!!
Her head control is almost mastered, but every now and then she looses it and catapults herself in some other direction with the mighty weight of her noggin. And the best? The BEST?
We made this little munchkin almost a year ago. And from that very first moment, my greatest longing has been to hear that little voice ring out in joy. And just yesterday, as we play in bed, I was making all manner of silly noises to get her to smile, and suddenly from her belly emerged this laugh!! I got so excited I startled her out of her humor. I praised her to no end, but she looked at me as if confused. Ummm… what are you so excited about? Was the look on her face. But she gave me the gift of laughing one more time for my iphone camera so I could share the moment with Huz. And you.
My heart explodes! She hasn’t done it since, as I understand it her sense of humor will develop and change over time. But I’m so grateful I was able to capture this moment – this is literally her SECOND laugh of ALL TIME – and now I’m doing all I can to hear it again.
If you’ve been reading this blog, you may have heard that because of a breast reduction I had a few years ago, my milk production is not up to snuff. Had my plastic surgeon NOT told me that my milk supply would be unaffected (liar!), I’m not sure that I would have made a different decision about having the surgery, as at the time, more present on my mind was the aching in my back, and the lack of diversity in my wardrobe (you have no idea how hard it is to look cute when trying to contain 2 giant boulders from the world. I was G cup by the way. Yeah.), than feeding my spawn with the ancient art of breastfeeding. And so, here we are. Thank goodness for my Lact-Aid Nursing Trainer, Thank goodness for the internet. For I asked the Internet, O! Internet! How can I make more milk with what God gave me and what the doctor had taketh away? And so, here is my list of things I’m trying:
Fenugreek pills – Just started this yesterday. Taking 3 pills 3 times daily, and apparently I know I’m on the right track once my sweat and urine start smelling like maple syrup. It’s too early to tell, but I’ll let you know when I start smelling like pancakes and making more milk.
Double Pumping – that is, pumping for 15 minutes on each breast after nursing. I’m trying this one on for size, but it’s difficult because I keep thinking, well what if she’s hungry again? What if she wakes up and wants the boob? I don’t want to give her empty boobs! Enter, the Lact-Aid. That way, I can just put the milk I just expressed into a bag and still she can get the good stuff without thinking that the bottle is best.
Breast Compression and Massage – all day long. Massage all day long sounds nice? No. It’s not. It’s not awful, but it’s work getting every last drop out. I do a good amount of hand expression even after double pumping (see above). The idea is to totally empty my breast every three hours (a goal I’m currently falling short of, but I’m working on it. To really commit to this would require that I pump every three hours – including at night, and sometimes there isn’t enough time between feedings. Now that Huz is out of town again too it’s not easy to pass her off to someone else for 45 minutes while I wring my breasts of every last drop. But it’s a goal, and I’ve got my sights set on it.)
And last but not least, Lactation Cookies!! A cookie that makes you lactate? Is it a dream??
Well. I decided to find out. I made a batch last Tuesday night. I’ve eaten… ahem… a few cookies today and I do feel like I have more milk than usual. I don’t know if it’s the fenugreek or what, and it’s certainly not enough to loose the formula, but every little bit counts for me. The key here is Oatmeal and Brewers Yeast. I also added some flaxseed for good measure, and chocolate chips, because they make me happy. And let me tell you. These are GOOD. Ok, GREAT. THEY ARE AWESOME. No, it’s not the healthiest recipe ever, but hey! They are cookies, and I’m me. And here’s how you make them:
adapted from my favorite cookie recipe ever here: http://savorysweetlife.com/2009/10/alices-chocolate-chip-cookie-recipe/
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1½ cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2¾ cups (12 oz) all-purpose flour
1 tsp. smallish-medium coarse sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1½ tsp. baking powder
12 oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (I prefer the mini ones!)
4 tbsp water
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
4 heaping tbsp brewers yeast (I got mine on Amazon!)
3 heaping tbsp ground flax
Because this is not a cooking blog per se, I'm going to give you instructions that I only recently learned to follow, in the principle of following a recipe and baking cookies. Of course you can ignore me if you are a cookie master. :) Read the entire recipe before you begin. Also, it's good to prep everything in an extra large bowl - once you throw in the oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies, you'll be dealing with a LOT of dough!
Preheat Oven to 360 degrees.
Cream Butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. (Do you suck at making cookies? Because I used to suck at it. And the reason was because I didn't understand the significance of the creaming process. It's important that the butter be room temperature during this step. I use a Kitchen Aid Mixer with the paddle attachment and leave it on the highest setting for 2 minutes to achieve light and fluffy. If you are doing this by hand, use a wooden or silicon spoon - this helps maintain an even temperature while beating the heck out of your butter and sugar. You want to make sure to get air in the mixture, and you don't want your butter to get too warm, or it won't be stiff enough to hold the air in. You don't want to start with it too cold, because then it will be too hard to mix in. Anyway, that's my tip if you suck at making cookies! Know that now, I am a cookie master :))
Add both eggs and beat until the mixture is silky and fluffy. If you are doing this by hand, it's best that the eggs are also room temperature, and it helps if you add one egg, beat until fully incorporated still making sure there is air in the mixture, then add the other egg and repeat. I usually leave my Kitchaid on high until the texture is almost like a silky mousse.
Add baking soda, baking powder, salt, flour, brewers yeast, flax powder and water until fully incorporated. The dough will be somewhat thick, but the water will help the cookies spread. Also - you'll get best results if you use coarse sea salt - you'll get these magnificent but subtle salty bursts in your mouth, mixed with the sweet and with the chocolate! Mouth watering!!
Finally add the rolled oats and the chocolate chips until somewhat evenly spread throughout the mixture. If you are using a kitchen aid mixer, it's probably almost over flowing at this point. I usually stop it when it looks like the paddle is going to drive the dough out of the bowl, push it down with a spatula and restart. I repeat this until things are well distributed.
With your tablespoon measuring spoon scoop up the dough in balls (I like to scrape them off the spoon with the corner of a rubber spatula, or if you don't have one, another spoon or butter knife) and place them on your baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Space them about two inches apart.
Pop those bad boys in your preheated oven (you preheated it, right? Don't put them in until your oven has an internal temp of 360!), and bake for 9 minutes. You can bake for up to 12, but I like them a little soft, and with the oatmeal in there they dry out easily. So I undercook them a little.
Take them out of the oven. Let them cool just long enough to be able to lift a cookie to your mouth with out burning yourself. People say 2 to 3 minutes, but I can never wait that long. Enjoy them with a glass of milk (or Almond milk - yummmmm!)!