Archive | December, 2011

Milestones: Rolling Over

30 Dec

Baby rolled over for the first time December 23rd and has repeated it a few times since. He does best when on a firm surface – his new crib, the futon, the floor. He can go tummy to back, but not vice versa. Overall, he has become way more active–kicking toys with his feet, throwing his pacifier, etc. Watch out! This boy is on the move!!

Next up – Baby’s first tooth! He had teething symptoms over Christmas (drooling, tugging on one ear, hands in mouth, fussiness/shrieking). He woke up hourly last night to eat and today he had some blood in his drool. Sure enough, today there’s a little bump on his gum–he should have a tooth sooner rather than later.


I gave my poor boy some ice in a sock to chew on and that helped a bit. Right now he’s finally sleeping for over an hour and getting some peace.

Baby’s first Christmas!

29 Dec


We just spent a wonderful week with my family celebrating baby’s first Christmas. ¬†He was definitely the center of attention: my brother met him for the first time and my parents loved seeing how that teeny newborn has grown into a full-fledged baby with huge smiles and quite the personality ūüôā ¬†My parents were generous with gifts (a box of Baby Einstein toys and a cool activity center) as well as helping us organize our lives (they brought a crib that has been passed around my family for generations–it was my crib as a baby!! They bought a mattress for babe to sleep on and a bookshelf to stash baby stuff).


Because we are a multi-cultural family, we have lots of holidays this time of year. ¬†Dec 25th is always spent with my family. ¬†Christmas Eve we make clam chowder & appetizers, open the gifts that are under the tree and spend lots of quality time together. ¬†That night, Santa comes and on Christmas morning there are stockings full of fun and usually one big Santa gift. ¬†That day, we usually cook Christmas dinner and often go out to a movie. ¬†This year was really fun–although it didn’t quite go as planned. ¬†We opened gifts, ate chowder & Russian appetizers but the big mistake was pairing the appetizers with vodka. ¬†Baby bro and hubs got wayyyy drunk and they both couldn’t get out of bed Christmas day. ¬†Boo to them! I let them have it and then got over it. The day after Christmas we had our big dinner together and, well, it’s something to laugh about.

We took lots of pictures to remember our fun week together. I’ll let them speak for themselves!






Taken on our FED 5b vintage Soviet camera

Taken on our FED 5b vintage Soviet camera

Taken on our FED 5b vintage Soviet camera



I have spent a lot of time thinking about our holiday traditions as our family grows. We have lots to build: Thanksgiving, American Christmas, New Year’s, and Orthodox Christmas. Thanksgiving is usually low-key because it doesn’t make sense to travel twice in a month, so it is usually low-key. We eat something with turkey. We may spend time with friends.

“American” Christmas is spent with my family, either here or in my childhood hometown. This year the fam came to us, next year we might drive out there (depending on the weather and how travelling with a 15-month old will be). We always open gifts on Christmas eve. We always make clam chowder. Santa fills stockings and brings (usually) one big gift. It is unwrapped and set out under the Christmas tree. We have always eaten ham on Christmas day, but I don’t love it. This year we had a rib roast (I think it was a New York roast, but we could do prime rib or any other tasty cut). It was AWESOME. We made the amazing Garlic/Honey carrots from Thanksgiving, hubs’s awesome mashed potatoes and a big salad. Excellent meal that I definitely want to repeat.

This weekend is New Year, which is like American Christmas for Russians. Someday we may visit hubs’s family in Ukraine for the holiday, but for now we will spend it here as a family. A big meal is cooked and eaten at midnight. A gift is under the “New Year’s Tree.” Alcohol is drank, fun is had. We have spent New Year’s in Canada (we took a boat up to Victoria and it was SO fun). We’ve spent it in our apartment drinking tasty drinks… last year I don’t even remember what we did. I wasn’t feeling well over the holidays (I was prego but didn’t know it yet), but on New Year’s Day we went to our friends’ house and played with their XBox Kinect.

Finally, we have Orthodox Christmas, which is the least defined at this point. We make kutya, a traditional dessert made from wheat grain, poppy seeds, walnuts, and honey. I’m guessing we’ll cook Russian food and . . .do something? It’s usually a holiday where you visit your God-family (either your God-children or your kids’ God Parents or all of the above). We don’t have a Russian Orthodox community of friends here, so there’s no one to celebrate with. I hope that with time, this holiday gains more traditions.

So Christmas #1 turned out wonderfully. We’re now excited to move on to the next holiday and celebrate more of my little boy’s milestones ūüôā

Things we love

16 Dec

I found that when I was preparing for baby / registering, people’s lists of really useful (and not so useful) products really helped me. I took a totally minimialist approach to baby-stuff. We have a full 2-bedroom apartment and planned to have baby in our room, so I wanted to stick to the minimum amount of things we needed. There are very few baby items we don’t use, so I figured I’d post those things that we use regularly and love.

1. Graco Pack ‘N Play, a.k.a. the crib.

We live in a 2-bedroom apartment and since our business is based out of our home, we have a lot of stuff. The 2nd bedroom is our office/pigsty, so we knew baby would go in our room. ¬†My whole philosophy while preparing for baby is “less is more” so I only bought the things I knew we’d need (and gradually bought Target gift cards so it would be easy to get the things we later figured out we needed). Thus, the pack n play. ¬†We went with a simple model because reviews of the infant bed/changing table were not stellar. This was just fine. Baby spent the first months in his bouncer anyway. We’re only now transitioning to sleeping regularly in his “crib.” ¬†Even when we do get a real crib (more on that later), we can still use the play yard.

2.Fisher-Price Bouncer

OMG – this was a last minute lifesaver. ¬†Within a few days of babe’s birth we knew he loved being rocked. My wrist pain meant that he couldn’t always be rocked in our arms (he doesn’t always love being held anyway). So I sent my parents out for a bouncer and we LOVE it!

Such a little, orange, baby, saved by the bouncer ūüôā

We don’t use the activity bar much, just the seat. This simple model vibrates and is easy to rock with an arm or a foot (necessary when babe wakes up fussing in the middle of the night and your eyes just won’t open). ¬†Beware of using it all the time, as baby can get a flat head.

3. Fisher-Price Whale Tub

Babe loves bath! This tub is small, easy to fill, and babe can sit by himself in it. ¬†The first few baths he had no head control so my hand was always on him. Now he lays back, plays, splashed and has a ton of fun with me observing (after the initial soap-up). Once he gets bigger, the little infant¬†insert can be removed so a toddler can sit in it. ¬†It’s great to put this mini-tub in the big tub because the water doesn’t get everywhere.

This tub was also our secret weapon–we put babe in it on a towel and he hangs out naked in the tub with the heat lamp/fan on for “naked time.” Naked time is great to air out his bottom AND the fan calms him down. He loves to sit in there and talk and observe the walls (the vanity lights are very cool. Plus I have a colorful butterfly kite on the wall that is endlessly interesting). Naked time is also a sanity break for us sometimes.

4. Moby Wrap

When we go out with babe, the moby is awesome! I’m glad we got to play with it in our birth class because there is a learning curve to putting it on, but now that we’ve figured out how to wrap/tie it, it’s awesome!


I usually put the wrap on at home (the black color helps it blend in and not look so strange if you run into the store or something with it on and no babe) and then we drive to a park or the mall or whatever to walk. ¬†Pop babe in and we’re on our way. There are many different positions you can use. Facing-in, legs-in, legs-out, Forward-facing, etc. ¬†Too bad it is rainy winter and we can’t go for more walks!

5. aden + anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets

First of all, if your hospital doesn’t expressly give you several swaddle blankets, steal them. The boring white (with a green & pink stripe) hospital swaddle blankets are the best. Perfectly sized and stay well. ¬†The secret to swaddling which I didn’t realize before is to use AT LEAST 2 blankets. The first layer holds baby, the second holds the swaddle.

We built a system where we’d use 2 hospital blankets and then one pretty aden + anais blanket on top. They’re huge and have fun designs. Added bonus, the loose muslin weave seems to be stainproof (vital when baby burps and poops on everything!) and you can pull them tight to swaddle. Now that baby’s bigger, he doesn’t fit in hospital blankets so having several of the big swaddles is necessary. He can now wiggle out of these guys, so we’re transitioning to sleeping in pj’s. ¬†We never liked the swaddle outfits–we used them for naps, but our wiggle-monster could always get his arms free.

6. Target diapers


Cheap. Awesome. ‘Nuff said.

8. Boppy Nursing Pillow

I use the boppy all the time for feeding–it helps close the distance between your boob and your lap. It’s also useful for chillin with babe during the day, out of his bouncer.

First night home

In the early days, sometimes we’d use it for tummy time. Added bonus: it’s actually a really comfortable pillow for me¬†to sleep on–it curves around the neck so nicely!

3 months!

16 Dec

The stats:¬†Baby is in size 2 diapers and 3months in clothing. He’s so long that he’s beginning to fit in size 6mo. ¬†He’s getting heavier and heavier, too.

Nicknames: Angel-baby, Milk monster, muffin, Nikitos

Temperament: my son really is an angel! He only cries (fusses) when he wants something, like milk or a diaper change or to get off tummy time.  Everyone I meet comments on how observant he is. He loves to smile and giggle. He really is our joy!!

Things I Could Do Without: Umm, juicy poo? It makes me sad when it leaks onto cute clothing. My boy has a flat spot in the back of his head that I just wish would go away. But these are little things–baby, you bring so much joy to my life!!

Item/Toy We All Love The Most: You’re moving away from your bouncer and spending more time in your pack & play (which is your crib). You’re also doing more tummy time, which is good for that flat head. ¬†But your favorite time ever is bath time, so I’d have to say that we all love your little whale tub sooo much!

Things I‚Äôm Loving Most Right Now:¬†Your smiles! Your joy! You are my angel ‚̧

Things You‚Äôre Loving Most Right Now: ¬†So this is totally random: we like to watch documentaries on netflix and we put this one called beyond the splendor¬†on our queue. It’s about these missionaries who where killed by an Amazon tribe and then their families befriended the people and brought them into their lives. The film is interviews with the families and tribesmen (who speak Quechua).¬†It’s kind of boring, but still interesting. Babe likes background noise and one day hubs turned it on and immediately babe was fixated–just watching and listening. ¬†He fell asleep happily. Then another day, same thing. ¬†It’s become our solution for the 5pm fussies–turn on this doc. and babe is a happy boy. He’s totally going to grow up as a linguist or world¬†traveler. He’s growing up hearing Russian and English (and some Ukrainian) every day. Now this film with Quechua, too!.

Oh, my little muffin! You are such a wonderful baby!! After all the problems of the first couple ¬†months, month 2-3 has been pure joy. You are sleeping longer (usually 5 hours straight, then 3-ish, then 2). We feel more rested and our life has almost returned to “normal”– just more fun with you around! Your laughter and smiles make any day better. You are rarely cranky–just a little fussy around 5pm. You usually go to sleep on your own, either on the futon next to us, in your pack and play, or in your little chair. You still sleep near mama at night because she likes you within reach. You’re just so cute! That, and it’s easier when you wake up hungry ūüôā

Your motor skills are improving–your little hands grasp things now so we’ll often find you trying to put your pacifier back in your mouth. Your eyes track us as we move around the room. You sometimes wake up laughing and smiling. When mama comes home from school, you often wake up when you hear her voice and want to eat. ¬†Baths are still your favorite thing EVER. Last night you were fussy and shrieking (3 month growth spurt, I think) and after trying everything I could think of, we put you in the bath. It was so cute to watch as the frown melted off your face into a smile. You love to “jump” in your tub and splash. Water is so much fun!

You are holding your head up high when we put you on your tummy. ¬†We try to do at least 30 minutes of tummy time every day. You scoot around, often rotating 45 degrees. . but you’re not ready to roll over. ¬†That’s fine with me–I’m not ready for a moving baby!

We are so excited for you to spend time with your grandparents and your uncle (so wierd to think of my baby brother as an uncle!) when they visit over Christmas. You are such an amazing little boy and we love you so much!

Birth Story ‚Äď Part 3: Hello Baby!

5 Dec

In case you missed it, Part 1: Waiting for Baby and Part 2: Active Labor

At 7:30 my favorite midwife‚Äôs shift ended and my least-favorite came on duty. This is the woman who wanted to¬†¬†induce the week earlier and had a brusque manner. ¬†She seemed much more pro-medicine than the others, and I just wasn’t comfortable trusting her. ¬†Luckily, I was so far along that I just¬†didn’t¬†care. I‚Äôm a little sad that she got to deliver my son, but, whatever: all she did was catch him!¬† My husband, mother, amazing doula and of course, I, did all the work.

For the next hour or so I labored in the tub. I remember the wonderful feeling of soaking in the warm water between contractions and just about drifting off to sleep when another horrible contraction would hit–too soon! It was so frustrating to just not be able to rest! ¬†I was in this pattern of survive-contraction-try-to-rest, repeat, when suddenly I needed to stand up. I just got the uncomfortable feeling that I needed to open my pelvis. ¬†I think baby’s head was just too low to lay in the tub with my legs together. I stood up and my instinct said to open wider, so I put one leg up on the side of the tub.¬† And then the craziest most animalistic groan came out of me! This is how pushing very spontaneously began.

When I started to push, the nurse called the midwife in to make sure I was complete. I was still standing over the tub when she checked my cervix and she announced that I was only an 8! She said that I needed to breathe through the contractions!!  At this point, I wanted to give up. My thoughts immediately went to an epidural, but then I thought through that process: call the anesthesiologist, hold my back still. Insert needle, once, twice, all holding still.  Wait for medicine to kick in.  Sounded worse than just getting through the end of labor!  And so with the help of my doula I changed positions, moving to back into the main room, and squatting on the bed leaning over the folded-up back.  This calmed me and renewed my energy.

After moving to the bed, we asked the midwife to check my progress again. ¬†It was much easier to check and she quickly said I was complete! She said that what she felt before was probably babe’s head, not my cervix. ¬†Either that or I went from an 8-10 in just minutes.

Pushing felt nothing like the contractions and it burned in-between.  They were really painful in a completely different way. My guess is that I felt the whole birth canal stretching as the baby passed through.  Pushing surprised me: the sensation of contractions ended and I just occasionally felt this need to bear down. When I did this I growled.  I made sure to keep the sound low, breathing out, so that it was more efficient. But it was strange and loud. I know it was a frightening sound for observers, but I couldn’t control it.  My midwife told me to try to hold my breath so that I could use my diaphragm to push, but whenever I tried that I felt dizzy. And so growl it was.

After a while, I was asked to move to the front of the bed and use the squat bar‚ÄĒthey folded down the end of the bed and attached a 3-sided bar. I put my feet on the low sides of the bar while holding onto it. Not soon thereafter, baby’s head was visible and I asked for a mirror to watch.¬† They told me to touch his head‚ÄĒit felt like nothing: something slimy and hard.¬† It was most interesting/useful for me to watch in the mirror‚ÄĒthat slimy hard thing became bigger and closer. ¬†My body opened wider and wider. No one was counting but everyone was excited and encouraging me to Push! Push! I knew I needed to do it at my own pace, so I pushed only when I felt the urge. Luckily this led to no major tearing‚ÄĒjust a few ‚Äúskid marks‚ÄĚ on the sides.

At 9:35pm my boy was born‚ÄĒfirst the head, then the midwife helped his shoulders out and then his body quickly slithered out. ¬†Even though my water broke early in my labor, there was still quite a bit of fluid left, so he came out in a gush. ¬†The midwife passed him up to me and it was so strange and amazing! This little creature was mine!!

Just a few minutes later the placenta slipped out. Although he was afraid to do it, the midwife had my husband cut the cord after it stopped pulsing.¬† They then wrapped me and my little boy up (who was cuddled with me against my skin) under blankets. I attempted to feed him but he wasn’t interested–he was too busy looking at the big amazing world!

Because I was wet from the bathtub, baby couldn‚Äôt get warm next to me, so after a while they had to put him under the warming light. ¬†At this point, just about an hour after he was born, they also did the Vitamin K shot and eye ointment. ¬† Dad went with him and talked to him the whole time he was away from me. We requested that babe not get a bath (newborn skin is so delicate that it’s better to wait a couple days–most of the goo can be wiped off/rubbed into their skin), so the nurse wiped off his face, washed his hair, and dressed him. At this point, I was up and walking and got a chance to hang out with my love-bug under the warming light.

At around 11pm my parents headed home, then I got cleaned up and we packed my things.  We were wheeled downstairs to a post-partum room by 1am and settled in for the night.  My hospital is baby-friendly, so we all roomed together: I had the amazing movable hospital bed, babe had a clear bassinet, and dad had a moderately comfortable couch/daybed.

The first night was so memorable–I was exhausted so I fell asleep at the first chance I had. Dad, however, couldn’t sleep and ended up watching our boy all night. ¬†Baby would start to cry and I was too tired to even hear him so dad would have to wake me. ¬†At one point babe started coughing/choking on amniotic fluid and dad ran to him to roll him over in a panic. Every couple hours a nurse would come in to check my temperature and baby’s. ¬†The nurse the first night was so cute–she made it a point to teach dad how to change the diapers and really include him. I don’t think I changed a diaper for the first few days with baby–I was busy enough feeding him!

A good day!

1 Dec

Today was a normal, yet good, day. I want to remember living with a small baby, so here’s a quick day-in-the-life type post. I’m so thankful that both hubs and I have this time at home. Sure, we both have to work, but we can still dedicate our time to our gorgeous son!

1:30 am – dreamfeed baby (that is, feed him without actually waking him up. He’ll usually eat well in a half-awake state) so that he’ll sleep longer (in his ‘crib’ – a.k.a a pack and play next to the futon where I sleep). Turn on movie, hubs and I watch laying on the futon. Drift off to sleep

5:50 am – wake up to a fussing baby- feed him for 20 min. He goes back to sleep in his bouncer next to me on the futon. Hubs is fast asleep in the bedroom.

11:00 am Рwake up to a laughing, talking baby. Entertaining himself entirely.  Eyes are glued shut, so I coo back at him while I wake myself up. Then feed for 10 min, and nap more.  We lounge in bed, eating for about 10 minutes every hour or so until about 1pm.  During this time I nap, talk to hubs while he reads the news, drinks coffee, and burns DVDs for a completed film.

1:30 – ish, I’m up for the day and in a wonderful mood. Nothing like lounging with a happy baby!! ¬†Get up. change babe’s diaper, dress him. ¬†Check email (school email, biz email, Facebook, etc).

All afternoon – clean! I want to put up our Christmas tree this weekend, so I cleared out some boxes that have been in our living room for months. ¬†Vacuum. Sort out old bills, recycling, etc. ¬†Sort laundry, pull sheets off futon. Put $1.25 in the apartment building’s coin-operated washer.

3:30 – tomato soup and a fried egg with a chunk of french bread for lunch (make the same for hubs).

4:30 – put in a load of laundry and get dressed. Go to the bank, get gas, go to the discount grocery store.

6:30 Рget home, feed baby, boil up some varenekiy (pierogies) for dinner.  Watch a silly TV show with this awesome British guy travelling around America in a London taxi. Totally entertaining!  Move laundry to dryer and put in another load.

8pm – Bath time!! Every bath is a total party–today babe was trying to swim and laughing and splashing. It’s really important to watch him carefully because he jumps around so much that he could easily slide underwater. ¬†But a bath is the joy of both our day!! ¬†After 15-20 min, wrap him up in his shark towel and up on a diaper & dress him.

8:30-8:50- Fuss, fuss, fuss. Baby must be tired!

9-ish – Dad swaddles baby in his blankets–always 3 blankets. Usually 1 or 2 from the hospital and on the outside are bigger, fancy, muslin blankets. ¬†Needs 3 so he doesn’t break out! ¬†Then put babe in the pack & play and he stares at himself in his baby mirror for 10-15 min. ¬†I moved the mirror to the side today so that he turns towards it–he’s getting a flat head in the back! ¬†After 20 min, babe is fast asleep!

9:30 pm РPut the 2nd load of laundry in the dryer and bring back the first load to fold.  Put sheets on the futon, cover the duvet and pillows, put clothing away.  Grab a few minutes to check email & write a few responses.

10:30 – start this blog post. ¬†Gotta run to take laundry out of the dryer, fold clothes, finish the last DVD, print labels for the cases so we can send them out tomorrow. ¬†Clear laundry off the bed, move boxes to the bedroom, clean up after dinner! Still a lot to do tonight. ¬†We’ll probably be up ’till 1:30 again and then we’ll do a dreamfeed and hope for a long sleep tonight ūüôā