Sunday, January 30, 2011


One word... Colic.

That one word can strike fear into the hearts of the most seasoned parents. It takes seemingly normal men and women and changes them into completely irrational creatures... It works first through sound bombardment and moves quickly on to sleep deprivation followed very closely by intense paranoia. It works quickly, making a meal of poor unsuspecting parents well within the first week. For years afterwards, the very sound of the word will have them breaking out into a cold sweat.

Colic is really a term for you have a screaming baby and while we don't have an explanation for it, we can almost completely guarantee that the screaming will stop in a few months... good luck and godspeed.

After the first few evenings that Charlotte started screaming for no apparent reason, people began to whisper that dreaded word. And after a week, I began to believe them.

When you have a colicky baby, you would be amazed at the measures you take to quiet your screaming child. You walk with them, you sing, you massage, you bathe... You try everything. Most tactics don't work, but the ones that do, rarely work more than once.

When Charlotte was really small, the best way to calm her down was to swaddle her very tightly, give her a pacifier, hold her like a football under your arm and walk her around the house shushing into her ear. Tim was especially good at this technique. But it wasn't long before we realized that this method does not work very well out in public, and for legal and safety reasons, it doesn't work at all inside a moving vehicle!

We had car rides where she would scream for over an hour... It's amazing how quickly your resolve to remain calm and collected begins to melt. It was during these moments that Tim and I, our patience pushed to the breaking point, were most likely to snap at each other.

As the months went on and the colic continued, I began to lose hope that it would ever go away... But slowly, over time, the episodes became more sporadic. Sometimes there would be a quiet evening... We could talk in normal voices and be heard... There was a light at the end of the tunnel...

Nowadays, our little Charlotte is mostly over her colic. Every once in awhile it will rear it's ugly head and we mentally prepare ourselves for a long evening... But for the most part it is over... Our evenings are now mostly spent as a relatively quiet little family, just me, Tim and Charlotte... Talking in normal voices!

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Charlotte loves to fly...

There is one sure-fire way to make our little girl happy... pick her up, toss her in the air... and use her as a human airplane, dive bombing through the house and creating general chaos... The faster you go, the further you plummet, the better...

Tim is very good at this form of entertainment... Nothing makes Charlotte more excited than having her daddy whip her into the air for a whirlwind tour of each room. Her little body gets stiff as a board and her mouth opens wide for a silent scream... At the end of each dive or toss, she lets out the most excited giggle... If he waits too long for the next round, she begins to fuss. 

But while Charlotte and her daddy are zooming around the house, narrowly avoiding furniture and ceiling fans, I can't help but hold my breath. My heart begins to beat faster and I become hyper aware of every one of their movements. Sometimes it is all I can do to keep quiet and let them finish their course.

Don't get me wrong, I trust Tim. If there is anyone in the world that loves that little girl as much as I do, it would be him. And I know that every twist and turn is precisely calculated to produce shrieks and laughter without producing bumps and bruises. 

It is just my strong desire to keep her safe and protected under all circumstances. But as she grows up, Charlotte is going to want to take risks. Most of them will be calculated risks- riding roller coasters, driving a car, going out on dates... And I am sure that all of these things will terrify me. (The last one especially!)

And then there will be those foolish risks- the ones that every kid makes at some point growing up... Those moments that we look back on and realize that it's by the grace of God that we made it to adulthood at all.

Even now, I know that I will not be able to protect her from everything. I can do by my best, but in the end, the best I can do is trust that God will continue to watch over her and that He will help Tim and I arm her with the tools she needs to navigate life- hopefully with minimal bruising.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Color Yellow

Charlotte loves the color yellow...

Believe me, the irony has not escaped me. As a child, I was afraid of the color yellow... Yes, I was afraid... of a color... Strange, I know.

You see, the color yellow reminded me of throwing up... So, whenever I saw the color yellow, I would begin to gag. I have distinct memories of sitting in the grocery cart with my eyes closed, asking my mom to tell me when we were out of the mustard aisle. To this day, I can't eat mustard...

And then there was the grilled cheese sandwich...

When I was about three, my parents took us to a Bob's Big Boy... It wasn't unusual for us to go out to restaurants, and Bob's Big Boy was one of our favorites, after all, it had a life-size statue of Bob in the entrance... We were always allowed to order our own meals, but on this occasion, my parents ordered for us... And they ordered grilled cheese... When it came, I took one look at it and saw its oozing, yellow insides and my stomach started to turn. Beg and plead as I might, my parents insisted that I eat at least two bites... No arguements... This was non-negotiable... And so I did... I ate two bites of a grilled cheese sandwich... and 25 years passed before I tried it again.

Over the years, my fear of the color yellow slowly faded to a dislike and then an apathy and then just a quirky memory. Every once in a while, the subject would come up at family dinners, and I would tease my sister for chasing me around the house with yellow crayons just to watch me scream.

So, I had to laugh the first time I saw Charlotte get excited about yellow. There was a yellow can of pizza sauce sitting on our kitchen table while we were having dinner one night. Charlotte was sitting in my lap when she started making lots of noises. When Charlotte is very interested in something, or in deep concentration, she stretches out her neck, sticks out her chin and makes chewing motions with her mouth... This evening her little mouth couldn't keep up with her excitement and her energy burst out in a flurry of quick jerks and movements from her arms and legs. She startled us at first, because she had never had this reaction before. We'd hide the can and she calmed down... We'd show it to her and she would go crazy...

After that evening, I began to pay attention... It wasn't long before I began to notice that when given the option to look at different colors, her eyes would always go to yellow. I took her to her grandparents' restaurant one night and showed her a whole shelf of yellow cans. She was mesmerized. When she would get fussy, I would just show her a can, and she would calm right down.

So I'm going to stock up on sauce. Then, when we have those days when the fussiness takes over and the whining gets almost unbearable, we won't have to turn any further than our kitchen pantry, and to the yellow cans on the shelves to calm down our little girl... at least for a neck-stretching, chin-sticking-out, fake-chewing moment or two!

The magical bear suit

Charlotte has a magical bear suit...

Shortly after I found out that I was pregnant, I went to Babies-R-Us, that monopoly of baby periphenalia, most of which has been designed to terrify you into investing three paychecks worth of money into baby proofing supplies and healthy baby trends. I had been there before, when my friends were expecting and I had to make the requisite trip to pick up a present. Navigating the baby registry and the convoluted aisles takes close to a PhD to accomplish successfully.

But this trip was for me... My morning sickness was in full swing and I had heard about this wonderful product called "Preggie Pops" that promised to help relieve my nauseous symptoms. Desperate for relief, I  ventured in...

The "Preggie Pops" were surprisingly easy to find. Picking up the last bag, I decided to wander around the store. I found my way to the clothing section, and then to the clearance rack... Tim and I had decided that we weren't going to find out what we were having, so I knew picking out clothes would be difficult (and at this point, a bit premature!) But I wanted to look anyways.

On the bottom of the rack of boys clothes, I saw a bear suit. I realized that I had seen one of these before. I had been at a doctor's appointment when I saw a woman there with a small child. I never saw the child's face, but he was wearing this exact bear suit. There were little ears on top of the head and little padded feet and I thought this was the most adorable thing I had ever seen... And now I had found the bear suit!

I checked the tag and realized it would be the right size for when winter came around again, so I bought it, took it home and stuck it in my closet. Little did I know how  important this bear suit would be to our little family.

Now, a year later, Charlotte wears this bear suit all the time. After the first few days of dressing her in it to take her places in the cold weather, we realized that she is practically narcoleptic in it. For a baby that never naps, we had finally found the key ingredient to getting her to sleep. Five minutes in the bear suit does the trick...  She will sleep for hours.

Now the phrase, "If you want her to sleep, stick her in the bear suit" accompanies every baby sitter drop off.

As she is getting bigger, I start to wonder what will happen when she outgrows her bear suit. How will we get her to sleep? Maybe I will track down the manufacturer and beg them to create the bear suit in sizes that will fit her well into adulthood! And while I'm at it, I'll buy one for myself too, cause it looks so very comfy!

But until that happens, I'll just enjoy the peaceful moments that settle on our house when she is fast asleep, bundled up in her little, magical bear suit!

In the moment...

Charlotte discovered something last night... Diapers... Sure, she has one plastered around her little bum almost 24 hours a day, but last night she actually discovered them. I had set one on the changing table next to her head as Tim was changing her diaper. Quite accidently, she picked it up. Once in her hand, she stared very intently at it. Amazed by its relative size versus its light weight, she began to swing it around in the air. Almost immediately she slapped herself in the face with it. I watched with interest, expecting her to get fussy...

But she didn't. She smiled. Then she started waving her hand frantically, slapping herself over and over again in the face. And then she started to laugh. Her laugh is contagious, sounding more like she's happily hyperventilating, rather than laughing. We couldn't help but join in. She took this as encouragement, and the diaper flew even more rapidly at her face, and her legs began to kick. By this point, she was shrieking with delight.

The thing about babies is that they live completely in the moment. With no long term memory to speak of, they approach each experience with a clean slate. These moments that mean so much to me, are not being retained by her. One day they will be... One day she will be able to remember the silly moments... She will remember the laughter... But not yet... For now, I will store these moments up in my heart... And as I fall asleep at night, I will replay them. And maybe, just maybe, I'll hear that sweet little laughter in my sleep.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Five months

My baby girl turns five months old today... Yup...Five months of sleepless nights... Five months of being covered in spit up... Five months of adjusting to the seemingly bipolar moods of an infant... Five months of being a mom...

And I love it!

People told me that I would, but as my belly grew bigger and my confidence grew smaller, I doubted whether I was cut out for a challenge like this... They told me that the first smile would make it all worth it, and as I held a screaming, colicky one week old baby that refused to eat and refused to sleep, I wondered if maybe it was some kind of cosmic joke.

But they were right... And I'm glad they were.

As she sits in my lap and burrows her head into my shirt, I can't help but think that I'm getting the chance to grow up again. When I see the world through her eyes, the novelty hasn't worn off, the cynicism hasn't crept in. She finds more excitement out of a post-it note than I've been able to muster out of a lot of my days. So, why not embrace the experience? Why not marvel at a post-it note?

Therefore, I've decided to keep a log of our adventures, the good, the bad, and everything in between.  So, feel free to join us as we undertake this exciting, crazy and often messy job of growing up... AGAIN!