March 31, 2008

Returning to Work

Alden in his car seat, ready to go!

My maternity pay is gone and since our bills still keep coming, we decided it would be best for me to return to work this week. I had my trial run last Thursday. Dropped the kiddo off at Grandma Karen’s, then with trusty breast pump in tow, made my way to work. I cried a little during my commute to the lab and ran through the “what if” list in my head. Topping that list, of course, is what will I do if he runs out of food. The lab is a good 45 minutes from Gardiner and although I have no qualms about disobeying all posted speed limits to get back to him if he needed me, I don’t know that I could get back in time before his hunger would give way to disenchantment with the world (and therefore me). I had been saving milk for weeks in the freezer, one baggie at time, but would 5 3 oz servings be enough? And would I be able to get any work done while he was away? As it turns out, it was a pretty good day to start back at work because there wasn’t much for me to do. We had a seminar to attend all morning and then in the afternoon, there was a potluck for our new director followed by a catch-up meeting with my bosses. I managed to make and autoclave one batch of plankton growth media at the end of the day, but that was about it. It was strange to spend a day without Alden, seeing as I’ve been attached to him in one form or another for almost a year now. I’d forgotten what it’s like to really be on my own. And so, I spent most of my day either daydreaming about Alden (“I wonder what he’s doing now? Taking a crap? Maybe eating? Sigh…”) or sitting on the toilet in the Welch House (where my office is located) pumping milk. It was the only place I could think of where I could get at least 20 minutes of privacy at a time. The lab would be the other place, but the idea of pumping milk in the same room where we culture Vibrio and viruses gives me the willies. So, I spent an inordinate amount of my first day at work on the john, holding a plastic breast shield to my boob while the peristaltic pump in the attaché case droned on in its squeaky, mechanical way. I shudder to think what the Microbiologist with the office adjacent to the bathroom must have been thinking while I was in the bathroom with that pump a’ runnin’. By the end of the day, I had amassed a small army of little plastic bags of breast milk in the back of the communal fridge. Although it was nice to see everyone at work again, I really missed Alden and couldn’t wait to get back home by the end of the day. Alden on the other hand, seemed completely nonplussed by the whole event. He was happy as a clam and had been great with Karen. She seems excited about taking care of him next week as well, so I’m planning to go back to work for 2 days this week (Thursday and Friday). Kerstin will look after him on one of these days and “work from home”. I’m a little skeptical that he’ll actually get any work done, since when he’s a work, I can’t even manage to get out of my pajamas before noon. We’ll let y’all know how it goes.

As far as milestones go, Alden is making quite a variety of fun sounds and is really proud of himself for doing so. He’s also quite fond of sucking on his hand and is becoming a real squirmer/kicker. He nearly rolls off the changing table! I can no longer simply set him down on the couch or the bed for a minute if I have to go to the bathroom when I’m at home alone. Sigh. The end of an era, I suppose. The plus side is that I get to see more of Gillian these days now that she is back to normal, so I’m not on my own quite as much. We played a rousing game of scrabble this afternoon, complete with breastfeeding and nap breaks. Our kids are still oblivious of each other, but we had a great time.

March 30, 2008

Alden movies

Alden eats his hand

Alden smiles

March 26, 2008

Sittin' Pretty

Alden in his Japanese woodworker outfit. Alden is learning to sit up (with some help from the sofa) and although he still takes a few tumbles, on the whole, he's getting it pretty well. Here he is in his fabulous kimono, which is still too big, but certainly bigger than before. He's also got a pretty good puppy dog impression. Eat your heart out, Sasha!
Alden is still surrounded by adoring relatives, who are happy to watch him in the mornings and evenings. This means that I can (ahem) get a shower in before noon or grab a bite to eat between feedings. It's been great having the grandparents around. Grandpa Joseph and Alden are first rate nappers. Plus, Joseph has this great song about babies in trees that really knocks the little guy out. I have to learn it before he leaves or I'm afraid I'll never be able to lull Alden to sleep again.
Sandy joined us on Sunday. Here she is meeting Alden for the first time.
Alden is a little genius. No really, I'm not just saying that because I'm his mom, he really is an exceptional kid. Before he eats, I ask him "do you want some milk?" and he'll look up and say "ilk". Seriously! Joseph didn't believe me at first, but he fed Alden one morning (so I could get some sleep) and claimed that Alden said "ilk" before getting the bottle. I know you naysayers out there will say it's a random noise, but he doesn't say it until he's just about to get fed. I get all excited when he says it, which makes him grin and say it more. Brilliant!

Here is the song, I don't know who it is by.
Island Way Out In The Sea

There's an island way out in the sea
where the babies, they all grow on trees.
It's jolly good fun to swing in the sun,
but you've gotta watch out if you sneeze.

Yes, you've gotta watch out if you sneeze
because swinging out there in the breeze
you're liable to cough.
You might very well fall off
and tumble down flop on your knees, knees.
Tumble down flop on your knees.

And when the stormy winds hail
the breezes fly high in a gale.
There's a curious toppling and floppling and ploppling.
Fat little babies just hail, hail.
Fat little babies just hail.

The babies lie there in a pile.
The grown-ups they come after while.
They always pass by all the babies that cry,
and take home the babies that smile, smile.
Take home the babies that smile.
Even triplets and twins if they smile.

March 22, 2008

Stepping out

My father and brother finally came up to see the new edition of Gilg-personage. They had not met Alden yet and were very excited to see him. Alden wasn't expressing much excitement at their arrival, although his excitement-meter descends in order from Mom - food - light sources - high contrast objects - me - movement - noise. I like to think guests are somewhere between me and movement, although I can t help play the system to my favor when others are around by wearing high contrast clothes, moving a lot, and making noises. So while my dad and brother are in town I will be dressing like the bassist from the Bosstones.

Geoffrey with Alden

Joseph meets Alden

We went out for Maine Maple Saturday today, which is an informal celebration of Spring by maple farms showing off how they make syrup and selling pancake breakfasts. More people than you think were there, it was quite the do. So many folks that they ran out of sausage by 10:30am! Everyone in Maine is very eager to be getting out and doing something, after being boxed in all winter.

After the breakfast we went back to the house and Geoffrey and I did some tree-pruning.

Kerstin with new chainsaw

March 21, 2008


Vaccinations are not cool. Granted, they are more cool than polio, but on the bell curve of cool vs. not cool I'd have to rate them right next to food poisoning, or dealing with someone with food poisoning. This week didn’t start that great either. I acquired a bit of a sniffle from a party we went to last weekend. I suspect Jeff from the bicycle coalition brought the germs, although I have no concrete evidence to support my theory. In any case I was a bit run down, and Alden was a bit run down (not full-on bed rest sick, but we were both definitely feeling poorly). And to add to the little guy’s trouble, we took him for his 2 month battery of shots Wednesday.

On a side note I want to say that I was much better behaved with my illness than Alden. It was very interesting to have the lil’ fella going through essentially the same physical distress as I was and to see how his psyche dealt with it. He was able to maintain pretty well, blowing bubbles out his mouth and being cranky, but the vaccinations sent him over the edge.

Being both vaccinated-sick and regular sick was too much for him. He wasn’t inconsolable, but he needed active comforting at all times or else he would spiral into much-unhappiness-land. At the doctor's office he was comforted by the sushing noise and the poster of earth from outer space that was on the wall. He was on a hair-trigger the rest of the day. The docs gave us some infant Tylenol but didn’t tell us the right dosage. The box said ‘for infants under 12 lbs talk to a doctor for dosage', but by the time we were going to give him the medicine it was 7 pm and all we got was the answering service. We made some calls to our friends with babies network and got an idea about the right amount.

By Thursday he was starting to feel better and today is back to being his charming self. He also didn’t poo during his 2 day illness (which didn’t help his disposition), but today he made up for it. The little lad is a giver.

March 17, 2008

More visits

Still snow in Maine

Things are slowly moving towards springtime, but we are pretty well still hunkered in. I went out lumbering the other day with my birthday chainsaw and helped my friend Ian clear some trees from the edge of a field - good fun.

Uncle Sam and the fam came up for a visit. Sam, Ellen, Elizabeth, Dan, and Emily. I don't think we've had five visitors at once before. It made our cozy house seem a little small, but it was good to see them and they packed a huge lunch for us which was yummy.

March 13, 2008

Witching Hours

Alden is sleeping 4 to 5 hours at a time at night, wakes up with a huge grin on his face and loves to smile, interact, and wiggle. However from 6 pm until 10pm he unleashes a mighty fury. I call that period of time the "witching hours". He yowls while he is eating, he yowls when he comes off the breast (which he does every minute or so during this time slot). He yowls when being burped and yowls when being rocked. He even has yowled in his swinging chair, which usually turns him off like a light. It's a non-stop fuss-fest that can usually only be soothed by placing him in a wrap and walking him around. They say it's a phase that should go away around month 3... That's what they say....
Kerstin soothing Alden in the wrap by staring into the lamp.

The lactaction consultant has revealed to me that women's hormones drop in the evening, meaning decreased milk production, and then surge when you are asleep. This is a phenomenon I have noticed. I've also noticed Alden's tendency to unleash huge torrents of 'pants treasure' at the evening time. I think this amplifies his distress, coupled with less milk that he's used to.

We went over to Ian and Gillian's house for a playdate and dinner. He fussed throughout dessert, then during the evening feeding, while lil' Evelyn ate calmly with Gillian. It was kind of like having the feisty dog at the BBQ. Playing with his legs helped some, but while doing it you know it can turn sour on a dime at any time. All in all the evening was delightful and it was good to have the kiddos meet - in that kind of psychotic-parental 'you two will be best friends starting NOW' kind of way.
Alden and Evelyn hanging out... You know, just chillin'.

Alden is getting really good at holding his head up and is developing a pretty good stealthy Ninja gaze.

March 9, 2008

Filling out

Alden is surely growing. Outfits that he was swimming in mere weeks ago are being filled out rather nicely. I can hardly wait for the milestone of outgrowing his first outfit. Alden's fingernails are also growing, and he is beginning to scratch the bejesus out of his face with his random flailing. I file down his nails every night with an emery board, but I never seem to stub them down enough. We have these little mittens we've been putting on his hands. I drew eyes and a mouth on this one, which makes me think he's putting on a puppet show for me when I hold him.

Here is an update on the wiggle progress. The techno music in the background sounds really lame through the camera mic, but it's really not lame... really.

You may have noticed the date is wrong in the header of the video. I noticed it too, but don't feel like re-posting.

March 6, 2008

Nap Time

Napping is fun for everyone! No, really.

My favorite photo of Karen with Alden.

March 4, 2008

6 1/2 week Alden

The snow is at least two feet deep, and there is another storm on the way. Many towns in Maine have used up their plowing budget and all their salt and sand for the winter. It's been a long winter and it looks like it's going to hang on a bit more. Nothing to do but stay inside and wiggle.

March 1, 2008

First Smile

We have exciting news to report. Alden has smiled at us ...intentionally... I think. Well, he's been smiling a lot this week (mostly just as he's about to go to sleep). However, at 11:30 pm after one especially frustrating day, I was saddling up to feed him and feeling irritated that he wouldn't just go to sleep and leave me in peace, and he looked up and grinned. I literally melted. Kinda of makes the whole pain of early infancy worth it, doesn't it? He's been smiling at me all week, but this was the first time I was able to capture it.

Not the greatest pictures - it's hard to predict when he'll do it - but certainly one of the greatest moments of motherhood so far!

Hitting the Bottle

First bottle feeding

The bottle-feeding milestone was a piece of cake. Today we decided that Alden was mature enough to get his food from another source - going out to eat as it were. Ilana pumped 3oz. straight into a bottle, handed it off to me and I fed the little fella easy as you please. No fuss, no problems, it blew my mind. He was still a little hungry afterwards so Ilana fed him some more straight from the source. That was reassuring because we heard that there is possibility of nipple confusion when introducing the bottle. Nipple Confusion sounds like a band I might enjoy listening to.

bald patch

I noticed today we are wearing out Alden's hair in the spots that rub against stuff. I've been told that the birth-hair usually falls out and is replaced within the first year. I hope that is what is going on and he is not developing mange... I don't even know how I would deal with that.

Rocking out

Alden and I were rocking out to 80's punk and new wave this morning. The Lef Nut was a skateboard logo back in the day. My pals made Alden the onesie as a tribute to the past I suppose.