Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy Six-Month-Birthday Nile Girl!

I'm always late with these, but Thurs. Sept. 23 Nile turned six months old!

Insert all the cliches of time passing so fast; children growing up so quickly.

Being a mom to Nile is really great. She is such a sweet, fun, observant baby. She is so well-behaved, I take her everywhere. Today one of my friends asked me if I was going with a group tomorrow to this swanky joint. I said I wasn't sure; we took Nile with us to Sucre a couple weeks ago as documented here, but I said I didn't want her to wear out her welcome on the party circuit. After all, I don't know that the group wants a baby around, who knows?

But my friend said, "If she were a screamer, that would be one thing, but she's like a cute, cuddly accessory." I thought that was funny because of course I don't want to minimize her presence to being my adorable accessory, but she really doesn't interfere with me having fun and letting her be a part of it. Just last night we took her to dinner at 9:00, which ended at 12:00, and she was great the whole time. Plus, Argentines just love babies, so even though the place was filled with scenesters and professionals, the most buttoned up businessmen were saying "Ah! Mira la criatura!" ("Aw, look at the baby girl!")

So this is our life with Nile right now. Hm, I guess I could describe more of what she's like here, on her first half-birthday:

Nile is happy and super tranquila. She's always looking around and watching people and things around her. She hardly cries. You may think I'm just saying that, but really, ask anyone who knows her. We even had some house guests the past few days who insist, "No, REALLY, she never cries!"

Nile goes to bed late, whenever I put her down; she does not have a consistent bed time but that doesn't seem to faze her at all. She sleeps in her crib in her room, with the door shut. Our room is down the hall, also with the door shut. She doesn't wake up to eat in the night anymore so I get plenty of sleep. It's beautiful, and it's been like this for a long time now, and I am SO grateful.

Yes, I owe it to Neil, he "gave her the gift of sleep" as one of our baby books calls it. Just a few (at times tortuous) months of being hard-a's about it, and now she is a perfect sleeper. She's happy, we're happy.

In the past couple weeks, Nile has started sucking her thumb, "self-soothing" as I guess it is called, which is actually great because if she does fuss going down, she pops her little thumb in her mouth and is fine. She has never used a pacifier.

In the morning, I sometimes peek into Nile's room at around 8:30 before I go to work and she is stirring, so I get her up, give her some hugs and kisses and then hand her to Nanny to change and feed her and I go to work. Most mornings though, she is still asleep at that time and doesn't get up until 10:30-11:00 a.m. Which is great, especially on the weekends! We always get to sleep in. This method works perfect for us since we all get to go out at night AND sleep in the next morning.

So, weekdays, I try to come home at lunchtime since I am only a 15 min. drive away. Sometimes Nile is sleeping when I get there and sometimes she's not. We're flexible. During the morning while I am at work, Nanny plays with Nile, sings to her, takes her on walks, etc. This is punctuated by Nile's naps, during which Nanny cleans different parts of the house each day, does a load of laundry nearly every day, goes grocery shopping, walks the dog, cleans the litter box, takes out my dry cleaning, irons my clothes, does any little task I ask of her (like call the telephone company, pay the internet bill, make a special lunch or dinner if I'm having company over, etc.) and cooks a dinner for me daily which she leaves in the fridge. Seriously guys, I wouldn't trade it.

I spend lunchtime with Nile then go back to work, after which I come home and get to spend 100% quality time with baby Nile girl. Nanny leaves before I get home from work, so the time after she's left until I get home is quality daddy-baby time. Although he is doing online school right now, I think Nile is such a lucky girl to have her daddy around all day, he is a really chill, calming influence and I think it's important for a baby to have a male influence in their life. Neil is Nile's primary caregiver for many hours every week, which makes me very happy that she has that time with him. When I get home, none of my time is divided by the household tasks that Nanny has completed during the day. I get to feed Nile, play around with her, take her for a walk, take her out wherever we're going, etc.

Well, that and do my things: ballet once or twice a week, Pilates twice a week and yoga class once a week (during lunch)."Me" time.

I love Nile so much and she is so sweet and I honestly crave time with her, but I really think I would go crazy if I were with her all day, every day. I am just not a stay-at-home mom. I really enjoy going to work and being there, but having time with baby Nile is like any other necessity for life -- breathing, eating, sleeping -- I can't go too long between seeing her. So half a day at work is OK, but the days when I don't get home at lunchtime, like when I have yoga or a lunch meeting, I am really dying to see her by the end of the day.

I am really going nowhere with this and it's probably really boring to you; this is why I don't often open up about WHAT'S GOING ON in my life. I ramble. And am not an engaging writer.

But for my own journal entry-ing sake, I'll forge ahead a little further.

As far as developmentally, Nile is sort of scooting on her tummy, doing the airplane and kicking her legs in the air like a cartoon character spins its feet, until she finally engages with the floor and scoots herself one push in one direction. She can support herself on her hands and knees if I put her there and do a stationary rocking and momentum-building motion with her body until she slides her arms and legs out to drop back down to her tummy. It makes her look like she is so close to crawling. She also likes to put her face down on the ground and extend her legs at an angle with the floor, pushing her bum in the air so that she's in downward facing dog with her face on the ground. Neil's parents said he and his (twin) brother first ambulated like that, like Mowgli from Jungle Book, on all fours with their legs straight and their rear ends up in the air. It wouldn't surprise me if that's Nile's first way of getting around here pretty soon.

Nile has always liked standing, of course I mean she likes to stand on our laps, with her hands or waist supported. I found a picture of her from when she was just five weeks old, standing. I think she was doing it before then, too. So anyway, she continues this habit and sometimes looks like she doesn't even want me to hold her, like she thinks she can stand on her own haha. Soon!

Nile seems like she might be ready to eat soon, too. She just eats a lot now and is at the age to start solids. I had really wanted to feed her some solid food today; rice cereal. I am very sorry we didn't get to, and I am also very sorry for the contention that ideas about eating cause in our house.

It's funny that Nile is SO easy; for all the ease I have in caring for her, there is much disagreement between Neil and I in our ideas about how to raise her, how to care for her, how to play with her, what to let her play with, what music to listen to around her, how to hold her, how to burp her, how to etc. etc. etc etc. It is endless and very frustrating! BEING a parent has really not been hard, it's parentING, together, that has been the hard part! Not at all to say that it's terrible, it's just interesting that Neil, although he is super tranquilo too, is very opinionated and I gueeeesssss I can be too :) and we are both quite stubborn, and I get really annoyed and frustrated, and then it just isn't very pretty.

Add to that we never had any of the bumps that most couples talk about in early marriage, so the fundamental disagreements now about childrearing are kind of surprising.

So, where was I going with that? Ah yes, feeding Nile. I wanted her to have her first solid food today, film it for posterity, etc. I wanted to feed her rice cereal as most books say is appropriate. BUT noooo, this caused a HUGE rift, because Neil didn't want me to feed her that "poison," and yes, I quote, "poison." I said he'd been feeding her "poison," i.e. formula, for who knows how long.

(Another point of contention -- I didn't produce enough when I was pumping to get ahead at all, and I couldn't always come home to feed baby Nile, so to this day I feel sabotaged by the fact that he caved, although it was against his beliefs, and bought formula, which caused me to continue to dwindle in production so that now I feed her more as a novelty than by necessity. Another reason that feeding her what I want to feed her now for her first solid food is somehow important to me, redeeming, and validating on a maternal level. Do you understand that point?)

Anyway, he does not want to feed her rice cereal, under any circumstances. Somehow he believes it is akin to feeding her dog poop. He instead wanted to feed her raw carrots, ground in the blender until smooth. LUCKILY we read that that is a very bad idea because of the nitrates, and that baby food must be cooked. He doesn't buy that, and he is insisting on feeding her raw foods like he eats. He wants to feed her a mashed avocado as her first food. I think this is a really bad idea because I got some sort of food poisoning awhile ago from one of our avocados (I think I sliced it, introducing bacteria from the skin into the edible part -- you never know!) I just think it's best to stick with rice cereal, but this cannot be. I got so angry, then went to ballet class, and now Nile is in bed. I am just going to feed her the rice cereal tomorrow, perhaps he will let the choice be up to me the way he let the vaccine choice be up to me, although he said his position remained that she not get any vaccines.

SO there is a glimpse, and definitely too much information, on the frustrations of childrearing. Not the child at all, she's a dream, but the actual parenting together. Ah well, we'll figure it out.

About being a parent, I thought that having a baby would mean endless diaper changes, and the thought of dirty diapers (though I used to change adult-sized ones when I worked in a nursing home) was really daunting. But I think about all the diapers Nanny is changing that I'm not, and it really makes it manageable for me. Nanny reports to me sometimes if Nile has gone a particularly notable No. 2, and I solemnly say "OK, gracias," but inside I'm like "Yessss!" that's one more dirty diaper I did NOT change. I am also surprised that Nile has not yet (knock on wood) had a blowout requiring a costume change while we're out in public. I know, again too much information, but I really just feel like she is an all-around good baby, even when it comes to her bodily functions.

I really love weekends, because they are such a nice, relaxing time that I get to spend with Nile, and yes, breastfeed her as much as I can. Spending time with her is fun and it definitely recharges my Nile account. However, it is nice to pass her full time care back to Nanny during the week, I seriously am not cut out for full time mommy duty, and that's something I am glad I have discovered about myself. I was really worried that having a baby would either make me want to quit my job, which I would miss, or I would only want to work and would not feel like a mom at all. I really feel like I have a balance in life that I am super happy with and things are good. I worried that having a baby would change everything and my life would be less fun, but it really has not been like that at all, it is truly a lot more fun with baby Nile around.

I say I have a balance in my life, and I do, but it's an extremely delicate one. I guess like most people, and in particular, moms, I am running from here to there all day, with no time to really get anything done and hardly any wiggle room in my tight schedule. But as frenetic as it is, I would be so bored if it weren't that way, I really like having a busy schedule. The delicate balance could be upset at any moment, and it's quite evident to me because sometimes the train does wreck and I see how Jenga-like my schedule has become. I hardly have any time to blog, let alone respond, my apologies!

I really think that if I were to have another child, things would be crazy. I can't even think about it right now. I am really happy with Nile and she is so sweet, but I always pictured I would have a few kids (Neil wants at least four). Now though, I honestly can't even think about more than one. Not that it is so much work, it really isn't tons of WORK having Nile, it's just that I don't want to think about being pregnant again or dividing my time more. Pregnancy with Nile was actually easy as far as pregnancies go, and perhaps one day I will publish as promised the blog post I have drafted about Nile's birth story, which was actually awesome and totally textbook.

I had always thought I would have kids two years apart, but that would mean that I would be almost three months pregnant this time next year. No, thank you very much. Even three years apart seems too soon. I just felt dumb and awkward being pregnant, and although the birth was not terrible, one has to give oneself adequate time between running marathons ... that is to say, if I'm going to go it au naturale, as I did with Nile, even though it was incredible and exhilarating, I really don't want to do that again anytime soon.

Plus, I am really happy with the way my body looks right now; it pretty much bounced back right after she was born which surprised me. Ballet and Pilates help, too. Sometimes, I know this sounds weird, I forget I had a baby, if that makes sense. Of course not like I totally FORGET about her, she's the light of my life. There is just no physical reminder of it. Unless I try to remember how my belly button used to look. There's something a little different about it now.  But as far as being pregnant again one day, I really don't want to go back to being unhappy about the way I look for several months.

Oh well, one thing at a time. I can't get too worked up or worried about it right now.

How did I get all of this out? All I wanted to say is, Happy six months, baby Nile girl! I love you!


collin said...

Wow!!! such a cute post. Loved it.

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stephanie joy said...

I loved this! So glad everything is going well and that you are following your instincts on what you feel best for precious Baby Nile!

mj said...

Wow, nice long post. It's so interesting to read about different experiences. It's also interesting to see what types of personalities end up with what parents. Adele is the type that really needs a lot of parental attention and she has demanded it from day one (she'd be that screamer your friend talked about -- not always but often enough to cramp everyone's style). So it's probably good that I ended up staying home (even though I sometimes feel like it doesn't come that naturally to me). Nile seems to fit perfectly into your little family.

It's so funny the things that seem like such a big deal--like what foods to start with. Especially since in a few months she'll be eating just about everything. But I worried about it too.

Lacey said...

I remember in Spain all the babies would be out with there parents for dinner at 9pm. Every culture is different. How fun that you have become so much apart of the culture there. You are making ICS so proud I'm sure! :) We can't wait to see you guys.

nomadic gnome said...

i really liked this post, meg star. thinking about having a baby and remaining in the workforce really scares me. this little insight into your life, although personal, was helpful to see that it is do-able, though not always easy or perfect. i guess its just something you decide to do and do it, right?
thanks for sharing your insights and what it is truly like to be a mother and wife and still retain sense of self and even exercise! i can't even seem to fit that in right now!
baby nile is getting so big and she looks so calm and wise in her pictures. rice or raw carrots, i'm sure she'll grow up beautifully!