Our First Family Trip

Traveling with an infant seems like it should be easy aside from all the gear to pack – just stick them on your lap with a free ticket, nurse them when they get hungry, and hope they sleep most of the way with the motion. However, this only works if your infant actually sleeps with motion (aka: you have found yourself driving around aimlessly during nap time or in the middle of the night for them to sleep.) Olivia has never been a car sleeper, so we should’ve known better than to hope she’d sleep on the plane. We survived her first flight with only a bit of fussiness and about 20 minutes of sustained screaming toward the end. She does not like being stuck in one place whether she’s awake or asleep, even more so now that she’s discovered the joys of walking around.

All things considered, it could have been worse. The return flight seemed slightly better – perhaps because we knew what to expect, or because there were more children on the plane taking the heat off of us. We’ve come to a new phase in life where we hope there are other fussy babies on the plane. Here’s a shot of Olivia on her first flight, then gearing up to board the return plane home.

The plane was the least of the problems for our travel. The hardest problem was being off schedule, which is ironic since we don’t have much of a set schedule to begin with. Being away from home with all the commotion and so many new people to meet was great for entertaining and for a change of scenery but wreaked havoc on sleeping patterns. As a result, screams greeted us in the car without fail: “You’re putting me in my carseat again?? Enough of this! I’m so tired!”

Despite the sleeping issues, we managed to have a great trip to Minnesota. It wasn’t as cool as we had hoped, but there were a few nice evenings to escape July heat in Texas. Andrew & Martha’s wedding doubled as the Jacob annual family reunion. Olivia loved studying all the new faces. In addition to visiting with family, we enjoyed a beautiful day at the free zoo, and took advantage of being able to walk to town and the lake from the hotel. The last time we were here we walked on the lake with -14 degree temps. This year we saw lily pads and 90+ degree temps.

With one trip under our belt would we do it again? Absolutely (though maybe not too often).

A few pictures from the trip are below, but for the full experience, click here to see all pictures from the trip.

 

Tips for traveling with an infant:

  • Baby-wear through the airport: no need to hassle with a stroller and you can wear baby through security
  • Nurse or provide bottle during take-off and landing to minimize ear pressure (if they’ll cooperate)
  • Use lots of blankets on the plane to screen some of the stimulation
  • Use burp cloths to cover arm rests (which turn out to be very intriguing to a little one!)
  • Bring a bottle of water for you to avoid hassling with the airplane cups (prime spilling opportunity)
  • Overnight diapers for the plane to minimize need for in-flight changing
  • Be prepared to be “that person” while baby cries :-/
  • Check your carseat for free to try and have something familiar in the new environment for baby

 

7 Months and Counting

Summer is upon us and we are long overdue for an update – has it really been over 5 months since a post?

Olivia is growing by leaps and bounds, her character showing more each day. She is curious about everything and loves to stare at people and her surroundings. You can see the wheels turning behind her gorgeous blue eyes as she studies and absorbs what she sees, hears, smells, feels and tastes (her hands are on everything, and everything must be put in her mouth – including hair, glasses, noses etc … so don’t get too close if you don’t want to be slobbered on!)

Formula free since 3 months old (we made it!), we are not in a rush to risk the nursing relationship by forcing solids. Even if we were, Miss Olivia might not be up for it based on the minimal progress of our baby-led weaning:

  • Carrots: Fail (with the exception of her chunk of peeled carrot as a teether which she loves!)
  • Avocado: somewhat successful
  • Peas: somewhat successful
  • Green beans: started out successful, now spit out
  • Rice cereal: Making progress (especially if sweetened by her Vitamin D).
  • Butternut Squash: Fail
  • Baked Potato: Fail
  • Sweet Potato: Fail
  • Banana: maybe successful, too soon to tell

We continue to manage work and parenting relationship through significant help from the nannies and grandparents, while forgoing sleep and any life of our own as we once knew it. Gone are the days of lazing around watching our TV shows on DVR, leisurely dinners out, gardening, exercising, winning tennis tournaments and more. What little time we are able to carve out for ourselves is usually taken in shifts, or in place of sleep. “Time for ourselves” is now defined as catching up on work, laundry and other household chores. Sorry to all our friends and family who we never see or talk to anymore.

Sleeping rituals have become much more pleasant since we decided to co-sleep around 3 months old or so. We already were for the most part so when we finally decided to consciously share our bed it was a relief to no longer be questioning “do we dare put her in the bassinet or just keep her here?”. Though it doesn’t necessarily mean no tears or fighting bedtime, overall life is better. Finally around 7 months or so naps have gotten a little better in the bassinet as well vs constantly being held. Sleep is still a work in progress…

Pictures continue to be posted in Olivia’s folder for those who like to stay current on her latest smiles. Don’t be fooled, she has quite the set of lungs but we try to spare you shots of crocodile tears.

Stay tuned for more adventures with Olivia.

Adjusting Expectations

During the later half of pregnancy when it was apparent that this was really happening, I began dreaming about what life would be like with a new child. What kind of parents would we be? Would our baby be a good sleeper? Would she be a good eater? How long until tennis and running resumed? Olivia’s recent 2-month checkup and endless inquiries about how things are going have prompted some reflection on the first couple months of motherhood. The many thoughts floating through my head all share one commonality: the need for adjusted expectations.

Feeding:

Olivia only lost 5% of her weight upon discharge, so we thought breastfeeding must be going great aside from the normal soreness and latching battles of a newborn. Phew, one bullet dodged. However, two days later at her first visit to the pediatrician Olivia’s weight was down 12%. We were immediately pushed into formula supplementation. After a roller coaster of weight checks, visits with lactation consultants, herbal supplements and various feeding regimens, Olivia has now climbed to the 5th percentile for her weight. As such, the pediatrician advised us to continue with her current feeding regimen, which still includes a small amount of formula supplementation.

In today’s high tech world, why hasn’t someone invented a baby fuel gauge to alert parents as to their level of fullness? There are so many other gadgets and gizmos to monitor health and heart rate you’d think someone would have found a way to measure the amount of milk in a baby’s tummy. Envision a gas gauge on their forehead. This would certainly take the guesswork out of whether or not baby has received enough milk or if they need a supplemental bottle-feeding.

Dessert

Dessert

Adjusting my original expectation of being able to nurse 100% has been tough and would be even worse if it weren’t for the wonderful support and encouragement from friends. I will always wonder if our continued battles with low milk supply are a result of quickly being pushed into (and staying with) formula supplementation. We’ll just do what we can for as long as we can to keep our baby happy.

Hair Loss:

Oodles of friends warned me of post-natal hair loss. I thought I had escaped that lovely side effect since hair loss didn’t seem much worse than the normal girl-shedding phenomena. Think again. Almost exactly 8 weeks post-partum gobs of hair greeted my hand after a shower. Joy.

Co-Sleeping:

Pre-baby, the closest we thought we’d get to co-sleeping was having the baby at the foot of our bed in her beautiful bassinet. In reality she’s probably slept on us more than she’s slept in her bassinet :-/ Despite the warnings and admonishment from the pediatrician about baby getting used to her parents’ bed, when push comes to shove silencing a crying baby and getting her (and us) to sleep is all that matters. We’re doing our best to encourage her to sleep more in her bassinet both for naps and at night, but relinquishing a cuddly snuggle-bug to her lonely bassinet is tough.  That said, we certainly don’t want to end up with a toddler in our bed …

Favorite spot to sleep
Favorite spot to sleep

Schedules:

We always joked about those parents who let baby run the show and never knew what their schedule would be like. Shame on us! Someday (soon?) we’ll get back to being our prompt old selves but in the meantime it’s safe to assume we’ll be 15 minutes late and/or won’t know what time is good for a visit until that morning (even then it’s a bit of guesswork).

Returning to Tennis & Running:

By staying healthy and fit during pregnancy, I thought it would be a piece of cake to return to running and tennis in time for spring season. Ha! What was I thinking? Even if I were in shape, the logistics of running a race or playing a 2-hour tennis match some distance away from home is just too much to fathom while breastfeeding (plus there’s the fact that my tennis team is too competitive and politely refused my participation until I’ve spruced up a bit – fine by me!) For now Ben and I will enjoy tennis together (with no judgment at those errant shots) and my new personal trainer will keep me going in the jogging stroller and beyond (sit ups to baby giggles on your legs aren’t nearly so bad).

One more lap please, I finally fell asleep!

One more lap please, I finally fell asleep!

Returning to Work:

Pre-baby, I envisioned wanting to return to work as quickly as possible so as not to miss out on anything. I even went so far as to investigate part-time leave versus full-time maternity leave. How quickly things change. Amid a blurry haze of sleep deprivation, feeding cycles, and the holidays, somehow January 2 snuck upon us in the blink of an eye.  The European family-leave policy sounds quite appealing right now. Priorities certainly do change after a baby, even for us Type A workaholics. Who wouldn’t want to spend all their time with this little munchkin?

 

Accepting Help:

Perhaps the biggest adjustment of all is learning to accept help. We no longer believe that we can do it all on our own and are so very lucky to have the support of friends and family, especially on weeks that this working momma is home alone.

We’ll do our best to keep updated photos posted for your enjoyment.

New Photo Application

Status

We made the leap from Gallery2 to Gallery3.  Slow integration with WordPress kept us from upgrading earlier.  The old Gallery is still there to keep the images in prior posts working, but all future photos will only be hosted in the new one.  At some point I hope to go through and migrate all the old post images to the new application so I can get rid of the duplication.

As usual you can view our adventures by clicking on the PHOTOS link above.  Hope you like the new look.

 

Ben

Christmas 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Forgive the tardiness of this post, but pictures are finally available. More importantly, there’s finally a few minutes in the day (here and there) to write it. This Christmas was extra special in that almost everyone was here from both sides of the family. What a treat for Olivia’s first Christmas! Paula and Steve hosted a fabulous Christmas Eve dinner with delicious food and great company. Thank you for convincing us to have dinner at your house rather than the original plan of hosting with a new baby! What were we thinking? 🙂 The Yankee Swap was a huge success across the board, and the Jacob family was a good sport participating in the Danish tradition of rice pudding before the main meal.

Jacob Clan:

Cronin Clan:

Though we never made it to Fort Worth or Dallas to see the Christmas lights in the fancy neighborhoods, we did manage a few excursions with the family to help show Dane and Claire the sites during their first visit to Texas. The week included many firsts for Olivia as she ventured beyond the hospital, the doctor’s office and Grandma’s house. What a difference it is to try and do anything outside the house when you have a newborn in tow!

Christmas decorations in downtown Grapevine

Dec 21 exploration

Dec 21 exploration

 

 

 

Fort Worth Zoo

Awake for the gorillas but that's about it

Fort Worth Zoo December 22

Awake only for the gorillas. Oh well – it was a beautiful day to walk around the zoo and it wasn’t even crowded! The highlight was the baby rhino.

Downtown Dallas & Sonny Bryan’s

Texas BBQ for Olivia's first restaurant

Texas BBQ for Olivia’s first restaurant
Despite appearances this is a restaurant not a bar!

Despite appearances this is a restaurant not a bar!

The biggest adventure for all was a white Christmas. Though beautiful, it wreaked havoc on travel plans for the Cronin crew. While we spent Christmas afternoon with the Jacobs, our guests were dealing with DFW fiascoes. All ended up eventually back at our house on Christmas night after various travel nightmares of delayed and cancelled flights. Luckily for them they were able to escape our crazy household to return to their previous plans early the next morning. For some this meant heading in to work (Dad), for others it meant racing to catch a flight for the next vacation plan (Dane and Claire). After various reroutes, paying for extra flights on a different airline, and a good friend meeting them at the airport with passports in hand, Dane and Claire successfully made their flight to Vienna. It was a Christmas miracle.

In addition to having all our family together for the first time since our wedding, and having Mom here to help out the week prior to Christmas, the best present of all this year was little Miss Olivia. Christmas 2012 will certainly be hard to beat.

Click here to see more pictures from Christmas Eve, Christmas and the rest of the week.

 

Jake vs Bean Bag