Chloé is 6 months (and two days) old!
        December 21, 2018     22h32     0 Comments

Dear Chloé,

You turned 6 months old two days again, and I didn't find the time to sit down and write your monthly letter. I apologize in advance and I hope that my oversight will not cause you to spend years in therapy.

Once of the reasons why I didn't find the time to write this is because I want to spend as much time as possible with you, and when you're awake, I try to put away my computer and my phone (except for taking pictures and video, of course!)

At your 6 month checkup the day before you officially turned 6 months, you weighed 9.010kg (almost 20 pounds) and you measure an even 70cm (27.5 inches). You were very smiley with the doctor, and she gave you a clean bill of health. Now that you've hit 6 months, we no longer have to go to the doctor every month. We'll see the doctor again at 9 months (unless you get sick or we get worried about your health before then, of course!)

Last Saturday (Dec 15th), you started rolling over on your own, and now it's one of your favorite things to do. You roll back to front and then push yourself up on your forearms and you look around, so proud of yourself. Papa and I clap and cheer you on, and it puts a big smile on your face. We have to keep a closer eye on you now, since you're rolling back and forth.

This morning you woke up at 545am, which was very early, so we decided to let you talk/cry for a bit in the hope that you would fall back asleep. You did ... but only for about 10 mins. I went in to get you, assuming you were hungry, and I found you lying perpendicular to your crib, and it seemed like you were stuck. I guess that's what happens when you roll around at night with a sleepsack on!

You *love* talking, and you're starting to use consonants like "b" and not just vowels anymore. I can always make you smile by sing-talking "ba ba ba ba ba ba ba" at you! And then you repeat it back to me, which makes me smile. We try to encourage your vocalizations as much as we can, even if sometimes they're a bit louder or higher pitched than we would like.

We've continued to feed you pureed food, and you still love everything: peaches, zucchini, avocado. Although the three days we fed you avocado, you didn't sleep very well, so we might have to test that one again to see if it was just a coincidence. And now that you're 6 months old, the doctor said that we should start giving you 10g of meat every day. That should be fun!

Some of your favorite toys at the moment are dumbo shrimp (an elephant with different shapes to hold on to that squeaks), tweet tweet (a bird attached to a circular rattle), and a fabric book that has a crinkly cover that makes noise when you grab it. Oh, and your feet - you LOVE your feet! In the last week or two, you've started grabbing your socks and trying to take them off. At night, when we take your socks off to put your pajamas on, it's like you rediscover your feet and you get SO EXCITED. It also makes it easier to stick them in your mouth (which you also do sometimes during bathtime!)

We've settled into a daily routine that goes something like this: 7am wakeup + bottle, 830-915 nap, 11am bottle, 12pm-2pm nap, 3pm bottle, 415-5pm nap, 630/7pm pureed food + bottle, then pajamas, story and bed before 8pm. It's a nice routine that allows Papa and me to have some time together before we have to go to sleep.

You and Papa have this amazing connection that just warms my heart. When he walks into the room, you light up, and you're so happy when he's holding you or carrying you around. He likes to pick you up and dance around the living room, and it makes you giggle so much.

We're looking forward to spending our first Christmas with you in a few days! You won't remember it, but I can guarantee you that we will (and don't worry, I'll be taking videos and photos to help 'jog' your memory later in life!)

Love,
Mama


Chloé's birth story, part 2: giving birth at the hospital
        December 01, 2018     23h09     0 Comments

Before I get into the details of the story, I want to give away the ending: I gave birth to Chloé without an epidural.

Now where we were in the story? That's right, we were just arriving at the hospital. We had to go through the back entrance, as the main entrance is closed between 8pm and 7am.

We got to the maternity ward and were buzzed into the waiting room, where we were the only people. The midwife came to get us and she brought us into a room so that she could check the baby's heartbeat and how far dilated I was. The good news was that around 8pm I was already dilated to between a 3 and a 4. She checked us in and assigned us a room so that we could go put our stuff away.

Every few minutes, I had to stop walking and focus on the contractions. They were getting progressively more painful, but I was still able to walk around and talk. When a contraction would hit, I'd face the wall and lean my head against it so that Damien could massage my back. It helped a lot, especially as I felt my contractions in my back. It felt like being stabbed in the kidneys - not the most comfortable feeling.

[This is where I should probably interrupt the story to say that before going into labor, I had decided to try to give birth without an epidural. I was not against the idea of having one, but I just felt like it was something that I should try to do without having strong drugs pumped into my spine. I had read a number of books about natural birth, and I had printed out a list of mantras for Damien to repeat to me when the going got tough.]

As the time passed, the contractions got more and more intense. It felt like someone was ripping me apart from the inside by grabbing my lower spine with their bare hands. The midwife checked me again around 10:30pm and I had dilated to a 6 or a 7.

At that point, I was no longer interested in walking around the halls or bouncing on the yoga ball. I was very happy to lie down and focus on each contraction as it came over me like a wave. I would grab Damien's hand and hold on for dear life as the contraction peaked and then slowly went away.

It was around this time that I told Damien that I didn't think that I could give birth without an epidural. He was amazing - he told me that I could do this, and that I was so strong, and that we were so close to meeting our baby girl.

During the next few hours, my body and mind went into survival mode. All I remember is the wave of each contraction, but I had no idea how much time had passed.

Around 11:55pm, Damien told me that it was almost midnight and that our baby girl would be born on June 19th (her due date) and not on June 18th.

Throughout the night, the midwife would come in and check on me and see how things were coming along. At one point, I asked her for something to help with the pain, and she gave me a mask that provided me with some sort of pain-relieving gas. I curled up on my side as Damien held the mask to my face.

After breathing the gas for a few minutes, I started to cry. I distinctly remember the midwife and Damien talking about me; the midwife was asking him if I was crying because I "gave in" and wasn't going to have a 100% natural birth. I believe Damien told her that I hadn't been that dead set on having a 100% natural birth, and that I was probably crying because I was overwhelmed.

The real reason I was crying? Because the spirit of my beloved grandma (who passed away in January of 2011) showed up in the room to support me and encourage me and help me. I could feel her presence, and I could hear her voice in my head. She told me that everything was going to be ok, and that I was going to give birth to a beautiful baby girl. Her presence was so overwhelming and unexpected that I cried. [I later explained this to Damien and asked him to tell the midwife, but I'm not sure he ever did].

Shortly thereafter I wanted to push. Damien hit the button to call in the midwife, but she told me that my cervix still wasn't fully dilated, so I'd have to wait. She gave me some medication to speed up the dilation, but in the meantime, I had to hold back from pushing. That was probably one of the hardest parts of giving birth: my body wanting so badly to push, yet not being able to.

Around 2am, the midwife suggested breaking my water to speed up the birth process. She explained to me that the pain would increase a lot but be over more quickly, whereas if we just waited, the pain could continue for a long time. I said yes, so she broke my water, and I was finally ready to push!

After around 20 minutes of pushing, the baby was close to being born when the midwife got frantic and yelled, "Grab your legs and push as hard as you can!" As I did so, she grabbed the baby and pulled her out at 2:24am. [I found out later that the cord was wrapped around her neck, which is why the midwife became so frantic for the baby to be born ASAP.] The midwife lay the baby on my stomach, and I looked down at her and whispered, "Hello baby girl, we've been waiting to meet you for a long time."

Damien stayed with her while the midwives cleaned her up and weighed and measured her (53cm, 4kg110). The hospital had to loan us clothes for her because the clothes we had brought were too small! One of the midwives cleaned me up and wheeled me back to our room.

By the time we were back in our room, it was almost 5am. We called my parents (11pm in the US) and we tried to call my sister to let them know that she had been born. We decided that everyone else could wait until the following morning. Around 530am, Damien left to drive home and get some sleep, but he promised to come back around 10am the following day so that we could learn how to give her a bath.

Before he left, we both looked at our little Chloé, born with a full head of dark hair, and we realized how lucky we were to have such a perfect addition to our family.


Chloé's 5 month checkup
        November 23, 2018     21h17     0 Comments

At 5 months (and 1 day), Chloé weighs 18.7 pounds and she measures 27.4 inches. She's still in the 99th percentile!


Chloé is 5 months old!
        November 19, 2018     22h29     0 Comments

Dear Chloé,

Today you turned 5 months old, and you've developed so much since you were 4 months old. I hope I can remember everything!

First of all, I've realized that I haven't finished telling your birth story on my blog, and to be honest, I'm not really sure why I haven't taken the time to sit down and write it. It was a very personal experience, and only your papa, myself and the two midwives know what happened on the night you were born. I want to get it all written down soon, as I'm worried I'll forget things, but at the same time, I have you, and that's all that really matters in the end.

We started giving you solid foods on my birthday (Saturday, November 10th). We started with some carrots (boiled and pureed) once in the evening for a few days, then we moved on to pumpkin - mixed with a little breastmilk - and tonight you tried butternut squash mixed with breastmilk. So far, we're pretty impressed because you eat like a champ and you swallow most of what we give you. We're having a few issues with hands wandering into your mouth as you taste the food (thus making a big mess), but it's cute, so we let it slide. The other night, you actually grabbed the spoon that I was holding in front of your face and you shoved it in your mouth, so I'm guessing that you liked the pumpkin! I think the next vegetable we'll try later this week will be sweet potatoes.

I'm taking you to the doctor tomorrow for your 5-month checkup, and you'll get another vaccine. At your 4-month checkup on Oct 29th, you had to get your two vaccine booster shots, and you cried so hard that it broke my heart. It didn't help that our appointment was in the middle of what is usually your first nap of that day. Luckily you calmed down quickly. I'm hoping tomorrow's shot doesn't hurt you as badly as last month's shots.

At your 4-month checkup, you weighed 8.27kg and you were already 67cm, which is the 99th percentile for both. I'm looking forward to seeing how much you've grown! It's nice to know that you're a strong, healthy baby, but I have to admit, my back is killing me. So much so that I've got a doctor's appointment right after yours - luckily we go to the same doctor!

Your giggles are infectious, and your papa and I will do anything it takes to get you to laugh. My personal favorite is when I place you on our bed and I bounce up and down over you, singing, "We're bouncing on the bed, we're bouncing on the bed, little baby girl is bouncing on the bed!" It usually gets a few big belly laughs! Papa likes to place you in the boppy, sitting up on his lap facing him, and he pretends he's either a horse or a boat and he wiggles you around. I've gotten a few videos of him doing this to you, and your big infectious smile and belly laughs are just amazing.

We discovered that you also enjoy "dancing" around the room, which is when we hold you in our arms and we bounce up and down and/or sway side to side. You especially enjoy it when papa sings "doot doot dee dee doot"-type of made up songs!

You still love grabbing your feet, although you've realized that even when your socks are on, they're still there. You now enjoy trying to pull your socks off, which is rather cute (even if we end up having to put your socks back on!) Your new thing is to grab your feet in the air and then roll to one side, which is super cute but also very frustrating when we're trying to change your diaper. But then you give us a big smile and the frustration just melts away.

You haven't been sleeping very well lately. Luckily it's not every night (phew!), but every third or fourth night, last night included, you wake up every hour or so. Sometimes you want a cuddle and sometimes you want to eat, but it's very tiring for me and papa because we have to get up and go to work. We've been trying to go to sleep earlier to try to get more sleep.

Despite those rare nights when you wake up repeatedly, you're an excellent sleeper. You take 3 naps a day: one in the morning, usually from 9-11am, then another early afternoon, from 1-3pm and a third 45-minute catnap around 4pm. We put you to bed between 7 and 8pm, and we always do the same routine: pajamas, bottle, sleepsack, stories, bed. It feels like you've figured it out, and most nights you go to sleep without a fuss.

We're still breastfeeding, but not as much as we used to because now that you have those two little teeth, you like to bite, and I'm not such a big fan of you clamping down on my nipple with your teeth and gums. I often have to pinch your nose to get you to release my nipple, which you don't appreciate and it always make you cry. Instead, I've been pumping my milk in the morning and in the evening, so you're getting the benefits of the breastmilk and I'm not getting bitten. I do breastfeed you in the middle of the night if I can, as you're usually too tired/hungry to bite me and you just want to eat. I also try to breastfeed you in the morning if I have time. I won't like, it is tiring, but I'm happy to do it so that you can benefit from my breastmilk (although we also supplement with formula when we want/have to!)

Papa and I decided that the three of us are going to the US at the end of December to spend Christmas with your American grandparents. You'll be 6 months old! We had to get you a passport, which seems very silly because you're so tiny, but those are the rules! We also had to pay $14 for your ESTA since you're not an American citizen yet. Papa and I are a little nervous about traveling with you, but you've been a wonderful baby so far, so we're trying to stay positive and plan ahead for all of the different situations that could arise. (We'll celebrate Christmas and New Years with your French grandparents in January when we're back in France!)

Things are still going well with the nanny ("nounou" in French, which is what all of the kids call her). She is so warm and friendly, and I can tell that she really loves what she does. Nounou looks after 4 other kids, although not all at the same time: Ambre (only after school, so you only see her on Tuesdays and Thursdays), Coco (almost 3 years old, another French-American kid like you!), Anouk (2 years old) and Manec (1 year old). Coco and Anouk love to hug and kiss you, and nounou tells us that you love to "chat" with them. Sometimes when papa comes to pick you up and come home, you cry because you're having so much fun! It's easier to go to work and leave you with nounou because we know that she's taking extra good care of you.

You still love bath time ("time to go to the salon!" is what I say when it's time to wash your hair), especially when I encourage you to kick and splash. I've found a Youtube channel called "little baby bum" that has nursery rhymes with cartoon images, and it keeps your occupied while I try to file your razor-sharp nails. I swear, your nails grow and sharpen themselves overnight - it's a losing battle, but we're trying!

Your hair is still spiky, and you still have a few strands of your birth hair left, which makes you look like a punk rock star. It's adorable!

It really is a pleasure to be your mom, even when you projectile vomit all over me because you mistakenly stuck your fingers down your throat while you were sucking on your hand (aka YESTERDAY). You're a happy, smiley baby, and I hope that you keep that positive attitude for the rest of your life.

Love,
Mama


Chloé is 4 months old!
        October 19, 2018     22h11     0 Comments

Dear Chloé,

Today you turn 4 months old, and I can't believe that you've already been a part of our family for 4 months already! It seems like we were bringing you home from the hospital just yesterday. At the same time, you've become such an important part of our family that I can't remember what life was like before you joined us.

Your 4-month checkup with the doctor will be on Oct 29th, so I don't know your 4 month height and weight yet, but I know that you've grown. You're an excellent eater, although papa is not a big fan when you eat so fast that you choke and proceed to projectile vomit all over him!

In the past week or so, you've started blowing (really wet) raspberries ALL the time, which makes us laugh. You've also recently discovered that you can shriek, and, well, you've hit some pretty high, ear-piercing notes. We laugh a lot less when you do that.

Over the past month, you've also discovered your feet, and you love to grab them, especially when you're not wearing socks. It's very entertaining to watch you flop around as you grab your feet, but it can be a challenge to change your diaper. You're rocking tummy time and holding your head up really well, but you haven't figured out how to roll over yet. But we're not worried, we know that you'll figure it out in time!

You're still not sleeping through the night, but that's ok, we know it's not going to last forever. You go to sleep super easily, and that's wonderful. We feed you, we put you into your PJs and your sleepsack, I rock you and read you a couple of stories, and then I put you down in your crib. Most of the time, you're looking around as I kiss you goodnight, and after I leave the room, you quietly fall asleep. Every once in awhile, you're overtired and you need your pacifier to fall asleep, but as soon as you're asleep, you spit it out. At the moment, you're sleeping from 8pm to 7am with two wakeups during the night.

Papa and I are also thrilled that your internal clock wakes you up around 7am (and not 430 or 5am!), and you're always smiling when you wake up - a big, ear-to-ear smile that grows even bigger when you see us smiling down at you in the morning. During the week, when I have to drop you off with the nanny at 8:30am, I get up at 6:45 and I try to shower before you wake up. That way, I'm ready to feed you when you wake up, and then I eat and you hang out with me on the couch before we both head out the door. I'm very lucky to be able to spend Tuesday and Wednesday mornings with you, when we normally hang out and read books and sing songs (and while you nap, I shower!).

You still love bath time, and you're so strong that when you kick, you splash water all over me and all over the bathroom. I've jokingly started calling you Michael Phelps when you do that ... maybe you'll enjoy swimming when you're a bit older!

Papa is on vacation for the next two weeks, but I still have to work next week, so you two are going to spend a week of quality time together. Your face lights up when you see your Papa, and I know that the two of you will bond even more next week.

You are the light of your lives and you bring us so much joy. We're looking forward to seeing more of your personality develop in the next few months!

Love,
Mama


Chloé is 12 weeks today!
        September 11, 2018     17h14     0 Comments

Our little Chloé is 12 weeks old today, and today is also the day that my maternity leave officially ends. I start back to work tomorrow (and our semester starts next Monday).

In order to prepare for me going back to work, Chloé started going to the nanny last week, with a one-week adaptation period: she went for an hour on Monday and I stayed, then 2 hours on Tuesday without me, 3 hours on Wednesday morning, 4 hours on Thursday over lunch and naptime, and 4.5 hours on Friday. She did great, and the nanny we chose is really good. She looks after 4 kids during the day, and she takes them to the park, she reads them books, and they play with different toys (very little tv watching, which is good since Chloé spent the summer watching too much TV with us!). Chloé will be with the nanny for approximately 30 hours per week, as DD and I are lucky enough to have jobs that allow us a certain flexibility. I'll be home with her on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, and Damien will look after her on Wednesday and Friday afternoons.

At 12 weeks, Chloé loves:
* to smile. Big, gummy smiles from ear to ear that just melt our hearts.
* her mama and papa (but ESPECIALLY her papa - her eyes light up when he walks into the room!)
* her feet. If we prop her up on our knees facing us, she plows our bellies with her feet while she stares at them
* to suck on her hands. Sometimes it looks like she's trying to fit her whole hand in there! Our favorite, however, is when she sucks on her middle and ring fingers, and the others are flat against her face = our little punk rocker!
* Her swing. Whenever we put her in the swing, she gets a big smile on her face. She especially likes looking at (and talking to) the metal screws that hold it together instead of the elephants that hang down, which is weird but hey, she must have a reason! (PS - We also love the swing because it helps put her to sleep when she's overtired!)
* to "talk". We often have "conversations" where she makes sounds and we pretend that we know what she's talking about, e.g. "Hmm, that's a good point. What other arguments do you have?" or "Oooh, great story! Tell me more!" This usually causes her to smile even more.
* bath time. Ever since we came home from the hospital, she's loved bath time, but now we know she does because she gets a big smile and she kicks her feet. I'm pretty sure that in a few months, our bathroom will be soaked every time she has a bath, but for now the splashes stay in the tub.



(PS - I still have to finish telling Chloé's birth story and then tell you about our summer. Hopefully now that we're getting into a routine with work and with the nanny, I'll be able to find the time to blog more often!


Baby rolls
        July 29, 2018     8h48     0 Comments

One of my favorite aspects of babies are their baby fat rolls that develop over the first few months. Chloé is no exception; she's a healthy eater, so she's starting to develop the cutest baby rolls! On her arm, it makes it look like she's got amazing muscles :)





Chloé's birth story, part 1: laboring at home
        July 29, 2018     8h45     0 Comments

Chloé's birth story starts on Sunday, June 17th. That evening, I started feeling contractions every so often, but nothing regular. I had been feeling similar contractions for a couple of days, but for some reason, I had an idea that these were different.

I called my parents around 10pm for our weekly Sunday chat, but I didn't say anything about the contractions I was feeling. I had decided that I wouldn't tell anyone about being in labor until after she was born.

The contractions started increasing slightly in intensity around midnight (about a 2/10 on the pain scale), and they started becoming a bit more regular, albeit spaced apart by 20-30 minutes. I couldn't fall asleep because every time I'd be about to fall asleep, I would feel another contraction and I'd be awake again. I think part of the problem was excitement/nervousness - I had been waiting SO LONG to meet our little girl, and it was finally happening!

Damien's alarm went off at 6am so that he could get ready for work. As soon as he was awake, I told him about the regular contractions and not being able to sleep and we decided that he shouldn't go to work, so he called his school and told them.

(Side note: in France, men get 3 days off work for the birth of their child, and then they get 11 consecutive days of "paternity leave" that they can take anytime during the first four months. Damien and I had decided that he would take all 14 of his days for the birth and the days immediately following the birth, so taking the day off was just his first day of the fourteen.)

Mid-morning, Damien suggested I try to get some sleep, so I took a nap and managed to get about an hour or two of sleep, despite the contractions (which were spaced far enough apart that I could sleep a bit, and their intensity varied - STRONG, weak, weak - and I could sleep through the weak ones).

We spent most of the day Monday just hanging out and watching TV as my contractions continued to increase in intensity while becoming more frequent. The pain was still manageable, so I knew that we still had time before we had to go to the hospital. Throughout the afternoon, I found ways to deal with the contractions: breathing, yoga, bouncing on a yoga ball.

Around 630pm, Damien suggested that I take a warm bath, so I ran a bath and got in. I had heard that a warm bath could help with contractions, and I was hopeful that it would allow me to labor at home a bit longer. Unfortunately, I found that it didn't do anything - I was just having the same contractions but I was in the bath instead of in the living room!

While I was in the bath, Damien made us dinner so that we'd both eat before we headed to the hospital. Despite the pain from the contractions, I managed to eat ... and I even splurged and finished a sleeve of Oreo cookies that was open (I didn't want them to get stale! That would've been a waste!)

At this point, my contractions were lasting around a minute each and were about 3 minutes apart, and they'd been this strong for at least an hour or two, so we decided that was time to head to the hospital. We grabbed my purse, the hospital bag (which was, in fact, a carry-on suitcase) and it was time to go.

The hospital is only about a 10-15 minute drive from our apartment, so I only had a few contractions in the car, and they were manageable. We parked the car and walked to the hospital. On our way, we saw one of my colleagues (the hospital is next door to the university I teach at), so I stopped to say hi briefly. We walked into the hospital around 8pm on Monday, June 18th, knowing that our lives were about to change!


Allez les Bleus !!
        July 12, 2018     13h18     0 Comments

Chloé is supporting the French soccer team as they head into the World Cup final on Sunday!

Allez les Bleus !!





Birth annoncement!
        July 02, 2018     18h02     0 Comments

Chloé Elisabeth Nicole Dumont was born on Tuesday, June 19th, 2018, at 2:24am (without an epidural!). She weighed 4kg110g/9lbs at birth and measured 53cm/20.87in, and she was born with a full head of dark hair (which she must get from her daddy!) We spent a few days in the hospital before we came home on Friday, June 22nd.

We decided on her name back in December. We both like the name Chloé, and it's pronounced similarly in English and in French. We chose Elisabeth as her first middle name after my beloved grandmother - it was her middle name, albeit with a "z" instead of an "s". We chose Nicole as her second middle name to honor my mother-in-law. Both sides of the family are represented in her name!





We're still settling in and figuring out a routine, but then I'll get back to posting regularly. I want to tell share her birth story (a 4kg/9lb baby with no epidural!) and talk about how we're slowly figuring out how to take care of this little creature!

In her almost 2 weeks of life outside the womb, she's already accumulated a number of nicknames:

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