Tag Archives: baby

Reflections on a year

Jake’s birthday is imminent.  In just a few days he will be one year old.

It’s so cliche,  but I cannot figure out where the last year went.  It’s been a year of a lot of changes — sold our house, moved back to NY state, quit my job/career thing.  Through all that Jake’s been happily along for the ride.  I spent five months of maternity leave just loving on him as much as I could, and he made it so easy.  He practically came out of the womb smiling.  And once he learned how to laugh, man, it barely stopped.  He is one happy guy.  His smile lights up his whole face and is, in a word, infectious.

After the maternity leave, I went back to work three days a week, and Jake went to day care with his sister.  He seemed to instantly win over the girls who worked in the infant room.  They would light up when we arrived in the morning, and gushed continually about what a wonderful baby he was.  He didn’t sleep much for them – he is and has always been incredibly sensitive to noise when he sleeps – but no matter to them, because his demeanor was always cheery and easy-going.

Then we sold our house, and moved, and I gave my notice at work, and my notice at day care, all in late September/early October.  At that point Lane had just started in a new classroom so her teacher wasn’t much attached to her yet or vice versa, so that wasn’t an issue… but because Jake was still a baby he had remained in the infant room, with the girls who doted on him without remorse.  But regardless, the two center managers knew Lane since she’d started there at six months old, and Lane’s previous teacher was now the teacher in the classroom Jake would graduate to once he mastered walking.  They all cried when I told them.  Cried.  I cried, too.  As much as I was looking forward to my days with my babies, it was emotionally very difficult to remove them from an environment where they were so well cared-for and loved, and where I knew they were safe.  I had about 15 minutes of sentimentality about leaving my job… leaving that day care center was so much more difficult for me.  I still miss them, and Lane still talks about a couple of her friends and asks to see them.

Of course, being home with them isn’t all gumdrops and lollipops.  There are times, like right now, where Frank just caught Lane smacking Jake and put her in time out and now she’s wailing from on our bed for me, like I’m going to go easier on her for being mean to her brother.  Or when Jake fights having his nails cut so hard I’m tempted to duct-tape him to a chair to get it done.  Or at the mall today when Lane decided listening was optional so she lost the privilege of visiting the Princess Store (a.k.a. the Disney Store) and she became a wet noodle and I had to carry her to the car wailing and wet-noodle-like.  And the times, which really occur nightly, where Jake refuses to sleep more than two or three hours at a stretch.

But mostly, really, it’s fun and amazing and awesome and fulfilling. I love watching Jake and Lane interact and love on each other, seeing them learn, seeing them play and playing with them, and more than anything feeling like I can be a better mother because I’m not trying to cram all that motherhood into the too-small window after work, when everyone’s tired and cranky from a long day.  Though I suspect Frank thinks I’m tired and cranky all day anyway, because that’s mostly what he sees when he gets home from work every day.  Two kids are a lot of work, especially when one of them is a three year-old with a body capable of sustaining a constant fusion reaction… because seriously, she barely eats, so cold fusion is the only way I can think of that she has as much energy as she has.

And her constant state of motion provides such a contrast to her brother.  He’s a cool, content dude.  Happy to be in a sling, happy to be in a stroller, happy to be in the playard, just happy.  Crying from Jake means one of three things:  he’s tired, he’s hungry, or his sister has him in a headlock.  Though, that’s becoming less true nowadays, since the boy is walking.  He’s hurt himself as much as Lane has injured him over the last couple weeks.

He’s not just walking either… he has a veritable inventory of skills.  He claps.  Oh, does he clap!  He claps after he walks, he claps when he hears anyone else clapping, even if they are on TV.  He claps when you laugh.  He’s quite a pointer, too.  He has one word, Dog, though it sounds like Duh.  I think in the last day or two Lane has been designated “A”.  He points at her and says “A”.   One of his most recent additions is tickling.  We’re big on tickling, and when I tickle Lane he tries to, too.  If you say “I’m gonna tickle you!” he wiggles his fingers at you.  He’s also waving with meaning, which is just awesome.  And, he knows the sign for milk, which we use for nursing.  He doesn’t use it to ask to nurse yet, but when he knows that breastfeeding is imminent he starts signing “milk”.  I think, though, his most impressive skill is climbing.  Given he’s spent most of his mobile life in this 2 bedroom apartment which completely lacks stairs, he can sure get up a flight of stairs awfully quickly.  Or get on a step stool.  Or on the padded ottoman in our living room.  He can nearly get himself into the bathtub by himself.

He’s just such a little person now.  I love it.

Bon anniversaire

I turned 32 today.  Much to my surprise… for some reason for most of January I thought I was already 32, and then I did the math.  Duh… so this is what it’s like to be old.

We are celebrating in many festive ways.  Mother Nature decided today was a good day to lay down more snow than we’ve had all winter.  Frank has a veritable booger rave going on in his face (seriously, I think his sinuses are on E), and is running and on-and-off temperature.  Because of that, my birthday festivities, supplied by my in-laws in the form of cooking us dinner and providing cake, were postponed.  Our plumbing joys have returned, bigger and badder than ever.  Flushing the toilet or really using any plumbing is thus off-limits until the plumber gets here tomorrow.   I went to the mall to escape the flu-fest in the house (I didn’t even know about the plumbing until Frank called to give me a status).  Lane managed to walk right into a table in a store and has a good bump on her forehead to show for it.  When I went back to the car the escalator to where we were parked (our mall has underground parking under the mall) was shut off, so I had to negotiate the escalator stairs with two kids and a stroller and various bags, during which my Old Navy bag ripped and vomited all my purchases all over the the stairs.

But there were some highlights.    A nice teenage boy helped me pick up the vomited clothes while the rest of the kids he was with kept Lane from scurrying off.  (Teenage boys being generally nice and doing kind things somehow renews my faith in humanity.)  I got a free birthday gift at Sephora because I’m on their mailing list.  I bought some great stuff for the kids and Frank and me for our upcoming vacation to Aruba in April.  Jake got his first pair of big boy walking shoes, because each day he chooses to walk more and crawl less.  I figure by the time his first birthday rolls around in a week and a half, crawling may more or less be a thing of the past.   He’s pretty sure of himself when he walks, but the new shoes must have felt weird and heavy and he got even more zombie-like in his gait than he normally is.  (I want to groan “BRRRAAAIIINNNSS!” every time he walks.  Sometimes I do, but usually only when nobody else is around.)  Jake also had his first foray into chicken nuggets today for dinner.  He had one and-a-half.  This thrills me to bits because Dino Nuggets, I am somewhat ashamed to admit, are a staple around here, so it opens that as a dining option for him when he won’t eat what I make for dinner.  I also got a Wii from Frank (thank you again, honey!), and I CANNOT WAIT until the kids are asleep so I can hook it up and try it out!!!!

So I didn’t get any cake, but I did have a Frosty at the mall, so that almost makes up for it.  I know my in-laws plan on supplying ice cream cake when we celebrate my birthday after Frank’s well enough to participate in the festivities.  It will probably be a Carvel cake which is totally acceptable, but I hinted that they could also get one from Cold Stone Creamery.  Oh my, if they come through on that one I will be oodles of happy.

So you want to breastfeed? Breastfeeding Narrative #1

This will be one in a series of breastfeeding posts. I’m getting a bunch of search results of people looking for breastfeeding information. Really, I’m no expert – I’m not a doctor, I’m not a doula, I’m not a lactation consultant. I am simply a breastfeeding mom who has nursed one child to three years old, and am currently nursing another who is nearly a year old.
If you’re looking for specific answers, I recommend giving a visit to http://www.kellymom.com, a breastfeeding site written by a lactation consultant. These will simply be me blabbering about my experiences and is not medical advice.
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So, you’re thinking about breastfeeding. If it’s still a big maybe right now, then chances are you’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant. Good for you. Being a parent is probably the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done, but that isn’t to say it isn’t without its challenges. I can also say without a doubt, it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Nothing in my life has ever required more commitment, education, patience, and dedication.
Breastfeeding is definitely one of those parenting things that takes all that and rolls it into one. You need a lot of commitment, education, patience, and dedication to be successful at the breastfeeding relationship with your baby.
First, let’s talk about the commitment. There’s no hard and fast rule about how long you should breastfeed. There are lots of schools of thought here. Just about anyone will tell you that some breastfeeding is better than no breastfeeding, in terms of the benefits the baby receives. I’m not going to take it upon myself to spout on about those benefits; kellymom.com is a good place to start, but I’ll give a couple book recommendations too. (That comes in the education part of it.) The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that it is ideal to nurse for at least a year, and then for as long as is desired by both parties. They set no upper limit on breastfeeding, much to the chagrin of all those internet tough guys who say that if the kid can ask for it, they’re too old to breastfeed. The World Health Organization says that it’s ideal for a child to breastfeed for a minimum of two years. Former Surgeon General Antonia Novello has said that “it’s the lucky baby, I feel, who continues to nurse until he’s two.” Quite an endorsement of extended breastfeeding.
Anyway, my point is, by choosing to breastfeed, you are making a commitment to your baby, and to yourself. You may choose to wean whenever you want, but I highly endorse trying to extend the relationship until at least two years old. There are a zillion reasons I can name from my personal experience, but the big one is that once you get into the second year of life, breastfeeding is a tool in your toolbox that I cannot imagine having to go without. Nothing calms an upset toddler like the breast. When a toddler’s not feeling well, he will often refuse to eat or drink, but he will very rarely refuse to nurse. (This phenomenon, according to her pediatrician, kept my daughter out of the hospital during a nasty tummy bug when she was 18 months old.) Toddlers can’t be reasoned with, and they don’t even always understand what you’re saying. They’re unsure of themselves but becoming more independent, they want to explore and be individuals, but they crave a safe, reliable home base. Nursing is a great (and granted, not the only way, but great nonetheless) way to provide that home base.
Oh I know, breastfeeding is so inconvenient. How will you ever get away? How will you ever get any sleep? How will you go back to work? The answer is, you’ll find ways. Breastfeeding parents have to be creative, and patient, and dedicated, and they have to be willing to put themselves out there a little more for their kids. I know, how inconvenient. But that’s parenting.

So, now let’s talk about the education piece of it. Breastfeeding ain’t easy, and it’s not instinctual. Well, it’s instinctual for the baby, but the way we give birth these days kind of interferes with baby’s instinct for breastfeeding. We use medication during the labor (there are studies that claim, while common pain relief methods like epidurals, narcotics, and tranquilizers will not harm the baby, they can make the baby more groggy when he’s born and interfere with initial breastfeeding). We have many more c-sections, which mean medication, and often a longer time before initial breastfeeding can take place. Too many times, we just simply can’t or aren’t allowed the opportunity to just put our baby skin-to-skin on our chest right after the baby is born, allow our own body heat to warm the baby, and allow the baby to find the breast on his own. That’s what’s instinctual and ideal.

Of course, instinctual and ideal can’t always happen. Even though I had vaginal, drug free births with both my kids, both my babies passed meconium (aka poop) in utero, and had to be treated by the neonatal team to ensure that none had been aspirated into their lungs. I didn’t even touch my daughter for nearly an hour after she was born; with my son it wasn’t nearly quite as long but it was still far from my ideal of having him placed on my chest immediately.

All of this is just a really long-winded way to say we probably all have this ideal in our heads that the baby will come out, latch on, and birds will tie ribbons in our hair and all will be well in the world. But even in an ideal birth with the ideal start, problems crop up along the way. Problems with the latch. Problems with reflux. Problems with milk imbalance. Problems with sore or cracked nipples. (And you can read about all those lovely things at kellymom.com!) This is where the education piece comes in. You need to know what you’re doing, before the baby shows up. You can’t count on instinct, and you can’t count on other people helping you (some hospitals have great lactation consultants and some… don’t), and if you wait until the baby’s born to catch up it may be too late. So I would recommend a few things. You could do some or all of these.

1. Read! There are three books I can personally recommend. I found them indispensible.

  • So That’s What They’re For! by Janet Tamaro. Certainly short of being a ‘definitive’ resource, this book is an enjoyable, easy read, and is a great starting point to lots of breastfeeding knowledge and breastfeeding with confidence. If you don’t do anything else to prepare for breastfeeding, READ THIS BOOK.
  • The Breastfeeding Book by Martha and Dr. William Sears. The Searses are by far my favorite baby/child book authors. They also have a great web site, http://www.askdrsears.com. They espouse the ‘attachment parenting’ approach, and it’s really what I do naturally with my kids. I’ve read a few of their books and have enjoyed them all.
  • The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers by Dr. Jack Newman and Teresa Pitman. This is another really excellent resource, to help you deal with nearly any breastfeeding issue that may crop up. It’s always in my nightstand for easy reference.

2. Attend a breastfeeding seminar at the hospital you’ll birth at.

3. Find a La Leche League meeting to attend before you give birth and after you give birth.

4. Hire a doula. There are two types of doulas, birth doulas and postpartum doulas. A birth doula is sort of like an extra support person for you during birth. They do not offer medical advice; they will help you work through labor and birth and just be on your team and try to help you get the best birthing experience you can have, which can do a lot for getting breastfeeding started the right way. A postpartum doula is someone who comes to your house after you’ve given birth. They do stuff to give you more mom/baby time. They can also offer breastfeeding and general baby care advice, but again they are not medical professionals. A postpartum doula might watch the baby for a while so you can take a nap, they might play with your older kids to get your more uninterrupted baby time, they might cook dinner, clean for you, etc. But I would say mainly they are about education – breastfeeding and baby care, and showing the dad and the baby’s other siblings why it is so important to get you as much baby time as possible in the first few weeks. A postpartum doula is really a jack of all trades, baby-wise.

Now, let’s talk about patience; I mentioned earlier you need patience to breastfeed. It’s so true. A big difference I’ve observed between breastfeeding and bottle feeding is that breastfeeding takes more of the mom’s time. With bottle feeding, anyone can prepare and give the bottles. Also, the babies I have observed bottle feeding, they seem to be done with a bottle feeding faster and last longer between feedings. Breastfeeding can be a big hunk of time out of your day, especially in the early weeks. Babies can take 20-30 minutes or more to finish a feeding, and then they might want to nurse again an hour later. That’s OK and normal and not unexpected. What’s ‘normal’ for length of feeding and time between feedings for breastfed babies varies enormously from one baby to the next. If your baby’s hungry, then he’s hungry, so nurse him. Again, there’s that inconvenience factor popping up.  Babies are demanding and you can’t reason with them.

Then, you need patience for other things, too. You need patience to get your husband on board, maybe. You need patience when dealing with (hopefully) well-intentioned but meddling relatives and friends. You also need to teach patience to others. A big challenge for me when Jake was born was helping Lane understand that when Jake was nursing I couldn’t just get up and attend to her; she had to learn to be patient and wait until he was done nursing. Parenting in general is a giant exercise in patience. Breastfeeding just adds another facet to that.

So lastly, let me talk for a moment about dedication.

Miyagi: Now, ready?
Daniel: Yeah, I guess so.
Miyagi: Daniel-san, must talk. Walk on road, hm? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later [makes squish gesture] get squish just like grape. Here, karate, same thing. Either you karate do “yes” or karate do “no.” You karate do “guess so,”[makes squish gesture] just like grape.

Breastfeeding is the same way. Either you will breastfeed, or you won’t. If you “think you’ll try”, or you’ll “give it a shot”, or you’ll “see how it goes”, you’re not going to end up breastfeeding. You might, for a few days, or maybe a couple weeks even, but if you don’t have the resolve to stick through the first six weeks, which is by and far the toughest part, then you’ll find soon you’re reaching for that free sample of formula you got in the mail.

So if you really, truly want to breastfeed, you need to dedicate yourself to it. You’re not going to “try” to breastfeed, you are GOING TO BREASTFEED.

Luke: All right, I’ll give it a try.
Yoda: No. Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.

I say, make a promise to yourself that you’re going to breastfeed for six weeks. Six weeks is not a long time – it’s 42 days. If you can make it through those first six weeks, you can breastfeed forever. Because right after week 4 or 5, you’ll realize, hey, this isn’t bad at all. We have the hang of this! And from that point on, it will be smooth sailing.

So, to tell the whole tale

I’m going to get downright gross here, probably, so avert your eyes if you don’t care for such details. 🙂

(Of course this will be no surprise to SOME people who know me. You know who you are.)

As I mentioned earlier, our water went out earlier. And just about as soon as I realized it, I had to poop.

We live in the same town as my in-laws, so I figured we could quickly scoot over there and make an impromptu visit, and I could take advantage of their pink toilet. (Yes, they have a pink toilet. They have a bright yellow one, too.) My quick plan is, throw the kids in the nearest available coats, strap them into the minivan, and skedaddle over there hastily.

But then I grab Jake to put his coat on him… and he’s got a diaper full of poop. And he hadn’t pooped for three days. And he had blueberries yesterday. I’m not sure if the act of grabbing him did it, or plopping him on my lap, or if it was already like that, but he had poop all out the side of his diaper, practically down to his knee. Somehow this timely surprise didn’t end up on my pants. I carry him at arm’s length into the bathroom, and just deposit him into the tub, since that’s the easiest to clean, and normally I’d just bathe him in such circumstance rather than even attempt to clean him up with wipes.

But there’s no water.

“Lane! Bring me the wipes!”

At this point, knowing the length of time it would take me to get him acceptably clean and the number of wipes I would go through, and just owning that I really don’t want to have to do that while I got a turtle poking his head out of his shell, I just proceeded to do my business in the toilet sans water. I figured the water would come on eventually, and I could keep the door closed in there until it did.

About thirty baby wipes on Jake and a half-dozen sanitizing kitchen clean-up wipes on the bathtub, and an ounce or two of hand sanitizing gel on myself and Jake, and everything and everyone was adequately poop-free and sterilized, save the bath mat and Jake’s clothes. At least I didn’t have to bother the in-laws.

Then. I went to the mall and spent $80 on the biggest haul I have ever had the pleasure of taking out of Old Navy. I cannot believe how much stuff I got for $80. They said the sale is on until Sunday, so go check it out!!

Who said they could grow up?

Lane amazes me nearly every day.

Lately, we’ve found the bedtime ‘routine’ that works best is simply to ask her to get herself into bed, give her permission to turn on her bedside light and tell her she can look at as many books as she likes, then turn off her light whenever she’s ready.

She nearly always picks out about seven or eight books to page through, does this in 10-15 minutes, and then turns the light out and is asleep soon afterwards.

It is just such a grown-up way to do bedtime. It’s how *I* do bedtime most nights. Sigh.

In other news, Jake is 11 months old today. My goodness, where does the time go? He’s got such a vibrant personality, it just makes my heart smile. He is almost constantly happy and giggly. He loves singing, and has started to participate in singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” by saying “ro ro ro ro ro ro”. We also add a second verse:

Rock, rock, rock your boat, gently down the stream.

If you see a crocodile, don’t forget to scream! [scream here]

Jake highly anticipates the scream. Gets downright giddy and acts completely impatient if you sing the second verse but leave out the scream.

And he’s walking. Not as his primary mode of transportation, though I suspect by his first birthday he’ll be tooling around all bipedal. For now, he’s stringing together four or five steps at a time, and is just pleased as punch with himself.

Of course, as generally comes with most developmental milestones – and walking is a biggie – he’s not much interested in going to sleep. He fell asleep at 8:00 p.m., and I erroneously thought he was going to bed a little early. Oh no, silly Mommy, that was just a nap. He’s now sitting awake on the couch with his daddy as I write this. Yeah, it’s 1:00 a.m. I tried getting him to sleep a half-hour ago and he’d have nothing to do with it. He must have thought I was pretty funny to try, because all he did was laugh at me.