Friday, December 24, 2010

*

JUST TO CLARIFY: In the last post, I didn't mean anything by the ";)". It just meant, "If you think that 'looks like I'm breaking my streak' means 'I'm not pregnant this year,' you're right." As in, I'm breaking my streak of being pregnant on 12-22, not breaking my streak of not being pregnant. I totally overlooked the ambiguity. Sorry! That is all.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Weird

It's December 22.

Last year, I was 37 weeks pregnant, retiring from most regular daily activities, waddling everywhere I went, unable to jam my feet into almost any of my shoes. I was pregnant.

Two years ago, I had just found out, nine weeks into my second pregnancy, that no fetus had developed. A sad sack on the couch, I awaited my scheduled D&C the next day to remove the "products of conception." I was pregnant. . .technically.

Three years ago, if I had taken a pregnancy test, it would have been positive. I was about four weeks pregnant with my first baby, a little fighter my inhospitable womb would eventually starve to death and expel. I was pregnant, but I didn't know it yet.

I don't feel like I've spent most of my marriage pregnant or anything, but three times in just over two years is technically quite often. And it only recently occurred to me that I was pregnant this time of year three years in a row. At almost one year, this is the longest stretch of my marriage that I've gone not-pregnant. That's kind of amazing!

Everything is amazing and weird. And I am so, so profound.

As for this year? Looks like I'm breaking my streak. ;)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bizarre

I've had a lot of strange experiences in the ~49 weeks since my baby was born. Tonight is right up there!

Lily's bedtimes have been all over the place. In fact, it really makes me want to rethink how I spend my evenings so that I could always be there to help her get to bed at a decent time, but that's another post entirely. Anyway, our routine, such as it is, has been particularly out of whack recently.

Tonight she had what I could only call a very late nap, going to sleep around what would be a good bedtime, about 7:00pm. The only problem was we happened to be at my parents' house at the time. When she woke up a little bit, around 9:30, we bundled her up and took her home. She was groggy and cranky through the pj's and diaper change routine and then feasted on momma's milk before dozing off again.

Then she did the currently-typical "I'M ASLEEP BUT YOU CAN'T PUT ME DOWN OR I WILL SCREAM AND CRY" rigmarole. It's kind of like having a newborn again, only extra infuriating because I don't understand it at all. Multiple attempts to calm her down failed. She'd be floppy-asleep, but as soon as I'd start to lower her into her crib, she'd arch her back, flip over and start wailing. I found myself praying that if God would be so good as to bless us with more children, would He please also be so beneficent as to grant us a child who actually likes to sleep? Or at least doesn't fight it with every tiny ounce of her strength?

So, I gave up. Daddy's turn. He was ready for bed, so he tried calming her down to sleep in our bed. He tried going back to her room and rocking her. He tried everything before calling on me. We did the can't-fail, flank-the-baby-in-bed-and-let-her-touch-BOTH-of-our-hair routine that should do it. Nope, she'd calm down, act like she was asleep and then completely lose it if someone moved a muscle.

Exasperated, I offered her the breast one last time. She drank up, rolled over, eyes still closed, and then: was that a smile? Is this kid smiling in her sleep? And THEN:

"Pthbtp. Heh"

She was babbling. Happy babbling. She stuck out her tongue at Erich and then finally, dramatically, opened her eyes with a look of glee. Erich and I both did a double-take and then starting rolling around laughing. Lily joined in. I have no idea what happened. I still don't--but it was pretty darn funny!

I laughed and laughed until I nearly cried frustrated tears of exhaustion an hour later when she was doing the scream-cry thing again. I finally got her calmed down and, miraculously, in her crib. So I guess I'd better get ready for bed, slip into bed, and then be most of the way asleep in time for her to wake up again. Good night!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Laundry

The long-awaited laundry post. Since I started cloth-diapering, I've had a bit of a laundry odyssey, and I feel like I've finally come to a less adventurous stage of the journey and can breathe a little easier. Getting here was not always fun, but I sure learned a lot.

I first started washing the diapers in bumGenius cloth diaper detergent. It was the lowest priced cloth diaper detergent at my local cloth diaper store. It seemed to go well for a while, but after about a month, it seemed like the diapers were starting to lose their absorbency. I experimented with some of the pocket diapers and found that they were repelling. No! That's the opposite of what I want!

My first strategy was to strip the diapers. After washing, I washed them again on hot with a squirt of blue Dawn dish detergent and then rinsed until all the bubbles came out. This appeared to do the trick, but they were stinking and repelling again less than a month later. I did not want to have to strip the diapers once a month, since it took more than a day to do all the necessary rinses, not to mention the waste of water! I poked around a bit in the washing machine and upon opening the (never used by us) fabric softener dispenser, I found big globs of leftover fabric softener from the previous owner. Fabric softener is horrible for diapers! I was worried.

I researched a little and came across Charlie's Soap, which promised to strip washing machines of gunk as well as get clothes and diapers super clean. I ordered, received, and started using it. It got the machine sparkling, and the clothes and diapers seemed quite clean. The instructions said it would be pretty sudsy while it got old residues out of everything but that eventually it would be low-sudsing. I waited and waited and if anything, it seemed to get MORE sudsy. I started having to do multiple rinses on the diapers and they would still be shedding suds. Furthermore, stains on clothes and diapers alike seemed untouched. I was using Oxyclean on everything and was starting to feel adrift. What was I doing wrong?

Gradually, I came to embrace the great importance of one variable over which I had no control: the water. Though I live in the same town I've lived all my life, my address is now unincorporated and we actually receive water from a neighboring municipality. And it turns out, Chicagoland water is actually quite hard! And this neighboring municipality's water seems to be quite a bit harder than in the city proper. Detergents act differently when the water is chock full of extra minerals. That's why Charlie's still sudsed up like crazy; that's probably why the diapers would start repelling every few weeks.

Finally, I ordered a few samples of Rockin Green detergent, Hard Rock formula. I rocked the soak. I started washing the diapers full time in it. And? Months later, I have not had to do any stripping. Stains come out. The diapers never repel. They are just now starting to get a little extra stinky (the ammonia singes the nose hairs a bit), but I've been experimenting with water levels and rinses and they inadvertently got dried with a dryer sheet recently, so either of those could be the culprit. I expect a soak to knock out the stinkies, and if it doesn't, it's an excuse to try the new Funk Rock for ammonia stink.

I decided that this detergent is just a little too expensive to use on all our laundry, so I've gone back to liquid All Free & Clear with our clothes, as liquid works better than powder with hard water. I often use Rockin Green for towels and sheets, though, and they come out super fresh and clean. I'm considering using the leftover Charlie's to strip our machine from time to time, as it's gotten rather gunky again.

My laundry odyssey has made me more familiar with detergent, water, agitation, rinsing, stains, absorbency and stink than I ever thought I'd be. And I actually enjoy it way more than I ever thought I would. Your stains and stinks are no match for my arsenal!

Monday, December 6, 2010

State of the Stash

News flash: I still love cloth diapering. Especially now that I have laundry figured out and it isn't an ongoing puzzle, I just get a warm and fuzzy feeling from putting something warm and fuzzy on my daughter's bum. A few weeks ago, she had an uncharacteristic rash, which put her in sposies with rash cream for a day. This led to a rare moment when all the diapers were clean and neatly stacked, so naturally I took a picture:


So very beautiful.

So here's the line-up:

Upper shelf, back left quadrant: Three Happy Heinys one-size pocket diapers, usually used during the day; three bumGenius one-size pocket diapers, double stuffed with microfiber and hemp/cotton doublers for nighttime use; one bumGenius all-in-one diaper, size Medium, stuffed with hemp/cotton doubler for nighttime use.

Upper shelf, back right quadrant: Two Bumboo bamboo fitted diapers, rarely/never used (they're difficult to put on, don't fit well, etc.); two Flip stay-dry/microfiber inserts.

Upper shelf, front right quadrant: ~19 GroBaby snap-in soakers (one is actually already stuck inside a cover on the other side)

Upper shelf, front left quadrant, top to bottom: Seven GroBaby covers, some converted from aplix to snaps; two Flip covers (grass green and sky blue) for use with Flip inserts and small prefolds; two Thirsties duo covers, size 2, one velcro (tree print) and one snaps (green) for use with larger prefolds.

Lower shelf, left side: 12 infant prefolds, used by folding in thirds lengthwise and laying in a cover.

Lower shelf, right side: 6 standard prefolds, used by wrapping around baby and fastening with Snappis (the "old fashioned" way, except no pins) and then applying a cover.

By my count, that's about 46 diapers that get used regularly. That's a bit more than the 2-3 dozen that the experts recommend, but I think it's the perfect number. With the number of diapers I have, I could get a little behind on laundry/sorting/folding and still have some diapers readily available. 

It also means I virtually never have to use disposables. As a result, I've acquired an aversion to using disposables, even when traveling. When we recently made the mad scramble to get out of town for a few days for Thanksgiving, we had to do last minute laundry so that (a) we wouldn't leave dirty diapers to rot at home and (b) we would actually have enough diapers to last the trip. The call of the sposies was strong, but I resisted. Erich later commended me for my dedication to the environment. That comment was tongue-in-cheek, because we both knew that wasn't it at all. I resist disposable diapers and stick to my cloth because it's what I know. I don't have a knack for seeking out places to throw away a stinky diaper, and I'd rather not bother when in someone else's home. Yes, cloth takes up more space and I actually have to carry the mess around, but I'm in the habit of doing that and it's just normal.

Add to that, cloth is better for my baby's skin, and laundry is kind of fun. Cloth wins!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I'm Going There

I have a confession: I don't always fail to blog because I don't have any ideas. I have plenty of ideas that I would really like to communicate, to get down on paper/in text box, but they seem too huge to undertake or I don't know from which angle to approach it or whatever excuse I can come up with.

One of these topics is birth. It is so hard to begin to touch upon the many facets of the issue, let alone my emotions pertaining thereto. Perhaps I have more feelings than ability to express them, as is often the case. In such circumstances, I read as much as I possibly can, which is cathartic but, ultimately, confusing.

Today I read this post from the ICAN blog about the rise in unnecessary cesareans, and I've had a moment of clarity. It summarizes the root of my anger. I had a c-section with my first and only (so far) baby. I believe this c-section was unnecessary. My doctor could probably give you a handful of good-sounding reasons why I had to have a c-section. I don't buy any of them.

Here are the facts:

  • I had elevated blood pressure for the final few weeks of pregnancy.
  • I was not dilated or effaced at all.
  • I was induced for high blood pressure five days before my due date.
  • I did not respond to the Pitocin in a textbook way: contractions were irregular, even at maximum dosage.
  • The doctor artificially ruptured my membranes at 1.5 cm dilation, against my expressed wishes.
  • I did not progress beyond 2-3 cm dilation.
  • My baby weighed 9 lb 1 oz at birth.
The "reason" I ended up with a c-section, according to my doctor? Big baby, of course! Never mind that smaller women than me give birth naturally to much larger babies every day. Never mind that I had a rock-bottom Bishop score, which indicates a likely unsuccessful induction.

Are all c-sections bad? Of course not. Does the procedure save lives when properly indicated? Absolutely. I'm really glad there is such a thing as a c-section and that it does not necessarily kill the mother like it did in days of yore. And to be completely fair, I do not fault a woman who, having educated herself and been informed of her options, chooses a c-section. 

But I did not choose a c-section and I had one anyway. So what now? I want several more children and no more major surgery, so I must pray and hope for successful VBACs ever after. 

I am still angry. Not just because of what happened, but because of what came next. This is what my doctor told me in my postpartum visit, I kid you not
  • I probably won't ever be able to birth vaginally if all my babies are as big as this one.
  • I can't be induced as a VBAC candidate, so if I go past my due date, it's an automatic scheduled c-section. Yes, the "due date," a mere midpoint in a long range of possible days to give birth (50% of all births occur after the due date, including 100% of my mother's, if that matters), will now become an unfair and somewhat arbitrary deadline for nature.
  • If I have another baby within two years, it's an automatic scheduled c-section.
I am never seeing that doctor again. And now my search for something better has me more and more horrified at the state of obstetrics in our country that something like this is as common as it is. I'm not denying the possibility that the alternative to my c-section could have been much worse. But the skyrocketing c-section rates, especially among first-time mothers should mean that there is a sudden and sharp rise in giant babies and woefully undersized pelvises--indeed, an epidemic! sweeping the nation. The very notion is ludicrous. This rush-to-induce and failure-to-wait has to STOP. 

It crushes me every time I hear of another first-time mother who is induced and sectioned. Doctors trying to lighten their case loads and hospitals trying to free beds in their labor and delivery wards are seriously jeopardizing the bodily integrity and reproductive freedom of women everywhere. It's shocking to me that this does not bother some people in the least. It saddens me when others trivialize my anger by telling me (or implying) that at least my baby is healthy or that so-and-so's vaginal birth was bad so I should be glad I had a c-section.

It scares me that a second c-section might necessarily limit my family size. I'm scared that, as educated as I am, I may fall into the system's traps again. I'm scared that I won't go into labor, or that I will but will then fail to progress. And when I think about how scared I am, I get angry all over again.

My daughter's birthday is something to celebrate. She changed my life forever and every passing year of her life is something to treasure. Her actual birth, however? One of the worst days of my life, actually. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Heh

This made me chortle.

Erich: "Do we have any more Kleenex?"

Susan: "I dunno."

Erich: sighing "I put you in charge of ONE THING--

Susan: sharp intake of breath, ready to protest

Erich: ". . .the house. . .and you don't even know if we have any Kleenex!"


I guess this is one of those "had to be there" things, but I lol'd. :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Oh Snap

Totally forgot to put something up yesterday. NaBloPoMo fail! Sigh, something so easy, failed so easily.

K, over it. At this exact moment, I'm caught in the vicious cycle of tired. I'm tired enough to crash, but there are tasks yet to be completed. But I'm too tired to do anything. But I don't want to go to bed and leave too much for the morning. (I'm a night owl, btw.) So I stay up. But nothing gets done. And now I'm too tired to do anything AND I'm too tired to go to bed.

This happens shamefully often. I only ever remember that I love to sleep when someone or something is demanding that I get up in the morning. When will I ever learn?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ode to a Special Lady

This post is both overdue and underdue. There is one very special lady in my life without whom I wonder how I could function.

My mom and I have always been buddies, and I never outgrew needing to talk to her and get help from her. Does anyone, really? I feel blessed that she's in my life and that we live so close to each other.

In the past year alone, she's helped me organize my house after moving in, she helped me remove wallpaper and paint several rooms. She helped immensely when Lily was born with household chores and baby-holding so I could take showers and feel human. Her house has been available for me to be a little lazy when I need a break. She feeds me and takes me shopping. She watches Lily whenever I ask.

She's a peaceful mediator when Lily and I are getting on each other's nerves. She's a sounding board for me and my scattered thoughts. She puts my baby to sleep. She even helped with bedtime tonight. She never asks for anything in return.


My mom is the bomb. I know Lily will have a pretty great mom in her adulthood some day because I learned from the best. A thousand thank yous are not enough. Even so, THANK YOU, MOM!!!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pray for Me

While you're at it, you could pray for Erich and the other men of my family as they head to nowhere to sit around a fire to drink beer and call it "hunting."

What this means for me is that while I'm used to Erich traveling, it's never over a weekend, and never EVER when I have to play organ. I'm already tired, literally and figuratively.

Thank the Lord I have family in town! I'm going to need all the help I can get.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Can't Think

I can't think of anything to blog about today. And that shall be my topic.

For starters, I have a headache. It's a kind of perfect storm combination of sinus congestion/can't breathe through nose, tension, and sense of impending doom.

"Doom" may be an overstatement. But I'm finally realizing that Thanksgiving is in one week and Christmas is in five and a half weeks, and that's just not right. I have short-term to-do list items piling up that I want to get done this week. Meanwhile, our gift list grows every year, and I am already completely out of ideas. Add to the Christmas list people who have birthdays right around then and whose birthdays we've missed and, well, we just added to my headache.

I wish I had a flair for gift-giving. Maybe I just need more practice. More than just thinking of the right gift, I need to know when to let go and accept whatever may happen next: the recipient already has or doesn't like the gift, for example. I get paralyzed enough when shopping for myself; shopping for 19 people plus birthdays completely levels me. Every year I think it's going to be fun, and every year I wait just a little longer than I should to start getting it under control.

So there's part of the "doom" quadrant of my headache. The other part is I have to play organ this Sunday, and Erich is going to be off at deer camp. I've never had to figure out a whole Sunday morning of organ-playing with kid sans husband. Not to mention the practicing I need to get done beforehand and the housecleaning that needs to be done before the arrival of BIL and roommate on Tuesday. Wait, Thanksgiving is next week?? REALLY??

The sinus congestion is just super annoying, and the tension is from sleeping wrong and perhaps (but I hope not) too much knitting. But ugh, the doom. Can I just skip to the hot chocolate and pajamas part of Christmas?

So, sorry I have nothing to blog about today.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Prompt

I'm going with a NaBloPoMo prompt today:

How did you end up where you're living right now? What factors will help you choose the next place you live?


I believe I chronicled our house hunt here, here, and here. To summarize, this house felt the most like home and was the closest to the complete package that we could get in our budget. Every project seemed doable, and they would be if we had the time and money to do them. Many unforeseen problems that always seem to happen with houses have tempered our joy of living here, but we're generally happy.

There are some factors in which this house is not ideal in the long run:

  • It has three bedrooms, but they're on two different levels (one being the basement) and on opposite corners. This works okay with one child and maybe two, but not for long.
  • The layout is a bit weird. I'm going to spare details on that because I don't want to go to complaining territory. Suffice it to say I can see why certain traditional layouts stand the test of time for family function.
  • There are too many huge projects which might not be worth doing for how long we want to be here and for how much we could stand to gain on attempting them. Our main bathroom will need to be gutted; it's unlikely we'll ever take down the horrible paneling in the basement, but horrible it most certainly is; these windows, they're a curse. Etc.
  • One-car garage. Actually, for us right now, and probably forever, no-car garage. Bleh.
So, my next house, in five years or so, must have:
  • Budget-friendliness! Of course.
  • Move-in readiness. We're just not fixer-uppers.
  • Four bedrooms, all on the same floor and away from main living areas.
  • Two-car garage.
  • Good location, whatever that will mean at this unspecified time in the future.
  • No mice, ever. 
  • And on my "dare I hope?" list: a true master suite, kitchen with lots of counter space and a pantry (what a dream!), big back yard with a nice deck.
So, that's my wish list. My dream list would be much, much longer, but that's not the point. One thing I've learned as a grown-up is to think about what would be the least it would take to make me happy and then shoot a level or two higher than that. Life is too full of disappointments to have unrealistic goals.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Erichisms

Since Lily's still too young to say the darnedest things, I will share one of my favorite Erichisms:

It's tired in here.

It's too tired in here for a substantive blog post tonight. One of these days I'm going to tell you all about laundry (REJOICE!), but I keep waiting till it's too late to do the topic justice.

I kind of like laundry. Be forewarned.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

We're All Clean

Today was the family baby shower for my sister, Anne. I think it was a pretty fun party!

Okay, enough about the party. What's so cool about this whole pregnant-sister thing right now is that Anne's baby (girl, of course) is due, depending on how you calculate, on January 11/13 of next year. Lily was due January 11/13 this year. She made her appearance on January 8.*

What does this mean? It means for me observing Anne, this year is memories of last year and for Anne observing Lily, this year is prediction for next year. Of course, every baby, every mama, and every experience is different, but being that we're sisters who share the same parents and similar body types, our experiences are indeed quite similar. And did I mention she also had two losses prior to this current pregnancy, the first being a late first trimester loss and the second being very early? Just like me! Not exactly the same, but very similar.

So often I look at her and say something like, "Oh yes, I remember starting to feel more sure I was really having a baby by late summer," or "I think I was unable to wear my rings by this point too," or "I know I was wearing Crocs pretty much exclusively by this point in the year." I can't really describe why this is so thrilling, but it is.

And one thing I remember about this time last year was starting to get pretty excited! The excitement was tempered a bit by being overwhelmed about what still needed to be done. But the only emotion that carries over to this year is pure excitement. I love all my nieces and I can't wait to meet the newest one.


*Footnotes are handy. I MEAN, it's still hard for me to say "was born." Yes, she was, in the technical sense that in one moment she was in and the next she was out. I promise I'm not going to open this can of worms right now, but to me, a cesarean "birth" is only technical. Or, to put it another way, Lily was born, but I didn't give birth. I'll shut up now.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Resolution

I'm just tired of whining and complaining. I feel like I've been doing a lot of that lately.

Well. . .okay, I'm not done whining and complaining about everything I could possibly whine and complain about. But one thing is getting the boot from my plate of worries. I will, like a baby-toddler learning how to play fetch, grab it from the tray in front of me, rotate my torso to extend my arm outward, and drop that little sucker straight onto the floor. And I will calmly watch it go splat. Bonus points if a dog comes along to eat it up.*

I'm done worrying about this kid's sleep habits. No matter what I do or don't do, whether I feel in control or not, whether I'm subscribing to the ideas of some author/guru or relying on my instincts alone, this too shall pass, and I'm finally ready to embrace that. I'm going to stop stubbornly ignoring how strong are the implications of two new teeth, many new words and a cold all in one week when it comes to falling and staying asleep. It's just hard, and we suffer, but we survive and it's okay.

Call it an epiphany, call it a nice night out with good friends and good beer, call it a timely rush of oxytocin--I'm feeling a bit at peace right now, so I'm just going to roll with it.





*My parents' wonderful dog, the eight-year-old yellow lab Lucy, was recently treated to a Lily cast-off. But she's so obedient, so subservient, that she did not take the rejected food until one of her parents gave her permission. I don't want a dog (right now) because no dog can live up to Lucy.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Correctnesses

Don't listen to my husband.

When your baby's tummy is exposed, and you place your mouth on the soft expanse and proceed to blow air so as to create the sound of flatulence, that is known as a poost. If you do the same, on a smaller scale, perhaps to someone's cheek, with lips puckered (not wide open), such an act is termed zerbet.

Poost and zerbet can coexist, and, indeed, they are related. There is an important distinction, however, and we must never call a zerbet what is most clearly a poost.

The cardboard tube found giving shape to your paper towels or wrapping paper is known as a do-do. That is "do" pronounced "doe." For when one places one's mouth in one end of the tube and makes sounds like a trumpet, one says "do-do."

One most certainly does NOT say "doo-doo," for such a scatological reference is loathsome and most undesirable.

Do not listen to my husband.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Habits

I have so many things I want to make regular habits. Such as

Knitting - I'd like to always have a knitting or crochet project going. I go in bursts on this one. I'll make a few things and eventually get overzealous, at which point my tendinitis kicks in and I have to set it aside for a while.

Going to bed early - Ha, yeah right. Often attempted, rarely achieved.

Getting up early - See above.

Drinking water - Water is so boring right now. So, I've replaced it with Diet Coke. This is Not Good.

Reading the Bible - Sometime in my life, I will have read the whole Bible from cover to cover. I'm following the 2-year plan in my Lutheran Study Bible, usually a week and a half's worth at a time every month or so. You could say I'm doing it, but it's not exactly a good habit right now.

Practicing piano/organ - Totally slumping here right now. Hard to do with a baby, awake or asleep.

Exercise - Was doing spectacularly until mid-September when I got sick, then Lily got sick, then her sleep habits went down the crapper (pardon my French), apparently permanently. I miss exercising.

No candy - The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Organizing the house - My occasional baby steps don't seem to make a dent.


I don't think there are enough hours in the day to always do all these things. But they are the things for which I strive. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Stream of Consciousness

Erich, what shall I post about today? He replies: well, you could complain about Lily or brag about me OR brag about Lily. Or you could talk about the weather. OR you could do some very light political commentary.

Hm. I guess I'm finding my niche, eh?

Well, I still can't think of a topic for the day, so here's all the randomness going through my head right now.

I don't care what anyone says or chooses to worry about, 70 degrees in November is magnificent. I look forward to more days of mildness. I don't like having to bundle up myself and a wiggly toddlerish being just to go out. Frankly, Lily doesn't even have a warm coat. They don't really work well with car seats, so I'm going to see how long I can go by just keeping her in sweaters and piling on the warm blankets when needed.

I cannot WAIT to have a minivan. We're at the point where we could buy one now, but it's just better if we keep saving the money till we really have to pull the trigger. Getting around town is okay in the (old) Buick Century, but it's so worn out and uncomfortable for longer trips. I don't care if minivans scream "mom!" I am a mom and minivans are darn practical. And I want one.

Lily's sleep patterns are shifting. A week ago, she was still not even considering sleep until 10:00 or 11:00 at night. Last night she was down by nine and slept (with a few interruptions) until 7am. Tonight she started acting super sleepy by 6:00 and I got her down by 7:30. This is great, but I'm nervous about how early she's going to be up for the day tomorrow. I'm not a morning person and can't change my wake time as suddenly as she apparently can.

Old music (Baroque and earlier) is good for the soul. Especially in the fall, for whatever reason.

I'm taking baby steps to change this, because it's all I can do, but every room in my house still feels like I'm either packing for or unpacking from a move. I still can't be fully excited about the positive changes in the kitchen/living room/dining room because it's still not DONE and I keep forgetting to call our guy to find out when he's ever going to come finish the job. It does look so much better, though, and someday I really should do a proper post on the project. That would feel wrong when I could be using all that time to be making it all more livable.

Pause to appreciate the irony.




I'm so glad Erich is home all week.

I have to fold and put away laundry.

My baby is heavy. Also, my back is sore.



Fin

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why Kids Need Dads:

Because I would not and could not do this with any regularity:


But I suspect it's really good for building character.

And a whole host of other things as well. Because this kid gets thrown around and inverted by her daddy, she's used to a little bit of roughness. She belly laughs. She bonds with her daddy.

A mother's gentle, loving touch is one thing, but nothing can replace a good daddy.

Monday, November 8, 2010

10 Months

The kid is 10 months old.

I've been posting more, so it seems repetitious to recount all the major things she's doing right now, but here's what I can think of:


  • She understands a LOT more than she can communicate. It seems like she knows a lot of words.
  • In that vein, she knows two signs, which are usually accompanied by spoken words: "milk" ("mee mee") and "diaper" ("die die. . . peh peh"). I think she has fun doing the diaper sign and will sign and say it even when she's totally dry.
  • She's got a destructive streak. She'll pick up an object and slam it against something else and softly smirk. She also studies things very closely, often in a methodical way, like her engineer father.
  • We may be coming out the other side of the tunnel, sleep-wise, but for the record, I never said this. No sleep jinxes allowed!
  • Her smile has evolved again. When she's very excited or telling a joke, she crinkles up her whole face with a wide smile and usually a hip bounce as well.
  • Speaking of smile, she's got some upper teeth coming in. They look really close to popping through and she's writhing in pain a lot, but I won't be surprised if it's another week or two. This child's teeth don't like her.
  • Everything is for climbing on or crawling to. Bravery increases as she lets go of things while standing up more and more often.
  • Once she discovered she can take bites with her lower teeth, she started liking solid food more. She likes a lot of things, especially apple and her old favorite, rice.
  • Her hair, where I once cut it, is growing out again. And I mean OUT. It's pretty tough to tame. Her shortest little hairs on the back of her head are very curly.
Eight to ten months ago, caring for this baby was like having to do 200 simple arithmetic questions per day. Exhausting, but relatively simple. Now it's like having to do only 10 problems, only now they're Calculus. And I never TOOK Calculus.

To add a dash of another metaphor, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. I used to long for the day of predictable naps, more sleep at night, and increased interaction. Now I kind of miss the days when I didn't have to chase a wild animal around the house and continually baby-proof my life.

I wouldn't trade these last ten months with this kid for anything. She is a complete joy (no matter what I might say in the more challenging moments)!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday

Weekend. Week end. Week beginning. Let us hope this coming week is easier than the last. It shall help immensely to have both parents at home.

After an exhausting and frustrating week followed by an exhausting but fun weekend, I don't have much to say.

It's All Saints Day (Observed). I am remembering the saints who have entered eternity this year, especially Louise B. and my grandmother, Eleanor G.

Jerusalem the golden,
With milk and honey blest--
The promise of salvation,
The place of peace and rest--
We know not, oh, we know not
What joys await us there:
The radiancy of glory,
The bliss beyond compare!


Within those walls of Zion
Sounds forth the joyful song,
As saints join with the angels
And all the martyr throng.
The Prince is ever with them;
The daylight is serene;
The city of the blessed
Shines bright with glorious sheen.


Around the throne of David,
The saints, from care released,
Raise loud their songs of triumph
To celebrate the feast.
They sing to Christ, their leader,
Who conquered in the fight,
Who won for them forever 
Their gleaming robes of white.


O sweet and blessed country,
The home of God's elect!
O sweet and blessed country
That faithful hearts expect!
In mercy, Jesus, bring us
To that eternal rest
With You and God the Father
And Spirit, ever blest.


--Bernard of Cluny, 12th century

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Next Up: Garbage Bags

I was recently blessed with the beginning of a slight glimmer of a tentative hope that I could start to be satisfied with my bodily shape and size. Not ideal by a long shot, but sustainable and improved from previous months.

Nothing can snuff out that tiny flame more effectively than trying on new clothes, specifically pants. Sure, I went to only one store where I've never had much luck in the past, but that didn't keep me from being disappointed. It seems like whenever I find clothes that fit, I get them because they technically fit and not because they look particularly good on me. But that is the exception: I can never, ever find good pants that fit.

And I'm pretty sure I never will. Whining to Erich, I told him I would just start wearing paper bags. He suggested plastic as it would help me sweat more. I concur; garbage bags it is. Slimming black. He also offered heavy-duty shrink wrap. As IF. I would not wear heavy-duty shrink wrap instead of pants. It would be my shapewear, for sure. I have such a helpful husband to help me figure out my wardrobe woes.

But seriously, I need help. I have so very many clothes of the following categories: warm weather, cold weather, in-between. Of each of those, there's pre-pregnancy (skinny and fat, but mostly fat), maternity, and postpartum.

I'm happy to say postpartum clothes are now too big. I'm still wearing the tops, but they're increasingly tent-like. Maternity is RIGHT OUT. I was still wearing some of my dress pants, but the last time I wore them, they looked ridiculous, so all maternity clothes are officially done. (I have a ten-month-old. I guess it's good I'm not wearing maternity clothes anymore, right?)

So that leaves pre-pregnancy. And since I hadn't worn any of those clothes for about a year and a half, I don't even remember what I have. And from what I've found, it's unpredictable as to what will fit. Most of it doesn't since everything just fits differently now.

I guess I need a completely new wardrobe, but I lack two things: time and money. Oh, and ambition. Plus, I have that feeling that once I finally figure out how to dress my body AND I have some decent clothes that fit, I'm going to find myself pregnant again and have to start all over. 

Makes the garbage bag option seem more and more viable. I wish saris and muumuus were more socially acceptable. Never mind; I'd still probably have to shop for them.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Post that is Not a Post

No exciting blog today. The hubs, the BIL, the Baby and I are going to southern Indiana, and coming back the same day.


We're crazy, but we wouldn't miss youngest BIL as the Beast in Beauty and the Beast for anything. Break a leg, Andrew!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

No Whining

Making a point to post every day presents the danger of this blog becoming a place to do nothing but vent and whine. And while I could definitely come up with something to vent and whine about every day, I don't want that for this blog.

Therefore, I will not:

  1. Even bring up the topic of sleep and how no one's getting nearly enough of it around here. 
  2. Remind everyone that I know it will get better, but that doesn't really help me when all I can think to do is literally ram my head into a wall.
  3. Even THINK about complaining that Erich seems to travel all the time and wonder why I ever complained about his absences BL (before Lily).
  4. Mention that the sight of my house, everything out of place and still unfinished from having some work done a few weeks ago, makes me want to cower in a corner and sob a bit.
Whew, we can all be glad I'm not going to whine about any of that.

Instead, let's enjoy some pictures of autumnal beauty from before that cyclone came through and blew all the leaves off the trees:





Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Trick or Treat

Halloween was Sunday dinner at my parents' house. We went for a brief walk and called it trick-or-treating.


Lily was a ladybug.


All three of us.

(I apologize for my appearance. I probably should keep my mouth shut and stop seeing things that no one else does, but I find it hard to believe that I'm that fat. The sweater and pants are both way too big, so let's blame the clothes. I keep meaning to shop for myself, and it keeps not happening.)

Alice! This kid is a champion smiler.


The three cousins. Alayna actually was trick-or-treating.


My cousin, Nathan, wife Anna, and baby Jacob were there! Jacob was the cutest pumpkin ever.



Tuesday, November 2, 2010

No Credit Taken

Erich and I are very much the parents of one child. Fortunately, we know it and are pretty self-conscious about it. As such, we take absolutely no credit for Lily's many wonderful traits. Conveniently, this frees us from taking credit for her many less-than-desirable traits.

Lily is what many would call a "good" baby. She only cries if she is physically hurt, she loves people, she plays with toys the way they're meant to be played with, and she generally has a very even temperament. Our mothers tell us that Erich and I were the same way as babies, so it's not very shocking that we have such an agreeable child.

Tonight, because Erich is out of town, I took my overtired baby to an election party because I needed a break. She was a complete doll. I could tell she was extremely tired: The staring eyes, the yawns, they give her away. Yet people expect a baby to turn fussy and become a terror when she's getting close to bedtime. So when they know she's super tired and THIS is what she's like when she's sleep deficient, people start laying on the compliments. I acknowledge my luck and move on.

Absolutely nothing I do as a mother makes her this way. And you know what? She challenges me. I struggle. The reason she was so overtired in the first place was that she only napped for one hour this morning and utterly refused an afternoon nap. She did act super tired for about three hours, but for whatever reason, she never would sleep. And I confess I lost my temper.

So no matter how "good" my baby is, I don't have the easiest time in the world. And that makes us normal! If I survive till she's two, she'll probably be quite terrible by then. And I will not be surprised. And I will not accept any blame!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hair

Lily has a very interesting relationship with hair. Not the hair on her head, which is an exciting mess in itself, but hair on other people's heads.

She has always loved feeling different textures with her fingers, but I believe she finds hair hair to be the ultimate supreme texture. I know it's a thing with babies that they like silky textures and will stroke them to soothe themselves. Lily? Give her some grit and she's happy as a drug addict getting her fix. You can see it in the way her eyes slacken and her head drops as soon as she has her hair.

Having long hair is key. My hair comes just past my shoulders in the front and whenever I hold my sleepy baby close to nurse or rock her to sleep, her free hand goes straight for my neck area. She gropes around until she can find a handful, a strand or clump to clutch in her fist. With the ends toward her thumb, she presses her thumb against the fistful of hair as if she's clicking a button.

Besides the fact that I'm the only lactating human in the household, this is another reason I'm usually the only one who can help get Lily to sleep. Erich, for all his luxurious curls, does not have grabbable strands of hair which hang around his neck. And if I should happen to have my hair tied back on a given day? Well, that situation needs to be remedied quickly because this strong little kid's grasp can and will start pulling apart my 'do to get the precious combination of silky and gritty textures between her tiny fingertips.

Lily's need for hair is right up there with her need to suck. She will usually only hang onto a pacifier if she's going to sleep or is particularly tired. If we happen to be out when she's getting ready for naptime, she will absent-mindedly grab for hair. When hair is not available, she will press her thumb print rhythmically against the edge of a fingernail. If she doesn't have someone else's fingernail available, she will sweep her thumb against the fingers of the same hand.

And so we now understand one of Lily's idiosyncrasies. Just one of those things that make her unique. But! Would you have guessed that this manner of fidgeting is somehow genetic? Indeed! Her father has the exact same fidgeting mannerisms. He used to absent-mindedly scrape his thumb print against my fingernails until I made him stop because it felt creepy. He gravitates toward gently feeling textures, especially textiles, with his fingertips.

Isn't that weird? I mean, Lily's habit is mildly weird enough without the genetic component making it slightly weirder than mildly weird. That's JMVVHO (just my very, very humble opinion). The end!

ETA: Erich reminds me that his brother, Lily's youngest uncle had a hair fetish for years and years. He mainly liked to stroke it. Erich feels textures. Marry those two traits and you get Liy, feeling the texture of hair. Alles klar? Too bad, I'm really done now.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Reformation Day!

The Reformation IS all about:
  • The Gospel.
  • Namely, the retention of the Gospel message as clearly defined in scripture.
  • The Law also--a proper understanding of Law and Gospel.
  • Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura. As in, we are saved by faith alone through grace alone, and this truth is found in scripture alone. Tradition is good and reliable, too--as long as it does not contradict scripture.


The Reformation is NOT all about:
  • Sticking it to the man because that's what Luther did. (That's not exactly true.)
  • Changing things, rebelling against the status quo. 
  • Beer and brats. (Though we do really like these things.)
  • Halloween. (It's just a coincidence.)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

And the Winner is...

Erich. He got off to a slow start this morning by being absent (I guess he likes to catch up on Saturdays too???), but he made up for it later by:

1. Doing a bunch of laundry (Be still my heart. I mean, I'm actually starting to really like laundry. But there was more to do than I had time to do before it needed to be done. As in, Baby was going to have to go naked or something.)

2. Making brinner. Including fresh green onions from the garden. It was sooooo good, especially since I forgot to eat for about seven hours in there and I got HONGRY.

3. Helping deal with the crazy baby.

Crazy baby. Seriously, what's gotten in to her?

Sadly, I don't ever get much of a break, since she won't ever stop crying till I swoop in for the (always temporary) save. Having a nine-month-old is hard. :(


Anyway, thanks, Mr. Man. You win.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Addenda

1. I left one item off the nickname list: Chica Girl. Also, Erich prefers the spelling "Lilo-zeen," à la Strong Bad.

2. Tonight, we are not Cheap and Boring. We went to a Japanese steakhouse, didn't worry about prices, ate till we were only semi-uncomfortably full, had good beer, sashimi and maki, hibachi, and generally had a very nice time. And Lily even ate salad, stir-fried veggies and rice! Then Erich made a Meijer run and got Lily a Halloween costume on clearance. Yay!

3. I have to step it up for NaBloPoMo, as I'm not going to get this posted before midnight. I'm going to cheat so it looks like I did, though, and I won't feel bad about it NEETHER. (The beer was good, remember.)

4. Sleep is much better during the day now, but Lilla-Miss Teeny Tiny Loysel Toysel Chica Girl takes FOREVER to go to bed for the night. I don't like letting her cry, but I'd read/listen to any wisdom or advice anyone can offer on that one.

5. Just saw a commercial for an SNL special. WHAT IN THE WORLD HAPPENED TO CHERI OTERI'S FACE??????

It was horrifying. ...Happy Halloween?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cheap and Boring

I didn't go to my high school prom. I wasn't asked by anyone (not even an uggo! how pathetic!), and I didn't see the point in spending a ton of money to try to go with a girlfriend or something. I still don't regret this.

***
Erich and I still have done nothing to celebrate our third anniversary, which was over a month ago. We meant to do something special, but we just never got around to it. C'est la vie!

***
It would be really difficult for us to spend any less money on clothing than we already do. Even though almost nothing fits, I would rather keep washing what does fit than go shopping and spend money (two loathsome activities).

***
We have no plans for Halloween. Therefore, and quite naturally, given the above, I couldn't bring myself to buy a costume for Lily. It just seems like so much to spend for a near-non-event. However, cuteness will be missed. It is her first Halloween and all. But it may be moot by now anyway: there's only two more shopping days till the day, and I'm sure there are no good costumes left.

And that is how I succeed so well at being cheap and boring: I just drag my heels, not wanting to spend money, until it's too late to do so anyway.

The end.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

SoBloPo

I'm trying this new thing where I post in my blog every day. See, last year I toyed with the idea of doing NaNoWriMo for my last childless November. Eventually, I just said naahhhh.


I toyed with the idea again this year, extremely briefly. It's out of the question, though. I realized that I have this blog, and I shouldn't even consider trying to write 50,000 words in a month if I can't even take the time to write in my blog every day

So, here I am! NaBloPoMo. I will post every day, no matter how short or inane. You're welcome.

Nicknames

Erich is a champion nicknamer. And by "champion" I mean he comes up with really weird nicknames that stick for whatever reason. We're odd.

For example, the many nicknames of Lily:

Lilz
Lilith
Liliana
Leusel Teusel
Kiddo Kid
Little Tiny
Lili-tiny
Lee-lee

And the latest... Lilosine. (Rhymes with "limosine.")

Odd, I tell you.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Teensy Bit About Politics

There seems to be a certain mindset among a lot of people of all sorts of persuasions that those who don't agree with them must be ignorant, or worse, insane.

For example, I hold certain views and values that, depending on who you ask, could get me labeled racist, homophobic, crazy religious, xenophobic, hippy, self-righteous, negligent, and the list could go on and on. For every single issue I have an opinion about, there is someone on the opposite end of the spectrum who would think I must be deranged. 

Actually, I'm not crazy. And I don't believe I suffer from Obama Underappreciation Syndrome. And I can believe certain things are wrong without actually being afraid of them.

Sometimes I do feel pretty alone in my peer groups for being politically conservative. I have a lot of friends whose opinions differ greatly from mine. I try my best to assume that their beliefs come from true informed conviction (even though I know how much easier it would be to drift with the tides of popular culture), as I hope they do the same for me.

What saddens me the most is how much political discourse actually happens on the Internet and on Facebook and NOT in real life. It feels safer to just put something out there (much like I'm doing here with this blog post) than to actually learn something from someone and have a real discussion. 

Alas, maybe there is just a little bit too much fear for that ever to happen. We have this great freedom of expression and all kinds of pressure to waive it lest we step on toes or, heaven forbid, hurt someone's feelings. It all kind of strips the joy from having that freedom in the first place.  

This is my promise to everyone who reads this: If you ever want to take me to task on something I have said or that you think I believe, please do. We can still be friends and/or family members. I would relish the challenge of defending my views as well as the opportunity to learn something from you. I would just prefer to have such discussions one-on-one rather than in a public forum setting where so much can be misconstrued and so much offense could be given to random scrollers-by.

That concludes my thoughts on politics for the year.*



*Not a guarantee. ;)

Monday, October 25, 2010

I Mean, We Love Sleep!

Two epiphanies today:

1. Erich was on a work call when Lily and I got up. She was being noisy and wiggly, so rather than try to wrestle her, I plopped her in the high chair and gave her some apple while I had my breakfast. She loved it! The girl is ready for more solids. It's time to sit her down and give her food at meal times. (Lately we've been doing that only at dinnertime and only when convenient.) Gotta sow the seeds for future routines!

2. Sleep regressions are good for hitting the reset button on my expectations. Not expecting any naps today (hey, aim low), I was so delighted when she actually went to sleep that I got BUSY and got some things accomplished around the house. Two hours later, I am only just now hearing little wakey sounds.

Hooray.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

We H8 Sleep


This post is dedicated to Google and the Internet in general, which help me know that I'm not alone.

Lily is nine months old. But, like, she's nine months old. She's growing and changing by leaps and bounds every day; sometimes it seems like every hour. And for some reason with all these amazing physical and cognitive changes comes a real strain in her relationship with sleep.

Something similar happened at four months. She went from being happy when held or lying on the floor, just smiling and interacting with whoever was holding her, going to sleep when she was tired... to having her whole world open up. Even though it was a while yet before she started actually moving around, she started really noticing things across the room. She was starting the long process of teething. It seemed like lots of little changes and new things (laughing! grasping toys! etc!) all came together and combined to create a perfect storm of sleep-preventing nerve firings. She went from sleeping through the night to waking up 3-4 times or more. Naps were unpredictable at best. We were exhausted.

Everything settled down within a few weeks and the routine was pretty well set for several months.

Now it's all back. If before Lily's world opened up to the size of an average 12x12 room, it is now much larger still--like maybe the size of our whole sharp furniture-filled basement. She went from either sitting still or rolling to crawling and cruising within a week or so. She went from having fun being startled to actually playing peekaboo. (Granted, she doesn't usually successfully cover her eyes, but you can tell by the glint that she's "hiding".) Her body and mind are having trouble keeping up with all these leaps. I can almost see her mind whirring with new discoveries as she fights every last nap and bedtime. It's not her fault--and my knowing this saves her life sometimes, I think--it's just that her nervous system won't let her relax.

Realizing what she's actually going through does help in many ways, but the net result is the same: we're exhausted, mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Will she ever go back to taking two naps totaling three hours? (I really liked that. I miss that.) Will she ever settle down and be nursed to sleep within 15 minutes again instead of 1.5 hours?

I know she won't be like this when she's 12 or even when she's 3 or 18 months. But...will it get better? Will THIS baby's, this particular, individual, unique baby's routine improve?

If so, for the love of all that's good, please tell me: WHEN???


"But--I'm too cute to be chucked out the window!"

Monday, October 11, 2010

Nine Months!

This is my 200th post! And it's long overdue. I meant to scribble something when Lily turned eight months, but then it never happened. Now she's been NINE months old for three days!

Major milestones lately! That would bear part of the blame for how little sleep we've gotten lately, but alas, our house has been struck with viruses galore.

Lily has her first full-blown cold. She's had the snifflies and the stuffies before and even had an ear infection at 2 months, but that was so long ago it feels like another life. She's been very congested, making it hard for her to eat and she's been quite fussy and not sleeping well AT ALL, to the extent that I feel like the mother of a newborn again. I did not sign up for this. Luckily, she seems to have turned a corner today and is getting back to her normal perky self. There are other culprits for the fuss, though...

Teeth! Tooth #1 finally emerged on Monday, September 27. Tooth #2 followed six days later. The fussiness ramped up a few days before each tooth, but general teething continues as the top ones make their way down and Lily chews on her molars. Honestly, I don't even know when molars show up, but I'm sure it's not soon. She's just THAT kind of teether.

Crawling! I was starting to wonder if she'd just skip it altogether since she was pretty good at rolling and loves standing and walking (supported). But no, in the past week, she's gone from getting to her hands and knees and swimming around to actually crawling across the floor. At the same time, she's developing some pretty good cruising skills, which means...

Bumps, bruises, and tears, oh my! My life is truly forever changed now. Because she can, she WILL crawl under the dining room table, pull her head up, lose her balance, and hit her head against a chair. She can and has gone from sitting on the changing table to (MOTHER OF THE YEAR ALERT) flipping onto the floor. She has bitten her lip with those shiny new teeth.

Lily's personality continues to emerge to the delight of all who meet her. In the matter of a few days, we watched her go from being surprised by "peekaboo"-type games to playing them herself. Separation anxiety is apparent, but I observe it only when Erich leaves the room. I don't think she cares as much when I leave. She's slightly reserved around strangers at first, but warms up quickly and interacts well unless she's particularly tired or hungry.

In the past couple of weeks, she's started pointing at everything, which is a stage I particularly love in babies. She loves to look at her board books, especially Dr. Seuss's ABC book. She points to the pictures, especially round things like donuts and the orange owl's eyes and then hooks her pointing finger to turn the page. She can entertain herself for a long time by sitting next to her basket full of small toys and emptying it little by little. Otherwise, small toys don't hold much interest and she'd rather have anything that's NOT a toy. We're now lucky if we can convince her to play with a battery-less remote when she's aware of the real one.

She says ma-ma-ma and da-da-da fairly reliably in reference to me and Erich, respectively, but she will almost never say them on command. She babbles up a storm, especially in the morning and when she gets up from a nap: "Ba ba BAH. Weh wwwehhhh. Mo muh mah mm muh." She loves listening to her voice in an echo-y room.

I gave Lily her first haircut last week. It was hard to contemplate at first, but I found myself increasingly annoyed at the tuft on the crown of her head. It had turned into a hugely long mess of wispiness while the rest of her hair grew normally, so I snipped it to match the length with no regrets.

She's in mostly 18 month clothing sizes, with some 12s she won't be able to wear much longer. She's definitely becoming longer and thinner, so the 18s may fit for a while. But I'm a bad size forecaster, so we'll just have to wait and see. As the weather gets colder and she gets closer to walking, I need to get comfortable with a relatively new idea: SHOES. Radical!

I could probably go on, but I shall, Sheherezade-like, leave some things unsaid in the hopes that I may return to this blog and complete the thought.

Wait, what was I talking about?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mother of the Year: Sticker

I won't be surprised if this becomes a series. All the reasons I totally deserve the "Mother of the Year" award... NOT.

This past Thursday, Lily enjoyed some avocado. I mean, she really enjoyed it, eating up to a quarter of it, feeding herself with a spoon and all. Yay!

On Friday, Lily and I went to Kohl's to use a coupon. I got a few tops for myself and then went to the baby department to get some new sleepers. Our little porker is busting through her 12-month size sleepers already! I also thought it would be good to stock up on socks before the weather turns cold. I selected a package and handed it to my curious little baby in the stroller. No harm, right?

Five or ten minutes later, she starts coughing. It sounded like she just swallowed her drool wrong. But she gasped a few times, so I checked her mouth. Nothing. I picked her up so she could recover and she quickly returned to normal. The situation was slightly alarming for about 15 seconds, but I didn't think a whole lot of it after it passed.

Sunday night, she had a poop that made me determined that we need a diaper sprayer. Evidence of avocado is all I will say.

Monday, Erich left town for one night. Lily caught up on sleep from a weird weekend, which was great, but she was in worse and worse moods when she was awake. I started wracking my brains trying to figure out what I ate that was so offensive because it really seemed like she had the "dairy crazies." Sure, I had a little bit here and there, but I thought it was acceptable levels. She was way too crazy for acceptable levels of dairy.

Yesterday, I gave her some sweet potato, but she wasn't at all interested in eating. It was our first real miss in the solid foods department. I thought it was weird, but she wasn't sleeping well at all and so that could have been the culprit. Erich came home and validated me: the baby was crazy, and gassy.

This morning, another poop. Horror. I wiped with another diaper and took them to the toilet to swish, whereupon I discovered something unmistakably inorganic. I unfurled the little circle and could just make out some words:

cushion
foot

.

..

...


Oh dear. Shame. Head is hanging. Mother of the Year. Those socks, five days ago, had a sticker on them. A removable, eatable sticker. That's what she gagged on. That's what gave her the "dairy crazies." And I was the one who handed it to her.

In conclusion, I'm going to buy a diaper sprayer today.

Oh, and there was a mouse in our kitchen. But that's another story!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lesson Learned, or Capsaicin is Evil

I really should have known. But I really did not expect the horror!

Rewind: we have a vegetable garden. Erich has really done a fantastic job with it. He grows several types of peppers, including jalapenos. Erich's dad, a chile aficionado, and his brother were visiting last night en route to moving bro into the dorm for his second year of college.

Erich was making homemade pizza for dinner. He also had a hankering for fresh salsa, so I volunteered to chop and assemble said salsa. I particularly enjoy dicing onions. I started with those, then moved on to the six fresh jalapenos the recipe called for. Erich offered me gloves, but I declined as I thought I would just get it done quickly, wash my hands, and that would be that. I halved them, seeded them and chopped them up. I used the same knife and cutting board and chopped up tomatoes and other ingredients and mixed it all together.

I started to feel a tingle under my ring. I felt a little burning here and there on my knuckles. I used soap and water to wash off the chile juices. Rinse and repeat.... "Wow, my hands are like, on fire," I said, extremely wittily and eloquently. The men of the house all agreed that was weird. Erich asked FIL what he does to get the capsaicin off his hands. Soap and water was the prescribed remedy. "Okay, I'll try that...for the fifth time!" I started to whimper.

And I could no longer use warm water. The burning started to get pretty intense, spreading to all ten fingers, especially concentrated on my knuckles and nail beds. This was pain. Then I couldn't carry anything moderately heavy because the pressure intensified the burning. It truly felt like I had started up a gas burner on the stove and lightly seared my fingers.

Well, I was really feeling bad for myself. I hadn't held Lily in well over an hour and I knew she was going to need to eat eventually, but I was afraid to touch anything. So I did what any Millenial would do in this situation: I asked Dr. Google for help. I was not alone among internet users who had carelessly burned their fingers slicing hot peppers without gloves. What to do, though?

I found a remedy: make a solution, one part bleach, five parts water. Occasionally dip fingers in the solution, which will neutralize the non-water-soluble capsaicin into a salt, which is water-soluble. It didn't seem to help at first, so I poured a bowl of milk to soak my hands. That felt good, I think mainly due to the cool temperature. After a while, I think the bleach solution did work because I could start to function without terrible pain as long as I wasn't gripping anything too tightly.

After testing my still-burning hands on Erich's skin (and determining that my burning was not contagious), I collected my baby, who was ready for bed. I was relieved that my hands weren't going to burn her skin. The worst part of this ordeal was being barred from even holding her until we knew I wouldn't hurt her. (And I won't even get into the issue of an unexpected poop, more solid than it used to be, the pain and yuck-factor in swishing it in the toilet and I'm definitely going to get one of those diaper sprayers... oh, looks like I got into it, sorry.)

The rest of the evening, I was distracted from my pain. As long as my fingers still smelled like the lobby of a hotel with a pool, I could function. They were STILL throbbing when I went to sleep as the bleach faded. I woke up and they seemed okay, except when any significant pressure was placed on them. After my warm shower today, it was as though they were freshly burned for at least half an hour. Even now, about 30 hours later, a slight tingle remains.

I will never, ever, ever even think about handling any combination of knife and hot pepper without gloves on ever again. EVER.

Hungry

When Lily's hungry, she's a little bit like Mr. Peepers in "Attack Mode."

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Word About Dairy

I believe I've mentioned before that I'm avoiding dairy as a rule. The reasons are two-fold. 1. It bothers Lily via breastmilk. 2. It bothers me.

Sometimes this is hard for people to understand. What, Lily can't have milk? But her entire diet consists of... milk! How silly. Well, it's actually not that silly.

So here's a handy FAQ!

Q: Is Lily lactose intolerant?

A: No. It is extremely rare for a baby to be lactose intolerant, and it may even be impossible. My human milk is full of lactose and she's fine with it. So, again, the issue here is not with lactose.

Q: Is Lily allergic to dairy?

A: No. A true allergy to dairy protein is rare and would result in severe reactions to even a little bit of dairy in my diet. Her reactions are not nearly severe enough to make me suspect an allergy. Her problem seems to be a sensitivity, or intolerance.

Q: Then how do you know she has a problem?

A. The answer to this question derives from a bit of intuition and some simple non-scientific experiments. And, be forewarned, the following paragraphs will talk quite a bit about baby poop.

When Lily was super tiny, she pooped frequently like all newborns do. I started noticing more and more that her poop, instead of being nice and mustard-yellow and seedy, was increasingly green-colored, mucus-y, and watery. And as she got to the age when most babies start consolidating their poops, she continued to poop quite frequently (12x a day). The green mucus concerned me. The lactation consultant and the doctor told me to keep an eye on it but weren't too concerned since she was definitely healthy and gaining weight appropriately. It didn't get worse, but it also did not improve. She also had eczema, skin rashes--both of which she would scratch until she bled--and itchy nose and congestion. Her worst poop days were accompanied by extra fussiness and gas. I must note that Lily is a very easy baby. She has a very even temperament and rarely cries. So her "extra fussiness" probably served to put her in the category of an average baby. But I know my baby, and I knew that she was uncomfortable.

I knew also, from my reading, that it's common for little breastfed babies to be sensitive to certain foods in the mother's diet. Gas-causing vegetables, eggs, meat, and dairy are a few common ones. Usually they outgrow these things. I was very loath to cut anything out of my diet; I simply didn't want to deprive myself of whatever I felt like eating, and I love my ice cream and mac 'n' cheese. But I was also tired of being the "poop-nazi," carefully inspecting every diaper, waiting to see if she outgrew her apparent sensitivity with no action on my part. On a few separate occasions, I cut back on dairy and noticed some improvement. But then we'd have pizza for dinner or I'd have a little of this, a little of that and then we were back to mucus poops and fussiness. Finally, around 3.5months, I decided enough was enough: NO MORE DAIRY.

Even so, I eliminated only obvious dairy. I would still have baked goods, things fried in butter, etc. Again, Lily was not in poor health, I just knew she wasn't feeling well. Within a week of dairy elimination, the poop problems, gas and fussiness, and head-scratching were much improved. I seemed to have my answer. Lily seemed to be much happier for much more of the day, and I was very happy as well.

Q: Would it help if you switched to baby formula?

A. Seeing as formula is made from cow's milk...no. Furthermore, many babies who are sensitive to dairy are also sensitive to soy (my non-scientific experimentation bears this out). That would have me paying top-dollar for nasty hypoallergenic formula. It's far less inconvenient for me to simply alter my diet and for Lily and me to keep receiving all the other benefits of breastfeeding. And what a travesty it would be to have switched to formula and gone through even more problems and detective work without having the option to go back to breastfeeding. For, when it comes to breastmilk, if you don't use it, you lose it.

Q: So, will she outgrow this?

A: All signs point to yes. When I first eliminated dairy, even slight deviations from the rule seemed to make her symptoms come roaring back. Now, if I happen to have something with a little cheese or one spoonful of ice cream, she seems unaffected. However, if I were to treat myself to a full serving of dairy, I believe we would pay for it.

Some of her issues remain. She still scratches her forehead, but we do a better job of keeping her tiny nails trimmed, so she no longer breaks the skin. She still gets nasal congestion and rubs her nose a lot. She still gets mucus in her diaper from time to time, but she no longer gets diarrhea. It's possible that she's sensitive to other foods (crazy fussiness this morning has me suspecting beef), but she's healthy and happy, and I know when to stop obsessing. Some of those closest to me might have trouble believing that, but I promise it's true! :)

Q: Isn't this so annoying for you? You love dairy! I couldn't live without dairy!

A: At first, it was a bit inconvenient. But I had long suspected a dairy intolerance of my own. Sure enough, once it was all out of my system, I truly did not miss it. I used to crave cheese like crazy, and now I don't crave it at all. When I'm with family and everyone else is having ice cream for dessert, I'm not the least bit jealous. I'm far less prone to bloating and digestive discomfort. I feel happier in general. I do not miss dairy. I plan on continuing to avoid it as a rule, even when Lily is weaned and enjoying cow's milk and cheese.

Food intolerances are more common than most people think, and this whole process has made me more aware of those foods that seem to trigger bad reactions in me. When certain foods are simply not an option, it makes me work harder to eat healthfully. I feel like my entire day-to-day life has improved. In short, I do not feel as though I have been sentenced to a sad, dairy-free existence. I am happy!

In conclusion...

Lily is a sensitive baby. Certain foods irritate her. She has very sensitive skin. Most lotions, body wash and detergents give her rashes. And now I'm finding with solid foods, very rarely does she have no reaction. Banana gives her a rash. Toast made her gassy. Potato (or maybe the little bit of onion or butter it was cooked with) gives her a rash. I've been calling myself lazy because I don't give her much solid food, but these sensitivities are the reason why I'm a little skittish. So, at seven months of age, she continues to be 99% breastfed. She doesn't need cereal or purees for nutrition and they don't serve any function in teaching her how to eat, so I'm going to keep giving her what's best and let everything else happen organically.



Kellymom.com is a well-respected source for breastfeeding information. A got a lot of my facts from here.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Seven Months

Lily's been sitting up for a while, but lately she's gotten to be quite the pro! With the Boppy positioned around her, she doesn't tumble to the ground so easily.

I have to share this video from today. She was really loving the camera!


And, by the way, Miss Lily turned seven months yesterday! That made me realize that this kid is closer to one year than birth. And the shades of toddlerhood are just starting to reveal themselves. With the smiles and interaction come. . .opinions. Not always a bad thing, but a small child does not know how to manage her opinions, so I will have to do a lot of that for her. No, this paper napkin is not appropriate to play with. Yes, I know you want that napkin, but you can have this toy. Oh, you still want that napkin even though you can't see it anymore. WHINING WILL NOT BE TOLERATED, YOUNG LADY. Ahem.

But on the more delightful side of Lily's opinions, she is showing herself to be quite the daddy's girl. Not only is my former mini-me looking more like Erich, she also looks for him, smiles at his presence, giggles with him and generally seems to prefer when he's around. This makes his short trips out of town a bit more challenging, but we shall manage.

What else? She's saying "ma-ma-ma" but I'm not quite sure if it means anything yet. Sometimes she babbles up a storm. On the solid food front, after being lazy and out of our routine for a few weeks, I've resumed high chair time. Today she attacked some sweet potato, and I think she may have swallowed up to half of what she played with! [Or, for the grammar nazis, "up to half of that with which she played."] Her very functional gag reflex (gag, cough, smile, dribble, smile) rejected the rest.

And that's all I've got for now.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Solid Foods

Six months today! One big six-month milestone is the introduction of solid foods. Lily's been watching us eat pretty closely for several weeks. She has also started making chewing motions when we eat and reaching for our food. AND she's really good at grasping objects and bringing them to her mouth. All these are good signs that she's ready to start the process of eating like a big girl. And even though she's only my first baby, I can't say I'm thrilled with how quickly this is all happening. It feels like the beginning of the end of her babyhood (as well as, let's face it, glorious lactational amenorrhea).

We've decided that baby-led weaning is the way to go. Breastfeeding is so ridiculously foolproof--nature's orginal supply-and-demand system--that I don't want to start really complicating my life with cereals and purees that Lily doesn't actually need for nutrition. Transitioning to solids right now is about her learning how to feed herself, not about getting more food stuffed in her face.

Monday night we sat her in the high chair with food for the first time. We happened to be eating some potatoes, so I put a few specks on her tray.



I quickly realized (duh) that said specks were a little too tiny for her to grasp at this stage in her fine motor development.


So she was more interested in her surroundings, including this tasty tray.

The next day, she was getting bored and squirmy, so we tried some toast. That was really fun to play with!

video

And once I demonstrated to her that it was for eating, she started putting it in her mouth. At least a few crumbs got swallowed.

video


Finally, yesterday we had some cauliflower and broccoli, of which I gave her a piece of each. Another slice of toast rounded out her collection of high chair tray toys:

"Yay, toys!"

"Still not sure this is really food. But it is a crumbly toy."

"Must study. Must concentrate."
(This broccoli was actually a little too al dente for actual baby consumption. Next time will be better!)

"Crumbs. I gots 'em."

We didn't get around to any high chair time today. But I did pick up more baby-friendly foods like sweet potatoes, bananas, avocados and other fruits at the store. Can't wait for more sessions of food discovery!