Thursday, December 10, 2009

Etsy Share: Wooden Toy Boat

I think these hand-made wooden toy boats sold at the Friendly Fairies Etsy store are so pretty. Unlike the stiff plastic versions usually found in toy shops, these boats have such a strong tactile sensuality to them. Don't you just want to run your fingers along the wood? I especially love the wood-burned details, and it's great to know all the boats are "painted with non toxic paint and triple sealed with a non toxic hard coating."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

One Red Dot

R just woke up from nap but want to post this QUICK! Was at the book store with her yesterday and holy cow, pop-up books: not how I remember them. Saw a particularly incredible series of books by David A. Carter, but I thought the best of the lot was the first volume, One Red Dot.

I admit this is not the best book for my baby, who eats magazines for breakfast--literally, of course--but it is so much fun, I'm considering buying it anyway and letting her enjoy it...from a distance.

Good snack for breastfeeding moms

I've kind of joked about this before, but it IS really hard to be constantly hungry because you're breastfeeding or simply don't have the time (or aren't allowed--if you have one of those babies, you know what I mean) to eat, while trying to take care of a baby/toddler. Today, we hadn't even reached the time for R's first nap and I was already wiped out. And literally dizzy from hunger. So I strapped her on my back and made pancakes. I know everyone has his or her own favorite recipe, but I've tried LOTS of different ones and this recipe from the Joy of Baking website just seems fail-proof every time and produces my ideal pancake: light texture (not gummy or chewy), just a hint of a crisp caramelized exterior, and no bitter taste. The last point is, I think, due to the fact that the batter calls for melted butter (not oil, which to me tastes a bit bitter) and baking powder, rather than baking soda (which, again, bitter).

But actually the point of this post was to talk about a great quick-grab snack for lactating moms: Yo Baby (Stonyfield Farm brand). Yep, the yogurt for babies. To be honest, I don't want R eating this stuff because I'm trying to keep her sugar intake low for as long as I can control her--mwa ha. So, R gets plain yogurt. I used to eat plain, too, because I loathe the sugary flavored adult yogurts out there. But you do need to mix plain with some fruit to cut the sourness--and these days, I just don't have the time for that (all that fruit washing and fruit slicing and fruit sprinkling). So on a hunch, I decided to try Yo Baby...and it's good. It still has 12 grams of sugar per serving, but that's about half the amount of the adult versions, and it definitely tastes better because of this. Also, it's full fat, which helps satisfy my hunger and is what I need right now, with my body still churning out the breastmilk. Lastly, it's the perfect size for a quick snack.

That's my recommendation for the day.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I was definitely on a roll, in terms of blogging recently, but the previous post might explain the week of silence. Sigh. Little R has not been a happy camper, and it doesn't look to be a fleeting phase or a passing illness (am I terrible mom for almost hoping she'd get sick and then turn back into a happy baby again?). She's also suddenly resisting naps and waking up at all hours of the night.

What I've read about one year olds is that it's pretty common for them to get separation anxiety about now and--here's the best part--it's not unheard of for this phase to last until eighteen months. Hmmm. More than half a year of this clinging and wailing and tantrum-throwing. Interesting.

It seems the best way to deal with separation anxiety is to give the baby as much reassurance as possible. Lots of holding and cuddling and eye contact. I think if you try to force a baby to confront his or her fear of being alone, you're only going to end up with a little octopus suction-sealed to your chest whenever the two of you are together. After all, a one year old really is still very much a baby and *shouldn't* be independent yet.

Except that my arm sometimes feels like it's about to fall off because she wants me to hold her in my arms, not my Beco baby carrier. And there are certain things that you just cannot do--or, I at least am too stupid to do--one-armed.

And when, inevitably, I have to set the baby down--to change her diaper or clothes, for example--there's so much yelling and screaming, I'm really terrified my neighbor is going to call Child Services on me.

This makes for a long, tiring day. I was just emailing a friend that I've stumbled upon a new and very effective weight-loss strategy: the too-tired-to-eat diet. I've actually gone to bed two nights in a row now with my empty stomach protesting most vehemently and yet with no trouble falling asleep.

So what this meandering post is is an advanced apology if things suddenly go very silent on this blog. Check back in eight months. Oh god.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dear R,

You're a very sweet baby. Just not today. Or yesterday. Or this whole week. Wow, have you got some bee up your bonnet lately. And there's absolutely no way to know for sure what's causing all this infant ire.

Most likely, it's: teething (will this particular insanity never end?), looming illness, or maybe a new developmental milestone (but why do you need to get mad about this, I ask you?). You have had a lot of firsts, this week. You figured out how to wave bye-bye. Your technique is charming, but the application is a little iffy. Often your timing will be off (you'll be waving even though nobody's leaving or after dad's shut the door and gone off to work) or you wave at people who are completely unaware of your attention (like passersby on the sidewalk below). And today, you made an attempt at clapping--for yourself, apparently, after you put a toy block into a bowl (another first). I did make a pretty big deal out of it. I think what got me so excited was that I first asked you to try doing it and then you did, you understood me.

Anyhow, it's been a long week, for both of us. I actually thought today, "Dear god, it's only Thursday?" and to accurately capture the voice in my head, you'd have to inject a boatload of shrill panic and despair into it. That's right, sweetie, sometimes you do make mom tired. There was a lot of not-sleeping today, starting very early in the morning, combined with plenty of whining and collapsing and crying and trying to climb up mom's neck and stiff flopping like a fish dragged out of the water.

I really hope you feel better tomorrow, baby. It's your birthday, after all.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lapsaky Cotton-Fleece Romper

The cotton-fleece romper that I recently bought online arrived today. Not hating it, not thrilled.

The good: The inside of the romper is really soft--just like polyester fleece. I went with the "natural" color (no dyes or bleaching), which in the photo on the website looks stark white, but in reality is a nice cream.

The bad: The website describes this as a winter romper, but even though it's not *that* cold where we live, this romper is not thick enough to be worn on its own. For people in truly cold climates, this might not be the best romper for your babies--unless you're the type of people who, say, like to frolic in semi-frozen bodies of water or have your babies nap outdoors in the winter, and probably think I'm a total wimp for classifying my current location as anything less than balmy. Nevertheless, in my wimpy opinion, I'd say the romper would be more suitable for fall/spring. So my first problem with the romper is: What's the point of the snuggly cotton fleece if you have to wear layers underneath it and thus not get to enjoy the snuggliness? Yes, that's right, I am peeved on my baby daughter's behalf.

Then here comes problem number two. There is a zipper that goes all the way from the neck down to the left ankle cuff. Since I've been known to shriek uncreative curses at snap buttons in my head--usually while trying to do up about a trillion snap buttons around a flailing, hysterical baby--you would think I'd be appreciative of this zip. Except that there's this lining along the zipper track on the inside that is stiff and scratchy. Again with the scratchy. Not comfy. Not snuggly, damn it.

I could stop fussing and just leave my baby to suffer with an itchy left leg as she sleeps, but these little things REALLY bug me. I know, it's her leg, not mine. But it STILL BUGS ME.

So here we are, with a nice, cuddly-soft cotton-fleece romper but it looks like R will always have to wear an extra inner layer. Maybe that scratchy wool underwear I recently bought her. Argh.

Ho-hum: Nuno Organic Wool Undies

The wool onesie and long johns I'd ordered from Nuno Organic arrived yesterday and I was disappointed that the material was a bit scratchy. I rather thought itchy wool--especially in products meant for babies--was a thing of the past.

I do have somewhat sensitive skin, but I imagine it can't be more so than a one-year-old baby's. Now I'm not sure I want poor R wrapped in this stuff while sleeping. I did write to Nuno Organic to ask if there is a way to soften the wool and am awaiting a reply. There were suggestions online to use hair conditioner, but I don't feel good about trying that when there's so much chemical crap in conditioner--says the girl who uses said crap on her own hair almost every night.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Searching for Snuggly

Is it just me or do the seasons lately seem to change in the blink of an eye, rather than a gentle transitioning? One day, the sun will be lighting up the green foliage outside my window; the next, like an overnight blizzard, I'll wake up to find everything changed, the trees and ground suddenly cloaked in yellow and pumpkin-orange leaves. And just as suddenly, the temperature nose-dives. This is the worst part. Now more than ever, because like most parents, I think, I'm always stressing about whether the baby is too warm or cold during the long nights.

It's confusing to me because they tell you (don't ask me who "they" are) that baby should always wear one extra layer of clothes than what you've got on. But then I'm always seeing little kids scampering about outdoors in nothing more than a t-shirt and jeans, while I'm bundled up to my nose in my thickest woolens. Kids just seem more warm-blooded than adults, but maybe that doesn't apply to babies, especially sleeping ones?

Anyhow, R has a sleep bag made of wool, which supposedly is good at regulating body temperature. But I'm still obsessing about how to dress her underneath that. I don't know why but in the US, there only seem to be two choices for baby pajamas sold in the mainstream stores: thin cotton or thick polyester fleece. I don't want R in synthetics during the night, and layering on the cotton seems extremely stiff and confining, especially when R likes to roll about A LOT in her sleep.

The past few nights, R has been waking up crying, and when I go to her, her hands and arms are icy. So I broke down and splurged on some versatile woolen underwear from Nuno Organic but couldn't bring myself to spend $60 to $90(!) on the thicker one-piece PJs that she'll surely outgrow before next year.

Yesterday night was FREEZING though and I just knew the wool stuff I'd ordered wouldn't be enough. I briefly considered the Snug Organics cotton sherpa sleeper (warning: maddeningly slow-loading website), which sounds pretty snuggly. But at $48, this was way too pricey. After a lot of searching for warmer baby sleepwear made from natural fibers but that wasn't crazily expensive, I settled on an organic cotton-fleece romper ($35) made by Lapsaky. Will report back when I get it and test it out on R.

Update: my reviews for the wool thermal underwear from Nuno Organic and the Lapsaky cotton-fleece romper.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Things I Do, Now (i.e., I'd never do this stuff pre-baby, seriously!)

Since I've had R, I find myself doing things that surprise me, sadden me (as in, pathetic-sad), and even embarrass me. Like:

1. I get into the driver's seat of the car, look over, and find in the cup holder a stale cube of bread (in plastic wrap, I assure you), a leftover bribe for getting R into the car seat without too much back-arching and screeching. I snatch it up, thinking "Jackpot," and devour it, utterly indifferent to the number of days it's been sitting there.

2. I never am able to finish my morning cup of coffee uninterrupted, so whenever I return to it, it's cold. If I made myself a fresh cup each time this happened, I'd drink us right into the poorhouse. So throughout the day, I just keep topping up my coffee with hot water, whenever I have the chance, until by the end of the day, I'm drinking a very translucent brown water for reasons I don't even understand.

3. (a) I often find myself at home, feeling weak with hunger, but unable to do anything about it because the baby's sleeping and there's nothing in the house to eat. I'll occasionally stagger into the kitchen, open all the cupboards, stare into the fridge, confirm there's nothing to eat, and drink some more pale-brown water (see 2 above).

(b) I often find myself out of the house, rushing somewhere, feeling weak with hunger but unable to do anything about it because the baby's awake, but only for the next two hours, and there's just not enough time. There's never enough time.

(c) Alright, sometimes there is food to be had. But there's only so much peanut butter, cheese, and bread a person can eat. Why peanut butter, cheese, and bread? Because these are the things that can be taken out and gulped down in approximately 30 seconds or less. Mind you, gulping down peanut butter or cheese is extremely hazardous, and should never be done unless you have a baby standing at your feet, yanking at your pant leg and wailing. In which case, you'll put your life on the line, day after day. Also, a tip to new mothers: Eat standing. Don't waste those precious seconds on stupid things like carrying the food somewhere, pulling out a chair, sitting down--all that la-di-dah nonsense.

4. I come up with asinine fantasies, such as procuring skunk spray (I've never Googled it, but is there any doubt that somebody sells it online?) and leaking it down into my neighbor's balcony, which is right below our apartment and where she emerges every freakin' hour, from 5am in the morning until 1am at night (okay, there is a short reprieve some time in the middle of the day), to smoke cigarettes. The smoke rises up and for some reason gets sucked into our apartment, if our windows are open. Sometimes it's just too hot and stuffy to keep the windows closed all the time, though, and so I'll open them, the fumes inevitably come rushing in, and when I imagine R inhaling this second-hand smoke, that's when the juvenile ideas start churning.

5. The other day, I microwaved (get your pens out, everyone, this is an original recipe, from me to you) some leftover white rice, then stirred in a handful of frozen peas (thawed with hot water) and half a can of tuna. Ambrosia from the gods--is what you'd think too, after being on a steady diet of cheese, peanut butter, and bread for the past year. I might have even moaned a little, while eating this feast. Oh my god, my stomach just growled in recollection. I need to stop blogging and find something real to eat.

Etsy Share: Mamachee Bird Rattle (on sale, too)

There is so much amazing baby stuff to be found on Etsy, but like any good thing on the Internet, there's also a surfeit of it. I tend to get overwhelmed when I have too many choices, and even found my Etsy newsletters piling up in my mailbox unread. But every so often, I'll scan through and be sucked in anew by some adorable handmade creation. I'll try to share, when I can.

My first Etsy Share is this squelchably adorable bird rattle by Mamachee. I'm being a bit of a mom by adding this, but if you order one, you might want to request that those bead eyes be replaced with simple hand-knitted ones, so that they don't come off and get swallowed accidentally by baby. Also, you can't tell by the pictures, but these rattles are a pretty nice size--not too tiny--that's perfect for baby to hug. There are more pictures on the Mamachee shop pages.

According to the Etsy newsletter, from 13 to 15 November, there will be a 10-percent to 20-percent discount on these rattles--although I couldn't find any info on that on Mamachee's homepage.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Dear R,

You're 11 months old and you have strong opinions about everything.

Right now, you love:
-being held by your dad
-your stupid 100% polyester lovey, which was originally a cheap wash cloth that someone gave us and that I tried to replace with several organic lookalikes, which have all repeatedly been tossed aside
-opening and closing doors
-turning pages of books and magazines (but not actually looking at the pages or being read to)

You hate:
-being strapped down (i.e., carseat, stroller, high chair, supermarket cart, my Beco Butterfly carrier--so are we ever going to be able to go anywhere ever again? And do I have to let you eat while moving about freely, dragging fistfuls of food across the floor, leaving a slimy trail behind you like a snail?)
-lying on your back
-socks, shoes, and hats--actually anything even remotely near your head (your latest enemy is the sun shade attached to the carseat)
-getting ready for bed (but weirdly, you're okay with the actual going-to-bed part)

Recently, you were scared by:
-a helium balloon
-water spraying against the shower curtain
-being at Gymboree (I think I'm going to cancel our membership)
-three huge nurses surrounding you to collect a urine sample with a catheter because you had a fever for three days without any other symptoms and the doctor wanted to make sure it wasn't a UTI (turned out to be roseola). And I totally don't blame you for freaking out during this whole ordeal; poor baby, mom was having a very hard time keeping it together herself.

Monday, November 9, 2009

She Sleeps?

So there's been incredibly loud hammering, scraping, and rattling going on in the upstairs apartment for the past three hours now, and it's all coming through my ceiling nice and clear. It started about an hour before R's naptime, and I found myself praying the noise-makers would be prompt about pausing for lunch. But, no, not these oh-so-diligent workers. I actually started Googling white-noise makers and was about to purchase the Marpac SleepMate 980A Electro-Mechanical Sound Conditioner on Amazon, when I decided to peek in on R first, certain she'd be rolling around in her crib with her hands clamped over her little ears. But no, actually, she was sleeping the sleep of the dead. Whah?

I don't get it. This is the baby that bolts upright if I even dare breathe wrong while in the room next door, while she's asleep. This is the baby who didn't doze for more than 30 minutes, at 10-minute intervals, during a recent 16-hour international flight, because every little thing woke her up.

Now she sleeps through construction work? And continues to sleep, I might add, longer than she has in...months. I don't know what this means. Oh my god, maybe I better go check to see if she's breathing.

Does ANYONE Like Daylight Savings?

Obviously the person who came up with the idea was one of those early birds who doesn't have any small children in the house and probably goes to bed at 8am each night. Daylight savings has doomed me to having to wake up an hour earlier every day since R's body doesn't know any different. Just what all parents with babies need: one extra hour less sleep each morning. Screw you, Daylight Savings person.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Maybe Not Helpful Tip

In a pinch, breast milk works great--like an all-natural hair gel--to keep baby's hair out of her eyes. Really!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Your First Birthday

Dear R,

Your first birthday is coming up this month. I hate to admit this, but I thought about planning a party for you just because everyone else was doing it for their baby. Yep, I almost caved in to mommy-group pressure. But I didn't need to think about it too long. I'd barely begun agonizing over matching balloon and cupcake frosting colors, when I realized I couldn't do that to you. You would hate a birthday party, especially your own. Heck, while the other babies at Gymboree are either throwing themselves into each new activity or just hanging out with mom on the mats, you're the one repeatedly making her way to my shoes at the entrance, like, "Let's get the heck out of here, already."

Everyone says you're the picture of your dad, but at heart, you're more like me. You don't like too many people all at once. You're not so good with new places. And you're more often an observer, rarely a participant. So I can pretty much anticipate your reaction to a room full of noisy people with lots of attention thrown your way.

They say the first birthday celebration is usually for the parents, but I'd rather the day be for you. So we'll probably keep it low-key, just our little family: you, me, and dad. Maybe we can go to the zoo and actually see all those animals you've been avidly examining in your board books. You can still have a birthday cake, though. Let me take another stab at my whole-wheat, sugarless banana-almond cake recipe. Which may not sound very good to the you reading this now, but trust me on this: Baby R digs mom's cake.

It keeps bowling me over, the tide of feeling that accompanies my thoughts of this upcoming milestone. I actually get teary, and I'm about the least sentimental person I know (your dad gets not-so-secretly miffed every time I forget our wedding anniversary). At first I chalked it up to me being hormonal, or something, but after talking with other people, I've learned that baby's first birthday is incredibly emotional and bittersweet for most parents. I don't feel sad that you're growing up, though--that isn't it. I don't quite know yet what I'm feeling.

I thought it would be nice to take a few pictures, though--an informal family portrait. We have possibly zero photos of the three of us together. So someone else would have to take the pictures. But I don't want one of those studio ones, with the weird cloudy background, matching snowflake sweaters, and poses that make you think of high school yearbooks.

I came across the Blue Lily blog by a husband and wife photographer team and was amazed by some of their pictures:

I like how natural and at ease everyone is. No one looks posed and there aren't any stiff studio smiles.

I wish we could have a gorgeous family picture like that, in memory of your first year...but most likely, we'll be in a public place, and we'll ask some passerby, "Excuse me, would you mind taking our picture?" And your dad will be smiling, you'll probably look serious because there are strangers everywhere, and I'll have that perpetually irritated look I always seem to have in photos. But we'll all be there, and one of us will be holding you close, and that's really all that matters, right?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wanting Useless Things (Though Not for Myself)

I don't know if many other moms and dads have suffered from a similar insanity, but considering I've never been a shopaholic, it's stunning just how badly *I* want these Baby Bloch ballerina slippers--which cost about $40, by the way--for my baby. Who can't even walk yet. And won't tolerate anything on her feet. It's just stupid, I know it. But look:

Right? All the little details--the little elastic bow at the front and all that. Exactly like real ballet slippers...but mini! I can see how these in toddler sizes wouldn't have the same suck-you-inability. Even before I had R--and wasn't crazy about babies--I always thought baby shoes were cute. But these literally make my insides squelch. I can hear an actual squelching sound.

The strange thing is that Baby Bloch doesn't seem very popular in the US. What little stock I could find--yeah, I searched, just out of curiosity, of course--was not very nice. They seem much more popular in the UK and Australia. No idea why. Just like golden syrup and hot custard sauce, I guess there are some great things that may never catch on over here.

Or maybe it's the first picture that greets you on the Baby Bloch website. I mean, I can see how the impression they were going for was adorable. But does anyone else see an unfortunate resemblance between the two bald and bashful souls below (okay, baby has a bit more hair than the action movie guy)?

Do New Stuff

Dear R,

There have been several exciting developments in your life lately.

The first is that you now have a top front tooth to accompany your two bottom teeth--all the better to bite you with, my pretty. That's right, clueless mom had to be nipped in the nipple about eight times before the light bulb came on. You're still accidentally biting me here and there, and frankly, it's painful and terrifying, now that there are sharp edges closing in on mom's tender flesh from two sides. Thankfully, you're not doing it on purpose...yet.

The other milestone is that you *definitely* spoke today. I mean, you've been saying things that sound like words for a long time, but admittedly, it all kind of sounds the same and sometimes it's hard to tell whether you really know what you're saying--like how you say "mama" when you're hungry or tired. But today, you extended a credit card in my direction, so I took it, then gave it back to you, saying, "Dozo." You then held the card out to me again and, with your little bird mouth pursed, cried, "Duzu!" We passed the card between us many times, and every time you gave the card back to me, you would say "dozo," or "duzu," rather. Maybe it's because I'm your mom, but I thought this was so cute. I wanted to share the moment with your grandparents in Japan--they would have been thrilled--so I tried to film you doing this, but you promptly tossed the card aside and lunged for the camera. I guess this is something that will be recorded only in my memory. And on this blog.

One other thing is you've started giving me goodnight kisses. Oh, sure, sometimes you just want to gnaw on mom's face with your brand-new, razor-sharp teeth. But last night and tonight, after our last nursing session before bed, you stood in my lap, put your hands on my shoulders, and repeatedly pressed your mouth to my face, very gently. You then kind of nuzzled my cheek and rested quietly against me, which was a surprise. You've never been the cuddly type. In fact, you haven't fallen asleep in my arms since you were a newborn, always preferring to be set down in your crib when you're getting ready to sleep. It was particularly sweet, considering in contrast the many harrowing bedtimes we've gone through before this.

I love you, little bird.

The Truth About Mom

Dear R,

Your dad's away on a business trip right now, I just ate an egg sandwich for dinner, there are books and blocks strewn all over the floor...and I'm in heaven. I don't know how I'll be as you get a bit older and I have to start setting a good example, but for now, your mom is a genuine slob.

It distresses your father to come home to a messy house, so, after you're in your crib for the night, I usually try to undo the wreckage throughout the apartment dealt by your wee hands. You seem to have an affinity for chaos (which your dad has somehow decided is all my fault): Your first task of the morning is always to head straight for the coffee table and drag out all the magazines (which your dad has been begging me to throw out--but who am I to remove the bedraggled pile of parenting magazines that bring you such obvious delight?). When set on the floor before a jumbled heap of laundry on your right and a stack of folded clothes on your left, you'll invariably head left. And if anything is sitting on a low shelf, you cannot rest until every last object is whacked to the ground.

But here I am, sitting in our exploded living room, blissfully choosing *not* to clear up. Ahhh. Of course, before dad comes home, there will be some seriously frantic housecleaning done by me. But not today.

Friday, October 9, 2009

From Me, To You

Dear R,

This is my first letter to you. You're eleven months old right now, but still very tiny compared to all the other babies your age. I worry about this, and not just cause I don't want you to be a shorty like your mom, when you grow up. But I'm breastfeeding you--still going--and giving you lots of different kinds of very high-calorie, nutritious foods, so I think I'm doing my best by you, baby.

You've always been a very adventurous eater. Your first food was mango. Your first meat was lamb. Your first bread was a crusty sourdough--though this you mostly clutched to your chest and sucked on. You like spicy foods--curries, even. You hate plain boiled vegetables, although you will make allowances for edamame and peas.

You have your monthly obsessions. Last month it was gadgets and footwear. This month it's Edward's leash and the dishwasher. You've been nonchalantly plucking all the safety covers off the electrical sockets (damn IKEA so-called child-safety products). You've also begun inching closer to the toilet bowl, god help me. And will you never get over your need to overturn Edward's water bowl?

I've been going crazy lately with my spray bottle of white wine vinegar. Supposedly it's antibacterial, so I've been spritzing everything you may come in contact with, with it. The fumes give me a headache and make me worry if there are any risks to a baby regarding overexposure to vinegar. That sounds ridiculous, but I think it's possible to overdo anything.

Look what you've got me doing: cleaning. This is the power you have over me, baby girl. Not even your dad's endless grousing could get me going before.

You finally sprouted two teeth this month and your pink gummy smile has been altered. You don't look so baby-ish anymore, and I guess that's about right since you're almost a toddler. So now, when I Google one of my million worries about you, I sometimes have to try typing, for example, "toddler" (instead of "baby") + "thumb biting" + "horrific wounds." Yeah, your new teeth have left multiple punctures on one of your thumbs and it looks terrible. Supposedly, it's a pretty normal occurrence. You may even develop a callus, a thumb-sucking callus.

You know what? You seem to be torturing Edward less. Or he's getting smarter about running away. Thank god, I thought that poor dog was going to start developing bald spots.

Okay, this was a pretty mundane letter, wasn't it? But this is the kind of life you and I live these days and these are the thoughts that occupy my mind about you. It's funny, I thought I'd get frustrated with such things. Even your increasing clingy-ness, somehow I'm handling it okay. I even find it kind of cute how sometimes when I walk toward you, you'll come barreling over to meet me halfway, as if we've been parted for years (rather than the seconds it took for me to wash my hands for the 11,000th time that day). It's nice to be needed that much--who would've thought?

I love it when I pick you up and your whole body wriggles happily, like a puppy. Or when we've been together the entire day and yet, in the midst of your endless quest to examine every inch of our apartment, you'll still pause to catch my eye and give me a broad smile, like you're telling me, "I like being with you." Your dad and I need to be more like that with each other. We've been together so many years now, I think we forget to let each other know sometimes, simply that "I like being with you."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Oh my god, how do people do it? How do they blog *with* babies? My last post was in May, when R abruptly stopped napping. And now she's almost one. Most of all, I feel bad for not having recorded all the little memories of my baby that I'm sure are slipping away each day, as new ones take their place in my mind.

I've heard of other moms who write letters to their babies, every few weeks, and I always thought this sounded very nice--both for you to look back on and maybe also to share with the child when she's older, to let her know how much she was loved. Because your emotions and attitudes toward your baby change as they grow, and some of those feelings are even lost, I think. The patience and adoration can be challenged when your little pink bundle begins transforming into an increasingly independent being. I see exhausted mothers in supermarkets with their toddlers and they have this look on their face. It scares me--that brittle expression. It's difficult to imagine bearing an attitude like that toward R one day, but I know she won't be this sweet, soft, and non-vocal forever.

I'm thinking of changing my posts into little (or long, if I can) letters written directly to R. I wonder if this will motivate me to write more frequently. But I also wonder if I should make that a separate blog, instead.

But as with most interruptions these days, R's woken from her nap. Yes, she is napping again, thank god.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Kicky Pants Bamboo Baby Clothes

After finding some very sweet onesies online, I was all ready to make a purchase when a few thoughts stopped my finger from hitting the "checkout" link. Admittedly, the first one was: Am I really about to pay $20 for what is essentially a basic cotton onesie?

I realized with chagrin that I'd been focusing on things with cute or pretty graphics, rather than considering more important factors, like baby girl's comfort. No, I wouldn't dress her up in one of those stiff, scritchy floral numbers--like the ones my mom had recently bought for R with so much enthusiasm, I don't quite know how we're going to get out of that one. But, after one particular hot day recently, when the baby had sweat through her cotton onesie and became so soggy she got plastered to anything she came in contact with, I started wondering about alternate materials.

This wondering led me to bamboo. Although I'm not entirely convinced because I could only find the following info at various retail sites, it seems fabric made from bamboo has all kinds of good qualities: it's insulating, antibaterial, and wicks away moisture from the skin--better than cotton, supposedly. In addition, pesticides aren't necessary when growing bamboo, so you can feel a little better about the material being against your baby's skin or even in her mouth, as the case may be with a sleeve-sucking kid. However, the website SAF (safe alternatives for) Baby wrote:

We’ve heard about the toxic process of bamboo from plant to fiber which can be harmful on the environment. So, we searched for a company that offered a safer, non-toxic processing alternative.

SAF Baby then went on to recommend the company Bamboosa. By the time I found this article, however, I'd already ordered some baby clothes from Kicky Pants. I liked the clean simplicity of its organic Bamboo Basics line.

Although the Mother Earth and Baby site offers the best selection of colors at the lowest prices I could find--e.g., $15.30 for onesies--they only have sizes from 0 to 12 months. Wanting to stretch my dollar a little, I was looking for bigger sizes that would last us longer. Little Speckled Frog is offering 99-cent shipping until the end of May, and the prices aren't too bad, but their sizes and colors are limited. I finally settled on Amazon because they had a free-shipping deal, the size I wanted, as well as a very adorable pink romper that I--yes, I--needed my baby to wear (it's got these three rows of little ruffles on the butt...).

Well, the clothes arrived and I was immediately impressed by the very fine, smooth texture of the fabric. It's deliciously soft. There's also a stretchiness that makes it great for R, who is getting more active these days, rolling across the floor during her exploratory forays--and, today, doing this adorable inchworm-like forward scootch. Now, when I touch R's regular cotton onesies, they feel so rough and stiff in comparison!

As for all the other properties of bamboo cloth, those remain to be seen. But I think there might be several opportunities for Kicky Pants to be field-tested in the near future, as assorted relatives living in Singapore and Japan are demanding that we come and visit this summer. Tokyo in July...hmmm.

Breastfeeding Scare

Just as I was finishing up feeding R this morning, I noticed an alarmingly hard area in my right boob. I still get engorged once in a while, and I've had plugged ducts, but this felt like neither. For one thing, it was in an isolated area. For another, there wasn't any pain, redness, or feelings of exhaustion, all of which accompanied my previous experiences with mastitis. In fact, the area felt rather numb. Ironically, this lack of pain freaked me out. And, come on, who wouldn't panic when it feels like a mischievous little breast pixie tucked a golf ball inside your breast while you slept.

I tried to tempt baby girl to get a little more milk out but she wasn't having any of that. Dragged out my dusty breast pump but the stupid thing couldn't squeeze out more than a drop.

Well, long story short, took two lecithin capsules, did a lot of massaging and warm compresses, and had a very long nursing session in the afternoon right before R's nap, when she was half asleep--perfect because she wasn't distracted and pulling on and off.

Success! The horrifying rock sliding around behind my nipple has almost completely melted away.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Baby Sunscreen Recs

Summer is heading this way and most babes are going to be getting more sun exposure--unless your baby is like mine and flinches and flails, even when asleep, at the merest tickle of light. I'm the mom that you see either walking with an umbrella when it isn't raining or entombing her baby inside the stroller with layers of blankets, but only because R, my little baby vampire, demands it. Anyhow, for everyone else, Safe Mama recently did a nice baby sunscreen roundup.


Until now, I've scarcely bought any clothing for R because every single baby gift I've received so far has been clothes. The little miss's cabinets are full to bursting. We could start a baby sock shop.

I can only surmise that there must be something universally irresistible about miniature outfits. I know I can't wait to buy things for R myself, and now that the weather is warming up, I've been surfing the Web for some less pajama-looking onesies, particularly ones that are decidedly NOT pink. If anyone reading this is doing some searching of their own because they need to buy a baby gift, can I give you one piece of advice? No one--trust me on this--wants to dress their new baby girl in Pepto-Bismol pink. Baby R's own wardrobe often looks like a flamingo exploded in there, but what can you do?

Here are a few nice onesies that I've found so far:

Escape by Circles & Squares (see closeup of graphic; picture shows baby tee but it's also available as long- and short-sleeved onesies)

Guinea Pig on organic cotton by Circles & Squares (comes in both infant-onesie and bigger-kid sizes; there are also other onesies printed with less commonly seen creatures like the meerkat, kiwi bird, and anteater)

And although they aren't onesies, I really like the gentle colors and jovial vegetables featured on the organic baby tees by Puddlefoot. My favorites are the beet and celery.

An added bonus is that Puddlefoot offers free shipping to addresses in Canada and the United States.

*The onesie shown at the top of this post is Old School Woodsy, sold at The Retro Baby.

Friday, April 24, 2009

California Baby "Super Sensitive Hair Conditioner"

Lately, the hair at the back of baby girl's head was getting seriously matted after every nap and had developed a texture not unlike steel wool. She even had a few mini dreads. So I bought the Super Sensitive Hair Conditioner by California Baby, choosing it primarily because it contains no fragrance and seems to use natural ingredients (I admit I didn't really do much research on this). I used just the tiniest dot of conditioner in R's hair, combed it through, and then rinsed it out. I wasn't sure what to expect and so was pretty surprised to find her hair completely back to normal the next day. And her hair stayed straight and smooth for three days before starting to frizz up a little bit again. The price for this rather small bottle (8.5 oz / 255 ml) of conditioner was US$11.49, which seems expensive, but considering how fine and short most baby hair is and how little you need to use, one bottle could actually last quite a long time. After checking out the California Baby Web site, I noticed that the conditioner even contains "natural sunscreens"--not that I really know what kind of protective coverage that would provide, but, hey, every little bit counts, I guess.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ah, breastfeeding. What could so perfectly conjure up that maternal emotion of quiet, tender love as the scene of a mother nursing her infant? Unless you're me, of course. Because then, most likely, your jaws would be clenched and your shoulders stiffly hunched as your own flesh and blood lays siege to your body.

If someone asked me what's the hardest part about being a new mother, I would answer unequivocably: breastfeeding. What's so hard about it? Well, first, there's that little bit of pressure regarding adequately nourishing your child. Imagine holding your fragile new daughter, who, hysterical with hunger, tries to find relief at your breast, only to pull back, flailing and screaming even louder. Then having a nurse gasp and say, "Oh, no" after weighing your one-week old baby, who apparently has lost too much weight. Then having the pediatrician tell you that your babe is dangerously jaundiced and that you have to supplement with formula because your milk isn't working, isn't enough (which translates in a crazed new-mom's brain as: You've completely failed your child and it's entirely your fault that she's sick).

Breastfeeding also has its physical discomforts. In my case, so far, my breasts have been: bitten, bruised, puked on, kicked, kneed, pounded on by little fists, clawed and bloodied, pinched, yanked on, shoved away, infected, blistered, and so engorged at times, I couldn't put my arms down or bear to feel a soft t-shirt against my skin. I still can't face forward in the shower, unless my arms are crossed shield-like over my chest against the water spray. Hugging makes me wince. It's been almost two months and the multiple milk blisters on my left nipple aren't healing and there's sharp pain every time I nurse, and even when I'm not nursing. Although really it's nothing compared to the experience of nursing with thrush--thank god that's over--which felt like there was a shard of jagged glass repeatedly plunging straight through my breast and out past my shoulder blade.

I'm not tallying up my battle wounds like a strutting jock. I'm not fishing for sympathy--because truly, after all this time, you get a bit numb to the discomforts. I'm writing this post because I haven't yet met a mom struggling with breastfeeding who didn't tear up when we shared experiences. I don't want to scare anyone who hasn't gone through it. I have friends who declare it everything those Madonna and Child paintings depict it to be, who adore each precious bonding moment. But for those of us who find it a challenge--a "war" was how I thought of it in the beginning, when every nursing session left me feeling utterly drained and defeated--just know that you're not a failure and a wuss for crying, for finding it hard, for having thoughts of giving up. If you have any doubts, just visit the La Leche forum, and you'll see there are many, many other moms going through something similar or maybe, sadly, something worse.

I think a low point for me, though, came a few months back, when my own lactation consultant told me that maybe I should consider giving up. No, there's no shame in pumping or turning to formula. But that's not what I needed to hear when what I was seeking was encouragement and hope. Okay, sure, while she's savaging my nipple, my daughter's roving little fingers still attack any exposed flesh like she's Bruno the Burly Baker working on a rebellious piece of bread dough. Yeah, the slow-healing milk blisters are bugging the heck out of me. Maybe all this jaw-clenching is realigning my until-now straight rows of teeth. Also, tonight, the little poopsies bit me so hard I felt the pain surge like a wave all the way down my body. But when I glance through my baby girl's newborn photos and see exactly how much she's changed, how big she's grown, how squeezably chubby her body has become, I feel...awed and amazed that somehow I had something to do with that. And on those rare occasions when we're not battling, when she's getting sleepy at my breast and the abuse from those terrifying little hands turns to gentle petting, or when she's just about to nurse and opens her mouth, like a baby bird beneath a dangling worm, with utter confidence in my ability to feed her, I do understand the peaceful connection that other women experience with their babies.

The best thing to do is think only about getting through today. Don't dwell on the weeks and months stretching ahead of you. Some things actually do get better. My daughter eventually stopped choking and crying while nursing when I finally fixed my overactive letdown (this took weeks of militantly precise block feeding). I woke up one morning and my shirt and sheets weren't completely drenched and soggy with milk from my stupid leaking breasts. I haven't had a plugged duct--utterly terrifying for anyone who's ever had mastitis--in weeks. And I can sort of, almost, practically feed my daughter without using my beloved My Breast Friend pillow. Now if we could only nurse in public without my daughter swatting at the nursing cover so hard my breasts are revealed to all the hapless passersby.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Disposable Diaper-Changing Sheets

Before Baby R was born, a fellow dog-owning friend confessed that she used puppy toilet-training sheets when changing her son's diaper. Having no desire to wash the diaper-changing pad cover every time there was leakage (or squirtage, as the case sometimes is with a baby), I thought it was a pretty good idea. One concern I had, though, was that it could add up to a lot of money. My dog's pee pads are not cheap, but because I live in an apartment and mostly because I'm a lazy bum and don't want to trudge all the way downstairs and outside late at night for that last potty break before bedtime (oh, stop sneering, all you home-with-a-yard owners), I'm willing to fork over the dough and withstand censorious looks from the petshop cashier person, who informs me they have a great toilet-training class for dogs.

A second concern was that I didn't really want my baby's skin coming in contact with questionable chemicals, which those pet sheets are often treated with to encourage a puppy to pee.

After touring a few incontinence Web sites, further Googling led me to Mednet Direct. At $34.95 for 300 sheets, this was definitely the cheapest deal I could find. And everything about the site was totally suspicious--just check it out and you'll see what I mean. In addition, at the time, all I could find online were endless press releases about Mednet and its great deal on puppy sheets, but nary a legitimate human review.

Being the wild risk-taker that I am, I decided "what the heck" and ordered a box. For the record, they have a pretty expensive flat-rate shipping charge of $12.95, but the total price was still lower than anything else I could find. A week later, much to my surprise, the pads arrived, and in a fairly compact box, to boot (a bonus, as I'd been worrying about where to keep 300 bloody pee-pee sheets, but the whole lot fit quite neatly in the little cabinet under the bathroom sink).

First things first, the quality of these sheets is not great, especially for dogs. My pup is a little guy, but when he uses one of these sheets, the pee rapidly seeps past the border--and just keeps on going. On the other hand, it's more than adequate if you're using it for changing diapers. Unless there's an accident, your baby isn't going to pee on this thing. It's just to catch a smear here and there, and save you from doing extra laundry. In our house, one sheet lasts us a long time, unless Baby Girl has a particularly explosive blowout.

So that's the verdict: The Mednet sheets are cheap, both in price and quality, but for changing diapers, you don't need to waste your money on something better. They're also great for diaper changing outside of the house, whether you're protecting your baby from having to come in contact with those changing tables in public restrooms or doing an emergency change on the floor...somewhere.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

So we're officially "sleep training"--spurred on by three evenings in a row of very cranky, inconsolable wailing by a baby who's tired but won't sleep. I'm reading books, Web sites, mommy/baby/parent forums, you name it. And one recurrent recommendation was a white-noise machine. So yesterday, Baby Girl, the dog, and I strollered through darkness and rain to Target, in search of this supposedly magical apparatus. They didn't have one.

Sleepwise, it hadn't actually been a terrible day. Our little evening outing seemed to have put the little pookies in a good mood and she continued to nap happily in her Bugaboo Cocoon even after we got home. She's been waking up in the middle of the night, not hungry but fussing, though, and I was eager to test out the power of white noise. A quick "white noise" search brought me to What I like about this site is there's no downloading required. You just go there and the white noise starts. There are actually three options--white, pink, and brown/red noise--with white being the highest pitch and brown/red a deeper rushing sound, almost like ocean waves. I set up the laptop near baby's bassinet and just let it play all night.

I don't know if the sleep training is starting to work or if it was all about the white noise, but yesterday, at exactly 1:40am (that girl is like a clock, I tell you), I heard the heavy breathing and then the dreaded "eh eh eh," and then--silence. Until 8:30am the next morning. Hallelujah, praise the Internet, Elizabeth Pantley, the Baby Whisperer's idea of "wake to sleep," and the almighty white noise--and I really have to go and feed her now.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Carlson Baby Ddrops

I was at Wholefoods the other day and made a happy discovery: Carlson Baby Ddrops, the vitamin D supplement I'd mentioned in my previous post. A friend got the okay from her daughter's pediatrician--I didn't even think to ask ours (sigh)--so it should be safe to use.

I'm glad to report that these drops are completely tasteless. There is a slightly sour odor, which might bother breastfeeding moms, since you're supposed to put the drop on your nipple (and let the baby suck away), but it really doesn't linger. The best part is that Baby Girl doesn't even realize she's taking a vitamin.

One thing: The solution is fairly liquid, and you need to have baby ready at the breast, right before you put a drop on your nipple, so you can quickly get that boob in his or her mouth. Also, be careful of sudden flailing arms--the first time I tried the drops, Baby R's hand suddenly flew out and went right through the stuff, and I didn't add another drop for fear of overdosage (which maybe isn't a real concern, but hey, I'm a first-time mom--leave me to my paranoia).

The only bad news is that the aforementioned friend's pediatrician also said breastfed babies need an iron supplement. Groan.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Vitamin D Supplement for Baby

There are a lot of differing opinions regarding giving your baby a vitamin D supplement. Only if you live in Alaska--or Canada (love the sweeping geographical verdict)--some say. Just take a vitamin D supplement yourself and it'll pass through your milk to the baby, my friend told me. All a baby needs is a few minutes a day in direct sunlight, claim the old-schoolers. The Baby 411 Blog has a nice post that sums up the vitamin D situation.

Baby R's own pediatrician recommended a vitamin supplement for babies--which I did most dutifully go out and buy. And which, I acknowledge, has been sitting a few squirts short of full at the back of the medicine cabinet for months. Why? Because, at the time, the only supplement seemingly available was a foul-smelling liquid (apparently, it's the vitamin B that's the stinker) multivitamin called Poly-Vi-Sol. You had to give a whole dropper's worth every day, and it was so hard to administer to my little baby because she absolutely hated it: her whole face would scrunch up and turn bright red and she'd repeatedly stick her tongue out, as if to get rid of a bad taste in her mouth--not to mention the fact that she pretty much spit out the majority of what I painstakingly was trying to squirt in.

[Editor's note: Can I interrupt this post to say that my baby is crying her guts out right now and it's extremely hard to think, let alone blog? I've tried everything: fed her, changed her diaper, read her a story, held and cuddled her. Nothing. Hated it all (except the feeding). For any new moms out there, this kind of thing happens and the intense stress it invokes will churn your stomach and shave five years off your lifespan.]

But then I found out that last year, the AAP had upped their recommended vitamin D dose for children from 200 IU to 400 IU. Worried, I did a little online research and thanks to the La Leche League forum, learned about something called Carlson Baby Ddrops. You just need to give baby one drop--applied on the nipple, for example, for breastfeeding moms. Sounds easy and painless, and I'm going to try to find it tomorrow, if the stress of my still-wailing baby doesn't first cause my brain to explode.

Update: I found the drops at a local supermarket and wrote a short review on it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Baring All

So I'm sitting on the couch in the living room--the place where I spend the majority of my resting hours, now that there's a baby in my life. There's a little watery sunlight coming in through the window and there's a chill in the air, but I'm topless. Blogging topless (about to breatfeed--I just wanted to add. It's not like I blithely sit around half-naked for the tingly pleasure of it).

Here's the thing about being a new mom. It's going to seem as if you're constantly in some state of undress or other. If you're breastfeeding, then get used to the girls hanging out, fully exposed, for many hours of the day. Even if you're not, though, amongst the many activities that baby will seem to purposefully interrupt, such as eating, sleeping, emailing, etc., changing clothes will be another. And you'll find yourself rushing to your screaming baby's side, wearing maybe a scarf, one sock--and your panties, if you're lucky. If the people in the building opposite ours were of the pervy, binocular-wielding variety, they'd get an eyeful.

My next-door neighbors surely get an earful, since the soundproofing in this apartment--yeah, there isn't any. As if piercing infant cries and badly sung (by me) songs aren't enough to endure, the people on our floor might also be unfortunate enough to overhear such choice tidbits that I call out to my fussing baby as: "Okay, okay, look! I'm taking off my shirt. Look, your favorite breasts!" and "Okay, okay, just a sec. I'm just going to the bathroom. No good? Okay, here, I'll let you watch me."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

On Being Baby-unwise

I was recently talking with yet another of those parents whose babies sleep through the night (grrr) and she recommended the book On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo. Let me tell you, I'm the furthest thing from a competitive parent. I don't care if my girl is the last in the bunch to start rolling over, crawling, talking, etc. But every time I hear, "My baby's been sleeping 12 hours since the day she was born!" (okay, an exaggeration--babies that young aren't supposed to sleep that long), I feel this crushing sense of panic, like I've seriously screwed up somewhere along the way. And a sleepless parent is a desperate one. So of course any advice from a parent with a STTN (sleeping through the night) baby must be followed posthaste.

Went straight to the nearest library that had this book and power-read through the thing standing up while balancing my RTEN (refuses to even nap) baby on one shoulder. I hadn't gotten more than a few pages in before I was ready to shoot myself in the head for being--again--the worst parent in the world. (I admittedly wanted to take out the annoying Chelsea--the fictitious and, naturally, perfect baby whose parents adhered to the dictates of the book--while I was at it.)

The author of Babywise tells the reader, repeatedly, that a seven to nine-week-old baby is more than capable of sleeping seven to eight hours a night. And if they can't, then it's All your fault, you miserable excuse for a parent.

My baby is 13 weeks old and she only started sleeping four hours (a grand triumph, I had thought at the time) at a stretch since, um, a few days ago.

The truth is, though, I think my baby is doing okay. Yeah, that's right: I'm going to take the defensive here and say this book might not be applicable to everyone--namely, our family. In addition, although the book warns against on-demand feeding and its detrimental effects on a baby's sleep habits, and instructs parents to take the lead and decide when it is time for a baby to sleep, eat, or be awake, it just doesn't seem realistic. I mean, I can tell my baby, "See here, young thing, you are going to take a nap" until I am blue in the face, but she'll just lie in her bassinet screaming "Up yours" in her very concise baby manner, for however long it takes for me to get the message.

The book also warns that initially, there will be crying and protests. So for one nap, yesterday, I tried to let the little pookie cry it out--for 15 minutes. She cried through the allotted time and then I went to her. If you could have seen her swollen eyes and tear-drenched face, or felt her little body shuddering with her sobs--you would have shot yourself in the head, too.

Although we certainly aren't progressing apace of the wonder babies whose parents are "babywise," I think my little girl is gradually getting the hang of this whole Night is for Sleeping concept. Now, the only problem is getting her to nap in the day time. Whole 'nother can of worms. Sigh.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cute vs. Loveable

I used to wonder all the time whether people with ugly babies realized their babies were ugly and loved them anyway, or were they completely blinded by love...or some biological mechanism that ensures people don't abandon their offspring. So, while I was pregnant, I was very curious to see what I'd think of my own baby.

Well. I can confidently say that my baby is very cute. I'm kidding--sort of. The truth is, sometimes my baby is adorable--like when she's bright-eyed and beaming first thing in the morning. But when she's crying and her face is all pinched, I can admit she's...less cute.

The fascinating thing though is that while I love my daughter every minute, it's when she's at her most awkward or less than photo-perfect--like when she's naked and you can really see how disproportionately huge her head is in comparison to her body (like a Pez dispenser) or the squinty, duck-lipped expression she has, accompanied by emissions of snorts, whinnies, and farts, when she's just woken from a deep sleep--that I feel equal parts overwhelming tenderness and ferocious protectiveness. I think it surely must be a biological safeguard.

My Baby's Already Growing Up?!

The hospital where I delivered sends me a weekly e-newsletter on my baby's development, and this week, week 12, I learned that a three-month-old baby is no longer considered a "newborn." My baby...she's already growing up.

I thought about the first outfit she outgrew, a few weeks back, and how small and funny (in a cute way) she used to look in it--because it had this high floppy collar but she really doesn't have much of a neck--and I felt a sentimental pain in the heart when I realized I didn't have a picture of her wearing it.

Isn't it funny how you can miss someone who's with you every single minute of the day?

What Schedule?

A few weeks back, a bunch of us new parents planned to meet up to watch The Curious Case of Benjamin Button with our babies in tow. How, you ask? Much to my amazement, a few theaters kindly hold movie-viewings several days a month in which screaming, pooping, breast exposure, and people getting in and out of their seats a lot in the middle of the movie are all very acceptable.

It was an evening show, however, and quite a number of people emailed their regrets that they'd be unable to attend, stating a conflict with "bed time" as their reason. I remember being puzzled, since surely it didn't matter where the baby slept, as long as it did. And in my case, my baby is always happiest to slumber in my arms--which is what we did during what turned out to be a very long movie.

More recently, I repeatedly saw emails from members of my Las Madres group in which moms begged off one event or other because the meeting time clashed with nap time. Again, I was mystified. For Baby R, nap time seemed random and arbitrary. All I knew is that if we went out, she *would* fall asleep at some point. Did it matter when, where, or how?

This is when I started Googling "baby" and "naps"--and discovered that I'm a bad mother. Again. I don't know, am I not doing enough homework on Baby Raising 101? Maybe I'm the only person in the world who didn't know this, but even newborn babies--like dogs (being a dog owner and now a mom, I swear I could write a book on the similarities between the two)--appreciate a set daily routine, so they know what to expect and are reassured.

My god, my poor baby has been awash in a sea of chaos and disorder since the day I brought her home!

From what I read, the purpose of set nap times is to forestall those bouts of fussing and crying that occur when baby is over-tired, or even too worked up to fall asleep. Supposedly, babies that nap well in the daytime sleep better at night, as well. Lightbulb!

So, as bad as I am about this sort of thing, I've dug up a notepad and am trying to note down the times when Baby Girl starts giving me the sleepy cues: rubbing at her eyes and head, looking distracted, etc. The point is to see what times of the day she is consistently getting tired and then trying to get her ready for a nap about 15 minutes earlier. And there you have it: nap times.

Unfortunately, the question of *how* I make my baby amenable to the idea of lying down, let alone going to sleep on a surface that isn't my chest or her Fisher Price Nature's Touch Cradle Swing, is a different story. The various online sources suggest darkening the room, singing lullabies, reading books, and so on. Baby Girl has let me know that she is not so easily snookered. So, for now, nap prep consists of either rocking her to sleep in my arms while singing spottily remembered slow songs ("Imagine there's no heaven, it's easy if you try, no hell below us, nor even apple pie.") or placing her in the swing and singing over her fussing until she knocks off.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Saying "I'm tired" when you have a 12-week-old baby is hard because it just doesn't accurately convey the mental state that being sleep-deprived for that long can put you in. Baby R still wakes in the night anywhere from every hour to every three hours, and although I can't seem to stop doing it myself, the greatest piece of advice I'd give is: Don't look at the clock. It just hurts more.

New parents naturally gravitate together and, lately, I've been encountering a new clique whose members have the privilege of cooing the magical words, "My baby sleeps through the night." On the one hand, I understand the elation they must feel: To be able to get five or more hours of sleep per night...I get dizzy contemplating the luxury. After months of going without, who wouldn't want to shout it from the rooftops? But it is too cruel to share this indiscriminately. For god's sake, can't you just enjoy it quietly amongst yourselves? Why rub my bleary face in it?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Eye Color (11 Weeks)

I noticed this morning that Baby Girl's eyes have changed from the dark gray she'd been born with to brown. I can't believe how suddenly it happened.


Had a small-largish fight with my husband this morning. Recently, our magical Fisher Price swing--the only thing my baby girl will sleep in for more than an hour, besides a set of warm arms connected to a walking body--has been deemed too-dangerous by the hubster because the baby's upper body is starting to flop over while seated in it. I think she's trying to sit up without having yet perfected the whole holding-your-own-head-up thing. Anyhow, this means she's back to waking up every two hours in her bassinet (I should be grateful she's sleeping that long in there, since she won't do that in the daylight hours) throughout the night and this left me weaving drunkenly about the room this morning, as I tried to rock her back to sleep after a feeding.

So when she woke up less than two hours later, I asked my husband to take her for a while. If it were me, I'd have picked her up and walked around with her a bit. My husband pretty much tucked her under his arm and tried to go back to sleep. No surprise that she continued fussing. Our daughter is not one of those babies easily placated merely by being close to a warm body. No, it has to be an upright, moving body.

So there I was, trying my best to sleep despite the little cries and sounds of struggle beside me. And then the inevitable words from him came: "Honey, I think she's hungry." My husband is overly enamored by the mighty power of the breast and its ability to instantly quieten our little girl. Unfortunately, this means any time she starts crying, he turns to me to fix it. I think he's terrified of the possibility that he could attempt to comfort her and fail. What I wish is that he would give it a go anyways. He rarely holds her in his arms, always turning to various "tricks"--toys, making loud silly noises, the mobile, and, until recently, the swing--to quieten her. I'm not one to begrudge my baby a little boob comfort, even if I know she's not really hungry. But this morning, I was so staggeringly exhausted, I just wanted 15 minutes more sleep.

If he had just taken her into the living room and tried walking with her a bit, or changing her diaper, or just talking to her (scarcely 11 weeks and she's already quite the chatterbox, especially first thing in the morning), just to give me a little more rest, I would have been so grateful. But in the end, I dragged myself up, the baby ended up back on my breast, and I ended up pissed off at hubby. And he gave me the usual defensive speech about how the problem wouldn't come up if I kept pumped breast milk in the fridge. While it isn't a bad idea, I worry that every time our daughter cries, he'll simply turn to the bottle as a quick fix.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

One-Handed Blogging

I'm in a position I most often find myself in these days: sitting stiffly on the couch, laptop balanced on my thighs, 11-pound baby balanced on my chest. She's asleep, sprawled out, head steadily boring a hole into my breastbone, totally relaxed and yet her little fist maintains a grip on the sleeve of my ratty brown bath robe. Her hair, which for unknown reasons maintains itself in a most splendid fauxhawk, softly tickles my chin; but at 10 weeks, I notice it's not quite the gosling down she had as a newborn.

Oh god, my chest hurts. My baby girl may only be in the 25th percentile when it comes to weight and height, but her head's a different story. It's big and very heavy, and I recently bought a neoprene wrist-support band because all that lifting and holding of my still-floppy headed dumpling has caused a constant ache to develop.

The posts in this blog might start and end abruptly because I have a two-month-old baby who often and abruptly needs something. And it's always at a critical moment, like when the microwave beeps to tell you that your lunch is ready, and even though breastfeeding makes you ravenous and the nuked rice is going to be plasticky by the time you get to it, you drop everything and go to the baby. Same thing with blog posts: If I wait to finish and publish a post later, I'll end up never blogging.


This blog is mostly for me, so I don't forget all the little things that have happened since my daughter was born. I'd love it though if any of what I write about ends up being helpful to someone out there.