Sunday, November 30, 2008

Money for the RESP is a *way* better idea this year


Well, it's the last day of NaBloPoMo and so I figured I'd go out with a "bang", or at least a halfway interesting video. This is my first attempt at actually editing a video with my new software, and it turned out vaguely like I intended it to, so I am pleased. Hope you enjoy.

I couldn't figure out how to add titles, so Gwen would like you to know that this video is called "Dear Santa, I Don't Really Need Any Toys For Christmas, Because I Am Entirely Fascinated By Random Household Items."

video

Note: No plastic bags were harmed in the making of this film.

Also: In honour of the end of NaBloPoMo, I promise not to post again until I have some actual interesting content. Consider it an early Christmas present.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Yoga Baby

Yes, I did prenatal yoga while I was pregnant with Gwen, but I had no idea she would actually learn anything there. Then again, she is surprisingly advanced.





This is a pose that Gwen does *constantly* - if you have seen her awake and not in someone's lap, you've probably seen her do this pose. Her head hardly ever rests on the floor, and we figure she's going to have killer ab muscles. It's "Half-Boat Pose".








Another one she's picked up recently is "Plank Pose". I especially like the look she's giving in the second picture, like she's losing patience with that student in the back who just isn't paying attention to her demonstration.

And finally, the only name I know for this one is "Superman Pose". In this picture she is not actually doing the full pose, but this is actually the way we do it in the Gentle class, so it's good enough for me.




She does "Downward Dog" all the time too, but I've yet to get a picture of it.



Friday, November 28, 2008

Thunk

Well, it finally happened. It's happened to many of my mommyfriends and my day finally came. Gwen fell off our bed when I turned my back to put away some laundry.

Damn, but that girl moves quick these days.

She seems to be fine. She cried for only a couple of minutes, and judging by the tone and pace of her crying it sounded a whole lot more like fear than pain. Her behaviour for the rest of the evening was normal so I don't think she jostled her brain or anything.

My first thought was to rush her to the emergency room, till I remembered my friend Amanda telling me she'd done that for her daughter Evangeline, and that the doctors had sent her home unless Ev demonstrated any strange behaviour. So I learned from that. Not soon enough to prevent my daughter from falling off the bed, of course.

So, yeah. I guess this means I should stop leaving her on the change table while I go flush her Bio-Soft diaper liners too, eh?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Teeth!

Yesterday Gwen cut her first tooth. This was exciting since I had practically given up on it ever happening - she's been "teething" for about three and a half months! The tooth (front left bottom) is not actually visible yet, but I can feel the edge of it poking up.

And then today, I am pretty sure the one next to it is coming up as well. She'll be full of snaggletoothed grins for all the Christmas pictures! Yay :-)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Stranger Danger!

Today's little outing was a walk to the nearby Save-on-Foods, with Gwen in the stroller, to pick up a refill on a prescription.

After picking up the medicine, I paused near the blood pressure machine to organize myself, stuffing everything into my backpack/purse. A woman in her fifties happened by and, naturally, remarked on how cute Gwen is. Her husband soon joined in the adoration. He leaned in close, commenting on her beautiful blue eyes and saying how much he and his wife would love to have a granddaughter like her. As is to be expected, Gwen started to cry.

She has a very distinctive fear cry, and these days it happens whenever anyone other than her parents gets a bit too close. As soon as the man approached I got down right next to Gwen and turned the stroller so that she could see I was still nearby, but this wasn't enough to avert the fear response altogether.

The man apologized immediately, and his wife chastised him a bit. "Don't get too close, Jim, you're scaring her. She doesn't know you." I waved away his apologies, saying, "It's okay, it happens all the time. Everyone wants to say hello to her, but she's just going through that stage where she's a little anxious about strangers."

Anyway, we exchanged a few more pleasantries and then I headed out of the store for home. As I walked, I wondered why I had been unable to accept the apology, why I had belittled Gwen's fear. I knew she would respond that way, saw it coming as soon as the man leaned down to greet her. I thought about how I could have avoided it: I could have said "Please don't get too close, she's afraid of strangers," but even to my own ears this sounded so rude and standoffish. I wondered about that. Wondered what right of ownership the community at large takes over babies, and how to balance that with my own responsibility to protect Gwen.

It's true, what I said. Everyone wants to say hello to Gwen, but if they get in her face too much she gets scared, and while we as adults know there is no harm meant and find it cute or even amusing, it isn't amusing to her. How do I respect her boundaries without offending friendly folks who only want a minute to adore her?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Busy (But Fun!) Day

This morning I finally got to take Gwen to her swimming lesson. Again, as soon as we got into the pool's changing room, she started hooting with excitement. She really does love the water. The lesson was good, we did some singing and some games and some splashing and so on. AND I did indeed dunk Gwen's head under the water! She didn't swallow half the pool as I feared, but she did look a little flustered and confused. Naturally I was instructed by the teacher to give Gwen huge praise and smiles and excitement no matter what she did, because if she came out of the water to see me looking frightened then she would get scared, so I complied and hooted with glee. What fun.

After swimming, we came home and Gwen had a good long nap, then we went out to visit my friend Amber, whom I hadn't seen since summer. We had a good chat about sleep and breastfeeding and husbands and housework and oh, so many things. Good times.

After Gwen went to bed this evening, I cooked a huge batch of pasta to freeze in single-serving portions because this is basically the only way I get to eat. I managed to badly burn my hand in the process and it is excrutiatingly painful unless it is constantly under cold water or being blown on. Not sure how I'm going to manage to sleep, but in any case typing is pretty agonizing, so I'm going to stop now! G'night.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dear Gwen: Month Seven

Dear Gwen,

Today you are seven months old. The first time I took you to Healthy Beginnings group, we met a baby there who was seven months old. This seemed impossibly old to me. And now here we are. You, my girl, are impossibly old! In fact, two days ago your dad was putting you in your high chair and he turned to me and asked, “What happened to our baby? How did we end up with this little girl, with a personality and everything?”


I think the past month has been my favourite so far. You have really changed a lot over that time. First of all, the personality your dad mentioned is definitely in full effect, and that personality is a charming one. You are very social and love to be in new environments and with new people (though you are not so crazy about being there without your mom). You are a very intent person as well, looking at things with such intense concentration as you work on figuring them out, or just fascinatedly gazing out the window at the patterns the light makes as it filters through the trees.

You are so closely bonded to me that it’s quite sobering. When we are out together and someone approaches you to tell you how cute you are, you immediately look to me to make sure I’m still there, and to gauge my response to the stranger. The other day, you rolled over and bumped your head on the laminate flooring, and looked at me to see what my reaction would be. I smiled gently at you, and you carried on playing. I feel certain that if I had winced or said “Ooh, a bump!” you would have started crying.

The most powerful example of your emotional bond with me happened yesterday, when I was angry about something that was nothing to do with you. You started crying and fussing, which your dad says was because you were picking up on my mood. He even thinks that you understood I was upset and angry, but *didn’t* understand that it wasn’t your fault. I felt awful. I will try harder to surround you with love and patience, not anger and exasperation.

You are working very hard these days to become mobile. You can now cross an entire room at quite a rapid pace. However, I hesitate to call it genuine mobility because your movement doesn’t seem connected to your intention – it looks to me like you would very much like to be moving forward, but continue to push yourself backward, which just ends up frustrating you as you wonder why you’re moving farther away from your intended goal. I know you’re going to have it all figured out pretty soon, though! I’ll be genuinely surprised if you’re not crawling by Christmas, and I think it’s likely to be even sooner than that.

The mobility does have its drawbacks, though. No longer do you rest peacefully in my lap. No, you spend your time there rolling, twisting, squirming, moving, arching, reaching, grabbing, pulling, jumping, wiggling, and bouncing. I’m not against any of these activities per se, but my lap is not the most convenient place for them! Still, you do insist on having your lap time. You’re busy enough to make that a challenge, but still dependent enough that you don’t want to give it up. This conflict makes me think you must be on the verge of a big breakthrough and change.

Another huge difference in your life is your sleep. For the first time in your life you have a set bedtime *and* set naptimes. This routine has brought a lot of consistency and predictability to our lives, which I think has been good for all of us. In addition, we now put you in your crib awake and rely on you to soothe yourself to sleep, rather than putting you to sleep in our laps and then transferring you to the crib. Yes, this meant that we’ve all endured a lot of crying, but we really believe you were ready for this, and the fact that some nights you go to sleep very peacefully, without any fuss at all, helps us feel confident in that belief. Nowadays you usually wake up only once at night, at which time I nurse you for five minutes, then sing a verse of our favourite lullaby, and put you back in your crib until morning. You are definitely getting more sleep now, and the thought that you now understand your own ability to self-soothe is very gratifying.

The sleep training has had some interesting side effects, in that I feel way more confident as your mom and way more in tune with what you are trying to communicate. I think the week or so of me watching you closely for sleepy signals just helped me be more observant of you and your needs. Also, the fact that your sleep is now more predictable means that you are in a better mood during your waking hours, and I am more available to you during those times, since I can plan other activities for when you’re asleep and ‘recharge’ myself. In all, it’s been an incredibly satisfying time.

You have now been eating solid foods for a month, and I have to admit this is an area that’s really challenging for me. So far, in addition to rice cereal, you have eaten mashed potato, green beans, squash, sweet potato, carrots, peas, bread, and banana. Without exception, you have enjoyed everything I’ve given you, so that part’s great! The challenge is that I don’t understand how to watch you for food reactions, which may indicate allergy or sensitivity. You got a diaper rash shortly after eating squash, so I thought you might be having a reaction to that, but even after a week of not giving you any more, your rash still remained. A few moms have suggested that babies’ bodies are just more sensitive during this time as they start getting nutrition from different sources – that it’s not the food in particular, but the change in general that’s causing a reaction. It’s awfully hard to tell the difference, though. I’m thinking of taking you to my naturopath to see if there are sensitivity tests they can do to help me nail it down for sure.


All in all, you continue to amaze us with your abilities and your wonderful, engaging personality. You are the joy of our lives, Gwen, and we can't wait to experience all these changes with you.

Love,
Mama

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Surprise!

Gwen and I took a trip across the pond today to meet my cousin's new baby girl, Haylee. I have been really excited about this trip for a while but couldn't mention it because it was a surprise and I have no idea who reads this blog (probably not my cousin, but you never know!).

Haylee is beautiful and tiny and perfect and lovely and sweet. She is at that adorable newborn stage where she will just curl up in your arms and sleep through anything. I love that stage! I already can barely remember what it was like.

Gwen, on the other hand, entertained the shower guests by showing off how she could push herself backwards across the entire floor. Busy girl!
In typical form I only had my camera with me on the ferry, so I have no pictures of baby Haylee to show off. There were tons taken by my mom, my aunt, and my sister, so eventually they will show up in email and I'll show them to you all and you can humour me and pretend to care. In the meantime, here's a picture of Haylee at 4 weeks old, the day she came home from the hospital.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

YouTube Awesomeness

Because it's Saturday night and I've got nothing else.

Jaws Theme Parody

"Ooh Girl' - an Honest R&B Song

Take On Me - Literal Video Version (Pipe Wrench Fight!)

Everyday Normal Guy

Stacking Routine (Joel & Luke)

Sorry I can't embed the videos here, Blogger won't let me unless I download them all and I just can't be bothered. That's my level of commitment, folks. Feel the love!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Chris saves the day yet again!

I was in my jammies and heading for bed when my husband said, "Laura, did you blog today?" Yipes! I had not! So for two days in a row, my continued participation in NaBloPoMo, as well as the blogosphere at large, is solely to his credit.

(Or, all his fault. However you want to interpret that.)

So! I will blog about Gwen's mobility.

On November 1st, Gwen somehow managed to get herself into the crawling position for about two seconds. I marked this on the calendar and then forgot about it. Mostly, so did she.

Until this past Tuesday, when we went to visit her [Honourary] Uncle Mike in Victoria. You know what Uncle Mike has that we don't have? Carpets.

You know what else Uncle Mike has that we don't have? A ten-year-old daughter named Zoe who crawled in slow motion around Gwen for minutes at a time, showing her exactly how it was done. Watching Gwen, you could practically see the wheels turning as she bored a hole in Zoe with her intense stare of concentration. Hell, as Zoe's mom Jenn pointed out, you could see the smoke pouring out of Gwen's ears as her brain worked overtime to figure this out!

I watched Gwen with increasing pride and anxiety, in about equal amounts. She started pushing up more reliably, and started lifting her knees off the ground and using her toes to push herself forward a couple of times. Everyone laughed with joy and excitement, drastically rethinking the earlier estimates that she'd be 'crawling by Christmas' and declaring that hell, she'd be crawling by next week! I laughed along, secretly freaking out inside, because OMG, once that girl starts crawling then life as I know it is over. Don't get me wrong, I am really excited about her being able to follow me from room to room so my daily chores don't become the stuff of anguished cries as I leave her sight for 0.02 of a second, but on the other hand I can picture my couch growing cobwebs as I may never get to sit down again, so busy will I be chasing her as she merrily scoots from room to room.

The very next day, Gwen had retained all the stuff she'd learned from the day before, and I could see it was taking way less mental energy to reproduce the positions and motions she'd figured out the previous day. Leaving that powerful brain free to figure out the next step. (Aiieeee!!)

Fortunately, I then took her back home to the land of laminate flooring. No traction = no mobility. And my girl stays a baby just a little bit longer.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sometimes Blogging is Hard **updated**

I couldn't think of much to say this evening, so at about 7:15pm I had a bright idea. I would just post a video of Gwen feeding herself some squash! Her [Honourary] Uncle Mike had just told me how much he enjoyed the video of her first solids, so I knew at least one person would appreciate it. Plus I could post the adorable pictures of her covered in squash afterwards.
Perfect! Easy! Cute! Cliche!

Only one teensy problem. Only the first 30 seconds of the video came out properly - the rest is too dark. So, I need to edit the video.

No problem! Chris got me video editing software for my birthday! Fire that shit up!

Um. We uninstalled it because it kept crashing the computer. So we need to reinstall it.

Okay, so I reinstalled the software and then Chris found out why it was crashing my computer. It was a driver problem! Or something! I don't really know or understand or care! But the important part is that Chris spent about an hour and a half figuring this out, finding the right driver, downloading it, installing it, and then installing the program again.
Leaving me fifteen minutes to learn how to edit video, edit the video, post it, and still be in bed by 9pm.

Here is the good news! The software is really damn easy to use. It took me less than two minutes to figure out how to cut out the latter portion of the video.

Here is the bad news. The software only saves video in one specific format. Which Blogger does not accept.

Dear readers, tonight I fail even at phoning it in.



EDIT! Chris fixed everything. I clearly should have known that despite all other software for the past oh, 15-20 years keeping their "Save" options under the "Save As" tab, that Adobe deems it appropriate to keep these options under an entirely separate menu called "Share". I am a total idiot for not figuring that out. But at least I can feed myself without food ending up IN MY HAIR.
video

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Portable Gwen!

I am so incredibly proud of my Gwen.

Yesterday was Day 6 of sleep training. I took her to Victoria for the day and overnight. Talk about throwing a wrench in the works, right?

She handled it beautifully.

I timed the drive down so that we were leaving right around her morning nap time. We even went through the naptime routine before we left, with me reading her a story as she sat in her carseat by the front door. She fell asleep in the car and got a decent nap during the drive. Then when we arrived at my friend Mike's house, we went downstairs to the room where Gwen and I would be sleeping, and spent some time hanging out there, so that when I went to put her down for her nap, she wouldn't be in an unfamiliar room.

I brought *so* much stuff from home to help her feel comfortable, I felt a little ridiculous. But it all paid off!

A couple hours after we arrived, she was looking really tired, so I went through the naptime routine again, lay her in the playpen, and waited. She cried for only a few minutes, and then slept for two hours.

That evening, Gwen and I had a great visit with Janice at her new (beautiful!) home, then we stopped by medieval dance practice on our way back to [Uncle] Mike's place. When we got back to our temporary home, it was about an hour past Gwen's usual bedtime, but I felt it was important to do the whole bedtime routine. So I put her in her bumbo chair and fed her some cereal, then we went upstairs and had a bath. Then pajamas, bottle, storytime, prayers and lullaby, and into the playpen with her lovey (a gorgeous soft stuffed cow named "Mooey" that Mike gave me for my birthday last year). She babbled and cooed to herself for a few minutes, during which time I snuck out of the room. After a while, she began to cry, but that only lasted about 10 minutes. And then she slept for 6 hours.

When she woke in the night, I fed her for a few minutes and then put her back down. She barely even cried before going to sleep.

OH! And the other amazing thing is that as of Monday, GWEN NO LONGER SLEEPS SWADDLED.

Every night after Gwen goes to sleep, Chris says to me "Good job, honey." But really, it's all her. She has learned so much in the past few weeks, and I'm just so damn proud of her. I'm especially excited about the fact that she handled the trip to Victoria so well, as now I can travel with her without worrying about messing up her schedule. Quite a contrast from a few months ago when I could *only* get her to nap in the swing, and so felt afraid to take her anywhere.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Singularly Unfair, and Utterly Typical (possible TMI)

Today is Gwen's first swimming lesson at the pool. I have been looking forward to this for months. In fact, I was excited enough last night that I had trouble falling asleep!

So it stands to reason that this morning, I woke up with the first period I've had since July 2007. Of course I did. Dammit!

Also in the category of bizarre bodily functions, this morning as I changed Gwen's diaper the following happened:
I took off her dirty diaper, cleaned her up, and applied diaper cream.
She peed.
I got out another cloth, cleaned her up, and re-applied diaper cream.
She pooed.
I got out *another* cloth, cleaned her up, re-applied diaper cream, and waited for her to invent some new bodily function for me to deal with.

I suppose all we need is for Chris to start uncontrollably crying, vomiting, and running his nose, and we will have all bodily functions covered in this house. Kinda like when I was in labour, except then I did them all myself.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Subversive Mommies!

I had a playdate at my place today. I invited 5 moms and babies over for a couple hours. I did the same last week and it was a smash hit, but this week everyone backed out for one (completely valid) reason or another. Only one mom showed up. Fortunately for her and for me, she is an awesome person and so we had a great visit while her son played.

(Oh, and did I forget to mention? Gwen was asleep when they arrived. So it wasn't much of a playdate after all, I suppose.)

Anyway, we had some great talks and discovered that we are both fans of the RIE philosophy of parenting. We also discussed the 'dark side' of motherhood and the stigma against ever admitting to anyone anywhere that mothering is a really difficult job. I told her about "The Mask of Motherhood" and offered to loan it to her when I finish reading it. Wouldn't it be fun to have a moms' book club where we read and discussed books like that?

I told Alison (for lo, that is her name) that one of the reasons I really liked and respected her was that she was the first mom I'd met anywhere, at any of my groups, to admit that her baby was a difficult one and that she sometimes floundered. It's all too easy to fall into the "oh my baby is so cute and wonderful and motherhood is my dream job and rainbows and flowers spill out of my kid's butt on an hourly basis! Joy!" which is totally nonproductive, because when that attitude is everywhere then every mom goes back home and looks in the mirror and thinks she is the only one who doesn't feel that way. So I thought it was awesome that Alison was being honest about it. It was so refreshing, I think I might have a mommycrush.

I also pitched the very subversive idea of not going crazy with the birthday parties next year. Because really, we are all having a great deal of fun getting to know other moms and babies, and we often get together in quite large groups, which is wonderful. But I started thinking about it and it's entirely likely that we will be invited to 20-30 birthday parties next year. And that means buying 20-30 gifts and giving up 20-30 Saturdays, not to mention being expected to throw my own knock-down shindig for Gwen (and let's not even think about the whole concept of oneupmanship when it comes to kids' birthdays...). It just seems insane. So I suggested that we have group birthday parties, like celebrating all the spring babies at one party, all the autumn babies at another, and so on. And maybe just skipping the gifts, because seriously, do we need more toys? Do we, people? (If we really do, isn't that what grandparents are for?)

Alison thought that was a great plan. We are subversive mommies!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Filler

I totally don't have anything to say today, but NaBloPoMo demands that I post anyway.

I humbly suggest if you want something interesting to read, you check out my blogroll. Alternatively, here is an adorable picture of my daughter the drama queen.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Social Me

In a weird way, becoming a mom has made me *more* social instead of less. How odd is that?

Gwen and I went to a playdate this afternoon, which aside from being great fun, was the place of various discussions about future social plans. A Christmas party was suggested, as was a group trip to see Santa for the babies' pictures; an evening of scrapbooking; and a Wii/Rock Band/Singstar party. While some of these include the babies or are centered on the babies, the latter is an adults-only activity and is thus a real departure. Getting together just to socialize? For fun? Because we enjoy each others' company? Woohoo!

Similarly, this evening I went out to a birthday dinner at one of Nanaimo's fancier restaurants for a woman I know through various mommy groups. That is to say, we know each other only because we are mommies. It's really interesting to be part of real friendships being formed out of the mere coincidence of our babies' ages. It's slow going, because at any gathering of moms it's all too easy to just fall back on talking about the kids; in fact, it can be a real challenge to talk about anything else. But it's rewarding when it happens, as you get to know the real person behind the baby bit by bit.

I think I am more social now because I have to be. I have to get out to playdates and story time and so on, not only for Gwen's entertainment and socialization, but because if I just stayed home with her all day every day I WOULD GO CRAZY. The fact that I am consistently seeing the same moms a few times a week, and that we always have a conversation starter ("So, how is ____ sleeping?") makes the social aspect of these outings far less intimidating.

Tonight was a different sort of event and I was worried about it at first. The other moms I knew weren't going, and the only person I knew was the birthday girl. But I fit in, and I had a great time, and everything was totally fine. I think that the past few months of taking Gwen to various outings has been good for me. I guess I'm getting socialized too.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sleep Training: The First Glitch

Today went pretty well, all things considered. It was draining to know that I didn't have backup to trade shifts with me if it took Gwen a long time to fall asleep, but I was determined not to sabotage our progress so far by confusing her and changing techniques. Here are the results:

Up for 3 hours in morning: cried for 27 minutes: slept for 40 minutes
Up for 2.25 hours: cried for 17 minutes: slept for 40 minutes (damn that 40minute hump)
Up for 2.75 hours: cried for 14 minutes: slept for 2.5 hours

That last nap would be the glitch. She got up from her second nap at 1:05, and from then until 7pm (bedtime) was way too long to be awake; plus, she showed me signs of tiredness around 3pm. Figuring she'd have another 40-minute doze, I put her down at 3:30 and she fell asleep at 3:45.

She didn't wake up until 6:10. Which is when we are usually feeding her dinner.

So yeah, not sure what the rest of the night is going to look like now! We're going to give her dinner shortly after 7, then do bathtime and the rest of the bedtime routine, aiming to put her down around 8. Hopefully she'll be tired enough to go for it, or we may be in for way more than 14 minutes worth of crying.

Sleep Training = Success!!

(First of all, if you haven't read last night's post (including all the edits), you should.)

So, last night Gwen slept from 7:14pm until ... ready? ... 6:28 this morning.

Yeah. We didn't hear a peep all night. And when we heard her this morning, it wasn't crying or fussing we heard, but sweet little noises as she babbled away to herself happily.

It felt like Christmas morning. Honestly, that's how happy and excited I was.

I wanted to wait and see how long she would stay content on her own, and also to reinforce what the Sleep Sense program suggests, that 'morning' doesn't start until 7am. So we waited half an hour. She was still happy, fribbing around in her crib. Chris went to get her and brought her into our room, where we turned on a (semi-dim) light and sat up so that we could demonstrate that it was indeed morning. We nursed, and cuddled, and played, and sang a couple of songs.

Now it's 8am and she's happily drinking her bottle beside me in the playpen (hooray for bottles with handles!). I plan to watch her signals carefully this morning and use a similar routine to get her down for a nap. This will be a challenge since I won't have Chris to trade off with me in 20-minute shifts, but I'm hoping that after last night's good sleep (11.5 hours! Holy crap!) she will be primed for good nappin'. Also, I think going back to the "old way" of getting her to nap would just confuse her. We're having such great success so far, I am motivated to keep working on it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Liveblogging the Sleep Training!

We went through our bedtime routine and put Gwen in her crib at 7pm. Chris took the first shift while I went downstairs and set a timer for 20 minutes. Gwen cried for 14 minutes and then fell asleep.

I'm pleased with the small success of that. Chris says it was the hardest thing he's ever done. I'm so proud of both of them.

We'll see how long she stays asleep. The plan is not to feed her unless/until she sleeps for four hours. Next waking is my turn.

Edit, 8pm: It's very typical for Gwen to wake up at the 40-minute mark. She has wiggled and squirmed a couple of times but no crying out (yet). If/when she does, I have to wait 5 minutes before going in to her. If she manages to get over the 40-minute hump without fully waking up, it'll be a really good sign.

Edit, 8:45pm: Gwen is still asleep! She made it past the hump. I'm so proud of her. So far this is going really well, but there's still a long night ahead of us, so I'm heading to bed to get as much sleep as I can before whatever happens next.

Edit, 9:55pm: I'm too wired to sleep. Every time Gwen makes a move (I can hear and see her on the video monitor), I'm totally alert and waiting to see what happens next. She has already come to a light sleep and put herself back to sleep twice. I feel almost ashamed that I didn't have faith in her ability to do this. I also feel odd about not being needed. Didn't expect that.

Right now I'm kind of debating what will be harder: trying to put her back to sleep without feeding her (if she wakes before 11:15) or feeding her but not letting her fall back to sleep on my lap. What a night. Still - whatever comes of the rest of tonight and the rest of the training, I am just so incredibly happy and excited because we have already learned that she can do it. She can put herself to sleep. What an amazing girl we have.

Now if only *I* could calm myself and get to sleep...

Thoughts on Sleep Training

Full-on sleep training starts tonight.

I ordered the Sleep Sense program yesterday and read pretty much the entire thing over the afternoon/evening. We are ready to start.

(Incidentally, I chose this program for a few reasons: I've heard good things about it, her philosophy seems sound to me, and the author lives just a hop, skip and a jump across the water in Sechelt, which somehow makes her more of a real person to me.)

(Also, the No-Cry program was totally not working. Every night we did the same thing, and every night Gwen gave us a different result: anywhere from 40 minutes to 10 hours of sleep. Maddening! My patience was starting to wear very thin.)

I put Gwen down for her nap just now, in the usual way: nursed her to sleep on my lap, then gently transferred her to her crib. I marvelled at the fact that tonight, by my own choice, I will trade this peaceful routine - who doesn't love to have a sleeping baby in their lap? - for a night of crying, screaming, and anguish. Not all of it Gwen's.

But that choice, I am convinced, is the right one. It makes sense to me that a baby (or child, or adult) who goes to sleep in one place and wakes up in another will feel disoriented and upset. It makes sense that that baby would then cry out and insist that the original circumstances be re-created so she can go back to sleep. It makes sense that if those circumstances involve my lap and my breast, I will need to be physically involved every single time she wakes. And it sure as hell makes sense that I can't continue to provide that forever.

I know tonight will be hard. But labour was hard too, and we got through it because we knew the result would be worth it. Falling to sleep on one's own, learning to self-soothe, is an absolutely vital skill, and one that Gwen will use all her life. It will be worth it.

Look forward to more posting tonight while I listen to my baby scream in protest.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Milestones

I was just a smidge concerned recently - and probably wouldn't have been at all, if I wasn't a longtime reader of Schuyler's Monster - that Gwen didn't seem to be using any consonants in her babbling. She would say a lot of "ah ah ah" sounds, but no ba or da or ma or ga. A mere twelve hours after I confided my concern to Chris, Gwen started saying "ba ba ba". And she says it with great gusto and delight, too.



The other thing she's a bit behind on is sitting. She just doesn't seem to have any interest in it, to be honest. The picture below shows a typical moment where Gwen decides she doesn't want to sit on a lap anymore and arches her back until she's either standing or lying down.

I don't know why she's got such a hate-on for the sitting, given that it's one of my most favoured hobbies. At six months, she is supposed to be starting to sit unassisted for brief periods of time, but she won't sit at all unless you hold her forcibly in that position. My best guess is that the issues with her sacrum, which have since been worked on by her chiropractor and resolved, set her back a bit in that regard. I'm sure she'll get there eventually.



Another six-month milestone is the recognition of her own name. I tested this a few weeks ago, sitting to one side of Gwen and calling out to her. Sure enough, she turned towards the sound of my voice - trouble was, she didn't really seem to care if I called her "Gwen" or "Poohead". It was the tone and voice she was responding to, not the word itself. Although it's really funny to watch your infant daughter respond when you call her "Poohead", it's probably something we shouldn't do too often. In an effort to teach her her proper name, we've started using it to great excess. "Hello, Gwen's Dad," I will greet Chris when he comes home from work. "As you can see, Gwen is happy to see you. Aren't you, Gwen? Yes, Gwen, you are happy to see Gwen's Dad. Hey, Gwen's Dad, did I tell you that Gwen's name is actually Gwen? And not Poohead?"



The milestone that Gwen has reached and surpassed, on the other hand, is separation anxiety. Last week, my mother-in-law arrived for Gramma time while Gwen was asleep, and when she woke up, she was right pissed that I was nowhere to be found. She screamed for a solid 30 minutes, despite bottle, walking, shhing, and various other attempts to soothe and/or distract. Fortunately, I arrived home at about that time. I admit that leaving while she was asleep was not the ideal scenario, but there wasn't much else to be done at the time.



Even when Gwen is fully awake and in a social mood - which is most of the time - she is starting to really check in with me (or Chris, when he's around) about other people's attention to her. I went to meet my mom and her best friend at Woodgrove Mall this past weekend, as they were on the Island for some shopping and a theatre production. Gwen gave her Grannie (whom she doesn't see very often) a big gummy smile, then turned to find me and make sure I was still nearby. At this stage, it is still pretty flattering to know that she values me above all others, though I'm sure the novelty will wear off rapidly.



I read that separation anxiety is not actually the fear of being physically separated from the parent, but a cognitive stage - a realization that the infant is in fact a separate person from the parent, which causes fear as she realizes that I won't always be there. It's sad, but also exciting to realize that she is going through such complex learning.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Old Wives and Changing Rules

A conversation I have often with other moms is about change, as in how "the rules", or more accurately guidelines, change constantly. It's almost a running joke how unwelcome it is to new moms when we hear advice from our own moms (or moms-in-law), not to mention 'helpful' would-be grannies on the street or at the grocery store, because whatever those moms were told 10, 20, 30 or more years ago is just not what we are being told now.*

*Note that I don't say what we're being told is right and what they were told is wrong, because I know good and well that in 10 years (or less!) all my knowledge will be thought of as useless as well.

One example of this is the introduction of solid foods. A generation ago - so I'm told by the public health nurses - it was recommended to start solids at 3 months of age. Babies of this age were not able to chew, so it was necessary to puree all their food, and thus an entire industry of pureed/strained baby mush in tiny jars was born. Nowadays, we are told not to start solids until 6 months, at which point babies are better able to mash the food in their jaws (even if teeth are not present, which they sometimes are). Thus, foods don't need to be pureed, just mashed a bit into bite-sized pieces. We are advised to skip the jarred baby foods altogether and just feed baby whatever we are eating.

I can't help but think of how this isolates the generations from another, when we are taught to scoff at what the "old wives" have to offer. It just ends up adding to the feeling that we are completely on our own, floating in a sea of conflicting information, frantically trying to sort the good from the bad. Whenever a group of mommyfriends get together, we compare notes with a quiet desperation, seeking confirmation from others that what we're doing - in regards to sleep, feeding, play, bathing, discipline, language, and a host of other things - is similar to what others are doing, and is therefore tenuously "right".

Monday, November 10, 2008

Naps - or not

This morning Gwen and I hosted our first playdate, which was quite a success. We had 4 other moms and babies over, friends that we know from the drop-in, and everyone seemed to have a great time. Babies babbled, moms vented, it was all good!

So, after everyone left, I figured Gwen would be quite keen for a nap, as she'd been up for nearly three hours and had had a lot of excitement in that time. I changed her diaper, made her a bottle, got her swaddled and rocked her to sleep. She slept for twenty-five minutes. This is bad.

Lately Gwen has been having the "forty-minute wake-up", which I gather is pretty common among babies. She wakes up *exactly* 40 minutes after we put her down to sleep. Elizabeth Pantley ("The No-Cry Sleep Solution") recommends setting a timer for (in this case) 35 minutes, and waiting outside the door so you can go in at the slightest peep. I've tried this a couple times with good results, but my 35-minute timer didn't do me a damn bit of good with Gwen waking up ten minutes before it went off! Holy crap!

I rushed back in, nursed and rocked her back to sleep, and lay her gently in her crib. As soon as I straightened up, she started crying and fussing. I picked her up again, swayed back and forth trying to soothe her. No dice. I sat back down in the rocking chair and tried to nurse her. Not interested. Her eyes were wide open and she was ready to rock and roll!

So, fine, she's up. Fuming and grumbling about the annoyance of a baby who sleeps for twenty-five freakin' minutes, I let her be awake. She played in her crib for awhile, watching me fold laundry, and then hung out with me in the kitchen while I chatted online with my sister. When she started to get whiny and fussy, I figured it was naptime again. Changed the diaper, made the bottle, swaddled her up, and rocked her to sleep.

Once again, she woke up as soon as I started to put her down in her crib. Didn't even deign to sleep for 25 minutes, this time around. Bright eyes, wide awake, ready to party - after maybe three minutes worth of sleep on my lap.

Not adequate!

So to review, Gwen's day has been:
9:15am awake
10am - 12pm playdate
12:15pm asleep
12:40pm awake, rocked back to sleep
12:50pm fully awake
2:30pm rocked to sleep
2:40pm fully awake
2:45pm into swing because Mom is out of ideas!

By the sounds of things - or more adequately the lack of sounds - I think she has gone to sleep in the swing, which is nice on the one hand but not really a great solution. We had gotten away from the swing altogether and now its use is starting to increase again. She's going to be too big for it soon and we won't have it to fall back on ... what will I do then?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Identity Crisis

It's Sunday morning and I am soon to be heading out to church. It looks like I'll be going without my baby, which will be only the second time since she was born that I've done that. She's sleeping, and I'm definitely not waking her up just to give myself the privilege of stressing out about whether she'll stay quiet and content during the sermon. Heck no, let the child sleep!

I get out without Gwen three to four times a week: to yoga class, to Weight Watchers, during Gramma time, and occasionally another outing such as today's to church. Yoga and Weight Watchers are okay, but during other outings I usually feel pretty weird without her. Like I've gone out without my pants, or something.

The first time I went to church without her was just a few weeks ago, under the same circumstances. Chris stayed home with the napping Gwen while I went to church, and when I got there, another baby from our mom-and-baby group was being baptized, and his little siblings and cousins were there, and then in addition to the family we usually sit beside (whose younger daughter is the only other child under ten at our service), another family with three little ones showed up and sat down beside me. So I was completely surrounded by kids, and didn't have my own to cuddle. I felt all left out. Which is completely bizarre, I know.

It's even worse when I go out shopping, which usually happens during Gramma Time. I'll inevitably end up at Babies R Us or the Wal-Mart baby section, perusing the goods and wondering what Gwen "needs". And there will inevitably be other moms and dads and even grammas there with their own wee ones, and I'll smile dotingly at them, and maybe even ask "How old?", and then realize that my mommycred in the form of my own adorable baby is absent, and so I just look like a weirdo. A mamawannabe.

Maybe my own identity has been so swallowed up by the identity of Gwen's Mom that I don't know who I am, or how others view me, when I don't have her there to instantly serve as my introduction. Moms meeting in public places strike up conversations quite easily, and without my Gwen I don't have the "in" to join the discussion, because who am I if I'm not carrying a baby?

Being a mom is really weird sometimes.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Returning to Work, Part Two: Gwen and Me

So, what does it mean if I return to work full time?

The previous plan of Gwen in daycare for two days, with Grandma one day, and with me two days gets tweaked a bit. Instead, Gwen would be in daycare three days a week, with Grandma one day, and with Chris one day (because he doesn't work for the government, so his hours are a lot more flexible). If I examine this schedule objectively, I realize that it still gives Gwen a wonderful, well-rounded week with a good balance between family care and professional care. Gwen is not losing out, here. I am.

No more taking Gwen swimming in the mornings. No more walks with other moms and babies. No more baby boot camp workouts at the gym. No more storytime at the library. No more playdates.

Ultimately, no more opportunities for me to socialize and compare notes with other moms. And no more chances to spend quality time doing fun activities with my daughter.

I'm scared that if I work full time, arriving home at 5pm five days a week, my time will be fully claimed by preparing dinner and getting the chores done, and I'll have no time to spend with Gwen. I'll be in a mad rush for an hour, and then it will be time for the dinner-bath-bedtime routine and that will be that. Aside from my own feelings of loss, there's a bigger reason I care about this.

There's a psychologist who claims that whomever your kid spends the most amount of time with, will have the biggest influence on him or her. Especially in the younger years when value systems are being formed, it's crucial to be your child's primary influence, rather than peers. Yes, peer time is valuable, but it's still an adult's job to 'socialize' a child: throwing a bunch of kids in a room together doesn't turn them into good citizens.

This rings true to me, and so it contributes to my fear as well. How can I be a primary influence in Gwen's life if we have no time together? Or, put another way, how can Gwen know that she is important to me if we don't have time to spend together?

This is all compounded by the fact that I am convinced Gwen is going to become a lot more fun to be with, right around the time I have to start leaving her. She'll be mobile, she'll be starting to talk, she'll have definite preferences for different toys and books and activities, she'll be even more interactive and yet somehow more independent as well. When we go to playdates, she'll actually be able to play instead of just lying on her blanket and watching the big kids. When we go for a walk, she might actually walk a bit herself, and be interested in our surroundings and what's happening around her. When we go to a playground, she'll actually be able to play on the equipment. You know - she'll start to be a kid, not a baby. I don't want to miss that! I want to be a part of all of it. I want to be the one who teaches her what a cow says, and what colour lemons are. I want to take her to the petting zoo and help her learn her numbers and letters. Is that selfish?

On the other hand, this is a situation that millions of families have to face, and they all survive. Yes, working full time sucks, but millions of other moms have done it and I can do it too. Or so I try to convince myself.

I spoke to my sister last week about her experiences, as she has two young boys and works full time. She was full of good advice and a thoughtful pep talk, including the point that if I worked full time I could hire a cleaning woman to come and take care of the house, so I would have a smidgeon more family time.

The irony here, I suppose, is that I'm not full of perfect bliss during this time when I am with her all day every day. I get frustrated when she's whiny or when she needs a nap but won't take one. I snap at her when she's so clingy she won't even let me put her down to get the bottle she's so hungry for. I get relentlessly bored and cabin fever-y. And yet when I'm away from her, I miss her so much. It's a ridiculous dichotomy, and I guess that's why I wanted to work part-time, to give not only Gwen but myself as well the best of both worlds.

Anyway, I am far from reconciled with the thought of working full time (obviously), but I am working on it. Hopefully sometime within the next six months the perfect answer and accompanying mental peace will present itself.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Returning to Work, Part One: Work

I've been meaning to post here for a while about the return-to-work dilemma. I can't believe that Gwen is already six months old, or, more to the point, that I am more than halfway through my maternity leave. I've been thinking about this a lot lately, more than perhaps is healthy. Let me lay it out for you.

First of all, I *have* to go back to work for the Health Authority - not because we need the money (although we do), but because for the first six months of my leave, my union was paying me a top-up to my EI benefits, and if I don't go back to work for them, I have to pay all that money back. So becoming a stay-at-home mom is out, which is fine by me because I think being at home all the time would drive me completely bonkers.

For the past year or so, I've been quite contentedly planning to go back to work part-time. To me, this is the perfect solution for our family, and gives Gwen a great blend of both worlds: professional care (new environment, toys, socializing with other kids) and family care. She'd be in daycare two days a week, with Grandma for one day, and with me for the other two weekdays, leaving the weekends for family time. Recently, however, this option has started to look less and less possible.

Unlike a retail or service position, where I could just tell my boss that I want full time or part time hours, working in a union government job means that my particular position is rigidly defined. So rigid, in fact, that if I wanted to make my job into a part-time position I would have to 1) convince all layers of management that the work could be done in half the time, not just by me but by anyone; 2) convince them that losing a fulltime staff is a good idea, since this ultimately affects their budget and thus their relative importance as a department manager; 3) wait for them to re-post the position, which could take months; and then 4) re-apply for the position. For the job I already have. And there is a chance, however slim, that I would not be the successful applicant, which would really be a smack upside the head with the irony stick.

So, the second option is to jobshare. I asked my union rep how this works, and it's pretty similar to the option above in terms of the convincing management and so on, but also includes the fun (impossible?) task of finding someone who wants to jobshare with me, and creating a full written jobshare plan that would detail exactly who would be responsible for what, and what hours each person would work, and so on. Even if I could find this magic person *and* find the time to create this document, I don't have the knowledge to do so because of one more sticky little fact. Sometime in my year of leave (the date has been changed twice already), a new software program is supposed to be adopted by our department that will basically eliminate the data entry position. Which is, um, my job. So how the heck do I write a hugely detailed document about how I'm going to share my job with someone when I don't even know what that job will be?

So, on to the third option. The major bonus of working for the Health Authority is that I can apply for any internal job posting, even when I'm on leave. In fact, I think if I apply and am the successful candidate (due to qualifications and seniority) they then have to hire a temporary person to do the job until my leave is finished. So I can scour the postings every week for part time jobs, right? Yes I can! And I can apply for every appropriate part time position that comes up, right? Yes I can! And I can count the number of appropriate part time positions that have been posted in the past six months on approximately zero fingers, right? YES I CAN!

So, um, yeah, that's not looking so good either.

Anyway, barring unforeseen miracles or found wealth, it is starting to look a whole lot like I will have to work full time come April. Of course, there are still many unknowns. Maybe the new software will change my job so much that the management will have to re-post the position anyway, and I'll be able to persuade them to make it a part-time position. Maybe another perfect part-time position will present itself. I don't know. But in the meantime, I am trying to change my attitudes so that if I do end up working full time, I will feel okay about that.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The only time I'll be posting a picture of myself in a bathing suit

Yesterday was Gwen's third time at the pool. She loved it! She stayed happily in the water for about an hour, long enough that her feet were wrinkly when we got out. She kicked and splashed and bounced and jumped and played with the other babies and just had an awesome time.

Here she is in the lobby of the rec complex as we wait for the pool to open.


And here she is in her adorable bathing suit, doing a stomach crunch (which she does nearly constantly), before going in.



And here we are in the pool.


On the way home from the pool, despite me singing the Stay Awake song (lyrics below) and poking Gwen repeatedly in the head, she fell fast asleep in her carseat. Then Chris carried her up to her room (still in the carseat) and she slept for two hours straight.

Our swimming lessons start in two weeks. I'm looking forward to learning more about what to do with her in the water, since she is enjoying it so much.
Edit: Damn! I forgot to put the lyrics of the Stay Awake song. And no one even noticed, which I guess means no one really reads this thing anyway. Oh well, here are the lyrics of the Stay Awake song, sung to the tune of "Alouette".
Gwen J. Buechler, Gwendolyn J. Buechler
Gwen J. Buechler, stay awake!
Stay awake in the car ... though we're driving pretty far.
In the car, driving far, ahhhhhh..... (repeat)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Second Chance

I am quite emotionally attached to my blogroll. I keep it small, because I actually read every single entry on every single one of those blogs (and for most of them, I've read years' worth of their archives, back when I had a government job and tons of time on my hands). I don't have time to check them every day, but once or twice a week I'll find myself with baby asleep, dishes and laundry done, and I'll grab an hour or so to catch up with all the other mommy- and daddy-bloggers on my list.

Two of my favourites, Amy and Emily, recently posted about issues close to my heart. What else? Breastfeeding.

Amy and Emily both had a lot of difficulty with breastfeeding their firstborn sons. Amy just had her second son, and Emily is expecting her daughter in December. So they are both facing the same issues again.

Emily writes: "I always wondered if the reason Asher and I had such a frustratingly terrible nursing relationship was because he was born so small and weak (one of the effects of preeclampsia is compromised blood flow to the placenta, which results in retardation of fetal growth and nutrition).

"No one ever speculated on why we were so crappy at it, but in the 12-ish weeks that I breastfed, we never once had a nursing session that lasted less than 50 minutes, unless it was because I ended it myself. I heard from eighteen million different people—friends, doctors, the Internet, CERTIFIED LACTATION CONSULTANTS—that when he was full, he would pop himself right off. As GOD AS MY WITNESS, PEOPLE, this never happened to us. Never. As in, not even once."

(I can so relate.)

After a pledge to stop breastfeeding without (too much) guilt if the same thing happens again, Emily reaches the crux of the matter:

"But I’m also terrified that it will go well, especially if this baby is born a little bigger and stronger than Asher was. I’m terrified that it will go well and I’ll still hate it. I’m terrified that it will go well and I’ll still feel resentful. I’m terrified that I won’t know how to do it right, especially since one of the things I’m looking forward to MOST about having a second baby is knowing exactly what to do with it. I know how to formula feed; been there, done that, and did it SUCCESSFULLY. Breastfeeding? Still kind of a big, fat mystery, since my entire experience with it is clouded by feelings of sadness and confusion and anger and also a lot of hysterical crying."

My emotional response to this is a great deal of empathy. Emily is one of the biggest reasons why I blog, specifically her entries on breastfeeding which - long before I even became a mother - I recognized as groundbreaking for the simple reason that she was being honest about her experience of motherhood, putting her guilt and pain and vulnerability out there for the world to see, speaking with such raw emotion and honesty about how damned hard it really is. While she likely made that post just as a way to work through her conflicting emotions, it has come to mean so much more to me (and, I'm guessing, to others): because women out there having the same difficulties now knew they weren't alone. There's a lot of propaganda out there about mothering in general and breastfeeding in particular, and it all depends on us not copping to the fact that this is really hard, instead pasting smiles on our faces and chirping mindlessly it's all worth it!

The fact that Emily is still facing the birth of her upcoming child with fear and doubt in her heart really resonates with me. Her post perfectly sums up the "damned if you do, damned if you don't" nature of much of motherhood.

Meanwhile, Amy writes:

"During the five months that I nursed Noah, I can probably count the number of times I could have described it as "blissful" or "wonderful" or even "pleasant." It was...mildly tolerable, most of the time.

"This time has been completely different. Unbelievably different. When the nurse first plopped Ezra rather unceremoniously across my chest in the recovery room post-surgery, leaving me to struggle with positioning him while mostly numb and immobile ... I was able to get him on and nursing vigorously almost immediately -- you'd never know that his birth had been such a rude surprise for him, and so heavily medicated. He was awesome. I'm using words like awesome and wonderful and blissful a lot these days. We're good at this. It works. It insert-Keanu-Reeves-style-WHOA works.

"He'll take the bottle grudgingly, suck it all down, and then demand one more go at the breast to fall asleep. Because he loves to nurse. And, amazingly, so do I.

"I had one recurring dream during pregnancy: I gave birth to a baby boy, and I breastfed him. And everything was fine, and then I woke up. So while I will resist the urge to end this post with a trite and corny saying about dreams coming true, you should know that I'm totally thinking it."

Oh, this one breaks my heart. Amy has gotten the nursing relationship she always wanted, and while I'm so very happy for her, it also hurts me deeply to know that there is one less mom out there in the "breastfeeding FAIL" boat. Though obviously drastically different in terms of scale, I compare it (very humbly) to the way it must feel when someone on an infertility message board announces their pregnancy: yes, you're happy for her, but you're painfully aware that that leaves one less person in your situation, and doesn't that just mean that she figured out something you didn't, and doesn't that really mean that you just suck somehow?

The books and the lactation consultants and the health care professionals and the Internets all use these words, "bliss", "wonderful", "beautiful", "bonding", "natural", "peaceful", when describing breastfeeding. It's so much more comforting for those of us who don't feel that way to cynically believe that no one does, that it's all a sham perpetrated by the patriarchy, that all moms dislike it but some are just better at tolerating it (and lying about it) than others. It's a bit of a blow when it turns out that one of the cynics changes her mind and says (in effect) "Oh, NOW I get it! THAT'S how it's supposed to work!"

The part that's hardest for me to swallow is that I will never get that second chance. Gwen is going to be an only child, a choice that I am perfectly happy with and have no conflicting emotions about. Still, when I read about Amy's experience with Ezra and her newfound love of breastfeeding, it does make me sad that I'll never have that. Not sad enough to reconsider having another child, because dude, what a crappy reason to reproduce - but just wistful. Then again, when I'm in my more rational mind I think, "If I hadn't already decided to only have one child, the disaster of breastfeeding definitely would have convinced me."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Social Gwen

I've mentioned on this blog many, many times that Gwen is a super-social girl. I really love that about her, actually. I know there will be stages of separation anxiety and playing shy, but I have a feeling that her true personality is outgoing, friendly, and interested in new things.

Last week was our first time going to the "big kids" group at the drop-in, the group for 6-12 month olds. I had heard that it was a completely different environment, and wow, it really is. There are crawlers and cruisers and all kinds of action going on. Kids successfully (or not) sharing toys and books. Parents mediating all their kids' interactions. A far cry from the 0-6 month group, where the babies lie on the floor mats and only infrequently notice that there are other babies around them.

In the morning group, there were only about 8 moms there, and Gwen was the youngest by a good 4-5 months. Which means all the other kids were all over the place. And often, their exploration of the room led them close to Gwen, who was still just lying on the mat, occasionally rolling over, watching the big kids with great interest.

Every time a child crawled close to Gwen, his or her mom would insert herself into their path, arm blocking my immobile baby, and redirect the child elsewhere. I was kind of disappointed. Part of the reason I go to groups like this is to allow Gwen that opportunity to socialize, and this won't happen if the other kids aren't allowed near her. I do understand that kids this age (10-12 months) are not totally reliable with their interpretations of the words "gentle" and "careful", and I know that Gwen will get her hair pulled or her arm squished through these interactions, and despite what I wrote the other day about my desire to protect her, I am okay with that. But I'd rather have the kid come on over, touch Gwen and interact with her, and let them both get something out of the experience. Obviously I am not going to let a bigger child kick Gwen in the face, or anything, but for Pete's sake, let the kids play! Removing one or the other of them from the situation altogether is not going to teach either of them anything about social interactions.

What do you all think? Moms - how much do you mediate in your kids' social interactions? What do you wish other moms did or didn't do while interacting with you and your kid?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Reading List

My belief in life is that there is no problem in the world that won't be helped by reading a book about it.

This is borne out by my reading list from the past year or so. Some selections:

Taking Charge of Your Fertility
Pregnancy Loss: A Silent Sorrow
Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife
The Birth House
Pregnancy Sucks
The Midwifery Option: A Canadian Guide to the Birth Experience
The Doula Advantage
Birthing From Within
The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth
Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn
What to Expect the First Year
The Happiest Baby on the Block
The No-Cry Sleep Solution
Sleeping Through The Night and Other Lies



That's a whole history of my recent life right there, isn't it? I love that.


Recently some other books have joined my list: books that tackle the hard questions about motherhood, as the first generation of feminists become mothers and confront the fact that we can't really "have it all" as we've been promised.


The Mommy Myth: How the Idealization of Motherhood has Undermined All Women
Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood
The Mask of Mother Hood: How Becoming a Mother Changes Everything, And Why We Pretend It Doesn't
Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety
Mothershock: Loving Every (Other) Minute of It
It's a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters


Love love love these books. Love the questions they raise about the societal role of motherhood, and the knowledge that I'm not the only one to find this job mind-numbingly tedious and yet utterly all-consuming at the same time. The books don't offer easy answers, but they do assure me I'm not alone, and often phrase my own dilemmas and difficulties in much more articulate language than I'm able to produce. Which is why I'm an amateur blogger and they are published writers, I guess. At least I can claim to be well-read, right?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Overprotective

I didn't really realize it until very recently, but it's true. I am a paranoid, overprotective Mom.


I do all kinds of things that are really no service to Gwen. For example, she can now roll both ways, but she finds it a bit more challenging to go from her tummy to her back, and will often squawk in frustration, kicking her legs futilely into the air, looking like a turtle on its back (except, you know, she's on her front). I get up from whatever I'm doing and go flip her over before the whining starts to grate on my nerves. Then a few minutes later we do it all over again. How will she ever feel self-reliant if I solve this problem for her every time?


Now that I can see it, I'm really ashamed of it. Letting her suck to sleep every night (and every naptime) is a version of the same problem. How will she ever learn that she can sleep without sucking, if she never has the opportunity to do so? And now I've started feeding her solids, which is a laugh because I am so terrified of her choking that I crush her food into the smallest bits possible and then still hold my breath when she swallows, hoping she doesn't start to gag or turn blue.


Gwen gets a lot of solitary play time, which I think is good, because I have many fond memories of solitary play and want her to have that experience too. On the other hand, when she is playing on her blanket and I see her get too close to the wall or to the edge of the mat (where, conceivably, she could roll off and bonk her head on the wood floor) I intervene and move her back to the center. As Janice pointed out to me, Gwen is going to get many bumps and bruises as she becomes more mobile - I cannot always prevent them, and really, they are not a big deal! I'm just so in the habit of protecting her that I am unsure how to step back.


I've been re-reading Your Self-Reliant Child by Magda Gerber and thinking a lot about how my current habits with Gwen really differ from what Magda teaches. Crying is another example. Magda teaches that we all need and deserve the chance to express our feelings, whether negative or positive. When Gwen cries, she is expressing sadness, frustration, anger, or a host of other things. When I rush in to stop her crying - without even being sure what the cause is - I am squelching her expression. Of course that is an easy concept to understand but a hard practice to carry out because no one likes listening to a crying baby.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Bits and Pieces from Land of Gwen

I'm off Domperidone now. And I'm done pumping. October 28th was my last session (a date which is also my wedding anniversary, and the fact that I had a pumping session that evening that gives you an idea how exciting our celebrations were, doesn't it?) and I got barely an ounce and you know, it's just not worth it anymore. Pump parts are packed away in the pantry and I am perfectly pleased.


Speaking of Domperidone, I was thinking back to when Gwen was born. At the time, I was taking three pre-natal vitamins and three iron supplements a day. When my milk supply proved inadequate, I started taking three blessed thistle supplements and three fenugreek tablets as well. Then when even the herbs didn't help, we added eight Domperidone pills daily.

That's a total of twenty pills a day. Plus the later addition of liquid herbal supplement, which as previously mentioned tasted like Satan's old underwear.

I would also like to point out that at some point I was told that Domperidone is most effective if taken every six hours, so instead of taking it at four times during waking hours, I would actually take a dose of pills at 4am every morning.

Do I feel like I did everything I could to improve my milk supply? Hell, yes. Am I glad to be off all those stupid pills and back to taking my regular plain old One-A-Day multi? YES.

I am still nursing, a fact which sort of amazes me, but let me be clear and dash your hopes of altruism: I get 10 extra Weight Watchers points per day for being a nursing mom. (Twelve pounds down, 35 to go!)



I have now purchased two snowsuits for Gwen, and I can't decide which one to return. Snowsuit #1 is green and orange and awesome. It is technically a "boys" snowsuit but I say bah to that, girls are allowed to wear things that aren't pink, dammit! On the other hand, I am not crazy about licensed characters, and this suit doesn't strike me as being, um, waterproof in any way. Which you'd kind of want a snowsuit to be. The second one, as you can see, is pink. And boring. But waterproof. But pink? We are a wee bit tired of pink 'round these parts. Although whenever I dress her in anything other than pinky-pink with an extra layer of pinkness, I get told what a cute little fella she is. And that irritates me more than I would like.

So, do I rebel against the stereotype that girls should dress in pink? Or do I rebel against licensed characters? Tough choice.



I have taken to watching episodes of "The Office" on DVD while I nurse. Sometimes, though, Gwen gets really distracted by the TV and I have to turn it off or at least pause it while coaxing her back to the breast. The other day it was paused on an image of Steve Carrell and she looked at the screen and started giggling. Then she paused, then started giggling again. Repeat, repeat, repeat. It was as if Steve Carrell was doing something hilarious that only she could see. Maybe she is just mimicking me, as I certainly look at the screen and giggle often enough. It was really adorable, and yet disquieting, because it appears I am raising a TV addict and that makes me sad.

Someday soon I am going to have to put my foot down and say "No TV while Gwen is awake." But oh, how bored I will be from that day forward. (She no longer allows me to read while nursing as I need all my hands free to manage her.)


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