Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Every child is an artist

I liked this quote of the day on Marvelous Kiddo.

First school art project

River brought home his first school art project today. And it’s bilingual. I like this place.

it's still a fetus

The other day, I referred to the thing growing in my belly as a fetus while talking with Mark.

“Do you still think of it as a fetus?” he asked. He sometimes refers to it by the name we’ve pretty much agreed on. I wish I could share it with you, because I love it, but since I change all names on this blog, I’ll say it’s Willow here.

I admitted that I don’t feel much of a bond to the being that is in there now.

“I would be devastated if I lost the pregnancy at this point,” I said. “But not because I’m bonded to what is in there now. It’s because I’m bonded to the idea of what will emerge in a couple of months.”

Sometime, when I hear other women express love or pride about their growing fetuses, I feel like I’d be a better mother if I were more like them. If I were less attuned to the pains of pregnancy and more appreciative of the miracle. I suppose bonding before and after birth would be ideal. But if it has to be one or the other, I think post-birth bonding is definitely preferable.

Yes, now I see it as a fetus, as a solid, massive object that is beginning to make my life difficult. Most of my pregnancy thoughts are now about discomfort, pain and fear of childbirth. I do recognize that the pounding coming from within is my future daughter, and I’m excited to meet her, but I think of “her” as what emerges three months from now, and not what is there now.

I’m reassured by the fact that I didn’t bond much with River in the womb, but we’ve had a very secure attachment since he emerged. I expect it will be the same the second time around.

I also told Mark about my reluctance to use the name Willow before the birth. If something would happen and we already referred to her by name, we couldn’t use that name again. As long as it remains the fetus, or as we occasionally joke, the parasite, the name is not so dependent on the outcome.

Then a part of me clings toward formal terminology as a means of representing my views on abortion. I would not want to abort this fetus. But there are cases in which women need to make that decision. I believe in their right to do so and don’t want to overly humanize something when I believe it is still the woman’s decision to control what is happening within her body.

Fetus/Willow/baby continues to grow and my thoughts alternate between dread and discomfort regarding the next few months and excited preparation for meeting my daughter - the word still has a magical ring - my daughter, near the end of the year.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Slow climb for women managers

From a New York Times article, “Managers who were mothers earned 79 cents of every dollar paid to managers who were fathers, after adjusting for things like age and education. This gap has stayed the same since at least 2000. The greater toll that parenthood appears to take on women’s paychecks may help explain why, generally speaking, female managers are less likely to have children than their male counterparts.”

Do I have a baby in my tummy too?

I haven’t talked much about the baby in my tummy since I first told River and his reaction was pretty noncommittal. He hasn’t asked much about it since, nor has he commented on my growing belly.

But this afternoon he asked me for an airplane ride, where I balance him on my feet and raise him up in the air. I’m afraid I’ve moved beyond my capacity to do that for another few months and wanted to explain to him why.

I showed him how big my stomach is and told him there is a baby in there. “When it moves, I’ll show it to you,” I said. For the first time, it really seemed to register that he understood.

“We have to find the baby inside,” he said. “We have to look for it.”

I told him it would come out in three months, after his birthday, and he raised three fingers to count the months. A little later, he lifted his pyjama top and looked at his own belly. “Do I have a baby in my stomach too?” he asked. I told him no, that his belly was small, and mine was big. Mark insisted I explain that only women have babies, which I added on.

Though I think I’m still just shy of the third trimester mark, for the past week or two, I really feel like I’m there. I’m having trouble sleeping, I have to push myself up off of chairs/sofas, usually at an angle, and I’m generally feeling large and not very flexible. I’m spending a lot of time shopping online for maternity clothes (or at least looking), hoping that if I get things I feel good in, I’ll be better able to handle what I think will be a rough three months. But then, there is that part of me that thinks it’s crazy to spend money on stuff that will last a maximum of three months. So I picked up a few things from freecycle, am going to scout out maternity clothes at a big used children’s product sale next weekend, and am treating myself to a couple of used quality items on Ebay. I may even allow myself the splurge of two new shirts by my favorite manufacturer.

Last pregnancy I was a fan of the Gap. I loved how I could order by mail and return for free anything that didn’t fit. It was inexpensive and looked decent. But I found that some of the pieces didn’t hold up so well with time.

This time around, I’m a big fan of Isabella Oliver. It’s very expensive (thus my Ebay scouting). But so beautiful. Some mothers on a parenting group recommended it, saying that the clothes worked well in the fourth trimester, which was a period in which I struggled to find things to wear last time around. Today I wore the black portrait top I picked up on ebay and for the first time, felt good about myself while showing my bump. Here is a picture in a lovely urban parking garage – somewhere around 26 weeks.

Friday, September 24, 2010


I’m feeling so lucky these days to be River’s mom. He is such a joy to be with. Last night we went to our CSA and he happily amused himself in the rows of tomato plants, pulling off cherry tomatoes and popping them into his mouth, while I filled a box with tomatoes. He insisted on using the shears to cut the flowers and does a surprisingly good job at it. On the way home, we sang the ABCs in Spanish while “drumming” on the seats. And he asked me what just about every sign we passed said – putting my translation skills to the test as I tried to translate things like “All traffic to the right” or “Pedestrian crossing” into Spanish. He commented upon the various states of fall leaves and which ones were turning which colors. He told me the trees have eyes and noses and feet. He thought it was so cool that one house had its house number on its mailbox and the same number on a nearby light post. Just the fact that he notices and appreciates these things brings the world to life for me.

I’m in what I expect will be a very brief period in which I appear intelligent to him. As he talked about the trees having feet, I told him about roots, and about how they pull in water to the trees and the leaves pull in sunlight. “Si, si,” he said, taking in the information, accepting it, storing it away for future use, and probably thinking that mom must really know what she’s talking about.
I don’t know much beyond that. Something about chlorophyll and photosynthesis, but I’d have to look it up to talk to him about it. I was stumped when he asked me the name of the various farming tools and tilling equipment we walked by last night. I became nervous when he started to point to various objects we passed in the car and asked me what they were. I suddenly felt my Spanish vocabulary was lacking.

However, he gives me the chance to look it up and seems to think that is normal. While brushing his teeth the other day, he asked me what gums were and I couldn’t remember in Spanish. I looked it up in the dictionary (encias), told him a bit later, and he thought that was cool.

I feel acceptance, love and respect from him. We have a good time together and a mutual partnership in learning and teaching. While I teach him how things work, he teaches me new ways to look at and relate to our surroundings. Like the flowers, plants and trees we spend so much time observing and discussing, every day the little experiences, discussions and observations add to his soil and he grows taller, wiser and more confident.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

mandated repeat HIV tests for pregnant women and newborn babies

Today at the ob/gyn they took my blood and the doctor ran off the list of tests she wanted to run. Some of them – such as the glucose test, an iron test – made sense to me. Others I wasn’t so sure of the purpose, but didn’t argue. Until she said HIV test.

“We already did one earlier in the pregnancy, but we have to do one more,” she said.

“Can I skip that? I haven’t been exposed to any risks since the last time and it’s a waste of money to test for it again.”

Now that we are paying for a larger chunk of our medical expenses, I am paying more attention to the tests that are ordered and doing my best to refuse the senseless ones. With prices as ridiculous as they are, even 20% of a single blood test is a significant expense.

“Yes, it is a waste,” she said. “But our state is high-risk for HIV. So we have to test twice during the pregnancy. If we don’t, they will test the baby at the hospital.”

“They can force me to have my baby tested?”

“I’m not sure what the rules of refusal are,” she said. But she also indicated that perhaps they wouldn’t notice I didn’t have the second test.

I told her I wanted to skip it. It’s great to keep an eye out for HIV and to be ready to treat infected babies quickly. But I’m not high-risk. And I don’t want to have to pay for unnecessary tests because of some blanket rule. Nor do I want blood drawn from my newborn baby when there is no chance whatsoever that it’s infected with HIV.

“If they do catch it at the hospital, they will probably give you a chance to take the test again instead of testing the baby,” she said.

I just googled it and found out that indeed, my state has a law requiring testing of all pregnant women in the first and third trimesters, “unless they refuse.” It says if the HIV status of the woman is unknown, the baby will be tested, unless the mother has religious objections. Is my HIV status going to be “unknown” because I was only tested in the first and not the third trimester? If so, I am now developing religious objections. And I’m going to advise my pediatrician of those objections.

The ACLU has an interesting article on the topic from 2001. The CDC has some explanation of a screening policy here. And there is an interesting overview here.

It seems a common reason for opposition to mandatory testing is related to privacy. I’m opposed to the policy based on a belief that no one has the right to extract blood from me or my newborn without my permission, especially when there is no compelling medical risk. I’m also opposed to my family and my health insurance paying for something that has no medical value. I resent the state saying it knows more about my risk factors than I do.
Reaching out to women at risk and in need is great, especially in countries where pregnancy may be the only time when women have regular contact with the medical system. But applying blanket testing requirements in cases where women don’t want to be tested or where testing is a waste of resources, rubs me the wrong way.
If you live in a state with one of these rules, how did you handle it? Do you think such policies make sense?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A large solid object

Week 26 and I feel myself with a large, solid object within my belly that is starting to cramp my movement. I had to walk up some of the uphill parts of my ride home today. I really struggled when my yoga teacher asked us to do an inversion – lying on our backs to raise our legs and midsection into the air. As a child, I used to love doing that. I’d bring my feet all the way to the floor behind my head and hang out. As a non-pregnant person, I could do it. This evening I felt like a dying chicken as I tried to push my legs upward and my hefty mid-section wobbled back and forth.

This thingy is squishing my veins and organs when I sleep in my favorite position. And it’s making it hard to bend over.

It seems not so long away to imagine that we’ll have a new family member in just over three months. But when I think about continuing to move, to sleep and to live with this big object in my belly for another 14+ weeks, it seems like a very long time indeed.

The joys of approaching third trimester.

Big juicy steaks

I’m wondering if the fatigue I’m experiencing this week could be due to low iron levels. So I’ve been trying to up my iron intake the past few days.

Last night I pulled some steaks out of the freezer. I purchased them about a year ago on sale, but they were big, high-quality steaks – 3 slabs of meat of about a pound each.

I soaked them in this marinade for 24 hours, Mark put them on the grill, and they were sooooo good – moist and tender and flavorful and juicy. Yum.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

25 week belly shot

A big boy now

When I went to pick him up, River through a rare first-class fit.

“Usually it happens the other way around,” the director said. “The child initially cries at dropoff and is happy to be picked up. Until they’ve been here a while, then they don’t want to go home.”
“He already doesn’t want to go home,” I said.

His resistance to going home seemed to demonstrate a new strength. During the rest of the day, he seemed to me somehow more mature, experienced, at a new stage of development.

I suppose he is. He proved that he can hang out with three year olds and have enough fun to not want to go home. He can adapt to and fit into a new environment and be happy doing so. Mom and dad aren’t everything these days. I don’t know that they ever were, but it’s doubly clear now.

I’m proud of him and excited for him and grateful for the opportunity to accompany him on his journey of growth and learning.

First day of "school"

My little guy is at “school” for the first time. It’s a bittersweet moment for me. Mostly happy. I’m happy for him, because I know how excited he is to be there. I’m happy he’s secure and comfortable enough to seek out new environments and experiences. I’m glad that he’ll get to meet other children.

I’m a little worried about him picking up bad behaviors, viruses and/or lice from other kids. And I’m concerned about him turning towards English and rejecting Spanish. But I think starting out with only one morning a week minimizes those risks.

Mark worries the facility is not going to care for him well. I said I’d stop by and check in on him a few weeks from now, when no one is expecting me. But I’m not too worried. At the gym childcare, the staff largely ignore the kids. I watch River on the camera and he’s perfectly content to entertain himself for two hours. So even if they were to completely ignore him, he’d probably be OK, with interesting toys, and interesting kids to watch, for four hours. But hopefully they’ll stick to their schedule of activities, snacktime, outdoor playtime and book time, which will be a lot of fun for him.

We showed up in a stroller with two of the three tires flat. As I pushed the slow-moving contraption toward the building, River immediately recognized it. “’Sito ir a la escuela!” (I need to go to school! Can I go to school now please mama?”

Upon entering the building, he stopped to marvel at the giant red plastic strollers that carry six or eight kids, and the blue naptime cots stacked up in the hallway. Upon entering his classroom, he ran immediately to the train tracks.

“This train is very long!” he said, holding a double engine up. He didn’t seem very interested in introductions to the staff, or to the single other child there. Instead, he pushed a vacuum cleaner across the floor and marveled at a plastic egg. He didn’t pay me the slightest attention.

“Adios mama!” he said twice, before I actually left. No hesitant goodbyes here. He wanted me out of there, ready to take in the new experiences on his own.

I stopped by a coffee shop for a morning tea and croissant, read, caught up on the local newspapers at the library, and got my hair cut. I started to wonder what we are doing bringing a new baby into the mix. Our lives are quite calm and stable. After months of River babbling to himself until 10 p.m. or so at night, he’s now out at 8 p.m., 8:30 at the latest and sleeps through for 12 hours. His naps are successful 95% of the time and they last from 1.5 to 3 hours. He’s happy, can follow instructions, can do many things for himself and can enjoy various outings. I don’t have to carry him anymore, rarely have to clean his butt, and can often combine caring for him with either doing fun things or getting chores done.

It makes me question why we are voluntarily subjecting ourselves to sleepless nights, poop blow-outs, sore boobs and a restricted ability to leave the house. Of course, I’ve learned from River about the joy that comes from these sacrifices. I think a sibling would be a good for River. I want more than one child. I want the experience of parenting a daughter. But still – we will have a tough stretch ahead, which perhaps we are less equipped to handle because things have been calm for a while.

I try to appreciate that it would be much harder to add a baby to the mix if River were more challenging. I’m grateful for the quality of time I can spend with him now. I’m hopeful he’ll be a good big brother. And I hope we can weather the rough months without causing too many difficulties for him.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The first school lunch

Tomorrow is the big day and I think I’m just as excited as River is. I had him help me to prepare his lunch today so that it would be familiar to him when he opened his lunchbox for the first time. I splurged on this $40 lunch box. It took some work to convince Mark and it’s an unusual purchase for me. But I thought that it could last for years, I liked that was set up to make it easy to carry homemade, versus packaged food, and I wanted him to have a little something that might make him feel special.

His first meal is going to be lasagna with prosciutto and two pieces of broccoli, yogurt, raisins, an apple and three mini rice cakes. When I showed it to Mark, he reminded me how I said I wasn’t the type to make fancy lunches. With the exception of the lasagna, which I made last week and froze, nothing else took any work. I just pulled a couple of things out of the fridge and the pantry and stuck them in the box, then filled the water bottle.

There is a small part of me that wants him to feel loved and believes that having a nice lunch will give him that feeling. Mark didn’t think so.

“Does papa love you River?” Mark asked him.

“Yes, and mama does too,” he said.

So papa still receives love without any involvement in lunch. He is correct. But I still remember the lunches I carried to elementary school, that were prepared by my mom. I recall a slice of white bread, a slice of processed American cheese, a pickle, and apple and perhaps an Oreo or two. I think there was some milk in a thermos that would sometimes leak, for I remember milk and/or pickle juice occasionally contaminating the other items. I remember the school lunch seeming delicious in comparison and I felt it was quite a luxury when I got to buy it.

Sometimes I would eat the bulk of my packed lunch on my way to school and wind up with not much left for lunchtime. It wasn’t a lunch that made me feel loved. It was usually the same, it didn’t involve much preparation, I wanted more to eat, and I was envious of the kids who were sent to school with big fat sandwiches, jelly beans or other treats.

Since I don’t plan to send River with a lot of treats, I hope that a cool box and a meal he’s excited about will make him feel OK when he sees other kids with packages of Fritos or lunchables.

Tomorrow morning we’ll be up early, I’ll make oatmeal with raisins and milk, then we will set off to walk to the first day of “school.” My little baby is moving out into the bigger world.

Feeling faint

Yesterday I took an 18-mile bike ride, probably my last until next spring/summer, and felt great. I smelled the scent of decomposing leaves and cool air, I felt my body move with ease and I was grateful to still have this physical capacity as I near the third trimester. I started to think I could keep riding for a long time more.

I rode to work this morning and while I was pokier than usual, I made it without incident. But shortly after arriving at my desk, I felt faint. I have a history of fainting and I know the signs--the dizziness, the blurred vision and the slow movement towards a loss of consciousness. Usually this happens while standing and the best remedy is to sit down and put my head down. But I was already sitting.

I got up and closed my office door, because I was afraid I was about to faint at my desk. I put my head down for a while. The fainting sensation eventually faded, but I was left with a feeling of nausea. My motivation to be productive was reduced to staring blindly at my screen. A wave of intense fatigue overcame me. I hoped it would pass, but worried how I’d get home if it didn’t. Taking the train would involve a 40 minute walk. Biking would not be easy.

So I decided to catch a ride with Mark while I could and head home right away.

During my last pregnancy I fainted (on the front steps of a Bolivian grocery store), but that was in the first trimester. When I googled fainting and pregnancy, I saw some possible causes at this stage in pregnancy could be veins being pressed upon, lowering the blood supply, and low iron levels. Both could be possibilities for me.

So I slept several hours, trying to stay on my side, and I planned to get some iron – shrimp with baked potato and broccoli tonight, followed by pumpkin pie; big grilled steaks tomorrow. Mark noticed a change in me after dinner. Who knows whether it was the iron, the rest, or just a much-better-than-usual dinner. But I’ll take the treats that come with pregnancy when I can get them.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I need to go to school

Last night we passed River’s future “school,” and I told him the little I know about it – his teacher’s names, and where the playground is.

“Mama, ‘SITO (necessito) ir a la escuela!” (Mama, I need to go to school!), he said.

“I know.”

“’SITO ir a la escuela!”

“Yes, I understand.” I do. One of my most vivid early memories is standing at the window as a toddler. I went to preschool two or three mornings a week and this was one of the no-preschool days. I stared dejectedly out the window and asked my mom why I couldn’t go to school that day, and when I would be able to go again.

River hasn’t even been, and he’s already counting down the days. It’s a little boy in my image.

Now that I’ve mentioned a bit of repeated language (he probably said “’Sito ir a la escuela: more like eight or more times), I’m reminded that I wanted to ask about this. It’s a trend that has occurred recently, where he seems to think that if he repeats something often enough, he’ll get it. Sometimes it’s like he goes on auto-pilot and there is no off switch. On our way back from vacation, he was repeating that he wanted to go on a boat. He fell asleep. And as soon as he woke up from the nap, the first words out of his mouth were, “Quiero ir en un barco (I want to go on a boat). Please, mama.”

Sometimes the pleading is pitiful. But the tactic is annoying and is something I’d like to nip in the bud. So I generally try to ignore it, hoping that he’ll learn soon enough that it doesn’t bring results and will abandon that strategy.

So last night, while running errands, he got upset when I took off his shoes in the car, after he’d put them on the seat and gotten it dirty.

“I need my shoes!” he cried. I told him I’d put his shoes back on when we got home. Then the repeating started, “I need my shoes! Please, mama.” Ad nauseum. The GPS showed 15 minutes until arrival at home, so I tried to prepare myself to handle it for that long. I started to wonder whether the ignoring strategy would work. Perhaps I needed to be firmer, to tell him that isn’t acceptable behavior and give him a warning?

It was dark by then, raining, the window was fogging up and for the first time ever, River wasn’t in a carseat (it’s in the process of being cleaned as part of our lice eradication efforts). His crying and repeated begging was really making it hard for me to concentrate.

My voice got firm. “River, do you see how dark it is? It’s also raining and I can’t see the road very well. If you keep crying, you make it hard for mom to drive and we might crash with another car. If you don't want us to crash, please stop."

And he did. The rest of the ride was quiet and calm.

I didn’t mean to scare him, but told him the truth. He understands the concept of cars crashing and he knows it’s something we don’t want to happen. Many books refer to two-year-olds as prehistoric cave dwellers, incapable of reason. But we’ve had several instances, even when he’s emotional like this case, where I explained the rationale for what I wanted him to do and he did it.

But since I can’t always count on reason working, or on him buying my rationale all the time, I’m wondering if anyone else has encountered this auto-pilot repeated request situation and how you handle it. I’m thinking it could be the pre-cursor to whining, so it’s definitely a behavior Mark and I don’t want to encourage. Will ignoring it eventually do the job? If so, how long does it take? If not, what does work?

Growing up global

Great post with some practical tips on how to incorporate a global perspective in your family life. I’m looking forward to trying the international children’s movie suggestions she offers.
What do you do to expose your children to different countries, cultures or beliefs?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Real talk

We’ve finally reached the stage of real talk with River and it adds another aspect of joy to our interactions. I’m guessing at 33 months, we’re on the late end. But he’s a boy, and he’s bilingual, so I’m OK with that.

Yesterday he came down the stairs and said, with evident struggling and thought, “Yo puse crema,” (I put on lotion). He used the first person “Yo” instead of the usual third-person River or no pronoun at all. He correctly conjugated the verb in the first person past tense. And his object was correct. The only thing that would have improved it would have been to make it reflexive – yo ME puse.

When I leave he now asks me where I’m going and we discuss where I’ll be when I’m gone and what we’ll do when I come back. If we miss that discussion, he’ll ask me where I’ve been when I get back. He accepts my answers with equanimity. Like a real person, just taking in the facts and the machinations of the world – a world he is now a part of.

He’s more of a conversationalist now, more of a buddy. And it’s fun.


Week two of prenatal yoga and it gets even better. Our class is up to seven and I don’t know any of the women. So I hope over the eight weeks that I’ll form several new mom-of-young-children contacts.

My pre-natal yoga mates from my first pregnancy were a great source of company and companionship in the early months of motherhood. But now that they have moved ahead with second children and/or jobs, it’s tough to get together and I regularly see only one of them (the mother of River’s best friend). I’m ready to meet some more women who will likely have leaves around the same time as me.

The majority of my current classmates are pregnant with their second, which surprises me, since the class I took when pregnant with River was almost all first-time moms. I expected that many women would have trouble getting out to a yoga class when they already have a small child. But evidently, these women have husbands who share the work and allow them time for themselves, which is also great. And finally, one woman was further along than me (33 weeks). So I’m no longer the largest, nor the first to have to cross over to the other side.

It’s an hour and 15 minutes of slow, relaxing movement. The teacher, a mother of a 3.5-year old, wears her long hair in two braids and is the calmest, most zen mother one could imagine. I am not a very zen-like person, so I can only admire her. But she provides great inspiration.

Even better, in those 75 minutes, she succeeds in making me feel calmed, stretched and at peace. Even if it only lasts for the evening, it is a feeling to savor, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. I’m grateful I found this class.

Did you do anything to help meet other expectant parents when you were pregnant or after delivery? What worked well for you?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

If it could always be this easy

Last night I woke River up. I realized Mark had put him to bed without a sheet on the mattress. Given that we had found a live louse on his head a couple of hours earlier (and then subjected him to another chemical shampoo treatment) I want a fresh sheet every time he puts his head down.

Waking him up is a risk. If we don’t disturb him, we can usually count on 11-12 hours of uninterrupted sleep. If we do disturb him, the risk of a second wakeup increases. Perhaps something about needing to get into that REM zone?

So, as the result of getting him up to put on a sheet, he did wake up a second time last night. In the middle of the night, I heard him talking and calling for us. When I went in, he was upright in his crib.

“What are you doing, River?” I asked. “It’s very late. Can’t you see how dark it is?”

He looked around at the dark, then lay back down and curled into his usual sleeping position. I put the blanket on top of him and wished him sweet dreams. He told me he’d dream about his best friend, then silence for the rest of the night.

Hey, look kid, it’s dark, it’s late, you should be asleep. It worked? If only it was always that easy.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lessons learned from our battle with lice

This is a good overview site.

What worked:
· Shaving our child’s head.
o We could only get it down to 1/8 inch, which meant some nits (and perhaps eggs)
remained. But we could see things easily and this made it much easier to monitor and
control. For boys, this is something I would do again quickly. For girls, it’s harder.
· The metal lice remover combs. They cost about $10 and are very much worth it.
· My husband getting a short hair cut
o The more people who can cut their hair very short, the more people whose cases can be
controlled, and the easier to get the household under control.

What didn’t work:
· RID shampoo.
o I found live lice within three days of using it. They aren’t supposed to appear until 7-10
days after the first treatment.
o The 24/7 helpline advertised on the package did not have anyone available when I called
one night at 11 p.m. to ask why I found live lice three days after treatment. There were
only recorded messages, similar to what I could google myself online.
· The plastic combs that come with the lice removal shampoo kits.
o Completely useless. I feel like we lost significant ground by using these combs for two
days, which remove a tiny fraction of what the metal combs get.

Other things we did, that may or may not have worked:
· Used combs and brushes only once, then soaked then in boiling water and soap for 10
minutes, or put them in the dishwasher.
· Used sheets and towels only once and washed them in hot water and dried on high.
· Wore clothing only once and washed on the highest temperature we could without ruining
· Vacuumed house, car and car seat.
· Used spray on furniture and other non-washable items
· Bagged up non-washable items (bike helmet, stuffed animals, pillows) in a sealed plastic
bag and placed in garage for a month.

Monday, September 13, 2010

more c-sections at for-profit hospitals in California

Profit as a potential motive for increased c-sections? Another reason a national healthcare plan could make us all better off.

Biking during second and third trimester

Until now, I thought biking to work up to about week 25 was pretty good. But last night I started doing some internet searches on biking during the late stages of pregnancy. On bike forums I found all kinds of superwomen, especially bike goddesses in Portland, who cycled well into their third trimesters, and many right up until their due dates. I had been thinking I was nearing the end of my biking days, but now I’m feeling like a wimp.

I can’t imagine biking until my due date on my current bike, a men’s mountain bike. Those who biked for so long seemed to have cruisers, with soft seats, a low bar, and an upright posture. So then I started googling cruisers. Is it worth it to spend a few hundred dollars on a new bike so I can bike a bit longer?

The thoughts running through my head are:

Convenience: biking is by far my quickest, cheapest and more convenient option. When I bike to work, coasting downhill, past educational institutions with early fall leaves scattered across the sidewalks, I never want to stop.

Difficulty: Getting there is easy. Getting back involves a continual incline of at least a mile and this is where I’ve been having problems. If I walk the long uphill part, I’d reduce the difficulties, but then significantly lengthen the time.

Safety: The main danger is falling. My risk of falling is low. I can’t remember the last time I’ve fallen on a bike. Someone hitting me is of course a risk. While most of the ride is on tranquil sidewalks, there are small portions that involve riding alongside traffic. The most dangerous part is the crossing of three freeway on/off ramps.

Comfort: Continued biking would be very tempting if we were heading into spring. While the weather right now is great, and makes me not want to stop, I know we are heading into increasing cold, rain and eventually snow. Those conditions don’t make biking easy at any point. That said, my other option, walking and taking the train, also means walking in the rain. It also involves walking along the train tracks through the woods. It’s a pretty walk and I don’t know of any incidents there. But it’s secluded and there is always that lurking fear of a psycho in the forest.

Practicality: How likely am I to continue to use a cruiser post-pregnancy? Not at all. It would be great if I could rent or borrow one, but it’s probably not the smartest idea to shell out for a new one.

While the idea of buying a little extra time on the bike sounds nice, it’s probably not worth the money to make it happen.

Excitement about preschool

It was unclear whether or not I could get River into preschool this fall. Today I received indications that it might be possible after all.

I find myself feeling excited, almost giddy. It seems silly. I’m not the one going after all. It’s not even a very good program. But I know it will make River happy. And it’s a big life event – the first marker of heading out into the world by himself, the first experience of socialized learning, the beginning of many years of learning from others.

The director was going to try to get him in starting tomorrow. We need a little more time than that to prepare. When I told her that next week would be better, as we’d like to clean up his lice first, she had no problems at all with the delay.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Books to prepare a toddler to become a big brother

I asked our local juvenile librarian to suggest some books we could read to River to prepare him for the arrival of a new sibling. She kindly put together a package of books and DVDs. These seem to focus on becoming a big brother, so I’d imagine there are additional big sister materials available. Here are her recommendations, in case they are of interest to others.

La hermanita de spot (Spot’s baby sister) (In Spanish) by Eric Hill

I’m a big brother by Joanna Cole – written in the perspective of a new big brother, who takes the change with positivity.

Best-ever big brother by Karen Katz

My big brother by Valorie Fisher
-This one is not only good to read pre-baby, but looks like a good book to read to the baby, within earshot of the big brother. It is written from the perspective of a baby who idolizes their big brother.

Little Bear is a big brother by Jutta Langreuter

Big brother by Charlotte Zolotow

Arthur. Big brother Binky (DVD)
There are three episodes on this DVD. The first episode deals with the parents deciding to adopt a baby girl from China, and how their biological son adapts to this change.

Dear Baby: Letters from your big brother by Sarah Sullivan

Kids’ book to welcome a new baby: fun for a big brother or big sister by Barbara Collman.

Little Rabbit’s new baby by Harry Horse

Three bears and a new baby (DVD)

You’re a brother, little Bunny by Maribeth Boelts

The Rugrats movie (DVD)

Oonga Boonga by Frieda Wishinsky

When the new baby comes, I’m moving out by Martha Alexander

The New Baby at Your House by Joanna Cole
-It’s an older book, published in 1988, but nice in that it uses photos of real families, toddlers and babies, explaining what babies can and can’t do and how parents relate to younger and older sibling. It gives a realistic portrayal of what the change may be like.

head shave

Today we shaved off everything that took over two years to grow in. My baby now looks like a cancer victim. Just the thought of removing his beautiful reddish-blond hair almost had me in tears on the way to the salon. But I had to stay strong for his sake.

We hoped that shaving his head would help us to contain the lice sooner rather than later. Since he has the worst case in the family, we hope that if we can contain it on him, we can contain it in the household and prevent spreading it to others. We also hope that the sooner we get it under control, the less chemical treatments we’ll be exposed to, which is of special concern since I’m pregnant.

I thought of the parents whose children are going through much more serious ordeals, who must remain strong and encouraging as their children’s hair falls out and they endure painful treatments. It’s a beautiful and rewarding experience to be a parent, but it can also be heartbreaking.

When we went for our first haircut, just a few months ago, Mark advocated for a buzz cut. I insisted on a better salon and a cute cut. This time we went to Great Clips. I figured it’s hard to screw up a complete shave. I was told the best they could do was to leave 1/8 of an inch.

River cried when I asked him to get into the seat. But once I gave him a Dum-Dum, he was fine and stared straight ahead in the mirror as the clumps of hair fell. I tried to distract him by talking about how the clipper tickles and he was impassive during the process.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about lice online in the past few days, and comparing notes with my sister-in-law (she and her toddler are also affected from the same source – a rented house they stayed at during the family get together). With four boys, she is going to have an even harder time than us keeping things under control. Yesterday she was going around with Vaseline on her head covered by a garbage bag.

Wikipedia says that lice can’t survive on a bald head and that a very short cut makes them easier to spot. It cautioned against shaving a child, due to the psychological effects they could endure. But I figured River is too young to feel any psychological effects. As long as we accept him and strangers aren’t coming up to him and mocking him, he feels comfortable with how he is.

I wish we could have gone bald because even the 1/8 inch leaves visible nits that we will continue to have to monitor, comb and treat. But it is much easier to see and remove them. If more bugs appear, they won’t escape our notice for long.

I feared the combination of being almost bald, and the scabs he has on his head from the lice would make him look like a freak. I miss the River with his beautiful hair. But he’s still my same baby. I feel lucky that he is of an age and a gender that make head shaving easier and I’m really crossing my fingers we get this under control quickly and can resume our normal lives.

I’m also very grateful that he has yet to start preschool. We worried that starting preschool would bring all kinds of diseases into the home, which we didn’t want to risk during my third trimester. In the past month, we’ve gone through a stomach virus, 102 degree fever, and now lice. If he’d been in preschool, we probably would have blamed the proximity to other children and perhaps considered removing him. Since he’s not in preschool, we have to blame the real causes – a family reunion (which included close proximity to many children) and a dose of bad luck.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Breaking the news

Today I told River that he’s going to be a big brother. I pointed to my belly, told him there was a baby inside, and that in three months, a little girl would come out. I asked if he wanted to be a big brother and to have a baby around and he smiled, then said yes. Other than that, he just said, Si, si, as though it was the most natural thing in the world to hear your mother has a baby in her belly.

I was planning to wait another few weeks. But River has been a bit clingy and anxious lately. Mark thinks it’s because of his fever. But I worry it’s because he senses changes on the horizon. I didn’t want to think he could be anxious because I’m withholding information from him. So I gave him the basics and will soon get some books we can read to him to discuss it in more detail.

Any suggestions of favorite books for soon-to-be big brothers/sisters?


Lice is one of those things I always dreaded. While I kind of enjoyed the school nurse combing through my hair during lice checks, I was always grateful when she didn’t find anything. I made it through an entire public school education without ever catching lice. I’ve slept in primitive conditions and played with kids whose mothers handpicked lice from their hair. Yet I continued to avoid it. I thought perhaps we’d run the risk again when River entered school. But not now.

Just when I least expected it, I got my first introduction to lice.

I noticed I was itching my scalp during the past day or two. But unlike dandruff, there was nothing flaking off. I looked in the mirror, but didn’t see anything. It became annoying enough at work that I googled “itchy scalp.” I planned to ask Mark to take a look at my scalp when I got home.

Upon arriving home, River sat in my lap and I happened to notice small brown marks in his part. I was told that they wouldn’t go away, even after shampooing, and that he’d been itching his scalp all day. I looked closely, and one seemed to move. Then I googled what lice look like (the internet is a wonderful tool) and I believed I made the match.

I called the pediatrician, who recommended the following treatment for both of us:

-Purchase anti-lice shampoo – we got RID – and follow instructions

-Purchase green Palmolive dish soap. After washing with the RID, wash with the Palmolive, which suffocates them.

The RID instruction emphasized precise delousing after shampooing. The doctor seemed to think the Palmolive was more important. We did all of the above, but it was so hard to get the nits out of baby fine hair that I’m sure I left many. I plan to apply the Palmolive again within the next few days and to do another RID treatment in 7-10, after any remaining nits have hatched.

So, after having a friend over for dinner, we spent a fun Friday evening shampooing, delousing, putting all clothing and linens that we’ve touched in the past 48 hours into bins to wash in hot water and spraying the things we couldn’t wash. Mark was concerned about all the pesticides. Normally I’d be concerned too. But I was more concerned about live insects procreating on my head and my child’s head. Getting rid of them ASAP was my prime concern. Luckily, my case seems to be a more minor case than River’s.

At first I thought we might have caught the lice from our hotel stay last weekend. But upon reading that nits take 7-10 days to hatch, and another 7-10 days to become adults and lay eggs, and realizing that River’s case was more advanced than mine, my guess is that he picked it up at the large family gathering while I was in Vermont. I’m thinking he may have received it from his cousin, who gave him a hat that River is fond of and has been wearing frequently since late August.

It’s gross, really gross, to pull a live bug off of your child’s scalp. Or to comb through your own hair and wipe dead insects onto a Kleenex. But it’s just one more of those things that you steel yourself to get through, because as a parent, you have no choice.

If anyone has tips on how to make sure we really get rid of this batch, and prevent future reinfestations, please share!

First unsolicited comment

24.5 weeks and for the first time, sometime I didn’t tell directly about my pregnancy comments on it.


The other day I ran around campus completing my list of seven or so things I had to do to register for a course this fall. The process made me feel somehow young, ready to take in knowledge and take on the world. Until the ID office asked me for my birthdate and I realized she probably makes cards on a daily basis for people who are of an age that I could have hypothetically mothered – people who were born when I graduated from high school.

In another two weeks I’m back to class again – graduate level statistics this time. Woo hoo!:) This may rank among the stupider things I’ve done. Taking a graduate level class in a challenging subject during third trimester of pregnancy, while working and trying to make progress on an independent project? And if I don’t get at least a B in it, I don’t get reimbursed for the tuition. We can’t afford to lose almost $5,000, so I must get a B. Just a little extra pressure.

I’m a sucker for learning though. And especially when my work offers up to $5,000 in tuition assistance per year. Granted, this single course eats up the whole annual allowance. But that’s OK since I don’t have time to pursue more than one course at a time.

I’ll now be able to add waddling around very young and lithe people to my pregnancy experiences. And hopefully I’ll learn something that I can retain through the newborn stage.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

pre-natal yoga

Last night I tried out a pre-natal yoga class. I haven’t done yoga since a brief period of post-natal yoga after River was born. I found it helpful during the last pregnancy, both in terms of reducing stress and discomfort and giving me the opportunity to meet other women expecting babies around the same time.

Overall, the class was good. It was relaxing, I liked the teacher (a super zen mother who makes me think her kid is really lucky) and I think it was good for me.

But I wasn’t psyched to see that I may be the furthest along of the three women there. I’d rather someone else be more of an elephant than me. I’d prefer to see someone else successfully make it through the process before I have to do it myself. The woman next to me was only 15 weeks pregnant, svelte and flexible. I felt fat, clunky and out of shape. Despite my last post, perhaps I do need to make more of an effort to stay in good shape.

Concurrent with my first yoga class, yesterday I started to sort clothing. I have now officially moved into maternity pants. I’m putting away all the non-maternity clothes and taking out what will be my limited wardrobe for the next several months. I’m preparing a box of fat clothes to have ready to open first in the months following the birth. I realize the normal clothes will probably take a while to fit in to again. I tried not to be too bummed as I discarded piece after piece of clothing that no longer fit. It’s part of the process and it’s only a few more months.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Now pregnant women are responsible for the obesity epidemic too?

This article bugs me. I have no research to refute it with, nor have I read the studies to see how well they were done. But I have an instinctual aversion to it. It feels to me like the easy way out – when you can’t find the cause of a problem, try blaming pregnant women.

Some questions I have:
1. Why is family baby weight history not mentioned? I was over 8 pounds at birth and I imagine my husband was too. I’d guess my father was too. So even if my mom gained less weight than I did, large babies run in our family because we are big people. My 8 pound 10 ounce baby was just what I expected, regardless of my weight gain.

2. My doctor in Bolivia predicted at 10 weeks, based on the growth to that point, that I’d have a four kilo baby. He was right. At that time, I don’t think I’d gained any weight at all. I ended up gaining about 60 pounds. But the baby was still 4 kilos.

3. I’m an outlier on the tall side when it comes to height for women. My husband is on the tall side of men. So it’s natural that we would expect to have a larger than average offspring. I don’t expect I would gain the same amount of weight as a smaller person expecting a smaller offspring.

4. I know several women who gained 50-60 pounds, who delivered healthy, large babies, who eat well and exercise, and whose children have grown into healthy and not overweight toddlers and young boys/girls. These women have lost the excess weight post-baby. What is the point of making women like this stress out when they are already suffering and worrying enough during the travails of pregnancy?

5. Is there a correlation between women who gain an excess amount of weight during pregnancy and women who make poor nutritional choices for their children? Perhaps it’s the latter part that is the greater concern.

I may be a little defensive on this subject, given my 60 pound weight gain last time around. But I started out about 10 pounds under my normal weight and I eventually lost 50 of those 60. Since I started out underweight, I pretty much returned to normal. So far I’ve gained 18 pounds this time around, with 16 weeks to go. I suppose if I really watched what I was eating, perhaps I could stay within the 25-35 pound weight gain. But I tend to put on the weight in the latter half of the pregnancy, so I expect I’ll go beyond that. And I don’t really feel like stressing out about it when I eat a lot of healthy food (in addition to some sweets), exercise, and am in the process of creating and nourishing a healthy baby.

Thanks to his 8 pounds and 10 ounces, River survived my milk taking a week to come in and the pound he lost didn’t affect him much. Yes, he was a chunk around a year of age, but he lost the fat when he started moving and is now a slender toddler. He eats vegetables and sushi, fruits, yogurt and whole grains. I let him have occasional sweets, but very little in the way of processed foods and refined grains.

Childhood obesity is an issue that concerns me and I take active steps to ensure my child is well nourished and gets exercise. But I’m not going to take the blame for what I eat during pregnancy. Give me a break.

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Ride on 102-year old coal-powered steamer. Shiny wooden floors, spewing black smoke. River content to sit and watch from the boat. His little tan legs hanging off the bench, his blue and orange tennis shoes coming straight out.

River traipsing behind us to ice cream shop. So tired he could barely move. Dragging his feet, whining. Barber shop owner offering him licorice. River ignores him and comes toward me.

River in car on ride home, begging to go on a boat again. I suggest he close his eyes and dream about boats. Within a few minutes, he is asleep. Occasionally, he’ll wake up and call out, “Mama, vamos en un barco? Por favor, mama.” His request was so sincere, so piteous, that I felt sorry for him. He slept almost the whole way home, but would occasionally call out for food, for water, observations on trucks or planes, requests for his plastic red dinosaur to be placed back in his hand, or angsty cries of “No puedo.”

When awake, he looked dazed and stared down or straight ahead. Upon arriving home, he hugged me in the driveway and didn’t want anything – to go in the house, to have water or milk, to go to the bathroom, to let me take off his diaper, to see his toys. He wanted only to be in my arms. His body was warm, as it had been when I removed him from his crib this morning, but hotter this time. He was crying without telling me a reason. I took his temperature with the ear thermometer and it was 102.4, the highest I’ve ever seen it.

I rock with River in the rocking chair and he quickly falls limp in my arms. After some time, I try to move my hand that is across his chest and bring it under his legs to carry him to bed. But every time I try to lift my hand, his hand pushes mine back down. After three tries, I pulled it away firmly. Then, from what I thought was sleep, he asked, “Mama, cancion.” I sang him our usual lullaby, “Duermete mi nino,” then placed him in his crib. He immediately rolled over into his usual sleeping position – face on the right-hand side, pressed up against the bars facing the door, hands under his diaper, rocking slightly. I covered him with his blanket and put his teddy bear Orso next to him. I feel sad that he’s suffering and a bit worried, lest it be something serious. Last night he slept fitfully, waking up several times, which woke up Mark and I and affected all of our sleep. Tonight we’ll be watching him carefully, giving him Tylenol and monitoring his temperature and his liquids.

River has been very attached to me over the past several days, but especially today. He frequently asked for my hand, wanted to sit next to me, be with me. The feeling of his small hands pressing against mine, his head relaxed against my right breast, his arms around my necks as I crouched down, the feeling of his fingers curled within mine, the rows of small white teeth he showed with his smile. Those are the things I’ll remember from our vacation.

One hour traffic jam on return trip. The stressful feeling of being surrounded by large trucks and semis, crazy drivers that don’t signal, vehicles that don’t follow the rules. Fear of one mistake and losing River.

Wanting to take my baby’s pain onto myself and away from him. Amazement at what a trooper he is, how far he walked, how many new sights he took in, the new environments he adjusted to, and how little he complained. The depth of my love continues to amaze me.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Alone time on family vacation

Mark and I decided we needed a little more down time than we could get during a nap – especially when it’s difficult to get River down on vacation. So last night, I took River to a park and then out to dinner, while Mark had some time to himself. It started out as fun mom and son time. But when we had to wait in line over an hour to order our lobster, then wait another 45 minutes to get it, dinner turned into quite a stressful debacle.

Now Mark has taken River to a dinosaur land. I’m sure River will have a great time and I was tempted to go just to watch him. But we’re doing a lot of pricey activities within a few days and it would cost an extra $20 for me to get in. So we’ll save $20 and I get a few hours to myself in the hotel room. Yay! I think I’ll be more refreshed and will enjoy our afternoon plans (which include a two-hour boat ride on a schooner) more.

When I think back to my childhood vacations, I remember my dad sometimes taking us out to pick up breakfast, allowing my mom some time alone in the room. Or he’d take us to the hotel pool, which would give her several hours of peace. Do you try to work in some quiet time for either parent while on vacation or do you spend all your time together?

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Traveling with a toddler is exhausting. I’m trying to figure out why it feels more challenging than being at home. Perhaps because at home we have a routine and he doesn’t require constant attention. Here I feel like we are constantly attending to his needs. It gets tiring to always be on call.

Mark and I decided to take turns covering the afternoon nap. Today I got to leave the room while Mark stays with him and tomorrow we’ll reverse it. I was so tired after a fun but long morning at the aquarium, followed by lunch, a walk near the port and ice cream, that I wanted to sleep too. But I what I really needed was a break from being on call – from the risk of River not going to sleep, of calling out, of needing something.

I’m sitting in an armchair near the hotel elevator. I had thoughts of taking a walk, visiting a park, doing something productive. Instead, I’ve just wasted time on the internet. And I’m still tired. But I feel better. It’s a relief to have peace and quiet and to know that it will be uninterrupted for a period of time.

As I was leaving the room, Mark was about to read a book, called The Three Questions, to River, in preparation for trying to put him down.

“Question number one,” Mark said. “Why did I have a child? Question number two: why did I agree to a second?”

I think he’s looking forward to his afternoon off too.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Family vacation

Today is the start of a four-day family road trip. We haven’t had much occasion to get away as a family of three. Either I go off with Mark, or I go off with River, or I go off on my own. But it’s been rare in the past year for all three of us to travel anywhere for more than a day.

We have a long weekend and this is the last long weekend in which I won’t be the size of a beluga whale. So I thought it would be fun to get away and create some memories with River. We have lots of kid-friendly activities planned, including an aquarium and a trip to the zoo. We’re having fun already, just being away from the normal routine.

After arriving in our $120/night hotel suite with a king-sized bed, and enjoying fantastic Middle Eastern takeout, even Mark, the reluctant traveler, said, “I think trip could be relaxing.”

Heima redux

I only recently posted about this movie, though we watched it long ago. Posting it reminded me that I hadn’t purchased it yet and I wondered if River would still like it. So I bought it and we started to watch it last night.

He enjoyed it and we watched about a half hour of it together. It’s a great combination of music, art, nature and society. He was fascinated by the scenes of water and ice moving through desolate landscape, while I was able to recall wonderful memories of Iceland.

As the children frolicked on the shores of black sand beaches, I had the occasion to talk to him about volcanoes and Iceland and black sand. He asked to go there and I said he could when he gets bigger. When watching Planet Earth, he asked to go to many remote places, including Namibia. I guess we have a lot of traveling ahead of us.

Friday, September 3, 2010

to can or not to can (thinking ahead to next year)

I am overwhelmed by vegetables from our farmshare. Last night I picked up another six pounds of tomatoes, plus four pints of cherry tomatoes, plus a big bag of paste tomatoes. That’s in addition to the 10 pounds of tomatoes plus four pint of cherry tomatoes I got last week. While I can feed a few to River, I’m basically the only one in the house that eats them. And I cannot eat nearly that many. This is only a halfshare on the farm. I can’t imagine how the people who have full shares manage.

My current strategy is to throw the tomatoes in Ziplocs and freeze them. I can use them for soups, stews and sauces in the winter. But that takes up a lot of space and the large freezer we bought for the basement is already full. My strategy for next year is to try to empty the freezer before summer, so I’ll have room for lots of produce. But I’m also rethinking other strategies.
Should I give up on the farmshare? I like supporting local agriculture, it’s been a great educational experience to take River out there weekly to pick with me, and it’s wonderful to have access to delicious organic goods. But if I bought only what I needed, I’d probably spend less and not be so burdened with use and storage.

Should I try canning? We have a cool little room in the basement probably used to be a storage area for cans. If we invested a bit in finishing it, it would make an excellent storage room. It would be nice to have fresh, local, natural products available all year and they would make great gifts. I was inspired by this NPR piece I heard today.

But canning requires an investment in products, and it’s work. I already have enough work. I make yogurt and ice cream and baked goods and soups and meals. I realized during my 10 days at adult-summer camp that being fed all my meals saves me a HUMUNGOUS amount of time. While I don’t mind working with food, there are things I enjoy more – like sleep, reading, writing, exercise, spending time with people. Do I really want to spend more hours in the kitchen, to make stuff that I’ll mostly be eating? Given that I tend towards hoarding food, do I really want more stuff to store?

Or do I just freeze what I can and give the rest away?

Any suggestions?

Behavior detox

In the week after returning from and extended visit with family, we have been in a bit of detox program with River. He was exposed to bad behavior by relatives whose parents set different limits. They are allowed to throw, to hit, to run away and to generally cause quite a ruckus without consequence.

When we visited them for a day or two, several months ago, River looked at me with wide eyes when he saw them throw their toys across the living room. “No, we don’t throw,” I told him. But how is he supposed to understand that different households have different standards? When one of the kids stuck his face into his bowl of food at the restaurant, eating like a dog, River tried to emulate that. “No, we don’t do that,” I told him again.

Mark was up against a losing battle trying to prevent this influence over a period of a week. So it was no surprise that during our first few days back home, there was suddenly a lot of screeching and more testing of limits than usual.

“Screaming and crying will not get you what you want.” Mark and I set a united front on this one, and the yelling has now thankfully gone away.

Admittedly, his ball throwing skills have improved, and that is useful. So we’re allowing him to throw lightweight balls. But nothing else. The other day he whipped something through the air, not letting it go, but pretty close to throwing. I told him we don’t do that. He did it again. I gave him a warning. He did it again. It seemed like a minor offense, not really worthy of a timeout. But I had given him a warning and had to follow through. When he did it the third time, there was a look in his eyes as if to say – show me what the limits are.

He was so calm. He didn’t say a word as I carried him upstairs. He sat quietly in his crib for two minutes. When I took him out and explained that we don’t do that, he was fine with it and we went about our activities.

We are still having a bit of residual effects – things like saying “You’re stinky” or “you’re dirty,” to people, but I think we are pretty much reverting to normal. I was talking to a friend about it and she said, “Yes, that is why you want to control who they hang out with at this age. By the time they are teenagers you lose control, but at this stage, you don’t have to let them be influenced in that way.”

It’s tough though when you like the parents, but the kids are poor influences. It really makes me hope that if he does get a spot in preschool this fall, that the kids are well behaved. Countering negative influences is hard work.

Laugh for the day

Too funny. Thanks to Blue Milk for the link.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Pregnant lady on a bike

Twenty-three weeks and I'm still biking to work. I was wondering how long I'd last on the bike and I figured the end point would be somewhere around now. But I hope to make it a couple more weeks. I'm trying to push my biking ability as long as I can. It's my quickest and cheapest option of getting to work, and also the most flexible. If I leave five minutes later by bike, it doesn't impact the time I arrive at home or work much. If I leave five minutes late for the train, I miss it and can be delayed by a half hour, or more.

Also, the beautiful weather makes me want to keep riding. It is tough riding uphill when it's 90-plus degrees. But those days seem to be ending. When I can go out in shorts and a t-shirt, hop on my bike and ride in comfortable weather, there is really nothing better.

So I'll see how far I can continue into September. My pace, especially uphill, has slowed, as has my strength. But I do need the exercise. At some point, I imagine I'll reach the point where I can't lift my leg over the men's bike. Or where the belly is just too uncomfortable, or causes problems with balance. Until then, I'll just do my best to not get hit, and to remember that accidents happen to automobile passengers as well.

Have you continued biking well into your second or third trimester? Would love to hear experiences from others.

New girl thoughts

All of a sudden, I’m realizing that having a girl makes issues I used to be able to ignore suddenly relevant. The number of issues I will have to research, study and take decisions on will grow.

Among the new topics:

The HPV vaccine. I’m too old, so it’s not of concern to me. I will have to decide whether or not to get it for my daughter. There is still lots of time to think about it, so I’m not jumping in now. But I will be paying attention to information that comes out in the next few years.

Breast cancer, the BRCA gene and related topics. I’m not at high risk and it doesn’t run in my family, so I don’t follow such news carefully. But my husband’s mother had a double mastectomy as a preventative measure. She didn’t have the BRCA gene, but she had a triple negative breast cancer. And her mother had breast cancer twice. So it may well be an issue of concern for a daughter.

Early puberty. It FREAKS me out how early girls are entering puberty in this country. I used to look at it from the sidelines, as an interesting and disturbing sociological phenomenon. I don’t want my daughter developing breasts at eight. I want her to physically be a child as long as she is a child. While I try to go for organic, grass-fed meat and dairy products, I’m not religious about it. But with a daughter, I will probably step up these efforts. I’m going to want to learn more about the potential causes of early puberty and do what I can to do to help her avoid it.
Any other topics in which you find that that having a girl made you suddenly have to develop a certain level of expertise?

One nice thing about a female fetus is that Mark and I find girl’s names much easier to agree upon than boys. I think we are set with a first name and it’s just the middle name and the configuration of the double last name left to work out. It’s weird to me to identify the fetus with a probable name four months before birth. Especially since River didn’t have a name until a few days after birth. Even after he’d emerged, he was still nameless.

What are your thoughts on telling people the name? Part of me wants to skip it because I’m not looking for opinions. I think once the baby is born, people won’t be likely to say how much they hate it or to lobby retroactively for their favorite. Also, I’m hesitant to give it such a formal identity. It feels weird to me when people refer to their unborn children with names. What if something happens to it? Then that name is pretty much useless in the future. But another part thinks that if people ask, perhaps it’s not such a big thing to share.

The boy name I came across and liked (and Mark accepted) the week before we found out the gender? That one I’m hanging on to. Just in case.

How long does it take people to notice?

Along with how long can a pregnant lady ride a men’s bike to work, another question I’m wondering is – how long will it take before anyone notices that I’m pregnant?

Until a week or so ago, I took the lack of comments to mean that I really wasn’t showing, which I found to be a relief. But I’ve given up on hiding it and am now wearing shirts I think are pretty clearly maternity shirts. These show that my boobs are quite large and there is a bulge in the stomach. People absolutely must be noticing, I think. But so far, no one has said anything.

I remind myself that my reproductive life is not really a topic of work conversation. So I’m not bringing it up. It now seems to me though to be a case of everyone is scared to get it wrong, so they all stay silent. I’m curious to see how long it will take before it becomes SO obvious that someone ventures to say something.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Jump from first to third trimester

I feel like there have been two stages to this pregnancy. Stage one – about 4.5 months, during which I barely felt pregnant besides some fatigue and pretty much went about life as usual. Then stage two, which began about two weeks ago, in which I’m suddenly showing, large, uncomfortable. I’m hungry, gaining weight, have less stamina and aches and pains have begun, along with a persistent thumping from within my belly. My clothes don’t fit and it’s time to make the move into maternity clothes. I can’t bend over like I used to and I’m starting to freak out at the thought of how to get this thing out of me.

I know it’s a process I have to just wait out and endure, but thinking of four more months like this is a pretty dreary prospect. I wish I was one of those women who love being pregnant – who feel beautiful and round and shiny and fulfilled, who wax poetic about what a joy it is to be pregnant.

I think it’s great to be a mom. I love it, despite the work and despite the stresses. It makes me a better person and I derive a lot of fulfillment from it. But I am not a fan of pregnancy. I’d gladly skip it if I could.

Poopy in the big potty

So far, the transition from the little Baby Bjorn potty to the regular toilet has been the most challenging transition we’ve faced so far. I thought the transition from bottle to sippy cup was hard, but that was just a painful day or two, then it was over. This is a much longer and potentially messier change. He had that little potty for over two years, so he had grown attached. And the big potty can be intimidating. It’s not the right size for little kids and it sucks to not have anything to rest your feet against, especially when you are taking a poo.

While I understand his hesitation, we felt it was time for him to make the switch. Primarily because I thought he’d be starting “school” this fall and I wanted him to be able to use the bathroom there (he rejects anything other than Bjorn little pots, even child-sized toilets). It’s getting tiring to carry around the little pot every time we leave for a few hours (not to mention carrying it off my handle bar on long bike rides!). And I wanted him to have time to adjust and be fully comfortable on the big pot before the baby comes. I’m hoping that will reduce the likelihood of regression in this area, and the odds of us having to deal with the excretions of more than one little person at a time.

Until now, we haven’t used rewards or bribes to achieve any desired behavior. We give him praise when he does well and consequences (warnings and time outs) when he breaks the rules. I didn’t want to encourage a system of doing things just for rewards, especially something so basic as going to the bathroom.

But example setting and encouragement wasn’t working and I had to admit that he was probably afraid. That’s a big, deep hole and it can be scary to let your poop fall into such an abyss. There are times I have overcome my fears due to the promise of a reward and that positive outcome was instrumental in helping me get past a blockage. Since I didn’t think he was just being recalcitrant, but probably truly nervous, I thought this might be an instance in which we needed to use rewards.

Mark took the lead since I was out of town for a week and a half. He used goldfish to get River onto the toilet and to sit there, and lots of praise when something came out. He seemed to have done pretty well while visiting relatives. But once we got home, the progress didn’t last.

We hoped we could still use the little potty once or twice a day. He could sit there and entertain himself for a good 20 minutes, which gave us time to shower in the morning or get things ready before bed.

I soon noticed River saved all his poop for his once-daily use of the little potty, holding it until he had a gigantic one and doing nothing on the big potty. He would say he had nothing (no pee or poop) when pottying before nap or bed, then we’d find his diaper especially soaked. This didn’t seem to be healthy and it also seemed like it would be a longer, more protracted battle than I wanted to engage in. So I upped the stakes.

First, we got rid of the little potties entirely. We as parents lose out on the convenience, but it’s time. With no little potty, that meant he’d either have to do it in the big one, do it in his diapers while sleeping, or have accidents.

So that the change would have more of a positive spin for him, I took him to Walmart with me and explained that he was going to get to pick out ten Hot Wheels. We’d bring them home and each time he did a poo in the big potty, he’d get to choose one. He seemed to understand and smiled widely. This was the first time I’d ever taken him to a store to choose a toy and to get 10 all at once – he was pretty psyched.

We bought two boxes of five cars (they are only a dollar per car – cheap reward!). Someone accidentally gave him a car for doing a pee, so then we had to reinforce they were only for poos. Every time he got on the pot, he’d ask for a car and I’d tell him he’d get one as soon as he did a poo.

Yesterday evening, he actually asked to use the toilet. I helped him up there, he did his pee, and then came a large poo. I made a big deal of it, clapping and congratulating him. Then he got to go choose a car, we made a point of showing it off to papa. He asked to put it on his car display case in his room, where it will be visible each time he wakes up. I’m hoping we’ve crossed the line and he’s seen that it’s safe to poo in the potty. More than safe, it’s fun. He gets a car.

He has eight more to earn and the hope is that by the time he earns all eight, pooping in the toilet will be a normal thing for him and no longer a cause for hesitation.

Mark said that after initially bribing him onto the toilet with goldfish, River got used to it and no longer asked for goldfish. Hopefully, it will be the same with cars. And if it works as planned, it is worth the $10.

If you have used rewards to change behavior, how do you decide when to implement them? How do you wean off the reward system?