Monday, January 31, 2011

Back to school

Nothing quite makes me feel as old as walking into a classroom of 19-20-year-olds, arriving late because my post-partum legs don’t move at the same speed as they did a few months ago, worrying whether or not I have spit-up running down the back of my shirt, then realizing my shirt is unbuttoned just a little too far, because the last thing I did before leaving the house was to try to get some more milk into the baby so that she’d last two hours without me. Fun times.

That said, it’s fantastic to get out, to not have a cell phone, and no kids anywhere around. The class is not going to be difficult, but I think I can learn something. It’s great to just sit back and be able to listen.

All those fun classes I hoped to take – I missed them by 20 minutes. On the day I could register online to audit, River was participating in a study and we had researchers at our house. I wasn’t involved, but it distracted my attention enough that I forgot to go online when registration begin. By the time I remembered, 20 minutes later, the literature course I was excited about was full. As was a course on the history of medicine. And several other fun classes I had my eye on. Guess which class still had all of its auditing slots open and was no problem to get in? Yep, statistics.

I had thought I might take that in addition to a fun one. In the end, it’s the only course I could get into. I signed up for an online course on the current economic situation, so at least I have something not entirely work-related. And unlike last semester, when I risked losing several thousand dollars if I didn’t get a B, this time there is no pressure and no work. Nevertheless, I’d still rather have some pressure to get through Ulysses with the benefit of some explanation than read yet another statistics textbook. Oh well.

Good news is that the bouncy seat works. Yay! We’ve gotten her to sleep in it, and to chill for a good 15 minutes or so.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Beautiful birth story (not mine)

I found this story very moving and appreciated the emphasis on what I believe is most important – life. One can only plan a birth so much. I believe a woman should feel empowered, safe and protected. But I don’t believe that birth defines who or what a woman is. I don’t believe that giving birth a certain way entitles anyone to a badge of honor. Getting it out is an incredible accomplishment in my book – however it is done.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Kids have fun with the simplest things

Who needs toys when you’ve got – packing material! River has spent hours playing with bubble wrap over the past week or so. When a friend came over, they played with it together. He loves cutting open the big bubble squares and popping the smaller ones, as well as laying out a sheath of packing material and walking across it like a carpet.

Another day, when my Kindle arrived in the mail, he spent a good 30 minutes playing with the thin rectangular sheet of plastic that protected the front of the Kindle.

Makes me think that sometimes the best toys are the cheapest ones.

Putting my faith in a bouncy seat

When River was a baby, our friends had a Baby Bjorn bouncy seat. It bounces only with the babies movement and had sides that enclosed the baby, making it feel more secure. I thought it would be nice to have, but upon looking at the price, and not finding any secondhand models, I decided to skip it.

Then I realized I couldn’t put Willow down and that the swing that was such a godsend with River doesn’t work with her. I started to daydream about the Bjorn bouncy seat. I kept looking for a used one. With no luck, I decided to wait it out. It wasn’t worth spending over $100 for something that would only be useful for a few months.

Then I got desperate. If I could put her down for an hour or two a day, and I multiplied that by a hundred days, it would be a small price to pay for freedom of movement. So I placed the order.

I purchased it from a third party seller on Amazon and it took almost two weeks to arrive. Every day I’d look out the door in anticipation of a box that I hoped would be my salvation. Finally, it arrived today.

When I put her in it hungry, she cried immediately and I despaired. When I put her in just after a feeding, she lasted a good 15 minutes – almost a record.

Today we visited some friends with a three-month old baby and a toddler about River’s age. The mom said she cooks dinner and I asked how she could possibly do it. Then I saw how she was able to put her baby in his bouncy seat, on his play mat, and he sat there contentedly while she ran outside for a minute and did things around the house.

I love my baby, I’m happy to be with her, I’m happy to hold her. But I’m not so good at having my productivity limited to just putting milk into her system. My super long to-do list only seems to be growing.

One person said her mother told her to not let babies “get used to being in arms.” Another said she may need to cry for a few days.

I don’t have a problem with babies crying, especially after six months or so when patterns are being formed and they need to learn what will and won’t work within a family. But it does make me uncomfortable in the first three months, or the fourth trimester. I feel like she’s not so much getting used to being in arms, as she came out accustomed to tight quarters in the womb. It takes time to get used to open space.

I’m hoping that by three months or so, she’ll have adapted and I can put her down more. Or am I wrong? Am I getting her used to something that can’t be maintained long-term? If my uber-expensive bouncy seat fails me, do I have other options besides constantly holding her, letting her cry, or just waiting a while longer?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Connect a million minds

A friend shared this video with me. I do wonder how the kids were selected and how representative they are of their countries. However, I also acknowledge the sobering statistics of where the U.S. ranks in terms of math and science achievement among youth. So I was glad to
hear that a movement has begun to bring attention to this issue.

My husband is in the math and science realm. I’m not. So I expected that he would be the one pushing math and science, while I exposed our children to culture, nature, languages, social sciences and adventures. I believe Mark will be a very good model and tutor in math and science subjects. He will be better positioned to answer questions, to explain how things work, to show the use of math and science in the workplace. But to my surprise, I’ve turned into the
stronger advocate of an education rich in math and science.

Perhaps it’s the fact that the best option we have available is an option where the instruction is in Chinese. That is accompanied by concerns about an ability to participate in the education, as well as possibly recognizing that our language and our country no longer sets the standard in this realm. I see the ability to navigate math and science in another language and among people of other cultures as only a positive, so I find the prospect even more attractive.

Granted, I probably won’t be of much assistance in River’s scientific or math education. The experiments they were running in the 3-year-old preschool class already included concepts I wasn’t familiar with. Did you know that if you put a white carnation in colored water, the petals would turn colors? I didn’t. Or that if you put a green bean seed in a dish with water and cotton it will do better than the green bean in a dish with just water?

Looking back on my math and science education, I think it was too little, too late. From junior high and high school, the courses were OK. But I recall almost no scientific exposure from elementary school and the math in my elementary school was way too easy for me. I took
home the workbooks in second grade and did the whole curriculum in a week or two. By the time I was able to skip a grade level in math, I was already in junior high, already spending my time passing notes in class, and was used to being bored. I wasn’t paying attention and had
lost interest in the subject.

Yes, in 10th grade my math teacher brought in a female engineer to talk to us about how she used math on the job. That was very eye opening and I appreciate the teacher’s initiative in exposing us to that. I wouldn’t have had any exposure otherwise. But it was too late by then. I was already slacking off in math, I already found it boring, and it was most definitely not cool in my school.

What if I’d been encouraged from the first days of elementary school, or from preschool, to explore the world around me? What if people had excited me and inspired me with the possibility of understanding how the world works, just at the time when a mind is full of questions and optimism? What if I’d been given the structure and the freedom to make hypotheses, test things out, and generate conclusions? What if I’d been in an environment where students and teachers were enthusiastic about learning and didn’t degrade achievement? I think I would have entered the core courses in junior high and high school with a greater sense of purpose, with greater enthusiasm, and with greater confidence.

I made it through college level calculus. But even then, I wasn’t fully paying attention. I regret to this day that I don’t have a stronger math background. Lacking the math makes it hard to advance in other fields, including medicine, science, engineering, economics and statistics.

I don’t care whether or not my children choose a scientific career. But I don’t want them to eliminate scientific careers because they weren’t sufficiently prepared. I want them to take in the principles and the concepts from an early age. I want them to have equal exposure to different realms – math and science, language, social sciences, music, art and spirituality – and to allow them to carry along further in whatever realms excite them the most. I want them to
have a better start than I did, and to not look back with any regrets.

I also know that this is not something I can teach them, that I need them to have access to quality math and science teachers. And beyond my own children, I’d like for all youth in our country to have the opportunity to compete for some of the best jobs on an equal basis
with kids from other countries. That is what makes me care about the low current standards and about making sure my children have access to quality math and science educations from an early age. I’m glad that more people are paying attention to this issue.

Monster-sized firstborn

People told me that as soon as number two came along, number one would suddenly seem huge. That was easy enough to believe. The newborn stage is so short, it’s easy to forget how small they start out. River seems small compared to most people, but compared to someone a fraction of his size, of course he’d seem large.

But I didn’t understand how huge, how truly ginormous he would appear to me. Suddenly his hands looked almost adult-sized. His head is like a basketball. His limbs are long and even his private part seems like it’s gotten bigger.

What is strangest is that when I look back at photos of River, from just a few days before Willow was born, he still appears small to me, like a little toddler. There seems to be an innocence in his eyes that has been diminished upon becoming a sibling, as though it’s an effect of realizing that his parents’ hearts have space for another, that he is not the only one.

The Happiest Toddler on the Block compares the arrival of a sibling with a husband bringing home a second wife, along with the promise that you’ll get used to her and in time, will have fun playing together.

I’m able to spend a little more time with River now. I’m able to occasionally read him his bedtime story. But I can’t give him the concentrated attention he used to receive. I feel like I’m not patient enough with him. I long for when I can take him out for a day of quality mom time. And I remind myself that time is coming. I just hope that in the interim, we don’t lose the bond we once had. He’s now looking more towards others for the support and recognition he needs. This has been a good thing for his relation with dad. He’s finally showing dad some much-deserved affection.

Yes, the heart can expand to absorb two. But time doesn’t have the same ability to stretch. I worry that the limits on my time will make him feel I’m not there for him in the way I was before, and will change the trust and confidence we had in each other.

Does this get better with time?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mom needs a break

I wonder if we’re entering a growth spurt, because we are in a period in which I feel I just don’t get a break – except for these few minutes in which I’m quickly typing this. Willow is feeding constantly and when she’s not feeding, she’s in my arms.

The constant feeding would be a bit more bearable if it wasn’t still painful to nurse on the left side. I avoid it as much as I can, offering her the right breast even when it’s limp and feels it can’t possibly have milk to offer.

Today I face an extra challenge – I’m trying the last of the remedies I’ve heard of for thrush, reducing the sugar in my diet. I’ve saved this for last, hoping I could perhaps get rid of it without denying myself the comfort of sweets. Because on days like today, when she feeds without end and doesn’t nap, there is nothing I want more than to break open a box of caramels and let myself loose.

So much for my goal of pursuing knowledge during maternity leave. I read in bits here and there, but have finished only one book since she was born. Nor have I seen a whole lot of movies. I thought it was the weight of the books, so I bought a Kindle. Then I realized it’s also the pain of nursing on the left, the fatigue, and the fact that there are usually other people around.

This too shall pass. I know. But I still long for 24-hours to myself, during which I’d get a full night’s sleep, get some exercise, read and write for several hours, and perhaps cook something delicious. That is my current daydream.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Effects of swaddling

A randomized control trial conducted in Mongolia finds no significant differences in early mental or psychomotor development among babies tightly swaddled to seven months of age or older and those who aren’t swaddled.
For an impressive demonstration of how the Mongolians swaddle, see the movie Babies, where the little Mongolian baby is swaddled at the hospital like a Christmas package.

We find tight swaddling (I have my husband do it since he pulls the swaddle tighter than I do) helpful to promote sleep, since it reduces the spastic movements that tend to wake Willow up. We used the Swaddle Mes with River and now Mark prefers the Miracle Blanket, which keeps the arms down better. We swaddle at night, from about 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. and leave her free during the day. There may or may not be a correlation, but she sleeps well at night and usually only takes a good nap in the day if I’ve taken her in the car or otherwise moved her about.

Do you swaddle? Why or why not?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

things I never expected to hear from my kids

“Mom, put your boob back into your shirt please,” River.

On another note, though I still haven’t given up sweets, I’m starting to feel like the thrush might be reducing and that is reassuring. It’s no longer super painful to nurse and I’m really looking forward to the day in which it’s only a matter of taking the time to nurse, and not a matter of being in pain.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Effects of bullying on the brain

An interesting article about the effects of bullying.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Toxins found in pregnant U.S. women

I suppose I shouldn’t find this surprising, especially after watching Gasland, but still, it’s very disturbing.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chinese school, here we come

Mark agreed that we can send River to Chinese preschool starting next fall. He’ll only attend two mornings per week, the cheapest option, which isn’t enough to become fluent the first year. But I hope it’s enough to take advantage of that early brain sponginess that will allow him to pick up difficult things like a tonal language without much effort. It’s a financial stretch and a transportation hassle, but I also think it will stretch River’s horizons at a time when it matters and I’m very excited about that.

When we visited and he participated in the class, I saw the same “what the fuck” look cross his face that I experienced so often overseas. The look that comes when you realize you really have no clue what is going on. This is followed by rapid processing, rapid decision making and then an adjustment to the situation. For me, it comes with a rush of excitement and confidence as I figure out something that stretches my boundaries and my comfort zone. Since River seemed to enjoy the class, I think it may have had the same effect on him. It’s very rewarding to be able to share that experience with him.

Mark says I’m projecting my own experiences on to him. And I may well be. But it is necessarily wrong to want your child to experience the things you’ve found most rewarding? If, like Mark, he found such situations stressful, then perhaps it wouldn’t be right for me to subject him to them. But he cried when it was time to go and begged to go back. It’s quite possible, even probable, that he shares my penchant for adapting, for figuring things out, and for jumping into new situations.

Languages and international interactions have formed an important part of my life, but I think my first exposure came too late. I didn’t have the opportunity to start studying a second language until middle school. I want to share that part of my experience with him and I’d like him to have the advantage of an earlier exposure – where he can receive the benefits with less work. My early education was lacking in quality math, science and intellectual exploration and I think it would have been helpful to have these things. I also want to give him what I missed out on.

I wish I could attend preschool with him. I think I could learn a lot – not only Chinese, but also science. But I can still derive a lot of pleasure from sending him, watching him go through the experience, and perhaps picking up some things along the way.

In the meantime, this piece by Thomas Friedman, made me laugh. Perhaps River will become a source of low-wage labor for a Chinese firm someday, but at least it’s a job prospect.

Do you have any life experiences you want to make sure your children are exposed to?

Friday, January 14, 2011

perhaps solids should come earlier than six months?

New research from Britain recommends that introducing solids before six months might benefit breastfed babies.

I particularly like this comment left on the article:

“I am so tired of hearing health professionals, midwives and health visitors pontificate as to what is best for babies. Every baby is different and every situation is different. I started weaning my two children as soon as they showed an interest in reaching out for solid food. Both wanted solids at 4.5 months old and started on baby rice. Perhaps we should stop listening to blanket guidelines (which cannot possibly be completely correct since they are changed every five minutes) and listen to our babies instead!”

My mother insisted that River needed some cereal earlier to fill him up. Not only was he large and ravenous, but I had trouble producing enough supply to fill him up. I think I acquiesced somewhere around four months. He was interested and perfectly happy with his cereal. We moved quickly into other foods and I gave him some cow’s milk around 10 or 11 months because it was cheaper than formula and I figured he was getting a good supply of vitamins from the wide variety of food he was eating.

Forcing a baby to wait until six months, regardless of the individual baby’s development and circumstances, didn’t make much sense to me. Blanket guidelines serve a purpose by providing general recommendations. But as the commenter points out, probably the best source of information about what is right is the baby itself.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Facebook pregnancy story

What a sad story. I guess it’s a good reminder to me why doctors may seem overly cautious. Something like this may happen only once in 1000 to 4000 pregnancies, but when it does happen, it’s tragic.

English surpasses the Spanish

1/13/10 English surpasses the Spanish
River again participated in a research study of preschoolers, so I was able to obtain an update on his language skills. The procedure is to go through the test until the child gets some wrong, then they stop. This time, he made it all the way through the test, in both Spanish and English. But he got a few things wrong in Spanish (he didn’t answer the math questions correctly, nor the phonics, and he may have messed up a half cookie versus a whole cookie) and was able to answer the same questions in English. So I think his English has now surpassed his Spanish.

The researchers thought he did great and said they couldn’t wait to see where he is at age four. I was relieved he was docile and cooperative with them, as he was last time, though I feared that might not be the case given his behavior in recent weeks. But I was admittedly a bit bummed that the language I speak with him is now in second place. I take it not only as a sign of how the rest of the world has more influence over him than I do, but also an indication that perhaps my Spanish is not up to snuff.

I’ve definitely been feeling deficient lately. While I’ve learned some words of interest to him, like bulldozer, excavator, and tugboat in Spanish, the English books go so much further to talk about the technical parts of each of these machines. I don’t know the technical parts and it’s a lot of work to learn them. Also, there aren’t any books easily available in Spanish that have this kind of detail. I spoke to the librarian about it and she agreed, saying, “This is when they start to speak English, because the richness of the language available to them in English surpasses what they have access to in Spanish.”

I’m also feeling deficient in everyday conversation. He asks me words like vulture, slush, curb and rust that I don’t know off the top of my head. Even if I look them up later, I don’t always remember them.

So this is the point where it’s tempting to give up, but that’s not my tendency, especially when he’s not actively resisting yet. Instead, I have to improve my Spanish. I need a way to look up words quickly, wherever we are, as soon as he asks. Mark says I should get a smartphone, but that is too expensive. I’m thinking of perhaps getting a Kindle with a Spanish dictionary. Any other ideas?

I’m also going to make attending the Spanish-language monthly book club a priority, attend the Spanish-language La Leche league meetings while I can, accompany River to the Spanish story hour during my maternity leave and generally make more of an effort to bring my language up a notch. It would be great to take him to a Spanish speaking place for some mother-son Spanish-immersion, but that’s not very feasible in the budget now or with breastfeeding. Perhaps that will be a goal for after Willow is weaned.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mobility, or lack thereof

I’m a bit tired, though I feel like I shouldn’t be. I get a decent amount of sleep, even though I’m awakened a few times per night. I have plenty of good food, I eat well. But I have a baby in my arms almost all the time and I’m starting to long for more independent movement. Also, I’m not always meeting my goal of a daily walk and am beginning to crave exercise.

I tried a baby carrier I was given, but it’s meant for babies that can already sit upright with their legs apart and that’s not the case for us yet. I finally dug out the Ergo and tried it today. She is now asleep on my chest, I have two hands free and can walk around. Yay! I’m hoping it might aid her in getting some longer stretches of sleep during the day, and allow me to move around more and do things I’ve been neglecting – like typing – that I can only do with two hands.

I’m starting to feel the ennui of sitting in one or two places and not being able to move much. It’s been almost a month since she was born and in that time, I finished my statistics exam and I’m almost done with holiday cards. That’s not a lot to knock off my to-do list in 3.5 weeks. I feel like I could use the whole six month maternity leave just to finish my administrative and nesting projects.

I do still love looking at Willow’s delicate, precious little face. River seems happier and I’m hoping he’s starting to adjust. I know it’s just a matter of time until I can resume the things I used to do. But in the meantime, I look at people, like those working on their computers in a café, who don’t have babies attached to them, who are not nervously watching the clock, thinking about how long they can be away before the baby starts to cry for milk, and I feel like we live in different worlds.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Seven moves that will make you a better dad

Some sound advice here, with some of it relevant to both moms and dads.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The magic of the car

I’m having an unusually easy day. I took both the kids to a play center. Willow fell asleep on the way there and stayed asleep for the entire three hours. I woke her a half hour before leaving in order to feed her.

Then she fell asleep again on the way home and has been asleep for another few hours. All it takes is a short trip in a car. I have yet to try this method just to put her to sleep, but wow, is it ever nice to have a few hours of free movement to myself.

Flex time in action

A positive example of large accounting firms embracing flex time and improving retention.

A demonstration of the lifelong effects of childhood abuse

A 27-year-old graduate student in computer science at Princeton University committed suicide this week, leaving this moving 4,000-word note. In it, he explains how being raped repeatedly as a child affected, in essence destroyed, the rest of his life.

It’s a moving, and a tragic letter, one that reminds us how lasting and traumatic early experiences can be. The statement I once heard, “Don’t compare your insides with someone else’s outsides,” resonates with me. This letter reminds me once again that we can never fully know what is going on with someone else’s insides. It’s a reminder to be compassionate and nonjudgmental.

Friday, January 7, 2011

frenulum cut, help sought

It’s done. The process was probably as painful for me as it was for her. But I’m really pleased with the doctor, who was kind and solicitous and I think the procedure was successful. It no longer feels like a suction cup on my breast when she latches on and her gums no longer feel like rows of teeth, or knives.

We’re still struggling with thrush, but one problem down, one to go, is pretty good.

Just before getting the frenulum cut, I attended a breastfeeding support group offered by our hospital. It was run by a fantastic lactation consultant, who my friend had recommended, and she offered me some very helpful tips. I’ve been very hesitant to pay for a lactation consultant. I think I’ve been too affected by arguments that breastfeeding is cheap and easy. I know that’s not true, but I still have trouble paying a consultant for something that is supposed to save money. Nevertheless, I now see the value of one-on-one assistance.

She showed me a new way to get Willow to latch on that is a bit less painful on the hurt side and she recommended an ointment for my nipples that is specially for women dealing with thrush and injured nipples. She also recommended the Kelly Mom and the Dr. Jack Newman sites for recommendations on how to deal with thrush. Hopefully I’ll find time soon to be able to read them in detail.

Thrush is evil and no fun to fight. I look forward to this being over. In the meantime, I’m grateful for the resources that provide advice and assistance and I’m glad that this time around, I’m not hesitating to make use of them.


Breastfeeding has been painful. Painful enough that I count down the days to visit an otolaryngologist (new word for me, but hey, just another thing that parenting makes you an expert in). Painful enough that I’m now counting down the hours until they cut my daughter’s frenulum, the underside of her tongue – 3 hours to go!

A lactation consultant at the hospital first suggested she might have a short frenulum and another seconded that opinion. They also commented that her suck was like a vacuum extractor. Within days, my nipples were red and covered with scabs.

Those eventually went away and I thought I was toughening up, but the redness remained, as well as a burning sensation that lasted long after nursing. I thought it must be thrush, which we suffered with River, and got treatment for both of us. The doctor didn’t seem convinced though. When I initially told her about the lactation consultants’ concerns, she said, “We’re not going to cut her tongue.” I accepted that and didn’t bring it up again.

But when she expressed some doubt about the thrust, I asked, “Can you think of anything else that would cause my breasts to burn?” and she gave me a referral to an otolaryngologist.

My first thought upon hearing the possibility of cutting her tongue was one of repulsion, an instinct of no way. Then the pain continued, and got worse. I now have a crack half way around a nipple, so large I can see the skin underneath, and part of that is turning white, making me think it could be getting infected. I dread giving her that breast. I offer her the right one three times for each time I reluctantly put her on the left. I can’t keep this up.

I have a good friend who is in to all kinds of natural treatments. Like me, she is disturbed by the thought of circumcising a male baby. Yet she told me her son was diagnosed as tongue-tied at age two months, she didn’t cut his frenulum, and she wishes she had.

She told me that breastfeeding was continually painful for her and that addressing the problem would not only allow me to breastfeed, it would improve our relationship. I think that is true because at the moment, when I put her on the left breast, I’m clamping her head in a vice-like grip, sweating and panting. Not exactly great bonding time. She also said that her son, now three, is lisping, and that cutting it early probably would have prevented that.

Our first visit to an EMT confirmed that her frenulum was “tight” but that practice only does the cutting in a hospital, with intubation and general anesthesia. Pretty freaky for a two-week old.

There are so many more serious issues that many new parents are dealing with. I feel lucky that she is healthy and happy. But still, to be told that a baby this small could use a procedure is stressful. Even more so when the thought of having my own frenulum cut inspires horror and revulsion. The tongue is one of those things you just don’t want to have to cut. Trying to do research, find doctors, make and get to appointments, is extra difficult with a newborn.

After two visits to the hospital-only doctors, I found two other doctors who do it in their offices. We went with one that uses a novocaine shot. Here’s hoping it works!

raising kids to be good socialists/capitalists

One benefit of the newborn stage is the opportunity to catch up on my issues of Brain, Child magazine.

I especially enjoyed this essay by Catherine Newman, in which she highlights the inconsistencies in the lessons we teach to our children, and what we practice as adults. We insist upon kids sharing, but how willing are we to share our most valued possessions? This essay provides a lot of fodder to think about.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Finding help with baby names

A couple of months ago I posted looking for a site to get feedback on baby names we were considering. I ended up finding one at, where they have a create a baby name poll feature.

I used a random number generator to determine the order I presented the four names under consideration. We didn’t send the poll to friends/family, but instead left it open for voting by the general public. I wanted to get the reaction of neutral, uninvolved people before requesting feedback from some friends/family.

It was helpful and the winner (which is the name we used) also won among an informal survey given to a discussion list I belong to.

Monday, January 3, 2011

First two weeks

Willow is now two weeks and one day old. I’ve been counting down to today, because this is the day I am able to start treating her with Diflucan for thrush. And tomorrow we see the pediatric EMT about her possible short frenulum. I’m hoping that one or both of these things will stop the pain of breastfeeding, which remains intense on the left side.

Willow still sleeps quite well and does not make a peep during the night, except when having her diaper changed. This has been enough of a pattern that I’m hoping we truly did hit the jackpot and have gotten a second easy baby.

I don’t consider myself an attachment parent, but I sure have been one lately. The baby is on me, or within six inches of me, for 21-23 hours a day. While I appreciate having my hands free for a while and look forward to increased periods of time when I can get things done, I’ve quite enjoyed her presence.

While Willow has been calm and easy, River has suddenly become very difficult. He spends more time crying each day than Willow does. Our calm, sweet, gentle boy is suddenly demanding, obstinate and throws frequent tantrums. It’s hard to break down how much of it is the new arrival versus getting spoiled by the grandparents, being sick, being largely abandoned by mom, or just being three. Though he’s definitely more angry these days, he doesn’t take it out on Willow. He often ignores her, but when he does pay attention, as he especially tends to do when they are both in their carseats, he will say things like, “The baby is very pretty,” or “Mom, the baby is crying, go to her.”

I’m starting to get out and about more. I’m taking Willow for walks and we’ve gone to a few stores. I feel like I’m on a short leash though, unless there is a place I can breastfeed enroute. If she suddenly demands food and starts to wail, there is no other way to quiet here. This makes me tend toward visiting places and stores that have a place to sit down, and avoiding those that don’t.

I finally, finally, finished the silly statistics exam. Now I can start using my few spare moments to do the things I wanted to do before she was born, like work on my nesting projects and watch lots of movies.

While the first week was pretty rough physically, I made a lot of progress in healing the second week. I’m pretty functional at this point and think I’m going to be healed a lot quicker this time around compared to last. I enjoyed several days of my weight dropping two pounds per day, regardless of how many cookies I ate. That sadly ended and my weight started to go up. My stomach has largely returned to normal. There is just a small pouch left and the shadow of the linea negra. But my hips, thighs and rear end are huge and probably won’t go away until I make a concerted effort and/or stop breastfeeding.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Street art

I love coming across random street art – a neighbor who fills a tree with rubber ducks, turns a tree into a creature with eyes, decorates it with ornaments. I love decorated park benches and random sculptures. It makes me happy to see people putting time into making the environment beautiful and adding a surprise to my stroll. If I was in Paris, this would make me smile.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Life with newborn, week two

Some days are really hard, as was the one where she ate pretty much constantly from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m., then I had insomnia and ended up with about an hour of sleep. Others are seemingly great, such as the night she slept from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., with only brief wakings for a few feedings.

I don’t consider myself an attachment parent, but right now, she feels permanently attached to me. Most times I like this. She is like a little doll and it’s marvelous to recognize that this tiny bundle is going to grow up to become a woman – my daughter. But at times it’s trying, especially to constantly function with only one hand and to have only five minutes at a time to take care of myself. She is so easy-tempered, but does insist on being in someone’s arms at all times. I’m looking forward to being able to pass her off to someone else’s arms and enjoy an hour or two of unrestricted movement.

I’m feeling a bit better each day. Last time, it took a good three months to heal. I think it will be quicker this time.

My daily goals are to shower and to take a walk around the block. Harsh weather occasionally interferes with the walk and I find it hard when I’m unable to move out of the house for at least 20 minutes per day.

I’ve been spending a lot of time in our bedroom and I’m so appreciative of its spaciousness, the ample light and the warm tones of the honey wood floor and furniture. I love looking out at the cold snow and hearing the harsh wind blow, yet feeling safe and warm inside with my baby.

I still haven’t touched the remainder of my stats exam, and don’t know how I’m going to do that. But I’ve started perusing courses I could audit in the spring and feel like a kid in a candy store. I’ve identified 20 courses I’d be interested in taking, everything from neuroscience to natural disasters to Chinese religions to interpretations of modernist films. As an auditor, I wouldn’t have to do any assignments or take any exams. I could just sit and learn. I’m tempted by some work-related courses, but would like to use this time to just learn something for the fun of it.