Monday, April 25, 2011

Three nights of night weaning

After three days of night weaning, life is SO much better. The graphs TrixieTracker prepares of Willow’s sleep and nursing show me that she now has a consistent pattern. For the past few days, she’s been sleeping 13-15 hours a day, which is at or above the average of Trixie Tracker users with baby’s this age. The probability chart (yes, this site definitely offers the possibility for overanalysis), which shows the likelihood she will be awake at any time, is now becoming more consistently black on the ends, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., grey in the middle and white during her awake periods of 8-10 a.m. and 5-7 p.m. I look at that with the same excitement that some women look at a new pair of shoes.


Best of all, I feel better. And it hasn’t been very hard on Mark, who has only had to get up once per night when she cries briefly.

We probably have a bigger challenge on our hands in getting her out of the swing and into the bassinet. But this first experiment shows me that quick change is possible. Yay!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Naming your child after a street

Willow has the same name as the street we live on. The name came first (I chose it over ten years ago) and we just happened to buy a house on a street with the same name. When we saw the house, I commented to Mark that this was the name I wanted to use for a girl. Then the girl came along and we used it.

Our street is well-known in our community, so many people assume the street came first, and that we named her after the street. It’s noticeable even by people who aren’t from the area, if I recite her name and address and the same word appears twice.

One pregnant friend said that inspired her to consider street names for her daughter-to-be. Though she settled on another name, she did seriously consider her street name, Darrah.

“It’s a new source of names that people don’t really think of,” she said. “Why not look to streets for inspiration?”

I wonder whether Willow will find this special or annoying. I wonder whether River will be disappointed that there aren’t any streets nearby with his name. If nothing else, hopefully Willow won’t have trouble telling people where she lives should she ever get lost. Or perhaps, she’ll be remembered as the girl with the same name as her street, and someone can lead her home.

First night of night weaning

The first night was a success! Much better than I expected. The plan was to feed her at 10:30 before I went to bed. I’d wake up to feed her again at 2 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. Mark would handle any other wakeups prior to 7 a.m.

She woke up only once for Mark and he only had to do a five-minute check. She was already back asleep before the ten minute check. With my earplugs, I managed to sleep through this.

I woke up motivated and enthusiastic with the hope that by getting up and feeding her as scheduled, I was reducing the amount of middle-of-the-night wake-ups I’d have in the future.

In sum, Mark only had to get up once. I got up twice between 11:15 p.m. and 8 a.m. and feel like a new person. Willow awoke smiling and happy.

They say the first night is the hardest, but it wasn’t bad at all. Hopefully it will only get better from here. I look at my Trixie Tracker chart and last night was the first sane-looking one ever. While others had lines of feedings all through the night, this one had longer feedings with longer spaces in between. Aaahhh!

Once we’ve eliminated one of these remaining feedings, we’ll start working on transition from the swing, which will probably be a bit tougher in the initial nights.

So far though, so good. I see more sleep on my horizon and it’s a wonderful thing.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The night weaning plan

I have spent the past few days assiduously tracking Willow’s sleep and nursing. I’ve sought advice everywhere I can find it. I’ve gathered everything I can to try to make the decisions that will make this process easiest on everyone.

I’ve learned she eats an average of five times a night. These occur roughly at:

11 p.m.

1 a.m.

3:30 a.m.

between 5 and 6 a.m.

and between 6 and 7 a.m.

See why I’m sleep deprived?


The plan on night 1 is to cut this down to three. I’m thinking I’ll focus on the 11 p.m., 3:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. feeding, waking her up an hour in advance of those times to give her milk. Any other wake-ups will not result in feedings, but comforting by Mark.

This is an emotionally difficult process. There have been a few occasions on which I’ve let her cry, but never at night. It’s been when I’m just worn out and can’t take anymore. So she cries 5, 10, 20 minutes and I don’t feel too bad because I’m at a point where there is nothing else I feel I can do. To plan in advance to let her cry feels different.

There is part of me that wants to follow her lead and let her figure out the rhythms at her own pace. That worked fine with River. But I know too many people whose kids are still getting up multiple times per night at 9 months, 14 months, 17 months, two years. I can’t be the parent or the partner or the employee I want to be if I’m sleep deprived that long.

I don’t like the thought of her crying. But I think the potential harm that comes from crying a bit over a few days is less than what she’ll lose by having a sleep-deprived parent over the long-term.

The plan is to start weaning the third feeding (perhaps the shortest of the three) right away, reducing the nursing time by two minutes each night.

Once we are down to two feedings per night, we can work on the transition from the swing to a bassinet. And once that is OK, I’ll begin to wean the second feeding.

Of course, this is optimistic, and it’s likely to all get messed up by our upcoming trip. But it’s helpful to have a plan, something in writing we can refer to and hopefully stick to in the middle of the night, when exhaustion and emotion can lead us to throw in the towel.

I can only hope it works well, and works quickly, for her sake and mine.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Willow's birth story

Born Sunday, December 19th at 9:08 p.m.
7 pounds, 15 ounces; 20.25 inches


 
On Friday, December 17th, Mark and I attended the movie Black Swan while River enjoyed some free childcare at my gym. A loud scene from the movie took place in a disco. At that point, I felt a kick more powerful than anything I’d felt so far. It was so hard that Mark could feel the reverberations in the next seat. Looking back, I wonder if that was her announcement that she was on her way.

On the morning of Saturday the 18th, I took River to the gym, where I walked on the treadmill. Then we attended a holiday cookie exchange. I brought the speculaas (St. Nicholas) cookies I’d spent the entire previous day making, we visited with friends, sampled homemade treats and brought home at least six dozen of them. While Mark put River down for his nap I got a haircut, then came home to work on my statistics final exam.

While working on the exam that evening, trying to finish it by Monday, I noticed something I thought might be contractions. They weren’t very painful, but they seemed to come with some consistency, about once every 10 to 20 minutes. I had seen some cervical mucus for the few preceding days and it had continued throughout Saturday, leading me to think that it was possible she was coming soon.
I became distracted from the exam and began to google topics such as “what does a contraction feel like?” and “how long can contractions precede labor?” When I saw the real (vs. Braxton Hicks) contractions described as something that comes in a wave and becomes progressively more frequent and stronger, I felt the wave was an accurate description. I began to note the time to see if they were getting progressively closer and stronger. I decided not to wait until the Monday due date for my exam, but aimed to try to finish it by Sunday. It was possible that she was going to come soon so I warned Mark’s mom, and our doula, Rita.

I became stressed about what priority was most important to pursue – getting rest while I could, finishing my exam so it wouldn’t be hanging over my head, or getting essential preparations, like packing a hospital bag, taken care of. Mark told me to stop stressing and do one of the three things.

I put off the stats exam in favor of packing the most critical things and then getting some rest. I asked for Mark’s help to care for River on Sunday so that I could focus fully on trying to get the exam done that day. I told him if I was still pregnant on Monday, I’d make up the hours to him then. He agreed.

On Saturday night, I took my regular two Tylenol p.m.s and was able to get a good night’s sleep. I thought there might be a sign in the morning, such as blood-tinged mucus or perhaps my water breaking. But there was nothing obvious, making me think perhaps I had been mistaken. Nevertheless, I was still committed to trying to finish my exam that day and began working on it at 8 a.m. I had a Whole Foods golden-graham-type cereal for breakfast, tea with milk and some holiday cookies.

Mark took River out for lunch so I could focus on my exam. They went to a local restaurant and Mark used his Droid to send me photos of River with Santa Claus and River proudly holding a candy cane over his burger.

By the time they came back, bringing me a takeout burger, I wasn’t feeling so good. At 12:30 I let Mark’s parents know I was having contractions 10-20 minutes apart. I hid in my room while Mark put River down for his nap. I nibbled at the cheeseburger, but only found the pickle appetizing. Instead, I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry. For me, labor brings on feelings of despair and inadequacy. I dreaded going through the pain again. But I had to hold myself together because we had a pre-scheduled meeting with our student doula at 1.

When River went down for his nap, I kissed him with an intense feeling of nostalgia, knowing it was probably the last moment I’d see him as my only child. I told him that when he woke up, some friends would probably be here to play with him, and then grandma and grandpa would be coming.

When our doula, Rita, came, I tried to listen to her politely, but wasn’t very engaged. Her friendly chatter didn’t help my scared and depressed state. Every so often I’d double over as a wave of pain washed over me. I asked what she suggested doing and she said I should do whatever I could to get my mind off of labor. She said she went to the zoo and that her daughter pointing out monkeys made her forget about her contractions. She suggested I head out to a place like Toys R Us, where I’d be distracted by the crowds of holiday shoppers.

I could see walking around the neighborhood in better weather. But to take a big trip out to a zoo or a shopping center when labor had already begun? It didn’t feel like the right thing for me.

She said she had another appointment scheduled from 4-6, but we could call her if we needed her before then.  She offered to stay with us until her appointment, but I said no. Of course I took her off guard. She was expecting to just come and discuss the birth, not to find her first-ever client in labor. But her excited and nonchalant manner didn’t work so well with my fear and sadness.

While I wasn’t going to head out to a shopping mall, it was helpful to hear that I should try to keep my mind on other things. So I tried eating my cheeseburger and failed. Tried watching a movie and failed. But I did manage to get preparations underway – finalizing my suitcase, calling River’s caretakers to see if they were available, notifying my professor that I wouldn’t be able to finish my exam as I appeared to be in labor, canceling my appointments for the coming days.

I called Dr. G shortly after Rita left. Though my voice was calm (unlike the tearful voice I had when calling about my first delivery), Dr. G didn’t question me, but told me to come right in. He would be at the hospital that evening. I told him I needed some time to set up care for River and told him I’d call him when I was on my way. He gave me his cell phone number.

I called my friend Sarah and put her on guard, but tried to hold out as long as I could. I’d occasionally double over in pain, but it wasn’t unbearable and I was able to go about things. It was helpful to feel I was getting things in order. Mark kept asking me when I was going to tell Sarah to come and I’d reply, in a little while. I didn’t want to stay home until the last minute, but neither did I want to get to the hospital too early, as I feared there would be more chance of undesired interventions.

Around 3:30 I called Sarah and said she could come anytime. She arrived shortly after 4 with her husband and baby. I was still in good enough shape to show them around and to chat with them, though every so often I’d duck into the kitchen to get through a contraction.

Mark and I got in the car and stopped at the library to rent a DVD from RedBox. We hoped to rent The Kids Are Alright, but it wasn’t there. Last time we spent many calm hours after receiving the epidural and we expected it would be the same this time. Might as well get ourselves a movie. On the curb outside the library, I ran into the owner of the yoga studio where I took prenatal yoga. She was on her way out of town and handed me a coupon to a toy store, saying she wouldn’t be able to use it before Christmas. I don’t think she noticed I was in labor.

Mark offered to drop me off at the hospital front door, but I said I could walk from the parking lot with him. He grabbed the heavier bags, I grabbed a pillow and the lighter things and we walked in like normal visitors to the hospital, though we may have looked like we were moving in with all the stuff we were carrying.

We got to the hospital around 4:30. I knew Rita was meeting her other client at this point, so I sent her a text letting her know we were at labor and delivery.

Unlike last time, when I entered the emergency room in tears and doubled over in pain, this time I was able to walk in the front door and take the elevator up to maternity. We were buzzed in and led immediately to our room. They appeared to be waiting for us and that was a pleasant first impression.

A nurse, Pam, gave me a gown and told me to change. I took my time unpacking while I still had normal clothing on, preparing things for the post-epidural relaxation. I’d bend over with a contraction every so often, but was still doing remarkably well, enough to smile and chat with the nurse when she came in.

Pam started to ask me questions and typed the answers into a computer screen. I expected this would be short, since I’d already filled out the pre-registration paperwork. But it took over an hour, during which time the contractions strengthened considerably and I became anxious and irritable, asking her how much longer it was going to take and when I could get the epidural.

When she finally finished all the questions and hooked me up to a fetal heart rate monitor, she said that I couldn’t have an epidural until they did a blood test, so they’d have to get a phlebotomist to draw blood. I had just had a platelet count not long before and Dr. G told me that was to ensure my levels were high enough to be able to get an epidural. I wasn’t expecting to do yet another one at the hospital, but apparently the anesthesiologist required it since my platelet counts had been on the low side of normal.

If one needed blood drawn in a hurry, you might think a hospital would be a good place to find someone capable of doing it. But there was no phlebotomist to be found. I waited over a half hour before they could find one, by which point I was bent over sobbing with each contraction. They were coming rapidly, were very painful, and I feared the quick labor combined with the slow hospital services would prevent me from getting an epidural. The last thing I wanted was to push out what I expected would be a large baby without medication. A half hour doesn’t seem long in retrospect, but with contractions coming every two minutes, that was a lot of extra pain.

Around this time, Rita called Mark, but I asked him to ignore it. I didn’t think her presence would help me at this painful and stressful time and I preferred Mark be there for me rather than providing her instructions on how to get in. I suggested we get in touch with her once I had the epidural and the situation was calmer. The doctor had promised me less pain than I experienced last time and he occasionally came in, looking concerned. Later he told me he was about to wring the necks of the people who couldn’t arrange to get my blood drawn. Why a doctor or nurse couldn’t do it, I don’t know. He offered me an IV to relieve pain, but I wasn’t familiar with what it was, what the effects would be, or how it might affect my ability to get an epidural. So I held off a bit and finally, someone came to take my blood.

Not too long after that, around 6:15 p.m., the anesthesiologist came in. To me it looked like she wore a halo and radiated a golden light. I’d only been 3.5 centimeters at 5:30, the last time they checked before the epidural, but that was plenty of pain for me. I knew what the relief would be, so I didn’t care about any pain associated with the epidural. “Give me as much as you can,” I said. “Full power.”

Rita had arrived by then, so she, Mark and I settled in to wait for the contractions to progress. I pulled out my Brain, Child magazines, gave one to Rita, and began to read one myself. I was reading some funny segments aloud, about rules that parents never expected to have for their kids. One was a creative song about when you can pick your nose and when you can’t.

I thought I’d have several hours on the epidural and that the baby would be born the next day. I would have preferred for her to arrive after midnight. I liked the symmetry of a 12/20/10 birthday more than 12/19/10. Also, the difference of just a few hours would allow me an extra night in the hospital. Perhaps that is why they wanted to hurry it along. Or perhaps so the doctor could go home when he was done with me. Or because the shift change was at 7 a.m. and they wanted to have my case wrapped up by then. In any case, the nurse said this baby would definitely be born before midnight. Not long after the epidural, I’d gone from 3 to 5 centimeters. And less than an hour after that, just before 8 p.m., I was at 7.5-8 centimeters.

I was only on the first pages of the magazine, having enjoyed the effects of the epidural for less than an hour, when Dr. G came in. He said he saw a little irregularity in the heartbeat and so he wanted to tickle the baby’s head to make sure it was alright, a procedure I later found out is called a scalp stimulation test. Again, this was a moment in which it would have been nice to have an experienced doula around. Rita had never heard of this procedure, nor had we, so we had no choice but to trust him.

In order for him to tickle the head, he would have to first break my water. He’d seen some liquid earlier, so he wrote down that my water had broken. I told him it was probably just pee, which was probably correct because the amniotic fluids were something else entirely. They were so plentiful that upon breaking, they spewed out, soaking the doctor and the bed. It was both funny and amazing to see that sudden, powerful explosion and the sight of the doctor dripping with the fluid that sustained my baby, but it was also embarrassing. Just another one of those things you have to deal with, I tried to remember, as they lifted me up to change my bedsheets and the doctor went to change into new scrubs.

That marked the end of the comfort of my epidural. Within moments of the water breaking, I started to feel what is called pressure, but is really pain as the head began to descend. I quickly notified the doctor, since he said he could reduce my pain during this stage, and he gave me a shot which is called a pudendal block. Five minutes after the water broke, I was at 8.5 centimeters, having gone .5 or 1 cm in just five minutes. A half hour later, I was 10 cm dilated.

One issue last time was that the epidural numbed me down to the waist, but it didn’t numb my legs and I could feel everything as the baby was coming out. This time my legs were substantially number. But that meant I couldn’t do anything. Shit, I thought to myself. I should have tried to take a poop before I was immobile on the bed. I asked for a bedpan, but nothing came out and they had to use a catheter.

I tried to accept the indignities – my butt flared out to the world, people collecting my pee, the poop I knew would probably land on the table – as part of life and things that hospital staff see all the time. It would be nice to avoid them, but this was all part of getting the baby out and I’d do what I had to do. Luckily, I knew my disabilities would only be temporary and I’d soon return to normal. But I felt for the elderly who are subjected to such indignities for the remainder of their days.

When it came time to push, I asked for the bar that is placed over the bed. Last time I hung a towel from that and found it very helpful to hold on to as I pushed. The snippy nurse said there wasn’t one available as two other women were delivering at the same time.

Rita was most helpful at this point. She heated a lavender-scented sock filled with rice and placed it behind my back. The combination of the scent and the heat were calming. But still, I was freaked out about not having something above me to hold on to. Again, Rita came up with an acceptable solution, suggesting a scarf be used as a tug of war to simulate the straddle bar.

At the last minute, after I’d lost hope of getting one, someone came in with a bar and a wave of relief washed over me, as well as a little more confidence that I could do this.

The pushing experience was distinct compared to last time. It lasted only 20 minutes, compared to an hour and 40 minutes. But I’d had a lot less time to prepare. Also, I felt less supported, with an inexperienced doula and a not very nice nurse, while last time I had an experienced doula and a friendly nurse. Last time there was no doctor though and this time the doctor was there.

I’m sure I pooed, though I made Mark promise not to tell me about it. I was extra conscious of it this time since the doctor had wanted me to get an enema to prevent it. But whatever. It’s part of the process and just another thing to endure and then move on. The two things I remember most about pushing were:

-The feeling of a lack of progress, as though it was going to take a long time. Last time they updated me on seeing River’s head. This time I think Mark was avoiding looking down there and no one else was providing updates.

-How upset I was at the nurse, who was pushing down on my stomach with the fetal heart rate monitor as I tried to push. I yelled at her to stop it, to stop touching me, to get the f*** off of me, but she said she had to monitor the baby’s heartbeat. “I’ll get it out a lot quicker if you’d stop touching me,” I said, but she wouldn’t stop. I don’t know whether the doctor ordered her to do this, or if he didn’t have the authority to get her to stop. But it added to the discomfort, distracted me, and ticked me off to be touched against my will, especially in a time like that. What was she going to do if she noticed something with the heartbeat – cut me open right there with the baby half out? It didn’t make sense.

It’s already hard to remember the moment she actually came out (it was 9:08 p.m.), except that there was a rush and a holy crap as the head, then the shoulders came through, then a large, bloody being was whisked over to the table. There was some initial concern about some fluid in the lungs due to the fast delivery and her first Apgar was an 8/9. But I was in too much shock at that point to pay much attention and just trusted them to do their jobs.

Unlike River, I had no preview of what she was going to look like. When she first came out, I thought she looked a bit like River. But upon closer inspection, she didn’t look much like anyone. This was a contrast to River, who was initially a clone of Mark, with some strong features of my father and my father’s father as well.

They worked on her in a clear bassinet to my right. I saw them suctioning something out of her mouth and doing whatever else they do while the doctor began to sew me up. He said I had one second degree tear and several small lacerations. I’d avoided an episiotomy, which I had last time.

I told the doctor it hurt so he gave me some local shots which really helped with the pain. I was able to let him go about his work while I stared at my new daughter and admired her beautiful, heart-shaped lips, her shock of dark hair (River was bald) and her dark eyes (River was born with blue eyes, which slowly changed to hazel, then brown). I saw the large red numbers 7 pounds 15 ounces light up when they placed her on the scale and I was surprised to have a baby under 8 pounds. This was a benefit of her arriving 10 days before the due date. The doctor said if she’d waited until full-term or longer, she could have easily reached 9 pounds.

I can’t remember when I first held her, but it seemed like it was quicker than last time. My repairs took 45 minutes this time, compared to over two hours with River. She latched onto the breast right away, and while it soon became very painful, I’m not sure that I remember the first time as being too painful.

I remember seeing my placenta placed into a blue container, which was taken away when I wasn’t paying attention. The snippy nurse later came back and told me she was sorry, but they’d put the placenta I’d requested into medical waste already and it was locked.

“Once it’s locked we can’t open it again. But even if we could, we couldn’t be certain which placenta is yours.”

I doubted there were too many placentas put in there in the last hour or two. I told her I’d be OK with taking the one on top, knowing that it was most likely mine.

“What do you want it for?” she asked. When she’d asked me before, when I’d made clear in my intake that I wanted to take it with me, I told her it was personal. Now she was threatening me with not being able to give it to me, I told her I wanted to bury it.

She came back later and said that they could not open it. It was gone. I was disappointed, and suspected that it was thrown out on purpose. I wanted my baby to have a small piece of land to come back to, a small plot of our first home, her first home, the home where she’d grow up, a space where a small part of her would remain wherever she might go. But instead it would be sold to cosmetics companies and applied to someone’s face.

I was sad about that, but there was nothing I could do. I turned my attention to my beautiful and healthy baby and my new family of four. Unlike last time, I wasn’t swollen and could smile with her, marking our first moments together with photos.

Tracking

I am a sucker for data, dangerously so. I get a strange pleasure from collecting information (and I waste too much time doing it) and seeing it presented in concise, graphic summaries.


I also waste too much time collecting information that might some day be useful. So I’m suspicious of when people tell me to track things for my infant. It drove me crazy when the nurses at the hospital would ask me when I last fed Willow and for how many minutes on each side. I don’t know! I’m barely conscious – you expect me to keep count? I feed her when she’s hungry! The diaper count charts they gave us to fill in went in the garbage. Beyond the very early indications of whether or not the baby’s system is functioning, why in the world should we care how many pees and poops she has?


There is also the danger of too much information. Our pediatrician tried to get us to use formula due to insufficient poopy diapers. I know several people who have stopped breastfeeding because they couldn’t be in control of how many ounces their baby was getting per day.


So when someone gushed about Trixie Tracker on an online forum I belong to, I thought that was something I didn’t want to get sucked into.


Then Mark and I watched the Sleepeasy Solution and decided we want to wean, or at least reduce the number of nighttime feedings. But in order to do that, we should have a good idea of when the feedings are taking place, so I can choose the best times for her advance feedings. I want to make sure she’s not truly waking up hungry and I’ll feel more confident about that if I base our plan on data.


Also, it is nice to see whether or not this intervention results in more sleep. Whether or not she continues to nurse a similar amount. And if she transfers her nursing to the day instead of the night. All of this is easier to see with data.

So perhaps this could be useful for a few weeks while we attempt to make these changes.


But then I think about my return to work just over two months from now. It would be nice to see a pattern of when the nursing happens, so that I can try to organize my schedule to be home for the most important feeds. Again, a chart does wonders.


It’s also cool to be able to compare your charts with other user’s children of similar ages. Is my child an outlier or not? Am I more sleep deprived than the average parent of a four-month old? Of course, I can’t count on the fact that every other user is entering data correctly. Nor is a Trixie Tracker user a representative sample (probably overinvolved, obsessive parents are overrepresented). But it’s still nice to have something to compare our situation with, as it can feel kind of isolating getting up every hour or so in the middle of the night and wondering if anyone else is going through this.


You also find out random, but interesting facts, such as I spend 200-236 minutes per 24 hours nursing Willow (that’s where all my time went), or that she spends 10.5 hours per day awake. I can see graphically that she is a short, but frequent eater, with feedings ranging from 8-20 minutes, but occurring 10-12 times per day. Could I live without this information? Yes. But it gives me a little more clarity on where we are and how I spend my time in what seems like a daze of feedings, changes, and naps.

So I’m now on day 2 of using Trixie Tracker and will probably be hooked for a couple of months.  Only the first two weeks are free, unless you want to track only diapers (why, I have no idea).  There is all kinds of stuff you could track. You could go crazy and spend your life tracking every single diaper, bottle, nap, solid food, nursing, and medication your child ever experiences.  You can waste a lot of time getting averages, scatterplots, and probabilities.   Or you could have a need to track certain things (a child with difficulty accepting solids, sleep problems, a burdensome medication schedule) and tracking these particular items might make things more clear, or might reveal patterns that can illuminate what is and isn’t working. 

Yes, a pen and paper works. But for me, having the data tranformed into charts and graphs makes things more clear. And being the data geek I am, this clarity gives me an unwarranted sense of having more control. 


Do you collect data on your child’s schedule? If so, how and why?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The lack of sleep blues

With the exception of a rare night here and there, I have not gotten any more than three hours sleep at a time for the last 120 days. This is having a cumulative effect and I’m reaching the point where it needs to get better. Not sleeping enough bums me out. I overeat. I feel overwhelmed, anxious and incapable. I start to see my children more as a constant responsibility than as the treasures they are.


Last night, on Willow’s four-month birthday, Mark and I watched the Sleepeasy Solution, a DVD that had come highly recommended by several friends. The methods seemed simple enough, but it’s still an emotional process to not respond to your child immediately. I was crying watching some of the parents watch their kids cry, even as I knew why they were doing it and even as I saw them later say it was worth it. Mark laughed at the thought of me crying. So guess who will be on duty when Willow is crying?

We want to try this method, but even that seems overwhelming right now because we have so much to work on. This includes:

1. Getting her out of swaddles

2. Reducing the 4-6 nightly feeds

3. Getting her from the swing to sleeping on a firm surface. I wouldn’t mind delaying this one, except that we’ll soon spend a month traveling and won’t have a swing on hand then.

Last night I ditched the swaddle and tracked her sleep and her feeds. She woke up four times between 11 p.m. and 5 p.m. By 5:30, I just took her into bed with me and lost track.

For the next two nights, I’ll continue tracking and putting her down without a swaddle. Then on Friday night, we want to start implementing the plan, so that Mark can be in charge of any non-feed wakeup.

The DVD suggests setting an alarm and waking the child up to feed one hour before the usual time. This ensures the child is full, so any subsequent wakeups shouldn’t be due to hunger. They also suggest reducing the length of the feed by two minutes per night, until that feed has been weaned. They say that by five months, babies don’t need any night feeds.

An example is provided for a baby with two nightly wakeups. That seems clear enough. But what about when you have 4-6 nightly wakeups? Do you try to wean down to two? Do you stop the extra two to four cold turkey? I don’t really know and am spending my free time researching these questions and stressing out about them.

Willow is 16 pounds, twice her birth weight, with plenty of rolls of fat. She doesn’t NEED this many feedings at night. She doesn’t need them more than I need the sleep. She should be capable of transferring these feedings to the day. But still, I’m full of doubts, insecurities, worries.

I know this is a contentious issue, with people holding strong views on either side. It’s an issue we pretty much escaped with River. Since he always slept well at night, we never had to decide whether or not to let him cry. All we did was gradually move him further away from me, so that he didn’t smell the milk. He gradually needed less. It was natural and easy.

This time it’s different. I have met her needs on demand for four months. I want to continue to meet her feeding needs. But I want to shift those from the night to the day. I don’t think it’s going to be easy.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A weekend date with the kids

This weekend I took River to a local art museum that offers monthly programs directed at preschoolers. The program is included with the cost of admission. So I bought an annual membership for $70 and now have access to what is, in effect, a high-quality monthly art class for him.


I still don’t have an easy time venturing out alone with both of the kids. Since Willow was edgy, I wasn’t able to give him the one-on-one assistance other kids were receiving. But he still got to make a fun art project, put on a smock and mess around with paint, and take a kid-focused tour of some pieces of art. Afterwards, we had a mother-son lunch together in the cafĂ©.


I’m glad to have found another regular activity that we can do together. It will be our monthly date.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The calm phase

I think I can finally say that breastfeeding has reached a normal stage. Hooray! It only took about 3.5 months and a heck of a lot of pain and struggle, but we did it! I’ve been off the nifedipine for over a week now and while I still have some blanching of the nipples due to Raynaud’s, it’s not painful enough to do anything about it. I’ve stopped attending the weekly breastfeeding support group, and kind of miss it. I’ll probably drop in closer to the time I return to work to get some advice on pumping.
I am so very grateful to that hospital-sponsored group. It was a lifesaver to know that once per week, I could get some non-judgmental feedback, specific advice and support to continue on.

Now I can hold my baby as she suckles and focus on the increasing heft of her body, the brightness of her young eyes, the changing patterns of acne, eczema and scratches on her forehead, the softness of her cheeks and the precious movements of her little ivory hands. These are moments that I try to mentally photograph, videotape, put safely in storage.

Sleep seems to be going a little better. Though she still wakes up many times per night, I’ve gotten at least two three-hour chunks of sleep for the past two nights. Though it doesn’t seem like much, it makes a big difference.

We’ve got her sleeping in the swing, with the toy bar over her legs to secure her. She goes to sleep there and I return her there after the first few feedings. Somewhere around 5 a.m. she gets restless and I take her into bed with me to feed her while I lie on my side. Often we’ll both fall asleep for at least a little while.

This morning Mark came in to tell me he was leaving for work and that River was at the table eating breakfast. Willow lay against my chest. I looked down at her closed eyes and her softly rising chest, and realized we were sleeping in the exact same position. Both of us had both of our arms raised above our heads.

I know I have to get her out of our bed in order for us both to get better rest. But I must admit I do enjoy those first moments of gazing upon her in the mornings and enjoying her first smiles upon waking up and seeing me.

She's not me and she's not mine - repeat

Willow was born not looking like either of us, but over time, she’s come to look like me. River on the other hand, was Mark’s clone. With time, features from my father and grandfather appeared in him. I sometimes had the surreal sense of reraising my husband, or my father, but never myself. When I was pregnant the first time, I hoped for a girl, thinking I knew how to handle a girl, since I am one myself. But upon finding out a boy was coming, I soon realized the benefits. Boys are probably easier to handle as teenagers. But best of all, I’d be less likely to project myself onto a boy, and therefore we might avoid the conflict me and my mother had when I was growing up. So far, I think this is the case. I love River and feel exceptionally close to him. I enjoy sharing experiences with him and am excited when he likes things that I can do with him. However, I see him as a distinct person. His personality is a lot like mine, but his looks, and some of his interests are distinct. Now that Willow is starting to look a lot like me, I sometimes catch myself looking at her and seeing myself as a baby. So far, her mild temperament matches River’s and what my parents say mine was like. When I’m watching her kick, notice herself in the mirror, smile at the attention she receives, I wonder if what I’m seeing is what my parents saw in me. I wonder what I can do to make sure she is happy, healthy, feels secure and confident. I think about the parts of myself I’m not proud of, and wonder if my parents could have done things differently to change those. I wonder what I should do to set the best path for her, to establish the best relationship between us. I tend to think that if I do things differently, I can change the course of what was my life. This is dangerous. Her life is not my life. She is not me. She is not even mine – though I’ll enjoy her for the brief period in which I’m responsible for her. She’s an individual with her own characteristics, will and destiny. Hopefully she’ll show us some of those characteristics soon, so that I can appreciate her unique personality. I’m fearful of projecting myself too much onto a female child, of thinking that the thoughts and experiences I had at a certain age will be what she will be thinking and experiencing then. If she continues to look like me, this will be even more of a risk. It might have been easier if River resembled me and Willow looked like Mark. Do you fear projecting yourself onto your child and their experiences? Does it make a difference if they do or don’t look like you? How do you avoid doing it?

The calm phase

I think I can finally say that breastfeeding has reached a normal stage. Hooray! It only took about 3.5 months and a heck of a lot of pain and struggle, but we did it! I’ve been off the nifedipine for over a week now and while I still have some blanching of the nipples due to Raynaud’s, it’s not painful enough to do anything about it. I’ve stopped attending the weekly breastfeeding support group, and kind of miss it. I’ll probably drop in closer to the time I return to work to get some advice on pumping. I am so very grateful to that hospital-sponsored group. It was a lifesaver to know that once per week, I could get some non-judgmental feedback, specific advice and support to continue on. Now I can hold my baby as she suckles and focus on the increasing heft of her body, the brightness of her young eyes, the changing patterns of acne, eczema and scratches on her forehead, the softness of her cheeks and the precious movements of her little ivory hands. These are moments that I try to mentally photograph, videotape, put safely in storage. Sleep seems to be going a little better. Though she still wakes up many times per night, I’ve gotten at least two three-hour chunks of sleep for the past two nights. Though it doesn’t seem like much, it makes a big difference. We’ve got her sleeping in the swing, with the toy bar over her legs to secure her. She goes to sleep there and I return her there after the first few feedings. Somewhere around 5 a.m. she gets restless and I take her into bed with me to feed her while I lie on my side. Often we’ll both fall asleep for at least a little while. This morning Mark came in to tell me he was leaving for work and that River was at the table eating breakfast. Willow lay against my chest. I looked down at her closed eyes and her softly rising chest, and realized we were sleeping in the exact same position with Both of us had both of our arms raised above our heads. I know I have to get her out of our bed in order for us both to get better rest. But I must admit I do enjoy those first moments of gazing upon her in the mornings and enjoying her first smiles upon waking up and seeing me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Switch to cloth diapers

Over the weekend, we made the switch from disposable to cloth diapers. At almost four-months, I feel like we’re tardy. I think we’d made the change by two months with River. But we received some free diapers I thought we may as well use. And I admit to a little reluctance. One because I’m tired and I’m hesitant to do anything that takes any more effort than necessary. Two, because the breastfeeding challenges in the first months sucked up all my free time. And finally, because the cloth diapers really swell the butt size. Trivial as that may sound, clothes fit better with a more proportionally-sized butt.

But when my friend told me how she’s using cloth wipes as well as diapers with her five-month old, I started to feel guilty. The thought of filling up the landfills really does concern me and we’re reaching a more balanced point where I can exert small amounts of additional effort for a good cause.

So I pulled out River’s cloth diapers (he just had his first completely dry night, so it’s a perfect time to switch!) and passed them along. The verdict on the reusability is:

BumGenius, velcro version. Fail. The diapers themselves held up well, but the Velcro closures can’t last through two children. At least for those who machine-dry, like we did. We had replaced some of the Velcro before, but even those are weak now. I’m too lazy to replace the Velcro yet again, so these will be passed along. I see they now offer a snap closure version. Go for that one.

Fuzzi-Bunz. Held up perfectly. We received a couple of new Fuzzi-Bunz that are even better, with adjustable elastic in the waist and leg to make for a perfect fit. The liners on the new version are velvety soft. These are winners.
Kushies. We inherited several of these on freecycle. They are Velcro closures, but are working well for us at the moment.

Motherease. Another snap-closure diaper, these are in perfect shape. Since we got the simple, non-leak-proof cotton version, we are waiting to put them to use until we begin elimination communication, in another 2-3 months.

We needed to get some more diapers to replace the BumGeniuses that didn’t last. I discovered a few inexpensive ways to pick up some cloth diapers.


1. Post a wanted ad on Craig’s List or other local want ads. I bought five diapers from two different people this way. One shipped them and the other dropped them off at my house.  

2. Post a wanted ad on freecyle. A nice person gave me about a dozen BumGeniuses.

3. Check out diaperswapper.com. This can be a time suck to figure out how it works, post enough to be allowed to sell, and get the diapers you want. But there are a lot of people buying and selling used cloth diapers there – probably the best online market I’ve seen for this commodity. A friend of mine said she got all her cloth diapers there.

4. Let friends know you are looking. We are borrowing four from my friend who told me about diaperswapper.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Help

I've just realized that Blogger has published my last several posts as big blobs of text, without paragraph spacing. I've messed around with it a bit, including trying to manually put in spaces, and can't figure out what's going on. Does anyone have any ideas?

Among the things I want my children to experience

Among the short films nominated for an Academy Award in 2006 (you can get the DVD on Netflix) is a film set in Senegal, called Binta and the Great Idea. It’s an enjoyable movie, told from the perspective of a young girl. But what moved me most was the clip of people dancing. As feet pounded, hips and behinds shook, one person at a time would go into the center of the circle as everyone else cheered in support while dancing around them.

It brought the night I walked down a dark street in Senegal and heard festive music vibrate in the black air. A group of strangers drew me into their celebration and into the circle. Despite my extremely poor dancing abilities, I felt incredible energy, support, happiness and unity. The dust flies up from beneath the feet, the pounding rhythm fills your body, and you feel the freedom to move wildly, with energy, fully supported by the others.

I want my children to have the experience of walking down a street, finding people dancing, and being allowed to join the experience. It’s going onto my wish list for them.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Girl on the move

Willow fell out of her swing last night. Yes, the moving swing placed on a hardwood floor. This time, when the wail pierced my earplugs, I knew right away I’d find her on the floor. Panic and guilt flooded my chest as I ran toward her, a pink swaddled screaming cocoon on the floor.

She calmed down immediately upon being offered the breast and doesn’t seem to be injured. But still, we feel horrible. I can’t imagine how frightening it must be to suddenly feel yourself falling, and hitting hard ground, when you can’t even move your limbs to block the fall. Mark came in and stroked her, then played with the swing to see if there was any other way we could use it.

Damn swing. Actually, it’s been a lifesaver so far, as it’s the easiest place to get her to sleep. But we bought it at a yard sale and the safety harness is missing a part, so it’s impossible to strap her in.

I tried keeping her in the bed with me last night, to shield her from another accident. I kept her there for 4.5 hours, until 5:30 a.m. I lost track of the number of times I was awakened during these hours as she nursed, fell asleep, wanted to nurse again, and again, and again. Some women seem to be able to nurse in their sleep. Not me. I wake up every time.

At 5:30 I was desperate. The swing has a toy bar that we haven’t used in the past. But it goes over the legs and has a space for each leg. So when the toy bar is on, it’s not possible to slide out the bottom as she had.

So I removed her legs from the swaddle, keeping her arms and chest swaddled, put her in the swing, and put the toy bar on, making sure the large knob went in between her legs. Now she could only get out by somehow pushing herself up to the top of the swing and over the side. We think propelling herself down while swaddled is pretty impressive, but up and over is probably beyond her abilities.

That worked, but it wasn’t long before she awoke for her next feeding. By 7:30 I was exhausted and asked Mark to switch with me. I put in earplugs and fell asleep in his bed for a luxurious two, uninterrupted, hours. Ahhh.

I recently left both of the kids at my gym’s childcare. The attendant held Willow and commented when I returned, “She’s mild-tempered, like River was when he was a baby. But she moves around a lot more.” Yes, that’s an understatement.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A little foray into the professional world

This weekend, Mark was nice enough to take the two kids and to allow me to attend a professional conference. Since I didn’t want him to use the frozen milk when I was still close to home, he carted the kids to a parking lot near the conference during the breaks and I darted out to breastfeed. That worked out pretty well. I learned a couple of things:

1. It’s a lot easier to limit the number of daily feedings when I’m just not around. I was gone from 8:45 to 4. Mark brought her to me for two feedings during that time, and she was OK. If I’d been home, she certainly would have received more than two feedings. So perhaps it’s better for me to be out of the house more often?

2. I don’t mind breastfeeding in public. At all. And breastfeeding around men doesn’t bother me either. But I’m not so comfortable breastfeeding in front of male professional colleagues who I know and am likely to have contact with in the future. I did it, but it wasn’t pleasant.

3. I’m still excited and invigorated by some of the topics discussed. And at times, I thought perhaps it would be worth it to leave my kids more often, to dedicate more time to work, and to travel. One female colleague with a 13-year-old daughter told me how she sometimes considers making a change from her current administrative position. “I tell my daughter that perhaps when she finishes school, I’ll go to Afghanistan. She says, ‘Why would you do that mom?’ and I tell her that before her, I had a different career and it involved travel!” I could hear wistfulness in her voice, that she missed the excitement and immediacy of international work. I do too. But I’m still in the process of trying to keep my international interests alive while also developing some domestically-oriented skills and interests that are a better fit for my family situation. It’s a constant work in progress.

4. While the topics interested me and I’d love to have some more time to read further, to research them, and perhaps write about some of them, I’m not anxious to get back to work. I’m starting to crave more intellectual stimulation, but I’m focused on self-directed things that can be done on my own schedule and in the paltry little chunks of time I have. In terms of answering to someone else, I’m glad to wait another three months.

5. It’s no fun getting dressed up when you are 30 pounds overweight.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

No milestone timetables this time around

When River was born, I had What to Expect the First Year in a handy place. Every so often I’d take a look and see where he stood regarding the milestones expected for his age. On the rare occasions he was ahead, I cheered. When he was behind, I kept an eye on that skill appearing at some point.

I soon figured out that it doesn’t really matter when this stuff happens. I’m embarrassed to admit that I was really proud the day I went to mom and baby yoga and was able to show off that he could roll over. As in, who cares?

I also figured that a parent is probably going to think that their own child’s timeline is the right one for that kid. When the little girl River hung out with as a baby began to walk at nine months, I didn’t think she was a marvel, but instead thought her parents were going to have a rougher time taking her of her. When other little girls spoke earlier, more eloquently, I figured girls develop faster and River’s bilingualism would naturally slow him down. When other boys climbed and jumped and River didn’t, I was grateful that River never hurts himself and that we don’t have to keep a close eye on him. He was on the slow end of several developmental markers but I thought that was fine, because it was right for him.

So this time, I haven’t paid any attention. I don’t even know where my What to Expect book is.

The first time timelines were even brought to my attention was at a recent gathering. A mom of a six-month old was telling me that she can’t leave her baby alone with her older brothers because they will hurt her. So far River has not shown any negative feelings towards Willow. I leave them alone without concern.

“But you should watch out,” she said. “Something happens at around five months, when the baby starts to laugh and smile and get a lot of attention from people. Then they start to feel jealous and can take it out on her.”

“She does laugh and smile,” I said. “But so far that hasn’t changed anything.”

“No, it’s different in a few months,” she said. “You’ll see.”

A while later, Willow woke up from her nap in another room and I brought her out into the gathering. This woman saw Willow smile and laugh and get attention from people. She seemed shocked it was happening at three months.

“That’s really early!” she said. “That means that she’s going to be very verbal.”

Really? I had no idea. And honestly, didn’t really care. I’m glad she laughs and vocalizes because it’s endearing. She’s sleeping less at night than River, she’s vocalizing earlier, she’s moving earlier. But she’s no better or worse than he is. They are just individuals, on their own correct timelines.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I want sleep

Bad. Really bad. Enough that I’m starting to seriously consider letting Mark use the frozen milk one night – whatever it takes to let me sleep through the night.

But then I remember that if I go from 2 -6 feedings a night down to zero, my boobs are probably going to explode. I’d have to get up and pump anyway. Then I worry about screwing up my supply. One thing that’s been nice about giving Willow every single feeding of her life directly from the boob is that my supply seems to be right where she needs it.

But then again, sleep would be so nice. I feel like I did during my irresponsible college days, when I stayed up late too often and went through the day in a fog. I’m there, but I’m not. I would undoubtedly be a better parent, a better partner, a more contented person, if I had enough sleep to be fully mentally present. In that respect, it’s in my children’s interest, as well as my own, to make sure I get some sleep soon.

I know I’m building up unrealistically high expectations for this video that we’ll be watching in 13 days (whose counting?:)). But I’m hoping it will help us to ramp down the nighttime feedings. Getting it down to a maximum of one or two a night would be wonderful at this point.

In other sleep-related issues, we can’t figure out where to put Willow to sleep. In an attempt to remove her from the parental bed (1. to reduce nighttime wakings and feedings and 2. so mom and dad can sleep together again one of these days), we’ve been putting her in the swing in our room. That works, in terms of getting her to sleep, and I can handle the annoying rhythmic clicks. But she has started to propel herself, even when swaddled, so that she starts out vertical and ends up horizontal. We’re worried she’ll propel herself off the swing entirely. This may limit the lifespan of the swing, something we never had to worry about with River, as he laid there like a log until he reached the maximum weight limit. Lately, she starts out in the swing, then ends up in my bed.

The next thought was the bassinet. But Mark worries that the fabric-covered border around the bassinet reduces air flow in the same way a crib bumper does and is a likely cause of SIDS. So he doesn’t want her there.

We don’t want to set up the full-size crib in River’s room until we return from our big trip, and until she is sleeping better.

So what’s left is the carseat and our bed.

Should we try the carseat, since that is where she’ll most likely be sleeping when we travel? Any other ideas?

Best combinations of children

This article rates the best combinations of children (for families that have more than one) based on children’s behavior, including ease of care, compatability and overall behavior.

The winning combination is two daughters. With a boy and a girl (it doesn’t differentiate which comes first) it looks like we have the second best combo. Although anyone with two kids is guaranteed one of the three top slots.

Jump from a boy and a girl to one more kid you suddenly fall from number two to seven or eight. Apparently there is a benefit to single-sex children among families with more than two kids.

Then again, this is looking at the best combinations in terms of the difficulty raising the kids. It would be interesting to see how the ratings change later in life. Are interactions more frequent, of a higher quality with adult children of a certain gender, of a certain number?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Introduction to Montessori

This weekend we attended the birthday party of the son of a physicist. Needless to say, there were some smart people there, including twin three-year old boys who already speak German, Hungarian and English. Wow.

The family hosting the party is very much into the Montessori style of learning. The mom had spoken to me about it during some walks we’d taken, and while I’d listened, I didn’t take too much active note. The local Montessori is so crazy expensive (ie. expensive private college expensive) that I didn’t look at anything beyond the price tag. But when she mentioned how her family organized their house so their son could take responsibility for many things himself (using a chair he can climb up and down, placing a snack drawer within his reach, etc.) I thought that sounded intriguing.

Today, when I saw River play with their large collection of Montessori toys, I got an inkling of how cool this system might be. He was taken by their collection of wooden puzzles– a tree, a leaf, a horse, a flower. They were fairly difficult. At times, he asked me to figure out where a piece went and I couldn’t figure it out. But they seemed designed in a way that offered small clues of where to put things that eventually connected together. On the back of the flower pieces, my friend had written the parts of the flower.

So I went home and purchased the flower puzzle, the horse puzzle, and a few other items from this store, where she said the prices are lower. She also recommended this site for a larger selection, but higher prices.

Upon looking at all the Montessori toys, I’m impressed, but also overwhelmed. I know nothing about the method other than it’s supposed to promote child-led learning. Since River definitely won’t be going to Montessori school, it is worth digging further into the philosophy, investing more in some more of the toys/materials (if so, which ones?)? Or should I just have faith that he’ll eventually learn the same things through experience and/or traditional methods?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Our new conversationalist

Willow likes to chat with people these days. Kind of like this: It’s a good thing she does this, because it’s so darn charming I can almost forget about my lack of sleep.



video

sleep experiments

I tried two new things last night.

1. I kept Willow out of my bed, putting her back to sleep after each wakeup in her swing (which we moved into our room).

2. Each time she woke up, I unswaddled her, to encourage her to eat more before falling back asleep, then re-swaddled her before putting her down.

Did this help? No. She woke up at 11, 2:15, 4:15, 6:15 and 7:15. Since I went to bed at 10 and fed her for at least 20 minutes each wake-up, the only time I got a two-hour chunk of sleep was between 11:30 and 2.

In the same way I counted down to cutting her frenulum or getting her thrush medication, I am now counting down the days (17) until we can watch the sleep video, implement whatever they suggest, get positive results, and get more sleep. Right? I can only hope.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Music for babies?

I took Willow to a music class today. For a three month old? Yes, I also wonder about the utility. But it was a free class and I had nothing better to do. So I thought I might as well try it.

With River, we shied away from enrolling him in any classes. I was doubtful of the long-term impact they would have and I figured I’d rather save the money and allow him to take classes when he’s older and more able to clearly get something from them. Also, up until age 2 or 3 is the only time I have to control the language environment. During that time, I prefer to not expose my kids to any more English than is necessary. If such classes were available in Spanish, I would consider them. But not in English.

Willow did seem to enjoy the class though, as much as a three-month old can enjoy anything. She smiled, she seemed to listen to and to note the beats, she seemed to feel comfortable. But did she enjoy it any more than she would have enjoyed an hour of focused attention from me at home, or some songs on the radio? I don’t know.

Does the class really benefit kids when they are so young? Does it make neural connections that wouldn’t be formed otherwise, or does giving her plenty of varied sensory experiences do the same thing? If it doesn’t have an effect, I’d feel like a sucker for wasting the money. If it does have an effect, I’ll feel bad for denying her the opportunity.

I can definitely see how joining such a class could be in the parent’s interest. It’s more fun to get together with some people than it is to sit at home for an hour. It’s a good opportunity to meet people, to get out of the house, to see what is ahead developmentally in the next few months, to see how your baby is doing compared to others (Willow, in the 90th percentile for weight at her last appointment, was a chunker compared to the other 3-month old, in the 5th-10th percentile, there. The difference was stark).

I did meet one mother, the mom of the other 3-month old, who I really liked and hope I’ll run into her again. But in general, these classes tend to attract people who are really gung-ho about providing their kids with every possible thing and spending whatever it takes to do it. They also tend to be better put-together and more uber-organized than me. All of this makes me feel anxious.

I left the house with a stroller and my wallet, nothing else, not even a diaper. I was the only one there who didn’t bring a blanket (really, a blanket is needed?) but someone else had thought to pack two and let me borrow one. Another person had a noise machine in her bulging diaper bag.

I marveled at how several of them were able to fit into fashionable clothes, to put on makeup, to fix their hair, and to have their babies in coordinated outfits. I’m not there yet, and if I don’t go to a class like this, I don’t have to worry about not being there yet. Willow doesn’t care.

concern about artificial food dyes

This recent NYT article expresses concern about a potential relationship between artificial food dyes in food and behavior changes in children.

How to reduce BPA levels by over half in three days

Interesting article with some helpful tips.