The Baby Bean Blog

Friday, December 30, 2005

Morning Joy

When Ella wakes up in the morning, she squirms with her eyes closed. She cracks her eyes open, closes them again. She stretches. She opens her eyes and closes them a few more times. Then she really opens them: it's official, she's awake. And she looks around, and frankly, an expression of confusion settles on her face. What has happened? she seems to be asking. Where am I? What is going on? And then I smile at her and say, "Good morning, sweet girl," and her eyes focus on me for the first time, and then a huge smile spreads across her face. It's like she's saying, "Hello, Mommy!" Then she looks all around her, the smile still there, as if to say to the world, "Ah, I'm awake! How fabulous!"

I wonder when you lose that, when that feeling of, "Another day to tackle! Great!" that Ella seems to have fades away. When do we get it in our heads that morning sucks, that we'd like to just sleep some more and not deal with the day that confronts us? When I get out of bed, I invariably groan and sigh. I've got to change my attitude so that Ella will not learn from me that she shouldn't greet each day with joy.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Spreading the News About Number Two

So we've (finally) started to tell people about my partner's pregnancy. When we started telling people about my pregnancy, it was pretty important to me to start with my mother. She'd really been wanting a grandchild for a long time, and it seemed fitting to start with her and then expand outwards to friends and neighbors. I felt pretty strongly that I had top say in many things regarding my pregnancy, such as when to tell people and who to tell, whether or not to do the quad screen, etc. etc. And now that my partner is pregnant, I think that she has top say in these things for her pregnancy. So we're doing it her way.

We heard the heartbeat at her first prenatal visit on Friday, December 23. I thought it would be a great Christmas present to start telling people on Christmas day, starting with (I assumed) her mother. But my partner said no. She got it in her mind that she wanted to tell her family on New Year's Day. I shrugged my shoulders. It was her call.

She had Monday off from work, and we decided to go and visit some former neighbors of ours, Angelo, his wife Alice, and their kids plus Alice's mother. They all moved on up a few months ago and left our quaint little neighborhood of row homes for a 4 bedroom spread on a nice piece of land. They are renting one of their former houses on our block (they had two--one for Angelo, Alice and their 18 year old son, and another where Alice's mother and daughter lived), so we've seen them a few times when they've come by to check on their house, but we had never been to their place, and they've invited us several times. So on Monday, we decided to go.

And my partner decided that we would tell them about the pregnancy. Not her mother, or her sisters, or our close friends, but our former neighbors. What the heck.

Telling Alice basically meant telling everyone on our block. She might not live here anymore, but she's got a phone and she knows how to use it. So we basically told the neighborhood by breaking the news to Alice.

Last night, we had dinner with our friends Angel and Carrie. They have a son who is 9 months older than Ella. Every time we've hung out with them the past couple of months, I just stare at their son, Eamon, and Ella and think to myself, "This time next year, we're going to have one of him and one of her," because that's about the age distance that Ella will have to Little Two. I have to admit, sometimes it makes me shudder.

We told them, and it was very satisfying. I finally got the reaction I've been expecting from everyone we've told thus far: a wide-eyed look of confusion. They are our friends with whom we've gone through just about everything together and at just about the same pace. Started dating around the same time, moved in around the same time, got "hitched" around the same time, started trying to get pregnant around the same time, and finally, had kids around the same time. They know where we've been, where we are, and where we're headed better than most people. Actually, probably better than anyone.

I think the plan is still to wait until New Year's day to tell my partner's mother and the rest of her family. And I think we're waiting another week still to tell my mother and our close friend Emily, who I call my French sister (Emily is in France and won't return until January 7th, so we're waiting to tell them both at the same time).

And then it will officially be out there for everyone to know. Little Two is on the way!

Monday, December 26, 2005

"Someday You Can Tell Your Therapist All About How We Made You Watch Porn in the Car on Christmas"

Have I mentioned that Ella is not a fan of the car? There has been screaming in the car. I mean real screaming. Not fussing. Not crying. Screaming. The kind where she's screaming so hard that it makes her cough. It doesn't happen all of the time. We try to arrange our car trips so that she is fully fed and kind of sleepy before we start. Then she'll usually fall asleep after a few minutes of crying. But that can sometimes backfire if she's a little too tired, and then we get the aforementioned SCREAMING.

Last night, on our way home from my mother's, Ella started getting worked up. At first we thought that maybe she was hungry, so I pulled over, parked at a gas station, and nursed her. She was hungry. After nursing a bit, she calmed down and was happy. We thought, Good. Now we'll get back on the road and make it home. It's about a 40 minute drive total. We had about 30 minutes to go.

We put her in the carseat. Fussing. Then I turned the car on and she started to scream. It wasn't a crescendo, going from fussing to crying to harder crying to screaming. It was full out screaming, zero to one hundred in one second flat. I drove about a block down the road and pulled over. I had an idea.

My mother had given me a portable DVD player for Christmas. Although I tried not to let Ella watch a lot of TV in general, her love of TV had not escaped me, and I thought that watching a DVD might be enough to keep her from screaming all the way home. But the DVD player battery had not been charged. Was it possible that it would have come with a car adapter? Manufacturers are so cheap these days, I doubted it. But I stepped out of the car into the rainy night, popped open the trunk, and pulled out the box. It truly was Christmas--it came with a car power adapter!

My mother had been telling me for months that she was going to get Ella Baby Einstein DVDs for Christmas, so we had held off on buying any ourselves. I'd been tempted several times, but my mother said she was buying the complete set, so I didn't. Then Christmas came around, and were there any Baby Einstein DVDs? No. None. Nada. Zip. Why? I'm still not sure. So we were left with the DVDs my mother had gotten for us. For my partner, she had gotten Season 2 of The L Word and Season 4 of Queer as Folk. For me, it was seasons 5 and 6 of Seinfeld.

The trunk was packed full of presents. My mother really went overboard with gifts for Ella. I was lucky that the bag with the portable DVD player was right in the front. I briefly passed my hand over the other bags, looking for the Seinfeld DVDs, but I didn't find them. There were other bags in the passenger seat, so I hoped they were there. Ella was crying, and I wanted to make it better as soon as possible, so I closed the trunk and got back in the car to begin the very difficult task of removing the DVD player from its ironclad plastic housing without a pair of sissors or even a knife. But proof that adrenaline can give you herculean strength was proven as I ripped open the inch-thick plastic WITH MY BARE HANDS.

Ella kept screaming, and I passed the DVD player back to my partner and took Ella, hoping that some nursing might calm her down again even though I didn't think she was hungry. It seemed to do the trick, and she stopped screaming, although she looked at me suspiciously. She had a feeling the car torture wasn't over yet, and she was right. I handed her back to my partner, who started to put her back in her carseat, which cued Ella to start crying again.

I looked for Seinfeld in the bags in the passenger seat, but I couldn't find any quickly and the crying was escalating. Right in front of me was the bag that contained the L Word and Queer as Folk DVDs. I grabbed the first one, the L Word, ripped off its plastic (just the saran wrap variety this time), and threw a DVD into the backseat. I started driving, and as I pulled onto the street, I heard my partner say, "Someday you can tell your therapist all about how we made you watch porn in the car on Christmas."

The L Word isn't porn, per se, but let's be honest, some of the scenes get pretty damn close. But she's young. She won't remember. And if she does, we'll tell her those women were wrestling. That's it, wrestling.

Now it's time to go to Target and get some Baby Einstein DVDs.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 23, 2005

First Prenatal Visit, Take 2

Today was my partner's first official prenatal visit. We actually saw a midwife a week ago because she had this weird thing going on where she couldn't pee. But today was the first real prenatal visit. It was kind of like a blast from the past. It was just about this time last year when I was at the birth center for my first visit.

By far, the most exciting thing to happen was that we got to hear the baby's heartbeat for the first time. Of course, that's the highlight of every prenatal visit. It's that confirmation that the baby is in there doing its thing.

So the first big decision is upon us. Well, you know, besides the big decision to try to get pregnant in the first place. It's whether or not to do the quad screen, which I wrote about during my pregnancy. I ended up doing it last time around. It was important to me, although also quite stressful. My partner and I talked about it some tonight, and she thinks that she will not do it.

I remember agonizing about the decision to do the screen or not. I was worried that something could be wrong. I'm not worried this time around for some reason. Maybe it's because everything turned out okay with Ella. Maybe it's because I'm not carrying this baby--maybe I thought that I would cause there to be something wrong with the baby. Since there's no chance of that happening this time, I don't have to stress.

Well, I give my partner's opinion on this matter more weight than my own. Much like when I was pregnant, my opinion carried more weight. She thinks she doesn't want to do it, and that's fine with me.

But enough about all that. I would rather close this post by saying that I've already gotten the two best Christmas presents that I'll get this season: In no particular order, there is the fact that Ella is doing better, and the magic of hearing the rat-tat-tat of Little Two's heart...

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Yippee! I'm Sick, Too!

You might think my post title was sarcastic, but I actually mean it. Ever since Ella came down with this thing, I've been praying that I would get sick too so that I could beat it and then pass the antibodies onto her via my breastmilk. My partner got sick almost right away, and I looked at her jealousy and then berated myself: Stupid healthy body! I want to help my little girl anyway I can, and if that means getting sick, then I want to be sick!

So now I am. I don't seem to have it as bad as my partner did though, which is good. I just need it a little so that I can create those antibodies. I don't know if the fact that I started feeling sick yesterday is contributing to the fact that Ella seems to have turned a corner from yesterday to today. Could also be that the bad part of this thing has just run its course. There's still a rattle in her chest, and she's still congested, but it's just...better.

The intensity of her illness, and my complete focus on her, has pretty much pushed the reality of Christmas out of my mind. I keep reading these posts on these other blogs about the frantic race to get everything in order by Sunday. Time seems to be running out for everyone. I am pretty unprepared and somewhat uninterested. My baby--and her breathing--seem to be the only things on my mind these days. I guess I'm lucky that she's only 4 months old, because she won't remember this Christmas.

It will be fine, don't get me wrong. There just hasn't been any build up to it. I remember waiting and waiting, on the edge of my seat, counting down the days for Christmas. As a kid, of course, but also as an adult. I certainly want to give that to Ella in the future. This year I kind of feel like, "Oh right. Christmas. Sunday. Better make a note so I don't forget." But next year I'll make it meaningful. Right?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Bronchiolitis

So it's not just a cold. Or maybe it was. Now it's bronchiolitis. The doctor thinks Ella has had two viruses: the little, non-scary cold last week, and this very scary respiratory infection that started on Saturday. Basically, she's just well enough not to be in the hospital, and that's good. I am thankful for that.

Bronchiolitis sounds like bronchitis, and it's kind of the same thing except different. Bronchitis is a respiratory infection that affects the bronchi, the main air passages to the lungs. Bronchiolitis is a respiratory infection that affects the tiny airways, called the bronchioles, that lead to the lungs.

She responded well to a medicine called albuterol sulfate which we give to her via a nebulizer. The smallest size mask is still too big for her, but we're making it work as best we can.



We give the medicine to her every four hours when she's awake. If we put ESPN on in the background, she's a pretty good sport about the ten or so minutes it takes for the nebulizer to turn the albuteral into mist. Ella particularly likes football highlights. Ah, she's my girl alright.

The nights are the worst, as she seems to have more trouble breathing then. We boil water almost constantly, and the house is like a suana almost, there's so much moisture in the air. We also run cool mist humidifiers, but I don't find them very effective, which is why we've also got the boiling water going. I can't count how many gallons of water we've boiled in the past three days. Our windows are covered in condensation.

My partner is also sick with this thing. In adults, it just manifests as a cold--nothing too serious, although of course unpleasant like any cold would be. The upside of this is that she's felt bad enough that she's stayed home the past two days. Having her around to help when we've taken Ella to the doctor (which we've done the past two days) and to let me get a nap in has made all the difference. I only sleep 2-4 hours at night.

Bronchiolitis is supposed to run its course in 10-14 days. She should be a lot better in 3-5 days. She does seem a little better today than she was yesterday, although I can still hear noise in every breath she takes.

It's hard being a mother. It's really, really hard. Harder than I could have imagined. I can't wait for her to be better.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The First Thing I Will Teach You

The first thing I will teach you is to blow your nose. That's top on my list. Before walking or talking or how to hold a crayon or even give peace to the world. Those are all cute tricks, don't get me wrong. But first, I will teach you to blow your nose. And boy will that make your life easier. And mine too, so I don't have to stay up at night, listening to you try to breathe through all the snot and gunk that is inhabiting those little, tiny sinuses of yours.

So I will teach you to blow your nose, and it will be a fun game where we blow our noses at each other, maybe with bubble-blowing stuff over our nostrils. And we will be happy and well and laugh and point at the nose bubbles floating in the air. Then one day you will get another cold, and I will say, "Let's play that fun game again," and we will, and hugh chunks of stuff and rivers of snot will come out of your nose, and I'll oooh and aaah at the tissue, just like I do when I undo your diaper, so that you'll know you did the right thing and how proud I am of you.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Four Month Letter

Dear Ella,

Today we went to a place to get the oil changed in our car. While I was waiting, the girl behind the counter was talking to me about the pouch I was carrying you in and about you in general. As I was paying, I said that having you made a big change in my life, and she looked a little queasy and said that she didn’t think she would ever have a baby. I guess she didn’t want her life to change. I’m so glad mine did.

You are the most important thing to ever happen to me. I love you more than I’ve ever loved anyone or anything. Even when you bite me. Which you’ve done. Several times now. And your tooth, your tooth which is about three months early—three months I would have been happy to wait—is quite sharp. Some might even describe it as razor sharp, and by “some,” I mean my left nipple. You sense that it is in a weakened state, and rather than being generous, you’ve decided to attack it. Even that has not lessened my love for you.

You have a cold right now, and yesterday I managed to convince myself that your cold might be whooping cough. I was so consumed with this idea that I imagined the worst case scenario in which you died, and I didn’t know how I could go on, just the idea of it. I made an emergency appointment to take you to see the doctor later that morning. Hearing the panic in my voice, Ima—who correctly did not think anything serious was wrong with you—offered nonetheless to come home and accompany me to the doctor’s office. I said that I didn’t need her to come home for that, but I might need her to come home so that I could have a breakdown, because I was completely poised and ready to have one.

Except I couldn’t. I had you to take care of. I had practically convinced myself that you would die, and as I looked at you, you looked back at me with your sparkling, joyful eyes, so full of life. You think that would reassure me, but nothing did until the doctor told me all the reasons why you didn’t have whooping cough. It is just a cold.

When I called to tell Ima that you were fine, you just had a cold, she was not relieved because she always knew that to be the case. I said to her, “I can really get myself worked up, can’t I?” And she said, “Yes. You’ve become a complete hypochondriac ever since you became pregnant. You didn’t used to be this way.”

And she’s right. As soon as you were there inside me, I started to protect you and worry about you and anything that might harm you. I avoided any potential hazard. I even turned away raw cookie dough! That’s how much I love you. I love you enough to turn away raw cookie dough. And I think that says it all.

Love,
Mommy

Monday, December 12, 2005

She's Still Wearing the Same Pair of Socks

We started out this morning with our standard winter outfit:

Onesie
Sweatshirt
Pair of Sweatpants
Pair of Socks

Now follow the carnage.

Our first sweatshirt was the gentian violet sweatshirt (see yesterday's post). It's already been stained with the purple, so it's what she wears when I first put the stuff in her mouth, and therefore it's at its worst. Later in the morning, I had to go out, so I changed her out of the extremely stained purple sweatshirt and into an only slightly stained sweatshirt.

1 Onesie
2 Sweatshirts
1 Pair of Sweatpants
1 Pair of Socks

Right before we left, she erp-ed on her new sweatshirt. I know some mothers who change their baby's outfit after every spit-up. If I did that, I'd need 20 sweatshirts instead of 5, and I'd still do laundry every other day. I decided that, although the erp was impressive, it had not soaked enough of the sweatshirt to make it dangerous for her to wear out in the cold.

After we got home, she nursed and spit up again. The previous spit up had dried. This new spit up was rather soaking, but since we weren't going out again, she could live with it, especially since the onesie was dry beneath it.

Later, she spit up again, hitting both the sweatshirt and the sweatpants. My personal spit up limit per item of clothing is somewhere around 3 or 4, depending on the amount of spit up per episode. This seemed like enough. And the sweatpants had gotten a very good dosage, and since it didn't have a layer beneath it, they had to be changed too.

1 Onesie
3 Sweatshirts
2 Pairs of Sweatpants
1 Pair of Socks

As evening approached, I decided to do the dishes that were piled into the sink. I set up Ella in her infant bathtub, which is too small for her to bathe in but is a good, snug place for her to sit and observe. As I was doing the dishes, I heard a suspicious noise and wondered if a poop had occurred. It would be odd because she's already had one poop earlier today, and she only poops once a day, maybe only once every other or third day.

After I finished the dishes, I investigated, and she had pooped. The close confines of the bathtub had forced the poop to shoot up her back. The onesie took the brunt of it, but it couldn't save the sweatshirt or the sweatpants.

2 Onesies
4 Sweatshirts
3 Pairs of Sweatpants
1 Pair of Socks

Now it's time to do laundry.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

I Love You the Purplest

It's funny. With a baby, perhaps especially the first baby, everything is so amazing, so noteworthy, and yet there is so little time to make notes of all the worthy things. Sometimes I think about this blog in context of what I've not been able to write about, and that missing content far outweighs the stuff that makes it here. A lot of the time, I'm surprised that a major storyline in my life with Ella has been omitted entirely in favor of some other tidbit or plotline. For instance, besides a brief mention here and there, I haven't written anything about my struggles with breastfeeding, and breastfeeding is possibly the most important thing I do with Ella each and every day.

Before I had Ella, I knew many, many women who'd had breastfeeding problems. Most of the problems seemed to center around either 1) the baby's inability/unwillingness to latch on and/or 2) the mother having a low, oftentimes inadequate, supply.

I was worried about this because breastfeeding was very important to me for three oustanding reasons. First and foremost, it's the best thing for a baby. Secondly, formula is very expensive and breastfeeding is relatively cheap and (if it works) quite easy and portable. And last but not least, breastfeeding mothers tend to lose babyweight quickly and easily, and once the weight is lost, you can consume an extra 500 calories a day. That's half a pint of ice cream EACH AND EVERY DAY without weight gain. Yippee!

As I mentioned in my birth story at one point, the only thing that went right from the beginning was breastfeeding. Ella latched on like a champ, and she started gaining weight on her third day. My milk came in on the third and fourth days like gangbusters, which presented a little problem as my breasts and nipples were so swollen that Ella couldn't latch on the fourth day, but we made it through that, and life was good. I felt so lucky. I'd escaped the breastfeeding curse.

Only, as it turns out, I haven't. My curse is just different.

A little over two weeks after Ella's birth, I started experiencing pain in my nipples and breasts. It quickly became extreme pain, so bad that tears came from my eyes when I nursed. A little research revealed that we had thrush, which is a yeast infection of the nipples and baby's mouth. It took a few different drugs, but I finally got on Diflucan and that cleared it up pretty quickly. I'd probably gotten it as a result of all the antibiotics that were administered to me during labor because I was Group B Strep positive.

I felt happy and relieved. Breastfeeding was back on track. Then a couple of weeks after that was over, I came down with mastitis, a breast infection. Mastitis consists of pain in the breast, often a clogged milk duct or more, and a high fever, chills, and other flu-like symptoms. That knocked me completely out for two days as my temperature hovered around 102 degrees and higher. Finally the antibiotics kicked in and brought down the fever. After about a week, all was well with the breast infection.

However, my previous experiences with antibiotics (during delivery) left me afraid that I would come down with thrush again. I ate lots of live-culture yogurt and took acidophilus in pill form in order to recolonize my digestive tract with good yeast. After a week or two went by without the apparent return of thrush, I started to breathe easier.

Then I got a milk blister. It was extremely painful. It also formed over the exit of one of my milk ducts, thereby causing all the milk to back up like a clogged duct. I popped the blister myself and all the milk poured out. I felt so proud of myself. I'd had another breast problem, but I'd solved it myself without medication! Good for me!

But then it wouldn't heal. It kept coming back. And then I developed a crack right above where the blister was. Extra pain. I started applying Bactroban (mupirocin) to the nipple, and it seemed to help some, but it still never healed. Sometimes it got close to being healed, but then it would just slip back to its previous state of existence, i.e. pain. Last night I realized that I'd noticed the blister before Halloween. That means that it's been close to two months that I've been dealing with this to no avail.

I started wondering if there wasn't an underlying cause to the blister and crack. Thursh can cause these ailments. Perhaps I'd had thrush ever since I'd taken the antibiotics for mastitis.

This time, I decided to turn to a homeopathic remedy for thrush that has been reputed to be extremely effective and quick. It's also reputed to be extremely messy. It's an antifungal called gentian violet, and I'd read that the purple of it gets everywhere. Now I know that people weren't kidding about that.

Yesterday was the first day I started this treatment, which is to last for 4-7 days. It needs to go both on the mother's nipples and in the baby's mouth. So I put some on my nipple and then had Ella nurse, thereby applying it to her mouth. Half of her face was covered in a purple stain. Today, I decided to do it the other way in hopes of minimizing the purple staining: put it in her mouth and then had her nurse, thereby applying it to my nipple. The result was still impressive, although (believe it not) far more modest.



My little girl. Luckily, she's too young to know what I did to her. Of course, I do have the picture to show to her down the road.

Future Ella: "You didn't take me out in public like that I hope."
Future Oz: [insert evil laugh] "Oh yes. Yes I did."

When I saw her like this for the first time, and everytime since then, the title of a children's book leaps to my mind: I Love You the Purplest.

And I do. I really do.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Fashion Model or Anthropologist?

So today was photo shoot day. As some of you might know, I've dabbled in photography, mainly wedding photography, although not since I became pregnant and lost the ability to kneel down. Actually, I could always kneel down. It was the getting up that was tricky. Now that I can get down and get up, I've got this little critter who will not allow me to go on 6-12 wedding shoots. But enough about the good ole days. Back to the present. I'll begin again.

So today was photo shoot day. As some of you might know, I've dabbled in photography, mainly wedding photography. [Stop. Edit tangent. Go on.] I've done a couple of shoots of adults, but never of children, unless you count Ella, whom I have taken hundreds of pictures of. I'd been thinking that portraits of babies and children would be a nice sideline to the wedding photography. You know, when the critter(s) will allow that. So I was curious to see how the whole thing worked. And I was also a bit nervous because my partner and I were to be in some of these photos, and I've never actually sat for a professional before.

Ella's current awake/sleep cycle basically consists of being awake for about 1.5 to 2 hours and then asleep for anywhere from 20 minutes to 3 hours. How much sleeping she will do is a mystery that only the sleep fairies know the answer to, and they won't tell me ahead of time. Trust me. I'VE ASKED.

Ella woke up at 7 am this morning and then predictably fell back asleep around 8:45am. I thought, Wouldn't it be great if she would sleep until 10? Or maybe even through the car ride and right up to the time of our shoot at 10:30? Wouldn't that be great? WOULDN'T IT? The sleep fairies took note of my request and prompty woke Ella up at 9:20am. Speed the clock forward, and yes, she was destined to be tired 15 minutes after arriving at the studio.

I looked at my partner and said, "Maybe this will be one of those times she's awake for 2 hours."

"Right," my partner said optimistically. Then crazily she added, "And be happy that last half hour."

I looked at her through narrowed eyes. "If that happens, pigs will be flying out of my ass, and I'm sure the photographer will take pictures of that rather than a smiling, happy Ella who'd been awake for 1.5+ hours, simply because the photographer will not realize that Ella's happy awakeness is actually far more unlikely than the pigs which just flew from my ass."

"Good point."

But what could we do? No matter how hard we try, Ella will not bend to our will, sleep when we wish, be awake when convenient, nor adopt the mood of our choosing. Perhaps the next kid will, right?

We arrived at the studio with Ella's cheeks rosey, not from the brisk air outside but from the crying she did in the car because THE CAR IS THE DEVIL. Nonetheless, we forged ahead.

I must pause here and say that the photographer, Susan Beard, was fabulous. Actually, this isn't a pause but rather the beginning of the rest of this post. Susan was fabulous. Let me tell you how hard she, and her assistant Allison, tried to make Ella into the smiling, happy baby we will someday remember exclusively, and with the photographic proof of said baby, we will tell Ella that she never cried LIKE THAT. THAT of course being our grandchild(ren).

Susan, for her part, made strange, high pitched, vibrating noises which I'm sure ellicted giggles and smiles of glee from every other baby that ever walked/crawled/was carried into the studio. At the same time, her assistant called out Ella's name, clapped her hands and--I couldn't make this up--waved pom-poms around like a cheerleader.

This was funny stuff. I know I was cracking up. The best part was they kept it up for about an hour.

Ella did begrudgingly give up a few smiles, mostly in the beginning. As the shoot wore on, the expression on her face changed from being amused to wondering what kind of strange land she had wandered into. I almost expected her to get out a little notebook--perhaps pulled from one of the POCKETS IN HER PANTS (don't get me started on the pointlessness of pockets in infant sized pants)--and maybe a pen, and start taking notes.

"In this tribe," anthropologist Ella would write, "it is apparently customary to live in a darken room with randomly flashing bursts of light. Also, the prevailing social norm is to dart back and forth, talk in a falsetto, and wave objects around--usually glittery objects."

Ella took all this behavior in with a quiet, observational expression on her face, the kind found on those who have spent a lifetime in academia pursuing one meaningless degree after another. You know, confused about what they are doing, why they are doing it, and how it is that they ended up doing it.

I hope the photographer got some good shots. Well, I'm sure she did. And even if we only end up with a couple of good ones, that's all that matters.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

My Picture of Family

As of yesterday, my partner is 10 weeks pregnant. That's significant for at least two reasons. For one, that means that 1/4 of her pregnancy is over: only 3/4 to go! The other reason is that baby #2 has officially crossed the line from embryo to fetus. Fetus means "little one."

Little One is actually what we call Ella most of the time. We had a hard time getting used to her name, especially me. For my partner, the difficulty was in conceiving of the baby as a real person who needed a real person name. For me, it was mostly about my Grandma and having a hard time using her name for someone else--even though naming Ella after her was very important to me.

I am an only child, and I have to admit that there's something a little unsettling, a little confusing, about the impending arrival of baby #2. It's outside of my familiarity (a fancy word for what you know, i.e. your family). How does a family unit work with two children? It's hard enough to figure out how one works with two parents, something else I didn't experience growing up.

Tomorrow, we are getting our picture taken by a professional. It was important to me to capture what we have right now. The two of us and one child. I can understand that. I can feel it. I am in touch with it emotionally. But even still, even though the picture will show just the three of us, baby #2 will be there, inside my partner's stomach, a little one, just like the Little One sitting on our laps and in our arms.

I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea from this post. I always wanted to have at least two children. As I said, I grew up an only child, and despite what this post might lead you to believe, I don't think it's a good way to go. I would have loved to have a sibling (I think), and my intention has always been to have multiple children.

But now as it's happening, I admit that I wax nostalgic for something I never even wanted for myself. Nonetheless, I feel like maybe Ella is losing something. I guess she's losing my childhood. A wry smile crosses my face as I write that because it's just crazy. The last thing I would wish on her is my childhood.

So welcome, Little Two. In some ways, you are the death note of my remembrances of childhood...and I suppose my remembrances about motherhood too. But thank God for that. That has been a long time coming, even though now that it's here, the letting go is bittersweet.

After tomorrow, I will have a picture, not only in my mind but also in a photo album somewhere. A picture of the short time I had to say goodbye to my past and hello to my future.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Ack! Teeth!

Someone has been rather cranky and drooly lately. I don't want to name names, but this person's first name starts with E-L-L-A. She's been drooling for a while now. At least a couple of weeks. But her good mood didn't vanish until a few days ago. I thought it was because this past weekend involved some long car trips--Ella is not a fan of the car unless the conditions are JUST RIGHT--and being away from home, and just being generally unsettled. Then yesterday, my partner put her finger in Ella's mouth, and Ella chomped down on it. As my partner felt around, she noticed a hard bump in Ella's lower jaw, right in the front. Then last night, I felt it too. Definitely a hard bump. Could it be a tooth coming in? Undoubtably, but how long would it take? And could its presense be creating all this unhappiness?

YES, GODDAMMIT, YES.

I had a hard time believing that a tooth could be causing problems this early. Ella isn't even four months old yet. The baby books say that kids don't usually start getting teeth until 6-7 months. But after today, I believe. It's been misearble.

Ella refuses to sleep for any more than 45 minutes at a time, and that's when I'm lucky. Just last week, she took naps that lasted 1.5 to 2 hours. When she is awake, she's only happy for about 20 minutes. She used to stay awake for about 2 hours at a time, but now she crashes shortly after an hour. Probably because of the lack of good napping. Then there's also the nursing. And nursing. And nursing. Did I mention the nursing? She's been nursing. A lot.

Finally, this afternoon, I put my finger in her mouth again and felt the hard bump. It felt very hard. I tried to get a good look at it, but she was not interested in letting me just look in her mouth. Finally I figured out how to trick her into letting me look at her gums. I rubbed my finger back and forth over the hard bump, which she seemed to like. While my finger was to the side of the bump, I could look at the bump itself, and the pressure of my finger kept her jaw open and the lower lip pressed down. I saw that there's white in that bump. It's a tooth, and it's on its way.

Let me just interject here: I AM AFRAID FOR MY NIPPLES.

I wonder how long this will last for. I went to Target a week ago when the drool machine kicked into action and bought her five sweatshirts so that I could change her top two to three times a day as they get soaked with drool. I tried using a bib, but dear Ella still doesn't have much of a neck, and with thicker winter clothes on and a bib, I almost couldn't see her face. I hope that when the tooth comes through, the drooling might slow down some. It's almost gotten to the point where my day isn't over until I've done a load of laundry.

I can't wait for this tooth to come in and for this to be over. Yes, I know there's about 20 teeth to come in, but hopefully we'll get some time off in between so that my happy little Ella can return to me.