The Baby Bean Blog

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Second Prenatal Visit, Take 2

So much is going on, that things just slip through the cracks. Last Thursday, my partner had her second prenatal visit. Not much happened at it. We got to listen to the heartbeat--it was in the 130s. Have you heard the old wive's tales about heartrate indicating a baby's sex? Well, it goes something like this: over 140 (150?) it's a girl. Under 140 (150?) it's a boy. Of course, someone did a study of thousands of babies and found out that there was no difference in heartrate between boys and girls, but silly things like "proof" don't dissuade those who believe in such things. And....Ella's heartrate was always in the 150s, and as you know, she is a girl. Little Two's heartrate was....drum roll please.....in the 130s. Hopefully we'll find out if the heartrate myth is true in this case on...

February 15th! Yep, we've scheduled the "level 2" ultrasound, and that's the date. Long time readers will recall that Ella refused to reveal her gender at our 20 week ultrasound. We expect Little Two to be more cooperative. OR ELSE. (Yes, I do like to make empty, meaningless threats.)

And as I mentioned before, my partner did decline the quad screen, so that means no genetic testing for us. Well, actually, the ultrasound is some sort of genetic testing in a way. The point is not to find out the gender but rather to make sure that everything is okay with the baby...and to check for markers for various genetic problems.

That's pretty much that for the visit. They really aren't that exciting. I can't remember the last one I made a point of writing about during my pregnancy. I'm pretty sure I wrote about the third. But the fourth? Perhaps they will be more exciting with this pregnancy, although I guess I would hope that they aren't. Normal and boring is very good with pregnancy and babies. "Excitement" is almost always the worrisome variety.

Friday, January 27, 2006

"They" All Look Alike

We've all heard the statement that "they" all look alike. Sometimes we hear it in a mean way, directed at people from another race. Other times, it's a more innocent statement, like, "All babies look alike." I used to think that one. Of course, once I had a baby myself, I realized how different she really does look. I saw other babies, too, a lot of other babies. Without really trying, I entered a world where babies were everywhere, and I realized that babies actually do look quite different from each other. Nonetheless, the concept of "they" looking alike has cropped up a few times for me the last couple of weeks.

The women in the "play group" Ella and I go to (I use that term loosely since 5 month old babies don't actually play with each other) all gave birth to their babies in or within a week of August, and all except one of them got their prenatal care and gave birth through the same birth center. Because we've all been on the same schedule, it wasn't surprising to me to discover, upon our first meeting back in September or October, that two of the women had gone through the same birth preparation class as had my partner and I. But a couple of weeks ago, it was pointed out to me that one of these women was in the same "orientation" seminar that my partner and I went to before officially deciding to use the birth center.

When this woman, Laura, said that she remembered me from the seminar, I was surprised. I hadn't remembered her. Then the thought ran through my mind, "Well, she remembers me because I was part of a lesbian couple, and let's face it, all those straight couples look alike." I laughed to myself as I thought it, but there was some truth to it. There were probably ten couples there, all of us white, middle classes, late 20s/early 30s, perhaps a little bit earthy-crunchy and/or artsy-fartsy (we were, after all, choosing to go outside of the mainstream, forgo a hospital birth [although ultimately, as you know, that was where I ended up] and use a birth center). We all did look alike, except my partner and I, who probably stood out a bit because we were two women instead of a man and a woman.

I searched my mind, and after putting together the things I knew about Laura now, and the things the various couples had said during the seminar, I was able to recall her...vaguely. I remember someone saying something about being afraid of hospitals and how her mother had worked at a birth center, and those things are true about Laura, so that blurry face in my memory must belong to her.

"They" looked alike. All those straight couples. Would I have remembered a lesbian couple better? Yes. I know this because there actually was another lesbian couple at the orientation, and I have a better memory of them than I do of Laura and her husband, even though I've spent far more time with Laura (I haven't seen the other lesbian couple since that night).

Which was why I was surprised when I was having lunch with a friend of mine on Wednesday, Angel, and it happened to me. Angel and her partner, Carrie, have been our friends for a while, and from time to time, I have lunch with Angel. We were at a diner, Angel, me, and Ella, when another women that I know a little walked in. This woman, Sharon, knows Angel pretty well through Angel's job. Sharon approached our table upon recognizing Angel, and they started to talk.

It was clear that Sharon was confused about who Ella was--she kept assuming that Ella was Eamon, Angel and Carrie's son. Angel and Carrie's 15 month old son. If you know anything about babies and toddlers, there aren't a whole lot of similarities. Eamon moves around, makes noise, is more proportional in body size. Oh, and he's a boy. Now, people are often confused about Ella's gender because I dress her mostly in neutral clothes (in case #2 is a boy, I don't want to buy things twice), but this day, she was wearing a yellow outfit that had little pink flowers all over it. It was a gift from Ella's step-grandmother. Really, you had to be hard pressed to think she was a boy (even though one of the waitresses did make that mistake--how, I don't know).

Angel kept saying, "That's not Eamon," to Sharon, sort of in the middle of the conversation, when she got a chance, but Sharon wasn't grasping it. And I kept trying to say, "I don't know if you remember me...." but she was talking to Angel. I'm not trying to make her sound rude or oblivious. She was standing in a diner on the way to her table, not focusing, etc.

Finally, though, I managed to say, "You might not remember me, but I used to go to Beth Ahava," and suddenly, she really looked at me. As it turns out, I was not Carrie, which she had assumed from the beginning, and Ella was not Eamon. She looked at me; she looked at Ella; and she said, "Oh! So this is your baby!"

Right!

It was weird because Sharon is not "they." She is one of "us" (i.e. she's also a lesbian). I was surprised that she thought I was Carrie, although it had happened a couple of times before with other people when I've had lunch with Angel. Carrie and I do not look particularly alike, in my opinion. We're within 4 inches of each other's height, and we both have short hair. But Carrie's hair is cut differently, it's a true brown, and it's naturally wavey. My hair is dark blonde and completley straight. Carrie wears glasses. I do not. Our faces do not look that alike, except we are both white and in our 30s. Our weights are pretty similar.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this story. I guess I just wanted to comment on this recurring theme in my life lately. What does it all mean? Not sure. I guess I could go all philosophical and decide that the universe it trying to teach me something about noticing what makes us all different and what makes us all the same. Yeah, maybe that's it. Maybe that was the point of this whole post. I am very deep, very thoughtful, and I've always got a plan.

Uh-huh.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Just in Case You Didn't Believe Me About All Those Teeth

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Finally Doing Something About Ella's Cradle Crap Cap

Ella has a skin condition--extremely common to newborns--called cradle cap. I haven't done anything about it so far because what I've read about it describes it as non-irritating to the baby and--importantly--temporary.

I'm not one to be super hung up on appearances. I thought, "Well, newborns get this, so what's the big deal that she has it?" Only, at five months, I don't think she qualifies as a newborn anymore, and it's still there. I've waited for it to go away on its own like it's been reported to do, but it has not obliged, so we're taking action.

It's a form of eczema, i.e. dandruff, so I've read that you can wash their hair with dandruff shampoo to get rid of it. We've done that twice now (last Thursday and Sunday), and it seems to be getting better.

When people meet Ella, many comment on her "red hair." She doesn't have red hair, but the yellow patch of scaley skin on the top of her head gives a red glow to her light brown hair (which I think is transitioning to blond). I'm looking forward to when this stuff is finally gone and the top of her head no longer looks like that of a lizard.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Outed at Playgroup

No, not as a lesbian. That's hardly a secret to anyone. Rather, I was outed as someone who is teaching her baby to read. Yes, that's right. I'm teaching Ella to read, and I've been doing it for two months. Here's how I was outed.

One of the other moms in my group, Robin, invited me to go Christmas shopping with her last December, and I took her up on it. I feel comfortable with her, and I had just started the reading program with Ella, which I was excited about, so I decided to confide in Robin. I told her that I had gotten this book called How to Teach Your Baby to Read and that I was trying out the method. Surprisingly, Robin had actually been given the same book by a friend as a shower present. I asked if she had read it, and she said no because she had assumed it was for older babies/children.

When I told Robin that I was teaching Ella to read, I mentioned that I hadn't talked about it with the group because I was afraid that I would be ridiculed. Everyone would assume that I was trying to pressure Ella into being smart and/or "robbing her of her precious childhood." I thought that because that's the general reaction I get from people when I do mention that I'm doing this. (I suspect that those of you reading this right now have similar thoughts.)

Because I had told Robin about my fear of ridicule from the other moms, I was surprised when she "outed" me at the playgroup last week. She didn't point her finger at me and state ominously, "I WANT YOU ALL TO KNOW WHAT OZ IS DOING TO THAT INNOCENT BABY GIRL." No, she mentioned it during the course of a story she was telling about going to storytime at her local library. But nonetheless, I was outed, and I got the reaction I suspected: disapproval. No one got up in arms or shunned me or anything like that. But it was clear from their comments that none of them would do something as mean as teach their babies to read.

I find the perception of babyhood to be very interesting. Babies learn an astonishing amount almost by accident. They aren't taught to see things or hear things or touch things. They learn by experiencing. They aren't taught to crawl or walk or run. They learn by doing. But some things, they are taught. They are taught that nursery rhymes and fun and colored plastic things are toys.

Yes, I believe that they are taught that. For instance, I have two different baby books. One of them has cartoon drawings of Sheep in a Jeep. The other has actual photographs of Baby's Day. Ella looks at both of them. But she is more interested in the actual images of babies than the cartoon sheep. A 3 month old baby, a 4 month old, will look at anything you put in front of him/her. You tell the baby what is fun by the way you approach it and the way you handle it. I can give Ella a toy to play with, and she'll play with it. But she is just as happy to play with a spatula. Babies are very smart. They learn, as Ella is learning, what are "toys" and what aren't. What I am excited and happy that she plays with and what things I disapprove of her playing with.

Peek-a-boo is a game that I play with Ella, and just like I play that game, I also play the reading game. She doesn't know that I am "robbing her of her childhood." She thinks that we are having fun looking at words. She also likes the homemade "books" I make her of breeds of dogs with photographs of actual dogs just as much as she likes the "official" children's book That's Not My Puppy.

So now that I have been outed to the other moms in my playgroup, I figure I should out myself here on my blog as well. So now you know. I am so mean to my daughter that I show her words and tell her what they are in hopes that she might, one day, be able to read them and understand written language. Oh, and I also speak to her in hopes that one day she'll be able to listen and understand verbal language. Try not to judge me too harshly.

Friday, January 20, 2006

I Inadvertently Supported "EC"

I'll start this story at the beginning because that's the kind of long story teller that I am.

A couple of months ago, I heard of a baby product called BabyLegs on one of the (very normal, mainstream) parenting websites I read regularly. BabyLegs are essentially leg warmers for babies. Their designs were kind of funky, and I was sucked into the premise that BabyLegs would stop "Gapiosis: The space between the sock and the bottom of the pant, often accentuated by being held in arms or by being placed in a carrier, stroller, or buggy. Protect their sweet little legs from wind burn and chill. Buy BabyLegs!"

What can I say? I'm a sucker. And I'm obsessed with keeping Ella warm. Nonetheless, I learned about BabyLegs right around Christmastime, and with all the holiday stuff going on, actually purchasing BabyLegs slipped through the cracks.

Ella's cousin Georgia is turning one in February, and I thought some BabyLegs might be a nice present for her as she lives in Wisconsin. And this would be my perfect opportunity finally to buy some for Ella, too. I opened the BabyLegs site and went directly to the Buy BabyLegs page. I had looked at the "Brown Bag Boutique" option before, but the word "temporary" put me off. So I went to the next option: The EC Store.

The EC Store looked reassuringly non-temporary. I placed my order and purchased two pairs of BabyLegs for Georgia and two others for Ella. All and all, an easy and pleasant internet shopping experience. But I had wondered ever since clicking onto the site: What is "EC"? I'm pretty internet savy. I know most of the lingo, especially the parenting-related internet lingo. But I'd never heard of EC before. Maybe the website would explain what EC meant.

Indeed, it did.

I started out with the About Us link and read this:
The EC Store caters to the needs of families practicing Elimination Communication, the gentle art of responding to a baby's elimination needs. Whether you use diapers full-time, part-time, occasionally, or never, you'll find great products here to help you enjoy this wonderful aspect of parenting.

Something tickled the back of my brain. "Elmination Communication"? Wait a second. That couldn't be.... Could it?

Indeed, it could.

I next clicked on the What is "EC?" link (probably should have started there, eh?) and found what I suspected. It was something I had heard about once, a while back, before I'd given birth to Ella. As it turns out,
EC stands for Elimination Communication, also known as Natural Infant Hygiene or Infant Potty Training. It's a wonderful way to respond to a baby's natural instincts to stay clean and dry. EC reduces diaper use, reduces diaper rash, can lead to earlier potty independence, and so much more.

In case you don't get it from that description, parents who practice EC do not diaper their babies. That's right. No diapers. None. At all. (Or none sometimes if you only do it "part-time.") The premise is that you can watch for your baby's cues that it has to go and then take it to an appropriate place to "eliminate." Apparently, all Babies Are Born Potty Trained!

Well, I can get onboard with a lot of theories. I know I parent differently than many of my friends. I think babies are more capable of understanding more than the mainstream gives them credit for. But EC? Nope, can't quite get onboard with that.

The EC Store website is run by a WAHM (Working At Home Mom), and I was thanked for my purchase because my purchase helped a mom be able to stay at home with her kids. So, in essence, my purchase helped facilitate the EC lifestyle.

Now, I'm not saying that I wouldn't have purchased the BabyLegs from that website if I had known in advance what the website was about. I believe I would have. But...

Frankly, I wonder if I'll be able to look at Ella's BabyLegs without thinking about "EC."

Thursday, January 19, 2006

What Is This Fresh Hell?

When I wrote that Ella was cutting not one, not two, but three teeth at once, I stated, "'I'm complaining, but it really hasn't been THAT bad. The first tooth caused more angst than these three seem to have." Well, let me revise that statement. She's miserable, so I'm miserable (a hint of that fact was in the trouble I had getting her to nap yesterday).

She doesn't want to go to sleep.

She wouldn't sleep for more than two hours at a time last night until she was put in her swing.

The biting continues.

There's that strange mouth agape thing going on.

And honestly, she's not that much fun to be around when she's well-fed and well-rested.

I shudder to think but.... Is it possible that more teeth are on the way? From what I've heard from other mothers of older babies, the unhappiness of teething is generally over once the teeth have cut all the way through, and all four of these are out. I've looked in her mouth. I don't think anything is going on with her bottom teeth, but there might be some action going on with her upper teeth--the ones beside the ones in the middle.

Good lord. The Little One was watching me eat a taco last weekend, completely transfixed as if I were teasing her by not offering her any, and I jokingly said, "Silly girl, you can't eat a taco! You need teeth for that! Ha ha HA."

Well, it looks like the last laugh is on me, because the onslaught of teeth came on like nobody's business and now I wonder if she'll have a full set by the time she's six months old. I can see her now, ripping a taco right out of my hand and chomping down on it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Am I Wrong?

I've mentioned before that we now have a portable DVD player that we use for car rides. We pop a Baby Einstein video in there, and there is no screaming. In fact, Ella generally falls asleep within about 10-15 minutes. Those Baby Einstein videos have a "repeat play" option which means that the movie repeats and repeats and repeats forever, and that means that if Ella wakes up, it's still playing and she goes back to sleep. Hallelujah! Even though I try to limit her TV watching, I feel okay about this because it's either watch Baby Einstein or scream, so I'll take Baby Einstein. No contest. So I'm not asking if I'm wrong about that.

Today, however, the Little One was refusing to sleep. She was tired enough to be miserable, but not so tired that she would fall asleep nursing. Presenting nursing as an option anyway, "Oh, come on, you know you want it," and thrusting my boob in her face, only made her bite me. Imagine that. And with four teeth, that's nothing to mess around with.

So she wanted to be walked to sleep. Only my back still hurts, and I could only walk her for a short time before I just couldn't do it anymore, and she was still awake. Then it hit me. The swing, the portable DVD player in her lap..... she wouldn't be able to resist......

And she couldn't. She's sleeping now. Which is quite nice, don't get me wrong. But I do feel a bit like a lazy parent. Speaking of which, it might be time for my nap, too.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Mouth Agape

This started yesterday:



At first I thought she was just yawning a yawn that had no end.



Or perhaps she was very interested in something.



Or startled.



I assume it has something to do with teething.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Five Month Letter

Dear Ella,

You’ve really gained a lot of skills this month. You’re grabbing things like a champ. What’s funny about the grabbing is that the object is seized in your little hand and then brought to your mouth. You don’t turn it around to observe it. Or move it to the left or the right. No, right to your mouth it goes. And if you happen to let it go when it’s at your mouth, it just sits there, on your face, and you stare at me or Ima as if to say, “Now what?” Just as I waited and waited for you to turn your head to the right, now I’m waiting for you to take things off of your face. Mainly because I worry about you covering your face with your blanket and then suffocating. Sorry if I seem a bit paranoid, but you should already know that about me because of the Four Month Letter I wrote to you last month.

You’ve gotten three new teeth over the last four days. Yes, you read that right. THREE NEW TEETH IN A FOUR DAY PERIOD. That brings your tooth total up to four teeth. Four teeth by the time you turned five months old. Well, okay, you got me. The upper right tooth isn’t quite all the way in yet. But you get the idea. You’ve got as many teeth as your friend Eamon, who is 14 months old. And also as many teeth as your cousin Georgia, who is 11 months old. You’re ahead of the curve.

That’s not the only area where you are ahead of the game. You can also sit, unsupported. Very impressive. And you can stand, too, holding onto my fingers or onto something else. Again, kudos to you, little one! But you have no desire to move independently. Sitting and standing in one place, that’s good as far as you’re concerned. But rolling over? Nah. I try to show you how to do it. I roll you from your back to your tummy. From your tummy to your back. But if I just leave you on your back or your tummy, you make no effort to change the status quo. Sometimes I put a toy out of your reach, hoping that will encourage you to roll. But you take that situation very well—philosophically, one might say—the toy being out of your reach. You look at it as if to say, “It’s a shame that we can’t be together right now, but apparently, that’s the way it is.”

Just yesterday, you seem to have found your voice. You’ve been able to cry from birth, of course. And in this last month, you’ve really developed a good laugh. But yesterday, you started talking for the sake of talking. More than just the odd “coo” here or there, you seem to be speaking full sentences, paragraphs, and last night I think you told us all a story. It had a lot of highs and lows, that tale: aaaaahhhhhhhAAAAAHHHHHaahhhAHH! Today, you’ve continued with the story. Your fingers crammed into your mouth, usually looking up at the ceiling, you add onto the tale: OoooooooooOOOOOOoooooo EEEEEEEEEeeeeEEEEE! You’ve really got me at the edge of my seat wondering what will happen next. I have a feeling that the heroine, Ella, saves the day.

You’ve saved many a day so far. Your smiles and laughs are the best sights and sounds in the world. I have a suspicion that no matter how often or how long you smile at me, it will always make me feel wonderful inside. When I see your smile or hear your laugh, I just can’t help but smile back at you, my love seemingly uncontainable.

I’ve heard that babies are their cutest at five months old. I can believe it, because you are certainly adorable. Every time I think, “How could she get any cute than this moment, right now?” You go and do it: the next week, the next day, the next minute, you are even cuter, smarter, stronger, braver, and I somehow I love you even more, and I don’t know how I can keep loving you more and more because surely my heart must burst. The only explanation is that loving you is making my heart bigger.

Love,
Mommy

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Two, Three, Four Teeth

It's been one of those weeks when you're experiencing severe back pain and your ALMOST five month old baby cuts three new teeth. The first tooth made its appearance a little over a month ago. That's a respectable distance between teeth, don't you think? A month, a month and a half, something like that. Well, that tooth was the lower right tooth. It's twin, the lower left, finally cut all the way through yesterday. It's out. The top left tooth is about halfway out, and the top right tooth has one point that's made it out of the gum. The rest of both of the top two teeth are clearly visible beneath a practicably non-existent covering of gum.

I'm complaining, but it really hasn't been THAT bad. The first tooth caused more angst than these three seem to have. And I guess getting three out at once, basically, means that the total time spent teething will be less in the end. That's what I tell myself. The one problem with all this teething is all the biting that has come along with it. But I expect that the two top teeth will be completely out within a day or two, and then I won't have to be so afraid of nursing time.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Sidelined

I have a bad back. I hurt it over ten years ago when I worked at a bookstore. I remember it clearly. It was a small bookstore: only one employee worked at a time. We got books in a couple of times a week, and whoever was working unpacked them, separating the special orders from those books to be stocked. There was a box, kind of large, and I needed to move it. So I bent down, from my waist, and attempted to lift it up. I heard and felt a POP in my lower back, followed by pain, not only in my back but also down my legs.

I'm not one to run to the doctor, and that was no exception. I toughed it out, although the pain shooting down my legs did prompt me to call my doctor a few days later. Predictably, I got an appointment for the next week, and by that time, the pain down my legs had abated, and I felt a lot better. The doctor told me to take some Aleve for the pain. She had no other advice.

I wish I'd gone to a chiropractor then, when the injury had occurred. I wish my doctor had recommended that course of action, or I wish I was the kind of person back then who would have just gone. But I didn't, and because of that, my back is permanently hurt. I had an MRI on my back a few years ago, and it showed deterioriation of that disk in my lower back, deterioration due to the fact that it has been out of place all this time. It has been out of place so long that it has worn down into its new position and refuses to return to its correct position.

It could be worse. I'm not in constant pain, thank God. But a few times a year, my back "goes out," and I am in pretty intense pain for a few days before, for whatever reason, it feels better again. Pre-motherhood, I would take it really, really easy during those days of pain. Now, that's not quite an option. Ella loves me, I'm sure, but she is not so generous as to play quietly by herself while I ice my back for 20 mintues out of every hour.

My back went out last Saturday. My partner was home over the weekend, so I could relax as much as possible, but she went to work on Monday. She hadn't been gone for an entire hour before I really hurt myself. I was playing with Ella, playing in a way that I thought was safe, and then I heard it again, the sound I hadn't heard for ten years: POP. It was followed by the pain, and I found myself on the floor, calling my partner and saying, You've got to come home.

I had some left over percocet from my c-section, and I took one of those, and then I took another. I was high as a kite, but at least my back felt better. I was still in pain, but it wasn't crippling. A trip that afternoon to the chiropractor revealed that I had re-injured my back. My partner had to stay home for most of Tuesday, too. Wednesday, she went to work, and she did again today. I'm doing okay. It helps that Ella has taken two very long naps.

I got really scared this time around. From the extent of the pain, of course. But I was also scared because I want to be a certain kind of mom: the kind that rough houses, and carries her babies with her everywhere, and can do anything. I want my kids to look at me without a doubt that I can lift them up to that tree branch or that I will catch them if they lose their balance. I want that when projects to come up, they will say confidently, "My mom can do that!" I was scared that I couldn't be that mom afterall.

I want to be that mom.

So I need to find the time--no, I need to make the time--to take better care of myself. I need to start exercising and doing yoga and providing as much muscular support to that weak back of mine as I can. I need to get on that...as soon as I can get off the couch without wincing, that is.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Irish Twins!

As I mentioned a few posts ago, we've started telling people about my partner's pregnancy now that she's out of the first trimester. This weekend, we told my partner's family and my mother. The best, most accurate response came from my partner's twin sister who has a 10 month old daughter. She can actually visualize what her life would be like with her daughter AND a newborn. Her exact words on hearing of the impending arrival of Little Two were, "That's very courageous of you." Yes, indeed.

Six months from now, we'll have two babies under one year old: Irish twins. When I realized that was our future, I wanted to change the URL of this blog to http://irishtwins.blogspot.com . I wasn't overly optimistic that it would be available, so I typed that URL in and found, as I suspected, that Irish Twins! already exists.

"Kelly" describes her blog as "a Journal about [her] second pregnancy." So maybe that's why it ends with the birth of her second son. But I fear that the reason it ends there is not because the blog had served its purpose but because THERE IS NO TIME TO BLOG WITH IRISH TWINS.

I guess I'll find out in about six months.

Happy New Year, everyone.