The Baby Bean Blog

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Movement..., Take 2

Last night, my partner felt Little Two move, and she's sure it was Little Two moving. She's felt some things here and there before, but she hasn't been sure until last night that it was the baby. It's a pretty exciting time. And also weird. It was for me, anyway, when I first knew I was feeling Ella move. I wasn't sure it would feel weird in the same way when my partner started to feel Little Two move--since it wasn't happening inside of me--but it does. It really brings it home that there's something in there. Something that can move around. Actually, I guess I should say "someone." I guess the reason for that is it's almost like some sort of communication. The baby isn't trying to communicate anything like, "I'm happy!" or even, "Hey, I can move!" But it is communicating because feeling the baby move is confirmation that s/he is alive and kicking (literally). And as the pregnancy progresses, that will become more and more important.

Okay, I must now attend to the baby that is outside of a uterus. I spoke once of the "tub of inspiration." As it turns out, "inspiration" can be assigned to any device that confines Ella's hiney. For instance, right now, she is in the "exer-saucer of inspiration." And it has, in fact, inspired. Keep your fingers crossed for the onesie. I like this one, so I hope it made it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Third Prenatal Visit, Take 2

Last Monday was my partner's third prenatal visit. It was largely unremarkable except for one thing. We got to the part of the visit where the midwife listens to the baby's heartbeat via doppler. She put the doppler on and found the heartbeat easily. There we were listening to it, and then it slowed down dramatically. I thought that the baby had moved away and that we were now listening to my partner's heartbeat instead (there's some big artery down there that gets picked up often by the doppler). Then the midwife said, "In about 15 to 30 seconds, we'll hear the heartbeat get really fast again."

It was clear that both my partner and I were confused, so the midwife explained that the baby was probably lying down on top of the umbilical cord or holding the cord in its hand, thereby inadvertently cutting off its supply of blood and oxygen. Because of that, its blood pressure would soar, and then it would think, "Whoa, I don't feel so good," and let go of the cord or move off of it in an effort to feel better, which would work because then the blood flow/oxygen would be restored, and its heartbeat would come back up.

The midwife managed to explain all that while my partner was on the table. At the end, she said, "Don't worry. It'll pick back up again." I said something jokingly like, "It better, or this is going to be a sad, sad story."

She stopped talking, and the sound of the slow heartbeat filled the room. I began to regret saying my joke because it would not be very funny at all if something bad happened right there as we listened.

The heartbeat was still slow. It seemed like it had been forever, certainly longer than 30 seconds. The room got really quiet until the sound of the slow heartbeat seemed to fill it, rebounding off of the walls and surrounding us.

And then....

Finally.....

It picked up the pace again and began beating fast, fast, fast. It was almost like Little Two was laughing and saying, "Ha! Got you, Mommy and Ima! That was a good one, wasn't it?"

Not so much, Little Two, but I forgive you. Just make sure your heart always beats. That's all I ask of you. Well, let's be honest. It won't be all I ask of you, but it's at the top of the list.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Ella Eats

Well, she's six months old now, so we decided to give in and give her some food. The poor baby has been trying to get her hands on some of our food for quite some time now. It's been clear that she's been ready to eat. She's shown all the signs--rapt attention while we eat, the ability to sit up, dissappearance of the "tongue thrust reflex." And let's not forget all those teeth. Those teeth are for eating, after all.

So although she's been ready, I haven't been, so I've used the official recommendation of the medical community to wait until at least six months as my excuse for not giving in and feeding her "real" food. But with this passing month "birthday," I don't have that excuse anymore.

On Saturday, we went to the grocery store and bought an organic sweet potato. I decided to start her with some food that has some nutritional value as opposed to the standard rice cereal. Since we've waited for the six month mark, this shouldn't be a problem. After much debate between sweet potatos and avocados, we went with sweet potatos.

First, I ate the sweet potato mush...well, soup might be a better word for it. After I was done boiling and adding water to that thing, there was absolutely NO CHANCE of choking. I was eating it first because we were whetting her appetite, not that her appetite needed much whetting after drooling over our food for a month or so now, but what the heck.

After I had a few bites, I put some on the spoon and headed it towards her. She opened her mouth up and reached out for the spoon to guide it into her mouth. I'M NOT KIDDING. This kid was ready to eat. How much she actually swallowed, I don't know. But it was clear that she had been paying close attention to us all this time, and she knew how this spoon to the mouth thing worked.

Some of the sweet potato certainly went in, but since it was so clear that she was interested in self-feeding, and I've heard that this is a good thing to encourage, I let her participate in that aspect of the event, and her aim was not all that it could be across the board. But all in all, she was quite pleased with herself.



Afterwards, I held her in my arms and proclaimed to my partner dramatically, "My little baby is all grown up! She's eating food! She doesn't need me anymore!"

Really, if I'd had a larger audience, I think I could have been in the running for some award consideration for that performance.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Six Month Letter

Dear Ella,

Six months. That is half a year! As I watch you right now, grabbing onto a toy in your exer-saucer, turning your head towards me and smiling, holding yourself up, studying the world around you, I can’t help but think about the other letters I’ve written to you, and the things that you were doing then. You’ve come a long way, baby, and six months from now, you’ll likely be as different a baby from who you are now as you currently are from who you were then. (Follow that?) Actually, you might not be a baby at all, but rather a toddler. Yikes. I’m not ready for that, so I’m not going to think about it.

You keep working on learning new things. Just last week, you discovered how to smack your lips together. You are giving me a demonstration of that as I write this. Sometimes you do it after you’ve nursed, and that’s quite cute. “Yummy meal, Mommy!” you seem to be saying. Other times, like now, you just randomly smack your lips because it is fun, so why not?

Another of your most recent skills is intentionally bending your wrist. You hold your arm still, and just bend your wrist up and down, up and down. The last day or two, you’ve added some rotation to the move. Sometimes you do it while holding a toy in your hand. Other times, you just sit there, bending your wrist. “Look at what this thing can do!” you seem to say.

You “seem to say” a lot of things to me. I’m looking forward to when you actually say things, but I’m also enjoying this time when you are so little and so full of discovery. And, frankly, when I can assign whatever thought and emotion I want to you. That's one of the perks of being a Mommy, and my interpretation of you presents you as quite a charming individual, so you shouldn't mind.

I can’t believe that it’s only been six months, and I also can’t believe that it’s been six months already. You are halfway through your first year, and I’ve treasured this time more than you will probably ever know…unless you have kids of your own, and then you’ll know exactly what I mean.

I am prouder of everything you do, each bend of your wrist and smack of your lips, than I’ve ever been of whatever my biggest accomplishment might be. Although I guess that’s not exactly true because you are my biggest accomplishment, and you always will be.

Love,
Mommy

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Deja-vu

In the spirit of kind motherhood, I decided not to title this post, "Same Shit, Different Day." In other words, this ultrasound was remarkably similar to my 20 week ultrasound, even right down to the detail of Little Two sitting on his/her feet, just like Ella did. We've decided to lay the blame for this squarely on the shoulders of their donor, Peter, as he is the common genetic link.

Oh, in case you don't understand what I'm getting at, we do not know if Little Two is a boy or a girl. What a bastard clever little baby.

In other news, the baby looks great. Unlike my ultrasound, we talked to a doctor right afterwards, and she said that the baby was measuring right on target. It had all the parts it should and no extras. So we shouldn't be getting the scare we got with Ella.

And yeah, yeah, yeah, that's the important part. It doesn't matter if it's a boy or a girl, blah blah blah. Of course all that is true. We wouldn't sacrifice that in order to get to know the baby's gender. HOWEVER. [insert whiney voice] Everyone else we know got to find out the gender of their babies! No fair! No fair! No fair!

Okay, enough of that. Now for some cute pictures. Well, cute to his or her parents.

First, we have a picture of the baby's face in profile.

Next, a picture of the baby's hand. I'm not sure exactly why we have this one. The tech printed out two pictures of the baby's face and then a picture of his/her hand and foot. Maybe people are into that sort of thing? Anyway, here it is:

And now the foot. I've outlined it in red so that you can distinguish it from all the other crap stuff.


It was really fun to get to see Little Two. We didn't want to have to wait 20 more weeks to find out what we're having, but that's all right. This time, I shouldn't be unconcious when s/he is born, and I'll get to have that moment people have in the movies when the baby comes out, all covered in blood and gunk, and then a medical professional says, "It's a ______!" That will be cool.

And I still can't freakin' believe we didn't find out.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Day Before the Ultrasound, a.k.a. Valentine's Day

It's Valentine's Day, and that is fun and all that, but I've mostly been thinking of today as the day before the big ultrasound. Tomorrow morning, we will get a peak at Little Two and see what s/he has been up to and (hopefully) if we're expecting a boy or a girl.

We did manage to celebrate Valentine's Day to some extent, going to a diner with our friends Carrie and Angel and their 15 month old son Eamon. But back to the ultrasound: Angel thinks my partner is having a girl, and Carrie thinks it's a boy. They've upped the ante between the two of them and have decided to wager a dollar on it. Tomorrow, we will find out (hopefully) who is a dollar richer and who a dollar poorer.

For Valentine's Day, I gave my partner this "I'm nuts about you" keyring

And a promise to buy her Ellen - The Complete Third Season when it is released on February 28th.

She got me the Ergo Baby Carrier. Ella has gotten quite heavy. I've been meaning to write a post about her size, but other things just keep coming up. Anyway, she weighs about 25 pounds now, and my pouch is still good and very convenient for short walks and such, but not for longer stuff. For instance, when we walk from the train station to the ultrasound tomorrow!

And that's the wrap up of V Day. I will post ultrasound info tomorrow!

In case you hadn't noticed, I'm a little excited about the ultrasound tomorrow.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Flashback

My grandmother died on July 24th, 2004. I was driving up through the Florida Keys when my mother and I got the news on the 22nd that my grandmother was in the hospital with, what they thought at the time was, a stroke. One side of her body was paralyzed, but she could respond to voices by squeezing her hand. My mother and I were on the way home when we got the news, headed towards the Miami airport.

I actually blogged from the airport while we waited for our plane. I remember hoping against hope that she would make it. I knew she wouldn't be the same, that she would probably be paralyzed, maybe even in a nursing home. But I was not ready to let her go (I never would be), and I bargained and reasoned for more time. My grandmother never, ever would have wanted that--to be confined, especially to live out her days in a nursing home. In many ways, what I was asking for was selfish, but that was what I wanted.

I remember walking into her hospital room on the 23rd, and my grandfather saying to me, "She's dying." I was shocked. Just yesterday, there had been no mention of death. But apparently, what they thought was a stroke was just about the opposite. She did not have a bleed in her brain (a stroke), but rather there was a blood clot preventing any blood from getting to her brain. As a result, her brain began to swell. The pressure from the swelling, along with the deprivation of oxygen and nutrients, caused her systems to shut down. The last to go were her vital systems, as they are located at the base of the brain, well protected. It wasn't until the next day, the 24th, that she died.

I think about my grandmother, and what happened to her, and of course my own regrets often. Rarely does a day go by that I don't think of her. But right now, all the memories are so heavy on me that I almost can't breathe. My good friend, a woman I refer to as my French sister, Emily, is going through almost the same thing with her father.

She got the call last weekend that he had been in a horrible accident. He was in an elevator when the cable broke and the elevator car fell six floors. He survived the fall, although several vertebrae in his spine were broken. He made it through surgery and had movement in his arms and legs. Everyone was hopeful that he would make a full recovery, although they knew it would be a long and difficult one.

Emily's family lives in France. She's been here for six years now. She considered getting on a plane and flying home last weekend, but as things looked better, she decided not to do so. I offered my opinion that it might be best to save her time so that she could fly home when her father would come home from the hospital. Then she could be of the most help, as he would require a lot of assistance.

She got the call today. The call said that her father had a blood clot that had travelled to his brain. The doctors say he will be dead within 48 hours.

She's flying home tonight, of course.

It's all so similar, so tragic. I feel like I know exactly what she's going through, and it was the hardest thing I've ever gone through. I'm still not "through" it, and I don't know that I ever will be.

Ella was named after my grandmother. She is a reminder each and every day of her namesake, which is how I wanted it, the only way I could have it. I have to admit that part of me feels a little sad when I look at Ella because of that association. I hope that one day I will just feel joy at my daughter and at the memories--all the good ones--of my grandmother.

Today, though, I can't stop thinking about Emily and what her family is going through. I can't stop re-living what happened to my own family. But I also can't stop being a mother. Ella looks at me with no idea of these emotions swirling through my head and my heart. She wants to play with her toys and see me smile at her and fly around the room, my little airplane baby. Here she is, the next generation. The wheel of life keeps turning, no matter how much we wish that it wouldn't sometimes.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Now Ella Gets to Share

I read an article that suggests that it is possible that breastmilk can cause cancer cells to go into "apoptosis," which is a fancy way of saying they commit suicide. And the problematic thing about cancer cells is that they normally don't go into apoptosis. They reproduce like crazy and don't die off. As I said, that's the problem. But some research discovered, by accident, that breastmilk makes them commit suicide.

A very good friend of mine, Beth Marie, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer almost two years ago. The five year survival rate of those diagnosed with ovarian cancer is 37%. Those aren't good odds. The reason this is such a dangerous cancer is that it does not display "remarkable" symptoms during its early stages. Therefore, by the time you realize you have a problem, the cancer is already quite advanced. My friend is currently going through her fourth round of chemotherapy.

So I read the article I mentioned above, and when I saw Beth Marie today, I told her about it. Then I said, "I know this is really weird, but if you want breastmilk, I'll give it to you." We talked about it off and on for the rest of the visit. I could tell that the idea was percolating around in her mind.

She'd had a good response to her first round of chemo--the cancer was reduced. She felt optimistic that she's be one of the lucky ones. But the second and third rounds did not reduce the cancer. They didn't even keep it at bay. The cancer kept growing. And since getting that news, Beth Marie has become more angry, more depressed.

She's in her mid-50s, but she is a very, very active woman--far more so than I am, and I'm over 20 years her junior. For instance, two summers ago after her first round of chemo, she went on a 100 mile bike ride. Cancer certainly isn't fair for anyone to get, but in her case, it seems especially cruel.

Beth Marie is not someone who is entirely comfortable with "female parts" and that sort of thing. For her, one of the worst things about having ovarian cancer is all the pelvic exams. Drinking my breastmilk is not something she would normally consider. But the recent CAT scans have her worried, have her almost convinced that she will die sooner rather than later. So by the time I dropped her off at her house so that I could head home, she said she wanted to give it a try. I'm not allowed to tell anyone (shhhh), but she's game.

The way I see it, it can't hurt. In fact, it could be good for her even if it doesn't help fight the cancer. Chemo weakens the immune system, and breastmilk is full of antibodies. Beth Marie has also battled anemia with each chemo (sometimes missing treatments because her blood count was too low), and breastmilk provides a very easily absorbable form of iron.

So I'm going to start pumping, not for Ella, but for my friend. Who knows what will come of this, but we're both willing to try it.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Oz Pays $15 to Nurse Ella

Ella feels for them. She really does, and frankly, it's a bit annoying. "Them" refers to other babies. Ella has entered that phase where another baby crying makes her cry. This makes it hard to socialize, because socializing now means spending time in places and doing things that are baby-friendly, and what do you find in baby-friendly places that have baby-friendly activities? BABIES. And what do babies do from time to time? CRY.

For instance, in my weekly mom group, generally every baby has a time when s/he cries. Each of the approximately six babies cries approximately one time. Ella used to be like that. One crying session during the group. Now it's SIX crying sessions during the group. Why? Because she still has her own, self-initiated cry. But she also cries when each of the other five babies has his/her crying session.

In my mom group, it's not a big deal. There's nothing formal going on. We're just hanging out at someone's house, talking about this and that. It makes more work for me, as I spend SIX TIMES the amount of time calming Ella from her crying, but whatever. Today, though, I started a new baby-friendly activity: Mom and Baby Yoga.

Granted, Ella was a bit tired and hungry when the class began. Not really in the best frame of mind for this activity. Four of the babies present were about six months old, including Ella. There was also an eight month old baby and a three month old baby.

The three month old baby started crying right at the beginning of class. Her mother decided not to do anything about this. Rather, she just kept doing the yoga while her baby was on her yoga mat, crying. The other babies in the class looked with varying degrees of concern at this little girl. Ella, of course, cried. I, of course, took steps to stop her from crying, namely nursing her.

As the three month old baby cried and cried, I have to admit that I looked at her mother with annoyance. This would aggravate me under normal circumstances--ignoring a crying baby. In this circumstance, it seemed particularly rude. Eventually, her mother gave her a bottle, and she quieted. Her mother, however, looked irritated because she had to stop doing the yoga. My opinion of her dropped further. The point of this class, after all, was to do something fun with your baby, not be pissed off at your baby because she has the nerve to be hungry when you're trying to do downward facing dog.

Eventually, that baby more or less quieted, but, of course, the other babies in the class went through periods of noise-making, too. Actually, two of the moms from my mom group were there, and one of their babies is going through a phase where he likes to make loud noises. Not unhappy noises. Just loud, I'm-trying-out-my-voice noises. These also upset Ella. It's a shame that these phases of theirs (his loud noises, her crying at noises) are co-inciding.

So, basically, I spent the class period lying on the floor with Ella while she nursed and slept. Right at the end of the class, she woke up and seemed to be in a good mood. (The mother with the crying three month old had finally taken her baby outside of the studio room to help her obviously tired baby fall asleep. For some reason, the little girl didn't find lying on a hard yoga mat while her mother contorted her body above her to be soothing.) Of course, this was the point in the class where everyone was supposed to lay down with their babies and have quiet time. After napping for almost an hour, Ella wanted action. So I didn't do that either.

I have a feeling this might be the way all of our classes go (five total), but that's okay. It's still getting out of the house and having an experience. It's occurred to me that this is the only time I'll be able to do this. When there are two of them, classes like this won't be possible. These things are designed for one mom and one baby. So I'm going to enjoy doing things like this with a little baby while I can, even if Mom and Baby Yoga ends up being Oz Pays $15 to Nurse Ella.

Monday, February 06, 2006

I Won't Be Participating in the Knitting Olympics

This past holiday season, I stumbled across a book about knitting called, Yarn Harlot: the Secret Life of a Knitter. Now, I do not knit. I did not buy the book to read about knitting. Rather, I bought the book because it was written by a blogger. More specifically, someone (Stephanie Pearl-McPhee) who started a blog (this one: Yarn Harlot) and ended up with a book deal. I wouldn't mind a book deal, myself, so I was interested in reading the work of someone who had gotten a book deal via their blog.

The book was good. Very good. It actually made me want to knit. It was funny, sure, but it was also touching, and I found myself wanting to create things for my family to wear: to knit with love and clothe them in that love, the way that Stephanie described her knitting for her family.

My partner has done some knitting, although it's not something she does regularly. I dove into her box of yarn and knitting needles, and I decided that I would knit. A scarf. Something easy to start with. Then next, a beautiful sweater for Ella. Right.

I had this whole vision of myself. I would be the kind of mother who knits...and all that entails. Warm hugs. Baking. Smiles that radiate understanding and unconditional love. Yes, this scarf was the beginning of my evolving identity as a mother.

My partner showed me how to knit, and I sat down on the couch to actually do it. I was working on one row, my first row, and as I did so, Ella sat on my partner's lap, grunting, squeaking, making noises until I looked up at her, and then a huge smile would break across her face. This repeated again and again as I slowly made my way across the row. Grunt, look up, smile. Squeak, look up, smile. Of course I kept looking up. I could not resist that smile, nor could I deny its message: "Look at me, Mommy! Don't look at the knitting--look at me!"

Of course I had started reading Stephanie's blog. A couple of weeks ago, she had an idea: the Knitting Olympics. She invited all knitters out there to compete. The "rules" were simple: you must start and end a project during the 16 days of the upcoming Winter Olympics. You picked the project, based on your skills. The only requirement was that it must be a personal challenge for you to complete during the 16 day timeframe.

I thought about it. Maybe I could try to do something. But I realized that it was impossible. The point of the Knitting Olympics is to challenge yourself with knitting. To pick something that will consume you, something that will drive you, something that you will drive yourself to do, something that will require all those hours in a row.

Squeal.

Look up.

Smile.

I would not have that kind of time. Not anytime soon. Every time I looked up and saw that smile, I realized that my idea of motherhood had evolved again. Ella did not need a knitted sweater from me right now. What she needed was me.

So no knitting for me. That hobby will have to wait. It will wait with the other hobbies I've already cultivated, hobbies that are also on hold until later.... Later. A year from now? With Little Two on the way, two years might be a more realistic goal.

So no Knitting Olympics for me this year. But I should be able to participate in them next time around. That should give me four years. By that time, maybe my Olympic project will be that sweater for Ella... or maybe for Little Two. S/he, being younger, should also be smaller, right?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Menstruation Free House

I've been meaning to comment on the fact that we have two women, aged in the late-20s to early (sniff) 30s, and neither of us have had our periods for many months. That's just kind of cool. I wanted to mention it now because Ella will be six months in less than two weeks, and that means we will be starting solids. Once I'm not "exclusively" breastfeeding, it's only a matter of time until my period returns. Could still be a long time, of course. But it could also be right away.

But for now, we have two adult women of child-bearing age, and neither are menstruating! Naturally because of the current and future children, but nonetheless, it will probably never happen again. I don't think we'll be crazy enough to do it like this twice. (Although you never know...)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Since I Call Myself a Photographer

Or I did, and I think I will again one day when the kiddos are older. Anyway, I read a number of "motherhood" themed blogs, and a couple feature regular, beautiful pictures of the children of the author. (This blog and this one come immediately to mind.) Although I have posted pictures of Ella here, they are of (what I call) the "snapshot" variety. So last weekend, I decided to take some pretentious "real" photos of Ella. Overall, I was pleased with the results, especially since it was the first time I've really photographed a baby (in the portrait sense of the word).

Without further ado:

A smiling photo. I actually had to take this on Sunday. She was not in the mood for smiling on Saturday.



My partner likes this one a lot.



I really like this one.



Although this one is my favorite (my partner is not such a fan for some reason).



And of course, who can resist a laughing baby?