The Baby Bean Blog

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Paying Now for Happy and Quiet

Well, Ella is sick again. What fun! She's not feverish or incredibly miserable. Just that fussiness that seems to go on and on and on. The biggest problem is that she's super congested, and that means that being horizontal is a no-no, and that means that sleeping for any length of time is a no-no. Lucky me! Now she's having diarrhea. And here I was about to switch to cloth diapers. Thank God that order was delayed.

Ella certainly isn't sick all the time, but she's sick enough to annoy me. I thought that by breastfeeding her and keeping her at home (i.e. not at daycare where germs supposedly abound), she would be relatively illness free. But no such luck. She's been sick three times in nine months.

I looked at her yesterday, and I said, "Okay, enough is enough." I explained the breastfeeding/no daycare situation to her, and then I asked her to account for these illnesses she's had. She refused to answer. Stubborn! I was left to ponder this conundrum without any input from her. I went to sleep last night, no closer to the answer.

Then today I was on the train, heading into the city. She was sitting beside me, and then she lunged forward towards the arm rest, lowered her head, and wrapped her entire mouth around it. She sat there, leaning sharply over, sucking on the arm rest. I saw this and thought about the incomprehensible number of hands that had touched that arm rest and how I could probably count on one hand the number of times said arm rest had been cleaned in the last 20 years. As soon as these thoughts entered my mind, they were quickly brushed aside by my observation of the fact that Ella was happy and quiet. I sat back and let her suck on the arm rest.


But as I sat back, a curious thing happened. Images began flashing through my mind.

Ella, at Lowes, sucking on the shopping cart bar.

Ella, at Target, sucking on the shopping cart bar.

Ella, at a restuarant--actually, several different restuarants--sucking on the edge of the table.

Suddenly, where she was picking up all these germs was no longer such a mystery.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Giving In to Pink

I've been opposed to pink right from the beginning. I insisted on completely neutral outfits for Ella. At first, it was pretty easy. Since we didn't know her gender from ultrasound, people who bought us things prior to her birth had no choice but to go neutral. After her birth, anyone who asked us what we wanted or what size she was were told unequivocally that I wanted nothing pink. For the most part, people went along with what I asked. Those who did not ask us what we wanted, without fail, gave us something entirely pink. Those items were never used.

I don't know what, exactly, I was doing. I guess it had to do with labeling Ella a "little girl." I don't mean that in the sense that she was small and female. I mean all that society imposes--that she be sweet, and quiet, and nice, and clean in her frilly, perfect dresses. Actually, I wasn't so much trying to avoid the things she "should be" as I was trying to make sure she could be all the things that a "little girl" should not be: brave, loud, boisterous, strong, and dirty. I wanted her to have all the options.

So there was no pink, and there were no girly things period. Then, on the day my partner adopted Ella, I decided to go ahead and put her in a dress that my partner's cousin had given her. A denim dress with little dogs embroidered on it. It was a dress, but it wasn't pink. So I put her in it, and when I did, I couldn't believe how cute she looked. She was my little girl, in all the best ways those two words together can mean.

And since that time, slowly, very slowly, girlier things started to enter her wardrobe. Not too much. I still overwhelmingly bought gender-neutral things, at this point largely because I saw every purchase as not just Ella's, but also Little Two's, and since we couldn't find out his/her gender, that meant buying neutral. But still, a few girly things entered the wardrobe. And then, a few pink girly things entered the wardrobe. And I had to admit that Ella looked cute in those pink things.

Well, as of yesterday, I think the campaign against pink is officially over. We decided to get a new carseat for her. We got the Britax Marathon. Not only did we get the Marathon, but we got the Marathon in pink with little flowers. That's right. PINK WITH LITTLE FLOWERS. I could have gotten green, or gray, or something else very neutral. But I didn't. I got this:

What can I say? It's over. Pink wins.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Human Food? Oh No. Dog Bone? Oh YES!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Comedy of Bananas

So, excited about the new approach of offering Ella finger foods, I ran out to the grocery store to get appropriate food items for her. I got some new stuff that she hadn't had before, but I also got some foods that she had liked in the past. One of them was bananas, which she had never been crazy about, but which she had eaten. The pears would need time to ripen, and the prunes would still have to be stewed and pureed. So bananas it was to be.

I wanted the pieces to be of a size that she could pick up with her fingers. I also wanted them to be smallish, because Ella is obsessed with picking up small things right now. Nothing makes her happier than to sit on our carpet and pluck out the lint. This I like, because it validates my desire not to vacuum more often. So bite-sized banana pieces it was.

I cut the banana into fairly thin slices, about the thickness of a nickel, more or less. Then I cut them into quarters. I did all of this right on the highchair tray because I'm really big on not using more dishes than strictly necessary.

I snapped the tray into place in front of Ella, and then I put the knife in the sink and pulled a chair around to sit in front of her. She was busy pushing the banana pieces around the tray, which was not at all surprising to me. She was having fun. Or was she?

I sat down opposite her, and I went to pick up a banana piece to eat, because I was making this a shared meal so she'd get the idea that we, as humans, eat things other than the liquid which is squirted out of Mommy's nipples. I identified a banana piece, put my index finger on one side of it, and my thumb on the other. Then I tried to pick it up. Notice I said "tried." As I quickly found out, this was almost an impossible task.

I had no idea that picking a banana piece up off of a plastic tray could be like that scene in the Karate Kid where the old guy is trying to catch a fly with chopsticks. Except in my version, I never got to be like Ralph Macchio and catch one of the damn things.

Those banana pieces were little, frickin' Houdinis! You tried to pick one up, and they just squished right out. Although your fingers could not get any traction on them whatsoever, they were like glue on the plastic highchair tray, except it was some kind of glue that allowed them to slide all over the place. It was really quite funny.

I couldn't even pick one up, and here this was supposed to entice Ella to eat. It was kind of like, "Here, doesn't this look good? Don't you want one? Just kidding! Ha ha!"

I finally forced the banana bits onto a butter knife and ate them. Ella watched suspiciously and then demanded to be taken out of the highchair. Can't say I blamed her.

Monday, May 22, 2006

All About Food

Last week was one of those crazy weeks where I felt sick the entire time, and my partner was out of town, and the baby refused to sleep, and it was just madness, I tell you. Madness! But now it's a new week, and it's time to re-dedicate myself to this blog. On top of that, I'm going to assign a theme to this week, and the theme is food.

I've been meaning to write about food for a while, because it's become something of an issue. Ella seemed really into her first meal. I thought that she was going to just chow down from there on out and not stop. I was actually afraid that she might wean from breastfeeding, and the reason that scared me a bit was because I also intend to breastfeed the Expected One, but that is premised on the fact that I'll still have milk. So the idea that I might be dried up before the Expected One got here was concerning to me. (I'm not going to go into the whole thing about breastfeeding Little Two because that's a post to itself. Basically, both my partner and I will both breastfeed him/her, and this will keep me from having to make bottles all day long and my partner from having to pump at work.)

Well, I need not have worried. Ella is far, far from weaning. In fact, she barely eats anything other than breastmilk. She seems to have no interest whatsoever in the food we offer her. We've managed to go through about ten different foods, and her favorites are prunes and pears. But even those, she'll reject as soon as eat.

At her nine month check-up last week, I talked to the nurse practitioner (who we saw because our regular doctor is out on maternity leave) about what's been going on with food. She said we can move onto finger foods, and I think that Ella might prefer them. She likes to do things on her own as opposed to having things happen to her, like having clothes put on her, or her diaper changed, or food being put in her mouth.

Then I read an article that basically said to let your baby feed him/herself from your plate. (Obviously, it's more involved than that, and if you are interested in the details, by all means, read the article.) So I'm going to do that. The big problem with this method is that I eat a lot of crap, and I would never let Ella eat the kind of sugary/salty/processed junk that I eat. So now I've got to eat better, too. Damn kids.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Nine Month Letter

Dear Ella,

You are nine months old now, and more fun and more determined than you’ve ever been before. Just the other day, I heard you burst out laughing in the back room, where you were with Ima. You were laughing so hard that I had to call back and find out what was going on. Apparently, Chester was asking for water by pushing his empty bowl around with his nose, and you found that hysterical. I love the ease of your laugh and the ease of your smile.

As far as your determination, I am now more convinced than ever that you will skip crawling. You show absolutely no interest in it whatsoever, and now you can walk with competence while holding onto our fingers. You can stand completely on your own, and you’ve made some efforts to walk on your own, except that when you do that, you don’t move your feet at all. Instead, you lead with your head, and that means that you are not moving forward unless you consider a head-dive to be a forward movement. Of course, we’re always right there to catch you, so the head-dive never completes itself. This is often a scary moment for anyone who happens to be watching. For instance, yesterday we were at the doctor’s office for your nine month check-up, and I said, “She can stand on her own,” and then you stood on your own and the nurse was very impressed. As you stood there, it became clear that you wanted to move, so she said, “She might take her first step. How exciting!” Then you moved your head in the direction you wanted to go, your feet firmly planted, so of course you fell forward towards the hard, tiled surface of the office floor. The nurse gasped as I reached around you and snatched you up, safe from harm. I’ve been successful thus far, but I have to admit that I’m afraid for the day I won’t be there when you do that, because I have very little doubt that day will come. I just hope it comes when there is a nice, deep, soft carpet for you to land on.

One other very noticeable thing that you’ve been up to this past month is growing hair. Every day, it seems like there is more and more of it. It is thicker and longer, and that development could not have come at a better time because you have also figured out how to remove your hat, and now that you know that, it is your mission never to wear a hat again. It is warm enough, most days, for you to go hatless, but I worry about you getting a sunburn on your head. So grow, hair, grow! Fill in and protect your cute scalp from the sun.

We get out most days and enjoy the world around us. You have a tan on your cheeks and nose, and if someone didn’t know better, they might think you were a little farm baby instead of a city girl. Now that we are getting into short-sleeve weather, you will certainly have an official farmer’s tan sooner rather than later. I can’t wait to spend all those days in the sunshine with you.


Sunday, May 14, 2006

Basically, My First Mother's Day Annoyed Me

I wrote very recently that my aunt made the mistake of saying that this Mother's Day was "almost" my partner's first, the almost being because she hasn't given birth to Little Two yet. My aunt had not thought of my partner as being a mother to Ella. I was aggravated by that. No, that's not fair. I was pissed. How could she be so unthinking? So inconsiderate? So ignorant? I mean, how complicated was this? There is a baby with two parents. The two parents are women. Women who are parents are called mothers. Hence, Mother's Day applies to both. Is this rocket science? You, my straight readers, could you have come up with this realization on your own? Or would the thought never have occurred to you that my partner is a mother and therefore entitled to Mother's Day?

So my aunt pissed me off because I thought that the above logic was pretty obvious. But now I'm thinking, maybe I shouldn't have been so angry with her. My partner's own parents didn't think she qualified for Mother's Day! I was shocked. I mean, I can see how someone might not think about my partner if they were "my" people, i.e. my family and friends. But her own family? Not to think this through? Not to realize her role with Ella? I was shocked. These people are completely, 100% okay with the fact that their daughter is gay. They have always been more than welcoming and never been anything less than supportive of our relationship and our little nuclear family. So it's not about that. They're not in some kind of denial.

So rather than basking in the glow of another day on the calendar when I get presents (yippee!), I was rudely interupted several times with stupid people. I would answer the phone, and the person on the other end--my partner's mother or father (who were divorced a long time ago, so these are two totally separate conversations)--would wish me a happy Mother's Day. After some chit-chat, I would get ready to hand the phone over and say something like, "Now you can wish the same to your daughter," and they'd say, "Well, next year." Then I would be forced to correct them, and I was as polite as I could be, but believe me, I wanted to say, "Stop being an imbecil and think for a second!" To top it all off, I think her father actually expects the kids to call one of us Dad! I can't even wrap my head around that one!

I wonder if this is extra confusing to people because my partner is pregnant right now. If she weren't, would people be making this deliniation between who's a mother and who is not? I think maybe not. But maybe they would anyway.


So, as I said, I spent the vast majority of Mother's Day being annoyed. And in addition to that, I spent the evening lying in bed with a fever and throwing up my dinner. In other words, Mother's Day sucked the big one. Except that I did get a very cool present from my partner, and I also gave her a great one too.

Presents help.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Swimming With the Fishies

Now that it is the weekend and there is increased staffing at Chez Oz, I am able to tell of the harrowing experience I had this past Thursday.

It all started a couple of weeks ago. One of moms in my moms group, Tracy, is in training to be a doula. Before you can be certified as a doula, you have to go to a training and then have at least 15 hours of experience with at least three different women in active labor. One of Tracy's friends was pregnant and due on May 5, and Tracy was going to go to the birth and assist in her doula-in-training capacity. Sounds good, right?

But here's the thing. Tracy is in my moms group because.... she's a mom! Of a baby the same age as Ella, a boy named Aaron. So what to do with him? Ask Oz to watch him, of course! And for some unknown reason, when she asked me to do this a couple of weeks ago, I said yes. Sure. Why not? And you know what Tracy did? She took me seriously!

On Thursday, at 6:30am, our phone rings. Time to watch Aaron. Not even, time to watch him in half an hour while we come over there so that you can mentally process this fact through your sleepy, dazed thoughts. Time to watch him NOW. Tracy was already with the birthing woman. Her husband (who had to go to work) was sitting outside of our house with Aaron.

I opened the door, Aaron was dropped off. And then there were two babies. My mind started to implode. WHAT HAD I BEEN THINKING? There were two babies. Initially, it seemed okay because there were two of us adults there too. My partner doesn't go to work until 8am. But my mind kept racing forward to the time when it would be just me (i.e. one) and them (i.e. two). At that point, my brain froze in place and I could not think at all.

I'd been supposed to have lunch with my mother that day, and to do that, I had told my moms group that I wouldn't be there (we meet on Thursdays). As I thought of the logistics of getting two infants on a train, downtown, to a restaurant, and back home, I quickly changed my mind. The idea of being surrounded by five other moms (also a familiar environment to Aaron) seemed like a much better option. I'd do that, which would take up a few hours, but what about the rest of the day?

I convinced my partner to go into work half an hour late, which meant she would be home until 8:30am. As that time got closer, it became clear that Ella wanted to go to sleep, but she couldn't because the presense of Aaron was too exciting. As for Aaron, he was also getting sleepy, and honestly, I had no idea how to get him to go to sleep. That's when an amazingly brilliant thought (if I do say so myself) occured to me: Put them both in the car and drive, drive, DRIVE.

Quickly, I installed Aaron's carseat in our car, then we loaded them in, and I gave my partner a ride into work just to have a destination. I also put everything in the car that we could possibly need for the day, because I realized we might not come back to the house until after the group met. Luckily, both babies fell asleep in the car (big sigh of relief). After dropping my partner off, I decided to head to the King of Prussia Mall. Babies love malls. Lots to look at, no time to be miserable. Sounded like a good solution to kill time before the moms group met up at noon.

I pulled into the mall parking lot at 10:00am. Both babies had woken up, and I was gritting my teeth and getting ready to make a go of it. I put Aaron in our stroller and was about ready to strap Ella into the Ergo when my cell phone rang. It was Tracy! Hallelujah!

Her friend had already given birth. I had to run into the mall to grab a present for my mother, but as I knew exactly what and where it was, Tracy and I made plans to meet within half an hour at a cafe near the birth center where her friend had delivered.

So in the end, I never really had two babies all by myself. My partner was with me until they fell asleep, and the short, short time I had them in the mall didn't amount to much.

Earlier, when I had called my mother to cancel our lunch plans, she'd said to me, "This will be good practice for you, having two babies to take care of." And while it is true that we're going to have two babies here, it's not really the same thing. A newborn and a pre-toddler who have grown up together and know their surroundings, the people who are taking care of them, and how things work in a household is quite a different thing from two pre-toddlers who aren't on the same schedule, etc., etc.

So that experience really didn't seem like practice. Unless by practice, you mean something like rowing out to the middle of a lake, throwing someone over who doesn't know how to swim, and saying, "This will be good swimming practice for you."

Friday, May 12, 2006

Destiny's Shoes

I actually have a very interesting post to write, but I don't have any time to do it. Oh well, too bad for you.

In other news, I recently found a pair of baby shoes online, and now I wonder if I must buy them. After all, they were named after me.

See Kai Run: Oz

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Rolly Baby

First of all, is it "rolly" or "rollie"? Well, whichever it is, she's doing it, and she does it mostly at night. This is, perhaps, because it is the only opportunity she has to do it. All day long, she's upright working on that walking nonsense. And much like I assume I will feel when she starts walking on her own, I'm starting to wonder if encouraging her to roll over was a good idea after all.

Since we co-sleep, I now find myself, more often than not, feeling the rat-tat-tat of her little hands and feet against me. She used to get me every now and then, but as long as I stayed out of her arm-span, I was safe. Now the concept of "arm-span" is a mute point. She rolls this way; she rolls that way; and before you know it, she's right up against me, rat-tat-tat. And I guess the deal with being the Mommy means that I get all this attention. My partner gets off scot free! Lucky bitch girl.

The good news is that I finally ordered the twin bed to go alongside our queen and thereby increase the sleeping space. In co-sleeping circles, we have entered into the realm of the "super-bed." I like to think that this means I'll be able to get some sleeping space, but I'm very afraid that the little tike is just going to keep rolling after me....

Sunday, May 07, 2006

A Sense of Direction

Ella can stand independently now. It was no fluke two weeks ago. But now that she can do it, she doesn't see much point in it. I mean, what's more boring than just standing still somewhere? Especially when there's an entire world out there to explore and discover and to put into your mouth? So usually when I get her to stand on her own, she'll do so for a short time, and then she'll smile at me and fall face forward into my body. So much for that she says.

Walking, on the other hand, shows more promise. She's not doing that on her own yet, and I am thankful--SO THANKFUL--for that. We are not in any way ready for her to move around of her own volition. But, nonetheless, we cannot deny the fact that independent walking is coming sooner rather than later.

She's been practicing walking for quite some time now. I know I've mentioned many times before that (assisted) standing and walking are her favorite activities. It used to be that she just wanted to walk. We'd give her our fingers, and she'd walk towards us. Slowly, we'd scoot back on our behinds to give her another foot or so to work with. And that was the way it went, from one side of the room to the other, Point A to Point B. Then we'd turn her around, face her back where she came from, and she'd return to Point A and then start the entire process over again. The destination was not the objective. It was getting there that mattered.

Not anymore.

Now she wants to go there. She wants to get to that thing. And she wants to get there quickly, too. No more scooting on our asses. Uh-uh. We are walking backwards in front of her or walking behind her with our fingers out front. Have I mentioned that I have a bad back, and this isn't helping anything? And my partner is 7 months pregnant, and hunching over isn't exactly on the top of her list of things to do?

To top it all off, Ella is not understanding or appreciative of the sacrifices (read: our backs) we are making for her. She has the nerve to get frustrated when either of us does not understand her cues and therefore does not put our fingers/walking apparatus in the right direction. Or, heaven forbid, we actually prevent her from going towards the object of her desire--an open can of paint, for instance. Let's just say that she's not 2 years old yet, but I think we're getting a sneak preview.

Since Ella has figured out that she can play with more things that those things that are within 18 inches of her, it's a whole new ballgame. She wants TO MOVE. She has an agenda. And we, her faithful servants, had better get cracking on this baby-proofing thing.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Eight Teeth

Back on track. Eight months old, and eight teeth. She's only got 10 days left of being eight months old, so she got this tooth in under the wire. Whew!

In all seriousness, I'm a little bit nervous about what comes next: molars. Babies are supposed to like them even less than the front teeth, and the front teeth coming in hasn't exactly been a picnic. The books say that they get about four teeth every four months once they start. Ella has gotten eight teeth in five months. I'm afraid. Very afraid.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Who's Who

We've been asked several times what names Ella will call us. Heck, that's a question that we ask our procreating lesbian friends, too. It's fun to hear what people are coming up with and why. So I certainly don't mind the question. It seems like most lesbians out there are using Mom/Mommy for one mother and Mama for the other. More power to 'em. We didn't go that route because those two names are too close, in my opinion. We wanted to use Mom/Mommy, and for the other name, we decided to go with something that doesn't start with the letter M, and that's how we ended up with Ima.

Ima is actually the Hebrew word for "mother," which is funny because we thought of the name before we knew that. I was playing around with the name Mommy and tried reversing the sounds. Instead of Mom - Y, I tried Y - Ma. We liked it, and then later we found out that Ima was a word for mother, and that finalized it for us.

So I'm used to the questions, "What does Ella call you? What does she call your partner?" What surprises me a little is the question we've heard lately, which is, "What with the new baby call you? What will he or she call your partner?" When I say that he or she will call us the same thing that Ella does, i.e. I will be Mommy and my partner with be Ima, people seem surprised. It's as if they expect "my partner's baby" to call her Mommy and then call me Ima. Only, the new baby is not my partner's baby. S/he is our baby, just the same way that Ella is. They are not different. Ella is not "mine," and the new baby will not be "my partner's." They are ours.

It's sort of along the lines of a comment my aunt made recently when she wrote in an email that this year would be my first Mother's Day and "almost" my partner's, the implication being that since my partner hasn't given birth yet, she's not quite a mother. I found the comment extremely insulting, and what surprises me about it the most is that my aunt's husband is not the biological father of their son. He adopted my cousin after my cousin became an adult, and he's been his only father since he was around six years old. If anyone should understand that biology does not make you into a parent--but rather being a parent makes you into a parent--it should be this aunt of mine.

But, apparently, she also has it in her mind that these two children of ours are not the same. For her, I suppose Ella is more my daughter than my partner's, and Little Two will be more my partner's than mine. And if the fact that she sees my family that way didn't make me so angry, I would feel sorry for her that she can't see who we really are and how we love each other and our children.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

At Last, It's All Working Out According to Plan

Before she was born, I didn't have a lot of expectations of what Ella would look like. I had hoped for a few things, like blue eyes. But I didn't expect much. Except for one thing. Blonde hair. I expected her to have blonde hair. Partly because I have blonde hair, although it's quite dark now and might be crossing that line to brown. But mostly I expected it because most white children have blonde hair when they are very young. Even my partner, who has very dark brown hair had blonde hair until she was about 4 or 5 years old. Not every white baby has blonde hair, but most of them do, and so I expected Ella to have blonde hair for a few years too.

So when she came out with hair like this, I was surprised.

Ella, four days old, our first day home from the hospital

And I mean really surprised. It wasn't until I saw that dark hair that I realized just how much I had been counting on blonde hair. My surprise was so profound that part of me, deep inside, actually questioned for the briefest of moments if she was really mine. It feels weird to admit that, but it's the truth.

Several people told me that her hair might change color, that this dark hair might fall out to be replaced by hair of a different color. I looked at baby pictures of other babies, now blonde who'd had dark hair as newborns. I was even startled to look at my own newborn pictures and see that my hair was actually quite dark when I was born. So maybe, maybe, I'd still end up with the blonde baby after all.

Now, I think I can officially say, she's blonde. Her newborn hair has fallen out and is steadily being replace with "real" hair, and the real hair looks blonde.

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

See? Blonde hair, just like I ordered.