Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Things You Don't Need

In many cases, what you need and don't need are a product of your parenting style. This list is partially a reflection of our choices thus far. We are cloth diapering, exclusive breast milk, babywearing, co-sleeping people who are vaccinating our baby on a slightly different schedule than normal babies.

This list is also by no means exhaustive, and I will probably be adding to it as I go.

You baby is probably not expected on a movie set in the near future, nor does he or she have a job interview coming up. Outfits are cute, but they are not practical. Finn has worn one "outfit," and that was for Election Day. (I want him to have proper respect for American Democracy.) It was adorable, and it bunched up weirdly (the outfit, not the election) and necessitated the use of the next item on the List of Superfluity.

"Like socks on a baby" should be a cliche simile for ultimate futility, e.g. "Building a house on this active faultline, near an ocean cliff, is like putting socks on a baby." I suppose if you were extremely trusting, or foolish, that could also be termed "optimistic." Now I know why Suri Cruise never had shoes on when she was first out and about. It wasn't just because her parents are eccentric (as they are rich, they are not called "crazy," though I don't think that rule really applies when it comes to celebrities. See: Courtney Love, Crazy.) Babies in shoes or socks will just leave a trail of footwear like Hansel and Gretel's breadcrumbs. Baby socks are something that adults want to buy because they are small and freaking adorable. We have handfuls of socks. I did not buy a single one of them. Socks will only stay on if they come up to baby's knees, and even then, it's minutes, not hours.

Hats of the Cotton Beanie Variety
Make friends with a knitter, and have him or her knit you up a few cute leetle hats out of stash yarn, in different sizes. You'll be all set. We have a grillion leetle cotton hats, and we don't use them. Newborns wear little hats in the hospital, and maybe for a couple of days once they come home, but after that, they are unnecessary. Again, these are a cute frivolity, like decorative statuary or female Alaskan governors. In winter, you need hats (see: Find a Knitter), and we also have a sun hat and a rain hat. We're set.

Burping cloths
Buying something sewn and sold expressly as a burping cloth is money that could be better spent elsewhere. Of course, we use cloth diapers because, well, we use cloth diapers. They are inexpensive, numerous, and absorbent. If you have a barfer, you will go through a lot of these in a day, and they certainly don't need to be cute or fancy. Baby does not care about horsies and bears on his puking surface. It just gets in the way of creative expression. Provide him with a blank canvas.

Disposable Diapers
OK, this is where I start to impose my parenting choices onto you, the reading public. But bear with me. I always intended to use cloth diapers because of the environmental concerns regarding disposables. Before you go quoting studies to me, showing that the difference in environmental impact is a wash, remember that one of those studies was commissioned by Procter and Gamble, makers of Pampers and the other was deeply skewed in favor of disposables. If you have a high efficiency washer and dryer and use biodegradable detergent, you are making a huge difference. I know that there are day care issues in that many day cares will not use cloth, but I am hoping that as cloth becomes more common, day care establishments will have to adapt. The money argument doesn't hold water over time as well. There are periodic initial investments in cloth--usually around $200 at each installment, in my experience so far, but if you add up the cost of disposables, one conservative estimate is around $2,700 for about 7,500 total diapers over the course of your child's diapering years. Yum. I don't think that we will even come close to that.

When we brought Finn home, we had a small supply of the crappy Pampers he was in at the hospital (they would have just thrown them away), and I had bought one package of Seventh Generation diapers in the newborn size, just in case we had difficulty getting our system in order. Then, I picked up a second package that was on sale. We still have one left over from the first package, and we never even touched the second.

There are health concerns regarding disposables as well. They contain chemicals to aid in absorption that were banned in the 1980's for use in tampons, and they can emit toluene, xylene, and styrene (Healthy Child, Healthy World by Christopher Gavigan), which babies don't need to breathe. Also, as the absorptive chemicals (sodium polyacrylate gel) mean that baby does not feel the wetness, they are not changed as often, which can lead to more rashes and can extend toilet training in some instances.

Sure, I guess it's a personal decision, but cloth diapering is not hard, not too expensive, not too time consuming, and I'd be happy to talk about cloth diapers with anyone who is interested in using them, but thinks it's not going to work out.

Fancy Diaper Bag
These things are huge, ugly, and often expensive. You don't need it. When we go out, it's with the felted bag I knitted, and in it I have a change of clothes, burpie diaper, cloth diapers, wet bag, travel size diaper cream, wipes and wipe solution, a changing blanket, and an extra blanket and hat. Sounds like a lot, but it fits in this small bag (the black one):

I also put my wallet, phone, and teeny camera in there. It doubles as my purse.

Fancy Crib
You could take out a loan to create a nursery only to find that your baby will not sleep in it. Again, not to impose a certain parenting style on you, but don't be creeped out by words like "attachment" and "co-sleeping." I know I was when I first started reading about having a baby, and I know I had my opinions on what parents should do. Everyone does. Finn will nap in his moses basket or in his swing, but he sleeps with us. He does not have his "own room," and he won't for the foreseeable future.

When your baby comes home or arrives, you need diapers, receiving blankets, a place for him to sleep, things for her to wear, and a pediatrician (they won't let you leave without one)... your baby does not care about bunny wall paper or the perfect nursery suite. That's all you. What baby needs most is care and comfort. After (hopefully) nine months of warm gushy security, it's a cold, hard world. Snuggle with them while you can, so when they are teenagers and they hate you, you have happy memories upon which to draw, keeping you from wringing their necks.

Even if it is frustrating at the beginning, breastfeeding really is better for them and, in the long run, better for you, because it gives them protection against illness. It's also cheaper and quicker than making bottles and buying formula.

I pumped exclusively for 2.5 months and then got a 5 pound preemie onto the breast. Anything is possible.

You need:
Sleepers (with feet)
Onesies (TM)
Any Other Brands of Single-unit, Crotch-snap Underwear

Patience, the occasional libation, love, support, a good pediatrician, resilience, optimism, the willingness to do your own research and stick to what you think is right for you and your baby, and the ability to both live only in the moment and understand that it will not always be this hard.

Later, it will be a different kind of hard.

every face tells a story.

This is mine.

Friday, December 12, 2008

4:00 a.m. thinking

I blame the hour.

OK, it's not like I really BROKE a resolution. It's still 2008. And after all, I finished the baby sweater, though I chose not to add all the froops and droobles that the pattern called for. He's a baby, it won't fit for long, and he's just going to drool and barf all over it. It's busy enough, anyway, what with all the stripes:

I also got the cardigan off the needles and started it blocking. That left me with just the hat and the needle holder... and the laceweight shawl... on the needles. Technically, I should not have done it, but it was small, the yarn was scraps in the stash, and CAN YOU BLAME ME?!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

send me love and kisses

I won't go so far as to say that online shopping makes you feel loved... but it's not far from it. At least, I love me enough to send me stuff. Just this week, I loved me so much that I sent myself The Civil War on DVD and three skeins of yarn. I followed up the love with some Christmas CD's and... um... more yarn.

I also love Finn enough to send him a snowsuit (red) and some new clothes. He is totally unappreciative.

But the snowsuit is huge and adorable.

Pete's birthday is on Saturday, but I have not ordered any online love for him.

Though when I put it that way, it sounds a little... unmentionable.


We spent Thanksgiving at my parents' house, which is only a couple of hours away. Unless you have a baby, then it's about four hours because you have to stop less than half way there to placate, feed, and change the struggling offspring, and after that, you have to try to remember all the songs you know and then sing them to your mad, mad baby.

It was a great holiday, and it was, indeed, a holiday as I had many willing arms to hold the wee child. I also had a little extra sleeping time as my mother always takes a couple of night-time shifts with Finn, and it was all just generally fantastic, all around.

Then we came home.

We were in Winona for four full days and part of two more, and on Tuesday, when Pete went to work, I was running on only 2 hours of sleep from Monday night. It was like I forgot how to take care of my baby. After a Tuesday night of three hours of sleep, I was a bit of a mess.

Finn came back from our vacation a little more active and talkative. He gets frustrated easier because he's trying to do things and not succeeding, like grabbing objects, so he gets pissy more often and more quickly. I was exhausted and alone with him for the first time in days, and I just became more and more exhausted and felt unable to deal with him. And the more incapable I felt, the more exhausted and frustrated I became, and the more frustrated he became.

We were not a good pair for a couple of days.

I managed to get a few solid nights of at least five hours in, and I felt much better. Days later, I have a new routine for myself, and it involves getting into bed right around ten o'clock, regardless of how I feel or what I am doing, and regardless of whether it is a weekend or not. If I don't get my five hours, I am a mess. I am also putting in my ear plugs so I don't hear him fussing so easily. Pete has it under control for the first part of the night, and that's when Finn usually sleeps the best, from 10 until 1 or 2 and then, after a bottle, until 4 or 5.

This morning, sleepy daddy staggered in with fussy baby at 5:45, which was absolutely amazing. And now, Finn's playing Happy Morning Baby with Pete.

Finn Sounds

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Be It Further Resolved (#3)

The Malabrigo Cardigan...

Be it further resolved that:
I will no longer have more than two projects on the needles or unfinished.*

I will not buy any more yarn from now until June 1, 2009.**

The stripey hat...

I have a cardigan that just needs three more inches of sleeve plus finishing and blocking, a stripey hat to go with the stripey fingerless mitts, a needle case, and a laceweight wrap. Oh, and a baby sweater that just needs finishing.

The needlecase. Even Fritz can't believe it.

That's sad.

I will never be the person who starts one project and finishes it, then starts another project, and finishes it, but at the very least, I can stop being the knitting slut that I am at this moment and whittle it down. I have to leave it at two because that laceweight project won't be finished until Finn graduates from high school. I can wear it to the ceremony.

The baby sweater...

Beyond that, I have two bins and an old suitcase filled with yarn. I should be all set.

*Once I finish the three projects I have on the needles or unfinished at this moment. **I know that I said this before in The Great Yarn Embargo post, but it didn't go so well. I'm done now, really. I am just not allowed to even step foot into a yarn store, apparently, at least not with anything that can be traded for yarn.

The Eternal Laceweight Shawl. I was not even pregnant when I took that photo.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

roll over, beethoven

Pete came home from work early, and I debriefed him on the doctor's appointment. I was digging through my stash yarn when Pete said "Come here honey. Look at what he's doing." I poked my head into the livingroom, and Finn was on his tummy, up on his elbows, head up. Then he dropped his right shoulder and rolled over onto his back.

Just like that.

Advocacy: The Six Month Check-up

* 5/18/2010: Please note that this post was written during my Great Vaccination Fugue, from which I have recovered. Finn will be getting the CDC recommended vaccination schedule from now on.

I am finding out, or continuing to discover, that experts are not going to tell you what to do. You have to ask; you have to do your own research and reading; and you have to check and double check. It's fine with me, but I admit that it is a little surprising. After all, why do we consult experts? Because we expect them to have knowledge that we don't and to disperse that knowledge in a timely manner.

Finn had his six-month check up today. His pediatrician is still very pleased with him, but much like a dental hygienist asking about flossing behavior, when she asked about his tummy time skills, I had to admit to not doing it enough. He hates it. But it's important for his gross motor development, so I'll do it. He'll get used to it. I am to give him 3-4 minutes of tummy time 6-8 times a day. But she says he is very strong, and is quite exceptional. Rationally, I know that she probably compliments all babies, but I have to agree with her. Considering his gestational age at birth, he is, indeed, exceptional.

Today, he is 12 pounds, 13 ounces, 23.75 inches (almost two feet tall!), and his head is 16 inches in circumference. He's approaching the curves on all the charts, and he's right on with his weight to height ratio. He flashed her some nice little smiles and sat and looked around like a good little boy.

He was supposed to have his DTaP booster today, but this is where the advocacy comes in. When he was in the hospital, we agonized over the vaccination issue, finally consenting to the DTaP shot for the whooping cough protection but opting out of the rest of the cocktail until a later date. However, we requested the Daptacel, a brand that contains less aluminum. At the pediatrician, they did not check or ask, but I did. Had I not, they would have given him a different medication. As it stands now, I put them in a quandary because they do not have the medication we require and will have to special order it, and they are not entirely sure they can. If they can't, they are not sure what we are to do. That's helpful.

Also, I had to ask about solid food, she did not bring it up. I was not sure whether or not he is supposed to start solids at six months chronological or adjusted. Turns out, this is one thing that she wants started at his chronological age. Had I not asked, she would not have said anything.

I again find myself at odds with the medical establishment. I don't think he's ready. I think he's getting there, but he's not there yet. He is starting to drool and chew, so the teething process has started. As for what he will start to eat, his doctor recommends iron fortified baby cereal mixed with vitamin C fortified baby juice. Yum. How did we ever survive before factory food production? We survived because our food was not so depleted by over processing. The obsession with iron fortification is especially interesting to me, and when it comes to iron supplements and preemies, they have made me almost paranoid about it.

I don't think it's necessary or even beneficial to always start babies on grains, which is what everyone in America seems to do. At the very least, he will be getting whole foods prepared at home, so I have some research and reading to do on that subject. I have a couple of books specifically about whole foods and making baby food, and I have a few other resources to consult. This will be a very good thing in the long run because it will help me to refine my eating habits, as it will be easier and healthier for me to adapt to his needs.

I am looking for things for us to do together during the day. We have done some infant massage, but I need to get back into that routine. He has enjoyed the parts we have done, and I imagine with his growing desire to be involved, he will continue to have fun with it. Plus, I just bought a mom and baby yoga book, which will hopefully prove interesting and beneficial for both of us.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Observation, Leading to Resolution

I have enough socks.
I have more than enough socks.
Why do I have so many socks?
Why do I still feel like I need to buy socks when I am at Target? Is it just because Target makes you buy things, in general? I understand the $50 exit fee and everything, but does it have to always be in socks and Five Dollar DVD's?

I don't need to buy socks for... a very long time.

I will not buy any more socks for... a very long time. We're not talking epochal or anything, but at least until I don't have two drawers of socks bursting out of my chifforobe.*

*Yes, I wrote "chifforobe," and yes, we have one. No, we are not characters in "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Be it Resolved, Part One

I know it's early December, and I don't have to come up with resolutions until January 1, but I just cleaned out my refrigerator, and I am sick of myself.

I resolve not to waste food. This simple act will take care of the wretched science experiment I just extruded from the ice box. It's expensive, disrespectful, environmentally unsound, and just plain dumb to throw away uneaten food. And it makes me crazy. It has to change. This means better planning on my part and the resolve to follow through and just eat that last bit of soup, even though I am tired of it. I have to think about menus and grocery lists in a more organized manner, and I need to execute those plans in the time I have available to me.

The next two meals are a very yummy shrimp corn chowder and home-made pizza, which I la-la-love to make (and eat). Hopefully, the following two meals will come to me before we have eaten our way through those two meals.

And because that was boring, here's an amusing picture of father and son. Pete's outside right now in the 16 degree sunny, snowy morning, cleaning off the cars, shoveling snow, getting the trash together for a dump run, and putting the glass in the storm door... and he's singing all the while.

He's pretty awesome.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Evolutionarily Speaking

As I was sitting up in bed with The Boy at 4:00 in the morning, wondering why he was awake and if I would ever sleep again, I started to muse about how this makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. How is it helpful to have infants be so helpless for so long?

I soon realized that it's modern life that has screwed with the whole set up. I am guessing that human animals are born so helpless and remain helpless for so long because the only thing we humans have to keep us out of the food chain, i.e. not-get-eaten, is our big ol' brains. We are soft and squishy and relatively defenseless without the brains that allowed us to devise tools and schemes, further allowing us to kill and eat more often than we are killed and eaten. Human infants require human adults to take care of them until they are old enough to eat for themselves, which would have been much earlier than the current age, that seems to be 16, when kids are still expecting mom to get them lunch. That sixteen year old boy would have been out killing and providing for his family in cave times.

The gender division of labor meant something back then, and it made sense. Women have the breasts that feed the babies, so they need to be with said babies. What can they then do to further provide for the family? Strap the baby on and work communally to gather food, which was much more reliable and successful than the man way of going out and killing stuff. But the men were stronger and were not necessary for the baby feeding. They needed to do something to make themselves feel better about that.

The problem comes when value gets attached to this division of labor, and "women's work" is seen as somehow lesser than men's. This seems to me, again, a way for men to make themselves feel better about only being necessary for the sperm part of procreation. Man make fire, kill things. Man provide for family. This better than picking plants. I mean, it must have been rather baffling and magical, all the things that women can do. Making babies out of scratch and all.

I like meat, and if Men want to go out and kill it, I will certainly cook it and eat it. But it's no better or worse than me tending my garden and breast feeding The Boy.

Eh, who knows? This is 4 a.m. anthropological ramblings from a very tired lay person.