Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Back Where I Started

It was strange to stand at the bus stop, looking back at my house. The air was cool, the snow was gone, and there I was, like nothing had ever happened. It had been 11 months since I last stood in that spot. I was pregnant, it was fully spring, and everything was different. I felt a touch of melancholy and apprehension as I waited. How will the boy do all day without me? How will I do? What will it be like? Will I be able to keep up with his bottle drinking? Will this be worth it?

Because if it were a perfect world, I would not have to return to work, and money would not be an issue. Then again, if it were a perfect world, Pete would not have to work, either, and we could be a little art commune in the middle of the city.

It's not a perfect world.

Before I ever had kids, before I met Pete, during my first marriage, I thought that I would never be able to stand staying home with a kid, but I wanted someone to stay home with the kid. I thought that I would not have the patience. I am stubborn and impatient and resistant to change.

Turns out, I would rather be at home. It's definitely hard, and it's a lot of work, but it's worth it. Having this time at home with Finn has been great for both of us, and it's not like I have an actual "career" to drive me. I have a great situation, don't get me wrong, and if I did not, and I did not like the people I work with so much, it definitely would not be worth it.

But I have found, after all of one day and part of another, that although I miss the baby, and I think about him all the time, I am not feeling crazy or sad. My worries are about he and Dad having a good day, that Finn does not feel too upset. I am not concerned about myself so much. I am a grown up who has plenty of resources for adaptation. It will probably be harder to leave him in a daycare when that happens. Right now, he is at his home, with his Papa, so he's in familiar and secure surroundings. And, so am I, really. Three days a week is not so bad. It's four days in a row at home with him, and that's more than a lot of people get.

It was really weird to stand on that corner, though.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Where have I been?

There's a lot to talk about. Baby food making and storing. Milk production worries. Sitting up unaided (yay, I finally did it!). Spring in Minnesota. Day Care visits, and so much more.

Thing is, I am at my desk, trying to settle in to my first day back at work.

So, yeah, there's that, too.

First observation: when you stay home, you only have to see people doing stupid things on the bus.

Monday, March 23, 2009

This is me, going to bed at 8:06 p.m. while Pete and Finn put the gravy away.

--
"Things do not change; we change."
-- Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Parenthood

It's St. Patrick's Day, and I am in bed, playing solitaire on my iPod
next to a snoring baby.

And one for the Evening

St. Patrick's Day... Musings

"I have lately made a Tour thro' Ireland and Scotland. In these Countries a small Part of the Society are Landlords, great Noblemen and Gentlemen, extreamly opulent, living in the highest Affluence and Magnificence: The Bulk of the People Tenants, extreamly poor, living in the most sordid Wretchedness in dirty Hovels of Mud and Straw, and cloathed only in Rags."
-Ben Franklin, 1771

When we toured Ireland in 2007, that is not what we saw, but it serves to remind that we usually only scratch the surface in our dealings with others.

Resident of Inis Mor, on his way to a party on Inis Meain, plus two tourists.

As you may have guessed, Finn's father's family background is Irish. They have ties to Tipperary, Wexford, Cork, Meath, and oh, so many counties. Finn himself is named after Fionn mac Cumhaill, a hunter-warrior in Irish mythology. He led the Fianna, built the Giant's Causeway, created the Isle of Man, and had two hounds named Bran and Sceolan. We are not holding our Finn up to such expectations.

Knowth, a megalithic passage tomb in County Meath.

We've been collecting children's books for Finn about Finn, as well as literature about the Fianna for the grown-ups to learn more about the history. I think it's cool that there's a story behind his name, and I guess I hope that he will, too.

Poulnabrone Dolmen, The Burren, County Clare

St. Patrick's Day is fun. I get it. Sometimes it's nice to start drinking at 11:00 in the morning on a Tuesday, but take a minute and read some Yeats, or look up a little Irish history, and look into current events. Not to kill your buzz, or anything, I mean, we have the Guinness all year round here in Castle Kittywhumpus. When we went to Ireland, The Storehouse was one of our first stops. I'm just sayin': it's fun to learn something, and the interwebs makes that oh so easy.

The Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary

One for the Morning



Monday, March 16, 2009

Vitamin D Me, Baby...

...or: Hello, Spring!

I know that we are not quite there yet, but yesterday's Long Explore sure made me feel better about the weather. Finn and I met a friend of mine for a neighborhood excursion, and it was in the low 60's. It was gorgeous. Of course, spring in Minnesota is a coy mistress, and it could well snow some more on us, but I'll take the thaw.

You take the good with the bad: I only had to wear a sweater, and Finn was in his lightweight fleece snowsuit, but the neighborhood smells like dog poo. Plus, you can tell where the smokers live. Did you know that cigarette butts are not trash? Apparently not.

(Note to self: clean up dog poo from future dog as it happens, not all in one go on March 15. If I can have my taxes done in February, I can do this.)

We are now coming into a time that is very precious to those who live in northern climes: the time when we no longer need to worry about rickets.

Rickets?

Isn't that one of those old-timey sounding diseases like scurvy, that only standing armies in colonial times got from poor provisions? Nope. Rickets is Vitamin D deficiency.

(Begin ironic sarcasm) Nowadays, we usually reserve such things for poor people in bad neighborhoods (end ironic sarcasm).

Now that it is warmer, we can expose skin to sun without fear of it freezing and breaking off, and that includes FinnFinns.

At Finn's last pediatrician appointment, she asked about supplements, and I had to confess that I am no longer giving him any, and have not for some time. To my surprise, so did not comment on the lack of iron, she commented on the lack of Vitamin D. I have been supplementing myself to get that extra bit into the boob and into the boy, but it was not until this past week that she told me that I need to have at least 4,000 IU's per day for that to work.

This is information I feel would have been helpful back in August of 2008 when I first asked about this.

See, I had done this wacky thing where I read the label on my Vitamin D and chose one with a mid-range dosage that did not slap me upside the head with seven thousand times the recommended daily allowance. Because More Vitamin does not necessarily equal better.

Breast fed babies in northern climes who do not receive much sunlight can be at risk for Vitamin D deficiency, but even so, it seems that babies rarely need supplementation. Again, as with iron, the Vitamin D count in breast milk is small, but it's easily absorbed. And if you and baby are getting outside enough, it's probably not going to be a problem. Two hours is the required weekly amount if only the face is exposed or, about 17 minutes a day. The more skin you expose, the shorter the amount of time. Because the body stores Vitamin D, you don't necessarily need to get sunshine on your shoulders every single day.

(That's the new backpack. More on that later.)

Before you start harping about skin cancer and sunscreen, read on. Babies and grown ups don't need to be burning themselves to a crisp to get their Vitamin D. Because the body stores it, and you don't need that much time, you won't be putting yourself at risk if you are sensible (which is really good advice for anything. Moderate and be sensible). Just have the sunscreen handy if you are going to be out for a long time. And when you buy the sunscreen, make sure it's safe. (Here's a general post on bad things in cosmetics.) According to Dr. Alan Greene, when it comes to sunscreen, many of the chemicals used are "estrogen-like," which seems bizarre, and those estrogenic active ingredients show up in the blood. It does not seem to have a hormonal effect on adults, but there's no research on how it affects the babes or kids. Because babies have 3 times the relative surface area of an adult, and their skin is more absorptive, chemical concentrations in babies are probably much higher.

Stay away from nanoparticles, which quickly permeate the skin. Try a natural mineral sunscreen. These sunscreens use a physical block such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide to keep out the UV rays. I just bought some Baby Avalon Sunscreen for the boy. We'll give that a try if he's out more than the recommended time dosage of sun.

Like today. It's 65 degrees. I just went out and ran errands in a short-sleeved shirt and no jacket, looking for organic seed starting mix.

It's just around the corner, people.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Hey, Kool-Aid!

It's always nice to read a headline like this when one is in the market for a day care:

"Kids mistakenly drink wiper fluid at Ark. day care"

Let's count the things that are wrong with that story, aside from the headline itself:

1. Why would you drink something that blue?
2. Where do you keep your wiper fluid?
3. Why would a day care be giving kids Kool-Aid?
4. Americans don't know what real food is.
5. Doesn't wiper fluid have a distinct non-fruity odor?

I am never going to find child care.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Yeah. We're insane here.

It's March 12 in Minnesota.

This morning, it was -5 .

The house finches outside in the wire must be pissed.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

He's Onto Us: 9 Month Appointment

That last Synagis shot did it. He knows.

Today was Finn's 9 month appointment. They have little physicals every three months, though we brought him in every month for weight checks for his first few months at home, just to make sure he was progressing. These appointments take a little more time, and this is when they ask their development questions.

This month, it was pincer grasp, waving, giving and taking objects, crawling, solid food, and pulling himself up. I was rather dreading the solid food question, but when the nurse asked, I said "He loves his fruits and vegetables," and that was the last mention of it. Fortunately, they are looking at him and what he is doing rather than what we are doing to him. If he were exhibiting signs that something was wrong, then they could talk to us about what we are doing to him.

We had to say "no" to waving, giving, and crawling, but his pediatrician is not concerned about it, and neither am I. We work on those things, and I think that once he catches on, he'll catch on in a big way.

"You look a little tired," Dr. K. said to him.

He has a little cold, a little bit of congestion, which I have been watching. It could be that or teething or something else that has given him (and me) two relatively sleepless nights in a row, and two before that which were interesting. He would fall asleep for a little while and then wake up and scream. Dr. K. said that the teething can be worse when the teeth are coming down, rather than when they are actually cutting through. She thinks he's about a month out from cutting.

His head is on the curve, which means his big old brain is getting bigger and progressing as it should, and he's still on the curve for weight to length ratio. He's following the curve in length for age and also in weight for age. She's pleased with all of that. She does not expect him to "catch up," necessarily, she expects him to progress.

He's 2 feet, 1.75 inches tall, weighs 15 pounds, 4 ounces, and his head is 17.01 inches around.

The moment I laid him down on the paper-covered table to get his sleeper and undershirt off, he started crying. Yup. He's onto us. He remembers now that shots happen when you lay down on that thing. And, we did not disappoint him. He had his last shot in the first round of DTaP. We had to go with the brand they carry because we can't get the Daptacel anymore, but she said that there was not a problem if the drug product is different. I'll just keep an eye on him for a couple of days, like I normally do.

He also had his first blood test since we brought him home from the hospital, for lead and iron. I am glad that they are doing this as iron has been harped on so much. We have not been supplementing him as we were told to do, so I am quite curious to see what his levels are.

They did a finger prick to get two little vials of blood. He cried for the prick, but then he seemed quite interested in what they were doing.

Squeeze the finger, scrape the blood into the vial, repeat.

They took two of these. One for lead and one for iron. I would be happy to explain to him how much blood was taken out of me in my first few prenatal visits, if he were interested, but he seemed fine.


He's a good boy. He can stay another week.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My breast pump is saying "wanna play? wanna play? wanna play?" which is just plain creepy.

Monday, March 9, 2009

no shot

That was the last Synagis! No more Synagis! We don't have to go back for Synagis!

Most excellent.

Size Matters

There's something you really, really should know if you are having a baby:

This goes really fast.
It's really hard.
But it goes really fast.
Pay attention. Take lots of pictures and video. It will speed by you, and it will be difficult to remember. Even when you are thinking you can't do it anymore, you are too tired, it's too much, it's going on too long, remember: it will be over too soon, and you will miss it. They are only babies for such a very short time. I have lost the sense memory of what he was like when he was in the hospital, of how small he was still when he came home. I only have flashes now and then when I note how big he is getting, and it feels different for just a moment.
Pay attention.

And this is coming from someone whose baby has woken up screaming the past two nights, is quite tired, and needs to get back to her breast pump. When it gets too much, I remember that this is a fraction of his life, and he needs me now like he never will again.

August 18, 2008. Finn had been home one week.
March 8, 2009. The baby that ate Finn.
Handprint and hand.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

If it's not one thing, It's the same thing

There's a level to having a baby that is sheer monotony. It's survival. Tedium. Getting from one day to the next. You start to feel like it's ultimate futility due to its sameness. You go through this week's daily routine, thinking "just two more hours until Pete comes home and then I can..." Fill in the blank. And that blank is usually filled in with chores because you have stuff to do. It would be nice to kick back and read or just sit and knit and not think about the dishes or the Christmas Crap that still needs to be put away, but that Crap needs to be put away, and those dishes are not going to wash themselves.

Often, you feel like you are just getting by, especially if you are at home. If you are thinking that your job is the same thing after the same thing and having a baby will shake things up, it will. You will have a new tedium, except this one will have more poop.

Less sleep weirder dreams different worries more crying. You will understand that life exists to perpetuate itself and that any other meaning we heap onto it is just us, trying to make ourselves feel better.

Ok, maybe that's just me.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Big Shot

This may have been Finn's last Synagis shot for RSV protection. They are not sure if we have to come back in May or not.
He's 15 pounds, .7 ounces, which put him just over the one-syringe limit. Yup. He had to have two shots. The nurse confirmed what we thought: these syringes are longer than normal. And, I think, bigger in general.

Awesome.

For the sake of those of you who might be wondering or who might have forgotten, we took a video of the process.

Warning: there's boob in here.
But it's mine, not Pete's, so don't worry.

You go ahead. I can't watch.
video

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Showered

From the little reading I have done on the subject, The American Baby Shower really came into its own during the Baby Boom. The "traditional" shower is women only (birth is women's work), playing assorted games and sitting around in a circle watching the pregnant woman open gifts. As far as "rites" go, this one is not a favorite of mine. Though this quote from the Encyclopedia Britannica is heartily amusing:

"Rites directed toward the newborn similarly symbolize or ensure health and well-being and, after some days, weeks, or months have passed, often include Baptism or other ritual acts that introduce the child to supernatural beings."

First of all, I picture a bunch of strangers, all pointing their Rites at a baby. Secondly, "introduc[ing] the child to supernatural beings?" Now THERE'S a party I want to attend. Thor, delicately drinking tea with his pinky up, saucer perched in his calloused hands. Anubis chewing away on the haunch of a young gazelle. Zeus, hitting on the underage cousin of the dad. Pan, humping the baptismal font. Yahweh, arguing with himself in a corner. It's all so Tom Robbins.

I recently attended a baby shower for a friend who is due this coming April. I went back and forth about whether or not I would go, and only decided when I was assured that there would be no "active games" and that there would be drinking (although when the words "Bloody Mary" were bandied about, I brought a six pack of Guinness because that's how I roll. Bloody Marys are the alcoholic cocktail of, well, I would say "The Devil," but he's at a baby shower at the moment. With a Bloody Mary.) I also decided that I should go because:

1. I should get over myself already, and
2. It wasn't about me.
(plus, I found that there was a suburban yarn store conveniently perched by the highway on the route home).

The socializing part was good: bacon and Guinness at 11:00 in the morning? Sign me up! And the only game consisted of little blue clothespins that were given to you upon entering and then taken away when you said the word "baby." I did not get a clothespin when I entered, and when someone asked me about it, the word "game" came up, and my heart started racing. Christine told me to say "baby" and it would all be over, and even THAT made me nervous, so I did not want to do it. A few seconds passed, I said "baby," and I was done.

(Yes, that is how weird I am about organized fun.)

Then came the gift giving. At this point, I would have been melting with mortification. No gift is worth suffering this kind of ignominy.

But it's probably just me.

While I did not have Finn three months early to get out of having a baby shower, one must always look for the bright side. The proverbial silver lining.

Those silver linings were: curtailing the baptism question, the circumcision discussion, and the baby shower debacle. Plus, I can always say "Well, he was a preemie," sighing and nodding my head knowingly, when people ask why I am doing something the way that I am doing it. Co-sleeping? He was a preemie. Staggered vaccination? He was a preemie. Exclusive breastfeeding, no solids until after 6 months adjusted? He was a preemie. Family day care? He was a preemie. No baby shower? I had no third trimester.

Really, I am just a wimp who hates confrontation and fears judgment, and if I can use the baby to shield myself from difficult situations, I'll do it as long as he has no idea.

Or until he lets me get more than five hours of uninterrupted sleep.

(No, he's not sleeping through the night; Yes, we had the same night last night that we had the night before; and Don't Worry, I will tell you when he sleeps for longer than five hours at a stretch.)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

New Face

Little Man has discovered that he can chew on his own lips.

Expired Milk

This means something different to a nursing mom.
At least, it does to someone who had an entire chest freezer full of breast milk.

Had.

Having that chest freezer full of breast milk made me lazy. The way we did things for a while was only possible because of our surplus. Once that started to wane, I started to pump again because I could tell that we were not going to get through all we had before it expired, and I began to worry about what would happen when I went back to work part time.

Finn has not been getting as many bottles because I have been keeping him all night, and I have no idea how much he eats in a day because you can't really measure when it's from the boob.

Then dad came to help, and one day, even though I was here, we did bottles. He drank 13.19 ounces in bottles and I pumped only 7.4 ounces. Clearly, I am going to need to step up the pumping operation if I go back to work part time.

Now, even though dad is here, I have been nursing and pumping to build up some stock. It makes dad feel like he's not doing enough, but I keep saying that it's still very good to have help. I don't get behind on the dishes, I do laundry, bake, cook, clean, write, read, and knit. I even made it to a meeting once.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Big Red Barn

This is another title from Margaret Wise Brown, the author of "Good Night Moon," and, much like that classic... or modern art... it makes one think: "I could do that." Especially when one considers that the author did not also draw the pictures. Then again, had I written that book, or been Jackson Pollock, you would probably have to pay for this blog, and I would not have to worry about work.

"Big Red Barn" is a list book, much like "Good Night Moon." I won't be giving anything away if I tell you that it takes place in a barnyard. There are no humans, nor are there any human dwellings, so one must assume that the animals are all self-feeders, self-cleaners, and that they exist in a sort of Orwellian society, except without the allegory and Stalinist overtones. Small humans are alluded to, in that they sometimes play in the hay, but, conveniently, "the children are away."

I suspect that the illustrator cannot draw people, especially the hands.

The cast of characters offers no surprises, nor do their activities, which would prepare one for a visit to an idyllic farm, but do not make for a riveting tale. However, as this was originally published in 1956, and modern American children are not even aware that carrots grow in the ground, it may be quite interesting to an older child who will most likely only see these animals in a petting zoo.

The only action occurs when is a field mouse is born in the first quarter of the tale (there are no graphic illustrations). It's nail-biting Drama. But it, too, is not realistic. How often is a single field mouse born?

Pigs, horses, sheep, donkey, geese, goats, roosters, chickens, pigeons, cows, cats, and dogs all live together in or near the big red barn, blithely unaware of the fact that some of them are ham, some are Christmas dinner in a Dickens novel, some are for roasting, some are steak, and some are never to be fertilized. At least on a real farm. There is a cat and her kittens as well as a tomcat. Of course, on a real farm, if the tomcat were not the father of the kittens, he would probably kill them. This is not mentioned.

There is much frolicking in the fields, mud, and hay. All the live long day.

Until it becomes dark, and they all put themselves to bed. At which time, we return to the dangling story of the mice, who appear to be fine, as they are playing in the hay.

All in all, "Big Red Barn" is a colorful book, with simple words and phrases, that is probably only suitable for children.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

LOOK AT MY BABY!!!

Pete is a baby-picture-shower.

I am not.
insert gratuitous baby picture
It's ironic, seeing as how I have this blog, on which I post pictures of my baby, but that's your choice. You can look at them or not. It's when I am out and about, talking to people, that I do not show pictures. I usually have pictures with me on my iPod, but I only get them out if people ask. And people usually only ask as a courtesy, because they know that parents want to show them-- that is why I ask. It's not because I care about other people's babies. I have been known to show a hospital preemie picture because people find it hard to imagine what it looks like, but that is more like showing someone a picture of a two headed dog fetus: it's something they have not seen before, and it's hard to visualize.

I suppose some people ask because they want to show their own baby pictures in return, and then each parent returns to his corner thinking "My baby is so much cuter."
That's what Pete does.

Which is as it should be.

Especially after a few pints.

p.s. It just occurred to me that, of course I don't show pictures. I am always in the house, with the baby. I am the one who takes the pictures. The only time I am out is for errands, generally. Who cares at the co-op? (Pete showed pictures at the co-op) Even so, I still don't think I would do it.