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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sleep Issues? Not An Issue.

I am constantly reminded of what a unique child I have when it comes to sleep. Sometimes if I forget and take Princess's exceptional sleeping habits for granted, a sleep-deprived and sometimes bitter mother will take it upon herself to remind me that I could be "blessed" with a child like hers who hasn't slept for more than 56 minutes at a time since birth and refuses to take that sleep in the crib so lovingly (and optimisticly) bought and assembled for him or her before birth.

Tonight, I sat on the couch reading a book while Princess played nearby, not with one of the dozens of entertaining, educational toys she has acquired in her 17 months of life, but with the drab, unexciting drink coasters that she had once again stolen from off the coffee table. It was 7:30 and bedtime was looming on the horizon. Suddenly, she threw the coasters to the floor with an exasperated yell and marched her tiny heinie out of the room. I didn't think much of it as toddlers are often known to engage in bizarre behaviors with absolutely no explanation involved. However, a minute later she came back with the pacifier from her crib in her mouth. Now, she is not allowed to have a pacifier unless she is going to sleep, and she has followed this rule splendidly ever since I caught her snitching her crib pacifier and promptly put her back into her crib for a second nap that afternoon. She didn't sleep, but she definitely got the message, and she hasn't attempted another pacifier robbery since then. Anyway, Princess came back into the living room with the pacifier in her mouth, grabbed my hand and insistently tried to pull me up off the couch (not an easy task as The Hubby will tell you.) The minute I stood up, she took off running down the hallway to her room motioning for me to follow. When we arrived in her room, she stood beside her crib, held her tiny arms above her head, and used the universal baby language (grunting insistently) to tell me she wanted up in her crib. If she had been able to climb into her crib herself, I believe she would've done so and, I would've found her there asleep when I went to find out why she was being so quiet.

Unsolicited Advice:
When Princess was a newborn, she would fall asleep easily in my arms only to wake up the moment her body touched the crib mattress. To lull her back to sleep without picking her back up, I would lay my hand on her chest so she could feel the warmth and then slowly pull it away after she was asleep.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Just Breathe...Yeah Right

I've had asthma my whole life. And I'm not talking about a little wheezing when I run a marathon, I'm talking about not walking from one room in my house to another without my trusty inhaler. I'm talking about the being-allergic-to-everything-that-grows-outside-or-inside, having-an-asthma-attack-because-of-the-weather-no-matter-what-it-is, and occasionally on-death's-door type of asthma. Not fun. But all that pales in comparison to the fact that Princess has asthma too. I don't know if she has asphyixic asthma (where your lungs spontaneously close up for no reason, leaving you to turn blue and gasp for oxygen like a fish out of water) like me or if she has severe allergies to go with it. But that doesn't matter. The point is that I passed on the gene for asthma to my little girl. I can't bear the thought that she will probably grow up unable to run and play with other kids or go anywhere without her "rescue inhaler" or even have a common cold without it causing serious breathing problems. And it's because of me. When I was younger, I often thought about adopting children instead of taking the risk of giving birth to children who would spend most of their lives on the sidelines unable to breathe because of a disease I passed on to them. But after I got married, the desire to have a child with my husband and the high cost of adoption overcame my rationality and now I have my beautiful daughter.

Princess has yet another cold right now. She gets, on average, one a month. The warm mist vaporizer has become another piece of decor in her room and I always have a stash of lotion tissue on hand to wipe her tiny red nose. Runny noses are an everyday occurence in my house. Yes, I understand that most children her age get a lot of colds. I've mostly ignored the comments from people that it seems as if Princess is sick all the time. But when my sister, who has a little boy only six weeks older than Princess and who spends time almost every day with her, mentioned that her son has only had 2 colds this year while Princess is on her 6th or 7th, I had to admit that in the back of my mind, I began to wonder if Princess's ability to read a book about a cold virus and somehow contract said virus is really normal. This will go on my list of questions to ask the doctor that I will inevitably leave lying on my kitchen table when Princess and I head out the door to the pediatrician. But I digress.

Each time Princess gets a cold, her asthma becomes more evident. We haven't had an official diagnosis since it's next to impossible to convince a toddler to "blow out the birthday candles on the computer screen really fast and hard." (A reference to a diagnostic test that any asthmatic or parent of an asthmatic is familiar with) However, having had asthma since I was old enough to breathe, I know an asthmatic cough and wheeze when I hear one. It absolutely breaks my heart to watch Princess's tiny chest heave as she tries to breathe normally. I've learned how to give her a nebtreatment which was not an easy feat as she has a morbid fear of anything that makes a sound similar to a vacuum cleaner and doesn't particularly care for having a mask the size of her head placed over her mouth and nose. But we've succeeded with the help of the beloved pacifier and lots of loud annoying kids' movies. Just today, I saw her playing with a baby doll over by the nebulizer. Princess was panting from lack of oxygen, but she was giving her baby a "nebtreatment". Isn't that precious? Just what every mother wants their child to learn. At least she doesn't cry while giving her "baby" a nebtreatment like I inevitably do.

Unsolicited Advice:
To help Princess when she's hacking away so hard she can't sleep, I give her a teaspoon of corn syrup which helps her coughing. You can use honey for this too, but make sure you NEVER give it to a baby under the age of one because there's a risk of botulism.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Let's All Go To the Zoo!

We went to the zoo yesterday. There's a free zoo a few hours from our house so I decided that we had to plan a trip this summer.

Okay, see if you can keep this all straight. My mom, my older sister (Lelia) and her 18 month old son (Maximus), my younger sister (Squirt), Princess, and I drove to the zoo and met my younger brother, his wife, their 11 month old daughter, and my youngest brother there. So in all, there were 7 adults and 3 children under the age of 2.

We had a lot of fun. We brought my sister's double stroller for Princess and Maximus , but we also brought their safety harnesses so they could walk if they wanted to. I was a little worried about people frowning on us using safety harnesses for the kids, but we actually got a lot of compliments on them. Well, except for my younger sister. As I was strapping Princess's monkey backpack harness on her, Squirt looked horrified. "You mean you're putting a leash on her? You're going to scar her for life!"

I pointed out to her that at least this way, I didn't have to worry about Princess disappearing in the crowd while I was blinking and besides, my older sister and I used to put a child's safety harness on Squirt and pretend she was our puppy and she turned out okay. I knew as soon as I said it, that that may not have been the best argument for me to use to make my point, but hey, when she has a toddler who could probably give Nascar a run for its money, she'll have no problem putting a "leash" on her kid either.

Anyway, we had a ton of fun seeing all of the animals, but the definite favorite of the kids were the fish and the monkeys. They thought the zebras, giraffes, and lions were cool and they seemed to enjoy the tropical forest, too. The staff at the zoo were all really nice too. When we were all still there at 5 minutes after closing, they showed us exactly where the exits were.

Unsolicited Advice:
If you have a little girl, chances are that you have a ton of headbands, hair ribbons, barrettes, etc. Hang an over-the-door shoe organizer on your daughter's door and organize her hair stuff in it. If you're lucky, she might leave it all in there for a day or two before spreading it around the house again.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ketchup Is My New Best Friend

Eating. Should be simple, right? You put the food in your mouth, chew, swallow, and move on. It used to be that way. Until Princess.

First there was breastfeeding. That was an issue right from the start. I'd sit down with her to nurse her and it would end with her just as hungry as before, both of us crying, and milk everywhere.  It wasn't pretty. At first, I pumped with the hospital pump we rented. However, the first weekend after her birth was spent at my in-laws house. I'm naturally a very private person so nursing and pumping had to be done in a room with a door that shut tightly and no admittance to anyone besides my husband. As you know, newborns eat every 27 minutes or so, so I pretty much spent Princess's first months, hidden away from view and isolated from human contact. Anyways, at my in-laws, she absolutely wouldn't nurse, so I would valiantly try, sobbing, for half an hour before passing her off to eager relatives while I pumped her next meal. Wouldn't you know that the pump decided to make its presence known that weekend by squealing so loudly each time the "arm" pulled back that pigs half a mile away answered back. It was a traumatizing experience as I sat in the "good" living room alone with the door closed listening to everybody wonder what that horrible noise was in the next room. I returned the pump on Monday and swore never to pump again. Thankfully, my sister-in-law rescued me by giving me a handy little silicone nipple-like thingamajig that helps babies latch on. If it weren't for that, Princess would've been bottle fed from a week on.

We survived the early days (more like months) of breastfeeding and things were finally starting to go smoothly when we began transitioning to solid foods. Instead of just lifting my shirt and feeding her until she fell off, sated, I now had to figure out what to feed her and how much. I wrote feeding schedules for the first several months of that and passed them on to my sister (who babysits for me while I'm at work), my mother, my mother-in-law, the mailman, and anyone else who came in contact with Princess during a mealtime. Most of them rolled their eyes and tossed the schedule as soon as I was out of sight, but it was so complicated to me, that without the schedule taped to the kitchen table beside Princess's high chair, I was clueless as to what to feed her. Does she get fruit for this meal, or vegetables? Am I making enough cereal? Do I use juice or formula to mix up her cereal at this meal? Yes, I made it more complicated than it needed to be, but that's the way I am. If it's easy, I must be doing it wrong.

Every time I figured out what to feed her and how much, she would either have a growth spurt or be ready to start another type of food. Pureed meats took me a whole week and a half to figure out.

Fast forward to present day toddlerhood. Once I finally got her feeding herself solid foods, I thought I had it pretty easy. Yeah, right. She ate well for a few months, just to lull me into a sense of complacency. I didn't anticipate the way toddlers refuse to eat more than a breadcrumb one day and then gobble down the whole family dinner the next day. Or the way Princess couldn't get enough of sweet peas and ham yesterday, but tries to climb out of her high chair to escape eating the same thing today. I'm a waste not, want not kind of person, but since Princess started eating solid foods, I've thrown out enough food to fill my bathtub...twice. Since Princess is off-the-charts tiny, her pediatrician keeps telling me that I HAVE to get her to eat. I'm seriously considering dropping her off at the pediatrician's doorstep and saying, "Have fun." before leaving to eat a meal where no food is airborne, and no one leaves the table wearing most of their dinner in their hair.

Enter ketchup, my new hero. I remember chuckling at my 2 year old nephew a few years ago when he wouldn't eat anything without ketchup. I never thought that one day, I too would be relying on ketchup to convince my toddler to eat. Out of desperation one day, I squirted some ketchup on Princess's plate and showed her how to dip her food in it. To my surprise and slight dismay, it worked. It worked the next day and the next day and the next. However, her favorite way to eat it is like pudding, dipped up by the spoonful and headed straight for her mouth without the traditional carrier food. So, at a typical meal, she's eating it with her toddler spoon and in between bites, I'm shoveling as many carrots as I can into her mouth before she realizes she's eating them. I tried squirting the ketchup all over her food, but she will only accept it as long as it's in a mountainous mass not touching any of the food on her plate. The magic words to convince Princess to take a bite of food in my house are not, "Open up, please!" or "No dessert if you don't eat your vegetables." or "Eat your food or Mommy's going to have a coronary." Nope. The magic words are, "Look! There's ketchup on your cereal!" So to keep the peace for now, I'm going to keep telling myself that ketchup is made of tomatoes and therefore counts as a vegetable.

Unsolicited Advice:
Use a kitchen dish towel and a bag clip as a bib. It's bigger than the bibs sold in stores (which means more of your kid's clothes will be saved) and is completely washable.

Three Men and a Baby

I've watched the 1980's movie "Three Men and a Baby" before. In case you don't know, it's about 3 bachelors who live together in Manhattan. While one is away in Turkey filming a movie, a baby conceived during a one-night stand with a cast member from a play he was in, is left on the doorstep for his unsuspecting and unprepared roommates to find. When he returns about a week later, he is quite stunned to discover that he's a father, but it doesn't take long for all three men to fall in love with the baby girl and become quite protective of her. Then, the baby's mother returns to take the baby to London with her to live. Of course, in the end, she decides to move in with the guys so they can all raise the baby together.

Like I said, I've watched the movie before. But I wanted to watch it again because I knew I would have a completely different perspective of the movie now. The last time I saw it, I was single and childless. I watched it because I like babies and thought it'd be fun to see a movie with a cute baby in it. This time I watched it to see a scene I often see in my own home-a man pathetically but resolutely trying to take care of a baby. Last time, I laughed at their incapability to feed and diaper the tiny infant. This time, I found myself with a running commentary. "Pick the poor baby up and hold her already!" "Yes, the part of the diaper with the sticky tabs goes underneath the baby." "ALWAYS set the open bottle of baby powder down gently unless you want your apartment to to look like the Alps in January." "If you let that drug dealer walk off with that poor innocent baby, I will personally hunt you down and kill you even if you're just acting in a movie."

And of course, there are my ambivilent feelings towards the absent mother. How could a caring mother leave her baby on the doorstep of a man she barely knew with no supplies, instructions, etc.? If I were to abandon my daugher (which I probably won't have a strong desire to do until she turns 13 anyways), she would be found with 27 days worth of diapers and wipes, enough food to feed a small third-world country (which, knowing Princess, would be thrown out anyways), and painfully detailed instructions pertaining to every mundane detail of her life. She would also be found with a box full of nearly new toys (because she prefers to play with the tv remotes and her dad's dirty socks) to play with, a full wardrobe of clothes for temperatures ranging from South African to Icelandic, and an array of sippy cups and brightly colored toddler forks.

Before I became pregnant with Princess, I could watch movies or tv shows with child abuse or abduction or any of those other terrible things that can happen to kids without feeling too much sorrow or anger. I would be saddened and disgusted at the atrocities, but could turn off the tv and go about my daily business without it affecting me. Now, I become outraged to the point of throwing knives at the tv whenever the "bad guys" come on the screen and so distraught that I can't function normally for several days. That may not be my kid, but I feel as if it's the job of the adults in this world to protect and care for children and when I see a child being neglected or abused, it makes me wonder who messed up the brains of the adults around them.

Unsolicited Advice:
Save some money on cable or satelite bills. If you have the internet, you can watch almost any show anytime with limited commercials online. My favorite sites are veoh.com, hulu.com, and of course, youtube.com

Saturday, June 20, 2009

It's YOUR Turn

Last night, I went into Princess's room to check on her before I went to bed like I always do. Like usual, as I tiptoed past her dresser, Hubby hissed from the doorway, "Get out of there, you're going to wake her up!" And like usual, I shot a glare in a his direction and continued my stealthy trek to the crib to watch Princess sleep peacefully with her tiny derriere up in the air. The hubby just doesn't understand the magnetic pull a sleeping child has on its mother. After watching and chasing said child in raucous endless circles around the house all day, to see her motionless and quiet is mind-boggling and gives the mother a serene calm that will help her sleep peacefully until the race begins again the next morning.

There have been times that, while I tread softly across the baby blue plush carpet in Princess's room, she has sighed loudly or turned over in her sleep. When she does this, my split second reaction is to drop to the floor like a lead balloon and pray that she didn't open her eyes and catch a glimpse of me. I know from experience, that if she does see me in her room, she will be inconsolable if I try to leave without picking her up. That leads to a long night filled with crying and devoid of sleep. And the crying comes from both me and Princess when she refuses to let me put her back in her crib.

Princess was sick yesterday and so she didn't sleep well last night. At 11:34 pm, I got up to give her another dose of infant tylenol. Upon returning to bed, I nudged (okay, punched) my husband into wakefulness to inform him that since I had to get up in the morning and go to work and he did not, Princess was his responsibility for the rest of the night hours.
After my alarm went off this morning and I had hit the snooze button 14 times, I rolled over and poked my husband. "It's just my luck that the night it's your turn to get up with Louise, she sleeps until morning." I grumbled, slightly irritable because I felt that he deserved to know what it felt like to be up 11 times in one night. He glared at me through bleary eyes. "I spent half the night rocking her back to sleep."
Mollified, I got up and got ready for work while Hubby began sawing z's again. Princess's usual MO is to wake up for the day around 8 or 8:30 am so I tried not to feel too sorry for him, knowing that he would get at least another hour of sleep before daddy-duty began. Walking past Princess's room on my way to the bathroom, I glanced in her open door to see two big brown eyes staring at me from between the bars of her crib. I thought perhaps, she would fall back asleep if I just kept going, but that proved to be erroneous. So I went into her room, picked up my crying daughter and gave her a hug and a kiss before plopping her on the bed next to her soon-to-be-awake father.

Let me clarify something though.Princess  is an incredibly good sleeper except for when she's sick. And she always get sick when Hubby has to get up early and go to work and I get to "stay home and relax all day." (His words, not mine!) And so, on the rare occasion that she does get sick when he has the day off, I maybe enjoy my sleep a little too much. Maybe not.

Unsolicited Advice:
When going on a long trip in the car or maybe an airplane, buy some small toys at the dollar store and wrap each one in wrapping paper. For each hour (or half hour, or 7 minutes depending on your child's boredom level), give your child one to open.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Just a Few Words...

My best friend had a baby this month. Because I have given birth once and have a 17 month old child, I am thus qualified as a childbirth and parenting expert. Therefore, I have been overflowing with advice for her. She has been very accomodating, pretending to listen to my words of wisdom and then ignoring it completely just as she should. Her son is nothing like my daughter so much of what I tell her is ineffective and worthless to her. However, there are several things about motherhood that I have found to be basically the same no matter who you are or what your child is like. They don't fall under the category of advice, but they're helpful to know before you become a mother anyways.

1. I never thought I could feel so deeply and so much before. I was under the impression that I was "deep" and reflective before I had my daughter. I journaled constantly about everything no matter how mundane and pathetic it was. The moment I gave birth to Princess, I was inundated with incredible love, joy, protectiveness, anger at the world for not being perfect for my helpless baby who had to grow up in it, and trepidation at starting my new life as a mommy. Those feelings haven't changed since then. They aren't as overwhelming, but they're still there. Incidentally, I don't journal much anymore. When I do, it's a quick note in my daughter's baby book to jot down her latest achievement. It's not that I'm too busy-I still have plenty of time when she's napping, it's that I don't need to journal anymore. And strangely enough, I don't miss it as much as I thought I would.

2. I had no idea the Mama Bear instinct would be so strong. I have been the proud owner of a beautiful tortoiseshell cat for over 9 years now. Due to allergies, she's an outdoor cat, but very spoiled nonetheless.Princess  was playing outside one day and I was reading a book on the porch keeping an eye on her. She was petting my cat and, having been taught to be gentle with the kitty, was doing just that. As I turned a page, out of the corner of my eye I saw my cat take a sudden swipe with her open claws at my innocent child. It took me precisely 1.7 seconds to cover the 6 yards to the cat who took an unscheduled flying lesson while I simultaneously swooped up Princess to soothe her. I love my cat, but DON'T MESS WITH MY KID!!!

3. I have always been shy and terrified of inconveniencing or disagreeing with other people (my husband wouldn't necessarily agree with this statement, but it's true. It just doesn't apply to him.) After Princess was born, I found myself ready to speak up at a moment's notice in front of a room full of people if something affected my child in a way I wasn't okay with. I do cut some slack when it comes to the grandmas because I know they've waited a long time to be able to spoil grandchildren and I don't want to be the one to take that away from them. However, let someone else try to feed Princess something with peanut butter (I'm waiting until she's 2 so there's less of a chance of allergies), or take away her pacifer after I've given it to her and I right there bristling with righteous anger. Yes, I understand that I can't always stand up for her like that, but right now she's still a baby and if I don't, who's going to?

Unsolicited Advice:
To keep your child occupied while you're waiting in the examination room (since you're probably there so often with a small child), bring along some crayons and let him or her color on the examination table's paper covering.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Do I Really Want Another?

My daughter, Princess, is now 16 months old and 20 pounds.  She was born a small 6 pounds 14 ounces after being almost 2 weeks late. Personally, I think the doctor didn't know how to use the birth calendar right because a 2 week late baby is generally more than 6 pounds 14 ounces. But I digress. She was a good baby. No colic and pretty easy to please as long as she had plenty to look at. She was incredibly alert from birth and stared at everything with huge brown eyes. At a few weeks of age, she could already hold her head up and she could sit with very little support at a few months.

As cute as a newborn baby is, I would gladly skip the first few months in a baby's life and head straight for the precocious 3 month old. At that age, they interact more, are starting to get on a schedule, eat less often than every 87 minutes, and don't cry as much simply for the fact that they are better able to entertain themselves. Although, I've been told by numerous resentful mothers that I better not complain seeing how my daughter slept through the night at the ripe old age of 5 weeks. I will go through the uncertain, insane newborn stage again if it means that I get to have another child. Maybe next time, it will be easier because I've been through it before. Wait a second, I have to give myself a reality check......................okay, done. Let me rephrase that. Maybe next time, it will be just as hard or harder because I will be caring for a toddler and a newborn without the added benefit of sleeping when the baby does and not getting off the couch for anything except to go to the bathroom or refill the enormous water bottle so necessary to a breastfeeding mother. Oh yes, and everything I learned about caring for a newborn will be obsolete because each child is so vastly different that everything that worked on my firstborn will probably irritate my second child to no end.

I can't wait to have another baby.

Unsolicited Advice:
When shopping or traveling with your child, write your cell phone number on a slip of paper and pin it to your child's shirt. This way if he or she runs off and gets lost, you can be reached. Oh, and make sure you have your cell phone with you, charged, and turned on if you're going to do this.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


I've always wanted to be a mommy. When I was little, I collected baby dolls like some people collect key chains. I knew each of their names and mothered them to pieces (literally, at times). So when I got married, I was slightly disappointed at my husband's insistence that we wait a few years to have a baby. Unfortunately for him, I got my birth control information from my mother who couldn't wait to be a grandma. So 7 months after our wedding, we got some unexpected news. I was excited, he was stunned. "What if we put it up for adoption?" he asked right before ducking the microwave that was flying at his head. We mutually decided to keep our child and plunged headfirst into pregnancy. Once I stopped throwing up every 4 1/2 seconds, things went pretty well. Unfortunately, I was one of those people who don't "show" until they're about 8 months into the pregnancy. Nope, I just looked chubby. I was thrilled to be pregnant and wanted everyone to know I was. So, at 7 1/2 months pregnant, it was a little insulting to be asked at the checkout if I wanted a gift receipt with the onesie i was buying. To add insult to injury, as I was getting into my car which I had parked in the "expectant mothers" parking spot, a middle-aged woman stopped me. Pointing at the sign with a picture of a stork prominently displayed, she said, "This parking spot is for pregnant women, you know." I decided to take the high road and not show her my raging pregnancy hormones so I simply got in my car and left.
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