Here We are in the Present Tense

July13

39 weeks pregnant today. Some days the baby seems ready to go, others all is calm. Ah, the edge-of-your-seat time of pregnancy. It’s really hard to focus.

Preschool update: I just turned on the TV so I could get a break from all the stories Audrey is demanding to read. How’s that for irony? Am super impressed with the selection of books we got in our package. Obviously.

Audrey’s doing better at going to bed and staying there. Best possible advice came from Andy’s aunt on Friday when I was rambling on about being at a complete loss to parent: “Wait till she outgrows it. This too shall pass.” I need to embroider that on a damn pillow.

This is all I know. My brain has nothing else in it that’s not straight-up crazy talk that I only save for my husband.

Later.

Audrey’s First Box Day

July9

Audrey’s school books came in the mail Tuesday.

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“School” as in the bunch of stories we’re going to read while Mommy thinks about being the kind of crafty and motivated person that would do hands-on activities.

We were both super excited.

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She wanted to spend the day on each item she pulled out and I had to beg her to keep going so I could see our new treasures.

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My precious safety scissors…

The book nerd in me was in heaven. Many of these books were much nicer than I had realized from their pictures online. And so much bigger. It’s a huge library to explore with a tiny person. Really? We’re going to read all this? Eeeeee!

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Audrey’s first goal was to play the teddy bear matching game, which is adorable. She found a pair with grimaces and said, “These bears are worried. Let’s hug them.” Gahhh.

She had to play with the other game next. It’s called Mighty Mind and involves pattern block-like pieces that you have to figure out how to put into various designs. It goes from very simple to complex, so I think it will be fascinating for a long time. She asks for her “pieces” often.

There’s also a CD of nursery rhymes, which is a big hit as Aud is obsessed with nursery rhymes. It baffles me: they are so WEIRD, but there must be a reason they keep getting passed down.

So then there’s the books. I was kind of doubting myself after ordering this package. I mean, I own books. I’ve had tons of children’s books since before I ever made a kid. I could go pick out a bunch of things and get off more cheaply than indulging in this set. It’s not like this even comes with a fancy schedule of what to do every day – they’re all, “Here’s a checklist that goes vaguely in order of attention span and complexity. Read as much as you feel like, do or don’t do the super easy activities we suggest, just chill and enjoy your kid.”

But here’s the thing: I wouldn’t have picked the majority of these books on my own. In fact, I would let Audrey keep bringing me the same okay books off our shelf every day if left to my own devices. So I’m finding myself surprised and charmed by every new story we crack open. And so is Audrey. She actually demanded I turn off Super Why today and reread one of her new favorites. Whut? I have never been so harassed for stories before this week. That’s a solid review.

The dork in me that loves binders and planners and schoooool is still thinking about weaving these materials into a charming free preschool curriculum I found online because crafts! Themed snacks! Lesson plans that tell me what to do! But I also know we’ve got plenty of years for that, and in reality the me that’s soon to have a newborn has probably got the exact right system for now.

Eeeeee! Books!

 

If I Give You a Quarter, Will You Leave Me Alone?

July2

Aud took the last several days off from that whole sleeping-easily-through-the-night thing in order to torture us. At least I assume that was her goal. She decided bedtime was horsecrap after all and starting staging a revolt every evening. We do her whole sweet bedtime routine, tuck her in, and she says, “I have to go potty.” Well…fine. I mean, you don’t say no, right? But then she’ll go potty, step one foot back in her room and announce, “I have to go potty again.”

Aw, hellz nah.

So we try to leave. I mean, suck it up, kid. It’s over. But when we ignore the demands to go potty, she just strips to prove her point. WHUT. No. And then more waking at night, cause she’s been busy enough to suck down a bunch of water in her room, and damned if she doesn’t want to pee in the potty and not her diaper, sure, but then why give her water at night, oh right, the husband thinks people need access to water at night and BLEH.

Two nights ago I was awake from 4 to 6 because my brain and body just didn’t want to go back to sleep after being yanked into consciousness. I may have wept quite a lot.

I thought through a couple of approaches to this whole insanity. (You know, other than the unseemly thoughts that run through my head when I’m being yelled at in the middle of the night. And also wondering if there was a chastity belt version of a diaper she couldn’t get off.) I’ve heard of handing out a couple of poker chips or something at the end of the evening and telling her if she wants to call me to do something she has to pay me one chip. Any “money” she still has in the morning can be used to buy something special. Sounded solid, and like she might be ready to grasp that kind of long-ish range thinking.

Then it also occurred to me that we’ve been watching too much TV lately, not getting enough ya-yas out, and that when bedtime comes and she actually has Mom and Dad’s focus for once, it’s too joyful to give up. So, maybe we should also, I don’t know, parent her during the day or something.

So I decreed yesterday to be a TV-free day. It was never, never on. Nope, No Daniel Tiger today. No nothin’, kid. Bring me a book and I’ll read to you. Andy was home more yesterday and got in some solid ride-Daddy-like-a-horsey time. We went outside. We were like people.

At bedtime, I gave her two quarters (couldn’t find any other suitable token). I told her if she needed to come out again, she could pay me. (I let her sneak in one more potty trip before I left though. Well, two seconds after we called it a night, she was complaining some nameless complaint of need. I went downstairs and heard her say, “I take it off.” Aw, man. Then she asked for a kleenex. I hollered, “Are you going to pay me a quarter for it?” “YES!” Kay, then, fine. I went up and she was naked from the waist down. “Well, you owe me a quarter anyway to put that diaper back on.” Diaper back on. Kleenex. “I need to pray again!” You and me both, kid. We said the bedtime prayer. I went back downstairs.

“I have a wedgie!”

Well. To be fair, I had just tried to pull the pinned cotton diaper straight back on and not refold it or anything, so…that’s probably valid. I went up and tried to rearrange it without taking it off. Downstairs.

“I still have a wedgie!”

Eff. I went back up and stuck my hand down her pants again. She giggled. “You all good here now?” “Yes.” “Okay, you still have a quarter. Stay in your room so you can buy M&Ms tomorrow.”

And it was finally night. She stayed in bed all night.

I didn’t, because my body thought it would be fun to practice flooding with adrenaline and being jerkily awake until 2:45 in the morning, with extra Braxton-Hicks-ing, but the kid made it, so yay.

I’m tired and it’s taken me two days to write this little tale, so I’m not sure where I was planning to go with it. We just put her to bed crazy late (family party, yo!) and gave her her quarters and we haven’t been bothered at all. There’s hope! Parenting by bribery! And also some actual parenting!

Don’t know if I’ll bother with bed myself. Firecrackers, man…

 

 

 

 

 

Story School

June29

We decided to skip the six hours a week of preschool in the fall. Instead, I am completely nerding out over ordering a home preschool program for her today. Yes, I’m crazy but no, I’m not. Of course, toddlers don’t need anything resembling actual schooling, and rest assured I’m not getting academic with her. The homeschool “curriculum” consists of classic children’s literature and fairy tales; books on animals, how the body works, and what people do all day; a couple of clever games, songs and nursery rhymes, a bit of art, and some prayers and Bible stories.

We have plenty of books in this house and I could have come up with something terribly enriching on my own, but I’ve found that in real life, especially pregnant life, I haven’t made great effort. I chose this sweet program because I don’t have to think or have will power. When my brain is even further shot with a newborn, Audrey will have something special that’s just between her and Mommy for a half hour or so each day. I’m also totally looking forward to reading these books myself!

I’ve shown Audrey pictures of the stuff she’s getting and she’s crazy excited. I’ll be honest, her greatest focus is own getting her own child safety scissors, but she’s thrilled with the music, games, and books too.

A big thank you to family that donated toward the cause or gave me birthday cash. This is where it went (and what I really wanted!). Can’t wait to show you pictures when we get her box in the mail!

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Ready fer book learnin’.

This Week in Stuff

June24

You know when it’s hard to blog? When you’ve felt catatonic for a week. The crazy preggers congestion/exhaustion took over last Wednesday and I’m only starting to feel like a person again. A person who still needs a nap every day, but a person.

Here’s what I know:

Aud and I have been taking a parent-child swimming class for 40 minutes in the early evenings the last couple of weeks. Her preschool BFF is doing it too, which is a treat. Aud sort of loves it. For a few minutes each time. Then she’s cold and desperately over it. “I NEED TO GET OUT.” Pretty proud of her for sticking through a lot of it. It’s been a treat for me! Stepping into a pool and feeling the bowling ball in my belly just lift up is so freeing. If I weren’t wrastling a squirming toddler the whole time, I’d been in complete heaven. Our last night is tonight.

Speaking of preschool buds, I just got the call that a two-morning-a-week spot opened up in the fall. Haven’t even told the husband yet. Am…torn?…but leaning toward…not? It is a really lovely experience for the kid. She’d have something that’s just hers when the new brother invades. But it would also be a bigger pain to shuttle her back and forth with said brother. And there’s, you know, that money that we could always find another use for. Eh.

We’ve added another name to the running for boy child. Guess we’ll figure it out when we meet him. Or something.

I had a birthday this weekend. I was miserable and cranky and no fun but there was food and cake, so that’s nice. Gonna get a night out with my hubs tomorrow and if I’m continuing to feel better, that should be a treat!

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My mommy made me strawberry shortcake cake. It was INTENSE. My honey brought me roses that don’t die (even though I’m a terrible plant killer!). The first time he did this was a year and a half ago on Valentine’s Day and now I have a big ol’ rose bush in my yard. It’s awesome. Men of the world: take note!

How to Name a Baby

June17

So we’re still hung up on a name for our kid. I think we’ve got a vague list of hopefuls we can take with us to the hospital, but just in case we come up with something on the fly, I’m assembling a rigorous testing process before we declare our choice to the Law.

1. When you combine it with our last name, does it sound dirty? It’s so much easier to do than you think.

2. Do the initials spell something stupid?

3. Is it too trendy? As Freakonomics taught us, it can look trashy on the way down.

4. Is it going to be trendy in a few years?

5. Does it sound right in real life?

6. Google. Are there any serial killers with that name?

7. If you were going in for heart surgery, and this was your doctor’s name, would you feel less confident?

8. Is there an obvious awful name kids could turn it into? (Always remembering, kids don’t need specific inspiration to insult each other.)

Anything I’m missing?

 

 

Nesting

June7

What a stupid term.

But.

Things that Need to Happen Now So I Can Be Psychologically Okay:

1. Have a completely packed hospital bag which needs to magically include the things I’m using every day even though I’m using them every day.

2. Have everything at home in a constant state of order so that whenever I go into labor, my mom can find whatever she needs for Audrey when she comes to watch her.

3. Anchor the bookshelves in the playroom so Audrey doesn’t kill herself.

4. Anchor the dresser in Audrey’s room so she doesn’t kill herself.

5. Anchor our swingset so Audrey doesn’t kill herself.

6. Figure out where I’m going to change the baby’s diapers downstairs and set it up. Seriously, where?

7. Finish the pages in Audrey’s Big Sibling Book that are supposed to be done before the baby’s birth.

8. Oh, crap, finish Audrey’s baby book.

9. Talk Junior into turning the right direction in Mama’s belly before long.

I need a nap.

Let Me Tell You My Opinion on Everything

June3

A friend just asked me for a list of books for someone who wants to get pregnant and wants to research everything about babies. Asking a mom for parenting advice is like giving a toddler Pixie Stix and taking her to the park: ABSOLUTELY THRILLING.

I have a lot of memories of ignoring my baby complaining on the floor while I finished a page in a parenting book. So I obviously know what I’m doing. :P

I’ve actually been wanting to write about some of the things we did with Audrey, and what I might change for the next kid, and this seems as good a reason as any to explore that topic too. So…Books I Like plus What I Think about What I Did: let’s start!

For the making of babies in the first place

Taking Charge of Your Fertility. I never would have picked up this book if a friend hadn’t handed down her copy. It sounded like something for people who have, you know, problems, but it’s actually for anyone currently in possession of a uterus. In fact, I wish I had read this book when I was 11 or 12. I learned so much about how my body works. A little observation and you can know the second you wake up if you’ll get your period that day, you can avoid making a baby without putting artificial hormones in your body, and you can make a baby faster than you would have by just, you know, throwing caution to the wind. Love this book.

Pregnancy

I have another hand-me-down called I’m Pregnant! that served me well but I really have nothing to compare it to. It seems well-balanced. I hear What to Expect While You’re Expecting is a fright-fest but has toned down a bit in recent editions. But what I really push is a hilarious week-by-week column called Zero to Forty. It made me so happy. I learned important things like how to get more pee out when you go so you don’t have to go five minutes later, and that maxi pads be damned, old people diapers will take on the post-birth carnage better. I’m reading it again every week with the baby I’m cooking now.

On birthing the babies

I watched the documentary The Business of Being Born and read the book in the same vein Your Best Birth. I will say these were A) Mind-blowingly informative and B) Scary. While it’s important to be totally aware of common medical practices that may actually get in the way of an easier, healthier birth, it’s also important to not become frightened and mistrustful of the people taking care of you and your baby. Here’s the thing: it’s not all-or-nothing. You don’t have to go either intervention-filled hospital birth or crunchy home birth. There is a HUGE land of in-between, including a lot of hospitals and providers that happily default to a gentle, hands-off approach. Learn what you want, find a provider you trust, and after you’ve made as many decisions about birth as you reasonably can, try to then do the opposite and relinquish control to your baby, cause that kid’s going to decide what happens from there.

With Audrey, I had a Certified Nurse Midwife and a doula, and birthed drug-free in a Jacuzzi, all while still being in a great hospital with a NICU down the hall. That’s not the right formula for everybody, but it was amazing to have that kind of option. In my fantasy life, it’s how this next one will come out, but you never know. Your choices change if you have any kind of problem or risk and you have to ride along with it. But it’s always good to know your options in any situation. A great thing about doulas: they will help you figure out what you want to happen in various weird labor situations and help you accomplish it. Get one.

Also, long before I ever saw my husband, I read Misconceptions and some books by midwives and they were the first I ever learned about how birth is treated these days.

Keeping Babies Alive and Stuff

I spent so much time obsessing about birth that I totally forgot I’d have to take care of the kid once she came out. And by then I was burnt out on reading. So…well, eventually I picked up Dr. Sears’ The Baby Book, and that along with the tome the pediatrician laid on me have been the medical/developmental backbone of my baby library. It’s like a range of views: one is from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Dr. Sears is more your warm-fuzzy attachment parent take on everything.

Oh, also, there’s another book in the Dr. Sears canon (a different Dr. Sears, but they’re all related) called The Vaccine Book. WAIT. DON’T YELL AT ME. I am passionately pro-vaccine, but I also think it’s completely sane to look at each one individually and make choices about when and how your kid gets it. We are doing every recommended vaccine, but we do fewer at a time (yes, I went in twice as often in the first few months so Audrey would get half as many at a time) and we put off some until later (while the newborn Hep B shot is necessary if Mom is infected, it seems like too much for a freshly born person otherwise: Aud has yet to start sharing her drug needles…). I do care that all kids that can get vaccinated get vaccinated. Please. But it’s okay to find your own method.

Breastfeeding

We saw some good videos in our childbirth class, and it was super helpful to really see how you were supposed to get those things in there. I don’t think a book could have done that for me. Also, my doula was a certified lactation…person…I forget proper terminology, but she was great at getting us started and answering questions when they came up later. Shop around if you don’t like the person messing with your boobs. It can be hard and not all lactation people are created equal. Does anybody out there have a book they’d recommend?

Sleep

Oh, sweet heaven. I read every book on the subject. No, really. All of them. After the first few months where the kid pretty much validly needed to wake up all the time, I became obsessed with sleep. Things would feel okay enough and then every six weeks or so I would lose my mind, say “Something has to change,” research a ton, and then do nothing. Rinse and repeat.

I read the range. I read – and liked – The No-Cry Sleep Solution and The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep. (Oh, P.S. Just watching a short video of the Happiest Baby dude working his voodoo magic on crying babies was worth the 12 weeks’ tuition in our childbirth class alone.) They are both chock full of ideas to pick from and try. They totally understand that there’s no single formula – what works will be different for every family, different for each baby, different from month to month. But I also read at the more extreme ends. I read the “Cry It Outguys, even though it went against my gut, because, hey, sometimes I was desperate enough to hear every perspective. And that’s good. I learned “leave the room and let them cry” wasn’t actually the entire text of the books and there was a lot of good info on how sleep works, and many other techniques to help babies. I also read Mayim Bialik’s Beyond the Sling, and her sleep chapter felt basically like, “I gave in to our primate neurological wiring and bed-shared for 12 hours every night.” And I learned a lot from that book too. So. My advice would still be to read the range. Seek out perspectives that make you uncomfortable. Then ignore everybody and go with your gut.

We did these things:

Co-slept (same room) and bed-shared (same sleep surface), nursing on demand all night (0-15 months)

(If you’re into sharing your bed, ignore those billboards that tell you it’s like putting your baby to sleep next to a butcher knife but of course do it safely: Sleeping with Your Baby is a good one.)

Put her in her own room and shut the open bar while lying next to her until she fell asleep, including night wakings (15 months to…hmmm…somewhere around 2?)

Sat in the same room while she fell asleep, including night wakings (2ish to 29 months)

Left the room and let her fall asleep alone, including night wakings (29 months and counting and she’s not waking at night anymore)

I like everything we did but….every transition was surprisingly easy to make and I realized it was me being nervous about moving her forward that made it all take so long. I could have pushed it more; I could have done all those things ages earlier. So that’s my goal with the next kid. I mean, he’ll have his own personality, and nothing will work exactly the same, but I won’t be afraid to, say, cut off the nursing at night sooner. I will know he can cry, but if he’s crying next to one of us, he’s going to be okay. That kind of thing.

Discipline

Ha! I have no right to talk about this. I got a really easy kid and she only just got to an annoying stage of toddler. And she still ain’t half bad.  But I’ve enjoyed Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood, Discipline without Shouting or Spanking, and Mayim’s chapter on gentle discipline. I’ve heard great things about the Happiest Baby guy on this topic too.

Oh, balls, the greatest book of all time I nearly forgot: How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. If you read no other book ever, seriously, this one. Kids or not. It may fix every relationship you’ve ever had. If everyone had a copy, we’d have world peace. No foolin’.

In Conclusion

Gestating this second babe of mine makes me realize how little I’ve really learned in some ways. I’ll probably just bumble along again and see what this one seems to need. My greatest book wisdom, on any topic in life, would be to always read the opposite of what you believe along with the people you know you’re going to agree with. My life-with-baby wisdom would be to always err on the side of mushy smushy affection.

Oh, and also: to remind you that all the decisions you obsess over are probably not that big a deal:

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Instinctive Parenting

Who else has books out there they love? Am I forgetting any essential topics?

 

School’s Out For…ever?

May26

It’s Tuesday. Normally, Aud would have gone to preschool this morning but last week was the last week. Out for the summer. Maybe forever. She has no concept of that.

We chucked her into this program at the last second, about a week or two after the session started last fall. Put in her application when I was having a really hard time. Did it solely for my benefit: 6 hours a week (out of 168) to be off-duty.

And then we saw that it was the awesomest thing for her. She was delighted to be there. She spent hours outside. She painted. She pretended to be wild animals. She came home singing new songs and talking about cleaning up her toys. She said “please” and “thank you” and “sorry” more often. She talked about the other kids and her teachers all the time. She did a million things I’ll never even know about and it’s so crazy that she’s had this life of her own already.

Sometimes she’d get mad at me for taking her home!

But. It costs money. Not a ton, but enough. We don’t need it: I get to stay home with my progeny. Sometimes it’s actually a pain to get ourselves somewhere at a certain time, especially if the weather really blows, and I imagine it’s less fun when you’re carting around an infant too. So. We’re not continuing right now.

Picked her up Thursday, her last day, and her teacher gave me her “portfolio.” Just a thin binder of some stuff she did, but it made me get all weepy and I only sort of stammered out a “Thank you for everything you did for her,” before I ran.

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posted under Audrey, school | 1 Comment »

What It’s Like to Talk to Me

May21

I’ve run out of baby things to obsess about, so I’ve had to cast my net a bit wider lately.

Hey, Andy! I say. You’re going to think I’m crazy.

Silence.

But I’ve got about 4 good reasons I’d like to, maybe, start with the cloth diapers in the hospital instead of waiting until we come come.

Long stare.

No, I know it seems like extra work for no reason, but hear me out. First, those babies go from aquatic living to land-dwelling in a second. Do you remember how dry Audrey’s skin was? So putting our boy in something designed to suck moisture from his skin would just be uncomfortable for him. I don’t want him to be any more uncomfortable than he has to be. It’ll just make more work for us!

Silence.

And you know how doctors and nurses are so obsessed with how much output the kid has? They’re all, how many wet diapers a day? And I’m all, how do you measure? You could leave a disposable on for a half hour or half the day and it would be, you know, one wet diaper. But with cotton on his butt, you know.

Silence.

Also, it would be all the more hospital disposables we could stash in our bags to use for emergencies later.

Silence.

And fourth. It would give your crazy wife one random thing to have control over in a situation that will be full of a lot on unknowns.

Silence.

Think about it!

End of conversation.

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