Monthly Archives: November 2010

better than a cow

Baby Genius recently had a doctor’s appointment to check his hemoglobin levels. He has been bordering anemic for many months, so his doctor wanted to check him out. As it turns out, he’s fine; he just likes to cut it close. That’s how he is. At this appointment, we also discussed his eczema, which we suspect is still connected to a dairy protein allergy. His doctor thinks we ought to keep him off of all dairy until he is eighteen months old, at which point we’ll try it again. We agree. 

At some point in this conversation, we may have mentioned needing to stock up on goat yogurt again, and the doctor asked if we were giving him goat’s milk. I told him no, that we didn’t see a need, since he is still breastfeeding. The doctor seemed surprised. “Are you planning on stopping that anytime soon?” I told him no, that considering his dairy allergy it makes sense for him to continue breastfeeding. He was still surprised. “At his age, your supply really can’t keep up with his nutritional needs, so you do need to make sure he’s not replacing food with breastfeeding.” I had to make sure I heard this right. Did he really assume that we were somehow not feeding our son appropriately? I reassured him that we are very conscientious about our son’s diet, that he eats a wide variety of foods several times throughout the day.

But this had me reeling. This doctor was always very supportive of breastfeeding, but it seems he is not so comfortable with it after one. I didn’t ask why because I think I know why. We live in the U.S. Breastfeeding after a year is unusual. I have known people who were told that breastfeeding after one has no nutritional benefit, that breastmilk loses any nutritional value–and this by medical professionals. Yet these same medical professionals tell women they need to give their kids cow’s milk “x” times a day. What? We are so comfortable in this culture with feeding our kids another animals milk–milk that was produced ostensibly for that animal’s baby. But when it comes to giving our kids milk from our bodies, milk that was made for keeping them nourished and healthy, people get all weird about it. What is that? Why?

I know for a fact that the milk my body makes for my son still has nutritional value, that it still has health benefits beyond nutrition (probiotics, antibodies, feel-good hormones, to name a few), and that no cow or goat or sheep has milk that is made the same way.

Now, I’m not suggesting I’m going to nurse my kid until he’s five. And while I don’t have a specific date for when I plan to stop giving him his “na-na” (maybe around two?), what I do know is that to continue breastfeeding him is natural and even normal.

I’m curious though, what do you think is the best age to stop nursing? If you’re breastfeeding, when do you plan to stop? If you did breastfeed, when did you stop?

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crap!

With two days left in NaBloPoMo I forgot to post yesterday. Just plain forgot. Boo me.

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love, pride, and pretty pictures

I have mentioned once before our recent photo shoot we had with some local lesbian photographers. They have this amazing business photographing just women and children, and it’s really taking off. Today they launched their “Love and Pride” gallery on their website, in which they have posted photos from sessions between their lesbian couple clients. We have been featured several times within the gallery. Check it out on their website: http://www.inherimagephoto.com . Once you’re there, click on Goddess Galleries, and then select “Love and Pride.” You’ll know who we are, and if not, just enjoy the pretty pictures.

And if you’re ever in the SF Bay Area and want some really amazing photography, either for yourself, your little one, or other women in your life, check them out. A photo shoot with them is a very special experience unlike any other. J and I walked away from ours feeling empowered, beautiful, and as though we had been seen for who we really are. It was worth every penny.

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i prefer an alarm clock

Our son has an interesting new affectation. He has long loved the word “up,” but he has only recently realized that “up” can mean that one of his moms gets up from a sitting or lying position and can thus be an order. For the past few days, this has meant that when we are sitting around with him on our laps, he will sometimes pull up on our clothes while saying “Up” quite sternly in an attempt to get us to stand up with him. It has been fairly amusing but harmless. He usually just wants to dance.

Imagine my surprise, though, when at 6:15 this morning, my son, apparently wide awake and bored of my sleeping, grabbed my shirt, jerked upward, and shouted “UUUUUUUUUP! UUUUUUUUUUUUUP!” He did this every few minutes until 6:45 came around and I finally relented.

Up indeed.

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thankful for our toddler

Thanksgiving at home was a success–except for the fact that by the time we ate dinner, which was BG’s normal dinner time, he was totally spent and positively disinterested in the food we made (oh, and it was good). So he had rolls with butter and we pulled out the ever-trusty veggie burgers and gave him one of those. He did, however, have a few bites of pumpkin cheesecake. I don’t think he’s ever eaten anything sweetened with much of any sugar before, so he was at first a little taken aback by the sweetness and really puckered with each bite. Then he sort of dug in and loved it. We aren’t really supposed to be giving him any dairy, but for today, we let it slide a little.

I think the big issue is that he has his first molar coming in. It looks so nasty! It’s this enormous bump, and I can’t help but gawk at it when his mouth is open. I hope it comes quickly; unfortunately, this boy is a slow teether, so it could still be another couple of weeks. Poor guy.

We’ve been dealing with a lot of erratic toddler behavior as a result of the teething too. Last night, we were singing, and I was dancing him around, and he reached for my face  and bit me so incredibly hard that my jaw is literally bruised and swollen from it. He has done this two or three times in the past, and it’s always around some pretty horrific teething. It’s moments like these that we’re probably lucky he’s not in daycare, lest he bite some other child’s ear off or something.

But amidst this toddler behavior is a lot of good. For instance, today, we went for a long walk through these lovely hills covered in oaks, and lots of others were out walking their dogs. BG greeted each one with, “Hi Di-Di! Di Di!” (Di-Di = dog) as he kicked his legs excitedly. This boy loves dogs so much that he often laughs uncontrollably when they’re in his presence, and now that he can greet them, he seems even more pleased. I wish we could get him a puppy so that the two of them could gnaw on each other.

I don’t know where I’m going with any of this. I’m tired and full and happy to have had a day with my family, even if my baby is turning into a little wolverine.

Coherent thoughts to come tomorrow. For now, a glass of wine, some TV with the wife, and then sleep.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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the best of plans

Almost every year, we travel to my mom’s house this time of year, and I end up cooking the majority of the Thanksgiving dinner, absorbing my mother’s stress, and finding myself utterly exhausted by my constant attempts at trying to make the holiday a little more relaxing. This year, we are blissfully off the hook. My parents are on a cruise celebrating their anniversary, and my siblings and I are scattered to the wind. Actually, we’re hunkered down during this cold, cold spell enjoying some sorely-needed at-home time together.

Tomorrow, we’ll not be preparing a huge feast, although there will be the aforementioned stuffed pumpkin, which we’re very excited to try, and there will also be a delicious pumpkin cheesecake. Any excuse to enjoy pumpkin in our household is a good one.

Overall, we expect a stress-free day with no work (very unusual around here) and just good family time. There will be a walk at our favorite county park. There will be wine. There will be laughter and hugs and kisses and good family time. And this year, as much as I love my parents and siblings, I am so thankful that I get this day with my precious little family.

Sometimes having no plans is the best plan of all.

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i think i’m ready

I don’t often write about my work here, mostly because there is little to tell. I work for an educational support company online, and it’s a job I have had for something like eight years. It’s fine work, but it’s part-time, and it pays poorly for California (the company is based in another state where these wages might be considered sufficient to some). While it keeps me working in my field when teaching is out of reach for one reason or another, it is mind numbing work–all the paper grading I hate to do when I’m teaching without the benefit of interacting with students or teaching my own classes. In my position, I also mentor and train other employees, so it’s not all grunt work, but it’s mostly that, and honestly, it is just not enough–monetarily, spiritually, intellectually.

The beauty of this work, however, is that I have been able to be home since, well, since I got pregnant  (I turned in grades for the last classes I taught just days before our successful insemination). I was able to stay home and work during my whole pregnancy, during my son’s whole first year, and now into his second. But working at home is not necessarily an easy thing to do with a more aware baby or a toddler. My son is very aware of my laptop, and any time he wants my attention and sees it in front of me, he will disconnect the power cord. He’s been doing this for months. Now he knows it can be closed, so he attempts to close it. He hates the black box. I feel endlessly guilty about this. The other issue is that I can’t actually work when I’m his sole caregiver. I always had this image of working from the office/nursery while he played, or working while he napped (ha! that would be nice if I only needed to do two thirty-minute shifts a day), but it just doesn’t work like that. He needs my attention when he sees that I’m there, and I’m inclined to give it to him. Most days, I save the bulk of my hours for night after he’s gone to bed, which cuts into my time with J. It’s just not as workable as it always seemed it would be, and I honestly don’t know how most work-at-home-moms do it without neglecting their kids in one way or another.

All of this is to say, I think I need to get back to the classroom. I’m not saying the pay is much better, but in all likelihood, J and I will be able to work our schedules around one another so that we’re not necessarily teaching at the same time–and if we are, well, the university where she teaches has a fairly affordable, super high quality “children’s school” where we could take our boy for a few hours a week. A few months ago, just thinking about daycare threw me into panic attacks, but I can seriously talk about it now because I think I am ready to find some of my self again outside of the home, and dare I say it–away from my family. The beauty of teaching at the college level is that one doesn’t necessarily have to work every day of the week. I might teach just Tuesday and Thursday and be home the rest of the week with the boy (ideally). On top of that, there are the great holidays, summer break–good things because J and I get the same time off. It could be good for awhile.

So I contacted the college where I last taught, and I will be applying to the university where J teaches too. I’m ready to go back to academia, even with my swiss cheese mommy brain. Of course, my readiness doesn’t mean that these schools will suddenly have the funding to give me classes, but I’m putting the intention out there, and with any luck, I’ll finally be grading my own students’ papers sometime in the coming year.

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the trenches

We are living in the trenches right now. Yesterday, it was essential to try to keep BG still. His cold had settled into his chest, and his breathing was so labored. Any time he so much as crawled three feet, the poor guy was horribly winded, and yet he couldn’t stop moving. We wore him in the Ergo a lot, even tried to watch TV with him, despite our vows not to (didn’t matter, he wasn’t at all interested because he had so many things to do!), anything to keep him still. Today, he seems to feel quite a bit better, but he’s still got the crankiness of someone who doesn’t feel well, and to top it off, I spotted something very alarming in his mouth–further back, there is a gigantic bump, the tell-tale sign of his first molar coming through.

So, because the boy is sick and because his mouth likely hurts like hell, he won’t eat. Today, he ate mostly bread products and yogurt. I made him his favorite potato-leek soup, and it may as well have been a bowl of paint because he flung the spoon back at me. He normally loves pasta but wanted nothing to do with that. We can barely get him to eat fruit, which he loves. It’s painful. I mean, he has adopted the fickle eating habits of your average one-year-old, but when he’s interesting in nothing more than bread and yogurt, we know we’re in crisis mode, and that’s where we are.

He also won’t sleep. Our usual attempts to get him to sleep are failing right and left. He’s always been a bad sleeper, but he is fighting any sleep whether naps or nighttime. Tonight it took him over an hour to get him to go to sleep, and he spent the bulk of this time screaming and kicking at us all the while trying to cling to our necks to stay upright lest he accidentally fall asleep on his side. He’s going be very angry with himself when he wakes up.

On top of this, my poor wife is suffering from insomnia. No mother of a toddler needs insomnia. It’s a cruel, cruel thing to ask someone to endure. She is being such a trooper. I love her for this.

Please gods, send us a rope ladder; we want to climb out of this.

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reflections on a year and two months of parenting

I love a reflective question, and Next in Line* posted some great ones for those of us interested in responding. Here are my thoughts:

What surprised you the most?

So much has surprised me about becoming a parent. Perhaps the most shallow thing that surprises me every day is just how damn cute my kid is. I mean, he really is cute. I didn’t think I’d make such a cute kid–not one that makes people stop and gasp, that makes even the most stoic men swoon. But parents aren’t supposed to admit that they know their kids are cute, right?

Perhaps what also surprises me is just how challenging we have found getting out into the world with him. We didn’t take him out much at all in his first few months because we wanted to avoid getting him sick, but honestly, those times were significantly easier than going out at eight months or now. It’s really hard to go shopping with a toddler whose favorite phrase is “What that!” Even when I wear him on my back, he grabs and grabs and yells over and over, “Want that! Want that!” It honestly has made us a little gun shy about taking him places. I guess neither of us likes to call much attention to ourselves in public, so to have a child that yells, who is unpredictable, makes these tasks far more challenging. I know it’s just a matter of getting him used to being out and about (in stores, specifically–he’s a gem in social settings), so we’re working on it as much as we can.

But to end this section on a positive note, I have to say, too, that I’m very surprised at who he brings out in J and I. We both have these really creative, fun, playful sides. I tend to be fairly reserved, but for him, I sing in public, make crazy faces, dance around, and do whatever I can to get a smile–even when other people are looking.

What has been the most fun?

I think what has been the most fun is watching my son’s personality develop. He is really funny, and he loves to make people laugh. He’s got this great love of all sorts of sounds, and he tries to repeat them to make us giggle. And we love to make him laugh. Our family is at our best when we’re all laughing, tickling, making up crazy games, and generally having fun.

Because we’re a household of book lovers, it’s also great fun seeing our son’s love of reading emerge. He will sit and look at a book for the longest time, then ask for us to read it, then flip through it again to review his favorite parts. In his favorite books, he knows the plot climaxes, and he will flip to those to amuse himself over and over again. One of his first recognizable words was the title of one of his favorite books, and now, we can ask him to pick out any number of his books, and he will always choose the correct one. He must know the names of twenty books at this point. So yeah, I love his emerging intellect, but that’s no surprise, is it?

Through his music class, we also have had immense fun seeing a love of music emerge in our boy. He asks for music every day, saying “zzz” and pointing at any number of music playing devices (TV, computer, little CD player in the bedroom). He wants music playing at all times, and he’s got pretty good taste. His favorite is still Bob Marley, and he gets all dreamy-eyed and smiley when “Three Little Birds” comes on.

But honestly, it’s all fun to me. I love being a mom so very much. For me it has meant that there is fun to look forward to every day.

What was your most unglamorous day as a mom?

As I discussed here with some frequency at the time, BG had a very serious allergy to milk proteins (and likely gluten) in my breastmilk when he was younger. This caused a sort of allergic colitis that created the most disgusting bowel movements imaginable (stop reading now if you are squeamish). Normal breastmilk poo is supposed to resemble a sort of runny mustard seed consistency, but from the time BG was about two months old to after he was six months old, his bowel movements looked like some kind of green alien slime streaked with blood (I told you to stop reading.). Because we weren’t entirely sure what was causing this, we had to have his stools tested on more than one occasion. On the first occasion, nurses attempted to collect it from his diaper in the doctor’s office, but when the lab did not accept this, we were sent home with a kit, which included a bottle of some sort of fluid, gloves, and tongue depressers. We were to gather up as much of this stuff as possible, and somehow, I got the job. While I went about it in a fairly no-nonsense, collecting evidence sort of way, I do recall wondering how many people go from lives in academia to scraping their kids’ poop off of diapers with tongue depressers.

What advice do you have?

I am one of those people who is always hesitant to dole out advice, but I’ve got a lot to give, so here are some of my top bits:

  • Don’t overwhelm yourself, your home, your family with baby stuff. There is some great baby gear out there, but there’s also a lot of stuff that is really unnecessary. Ask yourself whether you really need something before buying it or registering for it. For instance, do you really need a $3000 stroller? Does your child need every new baby gadget and toy on the market? More than likely, the answer is no.
  • Trust your instincts. So much of parenting is guesswork and gut-checks. I had a lot of experience with kids before BG was born, but when it came time to bring home our very own child, many of the decisions we made came from what felt right for our family. And that’s what it really boils down to–what’s right for your baby? for your family?
  • Don’t fall into that competitive mom trap. So many moms find the need to tear each other down when really we should be holding each other up, offering support, helping one another navigate this experience. We have a lot of that support in our blog community, but in real life, I’ve found that moms can be far from supportive, and that’s not the way it should be.
  • Have fun and relax. So much of parenting is learning to be patient, learning to let go, and just enjoying the moment. It all goes by so quickly, so soak up every moment.

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*http://babymakinghusband.wordpress.com/ (My link button seems to be broken. 😦 )

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i give up

Baby Genius and J are both sick now, thanks to me, so I’m throwing in the towel. I’m done fighting off illnesses or trying to stay healthy–or trying to keep the family healthy.  We’ll all eat junk food and forget about exercise. We’ll stop washing our hands and eat food that falls on the floors. Vitamins schmitamins. We’ll drink coffee instead of water. We’ll give the boy soda in his sippy cup. We’ll encourage him to chew on shopping cart handles.

I know, I know. I’ve gone too far.

I’ve decided it’s all up to fate. My little family is simply doomed to have every virus in North America by the year’s end. We don’t have much of the year left, so we have to pack in as many as we can. At two or three a  month thus far, we should be on the right track.

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