second-year Archives

April 2, 2015

She’s figured out that keys go into locks and you turn them to make things happen. With my help, I’ve been letting her unlock the door when we get home. Potty “training” is progressing pretty well. I’m not pushing it. I ask her if she wants to pee in the potty, and when she wants to, I let her. That’s pretty much it. Nice and low key for everyone.

Oak season is here in force. My white car is a delicate shade of greenish yellow and the inside of my head feels like a vise. J has also had a runny nose, and I’m pretty convinced she’s got my allergies. We were trying to give her claritin liquid for a while, but she wouldn’t take it reliably. We had to mix it into pudding and every kid likes pudding but maybe not every day. So we tried Nasonex and Flonase, and both are giving her nosebleeds. But! Today I remembered the existence of Claritin Reditabs! Ever since we were giving her a daily dissolvable tablet of Prevacid, she’s been eager about medicine. You’re not supposed to use claritin tabs on children under two, so I called the pediatrician’s office and they gave me the go ahead without even needing to put me on hold to check. Hooray! So tonight we start those and I have high hopes.

This weekend is Easter weekend. I’m going to see if she wants to dye eggs and on Sunday, have an egg hunt! I put together an adorable basket that I’ll try to remember to take a picture of and upload here.

For easter, her Aunt Janine sent her a doll that has open and close eyes as well as “real” hair. She loves it. We gave it to her last weekend because she was having a rough time, and we have a LOT of easter presents for her. She’s been carrying it with her everywhere she goes since she opened it.

She’s discovered that people have different color eyes! She pointed out a baby with black eyes in book and I told her they were black. Then she pointed to her own eyes and I told her hers were blue. She pointed to Daddy and I told her his were blue too. And mine are brown! Then she pointed to her new “baby” (doll) and declared that her baby had black eyes. They’re brown, but close enough.

3 word sentences are now the norm. She’ll regularly express things that require combining 3 distinct concepts (for instance, daddy blue eyes).

She’s also discovering, or at least expressing, much more complex social understandings. Last week in the bath, she saw Dad take a pill. Remembering her medicine (the aforementioned Prevacid) she asked him for some. He got very stern with her and told her that no, she wasn’t ever allowed to take medicine without mommy or daddy. Ever! I happened to glance into the bathroom right at the end of the speech and she looked frightened :(. A moment later she burst into huge, frightened, sad tears. Poor baby! I took over for a while and pulled her out of the bath for a hug and explained to her that Daddy wasn’t mad, he just wanted to keep her safe, and it’s okay it’s okay. Eventually she calmed down. Definitely the first time we’ve made her cry with tone of voice :(. I think she’ll be as sensitive to other people’s nonverbal communication as I am (If Dad had talked to me in that tone, I might have cried too!).

We’re working with her on being more assertive. When she says “no” and “stop” and “mine” at school, sometimes the teachers don’t hear her defending her toys or whatever, and the other kids take them from her. She does the same thing all toddlers do and tries to take them back, but because she’s so much bigger than the other kids, it ends up looking like she’s pushing them around. So I’ve been trying really hard to get her to say, “NO!” and “STOP!” very loudly. We practice at home. It’s starting to work, I think!  Then last night, while we were at home playing, she was trying to put something on Dad’s head and he said, “No thank you J.” She started to put it on him anyway, and so I stopped her and asked her to listen to his words, because he said no. She looked SO SAD and SO ASHAMED. I felt awful! Poor little girl was just playing :(. I’m not sure if it was my tone or if she’s just realizing that “no” goes both ways and wanted to keep doing what she was doing. Anyway, she came and sat with me for a few minutes, near tears. I told her that no one was mad, and that I know she was just excited to be playing, and that she did a really good job of listening to Daddy’s no. She gradually got her playfulness back and was even ready to go give Daddy a hug after a while. (At first, she didn’t even want to look at him. I think her emotions were too strong and she was struggling to figure them out). So hard for me, but I feel like I handled it appropriately.

Another Chapter Ends

I wash my hands, close my office door, turn off my light. I sit down and my hands autopilot their way through a routine so familiar that I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. Bottles. Adapter. Valves. Membranes. Converter. Flange. Massager. Backflow preventer. Tubing. Machine. Go.

The quiet hissing fills my office, not loud enough to cover the sound of milk splashing into the bottle. This is my last pumping session. Tomorrow I will give away my pump to another mom in need. (It’s a closed system pump, so I can feel entirely good about giving it away.) I’ll be honest, I’m scared. This is a tangible expression of my parenting choices, of all the struggles I went through to breastfeed in the first place and then continue breastfeeding because it’s what I felt was best for my daughter. I’m scared of the hormonal shift that I’m about to experience. I’ve always been oversensitive to hormonal shifts and I think this will be a bigger one than just dropping a daily session. And yet. No more of the endless washing of parts. I can reclaim part of my counter that is dedicated to drying my pump parts. No more trying to schedule meetings around when I’ll be tied down in my office. No more awkward conversations about whether I’m still nursing, since there will be no obvious sign that (or if) I am. I am not excited to give it up, not the way so many women are. I think it’s universal to hate pumping, but I have responded well to it and while it’s not pleasant, it’s a small price.

As I sit here, I look back on the spreadsheet of pumping sessions that I’ve maintained for 18 months. The “notes” section has changed over time. At first, it was full of details:

9/20/2013: “Left side still plugged, last ate at 6:15, went 5 mins past letdown, no compressions. All Medela parts.”

That didn’t last long, though. Mostly, once I worked out those early kinks, I just tried to track when J had last nursed.

11/21/2013: “last ate 6:00, HAND PUMP

12/02/2013: “Last ate 5:30?”

I also tracked how much I pumped and what I did with it, whether it was frozen, sent to daycare, or (sometimes) spilled. Sometimes, none of those things:

02/14/2014: “forgot to bring it home, had to dump it. what a waste

In September of 2014, I dropped from pumping 4 times a day (every 2 hours, religiously) to 3 times a day. And then to 2 in January of 2015. In February, I dropped again, to only once a day. Now March is winding its way into the hot summer, and I’m pumping for the last time. I was going to pump until she turned 2, but I was also planning to send milk to daycare until then, too.

I shut off the pump. Disconnect the tubing. Catch the last few drops into the bottles (tap-click-drop, tap-click-drop). Count the ounces. Pull out the flanges, unzip the specialized bra, get dressed. Turn on the bottle warmer, pour the milk into the scalding bottle, wipe down the thermometer. Scald the milk, label the bag, pull off the perforated top. Ice down the milk, pour it in, close the bag along the edge of the desk to get out all the air bubbles. Update the spreadsheet. Unlock the tab and close it.

I open my office door. I remove the tattered sticky note and out of habit, stick it to the back edge of the door. Then I stop, turn around. Pull it from the back of my door and drop it in the trash. My coworkers all know not to come in when the sticky note is over my handle. I won’t be needing it anymore.

I pumped for 19 straight months. Every (working) day. And now, I’m done. The last 5 ounces will make its way to my freezer at home. I hope she never stops growing. I hope it gets easier for me to let go, though. Another cord cut, another door swinging gently closed, another chapter ending.

March 27, 2015

Oh god, so far behind! So much happening! So little time!

I stopped sending milk to daycare. This has been hugely emotional for me and I don’t have the time to suss out all the feelings about it in a post just now. But it’s been a pretty big change. As a consequence, I’m not pumping every day at work anymore. Queue more hormones! This also means I’m free to have caffeine if I have it early enough that it’s gone by the time I see J again. How did I go nearly 3 years without caffeine? It’s like I can think again. I can concentrate. I can remember things. I am so much more me! My mother points out that this might also be hormonal. That would be nice, since I’m planning to still take it very easy on the caffeine.

She can jump with both feet! Yay!

3 and 4 word sentences have arrived! Things like, “J baby hat” (wearing her doll on her head) and “Mama sit down.” So far the only 4 word sentence is, “Mama, sit read book.” Speech is improving slowly. She’s getting more confident, and will say things even if she knows she can’t pronounce them. And she’ll make real efforts at making certain sounds. “F” and “sh” are the most successful so far. Still not much luck with multisyllabic words.

My sister got married! It was fantastic! She was radiant and her now-husband looked madly in love and a wonderful time was had by all. We got to see some friends of ours who have a 4 year old and a newborn, and oh my god, I need to find some friends with kids J’s age. It was wonderful to have the play together while F and I hung out with the parents. I need to work harder at finding time to hang out with the friends I DO have that have kids the right age. Being a working mom totally sucks sometimes.

Other things, I’m sure, have happened, but if I don’t write and post this now, my blog will be even further behind. I’m glad I’ve started including vignettes on my daily pictures.

Developmental Evaluation

Age: 21 months, 1 week

The big news this week is her developmental evaluation. I took her in yesterday for a sensory and motor delay evaluation. I’ll provide links for the tests I know the names of, for any readers who know about (or want to read about) Such Things. For motor skills, they used the Peabody Developmental Motor Scale 2nd ed., which was interesting to watch but didn’t give me any idea how she was doing. For the sensory evaluation, I simply filled out a pretty short form about how she reacted to various things (I didn’t catch the name). Some of them were difficult for me, questions about whether she reacts more strongly than most children. Of course, she’s my only child and I frankly don’t have a lot of experience with children except for her, so I have no idea. I haven’t heard back about either of those evaluations. I guess they have to add up her scores to figure out what they think. The therapist who was doing the testing said that she guessed J’s score would come back borderline. She could probably benefit from some occupational therapy, but doesn’t need it.

Partway through the occupational evaluation, they asked if it would be okay to have a speech therapist take a look too, since it seemed to the therapist that she might benefit from getting her speech evaluated. Sure, why not. It would be nice to have her thoroughly evaluated. So the speech therapist came in, and started testing her using the REEL-3 booklet on receptive and expressive language. She did fine, no issues there. 84th percentile for receptive language (what she can understand) and 70th for expressive (what she can convey). No real surprises.

Then the therapist pulled out the Goldman-Fristoe Articulation book (here’s a video of this test). It’s basically a book of pictures and you evaluate how well the child articulates each word. It’s designed for children 2 years and older, so J at three months shy of 2, she wasn’t evaluated at a standardized level. However, she definitely did not articulate. In actually trying to get her to say a series of words, it became plainly obvious that she refuses to attempt any word with 3+ syllables, and most words with 2 syllables. Of the words she does say, most middle and all ending consonants are just elided entirely. If she were 2 years old, J would be well below the 50th percentile. That’s really more of an interesting note, since the test isn’t designed for children under 2, and 3 months is a really, really long time for a toddler, especially in terms of language development.

Given how able she is to understand and especially to communicate despite her articulation skills, I’m not really concerned. I think she’ll respond super rapidly to speech therapy. She’s generally very compliant and enjoys doing things for others. The therapist checked to make sure there was no physiological cause (hellooooo tongue tie) underlying her speech issues, and there isn’t. So it’s really just a matter of teaching her how to use her tongue. I’m really excited for her to start therapy, since everyone involved seems to agree that it should really help her with her tantrums/frustration level and with the aggression she’s showing other children (biting or shoving because she can’t tell them to stop doing something). We should be able to start next week.

**word list removed**


Not So Weekly Update: February 18, 2015

Age – 20 months 4 weeks

It’s going so fast. I can’t slow this childhood down at all and I’m struggling  to keep up with posting!

Last week, J got really sick. She started throwing up at 1am Friday night/Saturday morning, and threw up every 10-20 minutes for hours and hours. We finally got a doctor appointment and he gave us some Zofran (an antiemetic). We got it into her about 3pm. Poor girl was puking pretty much constantly for 14 hours. Once the Zofran hit, she was down to every 1-2 hours. That lasted a day or so before it dropped to every few hours, but after 3 days she was still puking pretty regularly. She wasn’t keeping anything except a little bit of breastmilk down. We had an urgent appointment every single day last week, mostly to make sure she was still hydrated enough. (I’m convinced this whole ordeal would have been much much worse if she wasn’t still nursing. I was able to keep her hydrated despite the near-constant vomiting, and I am convinced that’s the only thing that kept us from going to the hospital for an IV.) Each time the doctor saw her, I was told it should clear up within 24 hours at the most. On Wednesday, she’d been puking for 5 straight days and we were almost out of Zofran. I finally got to see one of her regular pediatricians, who gave us more Zofran and had an X-ray taken to make sure there wasn’t a blockage of some kind (there wasn’t). But things didn’t really improve much. By Wednesday she was puking every 5-6 hours, and that was unchanged by Friday when we saw the pediatrician I like most in her practice. She sat down and talked with me for a while, and ended up diagnosing J with “retch” or mechanical gastritis. Basically, she had thrown up so much that her body couldn’t stop. Her stomach was too irritated and her whole system primed to respond to that irritation with vomiting. She said it could take up to a month to clear up (UGH!) but it wasn’t contagious and J should be able to go back to daycare, as long as we sent her with a bland food diet. She also said J would regain the weight she’d lost from not eating for a week (nearly 2 pounds) with no problems. She also gave us Prevacid, to help calm J’s stomach down. J got her first dose Saturday morning, and by Saturday afternoon she wanted to eat again. Demanded to, in fact. I was so excited that she wanted to eat one that I gave her a strawberry without thinking about the bland food order. Oops! She demanded many strawberries and ate about 1/3-1/2 a pound of them before she stopped screaming for more. Fortunately, they stayed down. Yay! She had thrown up just before I went to the grocery store, but that seems to have been the last of it. It’s now Wednesday, and she hasn’t thrown up since! And her appetite has come roaring back. She’s definitely doing everything she can to put those 2lb back on.

Since going back to daycare, we’ve been having a lot of trouble with biting. I think her molars might be moving around. What a crazy time the last few weeks have been! A double ear infection, then gastritis, now teething?

Oh yeah, not sure I mentioned that.. The other week the daycare was complaining that her balance was really off, and asked me to take her to the doctor. Turned out she had ear infections in both ears! Ow! A quick round of antibiotics cleared that up, and we learned about how to give a toddler liquid medication when she refuses. After she had spat out two doses, we called the pediatric nurse line and asked for alternatives to the vile pink goo they expected her to take. They told us to mix it with chocolate pudding, which would disguise the flavor of just about anything. It worked! Sort of. She hated it less, but realizing how much we wanted her to eat the pudding was enough to keep her from wanting to. I ended up swaddling her in a towel, then once I got a single spoonful into her mouth she would calm down enough to eat it. She wouldn’t take it unless she was wrapped in a towel though. One evening, near the end of her 10 day course of antibiotics, she actually got out a towel, spread it out, and lay down on it so I could wrap her up! Silly girl! But whatever, it made getting liquid medication into her so much better.

So recently, she’s been biting. A lot. Not interested in teethers, only people. She’s biting her arm, her friends at school. The other night, she bit me while nursing. Ouch! I told her no, absolutely no biting, and I don’t want to snuggle with her if she is going to bite. After talking to her about how it hurts me when she bites, I let her nurse again. She bit me again, I think to test me, and I did the same thing, only this time I waited a much longer time before letting her nurse again. She was pretty upset, but so was I! Then last night while she was nursing, she kept unlatching and saying, “no bite. No bite. no bite mama.” It was really cute. Every time she said it I told her that was right, no biting mama, thank you for being so gentle and not biting. And she didn’t bite me once! It was very sweet. But, she’s still biting at school and still biting herself. I’m not sure what to do about that. I’m hoping it’s just teething and not part of something larger and more serious.

Like, for instance, developmental delay. The daycare talked to me a while ago about getting her evaluated for motor delays. She’s more unaware of her body than they would expect, and seems very clumsy for her age. She’s also biting herself (and others) and will do things like jab her hands and arms with her spoon or fork. The clumsiness I’ve always attributed to her genes. Like my mother always said about me, she comes by it honestly! She does come home with a lot of bruises on her shins and knees and bottom, all clearly from falls. We’re having her evaluated next week, and I’m honestly not sure what I’m hoping for. It would be nice if we could improve her clumsiness and address anything going on for her, but it will be hard to get her to a bunch of occupational therapy appointments and it’s not well covered by her insurance.

Otherwise, things are going well. Her vocabulary has really taken off in the last couple weeks, and I think everyone is enjoying how much better at communicating she’s getting! She’ll point to new colors and sign, “blue” and look at me, repeating until I tell her the color and the sign. So far I’ve learned blue, red, orange, pink, green, yellow, purple, black, white, grey, brown, silver, and tan. Some of them she can sign back, some she can’t. But she tries all of them! I think soon I’ll have to stop updating the list of words she knows. It’s getting hard to remember them all unless I update the page every day. Many of the words she uses now seem to have a few different meanings. “Mine” means mine but it also means, “I want to do it.” “Bye bye” means bye bye, but it also means, “Let’s go” and “I don’t want this” and “Go away.”

January 28, 2015.

Age: 20 months, 1 week.

– All stuffed animals are “Ah-boo” (which is Elmo).

– Most foods are “Ah-poo” (which is apple, and also indistinguishable from “Ah-boo”)

– Sometimes it’s pretty frustrating to figure out what she wants. Frustrating for her, too!

– Doing things herself. I tried to buckle her into her carseat this morning and she wanted to do it soooo badly! “Mine! No mama! No! Miiiiiiine!” I gave her a couple minutes with it, then offered to help. She said, “Hap!” and then when I reached for it, realized that helping meant touching the buckle, and insisted it was hers some more. I had some extra time before we had to leave, so I decided to give her 5 more minutes with it before I did it for her. I figured she’d get bored or ask me for help before the 5 minutes was up. But another couple minutes, and she got it all by herself! Of course, she then immediately wanted me to unbuckle it so she could do it again.

If I don’t post this now, I won’t get it posted this week.

Running through my head

What was that?
What’s Elmo done?
Where is that music coming from?
Elmo’s singing!
Why is Elmo singing?
Elmo doesn’t mean to sing!
Whenever Elmo tries to talk
a song comes
a song comes singing out!

So Much Internet

I read a lot about parenting. I like to think about parenting and I like to be prepared for the things my child(ren?) will go through before they happen, as much as possible. So, like my family does, I read up. Books, internet, blogs. I talk to my parents, my husband, my friends, my siblings. But mostly, I read stuff on the internet. Today, I was reading a blog entry about how to discuss death with children. And suddenly, it clicked.

So many of these things I read cover one small aspect of parenting. How to potty train. How to create “natural consequences.” How to deal with death and tantrums and picky eaters and the struggle for independence vs. protection. How to do this or that and there are a million hints and tips and tricks to each one. It sometimes feels like I’ll never be a good enough parent because I won’t ever be able to memorize the thousand best things to say to my child when she is teased. So I was sitting there trying to grind into my head all the suggested phrasings explaining death, and going crazy because they all amounted to the same thing.

All of these articles are just saying the same things, over and over, about different situations.

  1. Kids are, first and foremost, people too. Listen to what they say they need, and ask if they’re not saying.
  2.  Be honest in an age-appropriate way.
  3.  Be consistent.
  4.  Chill out and save getting concerned for the things that are truly concerning, like medical emergencies.
  5.  Have fun, because holy shit being a parent is awesome.

What do you know, almost exactly what the book my parents got me has to say about the whole affair. And pretty much what my mom has to say every time I talk to her about a specific thing.

Will this stop me from attempting to absorb the whole internet about parenting? Of course not. But being able to take some of my gut feelings and turn them into a set of simple rules that make sense, are flexible, and don’t treat children like a math problem with one right answer is going to help a lot. I don’t need to read an article about how to deal with death, because I already knew. Be honest, be consistent, be calm, be kind, and always listen. Those are things I can do and believe in with my whole heart.

So there’s today’s revelation.

Not So Weekly Update: January 5, 2015

Age: 19 months, 2 weeks

Okay, so apparently it’s been a month since I updated. Not entirely sure how I skipped a whole month, but in my defense it was one of the two craziest months of my year (November and December).

So, we decided not to go anywhere for Christmas this year. It’s our year to go to Iowa, but F didn’t get any time off (well, he got Xmas day but ended up needing to work some anyway). So it would have been a whirlwind trip, complicated, and awkward because J is still nursing and there isn’t a good place for me to nurse her there. It was a hard decision but it was definitely the right one.

Instead, I planned a bunch of activities so that we were doing something active every day, and mostly getting out twice a day. I took J to the park a whole lot. I also took her to the Thinkery (twice), the Austin Science and Nature Center, to a friend’s house, the Austin Trail of Lights, a city hosted gingerbread man and ornament making activity, swimming, an indoor bouncy castle place, and to see Bouncemas at work. We made cookies together and played together and watched some Sesame Street together. We took a lot of walks around the neighborhood. The only thing on my list that we didn’t get a chance to do was go to the zoo, and I’m okay with that.

I was so scared that this break would be exhausting and miserable and I’d want to unload J to someone else at every opportunity. I even set up two full days where we had a babysitter. One so F and I could spend the day together, and one so I could have a day all to myself. Sadly, I was sick with a stomach bug both those days and spent most of them in bed, but it worked out to have a sitter. And I had the most amazing two weeks bonding with my sweet little girl. We didn’t get sick of each other, although there were definitely a few times where we’d had enough of each other for a bit. Fortunately, Dad was there to step in and give us some space apart. I think having a list of things to do kept us from spending too much time cooped up, and made it a lot easier to enjoy each other’s company. I’d also put together a list of foods for her to eat and made sure we had them all, so I could give her a nutritious and varied diet while we were off. It worked! I was never in a panic about what to feed her, or what to do with her. What an awesome two weeks we had :).

During that two weeks she seems to have grown a bunch, too. A few new words, but mostly she’s exploring new consonants. She figured out how to say “p” so “up” and “help” are clearer. She sometimes put’s the “dd” in “daddy” now (as opposed to saying, “Da-ee”). She’s taller and I think the days of her chubby little baby legs are gone. She’s really beginning to look like the toddler she is. We can put all her hair up in one ponytail (sorta). She also has the cadence of counting down. She’ll line up all her rubber duckies (of which she got a bunch for xmas) and then point to them one by one, saying “duu duu duu duu” in the cadence of someone counting slowly.

Let’s see, what else? She can walk on her tippy toes now! And does so quite often. She seems to enjoy it. It’s pretty cute. Her balance has improved a lot. The two are probably related somehow. Her canines poked through, too, which is a huge relief and makes toothbrushing much less awful. She figured out how to open presents pretty much immediately on Christmas day, and enjoyed it very much!

The break is over now, and we are back to our regular schedule (mostly). I managed to keep meals and sleeps pretty much on track the whole two weeks, but now she’s back at daycare and I’m back at work, and I think we’re both struggling with separation anxiety, while at the same time excited to be back into our regular environments. And very excited to get back to swimming lessons this weekend!

There’s more, but I can’t think of it. And I’d better post this before it waits any longer!

Oh, I remembered another big thing! Monday afternoon, I picked her up with some apple for a snack. Her friend Margaret was also being picked up at the same time and started crying to her mom, “Apple, apple, apple!” So I offered her a slice of J’s apple. J got really mad about this! “Mine apple mine! Apple!” I realized I should have let J give Margaret a piece of her apple, which would probably have avoided some hysteria. Eventually she calmed down about though. Maybe she realized that she had more apple? I dunno. Anyway, as Margaret was about to leave, J wanted to give her a hug: “how! how! how!” and pointing at Margaret. So they hugged, and it was adorable, because 1 year olds doing just about anything is adorable.

The next morning, we were getting J ready for the day and as I often do I started listing all the friends she would be seeing at school that day. It helps with the transition to talk about how we’re taking her to school and what she will do there and who she will see. When I mentioned Margaret she said, “Apple. How.” So I said, “Did I give Margaret some of your apple yesterday?” and she nodded, then said, “how!” So I think it’s pretty clear that she was able to remember something and tell a (very short) story about something that had happened to her! It was very exciting! Writing it down makes it seem totally silly, but this is the first time that I’ve seen her tell us about something she did or remembers!

Weekly Updates: Week of 12/1/2014

Age: 18 months, 1 week

– Boo! She loves to have you say, “boo!” as you poke your head around something. I guess it’s the upgraded version of “Where’s J”
– dancing. She definitely likes to dance, and will do so to almost any music. She especially likes to take our hands and dance with us.
– Stringing words together! She’ll point to her water and say, “wawa” then to my water and say, “Mama wawa.” She gets such a big smile on her face when I acknowledge that yes, this is my water. I think she’s just so excited when she can communicate.


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