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.

Weekly Updates: Week of 11/24/14

18 months! Wow!

Her 18 month checkup was great. She’s hitting all expected milestones, and actually has more words than expected. At 18 months they want to see 15-20 words. She has 15-20 words plus about that many signs! We mentioned the foot dragging, since the daycare had brought it up with us, and that she trips a lot. The pediatrician watched her walk and saw her drag her toes, and said she’d grow out of it. Because it only happens sometimes, she thinks J just gets too distracted to lift her foot quite high enough. She also got her final Hep A shot, and a flu shot. The doctor finally had the preservative free shots! I’m not so worried about the thimerosol, but I hear that the preservatives may cause stronger reactions. And so if I can get the P-free shots for her, I will! And she was great. She started to cry when they poked her, but was immediately distracted by the bright orange bandaids. No tears! And now she doesn’t need any more shots until she’s 4 years old! I think next flu season she’ll be old enough for the nasal spray. Hooray! Her height, weight, and head are off the chart again, but she’s proportional and the doctor is no more worried than I am (which is to say, not at all). She’s lost a couple pounds, but it’s probably because she’s well into toddlerhood now, and can barely be bothered to sit still long enough to eat. Her height is still a bit of a mystery. I think that the datapoints showing a longer baby are more correct, just because I have been involved in the measurements for those points. Here are her charts:

head circumference at 18 months

head circumference at 18 months

length at 18 months

length at 18 months

weight at 18 months

weight at 18 months

– Some weekly update stuff. First, She slept for 8 hours straight for the first time! In her crib! Of course, she followed that with a couple nights of up and down all night. But she did it!

– Swimming is going.. swimmingly. She can now hold her breath for 10 seconds with no problem, and she can swim about 10 feet like that. 10 seconds is where they cap breath training, and start working on other things. So from now on, I’ll be wearing a shirt over my swimsuit, and when J swims to me, we’ll be teaching her self rescue skills. Which really just means pulling herself up out of the water. I’m glad I started her on swimming lessons when I did. It’s so cool and she loves it so much!

– First freckle. It actually appeared a couple weeks ago and I just kept forgetting to mention it. I try to keep a list of what’s happening each week, but I usually think of them while I’m in the shower, or lying in bed. So, I’m forgetting some other stuff that happened this week too. Meh. So many big things happen that aren’t immediately visible anyway, that we’re missing a lot of the story. At some point recently, she figured out how to pretend. Oh, and this week she started saying Mama! Which I already mentioned in a previous post. But since then, every time she sees someone, she declares them a “Mama” or a “Da-ee” and so far she’s been right every time. When did she figure out that there are two sexes and that she can differentiate?

Kids are just amazing. They learn so much, so fast, so constantly. Say or do something once and she remembers it. It’s especially showing with language.

Weekly Updates for week of 11/17/14

Age: 17 months, 4 weeks

– At school/daycare, they’ve started teaching various life skills. This month, it’s how to zip zippers! J has definitely gotten the hang of it, and if she can grab the zipper pull she’s happy to zip up her coat! She also wants to zip up her sleepers at night, which have much longer, stiffer zippers with much smaller pulls. So sometimes it takes a while to get her dressed for bed. Totally worth it to see the look in her eyes when she’s done!

– Speaking of looks in her eyes, now whenever she sees a folded towel sitting out, she picks it up and brings it over to me and then goes, “He’! He’!” (using an apostrophe for a glottal stop there, and that’s a short e). I’m sure she’s saying “Help!” as in “I’m helping!” (Help, hot, and heart all sound the same, which is why they’re not on her list of words yet.) So I bring her over to the linen closet and let her put the towel away. I’ve even moved the sheets up and the towels down so she can reach where it goes. When she’s done, she always dusts her hands off. So cute!

– Her canines are definitely bothering her as they come in. Yesterday, Ms. Carrye (her primary teacher at daycare) asked me if we could bring in a pacifier clip so they could attach a teether to her. At night she’s been up more than usual and also harder to get down.

– The other night I had my first experience with her expressing as plainly as she could that she didn’t want to go to bed. Recently she’s been employing various stalling techniques: bringing us another book to read, and another, and another; refusing to put on PJ’s; spending lots and LOTS of time on our goodnights to Daddy. That sort of thing. But the other night, after we got through all that, she nursed for a while and then sat up and signed all done. Which happens sometimes, she doesn’t nurse to sleep every night. But when I continued rocking and singing to her, she got more insistent with her “all done.” Eventually she said, “bye bye!” and patted her butt like they do to put her down for naps at school. I thought she wanted to go to the bed, so I took her over to her bed and lay her down. I realized later she was trying to say bye bye to bedtime itself. Eventually I figured out that she just didn’t want to go to bed, and she was saying “all done” and “bye bye” to bedtime, her bedroom, all of it. Once I figured out what she was actually trying to communicate, I told her that it was okay to be done snuggling, but that we had to stay in the nursery because it was nightnight time. I told her that a few more times before she settled. I actually nearly caved, but right as I was starting to doubt myself, she started falling asleep.

– Tomorrow I have my first parent/teacher conference! I’m inordinately excited for it. It’s just so neat to be on the other side of all these things! Anyway, I’ve been talking to Carrye a lot recently about J. Trouble walking, trouble with being so much bigger than the other kids, trouble with teething, etc., etc. It will be interesting to see what she says when we actually have time to sit down and chat without J tugging on me to go home.

– Friday we have her 18 month well baby visit. I’ll try to update with info over the weekend, but we will be in San Antonio so I’m not sure how well it will work.

Gentleness with your tongue tied baby

Some day I will write a whole post about J’s tongue tie and how it has affected her/us. But for now, I want to just not lose this link.

Edit: and then the flipside, of course.

Daycare Dropoffs

J almost never cries when we drop her off. These days, it’s usually a quick “Bye bye!” called over her shoulder as she runs off to play with the other kids. Sometimes she’ll blow a kiss and say byebye as all the toddlers sit down to breakfast.

This morning, she cried. Some mornings, she does. And mostly, I hand her to one of the incredible teachers there and give her a kiss and a relaxed, happy, “Bye bye, see you this afternoon!” same as I say when she’s not even paying attention. But this morning, something was different. I’m not sure what. She was crying differently. So I picked her up and held her close, and she rested her head on my shoulder for a few minutes. She cried a little bit more, then sighed a big sigh and picked her head up off my shoulder. She wiggled to get down, and when I put her down she climbed into her chair for breakfast and announced, “Byebye!” with a big grin.

I guess she just wasn’t quite ready and needed one more hug.

Coming out of the breastfeeding closet

So, one thing that comes up occasionally in this blog, but never much and certainly never without trepidation on my part, is breastfeeding. I’m tired of avoiding it. It’s important to me on a personal level. I realize that my choice is both an uncommon one and only possible because of my unique circumstances. I don’t feel any resentment or disappointment or whatever feelings the so-called Mommy Wars say that I, as a nursing mom, should feel towards those who don’t nurse (or didn’t nurse this long) for whatever reason.

Last year in my state, only 25.8% of women were still breastfeeding at one year postpartum [1]. There’s almost no data on how many women are still breastfeeding at subsequent intervals, but as near as I can tell, by 18 months the number drops to under 10% [2]. I’m one of that 10%, and will probably be one of the 0.5% (or whatever) that is still nursing at two years. I’ve already started to get hassle and be questioned about when I am weaning and other such nonsense. So I try to stay pretty in the closet when it comes to the fact that I’m still nursing. But you know what? This is my blog about my experiences with my daughter, and I’m missing out on recording some of the most valuable, heartwarming experiences of my days (and nights). I don’t care if other people have switched to formula/cow milk/plant milks by now. I haven’t, and I’m glad. (Hopefully I don’t also sound overly defensive.) I’m also still pumping, because I have an office where I can work and pump, and because I like providing milk for my daughter to help her continue to get the benefits of breastmilk, and because it’s the easiest way to keep my supply where I need/want it. And also because she’ll refuse all other milks and only drink water, but I don’t know if that’s a very big deal. I plan to do “natural weaning” aka “extended breastfeeding” aka “just how/whenever J and I feel like weaning.” I still nurse her to sleep most nights, and I still get up in the middle of the night to nurse.

So, on to what prompted me to want to write a blog post about breastfeeding anyway:

The other day I was nursing her after I picked her up from daycare (we both enjoy reconnecting after a day apart!) and she was pretty tired. Her eyes started drifting closed. That’s not something I get to see very often anymore, because now I put her down in a darkened room. I didn’t realize how much I missed watching her eyelids droop as she gradually loses the fight to keep watching this exciting world. The sense of peace, trust, and utter contentment that was emanating from her is one that I don’t think most adults get to experience anymore.

And some other memories/impressions I’ve avoided writing about:

I love the way she giggles excitedly when we get home and I can let her nurse until she’s done, rather than until she’s close enough to done that she won’t scream the whole way home from daycare.

I love the sound of her breathing, and her little sighs as I pick her up at night and settle her into my lap to nurse. I can feel her whole warm, soft little body relax into mine as she drifts back to sleep. Many nights, these nursing sessions only last 30-60 seconds. Just enough for her to know that I’m still there, still ready to meet her needs for warmth, comfort, and security.

My pump is acting up. I’ve emailed Hygeia and asked them for advice on it. I’m so glad I bought a pump that is designed to last longer than a year. I never thought about how long I’d be breastfeeding before I had J. I didn’t buy this pump because it is supposed to last longer than the one year that Medela pumps are guaranteed for. I bought it because it’s a closed system and therefore it would be easier to fight recurring thrush/mastitis issues, and I could also pass it on when I am done with it, if needed. I wasn’t a lactivist when I bought it, but as I’ve grown into the label I’ve become very glad that I bought a pump that is WHO code compliant [3]. I hope I can get it figured out soon.

There. Now it’s all out on the table. Now hopefully I will be able to talk more openly about breastfeeding my amazing little toddler without fearing judgement for breastfeeding or condescension for my parenting choices. Because you know, all the people that read this blog are just SO judgmental.





Milestone Tuesday: 77 weeks

Soon I have to figure out another way to count. 77 weeks is not a very helpful measurement of age. She’s 17.5 months now.

– Second dentist appointment went very well. It was this morning, and the dentist complimented us on how clean and healthy her teeth look. We’ve been flossing and brushing every day and it’s paying off! J was a little concerned when the dentist leaned over her, but stopped crying once the dentist started poking at her teeth. I think she just didn’t know what was going on until then. We hold her in the same position to brush her teeth at home so once the dentist started, she clearly figured out what was going on and stopped being upset. The dentist says her canines should be in any day now. She has a minor chip on one of her front teeth (minor enough that I had to point it out and ask about it). The dentist said not to be concerned, that it looked fine. Then they gave her a rubber ducky and a balloon! She loved the balloon. She was so excited to have a new ball! But she didn’t like that when she threw it, it went up to where she couldn’t reach it anymore.

J holding balloon

Her balloon

– So many new words! I think that any day she’ll have that explosion of vocabulary.

– Putting things away. If you ask her to put something away, she usually will. It’s a good way to get her to stop playing with something that she needs to leave behind. It’s also made a huge difference in how messy our house gets. Instead of saying, “Okay, go ahead and go get another book!” you can say, “Go put this book away and choose another!” and she’ll dutifully put her book away and bring you a different one to read. She can easily spend an hour being read to like this.

– Speaking of books, she can finally handle paper books, not just board books. She still chews and rips if you give her a book unsupervised, but it’s safe to read to her with a paper book. She’s very gentle turning the pages. This has opened up whole new avenues of reading, which is great because Dad and I were getting pretty darned tired of most of our board books.


Milestone Tuesday: 76 weeks

– Today is our wedding anniversary! 8 years and still going strong. No flowers, because he knows I don’t like getting flowers on the days that you’re “supposed” to give them. He gets them for me randomly and it’s way better.

– Nodding yes! She has figured out how to nod. It’s a little wobbly but she’s definitely getting the hang of it.

– Ready to talk. Whether she’s saying “buh bow” when I ask her to say “elbow” or “buh boos” when blowing bubbles, she’s definitely starting to really push harder to say words. The other night she was trying to get me to do something by pointing (I have no idea what she was pointing at or what she wanted) and she got pretty frustrated. I pulled her into my lap and gave her a hug and told her I was ready for her to start talking. I asked if she was ready to start talking too, and she looked up at me and nodded her head very seriously. I definitely believe she understood what I asked and responded.

– Helpfulness. I know I’ve mentioned before how she likes to be helpful. I assume that this is pretty much a trait that all toddlers have. And even though at her age, the “help” is often extra work for me, it’s so worth it to me to let her help. Now time for a brag. Last night as I was folding towels, J came over and started picking up the folded towels. Of course they came unfolded in her arms, and when she put them back down it was a jumbled mess. I am proud to say that I handled the situation absolutely right. I asked her if she wanted to help me fold towels, and when she nodded I had her hold one end of each towel and kind of folded it around her. She was watching me intently the whole time and I described to her how to fold towels as we did it. Then I had her put it in a stack. When we were done folding all the towels, I gave her one to carry and carried the rest of the drooping, falling apart stack over to the linen closet. As we were walking towards the closet, I glanced back to make sure she was following me. She was holding her towel and looking up at me as we walked. The look of excitement, pride, and joy shining in her eyes is one I won’t soon forget. I’m so glad that I took the time to treat folding towels as an opportunity to enjoy time with my daughter rather than worrying about how imperfectly our towels are now folded. I had been planning to refold them later, but after looking at her face and the pride she took in them, I think I won’t. I think that instead, I will remember that look as I reach for each towel until this stack is gone. The towels went so well I also had her help me fold a sheet, and that I let her put in the linen closet all by herself. *Proud (of both of us) mama moment*

Milestone Wednesday: 75 Weeks

It was somewhere between 3am and 4am, in the loneliness of the night between Monday and Tuesday. F had finally stopped throwing up and was getting some rest. J had also stopped throwing up, but had no interest in rest. I was worn out, still throwing up too much to get any rest, and not thinking very clearly. In the corner of our den is J’s little table, where she likes to color and eat her snacks. She’s not allowed to climb up on top of it, so of course she frequently does if she feels that we’re not paying attention to her. I walked over to the table and flipped it upside down so she couldn’t climb up. Then I turned on Sesame Street. Then I wrapped myself in a sheet, checked that the baby gates were all closed, and dozed on the floor while J clambered around on the couch and played with her toys and frequently just leaned up against me, presumably watching the television. I occasionally lifted myself up enough for another puking session, which would get J very excited. She would point at my bowl and exclaim, “Da! Da! Da!!” as my empty guts tried to empty themselves further. I would rinse out what little was in the bowl, then lie back down. Rinse, repeat. Why didn’t I wake up F? I have no idea. How long was I there? No idea. When the TV stopped making noise, I selected a new episode. I did that a couple times. I was definitely a little delirious, possibly slightly feverish.

And so it is that we hit a number of milestones all at once:

– We experienced having the whole family sick with the stomach flu, and somehow survived and took care of the kid.

– We experienced both parents being ungodly sick while the baby felt fine, and still managed to keep her fed and her diaper changed and she didn’t get injured.

– I used the TV as a babysitter. I knew it would happen eventually. I knew there would come a time when I had to turn on the TV and just let it go. My friend Beth is always reminding me that sometimes parenthood is not about being perfect but about being enough. And this week, I embraced enough for the first time. I don’t feel bad about it. She was safe, she was happy, and when I thought I might be able to not puke for a couple hours, she was ready to go back to bed.


On a happier note, we also hit the point where she can indicate assent! She hasn’t quite figured out how to nod her head yes, but she’ll kind of bounce her whole body up and down a little when you ask her a question and she is affirmative in her answer.

I think I’ve also already mentioned that she now loves to spin until she’s dizzy, then stagger around until she falls down. The whole times she’s doing it she goes, “Wowwwwww!” I need to get a video before it stops. I’m still sad that I never got a good video of the step step game.


J peed in the potty this morning! We’ve gotten off track because of all the diarrhea concerns we’ve had going on recently, but she’s been waking up dry on many mornings. This morning I managed to get her diaper off before she needed to pee, and I sat her down on the potty. She peed almost immediately! She stopped once she realized what was happening, not because she was scared or anything, but because she wanted to splash around in it (sigh, this kid REALLY LOVES WATER). I congratulated her very effusively and told her that she should be proud she peepeed in the potty, while at the same time holding her hands so she wouldn’t play in it. She got up and started playing with a stuffed animal, and immediately started peeing again. I put her back on the potty and she finished up! I should have then had her go flush it with me, but I forgot in my own excitement. Next time, we’ll go flush it and then wash our hands.

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