Sunday, February 27, 2011


Yesterday, we made the mistake of going to a local museum that is a draw for families. It's a big week for schools to be on vacation here, and it was a complete madhouse. As we wandered around, watching children older than Miss M scamper around the exhibits, T casually remarked to me about how he was looking forward to doing something in particular with Miss M when she is three. I can picture exactly where we were when he said this: in the mammals room at the museum, next to a large plastic whale. At that moment, something clicked into place for me in a way that it hadn't previously. That "something" is the fact that childhood is transient and fleeting.

Now I KNOW this, of course. But what I really realized is that the hard stuff about parenting a small child, the mundane stuff like bickering children. . .it passes. It passes rather quickly. Miss M is just shy of 14 months now. She'll be three before we know it. We'll be enjoying that moment that T is looking forward to. The last 14 months have FLOWN by. All of that stuff that I worry about with a second child, it's all going to go by the wayside in the blink of an eye. The things that I value, the reasons for expanding our family, those are big, worthwhile, good-for-a-lifetime reasons. When you make a pro/con list, it's important to realize that the pros and the cons are not necessarily weighted the same, and in the same way.

That seems so obvious now, but it's easy when parenting a small child to get caught up in the details and forget the big picture. I must say, I feel a bit lighter now.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Meandering Around My Head

I have a whole jumble of thoughts in my head, so I'm not sure where this post is going to go, exactly. Things are good here. We have some decisions to make, but they are good ones.

Miss M is finally eating an array of foods, and is sleeping through the night. She's finally learned to fall back asleep on her own, without wanting/needing to nurse for comfort. It was a bit of a slow road to get there, but we let her lead the way, and I'm glad we did. By following her needs and cues, we got through nursing/weaning/sleeping relatively easily and without much unhappiness. As a recap, at about 5 months, just after she learned to roll over, she started waking herself up every time she rolled over, and then she would be FULLY awake and have a complete meltdown in her crib. We were up 764 times a night, and it was awful, so out of desperation, we brought her into our bed. This solved the problem. When she woke from that point forward, she nursed herself back to sleep, so even if she woke a lot, she went back to sleep very quickly. We all slept, and life was good (except for the occasional baby feet in my face as she invariably turned sideways in bed). She's been in our bed ever since. Fast forward to weaning, which we started after she turned a year old. She's always loved cow's milk, so that was never a problem. However, she nursed for comfort in the morning, at night, and when she wanted to fall back asleep. Getting her to give up "comfort nursing", as opposed to nursing for nutrition, has been more complicated. I have let her nurse as she needs to, but tried to gradually decrease it, putting the pacifier in at night rather than letting her nurse when she awoke. At first, I thought we'd never get there, but gradually, she started having fewer "no I don't want the binkie--I want to nurse!" meltdowns, and started accepting the pacifier more in the middle of the night. And then, she started not needing anything, and falling back asleep on her own. She still wants to nurse a bit to fall asleep, but that is pretty much the only time we are nursing. She is just shy of 14 months right now. The concept of "cry it out" is completely foreign in our house. We've just kind of let her fall asleep when she's ready and without much fanfare. Ditto with naps. It seems to work. The upside is that if we're out and about and she needs to sleep, she just kind of falls asleep. The kid can (and will!) sleep anywhere.

The surprising thing is that I still have a bit of milk left when she nurses. I had thought, given my struggle to maintain adequate supply the entire time I was nursing, that as soon as I dropped a bunch of feedings/pumpings, that my milk would dry up completely. The really weird thing is that my period still has not returned. I think we are getting back there, though, because I've noticed some slight hormonal changes. Which brings us to the next thought we've been mulling over. . .

What to do about #2. . .whether, when. . .the whole decision. I never wanted only one child. As a general rule, I think it's better to have siblings than be an only child. On the other hand, the idea of multiple children kind of stresses me out. It's two things: the idea of them going in two different directions at once, and the inane bickering that invariably goes on between two kids. Neither thing appeals to me, and both are clearly part of the package. I worry about feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, especially when things are working so nicely now.

T very decidedly wants another child, and he wants one now. There is no equivocation on his part. Hell, he wants more than one! The noise, the chaos--doesn't mean anything to him. But then, he came from a large family himself. He also feels (somewhat naively, I think) that two won't be much more work than one. His big thing in pushing for a second child now, rather than waiting a bit longer, is age: he's in his 40's, and he feels like we'd better get going if we want to have another.

I can't really disagree with him on this point; 40 is right around the corner for me. If we are going to have another, I also want to do it before we're done with diapers, and before Miss M gets even more independent. I think that for me, there is a certain point after which I wouldn't want to go back. I talked to someone recently who decided to have another child when her youngest was 7. I just can't imagine that! I wouldn't want to go back to diapers and all of the other less-than-fun stuff about parenting a baby. Not that any of it is really hard or truly unenjoyable, but still--the stages are miles apart, and I think I'll want to enjoy them in the moment, and not go back to some long-ago visited stage when I am miles down the road.

When I look at it objectively, in a vacuum, I can say that yes, I would like to have more than one child. That's what I've always imagined, what I always pictured. Except. . .except. I LIKE the way things are now. I like having just one child. I like that we can focus on her. I like that it's just the three of us. I like that she is this amazingly flexible, fun kid who is happy and always up for anything. I love how portable she is. I like how life works now. Life works now! Adding a second child brings the great unknown. A second baby may bring utter chaos. A second temperment may change our family entirely, and I worry about whether it will be in a positive way. I worry about whether I will feel exhausted, whether we will be able to manage. I know that it works now, but with another? I don't know how it will be. I worry I won't have the energy and enthusiasm to meet the needs to two children. But still. . .I still imagine another. It still feels like someone isn't here yet. I feel like there is a spirit baby circling our family, patiently waiting for her time to come and settle in with us.

In an ideal world, I would wait a bit longer. In an ideal world, I think I would very easily and very naturally get to a point where I would be clamoring for #2. I can tell that in a perfect world, more time is probably what I need. The idea of pregnancy again is a bit off-putting to me at this point. I was so careful about what I ate and drank. I took such good care of myself while pregnant, while nursing. It was, frankly, a lot of work, and I'm kind of enjoying having my body back to myself. I'm not quite ready to give it over yet. In a perfect world, I would probably wait to try to have another until Miss M is two. . .or maybe even three. But I worry that I don't have the luxury of time. First, there is my age. Second, there is my history. Third, there is the fact that we are going to be moving again next summer (not sure where yet, but I know that we are). The move complicates the hows and wheres of having a baby. It would be in some ways ideal to have a baby before we move, because I think from a sheerly logistical perspective, we could make that work.

Indulge me while I play out a few scenarios, as I try to work a few things out in my head. . .if we started trying for number two, we could try between April and July (March is out, because I want to have at least one normal cycle before we start trying, and that hasn't happened yet). That would give me enough time to have the baby, have a maternity leave, and go back to work for a bit before the move. (Utterly setting aside how my office will feel about the baby--I can't consider that at all this time. I just can't.). That's not a very big window. We'd have to stop trying in July, because I can't be about to deliver at the time we have the move, because we HAVE TO leave the country at that point. Non-negotiable. And since airlines won't let you fly past a certain point, we'd have to stop trying for a bit to account for that. But I suppose we could start trying again after we get past the point. There are lots of things to take into account from there, in terms of timing, and in thinking about them. . .it gets complicated. Among the complications is the fact that we may be moving from here (nice European country with nice Western medicine) to a place where I would neither want to give birth, nor would I want to have a tiny infant. Complicated. But I guess I could just cross that bridge if we needed to. . .

So, yeah. It's complicated. Or maybe more accurately, I'M feeling complicated. April seems really soon. But that damn clock keeps on tick, tick, ticking. . .

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Miss M at 13 Months

The house is blissfully silent. Miss M is sleeping in daddy's arms, and I am running a bath, so I thought I would work in a quick post while the tub fills (we have the slowest tub faucet EVER!).

Miss M is running around and into everything. She can climb stairs. She has no fear, and wants to go down them facing forward like a big girl. Unfortunately, she is a peanut, and not nearly big enough to walk down stairs. She is like a moth to a flame with anything that appears in her little world that is new or appears forbidden--paper, television remotes, cell phones, the telephone, the cord to the electric mixer when it appeared in the kitchen one day. She succeeded in pulling the mixer on her head before we realized our error, but I think it largely missed her, and she mostly got a face full of whipped cream from the beaters and a tremendous scare. We do try to keep everything out of reach, but invariably, we err at times!

She has become a bit of a parrot, and will mimic you if you say words to her. "Are you done, done, done?" at dinnertime results in "da, da, da!" She has mastered mama, dada, and no. Everything else is still a bit of a crap shoot. She points for things she wants, like her bottle. When I asked her where daddy was the other day, she pointed at him. She'll hand you things when you ask her for them. If she wants to, of course. She also might run in the other direction and hide them.

We've been having a blast with her. We continue to have many visitors coming in and out, and everyone marvels over how good she is when we are out and about. She loves to be on the go, and rarely fusses about being out. The only challenge is that she no longer likes to sit still in restaurants--she wants to be down and walking around. It's curtailed our dinner adventures, but that's about it. Museums, bus rides, long walks through the park--she's an angel for all of it. She just loves people.

We went to the playground the other day, and she spotted a tiny pink doll stroller that was pint-sized. She toddled right over and ran away with it! The stroller's owner was none too thrilled to share, but her mother encouraged us to play with it. I'm guessing they are having a bit of a hard time with the concept of "sharing." It was hilarious to watch Miss M chase after the older child, as she tried to push the stroller and escape Miss M. We finally decided we'd better leave before both kids ended up miserable. Sometimes the path of least resistance is the best. Plus, it was cold out, and Miss M never wants to stop playing. She's is that kid with the blue lips, who insists she is warm and doesn't need to get out of the pool.

Miss M's friend R visited again with her mom. R had developed a ton since we'd last seen her--she's learned to crawl, clap, etc. It was a blast to see them play together. Miss M toddled over to R, hugged her and gave her kisses. So priceless! I missed it, but T said that R has also learned to pinch, and pinched Miss M's cheek hard. . .which didn't phase Miss M a bit. She has a crazy pain threshold, and is so determined that a little pain doesn't get in the way of whatever she wants to do.

This month, the riding zebra toy that Auntie C gave Miss M has been a bigger hit. I think it's because she's had a bit of a growth spurt, and she can now reach the floor while sitting on it. She thinks it's a blast. She carries around her Dressy Bessy doll or her Minnie Mouse stuffed animal like they are babies, hugging and kissing them. I get such a kick out of that. She kisses us, too, and gives big hugs. It's just the best. My sheer perfection moments are when she comes to me so that I pick her up, and then lays her head on my shoulder. Nirvana! Last night she held Dressy Bessy up to my mom on the Skype so that my mom could kiss Dressy Bessy. Cracked me up!

The other thing that has been cracking me up lately is that she talks on the telephone. Or imagines she is, anyway. She's started holding her play telephones to her ear, or my cell phone if she manages to get her hands on it. Occasionally, she'll hold other items to her ear as though they are telephones, and pretend to talk. We don't actually talk on the phone that much--via Skype more often than anything--so it is amazing to me to see her do this.

We are weaned. She is fully on whole cow's milk now, and likes it just fine. We've had no issues with her drinking the cow's milk, but she hasn't wanted to wean at all. Evening, morning, and middle of the night, when she wants comforting, she wants to nurse. I have a bit of milk left occasionally, but we really need to stop this. I think we are just going to have to tough it out cold turkey. She sobs, and it escalates terribly in the middle of the night if I don't let her nurse. It was getting better, and I thought we were just about done, until her top teeth started really giving her trouble last week, and all of a sudden we are all about the nursing again. Her teeth are mostly in now (two top and two bottom), but she is still drooling a ton and tugging at her ears, so I know that they are still bothering her. Med's help a bit, but don't resolve the problem entirely.

It has been lovely to give up pumping. It's so nice to have that time back, especially in the morning. I actually get to work on time every day now--no running behind because I need to pump for a bit longer, or because I fed her for longer than I had planned on. I was very sad to stop nursing, but relieved when I saw that it hasn't changed our relationship at all. I am still her favorite mummy.

As far as eating goes. . .she's just a poor eater. While R was here, we fed the girls together, and R (a healthy sized girl) ate for about twice as long as Miss M. She gets quite angry when she's finished, if you try to leave her in her high chair, so I let her down and she ran around R's feet as R continued to eat. Miss M is a big fan of Cheerios, chicken and cheese. She's become quite the independent eater, and really only wants to feed herself. She doesn't want to be fed with a spoon lately, and doesn't want to use one herself. Our solution has been that she likes some fruit and veggie purees that come in tubes (baby food brands like Plum and Ella's Kitchen), and she'll let us squirt those in her mouth. She pretty much likes all of them, so we are able to get a variety of fruit and veggies into her. As far as other baby food in jars, though, it's been a complete bust. She refuses to eat any of it. She does like macaroni and cheese, however, when I make it from scratch. So, we get as much cheese, chicken, Cherrios, and fruit and veg into her as we can, and try not to worry about it. Oh, and yogurt. The kid loves yogurt. We do a weight recheck with the doctor in a couple of weeks, but I already know what the result is going to be. She's clearly growing UP again, rather than out, and I know she's still going to be off the chart. Hopefully she won't have fallen at all.

And now, my tub is full. It's still quiet, and I'm off to relax and read a trashy magazine while I can!