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Friday, December 31, 2010

I love my crappy dog.

Monday morning, Kronk was fine. He ate his breakfast, was playing with Anna, and barked at the neighbor’s dog. But that night we went out to dinner and when we got back home, Kronk was most definitely not fine. He was obviously in a lot of pain, wouldn’t eat or even walk. Because things had gone downhill so quickly for him, we decided to take him in to the emergency vet clinic. Tests done there revealed a mass in his abdomen. The vet told me that it could be a cancerous tumor, a benign tumor, or a mass of cells caused by a perforated intestine. We wouldn’t know which until she could perform an exploratory surgery.

I decided to go ahead with the surgery because in two of those three possible scenarios, full recovery was likely after the mass had been removed. So Kronk went into surgery at 1:30am on Tuesday morning and wasn’t out until after 5am. The surgery was long and complicated.

There were actually 3 masses that they removed. The masses were not touching and didn’t look uniform, so they weren’t sure what they were, but there were two smaller ones and one large one. The big one was the trouble-maker, a tumor 3 inches in diameter. It had grown into a section of the intestine and a corner of the pancreas. To remove the tumor, the vet had to cut away part of the intestine and part of the pancreas, then resect the intestine to repair it. Kronk had to spend a couple days in ICU because of the severity of the surgery.

Kronk came home from ICU two nights ago and for now he is doing fine. He is continuing to recover at home. His pain is well managed, and though he’s reluctant to eat, he will swallow food when it’s force-fed via syringe. But his energy is coming up, he’s responding well, and we have confidence that soon he’ll be back to feeding himself.

Samples from all 3 of Kronk’s masses were sent for analysis by a pathologist. We were all hoping to hear that the tumor was benign, because that might mean a full recovery for Kronk. However, that was not the case. All 3 masses were related, 3 tumors from the same cancer: a leiomyosarcoma. The vet is going to consult with some oncologists and then get back to me about Kronk’s long term prognosis. His cancer is likely to recur, we just don’t know when or how. Hopefully, the vet will give us some idea of what to watch him for and how to know when it’s his time.

We’ve pretty much decided that we’re not going to do any more treatments. The two main possibilities are 1) chemotherapy very soon or 2) another surgery when the cancer grows back. We feel like, in either case, it’d just be putting Kronk through more sickness/pain than it’s worth. Putting a dog through chemotherapy seems questionable to me, and sarcoma has a reputation for not responding well to chemo, anyway. And more surgery would just be more than Kronk’s old body could take, I fear. So we’re trying our best to accept what will likely be inevitable. Hopefully, we’ve bought Kronk a decent amount of time, but really time will only tell.

This whole process has been a huge drain on me, both emotionally and physically. Physically, there are vet visits every day, sometimes twice a day, I have to help him and coax him when I need him to move around, I have to pill him and force feed him three times a day, and between the middle-of-the-night care and the worrying constantly going on in my head, I’m sleeping terribly. Emotionally, there’s the obvious struggle of knowing you’re slowly losing your dog. And I know, he’s just a dog, but I love him a lot, even though he’s just a crappy dog who doesn’t get along with other dogs and howls at kites and rolls in dead things. He’s also the dog who I trained to lay on my feet to keep them warm and who protects me when he perceives danger and who loves nothing more in the world than for me to hug him tight around his neck. Who wouldn’t love a crappy dog like that? But the other emotionally difficult thing about this has been that I’m second guessing every decision that I’ve made. Knowing now that he has a cancerous sarcoma, I wish that I’d not put him through the surgery. If we’d known then what we know now, I’d have had him euthanized that first night. How long will he have? How much pain will he be in? When the cancer comes back, how bad will that be for him? I just don’t feel like I’ve made the right choices for him and it hurts me to know that.

And on top of all this, there’s the constant threat of labor. I’m to the point of begging Ellowyn to stay in: I’ll walk around pleading to my belly, “Just one more week, ok? I just need you to stay in there for one more week.” Because hopefully by then Kronk will be better and I can’t fathom having to do all this care for Kronk and also have Mira AND ALSO have a newborn. Not to mention during labor. Kronk needs attention every two hours right now. Who will care for him if I go into labor right now? And then once we get home, will I be stuck in a perpetual rut of taking turns between caring for the baby and caring for the dog? And where does Mira come in to that? And it’s terrible that now the imminent arrival of my baby, something that should be exciting and that I should be overjoyed about and that I should be anxiously looking forward to, now that’s all turned into some lurking impending doom and just that fact makes my heart hurt a little more.

I guess you could say this has been a rough week for me. I hope you were all prepared to hear me pour my heart out.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pregnancy update - 37 weeks

Well, the pre-labor is going on and off and on.  Nothing as intense as that first night, where the contractions were coming on at least every 10 minutes for over 12 hours, but still having contractions pretty frequently, though they're also not as painful intense.  They'll start up, usually when I'm walking around, go every 8 minutes or so for maybe an hour, and then quit again.  I saw my midwife again on Tuesday (I'm going weekly now), and after a pelvic exam, she told me that I was still dilated to 1cm, as I was last week before all the pre-labor.  But now my cervix has moved around from a posterior position (where the cervix exists normally in most non-laboring women) to a more front-and-center position, the position needed for labor.  Also, Ellowyn's head is down low, at a -2 station now.  So all those contractions are moving things around, getting things lined up, softening the cervix, and bringing the baby into position.  So really, this could happen any day.  And now that I'm "full-term" at 37 weeks, I'd be comfortable delivering any time.  So now for the waiting...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pregnancy update - 36 weeks (also, I talk too much)

My last pregnancy update was at 34 weeks, and I’ve actually had 2 prenatal appointments since then. And a lot has been going on with my body. Changes are definitely happening and I feel my body working up to labor.

Starting around the end of week 34, my Braxton-Hicks  contractions really amped up the volume. They were really strong, very uncomfortable, and mildly crampy. I also started having them very frequently, several times in an hour. It was a few days after that, I was in the beginning of my 35th week, when I started having what I can only describe as sharp, popping pain... down there. These pains started worrying me because I remember having something similar a couple hours before going into labor with Mira. So I went ahead and scheduled an impromptu appointment with one of my midwives.

After the routine checks and a pelvic exam, the midwife informed me that my uterus was “stressed”, her words. It’s normal for women to have BH contractions, but not with the intensity and frequency that I was experiencing. (I had several during the appointment, so she got to witness them first hand.) And the sharp pains that I was having, she called “cervical twinges”. She said it was basically the cervix starting to loosen up, and could feel quite sharp and painful. The pelvic exam revealed that, at that time, I was not yet starting to dilate, but my cervix was softening in preparation for labor. Of course, that can happen minutes before labor or weeks before labor, but either way that’s what was causing my discomfort. She said that she didn’t see any signs that I was going into labor immediately though, so she sent me home with directions to get as much rest as possible, drink lots of water, take hot baths often, and come back in 1 week.

Well, de-stressing a uterus is not an easy thing when there’s a toddler involved but luckily I have family and friends to help me. I’ve had meals prepared for me, several times someone has come and taken Mira for me, and Brian has really stepped up on a lot of the chores that I normally would do. But despite all the help, the BH contractions continued to be pretty frequent and fairly intense. They were uncomfortable enough that if I was walking when I had one then I would have to stop and stand still. And when I had them while driving, I was always very tempted to pull over.

After that week, I went back in yesterday morning for my next checkup. The midwife made sure that the baby was still head down, took a swab to test for GBS, and did a pelvic exam. I had told her that I was planning to travel to Dallas for Christmas this coming weekend and asked her if she saw anything to indicate that I should do otherwise. Essentially, her response was that I should stay home, though she didn’t say it quite that directly. My blood pressure was slightly elevated above my normal (though still in a healthy range), probably from holiday stress. And in the past week I had dilated to 1 cm, probably as a result of all the BH contractions. The midwife told me that she would advise me to do whatever I could to make this holiday a restful one... which sounded a whole lot to me like “Don’t go to Dallas.”

So that was yesterday and I went about making all the calls and cancellations so that we could stay in Austin for the holidays. And it’s looking like it’s a good thing that I did...

Because last night my body decided to give this whole labor thing a test drive.

I started having contractions that felt a whole lot more like actual labor contractions, starting at about 4:30pm yesterday. They were very crampy and much stronger than the BH I was having, and while they didn’t seem to have a steady rhythm, they were coming on about every 5-10 minutes. I called Brian and let him know what was going on, but that I wasn’t sure it was labor, and we decided that he would finish out his work day and then come home. So Mira and I sat down in front of Sesame Street and I relaxed and drank water while Mira was entranced by puppets. By the time Brian got home, the contractions were still going and becoming more intense, but still no steady rhythm. So we ate dinner and I called my mom to give her an early warning that we might maybe possibly be starting labor or maybe it was nothing. She said she’d go ahead and come get Mira to spend the night at her house just in case it was labor and I needed to go to the birth center in the middle of the night. Which was great because it really let Brian and I focus on what was going on with me, and on getting ready in case it was the real deal. (I had so convinced myself that the baby wouldn’t come till after Christmas that I didn’t have a bag packed for the labor yet or even have the baby’s carseat installed in the car.) So while I was taking a bath, Brian packed a bag and got the car ready. I was still having contractions at least every 10 minutes, sometimes they’d come much faster (every 3 minutes) and sometimes they’d slow way down again. Brian took great care of me the whole evening. At about midnight, we decided that we’d both try to sleep. I was still having frequent contractions, but they were feeling milder now, so I was hopeful that I’d be able to sleep through them. And I did... some. I slept for one 2-hour stretch and then for little 30-minute snoozes for the rest of the night. Brian slept a little better because we agreed that he should sleep in a different room so that I wouldn’t disturb him unless I needed to. But by this morning, the contractions had pretty much stopped... when I was sitting or laying still. The minute I would get up onto my feet they would start up again and walking would lead to basically one continuous contraction that just came in waves, with no defined start or stop, just an ebbing and flowing.

So that’s where I am right now. Brian has decided to work from home today so that he can be close to me and help me when I need it. Mom brought Mira back home for her nap, but can take her back at a moment’s notice, since she’s off work till after Christmas. I’ve given up on actually being in real labor for right now (though I was never convinced that all those contractions were labor, since they never became steady and organized). And still now, if I’m sitting or laying, the contractions go away, but if I stand or walk they come on immediately and pretty strong. So we’re sort of in a play-it-by-ear situation.

The good news is that, being 36 weeks along, my midwives could deliver me at the birth center now. (Any earlier than 36 weeks and I would have had to go to the hospital because of the risks associated with babies born prematurely.) But still, I hope that Ellowyn manages to stay put a little bit longer. Mostly because the closer I am to full term when she is born, the healthier she is likely to be. But also because we didn’t really plan to have a newborn at Christmas, and I’m not sure how it would effect our celebration plans. Do I really want to take a days-old baby to a huge gathering of people? I dunno...  We'll cross that bridge if we get there.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Mira counts

About a month ago, Mira began to obsess... with counting.  But she would only count to two.  She would count everything... balls, toys, people, shoes, bubbles, cars... everything... in twos.  "One, two," she would point and say.  And if there were more than two of whatever she was counting, then she would just keep on pointing and repeat, "One, two, one, two, one, two..." until she had counted them all.

Well one day maybe about a week ago, she was counting something and... she just kept going.  She counted right up to 10.  Now she can count all the way up to 12, though she sometimes skips 9 or gets hung up and needs reminding of what comes next.

And it's not like it's just a series of things to say.  Like three is just what you say after you say two.  No.  For her, there is meaning to counting.  She knows that the numbers are an answer to the question "how many".  What a smart little gal!  

So here are some videos of her counting.  I love the way she says "seven", especially.  Also, "six" sounds rather vulgar, which I find pretty amusing.  

In this one, she's counting while she spins.


In this one, she is counting her "guys" (that's what she calls her stuffed animals).  She keeps coming back to the camera because she has learned that she can watch the videos of herself right after I record them, so she's a little anxious to see the recording.

And as you might expect with a toddler, not all videos go according to plan.  In this one, I was trying to get her to count to 10 for the camera, but she was more interested in goofing off.  I call this one the blooper scene.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Goodbye Mimic

Yesterday afternoon, our cat (or really Brian's cat) Mimic passed away.  We had noticed that he wasn't looking so good over the weekend: he was walking funny, had lost a lot of weight very rapidly, smelled funny, and just didn't look right (though we couldn't exactly pinpoint what was off about him, we just knew he didn't look good).  So we watched him over the weekend and then first thing Monday morning I called the vet and made an appointment for that afternoon.

Mira and I took him in, and Mira was very interested in the whole process.  She knew that there was a doctor for her and a doctor for Mommy, but now she was discovering that there was also a doctor for pets.  On the way to the vet, with Mimic meowing from the carrier in the back, Mira kept saying "key ca" (kitty cat) and "dah ter" (doctor) and "moww" (meow).  And when we got there, she insisted on being held up to the examination table so that she could see what was being done to Mimic and I explained everything as the nurse listened to Mimic's heart with a stethoscope and took his temperature and looked in his mouth.  She was really interested in the whole process.  

Well, anyway,  then the vet came in and asked me to tell her what had been going on to prompt our visit and I tried to explain that Mimic just didn't look right, without really being able to pinpoint what didn't look right about him.  He was still drinking and being affectionate, but he seemed to have lost interest in food, though he did keep approaching the food bowl, he would just sit there next to it instead of actually eating anything.  After she got my version of what was wrong, she said that we were right to bring him in, he's very sick.  She then pointed out what exactly looked wrong with him, which I had been unable to put words to: his eyes were sunken and his skin was pulled in to his bones because of dehydration.  I told her that he has constant access to water and he was still drinking, so I didn't know how he would have become so dehydrated.  She then told me that it could be kidney failure causing the dehydration.

As soon as she mentioned kidney failure I knew...

She felt around on his abdomen and said that she could feel that the kidneys were inflamed.  She then said she'd like to do a quick blood test to confirm her suspicion.  While we were waiting for the blood test results, I called Brian and warned him that it was not looking good.  I asked him if he wanted to be present if it turned out that Mimic needed to be euthanized, and he said yes, so I told him he'd better come on in.  

The test results came back and all confirmed renal failure.  Mimic was rapidly building up toxins in his system as his kidneys shut down and failed to process them out through his urine.  The vet explained that the toxins were probably causing him to feel pain and depression, that there was nothing we could have done to prevent this, and that there was no treatment that would help.  I understood exactly what she was trying to gently get at and let her know that we would like to humanely end his suffering but asked if we could wait till Brian arrived so that he could say goodbye.  They were very accommodating.  

Brian arrived and he had some time with Mimic before he was euthanized.  I thought about taking Mira out to the waiting room, but Brian asked that I stay with him, so Mira just played with the cat carrier in the corner while the procedure was done.  It was very calm and serene.  Brian was petting Mimic as he passed away and Mimic was purring right up to the end, because that's the kind of cat Mimic was.

Well, as we were leaving, Mira noticed that we weren't leaving with a cat.  So she asked "key ca?"  I had been so focused on Brian that I was a little caught off guard by the sudden realization that I now had to explain what was going on to Mira.  As we were getting into the car, I told her, "Mira, the cat was old and sick.  The doctor couldn't help him get better.  He's gone now, he died."  She immediately looked right at me and said, "Dead.  Bye bye."  And it absolutely broke my heart.  That my not-even-two-year-old daughter, who still didn't even get the concept of when to say "me" versus when to say "you", whose spoken vocabulary didn't even yet include words like "fun" and "sing", who seems still so little and vulnerable to me... already she knew all about "dead".  In that moment, I just wanted to hug her close to me and protect her from everything bad that would ever happen to her and never ever let her go.

And I did just that.  For an entire, all-too-brief minute.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Pregnancy update - 34 weeks

I've now hit the point that my midwives want to see me every two weeks instead of just once a month.  So this morning I was back in their office.  This time, Brian came along, which was really nice.  He can't always make the appointments because he's busy at work, but I sure am glad when he can.  Not only is he helpful in watching Mira while I'm talking to the midwife or getting examined, but also it's just nice to not be the only pregnant lady in the waiting room with a toddler instead of a husband sitting next to her.  Something about the demographic of women who have chosen this birth center, they all seem to have husbands who are very involved, which is pretty cool.  Probably has something to do with the fact that Bradley courses (husband-coached childbirth classes) are so strongly recommended by the midwives...

Anyway, so speaking of our Bradley course... We just have two weeks left in the course and now that we've been through a majority of it, we know a lot more about what we're going to need in our birth room, having done so much relaxation practice and labor rehearsal.  So we wanted to revisit the birth rooms to remind ourselves what we would have available versus what we would need to bring (the main reason Brian came along for this appointment).  As we were checking out the rooms again, I was reminded of one of the reasons I chose this birth center over a hospital.  The rooms are so homey and relaxing compared to a hospital setting.  There is no nursery, so the baby never leaves the room where you are.  Everything that the midwives will need is right in the room.  They assume that the laboring woman will be unmedicated and therefore provide certain tools (such as a birth ball and squatting stool) that are not provided by most hospitals, where a majority of women are immobilized by an epidural.  Anyway, it's a really positive, supportive, relaxing environment and I'm happy to be delivering there.  

So then after that it was the usual prenatal appointment: weight, blood pressure, urine, belly measurements, fetal heartbeat, etc.  My blood pressure is staying good and low, right around 115/70.  Baby's heartbeat was about 140 bpm, which is great.  I actually lost weight again: in the two weeks since my last appointment, I lost one pound.  (Making total weight gain this pregnancy 4 pounds, so far.)  This actually makes sense to me, since I'm eating a lot less because it just won't fit in my tummy anymore.  I feel full after just a few bites.  Also, my reflux keeps me from eating normal sized portions; now that my stomach is so compressed, I start getting reflux not just after meals, but during.  Which is not appetizing.  And despite the fact that I'm eating so much less, I'm still just as physically active, since there's not much of a choice when there's a toddler involved.  Plus also, we've been working on getting the nursery ready, and that's a lot of moving around.  But the midwife seemed unconcerned that I'd lost more weight.  She said she was happy with my weight and the way I was looking, especially since my belly grew 4 centimeters in the last 2 weeks (!!!).  So that means the baby is growing and getting bigger, despite my weight loss.

By palpating my belly, she was able to tell me that the baby's head is down, as it was last time.  She also said that the baby would almost certainly stay head down for the rest of the pregnancy.  Especially since her head seemed to be jammed down into my pelvis.  The midwife said that there wasn't much give down there because Ellowyn's head was so firmly settled into my pelvis.  She said that happens sometimes with second pregnancies because everything is already loosened up for the baby's passage, especially when the pregnancies are close together as mine have been.  Well, that totally explains all the pain I've been experiencing over the last week or more.  My stomach and pelvis have been in almost constant pain, with certain activities making it worse.  My stomach muscles have been really sore and I'll get sharp muscle pain; I think somewhat because of this cough that I've had for about 2 weeks as I'm getting over a cold.  But also, my pelvis has been achy, like all the joints down there are painful and loose.  I never hurt this much in my first pregnancy, so what the midwife said makes sense to me that it's because Ellowyn's head is so wedged in there.  

Ellowyn is still just as active as ever, but the quality of her movements is changing as her space diminishes.  It's much less like "banging around" and much more stretching and pushing.  It's also getting much more uncomfortable when she moves, as something of mine is always stretched or squished.

I did end up talking to an eye doctor about my ocular migraines, as one midwife had recommended.  She said exactly what I thought she would, that the ocular migraines I was having were due to hormones and stress and that I would likely continue to have them throughout the pregnancy but that they would likely stop after the baby was born.  One thing she did say that I found kind of interesting: in addition to avoiding stress, I could help control them by drinking a little caffeine.  She said that caffeine stimulates the "blood vessel wall" (whatever that means), and will help prevent or lessen the severity of the ocular migraines.  She said to take in about 65mg per day of caffeine (about the amount in one soda or one small coffee), and to really maximize the effect, to nurse one caffeinated beverage over a long span of time.  Like caffeine on continuous drip.  I hadn't been drinking any caffeine really at all, so drinking one a day is kind of hard for me.  But I have found that since I've started doing this I haven't had another ocular migraine (I've been at it for maybe a week).  So maybe it's helping, which would be good news. 

So there.  Despite all the complaining, I managed to end the blog post on a positive note at least.  Can you tell that I'm done with being pregnant?  ;-P

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pregnancy update - 32 weeks

I had another appointment with my birth center yesterday.  Everything is still going pretty well.  Baby's heart rate is good (140 bpm).  My blood pressure is staying nice and low, which I am super happy about.  I gained 3 pounds this month, which is a nice healthy amount.  This makes my total weight gain for the pregnancy 5 pounds (since I lost so much weight in my first trimester due to morning sickness).  When I was pregnant with Mira, this was the time of the pregnancy that I was putting on the most weight, so I'm feeling really good about my modest but healthy weight gain, especially right now.  I'm eating a little healthier in this pregnancy than my previous one (substituting healthy, low fat, low sugar foods instead of giving in to every craving) and I'm also much more physically active in this pregnancy than I was in my last pregnancy (entirely due to the fact that I have to keep up with a toddler all day long instead of sit at a desk job).  So those two things combined probably account for the more modest weight gain.

I am still having ocular migraines, but they are coming on much less frequently.  I do seem to notice a correlation between them and getting stressed out.  It seems like if I'm having "one of those days", then I am more likely to get an ocular migraine.  Which is always a great addition to whatever I'm already dealing with, let me tell you.  :-/  I have had one while I was driving, which is probably the worst possible time since I go almost completely blind.  Luckily I was in a place where it was easy to pull over, so everything was fine.  But as a result of that, we are having Brian do the driving for me when it is at all an option.  I did talk to a midwife at the birth center about them, and she said it was likely due to the hormonal changes in my body but that I should get in to see an eye doctor just to make sure it isn't something else.

Now that I'm firmly into the third trimester, I am really starting to feel tired again.  Looking back on the second trimester, I realize that I did have more energy, but it certainly didn't feel like it at the time.  But by comparison, it was better because now I am plain exhausted.  But I can't just go to sleep, oh no.  I'm so uncomfortable at night, I'm tossing and turning and getting up every so often to pee.  So there's really no relief of the constant lack of energy.  And I wish that I could just let things go, sit and relax and not fret about whatever needs to be done, and I do sometimes, but other times all the things I need to do start rummaging around in my head and then I start getting anxious if I don't clean something or put something away or take Mira somewhere or run an errand.  ("Stay at home mom" is really a misnomer.)

So when I talked to the midwife about all that, the ocular migraines associated with stress and having trouble sleeping yet feeling tired all the time, she said "Well it sounds like you're having trouble relaxing.  You could try having a half glass of wine before bed every now and then."  Oh really????  Well, I took her advice last night, but I don't think I drank enough to feel any different, it was just a few sips really, not even a half glass.  And I drank it slowly, over the course of 2 hours, so I really didn't feel anything.  But it was nice to just taste.  I don't think I'm comfortable drinking more than a few sips at a time (I'm a little paranoid, despite recent evidence to the contrary), so I'm not sure I'll get the effects the midwife intended from this, but I have always liked the taste of wine, so I might try this again before the pregnancy is through.

Ellowyn continues to be quite the little athlete, despite the rapid decrease in available space.  She often moves so vigorously that I am suddenly very uncomfortable, sometimes even causing me sharp pains in the ribs or pelvic bone.  Despite the discomfort, it is kind of fun to sit and watch my belly twist and jump this way and that.  I'm trying to enjoy it as much as possible, since we're not entirely sure that we'll want a third child, so it's possible that this will be my last pregnancy.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mira knows some letters.

Mira can now identify 15 letters (capitals only, not lowercase).  If you point to a letter and ask her what the letter is she can say it or if you ask her where is the letter Y (or A or L or any of the other 15 letters she knows) she can point it out on a page of words.

Recently she's also started trying to write some letters.  She's really good at writing M and I and O, but she also likes to try R and V and N.

I don't feel like I've really pushed her to learn the alphabet, she just seems really interested in it.  We'll be reading a book and she'll start pointing to the letters and saying what they are; sometimes she seems more interested in the text than the pictures.  And some of her favorite toys are letters, too.  She has a set of tub toys that are letters that stick to the wall when wet and she also has a set of alphabet magnets that she puts on our front door.  When she colors, she often brings me the crayons and asks me to draw certain letters.

I'm glad that she's shown so much interest in it.  I wonder if it's because she loves to read so much and somehow she already knows that reading involves solving this whole letter "puzzle".  In any case, she's making my goal of having her reading before entering kindergarten very attainable.  ;-)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mira knows her colors.

Sometimes she mixes up blue and purple, but I know adults who still have a tough time with that distinction.  ;-)


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Interactive songs

Ok, it's been long enough since I posted here.  You're probably thinking I owe you a good one.  Well, here it is, folks: not one, not two, but THREE Mira videos for your viewing pleasure.  I know, I know... it may be too much cuteness for your hearts to take.  Brace yourself.





Thursday, November 4, 2010

Baby #2's name

A couple months ago, Brian and I came up with a name for Baby #2.  We thought we'd sit on it a while, let it roll around in our heads, and then decide if we still liked it.  Well, it's been months now and every time one of us suggests a different name, we ultimately decide that we don't like it as well as the original.  So I guess it might as well be official.

Baby #2 will be named Ellowyn Shanelle Drake.

On the name Ellowyn: This is a name that I made up.  I've never heard it before anywhere.  You may be thinking it's from "Lord of the Rings", but it's not.  There was an Eowyn and an Arwen, but never an Ellowyn.  Just like with Mira, we wanted a first name that would be original enough that there wouldn't be 3 kids in her class with the same name, but not so original that it couldn't be easily pronounced.  As for nicknames, I don't intend to call her anything short of Ellowyn, though once she got old enough if she expressed a desire to be called something different, Ellie or Elle or Ella or Wyn or Wynnie, I would go along with her wishes.

On the name Shanelle: This name is a combination of two other names: the middle names of Brian's two birth sisters.  One has the middle name Shanno, the other's middle name is Michelle.  Combine the two and you get Shanelle.  Again, this is a play on something we did with Mira's name: Mira's middle name is Lee, which just happens to be the middle name of both my mother and Brian's mother.  So with both our girls, we managed to name them after two people with one name.  What can I say?  I'm a fan of consistency.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mira is <..> this much a toddler


I'm so lucky to have such a happy agreeable little girl.  (Ok, I'm sure some of it has to do with my parenting style and the fact that I can be home with her, but I'm also convinced that part of it is her temperament, which is totally luck of the draw.)  When I ask her a question, her default answer is the most adorable little "Yeah!".  As opposed to many toddlers, who seem to know no words other than "no".  Mira has to stop and check herself if she really wants to say "no" to something.  She almost says "yeah" and then thinks twice and shakes her head "no".  Now it's possible that it's only a matter of time before I eventually do have an obstinate, negative, yelling, tantrum-throwing toddler.  But thankfully that day has not yet come.  For the most part, Mira follows directions, she is polite and sweet, and she plays gently.  She even says "thank you" (in sign) without being prompted every now and then.  Mira is mostly a dream.

Except when she's not.

It's rare, but sometimes Mira does manage to wear on my nerves.  Mostly this is in the form of whining.  Her vocabulary is expanding so incredibly rapidly, but still she just doesn't have the words for every situation.  And when she doesn't have the words, she will usually say "ah ah" or "ooo eee".  And I'm totally ok with that.  But it is also in those situations that she is more prone to get frustrated and then the "ah ah" becomes a more piercing whine.  And I think I have been somewhat encouraging the whining because I will unthinkingly respond to her whines by addressing her needs.  So now I'm starting to make a conscious effort to stop doing that.  When she starts whining I (try to) just say "I don't like that sound" and do nothing else to help her.  If she continues, then sometimes I say "I don't understand your whining; use words or show me what you want without whining."  I've only been at it for a few days and it usually takes longer than that to change behavior, so we'll see if it helps over the next few weeks.

But all in all, I realize that I don't have much to complain about with Mira.  She's awesome.  Though I am a bit worried that maybe she's spoiled me... Ellowyn may end up being a shock to my senses.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pregnancy update - 28 weeks

Another fairly normal appointment with my birthing center.  Nothing much to report on that front.  Ellowyn's (yes, we've decided on her name) heart rate was about 150 bpm, very normal.  My blood pressure was the same as always.  The only thing of note really was that I gained 4 pounds this month, right on target.  This means that I am finally back up to my pre-pregnancy weight.  I lost 7 pounds in my first trimester and since then have gained back a total of 9 pounds, making my total weight gain for the pregnancy 2 pounds so far.  I'm feeling pretty good about that.

I've been having a new and rather troublesome pregnancy symptom: ocular migraines.  I had only had one when I last went in for a checkup, so I thought it was a fluke and didn't bring it up at the appointment.  But since then, I'm wishing I had talked to the midwife about it because I've had two more, making it three in the space of a week.  What happens is that without warning I start seeing flashes of light and then I see tracers swimming across my vision and then parts of my vision go fuzzy.  Then I will get really dizzy and usually a headache will follow.  The visual effects only last about 5 minutes or so, but the dizziness will go on for a half-hour or so and then the headache can last an hour or more.  I wouldn't even know what it was except that I described it on Facebook and one of my mommy friends said that the same thing had happened to her during pregnancy and told me that her doctor had called them "ocular migraines".  I did a little research online and, sure enough, my symptoms were described exactly by several different sources.  (For further reading, you can check out this, this, and this.)  Apparently, pregnant women sometimes get them and it is thought that they may be due to the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy.  Luckily, I have not had one yet that was particularly problematic, but I keep dreading the day that I get one while driving or while I'm carrying Mira across the parking lot or I get so dizzy that I fall down and hurt myself.  The first time it happened I had no idea what was going on, but by the third time it happened, I realized that I could recognize it coming on by the flashing lights and so I could get myself to a safe seated position to wait it out.  Hopefully I will continue to be able to do that if they keep happening.

Brian and I started a Bradley childbirth preparation class.  For anyone unfamiliar, it is a particular method that focuses on preparing women for natural unmedicated birth and on preparing their birth partner (usually the husband) to play an active role in aiding the laboring woman.  I've read a number of books on Bradley method (my favorite of which was this one, BTW), so I feel like I'm pretty familiar with everything that's going on in the class, so far.  We've covered the topics of what to expect in pregnancy, good nutrition, and some basic exercises to prepare your body for childbirth.  But we're just starting to get to the good stuff like what the birth coach's role entails and some specific coping techniques for the first (dilation) stage and second (pushing) stage of labor.  So I'm looking forward to seeing where the class goes.  Plus I think the class has really helped to get Brian's head into the game.  I think it's easy for him to feel a little detached from the pregnancy since it's not his body and Ellowyn doesn't demand his attention when she's still in utero.  But part of the coach's role in Bradley method is to encourage/assist in preparing the woman's mind and body to cope with the demands of natural childbirth, and that includes daily routines and such that he does with me.  So he's been much more involved in this pregnancy than he was when I was pregnant with Mira.

Ellowyn has been very active.  She moves A LOT and not little slow stretchy movements.  We're talking there-must-be-a-rock-band-in-my-belly type movements.  It's very different from my experience with Mira's pregnancy.  I remember Mira's movements being more subtle and gentle and slow.  But with this pregnancy... well, I told Brian yesterday that I thought my belly was going to jump right off of my body.  But I think Brian likes it. When I was pregnant with Mira, he'd have to wait really long and sit really still in order to feel the baby move.  But with Ellowyn, he can practically see my belly jumping out of the corner of his eye from across the room.  I'm guessing that this means that Ellowyn's personality is going to be very different from Mira's.  Mira is very deliberate and cautious.  I'm thinking Ellowyn will be more rambunctious and wild.  That would actually be kind of nice because then the two girls can sort of balance each other out, with Mira reminding Ellowyn when things are not such a good idea and Ellowyn challenging Mira to push past her personal boundaries and take risks now and then.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Our long-term house guest

For at least a month now, we have had a guest who has taken up residence on our back porch.  She is about 2 inches long, has 8 legs, and every other night she builds a huge web right across the opening of our sliding glass door.  Now, despite the fact that Brian has managed to walk through the web many many times on his way to take the garbage out (I'm a little shorter, so I usually miss it), this is actually a rather ingenious place for this spider to have chosen.  At night, when she builds her web, the moths are all attracted to the door by the light coming through from our dining room.  So pretty much any night she builds a web, she feasts.  Which I think is really pretty awesome because, standing immediately on the other side of the glass, I have been able to watch her catch, poison, and entomb her prey and then drag it off to her hidey corner for consumption.

And as I watched, I always thought how cool it would be to show Mira.  But because this spider only builds her web at night, I hadn't had an opportunity to show Mira... until earlier this week.

I have been preparing Mira for daylight savings time by slowly shifting her schedule later and later.  And this one day, the spider decided to build her web a little earlier in the evening.  The combination of the two meant that Mira finally got to see this thing in action.  I held her up and showed her and explained what it was.  Mira said "eat".  Me: "You want the spider to eat?"  Mira: "Yeah."  So then we sent Daddy out onto the porch to try and catch a moth to throw into the spider's web so that Mira could see how she ate.  Daddy made a very valiant effort, but he wasn't faster than nature.  As he was trying to catch a moth, another one flew into the web on its own and Mira got to watch as the spider darted over and stung it and then wrapped it in silk.  Mira thought that was pretty awesome and she held her hand out to the spider and pointed at her open palm with her other hand.  Me: "You want to hold the spider?"  Mira: "Yeah!!!"  I then had to explain how we shouldn't touch the spider because we might hurt it or scare it since it was much littler than us.  She seemed to accept that explanation, but there was no way she would let me put her down, she kept watching that spider for a good long time.

Anyway, here are some pics of our guest.  You can tell from the quality that I'm not a talented photographer by any stretch.  Oh well...







Oh also, I should mention that the day we first noticed this spider, I did some research to find out what kind of spider she is.  I wanted to make sure she wasn't anything to worry about and she has some pretty distinctive markings so I was pretty sure I could confidently identify her.  Turns out she's a brown orb weaver, specifically from the genus Neoscona.  My research indicated that they are "reluctant to bite" and that if bitten, you'd basically get a little red irritated bump.  And also, they are reputed to be excellent mosquito catchers.  So we decided to let her stay as long as she wanted... turns out she must like the arrangement as well, since she's stuck around so long.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rough housing

Daddy likes to rough house with Mira.  She says "down", but I think she secretly likes it.  What do you think?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Language Developments

Over the last month or so, Mira has had a language explosion.  To try to list every word that she says would now be impossible.  Which is totally great.  I love that she can actually tell me about things instead of the other way around.  When she gets upset about something, I can tell her to stop crying and use her words and she can.

One day, we were at the petting farm and she pointed up and said "moon".  I thought she was saying "moo", so I was like "Cows say moo, but there aren't any cows here.  Just goats.  Goats say baaa."  But she was adamant.  "Moon moon moon."  Silly me, I kept trying to tell her there was no cow.  Finally, after we had gone back and forth for a while, I looked up to where she was pointing and saw the moon, clear as could be, out in the middle of the day.  "The moon!  Of course!  I'm sorry it took me so long to figure out what you were telling me.  You are right!"  She looked very satisfied.  It's so cool that she never doubted herself.  She knew exactly what she was talking about, even if mom was pulling a "hurrr derp derp".

Mostly Mira's words are one syllable.  Stuff like dog, cat, car, up, down, out, go, hole, bird, eat, read, and much much more.  In addition to that she has a few two syllable words: mama and dada (of course), but also mommy and daddy (which she will use interchangeably with mama and dada), baby and apple and happy and bubble (all of which she says sooo clearly), I'm sure there are a few others, I'm just not thinking of them right now.

There are a few words that Mira says that only mom can translate.  She says "buh" when she means "poop".  Luckily she also uses the sign for "poop" when she says this one or else I might never have figured it out.  I've tried getting her to say it more clearly: "Mira, say ppp ppp ppp poop."  She responds with "ppp ppp ppp BUH".  Lol.  Also, she can count to "na".  When counting she'll say "one... two... na!" When I say, "Mira, say three" she responds with "na!"  I guess that "thr" sound is a hard one.  Also, she says "nook" instead of "milk", but again, she also makes the sign for milk while she says that one.

She is also starting to say people's names.  For quite some time she has been able to say "key-key" for my sister Katelyn, whose nick name has been kay-kay since she was a baby.  That was the first name she was using.  But just recently, she has started saying "co-ee" for our friend Cody and "day-ih" for our friend David.  She also makes attempts at Becky, coming out like "bah-bee", and Jeff, which sounds like "hefff" all whispery (two of our other friends that we see regularly).



She also seems to have gotten past the phase where she didn't want to attempt new words vocally.  If you tell her to say something, she will almost always try it if the word is two syllables or less.  Unless she's feeling pressured to perform; sometimes she gets shy in front of a crowd.  But she's so darn cute when she talks, how can I not try to show her off???

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

On death and funerals

Well, it's been a while since I've written here, and I think most of you who read this know why.  Last Wednesday, Brian's mother passed away unexpectedly.  The past week has been full of dealing with the aftermath: planning and attending the funeral and wake, dealing with and planning for the division of the estate, making arrangements for the cremation and the subsequent interment, and of course grieving.  

I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about the passing of my mother-in-law.  Mostly, I'm filled with intense sadness and sympathy for Brian and his sisters.  I can not imagine their loss.  But I think that here, in this blog, I am going to keep my musings mostly on the topic of how this relates to Mira, since this blog is dedicated more to our children rather than being focused on Brian and me.  

This is the first time in Mira's life that someone she knew has died.  In my mind, it is both good and bad that this has happened at such a young age for her.  Good because she doesn't comprehend the loss, so she has not needed to grieve; she won't carry a painful memory of this with her.  Bad because she will likely have no memories of her paternal grandmother, and it's sad to think that she'll miss growing up in her presence.  It really serves to reaffirm my appreciation for Mira's other grandparents.  

Throughout the process of the funeral and grieving, Mira has been very removed from the experience.  She's not been in the thick of any of it.  At the hospital, as Brian's mom was passing, Brian and I both agreed that it would be better for me to stay with Mira and not to bring her to the hospital.  The funeral itself occurred during Mira's afternoon nap, so she stayed with my family while Brian and I attended the services.  She has even been pretty removed from our grieving process at home.  I did tear up in her presence a couple of times, but for the most part she has not seen our grief, or anyone else's.  Brian has had a few moments where he dropped his composure and really allowed himself to express his sorrow, but they were all when Mira was sleeping and only I was around.  (I think he feels an obligation to remain outwardly stoic for the sake of those around him.)  It wasn't really my intention to keep Mira out of what was going on.  I wasn't trying to protect her from the emotions of others, per se.  It is just more.... the way it ended up working out.  And I'm not sure if it is a good thing or not.  On one hand, she has pretty much gone on with her life happily and as though nothing happened.  On the other hand, this could have been a learning experience for her about emotions and empathy.  So I don't know if we did the right thing or not by unintentionally excluding her.  

At one point, Mira saw me crying quietly and she came over, looking worried, and gave me a hug.  At that point, and a couple other times, I did try to explain to her what had happened.  But death is such a big concept, even for a secular family like ours.  It seems impossible to explain in terms that a toddler will understand.  I told her that death is what happens when someone's body stops working.  And that lots of people were sad because her Grams had died, so we would never get to see her and play with her again.  I told her that she didn't have to be sad, if she didn't want to, but that other people around her might be sad for a little while.  But I have no idea how much she understood.

One thing that has really been illuminated for me by this experience is just how important it is to plan for and prearrange your own funeral.  I have been to my share of funerals and experienced the death of those very close to me, but never have I been witness to the minutia and planning and details the way that I have this time.  Not that I did much of the work, but I saw Brian and his sisters scrambling here and there, raising funds, planning and revising and WORKING.  Hard.  To make arrangements for their own mother's funeral. In a time when they should have been grieving, they had no time because everything had to come together just so and by a certain date and time and on a certain budget.  And Brian's mom had done a lot to prepare for her death before she died.  I mean A Lot.  But even her careful documentation and preparedness was not enough to prevent Brian and his siblings from having to rush around and fret and worry whether things would come together on time.  Seeing them go through that made me realize how much I Do Not Want that to burden my children when I'm gone.  So I've actually started looking into and planning for my own funeral.  And Brian's too, to some degree, though only he can specify his final wishes.  But certainly, being privy to the behind-the-scenes elements of funeral planning has put some things about Mira's future into perspective for me.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Potty training update... or lack thereof

Shortly after I posted my last blurb on potty training, Mira decided that she'd had enough.  Every time I would ask her if she wanted to go potty, she would say "no".  And I know better than to force her if she doesn't want to.  So I've decided to back off of the potty training.  Maybe she started getting discouraged or maybe she just got bored by the concept.  I suspect the latter.  Whatever her reasons, I'm happy to let her have them.  I'm not surprised at all.  I would have been stunned if she actually decided to potty train this early.  Maybe we'll try again in another 6 months or so.  Or if she shows renewed interest before that, then I'll take her lead.  Until then, I've left her potty out where she can explore it anytime she wants, but she seems to mostly be ignoring it.

I'm very much of the opinion that children can not be forced to potty train.  It is something that they have complete control over.  Until they decide that it's the right time for them, all a parent can do is provide a supportive environment and an encouraging attitude.  So that's where we stand.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mira needed a barrette.

Every now and then, Mira will bring me her bag of barrettes and insist that I put one after another into her hair until they are all crammed onto her head.  Who can resist that face?





Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pregnancy update - 24 weeks

Yesterday I had my 24 week prenatal checkup.  In the past month I have gained 4 pounds, so I'm still 2 pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight.  The midwife said that 4 pounds per month is about what she would expect to see from here on out, given that I am toward the end of my second trimester.  At that rate, my total weight gain for this pregnancy will be right around 15 pounds, which would be great.  I'm well on my way to meeting my goal of gaining less than 20 pounds.  So that is good news.

More good news from my checkup: my blood pressure is down about 10 points, in both diastolic and systolic.  So that's really great.  Issues related to blood pressure are my biggest concern when it comes to having a healthy pregnancy and an intervention-free birth, so it's very much a relief to see those lower numbers.

Other than that, not much to say about the checkup, which is good.  We did listen to the baby's heart with the doppler.  It was good and strong at around 140 bpm.  I had Mira along again, and just like last time, she watched interestedly and quietly the whole time.

As for how I'm feeling... pretty good.  Only a few minor things that I can complain about.  I get really tired in the evenings still.  I have also been getting headaches, which I think I've figured out is from not eating enough protein.  I'm supposed to be getting 80g a day of protein, and for me that's just really hard to do.  I don't like really heavy meals, especially not during pregnancy when my reflux tends to act up.  The thing I crave most when pregnant is salad, which has like 2 measly grams of protein or something ridiculously low.    So I've started making myself a fruit smoothie with protein powder every day.  I've also started keeping raw unsalted nuts to snack on.  But it takes a lot of nuts to get to 80g.  Er... yeah.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Gotta love the Muppets.

First, a little "History of the Muppets" lesson, for any who are unfamiliar:



And this is what me and my uber geek friends taught Mira to do over the weekend.



I figure it's a baby-geek right-of-passage.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mira's first night away from Mommy

Last night, Mira had a sleepover at my parents' house.  Before she left, as she was having a snack, we had this conversation:



I explained to her several times that she was going to play at Grandma and Grandpa's house and then she'd take a bath there and then go to sleep in a bed at Grandma and Grandpa's house and then when she woke up in the morning she would still be there and she could play some more before she came home to see me.  The first time I explained it to her, she just stared at me with her jaw hanging open, looking like she was thinking very hard about this situation.  The second time I explained it to her, she listened and then smiled at the end and nodded "yes".  By the third time I had told her what was going to happen, she was smiling and nodding all the way through and when I asked her at the end if she thought that it might be fun to spend the night with Grandma and Grandpa, she responded with an emphatic "Yeah!".

So I actually was fairly certain that she knew what was going to happen and felt comfortable with it.  Which did a lot to convince me that she was ready to have a sleep over without me.  The only thing I worried about at all was that she might have a hard time falling asleep or if she woke up in the night she might be upset about her unfamiliar surroundings.

That evening with her grandparents and aunt, she had a good dinner and made two trips to the park that backs up to my parents' house.  She went to bed a little later than normal, but had no trouble falling asleep on her own.  She slept all the way through the night and woke up at her normal time in the morning.  My mom said that she seemed disoriented when she woke up, but she calmed down fairly quickly and when my mom offered her the option of either going home to see Mommy or going back to the park, Mira chose the park.  Twice.

So Mira came home around lunch time.  She was exhausted from all her playing and hungry because she was too busy having fun to stop for food.  She had a big lunch and is now crashed out in her crib.  While she was eating her lunch, I asked her if she had a fun time with Grandma and Grandpa and Aunt Katelyn, and she said "yeah".  I asked her if she liked spending the night there and got another "yeah".  So I think she enjoyed herself and would be up for doing it again sometime in the future.  She loves her grandparents and Aunt Katelyn so much.  She asks about them all the time and can't wait to see them again.  I've learned that, when we are going over to their house, I can't tell her more than about 20 minutes in advance because she just can't take the waiting if she knows we will be seeing them.  (Literally, she will stand at the door saying "go go" and if I tell her it's not quite time yet, the tears start welling up in her sad little eyes.  It's the definition of 'heartbreakingly cute'.)

I'm so glad that she loves them so much and feels so comfortable in their care.  Especially since it's likely going to be necessary for her to spend the night with them when I go into labor.  Knowing that she can spend the night with them takes a load off my mind.

As for how Brian and I enjoyed our time off: we had a leisurely dinner out with friends, all hanging out at our house afterward playing games and chatting.  Then in the morning, Brian and I got to sleep in together, getting up whenever we felt like it.  Something we haven't been able to both do together in nearly 2 years.  It was wonderful.  Did I miss Mira?  Actually, not too much.  But I was happy to have her home when she got here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mira expresses her sense of humor.

Me: I love you so much.  Especially your ribs.

Mira: (giggling)

Me: (tickling) I just can't help it.  I love your ribs so much I have to tickle them.

Mira: Go!

Me: Did you just tell me to go away and stop tickling?

Mira: Go!

Me: Well, I'm not gonna.  Besides, if I went away, you'd just follow me.

Mira: Yeah....

Wheeeeee!

Mira has taken to yelling "mama" at the top of her lungs every second of every car ride. It's a lot like this:


Monday, September 20, 2010

More on potty training.

Just a quick blurb to say that, 5 days after Mira's first potty success, she has had another.  Ever since she peed in her potty last week, I've been letting Mira sit on her potty several times a day.  Usually we sit on the potty when she first wakes up in the morning, right before and after nap, just before her bath at night, and then any other time that I need to go to the bathroom during the day she comes with me.

When we sit on the potty, I go with her and we do things to keep her sitting on the potty longer.  (Without distraction, she'd just sit on the potty for 2 seconds then jump back up again.)  I will sit her on her potty and then use the big toilet myself.  I wash my hands and run the water a little extra.  I read a book to her while she's sitting there.  That's usually about all she can stand and at the end of the story she'll run off to do something else.  And then I have to chase her down to make her wash her hands and get on a diaper.

It's quite a lot of work.  And after 5 days, I was starting to get discouraged and think that maybe we had done this whole thing too early and I should just let up and forget about it for a couple months.  But I was still keeping the mood light with her: asking her if she wanted to try to pee in the potty before taking her in there, brushing it off if she said that she didn't want to try, thanking her for trying to go in the potty when she did, saying "oh well, maybe next time" if she tried but didn't go, etc.  But in my head, every time we'd go in the bathroom and sit on her potty with no results, doubt crept one inch further into my mind.

The one thing that kept me going is that usually, when she'd sit on the potty, I could *see* her straining to go.  She *wants* to go in the potty.  I think she just forgets to save it for the potty and not go in her diaper.

But then last night, before her bath she peed in her potty for the second time.  So now my resolve is renewed to keep up with letting her try several times a day.

Both times she's successfully gone in the potty, it was just before bath.  I wonder if that means anything.  Maybe it's because she has just eaten dinner (and drank milk)?  Maybe it's because we started sitting on the potty at that time of day 2 weeks ago so she's gotten used to it being in her routine?  Maybe it's because she is thinking about getting into the bath with all that water?

Friday, September 17, 2010

A day with Aunt Lindsey

A couple nights ago, I had a terrible headache that kept me up all night.  The next morning my headache was still going and I was completely non-functional.  Brian had some meetings scheduled that he couldn't get out of, so he asked his wonderful sister Lindsey if she could watch Mira for the day.  Apparently, Mira had a great day with her aunt.  They went to the park and Lindsey got some great pictures of Mira playing.










I was worried that Mira might have a hard time napping in a strange house, but apparently I needn't have worried because, after reading some books to settle down, she took a nice long nap for her aunt.  When Mira came home that afternoon, she was happy to see me, but seemed to have had a really fun day and wasn't upset at all about spending the day away from me, as long as she was with someone she knew and trusted.  Which is great.  And I'm glad to know that she is more flexible about napping than I had expected.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Adventures in potty training.

I was thinking that I'd wait to try potty training with Mira until after baby #2 arrived.  I had several reasons for this.  1) Mira's still pretty young.  Even when the baby is born, she'll likely not even have had her second birthday yet.  It seems awfully early to potty train.  2) She's not talking much yet, so she currently has no way of communicating to me that she needs to go to the restroom.  3) I had heard that the introduction of a new sibling can be such a shock to the older child that they regress back away from recent achievements, including potty training.  I don't want to have to potty train twice.  4) Tying in to #3, I want to keep things as familiar for her as possible during the transition from being an only child to being a sister.  I figure the more things that stay the same for her, the less disconcerting the whole experience will be for her.

A couple months ago when I took Mira in for her 18-month checkup, the doctor asked about my potty training plans, and I told him everything in the previous paragraph.  He seemed to agree with my assessment, but he suggested that I go ahead and get a little potty for her to play with and get familiar with.  It was also around this time that I noticed that Mira was starting to want to be dry.  When she had a wet/dirty diaper, she would come up to me saying "ah ah ah" and pointing at the diaper.  Every time that happened, I tried to encourage it by praising her and thanking her for telling me.  I was really excited to see this development, because it's one of the most important milestones to hit before attempting potty training.

So a couple weeks ago, I took her to the store to pick out her "big girl potty".  I found a couple that would work as a little stand-alone floor potty or the top could come off to make a little seat on top of a big toilet, and then I let her pick which one she liked better.  I brought the new potty home for her, put it together, and explained what it was for.  I kept the tone very light, saying things like, "Whenever you are ready..." and "If you want to...".     At this point I was still thinking that we'd wait to "officially" potty train until after baby #2 arrived, but there was no harm in warming her up to the idea in advance.  

Well, she really liked the potty and for about a week I just let her play with it however she wanted, sitting on it while still clothed, putting the seat on and off, taking the pot in and out, pulling out the TP dispenser and spinning it around.  Then about a week ago, Brian and I started letting her sit on the potty naked right before her bath every night.  She thought that was interesting, but nothing much happened... until last night.

I was getting Mira ready for her bath and, as is our routine now, I undressed her and sat her naked on the potty.  About then, I realized I needed to go, too.  So I did my business on the big toilet right next to her and as I did, I explained that Mommy was going pee-pee in the potty and if she wanted to she could go pee-pee in her potty, too.  I finished up, washed my hands, and started putting toothpaste on Mira's toothbrush.  (To keep her sitting on the potty a little bit longer, I had been brushing her teeth while she sat on the potty.)  Well, I turned around with her toothbrush and SHE WAS PEEING.  IN THE POTTY. 

I tried not to make too big a commotion, but I still wanted to congratulate her, so I said in a happy tone, "Oh good, you're peeing in the potty like a big girl."  Then I showed her how to wipe with TP and let her stand up and turn around to admire her accomplishment.  She seemed pleased with herself.  We said "yay" and clapped our hands.  Then I showed her as I took the pot out and dumped it into the toilet, flushed it down, washed out the pot, and put the potty back together.  She immediately sat back down on the potty and signed "more".  I then had to explain how Mommy can't make the pee come.  I've also had to explain how Mommy can't make another airplane fly over, the rain start or stop, Daddy come home from work, Mira's hiccups come back, the traffic light turn green, the dog bark again, the sun come back up, more butterflies come, or another train go by.  Part of me loves how she thinks I'm omnipotent, but man are those big shoes to fill.  

So now that we've had a big success, I'm rethinking my plan to wait until after baby #2 arrives to potty train Mira.  I don't want to ruin any momentum.  And if she's ready, then I should take her lead.  So I guess I'm thinking now that maybe we should attempt some potty training, but just at a really relaxed pace.  First thing is I really need to find and teach her a sign for potty so that she can tell me if she wants to go.  I think I'll also start letting her sit naked on the potty every time I go to the bathroom.  I'm in there frequently, what with the pregnancy, and she's always in there with me anyway, might as well make something constructive of that time.  But I'm certainly not ready to do anything drastic yet, like put her in training pants.  One success is not a pattern.  Maybe I'll reconsider training pants when she's having multiple successes a day for several days in a row.  But that may be a while.  I'm honestly really surprised that she peed in the potty even once, given her age, so I'm still not expecting any huge changes any time soon.  

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Speech development

Developmentally, Mira has been right on track with every milestone except one: talking.  At her 18-month checkup, I spoke in depth with Mira's pediatrician about her delayed speech.  Not really because I was worried about it, but because he kept asking me about it like maybe *he* was worried.  At the time of that appointment, Mira would say mama, dada, and baby, but only when prompted.  (Me: "Mira, say mama."  Mira: "Mama.")  The doctor said these words didn't count toward her vocabulary because she wasn't using them on her own to express herself but rather just to mimic me.  She would also say several sound effects like boom, wheeee, and vroom.  She would use those independently, but the doctor said that sound effects don't count as far as determining how many "true words" she has in her vocabulary.  So that meant that, according to his standards, Mira had zero words at 18 months.  The expectation for kids that age is 5 to 10 words.

I knew Mira was behind because all of her little friends at playgroup are starting to talk, and many of them are several months younger than her.  But I wan't concerned about it.  I knew that delayed speech runs in the family (both sides).  And Mira is excellent at communicating non-verbally, through gestures or using the few signs she knows.  But the doctor was concerned, mostly for her hearing.  He asked me about a dozen questions about whether or not she could hear: does she turn her head at noises, does she respond to her name, does she startle at loud noises, etc.  I answered all his questions and told him that I was SURE she could hear because she follows my directions and responds physically in appropriate ways when I speak to her.  After much reassuring on my part, her doctor finally said that if I was sure she could hear, then we'd wait and readdress the issue at her 2-year checkup.  If she still wasn't talking by then, then we'd proceed with hearing tests and maybe speech therapy.

Even after seeing the doctor's concern, I still felt pretty confident that any day Mira would decide that talking was cool.  BUT I was starting to get a little anxious for it to happen.  A bunch of Mira's friends are talking and when I see them having little toddler conversations with their mommies, (I'll admit it) I get jealous.  I want to be able to talk *with* Mira the way they talk *with* their children, rather than just talking *at* her.  So I thought, ok if she's not ready to verbalize yet, maybe I'll just teach her more sign language.  So I started teaching her a ton of new signs.  And sure enough, she responded.  If I asked her to try to say something verbally, she would just shake her head "no".  But when I'd show her a new sign, she would immediately attempt to imitate it.  She responded well to me showing her how to hold her hands and fingers so that she could more accurately create the signs.  So in the month or so since her 18-month checkup, we've both been learning lots of new signs.  Mira's sign vocabulary has gone from just 2 or 3 words, all the way up to nearly 20 words.


Now Mira is finally starting to explore more verbally.  She babbles much more than she ever used to, and now sometimes when I ask her to try saying a word out loud, she will smile really big, think about it for a long time, and then say the word.  And when she does say words, she says them clearly and accurately, not like most toddler speech, which requires mommy translation to understand, her words are well formed and precise.  Now I think that when I would ask her to say something and she would just shake her head "no" it was because she knew she couldn't vocalize it *properly*, and she'd rather not try until she knew she could do it right.  A perfectionist, just like her mommy.

So here's the question: Is is causal that Mira started talking more right after she started expanding her sign vocabulary, or is it just a coincidence?  I'm honestly not sure.  On one hand, verbal speech requires a certain physical and mental dexterity to accomplish.  You have to have an idea in your head of how to say something and then you have to get your lips and tongue to comply with that idea.  Until children have reached a certain developmental place, it simply won't be possible for them to accomplish speech.  Perhaps Mira wasn't in that place until recently.  On the other hand, part of me wonders if she hasn't been in that place for a while now, but opening up her vocabulary with sign language got her a taste of what communication is all about and gave her the little push she needed to use her newly developed but undiscovered verbal skills.

But one thing is for sure, in my mind: the theory that teaching kids sign will delay verbal speech... yeah, totally debunked, based on my experience.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Mira is going to be a great big sister.

Today Mira spent the afternoon taking care of Mr. Bear.

First, she changed his diaper 20 times, remembering to use wipes on his bottom each time.  Now THERE'S a thorough care-taker.

Then she fed him Cheerios and raisins, remembering to offer him sips of water in between bites.


After that, she put him into his stroller and took him on a 10-lap walk around the island in the kitchen.

Finally, she read him a story and put him down for a nap.  Mr. Bear must've been tired after all that activity because he went right to sleep.

I take absolutely no credit for any of this.  She decided to do each thing all on her own.  I've seen her do each of these activities with Mr. Bear before, but never in succession, taking him with her from one activity to the next.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I love being a daddy!

My daughter is beautiful when she sleeps.  

Monday, August 30, 2010

Pregnancy update - 20 weeks

The results are in... We just got our 20 week ultrasound and...

IT'S A GIRL!


That's right, we're going to have another baby girl.  Which is great because now I don't have to buy more clothes.  ;-)  So now that we know the gender, I'm starting to think about what I'm going to do for the new nursery and thinking more seriously about names and so on.  Everything seems more real when baby has a gender.


Mira watched while the ultrasound was being performed, and I tried to explain to her that we were seeing pictures of the baby on the screen.  But I don't think she got it.  She was more interested in getting her fingers into the goo on my belly than looking at the images on the screen.  Oh well.

This month I gained weight for the first time during this pregnancy.  That's right, I gained... wait for it... a whopping 1 pound.  That's right, a whole 16 ounces.  This brings my total pregnancy weight gain to negative 6 pounds, so far.  I'm really happy with that number.  By this time in my pregnancy with Mira I had already gained at least 10 pounds.  I'm sure it helps that I'm much more active during this pregnancy, what with chasing a toddler and semi-regular workouts.  I'm also being careful-ish about what I eat.

I'm still feeling pretty tired all the time.  And I have to pee about every 2 hours.  But other than that I'm feeling good.  So let's hope for another relatively easy pregnancy, like I had with Mira.

My belly's continuing to grow, despite my lack of weight gain, which is great.  I now fall much more firmly into the "looks pregnant" category rather than the "looks like she has a beer belly" category.  And my mom took me shopping for some more casual maternity clothes, so I can't wait to start showing off my baby bump in my new threads.  (Thanks, Mom!)

I've also been feeling the baby move a lot this month.  I started noticing it at around 15 weeks.  With Mira, I noticed movement for the first time at around 17 weeks, so a little earlier this time, as would be expected with a second pregnancy.  Brian's also been able to feel her move for the last week or so, which is cool for him.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Splash pad

This summer Mira and I have been spending a lot of time at the local (free!) splash pads.  There seem to be a ton of them in the Austin area; I just never knew they existed until I had Mira.  I'm so lucky we live in Austin with all the cool fun things to do nearby!  Anyway, Mira always has a blast when we go to one of these splash pads.  If you don't know what I mean by "splash pad", they're basically just a flat area with drainage where fountains come on for kids to play in.  Some are little, like the one pictured below, and some are huge.  Here are some photos from one of our recent trips.

Sharing a ball with one of her friends:

 This particular place has a big covered playscape, too.

Mira is so funny.  She likes to run around the outside of the splash pad, squealing with excitement the whole time.  It's only after she "warms up" a little that she'll actually go into the middle where she'll get wet.
 This ball is awesome, in case you couldn't tell with your non-toddler senses.



 Squeeeeeel!  (This is toddler speak for "OMG this is the most fun I've ever had!")