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Thursday, April 29, 2010

How cautious should we Bee?

A couple days ago, Mira and I were out playing in the backyard when along came a bee. It was acting pretty relaxed, just buzzing slowly from one brightly-colored yard toy to the next. It stopped for a while on the dish of water that Mira was playing with in order to get a drink.

Mira has several books with bees in them, but they are cartoon renderings. She likes to point out the bees in the books, I think because she likes to hear us say "bumble beeeeee". So I thought the real bee might be a good learning opportunity, and I pointed it out to her, saying "Look, Mira. It's a real live bumble bee."

She was captivated. She watched it fly, trying to track its motions. And when it landed to get a drink it was only maybe a foot from where she was sitting. She reached out and pointed at it, getting within a few inches of touching it. I made sure I was close by so that if she did anything to irritate the bee, I could snatch her up and go inside. But aside from that, I didn't interfere with the interaction at all. She made her kissy face in the bee's direction and waved at it when it finally flew away.

Throughout the bee's visit, I told Mira all about what the bee was doing and why: that it was investigating the toys because the bright colors made it think it was a flower, that it was getting a drink from her dish because it was thirsty, that the buzzing sound was caused by its wings flapping so fast. But at no point in time did I explain to Mira that bees can sting. With most things that would be considered a danger, I will take a moment to explain to her what is dangerous and why. For example, the other day when we were hanging out in a friend's backyard while they were grilling, I explained, "Mira, do you see the grill over there? Jason is cooking on it, so it is very hot. It could burn you, so you need to not play too close to it and don't touch it." She played the rest of the evening without getting anywhere near the grill, and at one point she even stopped in her tracks, looked at the grill, shook her head "no", and then turned the other direction. Which is totally awesome. But back to the bee... I didn't tell her that the bee could sting her. I'm still not really sure if that was the best thing to do, though. My thinking at the time was that she was so interested and I want to foster a love of nature in her and I certainly didn't want to bias her into one of those silly children who runs and screams every time they see a bee.

But what do you think? Did I do the right thing in letting her enjoy her naivety in that moment? Should I have told her the complete truth in the interest of being factual and honest? I'm not sure. Comment with your opinion.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The No-Drama Nap

Mira used to nurse to sleep at nap time. But then in February, we cut that nursing out of her schedule (that decision is explained in this post). Ever since then, the only way I've found to get her to nap during the day is to put her in the car, drive for a few minutes aimlessly, drive back home once she's asleep, pop the carseat out of the base, carry the carseat with her still in it up the stairs to her room, put the entire thing down on the floor in her bedroom and close the door to let her finish her nap in her carseat in her room. It's quite a big series of hoops to jump through and we've done it every day for the last 2-3 months.

I've been getting concerned about this naptime routine, though. It works right now because she's still in her infant carseat, which has a base that buckles into the car and then the actual carseat clicks into and out of the base very easily to be carried around as needed. But soon she's going to outgrow her infant seat and need to switch to a convertible carseat, and I haven't seen any models of convertible seats that have a easy removal option like infant seats do.

So I was expressing this concern to a mommy friend at a playgroup yesterday, and she suggested that I might try taking a few elements from her bedtime routine and duplicating them into a shorter naptime routine. It was a bit of a "duh" moment for me, as I realized that what she was saying seemed so obvious. I think that, in general with Mira, I just find something that works and get to a point where I'm afraid to change it or try something else for fear of messing things up, even if doing something else would ultimately be much easier.

Well, anyway, today I decided I'd try a new approach at naptime. So to warm Mira up to the idea, I told her several times over the course of the morning, "Mira, at naptime today we're not going to get in the car like we normally do. Instead we're going to go up to your room and sit in the chair and rock and sing and then you'll fall asleep and take a nap." I know she understood at least part of what I was saying because today after lunch when I said, "Mira, it's time for nappies" she went for the stairs instead of going to the front door like she normally does. And when we got up to her room, she went and stood by the rocking chair waiting for me. At that point, I was thinking, "That's so great that she understood me, but I still doubt this is going to work. In about 15 minutes we're going to be in the car." But then we got in the chair and rocked and I sang. And she fell asleep right on my chest. Which hasn't happened since she was tiny, not even at bedtime. Admittedly, I really loved feeling her completely relaxed on me, her little breaths coming and going. It had been a long time since that had happened. And with the recent weaning, the mixed feelings of watching my baby become a little girl, the reluctance to let her mature and grow, knowing that she was one step closer to never needing me again, with all that so fresh in my mind, it was so wonderful to just sit there and hold her the way I used to when she was a baby.

I eventually found my resolve and put her into her crib. And she woke back up. I tried patting her back, but she just sat up and looked at me. So I picked her up and said we'd try again because the first time almost worked. So we rocked again, she fell asleep on me again, and this time when I put her in her crib, she stirred but did not wake.

So now she's napping. And I feel like a total champ. I tried something new with her routine and IT WORKED. And it saved me time and gasoline. And I got a few minutes of heaven, to boot. Who's DA MOM? I'm DA MOM!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

No more milkies

Yesterday was a big day for Mira: It was the first day ever that she went all day without milkies.

When Mira was born, I knew that I wanted to try my very hardest to breastfeed. It's the cheapest and healthiest option, plus it helps with mother-child bonding, so it just made sense to me. I was so happy that Mira and I had such an easy time of it. She latched well and, aside from the normal adjustment period where the nipples are toughening up, it felt very natural and good to me. In short, we were very lucky, as I know there are many women who have to struggle with it.

So once it was clear that Mira and I were compatible as far as nursing and things were going well, I naturally began to think about how long I would continue to nurse her. The AAP recommends at least 12 months, and the WHO recommends 2 years. So I originally thought we'd shoot for 2 years or more, and then let Mira decide when she was done. But the time when my thoughts were in that place seems like a long time ago... Three big things ultimately changed my mind.

Thing 1: Mira rejected the bottle early on, so she's always been fed either solids or breastmilk directly from the source. That's actually quite hard on me because it means that I'm The Only One who can give her milk. And before she started solids, I was the only one who could feed her At All. Period. That made things rather challenging for me. Consider that, with nursing being part of the bedtime routine, I have never been able to be anywhere but by Mira's side next to her bed around 8pm. For the past 15+ months, I have always been in that place at that time, no matter what else is scheduled, no matter what activities I'm missing out on, No Matter What. It's hard to never get a break from that.

Thing 2: (And this is probably the biggest reason.) Brian and I have been trying to have another baby since November, with no luck. (If you've not been following, you can read about it here,here, here, and here.) I last saw my OB about this in December, when I was still nursing Mira 4 times a day, and he thought that my infertility was due to the breastfeeding. So promptly after discovering that news in December, Mira and I dropped down to nursing only twice a day: before nap and before bed. Then in February, we dropped the naptime nursing, so we were down to only once a day at bedtime. In those months, Brian and I continued to try to conceive, with no success, and my cycles remained off schedule, which they have been ever since November when I skipped a period. (Prior to that I have always been very regular.) So I was producing very little milk, if any (see below), and my periods were continuing to be consistently late, so I was beginning to suspect that my OB was wrong and breastfeeding is not the root of the problem. But despite my growing concerns, I'd decided to go ahead and wean completely to see what it'd do to my cycles and whether it would effect my fertility. Plus, if I'd weaned completely before expressing my concerns to my OB again, then I couldn't be given the same explanations.

Thing 3: Mira is actually not resisting the weaning. Dropping down to one feeding a day was completely painless: as long as I gave Mira plenty of solids to satisfy her hunger, she was a happy camper. Yesterday was the first night with no milkies; we read 2 bedtime stories and rocked and sang 3 lullabies and then I laid her in her crib. At one point during the rocking, she tried to move down into position to nurse, but I just pushed her head back up on my shoulder and she gave up easily with no fuss. She went down without a peep yesterday. Today, she's having some trouble getting to sleep, but I am doubtful that it is due to the weaning because of the way she is acting. (She didn't try to get into nursing position at all today, and she's acting like she's teething.) I think that one reason that she's ready to wean is that I lost my milk a long time ago. About a month after dropping to only one nursing a day, I began to suspect that I was losing my milk. Mira's been suckling anyway at bedtime, but I think my milk has been dry for several weeks now due to infrequency of nursing. So I've basically just been a giant pacifier for quite a while now.

Despite having my reasons, I have found the weaning to be very bittersweet. I'm glad it's going over so easily with Mira, and I'm glad that she's growing up and entering new phases of life. But there's also a big part of me that feels like I'm losing my baby. But then, I guess that's what parenthood is: incremental, progressive steps toward losing your baby. .... That sounded very fatalistic, didn't it? Probably due to withdrawal from all the good happy hormones released during nursing. :-/

So anyway, there you have it. I'm determined to see it through. No caving in if she throws a fit. Just stopping, cold turkey. But honestly, I don't see her wanting to go back to it. I think she was going along with it more for my benefit and out of habit than anything else. Thus probably forebodes the beginning of a long-running trend: me trying to eek out a little more youth, her tolerating it, until I finally realize it's time to let go.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Other people get hungry, too.

Today after dinner, Brian, Mira, and I were all sitting around reading books together. After finishing "That's Not My Bunny" for the 15th time, Mira decided it was time to change books and went and picked up "The Very Hungry Caterpillar". As she picked it up, she made the sign for hungry (we actually use the ASL sign for eat, which is basically to put a fist up to your mouth repeatedly). In addition to making this sign when she would like to eat, she will also make the sign whenever it is appropriate to the conversation, such as when we are talking about food or when reading "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" book. But today was different. Today she took it one step further. Today she picked up the book and made the sign, and I said "Yes, that book is about a caterpillar who is hungry." And she took her little fist and repeatedly put it up to the caterpillar's face on the cover of the book. Brian and I just looked at each other in shock, said "Did you see....?" and then "Our daughter is amazing!"

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mira slides!

Ever since Mira learned to walk, she's been enjoying the slides at the multiple different parks that we frequent. So she's gotten better and better at navigating the slides, progressively trying bigger and harder slides. At some point along the way she decided that the best slide position was going down the slide feet first, but on her stomach. And I have to say that I'm so glad she settled upon that particular arrangement because it is probably the safest way for her to go down, so that allows me to let her try bigger and bigger slides, knowing that once she gets the hang of a particular slide, I can take a much more hands-off approach and she won't hurt herself too badly. I still do an "introductory" run when we try a new slide for the first time, where I go up with her, helping her get situated at the top of the slide, making sure she won't go flying out the bottom of the slide, etc. But then after we are acquainted with the slide, she just takes off, and I just watch from the ground.

As you can see, now that she has learned the thrill of the big slides, the little baby slides don't cut it anymore.

I feel like the biggest potential for her getting hurt at the playground now is the bigger kids. If it were just her alone on the playground, I don't think I'd worry at all. She's such a cautious and deliberate girl, I find it easy to let her try whatever she's comfortable with. But a lot of other children are not that way. When we go to meet a playgroup at the park, the other babies we meet up with are all right about her age and size, so I'm not concerned at all about them hurting her. But the bigger, older kids... well, those I worry about. I'm afraid they'll inadvertently step on her fingers or unsteady her to the point of pushing her off of a platform. I know none of the kids would do it on purpose, but the playground is a place of unrestrained exuberance for kids, and sometimes that means not looking out for littler kids. Admittedly (and happily), for the most part, the older kids we've come across at the park have surprised me with their attentiveness and even sweetness with Mira. They will often patiently wait for her to finish traversing a bridge before running through, or they'll go around her gingerly, or they'll give her things to play with. It's quite heartwarming, and I will usually thank them for being mindful of Mira. Every now and then, there's a kid who's a little too rough around Mira, but luckily, up to this point, they have always been followed quickly behind with a parent saying, "Be careful of the baby." I always thank those parents. ;-) I'm sure it helps that we normally go to the playground in the morning, so the playground is less busy or at least populated by kids who are under school age.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sidewalk chalk

I recently introduced Mira to sidewalk chalk. I was unsure about whether she'd really get it because she didn't seem to really pick up on crayons the few times we'd tried them. But we tried it anyway one day when the weather was too nice to stay inside but too cool for water play. I showed her how it worked by writing her name on the back porch. Well, she took to it right away, picking up a piece of chalk and drawing a long line on the porch. Over the course of the next half hour or so, she would grab a piece of chalk, walk over to a spot on the porch which I suppose needed coloring, draw one long line, and then get up and walk over to the next spot to draw another single line. This went on and on: squat down, draw a line, get up, walk to next spot, squat down, draw a line, get up... and so on. It was precious.

(Note the blue chalk on her face in this last one... too cute.)

Since then, she's wanted to go out back to color with the chalk most afternoons. She changes colors frequently, but it seems as though her favorites are blue and purple. One day while we were out there playing with chalk, she went to the door and indicated that she wanted to go back inside. I responded, "You want to go inside? Ok but first we have to put away the chalk." And before I made any move to start picking up the chalk, she went right over to the pot we are keeping the chalk in and started putting the chalk into it. I was so incredibly proud of her right then. I don't know why it should have surprised me; I've been having her help me put away her toys for weeks now. But this was a new situation, being outside, with a new toy, the chalk, and a new container, the pot. So I guess I expected that I'd have to show her what I was talking about before she'd get it. But no. Not my baby. She understands perfectly. :-D

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Playing with the hose

Yesterday we were all hanging out in the backyard after dinner. At some point, Brian turned on the hose, I think to refill the dogs' water dish, and hilarity ensued. (By the way, you'll want to watch these with the sound on.)

I love how she's smiling SO MUCH that her little face can hardly take it and gets so screwed up into this giant grin. And I love that she's SO EXCITED about what's going on that clearly the gigantic smile can't possibly express the awesomeness of the situation and so she simply must squeal with glee. And I love how she can't seem to tolerate the extreme jubilation for more than a few seconds before she simply must retreat to the other side of the porch to catch her breath and steel her resolve for another go. And then when the water is turned off, I love how she so clearly expresses "No, it can't be over yet!" with merely a "dat dat dat!"

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


In preparation for Easter, my mom had bought Mira this book called "Where are Baby's Easter Eggs?". It's a really cute book that has flaps to look under to find the Easter eggs. She gave it to me about a week before Easter and told me that I had to read it to Mira as much as possible so that she'd know what was going on when Easter came around. Such a smart idea, and it totally worked.

Easter morning we spent with my parents and sister. When we got over to my parents' house, Gramma Donna informed Mira that the Easter Bunny had left something for her, and she should go check her toy corner to find it. Here's Mira finding her Easter basket:

After that we had breakfast and then my sister had planned an egg hunt for Mira and some of the other neighborhood kids. Which was really very sweet of her. We got outside and at first Mira was just happy to be outside playing. Then I pointed out an egg to her and something clicked in her little brain and she really got it. She'd look around for an Easter egg with her hands held out in a questioning pose like "where could it be?" and then she'd spot one and point at it. She'd go get it and bring it to whoever was following her with her basket and put it into the basket. Then she'd hold her hands out again like "where's the next one?" Adorable.

After that was naptime, so we went home for a nap. After Mira woke up, we went over to see Brian's dad and step-mom. We had dinner with them and then another egg hunt in their backyard. By then, though, I think Mira was getting tired because she didn't seem as into that egg hunt. Of course, it could just have been that she was distracted by the swing in their backyard because she kept going over to it, wanting to get on and swing.

Anyway, a good Easter all around. Mira had a blast, and that's what matters.