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Advice, Please

2012/04/19 5 comments

Weaning.

How, When, Why?

Meeka has always been a boob girl. She loves to nurse. She latched on immediately in the hospital, and has been trying to live attached to my boob ever since. She’s currently working out her own exercise routine, tentatively called “Breastfeeding Gymnastics” – and no, it’s not the boobs doing the gyrating (thank god!) but rather, the baby trying to see how many ways she can contort herself while still keeping the nipple in position (she’s got some good rotation going, as well as some pretty impressive one-leg-only poses)

Of course, the converse of this is that she is not now, and never has been, a bottle babe. Since she is in daycare, she does get them … But doesn’t really like to drink from them. And, like her mommy, can be very stubborn. And good at refusing what she doesn’t want. And so – some days when I pick her up, she’s had only 4oz from a bottle. (Other days, she’s had 20oz. So. Yeah) They offer, she refuses. And refuses. And refuses.

Which leads to a bit more night feeding than I’d like. OK, a lot more night feeding than I’d like.

Now, my basic parenting philosophy is to do what is best for the baby – go where she leads, etc etc (within reason). Which in this case, seems to be, stick with the boob, lady! Sure. Fine. I’m OK with that, in general…

BUT.

(You knew there was a but)

My problem is that my husband and I are leaving on vacation in 2 months. For 10 days. Without the baby.

She’ll be one year, at that point. My mom is coming to stay with her, in our apartment, her familiar environment. She’ll be going to daycare every day like usual. (Yes, I am still talking myself into this, a bit. Because – I DON’T WANT TO LEAVE MAH BABY!!! MY PRESHUS LITTLE BABY!!! … On the other hand, VACATION! Alone, with my husband, in an exotic locale, to celebrate 5 years of marriage and the end of his training and x y z… But this isn’t a discussion of that, really.)

Sure, it’s 2 months away. A LOT can change in that time (and most likely will). But I know my stubborn little one. I know I need to think and plan for this now. Because it might just take her that long to adjust… But to what? That’s my problem. I don’t quite know what to do with this situation.

Do I stay on course – which is nursing at wake up, upon return from daycare, at bedtime, and then on demand at night? (Generally 1-2x per night, though she’s had a sleep regression recently)

Do I try to gradually wean from the boob? (Ideally get down to wake up and bedtime nursing, perhaps?) And how do I do this? Any tips?

I don’t want to cut it all out now, that’s not on the table. For one thing, I’d like to nurse at least a year. It’s working for us (too well, that’s the problem).

But what would an abrupt cut-off when I leave do?

And… If we’re still going with the nursing then, would we be able to pick it back up when I return? (I know that would mean pumping while away, which I am OK with doing if I thought she’d still want to nurse when I got back. But would she? After 10 days without? I know some kids go right back to it after a 2-3 day break, but a longer one?!?!)

(And I’m also wary of how any changes would affect her milk intake – right now, despite being at daycare all day, the majority of it is via nursing. If I cut this back, then perhaps the bottle intake would go up. But… if it didn’t… DEHYDRATION! My least favorite nemesis, since we went down that road once before… And while we’d be watching closely for that, how to fix it if she’s refusing bottles? ARGH!)

(And yes, given my reading, I should be all zen and “my job is to provide the food, her job is to eat it”. And I am, sort of. But I also know how stubborn she can be about drinking… such that she dehydrated herself once before… So that makes the zen-state a bit harder to attain)

Advice? Please?

She’s offering you the sippy cup. Because she sure isn’t going to drink from it!

Categories: parenting questions

FOOD

2012/03/22 9 comments

While I’ve got a couple of other topics rattling around in my head, they’re going to need more time to become somewhat coherent… But while they are a-cookin’, I figured I’d go with this topic – FOOD! Namely, Meeka’s food.

 

We’re lucky. Meeka LOVES food. ALL food. While she didn’t take to green beans the first time she tried them, she was OK with them the second time, and gobbled them up after that. Everything else? She’s loving from the first taste she gets!

Well, OK. The second. She does this adorable thing where the first bite of whatever she’s eating that meal – no matter what it is, no matter how many times she’s had it before? She takes a bite, wrinkles her nose, and looks disgusted. Then she chews, swallows, reconsiders, and demands MORE! And proceeds to gobble it all up 🙂

Now, I make all of the food she eats (though I’d be lying if I said she hadn’t sampled some jarred stuff – because she has. All four or so jars of it). Mostly this is because it’s cheap and easy, and lets me have fun with what she’s eating ; and some of it is because some of those jars of baby food are so damn disgusting looking and smelling, I can’t stomach the thought of trying to feed them to her – just the smell makes me nauseous, so why would I feed them to my baby?!?! (Some, however, look and taste great. And I know this because I ate some of it through college – mixed fruit purees that are basically fancy applesauce? YUM! … And no, it’s not that I was never weaned from baby food, sheesh! It’s that some of the fruits looked so appetizing when I was wasting time wandering the grocery store in college – damn, I could use some of that free time back now, please! – I’d pick a jar or two up as a snack. And yup, it was tasty!)

My problem right now is coming up with age-and-developmentally appropriate new additions to her diet… So I’m throwing this out there, to see if some of you have any good ideas!

So far, she eats:

Veggies – peas (whole and puree), green beans (puree), carrots (puree and cooked+cut), squash (puree and cooked+cut), sweet potato (puree- one of her favorites!), real potato (cooked+cut), red and yellow pepper (diced into tiny pieces), spinach (puree)

Fruits – applesauce, bananas (puree and cut), avocados (puree and cut), apricots (puree), mangos (puree and cut), pears (puree and cut), plums (puree) … basically what I can get easily here, so mostly what’s in season

Grains – rice, pasta (cut), whole wheat toast (cut), waffles/pancakes (cut)

Dairy – yogurt, cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese

Protein – black beans, refried beans, tofu, egg yolks … Now, I am a vegetarian so we don’t have much meat in the house, but my husband is not – so she’s sampled a tiny bit of chicken and a tiny bit of turkey. Oh, and she’s had some of my homemade falafel, so add chickpeas in there, too!

Now, I may be missing a few things, but that’s roughly it, I think…

To give you an idea of a typical eating-day for her, yesterday she ate: breastmilk, duh! and also – breakfast: a mix of banana and ricotta cheese (which she fed to herself) with some cheerios ; in daycare – cottage cheese, sweet potato + green beans (mixed together, puree) ; dinner – black beans, tofu chunks, pasta with parmesan cheese, peas (which she fed herself) … usually there is a fruit mix in daycare, but I’d run out yesterday – typically it would be a chunky puree of something like applesauce-banana-plum or mango-apricot-pear or whatever variety I had in stock…

Now, I think this little girl is eating pretty well – and with some decent variety, too! Each day we do a breakfast with some fruit and toast or cheerios ; she gets fruits and veggies for lunch/at daycare ; and dinner always has a protein, usually a grain, and also usually a veggie. My problem is – she’s such a good – and adventurous! – eater, and I want to encourage this… but I’m running out of ideas!

So – anyone have any suggestions (that are relatively easy to make) ????

Meeka would really love to hear all about the new yummy things that she’ll soon be tasting!

Also… since we’re on the food topic … anyone have a baby who refused sippy cups? If so, any advice on how you got them to take to them? My current strategy is to shrug, put them away for awhile, and we’ll try again in a bit when she might be ready. But if anyone has another suggestion, let me know!

 

 

Mommy Wars

2012/01/13 4 comments

So, apparently there is a mommy war or two rampaging around these here parts (or, perhaps, just some outrage over people trying to inflame those wars)…
Just to clear things up here, on my own little part of the internet, here is my take on these issues:
1. As long as you are not actively endangering your child, I believe you are doing what is best for your family, even if it is the exact opposite of what I would do
2. I will try not to judge you (out loud) for your choices (again, unless there is a true safety issue involved), and I hope you will do the same for me

Aaaaaand… yup. That’s about it.

However, just to be clear to all three of you who actually come over here to say hello once in awhile (Hi, you! and you! and you! Thanks for dropping by!), here is where I/my family stands on some of the issues that seem to flare up into MAJOR! DRAMA! every once in awhile, for your own (internal) judgy-mc-judgerson pleasure:

SAHM vs. WAHM vs. working mom: I work full-time, 40+ hour weeks. Which is actually a lot less than the job I initially had immediately post-partum, which required 80 hour weeks and me to go back 2 weeks post-partum. Um, yeah. I lasted 3 months, quit, and am here now. Who knows what the future will bring?

Daycare vs. Nanny: Daycare. Have you seen how much a nanny costs, yo? All joking aside, daycare is what works best for us; yes, cost is a factor, but we also like the benefits of social interactions, building up the immune system (though the attendant runny nose from November through til… when? May? June? Please let it be dry by then! is NOT FUN, oh no indeed), etc etc.

Breast vs. Formula: Breast. I wanted it to work, and amazingly, it did. Really, really well. Boobs just happen to be Meeka’s “thing.” Now? I’m worried about ever getting her off them!

Baby-led weaning vs. purees: I really wanted BLW to work for us – it sounded so great. But. Meeka loves her food, and she looooooooooves her spoon (yeah, don’t ask), and she got neither when trying to feed herself. And then she got angry. And fussy. Which led to me getting fussy. There was some crying involved (and it might not have been just her) So, purees it is – and she LOVES them, gobbles them up, and is back to being a happy baby come meal time.

Make-your-own food vs. store-bought: I make our baby food (though Meeks has had a jar or two of the store-bought stuff), mostly because, dude. Baby food be expensive. And I can make my own, and know exactly what’s in it, for pennies. Plus, I like to cook. Even if it is just pureed peas.

CIO vs. other methods of sleep training: I’m a wuss. I can’t let her cry (and my husband is even worse). That being said, there is crying and there is fussing. And for Meeka, there is a very obvious difference. Crying = loud, high-pitched, will not stop. Fussing = quieter, lower, usually lasts only a minute or so. I swoop in for the cries, oh yes I do. But I let her fuss herself out. So, during a typical night – we have a couple of times when I comfort and nurse her, and a couple of times when I wait and watch. And that’s what works for us.

Crib vs. Co-Sleeping vs. Other sleeping arrangements: I was soooooo sure I wouldn’t co-sleep before Meeka came along. Mostly because it scared me. I thought I might smush the baby. Now that she’s here? We do what works. Initially, she slept in a bassinet next to our bed. Then that didn’t work for her, so she slept in our bed next to me. Then we transitioned her to her crib. Then she got sick and regressed, and we co-slept in the daybed in her room. Now we’re progressing back to where we were, and she sleeps half the night (or so) in her crib, and half the night in bed next to me. And we all are getting better sleep this way.

Disposable vs. Cloth diapers: Cloth. I could be all “the environment! oh, the environment!” but… um… that’s great and all, but it’s mostly because 1. cost (please see above re: daycare, food, etc. We be cheap bastards) and 2. dude, they’re so cute!

Baby-wearing vs. other forms of baby-toting: All of the above? We baby-wear and baby-carry and use a stroller and really, like it all. Anything to schlep this big, happy baby around!

Now, I am sure there are other hot-button mommy issues I’ve forgotten… Feel free to remind me of ’em, and I’ll give you our take for more of your judging pleasure! 😉

Categories: parenting questions

line, crossed

2012/01/06 2 comments

I like to think that I am a fairly laid-back person, and that I extend that approach to my parenting. What this means is that I won’t judge your parenting (out loud) and hope you won’t judge mine. If you do something differently than me, I’ll (try to) see it as just that – different. Not worse, not better, just different. This is fairly easy for me to do in regards to your children, though slightly harder when it comes to my own – that is, if you choose to do x,y,z for your child, go you! If you choose to do it for mine, when it’s not something I would do for her? Well… Depending on what we’re talking about, I’m usually able to take a deep breath, smile, and go with the flow.

The key phrase up there? It’s “depending on what we’re talking about.” Because there are certain things that I will, indeed, judge – out loud. Anything that affects the safety of a child – yes, I truly do believe there is one way to do it, and that is the safe, responsible way. And if you don’t do this? I will indeed judge you. And say something. ESPECIALLY when it comes to my child.

The problem arises (of course you knew there would be a problem) when the person who is showing that questionable judgement is related to you. Or perhaps, to your husband. They are family, anyways. Someone inextricably liked to your life, and your child’s. What do you do then?

I never thought I would be asking myself this question. Because I truly never thought it would arise. Everyone in my family – both sides – are wonderful, smart, thoughtful, caring people. People who I thought might, true, do some things differently than I – but the little things. The things that don’t cross that invisible line. For example, when I leave my 6 month old with them for an hour or so in order to get some errands done (laundry, etc), and they might decide to entertain her by sitting in front of the TV and letting her watch and play with the remote. NOT something I would ever choose to do with her, and not something I particularly want her doing, but also not something I am going to explode into mommy-bear territory about. For this, I can take a deep breath (or two), tell myself to relax (and that they’ll be going home soon enough), smile, and just go with it (after all, they’ll be going home soon enough… right?)

But.

Then there are the things that do, in fact, cross over that line. That do call for that explosion of protectiveness. And that do – or rather, did – also occur this past week.

For example, the first day I went back to work; we’d arranged to split the day with my daughter in daycare for the morning, and spending time with her grandparents all afternoon so that they had plenty of time to spend with her, since they’d come such a long way. I was a little anxious because she was still sick, getting over the rampant virus that had ravaged her daycare the week before the holidays; she was still snotting and coughing and often, vomiting as well. But I swallowed my anxiety, knowing they would all have a good time with each other, and knowing that this time with her family was precious. And, indeed they did have a good time. But. BUT. While having this good time, it turns out, my daughter was refusing to drink. Anything. AT ALL. In daycare they’d managed to get her to take 1 oz, which was pretty good considering she’d slept all but 45 minutes of the time she was there. But that afternoon? In their desire to play with her – to spend “quality time” – they allowed her to continue to refuse all liquids, kept her up to play instead of nap, and then gleefully told me as I arrived home that “she was so great! AND we didn’t even have to change any diapers!”

Um.

What?!?!?!

Yes. Indeed. Somehow, they didn’t see it as a problem that not only had my daughter not had ANY fluid intake ALL DAY, she also had not had ANY wet diapers. In their desire for fun time, they managed to keep overlooking the fact that my daughter was, indeed, still sick – and might need something other than continuous play time. That there might be something wrong with this situation.

After I lifted up my jaw from the floor where it had dropped in shock, I lectured them about dehydration. And the fact that they had, in fact, just allowed my daughter to enter that territory. And that she might now need to go to the hospital. After less than one day in their care.

I didn’t even get into the fact that they should have called me when she was refusing to eat – see if there was something I could suggest or do. First, they needed to recognize that this was a problem (which, mind-boggling-ly, they DIDN’T). I figured we’d get that straightened out first. Then work on the steps to do after that.

That night was an agonizing time of watch and wait – if she had a wet diaper, she was OK; skirting dehydration, but not quite there yet. If not, I’d be taking her in to the doctor in the morning, likely for some lovely IV fluids. Luckily, she had that wet diaper. Not her usual saturated overnight underoos, but still. Something.

After my lectures of the day before, I decided to try once more. Same schedule once again, with very precise instructions on feeding, calling me, etc. Is there any way to misconstrue “Offer her fluids every 10 minutes – it doesn’t matter if she only takes 1 sip, at least it is something. Keep offering. Every 10 minutes. Call me if she doesn’t drink enough, or doesn’t have any wet diapers. And make sure to keep offering her plenty of fluids!”??!?! (You’d think not) They’d watched me feed her some banana the night before at dinner, and asked if they could try to feed her some in the afternoon; I’d allowed that they could, but made sure to emphasize this was not a substitute for fluids. Again – fluids, fluids, fluids.

She slept through most of the morning at daycare again, and ate 2 oz there. She then went home. And what happened? I am not exactly sure… Except I never got called (I myself called mid-afternoon to check in, and was told she was “fine” and napping, no need for me to come home to try to feed her). But at the end of the day? She’d eaten… drumroll… a total of 3 oz (two of them in daycare!) and had only one wet diaper (also in daycare). And what was I told when I arrived home? “She didn’t really drink that much, but that’s OK, we got her to eat some banana!”

W.T.F.

At this point, I am beyond livid. This is not one of those childcare things where people can all make different choices, and I can bite my tongue and live with it (even if your choice is not the one I’d make). No. You are actively endangering my child. AND YOU DON’T EVEN SEEM TO REALIZE THIS.

I closely monitor for dehydration again, she manages to skirt it (barely) yet again.

We have 2.5 more days with them staying here with us. They are family.

What can I do?

The next day, I bite my tongue – hard – and again, it’s daycare in the morning and time with them in the afternoon. This time, with me running home over my lunch break to make sure she eats. It works. And I keep biting my tongue.

Same the next day. She’s slowly, oh so slowly, creeping off the brink of that scary precipice, her diapers becoming a little more saturated, though still nowhere near where they should be.

Final day (half day, really), and I am ready to breathe my sigh of relief.

But. BUT.

Turns out there is one more surprise in store for me.

As I go about my morning, listening in to them playing with my daughter but allowing them this last time together before they leave, I hear this… sound. ??? I step closer, listen harder, and hear it again. They hear it, too, and laugh and clap and cheer my daughter on, telling her she’s so funny! Oh my!

I don’t laugh, or clap, or cheer. Because that sound? Was inspiratory stridor – a.k.a. my daughter struggling to breathe. YES. My daughter is trying her hardest to get some air in, and they think this is just a funny little noise she is making. How long was this going on? I can only imagine, days.

I swoop in, yet again, and rush my daughter off to take a steamy shower to open up her airway (which works wonders, by the way). They seem, yet again, completely oblivious to how close to harm my daughter has come. How far across the line of “different childcare decisions” into “endangering child” they have crossed.

I bite my tongue as hard as I can for the rest of the morning, so we can end this visit on a pleasant note. Because they are family. They are her grandparents. Because they are inextricably linked to all of us, for the rest of our lives. Because I truly do know that they want the best for my daughter – they just have no idea what it is (or rather, now “not the best” their time with her has been).

They’ve gone now, and I’ve struggled for days with how to process this past week, how to talk about it or write about it or even think about it. Because, on the one hand, they certainly crossed the invisible line into areas where I feel free to judge – areas where their actions (or lack thereof) certainly endangered my daughter, or came very close to – and I am aware that it is only through luck that they didn’t. But on the other – family.

If they were not related to me, I surely would cut all ties. But I cannot. And so, the question is, what to do?

They love my daughter with all their hearts, of this I am sure. They also endangered her life this past week, by being unable to see what she actually needed instead of what they wanted (and also? If I may say it? A distinct lack of common sense).

We survived this week. And are certainly unlikely to have another like it. However… unlikely is not impossible. And that curious blindness could easily translate over into many other areas in the future. I know they would never intentionally hurt my daughter. It is the unintentional harm that I am worried about.

I will never again be able to leave my daughter in their care without worry. I don’t know that I will be able to at all (at least for a very long, long while)…

I wish there were an answer to this problem. A way to go back in time and keep them from crossing that line. A way to repair the damage this has caused – to our relationship, to my peace of mind, if not, thankfully, to my daughter. I wish… I wish. But.