Monday, February 28, 2011

I know I'm not the only one

Today is a dreary day. The sky is dark, the air is cold, and the rain falls without end. It is a clammy dampness that spares no body part during my chilly morning journey from weekend to work.

We didn't get much rest last night, and as I walked toward my office, I walked through the combined haze of sleep deprivation and the frigid air of the end of winter in New England. The prospect of another Monday -- a Monday filled with sadness for Zane, a terribly messy house, and a week of daycare drop offs and pick ups -- well... I suppose this gray morning leaves me feeling slightly subdued, if not sad.

It brought to mind a time in my life that already feels an eternity away. This creed will sound obvious, something I might have easily stated long before we struggled to have a child, before the needles and injections consumed my every waking thought... but in the whirl of self pity and egocentric stress that is daily existence, it's easier to forget than to remember: you never know what kind of day a person's had until you walk a mile in their shoes. It's easier to get mad at the driver that cuts you off, the clerk that ignores you, to judge the person that forgets to return your call -- it's easier to face them with negativity and self-entitlement than it is to consider what their own day might have been like, to remember that your struggles are neither singular nor unique.

This gray morning brought to mind many other gloomy mornings, other mornings that were spent in the small, stiff chairs that lined the hallway of our infertility clinic. Needles in -- full of hormones -- and needles out -- full of my blood. I spent these mornings watching the other women around me. One woman is older, and the other has an obvious case of PCOS. That person came with her husband, yet they stare in opposite directions. The study of another yields no clues whatsoever. There we all sat, experiencing such profound commonality in silence, waiting for our numbers to be called, waiting to take another step closer to our imagined future of happiness, waiting and waiting for the fine mist of uncertainty to be over.


These sad mornings were both unfortunate and necessary in my path to parenthood. There was joy in my pregnancy, but there was no joy in the days it took to achieve it. Now I may look back on the time of infertility as one of significant personal growth. Because now, when I see someone with a sad look on their face, I have a greater capacity to pause. What might their morning have been like? What coarse thoughts circle their mind? I can only assume there are many things about their personal journey that I do not understand.

Compassion, empathy, fellowship for the community around me... strangely, the complicated journey to become pregnant brought these qualities to the surface of my life. When you go through pain yourself, you start to wonder about others' pain as well.

Days like today remind me that we are all walking through the same cold mist. This knowledge provides me with a measure of comfort, for it seems easier to tell another than to tell myself: springtime will come soon, and we are all waiting together.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ten Reasons

This is not the first time I've had to send an awkward email of the following sort:

[Regarding a professional event, addressed to random_info@professionaleventURL] "This is an unusual question. I am a nursing mother with a young baby at home, and I will need to pump once while I am gone. Is there a (private) location that I might use for about 15 minutes? A bathroom is my last resort. I am hoping there might be an empty room somewhere."

Jack has been nearly exclusively breastfed for 7 months. I'm going to give myself a little credit here: this is no small feat. Milk leaves my boobs about every 3 hours, healthy or sick, night or day, at home or at work. More than 95% of what Jack eats is my breast milk. Not only have I made it to 7 months, I have no intention of slowing down any time soon.

The biology of nursing is fascinating. Lactation is all about supply and demand. The more the baby asks for -- frequent nursing, complete emptying of the breast -- the more milk is produced. Some the regulation is local (stretch receptors inhibit milk production as the breast fills) and some of it is systemic (prolactin is involved, among other hormones). Nursing is a lot of work, but I don't mind.

A friend of mine asked me what nursing is like. She wondered why women enjoy it. The sensation of nursing is difficult to describe. I wouldn't say it is a physically pleasant sensation (at least not consistently), but it is nice on an emotional level. Right before the milk lets down, I feel a wave of contentment, as if I suddenly let out a deep breath and relaxed. From that moment on, I am focused on Jack: his sandy blond hair, his lovely baby smell, the happy noises he makes while nursing, the angle of his eyes and nose, his contented pace, his shoulders cuddled under my shoulder, his tiny hand holding mine... the little fingernails I probably need to cut. Yes, my mind wanders. Of course, Jack is a squirmy, fidgety guy, and much of the time he's kicking and thashing and trying to get comfortable... but at night, when we're both sleepy and relaxed? It's exactly as I described... and it's time of bonding that's really, really nice.

So, nursing's great.

It's pumping that's the problem. It's the hard, mechanical, uncomfortable and inconvenient pump that's the problem. I dislike -- no, I hate -- pumping.

But pump I must, 3-4 times a day. I pump to send Jack to daycare while I attempt to work.

Here are ten reasons why we've made it this far.

1. I am lucky.

True supply problems are rare, but they do occur. I was exceptionally lucky to start the nursing journey with a slight oversupply of milk. I made a bit more than Jack needed, and I've put in a lot of effort to maintain this oversupply. I feel very fortunate to have had a decent starting point.

2. I nursed on demand when Jack is born.

The early weeks are absolutely critical in establishing a good milk supply. The more frequently you nurse, the more *sensitive* your body becomes to changes in baby's milk needs in the future. I did what women around the world do (everywhere except America, that is): every time my baby cried, whether I thought he was hungry or not, I offered him milk. If I had supplemented Jack in the early days, or if I had attempted to regulate his feeding schedule, things might have been more challenging.

3. I was determined.

Nursing hurts. It hurts very, very badly. Imagine a tiny, ravenous, uncoordinated piranha biting down onto a highly sensitive region of your body in two hour intervals. He's hungry, he's angry, and he doesn't understand how to get the milk out... but he knows, if he keeps trying, something will happen. You love the piranha, but the sight of his hungry mouth makes you recoil in fear Then imagine that you have an undiagnosed thrush infection for the first six weeks, which leads to burning, shooting pain throughout your breasts every time your milk lets down. I spent the first four weeks crying while he nursed. Sometime around 6 weeks, nursing was a neutral experience. By 8 weeks, I often looked forward to it.

I remember desperately asking everyone around me: when did you enjoy nursing? When did you look forward to it? For me, I'd say that things got better for good at around 10 weeks.

Before things got nice, I continued nursing because I was determined. In the beginning, nothing would have swayed me from breastfeeding Jack. Formula was simply not an option. I was committed and we worked through the various obstacles. Now, I love to nurse Jack. I love our special time together. I love knowing that I can supply what he needs. It was worth every moment of pain to get to this place of nursing equilibrium, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

4. I bought a f&#$ing expensive breast pump.

I spent $360 on the double electric pump, $50 on all-glass bottles, and another $100 on nursing paraphernalia (bras, tanks, adapters).
Without a doubt, the expensive pump was worth every penny. In a pinch, with a good let down, I can pump both sides empty in 6-8 minutes... some of the less expensive pumps can take as long as 20 minutes per side (40 minutes total). I can pump without an outlet (in the car!). I can stash my pump in a bag that doesn't look like a pump bag (portability!). The pump is efficient: it empties me nearly as well as Jack does, and I have no doubt that helps keep my supply up. This f&#$ing expensive pump makes my life easier, and that means more good milk for Jack.

5. I don't have a freezer stash to rely on.

Most women build up a stash of frozen milk while they are on maternity leave. I pumped an extra 80 ounces before I returned to work... and then, several days before Jack started daycare, I found out that it was all rancid and unusable. I have excess lipase (an enzyme that degrades fat) in my milk, and it makes storage tricky. My milk keeps for about 2-3 days in the fridge. The only way I can freeze it is if I pasteurize it on the stove immediately after pumping, and I never seem to have enough milk left over to do this consistently.

The typical working-mother pumping-milk scenario would go like this. For whatever reason, a woman has low supply on a particular day, relative to the baby's needs. She supplements with a few ounces from her freezer stash. Because the baby gets some milk from the freezer stash, there's less demand on mom's boobs to make more milk. Over time, lots of freezer-stash supplementation (without compensatory pumping) can lead to a decrease in supply.

I have no freezer stash and no option. I *must* pump a minimum of 15 ounces of milk for Jack every single day. If I don't get that much during the day, I pump and pump and pump more at night. Sometimes Jack is hungry, and he nurses overtime to make up for it. This stimulates more milk production, and my supply compensates. I keep a daily record of how much milk I've pumped, and I can tell you that my supply has gone up since my return to work four months ago.

6. I co-sleep.

We both wake up every 2-3 hours so that Jack can nurse. This frequent nursing at night does wonders for my milk supply... I see a difference when I don't co-sleep.

7. I nurse Jack before he has solid food, and I don't fill him up with carbohydrates (ie, no rice cereal)

This ensures that breast milk stays his main source of nutrition, as it should be when he is still so young. Jack is very curious about food -- he wants tastes of everything, and we give him however much he'll take. I just make sure he's had the opportunity for milk first

8. I avoid medication

I took a decongestant a month ago. It was awful. It killed my milk supply. I thought we were done. Thankfully, I spoke with my local La Leche League Leader, and she encouraged me to keep trying... I pumped every hour for days on end, and my supply eventually recovered. I think I've taken a permanent hit, though.

There are a variety of medications that will decrease milk supply. Decongestants and menthol are two of them, and now I avoid both.

9. I continue to nurse on demand

Read any baby book, and they tell you all about how the baby should be stretching out their feedings and sleeping longer at night. I've ignored the conventional wisdom. Jack still nurses every two hours. Sometimes he only nurses for a minute or two at a time, but he nurses frequently. I don't mind. It keeps my supply up, and it means shorter nursing sessions in between.

10. I have the support of those around me.

I spend at least (at least) 2 hours a day getting Jack his milk: washing bottles, washing pump parts, walking to the pumping location, and actually pumping. My boss, my friends, Greg, everyone... everyone has been supportive. I had access to a lactation consultant while I was in the hospital, and I've spoken with my La Leche League leader several times. I could not have continued to pump without such a supportive community.

How much longer will I pump? Your guess is as good as mine. I began this adventure with the certain goal of nursing Jack, but no plan as to how long I would continue.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Contact

Just after I settled into the two-person pumping room, another woman came in. I heard her unzipping her bag. I heard the weight of the pump tap against the table. I heard the click, a distinctive click that I knew to be her nursing bra unsnapping.

I turned my pump on. I waited for my milk to let down.

Then... then she turned her pump on. She turned her grating, squealing, gnashing.... LOUD pump on. It sounded like someone had thrown a wrench into metal gears.

No, it sounded like someone blending a remote control in a VitaMix.

No, no... it was the sound of a goose being strangled.

It was a sound that scared my milk away.

Suddenly her cell phone rang. She turned off the pump and spent several minutes coordinating a meeting. Thankfully, my milk let down. I continued pumping. Hurry, milk, hurry!, I thought. We don't have much time! I anxiously counted the milliliters.

She hung up her cell phone. Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, she's going to turn that pump on again.

And then it happened: "Uhm... excuse me?"

I was a little startled. "Yes?"

"Do you mind if I ask, what kind of pump are you using?"

"Oh, uhm, it's a Medela Freestyle" I said this hesitantly. The Freestyle is the Rolls Royce of double electric breast pumps.

"Oh." There was a slight deflection in her voice. We both know how expensive the pump is. "I feel like my pump is really loud. I think you must hear it over there. I'm really sorry"

I couldn't help but smile. "Yeah, I can hear it. But don't worry. It's totally fine."

She turned her pump back on. The dying goose continued its song. My milk got scared again.

It was time for me to go. "Have a great day" I called as I opened the door to leave, and she said "Thanks, you too".

First contact. She seemed nice.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Happy 7-month-day



Dear Jack,

You are 7 months old! This month was a big month for you.

Jack, we are just so proud: you hit a big, big physical milestone. You started to crawl! It happened so suddenly that you took us all by surprise. You would reach and reach for toys, and sometimes, after putting your arms forward, you would accidentally move your body. Then, all of the sudden, you realized what movement meant, and then there was no stopping you. You would grasp and pull and tug, and suddenly your body was going where you wanted it to! Within a few days, you were zooming across the floor. You've started rolling around more, and you'll pick up a toy and play on your side or your front or your back, just rolling around as you please. It is awfully cute to see you entertain yourself.


Your ability to move across the house means that you now have an entire world to explore. Your parents had to spend a whole day fixing up your room so that it would be safe for you to crawl around in. We rearranged some things and put in a new cabinet. We think the room is pretty awesome. I hope you like it. We also had to put away some of your baby things. It made me very, very sad to pack up your exercise mat. From day 1, you loved hanging out on the mat, swatting at toys and picking at the bright fabric. But you've outgrown the mat, and so it is time to move on.



You crawl after everything, now. You are getting so quick. You love to play, and all of the items around you have become potential toys: the tag on the rug, the wooden base of the chair, and many things that you shouldn't be going after, like the dog gate (ouch!) or the wobbly shelf (it's gone!). I simply love watching you crawl. It fills me with such pride and excitement. I can only imagine how transformative the sudden independence is to you.


You are still babbling away. You went through a phase of saying "mamamama" all the time, and it was awfully sweet. You would wake up at night saying "mamamama" and you would wake up in the morning saying "mamamama". Most of the time, though, you just babble away, an endless string of consonants and vowels. We listen.


You are just the chattiest baby. Your babbling is incredibly expressive. It goes up and down and you move your lips and cheeks to make new sounds, and we can often tell what you want. You are always trying to get our attention by making new noises. A few of them are quite funny. You can hit the back of your wrist against your mouth and make the sound "wah-wah-wah-wah". You figured out how to do this quite suddenly, and then it was nonstop for a few days. You also learned how to make a raspberry into a horse lips sound. I find this so funny, and I wish you would do it more often. Sometimes if we start making a sound, you'll imitate us. One of your other new sounds is the happy growl. It all started when your dad would try to cheer you up in the morning (Jack, you should know that you're a bit of a grump when you wake up). He would growl at you when you would cry. This would make you laugh instead of cry. Pretty soon you figured out how to growl right back, and you and your dad would have growling contests. Now we know that the growl is your happy sound.


Speaking of your dad, you just love your dad. You're often fussy around me, but when your dad shows up, it is all happiness. You two are quite the pair. A few days ago, you nestled your head right into your dad's shoulder. He said "Peek-a-boo!", and you popped out with a happy smile and a huge grin. Then you put your head back onto his shoulder, and he said "Peek-a-boo!", and you bounced out to see him again. You two were giggling up a storm. Sometimes you also play peek-a-boo with a blanket or your jacket, and I think it is so cute.



We moved your co-sleeper crib into the nursery. Nobody was sleeping well, and we thought that might help. It was a big change for me, and I'm still not sure what our plan is for the future. You do great sleeping on your own, but I miss having you near us at night. Some nights you are in the nursery, and some nights you are in bed. The sleep situation was really tough for a few weeks, because you would wake up so often (every 20-40 minutes in the early evening, and every hour thereafter). Suddenly, for no apparent reason, you started sleeping again. Now if we bring you into the Big Bed, you will curl up with me and sleep for four hours at a time. I like that. I like having you so close.


I have some sad news, Jack. When you were born, you had two puppy-dogs: Tori and Zane. Zane passed away this week. I want you to know that you and Zane liked each other very much. We are glad that you had a chance to know Zane when you were so little, and we are also glad that you still have Tori to play with. She likes you very much, too. You pull at her fur, sometimes quite hard. She is patient, but I think we'll have to teach you about "Gentle Hands" soon.


You're not too interested in food. I don't want to give you rice cereal, so we've just been doing table food and some smashed up food. You put things in your mouth and make silly faces. It takes some effort, but you can also pick up small chunks from the high chair tray with your index finger and thumb. You think it is a lot of fun. We think you are a lot of fun. So far you, you like avocado and banana, sweet potatoes, bread, and broccoli. You like whole carrots better than smashed up carrots. You must get the broccoli gene from me: I've loved broccoli since before I can remember.


For Valentine's day, your dad and I took you to the aquarium in Mystic. You were very interested in all of the fish, but you were also a bit sick that day. We felt bad that you felt bad and we didn't stay very long. Maybe we'll bring you back soon. By the way, when we were at a restuarant in Mystic for lunch, you choked (actually choked) on a baby puff. Luckily, after about 30 seconds and a finger sweep from your Mama, your gag reflex kicked in and you threw up. We were so, so scared while this was happening. I don't think I'm going to let you have a puff again until you're 18.


Well, Jack, I just wanted to let you know what a fabulous job you are doing with this whole growing thing. We are so proud of you. We can tell you will always be on the go, investigating things and interacting with your world. You are definitely a baby who wants to touch and manipulate whatever you see around you. You are very curious, and very determined. You are social and outgoing, just like your dad.


Jack, you're doing great. I love you, baby.

Thank you.

Grief.

Grief has that terrible way of hitting a person in waves: you feel fine, and then suddenly the sadness is overwhelming. Our sadness continues, although the fluctuation is less severe now than it was on Tuesday. It is not just he loss of Zane that saddens us: it is also the loss of our family unit. There has never been a Rachael+Greg without a Tori+Zane. Anyone who knows us knows how our two dogs initiated and defined our relationship. Zane loved children so much, and we were sure that Jack and Zane would have been best friends. I am especially torn up by Tori's confusion. She sits and waits by the back door. Sometimes she paces over to her dog bed and lays down for a bit, but then she goes and stands watch again. While she cannot conceptualize that Zane is gone, we are sure she feels lonely. We have no way to help her with this loneliness, because human companionship will never be the same as canine companionship.

We are doing much better. We are grateful for each other, for our general good fortune, and most of all, more importantly than anything else, for happy, healthy Jack. However, there is an ache for our original family unit that will probably never go away. It shouldn't.

With that...I just wanted to say thank you. You have all been so kind, and kindness is a word that doesn't even begin to sum up what we have experienced in the past few days. I am simply overwhelmed by the number of sympathetic emails, facebook notes, text messages, and well, frankly, wordless hugs, I've received. People have sent flowers. Our friends Mike and Nathalia drove down from Boston last night, to stay the night and today, just to cheer us up and take care of Jack so that we don't have to deal with the drive to daycare. Wow, I just... wow. I am overcome by the support we've received from our friends and family.

This event, shocking as it was, reminds me of something that is so, so, so, SO important to remember. Nothing matters in this world save for the relationships we form with others.

Zane was hit less than 20 feet away from our property line. The woman who hit him stopped her car; she was frantic and worried and wanted to do whatever she could. Our neighbor Michael came striding forward to barricade the side of the road with trash cans and brought a flat board so we could move Zane into the car. People stopped. One person inquired into Zane's condition later that day. One of Greg's best friends from childhood, Andrew, lives right across the street. He helped get Zane into the car and drove to the vet hospital. He kept Greg company and found a way to lift his spirits during the most difficult time that day.

I am filled to the brim with gratitude for people. I am grateful for those that I am close to, but I am also appreciative of what we all share in human existance. People feel. People care. People surround us. I am grateful for my community, and of my incredible luck to know so many good, loving people. Sadly, we have all experienced trauma in its varying forms, but thankfully, we all share in our grief and move ahead. It is the sharing that makes this possible.

I hope Jack can grow up in a similar community. I feel sure he must: he is a miniature Greg, who, true to his name, is nearly as gregarious as a person could come. As much as I hate this knowledge, I know that Jack will be hurt by many things in his life. During those difficult times, I hope he will find solace, as we have, in those he loves. I hope he will always be surrounded by those who love him. For as long as Greg and I are on this earth, we will be there for him.

On that concluding note, let me provide a caption for the picture up top. The picture is from Mike and Nathalia, who not only sent Greg and I to work with lunch packed (!), but who are taking care of Jack in our home today. This quirky snapshot of my son makes me smile, for Jack is at work, too, taking his job of growing quite seriously indeed. And now, an hour later, they have sent us another photo. Our little baby, chunky thighs and all, is napping peacefully.


Again, thank you, everyone. I will write about happier topics soon.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rest in peace

For anyone who has me on RSS, I apologize for the double post. I needed to change the title of this post to something less upsetting.


Greg and I met at the New Haven dog park. I had just moved from Arizona with my pound puppy, a Finnish Lapphund, a food-hound but a sweetheart: Tori. She's the black and white muppet on the left. Greg had been living in New Haven for a while with his own pup, a beautiful, charismatic Siberian Husky named Zane. He's the pure white charmer on the right. Our relationship began over our dogs. We actually named our son after the street that the dog park was on: Jack Ronan, for St. Ronan Street.

I'm trying to write now about Zane, about what an amazing, wonderful dog he was. About how he was Greg's companion during such an important time in Greg's life. About the naps we took together on lazy days and his course fur that comforted me on so many occasions and the games that he Greg play and how Jack was going to hold onto him when he took his first step... about...

Oh my god, I can't. I just can't. This hurts more than I have words to describe.

See, while I was writing my last post about being sick, I was actually home sick, and Zane was barking at me to go outside. So I hit "post", got up, opened the door and let him and Tori into the snow. By the time I got my jacket on and discovered that the two of them had hopped the fence, it was all over.

I may not have been driving the car that severed Zane's spine, but it sure as hell happened on my watch.

I cannot bear this degree of grief, and my distress is second only to Greg's. I would give anything -- anything -- to take away Greg's pain. I wish it had been Tori. At least, if my behavior was to have resulted in one dog's death, let it have reached the depths of my own despair than my husband's. Tori has spent hours staring at the back door, waiting for her best friend to come home. Our family is broken. We are heartbroken.

This is has been one terrible, awful, horrendous day, a day to cap off one terrible, awful, horrendous winter. I realize, as I hack my way through this evening, feel my temperature rise, the sharp pain of my sore throat slicing through a haze of unhappiness, as I am nursing Jack and thinking about how many ways this moment is wrong, so terribly wrong, so wrong like a nightmare that you just can't wake up from... I realize that the sensation of having my milk let down is the same feeling as having tears reach my eyes, except that nursing serves to release tension and crying merely magnifies the hopelessness. How many times have I cried since Jack's birth?

Tonight more than ever.

video

This one goes to 11

In case y'all weren't yet bored to death by the Sick-O-Meter, I thought I'd send a few more griping, irritated sentences into cybperspace. We've hit 11 illnesses since Jack started daycare 4 months ago. 10 was mild. 11 is not. I'm coughing so hard that I can't breath. Jack has a terrible cough, too, though thankfully no fever. Greg got sick, but he's feeling better. Luckily we've all had our pertussis vaccines, else I'd be freaking out about whooping cough. I am miserable. I just close my eyes and repeat the refrain: you can survive anything for XX... and sometimes XX is a few months, sometimes a few days.

Despite being ill, Jack is one happy little dude. He's crawling all over the place. We took off his onesie yesterday, to encourage him to lift his belly off the ground... and it worked! Jack popped up to hands and knees and rocked forward and back a few times, then took one hesitant inch forward before resting his belly back on the floor and returning to his default army crawl.

I love the little guy so much. His job is growing and he's just doing the best job ever.

Yesterday, when I went to pick him up at daycare, Jack was hanging out in the exer-saucer, playing with his friend Ellis. (Ellis was working the spinner thingy from the outside and Jack was working the spinner thingy from the inside). Jack wasn't standing up in the exer-saucer, just resting his cute butt against the fabric. Suddenly he saw me, and he popped up in excitement, legs locked and head as high as it could go, the hugest grin you could imagine spreading across Jack's face. He greeted with me with a loud, happy growl, so loud and so happy that everyone else in the room started laughing.

And with that short anecdote, I shall return to what occupies me today: passing out in bed, clutching blankets around me as I cope with the dual guilt of neither being capable of work nor being with my baby, and trying to make up for many sleepless nights so that my body can kick this damn cough.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Blahblahblahblahblah

Three things that make me happy.

One

Jack, since month 5 or so: "Ppphbbbbbbttt. Mabaga oohhh ahh eeeh grrr eeeeeeee! eee! ah! ooooh! babagada dooo ooohrrr boo buuuurgh ppphhhhhhhbt! urgh! uhm! owwwaaah ubedo urrrh"

Last week, Wednesday:
Jack, 6am: "mamamamamamama"
Jack, 7am: "mamamamamamama"
Jack, 8am: "mamama... uhr.... mamamama"
Jack, 9am: "mamamamamamama"
Jack, 10am: "mamamamamamamamamamamamamamama"

Etc.

It never gets old. I swear the whole "mama" before "dada" thing is (uhm, partial) karma for the pain of childbirth.

Two

Sometimes when Jack would cry really badly and we were desperate for anything to relieve our own worry, or if Jack was choosing a particularly tense moment to squeal at the top of his lungs, we'd tap our hand against his mouth, gently. The change in sound (from "waaaaaaaaaah!!" to "wahwahwahwah!!") would surprise him enough that he'd often stop crying. Then Greg figured out that if we just started tapping our hands against his mouth under normal, happy circumstances, Jack would start making a sound. Then we could all giggle about the "wahwahwahwah" as a family. Now? Now Jack has learned how to make the sound all by himself. He hits the back of his wrist against his mouth: "wahwahwahwah".

All by himself! This impresses me.

Of course now he's stopped going "Waaaaaa" and instead just tries to hit his mouth with the back of his wrist while letting out an airy whisper "Haaaaaa". I'm not sure what that's all about.

Three

Any fans of Arrested Development out there? If so, you are well aware of Bob Loblaw's Law Blog and the hilarity that ensues when you say it three times fast. Go ahead, try it.

If you have a baby, you're familiar with Bob Loblaw's Law Blog, too.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Little Feet


There were these little feet. 15 weeks in, they were there. Little bumps, little flutters, little indications... these little feet slowly turned into bubbles and dragging and then real, identifiable kicks. By 18 weeks, I knew all about Jack's feet.

Because as much as Jack's feet loved to kick me, I loved them right back. Jack's feet were all I knew of him. I would play with my baby all day, running my fingers across my belly as if to tickle him, and if he was awake, he'd tell me he heard.

Jack's little feet. They made me so happy. No matter the time. No matter the level of discomfort. No matter my degree of exhaustion. I loved feeling Jack kick. I reveled in my growing child.

Jack kicked like no other baby I've heard of, both in strength and in frequency. On two separate occasions, I had a nurse jump away from me in surprise when Jack threw a particular emphatic limb their way. One said "Holy cow!" and the other said "Holy moly!". I was due for weekly nonstress tests near the end of my pregnancy, and I had to come back on more than one occasion: even in a 40 minute monitoring session, Jack would not stop kicking for long enough for them to make the measurement. Jack made the doctors laugh even before he was born.

The truth is, even in utero, I felt proud of my son. I felt that he was strong, It thrilled me to know that he was active, exploring, testing, moving. From the start, Jack pushed at the boundary of his world, and that world was entirely, completely, totally... me.

And now Jack's world is expanding. Day by day, he sees more, he understands more... and he moves more.

Jack's little feet. Now they push onto the floor. They propel him forward, into space. They help him get to where he wants to go... on his own. It's the sort of thing that could make a mom cry.

But I'm not crying about this.I am simply bursting with unexpected and overwhelming pride. I am exchanging silly grin after silly grin with my husband: "Did you see that?!" I'm cheering Jack on, his biggest fan, eyes trained over every little inch of path that he traverses. I am glowing in my excitement. Oh he crawls over to the gate at daycare, does he? The importance of this knowledge, this special behavior... it may just overwhelm me. One leg, one arm, and another and another. Limb over limb and Jack gets to where he wants to be.

Such determination. Don't let that feeling go.

Such sudden liberation. Enjoy, just enjoy.

Such a world for you to explore. Keep going.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

And he's off

The stationary gig is up: at 6.5 months, Jack is crawling! He goes after toys and investigates the room. It started with a few army-crawl style tugs a few days ago, and then suddenly he figured out how to connect it all for purposeful locomotion. This little guy is determined to get to what he wants:

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He's not going from belly to seated yet, but he'll go from seated to standing if he has something to pull up on. The bath tub and the changing table are suddenly quite treacherous, as he pulls and tugs and tips his way toward certain head-smashing. It's all happened so quickly! Jack's nursery is kind of a mess of piled up stuff... it's time for us to begin some baby-proofing!

Of course we aren't really surprised -- Jack's world is one in which he always calls the shots:

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This kid's got us by our heartstrings!