When I picked Jack up at school yesterday, I had to sign an accident report. Typically, these are presented to me when Jack has gone running and tripped and bumped his forehead on a bookshelf. Nothing major. I saw the report and said “Jack, are you being clumsy again?” But when the daycare provider told me this time it wasn’t his fault and said “Jack was bitten by another child today” my heart broke. He carried his swollen blue and red battle bruise on his right forearm in plain sight like a warrior. In fact, he seemed quite proud of his wound.
I joke with my husband that Jack, partly because he started walking so early and partly because he has a good few inches of height on every kid in his classroom, is the class bully. I catch myself peering at the TV screens that decorate the front hall of his preschool to watch Jack “playing” with his friends, which primarily involves him walking up to the other kids and borrowing their toys or pushing them away from the plaything he’s chosen for his own entertainment. He’s really quite social, but at 14 months, what child understands the concept of sharing with anyone besides his parents? Whether or not the incident was unintentionally provoked, I’m glad to know my tough guy has a soft side, turning the other cheek, smiling.
Published September 25, 2009
Crawling/Walking , Learning , Photos , Safety
Once he pulled himself up on the stairs, it took him about 24 hours to learn how to climb them. This weekend = shop for baby gates.
We put an offer on a resale house two weeks ago, but our offer was declined. In hind sight it’s a blessing, because during our return trip to DC (this time sans baby – Jack stayed with his Nana and Grandpa in LA), when I entered an exquisite spec house in the most incredible community, I knew I’d found my home. Besides that the basement is unfinished (we’ll contract that to be done after closing), there is absolutely nothing I don’t like about this house; particularly that we’ll be the first owners. It has upgraded everything, included the most beautiful kitchen for my gourmet of a husband. It sits on over a 1/3 of an acre in a gorgeously planned community that is nestled amidst hundreds of acres of tree-lined conservancy lots that can never be developed. I joked with my realtor that I might have poked my eyes out if I’d had to live in such a place in my twenties, but as a mother to the most innocent and marvelous child, I can’t imagine anything more ideal. There is green space everywhere to explore, far from busy traffic, plentiful with other young children, a playground across the street, a community pool, excellent schools… We close August 28th.
Published June 17, 2009
Growing , Safety
I’m not sure why I thought I’d be able to wait until Jack was at least 6 months old before I had to child proof the house. Granted, he’s not quite crawling yet, so he can’t pull picture frames down from our low-riding mantle or get poisonous cleaning supplies out of our cupboards. But he wiggles and kicks on his belly in a pre-crawl and propels himself in circles across the floor. I can no longer leave him unattended to play on his mat with his toys because when I return to the room he may be meters away from where I placed him. I knew changes were required today after reading a few Silverstein ditties on our bellies on the floor of his bedroom. Jack was kicking his legs and stretching his arms towards his closet where, in the corner, lay a tiny, fossilizing pill bug. It’s now only a matter of days (not months) before there’s a lot more than feet, toys, spoons, fingers, blankets and bottles getting into his precious little mouth. Remind me again where the time goes?
Jack is now speaking in full sentences (albeit, in his own, unintelligible baby language) to anyone or anything that will listen: his toys; his mobile; the trees; the breeze; his feet. He makes it very difficult for me to stop taking videos because I love to listen to his soft little gurgles after he’s gone to sleep. In the evenings before bed we read together and Jack spends several minutes staring at my face while I make exaggerated mouth movements to teach him how to make consonant sounds. He has “da” down (which leads me to believe Daddy will be his first word).
I felt a momentary panic yesterday evening after I finished reading Jack his bedtime stories and poems. We had been lying on the floor together with our faces very close. Towards the end of our reading session my throat was getting dry and I turned my head away from Jack to sneak in the occasional cough. I have been shaking a week-old cold and assumed that all I needed was a glass of water. When I finished our books, I went to the kitchen to warm up Jack’s before-bed bottle and poured myself some cold H2O. That didn’t satisfy the tickle in my throat, so on a whim, I checked my open mouth in the mirror for any redness. There, I discovered a series of white lesions coating my tonsils. For the few minutes between discovering a strep bacteria growing in the back of my throat and finding out via the internet that strep throat infections in infants are incredibly rare, I felt like a terrible Mommy for having unknowingly exposed my sweetheart to my illness.
For now I’m taking Amoxicillin to clear up the infection, as much as it pains me to expose Jack to chemical substances through my breast milk. It is for this reason that I’m optimistically foregoing the return to birth control pills (even the ‘safe’ labeled POPs), until I’m prepared to wean Jack; and the reason why I fix homemade, organic foods; because if I don’t ‘have’ to fill his little body with preservatives or synthetic compounds, I won’t. For the next ten days, however, my options are limited. It’s either formula (which he has not yet had, save a sample or two when I was building my milk supply during his first few weeks) or penicillin-laced breast milk; and having reviewed these options with four different medical advisors (and the internet) who have convinced me that the only potential side effect for Jack is constipation, I’m comfortable enough with the latter.
Wish me a speedy recovery because it’s torture not getting to smother his cheeks with kisses.
Published June 3, 2009
Grandparents , Safety
Ever since Jack was conceived, I have become much more cognizant of mortality. I used to drive my convertible muscle car as aggressively as a 16 year old boy fresh from the DMV and now I linger in the slow lane in my Acura SUV, both hands on the wheel at 10 and 2. Life is no longer just about me – it’s about the precious package who rides rear-facing in my back seat. For me, having a child was the dividing line between feeling invincible and mortal. I often awake from nightmare-ish dreams and grip gratefully onto my husband when my eyes flutter into consciousness.
We had a little scare on Jack’s second or third night back from hospital when Jack pitched some newborn baby barfs outwards through both his mouth and his nose while he was on his change table. For a split second his eyes grew wide with fright as he struggled to regain his breath. I am absolutely certain all babies do this on a regular basis (and can correct the issue naturally on their own), but Kent and I were only 5 days into parenthood and were petrified as Jack’s skin turned very briefly from pink to purple. After turning him on his side, clearing his mouth of liquid and allowing him to inhale, Kent calmly replaced Jack’s diaper, swaddled him, handed him off to his Mommy and then shut himself in the bathroom for a moment to shed a private tear. When it comes to caring for your child, helplessness is overwhelming, even for the most macho of daddies. Since then, I go into Jack’s room every night before I go to bed just to watch him sleeping for a minute or two, assured that he is peaceful and safe. For the first time I admire the quirks of my superstitious grandmother who keeps an hourglass on her stove and throws salt over her shoulder – whether effective or not, the fortunate intentions are well-meaning. Protect family. Love family. Care for what is dear by whatever means necessary.
Published April 20, 2009
Growing , Photos , Safety
There is so much literature available about what not to do that a new mother could drive herself batty with worry. In the end, no matter what advice is offered by the internet, a mother should follow her instinct. I break rules every day and yet Jack is happy and growing like a bean stalk [pun intentional]. All babies are different with slight variations in their basic needs, so what works for one baby may not work for Jack. If I try something he doesn’t like, he’ll definitely let me know.
The tears that could break a Mommy's heart.
Here are some no-nos that have been ignored in our household.
- Jack sleeps wrapped in a small fuzzy blanket (under his arms because he’s angsty if his hands are bound – we had to give up on the swaddle after the third week) and is covered by a quilt. We tuck the quilt into the sides of his crib, but it’s not necessary. The way Jack’s legs are built, he kicks his blankets downwards and even if he were to accidentally maneuver the quilt over his face, he naturally sleeps with his head to one side or the other. His nose points slightly downwards, which is why he’s able to snooze with his head buried face-first into my chest. Although every article I have read suggests that having anything loose in a baby’s crib is unsafe, for Jack, I have zero concern about quilt-induced suffocation. He sleeps better when he’s snug.
- Babies are not supposed to wear sun screen before the age of 6 months. But there is no way I’m hiding Jack indoors when the weather is 80 degrees, the sky is as clear as a Jamaican ocean and there are natural discoveries to be made. Nor am I willing to expose his ivory baby skin to the dangerous elements unprotected. As such, with the approval of my pediatrician, I cover Jack’s limbs with Water Babies SPF 70 lotion every time we venture for a walk or sit in the shaded sidelines of Daddy’s rugby games.
- I inherited a complimentary jogging stroller from an acquaintance whose children had outgrown it. It’s an older stroller, so the seat does not recline flat for infants. Internet literature dictates that babies should not ride in upright jogging strollers until at least 6 months old, but Jack and I have already used our stroller twice without incident. Jack is both strong and incredibly long for his age and since he has been holding his head up on his own for weeks, I’m not concerned about irritation to his neck muscles. According to my pediatrician, the biggest risk of stroller use is a child falling out. We inserted a small booster pad into the seat of the jogging stroller and with that Jack is belted in quite securely. He even fell asleep comfortably during our short run today. It’s not like I’m going off-roading with him…yet.
- The women’s center where I rented my breast pump suggested that I sterilize the removable pieces once per day. I sterilized the pieces prior to first use, as well as Jack’s bottle nipples, but every day? I wash everything thoroughly in very hot water and to date (knock on wood) Jack has not gotten sick. From what I understand sterilization was necessary when municipal water was not as thoroughly regulated as it is today; but our local water comes from the deliciously well-maintained Lake Mead and surpasses federal and state regulatory requirements.
Advice columns are wonderful resources for an inexperienced mother, but the information should be used as a guide, not a bible. There’s no one who knows what a child can handle more than his parents.