Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011

I observed something this morning that helps make a lot of things about our Christmas make more sense. Emmett apparently received a tooth for Christmas! He already has 12 teeth, but none of his canine teeth had come in. This morning I saw that the "fang" on his right had poked through. I couldn't help thinking of that song, "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth," except that I was thinking, "yeah, that's not really so fun in reality, is it?" A few of Emmett's teeth have come in without drama but the most recent ones have arrived with a fair bit of crankiness. He had a few periods of crankiness yesterday and I feel better knowing that there was an underlying physical reason behind it.

One of the periods of crankiness was when we all first got up. It was earlier than I would have liked (5:30ish), but I thought, "surely when I bring Emmett into the living room and he sees all of the presents, he'll cheer up!" but he didn't have a major reaction. It was clear that he didn't quite know what was in store for him. With no one begging us to open presents as soon as possible, we managed to wait until around 7:30 a.m. to get started. The first gift that he opened was a stocking stuffer glitter wand that cost under $2. It actually ended up being one of the biggest hits of the day! (He had played with one in a store for a long time, so I sought one out while Christmas shopping.)

I wanted to take an unrushed approach to gift opening, so we let him play with things as they got opened and took breaks to eat meals (homemade crepes for breakfast!), take nap-inducing drives, and so forth. At about 5:30 p.m., I was ready for him to be done with gift-opening, so I helped him try to start opening the very last two presents (a set of blocks and a book entitled Cool Daddy Rat). He just lost it while we were opening the books, crying and wailing and pulling my hair. (See above about being glad that we have teething as an explanation!). We finally got those presents opened at 7:30 p.m., meaning that we actually spent the entire day opening gifts. What's a little bit funny is that today he's spent probably 65% or more of his time playing with things he already had and a smaller portion of time playing with new things. I like to think that this means something, perhaps that when he makes new friends, he'll still pay attention to old friends, or something like that.

A few weeks before the holidays, Adam and I'd talked about how we wanted to have a nice non-commercial Christmas, but I think that we both got caught up in the whole "must buy this cute thing for the boy that we love so much!" aspect of the holidays. He didn't necessarily seem completely wowed by his day necessarily, but it definitely was special for him and relaxing for us. Not traveling this year was different and I missed the company of family but I also wanted to make the best of things by not getting too caught up in what wasn't there. And of course, sappy as it may sound, at the various times that Emmett was sitting in various emptied cardboard boxes, I found myself saying, "Yup, you and Emmett are mommy's favorite gifts, Mr. Monkey."

Monday, December 19, 2011

What a Year!

My year in review: I worked a lot. Sometimes I slept.

Emmett's year:
He started rolling over! He started sleeping in his own bed! He began to be able to hold his head up unassisted! He started sitting up without being propped up! He started eating food that didn't come out of my mammary glands! He started floor-swimming, which soon evolved into crawling! He started standing up while holding on to a couch/chair/ottoman/friendly mutt! He fell down a lot! He started eating food that wasn't mush! He began taking steps while we'd hold his hands or while pushing something! He had his first LocoPop! He won his first trophy! He traveled internationally! He turned one! He took a few steps! He got some spectacular forehead bruises! He took more steps! He got good at walking and started exploring playgrounds! He decided to wean himself! He discovered that our house has an upstairs!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Emmett's First Movie Theatre Experience


Emmett saw his first movie in a theatre today. Given that we dressed him up as Kermit for Halloween and (in general) are trying to give him a very muppetational childhood, it's probably obvious that we would choose The Muppets as his first movie.

If I had abundant free time and was willing to wait a week or two, I probably could have taken him to a sparsely-attended showing where I wouldn't have had to be concerned about whether he'd get antsy or loud during the movie, but I really really wanted to see the movie this week, the week that it opened. We went into it all with low expectations of being able to see the whole thing, and while I'm happy to report that we both saw most of it, I don't quite see myself repeating the movie theatre experience real soon (though I do want to see this particular movie again in order to catch anything that I missed).

There were some great little moments, like how he waved at the screen when we first saw Kermit, but it was good that I had an aisle seat because he spent a lot of the time sitting in the aisle or being held while I stood next to my seat. The movie itself was so enjoyable that I really didn't want to get up even when it was advisable to do so.

There were at least two times where we almost lost his right shoe (in the end, we stopped putting it back on him and one of us would just carry it; afterwards, I found out that Adam had thought ahead to bring a small flashlight along) and we had to sneak in goldfish crackers and cheerios to buy some calmness. A lot of Emmett's most attentive moments were wasted on the commercials before the previews; I imagine that he might have made it all the way to the end of the movie if those hadn't been so lengthy. It's clearly been ages since I've gone to a first-run movie at all because I didn't realize we'd be contending with previews and commercials.

I'd joked beforehand that I should bring him to the movie in his Kermit costume, but I'm glad that I didn't attempt this after all because I think he would have been extra-miserable.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Our second Thanksgiving with Emmett

What I remember about Thanksgiving a year ago: Emmett had definitely gotten the memo that the holiday was all about eating. I remember spending a ridiculous amount of the day nursing. I even had to nurse while eating dinner. Somewhere there's a picture of me sitting on the couch with a plate of food balanced on the Boppy while Emmett is latched on.

This year, Thanksgiving started with something that felt like a miracle: Emmett slept until 7 a.m.! He typically first wakes up sometime around 5, and sometimes even earlier than that, so this was unexpected and delightful. How nice to actually wake up after there's daylight!

I'd gotten a head start on cooking the day before (daycare was open but my workplace was closed), and it's a good thing that I did because as soon as I started cooking again, I found myself wondering, "How on Earth did I think I was going to be able to cook with the boy running around the kitchen, playing with the dog's dishes, knocking things over, etc.?" The answer, of course, was to take him out of the house altogether. The weather has been beautiful this week and Adam and I both spent time with Emmett outside while the other person cooked or straightened things up.

I was interested to see what Emmett would eat since many of the Thanksgiving menu items other than potatoes (sweet and mashed) were ones he hadn't had before. I was a little surprised that he didn't get more into the sweet potatoes since that was one of the first foods that he really loved. Whether he likes regular potatoes or not seems to vary from day to day and this was apparently a bit of an off day. He ate a bit of turkey-shaped marinated baked tofu, and while he didn't like the stuffing when I served it to him, he ate a fair amount of it when he was able to gra it off a plate next to his high chair try. Just on a lark, I gave him a bit of Mama Stamberg's cranberry relish, a recipe involving onions, horseradish, cranberries, sour cream, and sugar served in a slightly frozen state and he really surprised me by wanting more. He ate like four or five big spoonfuls of the stuff. A day later, it looks like the stains on his clothes have mostly come out.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Talking About the Toddler?

I'm starting to think that "Talking About the Toddler" is a more accurate name for what's going on with Emmett than "blabbing about the baby." He has been doing fewer and fewer baby things and more toddler things lately. Many consider the start of toddlerhood to be the start of unassisted walking, and this makes sense when we think about the meaning of the verb "to toddle." That's when Adam started calling Emmett a toddler. I think of this period as his "walking and stalking" phase. He tends to follow me around from room to room, not unlike his canine sister. It's cute, but it's also good that I don't feel the need for major amounts of personal space.

For me, the onset of toddlerhood has more to do with the end of bottles.

A few Fridays ago, I picked Emmett up from daycare and they told me that he had drunk all of his milk out of a straw cup instead of a bottle. His teacher congratulated him with, "No more bottles! You're a big boy now!" I was still pumping milk into bottles, though, so it didn't really feel like the end of bottles for me.

Then, on September 15, he had a really rough night with lots of crying where he Didn't Want to Nurse. I took him to see the pediatrician because Not Nursing was very out of character for him; I suspected he might have another ear infection or something like that (though he'd nursed through his other ear infections). She diagnosed him with coxscackie virus in the mouth, suggesting that his mouth pain was causing him to not want to nurse. I gave him several opportunities over the next week to start nursing again, but it was as if a switch was flipped and suddenly, that was something he wasn't going to do anymore. I was quite surprised (and was even beginning to think that I'd still be nursing him into his 20s at the rate we were going!), and it took my body quite a while to adjust to the change.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Celebrating World Breastfeeding Day

Today is World Breastfeeding Day, and as of 10 a.m. today, we are celebrating it in much the same way that we celebrated last year: with Emmett spending copious amounts of time on the Boppy, and with me trying to type and do other things with just one hand while he nurses.

Of course, a year ago Emmett didn't do much at all other than eat and sleep. These days, he can do all kinds of other things (including partial headstands while nursing!) and he eats an increasing variety of non-liquid foods. However, nursing is still a big part of our lives, especially during a week like this one where he has been a bit under the weather. Before he was born, my goal was to nurse him for at least a year if possible. When I returned to work and had pumping issues, I revised that to "at least six months" and doubted that we would even manage that, but we worked through the issues and here we are, still nursing after his first birthday. With the exception of times when I get woken up for a third or fourth time in the night, I enjoy the closeness. (And even then I enjoy it if the boy manages to catch a bit more sleep.)

Of course, it's not always been easy. I seem slightly prone to getting blocked ducts, which can be really painful. The best remedy for this affliction is to keep nursing but it's hard to nurse when you're in pain. Early on, we dealt with several bouts of thrush, including one bout right when I'd been planning to do some serious work towards a pumped milk stash for my return to work. While I was OK with gritting my teeth through nursing with thrush, I did not want to pump while that was going on.

I was surprised to find that the emergence of teeth didn't necessarily mean that the end of breastfeeding was near. Babies don't necessarily use their teeth in the nursing process. I did get bitten a few times here and there, but it was usually during a Rather Bitey Phase where I'd also find my shoulder getting bitten.

Around this time last year, I remember sometimes feeling a bit stressed out over whether the boy was nursing too much, and I wish I had just relaxed about that whole issue. It was very hard for me to believe the idea that the baby knew what he needed. I also was very reluctant to nurse in public at first. After I prepared myself with a short list of snappy comebacks, I felt better about public nursing and I now think that it's something that should be considered as normal as drinking a Diet Coke in public.

I am lucky to have had a lot of support for breastfeeding. A nurse in the recovery room at UNC hospitals helped me make sure that Emmett had a good latch from the start, and that made a huge difference. Friends and family have been great as well. If someone in your family is nursing, be sure to continually offer to bring that person food and drink. Nursing can make you ravenous. I sometimes feel like I've subjected friends and coworkers to far too many conversations about breastfeeding, but I tend to joke that it's like conversations about working out when you're doing a major training program--when you spend so much time doing something, it's hard not for it to creep into your conversations.

Monday, August 1, 2011

What We've Been Waiting For

Yesterday afternoon, I was playing in the living room and Emmett stood up, took three steps, and then plopped down. He's been standing on his own for limited amounts of time for a little over a week now, and he's occasionally taken a lurching test step here or there, but this was the first time I'd seen him take multiple steps. Of course, he didn't do it again and for all I know, it could be days before he does it again. However, I started thinking about how parents really need to savor these and other milestones. Soon enough, the kid will be doing stuff like this constantly and you'll start taking these newfound abilities for granted.

When I talk to other parents about Starting to Walk, people tend to go on about how "now your life will really get complicated!" and I'm sure that that's true. It certainly was the case with crawling and other movement-related milestones. At the same time, I do get a little tired of the "parenting is a hassle" approach to baby-related conversations. I'm sure that I do it, too, without even noticing it, and I bet that a lot of parents don't mean to make it sound like they think parenting is one hassle after another. I've been trying to watch myself to avoid this, though.

The big thing for me about walking is that with all of the time that Emmett is spending upright, it seems that it's something HE really wants to accomplish, and while I don't want to rush him into anything, I know that one of my jobs is to help him have a sense of efficacy.