Saturday, January 30, 2010

Striving toward autonomy

The Baby Beast has never been a fan of being fed... in fact, he regards spoon feeding as something to be distrusted and will glare at any spoon proffered towards him, unless he has seen me eating off of it first.

Luckily, he has managed a lot of finger dexterity. His pincer grip (grabbing between his index finger and thumb) has progressed almost to the point where he never misses (although getting the pincered food into his mouth is another story... that almost never goes quite as smoothly, and I'd say at least 45% of the things that move towards his mouth end up on his bib, his pants, or the floor). And if he can't grab it in his fingers, he'll just put his face down to the table top and eat that way.

No, we don't do a high chair. We used to do, but I found it to be an unbelievable hassle to always wrestle the thing out of the corner and over to the table, take the tray off and get the baby strapped in, put the tray on, put food on the tray... and then have to take him back down in five minutes when he grew tired of eating/playing with his food. We invested in an inflatable booster chair for regular adult chairs (straps onto the back brace and the seat) and it has been a lifesaver. He can sit at the table with us and eat, and he is able to get things himself with only a minimum of tossing on the floor (like I said, 45%. but then, we have the puppy cleaning crew around here).

Since the Baby Beast is so intent on autonomy, I'm planning to invest in a Montessori weaning table in the next couple of weeks. Weaning tables are just what they sound like: tables sized to your infant/toddler meant to make the process of weaning from breast/bottle to solid food as easy as possible.

No, I am not planning on stopping our breastfeeding relationship. The WHO and AAP both recommend breastfeeding a minimum of two years, and as long past that as mother and child are comfortable. And while Maria Montessori believed children should no longer breastfeed past nine months, she and I will just have to agree to disagree on that point.

Here is a photographic example of a weaning table and chair. Once the Baby Beast's arrive, I will certainly include photos.

Why make it so low to the ground? The idea is that your infant/toddler can get into and out of the chair with a minimum of help. Traditional high chairs make the baby completely dependent on an adult to help get them in and out, but the weaning table/chair can be climbed into/out of without and adult lifting the baby.

I operate on the belief that I'm not raising my baby; I'm teaching a person. Thinking in those terms quite often stops me from impinging my own desires on the Baby Beast (i.e. interrupting his play time to cuddle or kiss on him; he approaches me quite often for cuddles, and i am VERY willing to love on him when he asks for it. there's no need to stop him in the middle of his play to kiss him).

It amazes me every day how fast he's growing. It's hard for me to believe he'll be 10 months old in a couple of days. Time isn't marching on - it's flying by.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


The BabyBeast is beginning to make recognizable sounds, other than "mama" and "dada." He's also mastered at least one American Sign Language sign (not surprisingly, it's the sign for 'milk,' which we use as our sign for 'nurse'). And, by the way, signing with your baby is a great way to bridge the gap between coos and gurgles and actual words. Do a little research and see where you can implement it in your own life.

A couple of days ago, he was after something he wasn't meant to have, so I shook my head and told him gently, "No, not for baby." which is my usual routine. He stared at me for a second, then shook his head at me and said, "Nuh." Either he was mimicking me (which would be fine), he was verifying that I did mean what I said (which would be fine), or he was telling ME 'no' (danger, will robinson! danger! danger!). The jury is still out on that one.

This morning, I asked him where his grandma was, and he stopped to think about it for a second, said, "Ahmuh" (sound it out - it lacks only the hard 'g' sound) and took off crawling towards the kitchen where she normally perches with coffee cup in one hand and computer mouse in the other (she likes her internet games, that woman).

It amazes me to see this tiny person growing and developing every day. It reminds me constantly that he's not 'my baby,' he's his own person (a very Montessori ideal). I shouldn't treat him like my property, because he isn't - I'm borrowing him in his youth, to teach him what he needs to know when he's a man.

Dairy (or the lack thereof)

While I've never been much of a milk drinker (it's just yucky), I have always been a big fan of cheese. I cover everything in a fine layer of cheese - salads, roasted vegetables, pasta... truly, the day I found out about cheesecake had to've been one of the happiest days of my life (cheese? for dessert?! i may cry!)

This is why the last few months have been such a struggle for me. You see, the BabyBeast is one of those wonderful little nurslings who cannot tolerate dairy proteins. And I'm one of the lucky 50% of women who pass the proteins through her breastmilk and into her infant.

We discovered the problem when he was about 4.5 months old, and I noticed blood in his diapers and BBLP (more alarming in the BBLP, because there it was, bright as day against the white plastic). His pediatrician put together a stuffy nose, a red ring around his anus, and the bloody/mucosy stools and told me to stay away from eggs and dairy for the next couple months.

I was able to add eggs back in with no ill effect, but since then anytime I accidentally (or purposefully, to test if his reaction has faded) eat dairy, we have to endure three to five days of misery. That isn't an exaggeration. I mean 'misery.'

The BabyBeast is inconsolable. Everything breaks his tiny Beastly heart, from banging his head while crawling to dropping a toy. And he doesn't just cry, he sobs and wails and turns interesting colors.

Well, I accidentally consumed cheese that had been cunningly disguised within my taco (by being sprinkled liberally on top of it). Needless to say, the last couple days have been... colorful. And I don't just mean the baby's face.

Luckily, we've not had a return of the bloody poo, but the stuffy nose, mucosy stools, and general misery have settled in and I suddenly find myself the center of one very angry, fussy baby's universe. If you've ever tried to change a diaper while nursing, you will understand how I am feeling right about now. Especially if, the moment your nipple escape his lips, the baby attempted to turn itself inside-out with fury and misery.

So, I'm back to eye-balling my food suspiciously, and hoping that nothing will sneak in (by walking boldy in front of me and throwing itself onto my food). The pediatrician assures me most babies get over dairy sensitivities by the time they're 12-15 months. I'd find that more reassuring if it wasn't another five months before he'll be 15 months.

I wonder how he'd react if I had goat's cheese? And why is it I only think of that when we're in the throes of dairy-reaction-Hell?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My dear boy (a letter)

My dear boy,

I knew I had been cheated out of my tiny baby when the doctor held you up and I saw, for the first time, what had made people assume I was 'due any day now' when I was seven months pregnant. I assumed I would eventually get used to how large you were, because even though you were large, you were really actually quite small.

But something happened. Someone sneaked in and injected my breasts with MiracleGro (which, apparently works not only on breasts but on babies drinking from the breasts). I woke up one morning to find my breasts huge and my baby huger.

Weren't you supposed to lose weight in the hospital? Six ounces don't really count, especially since you more than doubled that by your first week's check-up with the pediatrician.

And now here you are, a nine-month-old ox. I envy my mommy friends with their babies in a Mobys and Kozys, smiling delightedly as their tiny infant rides high and dry on their mommy's chest.

Oh, I do try. I tie the Moby tight enough that tucking you into it is an Olympic feat... and yet somehow you end up dangling around the region of my pelvis, chewing contentedly at the hem of my shirt. And it alarms me each time I tie you on with the Kozy, and the seams in the straps creak.

I will keep trying, my dear boy, in the hopes that the muscle spasms in my back can at least keep the pain level down around a tolerable five. After all, I managed to carry a backpack full of books in junior high; why not a small elephant now that I'm 27?

I do wish someone would invent anti-gravity diapers for toddlers, though.

With much love,
Your MommyBeast

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Reading recommendations mark II

It's been a month since I last tossed up a few recommendations for readers, so I thought I'd delve into that murky ocean again and see what I could bring up to fill the (few and far between) moments of quiet in your life.

This time, my first recommendation is less about 'raising' a baby as about 'having' a baby... but you'll forgive me, right?

  • Having a baby
    The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer: Covering all the highly invasive 'modern medicine' techniques of childbirth (c-section, episiotomies, epidurals, etc), Henci Goer points out where they go wrong and why going back to the roots and trusting your body may not be such a bad thing. Until reading this, I had thought the birth of the BabyBeast was normal. Now I know 'normal' doesn't necessarily equal 'right' (i may someday put the birth story in an entry, but hindsight has made it clear why i feel neither positive nor negative about the birth; i was just there, passing time, until the doctor could make the baby appear like a rabbit from a hat). This is a truly eye-opening look at modern obstetric medicine, and it will almost certainly make you reconsider what is 'normal' versus what is 'natural.'

  • Pulp fiction
    Spindle's End by Robin McKinley: A beautiful retelling of the Sleeping Beauty myth, this book is one of my favorites of McKinley's. A world awash in magic, a hidden princess, and a twist ending that completely surprised me (and definitely made the Sleeping Beauty myth much more palatable to me), this book has rich characters and wonderful humor, two things I always enjoy in a book. McKinley's writing is, as always, rich and textured and makes the imaginary world she has created just as real as reality.

    Off to bed; there are two Beastly fellows waiting for me (one for cuddles, and one for cuddles and nursing; isn't it nice to be needed?)