Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Last of the Firsts

Dear Delilah,

It’s your first Halloween! Last night the three of us gathered around the table to carve our pumpkins. Your daddy and I carved one for you last year, too, but this year you were there to supervise the process. You even sampled a little bit of pumpkin!

We bought our pumpkins at a farmer’s market a few weeks ago. We got a big orange one for Daddy, a green one for me, and a little itty bitty one for you. As it turned out, that little itty bitty pumpkin was the toughest of them all, and we nearly ruined our knives cutting into it! Daddy carved a star in it and then I carved a moon. Daddy’s pumpkin has a big crazy tongue and mine is a peace sign. Your dad has gotten to be pretty impressed with my pumpkin carving skills over the years, and last night he accused me of having a secret past of carving mastery! He was sure I’d mess up the peace sign somehow, but I showed him!

You’re not quite old enough for candy yet so we didn’t do any official trick-or-treating. We dressed you up in your costume and walked around the neighborhood for a little while before returning home to hand out candy to the neighborhood kids. Everyone agrees that you make an adorable mouse.

Even though we didn’t approach any houses, several people came out to greet you and give you candy! I’m sorry to say that your daddy and I will be the ones eating it.

This marks the last of your “first” holidays! It’s hard to believe it, but it’s true. We’re coming up on your second Thanksgiving, your second Christmas, and so on and so forth. Next year, you’ll probably be able to take a more active role in choosing your costume. You’ll get to trick-or-treat for real, and we might even let you eat some of the candy!



Saturday, October 30, 2010

What to expect? The unexpected!

Dear Delilah,

As your birthday gets closer, I find myself reflecting on my pregnancy with you, and all of the plans I made for your birth. The month or so before you were born was an emotional roller coaster! There were so many ups and downs, some that had to do with my pregnancy, and some that had to do with life in general.

There is a popular pregnancy book called "What to Expect When You're Expecting". My understanding is that it's filled with information about all of the horrible things that can go wrong during a pregnancy. I can't say for sure, since it wasn't among the stack of pregnancy and birth related books I read while anticipating your arrival. I devoured every bit of information I could about natural birth, from the moment I found out I was pregnant. Books, websites, documentaries, magazines, you name it. Your daddy was very involved and learned right along with me.

We began planning for an un-medicated water birth. We wanted you to have the most gentle entry into the outside world possible. We went to the hospital's birth preparation classes, and on the tour of Labor & Delivery, we couldn't help but gloat a little when we arrived at the beautiful, serene, home-like Birth Center Suite, with a birthing tub right in the middle of it, as all of the women who were planning on having epidurals or being induced on a certain date were told that it could only be used for un-medicated births.

We wrote an extensive birth plan, outlining specifics about how we wanted the labor, the delivery, and the period of time immediately following your birth to go. I would not be hooked up to IVs or monitors. I would be free to move around and change positions. My body, not a doctor, would tell me when to push and for how long. There would be no drugs for pain, nor would there be drugs to speed the labor along. You'd be placed on my abdomen immediately for skin-to-skin contact. Your umbilical cord would not be cut until it stopped pulsing. I would keep my placenta. I would initiate breastfeeding before you were weighed/measured/bathed/etc.

The hospital was on board with our birth plan. Then we found out that you were breech. The hospital would not allow vaginal deliveries of breech babies. Operation: Turn Delilah began. I tried every technique I could find to turn breech babies around. I spent time every day in inverted positions. I saw a chiropractor for a specific baby-turning technique. She reassured me that she had a 90% success rate at getting breech babies turned around. I did self-hypnosis and visualization. I made your daddy hold burning moxa sticks by my toes. I put ice packs where your head was. I talked to you.

I begged and pleaded with you to put your head down, so you could have the gentle, natural birth you deserved. My memories of this aren't all bad, by any means. I can still remember exactly where your head was, right beneath the right side of my rib cage. I would rub your head and talk to you, tell you how much I loved you already, and how I couldn't wait to meet you.

I began to develop an "in case of cesarean" birth plan, just in case. I was still confident that you would turn. I refused to schedule your birthday. I wanted you to have every opportunity to turn. I wanted, so badly, for your birth to be as nature intended. It was not to be.

As it turned out, for reasons unknown, you had very little amniotic fluid and your umbilical cord was wrapped around your neck several times. It wasn't that you were being stubborn and just wouldn't turn, you couldn't turn. Eventually, I'll write to you about your birth story in its entirety, but for now, I'll summarize: You were born by cesarean delivery, by a competent, kind, respectful surgical staff. There was no immediate skin-to-skin contact. There was no waiting to cut your cord. There was no placenta encapsulation.

While it was the polar opposite of everything I'd planned for, this was the best moment of my life:

Throughout that experience, I learned one of the most important lessons there is to learn about parenthood. There is no "What to Expect". There is no perfect plan. We must expect the unexpected, and plan for the un-planned. It's good to know what our preferences are, it's good to have goals, it's good to have a vision of how we want life to go. However, the more we cling to those things, the more we expect them, the harder it is when things don't go according to plan. Life is full of curve balls, and you, my dear, have proven to be the sharpest curve ball of them yet!



Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mama Yummmm!

Dear Delilah,

We're nearing an important milestone in our nursing relationship, the one-year mark. Nursing you now is very different from nursing you in the early days! There are benefits and challenges in breastfeeding a baby of any age, and they gradually change over time. When you were brand new, I never though I'd miss the days of staying up all night with you while you nursed for hours on end, but now I look back on those peaceful nights of bonding very fondly.

As you get a little older, there are certain aspects of breastfeeding that get a little tricky. It's not as easy to nurse you away from home, because you are so easily distracted and interested in the world around you. Even at home, it can be a struggle to keep you focused on the task at hand when there are so many things you want to learn and explore. As time goes by, you are getting more of your nourishment from solid food, and less from my milk.

One of the most rewarding parts about nursing you now is that you are able to express your appreciation in ways that are both meaningful and adorable. Last night you gave your father and me both a good giggle when in the midst of nursing, you popped off, looked at my boob, smiled, and started clapping. I hope all mothers get the round of applause they deserve, because it was a priceless moment that I'll always remember! This morning, your eyes were bothering you, so I hand expressed a little bit of my milk, a go-to cure-all, and used a dropper to put a few drops in your eyes. There was a little bit left in the dropper, so I squirted it in your mouth, and you smiled and said "Mama yummmmmm!"

I look forward to more of these cute and funny moments as we enter the second year of our nursing relationship. I know there are still more challenges on the horizon, but it's moments like those that remind me that it's all worthwhile. I'm grateful that we still have some of the sweet, peaceful ones, too.



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Monday, October 25, 2010

It's almost Halloween, let's talk about your fangs!

Dear Delilah,

Yesterday, I mentioned in passing that you had cut your fourth tooth the previous night. This particular tooth seemed to be a little bit harder on you than the first three, which were all on the bottom, so your daddy and I were very relieved to see that it had broken through the surface yesterday. We were prompted to check by a new sound coming from your mouth that we hadn't heard before.

You were grinding your teeth. Now that you have one on top, the joy of grinding it against your bottom teeth is apparently unparalleled. Unfortunately, it's a sound that grates on my ears like nails on a chalkboard, so I hope that its novelty wears off quickly!

There are other thing you enjoy about getting to know your new tooth while you adjust to its presence in your mouth. There's the tendency to chew on everything with it, and the exploration of it by running your tongue across it over and over again. There are some minor changes in some of the sounds you make, and it's humorous to see the slight look of confusion on your face when a sound you've become accustomed to making comes out ever so slightly different. Thankfully, your adventures with your new tooth have not included biting the...well... boob that feeds you. I appreciate that!

While you're working on a new tooth, your sleep patterns are inconsistent, at best. You wake up more often and are harder to get back to sleep. Some nights, you refuse to sleep at all unless you have all-night uninterrupted access to mama's milk. Those nights are hard on all of us, but we manage.

I think the most wonderful thing about the day a new tooth has finally made its way through your tender gums is the night that follows it. You sleep seems wrong to say you sleep "like a baby", because I've come to learn that babies don't sleep all that well! Let's just say you sleep very soundly. Last night was a dream come true. You slept for almost 8 hours, woke up hungry, nursed back to sleep, and slept until 8:30 this morning. In your own crib, even! It was luxurious!

I'm going to relish this well-rested feeling while it lasts, because your next tooth looks to be ready to make its debut very soon!



Sunday, October 24, 2010

Don't Touch That Dial!

Dear Delilah,

We're a little bit picky about your toys, in that we like to be careful and informed about the materials they're made from (and avoid certain materials), and prefer to stay away from things that might be over-stimulating. That said, you still have plenty of things to play with and are far from deprived in the toy department.

Lots of babies your age start becoming partial to a favorite toy, book, blanket, or other well-loved item. Not you. You aren't particular about which blankets you snuggle up to when it's nap or bed time. You like a variety of toys and books and don't seem to have one specific "go-to". You're an easy-going and laid-back baby, overall. You roll with the punches and seem to be very adaptable, as long as you get your naps, of course!

Your Grandma Bev recently asked me if you were starting to develop a temper at all, or if you'd had any tantrums. I thought about it for a moment and then decided that no, I don't have blinders on, and you really do have a consistently sunny disposition.

Then I remembered.

The remote.

There is one thing that can cause a meltdown of epic proportions in seconds flat: taking away the remote control.

When you're playing with anything else, you're indifferent if we take it away and offer something else. We switch between activities seamlessly with little reaction from you. But take away the remote control, and watch out!

I'm not sure how it came to pass that you became so drawn to that hard little piece of plastic with the rubbery buttons. The TV is on relatively little while you're awake, and when it is on, we try to keep your focus elsewhere, so it isn't like the remote control has been a permanent fixture in my or your dad's hand.

Our best guess is that those squishy little buttons are somehow soothing on the sore gums in your poor little teething mouth. (You cut your fourth tooth, your first one on top over night last night, by the way!) Whatever the attraction, we try to keep the remote control mostly out of sight and out of mind, to prevent the inevitable storm when the time comes to take it away. Every now and again though, you manage to get your hands (and mouth) on it, and we bide our time, hoping that you'll tire of it and move on to something else, saving us from your wrath.

I wonder if remote controls are made with BPA-free plastic? I think I just found my next google project.



Saturday, October 16, 2010

What is your first word, anyway?

Dear Delilah,

I've come to realize that talking is quite a skill. Now that I've been doing it for 30-ish years, I've taken for granted all of the tiny factors that go into forming a word, the precise and complex coordination of lips, tongue, throat, and teeth that produce specific sounds.

When you were a tiny little baby, two months old or so, Daddy was taking you into change your diaper, and as he laid you down to do so, he said "Time to change your diaper, okay?" When you responded with a gleeful "OGEEEE!" You gave him a startled look, like you were shocked that you had formed sounds similar to the ones he just did. He loves telling that story, by the way. You've come a long way since then, and are able to mimic lots of sounds, although your ability to associate words with things is still very, very new.

It's common to ask parents of newly verbal babies "What was her first word?". Most parents will answer with a smile and say it was 'mama' or 'dada' or 'no'. I hadn't really spent much time pondering precisely what your first word was, until I recently shared this video with friends and family:

I found myself fumbling a little bit when someone asked "Is that her first word?" Ummmm....uh....I guess I don't know! You've been saying 'dada' and 'mama' for months now, but you only reliably use them to refer to the applicable parent 10% of the time. Oh, who am I kidding? 5% of the time. Maybe 2% of the time. You say 'Nala', our oldest cat's name, but you use it to refer to any of the pets, and even say it when there is no pet in sight.

When we started waving "hi" and "bye" to you, our purpose was to teach you how to wave, so we were pleasantly surprised when you started saying "hi" along with your wave! You've even moved on from waving and saying "hi" at random times and to random things, and have started mostly doing them in the correct context. Waving "bye" is still a little bit elusive, although yesterday at the doctor's office, when you waved at the door right after the nurse exited the room, I thought you might be starting to grasp that, too!

This morning, you gave us the most convincing piece of evidence yet that you're starting to understand this whole language thing. While you were eating breakfast, Nala jumped up on the table, and you waved at her and said, clear as day, "Hi Nala!". Your father and I looked at each other in disbelief, but agreed that since we both heard it clearly, it must have been real.

I had a bit more to say on the subject, but you're calling "mama" from your room right it really me that you're calling for? I guess I better go find out!



Monday, October 11, 2010

Free to Just Be

Dear Delilah,

There are a number of things I could write to you about today. I could write about how on this day last year, I was on Day 4 of a 5-day hospitalization; your father and I scared that you might be taken from my womb prematurely, and that you might not be the perfectly healthy little baby that you are. I could write about how we just enjoyed a weekend of beautiful, sunny, 80 degree weather, and how the very same weekend last year, it snowed! I could write about how today is Columbus Day, and how the story you’re likely to be told about Columbus in school is grossly inaccurate and incomplete. I could write about the fact you are 11 months old today and that your newest skills include waving, saying ‘hi’, and yelling at the cats. Those topics range from emotional, to trivial, to rage-inducing, to exciting, and while they are all important in their own ways, the topic I’m choosing to write about instead might be more significant than all of them.

Today is National Coming Out Day, a day to celebrate and bring awareness to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) rights. As I write to you today, our LGBTQ friends do not enjoy some of the same rights and privileges as our straight friends do. I hope that by the time you are reading this, that will have changed, and that you will be living in a society in which a person’s choice of partner or their gender identification will not be a source of discrimination or a means of oppression. I hope that you will be living in a time when diversity is not merely “tolerated”, but truly celebrated.

Your father and I will do our best to raise you with values that recognize and appreciate love in all of its forms. We will teach you to be aware of the privileges that you receive based on factors beyond your control (like your white skin), and to understand the ways in which you and others are oppressed based on factors beyond your (and their) control. We will help you to discover your own biases, and be honest about ours, and we will all work through them together.

“Tolerance” is a big buzz word these days, and one I am known to use with frequency. It has begun to occur to me; however, that pushing for “tolerance” isn’t enough. Tolerance is a start, and a noble objective, but it shouldn’t be our end-goal. Tolerance means that we will allow diversity, while still leaving us room to judge the differences in others. If I tolerate your father’s tendency to leave his dirty socks next to the hamper instead of inside of it, it means that I’ve chosen to live with it, but not that I think it’s okay for him to do so. It’s not enough for us to “allow” others to be different. That implies that we are “normal” or “right”, but that we will put up with their “abnormality” or “wrong-ness”. We must push beyond tolerance and truly appreciate that people are diverse, and that who people are is who they are meant to be, and does not make them more or less right or normal than anyone else.

Delilah, you will be loved, appreciated, valued, and celebrated regardless of where you end up on the continuums of sexuality and gender identity. You will be free to make your own choices in matters of love and relationships with our full support, so long as those choices do not pose a threat to the health and safety of yourself or others. I’m sure that as you grow up, you will open our eyes to issues that we haven’t considered, and we pledge to approach those issues with an open mind and open heart.



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Saturday, October 9, 2010

To File Away for Future Embarassment

Dear Delilah,

You're beginning to figure out the logistics of kissing...sort of. When I put my face near yours and pucker my lips, you smile at me, lean in, put your mouth to mine...and open it and stick out your tongue.

It's quite cute, and it cracks me up every time, but you're a little young for open-mouth kisses, don't you think?

I look forward to your first date, you know, in 20 years or so, when I have the opportunity to tell your date that the first person you french kissed was your own mother. Hopefully, by then, you'll have learned to kiss with your mouth closed.



My First Blog Award!

Julia from momma zen has presented me with my very first blog award! Thanks Julia!

1. Accept the award. Post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
2. Pay it forward to 15 other bloggers that you have newly discovered.*
3. Contact those blog owners and let them know that they've been chosen.

The blogs I have chosen............

A Cooking Dad
Little Sprout Growing
Lucky Eater
Mila's Daydreams
Milk Dreams
Sometimes You Fly
Sowing the Suburbs
Tales of an Unlikely Mother
The Cheap and Choosy
Toes in the Air

*I chose 10 blogs to pass this award on to. They aren't necessarily new to me, but they are blogs that I enjoy and that are absolutely lovely blogs. :)

Thanks again Julia, I'm honored!
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