Tag Archives: baby boy

the first weeks (not home)

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If A. and I have learned anything in the past two weeks, since our third boy, L., arrived at almost 11 p.m. on July 5, it is to respect the fever.

In L.’s first two weeks, he spent three nights at home. All of the rest were in the hospital. The first two were the standard recovery nights. The next one was because his bilirubin numbers (jaundice) were too high and he needed light therapy. And then, a week after he was born, I was admitted for a 104 fever.

The fever came on five days after L. was born. And it broke with Tylenol. But by the third day, I knew we had to go in. Something wasn’t right.

At the OB/GYN triage, my fever spiked. The pain was concentrated in my lower back and head and I was so cold the nurses put four warmed blankets on me and I was still shaking.

That Tuesday evening, my pulse reached 220, which had the doctors running to see what was going on. I was on IV antibiotics, but it wasn’t till the next morning that they knew that I was septic (blood infection). That afternoon my right lung started to hurt when I breathed. And by Thursday, my liver enzymes were rising.

The blood cultures finally showed I had group a strep — an aggressive bacteria that releases toxins to shut down your organs. And the way to treat it is to act fast and get rid of the source of the infection. For me, that meant an emergency hysterectomy.

My doctor told me I was the fifth case the hospital had seen in two years (some were flown in from rural New Mexico, one was after a home birth), and the other four ended up in the ICU. One of them died. Because my doctors acted fast, I didn’t have to go to the ICU and I came home a week after I was admitted. I’m still finishing up IV antibiotics to get rid of the blood infection.

It was a scary week, and I plan to write about it more fully, but that’s what we’ve been up to. And I’m grateful for good health care, fast-acting doctors and, truly, my life.

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from the eyes of a toddler

One of the great joys of having a kid is watching them discover the world around them and how they fit into it. I watch the gears in C.’s brain move, oiled and quick, with many ah-ha! moments. The first time he walked, he hyperventilated with joy — deep breaths, face all smiles. His imagination shows itself when he opens my glasses case and balances it on his head and says, “Hat!” or when he bites a tortilla filled with hummus into a shape and says, “Horse!” or when he points to scribbles he drew with blue sidewalk chalk and says, “Seahorse!”

Here is his latest discovery: What happens when he blows into an inch of milk. He watched the bubbles grow and grow and grow until they spilled over the edge.

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Oh I know it’s cliche, but this 20-month-old just keeps getting funnier and sweeter and more and more fun. Lately, he surprises me by saying things like, “Papa drive blue car work” (after A. leaves the house in the morning) and, in the evening, when I tell him A. should be home soon, he says, “Wait driveway?” He’ll throw his hands up in a funky dance and make monster noises and then say, “Mama, do it?” In the car yesterday morning on the way to a coffee shop, C. said, “All over the place,” and I said, “What’s all over the place?” and he said: “Mountains” and I looked out at the Sierras on my left, white on the top, and B Mountain on the right. Last week was the first time he said, “Mommy. Love mommy.” And then later, “Mama, hold my hand.” Melt.

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a toddler, books and … tears?

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One of the wonderful things — and curses — of living in the desert is the quiet. So much quiet. The wind is fierce, the air is dry and the summers are hot. This week, the temperatures are pushing 100 degrees — a hint of what’s to come. Our swamp cooler kicks on at random times during the day and I have to park under trees and stretch a shade across the windshield.

There aren’t many toddler classes in town, the city is shutting down its only public pool for lack of resources and it’s getting too hot to go to the park.

That means that C. and I are spending most of our time at home or at the library. At home, we don’t watch TV — and so we read. A lot.

The tiny, shabby desert library is open Tuesday-Thursday and the kids’ section is meager. We’ve run across gems like Jim Aylesworth’s “Little Bitty Mousie” and Pamela Edwards’ “Warthogs Paint” about colors (C. still calls everything “bue”), but I feel like in a few weeks we’ll have picked over the stock.

As I skim through books, I notice that many of them have characters behaving badly, and I gently close them and return them to the shelves. A. and I have read that what you read to kids can influence them in ways you might not realize. Kids don’t have the staying power or ability to comprehend a resolution. They just pick up the bad behavior.

What we didn’t expect was for a book to make C. cry. This is new for our almost 17-month-old: His chin wobbles and he tears up when a book ends with a “goodbye.” He has no problem saying bye to A. in the morning, or bye to me if A. takes him to Home Depot. But a book about a mouse leaving a museum had him crying over the weekend. And a book about boats had him in hysterics yesterday evening.

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help. i can’t stop making hats.

I think a zombie has overtaken my body, and all it wants to do is crochet hats.

Before C. was born (he’s a December baby), I had the hardest time finding a cool hat for him, so I ended up putting the only hat I could find on our baby registry. When C. was 8 days old, our best friend and talented photographer S. did a photo shoot of him, and this hat made us double over and squeeze our eyes shut with laughter. Poor kid may get me some day for this one.

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So now I keep thinking of friends who are pregnant and will need hats for their babes and I’m crocheting like a madwoman so I have gifts on hand. C. in Alexandria, Va., who has two girls already, could have a boy! C. and J. in Maryland are having their first boy, and wait, so is W. in Chicago.

It’s a bit insane to make so many hats when it’s 80 degrees in the desert and will only get hotter.

A. grinned at me the other night, as I sat on our brown couch under a blanket, crocheting away in the quiet and totally zen.

“You’re going to be the best grannie,” he said.

“Get away,” I said. “You taught me, so you can’t make fun.”

But he’s right: I’m out of control. So much so, that I haven’t been reading or writing or doing much of anything else. Our joke is, “One more row.”

It’s satisfying to create — I can make a hat in one evening — and see quick results. For you crocheting addicts, I’ve mostly used this pattern, and I’m drawn to this half double crochet pattern, too.

The zombie is getting better with time (among the first, top right, looks like a football helmet from the 1920s). But I have to exorcise it for now and put down my hook and tend to other matters that tug at the heart.

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the land of meltdowns

Last week, A. and I crossed into the land of meltdowns (said with a booming voice) where storms can unleash with little warning. Our little helper — who loves to sweep, rubs down the floor with tissues and toddles to the trash can to throw away litter — gave me his first forceful “NO!” when I tried to change his diaper. It was accompanied by a little kick and I raised my eyebrow, like, “Really? You’re going to go there?”

In general, this kid is awesome. He wakes up in his crib and reads to his llama and owl for an hour. The other day I heard him counting. He giggles like crazy and has a new way of saying, “Hi!” that brightens up a room. He sings to himself, and says things like, “Mama, hat, on” when he wants me to put on a hat and “Book, couch” when he wants to read with me. He says “mama, nine” (that’s wine) and “papa, beer.” (Hmmmm…) He always says please (“peas”) and he grabs my face to give me kisses.

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And now there is this budding streak of independence and “no” is his new favorite word. Last week, he tried to shake off my hand and run into the street. I grabbed him, jerked him to safety and made him look me in the eye while I told him why that wasn’t OK. Major Meltdown. (A few drivers flashed me sympathetic smiles.) He has a new fascination with outlets and crouches down to see if he can look into the wall. Cool! Electricity! He drags us objects to plug in and we shake our heads, “No, buddy, how about we don’t plug in the curling iron where you can step on it?” Meltdown. He loves the food processor plunger, but we decided that hey, maybe that’s not a great toy so let’s lock that cabinet. Meltdown.

He’s only 16 1/2 months, but I’m seeing a rapid change. It’s natural development and A. and I agree that we’d worry if he didn’t go through this stage. And, really, he’s so much easier than when he was an infant and I had a trillion hormones coursing through me and his cries made me want to crawl into a corner, curl into a ball and rock. So much easier.

But I’m getting prepared for this new stage: I plan to put on a heavy raincoat and boots AND carry an umbrella as we enter the land of meltdowns.

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in search of wildflowers

On Sunday, we drove to the Panamint Valley in search of large yellow daisies that you can only find on that small section of the earth. We drove through the mountain pass, stopped to take in the vast, open view, and on into Death Valley to see charcoal kilns built by Chinese laborers in the late 1800s.

While there, C. took A. on a mini hike — this little 16-month-old is getting more adventurous. “Hand,” he says, wanting to hold hands while he navigates his unsteady feet over rocks.

There were no daisies — it was a dry winter and the wildflowers will be hard to spot this year. But it was the type of drive that makes you suck in your breath with wonder.

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a birth plan? ha, good one (C.’s birth story, long overdue)

Photo by Stacey Vaeth

Photo by Stacey Vaeth

A. and I sit cross-legged in the back room at the Potters House in D.C. on a rainy November evening with about 20 small slips of paper in front of us. We’re charged with arranging them on the carpet from least important to most important.

I breathe hard and reach over my massive belly to grab one of them. It reads, in small type at the top, “It is important to us to…” and then, in large type, “Wear our own clothes.” I make a face and put it at the bottom of our list of priorities. I’ll probably be naked.

After that, it gets harder. I want all of them, really. Access to a shower/bath. Yes. Avoid labor induction. Yep. Have freedom of movement. Yes. Avoid epidural. Definitely. Delay cord cutting. Check. Avoid forceps/manual extraction. Oh goodness yes. Avoid Cesarean surgery. Absolutely.

At the top of priorities, I put “Have a healthy baby.”

A. looks at me with disapproval.

He grabs the slip that says “Have a healthy mother,” and slaps it above healthy baby.

“If something happens, we can always try for another,” he admonishes me. “There’s only one you.”

We’re taking a Bradley Method class and learning about labor and delivery. We signed up so we’d meet other couples in the same boat. And we want to learn how to be our own advocates in the delivery room. Turns out, most of the women are birthing at home or in a birthing center. They’re anti-hospital and anti-intervention. I do have wishes around giving birth, but really, I just want me and my baby to get out of this alive.

A month later, and seven days after my due date, my water breaks in a gush all over my black maternity pants. My contractions haven’t started. And all of a sudden, I’m on a clock: I have 24 hours to get this baby out of me.

It’s 11 a.m. on a Friday in early December when I check in at the hospital, brimming with adrenaline. I put my bathing suit on under the hospital robe. “Is this the birthing tub?” I ask a nurse. “Yes,” she says, “but since your water broke, you can’t use it.” Oh, I think, disappointed. One wish, rejected.

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desert shadows

When I moved to the desert, I noticed the shadows. Everywhere. Early morning, late afternoon, long shadows on the sidewalk, on the brick wall in our backyard, on the sand. C. notices, too, and points and I’ll jump up and down or wave my arms over my head or put out two fingers to exaggerate our figures. He’ll watch me and giggle. Yesterday, just before the sun set, I was holding C. on my hip near our front door and saw his shadow on the stucco — he still hasn’t quite grown into his head, his cheeks are like balloons and his lips are pink and full. I love his profile. I love this little boy.

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the things he carries

One thing that consistently has me giggling these days is catching C. carrying objects through the house. He’ll show up in the kitchen, where I’m drinking my coffee and reading the news, with my electric toothbrush or the trash can full of lint from the laundry room. It’s even funnier when the objects are twice his size or three times as long as him. And he’s on a mission to take the (insert object here) into nearly every room, toddling on unsteady legs. I mean he really concentrates: He furrows his brow, breathes hard and focuses so he doesn’t tumble and take the object with him. Here are some of the more surprising ones as of late that had me cracking up.

A full carton of chicken broth, carried upside down.

A full carton of chicken broth, carried upside down, away from the kitchen. Far, far away.

AA tub of toys, including Q-tips found in a drawer in the bathroom.

A tub of toys, including Q-tips found in a drawer in the bathroom.

For a while he was managing the broom and the Swiffer. He abandoned the Swiffer in haste.

For a while he was managing the broom and the Swiffer. He abandoned the Swiffer in haste.

Here he's treating the wall as if it's a lion and he's a lion tamer.

Here he’s treating the wall as if it’s a lion and he’s a lion tamer.

He didn't make it far without tumbling. Why? Zero visibility

He didn’t make it far without tumbling. Why? Zero visibility.

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the weaning process: more challenging than i expected

When the controversial Time magazine cover appeared last year of the 3-year-old standing on a chair nursing, he looking at the camera with his eyebrows raised, she with her hands on her hips, I had an opinion. But I didn’t share it with many people and I didn’t read the opinion pieces.

My view: To each their own. Parenting, unless abusive, is like religion. There are many “right” ways and your decisions are nobody’s business.

I was offended by the image on the cover because the mom was standing in a sexy pose. She’s in all black, arched away from the child rather than cradling him. There is nothing sexual about breast-feeding. It’s natural, biological, wonderful, sometimes painful, sometimes a chore — but not sexual. I have had moments where my back hurt or when I was tired and didn’t want to nurse, but overall, I’ve loved it.

I get why moms stick with it (though maybe not so long that the child can walk over and say, “Mom, can I have a sip?” But even then, I’m learning not to judge.) I’m already nursing longer than I expected. C. is 14 months, and I thought I’d be done by now. My goal was to get to 12 months and then assess.

What I didn’t expect was how hard it would be to wean. It’s hard to say no to your crying toddler who wants comfort and to show him that he can get comfort other ways. It’s hard to create that separation when you’ve been bonded physically since he was born. It’s hard to change up a sleeping routine on a babe who’s sleeping well. And it’s hard to say goodbye to the baby chapter and embrace toddler-hood.

So, I’ve adjusted my goals and expectations around weaning. I realize now it’s going to be a long, slow and sometimes sad process. But I’m ready to have my body back and have a bit of freedom to leave C. for the night. My goal is to be completely done by June when we’re traveling east and plan to leave him with his grandparents for the night. Wish me luck.

*Addendum: C. was fully weaned by 15 1/2 months.

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