Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Come out and play

Toys! One of the best parts of being someone's mama is that I get to browse and buy toys. Tiny baby toys aren't that interesting - mostly just soft stuffed things, with an occasional rattle or squeak. We got lots of toys as hand-me-downs from awesome friends, so we haven't bought much.

And of course, like everything else, I have strong opinions about the toys BabyT plays with. We'd like to hold off on the onslaught of commercial licensed characters for as long as possible (Dora/Kai-lan/Elmo/etc), sort of for the same reason I'm not a fan of her (or me!) wearing clothes with a designer name or label emblazoned across the front. I don't need her to provide any corporations with free advertising, nor do I want to start training her so young to recognize these characters then ask for every single item that has them on it. I'm sure that'll come soon enough, so while I have some control over the situation, we're going to start without it :)

I have a real aversion to toys that make buzzing beeping electronic noises. Personally, I find them annoying and overstimulating, so I can't imagine that it's great for my baby. (Kind of like watching TV - sure it's an effective distracter when needed, but day-to-day, I don't want her assaulted with noise and flashing lights. Not to mention it'll drive me batty to hear it all the time as well.)

And plastic. I'm now paranoid about lead paint and BPA, and whatever else is lingering in all that plastic. And every single baby item is made of non-recyclable plastic. I'm not especially environmentally aware, but even I cringe at the amount of plastic we bring into our house. I try really hard to find the large things used, like the ever-popular Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo which has been a favorite since T was around 5 months old:

We got her matching rainforest swing used as well. At least if we're going to bring giant plastic contraptions into our house, they can be pre-owned so we're not contributing to more plastic being sent to a landfill in a few years.

For Christmas, Aunt Susie gave BabyT Jacques the Peacock, who Trillian loves very much, because of his bright colors and cool textures:

Jacques has remained a favorite since December, which is pretty impressive!

One of the toys I'd been eyeing for a while was a set of stacking cups:
I love the pastel colors, and the fact that they're free of some bad chemicals. (Of course, there are probably other bad compounds in the plastic that we think is safe now, so you really can't win.) BabyT got a nice gift card from her Grandma and Grandpa so we used some of it to buy these cups. She likes them a lot and is very intent on making sure they're NOT stacked, nor do they have things inside them. She doesn't like it when you put parts of other toys into the cups or try to stack them all back together. It's pretty amusing to watch her little personality start to emerge.

A few weeks ago we were wandering around Redmond Town Center and saw a very cute little guy in a shop window. He had to come home with us. He's not suitable for babies, because he breathes fire :) TJ is good at naming people and dogs (he gets credit for Spike and Trillian) so he came up with a great name for this little guy. Say hi to Snap!

While we were at Target this week, I spotted a toy that I thought BabyT would really like - her own set of keys. She's always trying to grab mine, which would be fine, except that she likes to put them in her mouth and that's gross for everyone (or "gwoss" as we imagine Trillian would say if she could talk).

This set caught my eye, and when I did some research on the company, they seem sort of interesting - recyclable packaging, interesting color schemes/design aesthetic, and supposedly eco-friendly with good manufacturing policies. These keys do have a "remote" with a tiny light, and four noises each activated by a different colored button. Sounds annoying, right? But the sounds are pretty quiet and short, so they don't grate on my nerves even after the 20th button press. Plus T hasn't quite gotten the hang of pressing the buttons yet, so it's still a fun surprise for both of us when she does.

So that's what we've been playing with lately. What about you? Any new interesting toys at your house?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I hope you choke on the words

Ugh, this has been a crappy couple of days.  But first, the good - BabyT had her 9-month checkup yesterday and is growing well - 23lbs 8oz.  She's apparently now in the 90-95th percentile for height, which is music to this short mama's ears.  I know that's no indication she'll actually be tall later, but it's nice to hear.  (Though I'm not sure how accurate baby length measurements are - T was pretty wiggly.)

why did mama make me wear this silly tutu?
But then we also learned that T is low on iron, which means that I'm probably *really* low since she's still getting most of her calories from nursing.  (side note:  hooray for 9 months of breastfeeding!)  So she needs to take this icky tasting iron supplement, with a yummy vitamin C supplement to mask the taste and enhance absorption.  We'll see how that goes.  Giving her liquid antibiotics in her milk didn't really work for us a few months ago - by the end of it, she was *very* wary of drinking out of the bottle. 

And then the doctor mentioned that she was a little concerned that T wasn't trying to pull up to standing yet.  My mama intuition (such as it is) isn't actually too worried about it, given T's size, since that's a lot of weight to try to move, and the fact that she's doing fine otherwise (feeding herself, sitting up like a champ, social and smiley, even with strangers).  But of course there are the inevitable comparisons to other babies we know that are her age, and they're all mobile.  So if she doesn't start pulling up by 11 months, we need to go somewhere to get her evaluated.  Ick. 

2 months is pretty much an eternity in BabyT-time, though.  2 months ago, she was barely eating anything I'd put in front of her, and now she's an expert at picking up and getting even little pieces of stuff in her mouth, including the beans from the spicy black bean soup I made.  2 months ago, she still needed some support to sit up and would often flop over.  Now she can sit up with no support, lean waaaay over to get a toy that's out of reach, and comfortably sit for 30 min+ to play with her toys.

Given that, I think, in 2 months she'll be in good shape.  The doctor pointed out that she's already using her 'pincer grip' to grab things.  I thought she was still working on it, so that's good news.  Which means we might be able to break out the Cheerios - yippee!

And speaking of food, I'm now running into what is probably the first of many times I live to eat my words with respect to raising a kid.  The advice I've read and gotten from our doctor on introducing solids to babies advocates a very slow approach - introducing a new food only every couple of days, and starting with just individual fruits and vegetables, then rice, then other grains, then yogurt and cheese, etc.  So if you follow the recommendations, it would be nearly forever before your baby could eat complicated table foods. 

When T was around 2 months old, I read a book by a local Seattle food writer called Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father's Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater.  It was a very entertaining read, and got me excited to introduce T to "real food". 

Since we have no family history of food allergies, I figured after we got through some of the first fruits and veggies, and a few grains without incident, we'd just be able to go hog wild on the rest and start feeding her what we eat. I was pretty disdainful of the uber-careful approach to introducing things. Especially after yesterday's doctor's appointment, where she told us we should be getting to a point where T should be eating 3 meals a day around the time she turns one.

And that all came to a screeching halt today. I brought a yoBaby yogurt with us to lunch so we could feed it to T while we ate. She had a few spoonfuls, and once we cleaned her up, her mouth and hands turned a very bright red, which then started spreading up to her ears. By the time we got home, there were little bumps and she was getting itchy.

This was her third yogurt experience, and I did notice the first two times, that she got a little bit red around the mouth. Plus there was the vomiting incident with the tomato soup (which had cream in it). But I wasn't sure at those times whether there was really a correlation. This was REALLY obvious.

She wasn't having any other issues (no breathing problems, thankfully!) but I figured I should call the doctor just in case. And of course we didn't have any baby Benadryl in the house either. Sigh. The nurse who returned my call said their diagnostic protocols said we needed to go to the ER at Children's Hospital because her reaction was so immediate after eating the yogurt and that we needed to call 911 *if* she started having any breathing issues.

Not exactly calming advice - I was pretty sure she was fine, since she had just fallen asleep and the rash was already fading. But it's not something I wanted to take a chance on, so I woke her up and we drove over the lake to the ER.

By this time the rash had totally faded, and T was smiling at all the nurses. Our ER experience was surprisingly quick, and we got sent home with a prescription for an Epi-pen (but the doctor said it would be very unlikely we'd ever need it) and a recommendation to *not* give her any more dairy until after her first birthday. He mentioned that allergy testing was pretty unreliable for babies, so we might just need to try dairy again after 1 and see if she's outgrown the reaction. He also suggested that we go a lot slower with introducing solid foods - one at a time, and wait several days to make sure she's tolerating them.

So much for eating what we eat. And I'll have to figure out a cupcake recipe for her birthday that has no dairy in it. And now it sounds like I'll need to put more effort into pumping milk for her, to make sure we don't run out of our frozen supply, since milk-based formula is not an option anymore.

In the grand scheme of things, none of this is a big deal. Lots of people have bigger issues. And Chublet is still healthy and happy, so that's really what matters. But this was a tiny little black rain cloud over our otherwise blissful existence.

So fingers crossed that she outgrows the milk intolerance, and in the next couple of months she gets moving, and that baby and mama get our iron levels back up. Hooray for babies!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

A new mother cries

We've just returned from the Worst Vacation Ever.  Two stressful days in an unfamiliar house with three creatures who needed to be looked after constantly.  We're using this as a learning experience.

I had imagined another mellow, blissful weekend like we had a few years ago on the Olympic Peninsula.  Of course it would be different with a baby, but with both TJ and me around, we'd each get some time to ourselves to just relax.  And BabyT is pretty mellow, so she's usually happy to play by herself near us for relatively long stretches of time.

Seas the Day house at Seabrook WA
We rented a house at Seabrook, a totally manufactured "beach town" on the Washington coast.  The drive over there with puppies and baby was pretty uneventful. Thanks to the massive amounts of baby stuff we need to carry around with us (stroller, diapers, her own clothes and toys), we had to put both dogs in the back of the Nitro together, and stuff all of our luggage in the seat next to the baby's car seat (which itself takes up a huge amount of room). We stopped once to feed Miss Baby and get me a diet Coke, but otherwise she napped or entertained herself in the back seat.

The house was lovely, and the neighborhood very nice to walk around in (despite the massive amounts of construction). We bought a few groceries at the Extortion Market located onsite, and TJ made a larger grocery run the next day, to Ocean Shores, which was about 15 miles away.

The bed was king-sized which meant we didn't need to bring a place for BabyT to sleep, and they even had a high chair and Pack N Play, which was a welcome surprise. That all sounds good, right?

But it was surprisingly stressful. The yard wasn't beagle-proof so we had to take the dogs out on a leash every time. We worried about the dogs getting into something or having an accident in the house since it was new and they didn't know where "out" was. If BabyT was on the floor, we had to keep a hawk's eye on the dogs. (We've solved this problem at home by installing baby gates so we can separate dogs and baby when needed.) We had to change BabyT on the floor. Basically, one of us was always watching the baby, and the other one was watching the dogs.  The first night was wretched.  Either BabyT or Peanut was up EVERY hour, as if to say "hey guys, did you notice we're not at home?".

Add to that the fact that I also forgot some of the parts to my breast pump, which meant we'd have no "easy milk" in the bottle for T. Which also meant that *I* was tethered to the baby for feeding. On a side note, hooray for 8.5 months of breastfeeding!

So yeah, not relaxing. A friend told me that vacation with a baby just seemed like the "same stuff, different location". I totally agree. But we had the house for 4 days so I thought we should make the best of it.

Until the Spectacular Vomiting Incident.  BabyT has been doing GREAT with eating solids.  We introduced bread (at Tropea, our favorite Italian restaurant) and a few strands of spaghetti, as well as the usual fruits and vegetables and she was literally eating it all up. But not with a spoon.  BabyT likes to feed herself, yo.

So I figured we were in the clear to just start feeding her whatever we were eating (except for the still-forbidden things like nuts, honey, egg whites and dairy).  I had some tomato soup for lunch on Friday, and for thought it was just tomatoes and spices. (Bad Mama Mistake #1)  So I offered some to BabyT.  She LOVED it.  Even let me feed it to her from a spoon.  She ate less than a tablespoon total, and all was well.  We went out for a walk, and went to the beach to let the dogs run around.  All was still well.  She took a nap.  All continued to be well.

I fed her again in the evening just after her last nap of the day.  As I was getting ready to take her downstairs for a few hours of fun before bed, it happened.  It actually wasn't that *gross*, just alarming.  Whoever said that babies' stomachs are the volume of a closed fist is a dirty rotten liar.  She was drenched, I was soaked, and so were the lovely bed linens (thank god for mattress pads!).   I had never seen BabyT do this so I was freaked out.

And of course, it was after our pediatricians' office closed for the day so we had to leave a message and wait for the nurse on call to return it.  In the meantime there was more (small) vomitiness.  The nurse just said to stop giving her solids, keep an eye on her for fever and more vomiting and give her milk as usual.

At that point I was ready to take my ball and go home.  We were an hour round-trip from the nearest grocery store and at least that from the nearest medical facility, which may or may not have had a pediatrician.  We had a limited number of outfits and laundry detergent.  I wanted to be in MY house where everything is set up the way we need it. 

Fortunately, BabyT was fine for the rest of the night and slept and ate pretty well. I discovered there was cream in the soup, so either she had a bad reaction to the dairy or is allergic to/doesn't tolerate tomatoes.  We're going to hold off for another month or so before introducing yogurt and cheese, and will go back to our "whole foods" plan for solids.

We're all fine but SO happy to be home.  We'd like to try another trip later, without the dogs, will remember to bring all parts to the pump, and will not introduce new foods while traveling :)

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