Archive for the ‘ Health and Wellness ’ Category

Starting Solids

Saturday, July 14th, 2012


At Vera’s four-month appointment, the doctor mentioned that a little rice cereal in her belly might help her start sleeping through the night again. I just couldn’t bear it. Roy started solids at 6 months old, and I assumed I’d wait that long with the chunky monkey, too.

And then I didn’t get a decent night’s sleep for another month and thought, What the hell? Let’s give it a shot.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have an eater:

Rice cereal went over well last weekend. She’s still deciding about banana, which we sampled this week. Avocado and sweet potato, purchased today, are next in line. It’s a new era.

Part of my hesitancy last time was that feeding a baby in a manner that did not involve simply attaching her to my boob sounded like so much work. Choosing the right foods, plus the right amounts, plus watching for allergies, plus using the correct BPA-free eating equipment, plus choosing a proper eating space, plus finding the time, plus cleaning up a new mess. And so on. The “eating thing” loomed, ready to topple what little hard-won confidence about kid-having we’d finally established those first few months.

Once we dove in, it was actually pretty fun. We made our own food. Roy and I would cruise the local farmers’ market for in-season possibilities, then drag the haul home, where Clint and I would cook and puree it, then freeze the leftovers in ice cube trays for future use. We’ll do the same for Vera.

Hopefully she’ll show her appreciation by sleeping through the damn night.

When did you introduce solids? Why?

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Top Ten Insider Potty Training Tips

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

You may recall that for some insane reason, I decided to start potty training our then-26-month-old toddler, Roy, when Vera was just two months old. It’s a long road. And we’re still on it—we still use diapers or training pants during naps and at night. Who knew potty training could be such a drawn-out process? Roy really is doing an incredible job, though, and I’m super proud of him.

Here are my key toilet-training takeaways thus far.

1) (Don’t) Push to Start. Too much, that is. I admit, I didn’t like the idea of having two in diapers. But more important than that, Roy had shown an interest in using the big potty for a very long time. In fact, he’d almost trained himself months earlier. My hunch was that making it an Official Fun Event would psych him up for making the plunge. It did. But it was still hard. I can’t imagine what it would be like with serious resistance.

2) Start Strong. We made getting him to the potty the focus of every waking moment over a long weekend. For three straight days, we pumped him full of liquids, made frequent potty trips, and enthusiastically cheered each success. We didn’t leave the house the first day, went on only a short walk the second and took a longer walk on the third. This tactic very clearly laid the groundwork for what was to come, while showing Roy that he was well equipped to handle it.

3) Go Naked. Roy spent those three days naked below the belt so he could easily potty on his own and quickly turn accidents around. We continued the nakedness at home for weeks after that. Now, months later, he wears shorts or underwear, but rarely both. We’re getting there.

4) Keep Rewards Simple. We started out with different amounts of fruit snacks for #1 and #2 as well as an elaborate sticker chart that earned him larger prizes. It was too much. Choose a reward that’s simple, quick and highly motivating for your kid. If it’s not something sugary to eat, even better. I’ve a friend whose daughter goes gaga over stickers, for example, so she used those. Maybe that reward chart would work for you. Roy was obsessed with fruit snacks, which he rarely got. We streamlined our reward system to one for #1 and two for #2, then slowly phased even those out.

5) Customize Accident Reaction. I read where you’re supposed to put on a serious, mad face over accidents. Roy’s sensitive and fairly hard on himself, so instinct told me that doing so would only stress the poor kid out. Instead, we assured him that accidents happen and pumped him up to make the next time a success. Another child may benefit from a stern talking to. Accident reaction—the entire potty-training process, for that matter—is not one-size-fits-all. Only you know what tactics will best help your kid.

6) Be Patient. Running to the toilet every five minutes to grunt magnificently over a drop or two of pee is super cute at first. At bedtime, however, a half-a-friggen-hour of that cuteness gets old quick. Remember, he’s mastering a brand new skill. Whether it’s frequent bathroom trips, camping out for eons on the potty or simply moving through the entire toileting process at a glacial pace, this will not go quickly. Stress will only make things worse for both of you. Build extra time into the schedule; devise fun, creative ways to speed things up (Set a timer! Woo-hoo!); and prepare to be infinitely patient. Deep breaths, my friend.

7) Go Public. Before the big day, we were out running errands and Roy kept asking where the bathroom was. After awhile, it dawned on us that with all this talk about using the big potty, little guy wanted to see how that might go down outside of our home. We started making a point of showing him public toilets when we were out and about. It was a disgusting truth at times, but a truth nonetheless.

8) Port a Potty. We regularly brought his little toilet with us on the road at first. No worries about whether or not there was a toilet nearby. Again, setting him up for success. Bonus: It helped avoid some of the aforementioned disgustingness.

9) Stay the Course. As I said up top there, it’s a long road—not three days, and you’re done. Good days will be followed by bad days. Roy’s gone weeks accident-free, only to pee on the carpet twice in one day. When that happens, part of me wants to buy a pack of diapers and call the whole thing off. Instead, we look at the big picture to see if we can’t pinpoint the problem (daycare difficulties, new sibling-induced neediness, etc.), address that as best we can, then attack toilet training with new vigor for a few days.

10) Plan for Positivity. Take a picture of his proud little big boy face and gaze at it. Give yourself a potty prize. Have a plan ready, to use during kick-off and when setbacks occur, for achieving positivity by any means necessary. Again, stress helps no one. I’ve found that a dirty martini after the kids are in bed, however, does.

Anything to add?

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Coping Tactics

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

My last post made it clear that we are in the thick of things. Thanks for your comments and private messages of support and commiseration. All very much appreciated.

One of my favorite pearls, from Anti-Jen: “You’re doing a good job. That job is to make sure those kids know you love them. That’s pretty much all there is to it.” A nice way to boil it down. Plus, it makes me feel semi-competent. I may not be able to find the magic solution that immediately cures Roy’s separation anxiety, or gets Vera to sleep through the night, but making sure they know I love them? That I can do.

We are moving in the right direction. The last two days at daycare drop-off, Roy’s clinginess and pleading disintegrated into nervous whimpers, rather than heartbreaking wails. And last night, at one point, Vera slept three whole hours in a row. That’s enough to shove me over the hump and into the “well rested” category.

I’m fine with copping to difficulty. I certainly don’t see much good in perpetuating the myth that parenthood, or life, for that matter, is a breeze. I’m not, however, one to wallow for too long, if I can help it. I feel uncomfortable if I’m not doing something to make things—at the very least, my mindset—better.

Here are a few things I do to get by:

1) Exercise. For me, it’s running. Always has been. On extremely stressful days, my husband will hand me my running shoes and force me out the door because he knows I’ll come back happier. I also appreciate yoga. These days, I’m doing baby yoga, so I can bring Vera with me. I like to multitask my bonding.

2) Drink. Coming off nine months basically alcohol-free, I’m still a lightweight. A little glass of wine or one quality microbrew after the kids are in bed slows my brain down to a better, more manageable speed.

3) Vent. I’m lucky to have some incredible friends. Ones kind enough to ask how things are and then be ready to listen to the honest answer. Sometimes it helps to have a sane second party help you sort through things. They know I’m always willing to reciprocate. As soon as I’m sane enough to do so, that is.

4) Appreciate. Especially when I’m feeling like everything’s too much, I make a point to focus on a few very specific things that make me feel incredibly lucky. An awesome writing assignment. A clear view of the moon. Vera’s roly-poly thighs. Roy’s nonstop hugs. Clint’s mean meat-smoking know-how and Manhattan-making skillz. I’ve no shortage of things to appreciate.

5) Blog. If you’ve been reading Love & Diapers long, you know that I kid. During times of stress, it’s crickets over here. I’d like to be showing up more regularly. I’m going to try. Apparently, it would help. Did you see the recent study that shows the blogging relieves stress in new mothers?

What helps you feel less overwhelmed?

 

Image: Red wine pouring into wine glass via Shutterstock

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Adjustment difficulties

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Life’s moving pretty quickly over here. Vera turned four months old last week. She’s rolling over and holding her head up and filling out six-month clothes quite nicely. Time is moving so quickly that sometimes, it’s hard to catch my breath.

I mean that quite literally. Sometimes, it’s so overwhelming that I have to physically stop and breathe in and out. In and out. Slow my body down, and try to get my mind to do the same. I know. It’s exactly because I feel that I can’t stop that I must. Yes, I must slow down.

Yet one more thing I must do. Just what I need.

Do you know what I mean?

I can’t believe the last time I posted was Vera’s first day of daycare. Honestly? It went pretty awfully. She didn’t sleep and cried a lot. Her mornings usually consist of lots of sleeping and no crying whatsoever.

The bigger, more heartbreaking challenge, however, was Roy. We tried Vera on half days. That first one, Roy was so excited, until I can to pick her up—and not him. I’d told him that would happen, but he’s two. He had no idea how that would feel. Clearly, it felt awful. For both of us.

I thought he’d get used to it. He didn’t.

I ended up taking Vera out of that particular equation. My provider also has a new baby, and another provider is helping her in her home, so there’s a lot of new going on there. Vera’s back to sleeping and smiling. Roy, on the other hand, has decided he doesn’t want to go to daycare anymore.

We’ve never had this problem before. Usually, at drop-off, I can barely coax a good-bye kiss out of the kid, he’s so excited to hang with his friends. Now, it’s all sobs and clinging. Breaks my heart. I have no idea what to do.

And while it’s true that Vera is sleeping wonderfully during the day, she’s decided to quit doing so at night. Girlie came out of the womb sleeping for 4-hour stretches and became a regular 9PM-to-5AMer in no time flat. Then, for the first time in her life, she started waking up every couple of hours. Then she went ahead and switched her nursing style, and my nipples hurt like crazy.

So, to recap: I somehow gave my toddler a severe case of separation anxiety, my infant has decided to recapture the newborn state she never had, and I’m having a hard time finding a minute to chill the f out.

Not that I expected life to be easy right now. I didn’t. I really didn’t.

Not that life is without its beautiful moments. It isn’t. It certainly isn’t.

But it’s hard, too.

Deep breath in.

Deep breath out.

Suggestions welcome.

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Time Magazine Breastfeeding Cover: Get Over It.

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Maybe it’s just because I’m currently nursing, but I’m surprised that the Time magazine breastfeeding cover (at right) is causing such a stir. Top Google search? Newspapers across America? Entertainment Tonight? Really? This is the most-talked about topic out there right now?

First off, Time sure knows how to get our attention. I get glances while discreetly nursing my tiny three-month-old under a blanket in public. Throwing a hot young mama up there openly attached to not young child? Yes. People are gonna talk. More than even I expected. All this press, and from what I can tell, the issue hasn’t even hit newsstands yet.

That said, I’m not going to comment on attachment parenting, which is what the cover is actually addressing. (I do have Beyond the Sling, by Mayim Bialik, aka TV’s Blossom, waiting in the reading pile at the moment, so we’ll resurrect that thread when I finish it, hopefully sometime before my kids leave for college, dammit.)

But I can comment on breastfeeding past a certain age. Before I had a child, I’d decided nursing was for babies. Meaning small children with no teeth or verbal skills. It was a knee-jerk opinion based solely on the feeling I got when I saw grown children actually ask for the boob, then climb onto mom’s lap on their own to get at it. If the kid can ask for it, I thought, they shouldn’t be getting it anymore.

I’ve said this before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again: And then I had kids.

I’ve written about my own nursing experience on this blog before, most notably on my post about weaning, but to recap: Before I had my first, I didn’t even want to breastfeed. I told myself I’d give it three weeks, for the health of the baby and whatnot. I ended up nursing Roy until he was a year and a half old. By that time, it was limited to before and after bedtime, but still. You better believe he was able to ask for it.

He wasn’t as old as the kid pictured. But he was a lot older than I ever figured he’d be while still nursing. The experience pushed me into the “To Each Her Own,” breastfeeding camp. I know that’s often the theme of this blog, but it can’t be helped because it’s what I believe. We are different people, raising different kids, and no one has the one-size-fits-all magic formula. We need to quit judging and concentrate on trying to figure out what’s truly best for ourselves and our kids.

Meaning that at this point in my life, when I’ll nurse my child while getting my hair washed at a salon without batting an eye, this cover doesn’t bother me one little bit. You? If it does bother you, especially, I’d love to hear exactly why.

 

 

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