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This post is a bit of a sequel to Parenting Pipedreams.  Some of them are starting to look a little less Pipey.

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I love babies.  I really love my babies.  I love the squishy-ness, the contact, everything.  Parenting very small people is fantastically delicious.  It’s also INtense.  And as much as I love it, I have to admit that I’m also a little bit happy that the intensity is starting to subside a little.

As of the last time I risked putting a finger into Lady Fair’s mouth, she had 15 teeth.  That makes us 87.5% done teething.

Since Lady Fair is super into doing EVERYTHING like her brother, I estimate we are also about 88% done diapers.

The kids sleep in (read: >6:30 a.m.) more often than not now, so we’re about 75% done with ridiculously early mornings.

We’re 99.9% done with baby gates.  In fact, I had taken the gate down, but Mr. Fair inexplicably put it back up.

I am 50% done wrangling small arms into seemingly smaller shirt sleeves.

Now that I leave the house three whole days a week for school, I get to drink 14% of my coffees while they’re still hot!  That might not seem like a lot, but let me tell you…

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Yup, Little Man is at the ‘Why?” stage.  Except that he actually asks “How” instead of “Why”.  All day, it’s “How this?” and “How that?”.  And lately he’s also caught on to the fact that I find it a bit… tiresome.  So do you know what he’s started doing?  Asking endless series of “Hows” with a big smirk on his face.  So yesterday, I put my many years of higher education to work to nip this poop in the bud enlighten him:

 

Little Man: “Hey Mom?”

Me: “Yes, sweetheart.”

Little Man: “How did Dad go boat fishing?”

Me: “He drove in the car.”

Little Man: “How did he drive in the car?”

You want to know how Dad drives the car? I can tell you. How much detail do you want??

Me: “On the road.”

Little Man: “How did the car get on the road?”

Me; “He turned it on and drove it on the road.”

Little Man: “How did he turn it on and drive it?”

(are you seeing now why I find this so irritating??)

Me: “With his hands and feet.”

Little Man: “How did he drive the car with his hands and feet?”

Sigh…

Me. “Well, you see, the nerve impulses, what are called action potentials travel all the way down the neuron from his brain to his hands and feet and when they get there, the positive membrane potential causes acetylcholine to be released into the neuromuscular junction, which causes the muscle fibres to contract so that his hands and feet move.”

Little Man: *blink, blink, vanishing smirk* “Hey Mom?”

Me: “Yes, sweetheart.”

Little Man: “Do you want to see me do a big jump?”

Me: “I sure do!”

Mission accomplished.

 

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PS Many thanks are owed to Charlotte Youngson for her excellent physiology teaching.

 

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A friend and I were talking the other day about the struggles of getting our babes to take bottles so we can get out of the house some times.  This particular friend was actually the second person to ever give Little Man a bottle, when we needed to go to Mr Fair’s office holiday party and Little Man was about 6 months old.  And that was only the third bottle he’d ever had.  Yes, you read that right – three bottles in six months. Lady Fair, as it happens, has only been offered a bottle once in her 5 months skin  side.

Advice for new moms about bottles is confusing.  On the one hand if we choose to breastfeed we know to avoid them for about the first 6 weeks in order to establish a good relationship of feeding at the breast, as well as a good supply.  Of course, we all know that by then our babies know better than to accept a boob imposter.  But since we’re made to so firmly believe that a baby should or even must take a bottle from time to time, we go through a lot of stress getting baby to accept a bottle.

I decided not to.

The first, and pretty much last time Mr Fair fed Little Man a bottle.

 

Here’s the deal: I HATE pumping.  It’s not so bad now that I have mega supply from tandem nursing, but when Little Man was new my pumping efforts would produce meager results at best.  It made me doubt my supply, leading to a week of anxious feedings counting swallows and constant head rubs to determine if his fontanelle was sunken from dehydration.  Needless to say, there is no spa treatment rejuvenating enough to warrant all of that.  And of course all of this is before the stress of stalling a hungry baby while we heated milk, which seemed especially silly since I was in the next room literally full of the fresh, preheated version.  And even once we got it going, he was so not impressed.  Cue more crying and the eventual unhooking of the nursing bra to solve the problem.

But I still needed and wanted some time to do grown up stuff, so I had to find some ways to make it work without bottles.  Here’s how I did it.

1) Mark the calendar

The first thing I did was remind myself that the season of my baby’s constant need for me was short.  By the time I really started to feel the need for some time away he was already halfway to starting solids.  (I know everyone’s threshold is different though).  The solid food stage is great for two reasons:

First, it’s a whole new opportunity to introduce mommy-milk in a cup or bottle.  So if your little one didn’t drink the Koolaid (in the non merderous-cult sense of course) the first time, don’t worry you get another chance.

The other thing that’s great about it is, even if they don’t eat much at a time, it’s still probably enough to prevent gnawing hunger pangs in the absence of your boobs, so you don’t need to worry so much about bottle acceptance.

2) Max out those intervals

When you think about it, there’s actually a lot you can do in the 2 hour window between feeds.  You can get a hair cut, read a couple of chapters of a book, or sit in a bath until your toes prune and the water turns cold.  There are lots of options.  So really, the key is to max out those intervals.  To assist this, my doula gave me a great piece of advice: “top up”.  Even though you (hopefully!) feed on cue, you can always offer a breast just before you go out.  If they don’t want it, they won’t latch.  If they latch, you just bought yourself a longer interval so go max it out!

3) Attach and go

This may not be true for every woman, but I really never craved the absence of my babies, rather what I wanted was the addition of adult-oriented activities into my day.  Attachment parenting tools and practices really facilitated that.  Thanks to babywearing, I’ve been able to go to movies, pubs, weddings and conferences without having to leave baby home with a bottle and babysitter or sit alone in the corner guarding a car seat.  Since we parent our kids to sleep, we also know that we can have an unusually late night, or go on vacation without spending a week afterwards getting back onto a book-prescribed evening regimen.  I’ve had my doses of intelligent conversation (or not, depending on the adult I’m speaking with!) and adventure without having to do the bottle thing.

That’s me, at a wedding, on the dance floor, IN 4″ HEELS last weekend. Oh yeah, and I’m wearing a sleeping baby too.

4) Make it a family affair

When all of the above tactics failed what we did was have Mr Fair (or an alternate caregiver) come along for the “mommy’s time” ride.  The instances that are springing to mind here are the postpartum clothes shopping trips.  Believe me, that’s a task no woman can accomplish in under 2 hours and if you figure out how to try on tops with a sleeping baby strapped to you please let me know.  I could have put it off, but who wants to look like a deflated balloon in too-big clothes for the better part of a year?  So we packed up the fam and hit to the mall together.  Dad took charge of the baby, and I got to peruse the racks in peace, looking for clothes to fit my new rack.  When feeding time hit, we’d grab a bench and I’d do my booby duty, then go back to my shopping time.
So if your kid isn’t into the bottle thing, try not to sweat it.  There are ways to still have an adult life, you just need to get a bit creative.

Veteran mammas, what were your tricks for fitting in me time?

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When Lady Fair was barely even skin side, I started getting asked if she was “sleeping through yet”.

My immediate reaction was, “Yet?  She’s 13 days old!  For F***’s sake, can we not let the poor baby get through a cotton-pickin’ fortnight before we start shackling her with ridiculous expectations of adult behaviour?”

But I realize, this is one of those questions people just ask about babies because they don’t know what else to ask.  I also know I’ve asked the same question myself, as well as many of the following:

“Is she a good sleeper?”

“Is she a good eater?”

“How much does he weigh?”

“Is he a good baby?”

These are the standard new-baby icebreakers.  I think it’s because a new baby’s personality is more or less a mystery, so these little factoids are the best we can come up with to get to know him or her.  But at the same time, I think there’s also the lingering belief that a baby has no individual personality and thus it’s ‘performance’ as a baby can be quantified by things like how much it eats, how long in a stretch it sleeps and whether it burps readily.

But wouldn’t it be wonderful if we AP types could come up with some better new baby questions?  Questions that reflect what is actually important for parent-infant relationships; questions that don’t make new parents feel like their coping skills are being graded; happy questions.

So here it goes, let’s start a trend of happy attachment-friendly new baby questions:

“Are you loving the snuggles?”

“Do you get lots of smiles?”

“What’s her favourite way to be held?”

“Does he have a favourite time of day?”

What else can we ask??

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