Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Two Months

It's hard to believe Claire is already two months old. In some ways, it seems like Claire has always been a part of our family. Her birth seems so long ago. In other ways, I feel like the days pass too quickly. Claire is no longer a squishy, snuggly newborn. She is full of smiles and coos. She loves looking out at the world around her. Claire found her hands and loves stuffing her mouth full of fist. She spends a lot of time wiggling on her activity mat, beginning to roll on to her side and swat at hanging toys. We brought Claire to Dr. J for her two month check up. She currently weighs 12 lbs, 11 oz and measures 24 inches long. While it is amazing to watch Claire grow and learn, I want time to slow down just a little bit. Babies do not stay babies for long.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Caitlin's Ramblings

Now that Caitlin is almost two and a half, she makes me laugh everyday with her random assortment of questions, observations, and opinions. I need to write them down so I will not forget this awesome stage. Here are some recent gems:

Caitlin: Mama, my heart feels good (said while holding her hand over her heart, a look of wide-eyed sincerity on her face).

Mama: Why does your heart feel good?

Caitlin (sighing): Because I love Beauty and The Beast.
(we've been watching this movie a little too often lately)

While watching a video of sharks swimming,
Caitlin: Look, Mama! Sharks! They have a tail, like me.

Mama: You have a tail?

Caitlin (shaking her head and laughing) Oh, no. I don't have a tail. I have a hiney butt.

While reading Eric Carle's My Very First Book of Numbers,
Caitlin: Nine cherries?!?! Holy shnikeys!!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Introducing Claire

I'm back! Between work, the aches and pains of late pregnancy, exhaustion, some bed rest, the holidays, sleep deprivation, and oh yeah....giving birth and caring for a newborn, the blog slid way, way, way down on my list of priorities. Now that we are somewhat settled at home, I am finding more free moments to briefly share our new adventures. Hopefully I'll be back to writing long, incredibly witty and wise posts in the near future.

For now, I'm excited to introduce Claire Elizabeth. Little Claire was born on December 9th at 9:32 pm. She weighed 7lbs, 10oz and measured 21 inches long. Labor and delivery went exceptionally well-much, much quicker and less painful than the first time around. She is growing and thriving at home and we are enjoying getting to know our new munchkin. Caitlin has adjusted very well to being the big girl around the house. She loves patting Claire's head, "helping" Claire get dressed," and rocking Claire in her bouncy seat.

As for the blog, I am looking for a new title. Please feel free to share any suggestions, as my creativity is currently hibernating.

Enjoy some pictures of Sweet Claire!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Weight Watchers

Last Friday, C went to her two year physical at Dr. P's office. I looked forward to sharing some of Caitlin's newest milestones with Dr. P., like jumping, occasionally peeing on the potty, and sometimes speaking in sentences. C seems to learn something new every day and we are consistently amazed and amused by her many achievements and antics. I had no concerns regarding Caitlin's development. In fact, I believed she was thriving in every way.

When we entered the examination room, a nurse and nurse-in-training asked routine questions about our home life and C's medical history. They measured her height, exactly 36 inches. Next, they tried measuring C's weight. As soon as C stood on the rickety upright scale, she began to cry and seek immediate escape. The nurses suggested I plop her on the infant scale. Again, C screamed, begged, and pleaded to get down. In order to soothe her apprehension, we tried to weigh C's dolly. I stood on the scale, grinning as though I loved nothing more than checking my weight, even 27 weeks pregnant. We let Caitlin play with the balancing mechanism on top of the scale. Nothing worked. Finally, the nurses led C to a digital scale in the next examination room. Although she only stood on the scale for one second, the nurses were able to record Caitlin's weight-34 pounds, 11.5 ounces.

We returned to our original examination room where the nurses entered Caitlin's information into the computer. Together, the nurses scrutinized C's chart and discussed something "not looking right." Calling me to the computer screen, they showed me how Caitlin's weight falls outside her projected growth given her height, age, and previous weights. Surely, the nurses thought they made a mistake and back to the digital scale we went. Again, C stood on the scale for one second and again the scale recorded exactly 34 pounds, 11.5 ounces. There was no mistake.

Since birth, Caitlin's weight and height have fallen above the 95%tile for her age, therefore I did not feel any concern regarding her current weight. She eats well, she is active, her overall health is excellent. Although I was not worried, the nurses seemed concerned and went to find Dr. P. Certainly, Dr. P. would reassure the Weight Watchers that C has always been big and this number was nothing to worry about.

After looking at C's chart however, Dr. P. also seemed slightly worried. She asked me about C's eating habits. She recommended we switch from whole milk to skim. She gave advice on portion control and waiting at least 20 minutes before offering C seconds. As I listened to her advice, I found myself feeling first defensive, then angry, then ashamed. Am I doing something wrong? Am I raising a child heading down a road toward childhood obesity?

I thought about our habits at home. Should I not allow Caitlin to drink an occasional juice box? Was I wrong to give her seconds at dinner last night? Do I need to throw out our box of Fig Newtons, even though they are the whole grain variety? Then, I began defending myself. For God sakes, my daughter eats quinoa! One of her favorite foods is broccoli. I told Dr. P. we do not have junk food in the house (not entirely true, but I do not share my Cheetos with Caitlin). We eat a balanced diet. I am a healthy cook. We take walks and go to the park almost every day. Dr. P. said she was certain we were doing everything right, but again mentioned we should switch to skim milk.

When we left the doctor's office my feelings of shame and anger gave way to insecurity. Maybe Caitlin is big because I am somehow negligent. Caitlin has always loved food. As a baby, she ate bowl after bowl of sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and yogurt. I never forbid her from having seconds. If C asks for more, I believe she must feel hungry and need the sustenance. While we stock our home with healthy choices, I certainly do not deny Caitlin an occasional hot dog, cookie, or bowl of ice cream. Since being pregnant, my own eating habits have steered slightly toward the unhealthy. Maybe I've steered my daughter in the same direction. I never once worried about Caitlin's weight, however leaving this appointment I began to wonder if maybe I had reason to worry after all.

Over the next week, a couple of incidents occurred that made me feel even more insecure. On Wednesday night, we celebrated Papa's birthday. After we sang Happy Birthday, Nana announced to the room, "Why don't we wait to serve cake until after Caitlin goes to bed. The doctor said she's overweight." While her statement was met with loud protests from the guests, Caitlin and I left very quickly. Heaven forbid we delay the family from eating cake. And last Friday while playing in the park, Caitlin sat next to a little boy on top of the slide. The boy's mother and I made small talk about our children and she asked about Caitlin's age. When I said Caitlin turned two about a week ago, the mother replied, "Oh my God! She's a giant!" Her son turned two in May and Caitlin was nearly double his size. Envisioning my enormous daughter trampling her fragile son on the playground, Caitlin and I soon headed for home.

Then I received a phone call from Dr. P's office. While I sat in a meeting, my iPhone vibrated, alerting me to a voicemail from the doctor. Clearly, a terrible message was waiting for me. Why does a doctor's office call, unless they have bad news to share? Unable to leave my meeting, I became increasingly distracted and anxious, fearing an endless list of terrible possibilities. By the end of my meeting, I convinced myself Caitlin had type I diabetes. I imagined a life filled with insulin shots and a gluten-free diet. Finally, my meeting ended and I was practically in tears as my shaky hands dialed voicemail.

As I listened to my voicemail, a nurse cheerfully told me Caitlin's blood work was normal and she was not at risk for lead poisoning. She did not mention Caitlin's weight. She certainly did not mention diabetes. Feeling great relief, I suddenly realized my worries were truly ridiculous. Yes, my daughter is big for her age. One day, she may be the tallest child in her kindergarten class. She may soon outgrow toddler-sized clothing. She may like to eat a second, or even third, hot dog every now and then. But, she is healthy, she is growing, and she is beautiful. Worrying about her weight and denying her the chance to eat food she enjoys will only create further anxiety and possibly distort my daughter's views about food forever. I am not going to take that chance. We will switch to skim milk, but tonight, we are also going to eat some cake.

Happy Birthday Two You!

Happy Birthday to Caitlin! Our little munchkin celebrated her second birthday on August 23rd.

Caitlin loved smashing pieces of red velvet cake into her mouth, while Bella hovered nearby, hoping for a taste or two. I think we took this picture about five seconds before bringing Bella indoors for compulsive food stealing.

Caitlin and cousin Keira spent hours playing in the backyard, chasing Bella, sliding on C's slide, "helping" rake the yard, and rolling in the dirt. This picture was taken before both girls permanently destroyed their birthday finery. By the end of the day, C's tutu shredded to pieces and her 2 t-shirt somehow turned brown. Thankfully, the bow and the Wee Squeak shoes survived.

Here we are-Mama and the Terrific Two Year Old. We've learned so much together in these two years, however I have yet to learn how to make C smile for a picture. This seems an impossible dream.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Second Pregnancy Syndrome

I am tired. So tired that last week I fell asleep while watching a Red Sox game-in Fenway Park. I fell asleep standing up in the shower. I felt similarly exhausted during my first trimester, however that was expected. Now I am well into my second trimester-a time of supposed abundant energy and vigor. If I'm this tired now with 16 or so weeks left, how will I ever stay awake through my third trimester? Maybe I'll sleep through the entire end of my pregnancy and wake up when the new baby arrives.

I thought something was wrong with me. Maybe I am dehydrated. Maybe I do not eat enough iron. Maybe ice cream contains tryptophan. I shared my concerns with Midwife Suzy at my 24 week appointment on Monday. While Midwife Suzy said my exhaustion could be due to any number of things-low iron, dehydration, heat and humidity-she said most likely I suffer from a very common, yet widely unknown condition called Second Pregnancy Syndrome.

I am not alone. Millions of women, usually after an extra glass of pinot noir or two, willingly, some with great diligence and determination, actually try to get pregnant for a second time. Suckers like us forget how physically and emotionally challenging pregnancy was the first time around. We actually had time to care for ourselves and we only had to care for ourselves and not worry about a little tot running around underfoot.

When I was pregnant with Caitlin, I took a nap almost every day during my first and third trimesters. I slept hard. I drooled. During one afternoon nap, a giant oak tree fell down on my street and landed on my neighbor's car, taking with it a telephone pole and power lines, and knocking out power to the entire neighborhood. My street was illuminated by the flashing lights of emergency vehicles and flashes from nosy neighbor's cameras. I slept through the entire thing.

Being pregnant with a toddler, I do not have the luxury of taking drool-inducing three hour afternoon naps. Sure, I could nap when Caitlin naps, but when would I do laundry, clean my house, pay bills, watch Bravo, or write this blog? And now that Caitlin only naps once a day for about two hours, I spend most of my day chasing her from various place to place. She would rather play "Hide from Monster" or visit the playground, than play "Let's Watch the Inside of Mom's Eyelids and See What Happens."

All of this toddler chasing and lack of rest led to my diagnosis of Second Pregnancy Syndrome. The primary symptom of SPS is sheer, utter, mother effing exhaustion. The secondary symptoms of SPS are simultaneous sneezing and pants pissing, as well as borderline precarious caffeine consumption. Midwife Suzy recommends trying to rest as much as possible, knowing that in reality this will probably equal five extra minutes of rest per day. There is no cure.

I'm afraid Second Pregnancy Syndrome prepares second time moms for the chronic condition known as, Second Child Sleep Extinction, which transforms once semi-rested, content mothers of one, into night walking zombie mamas with gaping black holes where their eyes once sparkled. They may or may not eat their young, especially if it will buy them some extra shut eye.

I am also afraid SPS will initiate my downward spiral toward Crappy Parenting. Many days, I feel too exhausted to give parenting all of the energy it deserves. While I want to run in the park with my daughter, my body wants to lay down on the couch and turn on Sesame Street. I fear I am often too tired to put forth my best effort and my child will suffer the consequences of my fatigue.

My diagnosis of Second Pregnancy Syndrome leaves me frustrated and fearful, however whining and complaining will not remedy my situation. The only remedy is to make a concerted effort to get more rest. I began my course of treatment today and enjoyed a delicious afternoon nap. I may even go to bed before 10:00 tonight. If you see me night walking around the Boston suburbs, please send me straight to bed. Good night.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Morning at the Capron Park Zoo

Last week, I took Caitlin to the Capron Park Zoo. The Zoo is located in Attleboro, minutes from the highway. The Capron Park Zoo provides toddlers, preschoolers, and their families an educational, fun, and affordable outing. First, the zoo is small, which means Caitlin could walk through the entire zoo without tiring and whining, "Up, up." If you arrive close to opening, the zoo is not crowded. This afforded Caitlin a prime view of the African lions, snow leopard, and red kangaroos on display. While many animals were napping in the sun or hiding, we were able to witness red kangaroos hopping alongside their mamas, sloth bears wrestling, and a Visayan warty pig playing with a basketball.

There are also two different feeding areas at Capron Park. In one area, children are able to feed goats and llamas. Walk across the bridge over the pond and there is another spot where children can feed ducks. Animal food costs a quarter, so if you visit the Capron Park Zoo bring change or ask for change in the visitor center.

After children see the animals, they can play on the splash pad located right near the zoo entry. Outside of the zoo there is a large playground with distinct areas for older children and toddlers. The Capron Park Zoo is located within a larger park, so there are plenty of tables and grassy spots for a picnic.

Admission prices are highly affordable. Children under three are free. Admission for children ages three to twelve costs $5.50. Adults pay only $7.00. If you happen to be an Attleboro resident, admission costs even less. There is a concession stand and eating area inside of the zoo, in addition to the picnic areas outside the zoo gates. Wagons are available for rent, which gives tired tykes a chance to rest and watch the animals.

The Capron Park Zoo gets high praise from this mama. If you are looking for something fun and affordable to do this summer, definitely pay them a visit!