Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Post Wherein I Pat Myself on the Back

After a couple of posts where I beat myself up over my many mother failings, I figure I owe it to me to sing my own praises. Because a website where I chronicle the mundane details of my life just isn't enough some days. Pass the wine and chocolate. Did I mention I spent $10 in dark chocolate at the grocery store? I excel at self-care.

But to the self-congratulation at hand: I diaper my child in cloth diapers. Yes, I know, I'm awesome. The environment would be sending me a thank you card any day now, but the carbon emissions and use of paper would cancel the minuscule amount of good I'm doing. Don't misunderstand me, I do believe that cloth diapers are an environmentally sound choice (even though they are washed in a washing machine that uses energy and water). I just tried to insert a little humility - you know - to cover the smug expression that creeps over my face whenever I notice my baby's well-padded bum.

Honestly, I do feel a warm glow of smug happiness at the sight of Katya's cloth diapers. But I think that's because they are so darn cute. In case you want the specifics, I use Bummies: they are pre-folds, with separate covers (yes, I speak cloth diaper fluently now). They much cheaper than regular diapers and have I mentioned how cute they are? In an age where guilt is pushed and peddled, it's nice to breath easy over something.

As long as I'm being honest, cloth diapers really aren't that hard. I think they have been mystified somehow. On a daily basis, I find that a little preparation: a diaper pail, a dry sac for the diaper bag, a certain laundry pattern (a cycle that washes and rinses with cold water, then an additional cycle that washes and rinses with hot water) really doesn't overwhelm an already busy life. In the interest of full disclosure, while vacationing, I use disposable diapers and I feel terrible about it. I guess that's why I was surprised to find this article:

NY TIMES: Green but still feeling Guilty

These people are really going for the green gold. They are buying carbon offsets, washing their hands in toilet water; they go green for a living. I find it amazing that they aren't using cloth diapers. Diaper services would even help a mom and dad too busy blogging about greening the world to wash some diapers. I believe the environment does need saving and we have a responsibility to reduce, reuse and recycle; I also realize the messengers can be a little annoying.

My plug for cloth diapers is this: You too can recoup in self-congratulations all the effort spent rinsing and washing diapers.

Save the whales.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

V-Day Monologue

Yesterday, I took Katarina for her first round of vaccinations. Those of you in the know realize that this is a little late in the game for a first vaccination. We're on what you would call a delayed schedule. Or as my doctor put it, We're finally making the RIGHT choice for our child.

As in her delicate and oh-so-scientific, "You can choose not to vaccinate your child. You can choose NOT to do what's best for your baby."

Yes, she makes it sound so clear and logical. Obviously, I'm trying to do what's not best for my baby.

Let me back up a little and fill you in on my concerns here. I tried to do a little reading on vaccinations and, wow, does it ever bring out the disproportionately strong opinions. People feel very strongly on both sides of the issue. There are horrible stories of children who contract preventable diseases and horrible stories of children who react to vaccines. People do a lot of name calling and angry ranting. I wish the dialogue could be taken back by the sane people. I guess it's my own little rally cry for some sanity here, where's Jon Stewart when you need him.

I don't want my child to contract a preventable life-threatening disease, but I also don't want my child to have a life-altering reaction to something I purposely give her. Neither of these worst case scenarios is likely; they are each a matter of small percentages. So, to avoid the unlikely chance that my baby will get a certain disease (which I realize is slim, thanks to the prevalence of vaccinations) I take the other unlikely chance that my baby may react to some of the components of the vaccine.

After a bit of reading and research, the more you learn the harder this choice gets, I decided to go for a kind of compromise. It would have been great to be able to discuss this with my doctor, but her answers consist of statements like, "If it wasn't safe, we wouldn't give it to you." Then I'm left wondering, what about the versions of vaccines that that have been discontinued. Is right now the moment in science when we're certain that we understand the way bodies react to the chemicals in the shots? The canon of which shots they choose and how those shots are constructed is evolving. I found Dr. Sears' book and website quite helpful, if you're interested.

I'm not into the crazy conspiracy theories. I was vaccinated as a kid and I'm arguably fine. But kids now get a lot more vaccinations that we did - 39 doses overall. I don't think the drug companies are evil and intentionally trying to make a profit at the expense of the health of the babies who are vaccinated. I just want to be sure I'm making reasonably good choices for my baby. Ultimately, I formed this tentative plan which I approach with fear and trembling:
  • We delayed the start of vaccinations until Katya was six months old. This was reasonably safe because she's exclusively breast-fed, doesn't attend daycare and wasn't at risk of exposure to the diseases we could vaccinate against.
  • Now that her world is expanding, a little bit, I am choosing (with help from good research) which diseases we will vaccinate her against based on the risks of exposure and the safety of the vaccinations. For example: we didn't vaccinate her against Hepatitis B at birth. I don't know that we'll vaccinate her against chicken pox.
So yesterday we embarked on our first vaccination appointment with fear and trembling - the way I've approached a lot of parenting decisions. Everything has been fine. I think my doctor thinks it's the initial sting of the needle that I fear, but I can live with that. Katya hardly reacted to the needle at all. Now, when the doctor wanted to lie still on the table for her measurements - that evoked a great fury of wailing and teeth-gnashing.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

File Under Evidence

My baby has a bruise on her forehead, a little purplish semicircle. And it's MY FAULT.

Is it the result of her bolting through my fingers off of the bed? No, that one didn't leave any external markings, I can only conclude the injuries she sustained are internal. I was sitting beside her. I was holding onto her foot. How did she come to be down on the floor wailing at the betrayal of gravity and unreliability of mothers? I don't exactly know. As far as I can tell, she launched herself from the edge of the bed off into space and somehow I did not hold on. She seems to have recovered.

Andrew had to come hold me and say, "You're not a bad mother. You're not a bad mother."

So when he arrived home from work yesterday and noticed the bruise, he asked, "Is this from the bed?"

"Nope, it's empirical evidence of a whole new level of mother failure."

Our little adventurer takes more than her share of tumbles as she now attempts to climb everything in sight. She has even learned to hold her neck up to prevent her head from receiving the first impact of the fall. A small mercy for me.

So, why the bruise? Ah, well, I walked into a pole. while holding her.

This makes me feel awesome. I would worry about CPS looking for me, but I don't even know what they call them in Canada.

If it helps, she is dressed in a purple polka dot dress so the bruise matches.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Solid Food: We Hates It

This is Katya before tasting her food:

This is Katya after a bite of pureed apples:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

No Zen for You or Why I'm Not Regularly Updating This Blog

I apologize for the long silence here. Thanks for your support & encouragement. I miss writing about our little life within our life even as I struggle to live it. You see, the problem is this:

Adorable: absolutely. It's like having an infestation of bunnies. Completely heart-warming, but still overwhelming. My house looks like it's been hit by a 28-inch tornado. My solution: throw a dinner party. Why, you ask? Because I've never recovered the brain cells sacrificed during gestation.

Dinner plans aside, life here is busy. When I managed to squeeze in time to do a little parenting research reading, I discovered that we'd skipped several months of developing because of Katya's determination to be on the move. The section for five month-old babies recommended we master sitting up unassisted. Where, I scanned the pages, was the information on unassisted, one-arm push-ups? Did the six months section cover: how to convince your baby that scaling the walls of her playpen is not safe?

Yes, she is Andrew's daughter. But really? Where's the genetic predisposition to caution that saturates my blood? When I did find the section of the book that describes our child it was under the heading: Accident-Prone Babies.
Does your child race through mobility milestones? Check.
Does your child move on to the next feat without bothering to consider the demands of gravity? Check.
Does your child need to put any and everything in her mouth?
Diagnosis: You may get to know the staff at your local emergency room on a first-name basis.
And I can't turn to scotch for solace.

There is no tranquility from which to recollect emotion and write. There are occasional minutes of preoccupation in safe spaces (high chair, bouncer seat, middle of the room) that allow me to eat or perform brief mindless tasks.

Currently, I'm writing this standing up, bouncing, while Katya naps in the carrier (because she doesn't like to nap out-of-arms- obviously). You see, I'm learning, making some much needed progress. I even washed dishes the other day, all while playing an elaborate game of fetch from the high chair. Major victory!

When I finally got around to enrolling us in mommy & baby yoga classes (so darn bourgeois-bohemian I can hardly stand it), I discovered something rather telling: Our local yogi welcomes babies 6 weeks to 12 months old, UNLESS they can crawl. Mommy & toddler yoga classes are for children starting at 3 years of age. It dawned on me: Zen and all that accompanies the art of breathing and posing is evidently not for those with creeping crawlers. No zen for me.