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Te quiero Papi

10 Aug

Sometimes I get caught up in the everyday grind and forget to notice the small big things. Like what an amazing papi sig-o is to z-baby. I always knew he would be, but it’s a joy to see it in action. So just a quick post today to say, ¡Te queremos mucho, Papi!

Te quiero papi

Hecho por z-baby

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An Evolution

7 Aug

I always knew I’d breastfeed. But when I set out to nurse, I think I saw breastfeeding as a static, uniform thing — you did it or you didn’t, and for those who did, it was just all the same. As a new parent, it was both enlightening and reassuring to discover that’s not true. It is, in fact, extremely nuanced, as individual as the ones doing it. But I also discovered that as soon as you find your footing, things change. Like your baby, breastfeeding and the breastfeeding relationship is a living, ever-changing creature.

So in honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I’m sharing with you the evolution of my breastfeeding experience… two and half years of the ups, downs, tears, joys, and mundane of nourishing my little one (and myself) in the process.

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Pre-birth – I suppose this started years ago when I watched my step mother nurse twins for 18 months. I’d never seen a baby breastfeed before and this seemed revolutionary to me at the time (at 15). Closer to time for z-baby’s birth, though, I took a breastfeeding class at work and attended some lunchtime discussions at work for nursing moms (led by a lactation consultant). A few days before I gave birth I started getting nervous and watched every video I could find from Dr. Jack Newman. I watched healthy newborn latches over and over and over…

Birth – Let’s just say it didn’t go as planned. I wanted to nurse right away but z-baby was in a transition nursery for over 6 hours. When I did get him, we started right away and he latched — but not a great one. I had already asked for a lactation consultant and we saw them three times before we left the hospital. Z-baby was a sleeper… he wanted to eat, but he wanted to sleep even more. So my most vivid memory of those days was stripping him down each and every time he needed to eat (so he didn’t feel too cozy) and gently nudging him awake throughout every feed. Z-baby’s papi took this very seriously, like his personal mission those first few days.

Month 1 – My milk came in quickly and plentiful and z-baby was a great eater. I loved nursing, but it was soooooo painful. But not in the way I could have imagined. I had a bit of Carpal Tunnel during the pregnancy, and it kicked into overdrive those few weeks following birth. My hands would freeze up like hooks and I was terrified I’d drop the baby. And my hands didn’t just go numb, they ached and pain shot up through to my elbows. I remember crying through several of those feedings from the pain. My mom or husband would have to either support the baby or my breast or both. It sucked (no pun intended). I couldn’t sit down to nurse without water and a towel because there was so much milk it seemed to get everywhere!
*Nursing equipment was very important: Boppy upstairs, Brest Friend downstairs, multiple towels, nipple cream, pads for the bra, nursing bra.

Months 2-3 – When the painful claw hands went away, nursing became a breeze. I loved it still, and enjoyed every minute of it. Then I had to have my gallbladder taken out and we happily fell into co-sleeping, which made the night-time nursing even better. Z-baby loved nursing and was still in that pre-wiggler phase where he’d pretty much stay put through a whole feeding and was serious about his nursing… no playing for this guy… yet!
*Equipment: We dropped the nipple cream around this time and started trying the pump and bottles. 

Nursing z-baby, 5 weeks

Months 4-9 – I went back to work after 3 months and it was hell. H-E-L-L. Z-baby refused all bottles and reversed cycled. My first day back I had an off-site meeting and tried to pump in the car, only to realize I had no batteries or charger. I got so engorged but survived. I was at a leading public health agency in the country and they had lactation rooms and pumps which were great, but it was still a challenge to find the time during the day to do it and an open time slot in the rooms. I luckily telecommuted several days a weeks and had someone watching the baby in the house, so I could just nurse those days. But on days when I wasn’t home, z-baby waited for me all day and then we nursed all night. I welcomed the nursing, but he would be so hungry that he’d overeat and puke everywhere and I could never keep up with the laundry. We introduced some solids in here but he could care less. Most of this is a blur for me because the postpartum depression set in during this time, though I wasn’t fully aware of it. But I know I worried all day about z-baby not eating and raced home to be with him and only then was I ever at ease. And in those early days of still undiagnosed postpartum depression, it was the nursing that kept me going… alive even.
*Equipment: Pump, pump, pump. And pump some more. Sometime during this time we also stopped using the nursing pillows.

Months 10-14 – I finally started getting treatment for the postpartum depression, and while this was still a very difficult time, it did start to get a little better. Breastfeeding was still the light at the end of the tunnel each and every day. Looking down and seeing z-baby and seeing him relish the time as much as I did left me speechless. Or maybe it was from the biting, I can’t remember. No longer just a wiggler on the couch, he’s a roller during nursing, too. He nurses upside down and sideways, bouncing and swaying. I never knew my nipples were so flexible… I still overproduced and donated gallons (and gallons…) of it to a friend. But I’m finally not gushing every time I go to nurse.
*Equipment: I think I still used nursing pads when at work or separated from z-baby, and the pump, of course.

Months 14-24 – I stopped working, put away the pump, and started staying at home with z-baby full time. Life is goooooooooooooood. Nursing becomes something I do often throughout the day, but no longer think about. Z-baby became vocal about his nursing during this time and asked for it frequently. Nursing in public became both easier and more difficult. Easier because he could just sit in front of me and I could angle away from people… harder because he never stayed in one position and insisted my shirt be ALL the way up to give him total access. I struggled with the decision to wean or not so that I can get pregnant again, but it just never felt right. Z-baby went through lots of ups and downs… times when he needed to nurse a lot (usually growth and developmental spurts and teething) and periods where he didn’t nurse as much. Biting still an off and on issue, and the nipple fiddling started (playing with one while eating off the other). Momma became a serve yourself buffet during this time — z-baby would pull up my shirt and insist on his “deeta” whenever he wanted it.
*Equipment: A chair. That’s it. No pads, towels, creams, pillows, nothing. Oh, and a nursing bra. But I had to be careful somedays because he sees the act of sitting down as an open invitation.

Months 24-30 – Here we are, nursing at 2 1/2 years. Nursing is still an acrobatic act, day and night. We’ve pared it down to going down and waking up from naps and bedtime. He’s starting to respect my wishes some — needing to wait or stop during the night, for example. But he manages which side he wants and the exact position he wants it in. I also have to nurse cars and trains, and he’s even tried to push it up so I can have some, too (such a helper!). He even managed to get chocolate milk out of me one day (that’s a post for another day)!!! He had his first sleepover with grandma (our first night apart!), which was his first night ever that he didn’t nurse. And just very recently did I hit the nursing wall. I’ve finally gotten to the point where I’m ready to wean. I know I’ll miss it, and I can’t imagine motherhood without it (at first at least), but I’m ready. Is he? I don’t think so, and we’re working on potty training so I won’t do anything right away… but we’ll see what the future holds for us.
*Equipment: Nada. Except for the darn bra! There are times when he needs a quick comfort session of about 3 seconds and I don’t even sit anymore… just bend over.

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Two and half years of breastfeeding. No cracked nipples, plugged ducts, or mastisis. A little bit of yeast once. Overproduction and numb hands. Gallons of milk in my freezer. Lugging the pump to work and z-baby on a week-long business trip. Surgery and anesthesia. Postpartum depression and medication. Nursing pads, pillows, and towels. Reverse cycling and cosleeping. Nursing in bed, on the couch, at the table, typing, writing, on the phone, in the car, in public, in therapy, on planes, in meetings, standing up, sitting down, bending over. Two and half years. And I wouldn’t trade a single minute of it for anything in the world.

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The gravitational pull of balls

27 Jul

Z-baby has officially been ball crazy since before he could even walk. Soon after sitting up, he was throwing them. Later we’d hold him up by his hands and he’d stand in place, wobbling to and fro. But if you rolled a ball to him, he’d kick it nearly without fail. Even his first word was “ball.”

Los pies con America

Fútbol in the genes...

Aside from the occasional and shameless photo opp (ahem, see above), we didn’t push him towards balls… he just gravitated. He’d have nothing to do with dolls or stuffed animals, could care less about TV, and while he tolerates books most of the time, only things with wheels have recently come close to sharing the stage with balls.

And then a month or so ago, he watched a soccer game with sig-o. Now he asks to watch it all. the. time. “¿Ver fútbol?” (watch soccer?) is something I hear regularly throughout the day now. So as a treat, I’ve started letting him watch the sports channel for short bits during the day. It’s a channel that literally has some sports on all day without annoying commentary shows. Just sports. And they’re alternative sports, I guess you could say — no baseball, basketball, or football. And some don’t even use balls…

So the first evening we watched track and field. After watching a race and some high jumping for a few minutes, he stood up and declared, “Bebé unning!” and took off and completed about 7 laps through the house. His finale was to run full force towards the couch and jump up onto it, landing on his back. When pole vaulting came on TV I leapt on the remote control and found something else for us to do.

Then it was ping pong. It’s one thing to make your child laugh by tickling them or making faces. It’s entirely another to hear them laugh independently at things all on their own. And z-baby thought the slow-motion replays in ping pong were hi-larious. He laughed and laughed and I couldn’t help but joining in.

Swimming was next. It was a replay of all of Michael Phelps’ Olympic races in Beijing. Z-baby was mesmerized. He kept shouting, “Big agua!” and swinging his arms around. When we next went to the pool, he went under and popped up repeatedly all on his own in the kiddie pool, taking big breaths each time. And in the big pool he swam with his arms in addition to his normal kicking.

And then there were the gymnastics. We recently put z-baby in a gymnastics class, so he recognized it right away. He studied them walking on the balance beam and practiced his forward rolls in front of the TV. He jumped (lots of knee bending and then hops on one leg) and threw his arms up in the air as if he’d just completed a triple back handspring and sang “Ta-da!”

It took z-baby time to warm up to his gymnastics class. The first day he just stood there, looking around, as if he was trying to figure out where all the balls were and exactly what they were supposed to do since there weren’t any. But now he loves his gymnastics class, and while he’s the lone boy and shorter than all the girls in there, his balance and coordination are spot on. He likes his class so much that we can’t talk about it at home because he runs and puts his shoes on and tries to get out the front door. When we were getting ready for class the other morning he was jumping on the bed and doing forward rolls. I asked him if he could do his backwards roll and he looked at me for a minute, then ran to the headboard on our bed and sat backwards on my pillow and rolled back, trying to fling his legs over his head. When that didn’t work, he tried two pillows.

Gymnastics class

I’m sometimes amazed at how much he gravitates towards all things typically “boy.”

But then there are moments when I’m reassured that he’s much more than that. Like when he asks me to nurse his cars. And like the other day when he came into my bedroom carrying a blanket up by his head. I asked him what he was doing (I don’t think I’ve ever seen him carry a blanket) and he replied, “Bebé carga, choo choo night night,” which is his bilingual Toddler-ese for, “I’m carrying and rocking my trains to sleep.” And then he proceeded to bounce them, to pace the floor with them, and to shhhhhhsh them, as if he’d studied the Happiest Baby on the Block.

Amongst the chaos of all the jumping, running, and kicking, it’s a side of him I don’t get to see very often. But when I do, I drop everything and just watch, soaking in every drop.

If you give a boy a dollar…

20 Jul

As I may have mentioned before, I love going to yard sales. I’m not sure what it is… the hunt, the thrill of finding a bargain, the voyeurism of going through other people’s stuff…

I hadn’t been to any for a while and decided to hit one this weekend. As I gathered a few stray dollars I had around the house, z-baby patted his chest and asked, “Bebé monini?” (monini = z-baby’s word for money. I think it’s a mash up of “moneda” and “money.”). So I gave him a dollar and told him he could spend it one whatever he wanted. He was looking for a pocket to put it in but didn’t have one. He was wearing his caballo botas (as he calls his cowboy boots), so I told him to just put it down one of them.

I didn’t find much at the yard sale, but z-baby got the deal of the day. Mixed up with some other stuff were two little figurines, and he started yelling, “¡Caballo! ¡Caballo!” (horse) as soon as he spotted them. When I got a closer look, I realized they were alebrijes, a Mexican wood sculpture usually of animals (both real and fantasy). They weren’t exactly horses, but who was I to argue? There was another larger, signed alebrije, as well, but it was missing a few pieces.

So I had z-baby take the pieces to the woman running the yard sale. He handed them to her and I asked what she wanted for them. In a grandmotherly southern drawl she replied, “For this cutie? I reckon a quarter each.” I told z-baby that if he wanted them he would have to pay her with his monini. He set the alebrijes down quickly and fished his dollar out of his boot and handed it to her. I swear it’s close to the top of the list of the cutest things he’s ever done and it was really hard not to laugh. The woman, however, about fell out of her chair laughing and it only got worse when she gave him his change of two quarters and he promptly stuck them back down his boots. Priceless.

Alebrijes

Z-baby's yard sale find: alebrijes

The next day we went to the flea market, because they run a close second to yard sales and because I’ve found several Mexican produce vendors who sell things I can’t otherwise find around here easily. Not to mention their produce is better. I talked my mom into going with us and she gave z-baby a dollar as we were getting out of the car. He wanted her to carry it since he wasn’t wearing his boots.

We walked around and around and looked at all kinds of junk, including toys, and never heard a peep out of z-baby. Then, as we were rolling past the first produce stand, he started making all kinds of a big commotion, asking for his monini. My mom gave it to him and we both stood there watching to see what he wanted and he went up and gave it to the produce vendor. I asked him what he wanted and he said, “ananana, plat-no.” Bananas. The boy wanted a banana. And that’s just what he got. 🙂

Camping, crabs, and dirt

11 May

Last week we took z-baby on his very first camping trip. Sig-o and I love to camp, but it had been awhile since we had actually done it — since I was pregnant with z-baby, in fact. So we were thrilled to finally share this piece of our lives with him.

We decided to stick close to home in case he didn’t take to it well, and camped at a nearby state park. This is what I call posh camping… and it was perfect for z-baby.

We told z-baby what we were doing and he helped us pack up. But when we talked about going night-night outside, he just looked at us like we had lost our minds. But he did have fun playing in the tent as we set up camp… he liked it so much we had a hard time coaxing him out.

Tents

Color coordination not intentional, but kinda cute

We sat around and relaxed, but found lots to do, too. There was a great little playground, and I’m not sure who enjoyed it more — z-baby or the dog.

Playground

No, you go first!

Then the camp hosts lent us some crab pots and we went crabbing for the first time ever. It was so much fun!

Crab pots

Crab pots

We didn’t have meat for bait, but we had some fried chicken. And we all know how much crabs like soul food… right?

Baiting crab pot

Baiting the crab pot... with fried chicken

So we baited them, tossed them in, and waited.

Watching crabs

Watching crabs at low tide while waiting to check the crab pots

And would you believe it? We caught our first crab!

Crab in pot

There's a crab in there!

We caught a few more that we tossed back because they were too small. By the time we were getting the hang of it, z-baby and the dog were ready to move on (go back to the playground, that is). But we did enjoy one crab as an appetizer that night!

Crab on grill

Yum!

Z-baby and I also took a few nature walks. We focused on textures and looked for things that felt different — leaves, pine cones, thorns, marsh mud, moss. He wasn’t so sure about this at first, but picked out some pine cones on his own to take back to Papi.

Luna hiking

Doggie leads the way

Once he let his guard down enough to touch some new stuff, he must have been feeling adventurous. He waited, of course, until he was freshly bathed… and then he became one with the dirt.

In the dirt

Testing it out

Cars in dirt

Driving cars in the dirt

Dirt on hands

Showing off his dirt

And what could be a better way to end our evenings than with roasted marshmallows and smores?

Marshmallows

Double yum!

The first evening it took z-baby a bit to realize we weren’t kidding about the sleeping outside part. But he got over it and had no problem with it. He even slept though our dog obnoxiously whining, growling, barking, and generally being a restless pain in the butt the e-n-t-i-r-e night. We knew it would be rough when some deer came up into our camp area before we were even in the tent. And then all hell broke loose when some raccoons came up and stole the backpack with all the dog food in it because someone (ok, me) forgot to put it up high enough where they couldn’t get it. Oops. She drove us so crazy that sig-o put her in the car to sleep sometime in the wee hours of the morning. And then we went to buy more dog food.

We had so much fun we stayed an extra night. It was a perfect get-away that we greatly needed, and some nice family bonding time before z-baby and I take off for a month-long trip to see family. Can’t wait until we get home and can do it all over again!

800 days

6 May

800 days. Even.

It has been exactly 800 days since z-baby was born. And in those 800 days, we have been separated for no longer than 12 hours.

But tonight, for the very first time, he is sleeping over at my mother’s. His first sleepover.

He helped me pack his bag and reminded me over and over again not to forget his hat. He was so excited as he rolled his bag up to the door. He gave me a little kiss, said, “Bye, Momma!” and was off to play.

It pained me to leave him… and I kept myself busy this evening so that I wouldn’t think about it. But after sig-o got home and we started winding down for the evening, it hit me again.

I miss my baby. I may have cried a little. And I’ve been fighting the overwhelming urge to go over there just to be close to him.

I know he’s with my mother, but I feel like he’s all by himself. He’s still such a baby (only 800 days old!) and I’m still not ready to share him.

Sig-o says he’s just a part of my life, but not all of it… and that I’m not his whole life, either. But I want to be. For now, at least. Is that soooo wrong?

No cable? ¡No importa!

27 Apr

I recently read a post over at Bicultural Mom that has a nice list of bilingual/Spanish-language TV shows for kids. This got me to thinking… As far as tools and resources go to help z-baby learn Spanish, this is an area where we haven’t explored much.

Z-baby only recently started watching some videos. And as I mentioned in a recent post, we don’t watch much TV and don’t have cable. But when he does watch TV, I’d like to limit his screen time to as much Spanish-language programming as possible. So while Disney, Nick Jr., and PBS Kids do offer clips and some full episodes of their shows online (when they’re not crashing my mac), where else can you turn if you don’t have cable? Below is a brief list of sites we have found so far.

Netflix — Ok, so you do have to pay for this, but I thought I would include it, too. Some of the items below are available on DVD only, but a few are available instantly (always nice with an impatient toddler!).

  • Cantarima DVDs — I can’t say enough about these DVDs. Cantos y Rimas and Canciones de Cuna are in Spanish and English, whereas Números y Figuras is in Spanish only. These are the first videos z-baby would watch and he L-O-V-E-S them. And while it’s hard to get the songs out of your head, they also help mom and dad learn some songs in Spanish, too.
  • Various videos of Handy Manny, Dora the Explorer, Go Diego Go, Maya and Miguel, Sesame Street, and Plaza Sésamo (2 are forthcoming).
  • Famosos Dibujos Animados En Español (others forthcoming) — These are basically old school cartoons (Woody Woodpecker, Porky the Pig, etc…) in Spanish. We haven’t watched these yet, but I’m keeping them on my radar for the future.
  • Cri Cri: Las Número 1 — So the songs are not actually performed by Francisco Gabilondo Soler… but they are a favorite of sig-o and he wanted z-baby to grow up with them, too.

¡Sorpresa! — Promoted as a Spanish-language cable channel for Hispanic youth and families, their website also offers shows for free. For preschoolers, there are four shows with anywhere from 4 to 28 full episodes each: Bali, Wumblers, Cubeez, and Tiny Planets.

Mis Cositas — A great resource in general, but they also have a You Tube channel with videos. I don’t know about yours, but my kid loves just watching other kids do mundane things, and he likes watching the videos starring Niko — ¡tan chulo!

You Tube —  I have a love-hate relationship with You Tube when it comes to z-baby watching anything on it. Love it because you can find virtually anything on it. Hate it because you have to be vigilant about what you click and what might pop up next on the screen if you’re not paying attention. But always good in a pinch and when looking for hard to find things (like when sig-o remembers shows and songs from his childhood that we can’t find anywhere else online. Topo Gigio anyone? Ah… nostalgia 🙂 ).

Your local public library — Yep. Even where we live, which is a far cry from a multicultural mecca, the library carries many books, a few DVD’s, and some audio recordings in Spanish. And you can always request something you’d like them to acquire. Never hurts to ask!

Where else do you turn for on-screen resources? I’d love to hear what you’ve found!