Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hazel Wears Blueberry

The greatest baby gear ever invented, besides the diaper, is the sling. Ever since I got pregnant I've been looking forward to carrying Blueberry in a sling. I have been trying to get the sling thing going for over a month. She seemed content and slept, but no matter how I adjusted her or the sling, she had her chin to her chest and her breathing didn't seem right: she grunted with each breath and I would have to hold her back to straighten out her windpipe. This eliminated the "hands-free" bonus of the sling. I endlessly tried shifting her position to get her body straightened out. She just slept through all of this every time; it's amazing what you can do to a sleeping baby.

I thought the problem might be that the sling was too small, so I ordered another one, adjustable, but same problem. I googled and googled and googled, and ladies and gentlemen, I finally figured out the solution. Since she's a newborn, she needs a towel rolled up like a scroll under her back and neck to keep it all straight and to raise her up so that she's near the top of the sling. Today is the day we tried that and FINALLY, she's in there safe and snug and happy. And not scrunched. Well, at least not more scrunched than she wants to be. I can put two fingers between her chin and chest.

And now I can do housework and Blueb can be with me all the time, instead of crying and asking me to hold her. I plan to use it sparingly; there are times when she will sleep just fine in her basket. I can't wait for Spring to get here so I can go for walks with her and take her to the mall and yard sales and the antique store and the zoo. If my back holds out.

Blueberry felt sorry for the Canadians after their miraculous loss to the U.S. in hockey a couple of days ago, so she put on her Canada sweatshirt. She is mimicking the look on the Canadian coach's face when he realized they had lost.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hazel Continues to Learn about Motherhood

It turns out Blueberry likes the blues. The music genre, that is. We had some inkling of this preference while she was gestating, when she nodded her head/pumped her fist/stomped her foot (we're not sure which) several times to the beat of an Albert King song. Now that she's here, it's quite clear that she enjoys it. She doesn't express enjoyment the way you or I do. She expresses it like this:

Please weigh in: does she look like Stanley, Hazel, or both? I can't tell. I've heard some say Stanley, some Hazel, and some both. I kind of see my brother in her, in the eyes and mouth, but that's precisely where people say she looks like Stanley. People on my side of the family say she looks like our side of the family. Okay, no need to weigh in. I think I'm satisfied to assume she looks like both of us.

I can't wait to see what she looks like when she loses the baby face. On Friday morning, I set her on the changing table and she disappeared.

So I reported her missing. I also said she was born in 2002. I'm hoping they will do an age-progression photo for her.

I can't tell you the number of times I've heard mother's exclaim that their baby is only ___ weeks/months old and they are already in ___ size clothes. Well, now I know why I hear that so much. The freaking clothes are sized too big. A friend suggested it's because the clothes are made in China, where the babies are smaller. But come on. If you're going to put the size in English and send the clothes to the U.S., make the sizing accurate for the U.S. Blueberry is 5 weeks old and has now outgrown most of her 0-3 month garb. I've been putting her clothes in a box as she outgrows them, and every time I put another item in the box I get wistful. Those days that she wore those clothes, a pound ago, are gone now. They are so cute and small. Doll-sized. I wonder if I will have another child that will wear them? Will I someday give the clothes away, and how can I bring myself to do that? Sure, I'll keep one or two pieces as mementos. But I don't think it makes sense to keep more than that.

My wistfulness was put on the back burner when I brought out the box of 3-6 month clothes. A whole new wardrobe!! Check out this number.

It's too big, but not for long, and I don't think it's too big to wear safely. The shirt has a happy little reptilian creature with a happy little bird on its back, the hat has a happy little frog, as well as all manner of other happy little rainforest creatures. I love the useless pockets on the pants. Perhaps I'll keep my cell phone and keys in there.

Here's a closeup.
Once again, I must state that this expression means she is happy and interested. Not angry.

Blueb went to her first church service today. She liked it well enough, and will probably go back. The congregation was excited to meet her. They literally congregated around her before and after the service. She was not bothered by people during the service, with the noteable exception of a very sweet and nice but also very forward and confident woman from whom Hazel had fielded numerous probing and embarrassing, but well meaning questions regarding how her pregnancy was going, everything from how often does she pee to what type of underwear she is wearing, all in the presence of several other people who did not need to hear the questions or answers. Now that Blueb is here, it looks like the harrassment is going to continue and possibly get worse. In the middle of the service, Kim* moved the car seat aside and sat herself next to me while I was holding Blueberry, and asked to hold her. This worried me because my main goal was keeping Blueberry quiet and it was going well. Why mess with a good thing? But I gave in because I'm new at this Mama Bear thing. Never again! Blueb started to fuss within a minute of being handled in ways she wasn't used to. Kim gave her back to me and asked "Does she have a binky?" I knew the pacifier had half a chance of making her really scream if that's not what she wanted at the moment; she wasn't wanting to be soothed, she just wanted to be in a comfortable position. We've only used the pacifier if she's asking to be fed but doesn't eat, i.e., she just wants to suck. But again, I gave in and Blueb got a pacifier. Luckily she took to it okay, so maybe she was getting hungry. If she had continued to fuss I would have left; I was already worried that people were annoyed at the little fusses. But I never really got irked about all of this until Stanley remarked on the oddness of it as we drove home. Then I realized Kim was intruding on our space and our experience, just as she had intruded on my privacy while I was pregnant. She means well, and she's sweet, but too forward for my comfort. So next Sunday, I'm putting on my Mama Bear costume. LITERALLY.

*Names changed.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Blueb is asleep on my shoulder, which, according to a certain piece of advice that I have been given countless times, means I should be sleeping. I don't feel like sleeping. Sleep is for wimps. If she were not asleep on my shoulder, I would mosey over to the other computer, whereon we keep photos, and gift you with yet another picture of her. But that will have to wait until the next post.

Guess what yesterday was!! Blueberry's birthday! She was born one month ago. It has been a great month for her. There may have been a gestational month that puts this past month to shame; perhaps the month wherein Hazel had a severe limp due to hip pain first on one side, then the other, creating a constant carnival ride in the womb. But I would have to guess that being able to meet her parents face to face, and being able to see, smell, hear, touch and taste so much better, and learning so many new things every day, and wearing fabulous clothes, all come together to make this the best month of her life so far.

Two of the goals I had for Blueberry were to breastfeed her and to use cloth diapers. When telling people about either of these goals, I always added, "If it works out." I've heard of so many people with the best intentions who couldn't make these work, so I didn't want it to be a huge source of disappointment for me if it didn't work for us. I'm happy to say that both goals have been met.

Cloth diapers have been surprisingly easy. We used a lot of disposables in the first few days at home, because they were available; we had a lot of samples accumulated which I had planned to keep for "emergencies", but the emergency turned out to be bringing home a new baby. As things got into a routine, we got the cloth going, and now we only use a disposable every few days if Hazel hasn't been quick enough with restocking the various diaper stations throughout the house. Yesterday I ordered the next size up for diapers and covers, even though she won't be needing them for a few months. I just want to be prepared. It's the Boy Scout in me I guess. Also, I love online shopping so it's always the first thing on my to-do list to get done.

Breastfeeding was a NIGHTMARE to establish. That experience alone was the source of all of my angst and sleep deprivation during the first week of Blueberry's life, and was worse than anything I experienced in the pregnancy, labor, or delivery. A friend who had similar problems referred to the two weeks that it took her to establish breastfeeding as "The Dark Period", and I totally agree. It's awful to be trying incessantly, around the clock to feed your baby and not to be able to do it. Just awful. She was able to get plenty of food, just not directly from me. If you want the details, I'll share, but not on the blog. You see, I'm uncomfortable talking about my boobs in a public forum. Many people are. This pretty much gets to the point of the major reason I and so many other Americans have difficulties with breastfeeding: because breasts are a taboo subject. If I had talked with other women throughout my life about breastfeeding, and shared in their experience in the way I have with other topics and activities that aren't taboo, I would have been more prepared. There is a lot to talk about; it's not as simple as I thought. It's a lost art. There are a lot of things about it that you have to learn, whereas I had thought it would be a piece of cake, as long as everything was working properly and I was willing to put in the time to feed her. So easy a caveman can do it. But the fact that it was so difficult to make it work makes me very grateful to be able to breastfeed her. I don't take it for granted and I'm kind of obsessed about making it continue to work.

I'll try to post more photos and videos soon.

Incidentally, if you like getting updates from me, I would probably love to get one from you, especially if I haven't heard from you in a while. So, consider it. :) Thanks.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Home Improvement, Spupspe Style

Stanley's parents were visiting for the last couple of weeks, and they left two days ago. They helped out with housekeeping and did some home improvement projects, which I will list here.
  1. Added a light switch to the kitchen so now there is a light switch at both doors, so you don't have to walk across the kitchen to turn on the light. Excellent for safety, and will probably save several minutes of time in the next several years.

  2. Rewired the finished basement lights so you can turn them all on and off from the top of the stairs instead of having to walk down the stairs to turn off some of them.

  3. Put a dimmer switch in the basement so we don't have to unscrew certain bulbs in certain recessed lights to watch TV.

  4. Put a dimmer switch in the nursery so Blueb doesn't go blind when I change her diaper at 3 am. I had insisted on bright lights before she was born, because it made the nursery look nice, but I suddenly preferred dim light once she arrived. At least at 3 a.m.

  5. Replaced the thermostat, which for some reason had been randomly setting itself to 20 degrees F rather than 68, which rendered it kind of useless. You could re-set it once it started to feel cold in the house, but we really wanted a thermostat that automatically controlled the temperature.

  6. Replaced several ugly, old ceiling light fixtures with decent-looking ones.

  7. Added a mudroom with a pantry at the back entry. Yes, that's right: they added a room to the house. It's pretty terrific. We previously used a bedroom just off the back hallway as a mudroom. This bedroom had doors at both ends, which made it more of a hallway than a bedroom. And one door was right next to the back door. Convenient but kind of wrong for a kid's bedroom. Now we have a real bedroom and a real mudroom, and a pantry! Although we took space from the bedroom to do it, I think it improves the bedroom because it's now secluded, and it has sort of an L-shape to it now instead of being a boring square, which makes it cute and architecturally interesting. Beds and furniture will still fit.

Here are photos showing the steps in the mudroom construction.

Stanley and Mr. Spupspe putting up the frame.

Finished frame. Note the ugly ceiling light fixture.

The bedroom. Sheet rock up, and the goopy stuff troweled on and smoothed out, so all these walls need is paint. Can you guess what color I'm considering? The yellow walls and ceiling will be painted as well. The color needs to work for an office, guestroom, or kid's bedroom, so I thought a light apply green, with a shade or two darker green on the far wall. Not sure about the ceiling; white with a slight hint of green? Note the lovely light fixture. It's new.

Here is the finished mudroom as seen from the kitchen.

Here is the mudroom before Hazel filled the pantry with crap. Mrs. Spupspe does not typically smile this way in photos; I think she was in the process of saying something.

After Hazel filled the pantry with crap.

I still plan to add a rug and some Roman shades and maybe some artwork. I absolutely love this room.

Here is Stanley after sanding the sheetrock. Someone should have worn a mask. Can you guess who? We kept the doors closed so as not to spread the dust throughout the house.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Hazel Waxes On About Blueberry

Let me tell you a bit about Blueberry*.

I'm not sure which of the following is true of all/most babies or is special to her, because I don't have any other real experience with newborns. But Stanley's parents, who have been staying with us the past couple of weeks, have sort of implied that many of these are aspects of her personality, so I'm going with that.

When she's awake and not hungry or eating, which seems to be about 5% of the time, she contemplates sights and sounds in a calm, concerned way. Sometimes she furrows her brow while she contemplates, which I like to think is a sign of intelligence.

We've sometimes had some difficulty figuring out if she's hungry or just wants something to suck on; often, if she's recently eaten but asking to eat again, if we put a finger in her mouth, she's perfectly content and sucks on it, and stops crying. This is often followed by a nap. Before we discovered this, we were constantly, unsuccessfully trying to feed her and trying to keep her awake so she would eat, since we figured, she's hungry, she's gotta eat, and I can't sit here all day. The finger thing works fine if you have nothing else going on, but if you're trying to eat a breakfast that is happening way too late for your liking, or if it's 3:00 in the morning, it's a bit of a drag. I didn't want to consider a pacifier, but we looked into it and apparently, if you get the right one, and you watch to make sure it doesn't interfere with breastfeeding, it's not bad. Better than the thumb, because you can take away the pacifier, but you can't take away the thumb. Well, technically you can, but come on.

So Stanley bought a couple of them. The first one was too small and she kept spitting it out in disgust. The second one, she seemed to like, but only to a point, as these two videos demonstrate. She is sitting in Grandpa's lap.

Ain't she cute!! I just love her so much.

She says "neh" when she's hungry. This is apparently universal among infants, according to Priscilla Dunstan's theory on baby language. I happened upon this factoid purely by chance during a google search related to breastfeeding, and I am so glad because it really cleared things up during her crying. She'll start to cry and I'll say "Neh?" and she'll say "Neeeeeeeeh!!!!!" Dunstan's ideas haven't been scientifically tested, but anecdotally, I'd say she's on to something. Here are 5 sounds infants make, and their meanings (pasted from Wikipedia).

Words (sound reflexes)

According to Dunstan, the five universal words (or sound reflexes) used by infants are[3]:


I'm hungry - An infant uses the sound reflex "Neh" to communicate its hunger. The sound is produced when the sucking reflex is triggered, and the tongue is pushed up on the roof of the mouth.


I'm sleepy - An infant uses the sound reflex "Owh" to communicate that they are tired. The sound is produced much like an audible yawn.


I'm experiencing discomfort - An infant uses the sound reflex "Heh" to communicate stress, discomfort, or perhaps that it needs a fresh diaper. The sound is produced by a response to a skin reflex, such as feeling sweat or itchiness in the bum.


I have lower gas - An infant uses the sound reflex "Eairh" to communicate they have flatulence or an upset stomach. The sound is produced when trapped air from a belch that is unable to release and travels to the stomach where the muscles of the intestine tighten to force the air bubble out. Often, this sound will indicate that a bowel movement is in progress, and the infant will bend its knees, bringing the legs toward the torso. This leg movement assists in the ongoing process.


I have gas - An infant uses the sound reflex "Eh" to communicate that it needs to be burped. The sound is produced when a large bubble of trapped air is caught in the chest, and the reflex is trying to release this out of the mouth.

Blueberry does use "Eh" reliably when she has to burp, which is really useful. So far I've noted her using all of the sounds in proper context except "Owh", and I'm guessing that's because she doesn't need to tell us she's tired, because she can sleep anytime; we won't stop her. Maybe when she has more predictable nap times or a bed time, "Owh" will come into play. Or maybe she has used that sound and I just haven't noticed.

She startles and flaps her arms when you touch her while she's sleeping.

She sometimes snorts when she cries. It lightens the mood immeasurably.

And in the name of one-upsmanship: My friend Amacrine (who writes the blog blackbirdnight, link on the right) noted that her new baby smells like spicy vanilla, and her breath like vanilla yogurt. Well, Blueberry's poop smells like apricots. SO THERE!

*All names changed.

Monday, February 8, 2010

More Photos of Blueberry*

Just want to post some photos; got lots to say but no time to say it. Everything is great.

Enjoying tummy time (she does not always enjoy it).

She is quite advanced developmentally. Here she is playing peek-a-boo. Or, perhaps she is merely looking at her hand, which would not indicate advanced development.

This is her general demeanor while awake and not hungry or uncomfortable.

Daddy loves her, and the feeling is mutual.

Her first trip out of the house that was not a doctor's appointment. I was not eager to go places with her, and I'm still not, but this breakfast at our favorite diner did not go too badly. Still, I was glad to get home. I just don't want to expose her to the world yet.

Admiring her manicure. Like I said, developmentally advanced.
Hangin' with Mommy.
Wearing the hat Tory* made for her.

*Names changed.