Thursday, July 29, 2010

My life, according to poop...

When I taught preschool in college and later in Germany, I focused a great deal on toilet training.  When working with parents who were toilet training, their curiosity about their child's bodily functions was amazing.  They wanted to know the exact times of elimination, the location, and who initiated the event.  Communication between caregivers was important to maintain consistency, though, and I always understood how crucial toilet training was to those parents.  Life changes after diapers.  And so, we talked pee and poop every day.  I thought we talked about it a lot.  Looking back, that cracks me up.

When I began teaching students with autism, many of my students were on special diets and/or had digestive issues that so often accompany the diagnosis.  Since many of my students had difficulty communicating their daily elimination to their parents, it was again my responsibility to relay the vitals to the parents each day.  However,  simply listed a #1 or #2, the time, and the source of initiation was no longer acceptable.  So many of my students were on medications or special diets that affected their bowel movements that parents wanted to know just what type of #2 was produced.  Was it solid?  Was it large? Was it green or brown? (or purple? and yes, I had that conversation) And the thing is, because I knew the journey each of these families was making and why each question was asked, I understood the significance.  Those details, as gross as they may be to the unrelated person, were important to the child's treatment, so they were important to me.  

By the way, I knew all these details because I was in the bathroom with the children, changing them, so often.  Changes are a great learning opportunity in which we practiced communication, self-help skills, and fine motor skills.  Some days, I could swear every kid waited until they were working with me one-on-one to poop, then let it all go while they were on my watch, leaving me to change six loaded diapers in five hours.  I had no idea when I was in college how much of my teaching career would be spent either discussing bathroom patterns or changing diapers, but when doodie duty calls, I answer.  Teaching Special Ed, I thought I talked about bodily functions a lot.

I was reminded of those conversations this weekend when a visit with friends, whose son is three weeks younger than Tye, turned to the babies' bowel patterns.  Parents love their children so much that even their poop is worth talking about.  We are now those parents.  I talk about my daughter's poop.

Now that I've cleared the air on that topic (hehe), I thought I'd update on our ECing because, like I said, I talk about my daughter's poop.  We started using Elimination Communication with Tye when she was two and a half months old, and since then, we've been having good success with the method.  We aren't diaper-free, but I'm really happy with where we are.  Every time we change Tye's diaper (every 45-90 minutes, depending on the time of day), Tye sits on the little potty chair in our bathroom.  We've had at least one caught pee (in the potty) every day, even when traveling (then it's in the sink).  When we're home, we usually only have 3-4 wet diapers all day.  This makes laundering our cloth diapers a lot easier!  

The biggest success for us has been in catching poops.  Aside from the time I was pooped on in public and one full diaper on vacation, Tye has pooped in her potty for every bowel movement for the past few months (and probably 98% of her BMs since we started!).  Sometimes I see or hear Tye getting ready to go (can I tell you how cute and dainty her grunts are? I love them!) and rush her to her potty.  Other times, when provided a potty-tunity, she takes advantage of being on the potty and goes.  A few times, she has yelled at me when I try to put on her diaper after a changing, so I give her more time on the potty and then she goes.  Can I tell you how great this is?  When she goes in the potty, there are no blowouts, no leaking, no diapers to rinse the poop off of.  It changes diapering completely. 

I haven't changed a poopy diaper in almost a month.  I realized the other day that I'm changing fewer poopy diapers now than I have since I was a sophomore in college.  And yet, here I am, talking about poop.  Because I am that person.  I talk about my daughter's poop.  The other day, I texted Tyler a photo of Tye's poop.  Yup.  Some things never change... Or they just get better with technology.  


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Like a kick in the belly

Another area of development I didn't hit on a few days ago is Tye's speech.  It's a topic all it's own.  Because Tye babbles so often, she often says words we recognize.  The challenge becomes knowing whether her sounds are babbles or real, intentional words.  Of course, as excited new parents, I think our tendency is to hear words when there are really just babbles emerging playfully.  

While in Dallas, Tyler's grandmother thought she heard Tye say "Mama."  Then a couple days later, my mom thought she heard Tye say "Mama."  As fate would have it, I missed both of those utterances, but perhaps for the better.  A day later, as Tye was seated on her potty for a "pottytunity,"  she squirmed a little and said very clearly, "Ah da."  Was that "All done," the phrase we practice every time she sits?  The next morning, as we walked into the living room and Tye looked at Mico, she said "Da."  Dog?  

The uncertainty reminds me very much of my early pregnancy.  I wanted so desperately to feel Tye kicking me with her miniscule feet, just to feel some reassurance that she was really there and really growing within my belly.  I felt tiny bits of movement, but I couldn't be sure if they were her or not.  I had nothing to which I could compare those feelings, so I didn't know if I was simply feeling digestion occurring as it always had, or if I was feeling the new life within me.  Eventually, I felt a kick, strong and unmistakable.  When I finally knew what her movements felt like, I realized that I had been feeling them for a week at least without knowing for sure it was her.  

Waiting for words from Tye is like waiting for kicks from her over a year ago.  Are those really intentional words, or just timely babble?  Today, we heard our first definite word from Tye- twice.  This morning when Tyler walked in the door from his run, Tye looked at him, smiled, and said with great purpose and clarity, "Da da."  Later, when she and I walked into the living room after a diaper change, Tyler made a silly face to her and she once again said "Da da."  Both times, the intent clearly matched the sound that emerged from her tiny little mouth.  

Of course, Tyler couldn't be happier to be on the receiving end of Tye's first word.  With so much of Tye's growth directly related to me as her mother- like those first kicks only I could feel initially- watching Tyler take part in such an important first was really special.   

Six Thousand Words... and then some

This sequence of another baby and dog (not Tye and Mico) is even cuter, if that's possible.  Plenty of people have thought it was our family because both the dog and baby look so similar to ours!  Perhaps we'll work on our own version...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Seeing the blessings

Being an Early Childhood teacher with a background in child development is a mixed blessing and curse.  It means I know the major developmental milestones, their average time frame, and their order of appearance.  The most important detail about each of those is that they are all averages.  Each child grows at her own pace, in her own way.  That can be so hard to remember sometimes.

For example, I'm quite perturbed at the moment at Tye's lack of a developed pincer grasp.  She is close, but she doesn't use it well or often.  Is it simply because I don't provide many opportunities to practice because items that tiny are choking hazards?  Or is it because the items she's trying to pick up- slimy banana, mushy avocado- are challenging pincer-grasp materials?  All this concern, and Tye's still within the realm of normal.
I'm much less worried about Tye's mobility, even though so many kiddos her age are crawling at high speeds.  Some of that is simply because I am trying to enjoy every day I have before my job difficulty increases tenfold with her locomotion.  Perhaps it's also because Tye is so very, very close to crawling.  She scoots all over the place on her belly using a version of an army crawl, arms and legs propelling her across the hardwood, tile, or rug with her belly hugging the floor. Yesterday, she scooted herself backwards into a corner, looked at me and chuckled, then pulled herself away and back to her toys.  She's a good example of enjoying the journey as much as the destination as she grins at the act of moving herself.  She's also good motivation to keep my floors nice and spotless, because otherwise her clothes rubbing on the floor will show the dirt I've not yet scoured.  

Tye is also pulling herself up to stand next to items that are coffee-table height.  With that comes the need to babyproof beyond just outlet covers.  I'm sitting on my couch writing this, looking at the bookshelves on either side of our fireplace in front of me.  Yup, there's a lot of stuff we need to move- the reed fragrance diffuser on the bottom shelf, the potted orchid on the second shelf, the Wii with the power cord hanging within reach.  And I should probably dust behind the books, because they'll be cleared by little hands soon enough.  
Also relatively recent for Tye: the application of the law of object permanence.  She has loved peek-a-boo for over a month, but now she applies the rule to situations as they arise.  Most notably, she now knows where to find her favorite food sources even when they're hiding under my shirt and will reach in to grab them when she's hungry or tired.

Another developmental area that doesn't concern me is play skills.  While most of us don't recognize the very earliest stages of play because they happen so early and usually effortlessly, my experience teaching students with autism provides me with heightened awareness of the most basic skills.  Because children with autism often have very minimum functional play skills, we had to start at the beginning.  The first play skill to develop is taking out- everything from removing items one at a time to dumping.  Tye has that one down, although it's one that kids love and makes them famous later on when they remove every pot and pan from the cupboard or dump out the entire box of cereal onto the kitchen floor.  
The next developmental step is to put in, which starts with simply putting an item into a container.  This step is a special one to me because it was the first play skill we taught most of our students (most came in knowing how to dump all too well).  Two days ago, Tye started putting her toys into the empty cardboard oatmeal container.  Stage two reached.  (With these developmental stages of play, she'll continue to practice each previous stage as she reaches the next- for example, she'll need to take an item out of the container to put it back in; for the rest of her life, she'll use that skill of "taking out" to access the materials she needs, like crayons out of a box or blocks out of a bucket.  The skills build on each other, utilizing previous skills as she advances.)

Watching a tiny human develop is amazing.  I'm amazed by Tye's constant growth and especially intrigued by each new milestone, whether she reaches it ahead of or behind that designated "average" age.  She's my own little longitudinal case study.  Even when her growth is further behind in that range of average, I find the blessing in being reminded to enjoy each stage while it's here and focus on each step- or army crawl scoot- of the journey.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I love sleeping babies

What is it about sleeping babies that is so beautiful?  
I've always instinctually reacted to a sleeping baby with an immediate "Ooooohhh, how sweet!" complete with the face every mama makes when she sees the adorable sight- upturned eyebrows, soft eyes, rounded mouth.  It may be learned behavior, I suppose, since every woman I've known does this to some extent when she sees a sleeping babe.  But recently, I've wondered if there's more to it.
I have to think that there's some kind of female hormonal response to seeing a sleeping baby.  If seeing our babies smile releases hormones within us designed to make us want to keep our baby smiling, then it makes sense that a similar response could occur when we see our babies sleeping.  Without such a hormonal response, a sleeping baby would just be boring, like watching paint peel.  But with those lovely hormones, it's a sight at which I could stare for hours.
I've realized recently that most men just don't have the same response to sleeping babies, which supports my theory of a hormonal response.  Tyler, who adores Tye and is positively smitten by her, has actually said before, "I know this sounds bad, but I think she's cuter when she's awake."  To which I responded, "What?!?"  And that's not because I think she's less cute when she's awake- but just because think the sight of any child asleep is beautiful.  Even teaching preschool, my sleeping students filled me with a sense of peace and love- and that cooing "Ooooohhh" response.

I think our desire to watch babies sleep is likely related to our primal caretaking skills, linked to our survival as a species.  A sleeping baby is fed, warm, satisfied, and quietly safe from predators, which should bring about a sense of calm and contentment in the mother who has provided for the child.  A nice hormonal reward will keep us wanting to find ourselves in the same situation again and again.  It makes so much sense to me. 
It also explains why Tyler, with less of an appreciation for a sleeping baby, wants to wake Tye up to play every time he comes home mid-nap.  He just doesn't receive the same sense of satisfaction from seeing his daughter sound asleep.  Poor guy doesn't know what he's missing.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Trip photos

Thank goodness I have friends with cameras to capture and share these memories...
Tye with Sandy, mother of the bride.  Tye was a hit at the pool!

Us with the beautiful bride, Jaclyn, at the rehearsal.  Tye was mesmerized! 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

To Tye, at 8 months

Dear Tye,
One month ago, I shared a video of you splashing in your bathtub.  That feels like forever ago.  I actually went back and double checked to make sure I didn't miss a month.  Since then, you've been moving and growing and learning nonstop.  Sitting up has opened a whole new world to you.  I love to watch you sit on a blanket and play with your toys, picking one up, turning it carefully in your hands, then dropping it as you spot another toy and reach for it instead.  You move easily from sitting forward to all fours, and you'll scoot around on your tummy, but you aren't quite crawling yet.

In the past month, you attended two weddings, participated in your first 4th of July celebration (even if it did consist of mostly you sleeping on a raft in the pool, guarded closely by your grandpa), and flew to Los Angeles and Dallas.  Together, we survived your first fever, your first cold, and your first public poop blowout- all of which were probably bigger events for me than you, and I'm glad they're all over with now.  You're eating more food, but your favorite is whatever is on my plate, so I'll often share bits with you, like the avocado from my sandwich tonight.  You grasp the spoon tightly and shove it into your mouth as if you're ravenous, then make silly faces as you mash it with your gums and swallow it.  

Although, you now have your first tooth.  It came in while we were away on our trip.  I'm still adjusting to you having a little weapon in your mouth.  Last night, while we were at dinner with  Daddy, I handed you a sugar packet to play with while I prepared your food, as I have so many times before.  Except this time, when I looked down seconds later, half the paper packet was in your mouth and the other half in your little fists.  Sugar crystals covered your dress.  Oops.

You are such a happy baby.  Everywhere we go, people are amazed at how easily you smile and how easygoing you are.  Even on our trip, when you were in a strange new place every time you woke up in addition to getting over a nasty cold and teething, you were consistently a genuinely happy baby.  The morning of her wedding, Jackie kept asking me to hold you because you brought her such a sense of calm.  I could be wrong, but I don't think most babies instill calm quite like that.  

Today was your first time sitting in a high chair.  It's not that you couldn't sit in one before now, but there has always been someone wanting to hold you while we eat, and you do very well sitting in laps.  Today, though, I needed both hands to eat my sandwich and it was just you and I grabbing dinner.  You were all about your own little seat, although you looked so tiny in it.  You quietly thumped the table with your open palms and fingered the nylon straps when you weren't watching the wait staff or sharing avocado with me.  You were an excellent date, Tye.

To know you now, Tye, and to remember that you are the baby who emerged from me nine months ago, is to understand a miracle.  Happy 8 month birthday, Tye.  I love, love, love, love you.


We now return to our feature presentation...

Whew.  It's been a while, huh?  Tye and I just returned from a long trip and despite my best efforts, updating on the road just wasn't happening.  After spending the 4th of July with Tyler's parents (which seems like forever ago), Tye and I left the next day for LA.  From LA, we drove to Lake Arrowhead for my dear friend Jackie's wedding- by far the most gorgeous wedding I've ever seen, hands down.  Jackie was more beautiful than any bride I've ever seen in a magazine, and every detail was perfect, down to the itsy-bitsy wooden clothespins she used to clip place cards to handmade twig and hemp clotheslines.   After the wedding, Tyler and I spent a night in LA at a chic hotel we never could have afforded without using hotel reward points.  It was the kind where the concierge calls guests by name and the rooms come with plush bathrobes, and where celebrities are spotted at the pool sipping drinks more expensive than my meals.  Wow.  What a break from reality.

After such a fairy tale-ish long weekend, facing the daily grind Monday was hard, sooo.... While the original plan was for Tye and myself to return home from LA, we decided- as we were checking in for our flight- to instead join Tyler in flying to Dallas, where he working this week.  Tye and I visited with Tyler's grandparents and Aunt Lori, chatting, shopping, and swimming, and saw bits of Tyler in the evening.   Finally, today, we flew home, and it feels like weeks since we've been here.

Between all the wedding events, sight seeing, and family time, I learned something on our trip.  Despite the beautiful Lake Arrowhead scenery, the breathtaking bride, the many "firsts" for Tye, and the time with friends and family from far away... I didn't take one picture the entire trip.   I need to hire a photographer.

P.S.- Congratulations, Jackie and Bryan!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Breastmilk Cures

Did you know that breastmilk can cure warts, cold sores, and sunburn?  Those are just a few, not to mention the amazing possibility of curing cancer.  This article in Mothering Magazine has an entire list of uses for breastmilk.  Check it out!

Have a safe and happy 4th of July weekend, and no matter how much breastmilk you have on hand, go easy on the sun!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday Favorite- Gentle Healing for Baby and Child

This past week would have been an even longer one without the book Gentle Healing for Baby and Child: A Parent's Guide to Child-Friendly Herbs and Other Natural Remedies for Common Ailments and Injuries by Andrea Candee with David Andrusia. It was the most highly recommended book among moms in the Holistic Moms Network, which is how I discovered it.  The remedies are simple, safe, and non-invasive, and most use ingredients available at Whole Foods, like peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils and chamomile tea.  I referenced the book several times this week for solutions to Tye's head congestion, but knowing that I had a source for remedies if things changed- if she spiked a fever, or if the congestion moved to her chest- was invaluable.  In my opinion, even more mainstream moms could appreciate these remedies in effort to provide comfort and ease symptoms, whether it's along with OTC medications or not.  In the middle of the night, with a miserably sick child, this book is an excellent resource.


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