Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Don't Mess with Mama!

I absolutely love this!  A study published in the September issue of Psychological Science shows that breastfeeding mothers are more aggressive than formula-feeding mothers and women without children.  In fact, moms who are exclusively breastfeeding are twice as aggressive as women who aren't (whether they are formula-feeding moms or not moms).  Apparently, that "mama bear" reaction, known as "lactation aggression," that boiled up inside of me wasn't all in my head.  Rather, it appeared because nursing causes lower blood pressure, which dampens the physical effects of stress and aggression in the body.  When a breastfeeding mama is threatened, her body adapts, allowing her to become twice as aggressive before her body sees the same rise in blood pressure.  Those same changes have the added benefit of protecting the mom against everyday stressors, too, in case any moms out there needed one more reason to breastfeed.  
She may look friendly, but don't mess with this mama!!!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

20 Weeks!

We're now 20 weeks along in this second pregnancy- halfway to our due date!  I can barely believe how quickly the first half went.  I'm not sure if it was the morning sickness haze, or the feeling that summer flew by, or staying busy chasing a toddler around, but I feel like the time disappeared.  Right about now, baby is somewhere around 9-10 ounces in weight and probably close to 10 inches long.  There's a layer of vernix over baby's skin to protect it, and baby is already making and storing the meconium we'll see after the birth.  

I'm feeling quite large already, and strangers are making comments about me being pregnant, a good sign I'm looking more pregnant than just chubby.  From my point of view, my belly looks enormous, and it's already getting in the way.  I have started wearing my apron for any and all cooking I do since my belly keeps sticking itself into the middle of my kitchen tasks, and I should probably keep it on while I eat at this point since my belly seems to be a catch-all during meals.  Generally, though, I'm super grateful to be feeling well right now and trying to take advantage of the energy while I have it.  We're in the midst of the second trimester "honeymoon" stage- it's easy to enjoy being pregnant right now.  Combine that with the absolutely perfect weather Chicago has been having, and it's a lovely time of year for us.  We're trying to soak it up while it lasts.  
20 weeks!
Click here see what I was doing at 20 weeks with Tye, or here to see what I looked like around then.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Finding Out: Thoughts on Gender

I've been thinking a lot about the gender of this next babe, mostly because our 20 week ultrasound is Thursday (6 days away!).  We aren't totally convinced we want to find out if we're having a girl or a boy, and if we do find out, we're not sure we're going to share with anyone else.  

Part of me would love for baby's sex to be a birth day surprise.  I love the old-fashioned approach to welcoming a baby, not necessarily a boy or girl, but a baby.  Part of me also wants to rebel against the rest of the world's expectations that we'll be disappointed if we have another girl- all those people who have the nerve to say, "Oh, another girl?  That's too bad, I'm sure you were wishing it was going to be a boy."  What if Tye hears that over and over again?  Will she think we always wanted a boy and there's something wrong with being a girl?  I would do anything to protect her from that, even wait another 20 weeks to find out if we're having a boy or girl.  And what if the ultrasound technician is wrong about the gender?  

Still another part of me wants to know.  I'm a little scared that if I don't find out, the lack of such an intimate detail may keep me from bonding as closely with this baby before the birth.  Remember our nickname for Tye, Baby Girl?  As generic as it sounds, it was said (and often sung) so lovingly, so frequently, that it was part of Tye's identity when she was born and is still a common nickname for her in our house.  And then there's the practical angle- I would love to know if I should get rid of Tye's baby clothes to make way for boy items, or if I should unpack and wash all our gorgeous girls' clothes and be all set for a sister.  And, I could start shopping for baby....  We have time to decide, and if we aren't sure, we can always have the ultrasound tech write the gender on a piece of paper and seal it in an envelope for us for a later reveal, should we choose (if we could hold that envelope without tearing it open).

I've also been thinking a lot about this baby's gender recently because at the beginning of the pregnancy, I was pretty certain I was carrying a girl.  It was the same mother's intuition I felt with Tye, when I kept seeing little girls and thinking immediately, "I'm going to have one of those."  Add to that the timing of conception, which was the same as Tye's, and the similar morning sickness patterns, and I was pretty sure this heartbeat belongs to a girl.  

More recently, though (as in, once I woke up from the first trimester haze of nonstop nausea), I've been noticing all the ways this pregnancy is so very different from mine with Tye.  Most notably, my complexion looks great right now- if anything, it's clearer than before I was pregnant (thank you, God!).  During my first pregnancy, I broke out horribly from the moment we conceived and had pimples covering my face, chest, back, and neck through the delivery.  This time I have, however, noticed dark pigmentation on my mustache area after a day in the sun, a normal hormonal pregnancy reaction but one I never saw on myself before.  Also this time around, I didn't notice in myself the same first trimester puffy stage, when my face, especially, looked round and puffy as happened with Tye.  I've also noticed that during this pregnancy, I pretty much don't have to shave my legs at all any more.  I could go two weeks sans razor and still wear a dress.  I don't remember that at all from my first pregnancy, and leg hair growth is one of those tell-tale signs according to many beliefs. (In case you're keeping track, yes, I'm loving this pregnancy right now- the clear, non-puffy skin and hairless legs far outweigh the tiny brown mustache spots.) Oh, and those feelings that I'm definitely having a girl have disappeared, whether on their own or because of all these inconsistencies.  

I don't know yet if we'll find out what all this means on Thursday or 20 weeks from now, but either way, the results won't matter much to me.  I would love to have a son and experience parenting a boy, for Tye to have a brother (because I adore mine), and for Tyler to have a son.  But I would also love for Tye grow up with a sister, something I never had myself, to be able to watch their relationship over the years, and for Tyler to have two Daddy's Girls at home.  Either way, I am beyond excited to welcome a new life into our family, to hold our little one close, to share the joy of a sibling with Tye, and to grow simultaneously bigger and closer as a family unit. Whether we find out or not, Thursday will be a joyful first glimpse at the new life joining ours. 

I can't wait to peek at you, little one. I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Humboldt Park Lagoon Swim Session

We stole Daddy away from work between conference calls and snuck over to Humboldt Park. The shallow, calm waters and small crowd there are a perfect place for some family play time in the water.  I also showed off my belly at 18 1/2 weeks.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Our favorite Tuesday afternoon activity... running laps through Ines' kitchen with Marquise and Aubrey.  Tye has this high-pitched, dolphin-esque laugh when she's excited.  I'm pretty sure her friends think she's screaming with excitement, because it never takes long for them to start shrieking along.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Model behavior

These are some shots Aunt Tiana caught on her iPhone a couple weekends ago while we were out walking to pick up coffee.  I think they're some of the best photos of Tye we have.  She's rocking those rain boots like she's a paid model.  

(I just love that Oompa Loompa-ish hairstyle- curls on the sides and top!)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

To Tye, at 21 months

Dear Tye,

I can barely believe that you're now closer to two years old than to one and a half! And yet, you send reminders my way every day.  You can count to ten now and you're learning more letters in the ABCs every day.  You're so hungry for that song, to learn those few missing gaps, that we sing it together practically nonstop.  You've grown a couple inches in the past few weeks, too, just in time for the end of summer.  Looking at clothes that were huge on you earlier this season and now are too small should be another reminder you're closing in on two.

We had a busy month together, including rides in a "hairpane," taxi, and train, all of which thrilled you.  Though you love our outings and play dates, you seem to find the most joy in our simple routine of walking Mico together every morning and evening.  You choose a toy or treasured object to hold before we leave the house, and then we hold hands walking down the stairs.  You very slowly step out the door onto the sidewalk, and then we walk to the end of the block and back together.  Sometimes you run or jump your way through most of the outing, sometimes you find treasures like sticks or rubberbands, and sometimes you pause to pretend your baby or animal that day is walking along with us.  We smile and say hi to each passerby, though you receive far more responses than I do.  I'm treasuring these walks in the warm weather and hoping we can enjoy them as much when we have to bundle up this fall and winter.

I want you to know that I pause several times each day to savor the moment we're having together, just the two of us.  This is such a special time together, and I am grateful to be able to devote all of my attention to you for so much of each day.  Though I believe with all my heart that a sibling is the best gift I'll ever give you, I'm cherishing our time now as a mother-daughter pair with you as my little side kick.  You make every outing and occasion worthy of celebrating, from your excited expression when we select apples at the grocery store, to the look of amazement on your face as you see the cars whizzing below the overpass, to your beautiful voice singing from the stroller, carrier, or car seat.  You and I have a great time together, kiddo.  

Happy 21 months, Tye.  They've been the best of my life.  I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Firsts at the Arboretum

Wednesday, we took a trip to the Morton Arboretum with Ines and Marquise and Ines' goddaughters, Morgan and Delanie.  When we arrived, Tye happily chased butterflies until her friends arrived, when she squealed with delight.  We found a fuzzy caterpillar in the parking lot, and after watching it and everyone holding it for quite a while, Tye held her first caterpillar.

In the Children's Garden, Tye loved playing with the water and rocks in the man-made creek.

After the water, we ate lunch in a meadow next to two huge Asian pine trees whose droopy branches created spacious shady hideaways, perfect for playing.  There, Tye climbed her first tree.  It was a wonderful day for our little nature explorer.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Can we blame teething?

According to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, teething is only responsible for mild symptoms and not fevers.  The study followed 47 infants over 15 months and found only minor symptoms on the day a tooth erupted, such as a slight increase in temperature, a day of diarrhea, drooling, irritability, and poor sleep (no kidding on that last one).  The study's authors note that fevers and longer periods of diarrhea in infants are cause for concern  and should not be passed off as signs of teething.

While teething may not cause symptoms like fevers or congestion, they certainly seem to be linked.  Many nurses, caregivers, and parents blame teething even looking back on an event.  I, certainly, can think of episodes of diarrhea and fevers that occurred during teething spells.  Yet I've always wondered about the true cause of more severe symptoms.  

Even according to the Pediatrics study, babies suffer some unpleasant side effects of teething.  And, (all you moms out there), what else do babies do when they're teething?  They chew on every item within reach.  Could it be that teething causes mouthing of items, which leads to the ingestion of disease-causing pathogens?  I've always wondered if the association between a fever and more serious symptoms is valid, even if the causal relationship is not.  Of course, the difference is that an illness during a time of teething may require separate treatment from the teething.  Which goes right back to the conclusion of the most recent study- that doctors and parents should seek treatment for ongoing fevers and diarrhea rather than blaming them on teething (at least, rather than blaming them on teething alone).  

Sometimes wisdom written off as an old wives' tale is based on some truth.  For example, chicken soup really does help cure colds and the flu.  That science has proven teething isn't the cause of severe symptoms doesn't mean the two aren't related.  Just ask a mom.

Friday, August 5, 2011

August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month!

In celebration, check out 101 Reasons to Breastfeed Your Child.  It's fantastic!

My personal favorites from the list:
2. Breastfeeding promotes bonding between mother and baby
Breastfeeding stimulates the release of the hormone oxytocin in the mother's body. "It is now well established that oxytocin, as well as stimulating uterine contractions and milk ejection, promotes the development of maternal behavior and also bonding between mother and offspring.
8. Breast milk is always ready and comes in a nicer package than formula does
Need we say more?
52. Breast milk acts like a natural tranquilizer for baby
Mother's milk contains chemicals that seem to work like "knock-out drops" for tired babies. Even if baby doesn't fall asleep, he/she will certainly calm down and become more agreeable. If you choose to breastfeed into toddlerhood, you may find that the "terrible twos" never materialize!
53. Breastfeeding acts like a natural tranquilizer for mom
Nursing mothers often joke about falling asleep on the job. The sleep inducing qualities of nursing a baby are remarkable. In fact, new mothers have to be careful to hold a nursing baby in such a way that they will not drop the child when they inevitably nod off. Nursing in bed is a great solution. Even pumping at work can be a great way to calm down and get refocused on a stressful day.
100. Breastfed babies smell fantastic
Again, this is not a scientific study. Their is something almost magical about the scent of your own breastfed baby, whether you're the mother or father involved. Try it, you'll like it!
101. It's what breasts were designed for!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Travel Tips for Flying with a Toddler

6. Travel during nap time.  If that isn't possible, fly when your young traveler will be well-rested and happy.  On our flight out to Seattle, we synced with nap time and Tye slept most of the flight.  For our return trip, we flew in the morning, the happiest portion of Tye's day.  Both trips went amazingly well.  (By the way, remember when I confessed I was a bit nervous about nursing Tye as a toddler on a flight back in December?  Well, I nursed Tye on one of our flights this time.  She's a much older, bigger toddler now, and I'm pregnant, but we still made it happen.  And I don't think anyone had a clue!)

5. Pack light, but check it anyway.  When Tyler and I travel together, this rule doesn't apply as much, but when it's just Tye and me, I make sure I can check my bag.  I'm already running around an airport chasing a toddler, carrying my huge carry-on bag overstuffed with activities and food.  To me, toting my luggage isn't a realistic option. 

4. Check for play spaces.  Before your trip, look up any airports and see if they have play spaces available for children.  O'Hare Airport in Chicago has a huge play space designed by the Chicago Children's Museum.  Tye loved the opportunity to climb around, and I was glad she wore herself out before the flight.

3. Pack a variety of activities.  We brought books that lend themselves easily to expanding upon the story, including Eric Carle's The Very Busy Spider so we could talk about barnyard animals and their sounds as well as picture books with items to count, a favorite activity right now.  Tye's favorite pastime on the plane was playing with stickers.  We started out with the cheaper stickers I found (stars, flowers, smiley faces) and when she slowed down, I brought out the big guns- trains, cars, and Elmo.  We put all the stickers in a little spiral notebook so Tye could revisit the stickers and label the objects later.  Though we were prepared with Sesame Street episodes on the iPad, we honestly barely used it because everything else was so engaging.

2. Pack novel foods.  A trip to Whole Foods searching for healthy treats supplied us with Annie's Organic fruit snacks, dried cherries, trail mix, organic raisins in miniature boxes, and single serving-sized bags of Annie's Organic Cheddar Bunnies.  Even if only the packaging was novel, the concept worked on Tye, who was excited to eat all these new goodies. Our bag of enticing treats reminded me of Halloween.  For the ultimate emergency (picture screaming, inconsolable child mid-flight), I was prepared with organic lollipops.  I figured Tye couldn't scream with one of those in her mouth.  Fortunately, we never resorted to them, but knowing I had a plan was priceless.

1. Take care of yourself.  Be absolutely sure to get enough rest the week before your trip, especially the night before.  Eat appropriately before and during your trip- before you're hungry and blood sugar levels plunge.  Traveling with a toddler is potentially very hard work that requires lots of patience, something we all have more of when we feel good.  Most of all, go easy on yourself and resist the pressure of other travelers when you need to.  While being considerate of other travelers is polite, at the end of the day, you're going home with your toddler, not them.  Be true to your parenting style no matter where you are and you'll all be happier at the end of the day.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Seattle Recap

Tye and I traveled to Seattle on Wednesday, where we met Tyler at the airport.  That night, we used points to book a fancy room at the W downtown.  From our room, Tye could watch the traffic and birds below.  Her favorite pastime was riding the elevator, though.
While Tyler worked Thursday morning, Tye and I explored downtown.  We stopped at Beecher's right outside of Pike Place Market, where we watched cheese being made in huge vats before we bought some fresh curds for breakfast.  From there, we walked down to the waterfront and the Seattle Aquarium.  Tye touched star fish in the tide pool petting zoo, which she loved almost as much as the huge, awesome tank of all local species.  Did you know the Puget Sound contains over 200 species of fish?  

The rest of the weekend, we stayed with our friends Laurie and Josh, whose son Brady is just a month younger than Tye.  Brady and Tye were immediately buddies, to the point that they woke up requesting each other first thing each morning.  Staying with a family with a child the same age is absolutely the easiest way to travel, from car seats to bath toys to snacks to DVR'd episodes of Sesame Street (Tye is going through a bit of Brady and Elmo withdrawl now that we're home, though...).  Not only is it the easiest, it's the most fun- our hosts knew exactly which activities would entertain the whole family and we loved talking about our kids without worrying if anyone was sick of hearing about them.  

Leaving Tye with a sitter for Saturday's wedding turned out to be no problem, either.  As long as Brady was there, Tye barely noticed I was gone!  The wedding that brought us out to Seattle in the first place was beautiful, and we had a great time with friends from our time in Ithaca, NY.  It was a full extended weekend trip with beautiful weather in a fun city, great family time, and catching up with good friends.


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