Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Prospect Park Zoo

We've lived in Brooklyn almost 4 months, but it wasn't until yesterday that we made the mile trip to Prospect Park, which includes the Prospect Park Zoo in its 585 acres.  The tiny zoo has some great exhibits and even houses some creatures I don't remember ever having seen before, like red pandas.  We spent a long time feeding the water fowl.
Tye was able to see a male baboon up close- very close.

But the highlight of the day, hands down, was feeding the sheep and goats.  Rows of gumball-style machines dispensed a handful of pellet food for each pair of quarters, and we donated a decent sum in quarters by the time we left.  

 As they used their soft lips to nibble the pellets out of our fingers, the goats and sheep had Tye cracking up.  Feeding the animals made Tye's day.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Officially Etta

Etta's official documents arrived in the mail this week!  A year ago, I would have thought you were crazy if you had tried to tell me I would have a baby with a "City of New York" birth certificate.  I may have been equally surprised to know that the "home delivery" box would be checked.  Life is a crazy journey.

Even though Tye was born in a hospital, applying for and receiving her birth certificate and social security card was a months-long process that I only hurried along because we needed her own passport when she was several months old.  This time, our midwife sent in the paperwork for us and the documents arrived before Etta was seven weeks old.  Another unadvertised perk of homebirth with a midwife.

Along with her SS card, NYC sent a pamphlet titled "Your New Baby."  Alongside information on the importance of well-baby doctors visits, methods to soothe a baby and the importance of not shaking it, and the vital importance of window guards, was some really great information on breastfeeding, including a nursing mom's legal rights.  Apparently new moms can also call 311 to receive information on where to find help breastfeeding.  
 I especially love that according to NYC, you should "Breastfeed as long as you and your baby want- six months, 18 months- the longer the better."  Since many new moms haven't thought about the duration of their nursing relationship, this is a great introduction to natural-term breastfeeding.  Way to go, NYC.  Etta officially approves.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


What my friends think I do

What society thinks I do

What the media thinks I do

What my babies think I do

What I think I do

What I really do

See some of the memes that inspired this one here.
Photo credit: hippy mama flasher positive mama mama cow Picasso mama

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

EC, Round 2

Have you heard of Dunstan Baby Language?  A couple days ago on Facebook, a friend posted this great Oprah interview of Priscilla Dunstan explaining the five words all infants use to communicate.  

It's a must-see video, especially for any new or soon-to-be parent.  For anyone, though, it's amazing. Dunstan takes the concept of moms reading their babies' cries one step further to prove that all infants speak the same language.  Except I think she's missing something.

My problem with Dunstan Baby Language is that Dunstan doesn't identify a word for needing to eliminate.  As someone who uses Elimination Communication, I absolutely believe she's missing at least one word, if not two.  Or, perhaps Dunstan recognizes those words, but doesn't believe our culture is ready to move away from diapers.  After all, most Americans (and I'm sure Australians) are pretty skeptical when they first come across EC.  

I started using EC with Tye around 3 months and thought I'd do the same with Etta, waiting until she had strong enough head control to make holding her easier and waiting until she started urinating less frequently.  However, Etta is a gassy girl.  It all started with her tongue tie, and it's become much better since then.  But like all babies, Etta continues to have gas.  When she's uncomfortable, I can sometimes soothe her with the Superman Hold, but we've had many times when that wasn't enough.  

Knowing that Etta needed to get some gas out and perhaps poop as well, I started holding Etta, sans diaper, over the little potty in our EC hold- her back to my belly, my hands under her thighs with her legs up towards her abdomen.  Her head leans up against my torso, so it isn't as difficult as I had imagined it could be (plus Etta's head control is improving daily).  As it turns out, this has been a lifesaver.  Etta relieves herself of excess gas and usually poops, too.  We've even caught a few pees (she often pees right after she poops).  I'm so glad I started this one day in my desperation to console Etta.  Now, when she's gassy and super fussy, I can actually do something about it and help her find some relief.

Since watching Oprah's interview of Dunstan, though, I keep thinking of infant communication.  When I hold Etta, if she needs to go, she grunts.  Sometimes she grunts for several minutes before she finally poops, and she'll keep grunting until she's done.  If I'm patient and trust her communication, she goes every time.  If she doesn't need to go, or if she's done going, she'll squirm and make another sound or just sit silently, motionless.  Her communication is as clear as can be.  

In the video, Oprah laughs at Dunstan's word for lower-abdominal gas, saying, "I know what that means!"  The audience laughed.  We all know that sound- when a baby makes it clear she's pooping.  It's so obvious that Oprah can joke about it and the whole audience gets it.  However, that sound is slightly different than what Dunstan describes as lower-abdominal gas.  The babies in the video are definitely not pooping.  So why doesn't Dunstan list a word for "I need to poop?"  And is there also a word for "I need to pee?"  I haven't found that one yet, and perhaps it's mostly body language, but if there is a word, I would think Dunstan could hear it.   

The magic of Dunstan's Baby Language is that it allows us as parents to hear our children's communicative attempts with greater insight and meet their needs with food, sleep, and comfort.  Elimination Communication is just an extension of the same concept- hearing a child communicate a need and responding to it.  Besides the myriad other benefits, it's made our home much more peaceful these past couple weeks.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Our family is in disagreement- what do you think?  Do they look alike?
Etta at almost 5 weeks
Tye at 7 weeks
Thanks for the photo of Tye, Annette!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Good Day

Today was a good day with lots of firsts.  It was the first time I tandem nursed the girls in front of non-family at this morning's La Leche League meeting.  I also met another tandem-nursing mom there- the first mom I've met in Brooklyn who is nursing a toddler, much less a toddler and infant. It's nice to know others exist.

We arrived home to find a package that contained a gift for Etta, which Tye happily helped open.  Inside was the most beautiful baby sweater I've ever seen, no exaggeration.  Remember the Bucktown Baby dress? Jen knit Etta a stunning cardigan.  This photo doesn't do it justice- the yarn is so soft that it creates a gentle haze around the sweet ruffles (the photo isn't blurry- the sweater is just that soft), and those red buttons are a collection of antique buttons, each one unique.  There are much more beautiful photos of it here, with better lighting. Oh, how I wish it would grow with Etta so she could wear it forever. At least until she goes to college...
This afternoon, we tackled our first doctor's appointment with both girls in tow, and it went really well. Etta is healing from her frenectomy beautifully, with no scar tissue forming (hard to believe that was only two weeks ago). All this was determined despite the fact that she slept through the entire appointment. Meanwhile, Tye played quietly and happily next to us.

We celebrated our big day with a long walk in the snow showers and then warmed up while we waited for pizza to be delivered. Not every day has been easy recently. This transition to two children has brought its bumps in the road.  Today, I may not have made dinner, our home may be scattered with toys and clothes, and the laundry may not be folded, but it was a good day with big firsts, great news, a beautiful gift, and happy moods throughout.  And a good day like today is worth celebrating.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

To Etta, at 1 month

Dear Etta,

Already, it's been a month since your entrance to our world.  Although it feels like yesterday, I can see how much you have changed during your first month.  You've already outgrown your newborn sized clothes and the itty-bitty newborn diapers.  The dark hair you were born with is thinning a bit, but you still have those dark eyebrows and lashes.  Your eyes, on the other hand, are lightening slowly from black to dark bluish grey.

When you're awake now, you appear much more aware and alert because you actually look at your surroundings.  You're already holding your head up well, trying to take in as much of the world as possible.  You wear a very serious scowl on your face most of your awake time, with your brows furrowed into squiggly wrinkles.  We do think you're trying to smile at us sometimes, and it''s hard not to look forward to that, if not just to balance out those serious faces you make.  

You survived your first surgery this month- so minor, I know, and for that I'm forever grateful, but it was still a pretty major event  in your life to have your tongue clipped.  For a being who does little more than eating and sleeping, altering how you eat is a major change.  Your latch is improving- it's definitely stronger and you seem to be taking in less air.  Every once in a while, you stick out your tongue all the way past your lips and I think about how that would have been impossible without having it clipped.  Then I often wonder if you hadn't had it clipped, if we would also be missing some of the chubbiness in your cheeks right now, and I'm so grateful we went through with it.  If, many years from now, I still have a tendency to kiss your cheeks when you stick out your tongue, that's why.  

You've had quite a first month and have grown and changed so much already, yet you're still so tiny.  I know you still weigh less than some babies do at birth (there was a 13 pounder born in Iowa this week- thank you for coming out before you reached that size.  Thank you.).  I'm trying with all my might to soak up your tininess- your miniscule finger nails, your miniature feet, your itty-bitty lips.  You are so much person, so much love wrapped into such a small package that it's hard to wrap my mind around you.  It's a good reminder that our minds can't understand what our hearts can.  I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.  



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