January 30, 2007

Events: Various

1: It was my birthday yesterday! Happy birthday to me! I wore my tiara, and only got puked on twice.

2: Last Friday Elliot had his first non-miserable tummy time experience. I attribute this entirely to the good influence of Francie Bea, another baby in Elliot's new playgroup-thing, who while younger than Elliot is totally rocking the tummy time. Francie is great at tummy time and is super cheerful about it. I had her give Elliot a talking to and he seems to have taken the lesson to heart.

3: Elliot has a new playgroup-thing! Which means: I do too. Sort of out of no where, these four other new moms and I have started getting together. It is great. All of our babies are doing a crappy job of sleeping right now, and it is so wonderful to have some solidarity through that. I think we are all scared of "sleep nazi" Mark Weissbluth coming to yell at us. I would put a link there to Weissbluth's book about Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child, but I'm too tired, so you'll have to believe me that it exists and that it is vaguely terrifying.

4: Elliot is doing a crappy job of sleeping right now. It's been bad for a couple of weeks. I had attributed this to his cold, but lately I've been starting to suspect that he is using his cold to manipulate his way into special, middle o' the night attention. Hrumph. Sneaky creature. Last night was better, though--almost six hours the first stretch.

5: At dinner Saturday night I gave Elliot some garlic mashed potatoes! So much for rice cereal, eh? Our pediatrician said there was no real need to give Elliot solid foods, yet, but that I could if it sounded fun. So last week, while eating a banana, I tried to feed him a couple of bites. He gummed them, but didn't really swallow them. But I think he really ate some potatoes! I'm not sure, because I didn't notice any change in his "stool," but he seemed really to swallow at least a couple of bites. Watching him push the potatoes around his mouth was hilarious and so sweet. We were sadly without any of our cameras (shocking!) so you'll have to just imagine.

6: Today I left Elliot alone on his changing table for a second while I ran to the bathroom. (Sorry 'bout that DCFS...I had to go; I promise I was fast). Anyway, I'd given him something to hold--the outfit I was getting ready to put on him--and while I was in the other room I could hear him laughing. Just by himself! Laughing! Like he'd made a joke, and was cracking himself up. I mean, really: five months ago, he wasn't even born, and here he is, a comedian. Amazing.

January 29, 2007

Elliot listening to the state of the union

He provides some commentary. He's kind of like david brooks or someone, but less smug. Joe and Michelle just got him a t-shirt that says "I'm already smarter than the president." Elliot isn't wearing it here, but he seems sort of to be expressing that opinion.

January 24, 2007


Sarah pointed out something interesting the other day: Elliot has acquired a new reason to cry. He used to have two reasons:
  1. Pants (full)
  2. Belly (empty)

    But now he has added one to the list:

  3. Bored
I suppose he'll go on adding new crying reasons now, as his powers grow (the ability to walk) and his frustrations do also (the ability to fall down).

Then, later, despite our best intentions, he'll probably grow that hard candy shell that's supposed to protect you from puberty. Then perhaps he'll start winnowing the crying list down til it's very, very short. By the time he gets to junior high, maybe he won't admit that there's anything on that list at all.

-- blwh

January 23, 2007

Sudden Realization

Today I was making soup. Elliot was sitting in his bouncy chair, bouncing irritatedly. He was a little bored. And I wanted to finish the soup before I took him out of the chair. So I got him a toy from the other room. I held it out to him, and he considered it. Upon further reflection, he took the toy and put it thoughtfully in his mouth.

Now, none of this is a particularly dramatic skill developing. Grabbing, mouthing; he's been doing this stuff for a bit now. But today it occured to me: holy crap! He can grab and mouth. He can be bored, and then interested. He's a person in there.

January 22, 2007

Elliot and Sarah Exchange a Few Raspberries

This video was taken weeks and weeks ago. You can tell, because in this video Elliot is blowing raspberries. See, Elliot was just a baby then. He used to blow raspberries all the time, but he's totally gone off that, because blowing raspberries is for LITTLE BABIES! GOSH!

Now he'll only condescend to play big-boy games with us, like memorizing sonnets, playing Boggle, or gnawing our glasses right off our face.


Update: In a special reprise performance, raspberries are back for February.

Finer Points of Feminist Theory: Maternity and the State

Did you know that the possibility of pregnancy was one of reasons why women originally weren't given the vote? It's true. Elizabeth Dillon talks about this in the introduction to her excellent book The Gender of Freedom. The possibility that women might at anytime have another person inside of them made them just too weird and slippery to be given the rights of a rational individual, like a vote.

I was thinking about this today, because today I am having another encounter with maternity and the limits of state-endorsed individuality: today I am not doing jury duty. I am not doing jury duty because I am the primary caregiver of my child, and thus am not obligated to perform this basic civic responsibility.


Some preliminary thoughts on this:

1: It's super nice that "the state" realizes that I just can't reasonably do jury duty right now. Because it's true that I just can't!

2: Still, it's true that you can't really have rights unless you also have responsibilities. Being relieved of the responsibility of jury duty is nice, but it's just the flip side of the fact that I would be judged harshly or not taken seriously if I wanted to exercise a right like running for public office or something.

3: The whole thing comments sort of interestingly on the "unpaid labor" of child-rearing, right? The state compensates you for doing jury duty because you will have to miss "work" to do it. But it cannot compensate you for the child-rearing time you would miss, because you are not compensated for it, anyway. Child rearing is sort of "invaluable:" it's outside the system of just compensation. Which is on the one hand an acknowledgement of the importance of child-raising, and on the other an indication of how mothers have thus far not made the case that child-raising is labor, and not just a "labor of love," and until mothers make the case that it is work it will not be treated as such within the system. Of course, if we made that case, we would probably have to do jury duty.

4: The system as it stands means, de facto, that a stay at home mother can never be tried by a jury of her peers.

5: I mean, would it really be that bad if I took my baby to jury duty? I could nurse while hearing evidence, right?

List of things staining my Boppy (TM) nursing pillow, prompting me to finally wash it

1: Baby puke
2: Baby Pee
3: Red Wine


January 18, 2007

Advice I just emailed to a friend of mine that it occurs to me might also be relevant here

"Probably don't have a baby. they're cute and all, but mine kept me up all last night by first complaining that his nose was clogged, and then complaining because I was trying to clear the snot from his nose. AS IF I WANT TO BE UP IN THE NIGHT DEALING WITH SOMEONE ELSE'S SNOT. Jesus."

January 16, 2007

Take Heed!

As part of Elliot's evolution into a "human" he has now acquired some new skillz. We around here find this charming but vaguely ominous. A few days ago he employed his new manual dexterity to...stick his fist into my mug of tea. Of course the tea wasn't hot (I don't remember the last time I managed to actually drink my tea while it was hot) but still. It might have been hot. And this morning we concluded that it was now absolutely necessary to strap him into the bouncy chair, if you want him to stay there, because otherwise he can sort of "walk" his way out by this curious inverted process of bringing his toes up to his face to examine them (they fascinate him!) and then throwing his feet downward while also arching his back. Each time he does this, he moves a few inches downward, out of the chair.

It's super cute, but we sort of feel like we're being herded rapidly out of his infant eden into a larger, more treacherous, world. I mean, yesterday he almost spilled a half bottle of wine, left accidently within the increasing range of his arms, and that really would have been sad.


January 15, 2007

Don't Blog Groggy

so, um, there are a lot of typos in that last post! goodness. And a half-inserted footnote. Sorry about that, people. We're tired around here. And I'm not a great proofreader under the best of circumstances.

Anyway, what's the news? Elliot has a cold. He's fine, but he's been sleeping rather poorly. And: man, does he hate the mucus aspirator. He hates it SO MUCH. Probably more than he hates tummy time, actually. So he's not been in the best mood lately: snarfling, interrupted sleep, mucus aspiration. It's a lot for a small boy.

Also! The bears. They won yesterday, barely, and let me say: Robbie Gould, in light of your game-winning kicking skills I am feeling less irked by your frolicksome pan-like prancing than I might otherwise be. Way to step up, you weird lanky leprechan!

I am also happy for Rex Grossman, who did quite fine yesterday, and for the rest of everybody who failed to make any grave mistakes. Tank Johnson, way not to get arrested! Devin Hester, way not to let your multiple sloppy catches turn into total disasters! Go team!


January 11, 2007

Developmentally Sound

So, babies are supposed to spend some time daily having something that is called "tummy time." Tummy time is, as you might think, time babies spend on their...tummies. This has become a sort of mandatory baby curriculum, rather than an organic part of life, because babies no longer sleep on their stomachs* and thus spend no time on their stomachs unless you put them there. And it's important to spend time on the tummy, because it helps babies develop their neck and arm muscles, and ultimately helps them learn to crawl.

Tummy time! It is important! Despite the fact that it has an irritating and twee name!

So we here have given "tummy time" a new name. We call it "angry time." Because duh, put a baby with no muscle control face down on a blanket...and guess what happens? They have a profound encounter with their own inability to do a n y t h i n g. A baby face down can do nothing. And they hate it! They rage. They flail. They make loud noises of profound discomfort. They curse their stupid parents. They issue forth whole pre-verbal monologues on the futility of their infant existences: Oh!: tummy time. It sucks.

At least, Elliot does. He is normally a mellow and happy guy, and tummy time sends him into spirals of such irritation that we pretty much...don't have tummy time around here. We don't like it. It stresses us all out.

But today my friend Michelle C. was telling me how a nurse had given her a big lecture about how babies should have "TummyTimeTummyTimeTummyTime! As much as you can stand!" So I came home all motivated, had a glass of wine to take the edge of the yelling, and geared up for some postprandial angry time.

And guess what? Elliot rolled over! He did, totally dramatically, and all by himself. I had actually stepped into the other room, and returned to see just the end of the gymnastics.

So I suppose we're sticking with the regular angry time curriculum around here. Come over after dinner anytime to see when and if he repeats the show.


January 10, 2007

Tonight putting Elliot to bed...

...I put him down when he was still a little bit awake, maybe a little more awake than usual. When I tried to close the door, it got stuck a little on something, so I had to open the door back up, and I noticed that Elliot had turned his head to look at the door--maybe he heard it try and close. And he was looking at where I was, and when I stuck my head in the door a little further to look at him, he gave me the happiest, most peaceful smile.

I know I just said that I wasn't really in to co-sleeping. But I tell you: all I wanted to do right then was climb right into his bassinet and let him snuggle us both to sleep.


"... never been a waste of my time..."

To those of you who this will matter too, it will matter a lot: Elliot listened to Liz Phair for the first time tonight! We sang all of the Divorce Song and he was totally into it. I feel it was a big step into his development as an awesome, feminist-friendly man who will be well-behaved at rock shows.


January 08, 2007

Confidential to Katy C.

The other day Katy spied Elliot’s bassinet, still in our room, and asked me if we liked having him sleeping there: there, as I said, still in our room. And I said, blithely: O yes! Now more than ever!

Well. Last night we had a wee bit of a tiresome night, which prompts me to qualify my response a little bit.

The question of “where shall my child sleep?” is a weighty one, in these days where “attachment parenting” battles moralistically against other parenting strategies (…uh, “distance parenting?”) in the hearts and mind of the progressive new parent. There’s a big push to have bebes sleep not only in your room but also in your bed, at the same time that there are also folk who think that “co-sleeping,” as it’s called, is about the worst thing you can do for your bebe. This argument has been mentioned right here, in the entries of our very own blog.

What are my thoughts? I have a lot of them. The first week Elliot was home I wanted him as close as possible, because I would often become convinced that the baby surely had stopped breathing (because coming convinced of your child’s non-breathing is something that happens to new mothers) and it was just easiest to have him close enough to check on without getting out of bed.

Also, I was pretty sold on the co-sleeping thing. I’d sort of assumed that if I wanted my dog in the bed (and I do) that I’d also want the baby there. I just really think that mammals are pack animals, and we like to snuggle, and that it’s reasonable, then, to want to sleep together. It’s especially reasonable, I thought, if sleeping with you makes the baby sleep better…and plus, how nice just to nurse without getting out of bed! And also, it seems that developmentally it really makes no difference to the baby where they sleep the first three months—not many people any more think you can develop “bad” sleep habits that early.

But it didn’t quite work that way. First of all, babies in the bed pretty much need to be really protected, so unless you have a co-sleeper or some other contraption (there are several), the baby needs to sleep between the two parents, which means that the parents themselves cannot snuggle. And who wants that? And also, even if the baby sleeps better in bed, they might still whine and complain and be loud, and then either both parents are going to be up all night or someone needs to go sleep on the couch. Which sucks. Of course, some parents just sort of plan on sleeping apart for the first while…but I think that sucks too. And the big draw of co-sleeping-- the nursing in bed part—didn’t work, because neither he nor I were very good at breastfeeding for quite awhile, and nursing in bed is sort of special advanced nursing and it hurts if you don’t do it right.

So: no co-sleeping for us.

But we did want him close enough so that I could hear him quickly when he woke up, to nurse him before he got really awake and mad. And we do want him to be pretty near us in our mammal pack. And (and this is key) even on the nights when Elliot wakes up more often, he almost always goes immediately back to sleep after nursing.

So this is why Elliot sleeps in our room: it works well for us. Of course, last night Elliot didn’t go back to sleep after nursing, and instead laid in bed entertaining himself by loudly sucking on his fists until both Brandon and I were wide wide awake. Which made me realize how fragile our little system is, and how, Katy, I should send you some more thoughts on this issue.

Oh, and another thing: Elliot is now well past the three month marker, so we have to be a little more careful about his developing sleep habits. In fact, I would almost send him off to his own room, except that it seems so lonely down there at the other end of the hallway. Also, now that he should really be venturing off on his own, he’s suddenly become very adept and nursing in bed, and when he wakes me up to nurse it is so very nice to be able to get him from his bed into my bed for a quick snack which I can more or less sleep through…I put him back in the bassinet after he’s done, but even so, it’s so much more restful for me.*

So anyway…our system evolves, as Elliot does. Which really, I guess, is the best thing I can say: you have to figure out what works best for you, rather than following some particular philosophy. You can think about your values: is your baby’s independence the most important thing? Is it your time alone with your partner? Is it insuring that your baby always feels you as a near, loving presence? And then you can think about how all those values pretty much go out the window in the middle of the night when you are exhausted and just trying to figure out what you can stand. And you can also remember—I really try and remember—that there are many many nights with your ever-changing child, and that you can always try something new tomorrow.


*I should say that although Elliot doesn't always sleep through the night, he's consistently making progress, sleeping for longer and longer chunks all the time. So I don't feel that I'm cultivating a bad habit or indulging him by nursing him in the night.**

**I had to end that little footnote because I am paranoid that someone will read of me nursing at night and say: see! If you didn't make it so nice to wake up the night, Elliot wouldn't do it! Which is just the teeniest tiniest example of how paranoid parenting makes you. Whew.

January 03, 2007

We woke up this morning and he was a person

I mean: really! Maybe it's just that he slept eight hours last night* and so we were more alert than usual...but it does seem like overnight Elliot has acquired a whole new level of humanness. He has been perhaps the world's most charming infant, but really we all must conceed that newborns are sweet but very...larval. They don't really do much.

But now! Elliot can grab his own toes. He can cheer lustily when something nice happens. He can blow rasberries. He is a baby on the move.

It's all very exciting. Expect him to start wanting to write his own blog entries any day now.


*I should note that Elliot's cousin-by-affection Sloane, exactly his age, is now regularly sleeping ten hours a night. Go Sloane! I like to tell Elliot about all of Sloane's accomplishments in the hope that he will feel stirred to keep up.

January 02, 2007

Xmas photos

The Elliot Christmas photos are up, and they are dangerously cute! Proceed to our flickr page with caution.