Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Month Eight

What can I say that hasn't been said before in recent months? Life is busy, and I'm late...again. Brooke is turning into a little person with a severe case of ADHD so most of my day is something like: run, run, run, run, clean sweet potato off of every surface in the house, run, run...30 minute nap. We repeat this three times and then she goes to bed and I'm left wandering around the house with Corey trying to figure out why our living room looks like Chernobyl and when the last time I ate something that wasn't pureed was.

In all seriousness, Brooke is really turning into a person. She crawls, she pulls herself up onto every surface in the house, she says "Dada" over and over again, and she eats EVERYTHING. She's tried pears, peaches, peas, broccoli, mango, squash, cantaloupe, apples, pluots, nectarines, blueberries, green beans, chicken, turkey, and plums. She likes all of it, but really prefers just to have a huge mound of cheerios (organic, and fruit juice sweetened, thank you) sitting in front of her while she watches "Baby Signing Time".

We discovered around month seven that although she is rather outgoing at home, once in public she clams up like a mute, so I have been making it a priority to take her to storytime whenever I can. Unfortunately, the local baby times are all inconvenient to her nap schedule so we don't always make it, but I am happy to say that she seems to be understanding that there are other people in the universe other than Mommy and Daddy and Sprocket (who Brooke is still completely in love with (and it remains unrequited)).

We visited another doctor this month, the geneticist that it took four months to get an appointment with. We are so blessed that every doctor we've taken Brooke to has been kind and patient, especially those at Phoenix Children's Hospital. We will be having several genetic tests run on Brooke soon, some for general hearing loss, and some because she shows a few signs of a genetic syndrome called Waardenburg. If you're related to us and you're reading this, rest assured that we will let you know if she tests positive for this syndrome because it could possibly be in either gene pool and could affect future generations, but I'm not stirring up drama without knowing.

Brooke's sleeping has run the gamut from terrible to much improved, and we think that teething is particularly difficult for this one because although she still just has her bottom two teeth, she has been grabbing her ears and jaw and drooling like a mad woman. We are hopeful that when the top ones come in she will have a very short reprieve and we can get an idea of her baseline sleep patterns.

We spent her eighth month birthday celebrating in Pinetop with Grandma and Grandpa, and Brooke will be blessed to spend her ninth month birthday with her other four grandparents in Tennessee, three of which she hasn't met yet.

If I say that we are looking forward to all the headaches that come with traveling with a pint-sized demon I would be lying, but we are excited to be taking a vacation together, see some new parts of the country, and introduce Brooke to more of her family. Also, we will be going to the top rated aquarium in the country, a candy factory (hello, heaven) and playing something called "Hillbilly Golf" which may or may not involve noodling a catfish and taking shots of moonshine. I will update you post-activity.

If you have some extra time on the 2nd and 8th, please say a little prayer for the passengers on our flights. If Brooke gets too rowdy we may not be able to afford the drink tab for all of them, so I may be bringing my gallon sized ziploc to security full of pureed apples, hand sanitizer, and Patron silver.

Again, apologies for the lateness. If any of you would like to volunteer your babysitting services while I type up next months blog please feel free to show up at any time. I would be misguided if I didn't suggest bringing galoshes, a duck call, and two changes of clothes. You never know when terror will strike!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Month Seven

Writing these posts is always harder than I'd imagined they would be, mainly because it is so difficult to remember a time when Brooke hasn't been doing the things she does now.

Brooke army crawls everywhere, and although she will crawl the normal way for a few feet she is still faster on the belly so she resorts to that in order to get to where she's going (Sprocket's food dish, the refrigerator, the dog door) at lightning speed.

She is now pulling herself into a standing position while grabbing onto things, which mostly means that my name has been changed from Christina to "Mommy, the infant jungle-gym". She's not very good at balancing, but once she gets her knees locked out she can do a dance that combines the twist and the robot in a standing position for quite a while, which means that her crib got bumped down this month.

We are working on baby sign language and she now recognizes several signs like "Milk" and "Finished", although it's still too early to expect her to do them back. They say that babies can learn to sign as early as nine months so we're hopeful that she'll be communicating with us in no time.

Brooke has had tons of new food this month, including trying out puffs which she absolutely loves. Her pincher grasp and hand-eye coordination is getting better by the day, and I'm finding fewer and fewer puffs surrounding the high chair now, much to Sprocket's dismay. She enjoys almost everything that I've made for her including avocado, peaches, pears, raspberries, apples, bananas, plums and peas and has only made one entertaining face and that was to the mangoes. I love making all of her food from fresh, organic produce as it makes me feel motherly to be steaming and pureeing fruits and veggies in the kitchen while she watches her Baby Signing Time DVD.

This month Brooke and I, along with Gramma, went to see a pediatric opthamologist to take a look at her eyesight and see if there are any concerns that she may have a syndrome that affects both her ears and eyes. He didn't see any cause for worry, so we can check another specialist off of our list. If she had a brain tumor that was pushing on her cochlea it could cause hearing loss and also it would impact her sight, so we were definitely excited to hear the good news. Next month we meet with the genetics team so that is the big, scary appointment that will tell us everything that we can find out medically at this point in her life.

Brooke's one fat, pearly tooth is still all alone, even though she's been gnawing on everything she can get her hands on for a couple weeks now. Every day I think that its twin will come poking through, and I pray for a little relief for her tiny mouth, but it has been stubborn so far.

We also had a fun trip to the aquarium in Tempe with the local AZ Deaf and Blind Academy Outreach. It was so wonderful to see other hearing impaired children and it's nice to be reminded that they are just normal kids. Brooke is always the youngest (by far) around, but I often think that it's more of a benefit for Corey and I right now and that Brooke will have a good time later. She did enjoy the fish though, and really enjoyed picking out furniture with us afterwards since we were a thousand miles away from home near big furniture stores.

Brooke is sleeping better now (for the most part) and often sleeps from 6pm until one or two in the morning before waking to eat. Although I know people who have their six week old babies sleeping all the way through the night, that really doesn't seem to be an option for her at the moment so I will happily get up once or twice to nurse her. We do have problems with her waking up for the day between four-thirty and five a.m. (no matter what time she goes to bed) so Corey and I are slowly becoming morning people (or, more accurately, people who wake up early even though they are grouchy and ill-functioning). Her naps are still thirty minutes long - no shorter, and no longer. Despite following the advice from every sleep training 'expert' we can find, her naps don't deviate from this, so we're guessing that she's just one of those kids that doesn't nap. She wakes up with boundless energy, so our pediatrician says she gets what she needs.

Both her Daddy's and her furry brother's birthdays are this month so Brooke is in a present buying mood lately. I'm off to find her a part-time bib modeling gig so we can afford her taste in gifts.

'til next month!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Result #1

There is no time for a real post because (like always) I'm running behind on my to-do list, but I did feel the need to write about some awesome news we received today: Brooke's EKG came back normal!

Hearing loss can sometimes come as part of a syndrome that affects multiple systems including eyes, heart and brain. We still have an opthamology appointment, a brain MRI, and a genetics testing appointment, but her heart is off to a good start and doesn't seem to be impaired in any way!

So far she's just a normal (almost) seven month old who can't hear very well.

Also, it is worth noting that Dr. Marc Boggy at Luke Air Force Base is the best pediatrician I can imagine having. Yes, those are too many details for most of you, but in the off chance that my blog comes up when someone is googling his name for reviews I wanted to make sure that everyone knows he is amazing!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Month Six

There is constantly a song playing in my head. Sometimes it is something I heard on the radio, a special ringtone from my phone, or recently it is a tune Brooke's magic singing kitchen plays because I hear it roughly 230 times a day. But almost always the background music to my life is the little ditty that the white rabbit in "Alice in Wonderland" mutters: "I'm late...I'm late...for a very important date..."

Although normally it's not something uniquely important I'm rushing off to do, unless you consider making beds and folding laundry important. However, I can't help but rush about in a semi-state of panic that I'm just too far behind.

Case in point: Brooke's month six post. Brooke naps for EXACTLY thirty minutes in length, four times a day. That means that four times a day I sit down and figure that THIS time I will write her blog. And then I glance down at my to-do list and realize that I need to make an appointment with a pediatric opthamologist, research hearing aid accessories, order more baby wipes, and look up the recipe for organic baby banana oatmeal. As soon as I get those done I start to type in our blog address and I hear the familiar cries echoing through the monitor. Once in a blue moon I check the video portion and she simply looks around, rolls over, and goes back to sleep, so each time I hear her squeals I cross my fingers, say a quick prayer and hope that when I see her she is in the process of resuming her nap. But, each time lately she is staring straight into the camera threatening that if I don't get upstairs in 8.2 seconds flat she is going to let out a wail the likes of which I haven't heard before. We have repeated this pattern at least a dozen times in the past two weeks.

So, I am late, but here goes anyway:

Brooke is six months old. She weighs 16 pounds and one ounce (65th percentile), is 26 inches long (74th percentile) and her head is somewhere in the mid-sixtieth percentile too, but I can't remember the exact measurement. Essentially, the kid is still big, but not quite as ogre big as she was before. My family is reasonably tall so we're hoping she got some of their height genes, but it's not very likely considering the fact that God took Corey and made him a tiny girl twin to come up with Brooke. Every morning I scoop her up from her crib and look right into his eyes and grin right back at his smile. It is uncanny!

She sits up like she's been doing it for years, and now she army crawls all over the house at approximately 200 miles per hour. She attempts to regular crawl, but it ends up with face plants so she resumes her belly dragging since it gets her everywhere she wants to go anyway. And where she wants to go is towards anything electric, sharp, poisonous or just simply not allowed. Her own personal toy department has been cast aside hundreds of times in favor of the entertainment center, the dog bone, or the electric sockets in various locations. Don't worry - childproofing is in full effect, and she's not left alone EVER so she hasn't hurt herself, but I'm afraid Sprocket is going to coax her into his water dish if she doesn't start leaving his stuff alone.

We spent her half-birthday in Pinetop as is our usual fourth of July tradition. Although this year was sans fireworks because the entire mountain was burning down, we still had a lovely time at the parade and then just enjoying the fact that we weren't at home in the 118 degree heat.

Shortly after arriving home from that trip we headed back to San Diego for the second time in as many months to celebrate my best friend's wedding. She did remarkably well during the day on both trips, but sleeping in a strange environment is not my girl's cup of tea and all progress we made with sleep training went out the window.

Which leads me to thanking the anonymous commenter last month who suggested we check out a certain sleep training website/message board that did prove to be helpful. Although our trips seriously screwed things up, there was a point in time where Brooke slept eight hours straight before needing to get up to eat! We are hovering right around five hours (followed by three and three more) of sleep for her currently, so it is an improvement from last month.

Rice cereal results in a three day drought and then a massive diaper buster blowout, so we have forgone that option in favor of tummy-friendlier oatmeal, and she has now eaten apples, peaches, peas, green beans, squash and sweet potatoes. Because she is a fat girl, all of these options appeal to her and we have yet to run into any problems with her not eating a certain food.

Her belly is still quite finicky though, and I am still unable to eat any dairy without Brooke's gassiness trying to rival her Daddys and her colic-type crying returning. I hope that this does not mean she will be lactose intolerant later in life, but my research tells me that most babies grow out of this so I am hopeful that she will too.

Her doctor says that she is advanced in all ways, except for speaking issues which are obvious in cause. But, she now turns towards all sounds and we're pretty sure she recognizes her name (and recognizes the word NO since she tunes it out so well) so we are happy with her progress. We still have yet to see consistent consonant sounds, but we're doing all of our exercises so she'll catch up sooner or later.

And last, but not least, the little munchkin popped her first tooth through last week while chomping on the leather strap of my purse. I cringed that in all of my efforts to keep her environment green and organic she decided to latch onto a piece of chemically treated cow hide and munch on it with vigor, but she left me little choice so I figured that babies have survived through worse. I'm hoping the rest of her teeth are to follow shortly because she has been moodier than normal lately, but I have yet to resort to procuring her a belt or another handbag to nom. Hopefully nature will run its course.

And hopefully that voice inside my head will help me to become more efficient and I will manage to update again before seven months hits!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The rocking chair

We rocked this morning, the girl and I.

Restless because her belly was making terrible noises, she couldn't figure out how to get herself into a good sleep. So we rocked.

I bundled her up in her fuzzy, pink, swaddle blanket and pulled her close against my chest. One little fist tightly clenched her small teddy bear and the other hand rested calmly just above my heart. She was so warm and so close that it almost felt like she was a part of me again, and to my surprise I found myself missing those days - the days where I could feel her squirm and roll and hiccup. The days where I didn't need a video monitor to see that she was safe at night; I could feel that she was.

She finally let her eyes drift closed, but she periodically opened them to search frantically in the darkness for my face. Once she settled on it, she let her eyelids droop again, content for another minute that I was still there holding her and protecting her. Eventually, with one long sigh, she settled down and began to get some true rest and I knew at that point that I could have, should have, put her down in her crib and tiptoed out to do the dishes or the laundry or one of the other eighty-seven things that are on my to-do list for today.

Instead, I stayed and we rocked.

Now I know why people do this all over again.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Five months MILLION to go.

So my little seven pound munchkin is now five months old and over SIXTEEN pounds. It is amazing how the days can feel so unimaginably long, but yet the weeks and months scream by.

Brooke’s fifth month had her growing by leaps and bounds, which is wonderful to watch and frustrating for her (and us) at the same time.

She wants so badly to crawl, and can get her legs under her, but she can’t coordinate with her push-ups, so she just does a face plant. She rolls immediately from her back to her tummy if you put her on a playmat, but she doesn’t like rolling the other way so much. She’s done it a couple dozen times so we know she’s able to, but we think the fact that she’s been diagnosed with reflux, and also that she can’t get around from her back, keep her right side up.

And speaking of the reflux, the poor little princess has had quite the month of medical interventions, much to our dismay. One of her brand new hearing aids had a malfunction, and then when it was repaired it completely died again so she was without amplification in one ear for a good part of the month. Then we got a bum ear mold so you can hear her ears screeching from a few rooms away (luckily, she can’t hear it). My broken bladder caused an uprising and I had to go on antibiotics for a time which caused havoc with her digestive system, and although we both took some probiotics I’m still unsure as to whether that made it better or worse. Oh, and the reflux. The reflux itself is much better, but they somehow manufacture infant Zantac to come in liquid form and taste like a mixture of melted candy canes and rotten sardines. If any of you want to come and help me cram a syringe of that stuff down her throat twice a day, you are more than welcome.

Every day Brooke is learning something new – she now sits up on her own, a trait that she appeared to learn overnight. She sometimes still sits with her hand(s) on the ground to hold herself up, and she still often topples over like a broken Weeble, but for the most part she’s got the balance down.

She had rice cereal for the first time right around five months, which I was holding out for her sixth month to do, but with the reflux, her crappy sleeping issues, and her Daddy’s pouty eyes whenever she grabbed for my spoon at the table I caved. She usually likes it fine, but doesn’t always seem to understand that it’s food, so it hasn’t affected her nursing at all. I will admit that it is hilarious to watch her mouth the mushy substance and decide whether she wants to swallow it or spit it fountain style right back at her Daddy. I’d say the ratio is pretty much 1:1 right now.

She also made her first consonant sounds the other day (ma-ma, I’m proud to say), so we were thrilled with that because her language skills are behind due to her three first months without hearing aids. Obviously I know that she didn’t say it in reference to me, but it’s a good sign that she’s starting to explore sounds, and we continue to work with her all day on hearing and speaking exercises.

Last, but not least, her sleeping habits are nothing short of a night shift flight controller: sporatic and generally when you need her to be awake for something. She sometimes sleeps 2-3 hours straight at night, but that’s with a whole lot of grunting, twisting, crying out and squirming, and mostly she prefers to wake every hour or so and have a little snack. While I appreciate that she’s doing the health-conscious thing and avoiding big meals, the sleep deprivation has taken a toll on both of us. Corey can sleep in a train station, so when I woke up with her first whimper I would nurse her while staring at my slumbering spouse with such resentment that I still can’t believe he didn’t wake up from the sheer telepathic power. Then, to avoid what seemed imminent: divorce or murder-suicide, he started getting up with us. But, he does need minimal brain function to teach his students, and therefore that wasn’t working either. So, we decided to sleep train.

Thirteen books, five message boards, nine mothers with word-of-mouth advice and two television shows later I still have no idea what sleep training is. I know that we should do it; I know that it’s great, and I know that it will work. I just wish someone would tell me how to do it.

You can be sure that the one method of sleep training that is thoroughly described is Ferberizing, or crying it out. This is for the parents with much bigger cajones than I have, because I spent too many weeks listening to her scream her little face off to willingly subject myself, my husband and my dog to it again.

So here we remain, in sleep training purgatory until either our lovely daughter decides she’s human or we drink the Kool-Aid and let Family Services deliver her to her newly appointed guardians (which we have chosen, we aren’t animals).

I have every confidence that they too will be sucked in by her baby blues and her ability to sit up, and will spend a very long time giving her kisses and hugs and blowing raspberries on her chubby belly. Or at least around five months.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

San Diego, how I love thee...

In my mind I am spontaneous. I imagine that my dream date is me coming home from [enter monotonous household errand here] to find Corey with a bag packed for me, telling me that we’re going somewhere and it’s a secret. Obviously I know that this isn’t realistic now, what with the beagador and his teething sister being bad secret keepers and all, but it’s my imagination so I’ll conjure up what I want.

In reality, any trip that takes place with less than three lists made about it causes me to break out in a rash, and if the above scenario were to happen I would have to unpack every bag, survey its contents, repack in a different order, and add another suitcase for first aid items, emergency food, and ‘just in case’ things.

Corey on the other hand, literally owned no more items than he could fit in his truck when I met him, so the Air Force has cultivated the gypsy part of him. He could absolutely go anywhere on a whim, without regard to packing, method of transportation, or responsibility at home.

I am lucky in that Corey has allowed me to handle all of our vacations my way until now, and he has even been thankful for my bags of cold medicine, granola bars, and bug repellant on different occasions.

So, when I asked him on Thursday night if he wanted to go out of town on Friday for the long weekend I had already anticipated his answer in the negative. Not only does he allow me to plan our trips, but we also now have the five-month-old Kardashian-type baby who appears to have emerged from the womb with her own set of Louis Vuitton luggage. Between Pack N Plays, Rock N Plays, play mats, play gyms, swings, slings and diaper accessories, the kid needs her own travelling bellhop. There was no way he was going to say yes.

Except, he did.

Now, I may have a reader out there who is asking me, “Well, why did you ask him then?”

It’s called passive-aggressive, and it usually works out in my favor.

So, I asked if he wanted to go to Pinetop to enjoy the cooler weather. When that wasn’t possible because my parents already had houseguests I thought the idea was tabled.

And then, because I’m so confident in my ways, I did it again the next afternoon.

“We could go to San Diego.”


“Yeah. Let’s do that,” he says.

At this point my head started spinning in circles and I simultaneously tried to compile fourteen lists in my head all while flogging myself for my careless offerings.

Somehow, some way (I believe I blacked out a large portion of this time) we were packed and out the door in forty-five minutes.

We found a hotel that allowed Sprocket (a Marriot, thank goodness, not some scary airport motel), made reservations on the way, and got on the road at 4pm on Friday afternoon.

And, we all survived.

Brooke slept most of the way to San Diego, with several stops to eat and change diapers, while her furry brother refused to relieve himself on any surface that didn’t smell like the grass in our backyard. Nervous that he wouldn’t be able to hold it any longer, we skipped the last stop, crossing our fingers that the princess would sleep through her scheduled feeding time, and made it to the hotel by ten (she did sleep, and he did hold it until he couldn’t possibly any longer and made do with the hotel grass).

Saturday morning we got up and met my best friend and her almost-husband at Fiesta Island which is a lovely off-leash dog park where we got the shock of our lives: Sprocket is a dog. Okay, well, we always knew he was a dog, but for the first time he ACTED like a dog. He went into the ocean and swam! Sprocket normally acts like a Siamese cat around water and does everything he can to avoid it, whether it’s rain during our ten day monsoon season or an errant sprinkler while on a walk. But, he waded right in and appeared to have a great time.

Brooke dipped her toes in the water and seemed to be less impressed, and we missed capturing any of it by photograph because we are horrible parents and were busy wrangling the sheer amount of stuff that we needed to bring to the beach to haul the camera case out of the trunk.

Unfortunately, Sprocket got a mad case of dead tail from the water, which is temporary nerve damage/inflammation in the base of the tail so it hangs lifelessly (and painfully) which kept him from sleeping more than twenty minutes at a time on Saturday night. Add to that the woes of our sleepless daughter and we were lucky to emerge from the hotel room on Sunday morning with full function of our minds and limbs.

With San Diego being much more animal friendly than Phoenix, Sprocket also got to enjoy both a dinner and a lunch out with us, and the dinner restaurant even had a “Hounddog Special” that we ordered for him (grilled chicken) and brought out a water bowl (he prefers Voss…from a glass…not kidding).

We did enjoy the fact that there were other people around to dote on Brooke (she also enjoyed it, attention whore that she is) and also that we are capable of going out in public with our child without people moving to the other side of the street and crossing themselves.

We also got to spend a few minutes at Coronado Dog Park on Sunday, but it was cold, Sprocket’s tail was dead, and Brooke’s hearing aid fell out, got temporarily lost in the sand, and was located after a mad search and rescue operation (I have shaken most of the sand out) by my friend’s fiance, so we were ready to go almost as soon as we got there.

It was mostly an enjoyable trip, if for nothing else than the fact that we were able to take a last minute vacation and survive it with our two high maintenance kids. And it reminded Corey and me that the days of having fun together aren’t quite over even though slobber rags and speech therapy appointments have taken precedent over dinner and a movie.

And, with my friend’s wedding taking place in the same spot six weeks from now, it gave us the confidence to know that we can, and will, live through the trip as long as we have optimism, a dozen pacifiers and a trunk full of puppy treats.

I better go and add those to the list.

Monday, May 30, 2011

In Memoriam

Tonight I was doing laundry after our short three-day trip to San Diego (post to come) and I found myself hanging up my husband's ABU uniforms in our closet. As I smoothed the wrinkles flat and felt the rough fabric under my fingers I said a little prayer for all the other women who have come before and will after, who would give anything to be hanging up their husband's uniform for him to wear the next day.

These women, the men they loved and lost, and the families that have holes in them are the reason for this day as well as the reason I am able to sit here and post this evening.

With all of our celebrating, grilling, partying and traveling for the long weekend I hope that everyone took a moment to remember that the backbone and strength of our country has come from them - those who sacrificed all they were called to give.

I honor them, thank them, and pray for the day that I will be able to thank them in person.

Happy Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Becoming one of 'those' people

Yesterday Brooke and I were at Sprouts Farmer's Market bright and early to pick up our produce for the week (Brooke must not be mine because she likes to wake up with the sun), and when the cashier asked me what I was doing with my four pounds of organic apples I was thrilled. Even before my reply I was basking the glow of her certain awe.

"I'm making her baby food," I replied.

Then she twisted her face up and said the one thing I wasn't expecting.

"Ohhhh, you're one of those."

It wasn't followed by a goofy grin to indicate she was just good-naturedly chiding me. Just straight-faced condescension.

To say I was taken aback was an understatement. Sprouts is part of the holy trinity for organic-cooking, vegan-loving, gluten-free soccer moms all across the west (along with Whole Foods and Sunflower Market) and I didn't expect to get anything other than a friendly nod of approval at my buying and cooking choices.

Had I really become one of 'them'? And who are 'they'? Are they pod-women? Alien life-forces put here to make those who buy Gerber food and Huggies feel bad about themselves? Did I want to be one of them at all?

The answer is that I'm proud to be a part-time member of 'those' people.

I come from a Republican voting, SUV-driving, meat and potatoes kind of family. When I bring up multi-vitamins and low-VOC paint to my parents they gently roll their eyes, just as they did when I refused to eat steak as a kid. I could tell my mom checked out every time I talked about the gorgeous organic bedding and carriers that we bought for Brooke's arrival, and my Dad looked at me like I was insane when we declared our intent to cloth diaper.

The cloth diapering didn't necessarily start from a desire to save the planet. I was cloth diapered as an infant because I was allergic to disposables. In fear that Brooke may inherit my skin sensitivity I thought it would be smart to prepare for the worst, so I looked into cloth diapers. The world of safety pins, plastic pants, and leakage is a thing of the past. Cloth diapers are amazing now, and just as easy as disposables. I was sold from the first cloth diaper website I perused, and the fact that I managed to sway Corey in that direction is testament to the fact that they are easy and far less gross than you are thinking if you haven't used them.

At this point the environmental factor and the 'granola-ness' of the situation was really icing on the cake, but I thought it was silly to stop there.

With little effort or problem we have stepped up our recycling, purchased organic clothing and food when possible, hung a clothesline, stopped spraying pesticide inside the home, and we're even considering a hybrid SUV for our future car purchase.

But, before you decide that I'm about to start campaigning for Al Gore to run the world I should let it be known that our house uses cushy, soft toilet paper that probably took ten acres of rain forest to make, we use disposable wipes on Brooke's dirty little baby butt (Corey put his foot down when it came to cloth wipes), and my carcinogenic candles are burning in the kitchen right now while the dishwasher runs at peak hours filled with nasty old Electrasol and Jet-Dry.

It's true that I am making Brooke's baby food from fresh, organic Gala apples, but I also have a cupboard full of Gerber that I got on sale right before she was born. And while we love our cloth diapers during the day, hippie moms would shun us from the playgroup because we use disposables at night (the diaper rash is horrible if we don't).

And while the label still irks me, the nice part of the 'them club' is that you don't have to be a member all the time. It's not an all-or-nothing type decision as I choose to believe that every little bit helps and any smart and healthy choices you make are beneficial, no matter how many hours you let your infant chew on the rattle that fell on the floor *twice* when you haven't mopped since Monday. Not that I would do that. I mean, c'mon, I am one of 'them' after all.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Month four

Brooke’s fourth month of life flew by, although somehow the days still seem neverending. Her colic finally resolved this month, and although she is now what our research and doctors dub a ‘high-need’ baby, she is getting used to the idea that she’s not going back in the dark comfort of her gestational life and she had better get used to the world.
Right at three months she started rolling from her back to her belly, which is a bit backwards, and still hasn’t rolled the other way unless you count a few random tumbles. Her doctor thinks she likes the pressure on her belly since she still has gas issues so she has no reason to roll back, and I agree since she likes to sleep on her side and stomach too. I am constantly trying to roll her back over.
This month she has started taking naps in her crib, although she still sleeps exactly thirty minutes each time. It’s like the kid has an egg timer in her diaper because she rarely sleeps more than five minutes longer or shorter EVER. She has also transitioned from sleeping in her Rock N Play Sleeper, which was the best thing in the world for a while, but it has been hard to adjust to not being in because it was at an incline and her new sleeping arrangements are flat.
The kid sucks at sleeping, which means mommy doesn’t get much either, but we’re hoping that as she gets used to sleeping flat (and gets older and wiser) she will figure out how much fun sleeping is and will do it for longer than 90 minutes at a time at night.
This month Brooke got to meet her fantastic Godmother, who is also my fantastic Aunt, and also got to spend some more time with her Grandad and Gramma and her Uncle Mikey. Her brother Sprocket is also logging some more quality time with the munchkin and is starting to warm up to her now that she can grasp and give him treats.
Her hearing aids have transitioned into just another part of life by now, and she loves getting them put in when she wakes up in the morning and after naps. I also love listening to her Daddy read her bedtime story every night and knowing that she can hear every word.
As for the details: according to the doc at four months your growth starts depending more on your genetics and less on your eating habits so she’s making her way out of the super high percentiles and into normal baby territory. She weighs 14 pounds and 10 ounces, is just shy of 25 inches long and her head is 16.5 inches around, all of which are squarely in the mid-60s percentile-wise.
I will have to write a post about the baby things that have worked for us, and the things that have been a waste of time and money, but one thing I cannot exude enough love for is our BumGenius cloth diapers. Everyone who thinks that cloth diapers are only for birkenstock wearing hippies or smug, ‘green’ celebu-tards is completely wrong – we have NEVER had a blowout with a cloth diaper, but if Brooke poops in a disposable it is more likely than not all over her clothes. They are pricey, but overall some of the best money spent and I get the peace of mind knowing that she’s not sitting in some crazy chemical beads that are the same ones I find in my purses’ dustbags.
This month Brooke is looking forward to meeting her Granny (Daddy’s mom) and her Great Aunt who are flying out from Tennessee next weekend, celebrating her Uncle Mikey’s birthday with the family, and gaining another four pounds. I am looking forward to her being able to sit up by herself (which we are working on) and start making some consonant sounds, which she is behind on due to her hearing loss. We are taking correspondance courses through the world famous John Tracy clinic and are hopeful that we can curb her language delay. We are also researching a private school in the area that includes infant speech therapy, but we’re unsure about the $14k tuition for a four month old.
Overall, month four was a pretty good month and it only seems to be getting better. Perhaps we’ll survive this with some semblance of sanity after all.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Unexpected Pride

When we first learned that Brooke had hearing loss it was devastating. You never want your child to get a paper cut, so a permanent disability is horrifying. I could only focus on the things I was sure she would never do: sing in a choir, dance in a ballet recital, speak without drawing attention, or tell me stories of her day in school.

But, when we got the official diagnosis I took to the internet like I do morning, noon, and night and set out to find a solution. I often think that I should have been born in another place and time – somewhere with corsets, or where women still cook in beautiful frilly aprons, or when men stood up when you left the table and carried hankerchiefs to blot your tears – but without google I would be lost, or at least own millions of dollars worth of encyclopedias.

After putting in what seemed like endless hours in the middle of the night I came to a profound conclusion: we don’t need a solution.

Brooke can’t hear as well as other kids. There is no shame in it and no reason to be embarassed. I blanch when people tell me not to worry because she can cover her hearing aids with her hair. Why should she have to hide them? She did nothing wrong and it isn’t a punishment for bad behavior. In the scheme of her life her hearing loss will be but a minor setback.

This idea did come partially from my reaching the acceptance level of the grief scale, but it mostly came about when I learned that hearing impaired children do every one of the things I mentioned above, and more.

She will be able to sing and dance her little heart out – all the way to professional ballet companies or to record labels as others with her impairment have done. She can play any sport, tell any story without missing a beat, and hear every single word that I mutter to her under my breath in her tween-age years. I am certain that there will be days that she will cry and not want to wear her hearing aids. I’m sure that some kid, somewhere, will pick on her. And I’m also quite convinced that my most important job as a parent is to teach her to handle herself with grace and confidence in those situations and to understand that we all have our crosses to bear.

So, here in the Park house we are embracing her hearing aids, not hiding them. In fact, I’m honestly a little sad that she needs a pilot cap or headband to keep the things on until her ears get bigger than the pixie lobes she currently sports. In my ideal world we would go out everywhere proudly displaying her thousands of dollars of hearing helpers and we would educate people all over.

Hearing loss is the most common birth defect in the world. Did you know that? I had no idea, but it’s true. Maybe if we weren’t all so preoccupied with hiding things behind hair then kids would be more willing to embrace differences like that. So, we ordered them in bright metallic pink, with hot pink ear molds. 99% of her wardrobe is pink right now anyway, so it is a perfect match. And yes, in the time of neutral being trendy we are rallying against the baby fashion movement and proudly dressing her like the girl she is, partially because I like being feminine, and partially so I don’t have to smile and roll my eyes when the little old ladies in Target tell me how handsome my chubby baby boy is.

I now look forward to every morning when I pop her hearing aids in and tell her how much I love her because I get to watch her eyes light up and her mouth curl into the biggest smile you’ve ever seen, and I dread every bedtime because I have to take them out and turn the volume down on the world again.

My daughter may not be perfect, but I guess that beautiful, smart, funny, and kind will just have to be good enough.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Month Three

I'm a few days late at this, but it's amazing how time gets away from you with a little one!

This month showed signs of promise and hope - hope that I will survive, hope that Brooke will be able to cast out the demons, and hope that I won't have a voluntary hysterectomy to avoid any possibility of doing this again.

The past few days have given me glimpses of why people do this more than once as Brooke has made it through the majority of the day without having a single meltdown. We still have our bad days where I want to walk out into traffic, but as a whole I am starting to enjoy being a mother.

Yes, that sounds horrible, especially for someone who longed for so many months to do just this, but I'm afraid that infertility actually made it harder for me to cope with the difficult times. While we were infertile I had dreams of dressing my tiny little baby doll up while she gazed at me with loving eyes. I envisioned her cooing up at me in adoration, and squealing in delight at that thousands of dollars of toys we've purchased for her. The reality is so far from that and I suffered from a bitch slap of true life when we were a full 180 degrees from those fantasies.

As far as development goes she is doing just fine. She has rolled over on several occasions, although she has yet to do so with full intent. She loves to munch on her fingers, and grab her toes. She chatters for hours at a time, and now has clear favorites when it comes to toys - a red monkey in a hula skirt, a giraffe with blue feet, and a yellow worm with antenna. Infant toy designers are not very zoologically intelligent.

She does suffer from torticollis, which you can see from the pictures. Her head leans to the right because the ligaments are tighter on that side - probably from being crammed up in the womb that direction. We are doing daily stretches with her, and if it is not better by month four we will start physical therapy. Her doctor assures me (and my research confirms) that not only is that pretty common, but she also doesn't have a horrible case of it.

We also have the added excitement of getting her hearing aids today! I cannot wait to see her face when we turn them on as her hearing loss is something I have mostly made peace with. As a women with a hearing impaired child told me recently, "All children get picked on at some point for some thing and I know that his thing will be hearing aids." All we can do now is raise a strong and confident girl who looks at them (anyone who would dare to tease her) sweetly and tells them to shove it.

Oh, and in the information that only a grandma could care about she weighs 13 pounds and six ounces (a full two pounds heavier than one month ago) and is approx 24.5 inches long. She's a big one for sure, probably because she likes to eat ALL THE TIME. She naps four times during the day for 30 minutes at a time, but only in my arms so I don't get much done during nap time. She also goes to bed at 7pm and wakes at 7am, with four or five rousing fits along the way. I do wish she slept better, but I suppose we will get there in time. The fits can't be too bad anyway because Corey manages to sleep through the vast majority of them.

And speaking of the rest of the family, Corey managed to convince me he needed new golf clubs this month, so here is a picture of his new Cleveland's. I have no idea if they are diamond encrusted, which only seems likely given the price, but they supposedly make him hit like a pro so I succumbed.

And Sprocket has managed to find a way to meditate through Brooke's screams. You can almost hear him thinking, "I'm still an only child. I'm still an only child..."