Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Finally, a schedule ... sort of

New photo album on the Meehan Photoblog.

Danny is three months old this week and we've finally established a bit of a schedule. There are always some variations, of course. But my sanity is starting to return as he gets a little more predictable.

We wake up between 7:30 and 8:00. He's so happy to be awake. We have a little chat, he kicks his legs furiously and then he has his morning poop. I change him and put him in his crib where he has a conversation with the monkeys on his mobile. I go fix my breakfast, get the newspaper and take it up to his room. I read the paper and eat my breakfast while he plays in his crib.

Then between 9:00 and 10:00, he puts himself down for a nap. I'm very proud of him for learning this skill. It's important for him to learn how to go to sleep on his own. In fact, last night, I put him in his crib awake at 10:30 and he fussed a bit before falling asleep until 1:30. I nursed him, put him back in his crib and he slept until 3:30 a.m. One night, he slept for two hours, fussed for about 3 minutes and drifted back to sleep for two more hours. This is progress!

Back to our day ... at 10:00 it's time for Sesame Street. He really loves it. It entertains him for at least a half hour. Then we nurse and I get to watch my favorite show (Scrubs on Comedy Central). After that, it's kind of a crap shoot. We don't really have an afternoon schedule. Sometimes, we take a nap together or as I like to call it, a nurp. He basically nurses and naps for up to two hours.

By the time Jim gets home, Danny is kind of tired of me and ready for Daddy time.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The constant gardener

My son is such a man already. He only wants to do something if it's his idea. Sorry, guys, but it's true. Ideas to which my husband's response is tepid at best are often uttered excitedly by him weeks or months later as if he had just discovered them all by himself. That's okay. I just think of myself as the gardener around here ... I plant seeds and he grows them. Anyhow, where was I?

Oh, yes. My son ... I've been trying to give him tummy time every day, as per the current recommendations from pediatricians. We've been told to put babies on their backs to sleep, but doctors are finding that babies have weak neck muscles and flat heads. However, being on his stomach just pisses him off. He howls and fusses.

So imagine my surprise this morning when the little man rolled over onto his stomach. He exerted quite a bit of effort doing it and when he was finally on his stomach, I figured he'd start howling as usual. Nope. He sighed and grinned. Then tried to roll over onto his back, but couldn't. Then he began the howling. We've got some work to do here.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Co-sleeping is a dream ...

I'm having very vivid dreams these days, ones that I actually remember when I get up. This must mean that I'm getting a much better quality of sleep. Although Danny isn't sleeping through the night, our sleeping arrangements are helping us all get better rest.

For part of the night, Danny is in his crib. I'm reluctant to wake him and bring him to our bed when we retire for the night. I want to give him the chance to sleep for long periods of time if he's so inclined. So I wait until he wakes up for a night feeding to bring him to our bed. That means I have to get up only once. The rest of the night I am barely awake when he nurses. I've got to believe this is the way nature intended nighttime parenting. The notion that an infant, who has spent nine months nestled inside his mother, should sleep in a crib away from his mother came about only in the past century. As always, I ask, "Who stands to benefit from this arrangement?"

Certainly not the mother, who is forced from her warm bed several times a night to care for an infant. Certainly not the infant, who wakes in a panic several times a night to find himself alone in a bed surrounded by bars. Certainly not the father, who is likely awoken each time by the crying infant. When Danny is in our bed, he rarely cries in the night. I'm convinced that new parents are exhausted because of their sleeping arrangements. It seems unreasonable to expect an infant to sleep all alone. And why should he? The adults in the house get to sleep with a partner.

Here's a clue as to who benefits from this arrangement. A recent national campaign warning parents against co-sleeping was backed by the Juvenile Products Manufacturing Association - an association of crib manufacturers. They support their claims of co-sleeping dangers with misleading information. They try to convince parents that all co-sleeping is bad because some babies have died. In reality, more babies have died in cribs from SIDS than have died in adult beds. During an eight-year period in the 1990s, there were 65 cases of non-SIDS accidental death each year in a bed, and about 4,250 cases of actual SIDS occurred overall each year. And while the SIDS deaths are, by definition, unexplained, infant deaths in adult beds can be explained. Most are the result of drunk or drugged parents smothering the infant or of the infant being unsupervised.

There is a safe way to co-sleep and most pediatricians, Dr. Sears included, advise parents on how to do so safely. The knee-jerk reaction that all co-sleeping is dangerous cuts parents off from their instincts - and puts more money into crib manufacturers' pockets. I choose to follow my instincts. Right now, the baby needs to be near me at night. In fact, if he's not close enough, he inches, rolls, squirms and fusses his way over until he's close enough. So for now, I'm tailoring my expectations to his needs. For me to expect him to sleep on his own puts too much stress on all of us.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Danny's little talk with Jesus

We've taken Danny to church two weekends in a row now. He's been very well-behaved. And this past Sunday, we actually ate lunch in a restaurant while our son sat quietly in his carrier, cooing and smiling at us every once in a while. It was glorious. He must have had a talk with the big guy. I think we'll keep taking him to church.

Why my child will NEVER go to public school

Reason #2
Have you ever gone out to run errands and returned with a sense that the world isn't going to end in a big, dramatic bang, but in a gradual melting of intellect until we're all reduced to mindless monkeys?

We decided last night to ditch the menu (I plan meals two weeks out -- yes, I know it's very anal retentive of me.) and run into Sam's Club for a pizza. It's always $7.44 for a really good 16" take-and-bake pizza. Now, I know, the idea of a quick in and out trip to Sam's Club is deluded on my part. My husband's parting words as I jumped out of the car were "Make sure you get one with a price on it." So, dutifully, I checked for a price on the pizza and proceeded to the register. The girl who rang me up looked at the price and then proclaimed, "This don't have no barcode." Oh, dear God in heaven, whatever shall we do? How about type in the PRICE clearly written on the box?

I pointed out to her that the price was $7.44. She said, "I still need a barcode." So she calls the floor manager who comes up and tells her to type in $7.44. Apparently, punching $7.44 into the computer was too much to ask. She absolutely needed a barcode or someone to tell her that it was okay to punch in $7.44.

This is a good one illustration of the sad fact that compulsory schooling turns out people who can't function outside the box. They can't think on their own. They constantly look for outside approval to be sure they're doing the right thing. They can't look within themselves for validation or even decide on their own that they are doing the right thing. In a nutshell, the system doesn't turn out free thinkers -- that would be too dangerous for the state (but that's another post all together). For a good book that really sums up my beliefs about compulsory schooling, read John Taylor Gotto's Dumbing us Down.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Bringing home strays

One of the things about work that I missed while on maternity leave was the publisher's book bin. The newspaper gets all sorts of freebies from publishers ... books, CDs, DVDs, and various promotional items that I could probably live without. The book review editor has a sale every week or so. You can find hardback and paperback best sellers for just a few bucks if you're lucky. You can also find books on very obscure topics — which leads me to believe that ANYONE can write a book. Hell, maybe one day I'll get around to expanding my own book proposal into an actual book.

I've been back at work now for two weeks and I've already brought home four, no, wait, five books. Among my favorite finds over the years:
  • The Backyarrd Lumberjack: The Ultimate Guide to Felling, Bucking, Splitting and Stacking
    An excerpt: This book is intended for anyone who has the regional resources, the physical wherewithal, and most important, the desire to take down trees. Bingo. That would be my husband. I'm sure I'll regret bringing this one home.

  • The Garage Sale Decorator's Bible: How to Find Treasures, Fix Them & Furnish Your Home
    Oh dear, this one is for me. I have a habit of adopting furniture that has been abandoned by the side of the road or pawned off by relatives, friends or even complete strangers. Now I have a book to help me justify these adoptions.

  • Hypochondria Can Kill You
    This book is a silly little compendium of the many obscure potential killers that lurk in modern society from telephone stroke (holding the receiver too tightly to one’s head) to the most common housework-related fatalities among men. This supports my contention that drug companies are creating ills for every pill.

  • Schlepping through the Alps
    From a review of the book: Sam Apple has written a brilliantly comic and very dark pastorale about shepherds, Nazis, and Jews, modern-day Austria, love and fidelity ...
    This book has the most obscure mix of (true life) characters and issues that I've ever encountered in a book.

One of the many advantages of nursing is that I get to sit and read books while he eats.

And, of course, here's a recent photo of the kid:

Friday, February 09, 2007

Why my child will NEVER go to public school

Reason #1 (in no particular order of importance)

Something is seriously wrong with an education system that turns out people who can't even use a calculator to calculate an insurance co-pay. That's math in real life and apparently, the schools in this country can't even teach students how to do it.

This is the kind of math that schools should be teaching students. Maybe then they'd have a decent shot at distinguishing between a good insurance plan and a total ripoff. Honestly, there should be a math class called Insurance Math 101 ... although I doubt that "insurance math" actually follows any mathematical laws. Trying to figure out how the insurance company comes up with its numbers is mind numbing. But I digress ...

At the pediatrician's office last week, the receptionist tried to calculate what my 20 percent co-pay would be for the visit. She repeatedly tried to tell me that 20 percent of $324 was $259.20. I could see what she was entering into the calculator ... $324 minus 20 percent.

She was flustered and I was trying to stay calm while praying that my son wouldn't start the launch sequence for meltdown. I had to tell her what to enter into the calculator to come up with $64.80, which is 20 percent of $324. Do you know how I reached that amount? Would you know how to enter it into a calculator? Please tell me you do.

Stay tuned for more random instances of stupidity ...

Monday, February 05, 2007

Super Bowl Sunday, the Holy Day of Obligation

As we got ready to go to church Sunday for the first time since Danny's birth, Jim said: "I didn't know Super Bowl Sunday was a holy day of obligation."

Not really, but we finally felt confident enough that Danny wouldn't scream his head off the entire time. And he did really well. We sat in the easy get-away seats in the back with all the other parents. I had to take him out only once to nurse him. By the end of mass, a nearby Daddy was holding his toddler and saying to him, "See, even that baby is being quiet. Shhhh."

Around our house, Super Bowl Sunday takes on the status of a national holiday. Jim thinks we should make up a back story to tell Danny about Super Bowl Sunday. So far we've come up with The Great [Jon] Madden as a Santa-like figure who brings snackies and lets little boys stay up late to watch football.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Back to work

Since Danny's birth, reading the newspaper has become a luxury, done rarely, quickly and online so I could browse with one hand. My husband would often ask if I had read a story in the paper. And I would give him a withering look and say, "Are you kidding me?" He would then recount the details of the story for me.

Saturday he asked if I had read the paper. I smiled. Why, yes, in fact, I had read the paper - the night before at work. Never have I appreciated more the fact that I get paid to read the newspaper. I actually got to fix my hair, dress nicely, wear my cute shoes again and not get puked on for about 8 hours. And in the downtime at work Saturday, I even got to browse a few of my favorite Web sites.

The Danny Diary

We are plugging along with our bedtime routine for Danny. He's responding better than I thought he would. Each night I worked this week, I came home to find Danny sound asleep in his crib. Good job, Daddy!

Last night, he slept for four hours in his crib. That's the longest stretch we've gotten so far. I fed him around 12:30 a.m. and he went right back to sleep until 3:15 a.m. He ends up in bed with me after the second feeding simply because I'm too tired to sit in his room and nurse him. If he's in bed with us, at least I can sleep while he nurses.

He's been awfully cute lately and I've really missed him when I go to work. I almost hate that he's asleep when I get home ... almost.