Tag Archives: parenting

What’s In a Nickname?

22 Feb

I don’t know about the rest of you parents out there, but I was basically obsessed over Lucy’s name before she was born.  We revealed to everyone that we were expecting a girl, but we kept the name (and before we chose it, the short list of names) under lock and key, even from the grandparents.  My very clever mother-in-law even tried to trick me into revealing the name through this text message exchange:

MIL:  Don’t worry, we will be waiting on you, you don’t need to do anything for us.  It’s all about you and the baby!  What was her name again?

Me: Can’t wait for your visit!  Nice try with the name.

MIL:  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I bought or borrowed multiple baby name books and trolled BabyCenter.com daily for new ideas.  Ultimately, the short list included Josephine (Jo or Josie for short), as a nod to my favorite Little Women character.  (By the way, I read that book again recently.  It seems all the religious overtones were lost on me as a non-religious kid.  But I still love it.)  We also thought about the name Lucia (pronounced Loo-SEE-yuh), with Lucy as a nickname, but I was concerned that people would pronounce it “LOO-sha,” as in the Virgin Island.  Ultimately we settled on Lucy Claire, which was Hubs’ favorite and which has a meaning I love (“bright light”).  

During this process, Hubs humored my fixation on names, but he didn’t really understand why I was so preoccupied with it.  (C’mon, what else was I supposed to think about when I was eight months pregnant and trying to sleep half-sitting up on the couch in a ginormous nest of pillows?)  But In my mind, this task of naming had taken on monumental proportions.  After all, it was my first real, decisive act as a parent.  I had followed all the pregnancy food rules fairly strictly, I had taken my prenatal vitamins, I had attended my doctor visits — but what if by choosing the wrong name I charted a disastrous life course for our precious angel?

This week it occurred to me that despite all the deep thought we gave to the name Lucy, we gave little to no thought to the nicknames that we’ve ended up calling her.  When I was pregnant, we called her Bambina (not sure how that one started, but it was definitely Hubs) or just Little One.  Now, we call her Luce or Lucy Lu (which rolls off the tongue with such ease, but unfortunately calls to mind the Asian actress), and I call her Baby Bear.  (Hubs thinks this is strange and “not very feminine” — I guess I started calling her that because if I’m the mama bear then she’s the baby bear?)  

But the most frequently used nickname we have for her is “the little bean,” often shortened just to “the bean.”  (This leads to very strange statements and email exchanges such as “the bean is sleeping” and “feeding the bean.”)  She was indeed a little bean when she was born — 6 lbs. 10 oz.  Now, she’s long and lean — in the 98th percentile for height and the 18th for weight — so I was inclined to start calling her “string bean” until my mom admonished me that she could end up being self-conscious about her height/weight.  I stopped immediately:  I certainly don’t want to give my infant daughter body issues!  (But it’s so dang cute…)

Names are chosen with care, but nicknames often stick and can have an equally big impact.  Now that I have a laundry list of parenting issues to keep me up at night, this one has moved down the list.  Still, whenever I find myself trying out a new nickname, I can’t help but thinking about what Lucy will think about it in five years, ten years, fifteen years (if it lasts that long).  On the other hand, if as a teen she isn’t horrendously embarrassed by everything I do and say it will probably be a minor miracle.

Dear readers, what are your nicknames for your kids and what do your kids think of them?

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The Whatever Works Club

21 Feb

Any of you who are mamas or have mama friends know that there are two main, and diametrically opposed, parenting philosophies: attachment parenting (babywearing, co-sleeping, breastfeeding) and…actually i don’t know the name of the other philosophy, but it endorses crying it out among other things.  When I was looking for a Mommy & Me group, I specifically avoided one (even though it is located less than a mile from my house and came highly recommended by a friend of mine) because the description was very attachment parent-y.

Now, don’t get me wrong — I am all in favor of parents doing whatever they want to do, and have absolutely nothing against people sleeping with their babies, wearing them 24 hours a day strapped to their bodies, etc.  (I actually wish Lucy liked being worn, but she seems to feel too constrained.  I hope she’ll change her tune when she’s older and we can forego the infant insert.)  I just don’t want people judging me for my choices, and I get the sense that attachment parenting enthusiasts tend to be more judgy than the average mama bear (is that me being judgy about them being judgy?  Ok, now I’m making my head spin).

I love discussing all things mamahood with my dear friend T. because we don’t ascribe to either of these camps and rather share the same general philosophy, which is a hybrid best described as “whatever the hell works for you.”  Yesterday T. sent me this blog post with the comment, “finally a moms’ club we can join!”  The author shares our viewpoint and eloquently describes her club as the “I think I’m doing this ok but I might be wrong, but that’s ok too and maybe you’d like to join me group.”  I loved this paragraph so I’ll just paste in the whole thing:

Whatever happened to just being a middle-of-the-road mom? Can you try to feed your kid organic food, but still let them have a Nutter Butter? Can you insist on bedtime routines, but occasionally let your kids stay up late and or let them sleep in their superhero costumes? When did the rules become so rigid and extreme? I’d like to start a new club called the “I think I’m doing this ok but I might be wrong, but that’s ok too and maybe you’d like to join me group.” We meet every Wednesday night after the kids are asleep. And if you’re late because your kid was on a sugar high and you caved and read her 10 stories instead of two because you didn’t have the strength to argue, that’s ok. We’ll save some wine for you.

A couple of things:  First, I totally want to have a glass of wine with this author, based on this post alone.  Second, I ended up looking up this author’s bio because her tagline says “Lawyer/Mother,” and I thought, “I’m a lawyer / mother!”  It turns out in addition to having her J.D., she also has an M.S. in Human Development and Family Studies (which explains why she’s qualified to blog for HuffPo and I’m qualified to blog for my enormous audience of 27 followers — no offense, I love all 27 of you, by the way!).  I have a close friend who also blogs for HuffPo (also one of the most impressive people I know), so I think I will try to find out how one gets that kind of gig.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go get my crying child and feed her a bottle of pumped milk.  Don’t judge!

Softies

12 Feb

I’ve always known I’m a softy.  It turns out that — at least where Lucy is concerned — Hubs is too.

Yesterday Lucy was extremely fussy.  Not all day, but enough of the day and with enough intensity that it was unusual: arched back and wailing and crying real tears and going all red in the face.  She didn’t have a fever or any other symptoms of being sick, so Hubs and I suspect she’s going through a growth spurt.  She barely napped all day, and by the evening she was so tired that she fell asleep in my arms, which she rarely does these days (I admit I loved that part):

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Sleepy baby

Then when we tried to transfer her to the Pack n’ Play napper so that I could make dinner, she woke up.  Usually she doesn’t go to bed till after 9 pm, since she’s still sleeping in a bassinet in our room so we usually move her and then go to bed ourselves.  But in my Mommy & Me class (which I had the second session of yesterday), we talked about setting a sleep routine and I decided we should start trying to move Lucy’s bedtime up to be earlier.  (One thing that convinced me was the instructor commenting that it’s better to do it now before Lucy can speak and say things like “Don’t go, Mommy” and “You hurt my heart.”  Yikes, point taken.)  So last night I thought, since she was clearly tired but also in a relatively good mood, it might be a good time to try to put her to bed at 8 pm in our room while we listened to her on the baby monitor from the living room.

Hubs got her all swaddled and settled in the bassinet, but as soon as she figured out that we weren’t also going to bed, she started wailing.  Hubs went back in, and I listened to him try to soothe her.  The silence lasted until he returned to the living room.  Then I went in and tried soothing her and also re-swaddling her since one arm had already escaped the swaddle (have I mentioned she’s a little Houdini?)  She would not stop flailing around long enough for me to re-do the swaddle.  I returned to the living room and there was some rustling and then silence other than Hubs’ footsteps.  

Success?  Not so much.  Hubs returned to the living room carrying Lucy, who was raising her arms in a victory pose (ok, not really, but she was pretty darn happy after we brought her back out to be with us).  Clearly, Hubs and I don’t yet have the stomach to listen to Lucy crying — it seriously breaks my heart when she’s upset!  So she will continue to be a night owl for now (or we will start going to bed at 8 pm!)

On the plus side, Lucy slept from 9:30 pm to 6:30 am, ate, and then went back to sleep and is still sleeping now (at 9:30 am)! So we know she can sleep like a champ–we just need to work on shifting the sleep schedule back.

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Our little Lucy burrito in her bassinet

Today I am going to try for the first time to put her for a nap in her crib instead of in the napping station in the living room.  Wish me luck!

Challenges

11 Feb

This weekend was pretty mellow.  On Friday Hubs and I discovered that one of our favorite local restaurants delivers (oh the little things!)  On Saturday we took Lucy out for a quick shopping trip and then celebrated my dad’s 64th birthday with dinner out.  And yesterday we mostly laid low and watched a DVD at night.

Admittedly, my main preoccupation continues to be with feeding Lucy.  After hearing from a couple of friends that nursing really does get easier and less painful over time, I decided to persevere.  Now I am doing a combo of nursing, pumped milk and a little bit of formula.  We decided to add back in the formula when we realized that Lucy was starting to fuss shortly after nursing, even when it seemed like she had nursed long enough to have gotten a full meal, so we’ve started bottlefeeding her 2 more oz with each nursing session.  When possible this is pumped milk, but that’s not always available.  It’s a little disappointing to realize that my milk supply is still inadequate, but Hubs and I also suspect Lucy may be going through a growth spurt.

I’m happy to be nursing Lucy at least part of the time, but it’s definitely not making my life any easier.  I had this vision that I would have less bottles and hassle to deal with, but since we are supplementing it’s just become a longer process.  I am still getting up once or twice a night to pump in order to keep my supply up, even though Lucy is sleeping through the night.  And now when we go out with her I have to figure out how and where to nurse, as well as bringing milk or formula too.  I know that most nursing moms go through this and worse, so I shouldn’t complain so much (wah wah wahhhh…)  I think it’s just growing pains and I’m sure in a few weeks it will be a much smoother process.

Nobody said it was easy / No one ever said it would be so hard… -Coldplay, “The Scientist”

In more cheerful news, Lucy’s new favorite thing is looking at herself in the mirror and “talking” to her reflection.  Who can blame her for wanting to talk to this cutie?:

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Hello, me!

Spoke Too Soon

8 Feb

Well readers, after my big ol’ brag about how Lucy and I totally mastered this whole nursing business, it turns out…not so much.  The first evening we did it a few days ago it was wonderful, but every time since then has gotten progressively more and more painful.  I’ve been consulting books and websites trying to refresh my memory about positioning, latch, and all that good stuff, but I just can’t figure out how to fix things. 

Before, the problem was that Lucy either wouldn’t latch, or else would latch on and promptly fall asleep and not drink anything.  Now she’s latching on and drinking, but in a way that is somehow excruciating for me.  Her positioning looks like what they show in the photos, so I have no idea how to keep her from attacking me with her bitey little gums (if that’s what’s happening…I honestly don’t even know).  She also is very fidgety when she’s eating sometimes, and tends to abruptly tug her head backward or side to side while still latched on.  When she’s drinking from a bottle I don’t really mind and it’s actually kind of funny/cute, but when she’s nursing…well, not so funny.  It’s also hard to take the time to get the right latch because when Lucy gets hungry, she gets ravenous and needs her four ounces of milk RIGHT NOW, and will wail and writhe until she gets it.

As a result — and I know this is a taboo thing to say — I’m not finding nursing enjoyable at all.  I know I’m “supposed” to feel like I’m bonding with Lucy but it’s hard to feel that way when really what I’m thinking is “OH MY GOD OUCH!!!  LET GO OF MY BOOB!!!”  I’ve felt much more snuggly and lovey with her when I’m giving her a bottle and she’s gazing up at me with her big blue eyes.

Now I’m really torn on what to do.  On the one hand, if I could figure out how to make nursing more comfortable and pleasant, I’d like to be able to do it at least part of the time.  So I will probably meet with a lactation consultant again.  But on the other hand, I had come to a point where I was really comfortable with the way we were doing things.  Of course I don’t love pumping — it’s inconvenient and I’d rather be snuggling Lucy than snuggling up to a machine — but it’s also pain-free and allows me to measure exactly how much Lucy is eating, which I like.

To be continued…

Motherhood, with a side of guilt

22 Jan

People always joke about growing up with “Jewish guilt” or “Catholic guilt.”  I’m technically Jewish, since my mom is culturally Jewish and my ancestors on my mom’s side were all Russian / Eastern European Jews, but my mom wasn’t raised religiously and neither was I.  We grew up celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah just because of their proximity to each other (it wasn’t until watching The OC that I realized “Christmukkah” was more common than I thought) but never went to synagogue, had Passover seder, or observed the high holidays.  (Nor did we go to Christian church, though I ventured with certain friends from time to time — including to Mormon church, much to my parents’ dismay.)  So my mom was not the stereotypical Jewish mom and I didn’t experience the stereotypical Jewish guilt.

That being the case, I’ve been a bit shell-shocked by the amount of guilt that comes along with being a parent.  This begins even before the baby is born and I imagine continues indefinitely.  As a mom, at every stage of Lucy’s life I will be presented with a dizzying amount of choices that could have a real impact on her life and her future.  The first guilt-inducing issue, which for some people seems more controversial than gun control or the Middle East peace process, is feeding: namely, whether to breastfeed or bottle-feed.

If you’re a parent, you’re well aware that the current medical/cultural opinion is that “breast is best.”  I heard or read this refrain many times during my pregnancy and I fully intended to breastfeed exclusively.  When my OB’s office offered me a free tub of formula, I turned my nose up at it and said “No thanks, I’m breastfeeding.”  Hubs and I attended a breastfeeding class at the hospital and became well-versed at how to properly position the baby doll at the breast and the mechanics of latching.  We watched an extremely cheesy video picturing a beautiful blond woman in front of a tropical setting, touting the magic of nursing.  Even though I stocked up (and perhaps overstocked) on baby items, I didn’t think about buying a breast pump because I figured I wouldn’t need it till much closer to the end of my maternity leave.  And — I’m ashamed to admit — I was secretly kind of judgy about people who didn’t breastfeed.

Fast forward to the hospital.  I’m in bed, in pain from delivery with a giant ice pack on my hoo-ha, and every few hours the nurses and/or lactation consultants come in and try to help me nurse Lucy, which basically consists of them manhandling and squeezing my boobs and trying to force them into Lucy’s screaming mouth.  Where was the beautiful blond woman, the tropical locale and the peaceful, angelic infant?  Still, I was determined to make it work.  At that point, my milk had not yet come in, which I assumed was the problem.

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Beautiful Lucy taking a rest from nursing attempts in the hospital.

But at home, things didn’t get better.  Lucy lost too much weight in the first few days, so the pediatrician told us to give her an ounce of formula as a supplement at each feeding.  I had also been told by the lactation consultant at the hospital to pump with each feeding.  And we were supposed to feed Lucy every three hours (counted from the beginning of the prior feeding).  As you may imagine, between trying to nurse, feeding her the formula, pumping and feeding her the pumped milk — all every three hours — we were basically constantly feeding her.  And whenever I would try to nurse, Lucy would either not latch at all; scream and cry; or else latch on and fall asleep, rendering it near impossible for me to de-latch.  We could spend hours like this, all night, and I came to realize that my milk supply was just too low, notwithstanding all my pumping, so basically I had turned into a giant human binky.  (I hadn’t thought to give Lucy a real binky, since we were told that could cause nipple confusion.)

After two weeks of both Lucy and I being in tears over the feeding situation, I finally met with a lactation consultant.  She informed me that Lucy has a “high palate” and she said that nursing would be a real challenge, though she thought I could do it.  But after trying repeatedly for a few more days and experiencing lots of screaming, crying, and failed latching, I gave up.

Now, I feed Lucy a combination of pumped milk and formula, about 50-50.  In any given day, I pump about 10-15 ounces of milk and she drinks between 20-25.   The first few days after I stopped nursing, I was depressed about it.  It’s hard to have your heart set on the way something’s going to be and not have it work out, and I was feeling guilty about not being able to exclusively breastfeed.  But as the days went on, I have come to mostly like our arrangement.  The moment we switched to just bottle-feeding her, feeding Lucy became such a pleasure.  Hubs is able to feed her and he enjoys the bonding time with her.  My parents and Hubs’ parents can also take turns feeding her when they’re here.  Lucy is a great little eater and she’s healthy and gaining weight well.  And a side perk is that selfishly, it gives me freedom to go out and do things without worrying about always needing to get back super quickly for Lucy’s feedings.

I didn’t really realize it till I experienced it, but a LOT of people have trouble with breastfeeding.  And a lot of people feel like they are judged when they formula feed.  Luckily, no one has ever said anything overtly judgy to me, but people do ask questions with implied judgment (like “how’s nursing going?  Are you pumping?” etc.)   Right now I’m reading a book called Bottled Up: How The Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, and Why it Shouldn’t.  It’s “part memoir, part popular science, and part social commentary,” and very insightful about the history of “Breast is Best” and womens’ experiences.  It is not an anti-breastfeeding book, as the author makes clear.  But it sheds light on something that is a common issue and which hadn’t been written about in this way before.

The author of this book also has a website called Fearless Formula Feeder.  I can’t say I’m yet “fearless” about anything involving motherhood, including formula feeding.  I do still wish that I could feed Lucy only breast milk.  But I’m trying to work on at least not giving myself a guilt trip about it.  There are enough people out there judging…I don’t need to be one of them.

Is One the Loneliest Number?

9 Jan

When you get engaged, from the moment you have the ring on your finger everyone wants to know all the details, from the date and venue to the dress and cake flavor.  Once you get married, everyone wants to know when you’re going to have kids.  (During the Sunday brunch the morning after my wedding, my mom was holding one of my high school friends’ babies and remarked, “Don’t you want one of these?”  Seriously Mom, we had been married less than 20 hours!)  And inevitably, once you have one child and think that the masses will be appeased, not so fast!  Everyone wants to know whether — and when — you’ll be having your next one.

Hubs and I agreed that we would table even having that conversation until Lucy is older.  (No Irish twins for us, thankyouverymuch.)  We haven’t decided whether or not to have a second child, but two kids seems to be Hubs’ max.  Still, it’s hard not to ponder the concept and wonder whether Lucy will stay an only child or whether we will someday give her a little brother or sister.

I’m an only child, whereas Hubs is the oldest of three.  I had a good childhood as an only child (more on that in a minute), so I’ve never felt like I must have more than one kid.  I think people with siblings (assuming they get along) tend to think having siblings is important enough to persuade them to have more than one child.  (My parents had siblings, but those stories could fill an entire blog so I’ll leave it at that.)  Before Lucy, whenever I heard people say “I just really want to have another child for my first child,” I frankly thought that was kind of silly.  Wouldn’t a second child actually detract from the attention, time and resources that can be afforded the first child?

Now, however, I’m revisiting my opinion.  I was discussing this with friends the other day and we agreed that we love the idea of having a large clan of kids (though the reality may be another story.)  I admit that part of this desire comes from watching the show Parenthood.  I seriously adored that show before I had Lucy and now I adore it even more.  Watching the big, crazy. flawed but loving Braverman family makes me wish that I could have a big ol’ clan like that of my own.  Part of it is that, since I’m an only child, we now have my parents in town (which is awesome for so many reasons) but we don’t have any cousins on the West Coast for Lucy.  Hubs’ brother has two kids, a 5-year-old girl and almost-3-year-old boy, but they live back East.  We’re trying to arrange for the cousins to meet in the next couple of months, and I know we will try to have them see each other once or twice a year, but that’s hardly the same as regular family get-togethers.  My friend T. commented that she wishes her young daughter weren’t always just surrounded by adults, and I have the same feeling.  I have friends who are like family and I hope that Lucy and their kids will end up feeling like family too….but it would never be quite the same as flesh-and-blood relatives.  And while I didn’t mind being an only child when I was younger, I admit that I started wishing I had siblings as I got older.  Being an only child is not always lonely, but it can be.  But of course, having siblings is not guaranteed to prevent loneliness, either.  As with most parenting decisions, this is one of those head-scratchers with respect to what is really best for Lucy, Hubs and me.

Regardless of whether we have more kids or not, I’ve been thinking a lot about how important it is for us to create traditions within our family for Lucy to look forward to.  A year or two ago, a woman I know whose daughter is an only child picked my brain about what my experience was like as an only child.  I told her without hesitation, “Create traditions.”  For example, for Easter my parents would create a treasure hunt of clues leading up to an Easter basket at the end of the search.  (I may need my parents’ expert help with clues if we do this for Lucy!)  For Christmas Eve, we would go out for Chinese food with our best family friends whose son was my age, and then go back to their house for dessert and gifts.  His parents became like an aunt and uncle to me.   (My mom sent me this interesting article about a woman whose family also had the Chinese food tradition…now I’m reading her memoir, which is fantastic.)  And on Christmas, “Santa” would save an extra-special gift for me until I was totally done opening gifts and had moved on with the  other activities of the day.  (One year my dad had me check the clothes in the dryer, but instead of laundry there was a gift.  I always knew it was coming but every year I would still think, “Maybe this is the year they’ll stop…”  I kid you not when I say they still did this until two years ago.)

For their part, Hubs’ family had the tradition (which they continue to this day) of going to Sea Isle City on the Jersey shore for 1-2 weeks each summer.  This tradition began over 40 years ago when Hubs’ parents and two other couples started going before they had kids.  Then Hubs was born, then his siblings and the other couples’ kids.  Now almost all of the “kids” have kids, and the whole clan still congregates there every summer and rents a big house together.  I went for the first time this past summer (Hubs hadn’t gone in 10 years because it’s not an easy trip from L.A.) and I have to say it was pretty amazing.  I got to meet the kids Hubs grew up with, and now all their kids are having the same experience.  I’ve already decided that I want us to start going regularly in a couple of years when Lucy is a bit older.  Maybe not every year, but enough that Lucy will grow up knowing her cousins and these other friends, and having something to look forward to every summer.

And maybe, if she ends up being our one and only, she will do what I did and her friends will become her second family.

To be continued…