Posts Tagged ‘80’

Baby-led weaning in action

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Here’s a video of 80 having lunch. It’s not actually that exciting, but I thought it would be good for someone who was skeptical (as I often am).

Ask any questions about BLW in the comments — and anyone else who is doing this, let me know if you have other tips.

Baby-led Weaning

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

I had read about baby-led weaning (BLW for short) at when researching the whole “eating food” thing. The description by a parent made it sound like you feed them solid solid food (not purees) from the get-go. At first I was confused by the name, since weaning was not what I was looking to do. It’s kind of badly named — I’d call it baby-led feeding.

I read a little bit more online, about the idea. Right now in the US, the conventional first foods for a baby are soupy grain cereals and vegetable purees. Outside of the US, and historically, this has not been the case.

I was excited about the idea of it because it’s apparent that 80 is into eating, and we haven’t had any trouble with her wanting to try new food, gagging on the purees we’d been giving her, or anything else that would be a sign that this wouldn’t be a good idea.

In fact, one big reason why I was so excited is that the babies feed themselves. 80 is acting so independent, and wasn’t very happy being fed. She’d tolerate it at the beginning, but by the middle of the feeding she’d grab at the spoon. It’s amazing how fast her reflexes are, which meant she would have her hand (or hands) around the spoon, and I’d be saying “let go, please” in my nice voice while prying her little fingers off it. This did not make her happy. So then we’d have a crying, frustrated girl, and I’m trying to give her more food ON THE VERY SPOON I’D JUST TAKEN AWAY. It reminded me of that meme crying while eating.

I didn’t find a comprehensive explanation online, so resolved to see if the library had a book on it. I asked at the weekly mom meet-up we have on Friday afternoons, and one of the moms offered to lend me the book she had. Perfect! It’s Baby-led Weaning by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett.

Basically, the idea is that babies are capable of eating on their own, because their tongue-thrust reflex keeps them from eating before they’re ready, and the gag reflex helps to teach them how far they can put food into their mouths. It takes some courage to just hand your baby a “stick” of food, since we’re told not to let them near anything they could take a bite out of. The only other unpleasant part of starting BLW was freaking out about 80 gagging on food.

The gag reflex is awesome — it lets 80 know when she’s crammed that banana too far into her mouth. It’s just that she then make the “gork gork” noise, and Jason and I jump from our chairs and stare at her with our arms out to the side like we’re ready to tackle her. Just like the book said, she’d gag a bit, spit out the food, then calmly continue eating. All babies are going to do this, even if they’re eating purees. The book goes over in great detail how to handle gagging and choking (which is less likely to happen). 80 hasn’t choked once, but she’s gagged maybe three times — not recently though.

BLW is said to be messy, since your kidlet has access to all the food, but I found purees to be just as messy, since they’re basically food paint.

The big thing on what to feed your baby is that you should be offering them food from your plate, and eating together. Outside of the big no-nos (honey, salt, nuts, peanuts, dairy), you can feed your kid anything. It’s a little hard to wrap my brain around, since we’ve been in a pureed vegetables culture for so long, but once I finished the book, and started offering 80 some different things, it got a lot easier to imagine what I could feed her from my plate.

A side benefit is that you end up eating healthier! It’s hard for me not to eat salt, so this is an excellent exercise in moderation.

I’m going to give you a list of what 80’s eaten so far, but bear in mind that the point is not that she’s ingest much (if any) of all of the foods. The point is that she’s practicing eating for when she’ll need the calories.

Since we’ve started, 80’s eaten sticks of avocado, apple, carrot (baked and peeled first, so it’s solid but not crunchy), potato, rice cake (I found regular old plain rice cakes broken into sticks work better and are cheaper than the baby versions), kale (from a soup), lettuce (she mostly gummed it and didn’t eat any), chicken breast, grapefruit, lemon, and she’s moved on to eating the standard “O”. I looked at Cascadian Farms version of Cheerios, but they had way more sugar. Turns out Cheerios (or their generic equivalent) have the lowest sugar — 1g per serving. Os are great, since they are the perfect shape for little chubby hands. It’s an excellent exercise in the pincer grasp, and it keeps 80 amused for a long time. We brought Os on the plane to NC last week, and she’d pick one from our hand and work on getting it to her mouth — and then we’d put another in our hand for her to take. Not messy on her face or clothes, tiny snack, not hard to clean up even if she got it all soggy and it ended up on the floor, and it was a good way to pass time.

I’d suggest the book I read — it’s well written, it has a nice balance of historical information, reasons to BLW with reasonable encouragement (not making you feel like you’re signing up for a cult), and lots of suggestions for foods.

The only downside for me was that it’s British, and I had to look up what a rusk was, as well as try to remember the American words for aubergine and courgette.

If you’re not a fan of personal stories (they are in all the baby books I read), you can just skip them. In fact, if you don’t care about the history of feeding babies, you can just skip to chapter 4 where it gets down to the nitty gritty.

Eating food! (pause) Oh.

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

Right before Thanksgiving, we started feeding 80 … food. It seems redundant to say feeding food, but up until this point, she’d only had breast milk and formula.1. We decided 80 was ready for food because she’d been staring at us eating in front of her and my impression was that she thought it looked like fun, she was sitting up well, and she generally seemed game to try new experiences.

Wearing a bib, ready to go.

I’d read a while ago about what to feed babies, and at the 6mo checkup, our doctor reminded us about the things NOT to feed babies until they’re older. You might find it surprising what’s not OK: honey, peanut butter or peanuts, any dairy, salt, sugar (everything I love, basically). I checked my favorite parenting site Moms4Mom to see what other parents have opined about what to feed your 6mo.

I knew the basics, but was surprised to find out about feeding theories that weren’t covered in the books I had read. I had come to the site to find out if I should start with rice cereal with breastmilk, or some sort of vegetable. I wasn’t expecting to find anything else. I settled on rice cereal as 80’s first food, because it is iron fortified, and at 6 months there isn’t much else she needs other than breastmilk.

The other feeding theory had caught my eye. At the time, I was impatient to start in on the food, and didn’t want to wait, so I made a mental note to look it up later.

I also read about other good first foods, things that are easily gummed. I decided that 80 should also try avocado, because I find it so incredibly delicious. Plus, as Keem says, “It’s the cheese of the vegetable kingdom.” So we sat down to try eating.

And it was awesome! The rice cereal was mostly milk, and 80 slurped it down. There was no pushing it out of her mouth with her tongue (this being a reflex that younger babies have, and a good indicator that they’re not ready for food yet), and not that much mess … until she realized that the spoon was the food vehicle. Then it was not so awesome. She wanted to hold the spoooooooon. Why couldn’t she just hold the spoooooooon? (Answer: because she would gnaw on it, not give it back for a refill, and couldn’t get it into her mouth without rotating it so all the cereal fell off.)

But whatever, it was eating food! This meant the eventual freedom of my boobs.2 It meant new adventures.

Within 24 hours, I was reminded of the other aspect to starting solid foods. The poop. I’d forgotten that it changes, even though everyone who’s had a baby talks about it. I wouldn’t have been so excited about food if I’d remembered. I now understand why people get a Diaper Genie.

See, breastmilk poop doesn’t smell that bad at all. I think it smells vaguely like bagels. It’s a subtle odor. Everything-else poop is wow. Like adult poop.

We realized we’d need to start using a sprayer or liners with her cloth diapers. The trash can in her room was suddenly smelly. My favorite baby book ever, Be Prepared, suggests having a trash can outside the window, and dropping diapers out the window into the trash can below. I seriously considered it.3

What can be done about this new development in diapers? Nothing. As long as we keep feeding her food, her poop is going to stink just like everybody else. Perhaps we could just feed her roses.

Next up, I’ll explain moving from shoving gruel into my angry baby’s mouth, to the much more fun Baby-led Weaning!

1. We gave her formula the first week of her life, as a means to flush out the jaundice she had.
2. This was a bigger thing than just having my boobs to myself again. I have a low-level amount of worry that 80 will be hungry and I won’t be around.
3. I’m sure the other condo owners are glad I didn’t.


Monday, December 20th, 2010

Lots has been going on, not the least of which is 80’s increase in awesomeness.

Nearly every day, I take a little video with my phone, and email it to my parents. Last night, 80 started crawling (belly off the ground and all) while I filmed. Turn down the sound if you don’t want to hear my increasingly high-pitched squeals.

Upright, outta sight

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Wadsgreen update time! Right now, Jason’s picking up orajel, 80’s playing, and I’m assembling pocket diapers.

80’s teething. She has her bottom two front teeth, and is working on her top two. They are especially painful, and I think their placement makes 80’s usual coping strategy of sucking her thumb not possible. Hopefully it’s over soon. 80’s been reading a tiny wooden book with animal pictures on it. By “reading”, I mean “mouthing”.

Jason’s being a great dad. He’s the master of bedtime. He’s doing the seven languages in seven weeks thing. You may be thinking “ooh, Esperanto!” but he’s actually learning programming languages.

I’m finishing up with LibraryThing, looking for my next awesome job and knitting socks for an internet friend. I’m reading the Runaway comics.

Correction: now there’s a tooth

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Whatever I thought a baby tooth was supposed to look like, I was wrong. Baby teeth are not rounded little bags of cream*.

Today 80 and I discovered that a baby tooth is a jagged mountain that erupts slowly, starting with the pointiest peaks. Babies’ teeth are like kitten claws–viciously sharp for something so otherwise cuddly.

As long as she’s engaged, her mind is off her pain. Napping is hard. We had a lot of conversations today about how I hope she’s not a biter.

Things that helped include chewing on her Sophie giraffe**, going for a walk, and listening to the eponymous Throwing Muses album***.

*Mighty Boosh reference
**thank you for the hand-me-down,
***helpful to me, since I’m interviewing Kristin Hersh

Wadsgreen update

Monday, October 4th, 2010

80 has a tooth. Well, she has a tooth nubbin, which has barely broken the surface of her gums, but she’s totally growing bones. She’s been a bit cranky in the evenings, and on Saturday night I was playing with her and realized she had a tooth. It all makes sense in retrospect — the added drool, the cranky. Still, I thought this would be much more of an ordeal, involving anbesol, frozen teething rings, and whiskey (for her and/or us).

It’s hard to explain how things like this make me feel. I’m so triumphant, so excited, and have to keep saying it over and over for it to sink in. “She has a tooth. She has a TOOTH.” Things are moving so fast and so slow at the same time, these little huge things are really cool. I’m realizing that all the times parents were talking to me about some boring story involving their kid, it’s not entirely because they think I need to know. They need to absorb it, reflect on it, remember it and capture it in their minds, because it’s happening so fast for them. Enjoy this one with me, and remember this next time you’re talking to a parent. Just look in their eyes and see what’s going on for them.

Jason and I were just discussing* how today I turned on the heat for the first time this season**, and we need to take the air conditioning unit out of the window. In our new place, the heat is from radiators, so there’s hissing and squealing as the heat turns on. I was telling him that it’s a very friendly heat. It’s warmer. Maybe it’s the noises that accompany it. I said it was like living in Howl’s Moving Castle.

Jason said he was very excited. I asked him to clarify if he was excited about the A/C or the heater. He said both, but he meant the A/C. He’s been looking forward to taking it out for a while, knowing that it means the end of summer and the promise of cool weather only.

We decided we’d take the A/C out tonight, then watch Howl’s Moving Castle. It will be very, very cozy.

*over IM, because we are digital folks
**we have a little baby who hates things on her hands and would get them all drooly anyway and then just be cold, so we’re keeping the heat level at a toasty 72. In previous years, I think we kept it at 68. Like so many other things, I’m willing to be all hippie and crunchy, unless it really makes me miserable. I pick my environmental battles, and am happy in the meantime.

The Birth Story (part 4)

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

How I should have ended part 3 was to tell you that I was rushed with sweet, sweet mama-hormones that made me feel giddy and happy, that it was awesome and amazing and wonderful. It was. I am so lucky to have had such a great birth. I keep saying to Jason, “I could do this professionally!”, and he keeps cringing.

I don’t know if you can feel the pressure drop, or see the clouds looming, but now I’m going to tell you about the bad things that happened. Luckily, none of them are really all that bad. All were temporary, with no lasting effect.

80 was put on my chest by Jason, and was there for a short amount of time before someone calmly said that she wasn’t breathing real well, that she still had liquid in her lungs, and it needed to come out. They’d leave her on my chest unless her breathing didn’t improve fast enough, at which point they’d take her to the warming table just a few feet away. A nurse filliped her foot, and explained that getting the baby to cry would stimulate her breathing. I hadn’t been sure what to do with 80, other than to explain that I was her mama, so I took this opportunity to start mothering. I told her she should cry, that it would make her feel better. “Come on little baby, give me a cry. It’s OK, let it out. Go ahead, cry, baby.”

Soon there were hands reaching in, to suction out 80’s nose and mouth. She wasn’t breathing better fast enough. They told me that they wanted to take her to the warming table. If she didn’t improve quickly enough, they were going to need to take her to the nursery.┬áThis all seemed so reasonable, I decided not to freak out.

This is where the stories diverge. This is no longer the story of me and the baby who was connected to me. Now 80’s story is her own, from now on. I’ll tell hers first, then go back and tell mine.

I appreciated the calmness of everyone, and their reasonable ratcheting up of interventions, rather than panicking and rushing her off. Of course, if 80 had been in more trouble, I would expect them to take more immediate action.

They brought 80 over to the warming table, where they were able to suction out her nose and mouth better on her back (since she had been belly down on me), and they put an oxygen mask next to her, so it would waft over her. Jason stood by her while they attended to her, continuing to suction (with those little rubber bulb things). Jason must have come back over to me, because when they told us that she wasn’t improving fast enough and she needed to go to the nursery, I looked at Jason. I told him to go with her (this seemed so obvious to me), but he hesitated. I told him A’Nova would be with me, that I’d be fine. 80 needed him, and I needed him to be with her. So they left.

A great way to get more oxygen into a baby is to make them cry, and a great way to make a newborn cry is to give them a bath. So, Jason watched nurses adeptly bath 80, then take her over to a hospital crib, where they attached monitors to her, to keep track of her heart rate and such.

Hello, world!
I’m not sure what everything is, but there’s a baby lo-jack on her ankle to thwart baby snatchers. She looks like she’s wearing sparkle eyeshadow from the ointment.

A pediatrician came in to talk to me, who said she was improving, but they’d like to keep her under observation (and on monitors) overnight. I asked if her lack of oxygen would have any lasting effect. Her answer was great. It was something like “Please, fetuses don’t get 100% oxygen in the womb, and they’re fine. It’s not enough to worry about.” Excellent.

So 80 stayed in the nursery overnight. By the time I saw her again, she was much improved. The nurse had brought her in to feed, and said she’d be back for 80 in 20 minutes or so. She indicated that 80 was doing well, and she might take her sweet time coming back for her.

I nursed 80 for the first time. It was kind of a non-event. Your milk doesn’t come in for a day or two, so what 80 was nursing was colostrum (a word I knew well from my days of bottle-feeding calves). It’s a lot thicker and there’s less of it, so I worried a bit that it wasn’t enough. I was assured that it was, that newborns’ stomachs are teeny anyway. Jason and I had gone to a breastfeeding class, there’s all this hovering of nurses, and talk of having access to lactation consultants, so I was more paranoid than usual about nursing going well.

The nurse didn’t come back for 80 for at least an hour. We got to hang out with our brand new baby. We mostly stared at her. That’s all I remember doing. When she’d be in my arms, I’d have my neck craned down so my face was inches from hers.

We stayed in the hospital a second night, then went home the next day. There was some concern that 80 was jaundiced enough to need intervention, so we were to go to our (fantastic) pediatrician the next day.

Subsequently, we spent a full week going to the hospital every day to have blood drawn, then on to the pediatrician’s to get the results and decide what to do. The course of action was to supplement her feeding (with more feeding). Besides looking yellow, a symptom of jaundice is sleepiness. We spent two weeks trying to keep our sleepy baby awake long enough to nurse, then take a bottle. That may be part of the reason she grew 1.5 inches in two weeks.

The jaundice went away, her breathing hasn’t been a problem since the first night, and we now have a very healthy, very happy baby.

Things I learned:

  • If a newborn is flaring its nostrils, it may not be getting enough oxygen. It’s a handy observation.
  • Don’t dress a jaundiced baby in yellow. It doesn’t help.
  • If you call your parents to tell them you gave birth, don’t tell them about the breathing problem, unless you have time to update them that the baby is improving.

PART FIVE (only took a year to finish)

The birth story, uncensored (part 3)

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

So this is when the real pushing began. The pushing for transition was a single section of puuuuush and rest. Pushing 80’s head out had three sections to it (I don’t know how else to describe it), and was more difficult to master. During the contraction, my eyes were closed. I had moved from being on my back to laying more on my left side, with my left leg down on the bed and my right leg up in the air. I could grab my right leg, and pull it towards me during the contraction.

With each contraction, the baby’s head will move forward, then slip back a little. The first part was pushing to get her back to where she had been. The second part was to move her forward a bit. The third part (which I started to experience maybe halfway through all the birthing pushing) was pushing past the point of comfort, where I could tell that my body was stretching. This is referred to the “burning ring of fire”, but to me it just felt like, well, what it was. Imagine someone grabbing your arm with both hands and twisting their hands in opposite directions (a “snake bite”, where I come from). The skin stretches, and it feels more like a burn than anything else. That’s what this was.

It was hard to get my push to hit the third section. I could push to get back to where I had pushed before. I could even push harder to move forward a little. Pushing hard enough to burn took so much energy, I didn’t always get to it.

I-will-listen-to-you-Susan became really important at this point, because through it all, I could hear her voice saying “push harder, more more more” when I wasn’t pushing very hard, which cued me that I was supposed to be getting to the burning/third section of the contraction. I think I would have taken a lot longer to birth if it hadn’t been for her reminding me that I needed to be getting more done each contraction.

She also told me to put my chin was down to my chest, so I’d curl up more. I figured out (since no one mentioned this and I didn’t read it anywhere … or I’ve forgotten) that I needed to hold my breath when I curled up to push most effectively.

At one point during this, I said to Jason, “You need to tell me I’m doing a good job”, or something similar. I’m an attention-oriented person, so when people praise me, I perform better. (I always ran better at track meets than at practice.)

Fantastic Susan got my attention, and explained that she could coach me as 80’s head crowned, and if I could listen to what she said, it would decrease the chances of tearing. She said that she might tell me to push at a certain time, but more likely she’d tell me to stop pushing, and that this is difficult to do. The way she phrased it made it sound like I wasn’t going to be a failure or rip in half if I couldn’t do what she said, but if I could, it would be an optimal situation. I don’t know if this is how she phrases it with everyone, but it was exactly the right thing to say to me. I want to excel at birthing, not just be average. I was also VERY MOTIVATED not to tear.

I remember one specific contraction, where I pushed to the burning sensation, and I could hear Jason and A’Nova gasp. I thought “YES, this must be the part where you can see 3-4 inches of baby head, and we’re almost there.” I looked down at the mirror, and could see … nothing. I think they saw just a tiny bit of head* (which slipped back before I saw it). It FELT like I had half a baby’s head pushed out. It was disappointing, but I just told myself not to dwell on it, that it wouldn’t help.

I was chin-to-chest, curling up, making a “NNNNEERRRRG” sound while holding my breath, and it felt like my face was turning purple. When I asked Jason about it later, he confirmed that indeed, I was correct. I’m a little sad he wasn’t taking pictures of my purple face, but I needed him where he was.

It now seems like it took mere minutes — perhaps it did — but at the time it was an immense amount of effort for every contraction, and each time I was rewarded with more burn-y hurting. When I’d look in the mirror, I’d see 80’s head sliding back. Whatever two steps I was pushing forward was also sliding one step back.

Finally it got to the point where her head was staying peeked out a bit. Fantastic Susan asked if I wanted to touch my daughter’s hair. Again with the “I don’t know, so I’ll say yes”, I said yes. She guided my hand down, and I could feel 80’s HAIR. I could feel fluffy, super-soft hair and a warm, firm head. I felt my baby, for the first time, and it was an amazing feeling.

I’m very glad I said yes, because I suddenly had great motivation and energy. I don’t remember Fantastic Susan saying anything like “go, go, go, STOP, STOP, STOP”, but I do remember a point where 80’s head was mostly out, and the pain was the most intense it ever got. It was one of the few times I made an involuntary noise, which I remember finding interesting at the time, and by the time I had that thought, it was time to push again. As you can imagine, we’re almost done here.

I did think to myself “Oh god, what if once the head out, I have to push more for the shoulders?” Again, I just didn’t dwell on it, because it’s not like I wouldn’t have done it, and I was too busy concentrating (concentrating with my body more than my mind, but it took up all my mental ability as well) to ask.

Fantastic Susan asked Jason if he wanted to catch 80. Following our new YES rule, he went and washed his hands, then came back to stand at the end of the bed. She said she’d support the head, then Jason should grab her, and put 80 on my chest.

Well, 80’s head came all the way out, and then really fast, the rest of her slid out. I saw Jason catch her under the arms, and pull her up where I could see her without a mirror. The next thing, there was a red and blue baby on my chest. (They’re often a bit blue in the extremities, so not to worry there.) I had always wondered what I would feel when this very singular moment happened. It wasn’t a goosh of emotion or anything, more intrigue at this tiny new person. After a second, I looked up at Jason, and got very, very happy and excited. I wanted to hug him, but his arms were very, very gooey.

Next up, part four details the rest of the story: the (temporary) troubles 80 and I had right after birth, and things like what it’s like to breastfeed for the first time.

*I did not think “oh whew, since I’m seeing this in a mirror, my baby must not be a vampire”, but I did just think it now.


Heat advisory

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

There’s a heat advisory in effect around us. It’s only supposed to get up to 93 here (although it’s already 92). Adie’s in a dipe and tee, and we’re running an air conditioner. I also have lemonade and Lady Gray iced tea, for Amanda Palmers. (I just made that up.)