gaining the competitive edge

Maxine is starting to let go when she is standing up.  She has even taken a single step here and there.  In another life, I might have been tempted to push her to do things before she is ready.  But Max gets to reep the benefits of my parenting experiences with Evelyn.

So Max is somewhat on the later side to be doing things.  I’m completely at peace with this.  Max is a cautious baby.  She doesn’t do anything until she can do it with control and safety.  I believe in encouraging her when she makes the decision to work on something new.  I believe in applauding her efforts to try something new.  But I don’t like to give her the impression that my praise of her-that my love for her is contingent upon her stepping outside of what is comfortable for her.  My pride and my love are unwavering and they don’t ebb and flow with the development of new motor skills or speech.

I feel like, as a society, we put too many expectations on our children.  We expect them to live by graphs and charts and we have a tendency to panic when they aren’t keeping up with their peers.  To what end?  Maybe Max would have walked earlier had we worked on it more.  Maybe when people ask me if Max is walking “yet” (we will get to the word “yet” in a minute), I could answer yes.  But what would that have done to her little psyche?  What would that teach her?

Whenever I feel the urge to push Max to do something, I have trained myself to stop and think about my OWN motivations.  Is that chart looming in the back of my mind?  Did someone just ask me if she was doing “X yet?”  Am I having a moment where I am thinking that her not walking, not eating solids, not doing algebra “yet” is a reflection on me as a mother?  Because that’s my own problem–my own insecurities.

When Evelyn was younger, it would be like a knife in my heart every time someone asked me if she was doing “X yet.”  It was like fueling the fire burning inside of me…the fear that she was different, the fear that she wouldn’t catch up.  And as the gap between normal and Evelyn grew, that word, “yet,” became more and more piercing.  And when people would say, “don’t worry, she will catch up” a little piece of me would die and I wouldn’t know why.  I know now it is because it felt like it wouldn’t be okay with people if she didn’t catch up.  In a lot of cases it isn’t okay with people.

I never felt better when I put aside my desire for Evelyn to do things like other kids.  It was a true epiphany to know that Evelyn should do things like Evelyn and that her mama shouldn’t worry about what anyone but Evelyn can do.  And I carry this package of enlightenment with me like a little gift to myself when I might be tempted to enter either of my children into the endless competitions that they will be forced to endure throughout life.  My kids will be sitting most contests out.  We will work on playing hard and loving.  This gives us the competitive edge.

no

Today marks the second day of being somewhat housebound due to weather and undecided tummies.  We are all feeling a little restless.  I’m feeling a little crestfallen to have been bluntly informed  that Texas Toast is, actually, not a staple of a healthy diet.  We try to eat fresh/locally/organically/healthily as much as possible.  But I was recently introduced to and fell under the spell of this marvelous stuff…I will be sad to see it go.

I got almost zero sleep last night.  Again.  So I am tired and my nerves are a little frayed.  I was making Evelyn her lunch–which she insists must happen absolutle immediately when she arrives home from school.  This endeavor is so urgent that she runs to the fridge and yanks open the doors before I have a chance to remove winter gear from her little body.

Maxine had been whinecrying because while I make Evie lunch, I meanly place her bottom on the floor.  This is quite a trauma, you see.  So when it went quiet in the family room, I turned around immediately to see my Scott’s laptop in peril.  I don’t have a laptop anymore because I have a reputation for being responsible for the destruction of at least one a year and it was determined that it might be best to invest funds elsewhere.  My husband, very kindly was forced offered to loan me one of his four devices by which he may check email/connect to the web.

To be fair, I have been very good to this laptop and it has been in my care for a while.  It has not hit the floor.  Not once. It isn’t covered in grubby kid finger prints.  And it doesn’t have a single drop of breastmilk on it.  I’ve really become a model laptop citizen–until today when it went silent.

In my sleep deprived coma, I had forgotten to put it out of reach.  Maxine had it and was slowly pulling it south.  I don’t yell at my kids and I try not to use the word, “no” because I like to let my kids discover most things on their own, because I don’t mind cleaning up a little experimental mess (or leaving it to clean up later), and because I like to reserve it so that it doesn’t lose its meaning in nagging.   I screamed, “Maxine, NO!!!”

I caught her attention.  She’s never been yelled at and I am pretty sure she’s only been told “no” a handful of times.  She was really impressed.  I expected tears–not her adorable toothy little grin.  She continued to pull that sucker.  Without realizing it, I yelled, “No!” again.  She squealed with delight and pulled it further.  I stopped myself from yelling it again because the little goober likes when “no” is screamed at her.  Thankfully my dramatic charge towards the loaner laptop caused her to lose her shit laughing–to the point that she lost limb control (like mother like daughter) and she plopped to the ground.  Yes Scott, your laptop remains intact.

I did learn that I might need to bust out the “no” a little more often so the child actually knows what it means.  And I either need to yell at her much more often (so she will know that it is not entertaining) or not yell at all.  I think I am going with the not at all.

I also learned that my tendency to leave long rambling messages (as I am often mocked for by Scott) also lends itself to the tendency to write long rambling blog posts.  I suppose I could have just written, “I’m really tired today.   Maxine almost pulled my laptop off the table.  She thought it was funny when I yelled at her.  I better not do that again.”  But what fun would that be?

Oh and I forgot to mention that Maxine makes an adorable little imp.

leaving it on a less sniveling note

Because I hate that last negative post but needed to unload it–

Maxine has been really interested in playing babies–feeding them, making them jump (they use their heads to jump), making them cry etc.  Grammy plays babies with her most often.

Today Grammy sat down near the babies and Maxine and I walked over (Maxine holding onto my fingers).  I slipped my fingers out of Xiner’s hands and she just stood there (for the first time) like she’d been doing it always.  She stood there for like ten seconds while my mom and I stared at her with dropped jaws.   Then she, ever so slowly, lowered herself to the ground with complete control.

My girl is cautious.  She almost never has an accident.  She is so like Daddy in this way.  And so unlike me.  I went from crawling to running and crashing when I was nine months old and the rest of my life has pretty much followed suit.  Daddy (I should call him Scott) is cautious about everything.

I love watching this little bubble bloom and grow….

instincts–rated R for salty language

I believe in following my maternal instincts in almost every case.  I learned, the hard way, with Evelyn to follow them even if the doctors and nurses and medical professionals say one thing and I feel compelled in a different direction.

Maxine has many of the symptoms of an overgrowth disorder called Beckwith Wiedemann Syndrome.  Another mama of a child with this syndrome actually told me to look into it many months ago.  When I first read about it, a shiver went down my spine as I felt like I was reading about Maxine.  We went to the geneticist to talk about it–the appointment was horrible and turned into a lecture about breastfeeding.  You can read about that appointment here.  The short version is that she blew us off and told me to stop breastfeeding my seven month old baby.  We kind of had a polite argument where she borderline told me that I was abusing my child and I borderline told her she was clueless about infant nutrition.

Fast forward to now.  One of the major symptoms of this disease is an enlarged tongue.  The geneticist told us that she didn’t have one.  But I would bet my last dollar that she is sadly mistaken.  People are constantly commenting on her tongue size.  She is constantly moving it around her mouth as if it doesn’t fit.

Something is not right.  I feel it way down in the pit of my stomach.  I am angry with myself, as a mother, for allowing myself to be shushed by a doctor.  Granted, I didn’t follow her feeding advice.  But I didn’t push back with regard to this syndrome.  I quieted the voices in my head that were telling me to push further– to get a second opinion.

I just left a message with our primary pediatrician.  A sheepish message.  Because there is a good chance that I am wrong.  And I really don’t want to be that mother that is always complaining about medical professionals.  Hell, I am that mother but damn it, I have good reason to complain.  I spend a shit ton of time in doctor’s offices between the two girls.  Of course we are going to run across some duds.  And for god’s sake, even if I am wrong (and I hope I am) she did discredit herself as a professional by telling me to wean my seven month old baby and feed her solids instead of breastmilk.  She is wrong about that.

And PS–this syndrome is fairly benign in most cases but requires careful monitoring.  Typically, kids outgrow it.  But it could explain a lot of things about Maxine’s size relative to the amount that she eats, the fact that she has difficulty moving food around her mouth, etc.

I try to be positive.  I try to tell the negative voices that creep into my head to zip it.  But if I am right about this, heaven help that doctor because I am going to unleash the mama tiger that is tied up inside of me.  Doctors aren’t perfect, they are entitled to make mistakes and they don’t know everything–I don’t expect them to.  But I do expect them not to be assholes while they are spewing BS.  If I’m wrong, I’m happily eatin’ crow.  Stay tuned.

fat thursday

by now, i’ve lost my rose colored glasses when it comes to doctors.  i know they can’t fix everything.  i know they don’t know everything.  and i sure as hell know they don’t dictate the choices that i will make for my family.  the good ones know these things as well.  the bad ones don’t and try to exercise the authority that they think the initials after their names gives them.  um no.

so little chunkadunk, maxine. we took her to the geneticist today.  said geneticist was already on my crap list for not having gotten back to me for almost six weeks after she said she would.  separate issue, regarding evelyn.  perhaps this geneticist did not appreciate the fact that i complained to evelyn’s medical social worker about her utter unresponsiveness.  but i digress.

maxine had an appointment to rule out overgrowth disorders today.  i assure you that i was not at the geneticist to seek advice about infant breastfeeding or infant nutrition.  she ruled out the potential genetic issue for which i am majorly relieved; although, part of me wondered if she hadn’t ruled that out before she even saw us.  the questions did not center around genetics.  in fact, they were almost entirely about maxine’s feeding schedules.  i, certainly, understand that these questions had a very legitimate place in our consultation. however, some attention should have been given to her actual field of expertise.  GENETICS.

she, apparently, wanted to demonstrate how very little she knows about the subjects on which she preached.  having, obviously paid no attention to my answers, she proceeded to tell me that my exclusively breastfed child was obese.  her answer?  wean the seven month old baby and start her on solids instead.  anyone that knows anything about breastfeeding, this is like telling an overweight adult to replace salads with cheesecake to lose weight.  and wean a seven month old?   credibility lost.

how dare i argue with a doctor, right?  that’s what she thought too.  mothers that aren’t doctors cannot be educated and well informed. certainly, they shouldn’t be so brazen as to defy a god doctor with a differing opinion.  oddly, the doctor could not back up her opinions with evidence and the mama could. how about that?  but that mattered…NOT.  i should bow to her alleged anecdotal evidence.  sorry to say, doc, “because i said so” stopped working on me about 25 years ago.

as much as i enjoy being borderline accused of abusing my child by breastfeeding on demand as my instinct and solid medical evidence indicate i should, i’m taking the medical records for both of my children and moving them to dartmouth.  dartmouth.  where i hope that the doctors will either have a clue about breastfeeding or be smart enough to shut it.

after all this, i was so frustrated that i cried.    as mamas, we are judged, questioned, and criticized for following our instincts and nurturing our children in a way that feels right.  it is no wonder that women have trouble establishing and maintaining a successful breastfeeding relationship in this country.  i was so thankful to have a la leche league leader as a friend to call.  it is so lovely to be lifted up by a fellow mama…as only another mama, fighting the good fight, can.

baby love

maxine.  i’ve been feeling guilty for not having the words to blog how your arrival touched my life.  i realize that i don’t have them yet because it takes a long time to process something so profoundly wonderful.  they will come, but it will take time for me to wrap my brain around my heart was instantly swollen with love for you.

you are 7 months old.  your smile.  it disarms me.  i forget myself even after all these months.

you want to be close to mama always.  i know it won’t always be this way and i will miss you when you start to explore your world without me.  but right now i can hold you close.

you love to nurse.  and i love to look down at you in hopes that you will take a moment to pop off and flash me a milky smile as you do sometimes.

everything feels so right when i bury my lips in your delicious cheeks.

you’re a silly baby.  so happy.  i want to keep you this way, as you are right now, always.  but i don’t want to miss out on any of your tomorrows either.

know that i love you with my entire soul.  when i look at you my heart giggles and i feel love surge through my veins as if a damn burst.  and keeps on bursting.  those are my love explosions for you, my little bubble.

speaking of explosions…

today, i was caught totally off guard when i opened maxine’s diaper.  it was one of those massive, mustard colored, breastfed baby poops that cover the entire surface of the diaper.  the kind that leaves me temporarily paralyzed not knowing where to start or what to do.  i call them” grey poopon everything”.  maxine, being a girl of ample size…she has rolls everywhere.  and somehow, some way, that poop finds its way into her every nook and cranny.

maxine is always enormously proud of the mess that she has made.  she flashes that giant gummy smile that makes me forget that i have managed to get shit all over my hands.  these poops inevitably lead to an impromptu hose down in the kitchen sink.  and still, when i haul my chunky monkey out of the sink and lay her down to clothe her, i inevitably find traces of poop on her person.

poop explosions, just one of the ways my children amaze and thrill me.