Q&A: aggression in 1-year-old

AmyinMotown asks:

"My will-be-one on Friday baby girl has developed a temper and a very unpleasant way of expressing it. She bites, hits, head butts, etc. when I take her away from something she wants to get into or sometimes if she’s just mad. I want to nip this in the bud, no pun intended, but am not sure how to do it in the most gentle and affirming way. I want her to know it’s okay to be mad but not okay to hit and bite. Is she too young for timeouts? Any other ideas? Redirect doesn’t seem to work yet; she’s incredibly strong willed."

Damned if I know.

Seriously, though, this is one of the toughest ages because you really can’t do much of anything. They’re not being aggressive to hurt someone else. They’re just being aggressive because they’re frustrated because they can’t express themselves and because they have no control over their lives and environments. I can tell you what we did with El Chico when he was that age, but it didn’t completely eliminate the problem for us, either. I think it’s extremely important to remember that this is normal behavior for this age, so even if you can’t get rid of it, you’re not raising a monster and it’ll get better (and then worse again, and then better, and then worse again, and then eventually they go off to college).

First, I made a concerted effort to talk to him about what was going to happen that day. In the morning I’d tell him what we were going to do for the whole day. Then right before we’d do it I’d tell him again, and as we were in transit somewhere I’d tell him where we were going and how we got there. He seemed to be calmer and in a much better mood when he knew what was going to happen that day, or where we were going when we were on the road.

Also, I was very sure to give him a 3-minute warning before removing him from any activity. Think about how pissed you’d be if you were reading a blog and all of a sudden your partner came and turned off the computer without telling you first. You’d throw your toys, too. Once I started giving the little warning ("We have to eat lunch now–say goodbye to your truck. You can play with it after lunch." Then give a couple of minutes for the kid to say goodbye.) transitions became so much easier.

Third, consider teaching some sign language. El Chico only picked up a few signs (milk, more, "all done" were the ones he used all the time) but they helped cut down on his frustration immensely. He knew I understood what he was trying to tell me, and we seemed to be able to understand each other better even when he wasn’t using signs. (He had a friend who had over 30 signs by 12 months, and this kid was sooooo mellow. I think it was because she could basically say whatever she wanted to at that age.)

Four, keep repeating yourself. Remove her hands (or teeth) from you, repeat "no biting/hitting," and redirect her to something else. Repeat this 30 times a day for several months. It won’t work, but the alternative is just to do nothing, which won’t work either.

Five, remember that a strong will is the sign of a healthy child. It’s driving you nuts right now, but it’ll be an important trait for her later in life.

I think time-outs are only ever effective to remove the kid from the immediate situation as a redirect. I don’t think it’s a good punishment or disciplinary tool other than to change the focus of the situation for a few minutes. (I know people are going to write in about how it works so well for their kids, and how can I say it doesn’t work, etc. I just think it’s another system kids learn to game instead of learning from.) So it doesn’t even make sense to label it a "time-out" for a baby that young. Removing her from the situation will probably work as well as anything else will at this age, though.

When El Chico was around that age, I read Lawrence Cohen’s Playful Parenting and it made me look at discipline in a different way than I’d been thinking of it before. It doesn’t have many practical solutions for kids under the age of 3 (and is probably best for kids 5 and up), but it switched my mindset and made it easier for me to deal with this super-frustrating stage when they’re really out of control so much of the time.

Good luck. This is such a strange time because the energy you use to parent shifts and it’s almost a completely different task.
 

Q&A: “spoiling” a sick baby

MFAMama asks:

"I’m a WAHM with three boys aged four, seventeen months, and ten weeks.The little one has been very ill all his life (soy and dairy protein
allergies, reflux, esophagitis, weight loss, dehydration, and then a
bout with RSV that didn’t help matters AT ALL).  He has had two
prolonged hospital stays (during which I abandoned the older two to
their father and a succession of friends and family members and stayed
by his side 24/7) and is currently dependent on an NG tube (which I had
to learn to reinsert if it comes out) for all of his feedings and
medications.  His feedings are every two and a half to three hours, and
he gets two medications a total of five times per day at timed
intervals (one twice a day half an hour before a feeding, the other
three times a day one hour before a feeding).  Using the NG tube to
feed and medicate him is complicated and, if done incorrectly,
potentially fatal (you have to learn to use a stethoscope and check the
tube’s "placement" before putting anything down it for fear of dumping
it into his lungs), and as a result I can’t leave him with anybody,
ever (my husband works outside the home and is squeamish of infants in
general, nevermind infants with NG tubes, and we can’t afford to hire a
nurse to babysit). 

The baby’s prognosis overall at this point is good,
but he is expected to need the NG tube for at least another month and
possibly several.  All issues of my personal sleep and sanity aside,
I’m worried about the effect his illness has/will have on my other two
children, and on my relationship with the people around me.  My husband
and I are on the same page (thank goodness), but already I have caught
some heat from "well-meaning" family and friends about leaving the
other two to stay with the little guy in the hospital, and have started
to hear a lot of remarks about "spoiling" and "how IS Mr.
Center-of-the-Universe today, anyway?"  While some friends and family
have amazed me with their empathy and willingness to help, it has been
implied by others that I am neglecting or sleighting my other children
by caring for the littlest one’s special needs or else creating a
monster by keeping the baby in my line of sight around the clock, but
a) if he pulls the tube partway out and I don’t see him do it and help
him he could die from that, and b) crying excessively aggravates his
condition and even if I did not tend to "spoil" babies anyway there
wouldn’t be any other option but to soothe him by any means that will
work even if it means carrying him around for six hours, give or take.

 
Can you think of any way to mitigate the damage to my older children?
The middle guy is, IMO, less oblivious than you might think; he has a
twenty-plus word vocabulary that does not include "Mommy" and asks for
Daddy when he is upset.  And the four-year-old has been misbehaving in
ways that are not like him (being mean to his brother, disobeying me
and my husband, talking back).

   Also, do you have any ideas on how to respond to the
people (ranging from strangers to dear friends and family) who make
these ignorant remarks in a way that will hopefully alienate them as
little as possible but also let them know in no uncertain terms that
the things they say are inappropriate and hurtful?"


What is wrong with people?

What the fucking hell is wrong with people?!

It sounds to me like you guys are in a truly shitty situation, and everyone (in your house) is responding in the most appropriate way possible. You are caring for your teeny tiny baby, who needs his mother more than anything else at this point. Your husband is caring for your other children. Your oldest is acting out because of the stress and fear, which is all he can do and is completely reasonable in this situation. Your middle child is turning more to daddy. Everyone is doing what they need to do to get through this crisis.

You all know I’m not a psychologist, but I firmly believe that your older two will have no lasting effects from this short period of time. In another year, they won’t remember that the baby was sick and they didn’t have full-time access to you while you were tending to the baby. If anything, they’ll remember that they hung out with dad and other people a lot then. But unless this turns into an ongoing, lifelong health problem that means the baby is always the biggest priority, this isn’t going to be any more significant or stressful than it would be if you guys were moving cross-country or doing something else that disrupts things for a matter of a few months. Thank goodness humans are so flexible and adaptive.

I cannot believe that anyone is giving you crap about caring for your baby. He needs you. He’s only 10 weeks old. Who thinks you can spoil a baby that young anyway, let alone a sick baby? You’re supposed to just toss him to the wolves? Anyone who makes an even remotely negative comments about the way you are nursing your child to health (when half of us couldn’t even hold things together for 10 minutes under your circumstances!) is being unreasonable. Inappropriate, unreasonable, and cruel.

But I can understand that you don’t want to and can’t tell people to screw off because a) you love some of them, and b) you need their help. So I’m going to suggest going on lockdown and only making contact with the bare minimum of people you need to. First, figure out who you can trust to care for the older two kids while your husband’s at work. Sit down and be completely honest with them about how you are at the breaking point, the baby needs you, and without their help for the next two months you won’t be able to make it through. If they give you any pushback about leaving the baby, ask them in all seriousness if they have any better ideas about how the baby can get the constant care he needs. Either they’ll come up with something, or they’ll shut up about it.

Second, see if you can find a nursing student or hypochondriac medical hobbyist who can learn to do the tube stuff for the little guy, and who can come spell you for 1-2 hours every day. (You may have to pay for this, but you can probably get the person for the same rate as a babysitter, not a RN.) Then make sure you spend that time with your older two so they still get a little bit of cup-filling from you, even though things will be better in a month or two.

Third, don’t talk to anyone else. Let your machine pick up the phone. Or see if your husband will field all phone calls. You’ve got enough stress and don’t need anyone else adding to it, so blow any non-essential personnel off for the time being.

Now, if it were me I’d just play the manipulation card with my close friends and family. If anyone made any negative comments about my caring for the baby I’d burst into tears and talk to them in that jerky, hiccupping voice and "confess" that I was at the breaking point because if I didn’t care for the baby he’d die and an infant needs his mother, but I was beginning to wonder if I was a bad mother and horrible person because people were always criticizing me and all I wanted to do was take care of my baby so he didn’t die. The recipient would probably be too freaked out to mention anything stupid again. Or maybe they’d feel so sorry for me that they’d volunteer to help some way. In either case, they’d stop saying stupid stuff.

But I don’t know if that’s your personality. So maybe you want to practice saying, "I’m sure you can understand that I have to be with my sick child during this serious medical crisis" and nothing else. If you don’t engage any further they should get bored and drop it. And you shouldn’t be talking to anyone but the people you really need to talk to now anyway.

I know there are parents out there who have gone through similar crises with sick children (or multiples with one in the NICU and one or more at home) and can give some support. I am furious on your behalf at the unreasonable (unreasonable!) comments and lack of support you are getting from the people who should be helping you through this. You are a great mother and your children are lucky to have you.

Q&A: Ebay ethics

I’m getting a ton of questions about sleep, so next week is going to be Sleep Week here.

I’m answering the questions in the order I got them. I’m not sure I’m really qualified to answer this one. Let’s hope Randy Cohen doesn’t come after me in a turf war.

Lee asks:

Hi Moxie…I know you’re an ebayer and I’d
like your advice.

I just bought a used cell phone from a relatively new ebay
seller (rating of 50 or so, 100% positive).  The listing mentioned that
the phone had a chip in the hinge that did not hurt the phone’s
performance at all.

The phone makes and receives calls just fine, but the chip
in the hinge makes it hard to close the phone and occasionally it goes
off-track.  I sent a gentle email to the seller asking what she thought
would be the best course of action and I received a lengthy reply basically
telling me ‘too bad for you, I never had that problem, all sales are
final, blah blah blah.’

I haven’t left feedback yet (she left me positive
feedback immediately) and I’m tempted to go negative, but also wonder if
I should dangle that possibility in front of her to see if I get a more
positive reaction.  Is that just playing dirty? I know sellers are
protective of their 100% positive rating…

Of course I’m an Ebayer–isn’t everyone? As such, I’ve had my share of disappointing transactions. I think I’d go at this one by looking at intent, and trying to figure out whether the seller intended to deceive you or not. Go back into the original listing and see if the seller used nebulous language to try to claim that she warned you, or if she seemed straightforward with the flaw. Was this item new to her, or used only by her, or purchased by her in used condition? That kind of thing.

If you get the feeling that she was trying to be honest and report the flaws accurately, then you have to just chalk this one up to "sometimes you bite Ebay, but sometimes Ebay bites you." But if there’s evidence that she was trying to bend the truth, then I’d pursue it with her and make sure she knows you won’t leave feedback until the issue is resolved. If she gets nasty with you after that, then she’s pretty much begging for negative feedback.

Q&A: flu shots

Monica asks:

"What are your thoughts on the flu vaccine for babies? In my case, my ped
doesn’t offer the vaccine without thimerosal and I can’t find one willing
to vaccinate my son in the near future. Would you get the regular vaccine or
skip it all together?
 
Also, why can my son sleep through a thunderstorm, but not the sound of my
footsteps as I creep out of his room!?"
I don’t want to open a whole vaccination can of worms, so let’s
make this clear that this is only my thoughts about the flu vaccine.
Not vaccines or vaccination in general.

Now, I like to look at
the benefits vs. the costs. The benefit is, obviously, not getting the
flu. But I’m not convinced (and haven’t been for years) that the flu
shot is actually that great at preventing the flu. My suspicions were
confirmed when I read about a study appearing in The Lancet (British
medical journal) of elderly people who got the flu shot. A summary of the study results is here, but the money quote is

The researchers found that flu vaccines, when well matched to
circulating flu strains, reduced the risk of hospitalization for flu or
pneumonia by 45% for elderly (65 or older) nursing home residents. For
people living at home, flu vaccines were 26% effective in preventing
hospitalization for flu or pneumonia. However, vaccination didn’t
significantly lower the risk of laboratory-confirmed influenza in
either group.

And
those benefits, note, are only when the flu shot is well-matched to the
flu strain that goes around. Which happens sometimes, but not every
year. I don’t know whether we can assume that the effects are the same
on kids as they are on the elderly, but we don’t have any studies of
the flu shot on kids yet.

Then there’s the anecdotal evidence
that that last 3 times I got the flu shot I got the flu within days.
(Who knows why? All I knew was I got the flu.) Now, "the plural of
anecdote isn’t data," (thank you, Jo Leery Polyp) but I have to think that if anyone’s going to have the same results of a flu shot that I did, it’ll be my kids. Someone who’s had a great experience with the flu shot in the past is going to have a radically different view of the benefits than I do.

The costs: There are a bunch of toxic and/or allergenic ingredients in flu vaccines
(MSG, thimerosol, a few different antibiotics, formaldehyde, and eggs).
Not much of those in each shot, but since I go out of my way to avoid
MSG, formaldehyde, and mercury, I’m not crazy about the idea of
shooting them straight into my kid’s bloodstream.

So, what’s the
answer? Well, it’s different for everyone. If you have a child with a
compromised immune system, you will probably get the shot. If you have
a kid allergic to eggs or poultry or certain antibiotics, you won’t get
the shot. The rest of us just have to pick a side by going with our
guts.

The odd thing about all of this is that the media makes us
think the only way, or even the best way, to protect ourselves against
the flu is by getting the flu shot. That’s not true at all. The single
best way to avoid the flu is to wash your hands a lot. A lot. Many
times a day. Not with antibacterial soap, but with regular soap and
water. And makes sure you scrub for the length of time it takes you to
sing the "Happy Birthday" song. You still probably won’t spend as much
time each day washing your hands as you do thinking about whether or
not to get the shot.

The other great ways to avoid the flu are
to up your Vitamin C intake during the winter, drink plenty of water,
make sure you’re eating plenty of vegetables (easier said than done
with a 3-year-old), get as much sleep as possible, and stay away from
sick people. You can also try the herbal remedies like echinacea and
Airborne, or the homeopathic Oscillococcinum (apparently it can be used
to prevent flu by taking 2-3 of the teeny little pellets–not the whole
vial–once a week during flu season).

Monica, for your second question I can only say that he does that for
the same reason mine can sleep through 3 fire engines screaming down
the street past his window, but wakes up when I crack the door to make
sure he’s still OK.

Q&A: night nursing and the working mom

Readers who work outside the home, please share your experience in the comments section. I’m a WAHM, so I’ve never personally experienced this situation.

Carrie says:

"Moxie,
 
I need help. 
My almost 7-month old son still wakes to nurse at least two or three times per
night.  I work full-time outside the home and have since he was 3 months
old.  I need to get him on some sort of schedule or into a routine so that
I can function better.  Last night, he woke at 11 pm, 2 am, and 4 am to
eat. 
 
I talked it over
with our pediatrician (who was less than helpful and suggested I wean).  I
talked it over with our new pediatrician (after I fired the first one for
suggesting I wean).  The new ped suggested a 4-hour feeding plan during the
day to get him used to taking more less often, and stated that is was OK to feed
him at midnight and 5 am, but between those hours, we should let him
fuss/cry.  I like this idea in theory, but since the waking times are
erratic, I alter it a bit to fit our nights (if he wakes at 11 to eat, I’ll feed
him if he wakes at 4, etc).

He nurses when I am home and
(reluctantly) takes a bottle at day care.  He eats solids.  He is
learning to crawl, rolls over easily, sleeps in a sleep sac, and is teething,
but his waking at night has been this way since before all of that
started.
 
When I am home (such
as on weekends or the recent Thanksgiving holiday), he wakes less often at
night.  But, when I am at work during the day, he tends to want to nurse
more at night.  The LLL website says this is "normal reverse cycling", but
really, it is killing me.  I am not comfortable with the idea of bringing
him to bed with me as LLL and Sears suggest.  My breastfeeding books all
gloss over schedules and working women and are very light on how many times a
baby older than a newborn needs to eat per day.
 
I need help with
changing the times he eats so that it fits my workday and so he gets most of his
feedings from me and not from the hard-to-collect bottles of
breastmilk.  He goes to bed at about 7:15 and gets up for the day just
before 7 am.  I’d like to feed him at 6 or 7 am before I go to work, but he
has usually just eaten some time between 3 and 5, so feeding him before
work would go against the 4-hour pattern I am trying to do.  Also, I
get home around 5:30 and he goes to bed at 7:15, so there is really only one
nursing session available in the evening.  Do you think it would help if I
fed him right when I get home and then wake him to eat before I go to
bed?

Is there really any way to put him on a schedule?  Am I doomed
to sleeplessness until I wean?  Is his night waking just a bad habit I have
to break?  He only wakes to eat – not to play or be rocked or any other
reason.
 
I would love to be
able to have him eat at 6 am (nurse), 10 am (bottle), solids at noon, 2 pm
(bottle), 4:30 pm solids with Dad, 6 pm (nurse) or 7-11-3-7, and one nursing
session over night, but I have no idea how to go about doing this.  Any and
all advice from you or your readers is welcome."

You are getting quite the grab-bag of advice there, and most of it sounds completely counter-productive to me.

I think you’ve assessed the situation perfectly. He misses you (and your boobs, of course) while you’re at work, and is trying to make up for it while you’re home. In bed. Asleep.

So, if he wants a) more contact with you, and b) more food from you, then you should figure out how to give him those things without having to be up half the night.

You could give him more contact with you by wearing him in a sling or wrap as much as possible. After you walk in the door, pee, and wash your hands, put him in the sling and wear him around until it’s time for him to go to bed. In the morning, wear him around even if you only have 5 minutes while you’re watching the weather and traffic report. In a few days he might start to catch up on contact time with you and not want it so much in the night.

I’d also try to stuff him with as much milk as possible while you’re with him (NOT try to stretch out his feeding time, which will just make him more hungry when you’re trying to sleep). Definitely nurse him before you go to work. Nurse him when you get home, and top him off before bed. Wake him up for a dreamfeed right before you go to bed. If you can get as much milk into him as possible while you’re home and awake, he won’t be as hungry in the middle of the night.

FWIW, I don’t think he’s going to sleep straight through for another couple of months. (That’s not to say that no babies do, but if he hasn’t in the past, he’s not going to magically start sleeping through this week, even if you wean him to formula.) But I do think you could get him down to 10 or 11 and 4 or 5 without much of a struggle, and then gradually he’ll wake up later and later.

The bad news: Many many kids go through a kind of sleep regression around 8-9 months. I think it’s correlated heavily with the developmental spurt around 37 (once again The Wonder Weeks comes in handy). So you might make great strides in the next few weeks at getting this settled and then have it all fall apart again for a few weeks. But then once he’s past this spurt the sleep should really get so much better. Unless he goes through some bad teething.

Working moms, any BDTD stories?

Q&A: Reclaiming yourself

Jen asks:

"Hi Moxie,

I have always been a fan of your advice and am so thrilled you started an advice column. I hope you can shed some light on my situation.

I gave birth to Sophie after a rather stressful and often times gloomy pregnancy that was plagued by one darn thing after another. I thought to myself that at her birth we’d reach this crescendo and all would be so great afterwards. Only, it sort of didn’t happen that way.

Sophie screamed nonstop from birth, had apnea spells, plateaued her weight gain and in her 4th week of life slept 20 minutes a day. Her 5th week was no better when we saw a single hour of sleep. She screamed, vomited copious amounts of everything and gorged herself on the breast. We were feeding ever 15 minutes. Finally, by the grace of G-d, we got into a Paed’s office and she was diagnosed with severe silent reflux. Since then we’ve battled on with a severe reaction to a drug, balancing 2 medicines daily and teaching her how to sleep and eat properly.

Now at almost 16 weeks things are starting to settle down (I never expect life to be ‘settled’) but I’ve developed PTSD amid PPD and was diagnosed with physical exhaustion and have been put on anti-anxiety meds and an antidepressant. I’m feeling ok about that (nervous about the drugs in the breastmilk) but the doctor ordered me to take some time out for me. Get a sitter a couple hours a week and go do things for me. Take an overnight holiday he said.

And with Christmas coming up all the relatives and friends want to ‘do things’ for me and give me gifts. And I just can’t let them. I guess I feel no one would know how to cope with Sophie’s meltdowns or how to soothe her, how to give her medicine, etc. I feel such anxiety over it. So I’ve declined to let anyone watch her. I’ve worked a way to have about 30 minutes to myself a day and that feels really good.

But I’m suddenly stuck wondering where I’ve gone. In those 30 minutes I’m supposed to do something I like. Only, I don’t even remember what I like and none of my old hobbies appeal. I’m too tired to go jogging or go swimming as was suggested by the doctor and I just want to hole up and hide. I already bathe with Sophie as a means of destressing so it’s not like I want another bath. I can’t even tell people what I’d like for a Christmas gift because I can’t even feel desire for anything — not even chocolate or cake!

Is this just part of the depression? Where on earth have I gone!? I know they say the AD’s don’t change you but I sort of want it to — I want some of me back!"

Thank you!

If it makes you feel at all better, I think you’re having a
completely normal reaction to an abnormal situation that’s become
normal for us. If that makes any sense. Let me explain.

I think the way we parent is absolutely nuts. We are all isolated in
our own little houses trying to stay interested and keep our heads
above water being alone with a baby for the whole day. That’s just not
normal. Humans are created to be around other humans, and not just
teeny tiny humans.

We should all be living as tribes or small villages. If we lived
with other people around us, parenting wouldn’t be as stressful or
isolating, because we’d be talking to other adults all day. And they’d
help us raise our children. Need to take a nap? One of the old ladies
or teenagers would be happy to play with your baby for an hour or two.
Feeling frustrated? One of the moms of older kids would help give you a
little perspective, and you’d look at her kids and see the light at the
end of the tunnel. Need some time alone with your husband? Your baby
can crawl around with the other babies at a neighbor’s house. In short,
you wouldn’t be in this predicament in the first place.

So that’s the abnormal part. Now, I think your reactions to this are
completely normal. I felt, and I know lots and lots of other moms who
felt, a physical and emotional pull toward our babies that was
shocking. Before I had El Chico I thought for sure I’d be happy to
leave him with a babysitter for a few hours at a time. But then once he
was here I just couldn’t imagine it. He was part of me, and when I
wasn’t with him I couldn’t even imagine what I’d do. My husband would
say, "Honey, just go out for an hour or two and do whatever you want.
We’ll be fine here without you." I had no worries whatsoever about the
two of them together, but I literally could not think of a single thing
to do by myself. I’d usually end up wandering aimlessly through the
aisles at the grocery store.

I know I’m not the only one who had this same experience (anyone
else who wants to pipe in, feel free, especially adoptive moms, because
my suspicion is that you have the same exact experience as bio moms
with the separation thing, but I don’t know as I’m not an adoptive
mom). I think it’s partly biological (the same way we become forgetful
during pregnancy), and partly emotional (because of the love and
connection we feel for our babies) and partly a result of stress (sleep
deprivation, recovering from pregnancy, wondering who the hell we are
anymore). But it’s normal.

In my experience, it started to go away once my baby started
crawling. Funny, isn’t it, that as soon as he could start to leave me I
was ready to start to leave him a little? I can’t believe it’s just a
coincidence.

So, in the meantime, what do you do to get some relief? Well,
knowing that how you feel about being away from Sophie is normal and
not something to be worried about or "cured," I’d say you should ask
for things that will get you more support and contact from people who
care about you while you’re with Sophie. Ask people to come
over and bring you lunch and stay for an hour or two. Yes, they’ll
probably hold Sophie while you go to the bathroom or toss in a load of
laundry, but the point won’t be for them to babysit her. The point will
be to create more of a community to help support you both (and your
husband, too, of course). Ask for people to give you a gift certificate
of their time to come sort through baby clothes with you, or paint some
room that needs to be painted, or go to the zoo with you, etc.

In the meantime, have you started going to any groups for moms of
new babies? I think peer support is absolutely critical for new
mothers. You can find friends at breastfeeding support groups, baby
classes, the public library, La Leche League, and hospital support
groups. These groups can also help you organize your week by giving you
something to look forward to and plan around.

Once you start feeling
like you’re not so trapped in your own head, you’ll have a little room
to breathe and you’ll start to get interested in the things you used to
be interested in. Maybe you’ll join a book club (once a month leaving
Sophie with your husband for a few hours won’t seem like anything by
then) or train for running races (with Sophie along).

I’m going to disagree with your doctor here that you should go on an
overnight by yourself. Not because I think there’s anything wrong or
unnatural about a mother going away from her baby, but because I know I
couldn’t have done it when mine were that age. I would have gone into a
full-blown panic attack because it would just have felt so wrong to me.
But I know it’s not that way forever, and won’t be for you, so don’t
feel like you have to force yourself to do something you don’t think is
right for you.

If you don’t feel like leaving her yet, don’t. But try to bring the
outside world, and the people who care about you, into your life more.
You’ll get your old self (actually it’ll be your new, improved self)
back soon enough once you start to reenter the world. (And if you need
to ask for physical things for Christmas, ask for a great jogging
stroller–so you can walk or run with Sophie–and some Lilypadz–if
she’s been nursing every 15 minutes you probably have a heck of a
supply and are probably leaking a lot at night!)

Q&A: crawling and sleep

Let me answer these two softballs while I work on longer responses to tougher questions:

Tertia asks:

Hello, asshole.

Should I be worried that Kate is no where near to crawling at 10,5
months?  Well, actually, its too late, because I am a little worried.
Do these developmental milestones really matter?  She seems absolutely
fine with every thing else and has consistently been hitting her
milestones a little later than the norm up until now.  Are some kids
just a little slower than others and does this have any correlation to
future aptitude in school / life etc?

Yours in assholiness

T, I think that if your wee little asshole-in-training is fine with
everything else–responsive to you, babbling, all the other stuff–then
she’s just a slow crawler.
As long as she gets plenty of tummy time and isn’t stuck in a walker or jumper or saucer all day, she’s fine. (For anyone panicking right now because your baby hates tummy time, go to SparkPlugDance.org and check out the article on how to make tummy time fun for your kid.)

FWIW, my husband didn’t walk until he was 22 month. Yes, that’s almost
2 years old. But now he walks fine. Sometimes he even runs! (He’s actually pretty graceful and
athletic.) He was very verbal early and read before he was 4. So I think
he was just doing other things cognitively when other kids were working
on the walking stuff, and then caught up later.

And now for Softball #2. Ally writes:

Dear Moxie,
My son is 13.5 months old, and I really thought by now he’d be sleeping through the night. This is less of a question and more of a plea for encouragement. He wakes mainly when he’s teething, which, since he’s working and working and working on his 1 year molars, is 4-5 nights a week. I keep vacillating between a roll-with-the-punches, it’ll-be-ok attitude and OMG I’M NEVER SLEEPING AGAIN.

But I will, right? Sleep again?

Yes. Yes, you will. Maybe not tonight, and maybe not next week. But soon, and until you have another child.

Seriously, though, have you tried the Humphrey’s #3 teething pills? If those don’t do anything, then maybe send him to Grandma’s for the weekend.

Honestly, if we can put a man on the moon, why can we not come up with something that makes the teething pain go away completely? Tylenol and Motrin just don’t cut it. And you have to watch them suffer, and you have to suffer yourself. It’s amazing any of us make it through the first two years.

Hang in there, Ally. And it’s way easier the second time, because you lose that "what am I doing wrong?!" feeling with the second one and just get pissed off at the human body and its developmental trajectory instead.

No advice today

In the past 36 hours, Casa Moxie has seen middle-of-the-night preschooler diarrhea, middle-of-the-night preschooler vomit, preschooler illness-induced tantrums, baby refusal to nap or sleep, missed work deadlines, mother’s exhaustion and 8:30 bedtime, and various forms of playgroup intrigue that really could have waited another week or two.

I’ll try to post some questions over the weekend.