Category Archives: Friends

Why can’t I love this, Continued

Amazing comments, as usual. Was anyone else completely flabbergasted by this little gem from Julie:

I feel like I am a prisoner of the love I feel for my child.

Wow. Yeah.

I really don’t know what to say about that. I’m on the other side of it now, that feeling of just being so awash in the combo of love and fear (about something concrete, like SIDS or painful diaper rash or malnutrition, or something nebulous, like not doing all the things a "good mother" does) and constant constant need. Once 2 gets closer, it gets less all-encompassing.

But I can still remember exactly the way it feels, and reading that all of you are in the middle of it makes me wish I could send you all a big hug, a full-body massage, and a cup of tea.

Here’s something for today (actually tomorrow, since I’m writing this on Wednesday night, even, instead of scrambling to do it between my shower and blending my spinach smoothie to drink on the way to work–yay me!):

Describe a moment of clarity (positive or negative or neutral) that you’ve had about yourself or parenting or your relationship with your child.

I’ll go first. I remember one morning, when my older son was a few months old, and I had no idea what I was going to do with the rest of the day. It was not one of the days I went out to a breastfeeding support group or the mothers’ group, and I didn’t really have friends I could just call up and say "So what are we doing today?" yet. It was hot and I was cranky and I’d already sung "I’ve Been Working On the Railroad" a dozen times (if you blow a raspberry every time you sing "Dinah won’t you blow" it makes a baby laugh).

So I was sitting there, thinking about what a loser I was for having no plans, not really "stimulating" him "enough" (see, even the aggressively zen Moxie buys the bullshit at full price sometimes), and really just not wanting to jump through all the hoops all day. And then he looked at me and just snuggled in. And I had this flash of realization that I didn’t have to do anything, that exactly what I was is exactly who he needed. I could not fail, because all he needed was me, as I was.

It was one of the most liberating moments of my life. And then I probably called my mom and overanalyzed it with her, because that’s what we do.


Update and a question for you

Remember Zaimah and her upcoming trip to Pakistan? She wrote in to update us all:

"Dear Moxie and Readers,

We just got back from our trip to Pakistan and I wanted to let you all know that your the tips from your comments and suggestions were very helpful and we used them. We also realized that there were just
certain things you can not anticipate and so you have to be a lot more flexible than usual. SInce we were staying with family the whole time we had a few days of growing pains but by the end we had all reached a
happy middle ground. Anyhow, it was a good trip overall and I am happy to say we survived it with minimal scarring.

Thanks once again."

Well, that’s a relief. I always feel bad for the readers who are dreading some future event, because you really just never know how it’s going to go for them. Updates are comforting, so if anyone else wants to update us, feel free.

Now a question from me to you: I know that when a woman weans a baby, her body stores up calcium really easily (I’d find a research link, but I’ve been doing my taxes and am fried). My younger son is slowing down on nursing (although he went from once a day to twice a day when I went to work), so I’m thinking I should be actively supplementing with calcium to catch the window when he does wean completely. So what’s the best form of calcium supplementation to be taking? The one that’s most easily/completely absorbed, I mean.

(This is also useful info for women who experience a dip in milk supply at the beginning of their mentrual period each month. Extra calcium supplementation for those few days helps even out supply.)



Q&A: “in denial” about CIO?

Pamela writes:

"I’m the mother of a wonderful 10 month old boy. Wonderful in every respect except that he’s a terrible sleeper at night. I haven’t gotten a decent (more than 3 consecutive hours) amount of sleep since the 4 month sleep regression. He averages 3 wakings a night, around 11pm, 2am, and 4:30am. I’ve been holding out doing any sleep training in the hopes that he’ll start sleeping through the night on his own.

Am I kidding myself? I hear of people saying their baby finally started sleeping through the night at 11 months, but were those kids waking up this much? I’m trying to keep the faith, but it’s hard.

We don’t have any problems putting him down at night (I nurse him, and put him in drowsy or sometimes asleep) and I generally nurse him when he wakes as well. Please give me some encouragement to keep
Ferber and Weissbluth at bay, or tell me I’m in denial, and my kid really does sleep worse than others and needs intervention."

Well, the only people who talk about sleep are the ones who have good
sleepers. Basically, anyone who’s tried something and it worked will
rave about it, but people who try something that doesn’t work think
it’s their fault so they don’t say anything about it.

So for every kid who started sleeping through the night at 11
months, there are an equal number who didn’t start until 15 months
(another really common time–both of mine didn’t sleep through until
then, which is strange because they slept so differently from each
other in every other way), and probably an equal number who didn’t
really sleep through regularly until 2 years. And for every kid for
whom CIO worked, there are an equal number whose sleep got even worse
because of CIO, or for whom it just didn’t do anything.

Now: I do think you can kind of predict which kind of kid you
have and when they’ll sleep through. Basically, if you have a kid who’s
just a nightmare sleeper in every way–can’t get to sleep easily, won’t
stay asleep, has big problems in the middle of the night–those seem to
be the ones who won’t sleep through until 2 years (or even longer, God
help their parents). If you have a kid who can fall asleep but just
wakes up a lot (like yours and my second one–which I absolutely don’t classify as a "terrible sleeper" because I’ve just heard of so many worse sleepers, but no one’s telling you that because they’re afraid to say anything when the conversation turns to sleep) and doesn’t seem to be
particularly upset during the night, just awake, those seem to be the
15 monthers. The ones who are great sleepers in general but just go
through the normal sleep regressions are the ones who sleep through at
11 months.

Not that it’s always like that, of course, but this is what I’ve observed from people I know IRL and from the emails I get. (Read the rest of the post before you leave your comment telling me I’m dead on or full of it. :-))

in the other factor that really influences whether or not you do CIO,
which is how your child responds to crying. If you have a kid who gains
tension by crying (so if you let him cry he’ll escalate and get more
and more upset), you’re an unwitting dupe if you do CIO because you’re just going
to make it worse for all of you. If, however, you have a kid who seems
to need to cry/fuss to tap off some energy (like some adults feel
better after "a good cry"), then the kid might actually need to cry for
a few minutes to go to sleep. My first was the first kind, and my
second was the second kind. (And yes, I was one of those "I could never let my precious child cry to sleep!" people until I had a kid who cried himself to sleep while nursing. Kids just seem to know what they need.)

To me, since you say he falls asleep easily by being nursed or
comforted to sleep, I personally wouldn’t mess with that by introducing
CIO into the mix. Certainly not to get him to sleep initially. I might
try a modified approach for the middle-of-the-night wakings of not giving him the nursing, but still responding to him, to see how he responds. In other words, get your partner
to take a shift of 3-4 nights in which he responds to your son at night
(I might still do the 2 am feeding, since it’s totally possible that
your son is actually hungry then, especially if he’s an active kid).
Some babies wake up out of habit, and if there’s no reward of nursing
they’ll just stop waking up then because it’s not worth it to them.
If he cries and it’s Daddy who shows up instead of the milk machine, he might just stop waking up because it’s not worth his time. But sending in your partner is still gentle parenting that won’t scare
him or make him feel alone (although it very well might piss him off).

I’d give it a try for 4 nights or so to see how he responds to
not getting you and your magic breasts in the middle of the night. It
might go well (my older one dropped the 11 pm feeding in a couple of
days this way and I was totally flabbergasted because I thought it
would be a huge fight, whereas my younger one freaked right out when we
tried that approach).
If it doesn’t, you’re out nothing but 4 nights in which you didn’t have to do all the wake-ups.

Basically, it’s kind of a choose your own adventure depending
on your child’s temperament, so I’d just try some easy readjustments
for a few days each to see how they work out before you jump to the big
guns of CIO. Which might not even work anyway on your particular kid,
so don’t believe the hype. (Don’t , don’t, don’t…)

If it makes you feel any better, I remember with both kids
just feeling like 9-10 months was absolutely killing me with the
endless sleep drama (and mine weren’t even that dramatic, just waking
up). I think it’s when we parents really start hitting the fatigue stage.
But everyone else seems to have a peppy, precocious sleeps-14-hours-at-a-stretch kid who’s also walking and can say 5 words and sign 30. It makes you feel like a loser. A puffy, incompetent, wrung-out loser. Things are much better at around a year, even if your kid isn’t
sleeping through reliably then. Maybe only because you can tell yourself that if you made it through one year you can make it through 17 more.

Commiseration? Anecdotes? No philosophical debates, please, just things to make Pamela feel better.

(Breakfast meeting, lunch and dinner planned, about to check the weather to choose clothes for Monday…)

Kudos and a Confession

Kudos: You guys are the best. Really. I have no idea how I attracted the best commenters on the whole internet, but you are consistently helpful, supportive, fonts of good information, and funny. I feel so lucky to have you all read the questions and offer up your experience and expertise.

Confession: I was going to try to continue on with Ask Moxie without any bumps, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. So the reason for the non-posts since last week is that I got a full-time job and haven’t quite figured out the WOH mom thing yet. The process of getting the job was bizarrely fast (from sending my resume to going on a business trip[!] was 8 days), but I’m enjoying it and the child care thing seems to be working itself out.

No, I’m not ever going to blog about my job, mostly because I don’t want to get fired, but also because they’re all really nice, competent people so what would I say? "M told a funny joke and we all laughed, then we went back to work." I will, however, say that we have free organic coffee and lots of windows in the office.

In the meantime, while I’m figuring out how to get myself out of the house in the morning and then come home and do everything I used to do all day, I might not get an Ask Moxie up every day. I’m guessing it’ll take me 2-3 more weeks to iron the schedule all out and get back to five posts a week. Please stay tuned.

Now, can anyone give me tips on sequencing in the morning? I seem to be drying my hair in a fluster every morning and bolting out the door without having a chance to eat or pack breakfast. The only element that can’t move is that I still nurse El P as soon as he wakes up, about 90 minutes before I have to be out the door. (Oh, and nothing is too obvious. I had this amazing flash of insight last night that I could pick my clothes out the night before and save some time the next morning. Duh.)

Reader call: What to do for friend during tragedy

Nicole writes:

"In what can only be considered the most tragic situation ever, a friend
of mine delivered and lost her son on Christmas this year.  I am truly
at a loss for what to say or do, although we have emailed a few times
(she is not ready to talk to people yet, understandably).  I have
offered to bring food, go hang out with her, do anything she needs.  My
heart is just broken for her, and I want to help.  Suggestions on what
friends can do to support each other during a time like this?"

I’m also at a loss. Can anyone who’s been in a similar situation, or who’s helped a friend through a similar situation, please help?

Reader call: New Year’s Resolutions (and weight slow-down)

Happy New Year! I hope all of you had a wonderful transition into 2007. In honor of the new year and new start, I thought we could share any ideas we have for becoming better parents. 

Before we get to that, though, I wanted to address a question I’ve been getting a lot lately. It seems that many of you have been going in to pediatrician checkups soon after your babies start crawling, and your doctors have been concerned that the steady weight gain has dropped off. I’m confused about this, because I thought it was common knowledge (at least among my friends and our pediatricians, and my mom, and lots of the older generation) that as soon as babies start moving around they stop gaining weight as fast (if at all) because all those calories go into movement.

I’m even more confused by the fact that your doctors are suggesting that you either stop nursing (???) or start forcing your babies to eat things like straight butter, Cheerios (which have fewer calories and less fat than breast milk or formula), or Cheetos with ranch dressing (yes, this is a real suggestion from someone’s ped in an email I got). I am really rendered speechless by this kind of advice.

So when you leave your New Year’s resolution, could you also leave your kids’ data points (if they’re over the crawling stage)? It would help other parents know what’s normal.

Here’s my info:

My New Year’s resolution is to yell less by planning ahead more, especially with getting dressed, which seems to be our stuck spot. I’m also going to try to be in the moment more with my children, even when it’s doing things I don’t love.

My kids’ data points (both breastfed past a year, solids started right around 6 months or so):
#1: birth–9.5 lbs, 6 months–20 lbs, crawled at 8.5 months, 1 year 25–lbs
#2: birth–8.5 lbs, 6 months–17 lbs, crawled at 8 months, 1 year–20 lbs

Q&A: should you say anything to a friend if you suspect something about her child?

Lisa writes:

"I was innocently reading a blog and linked from a comment
to a different blog.  This 2nd blogger has a son with Sotos
Syndrome and she describes some of the problems she has encountered, first with
getting a diagnosis, then with the treatment program.  Being the curious
monkey that I am, I googled “Sotos Syndrome” and
it matches a close friend’s son exactly.

Our boys are two weeks apart in age (both are first/only
kids), but light years apart developmentally.  My son is in a home daycare,
and hers is at home with his dad; so I would expect some differences there just
on a social level.  But I’m recalling the last time the boys played
together and noticing the extremes.  Her son is almost twice my
son’s size (ok, his parents are large, and I’m petite and my
husband is average); but all of the skill levels are different, too.  Maybe
I’m naïve, but I would expect that with development differences, her
child should excel in some areas, and mine in others, but I don’t see any
of that.

Which all leads to my question: Should I mention this to my
friend, and if so, how?  I can’t think of any way of bringing it up
that isn’t going to sound like (to her) “So what’s wrong with
your kid?”  Also, I like to brag about my degree from Dr. Google U,
but other people aren’t as impressed.  I don’t want to give
out assvice that I don’t know anything about just to worry her; but her
son’s 2 year check-up will be at the end of October, and a great time to
ask the pediatrician if she feels there is a problem."

This is a tough one. On the one hand, there’s a lot to be said for minding your own business. On the other hand, if you can help her family by getting her son therapy and help for a disability, you’re almost under a moral obligation not to withhold information.

The easiest test is "Would you want someone to tell you?" Of course, that doesn’t really help a whole lot, since people are probably polarized about the answer to that question. (This reminds me of discussions of cheating spouses. In any discussion people seem to be evenly split between those who absolutely would not want to be told if a friend saw their spouse cheating, and those who would be devastated not to be told.)

So then consider what, if anything, telling the friend would accomplish. If her child does have Sotos Syndrome, early intervention in the form of occupational, physical, and speech therapy could make a huge difference in the child’s development. So you really can’t say nothing. The repercussions of saying something and the boy not having Sotos Syndrom are much less than the repercussions of his having the syndrome and not saying anything. So you have to tell her.

You also have to be prepared to lose her friendship when you do tell her. If she hasn’t noticed anything, she may be so blindsided and insulted by it that she won’t talk to you anymore. In this case you can only hope that she gets her son checked out. She may have had suspicions all along, and your telling her might make her feel more fear, and she may cut off contact with you. Or she may be relieved to be able to talk about it with someone. There’s no way to know how the situation will go.

I have no magic words for you to say when you tell her. I’m kind of blunt (as you can tell), so I’d probably say something like, "I don’t know how to tell you this, so I’m just going to say it: I think it’s possible that Dylan has Sotos Syndrome. He fits all the physical and developmental characteristics. I’m telling you now so you can ask your pediatrician about it at his 2-year check-up." But if you think it’s likely that she’s been wondering about him already, you could try to draw her out about it a little. Or you could ask her how extensive the developmental evaulation is at her pediatrician’s, because your ped is going to look at a bunch of questions to rule out any developmental delays–talking about it as a universal screening tool might make her feel more comfortable getting her son evaluated.

Readers, if it was your child, and telling you would help you get your child useful and necessary help, how would you want to be told?

Q&A: what to do when you break someone’s stuff

Denise writes:

"Recently, we (me, my 3 year old and my 20 month old) were at a neighborhood playdate, and my 20 month old tipped a lamp which tore the lampshade. It happened quickly, and I felt bad, apologized profusely, and offered to replace the lampshade. The mom said it was no big deal, don’t worry about it, that is what happens with kids, etc. I know that is what I would say at my home – and I know I diligently watch my kids (meaning we are not the crazy destructo kids family). So, my question is what should I do? Email or call her and offer to buy a shade again? Send her something (bottle of wine and sorry note, or gift certificate)??

I don’t have any idea how expensive this lamp shade is, and I know that I cannot just go and buy one anyway. She does have a very nice home and so I am sure it wasn’t cheap.

So what should I do?"

I think this goes back to babyproofing. If you have a kid, and are going to have any other kids in your house, then you really shouldn’t have an expensive, irreplaceble lampshade. It’s just common sense. Kids break things all the time. It sounds like the other mom is aware of this and really wasn’t that upset by the incident. So I wouldn’t give any more thought to the actual lampshade.

However, you do want to attempt to make restitution for the breakage and increase your friendship, so I would send an apology note along with a bottle or two of wine. I wouldn’t go with a gift certificate, since that directly deals with the lampshade. But wine is always good (assuming they’re not in recovery or nondrinkers–in that case I’d go with nice chocolate or some kind of fancy pastry like cannoli, a cheesecake, or babka). Plus, it’s a friendly way to offer amends without dwelling on the actual incident.

Then make sure you host a playdate at your house soon. And make sure to put all your breakable stuff out of reach before anyone else gets there.:)

Q&A: baby swimming lessons

Holly writes:

"I have a request for information that is pretty reflective of first-time-mom syndrome (we still have time to over-think things!)

My 9 mo boy and I are going to start "Pee Wee" swim classes next week. I am wondering what to expect, and if you or your readers have any recommendations from their experiences? What swim diapers? Feeding and napping timing advice? I breast-feed, do I really need to worry about leaking? Should I get a pair of LilyPadz or is that overkill? Maybe just funny story or two to share.

More Info: The class is 30 minutes long, twice a week, at 4 p.m. (normally wakes from nap around 3 or 4) in a covered pool (It is fully enclosed in the winter and they take the sides off during the summer. So I’m hoping it is warmer in the afternoon, but since it is covered we don’t have to be as concerned about sun care.) It is taught by Red Cross certified instructors and offers to "help parents feel comfortable in the water with their baby." So its not one of those "teach your baby to swim" classes. I’m hoping for a little exercise, socialization, and another fun way to play with our P."

Am I the only one who thinks it’s hilarious that baby swim classes are called "Pee Wee" classes? Redundant, yet accurate. Ah, the scatalogical 4-year-old humor that is starting to take over my life.

The swim classes sound like fun. And having a covered pool is going to take away the suncreen factor, which is more of a pain than you’d think it would be. 30 minutes is probably going to be just about enough time in the water, although the changing into your suits and back into your clothes will probably take at least that long!

Swim diapers need to be tight enough (but not pinchy tight) around the legs to keep urine or poop inside them in the pool, since they don’t really absorb anything. You can go with disposible swim diapers, which are basically the shell of a disposible diaper without any absorbant layer. Or you can go with washable swim diapers, which are just waterproof cloth diaper covers with no cloth layer to absorb anything. The benefit of using washable ones (besides the fact that you don’t have to keep buying more) is that they’re often the inside layer of a cute set of swim trunks. The benefit of using disposible ones (besides the fact that you don’t have to wash them) is that you can put a cute set of trunks over them.

Make sure you rinse the pool water off him well after the class, since chlorine can irritate baby skin.

I think a late afternoon lesson sounds lovely. He’ll be happy after his nap, and it’ll help give that "How long until dinner and bed?" stretch of the day some shape. You don’t have to wait a full half hour after feeding him to swim (he’s not going to be going for distance or doing any cardio), but if you feed him before you leave the house you’ll probably have less chance of having anything come back up in the pool.

If you’re a leaker regularly, you may want to get some Lilypadz anyway and then wear them in the pool. If you’re not really a leaker, I wouldn’t worry about it. (Unless your suit isn’t lined and you want to prevent nipple showthrough.)

I have no funny swim class stories, because swim class was usually my husband’s thing. But someone’s got to have an anecdote or some advice to share about swimming with babies. Anyone?

Q&A: 2-year-old sleeping (and everything else) problems

Katie P writes:

"I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all your advice, and I’ve poked through the archives, but haven’t seen anything that quite explains what is going on with my two-year-old son (technically, he’ll be two on July 1). My formerly good sleeper is now taking well over an hour every night to settle down and go to sleep, and even that takes me going in there and either hushing him to sleep or rocking him.

Caveats: There’s a whole lot going on right now. We just — as in we’ve been in this house less than a month now — moved 400 miles west, and the daylight is different. It’s not more daylight or less, just a time shift since the sun sets about half an hour later than it did where we were before. This does mean that it stays light in his room longer, although we’ve tried to fix that with a light-blocking shade (which we used before). The move also marked his transition out of the crib, in part because I’m 26 weeks pregnant and we wanted him to have plenty of time to adjust to being in a big-boy bed before the baby arrives.

I’ve tried to keep our bedtime routine pretty much the same as it was before we moved, although I have played around with the actual time itself a bit, and it hasn’t helped. I used to go through the routine, put him in the crib and tell him "Night night, Mama loves you," and he’d put himself to sleep with no crying in about five minutes. Now there’s some extended playtime (he likes to get up and shut the door to his room all the way, among other things) and wailing before he settles down. And again, it’s taking me having to go in there and either sit on the bed and say "hush" to him or pick him up and rock him in the living room before he’ll go to sleep. But I cannot take this much longer: the last couple of nights it’s been 10 p.m. until he’s in bed, and then he’s sleep-deprived and cranky during the day. Which, by the way, is now spent entirely with me, since I stopped working when we moved, too.

We won’t even get into the issues with him flat out ignoring me when I ask him to do things like go get a diaper change or pick a toy up off the floor (he closes his eyes because if he can’t see me, then he doesn’t have to listen). Not to mention that as soon as Daddy gets home, I might as well not exist anymore, which is hard on my husband who feels he gets no time to himself to relax in the evenings. Oops, I guess I got into them after all.

Help! Where do I even start?"

What I find fascinating about this email is that the child’s whole demeanor, day and night, is going kablooey, but Katie titled her email "Another sleep question." Isn’t it funny that we’re able to put up with so many troubling phases our kids go through during the day, but they really bug us at night?

It sounds like this kid is dealing with a bunch of things right now. The first are the things all kids go through at this age: the second major separation anxiety phase, a big gap between receptive language and expressive language, and the normal control issues that seem to fluctuate by the day.

Then add onto that a move, losing all his friends, losing his daycare provider(s), a new house, a new bed, spending more time with his mother (a positive stressor, but still a stressor), the different light schedule in the new place, and a sibling on the way.

Of course he’s freaking out. Frankly, I’m surprised that he’s not waking up multiple times in the middle of the night with all the stuff that’s going on in his brain.

Time is eventually going to fix all the problems he’s having, because he’ll adjust to the new house, new schedule, new time with his mother. He’ll make new friends and get engrossed in new activities. It will all become normal to him and he won’t be stressed out about it anymore (except for the new sibling, but that’s just part of being the older child).

In the meantime, probably the best thing you can do is focus on maintaining a solid, predictable, almost rigid daily schedule. He needs to feel like he knows what’s going to happen over the course of the day when he wakes up in the morning, and what’s going to happen the next day when he goes to bed at night.

When he wakes up, review what’s going to happen that day. You might even consider doing the picture schedule some daycares and preschools do, where there are pictures of the different activities up on a wall so non-readers can keep track of what’s going to happen next.

As you finish one activity, talk about what’s going to happen next. Keep talking about what’s going to happen all throughout your daily activities. Before bed, talk about what’s going to happen the next day.

Giving him a solid, predictable routine is going to help him feel more secure. Try to build playdates and errands into the same time slots every day. That way he’ll know that right after breakfast you go outside and meet someone else at the park, and after lunch you go out in the car to run errands, or whatever you decide the schedule should be. It doesn’t matter what you do when, as long as it’s predictable and comforting for him.

This isn’t going to transform your son into a smiling, obedient cherub,
but it will probably cut down on some of the tantrums and control games
he’s trying to engage you in.

You’ve only been a SAHM for a month, but I’m sure you’ve already figured out that sticking to a routine (even a flexible one) is essential or else you both end up still in your pajamas at 3 pm. (Er, not that there’s anything wrong with that.) So having a strong routine for the next few months is going to end up helping you get stuff done and get established in your new town, too.

I don’t have any good advice specifically for bedtime. When we were having the same problem I tried putting my son to bed much earlier, then putting him to bed much later (figuring that if he was going to be up until 10 anyway I might as well start with the bedtime routine at 9:40), then being strict and mean at bedtime, and then letting him fall asleep in our bed. Eventually he did start going to bed again easily, but I don’t think it had anything to do with anything I did. You might end up happening on something that will help your situation if you can figure out what exactly is causing him to stay up. Is he afraid that when he wakes up things will be different? Is he too excited from some activity you’re doing in the afternoon or evening in the new place that you weren’t doing in the old? Is he working on some new skill? Or is it just the lightning rod of all his stress?

If you can’t figure out exactly what his particular bedtime issue is, don’t feel bad about it. Just know that it will get better as he gets more comfortable in your new place with your new routine. And see if you can trade off bedtime duty with your partner so neither one of you has to deal with it too many nights in a row.