August 2012

A quick keeping-up post:

* I was playing with Allie yesterday evening by holding her so that her front is to my front, then leaning forward so that her back arches back and she looks at her daddy upside-down, which makes her laugh very heartily. With Allie’s backwards-mouth-open position, I saw clearly that her lateral incisors, which are the 2 upper front teeth on either side of her upper center front teeth, are out. They were NOT out on Friday, when the doctor checked her gums and the nurse applied fluoride on her 5 teeth. So sometime this weekend, teeth #s 6 and 7 cut. I knew it was coming because I had been very sore for a couple of weeks again from abrasion/friction during nursing. (She prefers a shallow latch so that she could pull away and see/play with my hair, clothing, etc. while nursing.)

* Allie now uses her little teeth to bite down on baby puffs which she’d only recently learned to feed herself this week. She brings one to her mouth, kind of experimentally, and bites it in half with her front teeth. Yesterday, however, she’s been stuffing the entire thing in her mouth rather greedily. Sometimes two in her mouth, one right after the other, with a delighted smile on her face. Also this past weekend, she learned to sip from a straw the “right way.”

* Pumping has been going well. I get let-downs again, and while at work using the Medela double-electric pump, I get 3-4 letdowns per pumping session, thanks to the tips from college roommie Diana. Who knew I was using the pumps wrong? Apparently I can induce let-downs by rearranging the pumps on myself a little in-between letdowns, and then pushing the “let-down button” to change the speed of suction, and play with the knobs to change things up. Also, I apparently need a non-baby distraction while I pump. Some people let down when they see/hear pictures/videos of their baby. For me, and this is also thanks to tips from Diana, I have to read a magazine or do something totally separate. I guess thinking about Allie is still stress-associated with me. Lately I’ve just been reading “Game of Thrones” on my Kindle while pumping.

* I had a very social weekend. It deserves its own post, since I also have photos. Hope to get to it soon.

I’m documenting this in hopes that I never forget the acts of kindness shown to me.

My judge is visiting his brother in Northern California all this week, as the brother undergoes a medical procedure. This means the courtroom is dark, so I’m available to float anywhere. I’ve been nervous about this because my pumping schedule at work (9:30am, 1pm, 3:30pm) makes it very difficult for me to properly man a busy courtroom. In my own court, if we’re in trial, my courtroom assistant takes notes of the exhibits introduced and the witnesses sworn so that I could log them when I return, and my judge will swear in the witnesses for me. In someone else’s court, especially if it were a criminal calendar court, I may miss 5 or more cases when I’m gone for half an hour.

My immediate supervisor has been kind and if there are no major clerk shortages, she’ll keep me in locations that will allow me to pump. The last 2 days, I’ve been helping clear the Family Law backlog by entering tons of documents at my desk. Altho I’m doing that again today, my supervisor said she had no choice but to put me to cover a Family Law courtroom this afternoon at 3:00pm because that clerk is scheduled to leave early, and she says they may be in trial all day. I mentioned that I’d have to pump at 3:30, and she said helplessly that she had no one else available to cover that court, and gave a quick rundown of where the regular relief clerks are assigned today.

Hearing a friend’s name in another courtroom, I suggested seeing if we can work something out, and she was agreeable. The coworker had no problems since he had a light calendar in the morning and nothing scheduled for the afternoon; he agreed to relieve me at 3:30p so that I could leave to pump. I was grateful for that solution, but wanted to check the judge I’d be working with to make sure that it’d be okay with him as well.

The judge is one of my favorite judges in the building, and one of my family law resource judges that I often go to with questions on procedure and such. Upon hearing my pumping schedule issue, he immediately said that he will then adjourn any trial that may start this afternoon at 3:30p so that I could pump, and no relief is needed to relieve me. He asked how long pumping takes, I said half an hour. He looked thoughtful, and then said, “I’ll just adjourn for the day at 3:30, then. I have no problem with that. I’ll tell them upfront that no matter what, we are finished today at 3:30.” WOW. I did not expect that! That means I could even leave to go home on time!

I feel a little like dancing.

Allie does many things that make me laugh aloud, but two of my favorite scenarios are as follows:

1) First, two facts. One, although Allie smiles claps when we say “clap clap clap,” she also associates “yay!” with clapping, because usually when we’re cheering about something she did correctly or obediently, we say “yay!” and clap in front of her. Two, because she doesn’t poop as often as other babies, I’m usually pretty happy when she has a nice poopie. I’ve figured out that after she wakes from her naps, if I leave her alone in her crib for 10-15 minutes as she plays on her own, which she does well, she uses that alone time to poop. Before I realized that, I didn’t know why she always has poopies twice a day after each nap with Jayne, but none on the weekends with us. Hubby has since discovered, while watching the babycam at work, that Jayne leaves Allie in her crib after she wakes from her nap for sometimes up to half an hour. So I’ve discovered that when she’s distracted and playing with us immediately after her nap, she’s not pooping. That’s a lot of background for a little description of a scenario…
We’ve accidentally found that when we’re changing her and she has a nice poopie, and we say, “Yay!,” she’ll just start clapping and smiling, but with a surprised look in her face like she doesn’t know exactly why she’s being complimented. So she looks like she’s clapping for herself for pooping.

2) Allie has discovered that she doesn’t have her hands free if she wants to bring a toy somewhere, because she needs both hands to crawl and sometimes two to pull herself up. She went thru a few times of looking confused with a toy on the ground that she’d dropped when she started to crawl or pull up, not knowing how to bring it with her. Now she’ll pop the toy in her mouth like a little dog and bring it with her that way, then take it out of her mouth again to play with when she’s reached her destination.

Of course, her uncanny imitations of a moose toy, the coffee maker, people blowing their nose, all are hilarious, too. Our laughing brings a gleam to her eye and she’ll do it again just to entertain us.

Allie her had 9-month doctor visit yesterday. The nurse said she dropped in height percentile! She is no longer taller than 99% of girls her age; she’s taller than about 90%. Here are her stats:
* Height: 28.75 inches (that’s 2 feet and almost 5 inches! she’s almost HALF my height!), 88th percentile
* Weight: 18 lbs 4.2 oz, 41st percentile
* Head size: 44 cm (about 17 1/3 inches), 51st percentile
The nurse said that because Allie’s head did not shrink, the head size measurement at her last checkup at 6 months must’ve been wrong. “They probably just measured it too loosely,” she speculated.
No shots this time, yay! The only “medication” was brushing her 5 little teeth with fluoride. The fluoride was a thick brown fluid that was applied with something resembling a nail polish brush. It was bubble gum flavored, and Allie kept licking her sticky lips afterwards. The doctor warned me that at the 1-year appointment, there will be A LOT of shots. 🙁 Then after that, no shots until 18 months.

Allie was super-cooperative and handled the 45-minute waiting room wait, and subsequent exam room wait, like a good-natured pro. Other adults kept smiling at her and pointing her out. One grandpa, there with his 1st-grader granddaughter, paid a lot of attention to Allie and said things to his granddaughter like, “Look at the baby! Wanna go say hi to the baby? Hey, buddy! Hi! Look, he’s smiling! He’s got teeth!” Allie, BTW, was wearing a shirt with large pink, yellow and orange flowers and orange cuffed capris with a decal of a smiling GIRL monkey (cuz it had a matching orange flower behind its ear) on her butt.

The doctor was pretty impressed with her. He said she was healthy, at a great height and weight, and quite a bit ahead on motor development and cognitive skills. He said the minimum they’re looking for at 9 months is a baby who sits up well by him/herself, and maybe showing interest in starting to crawl. Allie had pulled herself up in the exam room and was cruising around the perimeter of the room from chair to chair. The doctor was happy that she was even responding to simple commands, such as “no” (the other day, she held onto a rock for 15 minutes that we wouldn’t let her eat, and she remembered not to put it in her mouth again), “give that to mommy,” “say aaah,” “wave bye-bye,” “shake shake shake!” (for toys that make sound when shaken), “clap clap clap!” and “dance dance dance!” She’ll also respond to simple questions by pointing or looking around or using some other body language, such as “Where’s daddy?,” “Where are your balloons?,” “Wanna eat? Wanna nom nom nom?,” “Wanna come out?,” “Where’s Dodo?” She’ll also control our attention by pointing at something she wants us to see and give her a word for, such as birds, dog, hammock, fan, light. Allie still loves the mimicking game, and it no longer matters who mimics whom, it all makes her laugh. And of course, the usual singing, peek-a-boo from around the corner or behind furniture, “Where’s Allie/mommy/daddy” from behind a cloth. She seems to love music and will stop whatever she’s doing, pull herself up, and bop up and down and sing along, wiggling her hips back and forth. The other day she was tired of the piano keyboard and was trying to climb up onto the piano. I put my arms around her and played “Mary Had a Little Lamb” (which her daddy sings to her changing the words to “Allie had a little lamb”) with a boogie beat and she instantly stopped climbing and started dancing. It’s a really fun age.

Oh, she just started eating baby puffs altho she spends more time turning them over and examining them than actually eating them, and she also just learned to sip through a straw. We’d always fed her water at restaurants by plugging up the top end of the straw and letting her suck out the bottom end, but now she can do it herself from the top of the straw. The first few days of her trying this, she’d choke and cough from the water going back too far, but now she knows to stop it with her tongue.

“Scuse me, nurse…I believe I was next. Long wait, you say?”

“That’s cool, I’ll just sit here and do my calisthenics.”

“Gotta make sure we limber up for the can-can!”

“I’m gonna qualify for the baby olympics next year.”

Don’t let these photos fool you…after this she wandered all over the waiting room cruising with a hand on the chairs, banging on the tables while watching people, asking to be brought over to the plants so she could touch the leaves.

A couple of weekends ago, Allie and I went to a coworker’s son’s co-ed baby shower in San Clemente. Mr. W didn’t go, because he had to be on a liquid restriction for a medical procedure the next day, and he said he didn’t want to be around food that he couldn’t have. Mr. W participated to the extent that he picked out (and dressed Allie in) his favorite black-and-white polka-dot dress, perfect for the warm summer weather, he said, and while Allie and I went alone, Mr. W went to get a massage instead.

Soon after Allie and I got on the freeway, the entire strip was congested in stop-and-go traffic thanks to a 4-car accident and 4-5 California Highway Patrol cops surrounding the involved cars. Even though all the cars were pulled off the freeway already, all the gawkers big-time slowed the drive. Pretty early on in this mess, Allie started uncharacteristic fussing and whimpering in the backseat. “It’s okay, baby, we’ll get through this soon, you’re okay, you’re okay,” I’d kept saying to her, checking on her often from the rear view mirror, which reflects back from the baby mirror I’d put on the backseat so that I could see Allie’s rear-facing carseat. The freeway cleared for maaaaybe half a mile, then congested again thanks to an exit-ramp closure on the exact exit we were supposed to get off on. I had the traffic layer up on phone’s GPS, and all I could see was a giant streak of red for the duration of the trip. It looked like my map app was bleeding. Oh my gawd, this is the worst drive, ever, I thought more than once.

I decided to get off an exit early, get away from the congestion, and just take the surface streets to the party. My car’s nav couldn’t keep up and therefore didn’t redraw the directions in time, so I made a guess and turned after I exited. Of course I turned the wrong way. And since this was beachside streets, and near Pacific Coast Highway, and one-way split streets, and an intersection of freeways, the nav kept drawing and redrawing me in loops and circles no matter WHAT I did. Allie was screaming and crying through this. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, this is officially The Worst Drive Ever! Mommy’s so sorry!” I apologized repeatedly to the approaching-hysteria Allie.

After wasting 10+ minutes going in circles and being completely confused by the car navigation system’s constant redrawing of yet more loops and endless circles every time I turned (“Oh my gawd, you’re effing me. You have GOT to be effing me! Mommy’s so sorry, baby, this is the Worst Drive Ever! Please stop crying!”), I gave up and went back on the freeway at the exact point I’d gotten off. Allie quieted for a moment, but soon started crying and whimpering in the saddest way. Talking to her didn’t help, giving her her teething giraffe Sophie didn’t help. The crying turned into screams. I wasn’t used to this — this isn’t like her. Of course, most drives, I’m in the backseat entertaining her while Mr. W drove, so this is different for her, too.

Inch by slow agonizing inch in heavy traffic, I had to drive past the closed-due-to-construction exit that I was supposed to get off on, get off on the next exit a few miles away, turn around, and get back on the freeway the other way to get off on the correct exit going the opposite direction, all with my daughter freaking out in the back. After I exited, I was looking at the rear view mirror at her when suddenly, I saw a giant column of milk pour out of her mouth. As I watched, a second column spilled out, this time lasting even longer. Oh my God, oh my God, I thought to myself as I immediately pulled into the closest plaza and parked. Allie was quiet now, and looked glazed but calm. I plowed into the backseat, apologizing frantically for subjecting Allie to what is now historically THE WORST DRIVE, EVER-ever, grabbed a t-shirt I happened to have in the backseat and started mopping at her. She and Sophie were both covered and sitting in a pool of chunky half-digested breastmilk. I went through a mental panic trying to decide what to do. She needed to be bathed, she needed to be changed, she needed to be comforted, and she’s now probably hungry. But if I took her out here, I won’t be able to get her back in and we’d be stranded. We’re half a mile from my coworker’s house. Should I keep going? what kind of mother would I be if I took my sick baby to a party covered in vomit? I should just go home. But that would mean turning right around, and putting Allie through another drive through traffic when she’s already so unhappy. Should I take her to a hospital? What if she’s actually really SICK? She’d never vomited before like this.

I had called Mr. W repeatedly but of course he didn’t pick up his phone. I’d also called my coworker and she didn’t pick up, either. I looked at Allie. Allie looked at me. The phone rang. I picked it up and my coworker said, “Hi! Where are you?” I blubbered and poured my story in all its panicky glory into the phone. “No, no, don’t go home. Bring her here. We’ll clean her up and give her a break from the car.” That sounded good, so I left Allie and got back in the front seat. The poor girl started WAILING, her lower chin shaking, as if she couldn’t understand how I could abandon her in her time of need like this.

As soon as I got her to my coworker’s house, she was fine. My coworker was outside to direct us into her driveway (where she’d saved a spot for us to park), some other coworkers and retired coworkers excited to see Allie came out to greet us, and all I could do was apologize and then rush the baby into the master bathroom. My WONDERFUL coworker and I undressed Allie down to her diaper, and I cleaned Allie up while my coworker hand-washed Allie’s little dress and removed components of vomit-soaked carseat, threw those in the washing machine and put the carseat itself outside to dry. Digging through the diaper bag, I was dismayed to find that the only extra emergency clothes was a long-sleeved sleep-and-play with feet that likely was too small for her, and it was a 90-degree day. That, and a beanie cap. =P Luckily, it was warm in the house so we just left Allie as-is and she was instantly in a GREAT mood once she was no longer sticky. I fed her some pureed zucchini & rice, and papaya that I’d brought. She ate well, then played well in the living room among all the strangers, crawling around and pointing at balloons, chewing on party favors, talking to people, all while wearing a diaper, her bib, and her little canvas sneakers.

Allie sat quietly on the drive home (which took less than half the time I’d spent to get to the party, now that the freeways were clear), looking out the window, playing here and there with her toys in the car, and fell asleep the last 5 minutes of the drive, and still slept through the night. We theorized that Allie got carsick probably just from the combination of heat, being alone back there, being in my little sports car instead of her daddy’s car that she’s used to, and dealing with all the stop-and-gos and turns and u-turns that I was making.

I learned something that day. The lesson is to ALWAYS LISTEN TO KYDEN. You’d think I would’ve learned from his experience, especially when looking in the comments, it appears I’d predicted this day would come way back in February, but nooo. Speaking of failing to learn from experience, Allie’s diaper bag still contains no updated clothes, now that I think about it.

Addendum, 11pm.
While discussing the above event with Flip Flop Girl (Kyden’s mommy) online just now:

me: I usually go super-calm during a disaster-type situation as my brain automatically goes into task-mode, damage-control, etc., but now I know that when it comes to my baby, my brain turns to instant oatmeal.
flip flop girl: that’s really surprising
i would think that BECAUSE it’s your baby that you’d have to be the strong, calm one in that situation
me: It surprised and dismayed me, too. Now I know I need a trunk monkey who would come out during those times and slap me.
flip flop girl: hahaha
or better yet
he can take care of everything for you
that’s much better than getting slapped, right?
me: oh, I guess while I’m wishing for things, I may as well wish for that, instead.

Because this is the age of technology, instead of telling you some of the things Allie is doing, I can now show them to you. That is, I can show them to you if you aren’t using an Apple iPad or iPhone or iTouch that won’t let you view flash. =P

The first video (4 mins) was taken this past Saturday. I was in the now-fenced off playing area with Allie, when I discovered that for whatever reason at the moment, saying “voo voo” to Allie cracked her up. So I grabbed my phone to document it. Cuz it’s cute. I also happened to capture her playing, cruising, making faces, razzing (with a mouthful of teething ring), on top of the giggling. It’s too bad I didn’t get her dancing. When music comes on, she often stops what she’s doing, pulls herself up to standing position and wiggles her butt, hips, and “jumps” up and down (by bending and straightening her knees) while nodding her head to the rhythm.

This second 3-minute video depicts her playing with her daddy yesterday, being chased into her room shortly before her bath. It’s The Great Pre-Bath Allie Chase! Bonus footage: Allie playing with water at the edge of the tub. And me in the mirror (accidental footage).

Allie’s going through a mommy preference stage. It doesn’t mean she’s unwilling to be with others, just that if she were playing with Mr. W, or even Jayne, if I were to walk by she’d get a big smile on her face and stop what she’s doing to come to me. If she were standing or being held, she’d reach out to me and lean in. If I don’t pick her up or go to her, she’d start complaining, and if I still don’t pick her up, she’d give a “Why hast thou forsaken me?” wail. Mr. W doesn’t seem to be jealous or to mind at all, except when I can’t pick her up and she’s now fussing and refusing to go back to whatever she was doing. “We were doing FINE until you walked by!” he’d complain. If I can’t go join them (i.e., if I had some chore I had to do), I would usually try to sneak quietly by them while Allie had her back turned. This mommy preference thing usually happens when she’s getting a bit tired, such as near naptime or bedtime. I think she associates me with comfort, whereas she associates Mr. W with play.

As for what I think about this inconvenient mommy preference thing… I feel like the girl who’s always picked last for a team sport suddenly and unexpected gets picked first, and not just by a random team captain, but by the most beautiful, beloved, magical, important person that could pay attention to me, and I’m touched, flattered, and feeling like I must surely be dreaming. SHE loves ME? SHE *wants* to be with me? She chooses me out of all the people in the room? What did I do to deserve such devotion?

Allie is now our little mimic. If someone coughs, she’ll do a fake cough. If someone makes a face at her, she smiles big and then does the face back. Smack your lips at her and make bubble-popping sounds with lips like a fish and she’ll do it, too. Sometimes she so likes a particular face or sound that she’ll practice it on her own, such as the pop-pop-pop bubble-lips sound or the “ptthhhh” with the tongue, spittle flying everywhere. It sure beats the phase in which I had to make sure my pathways had wide berth whenever I was holding Allie, as I had somehow given birth to a baby who is half-human and half-velcro. (That comes in handy when I need something picked up from the ground, however. I just dangle Allie over the object for a couple of seconds and then bring her back up. She’ll reappear with the dropped object in her hand. I don’t even need to bend over.) The imitations are much cuter and always good for a laugh.
I took advantage of the mimicking the other day. Mr. W has tried to show her the piano but she’s always been more interested in touching the shiny silver knob on the controls. This time, Mr. W told her to watch me play piano. I hadn’t played since before she was born, but Allie watched my hands intently. Then she reached out toward the keyboard, so Mr. W sat her next to me. She watched me, watched my hands, and then imitated the open-close and the finger-wagging on the keyboard. Her hand motions started out more like she was scratching than pressing individual keys, but she got the hang of it and we managed to play a duet. 🙂

I posted this pic on the social network and my mom’s comment was that I should’ve placed a mirror in front of Allie so that we can see her face. I bit back the sarcastic responses I’d wanted to make. It’s not a posed shot! I’m not in a studio! AND I obviously didn’t take the picture! I’m surprised she didn’t tell me I should’ve put on a flattering dress and some makeup first. =P

My mom redeemed herself by emailing me this photo of her, tho. My parents are with friends on a trip to Yellowstone National Park right now, making some stops along the way at Mr. Rushmore and such.

Notice the death-grip she has on her iPad3. Now that’s a Mother’s Day present well-gifted. She looks like Mr. W with that thing permanently adhered to her hand. I guess Allie’s not the only mimic around.

It seems to me kind of a waste that I’ve invested all this time learning all these baby things, and I’m really enjoying making healthy baby food which Allie seems to enjoy (new today: organic baby kale + organic carrot puree, and will do a steamed pear + organic cherry puree for dessert), and these skills are going to be good for, oh, a few months. I feel like I need to find out who else is having a baby and offer to make food for their kid with a grocery expense account or something. Hey, the neighbor across the street just gave birth. Paisley Rose is the baby’s name. Maybe I’ll make the offer. I’ll first intimidate her with information about not using steaming liquid for some things that are high nitrate veggies, like kale and carrot, but to use the steaming liquid on other things that are safe like pear in order to add the nutrients back in, and give her info on what foods constipate and which ones are laxative and which ones are to be introduced later (like eggplant) and which ones to feed together to maximize nutrient absorption (like high-iron spinach with high-vitamin C carrot to help the body absorb the iron), and when her head’s swimming, I’ll offer to take all the guesswork out and prep it for her for $15/week. Then I’ll get to keep using my Baby Chef baby food maker, which I love.

Speaking of eating baby food…we finally got Allie her own baby toothbrush. The doctor’s recommendation all along was a wet washcloth to wipe down her mouth, tongue and gums twice a day, but it’s really hard to get a terry washcloth into her mouth without her sucking all the tap water out, plus it’s too hard to get it — along with my finger — far enough in her little mouth to access her gums. So we went on a walk last week to the store across the street…

and brushing immediately became my favorite part of the morning and bedtime routines. Here’s why:

She was a little distracted by the cameraphone in her face, but normally she says “Ahh!” when we say “Ahh.” She sees the toothbrush coming and smiles and opens her mouth. How cute is that?!

I seem to always be in pajamas when I have an ice cream craving. In the fight between laziness and gratification, laziness keeps winning. So there’ll be no ice cream runs tonight. I’m a little sad about that.

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