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The first time Bear pointed at a picture of a goat in one her books and said, “Goat,” I was amazed.  The child had never seen a goat in real life, and it seemed like a strange word to choose to make one of one’s first.  There are not an abundance of goats in her books – only one or two that I can recall (and let me tell you, I’ve read them enough times that I would know).  Sid hasn’t learned about goats in his quest to “know everything about everything.”  And, even though Bear has “country” running through her blood despite being raised in the city, she would never come across a goat at our farm.  So, her special attention to goats surprised me.

Today, Bear finally met a goat.  In fact, she got up close and personal with several.  She swatted their noses, despite being told only “soft, gentle touches.”  She beat on the heads of a few goats that weren’t fast enough or cared enough to move, and she grabbed a number of crusty tails that were caked in who-knows-what (OK, I do, but I’m trying not to think about it).  Bear had a good day.

After her nap, I think that I’ll pull out her one or two books where goats make an appearance and enjoy her reaction.

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We have been traveling lately, so updating this blog has been difficult, but I will try to be more attentive.  Last week, we flew to West Virginia to visit my husband’s extended family and so they could see Bear for the first time in the past year.  We flew last year there with Bear, which strangely was an easier process with a five month-old.  Then, I was able to breastfeed her for much of the time, and despite being a human pacifier for the better part of a day, at least, I could pacify her in some way.  We also flew to California in May, which by coincidence fell on Day 1 of her bout with Roseola, so the poor girl had a high fever and clearly didn’t feel well, but in retrospect, she was quite subdued.

Flying with Feverish Bear is nothing compared to flying with Pukish Bear.  As we parked the car at the airport just prior to checking in for our first flight, I heard Bear coughing from the backseat and then gurgling.  We turned around to find Bear covered with the milk that she consumed earlier that morning.  So, we changed Bear in the parking lot and used about a million baby wipes trying to clean up the puke-covered car seat that we were getting ready to check for the flight.

Then, we were delayed from actually boarding the plane, because despite having booked our tickets and clearly indicating that we had a lap child with us, the airline had assigned us seats in a row without the extra oxygen mask for said lap child.  Instead of simply reassigning other passengers to new seats, they asked for volunteers to switch with us.  Apparently, no one would volunteer, so they had me sit in a single seat in the very back of the plane with Bear and had my husband sit elsewhere.  I was already annoyed with the unpleasant start to our trip, but I was really unhappy at the prospect of wrangling a nauseous fifteen month-old by myself.

Naturally, Bear proceeded to scream for most of the flight, except when she was eating, which resulted in her consumption of A LOT of blueberries.  She was also exhausted since it happened to be naptime.  Fortunately, she has a very good daddy who willingly walked up and down the aisle with her until, toward the end of the flight, she fell asleep on his shoulder.  My husband decided to just sit back down in his seat with her.  As we were getting ready to land, the flight attendant told my husband that he had to move.  Clearly this flight attendant had never struggled to get an infant to sleep (or stay asleep), but instead of causing a scene, my annoyed husband eased as carefully as he could out of his seat and walked back to where I was sitting to trade me seats.  Shortly after sitting down and as the flight was landing, Bear began screaming again.  I looked back, and my husband painfully indicated that I needed to get back there as soon as I could.  So, I waited until the plane was on the ground, and even though the ubiquitous seatbelt light had not been turned off, I charged back to where Bear and her daddy were wrestling and where both of them were covered with blue puke.  I did my best to help my husband and to console my crying baby while ignoring the flight attendant who was yelling at me over the loud speaker that I was not allowed out of my seat at that point.

I’ll admit.  I’m kind of a rule-follower, but I had had it with that flight.  I yelled back at her – past every passenger on the flight – “I DO NOT CARE!”  We found out later that there is some huge fine for being out of your seat during take-off and landing, but fortunately, by the time the flight attendant was able to get out of her seat, passengers were already disembarking.  We took our puke-covered baby and happily got off that plane.

The rest of the trip was more fun, and fortunately, the flights home were not as traumatic.  I am now thinking that we should avoid flying until Bear is at least three and certainly not within twenty-four hours of her consuming any blueberries.

Baby Toes, originally uploaded by Ryan Abel, Creative Commons, Flickr.

This morning, Bear woke up in a really bad mood. Nothing seemed to quell it. She was not happy after guzzling a cup of milk. She screamed as Daddy stretched and hitched up the dog for her beloved morning walk. After the walk, she stood at the side of her high chair and shook it yelling, “Baby! Baby! Babeeeeey!” Yes, the child wanted to eat. Unfortunately, we were not ready for breakfast. Daddy and I really needed Bear to wait until at least one of us was dressed and ready to sit in the kitchen with her while she ate. Besides, it was time for “Sid the Science Kid.”
Against my better judgment, but knowing that nothing other than food – not even “Sid” would be able to satisfy her – I filled a cup of corn puffs and set her down in front of the television in our bedroom to eat and watch “Sid” until one of us was ready to feed her a proper breakfast.

Now, these things that I refer to as “corn puffs” are just corn that is puffed. My husband brought them home from the grocery store last weekend in an attempt to find some processed (i.e., convenience) food that Bear can safely eat. They are not salty or sweet. In fact, they have little taste at all and tend to stick to your teeth. For some reason, my daughter enjoys them.

She seemed happy enough, munching and watching “Sid.” After a few minutes, I looked over at her to see that she was no longer eating. Instead, she was putting corn puffs between each of her baby toes and squealing with delight. I motioned for her daddy to watch, as we caught a little glimpse into our daughter’s psyche. “I’m glad to see that she has finally come to her senses,” I mused out loud. My husband looked at me like I was crazy. “Well,” I explained, “what else do you do with food that tastes like Styrofoam? Certainly not eat it!”

At this point, the dog burst through our bedroom door that doesn’t quite latch and headed straight for Bear with his tongue wagging. Within seconds, the corn puffs between Bear’s toes were gone. “See. Someone likes them,” my husband said pointedly; proud that his purchase was appreciated. “I’m just glad that the dog ate them,” I thought. It would have been bad to watch Bear eat Styrofoam but much worse to watch Bear eat Styrofoam from between her toes, but then again, there is no telling what the child has eaten when we weren’t watching!

Last week, I went searching for a book shelf for Bear’s room.  I am used to the all too frequent impulse buy at Target or the grocery store, but I thought that I would be safe shopping for furniture.  I was wrong!  Instead of coming away with what I went looking for, I found a sturdy, little rocker for Bear with a small book bin on the back.  My sweet husband just looked at me and only raised his eyebrows a little when he saw the receipt.  I was struck with buyer’s remorse as he began putting it together last night, but once I saw Bear crawl into it this morning, my foolish purchase suddenly seemed purposeful.

Bear immediately grabbed the books that I left for her there the night before.  She pulled herself up onto the seat and a little smiled formed on her face.  She grabbed the arms and moved her head back and forth to create a little rocking motion.  Her smile grew even bigger.  When it was time for “Sid,” she contentedly leaned back to focus on the television.  Her look said it all:  Finally, a chair for me!

I think that my husband might even approve!

Our new companion

 

A new friend of mine told me today, “don’t go looking for trouble,” in response to some questions that I was asking about food allergies, since we are frantically trying to educate ourselves on this topic.  

Two days ago, a nurse from Bear’s new pediatrician’s office called with the results of her CAP RAST, a blood test that the pediatrician ordered to give us a better understanding of some foods that Bear might be allergic to, in light of the soy milk debacle.  Although we are still trying to understand what all of this means, as the world of allergies seems to be a great unknown where nothing is black and white, her pediatrician believes that she has an allergy to soy and likely has an allergy to peanuts.  The test results and her reaction to soy necessitate keeping an EpiPen with her at all times.  Until we know more about her allergy, keeping her away from all soy will be quite difficult.  I suggest that you take a look at food labels next time you are in the grocery store.  Soy and its derivatives are in most processed foods.  

I have been living and breathing food allergies for the past several days, and I will not even attempt to share what I’ve learned here.  Frankly, I’m a little weary of it.  

However, I have “met” some wonderful people over at www.kidswithfoodallergies.org, and they have been more than willing to share their knowledge with me, probably because they remember feeling exactly as I do now.  

When we introduced solid food to Bear, we followed the basic “rules” about solids.  We waited a week after introducing a new food.  We did not give her the big “no-no’s” of nuts, honey, and milk prior to when we were given the OK by her pediatrician.  We still haven’t knowingly given Bear nuts or honey, but I suppose that does not mean that she hasn’t encountered the food in some other way, perhaps prior to birth or through my breastmilk or cross-contamination or at daycare.  Neither my husband nor I have significant food allergies.  We have some family history of some minor food allergies, and I am allergic to certain drugs and a variety of other non-food items, but we were blissfully unaware that this did not really matter.  We had no reason to suspect that Bear would have a major food allergy.  

I feel like we went “looking for trouble” when we gave her soy milk in the first place, since we were concerned that she wasn’t digesting milk well.  Even if we couldn’t have known that we were “looking for trouble,” trouble found us.

Is it strange that I care what Bear’s doctor thinks of me?

I have internalized this fear, since childhood most likely, that unless I have an illness with a tangible symptom that leaves no doubt to the observer that something is amiss, that doctors will think that I am making up my problems.  It doesn’t help that the primary issues that I have been afflicted with have few tangible signs:  migraines (oh, you have a headache, people will ask?), polycystic ovarian syndrome (for me, a diagnosis based on the exclusion of other causes), and during pregnancy, unexplained bleeding (that was, well, unexplained).

Poor Bear is now bearing the ill effects of my insecurity.  I have no doubt that the response I received from her pediatrician when I called last week about my concerns regarding her digestive issues would have irked anyone.  But, a small part of me wonders if I am dwelling unnecessarily on issues that are not that big of a deal – that other parents wouldn’t think twice about – and therefore, the doctor’s annoyance with me was justified.  This said, Bear is clearly uncomfortable.  She beat on her belly the other night, right before we found floaters in the tub and after refusing dinner.  She wakes up from deep sleep to pull her little legs up to her belly.  She has bowel movements all day long.  And, of course, she reacted quite spectacularly and frighteningly to soy milk.  My mothering instincts, fledgling though they may be, tell me that something is not right, even if the problem is something minor, like consuming too much  milk at one time.

I took Bear to a new pediatrician today.  This doctor actually saw her in the hospital after she was born.  He is famously laid-back and also famously personable, and he was very nice to Bear today.  He did not seem overly concerned about Bear’s trouble with milk, and despite my continual back-pedaling and apologizes, he ordered a blood test so we can uncover any food allergies that she might have.

Although, this test is not exact and will not answer the question of whether Bear is intolerant to certain foods, it is a starting point.  And, I appreciate that, even if I am completely wrong about the cause of Bear’s symptoms, at least the doctor was willing to suggest something constructive.  Now, if I can just let go of my concern that he thinks that I am going to be a problem parent so that my idiosyncracies don’t make me one.

 

I will apologize upfront if this post turns into a gory discussion of poopy.  That is not my intention.  But for about three weeks, Bear has been having strange and frequent bowel movements.  I will spare you the details, but this change coincided with the culmination of her transition to whole cow’s milk.  Once we had stopped nursing and stopped giving her bottles with formula (which was also cow’s milk-based, by the way) and started giving her bottles of only cow’s milk, her trouble started.  And, nearly every time I change her diaper, I see trouble staring back at me.

Last week, I called her pediatrician’s office about my suspicions that Bear may not be tolerating milk well, and after describing Bear’s symptoms to the nurse, who later described them to the doctor, their consensus was that Bear had a virus.  I was told to call back in a few days if things didn’t clear up.

Today – one week later – I called again.  I described the same symptoms to a different nurse, who apparently had another discussion about them with the doctor.  Again, the consensus was that Bear had a virus.  This time, the nurse, who kept referring to Bear as “he,” told me not to worry too much about this, offered the suggestion that I cut back on the amount of milk that I give to “him” and told me to buy a probiotic to help replenish the good bacteria in Bear’s gut that this mystery virus had cleared out.  I did not share with her that I’d had a similar discussion last summer with a nurse in her office about probiotics and that the nurse told me then that Bear’s pediatrician never recommended probiotics.

At nap time, I decided to give Bear a little soy milk to see if she would tolerate it better than cow’s milk, andin hopes that we could go a few hours without a dirty diaper.  She drank down about four ounces and rolled onto her side for a nap, so I carried her to her crib and left her to sleep.

After a few minutes, I heard coughing.  Then, more coughing.  And a few minutes after that, Bear began crying hysterically.  I walked into her room our found her sitting in the corner of her crib covered with white vomit.  She continued coughing and produced strings of thick mucous.  After a bath, I dressed her again – still crying – and she continued coughing up mucous.  She puked again, and then I noticed that her face was covered with a red rash.  She continued coughing and began pulling at her tongue.

I REALLY did not want to call her pediatrician’s office in light of the helpful response that I had received early in the afternoon, but I was concerned that my daughter was having a real allergic reaction, and I was on the verge of putting her into the car and taking her to the hospital.  A different nurse called me back, and I quickly explained the issue, including all that I had been told by the other nurse earlier in the day.  This nurse agreed that it sounded like Bear was having an allergic reaction and asked concerned questions about her possible lactose intolerance as well.  She agreed to call me back after talking with the doctor.

When I received a call back, it was the same nurse but now with a completely different demeanor.   She told me that the doctor said that she had “dealt with the problem this morning” and advised me to try the soy milk again this evening to observe the response (like my daughter is a science experiment).  When I asked if she was certain that I would not be sending my daughter into anaphylactic shock, she tersely answered, “I’m just repeating what the doctor told me.”

I feel badly enough that I inflicted the soy disaster on Bear in the first place, and I am in no mood to do it again tonight.  We did offer her a little (with Benadryl in hand), but she refused to take anything more than a sip.  Smart girl.  Tomorrow, I’ll be taking her in to visit the doctor to see this issue through, and then I’ll be in the market for a new pediatrician.

On my own

On my own

My one year-old may have toddled into toddlerhood today.  It happened overnight.  This weekend, she was a happy-go-lucky baby, playing and wanting to be held and read to.  Today, she just wasn’t.

The morning started off well-enough.  Bear was happy to see me when I pulled her out of her crib.  She grabbed her “babies” – a stuffed giraffe affectionately named Jo Jo and a little bunny – and happily accepted a bottle from Daddy.  The trouble began when I took her to her room to get her ready for daycare.  I stretched her out on her changing pad, which I’ll admit, is not her favorite activity.   Lately, I’ve pacified her by pulling a book off of her book shelf and letting her browse it while I change her diapers or pants.  Today, however, I made the tactical error of handing her a box of cards that she enjoys, which I found underfoot on the floor.  Unfortunately, as soon as I handed the box to her, she dumped its contents out on top of her.  Approximately 20 cards spread across the changing pad and into the dirty diaper zone.  I quickly pushed the cards away and handed her two to play with.  This action infuriated her.  She flung the two remaining cards at me and flipped over onto her stomach (all while I was attempting to maneuver a dirty diaper out of the way and hold her dirty bum off of the changing pad).  She then became rigid, by arching her back and pushing her feet out (which were still in my hands).  I felt like we were practicing pro-wrestling moves.  I’d like to say in that situation that size matters, but honestly, the little bugger was making the most of it.  Although Bear was the one being pinned to the changing pad, she was clearly in control of the situation.

I managed to clean her and wrangle her into clothes for the day, but she continued to wail and fight me through the rest of our morning routine.  Once dressed, I took her to our kitchen for breakfast.  Once I plopped her down in her high chair and poured cereal and cut blueberries onto her tray, she quieted down a bit.  After Bear chucked her sippy cup at me, which is clearly toddler-speak for “stop trying to pacify me with this blasted sippy cup,” I turned on “Sid the Science Kid”, her favorite t.v. show (even though it is the only t.v. show she watches, and I like it too).   A faint smile appeared on her lips.  I thought that maybe I was making progress, so I began dancing about with the music on “Sid.”  Nothing.  Well, nothing pleasant anyway.  She made it clear that she was not happy with me and would not indulge in any silliness.  In fact, she turned away when I got too close.

When her daddy was ready to leave, I told him that Bear was not in a good mood and that I was pretty sure that she was mad at me.  He laughed as though he didn’t believe that she could be mad at me and picked her up from her chair to take her to the car.  Wait, I told him.  I didn’t want Bear to leave on a bad note, so I gave her a hug and as I leaned in to give her a kiss, she turned her head and pushed me away.  Her daddy laughed again, but not in disbelief this time.  Bear then began chattering happily to him as he carried her out to the car, leaving a dejected mommy in the kitchen.

I felt little pangs of sadness at work today thinking about how my little girl was already asserting her independence from me and how she had apparently grown-up enough to feel wronged by the actions of others, namely me.  Despite her unhappiness with me this morning, thouh, she squealed with delight when I walked into her room this evening to pick her up.  Whatever I did this morning was forgiven by this evening, and I was her much-loved momma once again, or for a hour or so at least until our next clashing of wills.

What will tomorrow bring?

And this is what I found...
And this is what I found…

And this is what I found this morning after leaving Bear alone for a few minutes while I loaded the washer.  Bear had pulled all of the clothing from the bottom drawer of her dresser and stuffed most of her clean clothes here.  Unfortunately, this is not just any trashcan.  We cloth diaper, and this was full of wet, dirty diapers.

And here

I also found clothes hidden under the chair in her room.  The girl moves fast!

Within a few minutes, I set her to work returning the clothes back to her drawer, which would later be thrown into the dirty laundry by me, but I wanted to make the most of a teaching moment, which was something along the lines of “Bear, we do not throw our clothes in what is the equivalent of your toilet.”  I am certain that this sunk in, because later, she actually hesitated a moment before reaching into the toilet to grab what was floating inside as I was cleaning her dirty diapers.

Busy bee

Before long, all of her clothing had been returned to its rightful place.

Well, almost.

All done

I think that a lesson was learned here.  The question is, though, by whom?

Bear has hair.  Not just wispy little bits of hair that you would expect to find on a thirteen month-old, but long, ringlets of hair that she can pull into her mouth from either side and from the top of her head.    When I had an ultrasound at 37 weeks to determine if I was having a giant baby (I was), we could see clumps of hair floating around her upside-down head.

For the most part, Bear wears her hair like it’s her crowning glory.  She plays with it.  She pulls on it.  She runs her fingers through it before she falls asleep.  And, it does bring her quite a bit of attention.  Strangers will walk up to us in stores to comment on her hair (and the fact that she is pretty darn cute besides). 

But, it does cause us some difficulty.  With the exception of her curls, her hair is very much like my own:  thick, light reddish-brown, and unruly.  Other children at daycare pull on it, because they haven’t learned not to yet.  I occasionally experience jealous comments from other moms with very cute but bald babies, and Bear has to suffer through my clumsy attempts every morning to pull her hair into a pony tail on the top of her head.  Then, she has to suffer again through my attempts to take it down every night.  She also is easy fodder for bored daycare workers looking for a “doll” to play with, like the day she came home with six pony tails sprouting in different directions all over her head.  She looked like one of those creepy doll heads from my childhood that enabled little girls to practice make-up and hairstyles on something other than their dogs and little brothers.  Try explaining to a one year-old why you are ripping out hair after tangled hair in an attempt to remove six rubber bands from her head?

Aside from our daily torturous hairstyling sessions, Bear gets her hair washed every other day or so.  I have tried every method that I can think of to wash her hair without it ending in screaming and tears (hers and mine).  I’ve held her shoulders and head and slowly lowered her into the water.  This results in her flailing about and of course, crying.  I’ve tried using the specially-made bucket with a lip, but she now cowers at the sight of it.  When using it, she flings her head forward after I have dumped the water causing a lot of water to pour back down her face and into her eyes, obviously achieving the opposite effect than what was intended.  I’ve even made attempts at distraction and entertainment by maniacally singing made-up songs in hopes that she will stop wailing and look at me like I’m crazy.  Unfortunately, nothing seems to result in an effortless shampoo.

I have seen pictures and videos of a young me running around with huge tangles and ratted clumps on the back of my head.  It was not that my mother didn’t take care of me.  She tried mightily, I have no doubt.  But, I am realizing that just as Bear has inherited my light reddish-brown hair, she also has inherited my will (and tender head).  I went through a period where I refused to allow anyone to brush my hair, because it hurt.  At the time, I had no way of appreciating my mother’s efforts to make me look presentable, but as I attempt to maintain my little daughter’s hair, I am quickly learning that it is no small feat.  Someday, when she looks at pictures of herself and asks, “Mom, why did you let me run around with the hair of a wild woman?”  I will respond, “Just wait…”

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