Saturday, February 27, 2010

What Can You Give a Three-Week Old as a Reward?

Perhaps we'll stick an extra $50 in the college fund.  In 18 years, it'll be enough to take her out to dinner or buy something nice for herself.  Or because of inflation, it'll barely cover the cost of a meal in the cafeteria.  But enough doom and gloom; this is a post about celebrating!

Why, you ask?  Why are we trying to reward our baby?


That's why.

For 6 solid hours last night, from 9:00 to 3:00, she slept.  And then she slept from 3:30 to 6:30.  And now she's back to sleep (so I could get pictures in natural light) and I'm awake and don't know what to do with myself, so I'm writing blog posts.  Perhaps I'll eat something today that will make a nice treat for her tomorrow.

Also, for those of you who were wondering, yes, we do put our baby in a straightjacket for bed.  It's safe, and it keeps her from waking herself up with random movements.  We were given four of these swaddles before she was born, but sadly, she has outgrown them (at the ripe old age of 3 weeks, she needs some size large baby equipment).  Since, however, her size is linked to this marvelous ability to sleep for long chunks of time, we feel no need to complain about it.  Perhaps we feel a bit of worry about what we'll do if she outgrows these swaddles, but we'll worry about that when the time comes.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Figuring Out the Hands

It's kind of fun to watch M turn from a head and a digestive tract with curled up, useless appendages into a person who has arms and legs and knows how to use them.  Or is at least not frightened when the brain sends them electrical impulses and makes them move.  She's been working really hard on her thumb.  She knows that she wants it in her mouth, and she pretty much knows where it's located - in a sort of a general, Afghanistan is in central Asia sort of way (geography learned from a Risk board isn't really trustworthy.  One wonders what sort of board game she learned her anatomy from).  Watching her try to get it there is pretty funny, and I snapped a series of pictures today chronicling her valiant attempts to maneuver it into her mouth.*

This first picture captures her after a failed attempt.


The next pass came close; she snagged her thumb in the corner of her mouth, but she couldn't stick the landing, and the hand escaped.
You've got to love the joy for the moment that her thumb was in her mouth.**  This elation, however, was fleeting, and replaced by awe and a certain amount of trepidation.


You can imagine her saying "we're going to need a bigger mouth."***  Unperturbed by the dismal chance of success, however, she adopted the "hands spread out like starfish, mouth open wide, flailing both hand and head" approach to thumb insertion. 

Strangely, success attended this strategy.  I wouldn't, however, recommend it as a general rule, since the fingers are just as likely to land in the eyes.  I put this to her, but she wasn't in much of a mood to listen, and besides, as she had succeeded in getting her thumb in her mouth, was hampered in her speech and also had a bit of an advantage in the argument since she her thumb had gone in its intended destination and hadn't put out her eye.

*Please excuse the quality of the photos.  It's hard to take a picture at arms length and hold the baby who is windmilling her little arms around hoping to land one of them in her mouth.

**Leo thinks that she looks like Dick Durbin in this picture.  I think that Leo needs to stop reading political blogs.  There's no way that Dick Durbin is a) this cute or b) this excited when he gets his thumb in his mouth.  EDIT: Here is a picture of Durbin that Leo thinks supports his position.  I'm willing to grant a superficial similarity, but continue to insist that M is much, much cuter.  And way more excited about her thumbs.

***Probably if she takes after me, no one is ever going to think that she needs a bigger mouth.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

You Know What's the Best Toy You Can Give Your Baby?

Yeah, that's right.  I said it.  The best toy?  (Any of my siblings can give the rest of the speech from here; it's been my father's refrain every time he saw a baby, particularly if his embarrassed children particularly wanted him not to approach complete strangers and give them child-rearing advice).

A pendulum ball.

Which my baby doesn't have, but needs immediately.  Because she's clearly absolutely dying to have something hanging over her that she can bat at.  Today, I finally constructed the baby gym and stuck her under the exciting hanging things.  I wasn't sure that she was quite old enough for it (Yes, I know that the speech that we're all reciting in our heads stresses that Eric was batting a ball around at some ungodly young age, but I have been reading things about what colors she can see and how far away and whatnot, and I just wasn't sure).

She was mesmerized.  Thrilled.  Happy.  Eyes were tracking the hanging teething ring (at least I think that's what it is.  It looks like you one of those things that you freeze and give to teething babies to numb their gums.  I'm not sure what the point is in suspending a teething ring just out of a child's reach, unless one is a cruel and unnatural parent, but there it is.  It's good to know that we have the means to torture the baby should we wish).  When I went to pick her up, she didn't seem to want to go - and by didn't seem to want to go, I mean cried when I picked her up.  So I put her back down and let her play until she fell asleep.


Notice the fixed stare and waving hand.  There was much batting and waving and excitement when I reached out and tapped the thing to set it swinging again.

This child needs a ball.  Desperately.

(Also, notice how we're channeling Little Red Riding Hood today.  We're hoping, however, that neither of her grandmothers get eaten by wolves.  Are there wolves in Southern Mexico?  Also, Mom, should anyone lupine come to the door, don't answer it, and lay in a good supply of woodcutters to deal with the aftermath should your precautionary measures prove ineffective).

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mummy Always Did Like Richard Best

Those of you who knew me as a child may recall my love of Disney's Robin Hood.  Those of you who have only known me as an adult may nevertheless have heard of it.  Or, perhaps, seen me watching it and singing the songs along with it.  Well, one of the things that I have always found endearing about Puck is his occasional habit of flattening his ears out in a way that makes him look quite a bit like Prince John when he's trying to get the too-big crown to stay on his head.  But the best pose that he strikes in the movie is his thumbsucking one.  You remember, this one:


Imagine my joy yesterday when I looked at my baby daughter and realized that she had managed to get herself into that pose.

Admittedly, she seems to have left her crown somewhere else, and - see an earlier post on her ears - I don't think that she's got the ear flexibility to support a crown if she did have one, but it's still a highly impressive effort.

She also seems on the brink of figuring out how her hands work, and more importantly, how to maneuver her thumb into her mouth when she wants it.  She's not quite there yet - she frequently tries to put the whole fist in her mouth, or gets her hand into the appropriate position, but can't quite figure out the thumb extension - but each day brings us closer to the thumb going into the mouth.  

Dissecting the Baby Part 2

It's not just the mouth.  We bathed her again last night, and with her hair squeaky clean, she sprouts a baby faux-hawk.  All over her head, her hair sticks up.  There's a particular tuft at the front that just won't stay down.  It's very cute, but it doesn't exactly cut down the resemblance to Eric as child.  It's still slightly damp in this picture; when it dried, it was even springier.


Note the tear tracks running down her face; we had cruelly forced her into clothes.  A few moments before, she had been being very snuggly in her towel, looking cute.
This cuteness was simply a screen.  Two seconds after this photo, she peed all over Leo's feet, which were bare because before her bath, she managed to spit up so prodigiously that she got his socks.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dissecting the Baby

Just after M was born, when all I had had was a brief glimpse of her before she went off to the nursery and I went off to recovery, Kate said that she looked like me.  Since my recollection of her was that she was mostly composed of cheeks and a stubby little nose, with fine and downy brown hair on her head, I wasn't sure that this was exactly a complimentary observation.  When we got home, however, I found a picture of me at three or four days old - home from the hospital and dressed in the frilliest dress my grandmother could scare up on short notice - and admitted that the resemblance was fairly strong.  Over the last few weeks, one of the oddest experiences has been catching glimpses of other people in M's face.

For one thing, she got her father's ears, which is probably a good thing.*  I'm not meaning to cast aspersions on the ears that swim around in my family's gene pool.  In fact, they're probably very good at swimming, as they share an important characteristic with flippers - ability to displace large amounts of water.  When they do manage to attach themselves to the sides of heads, they have a tendency to do so at a somewhat rakish angle; they, no doubt, imagine that this gives a jaunty air to the head.  And to be fair, they have their uses.  One can tuck an immense amount of hair behind them.  I imagine, anyway.  I've never had an immense amount of hair to experiment with, but it seems likely that one could use them that way.  

A few days ago, when M was sleeping on my shoulder after a nice long meal, I looked over and nearly jumped out of my skin.  She suddenly looked like my brother.  And not my brother now, but my brother as a small child, which I really only have seen in pictures. 


It's the mouth, I think.  Although it may be the combination of the mouth and the cheeks.

* I'm not just talking about placement, you understand.  Leo has marginally asymmetrical ears - one of them is slightly squared off on top - and so does M. 

Monday, February 22, 2010

Pardus Cum Hedo Accubabit*

 When we were thinking up names for M, I suggested Agnes.  I don't really like the name Agnes.  It is somehow (completely without reason, as far as I know) bound up in my mind with egg whites.  And I don't want to name my daughter after anything that reminds me of egg whites.  Which is why Meringue didn't get out of the gate.  But there was one compelling reason that Agnes seemed like a really good idea.  If Leo and she were to lie down in the same place, they would create an allegorical tableau based on the Latin translations of their names.

Accuracy, however, leads me to admit that in our current state, the actual quotation suits the situation somewhat better, allowing for a slight shift in meaning.  The passage from Isaiah under discussion actually says that the wolf and the lamb will live together (which sounds not only impractical but possibly immoral) and that the leopard will lie down with the kid.**

Which was precisely what happened last night.


I begin to think that Puck has decided to tolerate M.  I'm not leaving them alone together anytime soon, but he has stopped fleeing the room when he notices she's there, and has occasionally sniffed the top of her head. 

* See Isaiah 11:6.  Accubabit not only means "lie down with" but also "recline at table," a particularly frightening, though possibly apt meaning, given our particular application of the text.

** M is not, just to be clear, a goat.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Outdoors

We didn't manage to build the stroller yesterday.  It looks closer to completion, because we got it out of the box, and it's pretty much built except for the wheels.  Unfortunately, the wheels are fairly important components of a stroller, and a lack of wheels does seriously impact the stroller's usefulness on a walk.

We have, however, other means of baby-conveyance.  We bundled M up in a very cute hat (courtesy of Caty) and a blanket, FDR-style, over her knees, put her in a sling and headed out.


She is, strangely, much easier to carry this way than when internal.  Her reaction to this great adventure, this first trip outdoors merely for the sake of being outdoors, was to fall asleep the moment we set foot on the back steps.  On the one hand, I feel that it shows a lack of appreciation for nature, but on the other hand, I appreciate that the sling lulls her to sleep.   

And she looks very cute asleep in the sling.  I'm assuming that the moons and stars are actually occult, sleep-inducing symbols.  It seems the best explanation for its soporific effect.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

These Boots Are Made For Walking*

It's a pleasant day in St. Louis - 40 degrees this morning, and with a projected high of 46 - and so we're considering taking M out for her first walk.  Of course, this entails putting the wheels on the stroller, so it may not happen, but the intent is there.

So when we got her dressed this morning, we decided to dress her for the occasion. 

Leo thinks we need to get a picture of her up on a horse in this outfit.  I think we need to get a small, very tame horse.

* I am aware that there are few sets of boots made less for walking than these.  But it's hard to come up with titles for these posts.  Cut me some slack.

This Is the Picture We Show Her Prom Date

M had her first real bath last night and tolerated it relatively well.  She is clean and didn't drown.  As he took pictures, Leo plotted to embarrass her horribly at some point 15 years or so in the future.  I prefer to get it out of the way now.  So here are the obligatory bath pictures.

She started out not minding it too much, and being fairly happy about the whole arrangement.

But as time progressed and hair got washed, a certain anger manifested itself.  Perhaps she also sensed that she was being bathed by someone who had certainly mastered bathing herself, but was by no means entirely comfortable bathing a writhing scrap of angry humanity. 


But we all emerged unscathed.  Perhaps we'll wait to break out the rubber duckies, though.

Friday, February 19, 2010


First, I'd like to thank Brent and Char, whose steady supply of cute babies over the years have given me lots of practice eating and holding a baby.  I think that the dexterity I developed practicing with their children has given me a head start in my own mothering.

Last night, I fed Margaret and then we were going to have a nice spaghetti dinner (made from one of the 27 containers of sauce I froze in the two weeks before M was born).  About halfway into our dinner, she decided that she actually hadn't been finished, thank you, and would like to eat some more. 

So here was the conundrum.  I was starving, and the thought of stopping my meal and letting it get cold hurt me.  On the other hand, the cries of a hungry baby are pretty much impossible to ignore (however much I knew that she wasn't really starving, since she had eaten a pretty good meal not 10 minutes before).  So we compromised.  And Leo took pictures, because he thought it looked funny.


Just to be clear, the bowl is not resting on her.  I am holding it against my chest and with the fingertips of the hand that is supporting her head.  

Our Baby Went Wireless


She has effectively doubled her wardrobe with this move, which is good because her hobbies of eating and expelling waste have been a bit hard on her collection of sleepers.  It will be good to have a few more options so that we can perhaps dial back the laundry schedule a bit.

Also, those of you who gave her cute pants outfits, watch this space!  Pictures are sure to be forthcoming.

EDIT: Not 20 minutes after I posted this, after I'd stuck a load of dirty laundry in the wash, which included all her sleepers but the one she was wearing, she took advantage of her semi-recumbent position and the slightly sloppy fit of her newborn diapers (the ones that have the cut out place for the umbilical cord stump) and drenched both herself (and me, as I was her reclining place).  So she has now officially graduated to larger diapers and pants.  She looks very grown up, and I am trying to cope with the fact that I just dressed my baby in a pink pantsuit.

It helps that it has very cute panda feet.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Thug Baby

You know you've got a largish baby when her pediatrician refers to her as a bruiser.  And I'll admit, she does look like she could take most other babies her age.  But it wasn't until I noticed her twisting her little hands into gang signs while she was eating that I started to wonder.

Then yesterday, when we went to the pediatrician, I noticed that she was wearing a stocking cap and a hoodie.


(Thanks to Aunt Emily for the hat.  It's one of the few that fit her, and she needs a hat in this weather!)

You may argue against my hypothesis of thuggishness on several counts, one being that I dressed her and am thus responsible for how she looks, and that the prevailing pastel color scheme keeps her from looking too scary.  And you would be right.

The doctor's visit went well yesterday.  She has made up all the weight she lost in the beginning learning how to eat, and then some.  She's gained a pound in the last week, and is in the 90th percentile for height and 98th for weight.  (I'm recording this so that if she takes after me I can point out to her that for one brief, shining moment when she was 2 weeks old, she was tall). 

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Cat

For those of you who know our cat Puck, it may come as no surprise that we were a little apprehensive about his reaction to the introduction of a small person into our household.  For those of you who don't know Puck, a brief recap.

He's huge.


Think 16-18 pounds huge, and that picture doesn't make him look like a kind and gentle cat.  Which is fair, because he isn't, really.  He's definitely a cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to him, though he really would prefer that all the warm and squishy places in the house be reserved for him.

He has, however, been fairly careful around M.  It's pretty clear that he doesn't know what to think of her, and so is treating her with caution.  This is a step up from the usual way he treats things in which Leo and I are interested.  His modus operandi tends to be to sit on them, so we can be grateful that he has not adopted this method in the case of the baby.  

I caught a picture of him this morning, thinking about what his next move was.

As it happens, his next move was to go and eat some breakfast.  I think we're going to be okay. 

Thursday, February 11, 2010

How She Got Here

So not that much more than a week ago, I packed my bag and headed to the hospital for an induction.  Before we left, Leo snapped a picture of me so we could see me at my most pregnant.  It's actually rather terrifying.

I promise, most of that was baby.

After two days of labor, they decided to do a c-section, and we went off to the operating room, where they delivered a healthy baby girl.


This is me when I heard her cry for the first time. 

She needed siphoning and suctioning and clamping before her big moment - the weigh-in.  Everyone had been exclaiming how big she was, and so Leo and I were quite interested to hear the number.


9 pounds 14 ounces is pretty good, but we were expecting more after all the clamor.  Still, her head got good stats.  It's where she carries all her weight.  After the weighing, I finally got to see her.  I thought she was beautiful, though I may be biased.

Also, they need to figure out a better posture for this surgery than with both arms extended outwards and strapped down.  It makes it seem more like torture than it needs to.  After this, she was whisked to the nursery for some checking out, and I listened to the doctors say things like "could you pass me that bowel" and "I've only got 16; where did those scissors go?"  This is not something you want to hear after a long session where you can feel them restuffing your internal organs into your abdominal cavity.  Well, or at any other time.


She went to the nursery to hang out, have a bath, and get some clothes on.  I went to recovery, where we met up at the end of a long day.
I am no longer that color.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Grandparents

There are lots of grandparental photos of the first few days of Margaret's life; one of my favorites, however, doesn't have anything to do with Margaret, except insofar as she is the event the subjects are awaiting.


I can't help but think of A Tale of Two Cities, and I'm positive that that's wrong.  I'm sure they weren't knitting ominously.

I'm not sure that the hospital room does much for the color palette of this photo, but the composition isn't bad.  I feel that Leo's dad has an unfair advantage when it comes to holding babies, though, because his hands are as big as they are and they can't squirm away.  This is one of life's many injustices.


My mom is Nana to Margaret (mostly because when one of those other grandchildren calls her Granny - and you know who you are, other grandchildren - I whip my head around and say "where!" and quickly attempt to wipe all remnants of cheekiness out of my demeanor) but this picture makes me think that she's more like Granny than she cares to admit.  Not so much in having an internalized three-headed fire-breathing dragon that could convince small children that obedience was a good idea, but in looks.
There are no pictures as yet of Dad with Margaret, because he is afraid that he's coming down with something, and doesn't want to give it to her.  He has, however, hours of video footage of her looking lazily about, which he would be happy to share on request.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

She's Here!

Margaret Beatrice Human - 9 lb, 14 oz, 21 inches long, 14.5 inches around the head.

For more details of her birth, see chapter 2 of A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh, "Pooh Goes Visiting and Gets Into a Tight Place." This will both explain why she was delivered by c-section, and highlight the dangers of reading to children. No one, however, used her as a towel rack.

Here she is the morning after she was born.