Monday, July 23, 2007


The early childhood "experts" say that infants don't experience the complex emotion of jealousy until they're 9 or so months old. Maybe they're right, I don't know. But here's what I experienced.

Last Tuesday, I came home from work around 5:30. Jackson had eaten about an hour before. So to even things out, I wanted to pump. I got all the equipment ready, and sat Jackson on the couch next to me. He immediately started to fuss. So I tried to hold the contraption with one hand (difficult!) so I could soothe him and pass him toys with the other. He grew increasingly frustrated and before 2 minutes had passed, I had to stop and pick him up. He wanted to nurse right away, and very eagerly. It was as if he was jealous of the pump taking his milk away.

The following morning, I was in a hurry to leave for work. I wanted to feed Jackson before I left, so his father could sleep a little bit longer. So I grabbed a bottle from the fridge since Jackson can drink a bottle much quicker than he can nurse. I put the nipple in his mouth, and he had a shocked look at if I'd tried to choke him with it. I took it away then tried again. This time, he just laughed and stuck out his tongue. He had to be hungry. So I offered him the breast, and he anxiously started to nurse.

I was really surprised by this. For the first month, I pumped exclusively so that all of Jackson's meals came from the bottle. (I'll tell the story of the infant chiropractor sometime). I've always thought the experts and mother's who extoll the virtues of the special mother-baby bonding through nursing were a little overzealous. Perhaps some babies nurse for the sake of bonding, but mine seemed to be in it for the physical nourishment alone. He gets down to business and then he's off.

As it turns out, my son prefers to drink from the source. I guess he's getting something more out of it than food after all. I've also noticed he seems to be waiting to fill up for me to get home from work. He rarely takes more than 4 ounces at a time from Jason. Today, he only took 2 ounces at his four o'clock feeding, so he was very hungry when I came home.

This has changed my attitude toward nursing somewhat, and especially toward those who choose to continue nursing their toddlers. Not that I want to nurse a toddler myself. However, I find myself appreciating the ability to feed my son a bit more now. I suddenly don't see it as so much of a chore.

Jason said one time that he thought I enjoyed having a baby made up entirely of me. This is an interesting concept and goes along with Brandon and Sarah's idea of the baby made up entirely of milk. When Jason said it, I hadn't thought too much about it in that context, and didn't think that at all. However, I'm starting to think of it that way. In a month, we'll start solids, and it will no longer be true. But he will probably be made up mostly of me for some time to come.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Three Months

Today is Jackson's 3 month birthday. Hard to believe it was that long ago when we brought Jackson home to the outside world.
We celebrated by joining Sheree's Junior friends for a pool party. Of course, Jackson was the hit of the party! As parents, we appreciate that because it gives us some hands free time. The kids were all having fun playing in the water.
We brought Jackson into the water too. I'm curious about whether or not he'll be able to swim. They have those shows on PBS that show little babies swimming with no training, and I wonder if its really so easy for them. So I pulled on Jack's little swimsuit and brought him into the water. I had no idea that it was going to be soo cold!! Jackson didn't like it. He didn't cry, but I've never seen him stick his little lip out quite so far! I didn't dunk his head under, and I let him go back to his Daddy before too long. I'll have to wait for another day to see if he can swim. I keep thinking I'll bring him into our jacuzzi tub. I think its deep enough, and the temperature is much more pleasant.
Thanks for having us over, Nancy! Hope to get some pic's soon.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ba Donka Donk

Lately, I find myself humming the Oompa Loompa song (old, Gene Wilder version). You see, we've switched. We are (mostly) free of the disposable diaper and dependant on the cloth diaper. I have a few comments to share regarding this transition.
First, I feel a little better about my impact on the world. I've had increasingly strong feelings of guilt about the impact of having a child on the size of the landfill. First all the gear entering our home requires packaging. We've gone through as much cardboard in the last 3 months as we did in our last move. Then there's the guilt of the impact of disposable diaper heaps on the world. I know the diaper industry wants us to believe that the impact of cloth diapers is the same, but its not. We also have taken some steps that skew things further in favor of natural fibers. We went with unbleached cotton and our wash water doesn't come from or feed into sewer treatments plants.
I had these other negative experiences with the disposables: I was finding little bits of gel stuck on Jackson after a change. I found them to be a bit too absorbent, so that if we didn't change a diaper right away (like overnights), the solids would be glued to Jackson's skin. The diapers just weren't cutting it! We had atleast one horrifying blowout everyday (again, I apologize, Nicole) not to mention the wet leaks.
I didn't plan on using cloth diapers since I have unpleasant memories of my mother using them, but the lady at the store swore it wasn't like that anymore. The diapering systems are much better than before. They are more effective than the disposables. Ease of use has improved, both for putting the diapers on and for cleaning them up after. As long as the child is consuming only breast milk, they can go straight into the wash. The environmental impact is less, both from the landfill perspective, and from the manufacturing. So, I decided to give it a try.
We went with the Chinese prefolds and separate covers. This is supposed to be the most economical way to go. The diapers cover a large size range, so there's less to buy. I found a nice sample pack with 6 diapers (unbleached Chinese cotton prefolds), 1 snappi (pin free fastener), and 2 Bummi's covers for $38. That's enough to get through most of the day and get a feel for whether you'd like to continue or not. We are continuing and have added some Indian prefolds (I think I like these a bit better than the Chinese), some smaller Chinese prefolds, some smaller hemparoos, and more of the original supply. Here are some of my thoughts on the process:
1-I've found the cloth diapering crowd to be nuts--completely gungho on the fabulosity of fabric. There's an entire dictionary of new vocabulary and acryonyms to be learned. Mother's have made a cottage industry of making their own diapers and selling through boutiques and eBay. I appreciate their exhuberance! Special thanks to some woman named Karen who has posted great info on how to fold the "prefolds".
2-Cloth diapers are much larger than regular diapers--hence the Oompa Loompa theme. Jason pointed out rightly that Jackson is more like an [overgrown and swelling] blueberry, especially in the outfit above. The size range of these diapers is 15-30 lbs. We started using them right on the lower cusp. We since acquired some smaller ones, but they're still big. I took some photos showing Jackson lying on the diapers for scale (they're bigger than he is), but I can't find them. I may take some more a slip them in later. There is a shot of how much a diaper shrinks in the wash--they have to be washed repeatedly before wear.

3-Effectiveness: They're right. In 2 weeks, we haven't had any orange escapes. It frequently gets to the cover, but not across the line. There have been a couple of wet spots around the legs, but only after extended durations or extenuating circumstances (see 4, below).

4-Hemp diapers sound like a great way to go. I found they're not the panacea I'd expected. They're 2-3 times the cost of cotton, and while they are very soft, they weren't as absorbent. We've suffered a couple of short duration leaks with the hemparoos--I report with regrets. Also, the snappi doesn't catch on the fabric. I had one come loose and push into Jackson's thigh. Snappi's are optional anyway.

5-They're right about a couple of other things as well. We can and do just toss the whole mess into the washing machine. It all dissolves away. That was a surprise. I was also shocked to find they were right about the stains. Set the diapers out in the sun, and blotches fade away. The power of fusion--if we could only get it to work cold...

6-The cotton prefolds are not inconvenient. Folding is easy once you see the tips (see Karen's site above). However, I'm not thrilled with the system of re-using covers. I'm planning to get many more so I don't have to. This will make the economic advantages disappear vs the pocket diapers.

7-Notes on folding. My sources of info like either a simple triple fold or a bikini twist. In my brief experience, I found the prefold to be flirting with danger. There are no edges to keep things in place. The bikini twist is trim between the legs, but the folding makes awkward pockets, and the edges are questionable. The jelly-roll has nice edges, but its difficult to perform. My money is on the angel wing. It has nice thickness up front (especially when the diaper is way too long for the baby) and sufficient edging around the legs.

8-Stock up on cheapo baby washcloths from Target. These are great for whipes. There's a risk of having disposable wipes disintegrate in the wash and contaminate the diapers, plus why not lessen our environmental impact further. At first, I put the washcloths in an empty wipes container with water and a few drops of tea tree oil to ward off fungus. We got mildew after a few days. Here's the improved system: I'm keeping water with a few drops of tea tree oil and a small squirt of natural baby wash in the wipes container. The washcloths are kept dry in a bin next to it, then wetted on demand. This is working very well.

So that's plenty of info. This looks long. I'm also hearing cries from the bedroom and I have to work in the morning. Goodnight.



I'm using this space as a placeholder for pics of the cutest baby in the world. No complaints.

Seating Arrangements

I picked up a tip from Jackson's friend Marika. She's the same age as Jackson. Her parents acquired a highchair to sit her in while they eat. It's genius!! We already have a high chair taking up space in the dining room. It's been gathering dust in anticipation of the day we try rice cereal.

So, we tried a meal with Jackson in the chair as an observer. It was great! He was content. We had both hands free to enjoy corn on the cob, thus were also content. I've wheeled it around the house a bit to give Jackson an upright vantage point for viewing cooking and assembly of our new grill. If the babe is already grumbling, he won't take to it, but otherwise seems pleased.

Jackson has had his first chance to rest on the back of the couch. It's against the wall, so he couldn't fall behind (something I feared). He liked it because he could lie on his belly, and the cliff allowed him to rest his head without being pressed face first into the ground. I hope he doesn't start to like this position too much though. It obviously requires constant vigilance on the part of his parents. It's also been a favorite spot of the dogs, and the similarity is a little weird.

We've also added the Bumbo to the stock of baby gear that's now dominating the interior landscape. Six months ago, I saw ads for the Bumbo and thought it was at best dumb. At worst, it could make lazy babies who wouldn't develop the muscle tone to sit on their own. Now I have a child who gets frustrated with the options of lying face up, lying face down, being propped in a corner (and sliding down), or being packed around. I've decided to consider other options.

The Bumbo has advantages over other places to set the baby because it is strap free. There is a depression for the babies bottom that keeps him in place. Jackson seems pretty interested in the foam material its made of. It has a smooth texture, cool to the touch, which is quite unlike the plush surfaces he usually encounters. So I'm now hoping that Jackson can sit on his own by the time he gains another 5 pounds and outgrows another piece of equipment. (Note--Jackson's wearing 6-9 month clothes now, and they're not at all too big.) I also caught Jackson slumping in the Bumbo then righting himself and sitting perfectly straight up. So my fear of lazy-baby is gone and replaced with the idea that this might be a great piece of exercise equipment.
I'm also giving out additional props to the manufacturers of the Bumbo. The thing is winning all sorts of awards, and the inventors are working on a larger version to help older disabled children (or possibly the giant babies like ours.)


Bits of Self Awareness

Jackson has been having a few revelations about self awareness lately. He has become quite vocal, making all manner of vowel based conversation. Sometimes he'll make strings, repeating the same noise over and over. These times, I'm sure he knows the sound is coming from him. His new thing is to lie on his belly and yell--not in anger or frustration, but just for the shear joy of calling out.
He's also noticed the mirror. We've been stopping to look at we go past, and until now, Jackson never focused on the silver reflections. Just this week he's noticed the people. He stares wide-eyed at the glass. He definitely recognizes his Mommy and Daddy. He definitely knows there's a baby in the frame. I don't see the indication that he recognizes himself, but he does see the baby.

These advances make me consider self-awareness in general. There are ongoing animal studies attempting to show self awareness, usually with large primates. When the studies are complete, the headlines are huge. It's as if its a surprise that animals have a concept of self. Why don't we make the assumption that they do until it can be shown that they don't? It's just as valid an hypothesis, less anthropo-centric, but just as valid.
I believe that self awareness exists to varying degrees across the species. It appears to be arrived at incrementally. For example, my coonhound, Mabel, has some degree of self awareness. She knows when she's howling. She is aware of her paw on my lap and can play games to mirror my actions. She appears to have self awareness of the front half of her body. The rear half is another story. Everytime she toots it surprises her, and she turns around to see where the sound came from. I'll keep looking for indications that my child displays more self awareness than my dog.