When Nathan was a newborn and would cry, his older brother would always burst into song. Usually it was the "ABC" song and he would do his sing-songy best to bring his brother's mood right back up. I remember very early on hearing Nathan try to sing along. Sure he was only months old, but he would make these grunting sounds to the rhythm of "ABC." No one believed us until we had him put on his show. It was odd.
Since then, Nate has continued to show his love for music. He bursts into song rather randomly. It was only recently when Mason was born that we started to wonder if he had some abstract memory of Ethan singing to him because he started to sing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" when his brother Mason started to cry. No one else had thought to sing yet because we were all just panicked that the new baby was crying. Not Nathan. He stood with his hands at his sides and sang as loud as he could. Okay, so it didn't make Mason feel any better and I'll admit I thought we were all going to need new ear drums from the volume coming out of his little body, but Nathan's heart was pure. He truly believed that his singing would make his baby brother stop crying. If nothing else, it made us laugh. And what more could a musical two-year-old ask for?
Have you heard about the PBS special Coming Home? Join Queen Latifah, John Mayer, Elmo and others, as they examine the extraordinary courage of families coping with the combat injuries suffered by a service member. Be inspired by their strength and help children cope with change. Wednesday, April 1, at 8:00 p.m. You should check it out!
We took a special trip to the pediatrician on Saturday. Because with a newborn, can you ever really go to the doctor enough? This time was for thrush but I got a little extra when the baby didn't weigh what he was supposed to weigh.
Here we go again.
Breastfeeding is an investment. Sometimes it's cheap. It's like those writers who require merely a pen and pad a paper to draft The Great American Novel. Then there are those writers who would write absolutely nothing if it not for the combination of getting the typing award in high school and getting a fancy schmancy laptop that will one day inspire them to write The Great American Blog Post.
Nathan was my pad and paper. I think he actually crawled up my belly looking for some food. A glance at his frame will let you know that he hasn't stopped eating, even after weaning. He just moved on to food that was a lot more fun.
Ethan? He was one of these and a master's in journalism at Columbia when it came to the investment of breastfeeding. Minimal weight gain, every other day at the pediatrician's office, painful latch, supplementing with pumping while trying to avoid nipple confusion. The lactation consultant finally threw her arms up in the air and said, "I have NO idea what is going on with this baby." Ten weeks later, he started to nurse "properly" and all was right with the world. That, my friends, gave new meaning to breastfeeding as an investment. Everything was then a piece of cake and I got what I signed up for: 5 minute meals and NO CLEANING OR PREPARING BOTTLES. Oh, I'm lazy.
So then I had this new baby who was recently referred to as the "Happy Starver" at the pediatrician's office. I was advised to pump or to supplement with formula in order to get his weight back up to his birth weight, which was 9 pounds, 3 ounces. When I did not look properly concerned, I was scolded. Jaundice, thrush and now suggestions of "failure to thrive?"
I'll admit that I contemplated the formula route to get the big, bad doctors off my back. I was having post-traumatic stress disorder flashbacks to the hours and days and weeks I spent trying to "fix" Ethan's breastfeeding problems. A little formula wouldn't hurt.... A week of supplementing wouldn't make him less smarter than his brothers, would it?
Then I read "The Case Against Breastfeeding" by Hanna Rosen, and I'll admit it resonated with me slightly (ducking to avoid having things thrown at me by my fellow Supersisters Jen and Patience).
According to Rosen,
The IQ studies run into the central problem of breast-feeding research: it is impossible to separate a mother's decision to breast-feed--and everything that goes along with it--from the breast-feeding itself. Even sibling studies can't get around this problem. With her first child, for instance, a mother may be extra cautious, keeping the neighbor's germy brats away and slapping the nurse who gives out the free formula sample. By her third child, she may no longer breast-feed--giving researchers the sibling comparison that they crave--but many other things may have changed as well. Maybe she is now using day care, exposing the baby to more illnesses. Surely she is not noticing that kid No.2 has the baby's pacifier in his mouth, or that the cat is sleeping in the crib (trust me on this one). She is also not staring lovingly into the baby's eyes all day, singing songs, reading book after infant book, because she has to make sure that the other two kids are not drowning each other in the tub. On paper, the three siblings are equivalent, but their experiences are not.
In the end, Rosen really isn't necessarily making a case against breastfeeding. She's just making the case that it might not be as life and death a decision for parents as we have made it out to be. Will I be throwing in the towel for breastfeeding just yet, because I have to take a break to get the older two off the top of the fridge? No. Maybe this baby will be my
little pink netbook and I'm willing to hang in there. But if it comes down to it, I might just be buying that formula next week to stave off the big, mean doctors. I'm just saying.
My aunt asked how it was going, having this new baby and all. I told her that the incessant fighting over who gets to hold Baby Mason was endearing, yet on my last nerve. I think I forgot to tell her how the manhandling was annoying too. And Dad's brilliant idea to stave off tears by sticking a finger in the baby's mouth? Great because we know Dad's hands are clean, but Nathan's? Not so much. And speaking of Nathan....
It's funny as mothers how we just know things about our children. People look at us like we are crazy, but we just know. Like how I knew that Nathan's manic behavior was probably due to the fact that he wasn't on his schedule. Oh, if you knew how it pained me to say those words. "His Schedule." I mock the schedule mothers. I do. It's not nice, but I do. Those women who have never had lunch out because that is right in the middle of nap time? "Come on" I say.
Then I got my own scheduled child. One that has scheduled himself. He's fine, as long as he sleeps in his own bed and he makes his nap time every day at roughly the same time. This he did for himself, which I am sure makes it even worse. He, as a tender little two-year-old, had to make his own schedule. People looked at me like I was crazy as I attempted to explain away his behavior as needing sleep. I think everyone wanted to blame his craziness on getting pushed out of the loop by another baby. Someone suggested that maybe napping was a thing of the past for this child. I knew better. He knew better.
So in the midst of welcoming Baby #3 to our family, I realized that what my Baby #2 needed from me what right in front of me: the opportunity for a good night's rest. This will apparently allude the rest of us now that we have a hungry and crying baby to love in the middle of the night, but Nate's a whole new boy. Thank heavens for that.
All because your mother had to go and have that silly baby, who might not be so bad after all.
When my birthday comes and goes, I really don't notice much of a change. I look in the mirror perhaps a little longer in the morning and identify the increase in wrinkles on my face but I don't seem to notice any major changes.
When my children have birthdays, the exact opposite happens. In fact, it seems as if everything changes on a birthday. For instance, this child right here. He turned two a couple of weeks ago and it is as if a major transformation has occurred. When he speaks, we can now generally understand what he is saying (for the most part) and he is starting to get a grasp on the lost art of communication known as whining.
Oh, does he know how to whine and it is as if it happened overnight. All of my friends with two-year-olds swear this is just the age, but I swear I am going to die if I have to listen to it for hours on end. The funny thing is, he'll get that milk he wants if he just asks for it nicely. Why he has chosen to hit that exact tone that makes you want to poke your ears out with a stick, I'll never know. My new tactic is refusing all requests until the whine disappears. Sometimes it works. Sometimes I realize he comes by his tenacity honestly. There we sit at a deadlock, over milk. It doesn't make me feel exactly mature sometimes but it does keep me from reinforcing the behavior that drives me insane.
It's just a stage, right? I'm sure I'm not STILL whiny at my old age. Oh, dear. Maybe I need to get some earplugs.
My husband cracks me up. Really. Lately the boys attack him when he comes into the house. Attack as in jump on his back the second he sits down. I look over and there is one on his head and another draped across his back.
He does his best to complete his little end-of-day rituals before they pounce, but I often find him still in his work slacks trying to pry his shoes off before someone leaves a huge mud footprint on his pants. I'm sure I should be running interference for just a few minutes more, but occasionally I am too busy sitting in the corner repeating the phrase "I'm going to my happy place, I'm going to my happy place."
My husband cracks me up because the man has no fear of these children. He will take them anywhere at anytime. Dinner time passed 90 minutes ago? He'll still take them to a restaurant for dinner. Sure the little one will start eating a cloth napkin and the older one will try to find food under the table while we are waiting for our order, but my husband's arms just keep moving. Pulling this one out from under here, pulling this one off of this ledge.
All he has talked about for a month is taking the kids to the children's museum. He couldn't wait to go. The man couldn't wait to go to the children's museum--on a weekend. I'll admit that I asked him if he had lost what was left of his mind. In reality, my husband was excited about the prospect of spending an afternoon showing his boys all of these awesome scientific displays that will make their little brains want to explode at the end of the day with exhaustion.
He'll put up with the chasing and corralling and yelling for attention to share this treat with them. And as a very pregnant woman, I cannot think of anything I would rather have them do on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Without me.
Just the other day someone asked me how Nathan was doing about the imminent arrival of his baby brother Mason.
The blank look on my face? Um, that would be the window into my soul. The thing is, I haven't really thought about it that much. Sure Derek and I have occasionally discussed how everyone will be feeling when we go from four to five, but other than that, we haven't really discussed it.
Things were different when we went from three to four. We worried that somehow Ethan would be forever traumatized by not being the center of our world anymore. The new baby came and it took Ethan nine whole months to realize what had happened. He decided to be annoyed then but that ship had sailed. He was fine, everyone was fine and now he has a wickedly fun partner-in-crime.
So as the newest (and last baby) is set to descend upon us, I haven't really thought too long or too hard about how Nate will survive this disruption in his life. Maybe it is because he is a completely different child. Not as sensitive or melodramatic as his brother, his frustration and anger management appears to be the "flash-in-the-pan-over-as-soon-as-it-starts" variety. Maybe it's because I too am a middle child and in the grand scheme of things, it is just one of life's many changes.
Whatever his reaction, his mom, dad and big brother love him very much. And I have a good feeling that his brand new baby brother will too.
Yesterday we went to the doctor for the yearly check up for the boys. There was some confusion before we left as to who was getting shots and in my confusion, I may have said the younger was due and the older was not. The look on Ethan's face suggested that perhaps he was slightly more happy about his younger brother getting shots than he should have been. I reminded him being excited about someone else's pain never ends well.
We arrived at the doctor's with time to spare (shock) and found ourselves in a room waiting for the doctor. And so it began.
First it started with the rearrangement of the chairs in the office. Then they attempted rearrangement of the cabinets. They moved on to the ear and eye scopes and then to the chemicals. When I say "chemicals," I mean rubbing alcohol, ect. Not necessarily the most dangerous chemicals but when your children have doused each other with Comet cleanser the week before, you know that optional uses for that rubbing alcohol just might be considered.
The doctor came in and burst into laughter. I guess not much has changed since we started coming to the practice 4 years ago. I rolled my eyes as Derek reached back and pulled one of the boys off of the 2 inch wide window sill, making music on the blinds. The other boy was repeatedly dropping a stool on the wooden floor, which was something I am sure made the people on Floor 2 delirious. Every time I would lunge for the stool, he would step right out of my range.
All in all, the older got FOUR shots, the younger got none and I managed to get out of there without going into labor. We came home to Cousin Ellen who took over mom duty and held some very fun kamikaze tricycle races down our Driveway of Death. I took a nap.
Statistical odds suggest that Baby Mason will be chill, right? Either that or what is left of my mind is about to be shredded. But I mean that in a good way.
I'm not sure how it happened, but I live in a family where everyone is functioning with a heart on a sleeve. Not an unusual place to find my heart, I somehow thought that there would be at least one of us who would take everything in stride and not be easily flustered. No such luck. Take this weekend, for instance.
I managed to throw my back out the other night. I was lying on the couch and I guess the girth of 37 weeks worth of pregnancy was something that made my back cranky. My back is such a baby. There I was stuck on the couch yelling for help and all my men came running. Nathan was first on the scene.
Nate: (gripping my face in his chubby little hands) Mommymommymommymommy. No be sad, Mommy. Is okay, Mommy, is okay.
Ethan: DAD, Mom is hurt. Mom, you are gonna be okay. What's wrong, Mom? What's wrong? DAD, HELP MOM!!!
The Dog: (whining)
Kristen: I'm FINE. I'll be FINE. Dad will help me.
Which he did. It's amazing what can be fixed by just standing up. My heart swelled with pride that everyone was worried about me. I also realized that I'll have to be faking all this pain and childbirth thing for the next few weeks unless I want to do Tender Heart Preservation. I just love these kids.
K: There is probably something I should tell you.
My husband always gives me the exact same look when I say these words. It's a combination of "oh no, what now" and "how do you get yourself into these messes."
K: I may have told PBS that they could name our Baby #3.
D: What are you talking about? Please tell me you aren't serious.
K: What's wrong with that? They just want me to talk to Laura Wattenberg from Baby Name Wizard.
D: You told PBS that they could name the baby.
K: Stadiums do it all the time.
D: So you are saying you would name the baby "Citibank" if they paid you enough.
K: AbsoLUTEly. If Citibank offered me $5 million to name the baby, that baby's name would be First Name Citi, Middle Name Bank.
D: That is wrong.
K: Since when do I call our children by the names on their birth certificates? Try never.
D: Wait. Laura Wattenberg? From Baby Name Wizard?
Sometimes my husband pulls things out that never cease to amaze me. It's not that Laura isn't wildly popular and wildly well-known. It's just that my husband is constantly living under a rock.
K: Yeah. Do you know her?
D: She does excellent data analysis. She's linked on Freakonomics.
Laura, you have absolutely no idea what a big deal it is that Dr. Snotty Economist thinks you do excellent data analysis. I mean, I thought your stuff was cool but this is high praise indeed from my husband.
So I called Laura and we talked for about a half hour about baby names. Laura was adamant that she was not in the BABY NAMING BUSINESS and that she just provided the tools to help other people come to a natural conclusion for a name that best fits their baby. She said that people often second-guess their chosen baby name after birth when the baby doesn't look like the baby they thought they would have. I let her off the hook and told her that I already knew my baby's name. We decided to chat some more before I told her, just to see what she would find when she plugged my requirements into the baby name wizard.
I told Laura that we were leaning toward a name that ended in "N," if only to confuse ourselves more when we yelled at our children in public. I told her about how our sons have the middle names Lewis and Clark and how my husband was so disappointed that he wasn't going to get his little baby girl with the middle name "Sacagawea" because we were having a boy (like that EVER would have happened). I told her that we were such suckers for historic names that we were probably the only people to confess that they picked their new baby's middle name "Gray" by googling American Explorers. That's right. Google picked our baby's middle name.
Laura ran a search and guess what happened? Her "best match" for our baby name was the very same as our own...
Actually, number 1 on the list was Aaron, but with the whole historical importance in a name in our family, she said, and I quote, "Aaron Burr might be a tough one for your family to get past." LOL
I'm happy to say that the NameMapper feature made me feel better about not worrying about living on the same block as 17 Masons (which really doesn't matter since you've named your firstborn "Ethan").
So I guess what I am trying to say is that Baby #3 is going to have the name Mason Gray. There has been some concern that he will be mocked for being named so closely to Macy Gray but I maintain that anyone making that connection will be opening himself up to having that mockery returned for knowing who Macy Gray is.
Already we have gotten a little backlash from people we've told, but people are funny about baby names. It's our choice and everyone else has to have their own kids (or dogs or cats) to live out their fantasy naming. Know what I mean?
***Derek doesn't think I told you enough about what the website offers. According to him, "It has great dynamic data analysis. You type in a name and as you type it shows you the historical usage of all of the names starting with those letters."
***Snooze. Me: It's cool. Just check it out by typing in your name.***
***Disclosure: PBS never offered me money to name the baby. But I would have totally taken it if they had***