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?
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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.
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.