Helping, Talking, Turning

Ellie (like most toddlers, perhaps) is nothing if not “helpful.” She will helpfully bring you your shoes as you’re getting ready to go outside (and then another pair, and then another), shouting, “SHOES” until you put them on. She was also very helpful, when, during daycare pick-up the other day, I spilled some water out of the sippy cup I was filling for her. I tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve been rushed by seven toddlers, arms outstretched, all,  J’ACCUSE! style. Ellie very helpfully lead the mob as they shouted, “UH-OH!” You could practically see the little pitchforks in their chubby hands.

Ellie helps so much at daycare that the lead teacher in her room started calling Ellie her assistant teacher. She SCOLDS (!) the teachers if they put the wrong bib on the wrong child at lunch. Also, the other day, when a kid from the preschool came and pooped in Ellie’s classrooms’ bathroom, Ellie helpfully dropped a dime on him when the teacher was trying to figure out where that smell was coming from. She totally named names.

Ellie has a fierce sense of justice. When some cruel act is perpetrated (for example, when her mothers change her diaper) she does not shy away from telling you, in no uncertain terms, what the fuck is up, and it is not this diaper change MOM.

But that sense of justice also has a tender side: yesterday at daycare, a kid was in one of those little cozy coupe cars and it started to tip over. Ellie SPRINTED across the playground and held the car up, shouting, “HELP, HELP!” until a teacher got there.

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Oh the WORDS this child has now! And not just words, but whole sentences! Last week, during a diaper change, she was kicking and screaming (see: injustice, above) and kicked the box off wipes of the changing table. She stopped mid-scream and said, “Uh oh. Tissue [her word for wipes] fell down.” Right, it sure did. And how do you think that happened, Ellie?

She’s also strongly into ‘no’ right now. ‘No’ is the answer to every question, even if she really means ‘yes.’ And sometimes ‘no’ is the answer even if we haven’t asked a question (she volunteers ‘no’ preemptively). She also likes to draw out the word, enunciating slowwwllly for the clowns she lives with who can’t seem to keep a firm grasp on the obvious.

I watch her on the video monitor after I put her to bed. She points around the room, naming things, and then telling it, firmly, NO. NO, bear. NO, tissue. NO, Elmo. No no no no no. Eventually she lies down and strokes her soft blankie. “No.” She whispers. “No.”

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It’s finally getting a bit cooler outside, and the first leaves are starting to turn. Ellie and I took a walk last weekend and she had fun stomping on the few leaves that had fallen. I was watching my child, my real, live, living child as she tried (unsuccessfully) to jump on the leaves to achieve greater crunch volume, and had one of those mind blown moments. One of those heart bursting moments. Look! I have a child! And she is perfect.

And yet, there’s some dissonance as we get into the Fall. The leaves that my child so happily stomps are a vivid, nauseating reminder of one of the worst days of my life.

But this year is not last year, or the year before. Just as the seasons change, so do the years. I don’t know if I’ll ever “get over it,” if such a thing is even possible. But each year that passes makes the pain a little less sharp and and little less jagged. The serrated edges are being worn over with time.

This year, like last year, I’ve got my Ellie. A living embodiment of my heart’s desire.

This year, I won’t even be home on the anniversary. I’ll be out of town at a work conference. Maybe that will be better.

And, this year, I can well and truly say: fuck those leaves. This year we’ve got a lawn service.

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The Spirit Is Willing

Hi there. Long time, no post.

I would say I’m sorry (because I am) but I have no real words to offer up in defense. I think of posting often, and have many things I’d like to say to you. But by the time I’ve run through my day of up early/commute/work/pump/commute/pick up baby/home/put baby to bed/eat dinner/sit on couch with no pants I’m totally spent, you know? After dinner is when I could totally try to make something of the dozen-odd half formed posts that live in my drafts folder, but at that point It’s all I can do to keep my eyes open while I prep the baby and myself for the next day.

As they say, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

So how about a quick run down? The baby first, because, well, she is our raison d’être.

She’s almost 9 months now. Can you believe it?!

She sleeps mostly well. We sleep trained (Ferber, which sucked massively but goddamn if it didn’t work exactly like it’s supposed to) at 4ish months. She took to it in a few days and then we tackled night feedings by once a week dropping a minute off the time that I nursed her. Once we were down to about 5 minutes per nursing session she decided waking up wasn’t worth her time and started sleeping through the night. For the most part she goes down by 7PM and wakes up around 6AM, although recently she’s been waking up around 4 or 5 which is decidedly not cool and makes me dread the end of Daylight Savings Time. We’re going to be putting her down a few minutes later every night this week in hopes that it will help recalibrate her clock. It probably won’t work, but then, I’m your resident pessimist.

She eats VERY well. She has three big bowls of solid food a day and has recently gotten the hang of self feeding via soft bits of carrot and peas and cheerios and her beloved puffs. Over the next few months I figure we’ll transition to more and more self feeding and do away with the baby food (which she LOVES).

I am working on weaning her from breastfeeding, which I am both sad and excited about.

Breastfeeding was really hard in the first few months. She initially wouldn’t latch due to her tongue tie, I had massive engorgement, she ate round the clock (seriously, she was either attached to the boob or screaming – I was her pacifier, and no plastic substitute was acceptable) and I got little to no sleep. For weeks I would sleep in half hour bursts which drove me to the very brink of my sanity. The gaping maw of insanity is a very dark and terrifying place. PPD is not a joke, my friends. Tread lightly.

On the other hand, I spent some heart achingly sweet time cuddled up with my girl, and I was (and am!) so damn proud of myself for being able to feed my daughter from my very own body. After all the shit infertility put my sense of self through, being able to nourish and sustain my long fought for child from my very own body (sorry, that needs to be repeated) went a long way toward healing.

So why am I stopping? Well, I went back to work and my supply tanked. I did the fenugreek, the water, the oatmeal, the extra pump sessions, the power pumping and blah blah blah. It helped some, but not enough and I was killing myself trying to make quota every day. So we started supplementing, which further tanked my supply, and it’s been dwindling ever since. My hope was that I could feed her mornings and nights and just not worry about pumping during the day, but Ellie just seems frustrated that she gets a measly few ounces first thing in the morning when she would greatly prefer a hearty breakfast of about 7 or 8 ounces.

And while it’s sad, it’s also exciting. If I never have to pump again it will be too soon. I might burn that damn pump. Seriously. Set the fucker on fire and dance around its charred remains. If there is anything more sucky (ha) about pumping, please don’t bring it to my attention because god almighty there is enough shit in the world.

So. The end. Sob. (Yay!)

Ellie loves her daycare. We had a few bumps as we all got adjusted, but it’s worked out beautifully. She has two sweet little friends in her class that she plays with every day and the teachers help gently encourage skills that routinely blow me away. It’s like, what do you mean she can hold her own bottle/clap hands/wave bye-bye/blow kisses/hold hands with her friend (omgsocute)/etc. I didn’t teach her that! It’s like she’s an independent person! That can be taught things! Weird!

She is crawling like a champ, and pulls herself to stand. We think she’ll be an early walker, probably by Christmas, according to her teacher. She would be around 10 or 11 months then.

And how are her mamas? We’re well. We’re both a little shell shocked from her infancy, and honestly, we’re just starting to recover. Tammy gets visibly upset if anyone mentions having another baby (because obviously it would be the easiest and cheapest thing to get pregnant) and is adamant about wanting to be one and done with Ellie. I go back and forth on the issue but don’t want to commit myself one way or another. There are pros and cons to both.

One thing that Tammy I and agree on is that Ellie’s infancy was, frankly, the most difficult thing we’ve ever done. Now though, it is so, SO fun. So worth it. This is what I wanted when I fought so long for a child. Watching her discover and explore and learn and grow. Her whole body smile. Giving her one last kiss on her fuzzy little head when I lay her sleep heavy body down in her crib at night.

Like they say, the days are long but the years are short. I hope you all are well. xo

Happy Father’s Day (?)

Ellie made us a Father’s Day card at daycare. The part that she made (little footprints) is actually really cute. The text of the card is truly barf worthy (some stuff about how her dad is the first man in her life), and the fact that we got a card at all is troublesome.

The text of the card bothers me because it calls to mind those creepy purity balls, “rules for dating my daughter,” promise rings, and other shining examples of American Patriarchal Society With A Dash Of Heteronormativity Just For Fun, circa 2014.

And I’m bummed that the daycare director approved this activity for the kids. Look, I’m not trying to be a giant killjoy and say kids shouldn’t be allowed to make Father’s Day cards. And I’m sure that when Mother’s Day rolls around again I’ll be thrilled to get a card for that occasion.

But would it be so hard for the daycare to modify the lesson plan to accommodate different kinds of families?  We are not the only LGBT family in this day care center. And what about the single moms, or children being raised by people other than their parents?

It doesn’t matter so much now; Ellie has no idea what’s going on. But I don’t want her to feel strange, growing up, when a teacher asks her to make a card for someone who doesn’t exist.

So we have to bring this up with the daycare director. I’m totally confrontation averse, and I’ve already had to exchange emails with the director about draping blankets over the side of the crib while Ellie naps (!!) so I’m already “that parent.”

Wise people of the internet, advise me on how to do this in a low key, I’m-actually-totally-chill-no-really way, but still getting the point across that this is decidedly not cool.

Thoughts?