What’s up, baby?

As the second trimester draws to a close, it’s hard to believe it’s been nearly six months and that my little boy is nearly two pounds and would most likely survive if born today. Already on my BabyCenter birth board, five or six babies have been delivered and most are doing well (now, I’ll grant you that since I’m due at the very end of the month and most of the babies were due near the beginning of the month, this is not to say that our little guy should make his grand appearance anytime soon!).

Unlike Maddi, who seemed to be moving furniture, practicing Tae-Bo and holding barn dances on a daily basis in my poor, battered uterus, our wee man is apparently comfortably ensconced in a well-tended, miniature bachelor pad where he passes his days perusing books, writing letters to chums, and sipping Earl Grey, a crocheted throw draped over his lap and his feet on a mothbitten ottoman, luxuriating in the comfort of a small fire. Occasionally, he may yawn and stretch, but for the most part, he sits contemplatively, perhaps penning his (very short) memoirs between sips of tea.

Yes, this scenario is ridiculous, but it’s much easier to imagine what a baby is doing when … well, when the baby is doing something. It’s harder to conjure up fetal activity scenarios when your baby lets you know he’s still there a scant two or three times a day. I mean, I suppose he could just as easily be sitting there on a mildewy couch tossing back beers while watching The Amazing Race, or glued to an office chair, snarfing Doritos while putting up bad poetry and writing annoying bulletins on MySpace, but I think I like my genteel English bachelor fetus a bit better.

Anyway, the bottom line is that the little guy is pretty quiet. I’m pretty sure he’s flipped to vertex, because I can feel his head on my cervix sometimes and when I do feel that occasional kick, it’s toward my ribs. I think I even felt his little bottom today when he did the unheard-of and actually sat in something other than his usual position. While many of the uncomfortable pregnancy complaints of last time have passed me by with this baby (i.e. morning sickness, back spasms and physical assault by a fetus), there are still a few things that remind me I’m pregnant. As the second trimester wears on, my energy is waning. Going up a flight of stairs leaves me short of breath, and I can nap any old time I please (which only ever happens when I’m pregnant or during the first two weeks of a colicky, unsleeping baby’s life). And since he is head-down, there is the familiar feeling that the baby is going to fall right out at any minute, along with the attendant aching pelvic bones.

I can’t believe it will be only three months and some change before the baby is lying in a bassinet instead of my abdomen. We’ve bought a few cute blue things and picked out his crib bedding, but there is much that remains to be done. He will temporarily share a change table and Diaper Champ with Maddi, who should be ready to potty train when he’s still pretty small, but we need to find a bassinet or crib since his big sister is nowhere near trustworthy enough to allow free roam of any room — even the most heavily babyproofed one. We also need to find a double stroller (see above regarding Maddi’s readiness to leave Child Containment Units of any sort), his own soft toys and pacifiers, and a Bumbo in a color other than purple. And of course there is the matter of bracing ourselves for the arrival of a newborn in a house already occupied by a demanding toddler.

But for the most part, we’re pretty calm about it. We’ve got three months, after all, to tie up all the loose ends and even if we don’t get everything in order before the due date, the worst that will happen is that he’ll wear pink sleepers and sleep in the Pack ‘N’ Play for a few weeks. Of course, we’d really prefer that he didn’t, but if it happens, he’s still going to be clothed and fed and have a place to rest his head.

And here they are, at long last: The 26-week belly shots!

Better late than never

I know, I know. We’ve been very bad about posting about the baby and putting up belly shots. The problem is, this pregnancy is going by way too quickly! We’re still hashing out names, still have yet to figure out what we’re doing for the nursery, and as yet, the only thing we have purchased for our wee boy is a little blue sleeper. Yes, we have furniture, toys and supplies already, but unfortunately, every stitch of clothing, decor and blanketry is a decidedly girlie shade of pink or purple. And we have but 15 weeks left. So really, posting pictures of my pregnant belly in a timely manner is the least of our concerns!

The little guy’s movements have become more obvious, but still consist mainly of stretching, repositioning and hiccuping rather than intentional rupture of various internal organs. My bladder has received maybe four kicks in the past month — a far cry from the relentless pounding of another baby I might mention. Am I complaining? No, I am not! If I had been pregnant with this little guy the first time around, I might be one of those glowy earth-mother types who enjoys every moment of pregnancy. (Instead, I’m just dreading what I assume is the inevitable feeling that the baby, once bigger, will crack my ribs, strain my pelvic floor, sever my spleen and push all the food back up my esophagus.)

There’s not much to write about. My prenatal appointment went fine, as usual. The little guy’s heartbeat is in the 140 to 150 range, as it tends to be. He’s measuring two days behind on ultrasound, just as he was at eight weeks. He’s got predictable (if relaxed) periods of activity in the morning, early afternoon and late evening. In short, he’s a perfectly healthy, apparently laid-back baby. At this point in his gestation, he weighs a pound and a half, measures more than a foot long, his lungs are producing surfactant and he has a 60 to 80 percent chance of survival if born this week. Of course, we hope he stays in a lot longer — not only for his health, but also so he doesn’t have to come home wrapped in a pink hand-me-down blanket and sleep in a crib with pink gingham bedding.

And here are pictures of the belly at 23 and 24 weeks, respectively:

Week 23

Week 24

Babble, babble, toilets and trouble

As usual, Maddi has had a busy couple of weeks. She is now in the process of cutting her canines and has also had a cold for the past week, which means that Mommy and Daddy have had a busy couple of weeks as well. The kind of busy that requires lots of Starbucks and a good couple hours of trying to wind down before one can fall asleep.

Although the toilet was initially the one place where we could expect Maddi to sit still for more than 10 seconds, it has now become a launching pad for the Amazing Naked Baby Race, in which Maddi pretends to try to make poopoo, distracts Mommy by pointing to her Play-Doh or her ball, and then, while Mommy’s back is turned to retrieve the potty toy, Maddi flees from the room naked from the waist down and proceeds to run through the house at top speed until her eventual retrieval and diapering. She has also decided she needs a diaper change each and every time she leaks the tiniest amount of peepee, which means we would have to quadruple our diaper bill if we gave in to this demand. If it weren’t for her dogged determination to immediately dispose of any poop that makes its way into her diaper, we would issue a pair of training pants, but we’re big chickens. Chickens with white carpets and furniture who already pay enough on laundry detergent for her bed linens without providing even easier access to Poo-casso’s favorite artistic medium.
Speaking of things that drive fear into the heart of easily-disgusted parents, our wee one’s stripping skills have transcended the sleeper (including the backwards sleeper) and now extend to the diaper. It’s become a near-daily occurrence to wake up, enter her room, and behold a completely naked Maddi beaming proudly in her crib. Luckily she’s been holding her bowels a bit better since the inception of potty training, although that didn’t stop her from obliterating her crib thrice in 24 hours earlier in the week. She can also dress herself somewhat too. Our little girl can get her pants halfway on, her shoes completely on (but not usually fastened) and has managed to pull her cotton shorts over her head (leg-hole and all, right around the neck, which means no more shorts in the crib!). Currently, she’s working on shirts, although getting the arms on straight has been a challenge and I’ve found her in the crib with the shirt half-twisted so that her arms are both in the sleeves, but one sleeve is inside-out.

And the streaking and stripping are only the tip of the iceberg where Maddi Mischief is concerned. The tantrums continue, although thankfully they mostly occur at home. Lately, she has also figured out how to climb into chairs and onto tables, and is thisclose to conquering our overstuffed leather sofa and attacking the cat from a new front. Have I mentioned the cat attacks? Our once-gentle daughter has decided that SHE, not the cat, will declare when petting time is over. It began with a little fur-pulling when the cat tired of being petted. The cat ran faster, so Maddi grabbed the nearest and most convenient “handle” — Deva’s tail. Now, even when the cat is sitting still, Maddi has decided the cat’s tail is the optimal way to draw her pet to her rather than having to exert the energy it takes to go to the cat. This method, while absolutely prohibited, is better than her first cat-retrieval solution, which entailed a full-body tackle of our hapless feline when the kitty least suspected it. Now, with her nascent furniture-scaling skills, I am afraid Maddi will try a flying tackle from the sofa and sail right through the window where Deva likes to sun herself.

Lucky for us (and Maddi, who daily risks being offered in a classified ad as “free to good home”), it’s not all nude footraces, poo-painting, tantrums and kitty torture. Our little toddler is also becoming quite the chatterbox, experimenting with her own twist on the English language that I like to call Maddi-ese. Much of it consists of very expressive, foreign-sounding babble. She has some words she’s made up because saying them is too much trouble; hence Play-Doh has become “Buh-paah” (although she does know what it’s actually called and occasionally insists, “Pay-Did,” when I pretend not to know what “buh-paah” is) and kitty-cat is often “tick-tick.”

As always, when she uses actual words, a significant percentage of her language is cat-related. For instance, her first four-word sentence, uttered three or four weeks ago (according to me, although Chris is skeptical) was “Wez dat key-cat?” (Where’s that kitty-cat?”). Often I will hear her babbling nonsensically in her realistic-sounding toddler language and pick up phrases like “get da ball” or “tsuh-duh buh-buh” (cheddar bunnies) from among the gibberish — and a good third of the time, the words I hear are cat-related. “Good kit-kit” or “hee, key-cat” when she’s trying to coax Deva out from behind the sofa; “No, key-cat!” when the cat races from the room in fear for her life; “Babble babble blablabla TIKTIK babble babble!” as she runs chasing after the poor kitty.

However, she does come up with the occasional non-cat-related utterance. The other day, I removed from her grasp a forbidden object (I forget what; there are so many!) and replaced it with something appropriate, and Chris heard her sob in between shrieks, “I wanted that one!”

For awhile after we moved into our new house with its fabulous backyard and attendant bouncy balls, everything was “ball,” but the novelty has worn off and she is back to calling flowers “fowvers” again, thank goodness. Occasionally I have to remind her to stop saying “ball,” but at least her vocabulary is coming back.

Other than streaking, stripping, painting, climbing, attempted kittycide and coming up with new phrases and her own bizarre jargoning, not much is new. I’m sure in a few weeks, we’ll have lots more interesting Maddi stories to share.

In the meanwhile, coming soon: Cute pics of our 16.5-month-old.

Hair today, gone tomorrow

I really thought that when the time came for Maddi’s first haircut, I would shed at least one tear. But I’ve never been one to get sentimental about parting with my own locks, and I guess it carries over to my little girl as well. Just as I get antsy for a haircut when my tresses start looking long and unkempt, Maddi’s “baby mullet,” as we called it, was really starting to bug me. On Tuesday, I drove her down to our local children’s salon and I hate to say it, but my excited demeanor was not just for Maddi’s benefit. I hope that my failure to weep over her first haircut does not make me a bad mommy, but I looked forward to her new ‘do as much as I look forward to appointments with my own stylist.

Of course, one can’t expect a girl of 15-and-three-quarters months to sit patiently in a beautician’s chair while a hairdresser labors meticulously over every strand. That’s why we went to a salon where the clientele are seated on playful ducks or in pink-and-purple Jeeps while the world’s fastest scissors go to work. Rather than winding down pre-haircut with a drink and a magazine, this particular establishment induces relaxation by offering a ballroom where one can release all of one’s pent-up toddler energy before being forced to sit still for that arduous 10 minutes in the chair. Did I mention that we were also treated to “Shark Tale” on a screen conveniently placed in front of Maddi’s Jeep?

Yes, Maddi was allowed to pick her own haircutting station and the Jeep won hands-down, as our wee one is still fascinated by all things wheeled and/or pink. It was quite the hit, although I’m not sure the hairdresser found it helpful when Maddi stood on the seat and began dancing during her haircut. At that moment, I was very happy indeed that I had not brought her in to my regular stylist.

Other than the outbreak of dance fever, Maddi was a perfect angel during her haircut and enjoyed “driving” the Jeep even though, to her dismay, the horn was not operational. She was so well-behaved, in fact, that she received a $3 discount on her cut because most babies take a bit longer (although this was also partly owing to the fact that she didn’t have much hair to take off).

Perhaps if her hair had been butchered, I would have felt sad, but instead I have spent the past several days admiring her cute new baby bob. She looks so much more polished now! It takes a few months off her face, but Chris says that’s a good thing since I’m always complaining about her getting too old too quickly.

And here, for your viewing enjoyment, are some pics of Maddi’s very first haircut!


Ready to cut!

First snip


Dance, baby, dance!

Perhaps it was her tireless Riverdance rehearsals in utero. Or maybe it was the inspiration provided in May (which should be ancient history) by her cousin Becca’s dance recital. What we do know is that Maddi is quite the little dancer, and she didn’t pick it up from Chris or me. Not that we’re terrible dancers, mind you, but it’s not like we bust a move around the house. Ever.

She dances when her toy farm chimes out the notes to “Old MacDonald.” She dances when she hears the word “dance.” And today at the Festival of the Tomato, after I put her down because she was wiggling like a maniac, she took her act on the road.

The live band was playing an Irish folk song and I guess Maddi felt inspired to show off her smooth moves. As soon as her feet hit the ground, our wee girl was burning up the grass! Nobody knows where she learned to shimmy and move her shoulders like that, but the little one can sure get down! This video was actually her lackluster “encore performance” — the original was performed with much more enthusiasm and hip-shaking (and no, Grandma and Grandpa, we did not teach the baby to wiggle her bottom and she couldn’t have gotten it from TV because she’s not allowed to watch it; she probably thinks she invented the move).

Here’s our almost-16-month-old boogying her heart out:

Get this potty started

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Despite her very early interest in all things potty, our original plan was to wait until Maddi was 2 to start potty training. This would allow her potty training to be unhindered by stressful events such as a move, or the inability to competently remove her pants and underwear and sit (she still hasn’t quite figured out how to back into a chair). But Maddi had other plans.

My hypothesis on her finger-painting hobby has always been that she does not like being in dirty diapers and was trying to get the poop far, far away from her bottom. However, I talked to Maddi ad nauseam about how we don’t take the poo-poo out of our diapers, and after about 50-odd such post-painting discussions, she finally acquiesced and simply played with her toys when she was done with her morning poop. But for the past three days, she has been removing every stitch of clothing by the time I enter the bedroom, and she has very nearly removed her diaper before my eyes a time or two, so I knew it was but a matter of time before she took off her diaper in the crib and made a mess. (Technically, in Maddi’s head, this would be perfectly allowable since she is not taking poop out of her diaper!)

And today, far, far before I was ready for this doomsday scenario, it happened. My bleary eyes were greeted by a completely naked toddler covered literally from head to toe in poop. I won’t even describe how literally.

OK, I lied. Misery loves company and I would just like to share with you all that I pulled a prune-size clump out of her hair and washed poop out from between her fingers and toes. I also removed no fewer than five midsize pellets from the floor (along with a lump the size of a small rodent and many small “crumbs”), shook yet more pellets and another, slightly smaller lump out of the sheets, de-doodooed and disinfected the walls and the crib, laundered (and extensively Spray N Washed and OxiCleaned) a sleeper, a zip-top sheet, the bottom of said zip-top sheet, the mattress protector (might I add that the mattress protector indicated she had taken a nice little pee with her diaper off, which I initially missed because of the mass casualties), the freaking dust ruffle and no fewer than three unfortunate stuffed toys. Oh, and bathed aforementioned head-to-toe-poopy tot, and then de-poopified and disinfected the tub. There, I feel much better having listed all that, because it’s not like many people know what all is involved in cleaning up these kinds of messes and I feel kind of alone in my misery here. Just be glad I don’t detail it for you every time it happens!

The above, by the way, was in lieu of my relaxing gym appointment, for which I was 40 minutes late. By the time I got there, the day care girl had given up and gone home. I drove the 15 minutes back to the house, just about in tears, and took a hasty shower in a bathroom still reeking of Maddi’s latest masterpiece.

Today’s little incident did not precipitate our decision to buy Maddi a potty, as I had planned to buy one after the gym appointment anyway, but it certainly illustrated Maddi’s readiness to be done with diapers once and for all. I noticed that most of the big clumps had been thrown on the floor, and I think my hypothesis has been proven. Maddi does not want poop anywhere near her (although the unfortunate result of her removing it from her presence is that it gets on her hands and, thereby, everywhere else).

Maddi has also been getting angry when I go to the bathroom, perhaps because she feels excluded. Sure, I let her sit on the toilet occasionally, but we’ve been promising her a little potty of her own “when you’re a big girl” for many weeks now. Apparently she thinks she is a big girl and that she should be using the toilet as well.

We headed down to Sweet Peas, a local purveyor of fine baby goods, and I let her choose from among four different colors of Baby Bjorn potties (the toilet I had previously decided on after much research; this is the only toilet sold at that store, so although she was “picking out a potty herself,” any choice was the right choice!). She wavered at first, but settled on a blue potty. Then we went to the bookstore, where we chose a book about using the toilet. We took the potty home and she managed to pee in it twice between 4:30 and 6 p.m. She was so delighted to finally be flushing her own pee-pee goodbye instead of Mommy’s!

In fact, Maddi was a happy little camper all evening, insisting on sitting on her potty for 20 minutes at a time until she went (sitting still for 20 seconds is quite a feat ordinarily, let alone 20 minutes) and carrying her potty around lovingly. (Unfortunately, she tried to do this with one shoe on and one off, tripped and split her little lip; thus necessitating her first ice-cream sandwich, as that was the only way we could keep anything cold against her mouth long enough to stop the swelling). She was happy as could be to sit on that pot with the Play-Doh she’s allowed to use only while on the potty, plopping it in and out of the can and pausing every once in awhile to grab a piece of toilet paper and haphazardly “wipe” her posterior.

We’re not sure how quickly the potty training will go, since supposedly children who start before 18 months of age take longer to train, but it’s better than the alternative. Maddi seems very happy to have her own potty, as she’s been waiting for this moment for what probably feels to her like years, and we’re happy that she is so enthusiastic about it. We’d have been just as happy if she’d wanted to wait until we were prepared for such a time-consuming undertaking, but it’s not as if disinfecting an entire room and an entire toddler (and then the bathtub) isn’t time-consuming either.

Coming soon: Pics of Maddi’s first ice-cream sandwich!