Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Difficult Morning

What do you do when your toddler perceives everything as being wrong when you're just trying to get him to school and yourself off to work? When The Hubs already left for work and you're already late? This was our morning.

I wake Buddy up, he pops up.
Buddy: Mommy milk in mommy bed!
Runs into our bedroom, searching for daddy around the corner and in the bathroom.
Buddy: Daddy not here. I want daddy! (Whimpers just a little.)
Me: I'm sorry sweetie. Daddy already went to work. You'll get to see him again after you get home from school and have dinner.
I wrangle on Buddy's clothes, including his bug collector shirt, and he (thankfully) takes his waffle to eat for breakfast.
Buddy: Shirt broken! Points at a slightly darker gray spot on his gray shirt, about the size of a pin head.
Me: That's just a little stain, it doesn't come off.
Buddy: Off peal! Peal hurts! (I adjust the sock around his heal.)
Buddy: Sock broken! (Starts to cry.)
I try rearranging his sock, the seam is bothering him. Eventually, I take off his sock and put it back on and he's ok with that.
Buddy: More bugs! Not 2, more! Bugs on back? (There aren't enough bugs on his shirt, there are none on the back of his shirt.)
Me: Well... There's a TICKLE-BUG on your shirt! (I tickle Buddy to laughter.)
I think we're ready to go, heading downstairs.
Buddy: No pants! No! (Starts to cry. I pull up his pants past his belly button so the leg of his pants doesn't even touch his foot.)
In the car Buddy wanted another waffle, chex were ok.

On mornings when nothing seems to be going the way your toddler wants it to go, remember to be patient and loving. He isn't trying to make you late to work. To him, the world isn't right. He was probably still tired since I had to wake him up and he was hungry because who isn't when we wake up in the morning? It can be frustrating, but keep in mind that a toddler is just like us. We have our bad mornings when we complain about everything, why aren't they allowed to as well? We expect people to give us a little space and extra patience, a toddler should be afforded the same respect. That little gray spot may not mean anything to you, but it certainly means something to Buddy and I will respect that.

How do you handle your toddler meltdowns when you're in a hurry?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Where's Yo Kenny and Other Shenanigans

Buddy's vocabulary gets bigger every day. It's amazing what he knows and sometimes surprises us. Here is a small glimpse into his life recently.

Buddy: Where's yo kenny?
The Hubs: What's yo kenny?
Buddy: Yo kenny! Where's yo kenny?
The Hubs: Is it a toy or a book?
Buddy: NO!
The Hubs: Can you point to where you think it is?
Buddy points outside. The Hubs let's him out. Buddy goes to the stroller, pulls out the bag and starts looking.
Buddy: Where's yo kenny?! I need yo kenny!
Then it dawned on me. Buddy found a lollipop in the stroller that morning. He is not allowed to have candy, let alone lollipops (HUGE choking hazard!) so I said it's daddy's candy and he'll get it when he gets home later. Mystery solved! I put it away hoping Buddy would forget about it, but he wanted to make sure daddy got his candy.
yo kenny = your candy

There is a house down the street that is for sale. They made it nice with fall-colored flowers and a bunch of pumpkins. Taking a walk one day:
Me: I like pumpkins, do you?
Buddy: I like pancakes!

Buddy: I ate my broccoli all up! I ate my salmon all up! More broccoli pease!

Jewish law says we have to wait 6 hours between eating meat and dairy. With all of the holidays recently, a lot of meat is served so at home we don't eat much meat. Prayer services often run late, which means having a late lunch so a dairy dinner has to be eaten fairly late. Since Buddy is only 2, he doesn't have to wait 6 hours. We served his dinner and we ate challah (sweet bread) until our 6 hours was up.
Buddy (eating): Want some salmon daddy?
The Hubs: No thanks. I'll get some later.
Buddy: Want some mommy?
Such a caring little man already!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

What Did You Just Say?

Buddy is very talkative and we have been so lucky that he speaks so well already. But he is just 2 years old so not everything he says is intelligible. Sometimes we think we hear something that raises an eyebrow. Here are the recent ones.

"I'm gonna kill mommy."

"I shot daddy."

And some that we actually did hear correctly, but they still raise an eyebrow.

"I pee on mommy?"

"I poop in drain?"

We're still working on that potty training thing...

What are the most eyebrow raising comments you thought you heard your little one say?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I Have a Dream - Black Breastfeeding Week

August is breastfeeding awareness month because although the US has come a long way in supporting mothers, there is still a long road ahead of us. Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for infants and is good for the new mother as well. This year, nearly 77% of infants were ever breastfed. At 6 months, 49% were still breastfeeding and only 27% at 12 months.(a) Not a bad start, but not a very good one a year later.

Today, on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech, I wish I could say his dream has been reached. As of 2008, although nearly three quarters of US babies have ever been breastfed, only 59% of black babies have.(b) That compares to 75% of white and 80% of Hispanic (non-white or black) babies. I'm not going to pretend I know why black communities aren't supporting each other to breastfeed or don't have the support from lactation consultants. I think it's a complicated issue that could pull many reasons from many ideas. Whatever the underlying cause, it's a fact. Black babies are not getting as good of a start as their white and Hispanic counterparts. We need a month for breastfeeding awareness, how much more so do we need this week to help black babies and their mothers increase the support and knowledge to give all Americans a better start?

Kimberly Seals Aller over at proposed such a week. This week, the last week of August, breastfeeding awareness month, that happens to coincide with Dr. Martin Luther King's famous speech. While I don't necessarily agree with everything she wrote, you should definitely check it out and think about what she has to say. Why do so few black women choose to breastfeed?

From my limited personal experience, I can tell you it is harder for most black women than for us white women to start and continue breastfeeding. Growing up in an area that was more than 50% black, riding the bus every day to work with mostly black people and attending a breastfeeding support group for months when only 1 black women attended, and only a couple of sessions at that, I am positive the support is not there. The black woman who did attend two or three classes came with her questions and looking for support from the other mothers. Her husband didn't even want her to nurse. She said he kept asking her when she was going to stop because it's gross, not natural, those aren't for the baby. Although she had a pretty good response ("When formula is free!"), it shows what is most important for some. What if formula was free? Breast is still best for more reasons than the cost.

I dream of the day when we don't need a Black Breastfeeding Week. When all new mothers have the support they need to successfully breastfeed if they want to and have the knowledge and understanding of why it is so important to do so.

How are you going to support ALL mothers in their quest to give their babies the best start possible?

(a) CDC Breastfeeding Report Card 2013
(b) CDC Report. February 2013

Friday, August 9, 2013

Birth Story - Part 3

In fact, all night long, I walked, lunged and plie-ed. Happy Sunday! My first full day of labor…

Monday morning came and went while I continued to walk the halls, get checked only to hear there is no more progress and then continue walking.

I mentioned previously that I wanted to meet every midwife in the practice before going into labor and managed to do so for 6 out of 8 of them. The midwife on duty when I got there was one of the women I had not met yet. There was a staff change while I was walking the halls and a new midwife came on duty then. She was the other one I had not yet met. Good timing on my part I guess! Both of them were nice, understanding and good at their job so that all worked out fine.

Sometime in the late morning or early afternoon the midwife started to suggest getting pitocin to get things moving. My contractions would be 3-4 minutes apart for a while and then slow down. I wasn’t progressing very much. I did not want pitocin. It doesn't always work, increases ones risk for a c-section and can cause very intense contractions that are not always productive. I just kept walking.

The midwife finally told me that they either have to do something or they’ll send me home. I was a little worried that if I went all the way home, then getting close to rush hour, that I wouldn't make it back to the hospital in time. I allowed them to break my water.

I got back up to walk, made it to one end of the hall and felt an immediate need to vomit. I just made it back to my room and got sick several times in the next hour (or 2? I didn’t look at a clock and didn’t really have much sense of time by then). My contractions very quickly got closer together and they hurt a lot more. I tried different positions that I learned in my Hypnobirthing class and that my mom and midwife suggested. Some of the ones that are supposed to be better for back labor just made it worse.

I was pretty nauseous and in pain during this transition period and then I felt like I had to push. They brought in the midwife and it was time to go! My mom said it took about 25 minutes to breathe out the baby. I listened to my body. When it told me to push, I pushed.

The midwife caught the baby, showed The Hubs and he exclaimed, “It’s a BOY!” We had a perfect little boy, 6 lbs, 9 oz. 20 in. long. I was able to do kangaroo care immediately and he latched on right away. The Hubs and I got a few minutes alone with our new little Buddy before being transferred from the birthing room.

After some time with all 4 grandparents, The Hubs’ brother and my sisters, we were finally alone for the night. As The Hubs got freshened up in the bathroom, he yelled to get the nurse. The faucet broke and there was water everywhere! I asked for the maintenance staff to be sent in and we needed towels and a mop. A nurse came in with a towel or two. The water was already creeping into the room so she ran out to get more help. Baby Boy was rushed to the nursery, I was rushed into a wheelchair and The Hubs grabbed all of our stuff and we sloshed out the door. Lucky for us, this meant instead of our small single room, we had a double room to ourselves. The Hubs got his own bed and we had our little Buddy back with us and he never left our side again.

I am so happy I brought my 3 support people into the birthing room with me. They all brought something different to help. Thank you mom for helping me find different positions to make the pain less intense and for rubbing my back through the contractions. Thank you to my older sister for walking the halls with me for hours, doing plies and lunges for hours and being my voice so I could focus on giving birth. And thank you especially to The Hubs for being with me throughout my entire pregnancy, supporting me and making sure I had everything I needed. Thank you for being my rock through the entire process and for helping me bring our precious little man into our lives. I could not have done it this well without any of you.

Blogger Support!

One of my favorite blogs is i am baker. She has so many amazing ideas for cakes, cookies, cupcakes and other delicious desserts. I have used this blog for inspiration for many of my treats. The author also happens to be a very sweet woman.

She posted a blog about lactation cookies that she made and got a lot of flack for it. I think posting about lactation cookies, that can be eaten by anyone and are actually relatively healthy as cookies go (they contain oatmeal, flaxseed, cinnamon and cocoa), is perfect for this blog. It's also a cookie that happens to help lactating mothers. And as any woman who has breastfed knows, it is hard work, frustrating, painful at times and we all need support every once in a while.

When baking meets motherhood we should all support each other. Please head over to i am baker and leave some love and support! There is nothing gross, perverse or negative about nursing one's child or blogging about a cookie that could help increase one's milk supply.

Click here to show your support!!!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Buddy's Birth Story - Part 2

The contractions started coming closer together as the night wore on. They were 7-8 minutes apart by 2 am Sunday July 24. I tried to sleep in between each one and was fairly successful using my Hypnobirthing techniques. By 8 am my contractions were 3-4 minutes apart so I called my mom. I asked her to leave soon so she would make it in time for the birth. She lives just over 3 hours away so I was hoping I would make it that long. Little did I know at the time, that wouldn't be a problem. I called my older sister just after that and convinced her to start driving as well, also from 3 hours away after dropping off the kids for whom she was the nanny for the weekend. My contractions were still 3-4 minutes apart when my mom, dad, older sister and younger sister arrived about 4 hours later.

I started to get a little nauseous but wanted to keep up my strength so I snacked on Cheerios and water as much as I could stomach. I brought my yoga/birthing ball into the living room to help ease the contractions. I didn't find it very helpful. I walked around, a lot. My sisters walked me around the block. I felt pretty silly stopping every so often to have a contraction outside on a sunny Sunday. They were encouraging and worked as my stabilizers as I held onto them and breathed through each contraction.

My older sister diligently wrote down the time and length of every contraction. They seemed to be getting a little closer, though they never got very intense. I called my midwife, she told me to stay at home for a little while longer. She couldn't hear me screaming so I must not be close yet. After hours and hours of slight progress, the fear of having an unplanned home birth crept in. Both my mother and mother-in-law (over the phone to The Hubs) made me feel like this baby was coming any minute. I let my fear get to me and told everyone it was time to head to the hospital. It was a 25-30 minute drive, depending on lights and traffic, so I didn't want to be stuck at home or in the car if the baby decided to make a sudden appearance. My mom folded a towel on my seat, just in case, and The Hubs tried his best to avoid the copious number of potholes on the way there.

Once we arrived at the hospital, we had to figure out the expecting mother parking and valet service. Lucky for us, it was the front desk guy’s first day. He had no idea what was going on. Finally making our way toward the maternity ward, the elevators were busy. I climbed the 3 flights of stairs and got a nice welcome from the reception desk staff.

During my pregnancy I wanted to meet all 8 midwives in the practice because I would get whoever was on duty when I came in. I successfully met 6 of them; another one didn't take regular patients and I had to cancel my appointment for something for the other. Turns out, the first midwife on duty when I got there was one of the ones I hadn't met.

I checked in around 6 pm. They gave me a room, a hospital gown and then I got checked out (only 4 cm) and walked.

And walked…

And walked…

Then my older sister suggested plies and lunges. So we lunged and plie-ed the maternity ward hallway for hours. We heard at least 2 other babies being born. My mom, sister and The Hubs took turns walking the halls with me. My sister found the popsicles, which were really gross and artificial. But thank you sis for trying.

Then I walked…

And walked…

My sister fell asleep in the pull-out chair. I think my mom dosed off in one of the other chairs. So did The Hubs at various times. They helped me hold onto the railing that lined the walls during each contraction. During the more intense ones my mom rubbed my back. And then I walked.

Every so often the nurse or midwife would come in and check me. Not much was happening and my contractions were slowing down. So much for walking making things progress!

The anesthesiologist came in and said he wanted to meet me. My sister told him, in her very stern, authoritative, but polite voice, that we don’t need him and led him out of my room. He seemed taken aback so I guess he doesn't get many women who want natural birth! I remember being asked a couple of times about getting an epidural, but my sister always took care of the more forceful responses. That is why I wanted her there. She could put into words what I could not and people listen to her. Another reason I am so happy she was there was because she was my voice for everything. I am a quiet person in nearly everything I do. Turns out, I’m also quiet while in the process of giving birth. During every contraction I pulled my thoughts inward, thinking about the baby that would soon enter the world, focusing a lot on my breathing, trying the techniques where I focused on counting and peaceful images. With my focus also came utter silence. I closed my eyes and blocked out my surroundings. I did such a good job that the nurses and midwife would be talking to me, a contraction would come on and they wouldn't even notice. My sister had to keep telling them to wait because I was having one.

So as my birthing “staff” took turns trying to get a little sleep throughout the night, I kept walking.

And walking…

I did manage to get a few minutes of sleep here and there between contractions, especially when they had me hooked up to the fetal monitor.

And then I walked…

And walked…

In fact, all night long, I walked, lunged and plie-ed. Happy Sunday! My first full day of labor.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Buddy's Birth Story - Part 1

The first week of November 2010, I left The Hubs and boarded a plane to Denver for a geology conference. I was a little nervous, a little apprehensive and very excited. Not because I would be giving a talk in front of what turned out to be about 75 people, but because I was hoping and praying we were pregnant. After a week of lectures, posters, mountain climbing and exploring the city, never having that, “am I?!” out of my head, I got home only to have to wait another week. On a Thursday morning, it had been longer than any cycle I had in the past 12 months, probably forever. We took the test, trying to keep our eyes from wandering to it for what seemed like 3 very long minutes. It was positive!!!! We were so excited for this next stage of our life together. We calculated our due date to be July 22, 2011. My midwife told me it was the 19th. We did not find out the sex of the baby.

My pregnancy turned out to be fairly easy. I was extremely tired in the beginning. I even fell asleep in my physical chemistry class. I don’t think I had ever fallen asleep in class before that. I started going into school later, using winter break as an excuse. I left work on time, no matter what. If I didn't, the bus ride home became nauseating because my morning sickness came on around 5 every single day. I jogged to the bus every day. I did prenatal yoga nearly every day. I remembered my kegels. I took walks. I ate a lot of Cheerios those first 3 months. The smell of corn was pretty gross the entire time, but I didn't have any real aversions or cravings. My feet and hands didn't really swell until into the 8th month. I moved a little slower, but I didn't change any of my activities. I pushed through and found I enjoyed being pregnant. I loved the feeling of knowing I am growing a life inside of me and took the aches and pains in stride.

We told our parents at the same time, earlier than we wanted, but this baby would be the first grandchild for all of them and we wanted them to find out together. (That’s another story for another day.) We told the rest of our family soon after and our friends and bosses at 13 weeks. I never got a big round pregnant belly so I didn't get any outward questions until the 5th month, and that was from co-workers and friends. No one ever gave me their seat on the bus or held the door for me. I didn't walk leaning back, grabbing at my back like the stereotypical pregnant woman.

Throughout my pregnancy, I knew I wanted a natural birth in a loving environment. I was going to do everything I could not to have any medical intervention. We've been having babies on our own forever, why add medication or surgical procedures, all of which have side effects? The Hubs and I prepared by taking a Hypnobirthing course and reading everything we could, from stories about natural births to where to birth to birthing positions. I wanted to be as prepared as I could.

As part of my birth plan, I needed to decide who to allow in the room with me while I birthed. I was allowed to have 3 people in the room with me. Of course, I wanted The Hubs in there with me. He took the Hypnobirthing course with me and has been my rock not only during the pregnancy, but since we started dating in 2003. I knew he would be supportive and make sure I had everything I needed. I decided I also wanted my mom, because, well, she’s my mom. As an added bonus, she had 5 kids of her own so she’s been through the birthing process several times, with a few different outcomes. This was her first grandchild so I thought it would be very special for her. I was thinking about letting my older sister in with me too. We didn't get along very well; we were bitter rivals in a number of ways for a number of reasons. But she is also assertive and could help make sure the hospital staff did what I wanted. And even though we never got along, I still wanted her to experience the birth of my baby. She wants children and I always expected her to have kids before my other sister or brother but she is not able to have children. I tried to be as sympathetic about my pregnancy as I could and I thought that sharing this experience with her would bring us closer together and show her how much she can contribute as an aunt. I am so thankful I did.

On July 21st, the temperature reached well into the 90s with a heat index of over 115ยบF. I decided that was just too hot for me to get to the bus and stand outside for at least the 15 minutes it took to get there and wait for the bus and then I would hope the air conditioning was working that day. The weather on July 22nd was much the same, so I stayed home.

On Saturday July 23rd I was at a friend’s house down the street for lunch when I started to feel this pain radiate from my back and curl around toward my front. A bad cramp that didn't go away when I took a deep breath or stood up. My contractions had started. They were far apart and erratic so I didn't pay much attention to them. Later that afternoon I went to another friend’s house to study Torah and chat over some fruit and homemade dessert. The contractions were coming a little more frequently, but I kept them hidden. I don’t think I heard every word my friend said that day, I’m sorry for that. Hopefully she understands. When a contraction came on, I brought my thoughts inward without changing my outward appearance.

July 23rd, 11:45 pm
The Hubs and I went to sleep that night knowing this baby would be here soon.

Part 2!

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Conversation: Daddy's Bread!

It's the night before Tisha B'Av, a very important fast for Jews. (To learn more about that day, the customs and why this day is the saddest day in Jewish history, read this.) It's a custom to eat a meal of bread and eggs on the floor. The Hubs and I each have a piece of bread and an egg while we sit in the living room. Buddy is dancing around with his bread, that he quickly finishes.

Buddy: (Taking my bread) He-ar Daddy! Eat!
Me: That's my bread, Buddy.
Buddy: (Taking The Hub's bread) He-ar Mommy! Eat!
Me: Thank you. (Eats bread)
Buddy: (Crying, with real tears and everything) Mommy eat Daddy's bread! Not nice!
Me: Daddy said I could eat it and look, Daddy has bread too.
Buddy: (Still crying) Mommy eat Daddy's bread! Mommy!!!!! (Flops down in sadness)
Me: Let me get Daddy a new piece of bread, ok?
Buddy: Ok. Daddy new bread!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sink or Float?

As a toddler, Buddy wants to explore the world. He is trying to figure out how everything works. In order to encourage his enthusiasm for the world around him, I set up his pool for a little experiment of "sink or float?"

I put a few inches of water in the pool, we gathered supplies from around the house and yard and started throwing them into the pool. After every addition I said, "it floats!" or "it sinks!" Buddy did repeat "sink!" or "foat!" a couple of times, but he was more interested in pouring the water out of the containers we had brought outside.

Buddy getting ready to throw in a rock.
"Sink!" The rock sinks and makes a big splash! Buddy liked to watch it splash over and over...
 I encouraged Buddy to find more objects and see if they would sink or float, but his interest was not in the experiment I had laid out. It happens! I have to go with the flow with my independent thinker. Instead of watching items sink or float, Buddy explored the properties of water. What makes the biggest splash? How much water can each container hold? What happens when I swish the rake back and forth?
Buddy would rather make waves than conduct the experiment I had laid out. 
Sometimes we just have to go with the flow and let kids be kids.

 Young kids don't always have the same thought process as adults. Sometimes it is just better to let them try their own experiment. At this age I just want to see Buddy explore and figure out how things work. The real lesson is cause and effect, not density.
Today Buddy is checking out gravity instead of density.
 This is a great activity for kids of nearly any age. As long as they aren't putting everything in their mouth, try it with toddlers a little younger or increase your learning expectations with older kids too. As children begin to understand what makes something sink or float, pick up some items that may surprise them. Pumice is a rock, but it floats! You can start talking about density and what it means and how it affects what will float or sink. Will the same objects float or sink if this experiment is done in oil? Rubbing alcohol? Salt water? Why do boats float? I'll have to borrow some older kids to show you more details, but what kind of clay boat will sink or float? If you roll clay in a ball, will it sink or float? Have them make shapes out of the clay to try to make it float. What if you put something dense in a boat? A marble will sink in water, but can they get it to float on their homemade boat?

There are so many ways to adapt this experiment for kids. Get down on your child's level and make it fun for them while they learn.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Saving the World 1 CO2 Molecule at a Time!

Ok, so I may not be saving the world, but if I am going to work then I want to do something that makes a real difference. My current research deals with carbon capture and storage (CCS), which is starting to become carbon capture UTILIZATION and storage (CCUS). The idea is that we are emitting too much carbon dioxide, or CO2, into the atmosphere so there are scientists and engineers working on finding a way to keep it out of the air.

A quick science lesson: Why should we care about CO2? Although CO2 makes up just a small amount of the air we breathe, it is a big deal when it comes to greenhouse gases. CO2 is good at reflecting radiation back to the Earth that would otherwise escape out to space, trapping heat like a greenhouse used to grow plants. Basically, as more CO2 is released, more heat is trapped on Earth causing temperatures to rise. To learn more, check out this site.

Burning fossil fuels is accelerating the CO2 rise so I want to figure out the best way to reduce our output. Right now, we rely heavily on fossil fuels to live. We use electricity, drive cars and cook. How can we reduce our carbon footprint while living in the way we want to live? We have to reduce our fossil fuel consumption, but coal, oil and gas are not going anywhere any time soon. While many people are working on technology that makes these resources more efficient, we need an immediate fix. I think the best way to do something right now is to capture that CO2 and bury it deep underground in very very salty reservoirs.

I am looking at what happens when CO2 is injected into these reservoirs. How much CO2 can be dissolved in the brine (the very very salty water) that is in the formations? What happens to the rock that makes up the reservoirs? Will the CO2 stay where we put it? As a PhD student, I kind of bury my head in the sand and only look at my part of this issue. The RECS program that I have been so excited about, helped me take my head out of the sand and breathe in all the CO2 we've been emitting. Over the next couple of days I will recap my experience and talk about the current research in the field.

~photo from Pamela Tomski~
Me in front of the National Carbon Capture Center

As parents, why do we even care? When there are so many other things to care about, does climate change really have to be another thing to worry about? Yes, we do need to worry about it. Some places may just get warmer so we'll have warmer winters and longer summers. Greenland may turn green again and crops may be able to grow there. But with warmth comes the spread of disease. Flowers are blooming earlier, but the bugs and birds that pollinate them are not yet migrating north earlier. Some places may get so hot it won't be safe to be outside. We are getting more intense storms with more frequency. There is more drought which cause more forest fires. Sure, we can try to adapt, but what about those who can't? Billions of people around the world are without air conditioners and a steady supply of food that can withstand drought. We should care about people in the world today, and especially about our children. What kind of world do we want to leave them? I hope to leave a world where they don't have to worry about going outside on a hot summer's day because it's too hot to breathe. A world where they don't have to worry about where they will get their next glass of water. A world where there is a New York that is still above water. What kind of world do you want to leave your children?

Monday, June 17, 2013

9 Days of Being a Single Dad

I'm off to Alabama! Check out my trip here, it's pretty cool! I get to tour several plants, do field work and there are lectures from some amazing people in the field. The Hubs is staying home with Buddy. I'm sure he's going to be an amazing job. They'll have great father-son bonding. But it will be hard and exhausting. Buddy is trying to be more and more independent, which is great. Except it means that if he doesn't want to get dressed yet, he's not getting dressed. Sometimes that makes getting Buddy ready in the morning a 2 person job.
Buddy wears what he wants to wear when he wants to where it.
1 winter hat and 3 jackets for a friend's wedding last
weekend when it was in the high 70s. 
I got an extra big hug and kisses from Buddy this morning. He has clung to me like he knows something is not quite right. Little does he know that his mommy won't be there for him for 9 days. It makes me very sad thinking about him calling for me and not being able to come to him. To hear him wake in the morning and call my name, only to have to be comforted by daddy. I am afraid this is going to make Buddy wean before either of us are ready. I can't put into words what I feel about coming back home to him after so long away. Will he run into my arms or will he be hesitant because I haven't been there for a week and a half? What is his little almost 2 year old brain thinking? I know he'll remember me, know who I am. But will it have hurt him for me to leave him?

I am going to miss my boys so much, but know The Hubs will do great with Buddy. They have am excellent relationship and I'm sure this will only make it stronger.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Playing in the Rain!

It's raining! I don't think buddy even realized it.
When Buddy was very little, he hated the rain. We came running into the house with our little bundle in our arms while he contorted his face in dislike as he was pelted with rain. Oh how times have changed! We've had a lot of rain this spring. Buddy LOVES to be outside. He seems to no longer care about the rain, if he even notices.

Being the loving parents that we are, we offered an umbrella to Buddy so he could continue to play without getting too wet.

I thought he was just too cute not to share! Here he is getting used to the umbrella and watching the rain fall all around him. He likes to point out everyone's house and tell us what they are doing. They are all usually sleeping. "[Mr.] K seeping! Wiyam seeping! Rabbi baby seeping!" as he pointed to each house. How nice would that be to take a nap in the middle of the afternoon!

I asked Buddy to turn so I can take a picture. He turns and says, "Cheese!" I absolutely love this one and am planning on blowing it up for my wall. Maybe on a canvas? It's definitely one of my all-time favorite of him.

After figuring out how the umbrella is supposed to work, Buddy decided he really doesn't care about getting wet and just want to play with his new toy. We even took a walk with it and he asked for it for days. Even when it wasn't raining.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My 2 Fulltime Jobs

For a career, I love 2 things. 1) I love being a mom. I would love to be there all the time (well, sometimes I'm tired and don't know how I can keep my patience to deal with another toddler tantrum). I want to be there for every new word, every new skill, every time Buddy scrapes his knee and needs mommy kisses. 2) I love being a scientist. I would love to be a scientist all the time (well, sometimes I feel like throwing my lab equipment out the window and going all Office Space on it). I want to be there for the newest break-through, for when the lightbulb goes off in my students' heads and when my papers get published (my theoretical papers at this point since I have 3 I'm currently working on).

Buddy trying to put on his pants. On his arm.
But how can anyone have 2 full-time jobs and not go insane? Because right now, I feel like I'm going crazy. So how do I balance work and my amazing toddler? I scale back. Willing it will make it happen, right? I'm going to say yes, so here goes. I am going to finish this degree. I am going to pick up Buddy a little earlier every day. I am going to exercise and eat healthy and take some mental time for myself.

Then I am going to get a job. Exactly what that is, I don't know. I'm leaving my options open for now and applying to anything that looks appealing. Academics, industry, motherhood. All of it. I am determined to mesh my scientific curiosity with my mothering instincts. The best way for me to do this is to keep one foot in the working world and one foot in my son's world; both firmly planted. This means I will spend time reading the newest studies, looking up the best way to help Buddy work through his newest struggle (currently Buddy wants to dress himself, but hasn't figured out exactly how to get his arms in the correct arm hole from the inside of his shirt) and researching ways to improve the world through environmental remediation (taken broadly that means carbon sequestration, waste water, cleaning spills, etc.). Basically, I know I can make the world a better place, both in terms of the broader community and our family.

Calculating some results!
This also means I need to find more ways to integrate science into the lives of kids. Of all ages. It's a mission of mine to get kids more interested in science because too few of us grow up asking questions and figuring out the answers. School kind of beats that out of us, for the most part. To give the teachers credit, it's really hard to get 30 kids to work with you while giving them some freewill to experiment. It's messy. It's time consuming. But most of all, it's fun. Yes, I said it. Science is fun. So expect more science experiments with Buddy and hopefully some friends while I sort out the rest of my life!

(And thanks in large part to The Hubs who is always more supportive than he could ever know, who is there for me, cheering me on as I change my goals and ideas of what I want as a career.)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

My Little Guy is Growing Up

Nearly every night I take a moment and look at Buddy while he's sleeping. It's a minute or two when I reflect on the day. On what Buddy did. How we interacted. How I can better react to whatever Buddy throws at me. Sometimes literally. On what he learned or expressed for the first time. And just to remind myself how blessed we are to have such an amazing person who we have the privilege of raising and loving.

Buddy still sleeps in his pack'n'play because we decided an actual crib is a waste of money. He started out sleeping in our room and there isn't enough space to put a real crib, but by the time his room is actually painted and set up, he'll be nearly ready for a real bed. So what's the point in spending quite a lot of money on something Buddy will maybe use for a couple of months?

If that.

As I watched over Buddy tonight I realized how big he is getting. Sometimes he sleeps the short way across his mattress and he has to stick his knees up under himself to fit. He's all stretched out tonight and nearly fills the whole bed. We finally got his room painted, thanks to some amazing friends, so he'll be in there soon. I think we'll put him in the pack'n'play just to get used to the new space, but he might be transitioning to a mattress soon after that. Perhaps for his birthday next month.

Forgetful Daughter, Forgetful Mother

I was notorious for forgetting my lunch. I'm sure it started in middle school, but I definitely remember it in high school. I was in first hour band for 3 years and I'm sure it was more than once a week an office aid would come in with my lunch that my wonderful mother would bring to school. I don't know why it was always my lunch. Perhaps because I made sure everything else was already in my backpack so I wouldn't forget anything but a lunch had to stay in the refrigerator. I don't know why, but it happened. All the time.

Then it started happening all the way through college. It wasn't a big deal as an undergrad since I lived on campus and could run back to my dorm easily. Plus, once I became a resident assistant, they paid for my meal plan so I just bought something on campus. As a master's and now PhD student, it's not so easy to just run back and grab lunch. I have had several lunchless days over the past 7 years. I just busy myself and go home a little early.

But now my forgetfulness isn't just affecting me. I have forgotten Buddy's lunch a couple of times. The Hubs usually sets it out with his stuff so I can't forget to take it with us. But sometimes he leaves much earlier than us and doesn't set it out. I think every time but one I have forgotten it. 22 months is old enough for Buddy to remember his own lunch, right? Because otherwise, I'll be driving back and forth between home and daycare a lot.

I wish I could blame it on mommy-brain, but given my track record, I can't.

Buddy can put on his own hat, most of his jacket and grab a book and his lunch. I can leave it up to him to do this all the time now, right?

Monday, June 3, 2013

I Want My Binky!

Have you ever been out with your child and suddenly she wants her binky now! Or you get home from the park only to realize his stuffed bunny was left behind? You're not alone. Most parents have experienced this. The dreaded moment when your child's favorite comfort is far away from where you can get it. At that point, it's nearly impossible to console the child.

Buddy has a lot of friends, but he doesn't pick favorites.

I've witnessed this sad site many times, and although I can sympathize with these parents, I can't say that we've ever experienced it. Want to know our secret? Buddy doesn't have a favorite blankie or bear or paci. He has 2 bears that he now sleeps with, but they don't leave the crib. Sometimes we take one out to wash it, but he has the other so never seems to mind. Sometimes Buddy does like to bring his blankets around the house with him, but he never holds onto the same blanket for more than a day or two. We throw them in the wash before he can get attached and impart all of those gross smells kids refuse to let go.

So maybe I'm kidding myself thinking that I don't have to worry about the dreaded meltdown when my child realizes his lovie was left at the grocery store, but at nearly 2 years old, we've never come close to this problem. If you want to avoid it with your little one, switch out the favorite blanket and toy so you can avoid the heartbreak and wash their things. Ya know, when you can finally get around to actually doing the mounting piles of laundry. Because it's not just me who has 3 loads ready to go next to the washing machine, right?

Friday, May 31, 2013

Off to Alabama!

I got into my program! I'm so excited. This is an amazing opportunity. After some funding issues and other government nonsense, the dates have moved, some of the faculty have changed and it's a day shorter. However, we still get to go to all of the site visits and have some amazing people giving lectures.

It's over a week of carbon capture and storage talks, lectures, site visits and meeting other early career professionals. It is the perfect program for my current thesis work. I'll come out with a better knowledge of the injection process, storage of CO2, the economics, issues and benefits. There are engineers, geologists, sales people, technicians. I am looking forward to broadening my knowledge of the topic and field. It should also really help with some background knowledge for *when* I defend my dissertation in the fall.

I am nervous to leave my boys for so long. I know The Hubs is capable and will do a great job, but being a single parent is hard! I was away from The Hubs for the 2 years before we got married when I went away for my master's degree. It was hard, but we talked on the phone every night so it was bearable. It is going to be so hard to leave Buddy for that long. I've been away for a night and that's all. He would rather play with the phone than talk on it so I don't know how much I'll get to hear him while I'm gone. We only have my work computer with skype so that's not an option. The Hubs can't put it on his work computer. I won't see my baby for 9 days. I won't be able to nurse him, cuddle him, put him to bed for more than a week.

I'm going to miss this sweet face.

I'm afraid he's going to wean while I'm away. 9 days is a long time to go without nursing. I have hope that I'll come back and he'll still be willing, but I doubt it's going to happen. Suddenly taking that away from him for so long is going to make it harder on him and The Hubs. I'll be bringing my pumping supplies with me, but am guessing it's going to be a week of pumping and dumping. In itself, that's just sad. If you've ever had to do it, you know how hard it is to pump! It sucks. It hurts. It's frustrating. But if I have any hope in keeping any sort of supply and starting up again when I get home, it's the only way.

So I'm officially going to Alabama. My flights have been booked and I'll be gathering up everything I need over the next 2 weeks to prepare. I am so excited for this opportunity but sad that it probably means I am done breastfeeding until the next one comes along.

I Need a New Goal

Ok, so I tackled the hill and it wasn't as bad as I thought. I was slow, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. And I made it the whole way home, not out of breath and without much problem.

Now I need a new goal. But I need ideas!

I hate exercising just to exercise. I can do it for a few weeks to months, but I get bored and always end up dropping what I've started. I can bike to work without being bored because I have a destination. I can play tennis because it's fun with other people. I can't just run for the fun of it. It bores me.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

When to Wean - Then and Now

The question of when to wean a baby is something every mother asks herself, and probably her doctor. When a mother chooses to breastfeed (and is successful), there comes a time when work or life or any number of things get in the way. Another choice needs to be made, struggle through it and persist or wean the baby. Sometimes the baby chooses to wean herself before mom is ready. Sometimes mom is ready to be done before baby is ready. There is a lot that should go into this decision, so what is the right way?

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests breastfeeding exclusively until at least 6 months with the gradual introduction of solids after that in conjunction with continued nursing until the age of 1 and then until is mutually desired by baby and mother. 

The World Health Organization suggests exclusive breastfeeding until the age of 6 months and then continued with the introduction of solids until at least the age of 2 and beyond. 

Most pediatricians suggest exclusive breastfeeding until 4-6 months and then slowly introducing solids until the age of 1. The success of the nursing mother often comes because of support at home (moms need a lot of encouragement, dads! Let the baby have her breasts for a little while, it's the best form of nutrition and you are one of the biggest factors for success or failure!) and from the child's pediatrician and lactation consultants. 

We are so lucky to have some amazing hospitals here that have lactation consultants on staff. One came in at least once a day every day I was in the hospital and made sure we were latching ok and comfortable. If I had questions or trouble, I just had to press my button and the lactation on staff came to help. One of the reasons I went with our pediatrician is because of the support staff in his practice. He has lactation consultants in the office. Because they are a part of his practice, he has nursing moms and babies come in for an appointment with them, covered by insurance (check with your insurance provider - it worked for us because they were in the practice, if we went elsewhere, it would not have been fully covered). The Hubs was ever supportive, not really knowing what to do or say, but always an advocate.

So now, at 22 months, we are still nursing. Just once or twice a day, but it's still good for Buddy and me. And who knows how long it will last.

Is this normal? I've had a few inquisitive looks of, "You're STILL breastfeeding? At his age?" Ever wonder when our ancestors weaned? How about when the cavemen weaned? Researchers are starting to figure out that question! This week in the journal Nature, scientists used the tooth of a Neanderthal baby, in conjunction with a broader study of modern humans and macaques, to figure out that question. 

This kid, who can clearly feed himself, is still 
nursing because he wants to and so do I for so many reasons.

The study authors looked at barium-calcium ratios in baby teeth from the macaques and modern humans and then assumed the pattern to be consistent with the Neanderthal tooth. What they found is that very little barium is incorporated into the teeth until the baby is born, when the barium concentration shoots up immediately because breast milk contains high levels of the element. Barium levels dropped off as solid foods were introduced and were again very low when the child was weaned. 

These are  gibbons, but we didn't get a picture 
of the macaques and they're both apes ...

Although the researchers only used a single tooth so no broad conclusions can be drawn, the implications of this new knowledge is intriguing. The authors found that the infant was exclusively breastfed for 7 months, when solids were introduced gradually. Then at 14 months, barium levels decreased abruptly, suggesting instant weaning. This may have been the common practice, but more realistically, the mother either fell ill or died. 

14 months is a short time compared to how long babies in non-industrialized countries nurse today - 2.5 years on average. It will be interesting to see where this research leads as more Neanderthal teeth and teeth from other pre-humans and early humans are analyzed. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

We Might be Weaning

Buddy still nurses. We decided that he'll nurse until it is no longer mutually desired. The last week or so, Buddy hasn't asked for mommy milk before bed. If he doesn't ask, then I don't offer any more. During this time, there have been a couple of mornings when Buddy either nurses just for a few minutes and then goes back to sleep or waits until after his breakfast. He used to nurse for over an hour while we drifted back to sleep together.

Buddy isn't asking, which means he doesn't want. That means he's ready to start weaning. I am usually nonchalant about almost everything, and who knows where I'll be when he actually weans, but for now, I am feeling a little sad. I wanted to breastfeed so badly because of all the health benefits for Buddy. It builds his immune system, gives him my antibodies and helps him fight diseases. It also helps me because it is linked to lower risk for several diseases and the oxytocin released during breastfeeding makes me calm and relaxed. But it has become so much more than just about health for both of us. There is a bond a nursing mother can form with her baby that isn't like any other bond anyone can form with them. The Hubs has a great bond with Buddy. They love each other, they play and snuggle and nap together. It's wonderful. Looking in, I am so happy that they have bonded like this. But it's not the same deep connection a mother feels with her nursling. I have come to love the short time before bed when Buddy is a bit sleepy and he plays with my hair (or tries to pick my nose). When I sing to him and he stares lovingly into my eyes. When he laughs so much milk dribbles out of the corners of his mouth. Even though it completely exhausts me, I love when he wakes early in the morning and I bring him into bed. He nurses while he drifts off to sleep and we snuggle together for another hour before we have to get up. Lately that drifting off to sleep has become crawling from one side of me to the other, sometimes spinning circles around me. Trust me, you don't want those nighttime diapers crossing over your face. That is not fun. Though I will still miss it.

The way we bond is changing, but I will always remember these times. I hope I can continue to give Buddy what he needs. That I can cure any boo-boo with a simple kiss instead of the comfort of his mommy milk. I hope I can help Buddy get through his rough times when nothing we do is what he wants until he calms down at the breast and is then able to tell us what he wants. I hope Buddy will still cuddle with me as he drifts off to sleep before I put him down for the night. Buddy will wean eventually. It might be next week or it might be next year, but it has started because Buddy is growing up. Buddy is becoming the independent, hard working thinker that every parent wants their child to become. If Buddy is ready, then I have to be too.

Getting Back on the Bike

Instead of buying a bus pass for the summer, I decided to ride my bike in. I don't have to be there quite as often, partly because I'm doing a lot of writing for my dissertation and partly because I'm not getting paid so I am trying my best not to feel guilty about not being there every single day. We all get along very well in our office. A little too well. (That's a nice way of saying there is entirely too much talking to get meaningful work done once the other grad students come in.) So finding alternative places to work is beneficial to getting my degree.

Let me back up a bit. I didn't exercise as consistently as I should have over the winter. There were some injuries and it was cold. So basically, there were some injuries that I did try to work around and then I made excuses for the other times. I set up a tennis date with a friend and decided to bring out my bike that has been sitting in my garage since the summer before Buddy was born and ride to the courts. Being the avid biker I am, I failed to check the tire pressure before I headed out. It's only about a mile to the courts, a distance I thought would be an easy ride. I can walk a mile in my sleep, biking it should be easier and faster, right? Not when your tires are flat. It took me way too long to ride that mile and I was tired when I got there. We only got a little tennis in before my friend's newly crawling little man decided he didn't like playing in his stroller and needed to join us on the courts. So we had an hour of standing and talking on the courts. My ride home was almost as bad, except it's downhill so it went a little faster. Boy did that mile each way make me feel like I was in the worst shape of my life. So if you need a good science experiment for your kids about the efficiency in your car and the importance of keeping up with car maintenance, make them ride their bikes without air then fill them and let them experience the difference.

We bought a bike pump, I inflated my tires and set out on the 6 mile ride from my house to school. What a little air can do! It turns out I can pretty easily ride 6 miles on a slightly downhill course without a problem. That built up my confidence so when it was time to go home, this time with a full backpack (the new grad students start in the fall and they want me out so I'm cleaning out my desk!) and back up the hill, I thought I'd be ok. Half way up the hill, which is a pretty decent hill, I decided to walk my bike. I had about 5.5 miles to go and huffing and puffing up that hill may have tired me out too much for the uphill ride the rest of the way home. At the top of the hill, I got back on and rode home. While it wasn't nearly as easy as on the way to school, I can happily say the worst part was that bike riding hurts my butt and carrying a full backpack on my back hurts my back. A lot. This bag was definitely not made to be worn while hunched over a bike. Ouch! So for my butt and my back to be the worst part of the ride, I'd say I have to be a little happy that I can ride the 12 miles and not be passed out afterward.

My goal was to ride my bike to and from school for the summer, but I am revising that goal. Not only am I going to ride my bike, I am going to be able to ride my bike up the hill at a speed where a turtle would not pass me and make it the whole way home without walking my bike. (I'm pretty sure I could have made it up the hill, but it would have taken a very long time.) Now to force myself to do this again since I hate feeling so gross...

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Non-Vegan Cravings!

My time as a vegan is coming to an end in less than a week. I've tried some new things; some we like, some we don't. (Nutritional yeast is not welcome in our house.) Overall, it hasn't been so bad. I think more about what I am eating and try harder to make that a vegetable or fruit.

Taco night. Black beans, corn, lettuce, avocado, tomato, onion, red pepper.
What do you put on your tacos?

But there are some things that I can't wait to eat again! The holiday of Shavuot, when the Jews received the Torah at Mt. Sinai, starts Tuesday night. That's when I'll go back to eating animal products. We commemorate the holiday by eating dairy, so from Tuesday dinner through Thursday dinner, a lot of dairy will be consumed. Who knows what this will do to my 42 day dairy-free system. Thankfully, we are having guests over for lunch Thursday, one of whom is allergic to dairy and soy (ok, so not thankfully for her because cheese is delicious, but her dietary needs will help us from consuming copious amounts of it). We're also eating out Wednesday for lunch where there will be another guest who is dairy-free.

So what do I miss most? I miss creamy ice cream. Sorbet is good, not that I've had any in months, but it's just not creamy like all natural milk-filled ice cream. Yum! The chocolate kind. And cheese. I miss cheese. It enhances the taste of pretty much everything. I love it on my (pareve) spaghetti and tomato-based sauce. I love it on taco night (which has become pretty much every Thursday). I love it on my grilled cheese and tomato. What's not to love about the stuff? Except the sodium and fat content. I miss being able to go to any store to pick up chocolate, because pareve chocolate chips are not found every where and certainly not at a good price. And they just don't melt in your mouth like the dark chocolate Nestle chips.

What I am hoping to stay away from are the store-bought cookies, flavored chips, granola bars and other snack food The Hubs likes to consume. To his credit, he has been taking most of those straight to work so they aren't in the house. I don't even really like most of them, but they're there and they are easy to grab and go. Being vegan for these past several weeks has proved to me that I can find other sources of snack food that don't include those and I won't starve. Ok, so sometimes I went hungry because I was too lazy to cut up some vegetables, but better to skip a snack than eat that junk, right?

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Ebb and Flow of Potty Learning

Buddy has days when he doesn't have a single accident and days when he comes home from daycare with 6 sets of dirty pants and underwear. He isn't telling us as often when he needs to go and depending on his mood, if we ask him, he may or may not tell us that he needs to go.

It's common for kids this age to go back and forth with their potty use. It's a tough transition. Buddy is gaining new words every day and likes to use them. Unfortunately, there are times when The Hubs and I can't understand a word he says. He repeats himself, it sounds the same as what he just said so it must make sense in his head. But it definitely does not make sense to us. He is becoming more and more independent. Buddy wants to do pretty much everything by himself at this point. He wants to take off his pants completely when using the potty, but doesn't take off his shoes first so he gets a little stuck. That's frustrating to him! Buddy is realizing he is a person with his own needs and wants (though at this age, I think he feels like everything is a "need") and thinks everything should be fulfilled immediately. This leads to using "no" more often than he needs to. We try to give him as much independence as we can. We give him choices on what to wear every day, on what books to bring in the car, on which fruit or vegetable he wants to eat. But there are still times, usually when he's tired, that he'll say "no" no matter what. That includes when we know he has to use the potty, leading to a miss and wet pants. Other times we ask, he shakes his head yes, we head to the bathroom and he goes like he's been doing it forever.

When playing outside, we know if Buddy suddenly stops, we're too late. A puddle starts to form on the driveway or the grass gets watered. More and more often, instead of telling us his pants are wet and going back to play, he let's us take him inside to change his underwear. It's a small step to wanting to stay dry.

Buddy has also discovered the joy(?) in standing over his potty and wriggling from side to side and his urine sprays on either side. Those times we have more to clean up off the floor than from the potty. But at least he is trying to aim toward the potty!

It's a journey and we're loving (almost) every moment of it.

At least the potty is being used for something.

With that being said, Buddy peed in his bath last night for the first time since he was a newborn.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mother of the Year

The Hubs had to work late, something that will become increasingly common with new work demands. It was a gorgeous day so Buddy and I decided to have dinner outside. Avocado, tomato, strawberries, blueberries, water and Buddy took a few bites of matzah. He insisted. He also ate almost all of that food by himself.

He may also have eaten a carrot peel from the compost pail... Oops.

Money for Meltdowns?

Have you seen reasons my son is crying? If not, check it out, especially if you have or work with kids. It's so true. And hilarious. They now have a contest to win a camera for the best photo and caption of someone else's child's meltdown. Is it wrong to profit from these very normal toddler tantrums?

Toddlers have a hard life. They are beginning to explore the world and have a yearning to learn about everything. They don't understand that the world doesn't actually revolve around them, that not everything is theirs and they can't always have everything they want. They are just beginning to develop their language skills so communicating what they want, NOW, is difficult. Hence the tantrum. For me, understanding this reality, to see my son make those adorable frustrated faces, to throw himself on the ground in positions I didn't know he could do, it's kind of funny. I can't show him my feelings, of course, I have to validate his frustration and anger so we can get through his emotions, but inside I often have a great big smile.

Is profiting off of the hilarity of Buddy's lack of communication skills ok? The Hubs thinks no. I see his point. We are trying to teach Buddy how to deal with his big emotions. We are trying to teach how to communicate  one's feelings without violence and screaming. Posting his pictures online wouldn't help this. Right now he won't see this photos, but he probably will in 10 years. So, should I enter the contest or help Buddy with his emotions in the privacy of our home (and the supermarket, park, street, yard and anywhere else he eventually throws a temper tantrum)?

Give me your votes! Preferably in the comments here so it's easier to keep track.

Second Thoughts...

Handing Buddy over to his daycare teacher hasn't always been easy. It took a little while for him to be comfortable with his teachers. Then he moved to his new classroom and had to get to know them. He was fine for a while. Buddy would almost run out of our arms and off to play with his friends. But not so recently. I dropped him off this morning in tears. He just wanted mommy and daddy. I left him crying. It ruined my day.

I am Buddy's best care taker (ok, so The Hubs is too, but he has a real job that he's staying with at least for the near future). When he goes off to play freely with his friends, I'm fine leaving him at daycare while I work toward another degree that will, hopefully, lead to a career. But when he cries for me, it completely ruins my whole day and makes me question my choices. Is this degree worth it? Is this career path worth it? Is missing out on these precious years that I'll never get back worth it?

Self Portrait. I don't know how I leave this sweet face every morning.

How do I know what is the right path? What happens when all of my kids are school-aged and at school all day. If I get out of the career path now, there is no way I'll be able to get back into it 5 or 10 years from now. Or longer, depending on how many kids we have and their spacing. I don't want a job that only requires a high school education. I've worked hard to get my advanced degrees and want to use them. I think. What if I love being a stay at home mom now, but regret it later? How do people make this choice without pulling out all of their hair?!

I don't know what the right decision is. I can't see into the future to know how I'll feel in 10 or 20 years. It's a decision I think I am going to struggle with for a long time because it's a decision I just can't make right now. I don't know how.

The Tantrums!

The tantrums have started! There are times when Buddy wants something that he just can't have so he cries about it. But lately, it's been much more than just crying. If we're holding him, he throws his head back and wriggles until I can't do anything but get to the floor just so I don't drop him. If Buddy is already on the floor, he gets on his knees, bends over and almost bangs his fists on the floor with an occasional head bang to follow. Frankly, I think it's darn cute! Sometimes I have to hold back from laughing because he tries to scold us, "NO!" with a finger toward our face. Something daycare taught him.

We normally sit down with him and help him through his feelings. "I understand that you are frustrated/angry/upset that you can't have [insert noun here]." We explain why: it's hot, it's dangerous, it's daddy's and it could break if we play with it, etc. Within a minute or two Buddy has forgotten about whatever it is he wanted to do but couldn't. But not last night.

Last night was a big one! When we got home from daycare a little early so we could enjoy the evening together, Buddy didn't want to come inside for dinner. So we played outside, watched The Hubs mow the lawn for the first time of the season and Buddy did some mowing of his own on the sidewalk with his little mower. But then he wanted to go to "Cedar!" The busy street a block over. When we wouldn't let him, he crumpled onto the sidewalk. A minute later, he was up again running around. Then it was really time to go inside. We needed to eat dinner, give Buddy his bath and get to bed. We had to carry him inside, kicking and screaming. Once there, Buddy sat on our laps, but refused to eat anything. He kept pointing, "ow-si! ow-si!" Or he would point at other things in the house, but we just could not figure out what he wanted. For an hour we tried having dinner, we ran Buddy's bath, which he normally LOVES and even tried nursing. Nothing. He just wanted to go outside. The poor kid.

Eventually Buddy settled down enough to nurse and get his nighttime underwear and pants on. He slept in the same shirt he wore all day and didn't end up with a bath or dinner.

This morning was almost as bad. As soon as we get outside Buddy runs to get around my car to get to his. I had to carry him and gently force him into his car seat while he yelled for daddy. I think seeing him like that basically ruined my day.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Bucket Full of Nerves!

The only time I have been away from Buddy since he was born was for 1 night when I went to Ohio State to run the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) on some samples for my research. I was nursing him 2-3 times a day at the time so I pumped once and brought home just a couple of ounces. I missed him terribly despite being incredibly busy the entire time in the lab.

I applied for a spot in a program in Alabama in June that would last 10 days. That would be 10 days away from Buddy (and The Hubs too, but I've been away for conferences before so he's fine). 10 days without nursing, which we still do before bed, usually 1-2 times during the night and again in the morning. Although it can be frustrating at times, I'm not ready for Buddy to ween and I don't think he is either.

It is a competitive program so who knows if I'll even get in, but I'm a little nervous about it if I do. I've never been away from Buddy for that long and I'm afraid I'm going to miss him so much that I won't have fun at the workshop. I'm afraid my milk is going to dry up and won't have anything for him when I return. I'm afraid he's going to want to ween because he won't have the option of nursing for a whole week and a half. I'm also a little nervous about being there on Shabbat. I can't work on Shabbat; no driving in cars, turning on lights, writing. Saturday is the day they designate as the free day so I am really hoping they allow me to go to a local place to spend Friday night through Saturday. I assume there is a Chabad or Orthodox shul close by, it is Birmingham, Alabama. All of that makes me sad to be away and nervous that my little guy will be all grown up and not want our bonding time any more.

There are so many positives to this program. It's about carbon capture, utilization and storage, the topic of my dissertation. I would learn so much about the industry, the economics, health and safety concerns, mineralization, geochemistry, public awareness, technical aspects of the technology, etc. So many amazing people from the field are in charge of it. Knowing them, having them there to ask questions and have discussions with would be absolutely amazing. Seeing a rig and how they plan on injecting the CO2 into the ground would be an awesome opportunity.  Learning about careers in the field and where the field is going, here and abroad, would be incredible.

I write about the subject and it ignites this passion inside of me. I love learning and discovering and I want to help the planet. I really want to go! I just wish I could take my guys with me. They'd allow me to put Buddy in my Boba and carry him along, right?

What About the Partner After Childbirth?

I had a pretty uneventful pregnancy and childbirth (I'll write that post eventually). Labor was long, really long. Contractions started in the middle of the day Saturday, were consistently about 3-4 minutes apart by early Sunday morning and I didn't give birth until Monday evening. All without a single drug of any kind, little sleep and not much to eat. At least not that stayed where it was supposed to stay. The Hubs was there the whole time. Making sure I had food if I needed it. Making sure I was comfortable and remembered my breathing techniques. I think he watched some baseball, but you'd have to ask him. There may have well not been a TV in my room because I was focused and don't remember that. He has his own side of the story.

I asked The Hubs how he was doing. During my labor he kept saying he was fine, just tired. At some point he got a headache and wasn't feeling great, which I was vaguely aware of, but he stayed by my side. I think he mentioned a couple of times that he didn't like to see me in pain. Frankly, I didn't feel that much pain during most of my labor. My amazing Hypnobirthing instructor Joyce made sure I had the tools to get through it.

But what about The Hubs? A recent study out of the University of Oxford suggests partners need some support too. At least after difficult births. It was a small study, just 10 participants, but it highlights something that almost no one asks. How does the partner fair after watching the mother in pain or the new baby going through so much stress to make it out healthy and alive? Reading a few websites that have commented on this study, many people complain it's ridiculous. "Make them go into combat and see what it feels like to really have something to develop PTSD!" "This is why men shouldn't be in the delivery room and don't have babies!" "Anything to over diagnose the real issue of PTSD!" They say the woman often doesn't have the same issue during complicated childbirth because she is often drugged or unconscious. So should we pay attention to the father or just tell him to suck it up and get over himself?

My labor was fairly uneventful. The nurses and midwives (yeah, I went through 2 shifts) didn't even know when I had a contraction because I went deep into my head, relaxed and didn't make a sound. But still, The Hubs was so worried about me being in pain and going through this event where I pushed out a living human being. For me it was one of the most amazing times of my life. That's how I felt then and that's how I feel now. But I knew how I felt, he didn't really. I knew that my body was doing what it needed to do. The Hubs felt helpless and scared and wished he could do more than just be there for moral support. So what about the husbands and dads and partners who have to watch the mother of their child go through very scary emergency procedures? I can only imagine what they must feel.

Let's give those dads a break. While attending to the new mother, ask the partner how he is feeling. Maybe they need a little support too. And this is coming from a mom so I can say how much support I need after actually giving birth and can let some of that go to make sure my partner gets what he needs too. Having 2 healthy parents is much better for the new baby than having one close off his feelings.