Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Boys and Girls

I remember telling my mother, shortly after Luke was born, that I didn't feel like I was connecting with him in the same way I had with Lily. Her response was "that's because he's a boy". I couldn't figure out how being a boy would make much difference--he was, after all, a newborn baby--my baby--and other than the obvious I didn't see many differences between the sexes at that point. I found myself thinking about the issue again the other day, as I realized that I sense that same difference in my relationship with Mark as compared to how I remember feeling with big sister Esther just a couple of years ago. Talking with my sister it occurred to me that part of what I am sensing really might lie in innate male/female differences, specifically differences in social interaction. Both Lily and Esther, even as tiny newborns, were very social--they would meet your eyes, mimic facial expressions, initiate and maintain social interactions from the very beginning. Mark isn't like that. He will meet my eyes, but I can't keep his attention, even by talking or making faces at him (he was a bit intrigued by my repeatedly sticking my tongue out at him...) When Mark is awake, his eyes and his head are always moving, scanning the room. He can track motion--I tried moving one hand slowly back and forth in front of his face, and he would follow it first with his eyes, then by turning his head. I remember reading somewhere (maybe in James Dobson's book on raising boys?) that boys' eyes are physically different from girls--they have more rod cells, which are particularly good at detecting motion. That might have something to do with little boys' interest in everything that moves--balls, cars, airplanes, etc. Girls have more cone cells, which are sensitive to color and texture...

Just some intriguing thoughts to keep me busy while I enjoy my baby :-)

Baby antics


Lily as a Baby

OK, so newborns don't do much other than eat and sleep...but Mark has given me a few moments to remember.
About a week ago, I was holding Mark in my lap when he suddenly started screaming in obvious distress. It took me a moment to spot the source of the trouble--He had one hand closed tightly around a fistful of his own hair, and was yanking pretty hard on it. Of course he had no idea that he was causing his own distress! I had to pry his fingers loose. All that hair can be a real liability when you don't yet have control of your hands...
Yesterday Mark gave me a real reason to smile. I was holding him (I do that a lot!) while he slept, and was watching his eyes moving in his dream. He smiled--a real smile--then laughed! I remember Lily doing this--laughing in her sleep, long before she ever laughed while awake. I always thought she must be dreaming of heaven. Funny, Mark has reminded me from the beginning of Lily as a baby--and Lily did the hair-pulling trick too!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Mark's Birth Story

For those who like to know the details...

I admit I had a hard time waiting to go into labor with this baby. I blame Esther for that--until she showed up 11 days early, I just expected my babies to come some time after their presumed due date. Mark went almost a week past his due date, the longest of any of my babies--and I had been holding my breath waiting to go into labor for two and a half weeks!

Labor was different this time around, too. With each of my other children, I had maybe 12-24 hours of very mild contractions before active labor started, they seemed to just gradually increase in intensity until I felt like I was "really" in labor. This time, I had irregular contractions starting Sunday evening, ranging from 15 to 30 minutes minutes apart--but they felt like real contractions. About 2:00 AM on Monday morning I decided to take a shower (since I wasn't sleeping) and discovered some bleeding--enough to make me concerned. We decided to go into the hospital and make sure everything was OK. A very kind neighbour came over to stay with the children. I felt silly walking into labor and delivery knowing I wasn't in active labor yet, but had a very kind nurse (Nicole) who, after verifying that baby was doing fine and the bleeding was nothing to be concerned about, sent me home with orders not to have the baby before 7:00 PM when she would be back on duty. I thought (or hoped!) baby would arrive before that...
Well, I spent the rest of the night and a good part of Monday trying to get some rest in between the contractions that kept coming about 20 minutes apart. I went for several walks, hoping to get things moving a bit faster--I felt like at the rate things were going I was going to be in labor for a week! Finally around 2:oo PM the contractions started getting closer together, and by about 3:30 I thought it was time to drop the kids off with friends and go to the hospital. I think we got to the hospital sometime around 4:00. Interestingly the hardest period of labor this time around was that half hour when we were trying to get the kids taken care of and get to the hospital--the contractions seemed harder and closer together, but maybe it was just that I couldn't focus on relaxing and dealing with them. It wasn't transition stage at all--actually, I never really experienced an intense transition with this labor. Once in the hospital I waited while they got their mandatory fetal monitor strip, then escaped to take a long shower. After the shower the nurse had me lie on my left side because the baby's heart rate was decelerating with each contraction--not only did the decels go away, but I went from about 6 cm to fully dilated within about half an hour and without any increase in discomfort--that surprised me, I had mostly been laboring in an upright position thinking that would speed things along.
That's when things got hard. My OB suggested I start pushing; I really didn't feel like pushing. I made a couple of half-hearted attempts, then waited out a few more contractions hoping the urge to push would materialize. It didn't. I tried pushing in different positions--I very much missed having a squatting bar available, as I had found one very helpful with my first two births. I found pushing much harder with this birth than with any of my others (and especially compared to Esther's water birth). The doctor assured me that the baby's head was descending just fine whenever I tried to push--but it hurt! A lot. I suppose to make up for the rest of labor being easier this time around! I tried every position I could think of. The doctor kept encouraging me to "hold my breath and count to ten"--not, generally, my favorite technique for getting a baby out but to be honest I think it's the only way I was going to get this baby out! I needed every bit of urging/encouragement I could get. I usually dislike having anyone push me to do something (my parents can attest to that characteristic from the time I was a toddler). This doctor was definitely pushing me, and my husband kept turning to me and saying "is that OK?"--he knows I don't like to be pushed. But I sensed at the time and still feel now that I had to be pushed if I was going to get that baby out.
And I did. Mark made it into the world with a slightly molded head (my other kids had not really had any noticeable molding). He was a nice purple color...didn't take his first breath for a few seconds, he was lying on my belly and the nurse was rubbing him with a towel. When he did breathe it was to start wailing and not stop--I guess the birth had not been a fun experience for him either! He pinked up very nicely, and I got to sit up and try to get him to nurse (he wasn't interested quite yet). Dad cut the umbilical cord, the doctor put a single stitch where I had a small laceration, and we all got to celebrate. There wasn't any big rush to take the baby off to examine and weigh--I felt like I had as much time as I wanted to just get to know him. When they did weigh him I was honestly shocked to see the numbers on the scale--9 lb 6.7 oz! Luke, my next-biggest baby, had been 8 lb 7 oz. Esther had weighed in at only 7 lb 1 oz. I guess I have the answer to why pushing was so much harder this time around--there was just more baby to push out! Actually, I wasn't pushing for that long--it was probably about 40 minutes between when the doctor first suggested I try pushing until the baby was born, but I wasn't really trying very hard until the last 15-20 minutes. Pushing was just so much harder/more painful than with the other babies... (note to self: put in a special request for a smaller baby next time!)

So there's the story :-) I can't complain--no complications, and an incredibly handsome little boy to join our family! I liked this hospital--it is smaller than those I have been in before, I was able to hold the baby for most of the routine evaluations, I got to give him his first bath (that is, I did my best to wash out all the gunk that was in his hair--the rest of him didn't seem to need washing)--and there were fewer post-partum interruptions, especially at night (I've never figure out how they expect a mother to rest and recover when someone is coming in every twenty minutes to take her temperature and blood pressure.) Not that I rested anyway--I seem to go into a sort of hyper-alert state for the first few days after having a baby. I can't relax, I especially can't sleep...I notice every noise, movement, etc. I figure it must be nature's way of making sure I'm aware of the new baby, but it gets rather frustrating as the sleep deprivation adds up! It's not the baby's fault, and not the hospital's fault--it's internal and doesn't go away until about 4 days after the birth.

So I was happy with the birth. Different from the others--I guess every birth is different. Oh yeah, and Nicole (my nurse from Sunday night) made it back in time to see the baby born :-)

The first two weeks

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, June 17, 2010

More baby pics

Posted by Picasa

It's a Boy!

Born June 14th at 7:41 PM
9.6 lbs (!!!)
20 inches
100% loved

I don't share real names online, but he'll be going by Mark on the blog.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


I got a burst of energy last week (after a long month of feeling constantly tired). I put it to good use--I cleaned the carpets in the living room and the children's bedroom, cleaned out the fridge, and did a lot of organizing (well, that's still in progress...especially the bookshelves). I had one minor catastrophe in the process: I was cleaning off the top of my fridge and grabbed the fire extinguisher I keep up there. Apparently, the pin was somehow lost (I suspect a certain young monkey who will go un-named...) and when I grabbed the extinguisher I set it off--all over me and all over the kitchen. That was frustrating, just when I was feeling so proud of myself for getting the fridge cleaned! It did motivate me to give the kitchen an extra-good cleaning though...
Most of my nesting energy seems to have evaporated this week, I'm hoping to pull enough together today to finish with my book organizing. Lily will help--she came to me a few days ago with a proposition to earn money for something she wants to buy: she will do extra chore assignments for me at the price of 25 cents for ten minutes of work. I sometimes have to remind her that she needs to be working the full 10 minutes, not talking (she has trouble doing both at once), but over all it has been a good arrangement and so far and she has earned $2.75.

I found my camera :-)

Yesterday at the park...
Posted by Picasa

Homework: or, reason 312 I'm glad my kids are not in school

A 4th grade neighbor girl came by the other day to ask if I could help her with some homework. After looking through the packet (mostly worksheets stapled together), I could see why she was confused. The assignments were badly written, with unclear directions and no clear objectives--and in some cases no good answer available. For example, one page asked students to read pairs of words and mark whether they were antonyms or synonyms. Some of the pairs included were credit/debt; tax/payment; settler/immigrant; colony/community. To my mind, NONE of those pairs are clearly synonyms or antonyms. The words may be related, and even in some cases interchangeable, but the correlation between, say, settler and immigrant, or colony and community, really does not match any definition of synonym I'm familiar with (and they obviously are not antonyms). As for credit and debt, or tax and payment...I won't even get started!
Another friend showed me her son's kindergarten homework packet, and I was even less impressed. His assignments ranged from memorizing spelling words for a test (spelling tests in kindergarten?!) to coloring all the squares on a page red and all the circles yellow. The spelling words, by the way, included such whoppers as "without" and "through"--words I might expect to see on, say, a third-grade level. Which of course made the "color the shapes" page seem even more ridiculous; if a child at the end of kindergarten doesn't yet know the difference between a circle and a square, I don't think a worksheet is the way to teach it. And for the vast majority of children who have no trouble recognizing such shapes, the page was pure busywork and a waste of good time.
Honestly, I don't see the point of sending this kind of work home with children--they've already spent hours doing similar things in the classroom, let them come home and spend time with their families or riding their bikes. Please give them a chance to be kids!