Mama Duck
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Tuesday, March 30, 2004


Yesterday the duck had one of the biggest poops I'd ever seen. It surprised me even more because I hadn't heard it. Usually the diaper functions as an echo chamber and sounds an advance warning. This time, though, I first noticed the baby looking like he was straining. I thought, oh, poor guy, he's probably constipated. Then I smelled him, picked him up and his entire leg was wet. I rushed to the back and then tried to extricate him from his clothes and get him into a bath without spreading the poop even further. I was marginally successful. I got him bathed and clean and into new clothes, then wanted to wash out the dirty ones before they got too far gone. So I picked up a few toys, put them and the duck in his crib, because part of teaching him to sleep is teaching him that his crib is a fun place to be, and I went to the laundry room. I rinsed. And I rinsed. Then I rinsed some more. Then I decided to check on the baby. He was very happy to see me. He grinned at me, as he stood at the rail of the crib, which only came mid way up his tummy. He was very pleased with himself that he'd learned to pull himself up.

Perhaps the crib is too much of a fun place to be.

And so, we moved the mattress to its lowest setting.

posted by Mama Duck7:23 PM


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Thursday, March 25, 2004

At least he's eating

Sleep hasn't gotten much better. He hasn't slept through the night since March 5, and his intervals are woefully short. But he's taking good naps lately, and we had one wakening last night that didn't require pick up and a feeding.

I can't believe I don't have time to write here. It's so damn frustrating. I'm so damn tired.

But he has gotten the hang of solids in a big way. The second or third night of oats was a hit. He reached out and grabbed my hand with the spoon to help guide it into his mouth, and helps with almost every spoonful since. We tried sweet potatoes, though a small patch of eczema on his back may mean no dice, and we started carrots tonight. I'm also mixing his cereal with less and less milk.

posted by Mama Duck7:30 PM


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Tuesday, March 23, 2004
I got a haircut today, then did the math. The last time I got a haircut, the duck was 4 weeks old and it was right before his baby shower. He turned 7 months last weekend. I don't know that I've ever gone 6 months without a haircut. There was a lot of hair. Now there's not. I didn't go to the mom extreme of cutting it all off--it's collarbone length with layers. I was worried that it made me look middle aged, but then I realized, I AM middle aged. I'm thirty six and really, really tired. Thank heavens for Benefit's Eyebright stick.

posted by Mama Duck5:22 PM


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Sunday, March 21, 2004
The duck was 28 1/2 inches at his last checkup earlier this month. Most baby clothes only go up to size 6-9 months, which translates to 27 inches, so he's been out of those for a while. Bafflingly, 9 to 12 months size doesn't seem to exist. It's harder and more expensive to find clothes in the 12-18 months range. Old Navy has some good stuff, Gap is good but expensive, as is Marshall Field's. Target is cheap, but so is the quality and the stuff in the bigger sizes isn't so cute. So he's outgrown most of his gift clothes which were up to the 9 months size, and is wearing separates that we've bought. I broke down and spent way too much on a couple of outfits today, then remembered my vow not to buy him clothes or toys, unless perhaps the former was on clearance. Oops.

posted by Mama Duck5:30 PM


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Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Things I understand

Having a baby has introduced me to previously unknown joys, but has also given me insight into some of the darker corners of my psyche. I now try to follow the credo of "Never judge another mom" because I now know exactly how brutal some days (and especially days that come after brutal nights) can be. I used to be one of those people who said, "Oh, I can't believe how that woman is treating her child, etc. la, la, la." Well, my uppance has come.

Last night the baby was awake for long stretches, hollering his head off. The night before he woke up six--six!--times. I can count on one hand the stretches over 3 hours that he's slept within the past three weeks. In the past three weeks, he has slept through the night once. Since then, he's gotten his first tooth, had a cold, gotten vaccinated and gotten his second tooth. I wonder if the duck will ever again be able to have a healthy sleep pattern. There seems to always be something to disrupt it.

Here are things I now understand: screaming at a baby, shaking a baby, dropping a baby, abandoning a baby, leaving one's home and spouse, screaming at a spouse instead of a baby, forgetting a baby somewhere because there are 8 million other things on your mind and you're functioning on some crazy lack of sleep.

I have not done any of these things. I know that these are all serious lines that I will not cross. But I now understand those who have. And I have seen the line. I know where it is. There's something about a screaming baby combined with a lack of sleep and catalyzed by too much life stress that shuts off the conscious brain and begins to function on an almost animal level. It makes me wonder why more people don't melt down.

But tonight, I am prepared. He went to sleep at 7:30 after I gave him baby Tylenol and a boob, and I've got the Tylenol and baby Orajel on standby. Last night I was questioning whether it was teething, and I even had a dream in which his third tooth came in, confirming my hunch. Today I've decided to trust my intuition. I think it's teething, he acts like he's in pain, so I'm going to treat that pain, and hope that we all get more sleep tonight.

Crap. He just started to cry. After an hour and fifteen minutes.

posted by Mama Duck6:52 PM


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Monday, March 15, 2004

Mom olympics

I got trounced in competition yesterday, and I'm not sure the happy, well-meaning mom had any idea. I was in yoga class, and had not seen her since we were both pregnant. She asked how I was, how the baby was, and how the birth had gone. I refrained from all the details, but said long and hard. She said she'd been lucky--hers had been 13 hours, unmedicated and with minimal tearing and no stitches. Her son is two months younger than mine and she said, "Oh, isn't it great; I just love it."

I felt like crying. Yes, I love my son. But he woke six times after he went to bed last night. I suspect it's teething, because he behaves as if he's in pain. But his second tooth is already in and I don't feel evidence of a third, so I'm not sure and don't want to medicate on a guess. I've got a doctor and a friend who are pushing sleep training, and all I've got is my hunch that his wakings are caused by physical discomfort.

And yes, it sounds as if she did have a wonderful birth experience, especially compared to mine, which is a stunted bastard cousin of the short end of the birth story stick--32 hours, dehydrated, vomiting, exhausted, epidural, antibiotic, baby turned wrong, 3 hours of pushing, vacuum extraction, level three tear, 4 MONTHS to recover. I know it's not the worst, and the baby was healthy then and I'm finally healthy now, but still.

Perhaps this is sour grapes, or bitchy, or childish, but I don't want to hear how great things are. I want to hear your challenges. They're so much more interesting, and they're so much more real. If you had a great birth and are loving motherhood and got the free ride that no woman I know has had, congratulations. Now keep it to yourself, so the rest of us can keep trying to hang in there.

posted by Mama Duck8:35 AM


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Sunday, March 14, 2004

So much for solids

A month ago, the duck had rice cereal two nights in a row, then refused it ever after. I finally gave up, till I went to his six month checkup and the doctor said it was time to start. "Even if he doesn't seem interested?" I asked.

"Oh, yes," he responded quickly. "Most babies are eating solids two to three times a day by nine months."

So of course this put the fear of failure in me. I gave rice cereal a few more tries and he didn't out and out refused it, though it certainly seemed like I was most successful when I was sneaking it in his mouth. Plus, the cliches are true, so much of it ended up outside him that I have no idea if he even ingested a jot of it. We bought him a high chair--the Fisher-PRice Health CAre--and I moved on to oat cereal tonight, but he really doesn't seem that into it. Force feeding him seems like a really bad idea, yet the doctor was quite firm. Perhaps I'll just cut the quantity way back and see if that helps. I love how the recommended first amounts are to mix cereal with 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of breast milk. Like I have that much extra on a nightly basis to waste on this futility.

The duck does not seem hungry, although his weight at the checkup is in the 55th percentile, overall fine, but low compared to his height, which is 85th, and his head, which is 90th. That's right, we have a long, skinny baby with a giant head.

posted by Mama Duck9:02 PM


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Monday, March 08, 2004

Mothering magazine has pissed me off

I'm all for questioning the status quo and exploring alternatives, but Mothering magazine doesn't do so in a way I can feel good about. Here's the letter I'm sending in response to a recent essay on vaccines and autism.


I noticed immediately in "Safe Minds Refutes Danish Autism Study" that "1 in 500 before 1992 to 1 in 150 today" is a dramatic increase rather than a decline. It took me some time to realize that it was likely a typo: 150 instead of 1,500. This error, though, was one small part of my concern over your coverage.

In this essay, as in much of anti-vaccine writing, thimerosol is conflated with vaccines, which are in turn conflated with autism. Nowhere do you note that because of the widespread acknowledgement by the medical community that--to put it simply--thimerosol is bad for babies, it is extremely rare that vaccines are preserved with thimerosol today. I would warmly welcome current facts on how many, if any, vaccines still contain thimerosol.

As is touched on in your essay, there is tremendous controversy over what link there might be between thimerosol vaccines and autism. Some studies show a link, some studies don't. But since most vaccines no longer contain thimerosol, it's something of a moot point, no?

Nowhere in your essay did you cover a key benefit of vaccines--similar to that you tout in the chicken pox party article--group immunity. The reason why children whose parents opt out of some or all vaccines, or vary the schedule, is that nearly all of the rest of the kids they will be in contact have had the vaccines.

Because I've done my research, I'm aware of arguments and what facts there are from both sides. Because my doctor's office does not use thimerosol vaccines and because my doctor has communicated risk, benefit and research to my husband and me, we've opted for vaccines for our baby.

Essays like yours do no service to your readers. Yes, it's important to question the status quo and to empower parents to do research and make the decisions they feel are right for them. But presenting the other side of the argument, with a typo and without up to date corroborating facts, goes too far in the other direction. Your point would be more compelling if you didn't gloss over facts that don't directly support your point, such as how few vaccines contain thimerosol. You should respect your readers enough to depict complex issues and draw their own conclusions.

It is because of overly reductive writing like this that paints too simple a picture of the opposite of the status quo that I will not continue reading your magazine. Vaccines can be beneficial, just because the cesarean and episitomy rates are high doesn't mean these procedures aren't sometimes the best thing for a bad situation, and breastfeeding doesn't work for all moms and can be a tremendously difficult process. It is possible to portray complexity without pandering or preaching, but I see too much of the latter with too little supporting substance in your magazine.

posted by Mama Duck11:40 AM


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