Tough Questions

Tonight, when putting on her pajamas, Claire pointed at her nipples, one finger on each, and said, “What are these for?” Surprised, I started saying nervously, “Uh, I don’t know… Er, uh….” Then I decided it was harmless and might actually be interesting for Claire to know that they are used to feed babies. So I told her. Claire’s mouth nearly hit the floor. She was absolutely astonished. I might as well have told her that they are secret beaconing transmitters for aliens.

She was stunned for a few seconds, then said, “Did you say they are used to feed babies?” I confirmed that she had heard me correctly. She followed, “Can I feed a baby?” I assumed she was thinking of Molly. “No, sorry. Kids’ ones don’t work. Only grown up mommies.” She was a little disappointed, but more confused. “Why do kids have them, then?” I tersely explained that they are just there for later, when she is grown up. I thought this would have confused her more, but she kind of smiled like it all made sense now. She then went on to conclude that she is probably the only kid in her class with nipples. I argued this contention, but she was so proud that I did not really push the issue. Then we moved on to brushing her teeth before she could ask the next question, which I presumed was going to be, “Why do daddies have nipples?”, to which I would have no viable answer.

A few minutes later, Claire’s last question before going to sleep was, “Are earthquakes real?” Oh boy. We had been reading a book — a really nice kid’s book — that had a bed fall through the floor at night when an earthquake struck. Still, I had to spit it out. “Yes, sometimes there are real earthquakes.” It’s almost as if I had just told her that dragons are real or Darth Vader could come walking through the door. She started to panic a bit. I followed up quickly, “But not around here. We almost never have earthquakes in Texas. Maybe just teeny tiny ones you barely notice. They don’t make beds fall through the floor.” She felt better but made me promise — promise — that we would never move to an earthquake city. Never ever. I told her we would never move to an earthquake city.

And then I slinked out of her bedroom before she could find something else to ask me about.

Busy Body

Molly has been so busy! She is learning to move herself around and is so excited about it.

She recently started “army crawling” (todo: link or video), and today at school, for the first time, Molly sat up all by herself! She also pulled herself up using the edge of a little table. I heard about this from Molly’s teacher when I picked her up today. Molly especially gets a real workout everyday at school, where, unlike at home, it is safe enough for her to crawl around wherever she wants.

Here are some sample daily notes from her teachers:

Date: 5/26/2010

Disposition: Busy, determined, happy

Activities: Worked her way into bottom book shelf for teether -> got out by herself! Speed-scooting around the room. Trying to pull up on ducks.

Date: 5/27/2010

Disposition: Busy, focused, cheerful

Activities: Played outside -> chewing on & waving shovels. Laid on her back squealing @ the trees! Army crawled under the sorting table to get blue bucket.

Date: 6/10/2010

Disposition: Active, determined, happy

Activities: “Real” army crawling w/ both arms! Reaching for & batting @ elastic bands under high chairs. Sweet smiles!

Stomach Sleeper

Molly has been waking up around 4 am for a while now. It doesn’t matter if we put her to bed early or late, or how much she eats the night before; she usually wakes up around 4 am regardless. She starts talking and stirring. When we check on her, her eyes are normally wide open and she is smiling or even giggling when she sees us. Any other time of day, this is a very sweet sight. But not at 4 am! Go back to sleep! It’s 4 am! I am always repeating this mantra to Kit. I don’t want to see a giggling baby at 4 am. And of course it takes a while, sometimes 30 to 60 minutes, for Molly to fall back asleep. More often than not, I don’t get really back to sleep; I just dose until 6 am. If I feel peppy, I just get up early and get a few things done.

But last night was a different. Rather than the usual light babbling and stirring 4 am, Molly woke up really crying. When I checked on her, she was laying on her stomach. Now, we always put her to sleep on her back to help avoid the SIDS and what not. But tonight she had rolled herself onto her tummy in her sleep and sounded rather annoyed by it. I rolled her back on to her back (SIDS and what not) and gave her a pacifier because I really wanted to get back to sleep. Molly suddenly flipped herself back on her tummy and then immediately fell asleep, eyes closed and not a peep! This is the first time she has ever gone back to sleep that fast! And for the first time in memory, Claire woke me up that morning rather than Molly, and at 7 am no less! Molly was still sound asleep on her tummy until 7:30, shattering any past sleep-in records.

Perhaps I should be cautious about jinxing this, but this seems the like sleep breakthrough I had been waiting for. I dare to hope that this is the beginning of better and longer sleeping for Molly (and for me and Kit). Of course, I know better than that. Babies are notoriously unpredictable. Just when you think you have them figured out, they’ll throw something new at you. But I can say for sure that I enjoyed sleeping in until 7 am at least this one morning!

Special Addition!

Molly arrived today!

Kit and I showed up at the hospital this morning for our 5 am appointment, which had been set for a couple of weeks before Molly’s original due date. After a brief wait in the lobby, the hospital staff took us to the delivery room where some additional staff poked and prodded Kit for a while, eventually hooking her up to some tubes to help get things rolling. The gynecologist checked in. Besides that, the morning was mostly uneventful.

Kit’s parents took Claire to school at her normal time and then joined us at the hospital mid-morning to wait for Molly. Kit was not dilating very much, and in general not much was happening. After a couple of hours, Kit’s dad and I made a lunch run to Wendy’s and picked up some hamburgers for everyone except poor Kit, who was otherwise engaged. Walking down the hall towards Kit’s delivery room, we heard some absolutely awful screams coming from one of the other rooms. This was a panicky, sustained, primal scream. Kit’s dad said, “That scares the crap out of me.” We did not mention it to Kit when we got to her room.

Kit was starting to dilate more, which was really good. And then she just kept going, dilating more and more! Even before we could finish our hamburgers, they doctor said, “Let’s do this. We’re going to have a baby, people!” About 15 minutes later, Kit pushed hard three times, and out popped Molly!

Little Molly was covered in a thick layer of what was described as alternately “wax” or “cheese” by the nurses. It took a while for the nurses to wipe Molly down enough to see a baby under there. We knew Molly would be small, but it was surprising to see just how small she was in person. We could barely feel any “heft” when holding her. She was so small, in fact, that the standard newborn shirts did not fit her. Instead, she wore little pants, turned backwards and upside won, as a shirt. Of course babies are small, and they often come a lot smaller than Molly. Either way, she was adorable, and her vitals all checked out fine. Meanwhile, Kit was in good shape and was cleared by the gynecologist relatively soon. Kit got a big smile on her face as she got to hold Molly for the first time.

It took several more hours to get everyone together in our assigned hospital room. There was a lot of waiting around. I spent a lot of time in the nursery as Molly’s surrogate while Kit waited around in the delivery room. Kit’s friend Clarissa, who works in the hospital with Kit, dropped by and saw Molly through the glass. (We saw another of of Kit’s peers later as we were leaving the hospital.)

We were not 100% sure about the name Molly for the first few hours. When people asked us her name, we said, “Maybe Molly”, so people started to call her that: Maybe Molly, or Molly Maybe. We did finally settle on that name over the next day or so.

The hospital stay was a blur. We struggled somewhat to feed little Molly, and breast feeding was a challenge. We were supposed to feed her every three hours. Finally when she had gone for five hours without food, the nurses suggested a bottle of formula, which Molly took happily. We were forced to stretch the feeding again the next few times but eventually sort of got breast feeding figured out, although not perfectly.

During the night, nurses were in and out, there were tests and checkups and forms to fill out, and a few trips to the “nourishment room” for snacks. Unfortunately, having gotten up at 3:30 am that morning, and having trouble getting to sleep the night before, and not getting enough sleep for several weeks before that, and Kit going through the trauma of labor, it turned out that staying up all night to work with Molly was tough. Were were both exhausted, and we were just getting started!

The definite highlight of the hospital stay was when Claire came by for a visit. Somehow I had the honor of picking her up from school and driving her to the hospital. She was so excited to see her little sister. To set Claire’s expectations, we had been telling her that babies can’t talk or walk or sit up or even smile. All they do is sleep and drink milk and poop and pee. Claire did not care; she was absolutely thrilled to meet her sister. From the first minute, Claire was all smiles and extremely gentle with Molly. She introduced herself by saying, “I’m your big sister!” several times and patting Molly gently. She patted Claire’s back, talked to her, and enjoyed some cookies. She also got a big sister present, a brand new kid’s Dora the Explorer watch.

So Claire was off to a great start as a big sister, and Molly was off to a good start as a baby! Now the real adventure begins…

Happy birthday, Molly!

TODO: Make and add a video

Rolling Out the Carpet

With my parents here this weekend, we took the opportunity to finally get some basics in place for the matter of the new baby, due at the end of the month. We made countless trips to the local strip mall to pick out a crib and a mini-crib to fit in our bedroom and changing table. We also generally stocked up some baby supplies, although we did not have a good “feel” foe what exactly we needed. We had actually forgotten a lot in the last four years since we had Claire. Uh, what do we need? Diapers, I guess? Don’t we need some wipes or something? What do babies wear? It is too early for baby food?!?!

We spent the rest of the weekend assembling and arranging said crib and changing table. The crib was not too bad to assemble, just standard please-assemble-this-at-home stuff like you might expect from Ikea. The changing table was another story. It looked simple enough in the store, but I was dismayed to find that it consisted of 128 separate parts and something like 68 different screws, all packed neatly in a deceptively simple looking flat rectangular box — an extremely heavy box. It took both me and my parents a lot of grunting and gasping to move the box from the car to the front door. I could not carry it up the stairs by myself. The simple act of unpacking the box and taking the outrageously heavy components upstairs individually took about 45 minutes. From the instruction booklet, it appeared that if I were to accidentally put one of the irreversible screws in the wrong place, then the whole thing would be ruined and we would have to go back to the strip mall and start the whole process over, probably after dumping another $300. Fortunately, I was astute enough to complete the project, after some sweating and cussing, without incident, and we did end up with a functional but disappointingly understated changing table, considering the effort put into it.

Kit, being pregnant and all, was mostly able to offer moral support. And my parents entertained Claire, although she wandered up from time to time just to see what I was yelling about. Anyways, we sort of have a place to physically put a baby now, which is good since she is due just around the corner. I don’t think it would have been appropriate to ask her to crash on the living room sofa at this point.

More Name Ideas

Claire is as excited as ever about her upcoming little sister, due later this month! We still have not decided on a name for the new little one, and Claire is happy to help brainstorm names. Today over lunch at Artz Rib House with my parents, the conversation went tobaby names. When asked what she thought the baby should be named, Claire suggested “Basil” without hesitation. This was a new idea from her, and it got a chuckle for us all, which irked Claire a bit. Claire followed up with one of her consistent favorites, “Claire”. She took care to explain, “There would be two Claires. Claire and Claire!” I asked her if I said, “Hey, Claire”, who I would be talking to. She said, “Well, I would think both of us.” This kid is hard to stump!

Little Sister, Coming Soon

Claire has been very excited about the upcoming new baby ever since we explained to her why Kit’s tummy was getting bigger a couple of months ago. Claire has ranged from mild curiosity about the baby (“When will it come out and see us? How will it get out of there?”) to impatience (“I want to open Mommy’s tummy and see the baby now!”). She has tried to help name the baby, with “Ansista” being her most original and consistent choice. Claire speaks often about how she will help take care of the baby by feeding it and showing it how to do things like cook and jump.

We had some early incidents when Claire bumped up against Kit’s tummy while playing, so we had to give Claire specific instructions to be very careful around the bump. Now Claire is extremely cautious and gentle around Kit, and last night she make her way up to Kit’s tummy and kissed it ever so gently. Then she just kept kissing it. We said, “Okay, thanks, that’s enough,” but she said she wanted to kiss the baby ten times, and that she did. We asked Claire if she wanted to say anything to the baby, and she gently patted the bump and said, “What are you doin’ in there?” with a little smile on her face.

I know the new baby will not always be easy on Claire. For one, Claire is going to have to learn to get along without quite as much dedicated attention. But so far, Claire is off to about as good of a start accepting her little sister as we could have hoped for. We are very proud of big sister Claire.

Kit and I are not doing as well. We have have been too busy and/or exhausted to prepare, and we are struggling just to get a crib set up, much less get any basic baby supplies in place. I also have a small pile of books to re-read about babies (we already forgot the details of what to do with babies) plus some new books on siblings. None of them have been cracked yet. We will find figure it out, but it may be more of an on-the-job training than we had hoped for. We are glad that Claire, at least, is ready for the new baby.

Finally, a Real Kid Bed

Kit and I had been shopping around for a crib for the upcoming new baby. While looking at various baby furniture stores, we saw lots of cute little toddler beds. We had no practical reason to move Claire out of her current bed, which is her original crib converted into a toddle bed. The problem is, we really liked the purpose-built toddler beds in the stores, and we thought Claire deserved a real bed. We also thought somehow we should get Claire a new bed since the baby was getting a new crib. Plus the beds were on sale for a great price. We probably came up with a few more justifications to pile on top of those. You can see where this is going…

Ladies and gentlemen, here is Claire’s new big-girl bed!

Disassembling Claire’s old bed made us surprisingly nostalgic. We thought maybe her crib would see new life with the second baby, but logistics in the new house are forcing us to get a mini-crib for the new baby. So the bed that Claire learned to sleep in (or perhaps more accurately learned not to sleep in) may be going to a needy kid at the nearby Goodwill store soon. So long, old convertible crib. You served Claire well through three years and three cities.

For the record, Claire and her new teddy bear, Corduroy, fell asleep fast and sound the first night in their new bed.