Monday, March 28, 2011

The peak

This is it. I've reached the epitome of pregnancy. Barefoot, in a maternity tank top that nevertheless doesn't cover my belly, sciatica shooting down one leg, nerves frazzled from listening to my toddler scream "Mama! Stay!" after leaving her at bedtime because she wouldn't lie down, spoon in one hand and carton of ice cream in the other. This baby can come; there's nothing more left for me.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Status report: Month 20

Chloë has been spending a lot of time this past month looking out of windows. She prefers to be outside, but with the weather as cold as it's been, she hasn't had much opportunity. She likes to see the people walking by, and the cars, and the birds, and the planes, and the squirrels, and the flowers. There are three patches of crocuses in our yard, just slender purple spears, and for the past few days she's wanted to look and poke at them whenever we went by. Today they had started to bloom, and she was delighted. "Flower open!" she said.

We continue to be amazed by her vocabulary and usage. I had thought reading the same set of books over and over was going to have driven me crazy by now, but it's actually very interesting to see how much she's picked up over the months. She has a little slider-box "opposites" book (which she calls "Oppy," just like her octopus), and first we would just say "open/closed," then "open box/closed box," as she seemed to understand more. Today Eric was reading it with her and she pointed and said, "Close box," and when prompted could relate that the other side was "open."

She's got her colors mostly down, though we're working on brown, black, and white, and is slowly working on the letters that she still can't really pronounce. I've been going through storage boxes for clothes and things for the new baby, and left a pile of laundry in the now-empty nursery. She was in there the other day and brought me the newborn insert for the carrier, saying proudly, "H." It took me a minute to realize it, but she was absolutely right.

We're slowly working on numbers, too. She can count along with Eric, sometimes up to ten, though she often gets lost past five, and clearly doesn't understand what most of the words she's saying actually mean. But she'll pick up the balloons her Grandpa and Halmoni bought when she was born and, after telling me "heart balloon" and "circle balloon," will parade around with them, saying "Two balloon." She gets a sippy of water for bedtime, and when, as is often the case, we've forgotten to take it down to the kitchen by the time naptime and its accompanying milk come around, she'll sometimes take one in each hand and say happily, "Two sippy."

She also recently learned how to drink from a straw, and as a result we got her a couple of straw cups. Her first successful venture was with milk, so now she requests "straw milk." We're working on the concept that juice and water will work with a straw, too.

She is now happily established in her big-girl bed. It's our full-sized spare bed with the frame removed and a bed rail removed, and she's just able to climb in and out of it herself if she's motivated. We've caught her wandering into the hallway a couple of times at night. Never after we've gone to bed, so far as we know, so far. She's been a restless sleeper lately; we don't know if it's a growth spurt or a response to the new bed or our anticipation of the new baby or just one of those things. She does go back to sleep pretty easily in the night, though sometimes that's at the cost of me lying down with her and then waking up a couple of hours later and realizing that her plastic aquarium soothed me to sleep probably before it did her.

She loves being a "helper," handing up dishes to be put away or picking up crayons or scrubbing her table with a paper towel, and Eric sometimes rewards her with a couple of M&Ms or a jelly bean; I just tell her "Thank you for being such a great helper" and she seems pleased with that too. She continues to be an excellent eater variety-wise, but has started showing some typical toddler variation in how much she eats in a given day. Some days we can't feed her fast enough; others she refuses all but a few bites at every meal. She's usually happy to accept raisins or fruit or Goldfish crackers. She asks for "Ms" sometimes, and we usually let her have two or three at a time, up to maybe six in a day. We're getting more lax about what we give her; we went to her friend Ellie's birthday the other day and she devoured an entire chocolate cupcake pretty much as fast as I could get my fingers and the paper out of the way.

She's showing a little shyness and stranger anxiety, nothing big. She's now started waving at people she sees around the neighborhood or in the store, saying "Hi people" or "Hi girl." A friend of Eric's came over today while she was napping. When she woke and I fetched her, I told her that Dada's friend named Ray was here, and she practiced waving and saying "Hi Ray." But when we got downstairs she retreated to a corner until I coaxed her halfway into the room, by enticing her with the "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" video. (I've decided I love Youtube.)

She's very much a mama's girl at the moment, which is inconvenient for my lower back (even with Eric taking over as much lifting duty as he can) but very sweet. She doesn't mind me going to work in the mornings, but she does need to know where I'm going. We went to the post office the other day and I went in by myself to mail a package. When I got back Eric told me Chloë needed a kiss from Mama, and when I went to deliver said kiss noticed her face was wet with tears. "She started screaming as soon as you left the car," he explained. But she's okay with me leaving her to watch her show while I use the bathroom, or with Dada while I fetch something from outside, as long as I tell her I'm going.

(They're clip-ons, Mom. The ones you bought me way back when. I put in earrings one day and she stared and prodded at them and wanted some of her own, so I pulled these out. Then she dropped them and broke one, and while I was able to fix it, we haven't told her that yet.)

We're having some slight issues with rebellion, but definitely nothing serious yet. We've had a showdown or two in which we (or at least I) felt kind of stupid insisting that she do something that really, in the long run, didn't matter, just because we didn't think we could let her get away with refusing. We're still feeling our way through these--I suppose we'll get better with practice. We gave up on potty training for now, expecting that the new baby will cause trouble enough without trying to force her into it when she's showing absolutely no interest. We continue to talk about the potty, and how Mama and Dada wear underwear instead of diapers, and I show her the Elmo potty song clip on Youtube sometimes, so we'll see in a couple of months if that has sunk in. In the meantime, she's started requesting "diaper change" sometimes, and reporting if it's a "poo" diaper (mostly...sometimes she lies, or maybe doesn't realize), which is helpful.

She continues to love TV and books and coloring, more than playing with her numerous toys most of the time. She's also taken to running back and forth around the house, or stomping in place like Fred Flintstone trying to run away, and adores jumping--ideally on her bed or ours, but the couch is good, too, and so is the floor. I played ring-around-the-rosie with her a couple of times (except without the falling-down part, because I'm too lumbersome at this point) and she has great fun with that, or when Eric or I dance with her or around her. She's funny, and she loves knowing that she's funny; she'll say or do something and Eric will laugh, and she'll immediately say "Dada ha?" Which makes us laugh more. We laugh a lot. We agree that she continues to get awesomer all the time.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Working things through

I've been frustrated and anxious lately off and on, partly as the pregnancy hormones ebb and flow and partly as the cleanliness and functionality of the house does. (The bathroom sink drips, but I haven't been able to get it anywhere near our priority list, nor the paint the garage needs. The kitchen sink is leaking, possibly because we're having problems with plumbing in the basement. We had to have our furnace motor replaced. Box elder bugs are getting in. And so on. Whenever we manage to sell this house, we're just going to rent for the rest of our lives.) Someone once told me that her first pregnancy was all about waiting and her second was all about scrambling to get things done, and that's how I'm feeling too. With my projects behind and the house falling apart and the vacuuming happening maybe once a month with only one kid, how are we possibly going to keep this household running with two? I know people do it. They do it with three, four, five, more. I have my suspicions about what we're doing wrong, but working on the problems is taking time. And I don't have time. This baby is due in a month.

We went to our friends' two-year-old's birthday party on Saturday. Chloë had a great time playing with the balloons and the rubber duck favors and the unfamiliar toys and kids. I knitted, and commiserated with another woman due about the same time as me but more miserable--she's shorter, and I've been gifted with good pregnancy mojo; people at work keep telling me I only recently started looking pregnant, and aside from Chloë-induced backache, I haven't been having any real chronic problems, just acute ones. Eventually the noise and crowdedness got to me, and it was driving me crazy on both my account and Chloë's that we had no plans for dinner. So we left early, stopped at Panera Bread for dinner (note: their kids' grilled cheese sandwich is made with American cheese; Chloë turned up her nose at it), and went home, where Eric and Chloë went straight to bed and I sat up a little while to appreciate the quiet. I didn't do any work. Sometimes you can't.

Last night I laid in bed with Chloë, singing her a few songs ("Emmo dhong," she always requests, and "mohr Emmo," whenever I stop to draw breath. Luckily the songs from her Elmo DVD are very short. The theme song goes "La la la la, la la la la, Elmo's world/La la la la, la la la la, Elmo's world/Elmo loves his goldfish, his crayon too/That's Elmo's world!" Which is pretty sad when you think about it) and then talking about her day, which we've been doing lately to get her settled for sleep, which she persists in calling her "long nap." First we talked about Saturday's birthday party and about the walk we'd had with her cousins Addie and Rae, and how she had been allowed to ride Addie's tricycle ("A-ee. Bik. A-ee. Pee," because Addie has asked her to say "please" to ride the bike), and about the garter snake we saw on a different walk a couple of days before that ("Daw. Nake!").

And then we talked about the shopping we had done that day, and the shows we had watched and the coloring we had done, and I told her she had been a good girl, doing what we asked her and staying out of trouble, and I was glad she was a good girl and a happy girl. "Happy. Gul," she repeated. And then, "Mama. Happy?"

I wasn't quite sure whether it was a question or a comment. "Yes, mostly Mama is happy too," I told her. When I'm with her, it's not a lie. I haven't yet figured out how to fully integrate the happiness of being Chloë's mama with the happiness I had in my pre-Chloë life, which I think is part of the running-of-the-household problem, and I know that that conflict is going to get worse when the new baby comes. With luck, I'll get it together before they reach high school.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Green Eggs and Ham

We had a video call with Grandpa and Halmoni Saturday morning, because Chloe had been indicating she wanted to see them. (She and Eric were looking at something on his laptop today and she said "Ganpa? Ha-ee?") It was a very nice call, and included a reading by Grandpa of Green Eggs and Ham. We have our own copy, and she asks for it nearly every day, but she was delighted nonetheless. "Ganpa," she said to me several times when we read it Saturday night, and Sunday night, and this morning. She likes to say "Nooooo!" when Sam says "Would you eat them ____?", and especially when the narrator changes his mind at the end and says "Say! I like green eggs and ham!" (Eric and I have agreed that he says this only to get Sam off his back, since restraining orders presumably don't exist in Dr.-Seuss-land.) When we get to the last page, she flips to the very end with a picture of Sam holding his platter and looking rather smug, and says, "Book over?"

I love the way she says her two-word phrases. Each word is very distinct, like listening to a computer recording read off numbers ("Your prescription number is. Five. Seven? Seven? Three." etc.). I admit hearing "Geen? Ham?" is getting slightly old, but it's charming nonetheless.

Friday, March 11, 2011

A mishmash of things maternal

Being a woman pregnant with a daughter (and having another daughter) is depressing this week. Because of current politics, I mean. Otherwise, it's pretty cool. My late pregnancy is pretty mellow so far, other than a pinching pain that the midwife says may be the baby's head pressing against my nerves or may just be general tendon/muscle aches. Either way, it could go and I wouldn't mind.

Also, the hiccups. Our pregnancy book says that babies don't mind hiccups. That does not appear to be true with this baby. She's had hiccups several times today, and she's been particularly active. She's a very squirmy fetus to start with, but today's particularly bad. At my last checkup the midwife confirmed that she's head-down, but I already knew that; the hiccups tend to reverberate in my hips and pelvis and thighs. Hiccups are actually more annoying down there than when you've got them in your airway, it turns out.

I've been doing a little research into how to avoid another OP (face-up) labor, since I'm pretty confident that was the major source of my troubles last time. What I've read says that OP babies are more prevalent in modern times because women have more opportunity to lean back and lie down. Hmmph. So the advice is not to lean back in my chair or lie around with my feet up, but to stand straight and do exercises on my hands and knees. It's also not terribly confidence-inspiring in general. Oh well; I dealt with it before, I can probably do it again. Especially if I get more sleep this time around.

In the meantime, I'm keeping up the gentle reminders to Chloë that there's a baby in my belly, and that it will come out and live with us in a while. She repeats "baby baey" obediently, pointing to my belly (or sometimes kissing it, which is adorable beyond words), though I don't know what she really thinks about that. She does seem to be happy to leave the nursery behind, though. She told me last night she had a dirty diaper, and I carried her into the nursery to change it. "Nooooo!" she screamed, and pointed to the door.

"Do you want to be changed in your room?" I said, and she nodded. We've been changing her on the bed, so I grabbed one of the waterproof pads we inherited before she was born and have never used and brought it along to change her on her bed. I'm so glad she likes the new room, and isn't clinging to the old. We'll see how it goes when a new baby moves in. With luck she'll have forgotten, or won't care, that that used to be her old room. She seems happy with the little reading corner we've got on her bed, and the way she can jump on it, and the moon light and the box of blocks, and the dozen or so stuffed toys that can stay with her on the bed. The other day she took delight in stacking them, carefully, beside the bed rail until they reached their angle of repose and started tumbling down. Then she started sitting on her sock monkey and saying "Munky! Hide!" Then she jumped up and down. Then she made her monkey and her dolls jump. Ah, my little girl and her puppet minions.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The unbearable bigness of being

What a big girl our girl is! Chloë is so much fun at this age. I know, I say that at every age. But seriously.

-She's been playing with the Swiffer for days. "Keen mohr [clean more]?" she says, and grabs it, and pushes it around. Likewise, she took the wet paper towel I used on her drawing table this morning and started to clean the table herself. Then the window, part of the bookcase and the back of my chair. "Keen mohr," she wailed when I tried to take it away.

-Everything is two-word phrases now. When we came home from shopping today and I set her down in the kitchen, she asked "Tee Emmo [see Elmo]?" Then, when I started unzipping her coat, she said, "Ju down," and set her sippy on the floor so I could remove her arms from her sleeves. Then she said, "Shoe off," and lifted her feet before I could ask her. "Stay Mama," was her request at bed tonight, after we refused to let her delay bedtime by "go potty." (Potty training remains at a standstill. But she does come to us and tell us when she's got a poopy diaper.)

-After her bath tonight she started to go into the nursery, then corrected herself and headed for her new, big-girl room. She's now entirely moved in except for a couple of pictures on the wall, and has had no trouble adjusting, except that she's a little harder to get to lie down when the bed is big enough we have to chase her.

-She loves, loves, loves Elmo at the moment. I'm not sure exactly how that happened. But she has a Sesame Street "Color Carnival" book with him in it, and Elmo diapers, and now an Elmo show. It contains a segment with three girls doing a clapping game that starts "Down down baby, I can do karate." She turns to me with the biggest smile whenever I start singing it and says, "Emmo! Kap!" and claps her hands.

We went to Costco Saturday and I found a duo of Elmo/Ernie and Elmo/Grover books, and of course we had to get it. She's asked me to read them a dozen times or more since then, though that might be because she keeps interrupting me when I try to read them to say "Emmo!" or "Hakking [walking]!" or "Grober? Heah?" because there's one page in the one where Grover has a frog on his head.

-We were making dinner tonight, taking turns at the stove, and while I was sitting for a while Chloë came barreling in and hugged me. "Can I have a hug?" Eric said, sitting down in anticipation. "No," she said. Eric sighed and said, "I should have seen that coming," and got up again. In a moment Chloë turned in his direction and said plaintively, "Hu'?" He turned and crouched, and she ran against him and threw her arms around his neck.

-At Kroger today Eric and Chloë were walking the corridors while I got milk. I heard Chloë say something about "ubber ducky," and looked over. She was pointing up to a yellow thing, and I thought it was another duck like her Duck Number One one at home, which she's started calling "rubber ducky," probably because Ernie and his rubber ducky show up in the Elmo DVD. Eric looked over at me and indicated he wanted to get it for her. I thought that was odd, since we're trying to be conservative about increasing the size of her duck flotilla, but I nodded. He handed it down and he and Chloë walked over to me, whereupon I discovered the thing was a yellow bath scrubber with a duck's head and tail on it, small-size for kids, and she was really saying "scrubber ducky." "I couldn't help it when she put that together," Eric said, helplessly.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Tickle monster

Chloë has really started enjoying being tickled these last couple of months. She giggles and collapses and then presents herself so we can do it again. And now that she's got words, she's started asking for it. The other day I was tickling her feet, and her ribs, and her armpits. When I stopped she said, "Ticky more?" raising her foot. So of course we did more, until my fingers started to cramp. On a different day I was doing something similar, and then we stopped because we were in the kitchen and I was sorting bills or something. Not long afterward she raised her arm in the air, and I couldn't figure out what she wanted--a high-five? To be picked up? "Use your words," Eric told her. She got annoyed, and eventually said, "Ticky," whereupon I realized she wanted me to tickle under her arm. "I would have done that right away if you'd said it sooner!" I told her, over her giggles.

She likes to tickle me, too--particularly my belly. She's fond of it in general. I've told her that there's a baby inside and when it's big enough it will come out and live with us, and while I'm not sure she really understands that she remembers it. Sometimes she points to my belly and says "baey [belly], baby," and then to hers and says "baby?" I tell her no, there's no baby in her belly. She points to Eric, and I say no, there's no baby in his belly either unless there are at least two significant things he hasn't told me.

This morning she woke up (in her big-girl bed! She's not completely settled in it--witness this morning's four-thirty wakeup--and we haven't moved all her things to the new room, but the transition is going well) and wanted a story, which I flopped back on the bed to read because I'm all creaky and achy when I get up now. When we finished, she pulled up my pajama shirt--well, it wasn't far to pull since it's not a maternity shirt--and started to tickle my belly, saying, "Ticky baby."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Don't count on it

Chloë's still working on her rebellious streak, including taking great joy in running away when it's time to put a diaper or socks or pajamas on and refusing to come back when ordered to do so. She's also working on her numbers. How do these come together? Witness tonight, after her bath. Chloë runs over to the window where she wants to "ook hindow."

"Come back here," Eric says. No response. "Come here now." Nothing. "Chloë Leeja! Come over here!"

Still nothing. So he says threateningly, "One..." intending to count to three, whereupon he'll go forcibly pick her up and deposit her where she's supposed to be.

"Two," Chloë says happily. "Dhree." All threatening manner is derailed when the two of us burst into laughter and then Chloë joins in, pleased that we we're amused.