Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Every time I take Violet to the doctor or even read BabyCenter.com's medical advice I get blog fodder. I am just baffled by how far off Western Medicine is from human nature. Or what freaks we all are at my house. Take your pick.

As I mentioned in my last post, we didn't see Violet's regular pediatrician last visit, but saw another doc in the practice. No biggie, they are all pretty nice. This doctor, a youngish woman, maybe my age plus or minus 10 years (I am a terrible judge of age and she had a really generic haircut that made it difficult to date her), asked all the normal well-visit questions. She wanted to know about Violet's development (words? understanding? fine motor skills?) and she wanted to know about her habits (sleeping? eating? crapping?).

The little gem of advice she handed out regarding night-nursing is what I keep rolling around in my brain. She asked where Violet sleeps and I told her the first half of the night she sleeps in her room and the second half of the night she sleeps in our bed. I don't know if I told her that I nurse her back to sleep when she wakes up, but the doctor (correctly) assumed that to be the case. Then she told me, "I realize it is easier said than done, but you may want to avoid breast feeding at night. At her age she isn't doing it out of hunger; she just is doing it for comfort. I know, though, that is easier said than done. Just, you know, it is a habit that will be harder and harder to break..."

Me: "Ok. Thank you."

Somehow, I don't think the doctor would have understood me when I told her that we dole out comfort to our 1 year old when she needs comforting. Day or night, we are those crazy parents who believe that if our baby is crying, we would like to help her stop crying. We are the fruitcakes who believe that when our daughter wants to nurse, whether it be out of hunger, thirst, or need of human touch, we'll cave in, putting her needs above ours. I just don't understand when it became a bad thing to nurse a baby to sleep and a good thing to let a baby cry herself to sleep. Who is that good for?

Sustenance comes in many forms and I can say with some degree of certainty that Violet needs more from me and Shawn than calories. She can walk now, too, so should we stop carrying her when she wants to be held? I mean, isn't she really just clamoring to be picked up out of her selfish, childish desire to be cuddled? That, too, may be a hard habit to break the longer we keep it up. I have to say, one of my worst fears is nursing her in the car right before I carry her in and drop her off at Prom. That shit happens. I can't say the doctor didn't warn me.

One last point on this and then I'll drop it. Calling nursing a toddler non-nutritive is really a mistake. Worldwide, the average age of weaning is 4.2 years. Studies point to around 6 years of age as being the point when a child's immune system fully matures. The maternal antibodies produced in breastmilk continue to provide protection to the nursling long after s/he begins to eat other foods. Look at it like the green tea of the toddler world. Only way better.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Violet is destined to be a model. A SUPERmodel. I just know it.

Just like every kid who loves cars will be a race car driver, and every baby who throws a ball is going to be a baseball player, and every toddler who loves dogs is going to be a vet; now mine has an early vocation, too.

See, Violet is tall and underweight with a huge melon which clearly qualifies her for the most prestigious of all chic jobs: SUPERmodel. How do I know that she's model material, you ask? Well, my friendly pediatrician told me so.

Every infant/toddler "Well Visit" begins with the all-important ranking of the babies. It looks a lot like the last 25 minutes of The Biggest Loser; there is a scale, there are fat rolls on legs and wrists, lots of white skin, and usually some crying. The peds nurse who plots your baby on the infant growth chart isn't really supposed to diagnose anything by these numbers, but you can tell when she finds a kid who is more than a standard deviation from the mean, she makes an asterisk by the number in the chart so the doc can grill you about what in god's name you are doing to your baby that has caused her to be so not-normal.

So, at 17 months Violet is a 19-30-20. It's kinda like the bust-waist-hip ratio that defines a woman's beauty except these numbers refer to a baby's head circumference, length, and weight. And instead of just delivering you the numbers, plain and simple, the pediatrician also goes the extra mile and tells you how your wee one stacks up against other babies in the country. Because that is a good thing to know.

"No two children are alike. They all grow at their own pace. Don't compare your child to your neighbor's, they're individuals."

But really, don't you wanna know how your baby compares? Should you be more winded at the playground toting around your baby than another mom or are you just out of shape? If your sister's baby picks a fight with yours, who will come out victorious? Are those leg rolls really just cute baby fat or did you give birth to a lardass?? These burning questions are why I go to the doctor, plain and simple.

And why do growth charts seemingly disappear from doctor's offices once we reach a certain age? Why don't 20 year old women get to hear where their weight falls on the chart? That would be an interesting tidbit of news for the nurse to deliver. "Well, let's see there, Jenny, you are 140 pounds and that is in the 70th percentile for 20 year-olds. That means you weigh more than 70% of your peers. Congratulations. I'll get the doctor."

Violet's percentages are 82-64-5. Like I said, bigger melon than most, taller than a lot, and skinnier than almost all. These percentages prompted the doctor to ask me what kind of milk Violet is drinking (whole and GASP, still breastmilk as well), how much she's eating, (a lot at times, virtually nothing at others), and what her poops look like (to varied to describe in this forum). The doctor (who isn't our normal pediatrician, I should add) told me she isn't concerned yet about Vi's weight, we'll just need to watch it. When I inquired about what we would do if it did become a concern her advise was to add extra butter to Violet's baked potato and give her Baby-Ensure. Sounds genius.

All of this is good information to know, however. For instance, I know to buy hats that are 18-24 months instead of trying to squeeze my giant-headed baby into a 12-18 month chapeau. Now that I realize that Violet is of fairly average height, I will know that other 18 month-olds who tower over her at playgrounds are freaks and probably have that Andre The Giant disease. And, maybe most importantly, I know my tot has a bumping bod that is made for a two-piece and I'll definitely make sure she rocks her bikini all weekend long when we get to the beach tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

No Stable Required

Violet is an animal lover. Thinking she'd like to watch the ponies at a recent festival, we walked over to take a look. Violet was done watching in about 30 seconds and wanted to RIDE! She spend the duration of the 3 minute ride making her horse noise and swatting at Shawn trying to get him to let go of her so she could ride her pony solo. And I thought she was too little!

I am sure when she gets older she will show up at the front door with puppies who followed her home and kitties she "found" in the street. I know that to be true because that's the kind of kid I was. Any animal, whether he was truly homeless or just strayed to the edge of his driveway, became my pet for the day. I would work on luring the cat or dog home, usually with a Kraft Single as my bait of choice. I succeeded in getting quite a few of them back to the house, only to be denied entrance by my Mom or Dad at the door. "We already have two cats" they'd say, and reason that bringing in the newcomer in will throw off the tentative balance in the house. So I'd set up a creche in the garage and hold vigil with my new pet until it eventually tired of being a prisoner of love and escaped back to the mean streets of Indianapolis.

Many of Violet's first words are animal noises. Do those count? She can imitate a dog, (ruff, ruff), a chicken (bok, bok), an elephant, (bbbbbvvvvrrrrr), a lion, (roar), a snake, (ssssss), a horse, (pbpbpbpb), and an owl, (who, who). When she began walking this spring, Scout was often her first destination. Violet would muster all of her balance to toddle over to the dog who would snarl a hot-breathed growl in her direction when she arrived. Scout's out and out loathing of her new owner has only grown, and seems inversely proportional to Vi's love for her dog. The low grumble of Scout's growl served as a daily reminder for me and Shawn that this Lhasa we own is not a family friendly pet.

So, we did what any good parents would do. We got Violet a pet of her own. After we got settled in the new house, we spent the better part of the next month looking for a cat. We combed Craig's List and PetFinder, we visited the Humane Society, we even drove to Muncie to meet a potential adoptee. Our cat standards really aren't that high, we just kept hitting road blocks. The Indy Humane Society only had a handful of cats up for adoption because many of their animals were quarantined after being exposed to a virus. We'd find what looked like the perfect pet for Violet, make the call to the owner, and hear that he had just been adopted. All we wanted was an declawed adult that didn't have any history of mauling babies. And finally, we found her.

We adopted Sasha from a rescue group that operates out of a local pet store and we definitely found the perfect animal for us. She is litter trained and friendly and, most importantly, she will let Violet have her way with her. The cat is either extremely grateful for being rescued, really a fan of 1 and a half year old lovin, or stupid as hell. Violet makes sport of chasing her from bedroom to bedroom and still hasn't gotten that Sasha's tail is not a handle to be pulled. There is a certain shriek Violet reserves only for her kitty and, miraculously, the cat takes it and comes back for more. Ears splayed, tail flitting, she lays on the bed next to her toddler and begs for more. I can't help but think of a pledge at a fraternity who wants desperately to fit in. "Thank you, sir! May I have another!" It's Sasha's motto.

So, Sasha is the anti-Scout. Even after a day of Violet's special brand of love, she'll curl up right next to her at night.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Shawn told me tonight that one of his students has Swine Flu. Last week he got an automated phone call from Brownsburg School Corporation that Whooping Cough has been circulating. Recently, signs have been posted all over one of the homeless shelters where I work reminding residents to WASH YOUR HANDS, as there are 22 families living there at any given time and sickness runs rampant. Oh, yeah, and the bedbugs. One of our shelters has an outbreak of bedbugs.

Is it any wonder that I get home from work and refuse to touch my sweet child who is screaming for me until I have stripped down and scalded my hands as I scrub? Should I be surprised that I have dreams about getting lice? Am I a worry-wart when I won't let Shawn have a snack when he gets home from work until I see him wash his hands?

Violet has a routine doctor's visit coming up next week and I am still debating over the right choice for her vaccine-wise. Up until this point, we have had her on a delayed immunization schedule, so she's getting everything that the CDC prescribes, but at a much slower pace than they recommend. Instead of receiving 3,4, or even 5 different inoculations per visit, Violet only gets two. The idea is that she will be fully immunized by the time she begins Kindergarten, but she will not be at risk for any (real or perceived) interactions between vaccines. Also, if she does have a bad reaction after a round of shots, it will be much simpler to identify which vaccine was the culprit.

Besides spreading them out, I have put an out-and-out hold on a couple of the more controversial vaccines; the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and the flu shot. The MMR is the vaccine that is most frequently sited as having negative effects and often comes up in discussions regarding autism. This shot is usually given (per CDC guidelines) as early as the 12 month visit. We are going to wait until Violet is at least 24 months to give her the MMR. I would like for her to be speaking clearly so that she can articulate any problems to me.

That brings us to influenza. Until this year, I never gave the flu shot much thought. Some years I got one, some years I didn't, and I never noticed any correlation with my illnesses or lack thereof one way or another. When it comes to Violet, I figure why risk an extra vaccine when the severity of the illness didn't seem to warrant it? I know that people can and do die from the flu, but, the risk seems acceptable to me. The Swine Flu (I refuse to call it by any other name), seems a bit more ferocious. From the accounts I've heard, it sounds like a huge bitch. I don't doubt that most people who get it will live to see another day, but the severity and duration of this one sounds brutal. I heard a frightening story on NPR about a nurse working in D.C. who lost a pregnant patient to Swine Flu. The nurse was devastated and you could tell that encounter was enough to scare the bejesus out of her and make her respect the power of this strain of flu.

Am I scared of it? I guess, yeah, I am. I really don't want to be sick like that, I don't know how I'd take care of Violet. I don't want Shawn to get sick like that; I make a really poor nurse. Mostly, though, I don't want Violet to get sick like that. Even her sniffles break my heart and when she has a fever--forget it. I am a nervous wreck.

But, I don't think we're going to get her vaccinated for Swine Flu. The lack of testing on this vaccine does not sit well with me. No one knows how well it will work, either, and that also, seems asinine. Some of these shots have mercury (one of those red-light ingredients) and they all require the patient to receive 2 doses for "complete" coverage. That, in addition to all the other vaccines that Vi is still in line to get this winter, and it just becomes too many for me to feel comfortable with. I've done my homework, I'll hear what our pediatrician has to say, and then Shawn and I will weigh the pros and cons.

So, yes, germs freak me out. I'd like to have a safety bubble around our house so no outside germs could penetrate it (no lice either!) but I know that's not an option. So I'll keep washing every one's hands, try to keep my fingers off my face, and hope to God these decisions are never something I end up regretting.