I apologize for not having a more substantial topic for this particular blog entry. I will tell you though I have at least 6 or 7 drafts that I have yet to complete and post — when I find the time! It’s been a hectic two weeks to say the least, with Summer Camp, Pediatrician and Pedia Dentist appointments, coupled with a dozen or so errands and visiting relatives and a recent beach trip (this is one of the drafts, so it’s coming soon!).
In the meantime here are some Jamie milestone updates as of 3 months and 3 weeks of age (Note to self: refer to blog when updating baby book):
She clearly says “Mama“!!!!! 🙂 At first we thought she was just mumbling, but when she cries out, “mamamamamammmm…” and I get her, she automatically stops to signal that she got what she wanted;
She can almost completely roll over onto her tummy, and can finally sit up in her bumbo chair;
She is showing signs of teething, so I fear the biting in the days to come; and
She made her first visit to a Nail Salon today. We were waiting for our car to get an oil change and a tire rotation, and well… I desperately needed a pedicure.
So there we were, me taking a moment to relax on a hot day while Jamie sat on my lap, mesmerized by the bubbles at her feet.
Last week was a tough one. Due to the bad storm which encased the cars and streets in a sheet of ice (basically), a lot of Sam’s regular activities were canceled. So we got a little cabin fever. I also hit my 31st week of pregnancy, which seems to be a milestone for all sorts of uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms! On top of the usual itchy skin, the bothersome sciatic nerve, and the occasional 3AM “wake me up” leg cramps and subsequent loss of sleep, I had to deal with a sharp, shooting pain in the lower right part of my back. I thought it might be temporary and would just go away immediately.
After the 2nd day though when I found it hard to walk (or carry a suddenly clingy toddler), I called the Midwife hotline (Unlike in Manila, here you don’t go rushing to the doctor for every weird symptom. They give you an advice line or a pager number to call and they will diagnose you over the phone). To make a long story short, I was phone-diagnosed with spinafia-disjointia (or something similar. I’m not a doctor, how should I know!). It’s an inflamed, dislodged joint or nerve that connects the base of my spine to a part of my hip. It was an aftermath of a combination of carrying a 25-lb toddler, and the movements of the 3-lb infant in my belly who may have “hit a nerve”, so to speak.
As with many pregnancy symptoms, I was told to ride it out. This time, she meant it literally because I now had to strap in and wear these:
Maternity support belts / braces / harnesses — whatever you call them. They’re actually quite similar to the girdles I would see my mom wear when I was about 10 years old. In fact I remember thinking back then, that you know you’re 30+ with kids when you find yourself in a girdle. True enough, here I am.
I admit it is helpful. It keeps the belly from sagging and my back from aching. But still, I can’t shake the image in my head of me being quite similar to a hippo in a harness. You’d think the pregnant women on the packaging would help you feel better about the whole thing, too. On the contrary, I cannot relate! I am definitely not as unfazed or as glamorous as they are, and to think that these were already the more comfortable choices I had. The bigger one can get quite itchy if worn for over long periods of time, and the seamless one rides up so it’s like there’s a tootsie-roll salbabida (English = those round lifesavers on boats) under my pants. Both say that you can wear it comfortably under clothing — aha — NEVER BELIEVE IT! Plus everytime I try to get myself into them, Sam is watching me with her head tilted to one side, as if to say, “what’s going on?!”
Ahh well. Such is a pregnant woman’s life ey? At least I know one thing — hippos can wear tutus too.
Yes, the TV is my friend. Actually it’s very good friend, particularly when I need some “me time” or time to finish chores (although Sam surprised me the other Friday by getting up from her seat and saying, “You want to help Mommy with the laundry,” when she saw me wheeling out the laundry hamper — so we turned it into another bonding activity.). I used to tell myself I wouldn’t be one of those moms who would let her eat in front of the TV either, but after several unsuccessful attempts to keep her seated long enough to eat a good meal, well…. Let’s just say I prefer to choose my battles. 🙂
Some of my mommy friends have asked for my opinion about toddler TV-watching. Understandably we all have our concerns, since some recent studies correlate TV with ADHD (Attention Deficiency and Hyperactivity Disorder). For one quite honestly, Sam learned to read with the help of TV. She’s also picked up a few good lessons from programs like Sesame Street and Barney, her two favorite shows. For instance if it wasn’t for the Barney Fun on Wheels video where they sing “Cross the Street”, Sam would actually still be running fearlessly into the streets while I desperately try to catch up with her, heart-in-mouth (It is a big help for huge clunky pregnant me that she stops to wait and hold my hand instead as the song suggests).
That said, I’m still wary of too much TV time, and have created some self-imposed My Mommyology guidelines. They are as follows:
1. Spread TV time throughout the day, about 2-3 times in frequency, with a maximum 2-3 hour cumulative time per day. If she were below a year old, it would only be up to an hour. This also includes time spent watching video clips on the computer. It helps to avoid overstimulation and tired eyes.
2. It’s not given if she doesn’t ask for it. Therefore when she doesn’t look for it, we don’t suggest it.
3. There is no time extension, regardless of negotiation or protest (unless it is a special day like her birthday, or if it’s just one of those days when I need a few more minutes to breathe).
4. During TV time, something else has to get done on my end, so I know that the distraction is used wisely.
5. All shows are pre-screened prior to her independent viewing. This is so that I know what she’s watched and can discuss it with her even if she’s not in front of the tube.
6. The show must add value to her life (be it a wholesome fun show or an educational program). Spongebob Squarepants is a no-no on my list. Yo Gabba Gabba is another program I’m not too fond of, in spite of it’s popularity amongst kids. This also implies that we don’t watch much TV either when she’s awake, apart from the news and my husband’s NBA games or PGA shows (that is another battle I would rather not engage in). Thank goodness then for the DVR and Netflix!
It sounds quite strict and limiting, I am aware of that; and it does keep me on my feet as to how to keep her preoccupied on a daily basis. For the moment that is a challenge I’m willing to accept, because I still do believe that while TV can teach her a lot, she’ll still learn more from quality human interaction and the exposure to different activities. I hope to God it all turns out to be the right decision in the end!
For most of my existence I’ve had to deal with a condition called asthma of the skin (also known as atopic dermatitis or eczema). After many years the most manageable solution that doctors could offer me was a skincare regimen that consisted of quick baths, lots of mild unscented lotions and all kinds of hydrocortizone creams and anti-itch medicines known to man. Thankfully I outgrew it in 2003; that is, up until these last two pregnant winters.
With Sam, I was itchy all over my belly. My doctors said that I really just had to live through it, and so to cope I used everything topical available to me. It got so bad I would even use half a bottle of the Banana Boat Aloe Vera Sun Burn Relief Gel a day. At least it smelled good. The allergy did go away after I gave birth… but I will not lie; the three weeks that I had to endure it were sheer torture.
We fast forward to this pregnancy, this winter, where the irritatingly itchy splotches and the dry skin all re-appear at about the same time the weather turns. Only now it’s not just on the belly; it’s on my upper shoulder blades, on my back, and on my thighs too! I am scratching like crazy and applying hydrocortizone creams by the gallon. Still, the same advice was given to me: grit and bear it and soon it will go away. “Soon” is relative as you know, as I still have 9 weeks left, instead of three. My thought bubble: horror horror HORROR!
Thankfully (I do say this a lot don’t I?) one of the gifts we received from my OC Mommy-friend was an Aquasana shower filter. I’ve read about Aquasana and the health benefits of filters and how it can help asthma-related conditions. In addition to that, there are studies as well on their website with evidence that the filter removes synthetic chemicals in the water to make it cleaner and healthier. You’d think it was clean to begin with right? Apparently not! Anyway, so we install the filter and I use it.
I kid you not, but after only 3 days I stopped using the creams already. There were still splotches visible at the time, but they were not bothersome anymore. After about a week, my skin was splotch-free. No itch, no irritation, and it doesn’t get that dry as often.
We’ve been using the shower filter for over a month now and my allergies have not returned (HURRAY!). In fact, because I noticed Sam and I scratch at the same time on the same body parts, I’ve made a conscious effort to make sure she showers using the filter too, as a preventive measure.
There’s so little that we actually know about our water, and how we think it is clean enough to drink or bathe in. Particularly for new moms with young kids or expectant mommies, I really believe these kinds of filters will do our families good. It’s worth the investment if it means less medication and less trips to the doctor. Wouldn’t you want that kind of relief, or peace of mind? I know I would!
I learned a lot of new things today when I took Sam to her first pediatric dentist visit here in Chapel Hill.
First of all, I’d have to say my perception of dentists growing up was not the best. It may have come from my own very first visit (at least the one I can remember) to my grandmother’s trusted veteran dentist (he was pretty much her age – go figure). The room was dark, the chair was big and the tools looked scary. Worst of all there were whizzing and drilling sounds coming from the other cubicles, which can make any child’s imagination run wild. I guess it didn’t help either that back then, the “young once” would use scare tactics to keep your oral hygiene in check.
Haunted by these memories, I waited until the very last instance that I possibly could to take Sam on her first visit (Our pediatrician had to tell me on our 2nd year check-up, “it’s about time you went.”). As it turns out, it wasn’t half as horrifying as I’d anticipated.
Learning #1: Pediatric Dentists exist! That’s something I never really knew; to me a dentist is a dentist is a dentist. Apparently there are a pedia-dentists in Manila too (I thought it was only here in the states), and for some reason it is not common knowledge. In fact I think a lot of my mommy friends take their children to their personal dentists. Which brings me to my next point…
Learning #2: Pediatric Dentists are not a common topic amongst moms. Strangely enough I feel that with the many discussions I’ve had with my contemporary mommies, the topic never came up. That baffles me since we normally talk about everything and anything when it comes to our kids. Is it because we think there is no difference between our dentist and one for infants and toddlers? But… (next point)
Learning #3: There is a difference. The experience alone says it all. So we went to theChapel Hill Southern Village Pediatric Dentristy, and their office had a waiting room filled with toys and a tree with colorful things hanging from it (Their office website pictures don’t do it justice — I must make a mental note to bring the camera next time). Then they took us to a private room, which was filled more with toys and books than dental instruments. It looked like a playroom with toothbrushes and a computer, instead of a dentist’s office with toys. It was the friendliest set-up I’ve seen. You couldn’t hear what was happening in the other rooms too, so it wasn’t scary in the slightest.
There wasn’t even a dentist’s chair. When it was time to brush Sam’s teeth, the office assistant made me sit on one ottoman while she sat opposite me on the other, and she put this nicely soft smaller version of a changing mat on our laps. We were suddenly a makeshift dental chair for people 3ft and below (I wish I had a picture!). Sam didn’t complain — in fact she willingly opened her mouth to get it brushed, and then flossed. Apparently, we must floss toddler teeth at least once a day (did you know that?).
Then the dentist came in to count her teeth, check for cavities and put a fluoride coating with what looked like a paintbrush. They constantly engaged her in what they’re doing in an effort to keep her calm. Sam cried more because her playtime was disrupted, than from anything they did to her. After, we were declared cavity-free, and Sam received her toothbrush, toothpaste, a sticker, and a rubber toy fish. She also got her name on a leaf — which she hung on the office cavity-free tree as we walked out.
I think I only started to have a good experience with my dentist in 2005. I was 28, and I never took home a rubber toy fish.
Learning #4: Positive associations last. I was told that a pediatric dentist in Manila said it’s okay for a child to scream after being pinned down on a first visit. According to my source, her daughter was traumatized by the experience. Of course it’s not okay! There is something in that little brain of theirs that will re-trigger the memory or the feeling, and then you are screwed for life. I think that’s what happened to me. Conversely, Sam said to me as we paid the bill, “did you have fun at the dentist Mommy?”, which by her sentence structuring standards, meant it was a pleasant experience after all.
I realize that here, the doctors, dentists and nurses make such a conscious effort to ensure the children aren’t anxious or scared from their visits, no matter what procedure is done. It is light and fun and easy and not just a routine on another client. They treat the kids like little people (as it should be!), and don’t just talk above their heads to their parents, which is how I feel a lot of the practicioners back home do it.
There is a lot to be learned from a pediatric dental visit, even for mommies like me. Well, there’s always a first time for everything.