Saturday, September 24, 2011

On Repeat

It’s 3:30AM, post-nighttime feeding. My weary head hits the pillow. Instead of sleep comes a melody similar to “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round”:

Ella is the girl with red pajamas, red pajamas, red pajamas
Ella is the girl with red pajamas
She wears them all day long!

Claire is tickled by this CD. This particular song is on perpetual repeat in my head. George sings a variation that substitutes Uber-hip names like “Brooklyn” or “Anvil” for “Ella”. Then there’s the mobile she loves that plays Classical music. Even Mozart and Bach are now on George's shit list.

I couldn’t be happier that Claire likes music. It’s one of the great joys about being little. I remember spending the summer with a friend in Colorado as a kid. We played the soundtrack from “Annie” over and over again. “Tomorrow” could not have come sooner for her family. I’d like to replay that scenario one day with Claire -- with one difference. I hope I join in and sing along with her for the thousandth time.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

31 Flavors

I bought baby carrots today. A team of Danish scientists found a connection between a child’s palate and what their mom eats while breastfeeding. I don’t like carrots that much. Maybe Claire will. As uncanny as these findings seem, I'm not that surprised. There’s that old wives’ tale about mom craving something during pregnancy and the child loving that particular food. It’s not such a stretch to see how breastfeeding would have a similar impact.

I have to admit I was disappointed. I was told I’d made a great choice to breastfeed. Evidently, I’m not doing it right. I find it hard to be health conscious with a new baby. It’s not as if I have loads of time on my hands to prepare four daily servings of whatever I don’t like. Hence, the baby carrots that don’t need to be cooked. Before reading about this study, I relied on multi-vitamins and power bars as a quick fix. I was only worrying about breast milk being nutritious. Now, I have to think about how it tastes too. Next, those Danish scientists are going to give my breast milk a Zagat’s rating. There’s one thing that’s for sure, if this study is right. Claire’s sure going to like chocolate.

It would make life easier if she liked lima beans, though. I should try and think about broadening my palate as an opportunity, not a responsibility. If I have trouble on some days, I need to remember that even bland breast milk is a good thing. And that there really aren’t too many people who don’t like chocolate anyway.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Forgotten Sense

I’ve been reading about the development of the Proprioceptive system in babies. If you haven’t heard of this sensory system, you're not alone. Like the Vestibular system that I talked about in “Vestibular Shmibular”, the Proprioceptive system doesn’t get much respect. Yet, if you walk without stubbing your toe or kiss your baby without colliding, the Proprioceptive system is working. Its job is to create body awareness. Animals use Proprioception too. Anyone who’s seen a cat jump from the floor to the top of a bookshelf knows what I’m talking about.

Think about your back. You can’t see it, but you know it’s there. The Proprioceptive system is what gives us an image of our self in our minds. Some experts go so far as to say Proprioception marks the beginning of the recognition of the self. Proprioception actually means “awareness or feeling of one’s own self” in Latin. So the knowledge of “I” comes first from the body. The abstract notion of self evolves out of a concrete movement of muscle. That should stir up some controversy with the Cartesian "I think, therefore, I am" camp.

Proprioception is also developed through feeling the body work against a resistance. A baby will stamp its foot on the floor in order to get what’s called “Proprioceptive input”. Thus, the sense of self comes from differentiating ourselves from others and things. We gain awareness of ourselves from the boundary that exists between others and ourselves. It’s wild to think that the sense of self begins in relationship. In order for there to be an “I”, there must first be a “We”.

Proprioception certainly is a subtle sense, not a direct experience like sniffing hot apple pie or listening to Metallica. In fact, the “Proprioceptive receptors” are located deep in the joints and respond to stretching and compression. Someone will probably tell Claire that she has beautiful eyes someday. It would sound plain crazy to tell her she has a great Proprioceptive response.

I have a new respect for Proprioception now though. When my daughter splashes in the tub, it means something different to me. The doingness of it means that Claire is becoming more Claire. And watching Claire become Claire is a beautiful thing to me.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Loud and Clear

After Claire was born, I apologized to the woman in the hospital room with me because Claire was so loud. Her baby cried in this soft whimper, while Claire rocked the house. Not much sleep was happening anyway with two breastfeeding newborns, but Claire made sure that we were all having an impromptu slumber party. The woman was kind enough to say that my baby had good lungs. She went so far as to say she was jealous. I don’t think I would have been so generous if the situation had been reversed.

At our baby class last week, another baby Claire’s age started crying in a similar whisper of a voice. Like the other baby’s cry, I found it to be such a sweet sound that I was almost lulled by it. Her mother, on the other hand, became instantly distressed. It was hard to imagine that sound being such a call to action, but all moms respond to their own baby’s cry, right?

I talked about whether there’s an evolutionary advantage to loud crying in Bush Babies and Birthdays. I started thinking about it again after this baby class. It’s true that when Claire really gets going, George and I act with efficiency to stop her crying. There’s no time to admire our little darling or work at a leisurely pace. Getting her to stop has an urgency about it that I can’t imagine any soft whining would elicit. On the other hand, although a loud cry and a soft cry probably mean the same thing in baby language, I can’t help but take Claire’s personally sometimes. I’m sure she’s raging mad at me for something I’ve done or haven’t done, instead of expressing a need to be met. There are times when I definitely have to do my best Zen breathing not to enter the fray with her. And times that I just want to put her down and walk away. At these moments, a sweet, soft sound would serve us all better.

But so would a more patient mother. Certainly, moms contribute to evolutionary advantage (or disadvantage) too. It all seems too complex to figure out anyway. At the end of the day, Claire will continue to work on her Opera skills. And I will continue to work on my patience.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things..."

At our baby class yesterday, Claire was transfixed by a ukulele. A second earlier, she was having none of the merry-making, showing her unwillingness to participate with kicking and screaming. Then the ukulele strummed. She froze, went silent and stared, as if it were under a spotlight surrounded by darkness. Yesterday, it was the fish in a fish tank. The day before her toes were up for consideration. She is perpetually intrigued by the sprinkler on the ceiling in the living room – something we adults have been conditioned to tune out. They say the world is so vivid to babies precisely because everything is equal to them. And that babies sleep to get a break from all of the stimuli they encounter. Claire finds the sprinkler as important as the cat. Things must be only sensation. She can’t name the ukulele. She can’t categorize it in a group with other musical instruments. Adults chase this type of pure sensation. An alcoholic drink or a rollercoaster ride shakes loose the context of things. Of course, I think Claire finds her mommy and daddy important, as well as the two food sources that I carry around with me. Eventually, her attention should shift, as she learns to discriminate based on need and her knowledge of the function of things. I imagine that Lloyd the cat will become very important to her. And then he will teach her how need becomes love.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Run Silent, Run Deep

Having a baby means a new orientation to sound. To guarantee a sleeping baby, silence is golden. Like anything new, learning to be quiet takes time. This adjustment is hard for George, who has a naturally large voice and projects like the actor he is. I have my share of missteps too. I consistently forget to turn off the phone. It only seems to ring when she’s sleeping. And there’s the uncanny noise that happens just when she’s nodded off. George sneezing. The button on the side of my skirt brushing up against the dresser drawer I forgot to close. Tiny missteps end in tragic results. Sometimes I just sit frozen, daring not to make a move and threaten the peace. But then there are sounds you have no control over. It’s hard to get away from police sirens in New York City. Hand gestures are a poor method of communication, but George and I have gotten better at pantomime. Maybe it will come in handy for charades someday. We’ve begun sending emails to each other from different laptops in the same room. I am not of the generation who sits in class and texts one another, but I imagine it’s similar. The most ironic part is that Claire has had a loud piercing scream since taking her first breath. Essentially we keep quiet so she won’t be loud. It’s doubtful that this tactic will work when she’s a teenager.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Missing it...

Claire laughed for the first time yesterday. I missed it. I had just handed her off to a babysitter and walked away. George was a few beats behind me and so he shared in Claire’s moment. His good fortune gave me the opportunity to spend the first part of a rare trip without her asking him to relive the event for me.

He countered with reassurance that she will laugh again. I wasn’t having any of that small consolation. In fact, I was being punished for leaving a tiny, innocent creature in the arms of a stranger. An exaggeration, for sure -- It’s more likely that I will miss something she does than she will miss me.

According to the babysitter’s report, Claire laughed more after we left. All of the sudden, George flipped into my camp. He spent the rest of the night trying to stir an utterance of amusement from her. It didn’t work. I didn’t bother reassuring him that she would laugh again.

Oh, and the babysitter said she had a hard time getting Claire to sleep. She thought Claire probably wanted mama. Evidently, she does miss me. We need each other.

I also need a babysitter to remind me of this truth every now and then

Connect with: Bloglovin'FBTwitterG+Pinterest

Friday, September 2, 2011


I don’t have much to say in this post, really. I just wanted to share this picture. I’ve been dying to snap a photo of Claire smiling. She’s been smiling for about a month now and we haven’t been able to catch it. It’s elusive. Babies don’t mug for the camera like we do. There’s no “say cheese”. That’s what makes catching her smile so worth it. The smile on Claire’s face is sheer happiness. Her face refuses to mask like ours do. She’s just as likely to smile, cry or ignore us at any given moment. There’s no artifice. It is a joy to be around such a pure soul. Plus, she’s smiling at her mother in this picture. That’s the part that I wanted to say in this post!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...