Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Adventures in teething

I'll be honest with you. I don't remember what it feels like to have teeth coming in. I also don't really remember what a contraction feels like, what it feels like to push a baby out of my lady parts, or what it feels like to live with a newborn, but I do remember that those last three sucked were life-changing.

And based on what Charlie tells me, so it is with molars.

Sure, she'll have a beautiful smile and the ability to chew carrots, but for now, it bites.

And thus we officially begin our... DUN-DUN-DUH-DUN (read that like a superhero intro, please)... Adventures in Teething!

I think I've made it fairly clear to anyone willing to listen to me (or read this) that I border on obstinate when it comes to medication. OK, I am obstinate. I border on belligerent. I don't like it. I will try all things homeopathic, herbal, and otherwise natural first. We've been big fans of Hyland's Teething Tablets, which are homeopathic, but there's one small problem: there's been a temporary halt in their availability while Hyland's revises their production methods. We have one partial bottle left, and I dole the tiny pellets out to my fussy toddler as often as I can. They seem to help her a bit, so hurray for temporary relief!

These molars, though? This is heavyweight teething we're dealing with now.

So, some Googling and blog-reading and instinct-following later, we are now the proud owners of one Baltic Amber Teething Necklace, shipped straight from Lithuania.

According to my frantic scanning of poorly-translated copy copious online research, these necklaces are what every good mommy in Eastern Europe uses to soothe their grumbling babies. And even if that's not true, who cares? It's pretty!

Seriously, though, here's what it's supposed to do:
     Amber is associated with sunlight and warmth and reputed to boost the immune system, reduce inflammation and accelerate healing: perfect help for babies and toddlers who wear it when they are teething.

     When a baby is wearing an amber teething necklace, the skin's warmth releases healing oils from the amber (a resin) which are absorbed. Amber is known to reduce inflammation of the throat, ear and stomach and to fight inflammation, infections and respiratory disease. A natural analgesic, amber will help calm a baby without resorting to drugs. Its anti-inflammatory and therapeutic properties are even recognized by allopathic medicine.

Does that make me sound crazy? Is it a bunch of hooey? Does this blog make my butt look big?

Last week, before it arrived, I was lamenting the fact that I hadn't ordered one earlier. I really wanted to give it a try before I resorted to other methods. Worst case scenario? It did nothing but look nice, and we'd end up with a new accessory. Either way, I felt like a mean mom watching Charlie shove her hands in her mouth, gnawing on dirty fingertips, whining and whimpering through her day. 

But Saturday the necklace arrived and Operation Got Nuthin' to Lose began. I slipped that thing on her as fast as I could get the envelop open, and after a few seconds of distracting her from the fact that it was on, we went on with our day. She's worn it every day since, taking it off just for bedtime, and I have to say that I think it's working. There hasn't been a single incident of the hands-in-mouth, woe-is-me, these-teeth-are-trying-to-ruin-my-life since.

That's the screw clasp in the front. The individual beads have knots tied between them, so in the event that a little hand gave it a hard enough yank to break it, the whole thing isn't going to fall apart into candy-sized bites.
If the necklace was around my neck, you could say it was the placebo effect. It's not my neck, though, and I find it hard to believe that you could convince a 15-month-old that her gums don't hurt anymore just because you've put a necklace on her. It doesn't work that way. (At least not in my experience... if you know otherwise, please tell me how to work your magic!)

Sure, it's been less than a week, which means I guess we'll have to wait and see if anything changes as these big, bad molars pop through. (Based on the way Charlie had been complaining, I'm pretty sure she's going to have bicuspids the size of my fist.) In the meantime, though, we have a pretty necklace and a contented toddler.

And now we wait...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Grandma and Grandpa come to visit!

Rule of blogging #1: Write new posts.


You see, I actually started working on this particular update a couple of weeks ago, but things like, oh say, the birth of a baby to my dear friend who was serving as a surrogate (a separate post to come on that one!) and taking care of my own monkey ate up a lot of my free time. That, and TV. "16 and Pregnant" isn't going to watch itself, you know.

But I'm back! And wow, do I have a lot to share. OK, let me amend that to say I have a lot OF PHOTOS to share. Really, if you're here, I know you just want the pictures anyway. Words, shmords, right?

So without further ado, photo collage time!

Eariler this month Grandma Vickie and Grandpa Joe came to visit us all the way from Nebraska!

And we took pictures!

This is not Grandma Vickie. This is Grandma Vickie's sister Aunt Pattie. She and Cousin Caroline (in the room, but not in the picture) live in North Carolina, but we don't see them nearly enough. We should do something about that! Also, that is Charlie's tummy.

This is also not Grandma Vickie, nor is it Grandpa Joe. This is Gramma Kate and Grampa Greg and the two suckers Charlie calls parents. Among Charlie's favorite things is time spent on the swing, and she's an expert at conning you into standing there far longer than you want to. One little pouty lip and a quick sign for "more, please" and we're stuck standing in mulch, swinging our little dictator. That's love.

My parents (Gramma Kate and Grampa Greg) love to entertain. Or maybe it's not so much that they love to entertain as they think Joe and I are terrible entertainers. (To be fair, they haven't seen the gymnastics routine we've been working on.) In any case, they (Gramma Kate & Grampa Greg) love to see Grandma Vickie and Grandpa Joe, too, so we spent an afternoon at their place letting Charlie show her Nebraska Grandparents how she likes to spend her weekdays. But this time we added bubbles! 

Yep, we added bubbles AND balls.

This is Grandma Vickie and Grandpa Joe! (The other guy is Dad.) We took a trip to the Science Center where we saw meerkats, lemurs, tigers, wolves, and dinosaurs. And we wrestled a toddler.

Hey, it's me with my boss! We're working on getting her to carry me sometimes, too.

Yeah, you're not supposed to feed the animals, but look at how sweet that is!

Grandma Vickie sighting on the right! (Mommy lurking on the left.)

Elmo! G&G brought Charlie her very first balloon while they were in town, and it was nothing less than a total hit. He's still floating around the living room, deflated but buoyant. Good thing our new decorating scheme is to use as much brightly colored plastic as possible. He practically blends in.

And do you know what's hard to do? Get four people to look at the camera at the same time. But, BUT! How sweet is the kiss Grandma is stealing in that picture? It makes my heart melt.

We love you Grandma Vickie and Grandpa Joe!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Portrait of a sleeping baby

I remember trying to capture pictures of Charlie in the very beginning, ones we would proudly attach to emails sent to faraway family with notes about how big she was (huge!), how often she cried (never!), and when her next "well check" was (seemed like every damn day!). In the hospital, I even have the memory of Joe trying to capture a shot of her eyes just so that we could send Grandma and Grandpa Kopp in Nebraska proof that she did, in fact, have 'em.

But now she's a big 14-month-old who hardly sleeps. OK, that's not entirely true. She's actually a pretty good napper, BUT we don't bother trying to get pictures of her sleeping anymore.

Until this afternoon. 

For the first time in a long time, she fell asleep on the way home from Gramma Kate's. I opened the windows when we got home so that we could both savor the breeze blowing outside, and I settled in on the couch to get some work done. But then I looked at my baby (or toddler, if you want to really get into semantics) sleeping in the carrier that she's almost too tall for, and I grabbed the camera.

Her hands are just too perfect.

Her toes are just too kissable.

Her cheeks are just too soft.

Her lashes are just too long.

And these moments are just too fleeting.

But I could never love her too much.

Friday, April 1, 2011

When in Doubt

Yesterday evening Charlie was uncharacteristically cranky. Really, she's such a happy kiddo most of the time that when she is a little off her game I just don't know what to do to help. She was walking around whining and whimpering, which made me want to walk around and do a little whining myself.

Then I had a light bulb moment. After origami-ing myself into the Moby Wrap, I scooped her up and bundled her like I used to when she was itty-bitty. We turned on her favorite song, danced two and a half times through it, and she was out.

I had no idea that there was a whole "attachment parenting" movement before I had Charlie, but I cannot recommend enough that every new parent invest in some sort of sling or carrier. For me, it's instinctive: you want to soothe, you want them close, but frankly, you also wouldn't mind having your hands free to do very important things. Like blog. And push buttons on the zapper.

And really, how sweet is this? I swear I can smell her sweet baby breath through the computer.

And that last one? I love that matter-of-fact, just-woke-up, let-me-see-what-you're-doing-before-I-decide-whether-or-not-I-want-to-go-back-to-sleep face.

It's not as cute on me, though.