Does my child behave?

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Friends, acquaintances, and strangers alike marvel all the time at how well-behaved my little girl is. Some of them ask me how she listens so well, while others just comment that they can not believe she’d ever have a tantrum.

Make no mistake, Savina does have tantrums–a lot of them. All children do. It’s normal. It’s natural. Apart from testing their limits, they have big emotions and are still learning to deal with those emotions.

I strongly believe there are four pillars to raising my child to be well-behaved. They are:

not giving in, following through, showing sympathy, and modeling

and I want to give a little example or two for each of them. I will explain what each pillar stands for and why it is, in my humble opinion, a corner stone for good behavior.

Not giving in

Example. I play a puzzle with Savina, or read a book with her. We play/read for a while, and then I tell her we’re done for now. She wants more. A commonly made mistake is to repeat no, we’re done, watching the child cry and protest, and then saying, fine, one more. In other words, you’re giving in. Be it because you’re stressed, tired, or just don’t want to deal with the tears at this time–just don’t let it become a habit. She’ll figure you out fast, will know that she can twist you around her little finger. The result will be more tears, more tantrums, and less acceptance. Another example is if she asks you for a particular toy she wants to play with, or a particular food she wants to eat. If you said no the first time, don’t let her cry you into saying yes.

Following through

I try very hard not to punish and not to threaten punishment in the first place, but sometimes I don’t have the patience, or time, or composure to deal with a situation in the way I would like to instead. This happens rarely, actually, because I have adapted really well to offering alternatives instead of threatening punishments, but it does happen occasionally–usually in an “either or” way. And while a threat slips once in a while (I can probably count them on one hand), I have never actually needed to punish her. If you can read just a little bit of pride between the lines here–it’s there.

So, examples for following through. My little girl goes to my bookshelf and starts pulling out my books, although she knows she’s not allowed to. I tell her to stop but she won’t listen. I tell her stop now or you will go to your room. (I’ve never actually said anything like this to her, nor has she ever continued playing with my books when I asked her to stop, so this is a hypothetical example.) She keeps going, so what I’d have to do is send her to her room. Show her I mean what I say.

Another example. This one actually happened several months ago. Savina watched a short educational show on Netflix, and when the show was done, she wanted to see more. She began to throw a fit about it when I said, no more. So I said to her, listen, if you keep this up, you won’t be watching any TV anymore at all. (as in ever). I asked her, do you understand? She said yes, and her tantrum was over. Now, if hypothetically she had continued to throw a fit about it, I would have had to go through with it, and not let her watch anymore TV for what would’ve felt like an eternity to her (probably a couple of weeks).

A very common example is, if you want your child to stop playing a certain way with a toy (e.g. banging a block on a glass surface), and if the child doesn’t comply, you threaten to take the toy away. Well, if you just threaten it, and the child gets to keep playing with the toy, the child will learn that s/he has the power to do whatever s/he wants.

Showing sympathy

I find this to be so very important. When your child is upset about the rules imposed on him, or upset about you being angry with him, especially following a tantrum situation or suchlike, I feel it’s so important to show that you care about his feelings. A good example is that after not giving in, when your child continues to cry and fuss, please sit down with him and tell him something like, I’m sorry, baby, I understand, I know it’s hard. Are you upset that we’re done playing? You wanted to play more, didn’t you? It also often helps to then offer an alternative, like in above example I’d say something along the lines, how about we play again in the evening? Or, we can play more tomorrow morning, okay? If you’re angry with your child, kneel down to him, or sit with him, and calmly say something like, I’m sorry I was angry with you, but xyz. Even when your child didn’t listen and put himself in danger because of that (e.g. like playing with hot stuff), or especially then, you need to show that you were angry because you care about him. Don’t just boss your child around. Show sympathy. Remember that he’s still little and doesn’t see the world the same way you as an adult do.

Modeling

You are your child’s first teacher. Your child looks up to you and will copy your behavior. I don’t scream at Savina. (Well, I do have my moments because I’m not perfect–but again, you can probably count it on one hand). I don’t hit her, or talk to her like a boss to his minion. I show kindness, understanding, love, and how to be gentle. There’s no yelling or slapping in our house. There are pleases and thank yous and sorrys. I use calm voice, gentle touch, explain and ask instead of tell and order (for example, I’ll say, would you close the fridge door please? when she opened it but I didn’t want her in the fridge at this time, instead of saying, close the fridge door. Now.). We are as nice and well behaved towards her as we expect her to be towards everyone else. Personally, I consider her to be on equal level with me when it comes to emotions. I respect her space and accept her feelings just as I expect other adults to respect and accept mine.

So that’s it. I’m convinced that the four points I made above have greatly contributed to my daughter’s good behavior. I hope you can take away something from this, or maybe you’ve had similar experiences, and the article resonated with your own way of raising your children. How do you instill good behavior in your child? Leave me a comment.

P.S.: A small feature on Savina’s second birthday will come next time. Thanks for reading!

Healing, and Kimiko’s First Couple Months

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Giving birth continues to be the most miraculous thing I’ll ever experience in my life. Once again, I can hardly believe that this small person was once inside of me, in my belly. We created this human being, and my body took that tiny egg and sperm, combined it and grew a person from it. Wow. Words can barely describe how fascinating that feels.

Kimiko-16aI can’t believe Koko is already over two months old! Time goes by so very fast. I’m very lucky to have had my sister and her significant other here for the majority of that first month. Kimiko arrived only two days before my sister. And she was such a great help. I can’t imagine how I would’ve done without her. But let’s go back and reminisce about how I healed after having given birth a second time.

As I mentioned before, I bled more and I tore more than with my first. The tear would have required a couple of stitches, but my midwife and her backup decided not to stitch, because there was a swollen varicose vein in the way that may not have gone back properly if they had stitched the tear. So again, I was on bed-rest. Did you know that lying in bed 24/7 for several days is more exhausting than relaxing? I hated it. Not only did my body feel stiff, exhausted, and just not right, I hated having to depend on others for everything but nature’s business. I was so lucky though to have my sister and her significant other there to help out.

IMG_7886After giving birth, I could not sit on my butt–it hurt so bad. I thought this is just something similar to what I experienced with Savina: my tailbone hurting to the point where I could neither sit nor lie comfortably. This wasn’t my tailbone though. I had no idea what it was. My midwife gave me care instructions before she left, including info about bleeding and blood clots I may be seeing. In the evening, going to the bathroom, I passed a blood clot that I thought was fairly large. I didn’t see it, but it felt huge. I called my midwife, because I was a little bit concerned, when a thin stream of blood followed the clot and wouldn’t stop running. She prepared to come down see me, telling me to watch how many pads I fill in the meantime. I left the bathroom and sat on the couch, and wow–no pain! I was able to sit again. I have no idea what that was I dropped in the toilet, a blood clot, or whatever else, tissue maybe? Not a clue, but it must have just been in the way, somewhere it didn’t belong. It felt so good to sit again unhindered! My midwife came, and we talked. I went to the bathroom again. The stream had turned into a slow dribble. There was no more concern.

Kimiko-21Here’s an annoying thing that lasted past giving birth: hemorrhoids. I never used to have hemorrhoids while pregnant with Savina, but for some reason I did with Kimiko. After giving birth, I had them for a couple more weeks. Then they disappeared and haven’t been back since.

It feels like I healed slower than after giving birth to Savina, but that may be because I rested more with her than I did with Koko. On day 3 following birth, I took Koko to Savina’s swim class. No, I didn’t go in the water with Savina. I stayed on the beach, in the shadow, with Koko. Daddy went to swim with Savina instead, and two days later, my sister’s boyfriend accompanied Savina, while I waited on the beach with my sister. I couldn’t swim with Savina for a couple of weeks, especially while still bleeding so much. I walked around the house far sooner than I had with Savina, which probably prolonged my healing process, but I had to. I felt like a sick person staying in bed 24/7. I needed refreshment, fresh air, some circulation. I didn’t want to turn into a zombie.

Saying so long to my sister and her partner was hard. I knew I could handle things by myself. I was alone with Savina and Kimiko occasionally while sis was staying with us, and it went fairly well, but we had a great time together, and I don’t get to see her often.

Kimiko-27I love how they took care of Savina when needed. I was sad they got to take her places I couldn’t go, sharing experiences I couldn’t share, but so happy she got to do all these fun things! And I know Savina loved their company, too. We say good night to everyone on the photos on her wall every night, pointing out each person in each photo, saying “good night XY.” At the very end, Savina calls, “Nicoooo” one more time. He is an awesome babysitter–a complete natural!

Kimiko’s life, as most newborn lives, started with lots of sleep. I say most because Savina was not a good sleeper. Koko would have slept through the night, I’m sure, if I didn’t wake her to nurse her. Even with this being my second child, I believed it when I was told that the baby needs to feed every three hours–yes, at night, too. But it’s so untrue. As long as the baby makes up for what it doesn’t get at night during the day, you’re fine. As long as you have enough wet diapers, and the baby is growing and gaining weight well, you’re fine. I did wake Koko to feed, but only the first couple of nights. She hardly even woke, was very sleepy, and reluctant to drink. I suppose, I’d be the same way if my mom woke me, holding up a glass of milk to my lips. Then Kimiko started waking with tummy aches some nights. So if we hadn’t had those two interferences, I’m certain she would’ve slept through the night from day one. Alas, we did have these interferences, and so Koko wakes 1-2 times a night. She’s still rather out of it, when she wakes though, and doesn’t always latch right away.

Kimiko-35Koko’s tummy aches began to come up during the day as well, and a lot, very painful ones. I’ve learned much since I had Savina, and I wish I’d known how much help a chiropractor can be to babies when Savina was still an infant. I wasn’t going to let Koko go through the same problems Savina had to go through due to my ignorance, and since she was under two weeks old, I couldn’t even give her gripe water. I took Kimiko to see a chiropractor. Her first adjustment was only one spot, a test to see how she’ll respond to it. Throughout the adjustment she was calmer than I had ever seen her (and she’s by nature a calm baby already). Even my sister noticed that. Kimiko responded well to the treatment. The very next day she had no tummy aches at all, but then it came back with a vengeance the day after. A couple days later, she had her next appointment. She was asleep that time, and while the Dr. felt out her spine, she twitched and made a noise every time he came to a certain section. He said, “That’s the spot, isn’t it?” She slept through the entire adjustment. After that, she had no tummy aches whatsoever for a whole week. The next adjustment was short–she hardly needed anything adjusted, and we set the next appointment for one month later. Two weeks before her next appointment she started getting the tummy pain again sporadically, but two days prior to it, she had them really bad. I was so happy her treatment was coming up. And again, after her treatment: no problems at all! Now she’s seeing him once a week/once every other week at the moment. I’m so grateful.

Kimiko-41aAnother issue Koko had in the beginning: after her first few days I discovered some gooey looking stuff under her arms. At first I thought it was some of her vernix stuck in her armpits, but it didn’t go away. We had the pediatrician look at it and found out that it’s yeast. She had a powder prescribed, which we used, and when the yeast disappeared, we used it a few more days, then stopped, as suggested by the doctor. The yeast returned, and spread to behind her ears. We started the treatment all over again. Then I saw some of it in the creases of her legs (just at the knee-bend). That one took one treatment and disappeared for good. The other spots were more persistent. When it started looking better, I used the powder only once instead of twice a day. Then after a few days, I used a particular body lotion instead, a natural one that healed the eczema on my hands months ago. Lo and behold, the yeast disappeared and has not since returned.

KC-6aLastly, Koko was born with a lip-tie, just the same Savina has. It was frustrating to see that. I knew it would become a problem, and it did. Right after her birth, Koko knew exactly how to latch, and she did very well at that, latching right on with big open mouth. As the weeks went by, the opening of her mouth became smaller and smaller, meaning, she refused opening wide. I pressed down her chin to encourage her to open wider, but soon realized what was hindering her: the lip-tie. I would guess that it started bothering her, and opening her mouth wider would cause discomfort. It got to the point where she would just barely open wide enough for my nipple to fit through, sucking it in, nursing inefficiently. Night-nursings, although she only woke 1-2x a night (and still does) became a chore, because for every night-nursing I’d be up for roughly an hour. Koko nursed, then struggled falling back asleep, then wanted more. All this repeating itself several times for about an hour. I was getting frustrated with the lack of sleep I suddenly started having, as well as with her poor latch. IMG_7814During the day it was worse–on off on off. She could never get enough. So I finally did some research and decided to take care of her lip-tie. At 7 1/2 weeks old, she finally had it lasered. Although she could feel no pain throughout the procedure, Kimiko cried a lot–I would, too, if people forced my mouth open. Savina was sweetly concerned and requested to check on Koko the whole time. She watched the procedure quietly, exclaiming that Koko is crying and needing a fresh diaper. Healing took some time, and using nothing but Hyland teething gel to ease her discomfort and to help stretch the section in question, she was fussy for about a week, mixed with Wonder Weeks and a growth spurt, it was a rough week. But we made it through, and it was very much worth it. Ever since her lip-tie was lasered, Koko has been able to handle my letdown much better. Night-feedings are good again–Koko latches, eats, and goes straight back to sleep. We still have some trouble improving her latch during the day. My guess is, being awake and more aware of what’s going on, she’s still holding back, not letting me guide her to the perfect latch, probably in fear of feeling discomfort again, whereas at night she’s too sleepy to care. Plus, it’s tough to unlearn something you’ve done for almost your whole (tiny) life. Three weeks later we get a perfect latch occasionally, which is more than we had before the procedure.

Kimiko-29The last thing I want to talk about in this post is Koko’s personality. While Savina and Kimiko look like twins, their personality couldn’t be any more contrasting. From the day she was born, Savina was the most impatient baby I’ve ever laid eyes on, whereas Koko is quite patient. Savina had to be held 24/7, while Kimiko doesn’t mind being put down. I can occasionally even put her in her bassinet or bouncer seat wide awake, and she’ll fall asleep just fine. Savina loved the camera since day one, always posing, and now requesting to see the picture that was taken. Koko seems to hate the camera being in her face all the time–I can hardly ever get her to smile for a nice shot, although she’s slowly starting to get used to it. Savina loved a ride in the car. For the first four months, whenever I took her on a ride, she’d fall asleep almost instantly, and I could take her out of the car, place the seat in the house, and she’d continue sleeping for an hour. IMG_7772To this day she loves riding in the car and even more in the truck. Kimiko hates the car seat, and a car ride. She does fall asleep after a while, often after she has voiced her upset about the situation by crying, but the moment the car stops, even at a traffic light, she wakes and complains again, and if she doesn’t, she’ll wake at the latest when I take her out of the car and put her down in the house. Savina was overall a very fussy baby, whereas Kimiko is a very calm baby. When she goes into Wonder Weeks it’s like night and day–with Savina it was a more gradual yet noticeable change. There are probably more opposites I’m just not thinking of right now. Safe to say, my two beautiful daughters look alike but are nothing like each other. I only hope this will not create too much trouble as they grow older. I’d love for them to be best buddies. Currently Savina loves her sister–jealous, yes, but much in love, wanting to play with her so bad. She can’t wait for Koko to be big enough to play like Savina does herself.

If you made it all the way down here, kudos! Thank you for reading and being part of our lives.

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Welcome, Kimiko Sapphire!

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Kimiko Sapphire Comeau, born July 19, 2014 @ 7:57am — 6lbs 12oz, 20 3/4 inches

(at 38 weeks 5 days)

Our beautiful baby girl was born July 19, 2014 at 7:57am. Here is how it all happened:

A little warning in advance: I won’t be able to help myself comparing the two birth experiences of Savina and Kimiko, so you’ll be reading a lot of “this is how it was with Savina.”

IMG_6847Wednesday, July 16th, I had my first painful contraction. It was only the one, so I didn’t make much of it. Everything remained quiet until Friday morning. Early Friday morning, or rather night (starting at 3:46am) I experienced more contractions, very irregular, about 5 in 1hr 20min., and a bit painful, not too bad but bad enough to keep me awake. I said to Peter that it may be a good idea to have his phone charged and on him at all times at work, because I felt like things were moving in the right direction, and that contractions might pick up by the end of the day. Peter decided to stay home, and it was good he did–it worked out well.

I called my midwife later that morning, after I’d sent her an email at about 5am. Contractions were pretty painful by now, but still extremely irregular, and I didn’t need to breathe them out yet. She suggested to walk for a while and see if things continued to progress. We decided to do our grocery shopping instead of waiting until afternoon–just in case. In the store, one of the associates asked me: “Are you in labor?” … I wondered how she knew. She later said to me, when I asked her, that she asks all pregnant women who are holding their bellies. I hadn’t realized that this was actually the first time I’d been holding my belly for added support. Koko must have sat really low at that point already.

We got back home, and later that afternoon I talked to my midwife again. Contractions were still very irregular. Peter set up the birthing pool just in case. I was waiting for contractions to come about 15-20 minutes apart, but they never did. With Savina, they were regular right from the start–I had a full day of regular contractions 15-20 min. apart, so that experience is all I could base my predictions on.

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We went to bed at our usual time. I had some massive heartburn around 9pm, yay me. Went to sleep and woke around 3am with contractions. I waited, tried to go back to sleep, but I couldn’t–they had become far more painful. I couldn’t stay put in bed any longer, because walking eased the pain, which was far too great to stay lying in bed. When I went to the bathroom to pee, I found “bloody show.” I never had that happen with Savina, so that was a new one for me. I knew what it meant though. Labor was definitely progressing. The show was on. I woke up Peter, telling him about the blood and that I was going to call my midwife. I called my midwife at about quarter of four, letting her know that contractions were roughly 15 min. apart. She got herself ready to come and check on me, see how far along I was. Finally contractions had become regular. Of course, with my past experience, ignoring that every pregnancy and every labor is different, I was expecting this to take at least a few hours before coming anywhere near pool-time. Little did I know, Kimiko would be born only 4 hours later. I also called my doula to let her know how things were going. I told her she could stay home, and that I’ll wait for my midwife, see what she says, how things look.

IMG_6864Peter got up and started filling the pool. With my contractions being this painful, and bloody show on the road, we figured this was the right choice. Our instincts treated us well: only 15 min. later contractions picked up–and fast. By 4:11am I texted my doula, asking her to come after all because I’d been having 4 contractions in the last 15 min. Nine minutes later, I realized I should probably let my midwife know too, so I texted her as well.

From then, labor went really fast. I sat in the pool, as contractions were so painful now that I was happy I could relax submerged in hot water.

My doula arrived first, followed soon by my midwife. At 5:15am I was starting to feel pressure. Savina woke ten minutes later–her usual wake-up time. By 5:45am the time contractions lasted had increased by 20 seconds.

Our backup midwife arrived at 6:05am.

At 6:25am I felt like I might be pushing soon, although pushing didn’t start for almost another hour. At 7:17am I pushed the first time. I asked Peter to turn on the video camera, since we wanted to record Kimiko’s birth, just as we had recorded Savina’s birth.

My water broke at 7:43, and it was actually a little painful. It felt strange, like a ball bursting out of my vagina–and I mean bursting: flying out breaking open. Literally. Well, I suppose, in a way it did. This is most different from how I felt my water breaking with Savina. It shot out forcefully, whereas with Savina it broke gently, in a manner of speaking, almost going unnoticable.

Kimiko was born at 7:57. She weighed 6 pounds 12 ounces, and measured 20 3/4 inches.

IMG_6888In summary, I pushed for 40 min. (2-2 1/2hrs with Savina), and I was much more aware of everything around me this time around. With Savina, I mostly dozed off between contractions. With Kimiko, I was far more aware, and I did far better in the breathing department. I could say Savina’s birth taught me a lot. I knew from having given birth to Savina that putting voice behind my breaths just makes the contractions hurt more. This time I really focused on just breathing and being quiet. It was so much easier due to that small difference! An epidural never even came to my mind, whereas with Savina I was so very close to screaming for one, thinking “I want her out, I want her out.” Towards the end, just as Kimiko was coming out, I tore a little more than I did with Savina, and boy did that hurt, and did I scream! That was probably the first time someone outside the room could hear me. It still hurt for a minute after Kimiko had come out, and I kept saying ouch ouch.

Kimiko came out all at once. There was no crowning. I announced that the baby was a girl and then turned and asked, where is Savina? She was, of course, already on the way to greet her new sister. I left the pool roughly 20 minutes later and delivered the placenta when I reached the bed, at 8:18am. We placed it in towels next to me on the bed. I bled more than I did with Savina, but it wasn’t too bad. Peter cut the cord over an hour later, at 9:29am, letting Kimiko receive all the blood that was meant for her. We made a tree of life with the placenta, just by using the blood of the placenta itself. In the evening a friend picked up Koko’s placenta to turn it into pills for me, just as I had done with Savina’s. The remainders of both of them are currently in our freezer–care to take a look?IMG_6889

How did Savina do during all of this? I remember seeing her at least a couple of times during labor, watching me in the tub, quite calm. At some point toward the end of my labor they called in someone to help take care of Savina and my midwife’s baby. This woman is a nanny as well as a midwife in training, and we are so grateful for her assistance! This is how she described to me Savina’s reaction to the birth:

[...] we went into her room and played in there for a while. We mostly read books and very soon after I could tell things were getting intense from the sound of things in the other room. It’s my experience that kids at births are usually pretty good at self – regulating. If things get too intense for them they will often retreat into another room. They may at another point in the birth have no problem being right by the birth tub peering in. When you started to scream she looked your way, down the hallway, but she didn’t seem upset at all…just aware that something was changing. She looked back at her toys and very soon after we heard the baby cry…she exclaimed “baby!” and looked at me as if wanting to make sure I’d heard her announcement and immediately dropped her toys, stood up and started making her way towards you in the other room.

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I can only say to that, this is typical for my baby girl. That obsession with babies, and Mommy being very calm throughout her labor (until tearing), certainly helped Savina to not be scared, just as I thought she wouldn’t be. I’ve seen her react to me being scared–she was terrified, but labor and birth are something very natural, something I along with the majority of women don’t fear. Children pick up on the mood of the people around them. If the mood is good and relaxed, they will feel good and relaxed. I honestly believe that there was not a single moment in which having had Savina around while giving birth to Kimiko was a bad idea. I’m happy that she got to hear my baby’s, her sister’s, very first cry. And I’m delighted that she reacted to it the way she did.

A very heartfelt thank you to my amazing birthing team: Rebecca Taylor, Tammy Wills, and Jessica Brown–who thought I’d pull her into the pool with me during some of my pushes! It’s a miracle I didn’t tear her shirt apart. Thank you for being strong for me. You’re the most wonderful doula ever! Thank you also to Carly, who took such wonderful care of my Savinababy, and of course to my dear sweet husband Peter who was everywhere he needed to be at just the right times!

Lastly, a couple of photos. A comparison of Savina and Kimiko a few days after birth–they look like twins! And a last belly/PP photo. How I healed and Kimiko’s first month will be covered in a later post. Thanks for reading!

Savina & Kimikopregnancy 2013-20143

Near term–Savina is just as excited as Mommy and Daddy

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It’s about time I write another update on both Savina and peanut, and this will probably turn out to be a fairly long post. The reason is that I’m not sure I will find time again to post here before peanut enters the world. I’m 36 1/2 weeks pregnant now, so the baby could technically come anytime. My guess is around 38 weeks.

IMG_6699My sweet Savina continues to amaze me. She’s been working so hard on her communication skills. Her signing blows me away. When I don’t teach her a sign for something, she just makes one up. Her language is even more developed. I’m certain the number of words she can say now must be reaching 200. I can’t count them anymore, and she repeats almost everything we say. Occasionally she’ll surprise me by saying a word I had no idea she could say. She observes and listens closely for sure!

She’s also starting to put words together to form 2 or 3 word sentences. Sometimes she’ll put a sign and a word together to form a sentence, for example: She’ll sign “where” and say “go?” to ask “where did it go?” or as yesterday morning at the pond: “where is the girl going?” She can say sentences like “I know” and “I don’t know,” “bye bye XY,” “kitty, come play!” “more baba” (more banana please), “I see Papa,” “I see baby” “I see bird” (boo/boh is her word for bird) etc. etc.

She says “all gone” or “all done” now instead of “gone” and “done” and is trying to fine tune her pronunciation. Instead of “gain” she often says “again” now, and instead of “tato” she says “ato” (for Auto–car), “side” is turning into what it should be: “outside”.

She’s starting to learn manners: she says “Thank you” (sounds like gako–closer to the German “danke”) very often on her own now, and occasionally she’ll say “please” on her own. There was this cute incident, when she stole my water bottle, and ran around with it outside. She made a whole game of it. When I finally caught her and took it back, she asked me for the bottle again, tried to pull it out of my hand, but I didn’t give in. After a minute, she apparently noticed that the “aggressive” way was not getting her what she wanted, so she stepped back, and signed and said “peeaaasee?” (please?). It was sooooo adorable, and I could hardly resist.

IMG_6706Savina knows how to beg for more, too. Especially in the evening, when it’s time to go to bed. We read a book or two, or three, and when we’re done, she’ll raise her forefinger and say very determined but pleading: “One!?” She’ll do the same when I stop singing her lullaby. Just ooooone more, please, Mommy! How can you resist that cuteness? Another really cute one is when she says “some,” referring to “May I have some?” “I’d like some” and “Here, have some.” While she’s a good sharer (so far) she can sometimes go a little too far with it too, and push a food or drink to your mouth saying “some” as in “have some, Mommy” when you already said “no thank you, hunny.”

Some time ago, probably several weeks by now, I figured out that Savina sometimes actually refers to our cat by the cat’s name (Sue–pronounced: Su-e) I was blowing bubbles, and Savina kept calling: see! see! so of course I thought she was saying something like “look, can you see, look at those bubbles!” But then she called, “Seeeeee, cooooome, plaaaaay!” After that one time I’ve often been able to recognize her calling our cat rather than saying “see”. She hasn’t figured out how to add the “u” to the name yet.

IMG_6712I don’t think Savina understands much more yet than 1 when it comes to numbers, but she can count as far as 2. What she is completely oblivious of is colors. No matter how much I try to teach her colors, she just doesn’t get it. We’re a ways away from that one.

Apart from advancing vocally, she finally has hit a new milestone in gross motor as well: she’s climbing, yay. She climbs on everything, including having finally figured out how to climb her tiny little slide by herself. She has a blast on that thing! Of course, with the climbing comes the falling, but so far we’ve only had two falls, and no injuries other than a little bruise here and there.

Two more things about Savina, and then I’ll move on to peanut: 1. baby…

IMG_6722Oh my gosh. Savina has been obsessed with babies for a very long time now–it started long before I became pregnant. However, recently her obsession with babies has become so extreme that if I sing a lullaby at bedtime, and it does not contain the word “baby,” she freaks out and wants me to sing a different song. She’ll go: “No! No! Baby! Baby! No! Baby!” It gets a bit frustrating, as there are only so many songs in my repertoire that actually contain that word, and if it doesn’t come up right away, I have to tell her: “Yes, there is a baby in the song” or she won’t even let me start. On the upside, she’s been very good with her baby sibling, trying all sorts of things to interact with him/her. Feeding, offering water, kissing my belly, playing with baby with a flashlight, washing my belly, trying to listen to baby by holding one of my breast pump bottles with a breast shield attached to my belly. She’s adorable with her doll, too, breastfeeding her, rocking and bouncing her, burping her, and really caring. She gets super-excited whenever she sees a baby anywhere, especially if it’s an infant, but even older kids, who are babies in her mind, get her excited. I so can’t wait for her to meet her sibling!!

IMG_6739My last topic leans a little bit on my last blog entry. It’s about her tantruming when it’s time to brush teeth after a meal. We started out with me brushing her teeth all the time. Then she didn’t allow me to do it anymore, and I figured out that she wanted to do it herself. That was a few months ago. Then, several weeks ago, she wouldn’t properly brush anymore, so I had to step in, and that set off a huge tantrum that could last up to 30 minutes before she would finally let me brush. Well, recently I have discovered what the problem is: it’s not her. It’s not her teeth (as I thought, because she was teething really badly at some point). It’s not her wanting to do it herself.

It’s me. I would always look at her sternly, when she wouldn’t brush, and be very serious about it, and say things like “Are you going to brush your teeth now? Or will Mommy have to do it?” (I never forced her, which is why her tantrums would last so long. I always sat and was with her, offering my care and understanding of her upset, and waited until she was okay with me doing it). And then I would continue to ask her every now and then during her tantrum: “May Mommy brush your teeth now?” But I was always stern, and giving her that warning look, as if I wanted to say, you don’t have a choice, it’s brushing time, and you better comply. Rarely, I’d even actually say to her: you know, you’ll sit here until we brush your teeth–I do feel bad about that, but with all the patience I’ve had, and my hormones being all scrambled, and me being tired and exhausted, I think I’m doing the best I can.

IMG_6673I do feel that it’s important she learns she has to do this, but I went about it the wrong way. I can’t remember if I stumbled across the solution I found to the problem by accident or just finally thought of it, but whatever the case, it worked and has ever since, and it proves once again that the disciplinary approach gets you absolutely nowhere. You need to be kind and loving and happy, because babies and toddlers indeed feed off of your emotions. Now you’ll ask: well, what is it? Tell us already! How’d you succeed? The answer is simple: I smiled. I let go. Let go of my worry of not getting her to brush, let go of being so serious and stern about the whole matter. I smiled at her, honestly (not pretending to) felt positive about everything, and asked in a playful manner: May Mommy brush your teeth? Immediately, she said ya, and she let me do it, opened her mouth when I asked her and let me brush as much as I needed to. She has ever since. No more tantrums.

On to peanut.

Peanut’s baby shower was on June 29th, and while many of our friends, including most our mommy/baby friends, could not make it that day, we had a blast with what few guests came to celebrate our sweet baby. As a nice surprise, one of my closest friends came by with her baby, although she had initially told me she couldn’t make it. That really lightened up the day! Savina got to play with two other babies, and they had a wonderful time together. Thank you to all who came–it was a huge pleasure to enjoy your company!

June 2014

A week before the shower, we had our maternity pictures taken. They came out so well. As always, thanks to Kathy Jackson of “The Mirrored Image Photography.” I compared this years pictures to those when pregnant with Savina. I can’t believe time has gone by so fast. She’s almost 2 years old now, and becoming a big sister. And she looks forward to it just as much as we do.

Here are just a select few of the beautiful pictures Kathy took for us:

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So how’s this pregnancy going? At this point I can’t help but compare the two pregnancies. Savina and peanut. Much is definitely the same, but some things are different, if only slightly.

My belly has grown faster this time around, but my weight gain is far less. With Savina I was at 32-33 lbs weight gain at this point. With peanut I have gained 19 lbs so far. For the longest time I hung at around 17 lbs, but it seems to be spiking–which is exactly what happened just 1-2 weeks before Savina was born. I had a huge spike in weight gain, then lost 3 lbs over night just before contractions started.

While I had hardly any heartburn with Savina, I had a slight bit more with peanut, but still nothing monumental. It seems as though I’m carrying about the same way, but judge for yourself (pics below). My leg hair grew much slower while pregnant with Savina–instead of once a week I only needed to shave every other week. With peanut, it’s even slower. I only need to shave about once every 3-4 weeks. With Savina I had to deal with leg cramping, which is not much of an issue this time around, I’m guessing because I’m taking more calcium (because of my teeth) and drinking far more than I did with Savina.

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My back has been really bad at the start of the third trimester, which is why I bought a babybellyband. That helped a great deal, and my back was finally getting better. However, it has become worse again, although not yet nearly as painful as I remember with Savina. My tailbone is definitely not affected this time–I think Savina always sat oddly on/against my tailbone. This one likes to hang out on my cervix. Still, I can feel everything starting to loosen more than it already has been, and ligament pain is becoming far more prominent.

I’m exhausted. I can’t remember being this exhausted with Savina–but according to my journal I was. The reason I feel it more this time, I think, and am more aware of being this exhausted, is probably because on top of the exhaustion I’m getting less rest now. Obviously, in great part because of Savina, but also because of less opportunities to rest. When pregnant with Savina, I sleept 8-9 hours or more at night, and took a 1-2 hour nap during the day. Now, I get 7-8 hours of sleep at best, and am lucky to get a 1 hour nap in most days.

I feel strongly that this baby will make his or her grand entrance between 37 and 39 weeks. Of course I could be entirely wrong, but let me lay out to you why I feel this way:

Apart from mere maternal intuition: Savina was 8 days early, peanut has been sitting on my cervix for weeks, in perfect birthing position, my back bones are loosening, I’m experiencing greater hunger lately, coupled with a spike in weight gain, I need to pee more frequently at night in the last several days (like every 1.5-2 hours), I had my first uncomfortable (not yet painful) Braxton Hicks contraction a few days ago and a couple more today, everything is just so much more difficult to do these days, and my ligaments are more sensitive.

I would appreciate peanut to stay in there until at least July 12th (really wouldn’t want the baby’s birth day too close to Independence Day), but I’m ready to welcome him/her any time. I can’t wait to get my energy back, and be able to move my body more freely again. We do need a few more days though, to set up the pool and get last odds and ends taken care of. We have yet to receive our birthing kit, too, so peanut better stays put until that arrives.

While I’m still nursing Savina 2-3 times a day, I do keep arguing with myself (and trust me, neither I nor myself have won the argument yet) about whether or not to wean her now, because I’m drying up, and nursing was becoming more and more painful. Lately the pain has lessened, but I have white hard spots on my nipples–like callused skin. So I keep wondering, should I wean Savina and give them a rest? At the same time, how can I refuse her? She asks for it more often lately than a few weeks ago, and she and I both still love the closeness nursing gives us. Knowing myself, I’ll probably keep going, and then regret it, when my nipples are so sore that I can’t feed the new baby painlessly, ugh. What’s the right choice to make? I don’t know.

So, all in all, I love feeling baby inside, but can’t wait to give birth. And I’m so very curious what gender Savina’s little sibling will be. You will likely not hear from me again on this blog until after the birth of our baby. Thank you for reading this far, and look for the amazing birth story of Baby Comeau #2 next time.

9 months9 months bare

Bonus: Savina — 20 months

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When Baby Pushes Your Limits

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Savina is growing and thriving every day, in every imaginable way, but instead of bragging about her progress, today I want to offer a couple of tips to new parents, because I know that a lot of first time parents struggle a lot with these kinds of things. These are things I have struggled with myself in the last couple of months, so I just want to share how I handled it, and maybe this will help you understand your baby a little bit better.

My daughter is 19 1/2 months old, and she has recently started throwing a lot of tantrums, which is completely normal at her age. She’s trying to figure out the rules, trying to figure out what she can get away with, trying to get her will. She is learning. It’s a new world for her that she’s grown into, and she’s just trying to figure it all out.

So two things that have been particularly obvious in the last couple of months are communication and throwing tantrums without apparent reason.

I want to start with communication, because this came up this morning with my husband, and I know a lot of parents struggle the same way he did.

IMG_6618Savina was trying to communicate with him this morning, while I was in the bedroom–still resting. She kept going “eh, eh, eh,” and my husband kept asking, “What? What? What’s wrong? What’s the problem?” She just answered with “eh eh eh.” Obviously she was fruitlessly trying to give the answer, while he was fruitlessly trying to find the answer, asking those questions. Unfortunately he had the wrong approach, because she is too little to really communicate perfectly well, and she’s really trying hard to communicate. I’m so lucky, Savina is already fairly advanced in her ability to talk and make herself understood, so I can imagine many parents struggling with this a lot harder than we do sometimes.

So what I said to my husband when they finally came into our room, was that asking “what?” and “what’s the problem?” “what’s the matter?” “what’s wrong?” are not the questions that get you an answer, because she doesn’t know how to answer them. She can’t answer you, because you’re not asking the right questions–questions that are easy for her to answer. So what I said was, depending on the room she’s in, depending on the situation, depending on her body language, her signing, her surroundings, just ask her questions, no matter how trivial or stupid or silly they may sound to you, just ask her questions. Ask her, are you hungry, do you want to read that book, do you need help, what do you need help with? I told him there even was this instance: she was actually in the car with me at the time, and she was getting quite upset, and kept pointing at something in the seat, and I kept asking her what the matter is, and obviously it’s not going to get you an answer, because babies that age don’t know how to answer something like that. So then I asked her, “Did you make pee pee in your diaper?” and she said ya, and I said okay, you’re wearing a diaper, it’s okay, and then she was fine.

IMG_6626You see, she was just trying to communicate. It doesn’t matter whether what she was trying to say has any significance. It doesn’t matter whether action needs to be taken–it’s just that she needs to communicate, and that’s what she’s trying to do. She’s trying to make conversation, and when you don’t understand her, that’s when she gets frustrated, and that’s when she starts getting upset, and cries, and stuff like that, because she’s trying to talk with you–she’s trying to have a conversation about something that matters in her mind, and you’re not understanding it. And if you just ask, “What?” “What’s going on?” “What’s the matter?” then that’s not communication, that’s just you asking her the same question over and over and over again.

You’re the grown-up, so you are supposed to guide the conversation–you’re supposed to be able to communicate with/to your baby, and just asking the same question all over and over and over, a question that is fruitless, that your baby is unable to answer, that’s just not very adult of you. The baby is learning–you already know the stuff. So go ahead and ask the silly questions.

The other thing I wanted to talk about, give some tips about, is random tantrums, those ones you think are completely meaningless, and there is no reason behind her acting out. And there may not be, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that she’s trying to get your attention and your understanding. Here again, you are the grown-up.

I want to tell you about a little situation that came up this morning when I was alone with my daughter. I asked her if she wanted to have breakfast, and she said yes, and I went with her to the dining room. I was about to put her in her chair, and she started tantruming, started screaming, eh eh no no eh eh. Some parents would freak out about their child freaking out, and I just want to say: it’s completely pointless to freak out over your child freaking out. It’s not going to make matters better–if anything, it’s going to make matters worse. Your child needs your support, your understanding, and your love, not you freaking out. Also, always remember: you’re the model for your child. Especially at this age: whatever you do, she will mimic. Why? Because she sees you do it.

IMG_6635So basically, what I did instead of screaming at her, and saying “What? What is going on? You just said you wanted to eat! Stop crying. Stop this behavior,” bla bla bla–this is just not the right approach. What I did, when she started rolling herself on the floor, screaming, you know, the whole nine yards, I sat down next to her, and I let her do whatever she needed to do, and then after a little while I said, “Do you want to come and cry with Mommy?” I kept asking her that, and I wasn’t getting an answer, so I waited a little longer, and I said to her, “Come to Mommy, come to Mommy,” reaching out to her, and at first she didn’t want to, but then she reached out to me, and I grabbed her, and I put her in my lap–she was still tantruming at that point–and I asked her, “What’s the matter, baby?” (of course I just told you not to ask that over and over, but again, I only asked that once, and I’m by no means perfect either). And I cuddled her, gave her my love and my understanding, and I was patient–it’s so important to be patient. So, after a little while, she calmed down, and I asked her again, “Do you want to eat something?” and she said yes, and in my mind I went over what happened earlier: I’d asked her if she wanted breakfast, and she’d said yes, and I had attempted to put her in her chair. Well, I wasn’t going to take that chance again of setting something off, so I asked her, “Do you want to eat at the table?” and she said yes, and I asked, “Are you going to go in your chair?” and she said yes, so then I got up with her, and I put her in her chair, and she was fine.

So I guess, what I’m trying to say is, go slow, be patient, don’t overreact. Keep your calm, keep your patience–that is so important. Don’t say things like “stop that,” “stop crying,” and the like. Don’t ignore her either, or say things like “Fine, have your little tantrum then,” and walk away. You need to be present for your baby, be calm, loving, and understanding. Remember, you are the grown-up–act like one. I have no idea what her problem was–it doesn’t matter what her problem was. What matters is that you are there for the baby. If you are there for your child, and you show her understanding for her feelings, because children this little have big big feelings and big emotions, and to them they matter, to them they are something, even if to you seemingly they are nothing, you will quickly notice that handling these situations becomes easier. I know it can be hard at times–trust me, I, too, slip at times. Nobody is perfect–just know what your baby needs, and try as best you can to be there for her during tough times. Remember: don’t react–respond.

I can give countless more examples from our every day life, but I think you get the idea without me writing a novel about it.

So those are my couple of tips for today, and I hope it helps you in dealing with your baby during rough times.

Thanks for reading, and look forward to an update on my little girl and peanut next time. Lots of love to all the parents out there–you do great!

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