Friday, March 12, 2010

The Universe is Weird

Our apartment is not the most baby-safe place. There are electrical wires, drawers, shoes, and other things which I cannot hide or stow away. So I try to provide toys and random objects that are safe for Noelle to manipulate.

A few days ago I went out and bought her a chunky puzzle with farm animals and a fat farmer. Each piece had a knob on it, easy for baby's hands to grab and pull on. When I brought it home, I ripped off the plastic covering, my heart quivering in excitement. A new toy for my baby to play with!

I set it down in front of her and she peered at it, engaging slowly. "What are those knobs?" her brain seemed to say.

Then she reached out, pull on one of them, and appeared shocked that the picture of the fat farmer came up with the knob. She gawked at the piece in her hand, looked at the back of the wooden puzzle piece, then shrieked and dropped the piece like it had burned her.

She then proceeded to do the same shriek-and-drop routine with the duck and chicken puzzle pieces. Yes, I dare say that she actually started to cry at this new toy that I bought her!

There are some other toys we have bought her that also make her cry. Like her Gertie Ball. From the moment we blew up the purple ball and bounced it in front of her she has cried like it were a vicious dog barking at her. Today while in the bathroom, I pulled out a loofah for her to "explore." She shrieked and crawled into my arms crying.

It's as if her little mind is trying to accept the fact that not all objects are going to behave the way a solid wooden block does. The loofah is poofy and soft like clothes, but it's heavy and there's a hard plastic stick attached to it. The ball is moving by itself - is it like a dog? Will it jump on me the way I've seen dogs jumping on the grass? What is that loud thing that mommy keeps moving around to and fro on the carpet?

The universe must be a weird place to an infant. Everything is so new and the mind has no way to understand. And so we respond with fear.

Friday, March 5, 2010

New Avenues

Today we went to the Glendale Public Library where each Friday they have a story telling hour for babies and toddlers, followed by a play time. I thought it would be a good idea to get Noelle started in joining some regular play groups. This was perfect: close by, at the library (one of my favorite places), and right between her naps.

When we got there I knew that it would be what we do every Friday morning. There are bins and bins of toys, lots of babies crawling around and playing, and lots of mothers sitting around talking to each other. Noelle loved it! She is really at a stage where she does not like seeing other mothers (maybe it is related to her fear of having her mother switched out for another?), but she adores seeing other children. When they scream, she squeals. When they laugh, she giggles. It is a joy to witness. When she was there today, she watched the older kids banging the walls with a play hammer. They were engaging in imaginative play: "building a house," they said.

It will be at least a year before her mind is even ready for imaginative play. She is just beginning to have some imitative play. She will pick up her stacking cup and pretend to drink from it.

Right now she is into the minutiae. She wants to pick every little pebble, piece of fuzz, every speck of nothingness off of the floor. Then she wants to put whatever sticks to her finger into her mouth. Who knows what she has eaten? Well, I do - I am the one inspecting her diapers everyday!

One of the mothers at the library said that her son wants to eat and drink everything, too. She said she was horrified when she found her sound drinking from a puddle of water outside!

Last time I went to the children's library, I met a mother whose daughter, one month older than Noelle, was actually more petite than Noelle, whom I feared was not gaining weight adequately. It put my fears to rest after seeing for the first time, a baby smaller than Noelle.

This time at the children's library, I met two mothers who were talking about their birthing experience. They had both had water births at home. They both also happened to be yoga instructors. What caught my attention while they chatted was the fact that they had what they would describe as pretty painless births!

One mother said that she did a lot of prenatal yoga, along with hynobirthing techniques, and she had a painless birth! I could not believe my ears. She said there was some minor back discomfort during contractions, but it was over from start to finish in 6 hours.

The other mother said that while her labor was not painless, it was over in an hour! She said that she felt something in her back; then an hour later, she was giving birth in a tub of water and called it a day!

I always wanted to meet somebody who had had a home birth so I could ask questions and see what their experience was like. Both of these ladies said they would have it no other way, exclaiming that birthing is a very natural process and that women have been giving birth for thousands of years.

Yes, but what about all those women who died in childbirth? And all those infants who died, too? This is the reality, for those people who glamorize "natural childbirth." On the other hand, I have heard too many stories of mothers whose births were over-managed by western hospitals. C-sections galore there! Horrible birthing experiences. That is not the way it should be.

We learn things from people who are not doing it the conventional way. Camille was using an Ergo which she said was way more comfortable than a Baby Bjorn. Nice to know. It has lumbar support and they use it when hiking. I also learned that her PPO covered 4/5th of the cost of her home birth with Leslie Stewart, a midwife whom she highly recommended.

It was nice to come home from the library feeling like I had learned so much - but not from a book - from actual mothers who could tell me in person. And it was nice to hear something new - not just the same old, "I gave birth with this same OB-GYN, at this same hospital." It was a new avenue for me. I am going to look further into home births and am praying that it will be a possibility for us for the next birth.