I don't really know what I am musing on these days. It's more like an irregular stream of consciousness thing...it seems to be working.


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w July 28, 2002

Travellin' Bean

Well, Bean is gearing up for her very first airplane trip (Breckenridge, CO, via Denver); I am biting my nails wondering if I'm going to be one of those despised parents of the screaming babies...Bean can usually be calmed down by nursing, and I think that's really the best way to keep her ears clear (and thus hopefully not causing pain).

Fortunately this is only a two and a half hour flight, and it's right around her usual nap time (or so I'd like to believe), so maybe I'll get really lucky and be able to nurse her to sleep and then have a quiet baby until the Rockies. The hardest thing is reading all these "tips" for travelling with infants and children--half of them make you feel like a totally crappy parent for not buying an extra seat for the carseat. I understand the safety factor, but the seats were reserved before I could really decide about this.

We are actually flying business/first, which means no potential middle seat to commandeer, but I'm hoping that this particular midday flight might be soooo empty that we'll have an empty seat somewhere in our row. Realistically? I know that's not going to happen. Sigh. I'm not a good flyer at the best of times, and I have to admit this trip is stressing me out, but what can I do? Apart from abusing the Vicodin I kept from my stay in the maternity ward, ha ha.

It's interesting about the car seat/safety issue, though---some friends of ours flew with their 3-month-old to the East Coast and apparently their last leg into Buffalo was unbelieveably turbulent (and the mother is an aeronautical/aerospace engineer, so believe me, it was BAD), and it was the only leg on which they didn't have the car seat. The baby was held by his mother in that tucked-over crash position, and she said that was really the only way she felt comfortable hanging on to him, but that if she had had the car seat, she would have worried about his head getting slammed back and forth. It bears thinking about, honestly.
At any rate, on the other end will be grandparents, so I can hand Bean off and stagger to the nearest bar for a stiff drink. Stay tuned as to whether this trip is a Huzzah or a non-Huzzah.

by Heather Hoffman at 8:40 PM

w July 24, 2002


Yeah, and not those Boston ones, either. This is going to be a pretty silly Huzzah, but here's the situation---it's impossible to find plain, white, thin cotton infant socks. Or sox. I've been to Gymboree, I've been to Baby Gap, I've been to Oilily. I guess my next option is Target, which is probably what I should have tried in the first place. Isn't it funny, though, how mad we new mothers get for designer baby wear? I know for a fact that Bean could care less what she wears; if I let her stay in the same sleeper day in and day out for weeks on end, she'd be perfectly happy. Particularly since she absolutely abhors any change in her environment. And, naturally, changing clothes is a huge environmental shift.

So I'm going to have to say, designer baby clothes? Not a Huzzah. Get back to me next week when I'm looking for something incredibly twee, I'm sure designer baby clothes will be a Huzzah.

by Heather Hoffman at 5:11 PM

w July 18, 2002

Mother guilt

Recently an article appeared citing a study that purported to find that children of mothers who returned to work within the first nine months lagged behind on school readiness tests at 3 years. Now, I am all for anything that will help prepare children for academic success, but I take a little umbrage with this article simply because it adds to the already enormous pile of guilt that most, if not all, working mothers face.

Admittedly, the article does mention that children of working mothers appear to have comparable emotional and/or intellectual development--but then again, is school readiness being completely divorced from emotional and intellectual development? As a teacher, that seems spurious at best. Not to mention the fact that standardized tests are pretty much useless in determining a child's life success, and frankly, waste a huge amount of time and effort during the school year. More on this rant later, I'm sure. Once I go back to work and neglect my child.

All right, enough humor. High-quality childcare and maternal "sensitivity" to the child's needs appear to narrow the gap for these poor benighted children. Having a stay-at-home dad probably benefits these kids even more, but apparently not enough is known about the long-term benefits of these professional dads. Why not? Why aren't studies being done to find out about this supposed benefit? Is it because it might let mothers off the hook a little for the entirety of their children's success, prosperity, future relationships, contributions to society...and on and on and on?

The thing of it is, I'm mad personally, sure, but I can afford to stay at home if I chose to, and I know that I'm bloody damn lucky to be in that situation. There are way too many mothers--and fathers---out there who aren't in this enviable position, and can't afford to get mad because they're too busy putting food on the table and clothes on their kids' backs.

What I'd really love to see is a committment from all levels of government to quality childcare for all who need it. Or want it, for that matter, because sometimes going to work and having a life apart from your children makes you a better parent in the long run. I guess on some level my socialist Canadian upbringing hasn't been entirely erased, but it will be a frosty day in hell before we see something of this nature, I'm afraid.

These findings are very much NOT a huzzah, whether they're true or not.

by Heather Hoffman at 1:55 PM

w July 17, 2002

Sunglasses, Sitters, Strollers

More updates on the busy royal duties of Princess Bean...took her out today to a beautiful historic estate and garden near our home---my friend and I appreciated the flowers and plants, Bean appreciated the fact that I only jostled her stroller up and down steps a few times. Well, all right, more like every time, but like any wellbred monarch, she simply ignored it with a look of "we are so not amused, Mumsy"---in her sleep, too. No small feat.

You have to understand that our stroller is this behemoth of a contraption, replete with snack trays, makeup mirrors, latte holders...I feel like the world's most despised yuppie when I take it out, but let me assure you, Bean isn't getting hurt in this puppy. Unless, of course, I continue to wrestle her up and down historic steps.

Sitters? Well, I have to go back to work at the end of August, and while my husband will be watching her for the mornings, we do need someone to entertain and maintain her for the afternoons. I've debated the pros and cons of all my options, right now it seems that a part-time nanny/babysitter is probably the way to go. It's perhaps a bit more expensive than daycare, but at least I know that Bean is going to get undivided attention. At least, I hope it's undivided. That's the kicker with all this---at what point do I, as a parent, stop stressing and start trusting that the person we choose is working with Bean's best interests at heart? I guess we just need to trust our instincts. But it's a little odd to wonder and worry if this person is going to see and experience milestones in her life that I'll miss by being at work. Presumably these won't be one-time occurrences, but I hope I get to see at least some of the first-time ones.

As for sunglasses, well, okay, I caved in at Gymboree and got her the most adorable and campy pair of cat-eye baby sunglasses. Surprisingly, they pretty much fit, so Bean is definitely growing! She looks very Eloise, which is basically what I hoped to achieve with any daughter of mine. She is all set for fun in the sun.

by Heather Hoffman at 11:22 PM

w July 16, 2002

Three cheers for Steve Young

No, not THAT Steve Young...the one in Oakland. More precisely, our ocularist who is doing Bean's conformers and eventual prostheses. We got the first clear conformer in today and it's kind of amazing how quickly a difference has been made---her eye socket doesn't look as sunken, her eyelashes are much more symmetrical with the other side, and she's opening up the left eye much more than before. Even though we have a long way to go, this is such an exciting first step. Now, if only she would submit to the nap she so desperately needs...

by Heather Hoffman at 3:25 PM

w July 15, 2002

Checking new site

Just a check. Looks like this will work. Right now we're doing the "cry it out" thing...PAINFUL. Painfulpainfulpainful. Somehow my husband can deal with it better than I can---neurological hardwiring? Perhaps. But if there is anything more heartwrenching than listening to your kid scream ad infinitum, I'd like someone to tell me.

by Heather Hoffman at 11:07 PM

w July 14, 2002

A random huzzah, in fact

For the realization--finally--that our daughter's life is not necessarily going to be massively constricted because she is visually impaired. Bean has something called microphthalmia in her left eye, along with sclerocornea; essentially, a small eye and something that looks like, but isn't, a cataract over her iris and pupil. She is getting into these things called clear conformers starting on Tuesday, and it will help to stimulate the growth of the eye socket and tissue so that eventually she will be able to have a balanced brow and a prosthetic shell covering that eye. Right now we're still waiting to see what the situation is in the right eye. After a nervewracking exam under anesthesia (for Mum at least :), our ophthalmologist at Stanford had to inform us that all the structures of her right eye were in some way abnormal and that her vision was likely to be "poor". That being said, we were also told that kids can be very surprising in terms of their compensation, development, etc.

At any rate, for a while, I was pretty depressed, wondering what she was going to have to face being "different" in a world that likes to bleat piously about being inclusive, but we all know bloody well is not. It's been particularly difficult since a few of our friends have recently had babies too---none of whom appear to be facing anything more challenging than the normal newborn stuff. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't wish a disability on the child of my worst enemy, it's just frustrating and not a little lonely. The good news is that I finally took myself to task today and decided that it was time to start looking at what Bean is going to be able to do, not what she won't be able to do, and stumbled upon a number of websites and organizations that are dedicated to blind and visually impaired athletics and recreation. The most overarching one is USABA, or the United States Association of Blind Athletes. It's incredibly encouraging to see that there are going to be a variety of sports available to her, and of course, her dad is most thrilled about sailing! I'm more inclined to steer her towards swimming or judo or something like that, but I'm just a landllubber, I guess. I also disovered that there is a center here on the Peninsula that offers a lot of resources for activities that I honestly thought would be barred to her.

I recently read somewhere that having a child with a disability is like planning for a trip to Italy for a long time, and then being told before you get off the plane that you've landed in the Netherlands and sorry, you can't go to Italy. It's a little discombobulating at first, but soon you learn to appreciate the fact that while you aren't seeing the canals of Venice, you are seeing tulips and Rembrandts and frankly, the canals of Amsterdam. So here's to Holland. And here's to Bean.

by Heather Hoffman at 9:02 PM

w July 13, 2002

Bean's New Shoes

So I know that our daughter is "petite". And I know that she inherited maternal narrowness of feet. What I didn't realize is that doll shoes would be a viable option, at least for a while. Here's the story---we have a wedding to attend in about two weeks, and I had found the world's cutest sailor dress for her. Extremely classic, etc. We tossed around the idea of getting her some "shoes" for this as well; I put shoes in quotations because we all know she isn't going to be doing any walking in these shoes. At any rate, like most new parents everywhere, we were in a froth to dress her up properly while we still could shoehorn her into whatever WE wanted her to wear. I looked at a couple of websites for kids' shoes, as I had something in mind, but soon discovered that size 1 for infants means one's foot is 4 to 4.5 inches long. Bean's foot is 3.25 inches long. There is such a creature as a size 0, but a) hard to find and b) usually accompanying a beautiful but incredibly frilly christening dress. Bean already has footwear for her christening, thank you very much. Ha. Anyway, I had one of those moments where the proverbial light bulb sort of flickers and coughs above your head, and thought, "hey.....doll shoes". Lo and behold, doll shoes frequently can be found in 82 mm, or 3.25 inches. Not to mention the fact that doll shoes can often be much narrower than kids' shoes, something that our little bananaped needs, at least now. Her feet are lovely, don't get me wrong, just not the standard shape and size for this point in her life. I had the same problem growing up, one of these heel widths that was something like AAAA---insanity. My mother would have to take me and my sister to the Italian shoe shops on St. Clair Avenue West in Toronto, as they were the only ones that carried narrow shoes for children. In retrospect, I think this is what created my current shoe fetish.
But I digress---Bean's new shoes have been ordered, and will hopefully be here soon. If you follow the link to see them, you'll have to do a bit of work to get to Style 6000---little Mary Janes with ribbons instead of straps. They are on Page 2. Imagine them in black.
Now I'm debating the possibility of taping a little bow to her head to complete the outfit.

by Heather Hoffman at 9:28 AM

w July 11, 2002

More musings

And of a more positive nature. Rereading the earlier post made me think I should at least post some nifty stuff about what Bean is doing these days. For those of you not in the know, "Bean" was the nickname given to our daughter as a fetus, dating from I think the 7th or 8th week of pregnancy when she was size of a lima bean---it stuck, as nicknames will. We also didn't know the sex, so this was a nice, gender neutral little appellation.

So what IS Bean up to now? Well, the last few weeks have been sort of tough with a lot of gritching and misery, but I think it was primarily due to a lack of quality sleep (see previous post), coupled with a growth spurt. She definitely seems heavier now, and everyone thinks she also seems like a long baby---which is pretty funny if you know me and my husband. I don't think she's particularly tall, but her limbs are kind of lanky looking, and of course she has the "piano" hands and the amazingly prehensile toes. She has been figuring out that her hands are connected to her body, and is starting to get at least the left one into her mouth a lot. We think she's favoring the left side because it's the right eye that has the vision. We still don't know how much, but it's pretty clear there's some there; she's far too deliberate about certain things for there not to be. But she also moves her hands more with the fingers open and moving, and when you put a rattle or toy or Mummy's sunglasses in them, she's got a great grip, and only bonks herself on the head occasionally.

What else is she doing? Well, she has a hilarious and very endearing way of lifting her fuzzy blond eyebrows when something interests her, and I can see this tic following her into childhood and beyond. She is also a world-class belcher and it's pretty funny to hear sailor-size burps coming out of this little tiny pink and white critter. The other day she combined both tricks---burped while nursing, and so loudly that it kind of startled her and UP! went that eyebrow. I nearly fell out of the chair, howling. She's also a very intense eater and sleeper, and wiggles constantly. The one thing that she doesn't care for is being on her stomach---because it completely limits her field of vision? Perhaps, but we're getting kind of desperate to get her to start at least tolerating it so that she'll build up those arm and neck muscles. Any ideas? She was doing it quite well at about 2 months, and then just sort of stopped. Maybe she's just being obstinate. With her genetic heritage, this won't come as a surprise. She also makes these contented little cooing sighs while she's asleep that make all the sleepless nights and endless "house tours" worthwhile. I'll stop writing now because my husband is laughing at the epicness of this all...

by Heather Hoffman at 4:56 PM


Hey, new blog

So it's 5 o'clock, the baby is happily napping, and even the dishes are washed. The exciting life of a new mum-schoolteacher on summer vacation. My husband convinced me to start this up, probably because he spends so much time fiddling with his blog---sorry, dear, just kidding. But in fact, it does seem kind of therapeutic, in a self-absorbed sort of way. Particularly since having our baby (she'll be four months old next week, amazing), I've found myself musing on a lot of things. Or, in the parlance of teacher credentialing courses, "reflecting".

It's so strange how the things that one expects with a new baby hardly become the things that matter the most. Lack of sleep, for instance. I'm worn out, my husband is worn out---but it's the hardly ever getting to eat real sit down meals that is the real kicker. Granted, we've finally worked out a bedtime routine and schedule, and she is great about going down regularly, so usually we can eat dinner together as adults and sometimes even get a movie or tv show in before she needs to eat again. Our daughter was about 2.5 weeks premature, and is still pretty tiny, so we're nowhere near sleeping through the night yet. And she hates napping. ?! I am just envisioning two or three years into the future when she's more verbal and more mobile and more opinionated---I think we may have our hands full. Is this what parents mean when they curse you with a child "just like you!!"? According to my mother, I slept fine right away, never gave them any problems, etc etc etc, but I'm thinking that's the glossy revisited version of 27 years later.

At any rate, it's funny to look at this little creature and still sort of feel like the babysitter. When she's howling and won't stop and won't nap and wants to nurse all the time, I just want to know when the real parents are coming home and why there's no good food in the fridge.

by Heather Hoffman at 4:13 PM