Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Baby's First Holiday Season

The Holiday Season, by my estimation and backed up by decorations in stores, lasts from the month before Halloween through New Year’s Day. 

Halloween is my favorite holiday because costumes are the most fun ever.  It’s still fall and you can still go outside.

Then there is a fairly low-stress lull leading up until Thanksgiving.  It’s like epic denial…you know something is coming but you don’t have to deal with it yet.

Then Thanksgiving in all its salted glory rolls around AND THEN WE’RE OFFFFFFFFFF!

Black Friday is a holiday.  You can choose whether or not you celebrate it, but it’s Amurican and you can’t deny its existence…especially if you work in retail. 

And if you didn’t get all your gifts on Black Friday at midnight, don’t worry because next is my personal favorite: CYBER MONDAY where you can get allllll the deaaaaals without leaving your couch.  Cyber Monday took me like three hours to order like one box of pears this year because my child was demanding attention.  Darn kids and their non-understanding of consumerism holidays!

After you’ve finished your shopping, now it’s time to REALLY get into the spirit of Christmas by going to ALL THE TREE LIGHTINGS even if they’re lame and it’s cold and your baby totally doesn’t care and you don’t really like hot chocolate but it’s so cold that you hold it just so your fingers don’t freeze off and does the baby have hypothermia?  Or is she going to overheat from the following layers:
1.       Long sleeved onesie
2.      Leggings
3.      Socks on feet
4.      Hat
5.      Socks on hands because babies can’t HANDLE MITTENS
6.      Full body hooded fleece suit.
7.      Boots
8.      Jacket without a hood because that’s TOO MANY HOODS.
9.      Thick fleece blanket tucked all around her and pinning her into the stroller or against you in the carrier
10.  There’s no 10th thing but I wish there was because it’s too insane that I have to put all that on my kid just to leave the house.  OH RIGHT.  DIAPER!  Which is, of course below everything and inevitably gets shit in the minute all 9 following layers are applied and you’re ready to go.  THEN YOU START OVER, SLAVE.

Did you survive the tree lighting? Now you’re READY FOR ZOO LIGHTS!  Babies love lights, right?!  It’s true.  And my baby’s favorite light was the one on the vending machine by the bathrooms which had a lion on it which she proudly exclaimed was a “DAT” (cat).  She cried the whole rest of Zoolights. 

Take your baby with you to cut down a Christmas tree and then decorate it and surround it with a baby gate and hope for the best.  Try not to think about your child dying by being crushed by a Christmas symbol.  Vacuum  constantly so she doesn’t ingest too many pine needles.

Your baby has just developed stranger anxiety.  Take her to meet Santa.  It will be fine.

Also holidays parties.  Dress your baby girl in the most bow-filled outfit and shove the Mary Janes on her precious toesies.  Make sure you have a back up precious outfit for when your little princess throws up on herself because, of course, she has gagged on her own snot.  Call it teething and TELL NO ONE because you cannot be quarantined right now.  YOU HAVE PLACES TO GO.

Your family is visiting I’m sure and they all want to hold the baby but you’re the one who still has to get up at 6am with her because she survives by drinking your bodily fluids so, even though you were up late cooking and making the house presentable for guests, you’re still up early.  Fortunately, spouse has time off so he relieves you and you either go back to bed or take a shower before everyone else needs to get in there…you choose bed and wear extra deodorant. 

You host Christmas Eve at your house because then you can be home in time for baby’s bedtime and can go put her to bed while your father in law does dishes because he’s super good at them but you have SO MANY DISHES that only one load makes it in and then there’s more dishes which your husband does (and tells you all about so you can throw him a parade). 

The baby is kinda worked up from hanging out with her cool older cousins who got cool light up laser guns from your cool sister and all the LIGHTS (baby loves lights) so bedtime takes a while and then you still have to stuff stockings and put presents under the tree and prep for Christmas morning breakfast. 

You can’t sleep because you’re excited/nervous for Christmas.  You hope you remembered everything and everyone and that everyone has a good time and enough food.  You stare at the  baby monitor until she wakes up and then you let her be really loud in the living room so everyone else wakes up and you can get to…



Everyone likes the presents!  Even the baby—you weren’t sure she cared.  She ate only a little wrapping paper.  You surprised your husband with an ornament with imprint of the baby’s foot and he was pleased. 

You don’t need any gifts because the greatest gift of all is seeing your family happy. 

Just kidding.  The best gift of all is a Roomba (thanks, Dad).

The baby has the best nap of her life after being worn out by pure commercial bliss and you make and eat a leisurely breakfast and all is well.  You made it.  You succeeded at Christmas.  You won Christmas.

Now you just have five more days of family togetherness and it’s NEW YEARS.

You have two options for your first NYE as a parent:
1.       Hire a babysitter and spend hundreds of dollars to go out to a lame bar and pay for overpriced drinks or go to a house party and make small talk while wondering if the girls there who have never had kids can see your spanx. 
2.      Stay home.  Go to bed at 9.

I’m choosing option 2.  Because, even though I won Christmas, I’m EXHAUSTED. 

I was too busy having fun with baby’s first holiday season to actual have all that much fun.

And one afternoon between Christmas and New Years, I crashed.  She wouldn’t go down for a nap, and I REALLY needed her to take that nap.  She was supposed to be falling asleep in my arms but instead she was smacking me in the face and banging her head into mine.  I started to cry, so tired from hosting and dressing myself and being around adult humans, that I almost didn’t realize what my child was doing.  She was pat patting me.  Until that day, she’d only ever pulled my (or the cats’…or the other kids’) hair.  But she was pat patting me.  And the banging of her head against me, that was her giving me kisses.  Wide open mouthed baby kisses.  Unprovoked love from a baby is a rare and glorious gift. 

Almost as good as a Roomba. 

New Year’s Day I will pack up all the Christmas décor and the husband will drag the tree to the curb.  I will let Roomba, my new bff, scoop up any holiday remnants and we will resume regular life.  I’m sure I will feel, as I do every year, a bittersweet nostalgia for the family togetherness, the claustrophobic crushing of love I feel when my house is full of people making messes and being nice to me.  I will feel like a weight is being lifted off of me.  And we’ll talk about next year.  Because this year was just a dress rehearsal…next year will be Toddler’s First Holiday Season and then, THEN, it’ll REALLY be crazy. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Creature

New policy: The first rule of baby sleep is you DO NOT talk about baby sleep.

Because the minute you talk about baby sleep, baby will CHANGE HOW SHE SLEEPS.  I bragged to ONE person--not even a parent, just a normal person--that Boo had been sleeping eleven hours straight at night…and she promptly stopped.  She also, just for fun, stopped with the blissful and surprising two hour morning naps and now just does an hour which is exactly enough time for me to fall asleep or start something fun or…clean, I guess.  But not enough time to REALLY have any free time or REALLY do anything at all.  Basically, I have enough time to read the internet and then she’s UP and giggling.

            Look at me breaking the first rule already. 

If she had her way, her ladyship Boo would be held all the time when she sleeps…which is just precious, of course, but we want to instill good habits and not suffocate her with our pillows by accident and whatnot, so we have the following “SLEEP ROUTINE” (the internet says it’s very important to have a sleep routine) in place:

1.       Boo looks tired.
2.      Feed Boo boobs
3.      Snuggle Boo with binky
4.      Remove binky and continue snuggling
5.      Try to put down Boo (pretend you’re going to put her to sleep on her back but gently encourage her to roll onto her stomach where she immediately takes on “child’s pose” with her baby booty in the air.  Pat pat booty and run away silently)
6.      ½ the time Boo wakes up crying
7.      Repeat previous steps
8.      If not successful, turn on projector playing classical music and walk away.  She usually stops crying and puts herself to sleep in under three minutes.
9.      If not, call in Doctor Daddy who is always successful in under ten minutes.  If he is not home or willing, start over. 
10.  She will be asleep within…five minutes to three hours and will stay asleep for one to eleven hours. 

      Did you know that babies aren’t consistent?  Or, rather, mine isn’t…I’m sure there are clockwork babies out there who do everything the same all the time and you can just live your life predictably and I’m sure your house is also very clean and you also work full time saving people’s lives or money or something. 

      During the day, she’s nearly a person lately.  She makes yummy noises when she eats people food and can clap her hands and crawl and stand up and pet (grab) the kitty.  She’s no longer just a squish of tears and poop.  For funsies, we looked up her horoscope and, I gotta say, she is pretty much living up to it as much as a baby can.  Aries are independent, driven, energetic, aggressive.  If you ever get the chance to witness Boo versus Catdome, you will agree.

But at night, The Creature emerges.  I’m not saying The Creature is bad, it’s just…not quite a person.  Ever since she was a tiny squish, nighttime Boo has been more bug than human.  When she was little, she had a green, Velcro swaddle that made her look just exactly like a larva.  And that’s what she was: squirmy body and a mouth, sucking the life force from me to sustain her.  Her night time cry is not like that of a day time baby.  It’s fetus-like, impulsive, and unemotional.  It’s just id.  It’s just want: hold me, feed me, I feel alone, make me feel less alone.  The Creature doesn’t know she’s a person.  The Creature still thinks she and I are the same person. 

The Creature is the cutest and the sweetest.  She is all mouth, no eyes.  Give her the binky and she immediately is subdued.  Give her the nook of my arm, and she shakes her head into it and her whole body relaxes.  And her little squish face is the most placid thing you’ll ever see.  Such a different face from that of the person emerging in the day time.  In the day time, she’s expressive and opinionated and not a little bit judgey.  At night, she’s just soft eyes, petal lips slightly parted.

The Creature does not care about my emotions or needs and I can’t blame her.  She doesn’t care that it’s inconvenient for me to sit upright, nuzzling her at all hours.  The Creature requires sleep.  The Creature does not find things funny, only cold or scary or displeasing or, eventually, acceptable. 

Sometimes I feel embittered toward The Creature because she occasionally sprouts a tooth and that means she must be held at all times.  But then I tell myself, stop.  Look at this little thing.  Soon she will change into something else entirely.  The larva will hatch or whatever bugs do, and she will be her own person in both the day and night.  She won’t reach for you with desperation, her eyes pinched tight, knowing you’re there because you’re always there, just waiting to be received in your arms.  Soon she will grow up.

The greatest wish you can wish for your kid is that they’ll grow up.  As much as we want to plead with them to stay little, you want them to move on with their lives, to be free.  To develop new skills and get big and tall.  To fly like a beautiful butterfly or some cliché like that. 

The Creature is okay by me.

The Creature is awake. 

This larva looked cute.

Monday, September 15, 2014

What Is the Opposite of Crunchy?

An expression used here in sunny Portland, Oregon (what?  It is sunny!) to describe a certain type of person is “crunchy.”  I assume it is used elsewhere as well.  It is a term with negative associations regarding the liberal, hippie-esque tendencies of some of our residents.  Different than hipsters (which run rampant here but you’d never know it if you asked them because they don’t like labels), crunchy granola people are the stereotype of an Oregonian from which some of us want to escape.  But they are not caricatures!  They’re real, live people!  They are generally easy to spot (hemp clothes) or even…smell, but, much like autism, crunchiness is a spectrum, so sometimes people hide behind non-vegan footwear and Starbucks coffee to reveal their inner crunchiness.  There’s also the opposite.  A kid can have a name that’s not on the top 100 for the year and might be in the puffiest cloth diaper there ever was but the parents can otherwise not strike you as crunchtastic. 

It’s a weird word to use: crunchy.  I like my granola crunchy…I’d say that’s good granola.  And these people don’t necessarily eat granola…especially if it’s not gluten free.  It’s certainly a judgment when you hear it.  As the Mommy Wars wage on (on facebook that is), I find myself trying to disassociate myself with the crunchies.  So what’s the opposite of crunchy?  Soft granola?  Bacon?  I don’t know.  It’s a strange form of categorization. 

The official term for “crunchy parenting” is “attachment parenting” which sounds fairly reasonable and has seven main tenants, most of which I do to an extent.  But that’s not what crunchiness has become.  Based on several very official online quizzes, here’s where I stand on the crunch meter. 

Birth Experience/Bonding. 
Crunch level: squishy
Reason: You may know from my previous rants and birth story that I had a deeply unnatural (supernatural?) birth experience.  AND I LOVED IT.  If I hadn’t had every medical intervention in the book, baby Booberry and I would be D-E-D dead.  And also my genital region would be forever destroyed by her giant, face-up head.  Because of my C-section, I did not get to do disgusting skin to skin with my bloody, gooey baby, though I would have.  I did it as soon as I could back in recovery and I was on SO MANY DRUGS, I only remember a flash (of first-latch pain) of it.  The thing that the crunchiest of crunchies does that makes me bonkers is not the having of the natural birth (DO WHAT YOU WANT), it’s the advocating of the more “natural” ways over trusting your doctor (WHO HAS A DOCTORATE IN YOUR VAGINA AND ITS FUNCTIONS).  It is intensely disrespectful to the doctor and nurses who put in years of training and hours of their lives (many of these hours at night) for you and your health.  I have heard a midwife say that doctors just push for C-sections to get it over and done with so they can be home for dinner.  Uhhhh nope.  My doctor was on call for a solid twenty-four hour stretch the day I was there.  He went home for breakfast seven hours after he surgically removed my baby at midnight after being with me for a full day before that.  I had the same nurse twenty of the twenty-six hours I was in labor.  No one is going home.  No one is rushing anyone.  Ok sorry, ranting again.  END OF RANT (for now).

Go to your baby when she cries.
Crunch level: this granola might be stale or overcooked
Reason: Here’s my hang up with cry it out (CIO for those of you IN A HURRY). My kid doesn’t know why she’s upset.  She just knows she feels sad and alone.  Have you ever been sad and alone in the dark and just wished you felt safe?  Have you ever had an inconsolable sadness?  I can make her sad feelings go away by holding her.  Sure, it would be convenient for me if she just put herself to sleep.  But I can wait.  I read an article that scarred me for life that said that kids’ cortisol levels (stress) are still high after they cry it out (as opposed to when they are held and compared to the mother’s cortisol levels during and after the baby is crying).  Is it true?  I don’t know.  I don’t care.  Yet.  I reserve the right to change my mind and get less crunchy and be hardened (see?  It’s a confusing metaphor) and let the child cry.  Because clearly kids who I know cried it out are fine and at least mostly well adjusted.  This is my crunchiest thing.

Crunch level: soft with a little crispiness
Reason: HERE IS MY BIGGEST SECRET.  For the first week, giant baby Booberry and I were out of sync and I didn’t make enough for her…and I SUPPLEMENTED WITH FORMULA.  Omg.  I am going to parenting hell.  And my kid is going have a lower IQ (because IQ is everything?).  I was full-blown afraid to tell people this.  Not because I was ashamed since my entire purpose as a woman is to give and sustain life (remember how I would have died without modern medicine?  Clearly survival of the fittest isn’t really a thing anymore), but because I was too tired and on drugs to fight the Mommy Battle regarding the use of formula.  So I would vaguely say, “she just ate” instead of “she had a bottle,” so no one would know my shame.  Then, everything worked out and now I am still the super special one who has to wear maxi-pads on my boobs because I am a milk over-achiever and I really do love breastfeeding.  I won’t do it forever, but I’ll keep it up for a while. 

Crunch level: homemade granola bar from a made up recipe
 Reason:  Attachment parents are all for co-sleeping.  At the very least, they say you should sleep with your baby in the same room with you for six months.  I did minimal online research on this and, generally, co-sleeping can be a SIDs risk and I’m too anxious about that kind of thing and also Catdome likes to co-sleep (on our faces) and he gets aggressive if we don’t love him enough.  So, we slept with her in the room with us until…four months.  Why four?  Totally arbitrary.  But I had the sneaking suspicion that sleep talking Doctor, aggressive cuddler Catdome, people getting up to pee in the night, and not wanting to go to bed at 7pm was leading to Boo waking up more than necessary.  So we moved her to her room and I didn’t sleep much that night, constantly wanting to go make sure she was still breathing.  And she totally slept better (until teething started).

Baby led weaning
Crunch level: oatmeal
Reason: This, as I understand it, is that instead of feeding your six-month old watered down baby food from a spoon, you give your baby chunks of actual food and see if they choke and die.  This is supposed to teach the baby…something valuable…

Amber teething necklaces
Crunch level: milk
Reason: NO MEDICAL PROOF.  Parents somewhere got the idea that you can put a pretty amber beaded necklace around your infant’s neck and it will relieve teething pain (through...magic?).  I’m sure babies will just forget that they like to chew on everything and that they only grab at everything with spastic fervor and just leave the tantalizing thing around their necks and not die.  Sarcasm!  I DON’T GET THIS ONE!

Crunch level: married
Reason: Portland had a vote right before we moved here that asked its residents if they wanted their tap water fluoridated.  Wealthy people, hippies, and those who hate dentists with a sociopathic passion voted that they didn’t want their pure, delicious (it is) water being poisoned with chemicals.  As much as I hate flossing, I am married to a dentist and he, despite the fact that lack of fluoridation would give him more patients, is pretty clear on the issue: kids need teeth.  Fluoridate.  He had an awkward argument with our neighbor at a block party when the poor neighbor, with no facts to back up his claim, “respectfully disagreed” that the water should be fluoridated.  Pretty sure we’re not going to get invited to any parties at his house…

Cloth diapering
Crunch level: store bought
Reason: I’m lazy. 

The environment
Crunch level: the box says it’s organic granola so I’ll buy it
Reason: I TRY.  I compost.  I recycle whenever possible.  I use green cleaning products on baby toys.  But, the day we ran out of hand sanitizer at my first teaching job was the day everyone got pink eye.  At another teaching job, I started Lysoling desks after a terrible bout of strep throat.  Sometimes I need me some CHEMICALS.  Also, I reallllllly want a minivan.

Dietary restrictions
Crunch level: Quaker Oat Bars from Target
Reason: I eat meat.  Sometimes I know that it is grass fed…sometimes it’s just the cheapest meat at the store.  I eat eggs.  Sometimes they come from my awesome neighbor and, yes, they taste better than the store-bought ones.  I eat dairy…all of it.  I eat gluten…omg so much gluten.  I eat sugar.  Also agave.  Also honey.  Also syrup.  Also coconut sugar.  All the sugars.  Even the fake sugars but I don’t like those as much.  I do not eat Little Caesars Hot and Ready because that is not food. 

Alternative Medicine
Crunch level: FDA approved
Reason: Ok. So I got acupuncture and it was amazing.  But, seriously, the term “naturopath” is not allowed in my house because it will start the Doctor on a looooonnnng rant or at least a complete lack of respect.  The internet says naturopathy is often lacking in “evidence based medicine.”  That’s about all I need, guys.  Just gimmie some non-anecdotal evidence.    I mean, sure, I rub coconut oil on myself sometimes but it’s because I like smelling like a cookie, not because it will cure ALL my ills. 

Which brings us to the biggie…

Reason: ex-MTV VGs are not medical experts.  Even though I had and really didn’t mind chicken pox as a kid, I did miss spring break because of it, so why do kids need to have chicken pox?  Chicken pox parties are the LEAST of our worries, though.  Here’s the deal, I don’t claim to know things.  I’m agnostic.  I refuse to commit to knowing much of anything for certain.  I can only go off of what I have reasonable proof and/or doubt of.  AND VACCINES ARE NECESSARY.  I don’t believe anyone is trying to hurt their kid (or anyone else’s if we’re gonna get into herd immunity issues), but this is getting ridiculous, Portland.  Get your shit together and do even a LITTLE research on this. 

True story: I totally paused writing this to go get a granola bar because all this talk of crunchiness made me really want one.  It’s gluten free…and I like it.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

But What Do You Do All Day?

In honor of the first day of school, I’d like to address the concept of “But what do you do all day?” which is something often asked stay at home moms (SAHMs as the internet refers to them...because WE DON'T HAVE TIME TO SPELL THIS SHIT OUT FOR YOU!).  I am a SAHM almost all the time (I teach one class on Saturdays which has been on summer hiatus).  I miss teaching full time so much but know that a life of never, EVER being alone for ten hours a day is not the life for me at the moment.  I’m super duper thankful to be able to stay home during this time. 

Not being accusatory at all, a friend of mine asked the age-old question, “What do you do all day?”  She wasn’t being malicious or judgmental the way a lot of people are who ask that question of women who “just” stay home.  She was curious.  So…here it is.  WHAT I DO ALL DAY (an amalgamation of a random Tuesday):

6:10: Doctor wakes up for work.  My boobs feel like ROCKS because Her Ladyship Booberry has deigned to sleep nine hours straight because she is the greatest creature that ever lived.  I ask him to check on Boo because she’s taken to sleeping directly on her face and I am worried she has suffocated and died.  He informs me she is still alive and goes to shower.  Either the noise, light, or passage of time wakes up Booberry who flips herself back onto her back and smacks her head on the side of the crib.  So I go in there, change her, and nurse her off Hambone (lefty, the dominant one) which is difficult because of my rock hard boobie and overactive let down.  I fill Boo’s ear with milk as she unlatches and I dissolve into swearing trying to get her back on.  I am thankful she doesn’t know how to repeat words yet.  She eats really fast now and soon I am a lopsided Picasso so I give her a binky and plop her in the crib while I pee (because I haven’t done that for nine hours) and then pump Flippy (the right, less dominant one).

6:45: Join the Doctor for breakfast in the kitchen.  I am winning today because I remembered to make him a lunch and it’s in the fridge (if I don’t make him a lunch, he eats tacos or Little Caesar’s Hot and Ready).  Before you commend me on my domesticity, let me tell you, his lunch consisted of: pizza from Friday night, carrot sticks which were already in the bag, a prepackaged thing of hummus, a yogurt, an apple, and two packs of fruit snacks.  Not exactly gourmet.  Boo happily plays in her exersaucer and laughs uproariously at Ruby who is staring her down from her perch on the counter (she gets ONE section of counter and NO I do not prepare food on that section).

7:10: Doctor leaves for work and I put Boo in the boppy (so far there has been binky, boppy, and exersaucer…the baby CRAP terminology could fill its own lexicon) and sing “Let it Go” (because it is ALWAYS in my head) to her while I put away the laundry I washed three days ago. 

8:00: Boo rubs her eyes so I feed her and put her in the swing (baby depository #4 if you count crib).  I wash pump parts while I wait for her to fall asleep.  Then I come down to the basement and exercise.  JUST KIDDING.  I go on facebook and, in the case of today, blog.  I did do a youtube exercise video two days ago, but I’m still too sore to go back.  Repeatedly and obsessively sneak back upstairs and check on Boo who is totally fine but I’m convinced is going to somehow fall out of the swing (she’s strapped in) and suffocate.

8:30: wipe down Boo’s toys which I haven’t done in several days.  Maybeeee do dishes.  Maaaaaybe fold laundry.  Read mom blogs and Portland parenting facebook articles.  Get dressed (into gym clothes).

9:30: Boo wakes up in the swing giggling and wiggling.  Feed her, change her, dress her, eat a snack (Kind bar chased with a few random chocolate chips), fill water bottle, put crap in car, put on minimal makeup because I look a little diseased, try to put my hair up but it’s too short, while she sits in the vibrating chair in the bathroom (device #5).  Put her in carseat (#6).  Go to car.  Get gas.  Also get coffee at the coffee stand that has Stumptown Cold Brew.  CHUG IT.  Feel awesome. 

10:00: MOM WALK!  I have been lucky enough to meet really nice mom friends who I get along with besides the fact that we have same-age kids.  We walk in the park and talk about our current obsession which lately has been sleep training (new topic from milk over/under supply issues).  Sweat excessively.  Boo naps intermittently.

12:00: Smoothie.  Feel guilty for going out for coffee and also now “lunch” because I have no job and could make both coffee and smoothies at home but I DIDN’T because I’m so, so hot and sweaty and probably badly sun burnt because I forgot sunscreen AGAIN and also I really want to keep socializing with the moms because parenting is a form of loneliness in which you are never alone.  Feed Boo under a nursing cover and drip sweat all over her.  Use nursing cover to wipe sweat. 

1:00: Home.  Shower while Boo sits in the chair and play peekaboo with the shower curtain.  Get dressed (into different gym clothes).  Eat another kind bar and a string cheese while making faces at her as she sits in the bumbo (#7).  Go to the living room and let her roll around on the floor which, in lieu of a rug, is adorned with one and a half (found a half on the street and thoroughly scrubbed it) of those giant foam puzzle pieces.  She starts fussing so we snuggle and I read her Peter Pan for a little while (in a British accent) but she gets bored and sleepy.  Change diaper.

2:30: Boo is fussing and in need of a solid nap so I take her into the basement and turn on Netflix while I nurse her.  She laughs manically at me which is adorable and a sign that she is super tired. 

3:00: She falls asleep in my arms and I let her stay there because it’s kinda my favorite thing in the whole world to hold a sweet, sleeping little Boo and also, if I try to “nap train” her and put her in her crib, she will become wide awake and start playing with her feet for the entirety of nap time.  Also, I kinda want to watch TV…

5:30: Doctor comes home and I have not made dinner or even thought about what I would make for dinner which is fine because he got Little Caesars’ Hot and Ready so he’s good to go so I “accidentally” wake up Boo because I’m starving and my bladder might explode and the Doctor snuggles her and I go up and heat up something that came in a bag from Trader Joes (thank you, world, for Trader Joe’s) and eat the whole thing out of a bowl while we finish whatever Parks and Recreation episode I was watching and then we go play with Boo on the floor mat for a while and I go to the gym (JUST KIDDING…I almost never do) and, if it’s nice, the Doctor straps Boo into the Ergo (#8) and we walk around the block and she falls asleep and then we come home and feed her avocado/breast milk which is hilarious. 

7:00: “Bedtime Routine” starts.  Bath if it’s bath night.  The Doctor does this mostly by himself because I have determined it would be good “bonding” for them.  During bath I lay out pjs and hopefully make Doctor’s lunch and check facebook.  Then pjs and I snuggle her while he reads her a story in our bed.  Then I take her to her room and nurse her in the rocking chair and then try to put her down.

8:30: She won’t let me put her down without waking up fully and crying like I’ve abandoned her and so I know she’s overtired and I have failed yet again to get her to bed before she’s become overtired and curse myself as a parent and then get over it because I WANT TO LIVE MY LIIIIIIFE and then nurse her again even though she doesn’t need it and text the Doctor to tag me out.  He takes her and shushes her while I lie listlessly in bed and go on facebook. 

8:35: She’s sound asleep in her crib doing the Rocky pose on her back because the Doctor is AWESOME (and doesn’t smell like food).  I give the Doctor a short neck rub because that’s the deal if he gets her to sleep successfully and we watch an episode of something and he rubs my feet because he’s cute.

9:30: The Doctor is sound asleep and snoring in his chair and Boo has woken up, turned onto her face, and put herself back to sleep. So I wake up the Doctor and we go to bed but we forgot to feed the cats so he gets up and then I forgot my water so I go get it and then we get into a discussion about how long it will be before everyone is cyborgs and, did he lock the door?  So he goes to check and Boo wakes up an little and I freak out but she’s just mantra crying not really crying and goes back to sleep.  I read a chapter of my library book on sleep training (which defines mantra crying).

10:30: Fall into a dreamless slumber.

4:00: My boobs hurt.  What time is it?  Booberry is still asleep on her face.  Is she dead?  No, probably not. Should I check?  Try not to check.  Go back to sleep. 

6:10: NEW DAY.

No, not every day is the same.  Every day she does something new and I have a different errand or activity.  It was a touch easier when she was a newborn who slept on the go, but she’s so much more fun now.  Would I miss her terribly if I were at work?  Yes.  Do I miss work?  Yes.  Do I want to go back to work?  Hell.  No.  This is fun.  Doesn’t it sound fun?

The part the average, childless person doesn’t see is the parts that make it amazing.  Holding her while she trusts me so immensely and sleeps deeper than she ever does on her own.  That won’t last.  Her deep laugh whenever I make a goofy face at her.  That won’t happen when she’s in school.  Her intense concentration when I show her how to pet Ruby without pulling out clumps of hair (Ruby is a good pet).  There will be a day when she doesn’t want to learn from me.  Singing her a lullaby that my mother would have sung to me were she not so tone deaf as I rock her to sleep at night (and then fail).  That won’t happen in a year.  Seeing her face light up when The Doctor walks in the door.  That look of surprise will fade once object permanence truly sets in. 

I used to leave my house at 6:45 to get to school and I’d get home near 6.  This is the second school year where I haven’t been there on the first day.  Last year I was unemployed and newly preggo.  Every day I’m not a classroom teacher, I try to remind myself to think of all the hours in between and all I did with her.  I try to think of the working parents who are happy to have the time in the world of adults during working hours, and how much they much look forward to the little moments at the end of the day that, on paper, seem so simple and probably boring. 

Sometimes I think of Milo from The Phantom Tollbooth.  When he was at home, he wanted to be at school.  When he was at school, he wanted to be at home.  I think, after a quarter of a century in a school setting, I’m finally ready to let Milo’s attitude go and live in the moment.  (Let it gooooooo, let it gooooo).

Because someday we’ll all be cyborgs anyway…

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Some thoughts in my head when I inexplicably couldn’t sleep

“Sleep when the baby sleeps” is the most full of crap piece of advice ever.  Sometimes I do it…especially if there’s a blissful 8am nap.  That’s the best nap because everyone can just pretend it’s still night or that we’re in our early 20’s and still slept past 7am. 

Sometimes, though, I want to LIVE MY LIIIIIIIIIFE!  You cannot take my FREEEEEDOOOOMMM, Booberry!  So basically there’s this thing called “Four Month Sleep Regression” that should be called, “OH MEEE GAWWWD WHY?!  MY CHILD USED TO SLEEP SO WELL AND NOW NEVER SLEEPS UNLESS I HOLD HER NEXT TO MY BOOOOOOOOOOOB.”  It’s the worst.  We (Booberry and I…the Doctor tries to stay out of the way also known as does not help (but we love you)) are working on some good sleep habits.  There are infinite books on the subject and I have two on hold at the library because I already spend too much money buying baby crap on Amazon Prime (oh I have to go update my subscribe and save brb).

“Good sleep habits” according to parenting experts (summarized by the internet and a friend of mine who read all the books thus making it so maybe I don’t have to) include:

-          Not nursing the baby to bed
-          Having the baby fall asleep on her own after putting her down while drowsy but not asleep
-          Putting the baby to bed in her own bed as opposed to the stroller or swing or car seat or other baby shortcut device
-          Don’t swaddle once they can roll

These are basically tips of everything I don’t do:

-          She only falls asleep directly after nursing
-          If I put her down she wakes up and starts blowing raspberries at me
-          She only falls asleep out of my arms if she’s in a baby shortcut device
-          She punches herself in the face and wakes up if I don’t swaddle at least her right arm

So, basically, we just struggle until I put her in the swing and it creaks from the effort of rocking my giant baby (the manual says 25 lb limit but the internet said the swing craps out at around 16lbs.  Guess my daughter’s weight??!) and then when she’s deeply unconscious I can get her out of the swing and she stirs and then falls back asleep as soon as she’s in the bed with a pacifier. 

This is when I should sleep.

But sometimes I don’t wanna.

Because I want to hang out with the Doctor.  Or blog.  Or clean (hahah yeah right…omg I need to change the laundry brb).

Here’s what just happened LIVE: I had to get hangers for the laundry so I had to walk by the baby room.  The hardwoods are incessantly creaky so I had to tip toe around the creaky bits like they were landmines.  Then I just sprinted the last stretch and got the hangers and then repeated the process to get back down and once I got to the laundry room I realized I forget the baby monitor so I went and got it and then took one article of clothing out of the dryer and Booberry woke up and started in on her “cough cry” which earned the nickname “Her Ladyship” as in “Ahem.  I demand assistance in the most polite way.  Ahemmmm!” and now I’m hoping she can put herself back to sleep because that’s what the sleep people say to do oh NOPE there’s she goes into a real cry brb. 

45 mins in her crib is her new record.  I’ll take it. 

I have officially and definitively defined (is that redundant?) unconditional love.

Oh the laundry I forgot brb.

Ohhhhhh kaaaay back.  Unconditional love:

“If my daughter was a sociopath and murdered my husband I would still love her.  If my husband was a sociopath and murdered my daughter, I would no longer love him.”

The Doctor agrees with my definition and is not at all offended.  This is why I love him…but apparently there are limits to my love and he is okay with those parameters. 

What was this post about?  Oh yeah…not sleeping. The other night when I wasn’t sleeping and the Doctor was keeping me up with his snoring, I wrote down some notes about thoughts in my head at that moment.  Sometimes when I write things down at night they make little to no sense when I get up.  Something I wrote down the other night is: “old man little boy nuke.”  And I had NO IDEA wtf that was supposed to mean until I remembered that the snoring made me think that my husband is an old man and that many other things he does makes me think he’s a little boy and then I was wondering if those were the names of the nuclear weapons but I looked it up and it’s “Fat Man and Little Boy” which does not apply.  But yeah, husbands can be simultaneously old men and little boys.  I made a t-chart:

Old Man
Little Boy
Has zombie nightmares and wants to cuddle
Wears polo shirts
Wears star wars tshits under polo shirt
Mows the lawn
Sings jibberish loudly while mowing the lawn
Has a job
Bought video game controllers to take to work
Likes to drink whiskey (“like a man” he says)
Eats mostly pepperoni pizza from Little Caesars
Is awesome dad
Because he is a child at heart

I love T-charts.

The other note I put down is “hardly ever cries.”  That refers to me.  While preggo, as you may be aware from a previous post, just about everything made me weep uncontrollably.  One time I cried, hard, for three hours…I must have had colic.  I don’t remember now what it was so clearly it wasn’t a life-changing tragedy.  And now I was noticing that I couldn’t remember the last time I cried from being upset.  Sometimes I cry because Booberry is being sweet and little and snuggly and that’s more of a bittersweet cry.  But, when I wrote the note, I noticed how, once we got over the hump of newborn HORRIBLEness, my mood has stabilized and I’m generally a pretty happy person.  Isn’t that nice?!

Of course, two hours later, Booberry was still awake and fussing and I broke down into exhausted weeping and the Doctor went and slept in the guest room and I nursed Boo until she was unconscious and then put down sound asleep.  And then I went to sleep for three hours until she woke up again. 

But it’s the little victories…

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Parenting Advice from a Novice

There is a saying in medicine: “See one, do one, teach one.”  I know a few doctors and would trust them with my care in general.  BUT THAT IDEA IS TERRIFYING!  I know it’s not really true.  It’s not really like, “Oh hey I see you have a brain tumor, I’m going to do the surgery for you.  Sure I’ve never done it before but I’ve seen it once and the guy who is going to be telling me what to do has done one, so we’re good.”  But it is true for things like stitches and taking blood pressure and stuff of that fairly innocuous nature.  Trust me, I’ve seen ER, I’m basically a doctor.  TV MD. 

So I’ve seen a kid.  I’ve had a kid.  Let me teach you how to have a kid…JUST KIDDING.  But seriously folks, I get a lot of advice all the time from soliciting it like a hooker on a corner (what is wrong with me today?) and totally unsolicited.  I have sifted through it and here is what I came up with:

1.        Do not take parenting advice.
a.       I know, I know, I’M the one giving this advice…am I saying not to read the rest of the post like one of those “following directions” tests you got (and I failed) in elementary school?  No. But what I’m saying is this: if it doesn’t sound right, then you have no reason to take this advice…even if it’s from your mom or a mom friend who has five genius children…or even your doctor.  If it sounds wrong, get another opinion.  Or hey, make your own because IT’S YOUR KID.  It’s your responsibility and HECK, you have only known the lump for a week/month/year but you still know it better than anyone else does.  Maybe, though, stop referring to your child as an “it.”

2.       Take parenting advice
a.       Wait, am I on crack?  No.  But life is a paradox so here it is.  You know nothing (John Snow)!  You’ve never done this before!  And even if you have, this is A NEW AND WEIRD LITTLE INDIVIDUAL you just created…and it is different from everyone else on the planet so, if you need help, ask!  Or if your kid is liiike having ONLY GREEN POOP  (like Booberry recently) and that seems weird to you, maybe follow up on that.  Or if someone super arrogant and annoying says something to you and you don’t want their stupid advice and you didn’t ask but actually that does sound like a good tip, just get over yourself and try it out.  And there’s no point in me telling you not to read horror stories on the internet because you’re going to no matter what so just refer back to advice #1 as needed. 

3.       Delegate
a.       Green poop.  That’s what precipitated this.  See a lactation consultant. Why wouldn’t you see an LC?  If you don’t like the one the hospital brought you, get another one.  They are neat.  The stereotypical advice moms get is, “Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt.  BUT OH MY GOD IT HURTS SO BAD!”  which is super true.  Of course it hurts to have a suction cup pull at your nipple every two hours.  That takes some getting used to!  But get help with that.  Because it should not hurt once you get it all sorted out and somehow train that precious creature that sucks the juices from you to do it without bruising you.  If you are not breastfeeding, that’s just fine,  and see number 1 because people are judgy bitches about breast juice but some people are adopted and they aren’t dying or stupid because they didn’t get their mom’s precious bodily fluids, so your kid will be just brilliant, too! 

Tell people to do your dishes.  Realllllly, they don’t mind and everyone knows how to do dishes.  Or they should.  If not, TEACH THEM and then make them practice on your dishes.  Not everyone has my mother-in-law aka “The Hurricane” who will come to my house and clean the entirety in half an hour flat.  But you do have people asking “what can I do?” and they can do something.  Like dishes.  Don’t be such a perfectionist that you redo the dishwasher after someone else doesn’t do it efficiently.  Let it go, like a Disney princess, because you don’t have time any more.  You are not Olivia Pope and you cannot HANDLE everything (I watched some Netflix while pumping). 

4.       You are the best parent in the world.    You are the worst parent in the world.
a.       At least in your own head.  Yesterday, I woke up after my child slept eight hours and she smiled at me and had a nice yellow poop  (thank you, lactation consultant) and then we went to coffee with my mom group and she smiled and gooed and took a cute nap on my lap and they inquired about my oversupply problem (which is like saying your biggest flaw is being a perfectionist when talking to other moms, but it is actually a thing to fix) and I felt like THE BEST MOM EVER.  Then, in the afternoon, I went to my neighbor’s house and wedged Booberry in the corner of the couch while I went to take my birth control and she decided to try to commit suicide by pitching herself two feet forward and head first off the couch and my neighbor TOTALLY NINJA saved her by making it a controlled fall and supporting Booberry’s tiny, daredevil head all while holding her own kid.  I felt like the WORST MOM EVER!  But my neighbor got to be the BEST MOM EVER in that moment and I’m super thankful she was right there.  So basically, every day you will fail a little but, if your kid is still alive at the end, YOU FOUGHT THE DAY AND YOU WON!  Mom guilt will happen forever (I’m flooded with shame thinking of her plummeting off the couch) and you will always think of worst case scenarios (I totally just paused writing this to make sure Booberry was still breathing because she’s all the way in the other room and has been asleep for a long time), but deal with it.  You’re the best mom ever (to your kid).  I mean, logic dictates that you are also the worst mom ever since you are her only mom unless you are in a two mom marriage, but stilllllll….optimism, people!

5.       “It goes so fast!”  Is a lie…and a truth.
a.       I told you life was a paradox.  Old ladies and moms of snot-nosed ten-year-olds will stop you on the street to wiggle their fingers at your baby and they will proclaim her the cutest baby that ever lived (your suspicions have been confirmed) and say the SAME DAMN SENTENCE, “Enjoy this.  It goes by so fast.”  And you will roll your eyes.  Because you were up all night with her and you have mastitis (“what cows get”) and she screamed at you for no reason and has weird newborn baby acne and your husband doesn’t like you anymore (he does, I hope), and she doesn’t even acknowledge your presence let alone love you and it’s only 2pm and no one is going to come home to help you or give you a pee break for at least three hours and you MIGHT DIE OF SLEEP DEPRIVATION.  It goes slow.  SO SLOW.  And then, suddenly, you’re packing up the size newborn clothes.  And also the 0-3 month clothes.  And she can roll off couches and hold things with her hands and put them in her mouth.  And you have this beautiful moment of clarity one day as she wriggles between you and your husband at 7am, blowing bubbles with her lips and refusing to go back to sleep because she’s so excited to see you and you will smile and then start to cry because this is never going to happen again.  And your husband will look at your like you’re crazy and say “I’m sure we will hang out with her in the morning in bed again” and you say, “But never like this!  Never will she ever be this small again!  Never exactly this age and stage of life again!” And you will see a little newborn in the bathroom at the mall, dead asleep on his mom’s chest and you will think (but maybe keep the thought to yourself because she looks stressed) “I hope you enjoy this, because it goes so fast.”

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Some Stupid Similes (and a metaphor) from the English Teacher

…after a weekend in California for a wedding…these are not grammatically correct.  My English teacher OCD is making me say that.

Having a baby is like having a doll because I had the kind of doll that you feed fake baby food to and then she poops in her little weird baby cloth diaper and I totally had a baby clothes fashion show the other day until the doll got so annoyed and squirmy I had to give up.  Also people say, “She looks like such a little doll!” but I’m pretty sure that’s because, surprise, my baby is super white and no longer has horrific eczema. 

Being a mother is as exhausting as being a teenager who babysits except you get used to being sleep deprived since you can never give the kid back and go home and watch like five hours of Dawson’s Creek in syndication even though they’re the lame college episodes.

Going to the airport with an infant is like going to the airport with your cat: you’re desperately hoping you don’t get pooped on and that the crying doesn’t anger the passengers and that no one gives your cargo a disgusting airplane disease omg why is that old lady coughing that disgusting phlegmy cough without covering her mouth and no you did not just try to touch my cargo!

This one is from the Doctor: taking the baby to a retirement community is entering a field of land mines.  But the mines just grasp at the air surrounding the baby and remark on the roundness of her head. 

Having your baby scream bloody murder during an airplane’s descent is as torturous as sitting next to someone else’s baby screaming bloody murder during an airplane’s descent except it’s so much worse since you are simultaneously aghast at the unhappiness of your tiny, sweet child and also deeply embarrassed that this is happening to you and you are now the person everyone hates and then everyone is really nice about it because people are better than you thought they were which is the biggest relief in the world but you’re so stressed you almost wish someone would give you a hard time about it so you could vent your stress in a RAGEFUL RANT about how your baby is just scared and in pain and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. 

Wearing a bridesmaid dress in a postpartum body is like making home sausage with your torso.  Spanx for the win. 

Changing diapers is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re gonna get.  But 0-8 times a day it’s poop.  The surprise, though, is WHAT COLOR?

Being away from your three month old for over a day is as strange as not having a three month old but suddenly remembering because your boobs feel like they’re going to explode every two hours. 

Breastfeeding in wedding garb is as sweaty as everything else I do because breastfeeding makes me sweaty for some reason.

Having a kid during a heat wave is like owning a pet vampire because you will do anything to keep the blasting rays of the sun from touching the precious, very white skin of your child even to the extent that you have to give your kid vitamin D drops because she doesn’t get any direct sunlight. 

Being a parent is as amazing as every cliché. If the cliché were also covered in a light layer of sweat and boob juice…and smiling.

Afterword: while looking up google images for “simile,” many pictures of teeth came up (“smile”).  English is hard.  

Monday, June 2, 2014

You know that thing where...

You know that thing where you go to Nordstrom Rack for sports bras and buy two based on the look of them and then they don't fit your newly giant boobs so you go back and when you take off your shirt to try them on, your baby sees your boob and says "GOOOOO!" and then you squirt boob juice all over the stroller (fortunately not all over the clothes you weren't going to buy) and then your baby starts crying and then you have to feed her in the handicapped Nordstrom Rack dressing room and you're sure everyone knows?

You know that thing where your infant slept through the night and it was blissful and then you told too many people about it and the karmic gods saw fit to teach your baby how to roll onto her face while swaddled and now you can't swaddle her any more and she's too young to self soothe so no one sleeps anymore?

You know that thing where you go to a new mom meet up group and you're so desperate for a friend who understands you that you overlook significant personality differences like a girl who doesn't know how to choose a boyfriend and when you find someone you like for reasons besides that their kid is your kid's age you have to try really hard not to come off too needy but really you just want to hang out and talk about squirting your boobs in Nordstrom Rack?

...where you get exactly one third of a chore done a day because you get interrupted and also your attention span ain't what it used to be (and sometimes you just go on Facebook or blog instead of doing laundry because you long to taste the sweet freedom of doing something totally selfish)?

...where you have people over and at some point the baby freaks out and you have to hang out with her in her room and you pretend you're really sad about it but really you're not used to this much adult human conversation at once and you appreciate the chance to speak in gibberish and pick at your daughter's eye goo crusties for a few minutes while you hear them discussing world politics you don't care about anymore because you have become a giant boob?

...where your baby is the cutest and sweetest and best and most advanced baby in the whole world simply because you made her and that's the most narcissistic and god-complexy thing that ever was and you don't care it's just true, duh?!

...where they told you breastfeeding would burn a ton of calories and so don't worry about the number on the scale but you do because it's shorts season and you are always hungry for hamburgers because of the breastfeeding and then you're like "screw it" and then you remember you're in a wedding in three weeks so you go push the stroller up and down the hills in your neighborhood and then get so hungry you need a hamburger?

...where you're just waiting for the houseplant to die already so you don't have to feel guilty about not watering it and you totally could if you cared but it's just a plant and am I a bad person for not caring about a plant?

...where a shirt is still clean if it has baby vomit on it as long as it's rubbed in?

...where your google search history now contains phrases such as, "neon green baby poop" and "why do my armpits itch when I nurse?"

...where you think you've got it all covered from a parenting perspective until every day when you realize you're just making it up as you go like when you didn't know to give her vitamin D or when the campfire made her eyes red or when she pooped everywhere and you had to give her a bath but normally Daddy Doctor gives her a bath and you realize you have no idea how to give her a bath and want Daddy Doctor to know that you're fallible because you know you can be too know-it-ally with the baby stuff?

...where you wake up several times a night to make sure she's still breathing even though you know deep down that she's fine but you worked so hard cooking her you're not about to lose her now and end up waking her up by being close to her and she looks super pissed at you and you feel guilty but do it again a few hours later?

...where the most interesting thing in the world is watching her sleep or coo or especially smile at you and you have no idea what movies are in theatres and don't care at all which celebrities got married and you're sitting in your living room in a nursing bra and underwear and dirty hair and smelling like baby vomit and you wouldn't have it any other way?

Yeah. Me too.

What' I'm having for lunch...and dinner.