Search This Blog

Find your care here


Two Kinds of People in This World

We headed out to Chicago a few weeks ago for a wedding. When I was in the bathroom washing my hands during the wedding reception, a woman next to me said that I looked tired. I replied, perhaps curtly, that I was tired. She was nice, perhaps a Midwesterner, and suggested that I was tired just from having so much fun. I looked up at her reflection in the mirror and said that I have a baby at home. She smiled knowingly and told me she was still tired from her first baby (the woman must have been at least in her 50s). As the woman left the bathroom, she turned and said, "There are two kinds of people in this world. People who have kids and people who don't."

Indeed. And not so long ago I was in the second category of people. Now I found myself in the middle of a wedding weekend with a heightened awareness of all of the ways that life changes when you jump into the first category.

There are the obvious differences. I used to have enough time to apply make-up properly. I used to drink as much champagne and wine as I wanted. I used to see the dance floor as an opportunity to win any Dance Off that came my way. I used to be part of the late night celebration. I like to think that I used to be a good conversationalist.

Each of those differences generally turns on the fact that I used to live with the luxury of seeing the world through my eyes alone. But now, my perspective has been permanently altered.

In Chicago, at the rehearsal dinner, the groom stood up and thanked his father for hosting the dinner. For about two whole seconds, the groom looked at his father in the exact same way I see Baby look up at me and my husband. It melts my heart when Baby does it, and when I saw the groom do it as an adult, I got tears in my eyes.

So maybe, at least for the foreseeable future, my face will have haphazardly applied blush and eyeliner, I will only have a glass or two of wine, and I will struggle to make conversation, let alone cut a rug - but I wouldn't trade any of it for being able to see (and feel) this whole new kind of love.


Unglamorous Fairytale

Yesterday I hit bottom. Baby turned six weeks on Monday. Instead of living up to great expectations of longer night sleep periods, Baby decided to sleep for one to two hours at a time all night and almost all of Tuesday morning. By mid-day yesterday, I felt exhausted physically and emotionally.

Without being asked, my husband came home from work early to rescue me from my sleep-deprivation induced insanity. He walked in the door, found me in Baby's room, kissed me, and said we are in this together. Then he told me that he was taking Baby for a walk so that I could sleep without interruption. I want to state publicly and loudly (if possible on a blog) that my husband is not only the absolute love of my life, but he is also the most wonderful, supportive, and caring adventure partner ever. He is my hero.

Did I fall fast asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow? Oh no. Not even ten minutes after my head hit the pillow. I was lying there wondering if, after weeks of Baby needing to sleep on either me or my husband, perhaps now I, too, need to be snuggled in order to drift off to sleep.

Then I remembered the book I turn to obsessively for advice regarding Baby's sleep. Dr. Soandso repeats over and over again in his book that an overtired baby will have a very difficult time falling asleep because our bodies work to fight fatigue. Delightful, I thought to myself twenty minutes later, still lying in bed, still not asleep.

Next, something wicked happened. I got another migraine. The aura, the pounding headache, the nausea; all of it. All there as if to say to me, "Momma, you will either relax and recharge, or I will force you to lie down and put that goddamn chamomile eye pillow over your eyes and GET SOME EFFING SLEEP ALREADY."

After the aura, the nausea, and the worst of the headache passed, I went to the living room to find my hero. He microwaved some baked ziti for us, and we had dinner together for the first time in weeks while Baby slept in his car seat on the floor.

There is absolutely nothing glamorous about this story, but it is my current fairytale - complete with a heroine in distress, a migraine villain, a sleep frenemy, and a husband hero.


The Industrial Revolution

While some philosophers have blamed the Industrial Revolution for the isolation of modern man that led to his current dehumanization and existential dilemma, I would like to take this opportunity to sing the praises of that little revolution.

Every morning, Baby and I engage in a little dance with the crib. I change Baby. I nurse Baby. Baby falls asleep. I put Baby down in the crib. Baby wakes up fussing before Baby has enjoyed a full nap. Cha Cha Cha. Repeat until around 11 am, at which point Baby is bonkers in his overtired state. He finally passes out, and out of fear that he will not sleep for more than thirty minutes again, I put him in our swing. Baby loves sleeping in the swing and will stay there blissfully for about three hours.

Today, the swing, in all of its modern, technological glory did something that feels about as impressive as when Ford created the assembly line. Today, I put Baby in the swing before he passed out while I ate my oatmeal. I put a pacifier in Baby's mouth on a whim (yes, a whim - I am incapable of rational thought between 6 am and 1 pm). I pushed the swing to get Baby gently swinging. Ten minutes later, Baby was fast asleep.

I am aware that the swing and a pacifier trick, just as the assembly line before it, may have some negative consequences. Maybe I will become a less skilled Momma. Maybe I will lose my sense of purpose and humanity and proclaim that God is dead.

But I have a theory about Existentialism: It does not apply to Mommas In Training. We are quite aware that before us is one of the greatest, most difficult tasks on Earth. Further, that purpose just happens to involve ensuring that we survive as a species, which instills a pretty noticeable sense of humanity.

So, three cheers for the swing, the pacifier, and the extra hour of sleep that I am about to get this morning . . . all made possible by the Industrial Revolution and the assembly line.


Social Smiles

I have read that babies begin their social smiles at around six weeks. As Baby approaches this developmental milestone in the next week or so, I may be approaching a milestone of my own.

Lately I have noticed that although I have the adventures of Baby, Grassy, and Zebra to keep me entertained, I need to get out of the apartment. And so I try to take Baby on a walk to the park every afternoon. During these walks, as I pass my neighborhood's many babies, moms, and strollers, and I wonder how much I might be craving some adult company during the day.

But how do people become mom-friends? Should I just sit down next to another mom on a park bench? Is there some online forum where I can find these potential mom friends to schedule a meeting in person? Am I supposed to smile at another mom who walks by with a look that conveys my sympathy for the need to get out of the house as well as what a cool walking buddy I could make?

Left to my own devices, I am an introvert. I am much better at being approached than at approaching. And, five weeks in an apartment with a baby has not necessarily made me more socially capable -- just more disheveled.

Today, when I went to the park, the first potential mom-friend was actually a potential dad-friend. He also looked disheveled, and he kept stopping and checking on the little bundle in his stroller. I imagined making friends with him and starting a Disheveled Parents at the Park Club. Instead, I remained the only member of my Disheveled Parents Club and continued on my loop.

Then I came around a curve and saw what looked like a veritable stroller convention about fifty feet ahead of me. Four moms and their strollers were in the path ahead. Life had just found a way to make the mom-friend issue unavoidable. They were blocking the path, and I would have to find a way to go through them or around them.

What to do? Smile as I stroll around them? Say hello and push right through the middle of their convention? Stop at the periphery and stand there hoping that they want to be my mom-friends?!?!?

I decided to go around them without any hello or smile. But just as I was half way around their circle, they started to move down the path. So, for about thirty seconds, we were all walking "together." This was worse than standing at the periphery and hoping they would invite me in. I sped up and pushed Baby up the path to put an immediate end to all of this awkwardness.

On my way home from the park, I saw the disheveled man and his stroller ahead of me on the sidewalk. As I walked past him, I noticed that the bundle in his stroller was not a baby, but a blanket folded to the size of a small package. Now I know that while I may not yet be capable of social smiles, at least I have a real baby in my stroller.



The theme for our nursery is, "Safari," which does not mean much except that we hung pictures from our trip to South Africa on the walls. I also found some safari themed wall decals at a big box store, and I put them on the walls above the crib and above the changing area.

Baby spends quite a bit of time in the changing area, which my husband affectionately calls Party Town. On the wall directly above Party Town, there are several decals: a zebra, a tuft of grass, a monkey, a few leaves, and a giraffe. The tuft of grass is about six inches from where Baby's head rests when he visits Party Town, and Baby loves, loves, loves to stare at that tuft of grass. He loves it so much that my husband and I have taken to calling that decal, "Grassy." We have even narrated (yes, out loud) a whole friendship between Baby and Grassy. On almost every visit to Party Town, Baby stares at the grass decal, and one of us (frequently, both of us) will talk to Baby about his best friend Grassy.

Yesterday, when my husband came home from work, we enjoyed that rare and precious commodity: time to talk to each other. I talked about the circus that is our local post office and about Baby's sleep patterns. Then, I shared the following:

"Today, [Baby] noticed the zebra next to Grassy. He looked skeptical, so I explained that Zebra was a friend of Grassy's, and that they could all three be friends."

In the brief, yet distinct, moment of silence that followed, I decided to keep a closer eye on the line between Momma/Baby World and Momma/(Still) An Intelligent, Creative, Interesting Adult World.



Today marks Baby's First Month, along with many other firsts. In order of appearance:

(1) I managed to get Baby into the Moby wrap long enough to leave the apartment. This is a major accomplishment. It is rainy here in Brooklyn, and we have no rain cover for the stroller -- so a walk to the doctor's office with the stroller seemed irresponsible.

(2) Baby's first bus ride. He slept through it - which is about how exciting it was.

(3) Baby's first shot. As expected, he wailed and howled. The doctor wondered aloud what was wrong and reminded Baby that the whole thing was over and finished - no need to cry, apparently.

(4) My first migraine while I was home alone with Baby. Migraines are not just big headaches - though they do include a big, fat, awful, eye-splitting headache. My migraines always have a prelude of about twenty minutes of distorted vision (known as "aura," which makes it sound so much lovelier than it actually is). This temporary loss of my ability to see, followed by a terrible headache, along with a side of nausea make having a migraine while home alone with Baby terrifying. More terrifying than watching him get his first shot. And more terrifying than riding the bus home with what seemed like every sick and dysfunctional adult in the downtown Brooklyn area.

I am happy to report that Baby is sleeping soundly now (and weighed in at 11.2 lbs today!), and that I am through the worst of the headache. God willing, I can get a nap in, and the rest of the day will involve a little less drama.


Saying The Magic Word

Baby was crying on Saturday evening - on and off from around 6:30 until around 8:15.

I have been told, and I have read, that such limited crying qualifies Baby for the "easy" category of babies. Allow me to state for the record that describing a newborn as "easy" to a Momma In Training falls flat, very flat, and with a great thud as it hits the floor. Perhaps, instead of categorizing Baby as "easy," we could start referring to this category of babies as "Thank The Great Baby Lottery That Your Baby Is Not Colicky And Putting You Through The Paces For Hours And Hours (And More Hours) Of Unconsolable Crying" -- or "TTGBLTYBINCAPYTTPFHAH(AMH)OUC" babies, for ease of reference.

So, on Saturday evening, my TTGBLTYBINCAPYTTPFHAH(AMH)OUC baby woke up from a nap around 6:00 pm. I nursed Baby, changed Baby, and nursed Baby again until he appeared contentedly replete. Soon, instead of drifting off into a milk coma, Baby began to cry, a great heaving sob and wail of a cry with a just a dash of what seemed like shouting.

Baby's diaper was clean and dry. He was full and uninterested in nursing again. I was cuddling him as much as he would let me in mid-wail. What then? I admit that I frequently (albeit irrationally) ask him what is wrong at these moments, and then I start to repeat that everything is okay and that there is no need to cry.

But sometimes there is a need to cry. The truth is that my ability to withstand Baby's crying diminishes as the day progresses. Gradually, the brilliance of whatever calming powers I once commanded fades. And by, oh, let's say 8:12 pm, if Baby is screaming in my ear, and I have no idea how to make him feel better, I am shedding a few tears of my own.

So it was on Saturday. Baby wailing. I, Momma In Training, holding Baby, trying to comfort him and to hide my own tears. Then, in a moment of desperation known only to those who have cared for a newborn, I whispered ever so quietly to Baby, "Please stop." And he did.

Not only did he stop, but he fell into the holy grail known to parents as Deep Sleep.

Gentle miracle granted by The Great Baby Lottery?
Baby's stern desire to make me use the magic word?

I have no explanation. Not even a hypothesis.

To all the Mommas In Training out there, I offer this story to highlight the occasional tragicomic absurdity of our circumstances. I raise my glass to all of you and your Babies, TTGBLTYBINCAPYTTPFHAH(AMH)OUC or otherwise. Here's to doing the best we can. Cheers.


The Day The Belly Button Fell Off

Last week marked my husband's return to work -- and the inevitable first week that I would be home alone with Baby. All was well until my baby's belly button fell off.

It was Day Two of My First Week Alone, at around 4:00 pm, only two more hours until my husband would be home, at which time I desperately hoped to take a shower. I was semi-confidently nursing Baby on the couch. Suddenly, Baby looked up at me, scrunched his face, and let out a wail to end all wails. When I picked him up to see what might have caused Baby's Suffering Wail, what was left of his umbilical cord fell from his adorable tummy onto the couch. Convinced that I had somehow painfully caused the thing to detach while nursing him, I started crying, too.

Nevertheless, in an effort to soothe Baby's cries, I started nursing him again. And although nursing soothed Baby, I was in an outright panic. I put the belly button on the couch cushion next to me and decided that I absolutely had to get to the nursery so that I could look up umbilical cords in The Baby Book.

I attempted to continue to nurse Baby as I made my way to the nursery. This proved to have been a mistake. When I finally made it to The Baby Book, Baby vomited all over himself and my chest.

At this point, I felt sure that I was unfit to be a mother. Not only had I knocked off my precious one's umbilical cord (the symbolism of such a brutal act was not lost on me), but then I ostensibly caused him to vomit all over himself. Now I had a baby in wet, spit-up clothes with a missing umbilical cord.

I changed Baby and within an hour we were back to "normal." When my husband came home and asked how my/our day was, I pointed to the umbilical cord that was still on the couch cushion. He picked it up, examined it, and proclaimed, "Cool."