Keep Those Babies Rolling….Rawhind!

Day 20 of NaBloPoMo and I GotNoMo.  The baby has been staying up later in the evening and by the time she goes to sleep and Wife and I eat and then I sit down to write, I’ve been staying up later and later and later.  Consequently, I can hardly keep my eyes open and just want to go to bed.  

Techically, I could push PLAY on this right now and satisfy the NaBloPoMo daily post requirement.  Mwahahaha.

Our Sweet Baby E turned seven-months-old today.  It’s a little shocking how quickly the time is flying by.  We really are loving every moment of it.  E celebrated by completely destroying one of her diapers tonight.  I knew we were in trouble when she started making her Wallace Shawn poop face that I hadn’t seen in a while and then whoosh, what sounded like ocean waves filled her bottom half.  

I’m always afraid to move her when that’s happened, but it’s the only way to change her diaper.  She managed to not have a blow-out and I thought I might get by relatively unscathed.  Uh…no.  It looked like she had been attacked with mustard yellow paint balls.  There was poo all over her cloth diaper and diaper cover.  Before I could get her out of them, she was rolling all over and spreading the poo farther up her back.  I was trying to hold her steady with one hand while spraying our Happy Baby Bottom Homemade Hippie Juice on our homemade cloth wipes.  She had other ideas.  I got the diaper and cover off of her, but she continued rolling rolling rolling onto the contaminated blowout pad under her bottom and lower back.  I stood there looking all over the place for at least two minutes as I tried to figure out where to put the saturated diaper and cover.  The Diaper Genie was several feet away and couldn’t be reached without putting Roly Poly at risk.  I couldn’t put it on the bed because she’d grab it (she was being changed on our bed).  I thought about putting it on the floor, but was convinced the dog would get it (forgetting the dog was safely behind a baby gate).  As I considered each of these options, I turned and gestured as if I was placing the diaper at each one, all the while keeping a hand on the baby so she wouldn’t plummet off the bed.  

I finally made the executive decision to sacrifice a new cloth diaper to put under the destroyed one so I could safely place it on our dresser.  That problem solved, I had to clean up Poo Bear with the Happy Baby Bottom Homemade Hippie Juice and homemade cloth wipes and then make sure she didn’t grab them once they were dirty oh my hell, she just grabbed one and it’s dirty.  OK, let me spray another homemade cloth wipe with Happy Baby Bottom Homemade Hippie Juice and clean her hand.  

If she would just stop rolling!  I felt like she and I were in a logrolling competition and she was winning.  

It was around this point that I yelled, “Help!” to wife as she came into the house from the garage.  I’m an only child and almost never ask for help.  It’s one of my least favorite things to do.  So If I’m asking, you can be sure I’m stuck on a roof or something similarly serious has happened.  (I got stuck on a roof recently.)  Wife came in and I swear to you, rolling rolling rolling baby just STOPPED and grinned at Wife.  I proceeded to put her diaper on with relative ease and she never moved.  Wife wanted to know why I yelled for help and when I explained, she just laughed at me and said, “All. day. long.”  

Wife is my hero.  

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The Wonder of It All

Not that I was really expecting any gifts, per se, because I didn’t have a baby for purely selfish reasons (Or am I just fooling myself? Is it possible to have a child for anything but selfish reasons? ) but one of the biggest gifts my baby has given me is wonder. I’m a curious person by nature and think that if you have a Google machine (smart phone) available, there is no reason to not seek answers to any and all questions you might have.  I enjoy learning new things and am thankful for a lot in my world, so it’s not as if I’m normally oblivious, but something is different.  

The baby has given me the gift of excitement. I can see that everything is new to her and gets her excited and happy and I can’t help but join in. 

We took her on a two-mile walk through our local Botanical Gardens last night to see their holiday light display.  Sweet Baby E looked like her head might explode from processing all the new stimuli. As I’ve said before, we don’t let her look at any screens (TV, iPhone, iPad), so for her, all those lights were AMAZING.

Similarly, every book she touches, nearly every face she sees, the new neighborhood kitten Wife introduced her to last night, her barky Maltese, my necklace, my hair, her other mother’s hair, her grandmother’s hair, all male facial hair, her handful of toys (stuffed bunny, elephant, cube thing with tags, and plastic keys teething thing) are all AMAZING and worthy of a great deal of study. I can’t get enough of watching her figure it all out.

She loves greeting the sunshine in the morning and watching the leaves rustle on the trees as the wind blows.  And wind!  She closes her eyes slightly as it brushes her face.  I wonder what she must think of it all.  

She wakes up smiling and giggling every morning and is so clearly happy to just exist, to be alive.  Her simple joy is infectious.  

I pride myself on seeing the whimsy and magic (science!) of life on this big blue marble, from the most complex to the most mundane, but there’s something very different about seeing it all for the first time.  I’m so thankful that Wife and I get to experience this with her.

What a wonderful gift. 🙂

Now I Lay Me Down to Insomnia

I’m currently distracted by the look on Wife’s face as she stares at the TV and I sing all the songs being performed by Sha Na Na at the prom on Grease.  It is a look of sleepiness, mild confusion, and disgust. 

Commercial.

We have reached Day 18 of NaBloPoMo (that’s National Blog Posting Month, if you don’t know) and the invevitable has happened – I’m tired, it’s past my bedtime, and I don’t really have any ideas.  Except for this one…

Did you say bedtime prayers as a child?  I did.  With my lapsed-Catholic mother and Lutheran father, Lutheran then Baptist grandmother and Catholic grandfather, or Catholic grandmother and lapsed-Methodist grandfather, depending on who was with me as I got ready for bed.  All those religions in the mix and I find myself a Humanist today.  🙂

But back then, bedtime prayers were the norm for me and the one I said every night was:

“Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep,

If I should die before I wake, 

I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

I’m sorry, what?  What was that third line?

Yes, that’s what I thought.  What the hell??  Why did anyone think it was appropriate to tell children they might die in their sleep?  I know mortality rates for children used to be far higher in the US than they are today, but was it really necessary to let kids know this was a possiblity?  

I remember being afraid I was going to die in my sleep.  And the whole hoping God took my soul part did not make me feel one iota better about it.  In fact, I think there was a time that the thought of God taking my soul creeped me out even more.  Who is this guy and why is he taking my soul, whatever that is?  This all sounds very final.

I didn’t care for it.  

I checked online to see where this morbid bedtime tradition began and there isn’t much information available.  It looks like the version I said every night first appeared in New England in the 1700s.  I don’t blame the author for not wanting to take credit for striking terror into America’s youth.  But it is a very New England-y thing to do.  Yankee sensibility, you know.  “Better say your prayers, you might not make it through the night.  Sweet dreams!”

Which reminds me, my beloved maternal grandmother would follow up the conclusion of my prayer (which also requested blessings for my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins) with, “Don’t let the bed bugs bite!”

*shudder*

PS – My beautiful rendtion of Stranded at the Drive-In from Grease has caused Wife to start squawking and run from the room.  My work here is done.  This concludes NaBloPoMo Day 18.  🙂

Book-Led Choking

Sweet Baby E hit the six-month mark last month and according to our pediatrician, we needed to introduce cereal into her breastfeeding routine.  We both thought food with zero nutritional value was strange in 2015 and pressed for the reason.  We were told it was so she would start ingesting more iron – the cereal is fortified with iron.  Well, that sounded stupid to us.  (No offense to anyone who is feeding or has fed cereal to their infants.  In fact, let me just do a blanket disclaimer.  No blankets were harmed in the writing of this blog.  No, no, that’s not it.  DISCLAIMER: I mean no offense to anyone reading this who did something with their child that Wife and I are choosing not to do and/or that I ridicule.  We’re new at this and will make plennnnty of mistakes so don’t worry, we’ll get ours.)

I asked the pediatrician if E could get iron from oh, I don’t know, spinach and she said that yes, it’s possible to give her pureed spinach and many in the pediatric community are starting to entertain the idea of letting infants gnaw on meat as a great source of iron.  There are also supplemental iron drops that can be given to the breastfed baby.  We thought that was the route we would probably go as we began introducing pureed foods to E.  

We spent about a week giving E different pureed foods to try.  E’s facial expression reviews will follow parenthetically.  Sweet potato was first (weird), banana (better but still weird), avocado (deargodalmightywhyhaveyougivenmethis??), and finally butternut squash (delicious!)  Somewhere in there, Wife heard about or looked into Baby-Led Weaning.  I had heard the term before, but foolishly thought it meant breastfeeding would continue until the baby indicated she didn’t want the boob any more.  You know, weaning led by the baby…

No, that’s not it.  I have to assume the ‘inventors’ of this movement chose Baby-Led Weaning because it sounded far more pleasant than Holy-Shit the Baby’s Choking, Cough-Hack-Gack Red Baby, or Let’s Hope They Spit It Out.  

To say I was incredulous when I first heard about this is an understatement.  But suddenly, everyone I spoke to with a young child had practiced or was practicing Baby-Led Weaning.   The book we purchased says we’re supposed to let E, toothless milk-fed six-month-old baby E, gnaw on hunks or large pieces of pretty much any food.  Carrots, apples, celery, bread, sweet potatoes, green beans, oatmeal…  The premise is that the infant’s gag reflex is much closer to the mouth opening (Yes, yes, we all knew someone like this in high school.  Move along…) and the infant does not have the ability to force the food to the back of the throat in order to swallow it.  The combination of those two things means if the baby successfully  breaks off a piece of whatever is being gnawed, she will not swallow it and instead will spit it out.  Eventually.  Even after it looks like she’s choking.

Oh, and you’re really not supposed to make a big deal about it or stare at the baby while she’s choking, I mean, eating.  

My heart.

I’m the calmer-in-an-emergency wife in this house and have been trained off-and-on for years in CPR and basic first aid, so it’s my job to sit next to the baby as she gags on solid food a few days short of seven-months-old.  Truth be told, the first few times we’ve let her try out different foods this way, everything went as described in the book.  “Our baby is brilliant!” we congratulated ourselves.

My mother-in-law visited tonight and brought some thick homemade graham crackers for Wife, really, but they decided to let teething Sweet Baby E gnaw on some this afternoon.  Again, big success.  I came home from work and they couldn’t wait to show me how cute she was eating her little graham crackers.   Dinner rolled around and we gave her the same crackers, now a little soggier.  Oh, she loved those crackers!  She sucked on them and gummed them and broke off a dime-sized piece and turned into Bill the Cat and after I briefly caught a glimpse of that piece near the opening of her mouth, we never saw it again.  While this was going on, my MIL was losing it behind me and I was trying to figure out the perfectly normal choking of Baby-Led Weaning versus the oh shit does she look blue to you choking of we need to do the Baby-Led Heimlich Maneuver.  

She must have swallowed the cracker piece (despite supposedly being unable to do so) and we all laughed awkwardly and breathed a collective sigh of relief.  Baby E, who was having a blast, immediately moved on to three large sections of carrot, celery, and apple and proceeded to choke NOT IN A GOOD WAY on apple and celery pieces that she broke off in no time at all.  If our baby looks orange to you, it’s because carrots are the only food stronger than her pit bull jaws and will be the only solid food she gnaws for the foreseeable future.  I was interested in teaching her American Sign Language to help her communicate before she’s able to speak, but may now just focus on the International Sign for Choking.  

And of course while all of this is unfolding and my MIL is not thrilled that we’re trying to choke her only granddaughter, we’re quoting what sounds like complete and utter horsehit from this book!  Who are these people anyway?  “Well, they say…” and “The book says…,” excuse me, Baby E, would you please gag more quietly, we’re trying to explain to Gran that this is all perfectly normal.

I can’t help but think this whole thing was invented by some lazy motherf*cker who didn’t want to puree everything.  

Let Sleeping Babies Lie. Or Else.

My talents are clearly being wasted.  I think I’d make an excellent spy.  I obviously have cat-like reflexes. My forty-six-year-old self just walked into my baby’s room to check on her sleeping self in her crib and when she moved her head over to the other side, I immediately DROPPED to the floor so she wouldn’t see me and wake up.  I crawled toward a segment of the crib where she couldn’t see me and then I stealthily and ever so slooooowly raised my head up past the quilt vision barrier hanging over the rail of the crib to see if she was indeed awake.  She was not.  I safely exited the target location.  Mission Accomplished.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.  Years ago, a friend told me that when her two sons were sleeping, she purposely played a radio loudly in their room so they could fall asleep under any noise condition.  She’d have me over and I’d be too loud and apologize and she’d reassure me that the boys were sound asleep because of their radio training.  I thought it was brilliant and never imagined I’d have a chance to try it out.

Well, that chance is here and that chance has come and gone.  

Shhhhh!  Did you hear that?  Hang on a sec.

It’s ok, she’s still sleeping.  The waves of the Atlantic Ocean are crashing down in her room via her sound machine, but we still have to be very very quiet.  

So quiet, in fact, that I spent a good 10 minutes driving around our neighborhood after work while simultaneously calling Wife to see if it was safe for me to approach our home.  If the baby is awake, I get the all clear.  If the baby is asleep, Wife has to grab the Maltese, who without restraint will bark uncontrollably, loudly, and in a frequency normally heard only by dolphins, which will cause the baby to come screaming into wakefulness.  Wife missed my first six calls because her phone was on vibrate, in case the baby was sleeping.

The list of activities we’re no longer allowed to perform while the baby is sleeping includes:

Coffee grinding

Speaking

Opening or closing doors

Changing clothes near sleep location

Emptying the dishwasher.

After too many delivery drivers left packages at our front door and then made the situation exponentially worse by ringing the doorbell or knocking on the door, thereby causing the dog to lose her sh*t, I had to post a sign forbidding doorbell ringing and door knocking.  The sign assures potential offenders that the dog will alert us to their presence.  

The mailman who talks nonstop on his bluetooth headset while delivering our half pound of junk mail has no idea how lucky he is to be alive.  As if the dog’s barking isn’t bad enough when the mailman comes up the front steps, he also parks his truck in front of the house while he delivers the mail on our street.  

Despites the Maltese’s incessant barking, the truck just sits there, refusing to leave.  I’m surprised my Wife hasn’t taken a snow shovel to the back of the mailman’s head.  I can see her walking up behind him while he’s distracted and loud-talking and <THWACK> right across the back of the head.  The only thing saving him is her complete inability to harm anything or anyone and the fact that the snow shovel is stored in a closet.  “Shhhh!  Don’t open that closet door!!  The baby is SLEEPING!”

Be My Little Baby

Today would have been my parents’ 47th wedding anniversary, had they still been married.  Coincidentally, my mother and her Man Friend were visiting Wife, Sweet Baby E, and me from out of state this weekend.  Mom and I have a running joke about my being present for their wedding, because at the tender age of nineteen, my dumb a-s-s self finally realized my mother was pregnant when she and my father married.  

I’d like to say my math skills regarding conception and family planning have gotten better, but had our first IUI procedure been successful, the baby would have been born two months earlier than we wanted.  

Fortunately, pregnancy wasn’t achieved until the third IUI attempt and everything worked out perfectly.  And since that moment, we’ve been 100% excited and dedicated to caring for our baby, and thankful for the opportunity.

It’s funny/sad to see how different that is from the experience my mother and father must have had.  They were young (22, 23) and saddled with an unexpected pregnancy.  I’m sure it was really difficult for them.  But I feel like they missed out by not having the chance to want a baby.  I think it must make all the difference in the world.  Or maybe just for some folks.  I’m thankful that we wanted our baby so much and worked to have her and cherish every moment with her.  

There are stories I’ve heard my entire life that sound completely foreign to me, now that I have a baby of my own and a frame of reference for what a baby is like at 2-, 4-, and 6-months.  I’m a different person at a different age in a different circumstance and would not have made some of the choices my mother made.  Likewise, I think she may look at some of the things we’re doing and think that we’re the odd ones.  

I had a happy childhood and am thankful for everything my parents did and my mother still does for me (Dad is deceased), but my hope is that Sweet Baby E will have an even better life because her moms get such a kick out of the simple joys of raising her – poopy cloth diapers and breastfeeding and teething and all.  

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Wife thinks it’s very important for us to not swear in front of Sweet Baby E.  I’m from New Jersey and when another driver cut off my grandmother when I was around 4 years old, I asked her, “Is THAT man a son-of-a-bitch?” clearly having heard my mother name someone as such in the same context at least once before.  Get my mother going on certain topics (Republicans, these days) and she begins to sound like Melissa McCarthy in The Heat.  

What I’m trying to explain is that cursing may be the C in the A-C-G-T of my DNA.  

But, what Wife wants, Wife gets.  And so, we’ve taken to spelling out any and all curse words.  Fortunately, the F word winds up just being F or mother-effer.  No wait, we do spell F-U-C-K out on occasion.  It depends on the context.  

Driving offenses now elicit: “That son of a b-i-t-c-h almost ran my fat a-s-s off the road!  He scared the s-h-i-t out of me!  Mother-effer.”

I find we’re more stringent than the FCC as to what constitutes a curse word.  I caught myself spelling s-t-u-p-i-d the other day and think we’ve gone a little overboard.  And yet, I’m only partially ashamed to admit that I don’t want Sweet Baby E to hear any harsh words.  

The best part about all of this for me is that I can line up at least ten parents who can recite my historical speech about cursing in front of children.  It always went like this, after I had just cursed in front of their child or children: 

“Oh, my ex- and I used to swear in front of her kids when they were really young.  As long as you don’t react to the word, they have no idea that there’s anything inflammatory about it.  It’s as if you’re saying the word ‘artichoke’ to them.  As long as you don’t react, they won’t repeat it!”

My friends would nod through my speech and say, “That’s all well and good, but we don’t want to swear in front of Junior,” and I would say, “OK, sorry,” and then proceed to uncontrollably curse in front of and at their children for the rest of our time together.  It was akin to telling someone not to drop an incredibly expensive and fragile item and then inevitably……..CRASH!!!!

I couldn’t help myself.

I’m going to do my best to keep Sweet Baby E from all of those people because I have no idea how I’m going to explain to Wife why my friends keep yelling obscenities at our innocent baby.

“Um…they’re from New Jersey?”

Paris

I sat down about an hour ago to write today’s NaBloPoMo post, after spending the afternoon and evening with my visiting mother and her Man Friend.  My post was going to be silly and will have to wait as I don’t think something silly will work right now.  I procrastinated by checking my Facebook and got a notification that a friend who lives in Paris had checked in safe during the Paris Terror Attacks.

Uh…what?

And then I learned what most of you probably know by now: over 140 people were killed this evening in what appears to be a coordinated terrorist attack on citizens and tourists in Paris.  Preliminary news reports are saying over 100 people were held hostage and executed inside a theater in which a band was performing.

After registering my disgust and horror and then sympathies for the friends and families of the victims, my thoughts return to home.  I once again question the sanity of bringing a child into this world.  I know intellectually that there have been violent conflicts between mankind since its creation and surely every generation has asked itself the same question and yet…

Will it ever be safe again for my child to go to school?  College?  A movie theater?  In an airplane?  A political rally?  What’s scarier right now – the fanatical domestic terrorist who strolls into a church or a college classroom or an ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CLASSROOM and guns everyone down or the fanatical foreign terrorist who strolls into a theater and executes concert-goers one-by-one?

It’s gotten to the point that any time I find myself with a large group of people, the slightest bit of anxiety starts to creep into the edges of my psyche.  I start to pay attention more, look for the closest exits, wonder where I would run or hide if someone strolled in and started shooting.  

I don’t want to live this way and I sure as hell don’t want to teach my precious, sweet, innocent child about any of this as she grows up.  

And so, as we cry for Paris and ourselves, I’m reminded of a very brave teenager and her resolve:

“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.  I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death.  I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.”  ~Anne Frank

The Naming of Parents is a Difficult Matter*

There’s a twelve year age difference between Wife and me.  When we first started dating and I received an invitation to my 25th high school reunion, Wife was incredulous.  My friend John said, “In her defense, she was in kindergarten when we graduated.”  I don’t think that made either one of us feel much better.

When we started discussing having a baby, I looked around at my high school friends and saw that a good number of them had kids who were high schoolers, some had kids who were in college, and a couple of my high school friends were already grandparents!  Apparently, I’m a late bloomer.  

And while we don’t really fit into or try to fit into stereotypical heterosexual couple gender roles, since Wife was going to be the one to get pregnant and I definitely have some personality traits that are more in keeping with fathers, when it came time to discuss what we’d like the baby to call us, I suggested:

Grandma Daddy.

I was mostly kidding, but I think it has a nice ring to it.  It addresses my age, my gender, and my role in this family.  

Wife did not see the good sense in this.  

We settled on Mommy for me and Momma for her.  When she told me Momma, I saw Mama, mainly because Momma in my mind is Mell Lazarus’:

  
I’ve never wanted to be called Momma and I don’t think Wife likes Mommy for herself, so it worked out perfectly.  Except that since we’ve had the baby, we keep mixing the names up.  Wife refers to herself as Mommy and I call myself Momma when speaking to the baby.  Then we correct ourselves or each other so I don’t know how she’s going to keep it straight.  I’m assuming we’re both going to wind up with a nickname that is some mispronunciation of both names.  Or she’ll just use Mommy and Momma interchangeably.  Maybe we can get her a whistle with different tones that she can assign to us so we’ll know which one of us she’s trying to fetch.

Of course, I could always fall back on Grandma Daddy…

Speaking of names and confusion, this sweet child has six grandparents.  If my father hadn’t died, she’d have a total of eight.  Have you ever tried to come up with six grandparent names?  Fortunately, her paternal grandather came with a nickname already.  Wife’s side of the family seems to have sorted out their preferred names pretty quickly and I manage to say them correctly about 80% of the time.  My mother and her Man Friend are arriving to meet the baby, so we’ll work out their two names this weekend.  

I sincerely hope neither one of them takes a shine to Grandma Daddy.  

It’s MINE.  

(*It isn’t just one of your holiday games.  You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter when I tell you a parent must have three different names…)