Saturday, March 28, 2009

You Put the Thermometer WHERE?

Ok, I never actually had to ask that question. I knew where the thermometer went way before I even thought about having children. I just never envisioned that I would be the one that put it 'there'.

So, one night after Lily received her first round of vaccinations and she was screaming her head off, I told Rob to get the vaseline. Since he would never do something that required him to have such nimble fingers, I determined that I would just have to take one for the team. I had Rob shine a flashlight near her bum just to make sure I was getting in right. As he held her legs up, I put vaseline on the tip of the thermometer and gently push it in just a little.

Whoever made an infant tush thermometer that took three minutes to take a damn temp obviously didn't have children. She squirmed and squirmed and it fell out and I tried again. In trying again, I was concerned that I was pushing it in more than I was supposed to, so I put my face real close to her bum just to make sure it wasn't in to far. And, of course, that's when it happened. I could see her little tush hole opening up ever so slightly and with it came a burst of wind so foul that I almost fell over laughing and crying all at once.

Moral of the story: when taking a tush temp, get a magnifying glass. It serves well as a visual enhancer and barrier all in one.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Our Dog, Merry

Is how we raise our dog any indication of what kind of parents we'll be? We have a five year old border collie, Merry, that we both love dearly (or, at least my husband does). We've had her since she was 8 weeks old and we were as excited as new parents. She was our baby. Our pride and joy.

This just begs the question, is how we raise our dog any indication of what kinds of parents we'll be? Never mind that we've never been able to keep a plant alive for longer than a day or even a fish alive for longer than a month (even those super-hardy gold fish). But, our precious little pooch has been alive and well for 5 years under our care...not so bad.

Here's a list of things that we've done to ensure her health and happiness:

We praise her for begging for food (at least she's not barking, right?)

Her training leash is on 24/7 (how else could we control her?)

We were always firm on NOT giving her people food, but we let her lick our plates (see #1)

She gets a walk probably about 50 times/year (no wonder she has all this crazy energy).

We lock her in our bedroom for 8 hours a day while we're at work (sorry pooch, we actually do feel bad about this one).

When we first got her, she used to bite our toes. I threatened to throw her out the window. I still do threaten this. Daily.

She scavenges in the garbage regularly.

Her punishment is to be shut into the bathroom.

She walks into the bathroom all by herself when she's been bad.

She likes to chew coins.We give her treats when she chews coins (so she'll let go of them!).

Daddy is definitely her playmate, and I am her caretaker (which may explain why she doesn't get her nails cut, is rarely brushed, and hasn't been bathed in months. She also had tuna breath, which we can't figure out, but keep hoping it will just get better).

She eats her own puke (all dogs do this, right?).

Worst Food Ever

What's the worst food you've ever eaten?

I love strawberries....I mean I really really LOVE strawberries. A couple of years ago when I bit into one of these delicious little fruits and pulled it away from my mouth, chewing my soft, sweet bite, I looked at what was left of the strawberry to my horror. Not only was the inside rotten and black, it contained small, black bugs! I didn't eat another strawberry the rest of that season. Predictably, however, I could not resist when my favorite fruit came back on the market the next year. But still to this day I carefully inspect every strawberry and have a much more tentative bite.

Panic Attack

I hold the door as she walks through, without so much as a thank you and she takes a right, heading for the street. “Where would you like to go? You probably know this neighborhood better than I do.”

“I…um…don’t really know. Whatever you like is fine. I don’t usually eat out of the office. It…uh…doesn’t really matter.” I stammer across my words as I want to kick myself in the ass for saying such a jumbled sentence. The words never can properly come out.

She suggests that we lunch at a local bread shop, claiming that they have the most terrific warm sandwiches. As we walk through the front door, the odor of the coffee immediately fills my nose. I wince with disgust. But this is a place that she enjoys, and I will live with it. I squint my eyes at the bright lights highlighting the day’s bread specials. The smell of coffee and cigarette smoke enters my pores. My head whirls around to avoid inhaling it directly.

I divert my head to the cackling women on their lunch hour, sipping coffee that steams up their glasses. Wearing their power suits, trying not to spill the hot liquid on their dark skirts. Shoes clicking on the hard stone floor. A couple close to the door stand up, their chairs screeching and my ears wince in pain and I close my eyes. As I reopen them, I see the lights. The bright lights are burning into my skin. My heart is pounding in my chest and my breathing barely escapes my mouth. It’s tight. Too tight. My chest cannot take the pounding. The oven beeps, a lady hollers obscenities as she spills coffee on her dress. So many breads, so much to look at. Rows and rows to choose from. Too much to chose from. I spot the menu on the wall behind the cashier. Handwritten in chalk and spreading the length of the wall. Too big, the words are a blur. They swirl in circles around my head just as the coffee steams into my pores. The sound of noisy cashiers ringing up sales then yelling the order like slaves to their customers.

Calmly, in a way that I cannot understand, Maya orders a double latte and a #34 sandwich with extra mustard. My head whirls as I search for the #34. Whatever it is, I should just say the same thing. I cannot concentrate long enough to see the damn menu. It’s swirling in my head and I have to get out. Too loud. Too busy. Too many people. That’s enough. “THAT’S ENOUGH!” Those words were shouted from my mouth. And before I realized that I even said them, the entire café became quiet. The lights seemed dimmer. The noise completely halted. No more cackling. No more screeching chairs. Lots of eyes. Eyes burning a hole in my back, my sides. My hands are shaking and I want to crumble. My heart quickens to a pace that I’m sure will overload it within seconds. My shoulders hunch, I put my hands over my ears and peer at the terrible stone floor as I walk out.

Clowny Puke Incident

I remember the Clowny Puke Incident like it was yesterday. I was only 6 years old and had just started a new kindergarten after my parents divorced. It was my first show-and-tell since my sixth birthday and I knew immediately what I would bring. My Clowny.

My Clowny was wonderful!! He had bright red hair and wore a blue jumpsuit that included an assortment of fasteners: ties, buttons, zippers, snaps and velcro on his suit and shoes.

The day came and I was nervous. There would be a roomful of other kindergarteners staring back at me and they would expect me to talk about my beloved toy. First was Andrew with his favorite picture that he drew of a rainbow. Oh, how I hated Andrew with his perfect, thin-lined rainbows. The only rainbows I could draw had large, clunky lines with too-dark crayon. Diplomatic as I was, however, I smiled and ooohed and ahhed appropriately with the other children. Next, it was my turn.

As I stood up in front of the 25 5-year-olds, Mrs. Wilson smiled at me and my new toy. I explained in a quiet voice that my Uncle Mike got him for me and I named him Clowny. The children were impressed as I snapped every snap and buttoned every button. Then, it happened.

With just one question from my unsuspecting teacher did this memory stick in my mind for more than 20 years. She asked, simply enough, where do you keep Clowny? Proudly, I answered, on the floor in my closet. The children laughed. Mrs. Wilson roared. They were laughing at me. So I threw up. I couldn’t help it and didn’t even see it coming. If I had, I probably would have averted my mouth away from my poor Clowny.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What the Hell is a Shower?

On one of the parenting forums that I belong to, a new mother-to-be asked the question, “Moms always complain that they don't have time to shower when the new baby comes. Is this really true? I have a hard time believing there is not time for even a 4 minute shower?”

Answers to her naïve question came in the form of one of two types. Either moms said they are able to shower everyday or moms said, sure, I could shower everyday or I could choose to eat lunch that day or throw a load of laundry in the wash, etc etc etc. I tend to agree with the latter group.

Sure, taking 4 minutes per day for yourself doesn't seem like it would be that difficult. But, let's look at this more closely. Sure, it may take 4 minutes for the actual shower (if I chose not to use conditioner that day). But what about the prep? What about the aftermath? You can't just leave the baby on the livingroom floor and hop in the shower (the judge said I wasn't allowed to do that anymore). You had to figure out what to do with the baby. Get naked. Take the shower. Then get dressed, brush your hair, and if you were lucky, put on makeup or lotion or both! So, that 4 minute shower just turned into a 15 minute endeavor. Still doesn't seem that bad?

For the first three months, my baby fed every hour. Yes, every single hour. She would eat for only about 15 minutes or so, so that would leave me a whopping 45 minutes to shower, right? Well, not exactly. About 40% of the time she would fall asleep on the boob for about a half hour, sometimes up to two hours. And who am I to mess with a sleeping baby? Ok, have to wait until after the next feeding I guess. At the next feeding, she'd may have to be changed (especially early on as she pooped a lot!). Ok, still have 40 minutes left, right?

Well, if I am coordinated, lucky and have a shower on my mind, I might decide to head right upstairs to take a ---oh, wait. I forgot her bouncy seat. Back downstairs to grab the bouncy seat, and, if I remember, toys to hang on the bar. Baby and bouncy seat in arms (I didn't say, baby in bouncy seat, mind you), I head upstairs. I put the seat in the bathroom. Gotta grab a fresh towel. Phone rings. Or someone's at the door. Or the baby just got tired. Or cried. Or pooped. Again. Or I got tired and decided to just lay down with baby and take a little rest while I wait for the next feeding, and try then. Or, maybe it just isn't worth it. And, really, I don't think she minds if I stink a little.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Help! My Baby's Not Crying!

All babies cry. Some babies cry a lot. While we were still in the hospital, everytime we put Lily down in the bassinet she would cry. We learned very quickly not to put her there. She had us trained good. We literally held her the entire time she was in the hospital. I held her while Rob slept and he held her for the 10 minutes that I slept.

Despite this, she still cried, not a lot, but just enough to let us know she was there. I quickly realized how happy I was the I read “The Happiest Baby on the Block” before I had her. Whenever she'd cry, I put her on her side on my chest, swaddled tight, and gently jiggle her. She'd be out within minutes.

On day three, when we got home, she continued to cry now and then. The next day, however, the crying stopped. She spent more time looking around the room and she slept a lot, of course. Since my husband and I were taking turns sleeping when she would sleep, we really weren't paying attention to the clock when at 3am, Rob says to me, she hasn't really cried much lately, do you think she's okay?

At first I laughed at him. Of course she's fine, you're being silly. Then I got to looking at her. Well, maybe she looks a little lethargic. Do you think she has a fever? Not ready to try out our newly learned thermometer-in-the-butt skills, we called the doctor.

As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I couldn't believe I said them. “Hi, we just brought our baby home yesterday, and she used to cry a lot, but now she hasn't cried in a while and I'm worried that she's lethargic.” I must have sounded like an idiot. The very sweet nurse on the other end asked if I was breastfeeding. Oh god, I thought, maybe she's not getting enough milk! I told her yes. She said, “has your milk come in?” I replied that it came in today. She said, “well, she's probably not crying because she's full. She's content.” “Oh,” I said sheepishly with a laugh. Ok, thanks, and I hung up. I turned to my expectant and nervous husband and told him that we're idiots. We just called the hospital because our baby wasn't crying enough. We had a good laugh over it, but I would eat my words as later she would turn out to have a touch of the colic, but at least that night was peaceful.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

We Cuss at our Baby

I once sat in a Marriage and Family class in college and the professor showed us a graph of life satisfaction over the lifespan. Generally, people are pretty happy when they get married and that happiness dips significantly when they have young children. Life satisfaction then gradually increases until said children are teenagers, when it dips again. As a naive college student, I was determined that this wouldn't happen to me. Sure, I reasoned, having kids is hard, but they are also a joy, aren't they? Otherwise people would never have a second, or a third, or an eighteenth...

What a fool I was. Sleepless nights. Walking for hours with a crying baby. The worrying when they're sick. Packing like you're taking a long vacation just to go to the store. And I've just gotten started in this parenting gig.

The intention of this site is by no means to give anyone advice on parenting. Good lord- I am by no means qualified for that. However, I have to say that my husband and I have taken a unique, yet effective strategy to ensure our mental health.

We cuss at our baby. Yes, we cuss at her. Dropping the occassional, good-natured F-bomb at a baby does wonders for your mood and your relationship. This seemingly ghastly gesture is so over-the-top that when you're in the midst of baby hell, all you can do is cuss and then laugh about it.

We discovered this little nugget of brilliance when one night, after several nights of a baby that woke every hour to eat or cry or play, we just couldn't take it any more. And my poor, frustrated husband said something about "...this f*cking baby..." and I cracked up. I didn't just laugh- it was an all-out, rolling on the floor laughter. Of course my husband laughed, not able to believe what he'd just said. We both relaxed just a little and got back to the business of calming our little sweetheart.

It even helps the baby. We once were playing an 'eat the piggies game' (where I 'eat' her toes) when she started crying all of a sudden, for no reason that was apparent to me. Frustrated, I held her facing me in my lap and in a calm and playful voice, said, "you're-such-a-pain-in-the-ass!" And I laughed. My husband laughed. It was all we could do. Then Lily stopped crying and laughed along with us. Of course that made us laugh harder, and she followed suit.

I guess my point is not so much about cussing at our baby, but more about laughing over all the crappy crap we have to go through as parents. Yes, billions of people have done this before us. And they all survived the craziness, and we'll survive too. But, somewhere along the way, you have to make a decision. Do you let the crappiness ruin you? Do you let it affect your relationship? Make you unhappy sleepy glob? Of course not. When at your most frustrated, all you can do is laugh. Well, laugh and cuss.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What I Didn't Know...

I made a little list about what I knew about being parent before I became one and what I didn't know:

I knew that I would hate getting parenting advice as much as I do.

I knew I would love my baby more than I could have realized before her.

I knew that whatever we were dealt, we'd be able to handle it. So I never worried about it.

I knew the newborn stage wouldn't be my favorite.

I thought my baby would sleep more.

I thought she would cry less.

I never expected to not feel like a normal person or to not get dressed in the morning.

Or to not put on make-up or shower daily.

I didn't realize how judgmental I had been about moms prior to me becoming a mom.

I didn't realize that I strongly prefer the attachment parenting style over traditional.

I didn't know that a baby could hate her car seat so much.

I didn't know that that would greatly impact where we could feasibly take her.

I didn't know that it's an uncontrollable mommy instinct to want her covered in a blanket whenever she sleeps. Or whenever she isn't wearing pants. Or socks. Or whenever it was less than 72 degrees in the house.

I didn't know that only an hour or two of crying could be a 'good day'.

I didn't know I would feel so alone.

I didn't know that even when Rob and I are both home, I would be the one really responsible for her.

I didn't know I would prefer it that way.

I didn't know she would like my boobs so much.

I didn't know I would rely on my husband to take care of me so much.

I didn't know how protective of her I would feel.

I didn't know how little I would care about things that used to take up so much of my time.

I didn't know that her cry could instantly make me do the same.

I didn't know how annoyed I would feel at my husband for doing something like, coughing, when she was trying to sleep.

I didn't know that there would be days where I would be the only one that could console her. Or play with her. Or hold her for more than 10 minutes.

I didn't know she could consider 30 minutes a good night's sleep.

I didn't know that she would cause me to not want another.

I didn't know how important my mommy friendships would become.

I didn't know how much I would look forward to my weekdays alone with her.

I didn't know I would ever co-sleep. Or use a sleep positioner. Or a blanket in her bassinet.

I didn't know how little the birth experience matters in the long run.

I didn't know I would get a look of 'congratulations on joining the club' from every older woman I pass in the store.

I didn't know how hungry I would be while breastfeeding.

I didn't know it would literally take me all morning to leave the house.

I didn't know I could cry just thinking about how wonderful, beautiful and important she is to me.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

So I Made a Cleaning Schedule, Am I Done?

Along with googling, I love to organize, plan and research. And I am a very thorough person. After my in-laws visited, I decided that I actually prefer having a clean house to a messy one. So, I was trying to figure out how it could stay clean the entire week they were here, and yet, the day after they left, was in shambles again.

I quickly realized that while they were here, I would spend a minute here or two minutes there picking up and doing laundry, I decided that this was the solution. Instead of not doing a thing all week and then begrudgingly have a cleaning bonanza when we expected company, I should clean a little here and a little there. Brilliant! But, how would I know what to clean and when to clean it unless I had a schedule? The solution was obvious.

Unfortunately, not only do I love to organize, plan and research, I also have a horrible habit of getting really excited about something, for like, a day, then dropping it. You may reference my several other inactive websites here (thank you to my husband who spent time setting up each website, getting it on our server, explaining to me how to use it, only for me to write nary a post or two).

So, a cleaning schedule it would be. It took me two whole days to create. Sure, this was time that I could have spent cleaning; but, I justified that a schedule would save me weeks, if not months, during my lifespan in not having to scrub 10-day old gunk out of my microwave.

First, I listed every cleaning duty that I ever did, and several that I never attempted. After all, this was a turning point for me, I might as well do it with gusto. Then I determined how often each activity should be done, and adjusted the time to reflect how often I thought I would realistically do it. I wrote out the days of the week, plugged in my duties, and, voila! A cleaning schedule. I couldn't wait to get started the very next Monday (it was Wednesday, but the schedule started on a Monday- it made sense at the time).

Monday came and as I was making my breakfast, baby happily playing in her bumbo, I thought I could get started on my brand new life as a housewife who actually takes care of the house. I opened up the spreadsheet and hit 'print'. Error message. Huh. Let's try it again. 'Print'. Error message! By this time, my eggs were burning and the kid was crying, so I resolved to start my schedule tomorrow. Which, of course was a Tuesday, and I couldn't possibly start following a schedule that starts on a Monday on a Tuesday. That was the end of that.

Ok, not only do I like googling, organizing, planning, and researching, but I like reflecting. In retrospect, I neglected to factor in that for the week my house was clean, my mother-in-law actually did the dishes most nights and that my husband actually cleaned the baby toys off the floor every night while I put the booger-butt down to sleep. This revelation led me to my new strategy: hire a maid.