Our First Time Out

Monday morning, 9 a.m. Mommy is checking email, updating the Christmas gift list, entering Pampers codes, generally important morning-on-the-internet kind of stuff. Kiddo is quietly playing with some dishes in the kitchen.

He gets up to show me something he found, and when he realizes I’m on the computer: insta-meltdown. Screaming, crying, hitting, throwing things, the works. So, I get up from the computer, check out the toy, calm him down. Then I get back on the computer, and the meltage starts up again.

Repeat FOUR times.

So, I said to him, you are going in a time out. And I put him in his crib.

I didn’t know what else to do, he’s screaming and being violent for the sole purpose of getting my full, undivided attention. Is he too young to learn that sometimes I have to do other things, and he has to be ok with that?

At the end of the time out, we hugged and kissed, and I told him I love him. Big smiles. Then he followed me into the bathroom and screamed at me during my entire shower.

Yeah, it’s tough.

So far, raising a kid is not getting easier as I was told it would. It is still a 24/7 mashup of worry, frustration, lack of privacy, wondering if you’re doing it right, frustration, worry and a love that will make your heart burst. It’s difficult. The proverbial emotional roller coaster.

Now, I don’t want to scare some of my readers whose first little ones are still on the way or bundled in their cute little 0-3 months clothes. It doesn’t get easier, but it doesn’t get harder. Each phase they go through presents you with a new set of challenges. Sometimes it feels harder, because the older they get the more independent (read: demanding) they get, and it can be difficult to keep up with, especially if you, say, work from home. Or just need to do some laundry. But, you can handle it.

My theory, and really just my undying hope, is that this is the Terrible Twos, and once through this, it truly does get easier. Right now, Bowie knows what he wants and needs, but can’t communicate it to us. Also, we have no way of reasoning with him and explaining why he can’t do this and must do that. From his perspective, I suppose it seems like we’re denying him fun, excitement and cookies just because. For no good reason. That has to be so frustrating. So, he throws a tantrum until we figure out what it is he needs, or distract him from what he wants.

But I have the sneaking suspicion that it’s still going to be hard. I mean, a year from now, he’ll be able to talk back. He’ll have a little kiddo opinion, probably about everything, which may lead to some issues with broccoli, bedtime, TV and kissing grandma. And 5 years from now? He’ll have a life. He’ll be making decisions for himself every single day. And as a parent, you can only sit back and let them make those decisions, all the while worrying that they’ll make the wrong one and get hurt. Or worse.

So, I keep trying to remind myself of what’s to come. And that he’s only little once. I need to slow down and try to savor this time, even if it is riddled with tantrums and teething and picky eating. At least he’s healthy, and happy most of the time. And who knows? If I do well now, maybe he will come to me later with some of those decisions and ask for my opinion.

The Flu

My head is spinning over this H1N1 stuff. The media are simultaneously telling us that OMG YOU COULD DIE and OMG THE VACCINE IS BAD FOR YOU. So…what are we supposed to do? Duct tape and Saran wrap our windows I guess?

It’s hard to get our hands on real, empirical, helpful, unbiased information. And normally I’d pay no mind to any of this. I have a relatively good immune system, on the off chance I got it, I’d make it.

But, now I have a kiddo to worry about. What if he got it? Some of the stuff I’m reading suggests that small children have different symptoms and it hits them a bit harder. And kids are, you know, DYING and everything, so yeah, I’m a little worried.

Both kiddo and hubbs have been vaccinated for the regular flu (I don’t get this shot, because I got it all through my childhood, but managed to catch it every year anyway, so now I just save myself the cost and try to stay well). It’s the additional H1N1 vaccine I’m confused/scared/undecided about.

And then there’s the fact that most people as of right now can’t even get the vaccine if they want to. And a vaccine can only cover some strains of the flu, you could still get another strain. Or you could still get the flu you’ve been vaccinated for. No guarantees. So, do we err on the side of caution, or do we save the money and just wash our hands and take our vitamins?

What are you doing, and do you have some good sources I could look at?

Problems with Paci

The pacifier. My current nemesis.

I spend 97% of my time with my arm shoulder deep under some piece of furniture, desperately trying to find one there because all of them are lost and it’s NAPTIME SWEET JESUS IT’S NAPTIME AND I CAN’T FIND A PACI.

Honestly, I only have myself to blame. Early on, I really pushed it on him, because it helps with SIDS, blah blah blah. It soothed him. Well, when it stayed in his mouth. (I also spent the first 4 months of his life with my arm draped over the side of his co-sleeper bed, holding the pacifier in his mouth. All night long.)

At the time, I was thinking he’ll want to give it up someday…he won’t use it forever…I’ll take it away when he’s done teething… etc. etc. etc. I was justifying it to myself, all the while having that nagging thought in the back of my head of my thumb-sucking brother and his massive orthodontic bills. Because, they say the tooth problem thing is genetic, not necessarily from sucking on anything. And…well…we don’t have genetics on our side.

And then I read that there’s this window of time, about the 6th and 7th months, that you can take it away with little to no backlash. They don’t yet have the total mental capacity to miss it for more than a few hours, and they have begun the process of self-soothing. So, I did take it away, for about a week. Then he started teething.

Of all the wonderful things about my child, grace under fire is not one. He teeths miserably, and tries to make everyone feel as miserable as he does. So, when push came to shove one long teething afternoon, he broke me and I whipped out the paci. And worst of all, it worked like a charm.

Later on, I tried going cold turkey but that went like this: read above paragraph. There was no end to the screaming and crying. Especially at bedtime. So, we compromised, I let him have it at bedtime. During the day, I tried the trick where you snip off the end, and little by little snip off more and more until they lose interest. The first day, he put it in his mouth, took it out, examined it, threw it at me with the force of Joe Montana and cried until he threw up. I could try it again. But can you blame me for wanting to avoid that?

So now, I have a 16 month old that has a pacifier in his mouth way too much, and his first dentist appointment is coming. To me, the teeth look ok. And he is back to mostly only having it at bedtime. But, I’m not the expert. So, I’m a little worried.

They help prevent SIDS. That’s a really good thing. (Though it would not surprise me in the least to find out this was a conspiracy started by a pacifier manufacturer to get us to buy them in mass quantities. Because seriously, every new parent will go out and buy anything with “prevents SIDS” associated with it.)

All new moms: you must take it away before their first birthday. You MUST. Or you will be like me. And I will probably be taking it out of his mouth so he can cross the stage and get his high school diploma.

Worst Week

I’ve had a heck of a week. Seriously. When it rains it pours. Here’s a snapshot:

On Tuesday, Bowie had a pediatrician appointment at which he received three vaccinations. The DTP shot proceeded to make his entire left thigh hard, red, hot and throbby. Also, rashes all over his neck and back. Plus, it took the doctor forever to return my frantic calls, so I was browsing the intertubes to find some info and yes, you guessed it, freaked me the F out. Stupid internet.

Later that same evening, we had a BBQ with the neighbors. Bowie walked up to the grill and touched like he has a zillion times, only this time? HOT HOT HOT DANGER DANGER and everything was in slow motion, I just could not get to him in time to prevent it. He got two very large blisters, and most of his fingers on that hand are burned. One of the blisters has popped and it looks NASTY. I think I have to call the doc again, ugh.

My mother-in-law is in town and borrowed our car to get to and from my sister-in-law’s house. Which would be fine if all the computer systems in all the Matrixes weren’t randomly shutting down rendering the car useless, and ours decided to do so when she needed the car. Thankfully she was not on the highway or anything, and I guess it’s also good it wasn’t me and kiddo going somewhere on our lonesome. That could have been scary.

Last night, Bowie didn’t sleep at all. Well, that’s a slight exaggeration. He slept from 8 to 10pm, 11:30 to 12:30 and then maybe for an hour between 2 and 6am. I had been out with friends until 12am and was really looking forward to my date with my soft, comfy bed. Little did I know a tossing, turning, teething, burned finger, vax reaction, crabby toddler would be joining me. I’m running on about 2 hours of sleep today. As is my husband.

Also, my husband has been undergoing a barrage of medical tests and procedures in order to find the cause of the mysterious loss of his sense of smell. We have insurance, so we didn’t think it would be a big deal, but we got the bill for the CT scan yesterday and…holy Jesus. Guess I don’t get to see the Cubs when their in San Francisco this year. And that Wisconsin wedding in January? Sorry Jess, love you to death, but we’re drowning in medical bills. Even though we have insurance. Oh, but the system is just fine as is. Grrrrrrrr.

Anyway, hopefully you had a better week than me.

How I Do

Today some friends and I were sitting around talking about a typical day in the life of a parent. One of them works outside the home, one works part time in the home and the other does not work. I work full time in the home, and I don’t have any help (i.e. nanny or babysitter) and all three of them said, “I have no idea how you do it.”

Quite frankly, I don’t either. I have 18 hour days, yeah, but it never feels like that. It mostly involves a lot of sitting in the playroom with my laptop, timing conference calls with naptime or dinnertime, letting the housework go sometimes (if it weren’t for guests, my floors would never be vacuumed) and just tapping into that never-ending mom energy to get done what needs to be done. And yet somehow I have time to blog, read a magazine, make a cup of tea, watch a TV show, paint my toenails, breathe.

Working at home with no help was, of course, a LOT easier when Bowie was 4 months and immobile. I could just lay him on his back under a playmat with some dangly toys and I’d be set for a few hours. Then I’d put him down for a nap and have a few more hours. Now that he’s walking and taking one 2 hour nap a day, it’s rough. I’ve had to get more creative with how I manage my time and fit in an 8 hour day’s worth of work.

If I were tied to a 9-5 schedule, there’s no way I could do it. I’d have to hire some help. Every day gets harder and harder but I still find ways to get by. I have no idea how I do it, but I do.

One

A year ago, I was walking around in a sleep-deprived haze, my breasts felt like they would explode at any second, and every 10 seconds I’d shift on the couch and my, um, undercarriage would cry out in pain and I would think, OMG I have a baby. I GAVE BIRTH to him less than a week ago. I would tuck the little guy between me and my arm, on the Boppy of course, and nurse him for 20 minutes, never wanting it to end (but then remember: I get to do this again in an hour). I would sit and stare at him, and usually cry while doing so. Being a new parent was the weirdest thing I’ve ever been through. (And stressful. I didn’t even put him down the ENTIRE FIRST NIGHT HOME.)

Two years ago, we were just starting to try to conceive. I was poring over websites dedicated to tracking your ovulation. And I’d pass on all the (gory) details to my husband. I purchased my first pregnancy book, The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy. I immediately flipped to the back, to the “Labor and Delivery” section, praying to God there was a section entitled, “It Won’t Hurt That Bad”. There wasn’t.

I remember seeing those Johnson & Johnson commercials before I had a kid, the ones that say “A baby changes everything”. I thought, well they don’t have to change every single thing. That’s crazy. But, they do. As corny as it sounds, they really do. There is no part of my life left untouched my by little man. And I truly have a hard time remember what life was like before him. What it was like to decide at 9pm that you were going to go out for beers with friends at 9:30. What it was like to pop out the door for five minutes to go grab something at the grocery store. What it was like to sleep from 10pm to 10am. What it was like before I had this new piece of my soul that I am now convinced I could not live without. Happy, happy birthday my sweet boy. Here’s to many more.

Bowie's 1st Birthday Cake-1

Ten things I want you to know about having a baby

  1. Childbirth isn’t that bad. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it hurts a lot. But, you get through it. Some simple breathing exercises, an epidural, squeezing the life out of your partner’s hand, there are ways to get through. Think of it this way: it’s what your body was made to do. So, don’t have a planned C-section just to avoid labor. As a friend has said, “You don’t know pain until you sneeze with a fresh C-section wound.”
  2. Breastfeeding is hands down the best thing for your baby. I know some of you will have trouble with it. It’s not easy for everyone, in fact it’s not easy for anyone. If you stick with it and your milk supply is ok, you’ll get the hang of it. I’m not saying you have to stick with it for very long, an amount is beneficial. But, just try it. If it doesn’t work, so be it. At least you tried. P.S. It’s not weird, not even with a son. I too thought it would be, but it was quite the opposite.
  3. You don’t have to go for days without showering. I used to read about this all the time and I was seriously freaking out. I loves me some showers. But, I have yet to go a full 24 hours without taking a shower. There are simple tricks to doing this: putting the baby in a swing or bassinet outside the bathroom door, showering while baby naps… just rest assured you don’t have to give up your regular morning shower to be a mother.
  4. You can have alcohol if you’re breastfeeding. Just one or two drinks has no affect on your baby. More than that, and you should not nurse for 2 hours, but you can pump and have milk on reserve for such occasions. I mean, abstain from alcohol if you want to, but it’s not necessary.
  5. Go to every mom-baby activity or new mom group in your area. You might not click with all the women, but you will find a few good go-to people, and maybe even make some new friends. Plus, you and baby both need that time away from the home to keep your sanity. Trust me.
  6. Rotate the toys. Keep a healthy stash of toys hidden away, and a handful of toys out in the regular play area. If one day the baby seems to not want to play with anything, swap the toys with some from the stash and it’s like a brand new set of toys to them. Works like a charm.
  7. Sleep when the baby sleeps. At least in the first 6 months. I know you’ve heard this a zillion times, I know I did. But, I’m telling you to take heed. It’s so important to keep yourself rested and healthy so you can take care of the little one. Let the housework go. Nothing will happen if the laundry or dishes sit for an extra day, believe me.
  8. Take me-time or have a date night only if you feel like it. I felt really pressured into taking a date night with my husband, about the time my baby was 5 months old. But, I wasn’t ready. And I sat and worried about the baby so much that I could barely participate in conversation with my husband. He and his sister (our babysitter for that evening) told me I was too much of a worry wart and needed to “cut the cord”. But, I was totally ready two months later, and relished in the time away from baby. Yes, getting away is important for your marriage and for your sanity. But don’t feel pressured into doing it before you’re ready.
  9. Travel early and travel often. In the first 6 months, your baby is so portable and travels so well, you have to get out and go places, even if it’s only a few states over to visit family. After 6 months, they become more mobile and are harder to transport. They don’t want to sit still, they don’t want to be quiet, and good luck trying to keep their nap schedule. It will be tough to travel for a few years, so try to get the travel bug out of your system while the little one is still really, uh, little.
  10. Sex is going to feel different. And I mean *different*. And you may not want to have it for a while. But, don’t fret. You WILL want to again. And you just have to acclimate yourself to your new body and learn a few new tricks.

Junior Gourmet

I make my own baby food. There, I said it. I never talk about it because A) it almost never comes up in conversation and B) who cares??? But lately, I can’t pull up a parenting blog or pick up a parenting magazine without some woman getting all snarky about people who make their own baby food. Or even my circle of mom friends. We’ll just be hanging out at the park, one of them gets a jar of baby food and starts to feed their kid lunch and then someone says, “Can you BELIEVE people MAKE their own BABY FOOD?!”

Um, yes I can. Because I do. But I just sit there with a sheepish grin on my face. I mean, if I was doing it just so I could say I was doing it, it wouldn’t have lasted this long. I don’t do it because I was told to by some parenting “expert”. The idea actually came to me mid-pregnancy. I was thinking of how much money we were going to save by breastfeeding, and I wondered if the same savings could be achieved with food. Eureka! I’ll make my own! It can’t be that hard. Took me about 10 seconds on Amazon to find a few good sources, and the rest is history.

I do it first and foremost because it’s cheap. A few dollars worth of produce and I have at least a week’s worth of food. I’ve heard the argument that it’s really not cheap because “my time is worth more”. In my opinion, being a mom is a non-profit organization. I’m volunteering my time for a cause I believe in. I would have no idea where to start putting a dollar value on the “work” I do as a mother. Everyday with Rachel Ray recently ran a good article on this theme. I’ll paraphrase: Medical Diagnosis: $150 each, Birthday Cakes: $35 each, Career Counseling: $85/hour, Cooking: $65/hour, Cleaning: $30/hour…

The point is moms do A LOT. If they got paid for it, it would be the highest paying job ever, and everyone would want to be a mom. And not only that, but making baby food doesn’t take anywhere near the “all day” time frame most people think. An hour, tops, on a Saturday afternoon, and we’re set for 7 to 10 days. So, yeah, let’s put a dollar value on your time, and then we’ll give you what you’re owed for an hour. And I’m betting it’s still cheaper than paying $0.85 a jar for 10 days worth of food.

That was a bit of a tangent, sorry. Like I was saying, the first reason I do it is monetary, but the second reason is that my in-laws are major foodies. And they’ve turned me into a bit of a foodie too. And I want my son to be as adventurous with food as a kid can be. I know there will be those years where he’ll eat only PB&J or mac & cheese, but I hope I’m instilling a love of adventurous eating [knock on wood].

So there you have it folks. You can say I’m a snob. You can say I’m idealistic. You can say I’ve got too much time on my hands and just wait until #2 comes along. I don’t care. I like making baby food, my baby likes eating it, simple as that. Next time you want to say something about it though, try to remember the mom sitting next to you just might make her own baby food.

To Vax or Not to Vax

I have to come clean. Previously I have been the outspoken sort when it comes to absolutely, hands down vaccinating your baby. I had heard all the media babble about the MMR being linked to autism. And then that it was not related at all, which decided it for me. I was going to get ‘em all. Why not?

But, turns out before your baby’s first birthday, you don’t really have to think about it very much. I mean, they get vaccines, but those are basic vaccines that all babies should get. And just a few. You don’t have to think about many of them, and when they’ll get them and how many at once, etc. until the 12 month check up.

So, here I sit with that 12 month appointment looming, and three times in two days, random moms at the playground and café have asked me, “what are you doing about vaccines?” I took it as a sign that I was slightly uninformed and really ought to get informed before D Day (V Day?) arrives.

All it took was one 10 second Yahoo search for me to realize I was in trouble. All that shooting off at the mouth that I had done, and it turns out I don’t want to give my son the MMR until 24 months, and I don’t want to give him the Varicella vaccine at all. There’s WAY more to this than just autism. Ooops.

So, this post is two-fold. For starters, I want to apologize for any parent that I have offended on other sites with my very vocal campaign to vaccinate your kid against every known ailment, no matter what. Clearly I was misguided. And secondly, I want to reach out to the parenting community out there on the intertubes: What did you do? Why did you do it? What is your advice for me?