People kept saying it to us. You’ll find a norm, you’ll get comfortable, and then – bam – something happens. Teething, sickness, apocalyptic thunderstorms, a change in the star-moon alliance gridzone of astrology… Something changes and your nights are not your nights. Your baby is no longer your baby.
Mixon’s First Big Sick could have been much bigger and badder. It was a simple fever, no other symptoms, but because this was our first fever and because we couldn’t see our pediatrician the first time, we ended up at the doctor’s office twice. Both visits were a very necessary complete waste of time.
I know calling a fever a ‘big sick’ is hilarious to most of you, but we’ve had really good luck with Mix. He’s had two colds. Period. In his life. That’s mostly because we were all hermits for the first three months and didn’t really branch out a whole lot until recently. So for him (and for us), this was big.
He’s all better now and making up for the food he didn’t eat when he was sick (seriously, I need to get a funnel and just pour). We were lucky we still had formula to waste and at least a bit of milk still in the boob, because that’s basically what he lived on.
And now comes the process of getting back to that magic-eye mindset, where things just work themselves out. Last Blog Post Amanda was such a douche…
Now, I have a baby who’s past one and still on formula and a tiny bit of boob, one who wakes up at least once a night wanting more of said formula or boob, and one nightmare of an evening that I’m having trouble getting out of my head.
This is compounded by the fact that hubs has been working a lot and will be gone the entire month of November. I will say again how much I do not know how single parents do it. There are some days when a few hours will make me want to curl up in a ball and leave the childcare to the dog and cats. The dread is building for me, the guilt is building for him, and the ‘la, la, las’ are sometimes not there when they need to be.
All I can say is that the hubs and I are ridiculously lucky to have our parents so much in the picture. Their worry barometer may be overly high, but that’s only because they would reach into their chests and pull out their hearts if it would help make the Mix feel better. I should have known it would be this way – the same goes for their own kids.
I know there are harder times to come, bigger sicks, and just little annoying ones that throw everything off. And then the return to normalcy will be another Sisyphean climb up a steep mountain. But at least we’re doing it with some pretty cool people.
A week ago, Mixon had never fallen off of anything.
Sure, there was the time I hit him in the back of the head with my iPad, the time I dropped a remote on him, and the time I cut him with nail clippers, but we had yet to hear that thud that turns your stomach into a dirty garbage can full of old potatoes and banana peels.
There is a thing that happens with babies, and I don’t know if anyone has told you this, but they get older. The new sounds, expressions, laughs – they’re all great, but there will also be movement.
Mixon is now a champion roller who prefers to sleep on his stomach, thank you very much. He is also seconds away from crawling.
So exciting, right? Sure, but also terrifying. I quickly ordered a play yard that has a small likelihood of actually fitting in my living room and some other safety stuff, but there’s more to do.
That became abundantly clear one day when I was at ‘Milk Club’ at Vanderbilt (a lactation support group that’s really just an excuse to get cute babies together and play). We all put our babies up on the table and talk about naps and poop and boobs.
We talked about falling babies that day, that’s the thing.
Mixon flirted with some lady babies and had some fun and then it was time to go home. I had brought enough toys and gear for 5 babies, which is my norm. I started packing it all up and took my hand off of him for ONE SECOND. I looked back at the table and there was no Mixon.
I looked around frantically for five seconds [years] and then I heard it – the shriek of (in my mind) betrayal. It’s a special what-the-fuck-is-happening scream that echoes in your ears for days. He was on the ground under a chair lying on his face. At least we were at a hospital.
After about a minute, he had calmed down, but I was still shaky. I made that hospital joke, kept calling myself a bad mommy, and held him and held him and held him.
Well, at least I had done it. We all now knew that Mixon was a mover and a shaker. Gone were the days of letting him lie.
Nope. As much as I wish I could have done the lesson learning for everyone, some of us have to do it ourselves. A person who shall remain nameless put Mixon on the couch that same day. It’s fun to prop him up, because he looks like this:
As the lesson-learner, I cautioned him/her that this was probably not a good idea anymore, since he no longer stays there like a potato (if he takes after his parents, we’ll have ‘potato: part 2’ in his teenage years).
I stayed there watching the boy until said person came back into the room and rolled his/her eyes.
Yesterday, though. It happened. A couch-sit, a thud, a brain-shattering scream. He landed on his back this time, so at least he’s evening out. So now both this person and I have been there.
We’re lucky – no injuries yet. And maybe we have now done all of the learning. No more tears ever, right?
In other news, we started Mixon on solids. We’re doing mainly baby-led weaning. This was broccoli, which he WILL NOT TOUCH until I bite the tree/flower things off.
While I was pregnant, breastfeeding seemed like a pretty cool thing. I didn’t really think much about it, except to plan on doing it for about a year. I wasn’t going to be one of those crazy people who do it until the kid is taller than boob height, but I wanted to give my kid as much of the good stuff as possible.
A year sounds hilarious to me now.
I hear women say how beautiful/wonderful/magical breastfeeding is. I hear the words coming out of their mouths, but I don’t understand them. For me, breastfeeding is just a thing. It’s no more magical than changing his diaper. Actually, it’s less, because he can’t smile when his mouth is full. And he loves getting on that changing table.
Let’s run down my situation:
- I haven’t had plugged ducts or mastitis. Breastfeeding is not a painful experience for me.
- Mixon has had no trouble latching on (this was the only thing I was worried about pre-baby).
- I work from home.
Those all add up to a perfect, lovely breastfeeding situation. But my boobs had other ideas. Milk production. That’s my issue. My B-sized boobs can’t keep up with a dude who frequently enjoys 9 oz. meals.
It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that he needed more, but after multiple tear-stained pediatrician visits and a downward trajectory on the growth chart, I’m happy to be supplementing with formula and pumped milk.
Breastfeeding is a sacrifice. It’s another three, six, 12, 24 months of someone else using your body. So many liberal mamas are pro-choice, but militant about breastfeeding, and I think there’s a contradiction there.
I tried everything to increase my milk supply. The forums and the LLL and the Kellymom.coms made it sound so easy. I fed on demand, spent my life pumping, bought the expensive herbal pills, and ate the oatmeal (I’m still doing all of the above, by the way). When I’d think about supplementing, I’d see the NO, DANGER, DO NOT ENTER posts about how it would kill my milk supply completely. When Mixon’s ex-pediatrician looked at me condescendingly and said “formula isn’t poison, you know,” I wanted to punch her in the face. OBVIOUSLY it isn’t poison, lady, but it tasted like failure.
The truth is, the supplementing has been liberating for me. I can actually go out without stressing that I need to be there to feed him or get home to pump as soon as I can or my milk supply willgoawayandnevercomebackandmybabywillhatemeforeverand…
I still have some stupid hope. I’m wondering if he’ll want less when he starts solids – maybe then I’ll be enough for him. (SEE this language? I’m like a scorned woman.) I’m wondering if he’s just catching up on growth spurts he missed and will even out at some point.
The other part of me sees him freaking out with joy every time he sees a bottle and screaming at my boob, dreams of enjoying more than one glass of wine, and really loves the idea of never seeing the pump again. This part of me thinks that maybe six months is a good time to stop the madness. At least I won’t have any issues with weaning…
There are bajillions of women like me, and I think the tide is starting to shift. I’m hoping we’ll fall somewhere between the ’80s formula-heads and the present-day breastfeed-or-die crowd. I’m calling it third-wave mothering.
Third-wave feminism is less about fighting against something and more about empowering women to make their own choices without limitations (made possible with the work of the first- and second-wavers, of course). I think we’re there with breastfeeding. Third-wave mothers don’t have to shout about how amazing breastfeeding is, we know. Now we can make our own decisions based on that knowledge. Yes, there are still battles to be fought on the breastfeeding front – nursing in public, for one (I’m looking at you, Delta) – but I think it’s time to take a step and make sure we’re not shaming women for making the choice that’s best for them. I understand the need for ‘breast is best’, but we need to remember that there is, often, a person attached to that breast.
Third-wave mothering, third-wave parenting, is parenting free from judgement. Just because something is right for my baby doesn’t mean it’s right for yours. I’m writing this with one hand and Mixon is reading along as I feed him formula from a bottle.
Just like third-wave feminism pulled back from the second wave fear of women who stay at home, I hope third-wave parenting will pull back on the fear of formula. I’ll say it again – nursing is a sacrifice. You’re allowing someone else to control your body – the same someone who did it for 10 months, btw – and that should always be a choice.
There are many surprising things about having a baby: how an outfit that was just right could be crazy tight two minutes later, how a face can change so much in a day, how it is no longer a huge issue to have pee, poop, spit or milk on various parts of my body/clothes, and generally how in the hell we made this thing from scratch.
What is not surprising is how clueless we are. See, babies don’t make sense. They’re like really bad telenovelas, bringing you higher highs than you’ve ever had just before slamming you with lower lows. From “It’s a miracle, my husband’s sister’s boyfriend woke up from his coma with two working arms!!!” to “Too bad he used those two working arms to murder 200 of my closest friends.”
My husband and I respond to the lows as I think any parent would (any human, really): we see a problem and we want to fix it. The obvious first step is finding out what the problem is. For us, easy, the problem is a sobbing baby. For the baby… well, that’s the question. The pediatrician told us that we should start to be able to distinguish his cries, so that we can understand what he’s trying to “tell” (read: scream at) us, but we have not yet mastered that particular skill.
Here is the list we run down when Mix starts fussing (a word that I never used before having a child and now use on an almost hourly basis):
This is my go-to answer, especially since it’s a problem I can solve with a boob, a chair, and a smile. Of course, it takes the kid about an hour to eat, so it requires a bit of prep on my end, but I’m getting good at doing things one-handed. I think I may have deciphered his hungry cry. It sounds like he’s being chased by a cheetah, Bigfoot, and Paula Abdul.
My husband doesn’t love this answer, especially when he’s alone, but I’ve been pumping so that he can solve this problem just as well as (and a lot faster than) I can.
An easy fix for both of us. We’re still using mostly disposable diapers right now, because he’s too little for the cloths we bought, so it’s extra easy. I’m ready for the eye rolls when we switch entirely to cloth, but it’ll still be pretty easy. And this kid is usually freaking adorable when he’s naked/being changed, so that’s an added bonus.
This is not a great answer, because we haven’t mastered getting him to sleep, but it makes us feel better to have an answer – any answer.
He’s got crap in his throat/nose
This is one of my husband’s favorites. We’re getting the hang of the bulb syringe for the nose problems (this comes into play when he’s boobing-it and can’t breathe through his nose), but there’s not much we can do for the zombie baby with stuff in his throat. All we can do is gently pat his back and tell him to swallow that crap down. He doesn’t listen very well.
He needs to poop, but can’t
This one was THE ANSWER for the first few weeks, but I don’t think it’s viable anymore, since this kid is a poop champion. My husband disagrees.
One of my faves. If he’s eating a lot and fussing a lot, it MUST be a growth spurt, right? Of course, if he was growing each time I suggested this answer, he would be a giant baby by now. I stand by it, though.
Aside from me sneaking my hand/lips to his forehead every now and then, this isn’t an answer either my husband or I have put forward since we thought he had diarrhea (he didn’t). We’ve been very lucky in this area.
Babies are, of course, terribly confusing, and most of the time, there is no ‘answer’. But for lost-in-the-weeds parents, it’s helpful to pretend there’s some sort of magic cure just waiting to be found. A baby cry cure. Get on it, science.
Now that I’m in the get-this-kid-outta-me stage of pregnancy, I’ve noticed that a few things have changed:
1. When people ask me how I’m feeling, I no longer automatically respond “Great!”
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this, but MY BACK HURTS.
2. I’m really ready for this thing to happen.
I thought I’d be more nervous than I am, but honestly the only thing on my mind is something that you will all laugh at. I will most likely laugh at it, too, in a few weeks. Basically, I’m wondering if I’ll actually know when I’m going into labor. I have no idea what a contraction feels like. But even if I somehow get through the early stages unaware, at some point, I’ll know. As my Hypnobabies workbook wisely states: “If you see an arm or a leg coming out of you, call 911 immediately.”
So used to it that I no longer react like a normal person when I feel a fly on me. I think I could probably let a spider walk down my entire arm before I realized there was something wrong. I’ve relinquished control over my body.
4. I can no longer shriek when I do feel said bugs.
It’s summer, and my house is old, so there are a lot of creatures crawling around in the house. I’m ok with spiders (though they don’t seem to be doing a damn thing about the flies in my house), but wasps, moths, and (shudder) palmetto bugs are cause for a shriek or two. In the past few days, my husband has responded with a frantic “WHAT?! WHAT?!” when these yelps slip out of me. He thinks it’s time. That’s when I have to explain to him that it’s bug time, not baby time, and would he please get rid of the carcass on the floor? It’s so hard to bend over.
5. My fingers hurt
Is this what carpal tunnel is? I’ve seen that on the list of lovely pregnancy side effects, but it’s not like a debilitating pain or anything, they just feel like I’ve been clutching something tightly for a long time. It’s more weird than painful.
6. The prospect of tripping is terrifying
I may have almost tripped on my run on Monday and it may have freaked me out a bit. I used the indoor track this morning and will probably stay there for the duration, even though I have to run the hamster wheel 12.5 times just to complete one mile. Still, there aren’t as many manhole covers and sidewalk cracks to deal with.
7. I keep dropping things
Maybe this is a part of the not-really-carpal-tunnel or maybe it’s just because I’m clumsy, but I’m blaming Ziggy for the grapes and cookies I keep dropping.
8. Nesting is a thing
I scoffed when my friends asked if I was vacuuming couches yet, but this nesting thing is real. No, I haven’t resorted to cleaning, unless you count obsessive laundry, but I have gone on a decorating rampage. We went years with nothing on the walls, but for some reason I really want to put pictures up. And, of course, there are other side effects. When I was unpacking the box that went untouched at our last place, pulling old photos out, I cried. Thanks, Ziggy.
Of course, we own a home for the first time, so it could be that, but I spent 2 hours on Sunday putting CONTACT PAPER on three drawers for Ziggy. That has to be wrong. I would never do something like that.
By the end of the process, my back hurt so badly and I was so done with wood and paper and sticky things that the third drawer looks like a collage.
The nesting thing has also been creeping into my spending habits. I used to shop Amazon for books and DVDs. Now, I buy coat racks and baby stuff. At the top of my wishlist right now – an over-the-counter towel rack and a spoon rest. See also: silverware and a lawn mower. And at the end of the list? The first things I added when I was young and interested in things:
I think the worst part about having a breezy first trimester is that the second trimester kind of sucks. At least, it’s been a little sucky so far.
Not really. I can’t really complain, but I’ve been feeling achy and light-headed, and, if you couldn’t already tell CRANKY. So, yeah, okay, apparently, I can complain.
Adding to the cranky: I’ve been trying to fill out my registry. I now despise all baby products and best-of lists. Every cutesy little product name, every review from some random mom, every time I find a NEW category of stroller, car seat, baby robot device, I want to punch someone in the face. Unfortunately, my husband is the one who usually takes the fire, though the dog has gotten her share, too.
I just let out a huge sigh, so I’ll put it in here, too. SIGH. This is THE WORST. (Yep, I definitely can complain.)
I want a stroller my infant can use, but I want a convertible car seat, but I want an all-terrain stroller, but I want it to fit into my trunk and travel easily, but I want to not spend/ask my friends to spend bajillions of dollars, but… but…
As of now, I’m thinking:
Mountain Buggy Urban Jungle Stroller (with face to face seat)
That’s as far as I’ve gotten, and I feel like I’ve been doing this for my entire life. If anyone has any opinions, please share them. And also: what else should I put on my registry? I’d like to have some stuff that normal people might want to actually buy for me.
One more also: We closed on our new house yesterday. Heading over there tonight, but we’re going to spread the move out, since we have our rental through the end of May.
I did a stupid thing. It would have been stupid before I got pregnant, but it was REALLY stupid now that I’ve got Zig inside of me.
Maybe not. All that heavy-lifting bunk is bunk, right? I hope so.
I walked down to my local pet shop, Wags and Whiskers, for some kitty litter. Thought it would be a nice walk in some 40 degree weather. I’d get the smaller bag and get a little exercise on the way back. And, yes, in the back of my mind, I thought: Hey, I’ll have to be able to carry my kid everywhere soon. I compared my future child to a bag of kitty litter. And this did not give me pause.
I put my coat on (forgot my scarf) and headed out into what was a surprisingly windy afternoon. I immediately missed my scarf, but did not go back to get it.
Made it to the store to the tune of some Stevie Wonder, rocking out with my sunglasses on, and enjoying the (still very cold) fresh air. I’m finding myself a little shorter of breath than I’m used to, but no big. I walked into the adorable store, all smiles, and headed to the back to get the litter.
They only had the big bags. The bags that (I only just now looked – I couldn’t bear it before now) contain 40 lbs of cat litter.
I did not pause, I did not think, I just hauled the bag up to the counter, grabbed some dog treats, and paid. The owner asked me if I wanted help out to my car. This, also, did not give me pause.
I picked the bag up like, well, a baby. I was basically hugging it, holding on for dear life, with the treats in the canvas bag I had brought for the smaller litter. So glad I thought ahead on THAT.
I did not, at any point, think I should go get my car.
It’s about a 10 minute walk. With about 20 stop/starts and 50 different carry positions, I made it home in around half an hour.
When I was two blocks away from my house, that’s when I first thought Hey, maybe someone will take pity on me and stop. I either looked extremely pitiful or extremely high (at one point, I forced the litter bag into my canvas bag and Santa Claused it over my shoulder. That lasted about 5 seconds before my wrist felt like it was going to break and I had to switch to my other side. My other favorite was the two-handed waddle with the canvas bag in front of me). Another part of me ABSOLUTELY DID NOT want someone to stop. I can take care of MYSELF, thank you.
About a block away from my house, I finally thought about going to get my car. But what, was I going to leave the litter on the street for any Joe Cat Owner to steal? That stuff costs a good amount of change, and my cheapness wins out over my weakness any day. Besides, I’m not one to admit defeat. Just one more block…
At several times during the journey home, I did think about Ziggy. I told it to hang in there, to help me out, remember to lift with your legs.
By the end, I was thanking the 40 degrees of chill. The gloves were off, the coat was open, and I was very glad that I had forgotten my scarf.
But I did it. I won. I completed this mission that was in no way necessary. I completed this idiotic challenge.
And now I’m telling you about it, because, obviously, I feel proud of myself. This is almost as bad as that period I had where I threw up at every party I went to. I was a ninja barfer – no one ever knew… until I told them how awesome it was that I had just thrown up without anyone knowing.
Hey, mom, look what I did. I hauled a 40 pound bag of cat litter home for no reason.
Thankfully, everything seems to be fine with Ziggy, as far as I know. My elbow pits (whatever those things are called) are sore, my shoulders and neck aren’t loving me right now, but I think all of the important stuff is still in the right place. Hopefully, Zig is happily peeing inside of me right at this moment.