How Can I Type When The Baby Keeps Eating Fingers?

February 10, 2010

To describe how life has changed since we came down with a case of the babies (phraseology credit: Johanna) is like asking someone to describe what the Grand Canyon looks like. Um, it’s big and stuff. That which previously seemed important falls away. That which did not seem important (feces!) becomes an embarrassing hunk of your life.

All of this is setup for the most obvious blog post in the Bird trilogy: time to wrap it up for good. It is not coincidence that the last post I was able to muster was on the final day of my maternity leave, and that this one comes only because a blizzard has shut down my office indefinitely. Evenings — previously the blogging hour — now pass in a delightful haze of bathtime and burbling and burping and “Boohoo, we want our appendixes out, too!”* and beddybye.

I thank you for reading. For cooing with gusto at the appropriate time. For taking umbrage when umbrage taking was appropriate. For cheering me on when the petit bebe appeared to have no interest in arriving in a timely fashion.

Please entertain yourself with the lovely bloggers at right. As always, last one out, please turn off the lights.

The Bird

* Bonus points for those who can name the book without teh Google.


Falling Leave

November 20, 2009

When I was 15 and learning to drive, I announced to my father that I’d probably just always go five miles under the speed limit, to be on the safe side.

I have a history of making pronouncements that in no way end up resembling reality.

Which explains why, eight weeks ago, I announced in conversation that I was looking forward to returning to work because “I think it’s important for me to still maintain the career aspect of my life.” Eight weeks ago I was still recovering from being gobsmacked by the whole process of childbirth and stay-at-home mothering. Breastfeeding still hurt some of the time and didn’t work particularly well a lot of the time. I couldn’t always identify why she was crying. I would clock-watch, counting the minutes until my husband walked through the door.

Now I’m clock-watching, willing it to stop. It’s my last day of maternity leave.

I’ve spent the past week reflecting on my time with my little buddy. How, together, we watched summer melt into fall and now turn to Christmas. How I learned that she loves to move, so we’d stroll at least two or three miles a day — to the White House, to Dupont Circle, to the zoo to visit the tiger and the lion. How she does this eyebrows-raise, eyelids-stay-closed thing when she’s sleeping and the breeze hits her face. How she thinks nobody sings Adele’s “Melt My Heart to Stone” better than me. How two hours of wailing are negated by two seconds of giggling.

She’ll only be a block away from me when I’m at work and she’s at daycare. The women there are loving and gentle — the best for which you can hope when you’re handing over your tiny daughter and silently praying, “Please have as much fun with her as I did.”

I’m sure that after the initial days and weeks pass, having to hand her over will get easier.

I have a history of making pronouncements that in no way end up resembling reality.

Size Matters

November 8, 2009


How is it possible that there is already a clear plastic trunk labeled “Newborn – 2 Months” containing tiny clothes that Sabine has outgrown? Inside, piles of folded dresses, sun bonnets, newborn blankets, and jammies that fit one day and the next looked like her feet were about to Hulk right through the bottom.

How is the need to sort and cull and stow possible when she just got here?

But she didn’t just get here. It was three months ago. Summer’s gone and the spaghetti-strap romper no bigger than a washcloth is in storage and the larger polar fleece hoodie has come into heavy rotation. I must confess to sniffling a bit when folding up the outfits that will forever be burned into my brain as The First Things Our Baby Ever Wore — the strawberry onesie with the fanny ruffles that she wore home from the hospital, the pink linen dress that was the first item I purchased after learning it was a girl. These are the things she wore when she lay there watching us watching her, all of us trying to figure this new arrangement out.

It’s a good sign though, all this sorting. It means she’s growing and healthy. It means we’ve got three months under our belts. The plastic trunk went down into our storage area this evening. I don’t know if we’ll ever need it again but I do know we’ll never get rid of it.

Weight Watchers

October 5, 2009
what-to-eat-during-pregnancyOh whatever.

It’s become something of a pastime for women in Starbucks to tell me I’m a terrible mother. I mean, at least that’s the way I’m interpreting the comments. Last week I had three separate women at three separate Starbucks remark on the baby’s size then follow it quickly with a variation on the first one’s statement: “Guess you must have eaten whatever you wanted while you were pregnant.”

When the first one said it I was mortified and almost snorted my iced decaf skim (that’s right, lady, SKIM!) latte all over her. By the time the third one was blathering at me like Dr. Oz later that week I was trending toward an inner eyeroll and a “Yeah, I used to eat butter straight out of the tub with a spoon.” (For the record, the baby is perfectly proportioned, according to her doctor.) (Oh and also for the record I was at Starbucks three times in the past week because when you’re a new parent Starbucks becomes your outpost, allowing for interaction with the outside world, yet not requiring the commitment of sitting down at a table with a menu and a waitress and surrounding customers who will be annoyed if your baby screams and you don’t leave immediately.)

Now, longtime readers of the Bird blog trilogy know — thanks to a smattering of bordering-on-WASPy-in-their-vagueness references — that I have had a somewhat complex relationship with food and body image in the past. (Booyah! Did it again!) Suffice it to say, the funhouse mirror reflection into which pregnancy converts one’s body has been difficult at times. Specifically, at times when blabby ladies of a certain age are implying my Cadbury Creme Eggs are coming home to roost.

And while there is a measure of temptation to do my best neck circle and finger wave and Jerry Springer-stage-ready “You don’t know me!” I am instead realizing in these last few days that I need simply to add this to the list of boneheaded intrusions new mothers must suffer. Sort of makes me nostalgic for the days when it was just an unauthorized belly pat. Also makes me feel for that chick in China who just gave birth to a 13.75-pound baby. The comments she must be getting. Hopefully she’s just thinking, “Yeah, I used to eat red bean paste straight out of the tub with chopsticks,” and rolling her eyes.

Reflections for a New(er) Mother (Than Me)

September 22, 2009
Clueless“Tai, how old are you?” “I’ll be 16 in May.” “My birthday is in April. As someone older can I please give you some advice?”

With five weeks behind me as a mother I’ve noticed a few things. No sense robbing the world of my wisdom.

* Everything has the ability to make you fret. If your child is wailing for an hour and you put them in the crib and they calm down you’ll start to worry within three minutes of leaving the room that something is wrong. If they sleep through the night you’ll worry that something is wrong. Eat a lot? A little? Something’s wrong. They cuddle up under your neck and it’s the cutest thing ever, right? Sure, until you start worrying that they’re blocking their mouth and nasal passages. Mothers of newborns could give Woody Allen a run for his neuroses.

* The Internet is the greatest invention ever. Just Google any combination of substance you or your child is ejecting plus a verb plus the words “baby” or “post-natal” and you will instantly learn of 100 other parents also experiencing this malady as well as doctors and other professional experts offering the solution. Thank you, Al Gore!

* The Internet is a scourge wrought upon humanity for its wickedness. Googling your or your child’s latest malady yields the blathering of scores of cranks and quacks who all contradict one another with their ridiculous advice that leaves you more confused than when you started. Go suck a lemon, Al Gore!

* Forget the Internet anyway. Just call or visit your child’s pediatrician or your doctor. No matter what you describe to them they will respond, “Oh that’s totally normal.” Your child’s head is spinning 360 degrees? Totally normal. Your lower abdomen has suddenly contorted into the shape of a Frank Gehry building? Totally normal.

* You will suffer extreme paranoia that everyone is judging you. In your defense, everyone is judging you.

* If you thought you were intellectually superior for reading the Sunday Times before just wait until you have a baby. Reading one wedding announcement on the Vows page now makes you feel worthy of a Charlie Rose interview.

* You will rail against the parents who put a happy face on the post-natal experience, never speaking honestly about the myriad physical, emotional and logistical strains. “They were all lyingggg!” you will wail in one of your more broken down moments. And then you will go out and do the exact same thing, exclaiming cheerily, “It’s going great!” when anyone asks how it’s going.

* People will tell you, “Nap when the baby naps!” These people either have nannies or no children. Because it is impossible. Do you know who naps when the baby naps? The one who doesn’t worry about the cleaning, pumping, cooking, bill paying, and working from home. That person does not nap when the baby naps.

* You wait feverishly for your husband to walk through the door in the evening. Then you spend much of the time he’s home eying him with suspicion, wondering if he thinks you laze about all day napping while the baby naps.

* You wonder how you were ever, even for one nanosecond, a snot with your own parents. You also wonder why you didn’t call them every day of college just to let them know you were still alive.

Finally, the most important piece of wisdom I’ve gleaned:
* Babies are awesome. They have beautiful eyes and their hair smells like cinnamon. The first time they give you a genuine smile it goes a long way to diminishing the junk above.

Hello, Baby

September 17, 2009

It was 2:30 in the morning and my husband and I were driving over D.C.’s silenced streets, bound for the hospital. The only sound from outside my open window was the truck’s engine and the ambient noise of the humid summer night. Inside it was just Wolfmother’s “Vagabond” coming from the stereo because we were both quiet, processing what was unfolding. As we drove past the monuments they glowed under the moon.

It had been a dyslexic version of the classic scene that night. Instead of waking with a start and calling the hospital, we were awoken by the hospital calling us at 1 in the morning to tell us we could come in. With the baby deciding to hang out for an extra week, I was supposed to be induced on a Wednesday. With every baby in the D.C. metro area deciding to be born on that particular Wednesday I was delayed until Thursday morning. “We’ll call you when a delivery room frees up,” the nurse had said Wednesday evening as the wait dragged on.

Finally, at 3 a.m. on Thursday we settled into our delivery room. It was dim and cozy and we reveled, albeit sleepily, in what we knew now were the waning hours of quiet in our lives. The last of You and I.

As it turns out, there would be more of those hours than we expected. An early induction drug did nothing, necessitating the high-octane juice later that morning. With that came an epidural. (Gotta love a process that makes you actually ask a doctor to stick a needle in your spinal cord.) And then came…nothing. Over the next 16+ hours things progressed only so far and that wasn’t far enough.

Around 8:30 that night the baby played her high card. Through the epidural that kept me from feeling contractions so strong the monitor printout read like the screen of a treadmill set to “Alpine Adventure”, I felt her kicking. Like crazy. “That was odd,” I thought. A minute later the doctor and a nurse came hustling in the room and asked if I’d felt the baby moving. Shayeah. The baby’s heart rate was dropping at the same time that her sudden activity indicated some sort of distress, the doctor said. It was time to consider that a c-section was likely necessary.

Up until this point the best word to describe labor would be boring. Too drugged by the epidural to get out of bed. Too overwhelmed by the experience to read or do a crossword puzzle. Clockwatching becomes the pastime. When the doctor starts talking emergency c-section it becomes un-boring. It becomes terrifying. When she asked what my feelings were about having the procedure I said, “I do not care about the type of birth. Just get the baby out now.”

The minutes that followed were the cliched blur: husband getting into scrubs, me telling him to follow the baby and not me after she came out, me telling him to save the baby and not me if something went wrong, me telling him not to remarry or I’d haunt him if something went wrong, anesthesiologist asking questions, residents who looked like they were 18 introducing themselves, wheeling to the operating room, staring up at the glaring lights, arms strapped out on both sides, “Can you feel this?” and through it all, uncontrollable shaking due to the nerves or the anesthesia or both. “Stop shaking or you’ll screw them up,” I told myself. Also through it all: my husband’s head right next to me, eyes locked on mine, whispering to me through his mask.

At 9:42, our baby came into the world. You and I became The Three of Us.

Because of something hinky that had happened when my water broke earlier that day I’d expected there would be problems at her birth. I didn’t expect to hear her cry. I’d spent the afternoon preparing myself for the likelihood that there would be initial respiratory problems and that silence would likely mark her arrival. But at 9:42,  through my anesthetized haze, I heard her cry. Loudly. Sustained. This baby was peeved.

With good reason as it turns out. The umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. Because of her ample carriage she’d been jammed in with little to no chance of moving. One side of her face initially showed the signs of being smushed. Her check-out of the Hotel Tummyington had not gone smoothly. A stern letter to the management was in order.

Luckily, in the days that followed she agreed to forgive us. Because she is perfectly lovely.


And Then There Were Three…

August 16, 2009


All the news that’s fit to print to come.

Oh and that business about the Stork bringing them? It turns out that’s not factually correct.

We Choose the Moon

August 12, 2009


Today it is. Nature has done the heavy lifting these last nine+ months and now Science is going to lend a hand at the end.

It is quite a thing to spend a day, as we did yesterday, knowing that it’s the last day we will ever be something else entirely. To know the exact day when life will change irrevocably and to know that that day is “tomorrow.”

Are we nervous? Of course. Excited? Beyond measure. As wholly, naively unprepared as every other man and woman who takes this on? Naturally.

Looking back on the previous nine months and pondering what’s ahead, I can’t explain why anyone does this. So I’ll let someone else come as close as I’ve ever heard to doing it:

” We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

Hopefully these past nine months have not left you with significant eyeroll strain. But if I’ve fallen prey to the prattling and complaining that seem to nip too often on the swollen heels of pregnancy blogs, bonus points to the person who wires me a telegram, as Dorothy Parker did to the wife of Robert Sherwood upon the birth of her much-discussed baby (a little too much for Mrs. Parker’s taste), stating:

“Good work, Mary. We all knew you had it in you.”

She’s Late For a Very Important Date

August 10, 2009


How was your weekend? Mine? Oh, you know, just dabbled in a bit of NOT HAVING A BABY! She was due last Thursday. For those of you not keeping track, today is now Monday.

Some might argue that this is karmic payback for me routinely being late for social appointments. And some might also get socked in the nose if they argue this at this particular moment in time.

By the way, we have three contenders still in the running for BumpWatch Bingo:
LJ-Aug. 10
Farar-Aug. 12

and of course Phil, with his Oct. 31 guess. At this point, he doesn’t seem that far off.

Pony Express

August 6, 2009


My voicemail to Daddy O: “Hi Dad, it’s me. I promised the baby that you would buy her pony if she came today. Sooo, um, yeah…you’re going to need to buy her a pony.”

Daddy O voicemail in return: “No problem. What color?”

As of yet, the baby does not appear to be buying it…