Archive for the ‘Baby Boot Camp’ Category

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.


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.

What The Calmest Man in Texas Can Teach Us About Parenting

July 15, 2009


Now that the baby’s arrival could occur at any minute—at the movies, at work, in church (baptism on site–so convenient!)—my husband and I have been chatting with increased frequency about what kind of parents we’ll be, how we’ll handle the bumps in the road, and so forth. We’ve been reading the books, watching the DVDs, etc. But nothing will likely be more instructive than the advice imparted by the father of my husband’s boyhood friend one hot day in McAllen, Texas, in the late 1970s.

Yes, on that day, my husband and his buddies were piled into the back seat of a sedan driven by Mr. Spellmann. These boys of about 11 or 12 were no doubt jabbering about the relative strengths of Obi Wan v. Yoda in a fight when Mr. Spellmann turned onto the busy main drag in McAllen. While that normally wouldn’t catch the attention of his knobby-kneed, striped polyblend T-shirt-wearing passengers, it did on this day. Because Mr. Spellmann was driving the wrong way on the main drag. As they yelped and pointed and unintentionally swallowed their Dubble Bubble like cartoon characters, Mr. Spellmann calmly draped one arm over the back of the sedan’s bench seat and kept the other loosely resting on the wheel. He gave a quarter-turn toward the wide-eyed backseat passengers and said:

“Kids, the secret is not to panic.”

Now, Mr. Spellmann was no reckless hooligan. To the contrary. But when faced, accidentally, with adversity, he delivered a pronouncement of such calm, logical majesty that its legacy carried forth through the decades from its humble beginnings on that McAllen roadway. The utterance never propelled him to fame as a parenting guru with a series of books or a talk-show career, but certainly that is a gross injustice. One we will rectify in our own small way whenever our baby hits an octave of wail or contorts her face into a scrunch of irate annoyance the cause of which we cannot determine. One of us will turn to the other and say, “Kids, the secret is not to panic.”

We’d Better Shape Uppp…Ooh Ooh Ooh!

June 15, 2009
IMG_1332Us nervous before childbirth and parenting class. So much to learn about babies!
IMG_1337Us after class. WTH? We didn’t learn anything about babies.

The scene: Saturday’s childbirth and baby care class at one of our nation’s august university medical hospitals.
The commitment:
It was going to be a long day–9 a.m. to 5 p.m.–but we knew it would be worth it.
The equipment:
one blanket, two pillows, notebook, pens, snacks, a bag lunch, two bottles of water (me), six-pack of Diet Coke (him)
The outlook: Given our lack of expertise in the areas of ushering babies into the world and their care and feeding afterward, I said solemnly to my husband as we headed out the door, “It’s probably the most important class we’ll ever take in our lives.” This would even mean it usurped typing, which prior to this time I considered the most important class I’d ever taken in my life.

9:02 a.m. – After riding on the filthiest parking lot elevator in Washington, D.C., and snaking through an empty labyrinth of hospital building corridors we arrive at our destination. Even though we’re only two minutes late, the instructor waves us in without smiling so she can continue a shpiel that appears to be a good five minutes under way. We weren’t even the last couple to arrive. Here’s a tip: when half of your class roster has to lean against a wall or use the loo every five minutes, build in a grace period before you rip into lecture.
9:03 – In a special form of torture for the preggies, they hold this class in an empty floor’s lounge where they’ve apparently turn the air off because there aren’t any patients around.
9:04 – The instructor is saying something. Hope it’s not important because she’s barely rising above a whisper. The entire time her face never breaks from its dour expression and her commitment to monotone delivery is awe-inspiring. I feel I’ve made some headway when I make out a New England accent.
9:10 – We’re only 10 minutes in and our instructor, railing (quietly and without r’s) against newspapers using sensationalistic terminology in articles about childbirth says, “Newspapers have really gone downhill in the past few years.” Suuuuper. My husband cracks open the first Diet Coke of the morning.
9:20 – In a classic case of “be careful what you wish for,” I’m now wishing we had one of those hippie dippy crystal-purifying instructors that I’d initially feared we’d get. Instead I’ve got Whispering Katharine Hepburn the Newspaper Detrahctah.
9:23 – I realize that this class will in no way cover baby care — diapering, feeding, bathing, etc. — when she plugs a separate course covering those topics. Apparently I misread this one’s description. Suuuuuuper.
9:45 – Forty-five minutes in and the instructor finally looks at her class syllabus, mentions a broad topic — timing contractions — and then offers no actual information saying, “We’ll go over that later.” This will continue for the next hour.
9:50 – Needing a distraction and a snack, I dive into my baggie of apple slices. Incidentally, if you ever want to see evidence of the sham public lives pregnant women lead, watch the snacks that get pulled out at a communal meeting of their kind: apple slices, unsalted almonds, carrot sticks. Muhuh. Like we all weren’t eating spoonfuls of Duncan Hines frosting dredged through Cap’n Crunch the night before.
10:00 – The instructor divides the men and women and has each group list three positives and negatives about pregnancy. The women struggle to condense the negatives to fewer than five items in the 10 minutes allotted. My husband later reports that the men cranked out their lists in 90 seconds and talked about football the rest of the time. One guy was lamenting that his wife’s due date was initially projected to be August but then they determined it wouldn’t be until early September. The others apparently counseled him that this was nothing to worry about, provided she had the good sense not to deliver on a Saturday.
10:10 to 10:50 – The instructor provides excruciating detail about what will happen at the hospital. But not about the kind of events for which excruciatingly detailed description might actually be helpful, such as the particulars of the eviction of the baby from its uterine condo. No, she details how many questions the admitting desk worker will ask, explains how the identification bracelet will go on our wrists, demonstrates how the nurses will use hand sanitizer as they enter the room, and so forth. (I. Kid. You. Not.)
10:55 – I write the first of two notes to my husband on my otherwise-unmarred notebook sheet: “But what will the chief resident have had for lunch that day?”
11:10 – I write my second note to my husband, “If we don’t start getting some actual useful childbirth info pronto I’m all for bailing at the lunch break.” He looks at me lovingly, seemingly convinced that he made the right decision on our wedding day. He pops open his second Diet Coke to toast his good fortune.
11:15 – The only other notes that have made it onto the paper are: “Call doctor when contractions start.” “Bring iPod and speaker dock to hospital.” “Ask neighbor to look after Dakota when we go to the hospital.”
11:40 – The instructor puts in a DVD about childbirth. Finally, we’re getting somewhere! We watch a short segment about the three stages of labor: Moderately Painful, Really Painful, and Sweet Fancy Moses Get This Thing Out Now Painful. Then we watch an actual childbirth video. Twenty minutes before lunch. Much wincing and “oh God”ing ensues.
11:55 – Time to get out the pillows and blankets and hit the floor for breathing exercises. In five minutes, the instructor offers a series of relaxation techniques that might calm me down were I in a moderately long line at the DMV but would be unlikely to help while going through what I just witnessed on the DVD. I resolve to get a pre-natal yoga DVD.
Noon. Sweet, Blessed Lunch-Breaky Noon – “Get the pillows and I’ll grab the bag and let’s get out of here,” I whisper with urgency to my husband as if we’re planning a bank heist. He obliges and we bolt for the door.
1:30 – In the fern-dotted, air-conditioned Georgetown Park, we buy Mrs. Field’s cookies and sodas. We are happy, we are free. It is then that we realize we’ve cut class to go to the mall, buy junk food, and hang out with our significant other. High school rules! Take that, authority!



No, wait…


Dad Tip: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

April 7, 2009

yourpregnancyMy go-to book thus far has been Your Pregnancy Week By Week, which you will notice is most certainly not What to Expect When You’re Expecting, the book that is practically a required purchase within 14 seconds of learning you’re pregnant. The problem with What to Expect When You’re Expecting is that it was written by evil gnomes who hate pregnant women. As my sister-in-law tried to warn me, “They should call it What to Freak Out About When You’re Expecting.” I found in Week by Week a much better alternative.

One of the great features of this book is the “Dad Tip,” a small box that pops up in each chapter and offers exactly what it promises–a tip for the fathers to be. But I noticed this week that the Dad Tips are starting to take a little turn in tone. Here’s the typical entry thus far:

helpfulhintDad Tip, Week 5
Clean or vacuum the house without being asked.

helpfulhintDad Tip, Week 7
Buy a present for your partner and the baby.

helpfulhintDad Tip, Week 14
If you go out of town, call your partner at least once every day. Let her know you are thinking about her and the baby.

OK, so far so good. Nothing too unexpected or unusual. All very sweet and practical. But then last night we hit the following.

helpfulhintDad Tip, Week 22
When you ride together in the car with your partner, ask if she needs help adjusting her seat belt or the car seat.

Help adjusting her seatbelt? More than what this might be presuming about me being an invalid at 22 weeks pregnant, I think this tip represents a turning point in what it assumes most wives’ view of their husbands are as this process enters the back nine. Here’s where I imagine this is heading:

helpfulhintDad Tip, Week 25
Wait, why did you just look at her like that? It’s totally fine if she wants to plow through two Whoppers with cheese and a Hot Pocket. You know you’re not exactly at your fighting weight either.

helpfulhintDad Tip, Week 30
Ever since she laid off the trash elves, the garbage doesn’t take itself out, pal. Just sayin’.

helpfulhintDad Tip, Week 32
Hey, remember back in Week 7 when we advised you to buy a present for her and the baby? Yeah, we meant with this pregnancy. Because it’s been like six months and you still haven’t done that. Cough it up, guy.

helpfulhintDad Tip, Week 33
If you wake her up one more time with your snoring she is well within her rights to make you sleep on the front lawn. Seriously, is there a hamster on a wheel jammed in your nasal passages?

helpfulhintDad Tip, Week 35
She said open the goddammned window right now! It wasn’t a question!

helpfulhintDad Tip, Week 38
What look? She didn’t look at you like anything. God, she does not need your paranoia right now.

helpfulhintDad Tip, Week 40
YOU DID THIS TO HER YOU %&$#ing @%&*ity %*&@er!

Luckily for my husband I harbor no such animosity. I am the very model of the loving, blissful pregnant wife. Dad Tip: don’t toy with me, because I can always stray from that approach.

Everything We Know About Child Rearing We Learned From Pak ‘n Ship

February 16, 2009


On our trip to Texas a couple weekends ago, my husband’s brother and sister-in-law entrusted the care of their child to us for the evening. But first they set up some safety valves: they only gave us one of their two kids and technically they entrusted him to the grandparents. We just happened to be staying at the grandparents’ house–the junior camp counselors to their seasoned head counselors, if you will. However, unlike typical junior camp counselors we did not take every opportunity to meet up at the lake, make out, and smoke ciggies.

No, my husband and I view any prolonged contact with children now as boot camp experience. As such, we approached our duties solemnly. He quickly realized that we were going to have to take some additional safety measures. So he made like Tony Stark and whipped the boy up some new high-tech, bubble wrap dubs. (And before anyone has a holy conniption in the comments, no, we did not let him run around unsupervised with the bubble wrap hat on.)

That the lad escaped the evening unscathed is clearly a testamant to our superior, although nascent, parenting skills. We realized we’re going to be fine. Provided you can register for bubble wrap by the ton at Babies ‘R Us.