I’ll take my cuddles well-rested

I like my job. Most of the time. For the first 11 months I thought I’d made a mistake.

Before Baby Bop was born I wanted to stay home with her. Then around the 5 month mark I was so exhausted, delirious, and not sure how to solve it, that I declared,

“Maybe I’d be better off working.”

I don’t know how that was going to get me more sleep, but I’d long lost touch with the rational part of my brain.

Several months into my sleep deprived fog, I tell my therapist,

“I thought I’d like this more.”

“How many times do you get woken up a night?”

“Three to four.”

“When’s the last time you had a full night’s sleep?”

“Before Baby Bop was born.”

“So that’s really hard.”

“Yeah.”

We chat some more. She asks,

“You love your husband right?”

“Oh yeah.”

“Do you want to spend 24/7 with him?”

“No way!”

“So then why would you want to spend 24/7 with Baby Bop?”

“You’re right. I don’t.”

I felt better having figured that out, but spending all night with Baby Bop wasn’t changing until we moved.

Now all of sudden with nighttime and naps, she’s sleeping 15 hours a day without me. And while I have to stay close enough to keep the video monitor in range, I’ve got a good 700 foot radius of freedom.

Not only does the 700 feet of space make me like my job, I like Baby Bop more. I just miss adult conversations. There’s only so many times I can talk about piggy toes before I wonder if I’m losing my mind.  And piggy toes are the one body part Baby Bop can identify, so they must be a frequent topic of conversation.

In Boston, when I went out in public, I avoided eye contact and hoped no one talked to me. I had zero energy for random people. Now going to the grocery store is a social event. Old ladies are a big fan of Baby Bop and we like some of them.

For the first time I feel strong waves of nostalgia. Remember when she was so small? Remember when she screamed all the time? Ah.

My nostalgia is a luxury of being well-rested. When I was in my sleep-deprived stupor, people said,

“Cherish the cuddles, it goes by so fast!”

Screw you. You come cherish the cuddles at 3am and I’ll get some sleep.

A daytime cuddle is where it’s at.

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Birth control is turning out to be useful

Six weeks of sleeping through the night and counting. My marriage is on the up swing. Before this, I wasn’t sure how people ever ended up with another child.

Captain and I head out for dinner for my birthday. No Baby Bop. We walk toward my grocery assault vehicle. Captain declares,

“I’m not doing valet parking with a car seat in the back.”

His two-seater car it is. I don’t know if it was the car, my unconducive for breastfeeding dress, the drinks at the bar, but I look at Captain, he looks at me. This is amazing. He says,

“It’s like none of this has happened yet.”

And I know exactly what he means. “This” being house, car, baby, marriage. Yes. It’s almost possible to imagine none of this has happened yet. Except this normal bra I haven’t worn in two years is not comfy.

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All you can drink juice boxes

Baby Bop is a year old and we had a big party to prove it. It wasn’t a pink party. Baby Bop wore a pink dress and we had one pink balloon, but it was a Sesame Street theme. Captain’s favorite.

I’m not making that up. He’s a HUGE Sesame Street fan. The other day I came home and found him watching Sesame Street all by himself.

He tells me,

“I want to watch the classic episodes with Baby Bop.”

“Like the ones from the 1970’s?”

“Yeah, pre-Elmo.”

So for Father’s Day I gave Captain Sesame Street DVDs. Many episodes from before my time. I also gave him Bert and Ernie sunglasses. It’s hard to know where to draw the line with a theme.

The doctor told us that the glue on Baby Bop’s eyebrow would flake off in 5 days. Three weeks later it’s all still there. It appears we may be waiting for her eyebrow hairs to grow out. I complain about it to Captain, he suggests,

“What if we glue on a Bert unibrow?”

We are committed to this Sesame Street theme.

And so we broke in our new home. The party went smoothly and we have lots of leftover beer, wine and juice boxes. If you’re in the mood for any of those, feel free to stop by.

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Yes I bought these. And the Bert ones too.

 

Almost a year old and mostly intact

I don’t have a photo to prove it, but there was a doe and a fawn in my backyard the other morning. That means Thumper, Owl and Flower have got to be close by.

In other news, Baby Bop is almost a year old. That’s a whole year I’ve kept Baby Bop alive, although we had a close call last week.

Baby Bop is fast. I like to think I’m faster, but she proved me wrong. I was getting her dressed on the bed. Never doing that again. She crawled and as I was grabbing her, she slipped and bonked her head on the footboard of the bed.

I picked her up and blood started to ooze from her eyebrow. Seeing my baby bleeding sent me to a very panicky place. Holding Baby Bop, I did a lap around the house. I’m not sure what this accomplished besides getting blood everywhere. Then I sat down and applied pressure to the wound.

Baby Bop stopped crying and the gash stopped bleeding long before I stopped panicking. Being Sunday and it being my first child and it being her face and me thinking about a 16-year-old angry Baby Bop with a scar on her face, we head to the emergency room.

They ask me,

“How much does she weigh?”

“16 pounds 3 months ago.”

They put her on the scale. I mention,

“She has a wet diaper.” I’m not sure why I thought 3oz of urine mattered.

The doctor hands me a wet cloth and tells me to wipe the dried blood off the wound so he can get a better look. I do, but then she screams like a mad women which also makes it hard to get a look. He says,

“I think we can glue it.”

I like the sound of glue instead of stitches, but I don’t like the sound of “I think.” We go ahead with the glue.

It takes 3 full-size adults to pin down a 20 pound baby. She screams so hard she doesn’t make a sound. Then I put my boob in her mouth and she falls asleep. My boobs are almost out of service, so I should make the most of them while I can.

Baby Bop is 100% fine. She doesn’t even know she has eyebrows never mind that maybe now she only has one. I really hope the hair grows over it ok. As I beat myself up, my mom offers some reassurance,

“Eyebrows are for protecting the eyes, so it did a good job.”

Yes. Good job eyebrow, thank you. I will try not to rely on you in the future.

 

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Hello House

Expanding magic family. We’re like one of those tiny souvenirs that you add water to and it becomes a full size t-shirt, towel or family with a dog in the suburbs.

Yes I’ve had a dog all along, but he lived with my mom. Now he’s with us.

I’m a stereotype. In retrospect, I’ve fit plenty of other stereotypes, but this mom in the suburbs thing seems to be the most blatant.

Living in the city there was a part of my old single self that didn’t feel that far away. Now I’m a 30 minute drive with no traffic and a lifetime away.

I feel like a new woman. Is it the trees? The space in the house? Being down the street from Target? All of that. But better yet, Baby Bop is sleeping by herself, from 7pm to 6am, without a peep.

She is on a mat on the floor. The crib pisses her off. So there’s that. Whatever.

Putting this in writing could screw it all up, but after 11 months of it being all screwed up, I’d like to revel in the 13 nights and counting that we’ve got going.

Now I can sleep in the same bed with Captain and work on filling up the empty bedrooms. KIDDING! I have boxes to unpack first.

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She’s asleep on the floor. You do you Baby Bop!

 

Bye bye condo

This is it! Moving tomorrow.

The other day I paused for a minute and stared at the blank walls and empty shelves. Whoa. What’s that emotion I’m feeling? I can’t believe it. I’m nostalgic for the condo.

Not so nostalgic that I wouldn’t have moved yesterday, but nostalgic enough to make one of my eyes water just a little bit. Could also have been the dust.

At this point it’s easy to believe we’re moving. I’m drinking water out of a red solo cup because I decided to pack everything except for Baby Bop and my computer. It’s harder to believe we own a house and a yard. I’ve been in our new home twice since we closed on it and both times I kept waiting for a real estate agent to pop out from around a corner and shout,

“So what do you think?”

I love it. I’ll take it.

We won’t have internet set up until Saturday so if I don’t blog for another two weeks it won’t be because I don’t have internet.

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If your living room/play space is going to be consumed by boxes, they might as well be happy ones.

 

We’re moving! Probably!

We’re in the process of a buying a house. I don’t want to speak too soon, but I’m not sure what else to speak about, because it’s consuming my entire brain. That and wondering where Baby Bop is. It’s a small condo, but she’s a small person and fits in the tiny space between the toilet and the sink. I know this because I found her there.

Everyone keeps asking me if I’m freaking out. I’m not. Maybe it would help if I were. I’m half getting ready to move and half still in disbelief that this might happen. During the past 2 weeks I’ve packed 8 boxes. There are 2 weeks left and about 30-40 more boxes to go, so you do the math.

I ordered a bunch of boxes from UHAUL. They have handles. At first I thought this was great, then Baby Bop managed to get her little arms through the handles into the taped up boxes and started pulling things out that I just packed. If at some point Baby Bop ends up in a box, I’m going to blame Garfield.

I’m trying to pack in some sort of organized fashion. As I drag things out of every nook and cranny, there are things I’m not sure what to do with. Streamers for my bike? Pack them. An unopened bottle of whiskey? Pack it? Open it? Girls Gone Wild VHS? Take a photo, text some people and wait.

Captain made a decision to hold onto this when he moved into the condo in 2009, so I doubt he’s going to want to part with it now. I ask him,

“Are we packing the Girls Gone Wild VHS?”

“Of course!”

Silly me.

I tell a couple girlfriends. One responds,

“Oh I loved that series, that used to be on every week right?”

“No, it’s not a TV series, it’s women flashing people.”

“Oh no, I was thinking of 90210.”

I ask Captain if he minds me blogging about it. He says,

“Go for it. For some reason I’m not ashamed.”

I noticed.

“Maybe it’s cause there’s no way to watch it.”

And maybe when Baby Bop is old enough to ask about it, she’ll be so bored by the explanation of what a VHS is that we won’t have to explain anything else.

The packing continues.

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Don’t tell Baby Bop where I am

Baby Bop has two teeth. She’s had them for a couple of months now, but they didn’t pose a problem until a few days ago.

At night Baby Bop likes herself a little comfort nursing. It’s her thing. I could do without it, but at 3am it’s not worth a fight.

I scooch toward the other side of the bed. In her sleep Baby Bop scooches too. She throws a leg over mine, then an arm and then she sniffs for a nipple. Yes, even if I keep them covered up. I duck, evade and jump over her to the other side of the bed to wait as she starts scooching again.

It was manageable until the other night when she clamped down with her teeth. She could’ve bitten harder, but it was hard enough. I snatch my nipple away from her,

“OW!!!”

She giggles and tries to nurse again. Wary, but not sure what else to do, I give her my boob back. She does it again.

“That hurts mommy!”

She lets out a full belly laugh and tries to get my boob in her mouth again. I’m pretty sure there’s a saying about this: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me a million more times and I’m going to have really sore nipples.” Or something like that.

She falls asleep. My breasts are safe for a little awhile. Google tells me that when baby bites and mom yells, some babies are so shocked they never bite again. Other babies think mom’s reaction is really funny and keep biting.

Of course Baby Bop falls in the second category. Pretty soon I’m going to be sleeping on the couch with Captain.*

*Thanks to a good mom friend for this idea.

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Baby Bop learns to swim. Just kidding!

I love swimming and I love my baby. I ponder combining the two. Lots of people do it, but how? And is it worth it? I went to baby swim class when I was 6 months old and now I’m a retired lifeguard, so that proves it works.

When Baby Bop was taking 3 naps a day. We’d just about get ready to go somewhere, arrive and then it would be time for another nap. Now we’re on 2 naps a day and we fit a little more life in.

Boston University has a baby swim class that works well with our schedule. I email them,

“How do parents manage to get themselves and their babies changed for swim lessons?”

“Hi Jessica, We actually have family locker rooms by the pool specifically for families attending lessons with kids. In those, you’ll find private space to change, as well as changing tables if needed. I hope this helped, and please feel free to reach out with any further questions! Best, FitRec Member Services”

‘Dear FitRec Member Services, I don’t understand how I get my baby and myself dressed at the same time and where my wet, slippery, screaming baby goes while I’m getting dressed. I know I don’t know for sure that my baby will be screaming, but I’d say I’m 90% sure she will be. Thanks, see you soon!’

The first swim lesson I drag my stroller into a family locker room. I feel good knowing I have a safe spot to put my screaming baby. She didn’t scream until the swim lesson was over, so there’s that.

From getting ready to go, to getting there, to getting ready in the locker room, to getting dressed afterward, to getting home: took 3 hours for a 30 minute swim lesson.

The second swim lesson, I notice plenty of the moms are doing it with no stroller. I ask for their secret: a second towel to lay the baby on the floor. I try this. When Baby Bop decides she’s done screaming, she is off and crawling, delighted to find stray hair balls while I put my wet butt back in my underpants. Drying off is a luxury there’s no time for.

Third swim lesson. I swaddle Baby Bop in the towel super tight and lay her on the locker room floor. She doesn’t move a muscle. All the moms start exclaiming,

“Oh she’s so calm!”

“Wow, she just lays there!”

Nope. That’s not correct. She’s calm as long as every part of her body is physically restrained. She proves me right. The minute I loosen the towel to get her dressed she starts to scream.

Fourth swim lesson I feel like a pro. Baby Bop barely screamed and I even dried my butt a little.

The young woman teaching the swim lessons is very good and very serious. She tells us,

“Ok it’s time to float on our backs.”

“Now it’s time to float on our tummies.”

“Ok now we’re going to sing ‘Ring Around the Rosie.’ I looked it up and I learned an additional verse we can sing. If anyone knows any other verses please let me know.”

“Now it’s time for the lazy river.”

I tell Captain, he exclaims,

“Are there college kids floating around drinking?”

“No. It’s not that kind of lazy river.” Although I wouldn’t mind a drink.

Near the end of the lesson the instructor tells us,

“Now you can put your babies underwater, but it’s not required to pass this class.”

Pass this class? Who’s worried about passing this class? I’ll declare us passed if we complete this experience and don’t leave any floaters in the pool.

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Me! Modeling my new bathing suit, 1983.

Dear house, your photos look great, do you want to meet up? I’ll come to you. I’m still seeing other houses, but I’d love to see where this goes

The house hunt is on. It’s been on in theory since we knew we were pregnant, but it got on in earnest a couple of months ago when Baby Bop made it clear she’s not going to stay in one place for long.

I could be fooling myself, but I have a dream that we’ll all sleep better with more than one bedroom. Baby Bop would argue that she sleeps great, but she’s a bed hog. She sleeps on her back with her arms splayed out like she’s the letter “T.” A 9-month-old baby takes up most of our queen-size bed.

House hunting is like online dating. It’s a drag. The photos, or lack of, are very deceiving. If there are no photos of any bathrooms, assume the worst. If there’s no mention of a great neighborhood, it’s probably on a highway. If it says, “it has potential,” it’s probably a tear-down.

So no matter how good a house looks online, you have to meet in person ASAP. No point daydreaming about where I’m going to sit outside with my coffee and attempt to blog, while Baby Bop plays in a pile of dirt. I have fond memories of playing outside and Captain has fond memories of playing in piles of dirt.

The good thing about online dating is that after meeting three times, you’re free to walk away and it does not require the biggest financial investment of your life. If it does, you’re being scammed.

It’s all a little scary, a little exciting and a little overdue. I’m ready to move my stuff out of my mom’s garage, living room, kitchen, basement, attic and hallways. Don’t forget about my in-law’s basement and attic. Thanks everybody.

And I’ve got my eye on a new king-size bed. Baby Bop, the queen is all yours.

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Too much beer? Just go easy on the carrots

The longer Baby Bop is around, the harder it is for me to remember that I had a childless life for 34 years. I know it happened, but it gets fuzzier every day. One thing I used to do was ski. I’m reminded of that every time Baby Bop and I sit on the toilet and stare at my skis.

Two weeks ago I had an amazing ski weekend with my friends. Baby Bop was there because I need her to empty my boobs, but other than that, my mom and Captain did everything baby.

Even sitting on the chairlift was pleasant. Sometimes I was with my friends and sometimes with random people. One lift ride I got on with two middle-aged women. And as I’m writing this, I googled “middle-aged” to see if I made three, but it looks like I’m off the hook for a minute.

The women were chatting,

“I love my farm share, I just get way too much of the same vegetables and I don’t know what to do with it all. My kids sure aren’t eating it.”

Her friend nods. Farm-share lady continues,

“And there are always so many potatoes and I need to stay away from root vegetables.”

“Why?”

“Root vegetables have a lot of sugar.”

“I didn’t realize that.”

“Yeah, sweet potatoes? Carrots too.”

“Huh.”

“The other problem is that I have a full share and some people have half shares and the other day they gave me a half share.”

Didn’t you just say you have too many vegetables? I wipe my snotty nose on my mitten. Is this my future?

A few ski runs later I get on the lift with two teenage boys, maybe early twenties, but it’s getting hard to tell as I approach middle age.

One boy pops open a beer. The other one declares,

“Running into that tree hurt.”

His friend hands him the beer. He adds,

“I’m so drunk.”

Skiing, trees and alcohol. One of these things is not good with the others. Yes, Sesame Street is a part of my life now.

The ring leader with the beer offers empathy,

“Well I was so drunk last night I don’t even remember being on the lazy river.”

I head back to the hotel. I like my beer in the hot tub with Captain. I look at Captain. It’s like old times. This is how Baby Bop got started. Then we head to dinner the two of us. I feel like a new woman.

Captain tells me,

“You’re back!”

Yes, there’s still hope that I exist. I’m living somewhere between chugging beers on the chairlift and swearing off sweet potatoes.

These all seemed relevant.

Aggressive pre-snowstorm shoppers and a crazy pregnant lady

Going grocery shopping before a snow storm is never a good idea. But then when the snow storm hits and you don’t run out of Cheez-Its, it was worth it.

Baby Bop and I make our way through the store. She grabs anything. I try to be a little more discriminating. The mid-weekday grocery crowd is slow-moving. There are several people pushing around oxygen tanks.

One lady checking out has eight loaves of white bread and that’s it. She must be doing snow storm shopping for the ducks.

I start chatting with a pregnant woman. There’s a pet carrier in the cart. She tells me,

“I just got this puppy!”

“Adorable!” ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?!

I screamed that in my head, but maybe it was also plastered on my face, because she adds,

“I’m due in 7 weeks, so maybe it was a mistake.”

Maybe.

Baby Bop is wearing pink and blue. I like all colors, but I especially like pink. Baby Bop’s blue eyes look good with blue. And so attired we head for the yogurt aisle. I’m bent over examining the selection. A woman raises her voice at me,

“Is that a boy or a girl?”

“Excuse me?” Why does this lady sound aggressive? She continues in a scolding tone,

“I can’t tell if your baby is a boy or a girl because of the pink and blue.”

I’m sorry she’s not wearing a t-shirt that says “I have a vagina.”

 

 

 

 

Nature vs Nurture. I’m going to toss a lot up to nature

Will the truth survive four years of this? Will we recognize it after it’s attacked day after day? I have no new insights, but I need to acknowledge the pile of poop in front of me before moving onto Baby Bop’s cuter, more manageable poops.

I got my parenting job the same way I got my first bartending job. I BS’d my way into it.

My mom’s friend’s nephew was a bartender and he agreed to teach me how to bartend with no intention of helping me get a job. My first day with him a guy walked up to me at the bar and said,

“You’re new here.”

“Oh I don’t work here, So-and-so is just training me.”

“I have a restaurant and I need a bartender.”

“Oh.”

“Have you bartended before?”

“No.” Didn’t this guy hear what I just said? “I’m learning.”

“Have you bartended before?”

Ooooh. “Why yes. Yes I have.”

And off I went to my first bartending job.

Fifteen years later: do you have a uterus?

Why yes I do.

Alright. Let’s see what happens.

I BS’d myself into thinking I knew what I was doing.

“I took care of my baby brother.” I was five.

“I babysat plenty.” At 15 I rang in the New Year with a baby who had just fallen asleep on his parents’ bed. This should’ve served as a warning.

“I’ve read so many books.” I have. But reading about feeding solid foods is very different from watching your child get prunes everywhere but in her mouth. Baby Bop, don’t be mad at me when you’re still constipated later. I tried.

Trying. Maybe I’ll try this. Or I’ll try that. Or I read this on some obscure site, after hours of Googling. It’s worth a try.

My hormones have provided some basic parenting instincts, like the desire to keep my child alive, even though I want to eat her. But they aren’t helpful with the nuances, like what to do when my daughter does pelvic thrusts the entire time I’m trying to change her diaper.

Having more children would provide perspective on what’s personality and what’s parenting skills. But I am not trying to have a comparison anytime soon.

This morning Captain’s bare chest was tempting. I slapped it, then Baby Bop slapped it. That’s parenting.

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I’m confused about how this baby’s hair, ears and eyes are so clean.

The fun fact about cribs you wish you knew when you were a baby

Sleep. Elusive sleep.

All I’ve heard my whole life is what a great sleepy baby I was. I slept through the night almost immediately and took two two-hour naps. My mom fed me, put me in my crib and walked away.

When Captain was a baby, he had a very hard time sleeping and remembers his parents bouncing him. He remembers being bounced. I’m repeating that, because it scares me.

In the beginning I had a lot of hope. Every night I thought to myself,

“Tonight’s my night! I got the naps right, the temperature right, the clothing right, the feeding right, the je ne sais quoi right.”

It didn’t matter.

Talk to anyone with a baby older than your baby and they’ll tell you,

“It gets better.”

This is true. But it’s not a straight uphill trajectory to Better Land. Or at least not with Baby Bop. We’re at 7 months now. It’s the best. Month 3 and Month 5 were the worst.

Month 3 was when she stopped breastfeeding during daylight hours and screamed if she could see anything. Anything. There had to be pitch blackness, motion and even better if her limbs were restrained. So her life in the sling began.

Then Month 5. She stopped sleeping for the four-hour chunk of time she’d been giving me her whole life and decided to wake up every hour. After a few weeks of sleep deprivation torture. I tell Captain,

“I’m not going to make it. I need you to sleep on the couch, so I can have Baby Bop in bed with me for the whole night.”

And that sounds really calm when I read it here, but it wasn’t.

After one night of that, I thought to myself,

“Wow, we were up every hour, but I feel rested.” Not having to stand up and get Baby Bop out of her crib, to put my boob in her mouth, was a miracle. I ask Captain,

“Will you sleep on the couch one more night?”

So two months of Captain sleeping on the couch later, I feel great! I ask Captain,

“What do you want for Valentine’s Day?”

“I want to sleep with you in the bed.”

Mmm. Sounds nice. So we’re working on getting Baby Bop back in her crib. I’m employing all sorts of methods, tricks, advice, witchcraft. Whatever works. And then I read this in one of my many parenting books:

“If diapers and pajamas don’t foil them… some baby girls adopt a version of rocking which rhythmically rubs their vulva against the crib mattress or bars.”

If Baby Bop knew this, she’d like her crib a whole lot better.

So while I leave the book near Baby Bop in case she wants to read it, we work on making our bed safe for an increasingly mobile girl. It was either put our mattress on the floor and lose precious storage space or put rails on the side of the bed. We put up rails.

I tell Captain,

“I like the rails! They make the bed feel really cozy.”

“You’re all set for the nursing home.”

Guess I should stop rubbing in the fact that I’m enjoying sleeping in the bed. But don’t feel too bad for Captain. It’s a memory foam couch and it cost a lot more than our bed.

The other night I startle awake to Captain standing next to the bed. I ask him,

“What’s going on?”

“I’m trying to see where everybody is.”

No one is in the crib and everybody, Baby Bop and I, are in the bed. This crib thing isn’t happening overnight.

Last night, with Baby Bop asleep in the bed, I collapse on the couch to enjoy my couple hours of baby free time. I start with my favorite activity, scrolling through photos of Baby Bop. Captain admires the photos and declares,

“I want to wake her up and play with her.”

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Bed rails!

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Baby Bop’s Valentine’s Day present for Captain: Chocolate poop

No Ban No Wall, Baby Bop agrees

I have an unshakeable queasiness. I go about my daily life: brushing my teeth, taking care of my baby and it stabs me again and again. The psychological weight of this evil White House administration is constant.

Baby Bop agrees, so I’m filling her calendar with protests. We didn’t make it to the one at Logan airport because it was past our bedtime, but we made it to one yesterday and looks like there’s one on Wednesday that’ll fit in great with our nap schedule.

Meanwhile on the home front, physical therapy is winding down. Am I like new? No. If I were posting my vagina for sale on Amazon I would need to label it as “good.”  As in it has had some solid use, there are small markings and folds, but it’s in usable condition. I could try passing it off as “very good.” As in it has had minimal use, is unmarked, undamaged and shows limited signs of wear. But we all know that’s not true.

After my regular appointment with my physical therapist, she hands me over to a 25-year-old guy to help me go through my exercises. He has an even younger trainee with him. This guy looks like he just started sleeping through the night. He might be 21.

I do my squats. The 25-year-old attempts small talk,

“How’s the sleep going?”

Once this guy has to feed a baby at 3am for months on end, then we can talk about sleep.

Out of nowhere a random woman walks up to Baby Bop’s stroller and starts touching her. My insides recoil and I almost drop the 17 pound weight that’s standing in for Baby Bop. The woman notices my concern and reassures me,

“I have a baby too.”

Part of me softens, but the other part of me screams, well then what the heck are you thinking?

I try to focus on my squats. The 21-year-old looks over the list of exercises I’m supposed to do and asks the 25-year-old,

“So what’s the injury?”

“Childbirth or something like that.”

Something like that? What is something like childbirth?

Baby Bop preferred to protest from inside my coat. Don’t worry, she made her voice heard.

Baby Bop asleep for the win!

Today is a magnificent day. Baby Bop napped on her own for an hour. On her own, as in not attached to my body. No boob in her mouth, no boob on her cheek, no boob within smelling distance. And no one bouncing her. She might as well have told me that she just got accepted to college for the joy and relief I feel.

The rational part of my brain has understood all along that someday she’ll sleep on her own. The problem is the rational part of my brain hasn’t been around much these last 6 months.

While she slept, I made and ate a sandwich, had a coffee and started a blog. And it was only a minor meltdown when she awoke to the indignity of a missing boob.

It’s good that this coincides with her gaining weight, 16 pounds and counting. At physical therapy the other day, I mention I booked a ski trip. My physical therapist cheers for me and tells me to do squats. She asks,

“How much does your baby weigh?”

“16 pounds.”

She hands me a 17 pound weight with a handle and tells me,

“Do 4 sets of 10 squats holding this weight, it’s just like your baby.”

“If she grew a handle.”

I’m going to be in such great shape, I’ll be able to ski while I hold Baby Bop.

KIDDING! But it’s not the worst idea I’ve ever had.

Who’s harder to photograph, a dog or a baby?

Happy New Year! I didn’t make any resolutions because I wasn’t awake at midnight. That’s how that works right? If I were to make one resolution, it would be to write more. I wouldn’t mind showering more too, but one thing at a time.

Did you know that JCPenney’s Portrait Studio takes photos of dogs? Did you know that JCPenney’s has a portrait studio? Now you do. And what’s better than a photo of a dog and a baby? I call to schedule an appointment. The lady tells me,

“Any photos with pets have to be the last appointment of the day.”

“What time is that?”

“5pm.”

“That’s a hard time for my baby.”

Silence.

There appears to be no negotiating. 5pm it is. I ask,

“What’s the cancellation policy?”

“Give us a call anytime, no problem.”

Perfect. I’m going with an 80% chance of cancelling and a 20% chance of showing up with Baby Bop in some stage of disintegration.

Day of the photo shoot, Baby Bop takes an epic 3 hour afternoon nap. And Booker, our chocolate lab, appears well rested.

My mom, Captain, Baby Bop, Booker and I head to the mall. Booker is thrilled. He’s never been to JCPenney’s before. Baby Bop has never been to JCPenney’s either, but she is not as thrilled. Although she does seem to be keeping it together.

We’re early and they’re running late. We stand near the studio in the curtain department. Should I nurse Baby Bop? How is she going to make it another half hour? These are the dilemmas of my life. And I never know what the right decision is.

Several people come up to Booker and say,

“I’m going to talk to you, because I’m sure everyone is talking to the baby.”

No one is talking to the baby and that’s just fine.

We head into the studio. The photographer tells us,

“You can let your dog free to explore so he’ll calm down.”

He’ll never calm down. He’s 12-years-old and it appears that the answer to old age is carrying your favorite rubber rattle around and never stop moving.

The photographer asks,

“Mom, will the baby sit on her own?”

I glance at my mom. Oh RIGHT. I’m “mom.” I ask the photographer,

“Maybe?”

I’m in charge of trying to have Baby Bop sit. My mom is charge of trying to get Booker to sit. We’re both in charge of trying to get them to sit near each other. The photographer tells us,

“Closer together.”

Booker starts to scramble away.

“Closer together.”

Baby Bop wobbles, but stays upright.

“Great!”

Now in an attempt to get Booker and Baby to look at her. The photographer makes a clicking sound. Booker dashes straight for her.

We try again. Baby seated. Dog seated. Photographer makes clicking sound. Dog jumps up.

She’s using the same sound we use when we want him to come to us. Booker hasn’t sat still for more than a second.

This seems to be a disaster, but the photographer keeps at it. We get some adorable shots. Booker is smiling in all of them. I know what you’re thinking: ‘there’s no way to tell whether a dog is smiling or not.’ Oh but there is. He never smiles in a “stay” at home. See home on the left and JCPenney’s on the right.

On the other hand, Baby Bop isn’t smiling in any of the photos, but she’s also not crying, so this is going down as a win.

We head out to the car for our drive home. Captain tells me,

“I think Baby Bop likes us.”

“Yup. I think we’re guaranteed that for at least 13 years.”

 

Even Baby Bop’s poop is in the holiday spirit

Baby Bop is enjoying Hanukkah and enjoyed Christmas more than I realized until this morning’s diaper change.

Everyone recommends getting babies on a schedule. Sounds wonderful to me, but someone needs to convince Baby Bop. Morning wake-up time tends to be 5am. If I’m unlucky it’s 4:30am. If I’m really lucky it’s 6am.

This morning Baby Bop slept until 6:30am. A Hanukkah miracle. I put her on the changing table and open her diaper. My heart stops.

There’s a large red blob in the middle of her poop. She’s dying. She’s hemorrhaging out of her butt. What do I do? I glance at her face. She’s smiling, babbling and chewing on a stuffed bunny. Maybe she’ll live.

I examine the red blob. I’m going to have to pick it out of the diaper. I go for it. This is love. Now I understand how not so long ago, when I was already an adult, my mom helped me get a stool sample that I was too squeamish to myself.

I hold the red poopy blob between my fingers. Wrapping paper! Merry Christmas to me.

Captain also wants to hold it. He agrees with me. Wrapping paper. He asks,

“When did she swallow that?”

Good question. Baby Bop?

She’s not owning up to anything. Maybe there will be blue blobs in her poop tomorrow.

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Cause Captain wanted to take a photo and I know you were curious.

 

My post-baby brain needs as much as help as my post-baby body

I’m not sure which has killed more brain cells: all the drinking I’ve done or having a baby.

The writing corner of my brain is either dead or hibernating. It used to be that someone could say something funny or absurd and my blog brain cells would click on, record and regurgitate when I turned on my computer.

Now when something funny happens, my brain cells light up for a moment and then go back to sleep. Getting the information from them later is not guaranteed. And if it’s backed up somewhere, I don’t know where to find it.

After my previous post, I was on the phone with a dear friend talking about our pelvic floor physical therapy. Shoot! I forgot one of the best parts of my blog post. It was one of those quotes that the moment I heard it, I said to myself, “gotta blog this.” And I didn’t.

Not only did I not blog it, but I wrote the whole post it inspired and didn’t even realize it was missing. The good news for you is that I remember now.

So back to my pelvic floor. I know you missed it.

I went to a trampoline park with my Little Sister a few weekends ago. Which I recommend if your bladder muscles are in good shape. I report back to my physical therapist. She asks,

“How’d it go?”

“I leaked.”

“So I guess we know where the line is. Sneezing isn’t a problem, but an hour on a trampoline is too much.”

“Also this may sound crazy, but my vagina felt like it was falling out.”

“I’ve heard that before.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, think of your vagina like a roll of toilet paper. Since you’ve had your baby, your vagina isn’t holding its integrity anymore. Now it’s like a soggy roll of toilet paper.”

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Pelvic floor massages covered by my health insurance. Not as fun as it sounds

I dedicate this post to my pelvic floor. I didn’t know I had one until half way through my pregnancy. It’s what keeps my bladder and uterus from falling out of my body. Baby Bop stretched the muscles to their limits and now they’re not sure what to do.

Around the same time I learned I have a pelvic floor, I learned there are pelvic floor physical therapists. I thought maybe I’d go one day, in the same way I thought maybe I’ll have a baby someday.

Now I have a baby and now I’m going to physical therapy. Three months postpartum I arrive at the PT center. It’s full of people doing all sorts of exercises. I wonder what I’ll be doing. Squats I bet.

I meet my physical therapist. She’s very nice. She escorts me to a private room with an exam table and closes the door. Maybe I’m not going to be doing squats. She tells me, and I’m paraphrasing, that she’s going to poke around my vagina.

She starts off very shallow and asks,

“Is this painful?”

“Uncomfortable.” If childbirth is painful, then one finger has to be something less than that.

She pokes around for awhile,

“How about here?”

“Uncomfortable.”

“I thought so, it feels tight. Bring a couple breaths here. Did you do anything fun over the weekend?”

Wait, what? I’m supposed to bring breaths to my pelvic floor and chat about my weekend, while a very nice stranger has her finger in my vagina? She continues,

“Now I’m just going to let my finger float while you do a kegel and hold it for as long as you can.”

I do.

“Not bad! Ok now do 5 quick ones and fully relax in between.”

I try.

“Mmm. So that’s something to work on. Could you feel that you were tensing your whole body? Your neck muscles shouldn’t be involved in doing a kegel.”

That’s reasonable.

As I’m leaving, I see a guy gabbing away while he gets his calf massaged. This is a million times less awkward.

Two months of weekly appointments later, my physical therapist pops her finger in and we’re chatting about skiing, Thanksgiving, trampolines, the election, weddings, babies and occasionally my vagina.

“Bring a few breaths here. That’s better. Can you tell?”

“Yes.” It’s not as uncomfortable.

Now we’re ready for squats.

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When I told Captain about this blog, he said I needed to use a photo of a turkey getting stuffed. And since he so rarely makes blog requests, here it is.

"I think you need to work on your pelvic floor exercises, dear!"