‘Tis the season

Two months postpartum and it’s that time of year. Having a new baby for the holidays is simultaneously lovely and a terrible idea.

Last week I managed to throw out the rotting pumpkin on our front steps and Tutu our elf on the shelf is out and about. She hasn’t remembered to move from the plant in the kitchen. But she did remember to get out of the attic, so points for that.

Update: as of this morning Tutu is nowhere to be found. Either she’s back at the North Pole for good or Captain decided to take initiative.

Update on the update. Captain moved her! She was on top of the kitchen light and Captain has earned himself a new job.

Note on the updates: Before kids I used to write these blogs in one sitting at 11am. Now I write them over the course of a week, starting at 6am. That’s why it’s possible to need multiple updates.

Ok that’s it. No more asides.

Hanukkah decorations are in full swing and I’m ready to wrap presents as soon as I get a minute without a kid, so maybe next year.

I know it’s too soon to say much about RB’s personality, but as much as BB is a clone of Captain, RB seems to be more like me. At the very least she seems chill and very smiley and happy despite being congested for 6 out of the 8 weeks she’s been alive.

It’s tough having an older sibling in school. BB spent the first month of RB’s life sneezing and coughing all over her. In the last month BB decided she’s capable of covering, which is wonderful, but still hasn’t prevented us from sharing every cold.

An email comes in from BB’s school: ‘just want to let you know a child has hand, foot and mouth.’

Oh help us.

Through all the colds, spitting up enormous amounts of milk and phlegm all over her face and into her eyes, because back is best? RB is still smiley.

I know people say babies don’t smile socially for several weeks, but I SWEAR RB has been smiling socially since she was born. She smiles for everyone. I’m not that indiscriminate with my smiles, but close.

On the other hand, if you get a smile out of BB, you’ve EARNED it. There are a million other things I could list that make BB and Captain twins, including their artistic talents, but there’s one recent discovery that I’m in awe of.

Captain can fart on command. I have a moderate amount of control to stop a fart, but I have no idea how to create one on cue.

During a moment of dinnertime tension: BB playing with her carrot sticks, me about to take her plate away, Captain tried to lighten the mood. He directed a fart at BB. I looked at her. She had a funny face. Was she upset? She directed a fart back at Captain. He did another one at her, she did another one at him!

Amazing! Such control, especially for someone who still won’t poop in the potty.

BB tries again. She’s running on empty. Frustrated she declares,

“I need more toots! How do I make more toots?”

Captain offers,

“Eat more green beans.”

The incentive is strong enough to incite a green bean nibble before the playing begins again and I take the plate away.

We relent on the cupcake because when everyone is exhausted, snotty and BB with her double ear infection isn’t eating, but will eat the chocolate frosting off a cupcake and then go to bed. A deal is made.

Also a deal was made to write about Captain farting on command. He said it was okay as long as I include a Ren and Stimpy photo. Here ya go.

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Blog-life balance is hard. And to BB, I’m sorry. Just sorry

One month postpartum. I’ve been DESPERATE to write a blog for a couple weeks and finding time feels hard.

Aside from that and BB being mad at me, things are good. Maybe it’s the placenta pills.

When my placenta came out covered in meconium, RB’s first poop in the womb, the nurse said,

“You don’t want this.”

I spent 9 months making and maintaining that thing and I’ve already paid $400 to get it made into pills, so I DO want it.

“Did you see your placenta? You don’t want it.”

“I do want it.” And considering it’s 2am, I want to save it until I can check with my placenta person and see if it’s still good to ingest.

“We need to send it to pathology.”

“Why do you need to send it to pathology?”

“When there’s meconium we send it to pathology.”

It avoided pathology and was allowed to go home with my mom who was kind enough to escort it out a day early.

And in case you were thinking:

‘Hey! Whatever happened to Jess’ varicose veins and those sexy tights?’

Well let me tell you.

Immediately after delivery the veins in my legs felt better. That or a million more important things were going on and I forgot I had legs.

I had 2 pairs of compression tights in my hospital bag and I didn’t think about them for a second.

The day after I delivered I woke up at 4am to intense pain. All my bulging veins had clotted. They were super hard, hot and painful. I could barely walk.

The irony of having an intact vagina but hobbling about because of my varicose veins was not lost on me.

At the time I didn’t realize there are all different types of thrombosis and what I have is painful, ugly and not life threatening. The blood clots are superficial and can’t move anywhere in my body, unlike deep vein thrombosis. That’s the deadly one.

At 4am we alerted the powers that be, but no one was alarmed. After multiple calls to the nurses, they told us that the doctor isn’t concerned and someone will be in to see us eventually.

Captain and I did the only logical thing to do if you’re in a hospital and think you might have something deadly going on. We consulted Google. It was unclear what signs of imminent death we should be looking for, but to be on the safe side we didn’t go back to sleep.

The nurse put a loose heating pack on my leg. I asked her for a way to strap it on. She said,

“Like an ace bandage?”

“Yes!”

“We don’t carry those on the maternity floor.”

“Ok.” I’m waiting for her to follow up with how she’s going to get one from somewhere else because we’re in a HOSPITAL. She proceeds to tie a baby swaddle blanket around my leg.

After an ultrasound to confirm what they suspected: nothing deep and deadly, we went home. They recommended I start wearing my compression tights again. A month later my newly found vascular surgeon tells me,

“Yes, wearing your tights after delivery definitely could’ve helped.”

Screw you people. I wore them my entire pregnancy, through JULY AND AUGUST. I could have worn them for one more day and maybe prevented or minimized the clots, but no one told me.

My vascular surgeon adds,

“It could be helpful to wear them now.”

Maybe, but now the pain is so minimal and the stockings are so annoying, that the pain-annoyance ratio is not in the tights’ favor.

Three months until surgery to remove the clots. I’m sorry BB and RB. It’s hereditary.

But BB has enough to worry about right now. She’s not happy. I’ve taken a lot of my love and attention that would’ve gone toward her or no one and directed it toward 10 pounds of screaming, helpless cuteness.

With the rainbow theme in full effect in RB’s room, BB informs me,

“You know I like rainbows too.”

“Yes! Of course you do!” There are plenty of rainbows for everyone.

Three days postpartum my placenta began the process of being turned into pills in my kitchen. The meconium did not disqualify it.

At this point I’ve swallowed about half of my placenta. And if you thought this would be free from the sting of sibling rivalry, you’re wrong.

BB had a lot of questions including,

“What did you do with my placenta?”

Sorry kid. We threw it out.

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My placenta print. You’re welcome.

 

Birth Story! Don’t say I didn’t warn you

Rainbow Baby is here! I’m thrilled and Captain has PTSD.

On my due date we went for a regularly scheduled check-up. RB (Rainbow Baby) was doing well and I was doing well. My midwife was happy for us to wait to go into labor naturally, which is what I was hoping for.

Four days later we went for an ultrasound to make sure everything still looked good. RB was doing well and there was plenty of amniotic fluid. I felt relieved. Then they took my blood pressure: 160/90. My midwife was alarmed. She asked,

“Are you anxious?”

“Now I am!”

She gave me some time to calm down and then she checked again, 160/90.

She told us to go to the hospital to get blood work, a urine test and a non-stress test for RB. She recommended taking our bags with us in case they wanted to induce me.

I started freaking out. I was already on the verge of a freak out at any point in this pregnancy.

The day was not supposed to be going like this. I had been looking forward to an afternoon nap and then an anniversary dinner with Captain.

And the least of it, but not helping my anxiety, was that the next day was our Angel Baby’s birthday. A year to the day that she died. I was becoming a hormonal, emotional wreck.

We went home, had lunch, packed our hospital bags. I got in the car and told Captain,

“I don’t want to go. I have a really bad gut feeling about this.” I was feeling like my blood pressure was up because I was anxious and that instead of calming down I was just getting more and more anxious. I felt desperate to stay home and rest.

Captain felt strongly about going to the hospital and getting tested. I agreed to go with the stipulation that we’d leave if I wanted to.

The non-stress test showed baby was still doing well. My blood pressure was still 160/90. The blood work was normal but there was protein in my urine and they diagnosed me with preeclampsia.

I understood the severity of this. I also understood that no one was whisking me away for a c-section.

It was 5pm. The midwife wanted me to stay at the hospital and start an induction. She said it could take up to 2 days. I said,

“If it could take 2 days, then I’d like to go home, get a good night’s sleep and start the induction in the morning.”

“We don’t recommend that.”

They wanted to monitor the baby and me in case things got worse. The doctor came to talk to me. He said that if I were 30 weeks pregnant they’d hold off on inducing me.

I knew if I stayed in the hospital I wouldn’t sleep and how the heck am I supposed to have the stamina for a 2 day induction if I start off by pulling an all-nighter? I felt desperate to be well rested for this.

Against the doctor, midwife and Captain’s better judgment, I went with one of the strongest gut feelings I’ve ever had. I signed myself out of the hospital and agreed to come back at 9:30am the next morning to start the induction.

We got take-out. Not the anniversary I’d imagined, but at least I was home. Captain was terrified. I became a little more nervous. If anything bad happened now, I was 100% responsible and what would that do to our marriage if we both blamed me?

I took a long hot shower, followed by a long hot bath. I was determined to relax. So you can imagine how that went. Captain was snoring in no time and my mind was racing. At 11pm I got crampy. Nothing too bad. At 11:40pm I was too uncomfortable to stay in bed and also excited that maybe labor was starting on its own.

I began tracking my contractions. They seemed really close together for having just started. They were coming every 3-4 minutes, but only for 35-40 seconds. I wasn’t convinced this was for real, although the intensity felt for real. I figured I should track them for an hour to see if there was a regular pattern, but by 12:30am I told Captain we should go to the hospital.

Even if it weren’t for real, I was nervous enough about my blood pressure and RB.

Captain woke my mom up at 12:40am. I repacked my bag, changed my pants, told my mom she could go back to sleep, turned off some lights, told Captain to let my OB office know we’re headed to the hospital.

At 12:55pm we left. After the fact my mom said she was one minute away from making us stay and calling 911.

I knew from BB that contractions in the car are no fun. So when a really bad one hit me half way through the 15 minute drive to the hospital I figured I probably had one more to get through and then we’d be there. I moaned through a third as we drove up the hill to the hospital. Captain asked,

“Can you walk in?”

“Yes.”

Another contraction as we pulled in by the emergency room and with that my water broke. I screamed at Captain,

“The baby’s coming I can’t walk in!” I ripped off my pants.

He sprinted for the emergency room and came back with a man and a woman pushing a wheelchair. I climbed into the wheelchair, wearing one of Captain’s undershirts and nothing else. I instructed Captain on what bags we needed and we were off.

I was told that the woman said to stop screaming and asked what happened to my pants. All I remember is her trying to cover my crotch with my t-shirt and keep a hand there in case Baby popped out.

Later, multiple nurses asked me what happened to my pants. Baby was coming out so I took them off. I am unclear on how I was supposed to have a baby with pants on.

I left a trail of blood through the halls. Days later a couple drops were still there.

The ER peeps rolled me into an empty maternity floor. Staff appeared out of nowhere.

I’d seen meconium in my amniotic fluid and was terrified that RB wasn’t ok. I screamed at the nurse,

“Is my baby alive?”

“I have no idea.”

RB was crowning as I threw myself onto the triage table. I knew I wanted to be on my side.  My midwife had said that’s the best bet if I want to minimize tearing.

The triage “bed/chair” was in an upright position. I was on my side diagonally across it. Captain had one of my legs which he handed off to a nurse and I was resting my head on a side table thing.

I was given the all clear to push and RB came right out. It was 15 minutes since we left home and 2 hours since labor started.

RB was whimpering! They cut her cord and whisked her away. Captain went with her. He came back to report all was well. She swallowed meconium but hadn’t inhaled it.

The doctor who was there for the delivery wasn’t part of my OB practice, so she peaced out.

I asked Captain for the angelica root tincture that my midwife had recommended I take to help release my placenta.

The gruff nurse said,

“You’re not putting anything in your mouth, I don’t even know who you are.”

“I don’t know who you are!”

The doctor from my practice showed up. The same doctor we’d seen a few hours earlier who didn’t want us to go home. He was so kind and funny. He said if my midwife said to take it, I could take it. He asked,

“What time was the baby born?”

Everyone looked at each other. I looked at the clock. I have NO idea. No one knew. A nurse said,

“1:10?”

So let it be written.

The doctor started the task of inspecting the damage. I cringed and waited to hear the worst. I knew I was supposed to push the baby out slow and easy and nothing about this had been slow. Although fairly easy!

The doctor sent the gruff nurse for anesthetic. There was some misunderstanding and she came back without it. He sent her away again. When she came back he said,

“You took so long that the patient is all healed up.”

And that is how I found out the most amazing news: NO STITCHES!

I’d been hoping for minimal tearing, but I didn’t have the audacity to begin to hope for NO tearing.

Our healthy rainbow baby was placed on my chest at 1:30am, 20 minutes after she was born. And as for her sharing a birthday with our angel baby, it feels miraculous. I wouldn’t change a thing, except maybe leaving for the hospital 10 minutes sooner so as not to traumatize poor Captain. But maybe this cured him of the temptation for a third.

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My DNA results are in!

I sent my DNA to 23andMe. I waited as my spit traveled through the multi-step process. I ripped open each incoming email:

  • Kit registered
  • Sample received
  • DNA in queue for extraction
  • Genotyping your DNA
  • Reviewing your genetic data
  • “Results for Jessica Curtis are in. A world of DNA discovery is waiting.”

I was excited. Too excited. After hearing so many crazy genetic stories about people finding long lost relatives, I had myself convinced I was going to learn something other than that I’m 50% Jewish and my parents are exactly who I thought they were.

One close relative, my mom, was listed and after that just 2nd, 3rd and 4th cousins.

I’m not sure who I was hoping to find, but confirmation of who my mom is wasn’t a surprise. She’s the one who bought the kit for me in the first place. 23andMe offered a look at my connections,

“We detected close family: Mother (predicted). Would you like to connect?”

Thanks. I’ll text her.

Then I got a little bit excited again when I browsed the genetic traits category. The first one was,

“Less likely to be able to match a musical pitch.”

That’s so me! Back in the day my piano teacher said the good news was I wasn’t completely tone deaf. The bad news is BB only wants me to sing when she’s going to sleep. Any other time I get asked to be quiet.

My excitement started to wane after that. There was:

  • Less likely to have flat feet.
    • I have flat feet
  • Likely little baby hair.
    • I had plenty.
  • Likely to get motion sickness.
    • Sometimes, but really only when cleaning toilets below deck on rough seas.
  • More likely to be afraid of heights.
    • I’ve been sky diving no issues.
  • Likely at least a little unibrow.
    • That one’s correct.

It started to feel like a horoscope. I could easily believe in it if I wanted to or not. It did say I have a 43% chance of developing type 2 diabetes.

That isn’t a complete shocker because for whatever reason my blood sugar was on the high end at the start of this pregnancy. I laid off the several powdered donuts for breakfast, soda for lunch and chocolate for afternoon snack. That seems to be helping for now so I added the chocolate back in.

It also said I’m likely to wake up at 8:11am. Before BB I was likely to wake up at 10am and now that BB exists, 7am is all I get. I’ll let her know that 8:11am would be ideal based on my genetic makeup.

Supposedly I’m likely to consume less caffeine than average: 17mg less. That’s an 8th of a cup of coffee. I’ve been helping myself to that additional splash to make up for not sleeping until 8:11am.

And fun fact, I have a gene that is common in elite, power athletes, which may be why I was able to bounce BB for as long as I did.

Captain has a kit waiting for his spit. So if BB ever decides to submit her DNA she’ll have at least 3 close connections to contact if she’d like. And hopefully just as little excitement.

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Still growing this baby

22 weeks pregnant and holding the course. I’m doing what feels like an enormous amount of self care: therapy, pregnancy-after-loss support group, midwife appointments, acupuncture, chiropractic, pelvic floor physical therapy, yoga, walking, haircuts, book club and considering a prenatal massage.

I can’t control much of this baby making process, but I’m good at making appointments. 

This is short lived. As soon as this baby is on the outside my self care will be down to the occasional shower and walk. Or maybe just shower and nap if I tear my crotch to pieces again.

Overall I’d describe myself as NOT an anxious person, but of course that’s not doing me any good now. My therapist said that I can’t expect to have zero anxiety and she thinks I’m doing about as well as I can hope. So there’s that.

At my last ultrasound scan the doctor said,

“I have no concerns aside from your advanced maternal age.”

Perfect. I’ll be 37 in July. In general I feel great, healthy, strong, vibrant, full of life, optimistic, all that good stuff. But 36.9 and pregnant? I feel OLD. My hips are aching; my legs are throbbing and I’m leaking urine just thinking about it.

I see why 22 years old is physically a great age to give birth. Although the only thing I was prepared to give birth to at that time was this blog. That’s right, this blog was born in 2005. And yes I know where to find those posts and no they’re not public. They’d only reassure you that waiting to have kids in my thirties was the right decision.

I’m also in full blown nesting mode. I had this feeling when I was pregnant with BB, but we were in a one bedroom, so after we squeezed in a changing table, there wasn’t much else I could do.

Now I can decorate a whole nursery! The rational part of me says,

“BB didn’t sleep in her own room for a year. This kid is going to be in your bedroom for a long time, no rush to decorate her room now.”

The anxious, superstitious part of me says,

“Don’t you dare decorate that room, you have NO idea what’s going to happen.”

The hormonal, pregnant, nesting part of me says,

“But I really wanted to do this when I was pregnant with BB and I couldn’t. This is my chance!”

I’m going with the hormonal part of me. She’s the most insistent. Plus we already have all the big nursery furniture. The crib has been stored in that room for over a year. All I had to do was move it to the other side of the room.

I’m going with a rainbow theme considering sometimes people call the baby they have after a loss their rainbow baby. It may be overplayed, but I like it. And heaven forbid this kid doesn’t make it, if some kid makes it at some point, they’ll be our rainbow baby.

Captain painted the walls a light blue, so it’s ready for rainbows. BB slid her bare butt across the new cloud rug, so that’s broken in. And I’ve been making frequent trips to HomeGoods to keep an eye on the rainbow/cloud paraphernalia.

All that’s left to do is keep going. And whatever concerns I have about labor and delivery, I can let those go because the other day BB told me,

“Mom, when you push the baby out?”

“Yes?”

“I’ll catch her.”

Self-care pregnancy

I can do this. I’ve got the rubber duckies, the letters and the bubbles, tear free!

Baby #3 for the win? TBD

If all goes well, we’ll see what happens, you never know, chances are, God willing, if we luck out, if the stars align, I don’t want to count my chicky before she hatches, BUT I’m 20 weeks pregnant!

I can’t believe I’m halfway through. Between this pregnancy and the last one I feel like I’ve been in some sort of first trimester purgatory.

I’m due early October. Twenty more weeks to go. A whole summer of being pregnant. I’m feeling hot thinking about it. Not sexy hot. Sweat dripping down my enormous belly and settling in my crotch hot.

Or not since the sweat will be absorbed by the full length compression tights I’ve started wearing. These are $50 pantyhose that I got a prescription for. That’s how sexy they are. Not just anybody can get their hands on these.

When Captain saw me in them he said,

“Straight out of a J.C. Penney catalog!”

I think he meant it as a compliment.

My varicose veins are popping. And mostly it’s an aesthetic issue, but by the end of the day they are achy, throbby and uncomfortable. If I wear the tights, they’re not, but then I get to be uncomfortable in a bunch of other ways. So so far it’s a real toss up.

My main complaint is that the compression tights are so strong that they squish everything up and then the compression stops right below my butt/crotch and everything spills over the top.

There never used to be a line of demarcation on my leg. My thighs increased in width until they somewhat smoothly met up with my butt. That is no longer the case.

I called the pharmacist back and asked about compression all the way up. That’s not a thing. I tried adding some maternity spanx on top of my pantyhose. Not only was it not strong enough to contain the thigh spillage, the number of layers was getting ridiculous.

Yes of course I would accept a million varicose veins and 10 months of being pregnant in the summer if I can get my hands on a healthy baby, but I sure as heck am not about to do it quietly. Or at least not anymore.

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Glue for the girl who has everything

I’ve got my dreidel jammies on, that means it’s Hanukkah time! Or was. Our dreidel jammies are comfortable enough to wear all day, all Winter. Just ask Captain. I made the mistake of putting them on before Thanksgiving and BB exclaimed,

“Fall is over already? It’s Hanukkah time?!!”

“First Thanksgiving and then Hanukkah.”

I string some Christmas lights along the railing upstairs. BB shouts,

“It’s Halloween time?!”

Things are getting confusing.

I ask BB, 

“What are you excited about for Hanukkah?”

“Crispy latkes!”

Me too!

All year I’ve marveled at how much stuff BB has. In October I wondered if there was anything left to get her. 

Two nights before Hanukkah I found myself wrapping up almost 30 presents for her. How did this happen?

We wanted to get her arts and crafts supplies. I don’t like to shop, so doing it online is the best way. I browse the selection. It’s hard to get an idea of everything that’s available and appropriate for someone with limited fine motor skills. 

I decide it’s a good idea to go to a brick and mortar Michael’s. By myself. 

I walk into the store. Oh no. This is bad. What was I thinking? I don’t like shopping and I don’t like arts and crafts. This store is a combination of both of them. I feel overwhelmed just standing in the entrance.

I head to the kid section. A month ago BB told me,

“I need colored pencils.”

“Ok put them on your Hanukkah list.”

The next day, 

“Mom, I need colored pencils.”

“I know, they’re on your Hanukkah list.”

A few days later,

“Colored pencils?”

“Hanukkah list!”

We continued this way for a month. I look at the colored pencils in the kid’s section of Michael’s. Not only are there at least 4 different brands of colored pencils, but they’re in 4 different aisles within the kid’s section so if I want to price/color count compare. It’s just about impossible. I postpone making a colored pencil decision.

I get kiddie scissors. That’s also a comparison nightmare. Glue. I stop comparing. Elmer’s all the way. It claims to be washable. Then there’s white construction paper, colored construction paper, markers, water colors, water-color paper, and some Hanukkah stickers.

Mission accomplished. I check out, head home and hide it all away until I’m wrapping presents two days before Hanukkah.

I pull out the Michael’s bag. Where are the colored pencils? I scan the receipt. I NEVER bought them. The only thing BB put on her Hanukkah list everyday for a month, and it costs all of $5, I did not buy. 

I could go back to Michael’s, Target or even Stop & Shop. I don’t consider it. With limited comparison, I settle on a 36 count box Prime next day shipping. DONE.

BB opens up her Elmer’s glue. She declares,

“Mom, I need googly eyes.”

Good news. I already have a bunch. I got them years ago to April Fool’s prank Captain. I bought them online.

Last night BB opened her last Hanukkah present.  She exclaims,

“Colored pencils!”

The countdown is on for my diminishing coolness

This post is 2 weeks late, but that’s in keeping with all of my posts now, so maybe that means it’s on time.

Halloween. It was a big success. Baby Bop fit into last year’s dinosaur costume and Captain and I fit into our Mommy/Daddysaurus t-shirts. It was a $50 investment, so good news that we got to use them again.

Yes I could wear my Mommysaurus t-shirt any day of the year. I’m tempted to, but I’m not sure what sort of statement I’m making without a babysaurus in tow.

Before Halloween arrived, in August, neighbors kept telling us,

“Halloween is epic here!” “We went through 20 bags of candy last year.”

Captain turns to me,

“Should we buy candy now to make sure we have enough?”

“It’s August.”

He’s unconvinced and I’m not sure what else to say. I buy candy in September. It stayed unopened for all of 30 minutes after I got home. The week before Halloween I made a mad candy dash because someone, me, had eaten all the candy.

You think one piece here or there isn’t going to add up, but if you eat one piece followed by several more pieces every day for 2 months, that does the trick.

The Halloween plan was for Captain to hold down the fort and for Baby Bop and me to toddle around the neighborhood for as long as each of us could stand it.

Baby Bop screams when she sees me headed her way with the dinosaur costume, but she lets me put it on and then she couldn’t care less. For someone who has strong feelings about not wearing certain standard pieces of clothing, I’m surprised. We hit the street.

All it takes is Baby Bop sighting the “big kids” walking up to random doors and she’s all about it. Baby Bop would follow a 6-year-old just about anywhere.

We go to 5 houses and I’m done. Baby Bop is thrilled. She is at the stage that putting objects in and out of containers is very appealing. So lots of shiny crinkly things to put in her little pumpkin is delightful.

A bunch of kids see Baby Bop toddling up to them and squeal in delight,

“Oh she’s so cute!”

A four-year-old asks me,

“What is she?”

“A dinosaur!”

He rolls his eyes, lets out a long sigh and says really slowly,

“What kind?”

“Oh, a stegosaurus I think.”

“That would make sense, that’s what’s on your t-shirt.”

Thanks kid. I’ve never been cool, but exasperating a 4-year-old is new.

We head home. We did not get a lot of trick-or-treaters. Some. But not 20 bags of candy worth. So here’s to blogging while I eat a Reese’s, a Twix, a Milky Way and a Snickers. We’re saving the candy for next year.

A vacation

We just got back from a family vacation to the White Mountains. Having fun with my family has meant letting go of what fun used to mean to me.

Yes Captain and I can still drink a beer. We can do it in a beautiful location while managing a toddler or after she’s asleep in a dark corner of our hotel room. Or we can do both.

A couple months ago I asked Captain what he’d like for his birthday. He tells me,

“A relaxing dinner with cheeseburgers.”

“Sounds great! So after Baby Bop goes to sleep?”

“It would be nice to eat all together.”

Dinner with Baby Bop can be nice, but I’d never say it’s relaxing. Same goes for vacation. Captain’s request makes me wonder if we’re experiencing the same reality. I ask him,

“Do you think it’s possible to have a relaxing dinner with Baby Bop?”

“Maybe not. There’s never much time for digestion.”

Baby Bop does not appreciate lingering at the table long after the food has disappeared. Baby Bop doesn’t do lingering, at the dinner table or on vacation.

We buy tickets for a scenic train ride described as great for families with small children. There is strength in numbers. Not only will other parents be empathetic to my screaming child, there’s a good chance their kids will cause an equivalent amount of trouble.

As we wait for the train I notice several toddlers lingering near their parents on the nice grassy area. Baby Bop is on a mission to run in the parking lot regardless of the fact that she keeps falling on the pavement.

We get on the train and she’s determined to not sit with us. If I weren’t worried about her getting hurt, I’d be very happy for her to hang out with whatever family she likes better.

The train starts moving and that combined with snacks chills her out. The hour train ride is a surprising success.

Before the trip, we had decided that the three-hour, roundtrip train up Mt. Washington was unfeasible, but the successful one hour train ride made Captain reconsider. I look up a photo of the Mt. Washington train: one car. No where to go. If Baby Bop doesn’t make it, she’d take the whole train down with her. And tickets are $70 a piece.

I tell Captain,

“Ok, talk me through how you think this is going to work.”

“Maybe it isn’t.”

We don’t need to pay $140 to torture ourselves and a bunch of other people. We opt for a slow hike around a lake with a view of some mountains related to Mt. Washington.

We head out for dinner. On this trip we ate more meals out than we have in the entire time since Baby Bop was born. She was a super star as long as we kept providing something new every few minutes. Turns out she’s a big fan of eating butter packets and crayons.

Captain was so excited about her coloring for the first time that the placemat traveled home with us and is on the fridge. And I was impressed with Captain’s ability to draw, sideways, a really good pumpkin. AP art was worthwhile.

Vacation was fun and a little less work than if we’d been home. One toddler and two adults is a reasonable ratio. There was even a little bit of relaxing when Baby Bop was asleep.

Bummin around

I’m not worried about germs. I wash my hands, but that didn’t really take off until I was an adult.

If something drops on the floor/ground/wherever gravity takes it, I’ll still eat it or give it back to Baby Bop.

When she was a newborn, I was hyper vigilant, but then Baby Bop became obsessed with shoes. One day she had Captain’s work shoe in her mouth, he says,

“Nothing like chewing on the laces that were dragging around the mens’ urinal today.”

Gross. But the dog is licking his butt and licking her face, why should I be worried about shoes?

Now Baby Bop has a bad case of the runs. No big deal except her butt doesn’t agree. It’s super red and sore. So sore that she cries when I hold her on my hip. That’s breaking my heart.

The doctor suggests some diaper free time. This is great in theory. We did lots of diaper free time when Baby Bop was 4 months old and liked to lie in one place / couldn’t move if she wanted to. Now if I put my fitbit on Baby Bop, she’d clock the daily 10,000 steps before morning snack. The idea of doing that diaperless is perplexing.

We give it a go. Seeing Baby Bop’s butt bouncing around the house is super cute. She squats down to pick up a toy. First round of poop on the rug. We clean up and resume.

Then it’s a big puddle of pee in the kitchen. I dash for a towel, but Booker gets there first and laps it all up. Gross, but super helpful.

Then it’s another big slop of poop in the kitchen. This is all within 30 minutes. Before I know what’s happening, Booker eats it all. As long as he doesn’t throw up later, this is perfect.

I find another stray pile of poop and point it out to Booker. Special treat for doggies!

Baby Bop poops on one of her toys. Booker to the rescue. Captain looks like he’s going to faint. He tells Booker,

“You better not kiss me later.”

We start chatting about our anniversary and the weekend we met. I didn’t know there could be any new details we hadn’t talked about. Captain says,

“I remember I was drinking a water. I asked you if I could get you a drink and you said water would be good. I was going to go get you one, but you said you’d just drink mine.”

“I don’t remember this at all.”

“I thought, who is this woman who drinks other people’s drinks?”

“Never mind that I was hoping to make out with you.”

“You were?!”

“Are you kidding?”

Here we are. Wedded bliss. Watching our dog eat our daughter’s diarrhea.

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The things mattresses go through

Sleep is precious. To have it be interrupted by a bad mattress is unacceptable. Ten years ago I could sleep on any old, bunk-bed, hostel mattress in a room with many people. Why I’m snobby about my mattress now is a mystery.

As fast as I fell in love with Captain, I fell in love with his Tempurpedic queen mattress in one night. Many mornings Captain would leave for work and I’d stay with his mattress.

Then Baby Bop and I took it over. Then we moved and bought a king bed frame. Moving was crazy time and money was flying. I decided we should try the mattress in a box that’s ordered online and returned for free within a 100 days. We could save a lot of money and we wouldn’t have to go mattress shopping with Baby Bop.

The mattress came and I immediately preferred Baby Bop’s 4 inch floor mat. Within a month I went back to sleeping on our original queen bed now in our guest room. Why suffer? Captain wasn’t happy with the mattress either, but the convenience of being close to our shower and his work clothes won out.

We needed a new mattress. Still opposed to mattress shopping with Baby Bop. I ordered another one online with free returns and called to return the first one. They scheduled Salvation Army to pick it up.

The truck pulls up and the guy asks me,

“We’re here to pick up a mattress?”

“Yeah.”

“Is it new, still in its plastic?”

“No.”

“We can’t take used mattresses… because you know what happens on them.”

Oh yes I do. She’s 14 months old and wreaking havoc as we speak.

After a phone call he takes the mattress and we’re on to the next. It’s not good. At this point Baby Bop is sleeping in her crib, so I steal her twin-size floor mat and put it on my side of the bed. I may be 4 inches higher than Captain, but at least we’re sleeping together. When I want to snuggle, I just roll over and gravity does the rest.

We have to go mattress shopping. My mom stays with Baby Bop and we go for date night at Jordan’s. Our date features some wonderful mattresses and a very nice sales lady.

We are on our third mattress in 4 months and this one’s a keeper. We’ll see what happens on it.

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Tooka-tooka-tooka! You’ll have to ask Baby Bop about that

I’m excited for Baby Bop to start talking. I’m imagining conversations that will never happen:

“Mama, I’m all done eating, please take my plate away before I dump everything on the floor.”

Because if I’m not paying attention, Baby Bop does a massive sweeping swipe with both arms and clears her tray in seconds. Food doesn’t just fall on the floor, it goes flying across the kitchen in every direction.

This is when having a dog is useful. The problem is Booker is getting old. I have to walk around to every piece of food on the floor and point it out to him. It’s not enough to make me want to clean it up myself, but close.

Baby Bop has three words: “Mama, Dada and quack quack.” Mama and Dada seem very useful. Quack quack? Makes me wonder if all I’m doing every day is making animal noises.

It’s not a random sound. I say,

“Baby Bop, what does a duck say?” And she says,

“Whack, whack.” Which is close enough and maybe even closer than quack. I’ve never heard a duck say exactly “Quack.”

I’m a big fan of making the animal sound as life-like as possible. For a pig I do an actual snort. After 6 months of snorting, I realized Baby Bop isn’t going to learn that. Or when I do my realistic rooster impression. She can’t hope to master that for years. So for all these months of animal noises, I should’ve been doing what I’ve done for the duck, and just saying “quack,” or “oink” or “cock-a-doodle-do.”

Now when I’m in the shower I start singing “Old McDonald Had a Farm.” It makes me want to shoot myself. Nothing against Old McDonald. I’m sure his farm is very nice, even if it’s a bit noisy.

It’s bad enough to sing these songs with Baby Bop. I do NOT need to sing them by myself. Then I go to sleep and dream about pigs. Cute little muddy pigs trying to eat me. It was a borderline nightmare. Old McDonald, you need to keep your animals under control.

When Baby Bop is really happy, she likes to say “tooka-tooka-tooka.” It seems to have no meaning except now Captain and I say it all the time. And without Baby Bop. Captain tells me,

“I fixed that problem at work today.”

“Awesome!”

“Then I said ‘tooka-tooka-tooka.'”

Tooka-tooka-tooka.

So Baby Bop can quack. I wish she could moo. I like cows. And if you’ve ever wondered what your face looks like when you’re making an animal noise, here’s mine “mooing.”

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Counting bodiless bunny heads

Baby Bop’s security bunny is desperate for a bath. Captain is on the side of washing it. I’m on the side of never washing it ever again until she leaves for college.

Nine months ago I read everything sleep related I could get my hands on and implemented as many tactics as possible. A lovey or security object was one strategy.

Baby Bop liked all the bodiless, animal heads attached to small blankets. I picked a super snuggly bunny she received as a gift and every time I nursed her, I placed it between us. It wasn’t clear it was having any effect. Other tactics, like the mobile, made her scream like a lunatic. Bunny didn’t make her scream. So there was that.

Over the next few months I washed Bunny a few times, it didn’t seem to make any difference. Who needs Bunny if my boob is next to her face all night?

A month before we were going to move, Bunny started looking like she could use a wash again. I decided that I’d wait until we were settled in our new home.

It’s 3 months since we moved and Bunny looks and smells awful. I mention my dilemma to Captain. He asks,

“Are you worried about Bunny holding up in the washing machine?”

“Oh no, she’s been washed several times before and came out great.”

“Well then I don’t see any reason not to wash her.”

Ah. But it’s not about that. As a 35-year-old with a 34 1/2-year-old security blanket knows,  it’s about how it SMELLS. Blankety hasn’t been washed in over a year and Captain would say she smells terrible. I say she’s approaching optimum great smelliness. I’ll give her another year just to make sure.

And if you wonder if Baby Bop can tell the difference between Bunny and 2 other identical, sparkling-clean, back-up bunnies, she can. At $40 a pop, that’s an $80 investment in bunnies. Turns out I picked an overpriced one.

In the pitch black of night I hand Baby Bop a fresh back-up bunny. She smells it and tosses it to the floor. I hand her Bunny. She takes a big sniff and bursts into small giggles and sighs. She buries her face into the grayish-brown (once white), bodiless, bunny head and goes to sleep.

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Guess which one is Bunny!

 

Reading on the toilet, must be genetic

My feelings of shame and sadness for our country are overwhelming. It’s horrifying that the president is giving racism and white supremacy even more power. I used to have no negative feelings about tiki torches. Can’t say that anymore.

So that’s poopy.

The other thing that’s poopy are Baby Bop’s diapers. Gross. I know this is the foreseeable future, but still, gross. And it would be one thing if Baby Bop were cooperative. She’s not.

I understand. If someone were poking and prodding around my privates, I’d be like “what the heck?” And of course I’d try to get my hand down there too. But once there is poop on Baby Bop’s hand, there will be poop on the wall, all over her body and in her mouth. GROSS.

When I don’t let her do that, she screams, kicks and makes me wish I’d just let her have a mouthful of poop.

At our most recent pediatrician visit the doctor reminds me,

“You still need to be doing the q-tip with vaseline between her labia.”

Ok. I hear you, but at what point in the screaming, leg kicking, poop grabbing diapering event is that supposed to happen?

So far I’m sticking to my plan of old diaper off, new diaper on. Fastest to the finish wins. We’ll worry about the labia later.

During diaper changes I hand her any variety of items with the hope it’ll keep her hands occupied long enough for me to remove all the poop. Every item goes flying.

The other day I get a big whiff of poopies. I tell Baby Bop,

“Diappie time.”

I pick her up and she holds on tight to the board book she’s enjoying. I plunk her down on the changing table. As anyone who has ever read a hardcover book knows, it’s challenging to do it lying down. Baby Bop manages fine. She opens it to the page of a dog.

“Whoooaaaa.”

She turns to a different page. It’s a bear.

“Whooooaaa.”

She turns to another page. A penguin.

“Oooohhh.”

I’m finishing up and she’s still occupied with the book. I have no idea why I didn’t think to offer a book on the changing table sooner. Especially considering I’m the queen of reading in the bathroom.

I’m open to challengers, but I have always enjoyed spending an hour or more reading on the toilet. When I was a kid and supposed to be asleep, I thought I was fooling my parents. Now that I’m a parent, it’s easy to see that it takes more than that to fool them.

I still hole up in the bathroom for an exorbitant amount of time. I can’t really explain it. It’s not super comfortable. One or both legs often fall asleep. I just shake them out and keep reading.

After many more successful diaper changes while Baby Bop reads her books, I recount my discovery to Captain. He declares,

“Must be a case of nature over nurture.”

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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.