Friday, September 26, 2008

Otter's 1 Month Old

Yes, it's official - we've gone a month without starving, dropping or otherwise maiming SB. And evidence of her thriving abounds - see how she looks at her toy from inside her crib. Notice the healthy gleam in her eyes. Note the motor control involved in lifting her arms to her head. Most importantly, see how she's not wailing. Wow.

It's hard to believe that it's already been a month. And that it's only been a month. As Einstein told us, time is a relative thing, and the addition of this particular relative has certainly tested the limits of time as we know it. Days both crawl and flash by. Weeks sorta blend together. And in the blink of an eye, it's a month later...

And Otter can grab at fingers, put her hands in her mouth, turn her head from side to side, her crossed eyes start to look at things, and perhaps, a bit at a time the world becomes a bit less strange and terrifying to her each day.


On an unrelated, less esoteric note, I love Dr. Happy. More than him, I love white noise. I'm going to marry it, make it move in with me, and keep it on all the time, and force it to keep Otter relaxed and happy. OMG, it so TOTALLY works. This Valley Girl just got her first decent night of sleep...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Heights of Success, the Depths of Despair

A few days ago, I was going to post a very self-congratulatory entry about how fabulous motherhood was, and more importantly, how great I was. Here is what I was going to mention:

I can officially fit my ass into my long-packed-away jeans. Mind you, they still don't look good, but I can squeeze myself in and, if I don't breathe, even button them.

I can breast feed. This has less to do with me than with She-Blob's latching abilities, but I was going to give myself credit anyway.

In spite of being on-call full time, I've managed to keep up with laundry, throw together a salad, and put away the millions of glasses we own. If I can do one non-baby related "productive" thing a day, I must rock.

Our house is slowly but surely regaining it's pre-renovation configuration.

But that was a few days ago...

Then reality hits. It happens between 7 and 9 pm every night. Well rested from her day of napping (which allows me to do all those "productive" things), SB has plenty of energy to devote to screaming at the top of her lungs.

By 11, I find myself pacing around our house holding an inconsolable child in various positions (as suggested by Dr. Happy, or whatever his name is, whose video conspicuously omits telling you how to get your "calmed" child to stay calm, not to mention sleeping). The only certainty I am faced with is this will go on for at least 2-3 more hours.

Those are the moments of despair, when I sit on the couch, "Shushing" and jiggling Blobby Otter as she cries her ass off, and wiggles out of the tightest swaddles I can muster. There are no joys of motherhood then, and any self-congratulating seems vain and stupid. Those are the moments I wonder what we were thinking, having a child. If I'm ever going to be able to work again. If I even want to be a caretaker for a helpless, needy baby. Why was having a dog to take care of not enough? Is it really worth it? This usually goes on until 2 or 3 am.

But then I sleep...

And when morning comes 3 hours later, I feel cautiously optimistic again. At least she'll sleep during the day, and I can update my blog...

Image by mamjodh

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

10 Things I've Learned About Babies

It's been 3 weeks since She-Blob/Otter has joined our pack, and we all apologize for our long absence. What with the lack of sleep and the new being to take care of...

But it's been a very educational 21 days. Here's what I've learned:

1. No Sleep Means... No Sleep
All that stuff they tell you about how you're not going to sleep is true. Deep down, you never completely believe it until it happens and when it does, some dark corner of your mind goes "I SO wasn't prepared for this!" At the same time, you remember all those people who told you you wouldn't sleep and wonder how naive you must be to have looked at their empty, unfocused eyes, see the dark circles spreading half way down their faces and still have thought, "It won't happen to me..."

2. Babies Get Bumpy...
Their perfect, brand new, porcelain skin gets rashy. They also fart. A lot. And time the dirtying of diapers to come right after you've just changed them. Unless they can do it while you're changing them. That gets bonus points. And that activity so cutely referred to as "burping" and "spitting up" can actually take the form of projectile vomiting of milk, all over them, you, your bed, etc. The Exorcist style.

3. Not All Babies Like Pacifiers...
After hearing countless warnings about the detrimental effect of pacifiers on babies' ability/desire to nurse, you would think that the kids are just rubber junkies, waiting for their next pacifier hit. Now I can't speak for all infants, but here's what happens when SB discovers a pacifier in her mouth:

a) A look of sheer horror and righteous indignation crosses her face. I know they say it's too early for such complex facial expressions, but trust me - this is true.
b) The "I'm About To Cry" expression/color change occurs.
c) At the first chance, the pacifier is forcibly spat out of SB's mouth.
d) Depending on how long the pacifier battle has been going, she may still cry, even though the offending rubber culprit is no longer in her mouth.

4. They Don't Like to be Alone
Now this may be good for the ego (awww, my baby wants to be with me...all the time...) until you realize this means you'll never shower or eat again.

5. They Don't Dig Getting Wet... Or Cold
At least not yet. And you can't just submerge them in water and get it over with - so you're trying to sponge bathe a writhing creature who's screaming and throwing punches. They're not the most effective ablutions.

6. They Don't Just Learn to Tantrum During the Terrible Twos
I always assumed that tantrums were something toddlers picked up along the way. Maybe "on the street" from other wayward toddlers. But the real is, they come with the tantrum throwing skill set. When mere crying cannot fully express the sheer terribleness of their situation, and words (being nonexistent) fail, the plaintive cry becomes a full body expression of kicking, punching, rolling into a ball, and thrashing about. You try "swaddling for comfort" then.

7. Babies Teach You to Live as an Ambidextrous, One-Armed Human
This is not a contradiction in terms. The missing arms switches, depending on how you're holding the child. And yes, you can put in contacts this way.

8. Just When You Thought You Could Hit the Bottle...
Your dietary limitations should have lifted, or at least slackened since delivery. I'm not talking to the hard-core "I ate nothing but rice and vegetables for 9 months to benefit my child" set. You guys can certainly indulge like crazy in deli items and the occasional cup of caffeinated tea now. But for the rest of us (the bad behavior crowd that ate sushi, and even *gasp* drank wine), this is a tentative time. I should be able to have a drink. Hell, even the Internet tells me so. But the creature at the receiving end of the food I make now has a face... It's a lot harder to throw caution to the wind while looking at it...

9. There's an Evolutionary Reason All Parents Think Their Babies are Adorable
This helps protect the child from infanticide at 4 am when (s)he's screaming bloody murder and turning purple from the effort. You've now done everything in your limited arsenal of baby care knowledge including feeding, changing, rocking, walking, sticking a finger in his/her mouth and even looking to make sure there isn't an off button hidden somewhere (there isn't). As your child continues to holler, and your dog looks at you accusingly for bringing the Loud Thing into the house, you realize that the only reason you're still going through the motions is that your child is so...damn...cute... An ugly baby would have no chance in your house.

10. Babies Are Human
Despite the bumps, the crying, the vomit and the sleep deprivation, you realize that babies can be pretty damn cool. They surprise you by doing something new every day. They make funny noises, learning new ones all the time. They slowly begin to respond to you. They look to you for comfort when they're lonely, which rocks for the ego. They sleep in weird positions. They practice new facial expressions. And all of them (even the ugly ones) are these brand new, tiny little humans. And that is amazing, and terrifying, and awe-inspiring and makes the rest of it doable.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Naming of She-Blob: The Final Part

After months of indecision, numerous suggestions and more indecision, we were faced, on August 26st, with a nameless baby and a family eager for something to call her. We agonized all day, and all night and on August 27th we were faced with an additional problem: a nameless baby and a birth announcement that needed sending.

We were about to e-mail our welcome of "The New Baby" but suddenly realized that this would create the need for a second mass e-mail once Otter was named. This would not do. So faced with the pressure of e-mailing our friends and family in a timely manner (not to mention little things like filling out birth certificates and other legal documents) we bit the bullet and committed to a name. Too bad nobody uses it.

The Artist Formerly Known as She-Blob is still known as She-Blob, Blobby or Otter.