Thursday, February 26, 2009

6 Months Old

We made it - half a year has gone by without death, dismemberment, or disease. Go us. It's crawled and it's flown. It was the hardest 6 months of our lives, and the most rewarding. Each day, she is more and more a person, and it's easier to imagine her now at 1, or even 5. We can't wait to get to know you better, Otter. Happy Half Birthday!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Solids, Solids as a Rock!

The time has come. After 5 1/2 months of a mandatory liquid diet, Otter is ready to embrace the joys of solid-ish food. Like a dieter jonesing for a reprieve from meal-replacement shakes, she's been eyeing (and grasping for) all the good stuff - cookies, pizza, cheese. And while I'm not sure she knows what to do with it, the girl certainly knows what she wants.

And it's not rice cereal. But then, I can't blame her.

As I poured the flakes (which sort of resembled sawdust) into a bowl, I had serious doubts that this could lead to any good at all. Mixing in breast milk only succeeded in making the sawdust into a sludge, which disconcertingly reminded me of the caulking we used in our bathroom. I convinced myself that nuking this glop would make it more palatable and, reassuring smile on my face, camera in hand, I made my approach.

After months of being denied, Otter had prepared herself for this new phase of her dining adventures, imagining (no doubt) that it would be filled with tasty morsels. Instead, she was presented with something that looked like watery tooth powder. She regarded me suspiciously.

Undeterred, I plunged ahead. The first spoonful dribbled out, pooling on her bib, as she looked at me in astonished disbelief. The second made it's way down the hatch, to which Otter clearly took great offense. The contents of the third spoon were spat back at me with offended anger. And so, mealtime was over.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day Is For...

Kiddie parties.

Once, long ago, it used to be for lovers, but then those lovers decided to shack up, she got knocked up and, after birthing the rug-rat, they had no more viable excuses as to why they couldn't enjoy an afternoon at The Playroom with a bunch of squealing 2-year-olds.

Otter, now familiar with the party circuit, wasn't sweatin' it. She took a leisurely nap, cementing the fact that "1 hour late" is the new "on time". She puked copiously on her party outfit and the floor as soon as we walked through the front door of the place. Just to show us this was NO different than her usual routine. She tried to grab pizza crust out of my hand, though she'd have absolutely no idea what to do with it if she got it. She even got to ride a little bug-shaped trike with Bree pushing and me supporting while she grabbed madly for the handlebars. She also met her name counterpart, Griffin (though sadly, didn't get a photo with him).

Tired out from so much partying, we left an hour later and tried to put her down for a nap. It was a decided, rousing failure. On the upside, she did get a goodie bag the contents of which she'll be able to enjoy in 2 to 3 years.

Late at night (and by "late" I mean about 9pm), after Otter was tucked away in bed, I sat down to a dinner that Bree had made for me, followed by my V-day present - a ricotta cheesecake he'd baked. Admiring the tulips he got me and catching up on Tivo'd Grey's Anatomy, I realized that Valentine's Day might still be for lovers, a little bit.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


It is our ritual every night, one that I'm secretly, fiercely protective of.  I turn out the lights and turn on the white noise, static that sounds remotely like running water if you close your eyes. Sitting in the darkness, I bring her to me, squirming and restless.  She latches, and there is a sudden, momentary pain, such as we often feel when we give ourselves to the things we love.  

Sometimes, my mind wanders aimlessly, randomly recounting the day.  Other times I focus solely on her.  As she settles in, her body grows warm.  The heat circulates though us, coursing from me to her and back again.  We are united by that most primal connection of need and providence.

Most nights, she finishes and I continue getting her ready for bed.  But every so often, she falls asleep in my arms, cheek resting against the pillow.  Those times, I sit as still as I can, studying the curve of her face, the soft shock of her hair, illuminated by the eerie blue glow of the alarm clock.  In those moments of peace, her face takes on an ageless quality and I can imagine, no, see her at 5 years, 10, 16.  And as I watch her sleep, I know that we are bound - by the familial connection between us, by the history of all the mothers and daughters that came before us, but mostly, by our futures - laid out endlessly ahead of us, and intertwined for all the time to come.


Getting coffee this morning, I chatted with a man who makes his living as a freelance photographer AND skydiving instructor.  It's a little depressing to know that there's at least one person out there who has two jobs BOTH of which are way cooler than mine.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Today is Bree's and my 5th wedding anniversary.  Otter offered her congratulations and gave us the gift of further baby development by sitting up unsupported, wobbling like crazy and toppling over 10 seconds later.  But it was a glorious 10 seconds.

We decided to celebrate by going out to dinner at a nice restaurant.  The kind with linen tablecloths, extensive wine lists and a zero-tolerance policy for babies.  To accomplish this wild night of adult dining, we asked Pat to babysit.  

I came up with a brilliant plan: the reservation would be made late so that I could go through Otter's routine, put her to bed, and Bree and I could sneak off and dine, SB none-the-wiser.  It started off well enough - Otter went down easily, Pat arrived and, after changing and even putting on some makeup, we were off to dinner.

The call came in at 10pm.  It appears that about 15 minutes after we left, Otter woke up only to discover that her mom and dad had inexplicably disappeared, replaced by a complete stranger (their previous meetings non-withstanding).  This turn of events made Otter decidedly unhappy - which she expressed loudly for the next 2 hours as Pat struggled to settle her down. Apparently, by this point, SB'd cried so hard that she'd thrown up, and she was looking for a change of clothes for her.

This marked the end of dinner.  Grabbing what we could in to go bags and abandoning a carafe of very good (and very expensive) wine, Bree and I raced home, breaking some speed limits, and possibly the sound barrier.

As we burst through the door we found Pat slumped in our armchair with a tearstained Otter passed out in her lap.  Hearing us come in, Otter opened her eyes, and with a look of immeasurable relief welcomed us home.  Pat, with a similar look, took off for her house before hell had a chance to break loose again.

Putting Otter to bed for the second time that night, I was once again struck by Pat's heroism in the face of inconsolable baby.  And how strangely appropriate this ending seems in light of our new life.  Happy Anniversary to us.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Food For Thought

A week has passed since I returned to work.   All in all, it's been an easy transition.  While I'm at the office, I am almost convinced that all is the same.  I easily slipped back into work mode, and Otter at home seems like a fiction I created to get a 5-month leave.  There are however some changes that are a bit harder to overlook.

1)  Pumping at work...  Around the time I was nearing birthing-day, I blogged about having the last shreds of modesty stripped away by my doctors.  In thinking I had fallen as far as I could, I was sorely mistaken.  There is nothing quite like sitting on the floor of an audio booth (with a glass door that you've covered in orange construction paper and packing tape for privacy) with a double electric pump attached to your boobs whirring away, to teach you about humility. That, and an every-growing respect for bovines.

2)  The end of the workday has changed to between 5:30 and 6, so that I can make it home in time.  While this sounds great on paper (or computer screen, as the case may be), the end of the day hardly guarantees the end of work.  More often than not, something that would have taken me 45 minutes to do had I just stayed at the office, will have to be picked up several hours later from home, and invariable take 3 times as long to complete.

3)  Apparently, I have taken all the subconscious stress of returning to work and single-mindedly siphoned it into an obsession about how much Otter is eating.  This seems to be my "go-to" place for worry.  I see my hard-earned milk supply dwindling, wonder how long I will work-pump before losing my mind, and begin to panic about SB's inevitable starvation.  Logical thoughts - that a) I might just be able to keep up pumping, b) she'll be starting solids soon and c) there is always (heaven forbid) FORMULA to supplement with - are lost on me.

As I try to navigate this new, dual life I can only tell myself that I'm not the first to go down this road and it will get easier.  I just wish I knew how soon...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Transfer Of Power

A week ago, I began the process of handing Otter off into the nanny's care. I did this incrimentally (professing it was for her sake, but it was really for mine), first running in at every cry, finally leaving for several hours at a time.

Today the transfer was completed, as I headed off to my first day back at work, and Susana began her first full day of primary caretaker. I don't know how much a 5-month-old understands, but Otter clearly gathered something from me. As I headed for the door, she reached for me, and began to whimper. I tucked tail and ran out the door as quickly as I could.

So I have spent the better part of the day back at the office, re-gathering office supplies, commandeering a computer, trying to get my voicemail to work. It is eerily familiar, so simple to get back "to normal." But I have to remember that my life will not go back to pre-baby business as usual. I have to learn yet another skill - that of balancing my professional life with that of a mom.

I've resisted the temptation to call home. I will, undoubtedly, find out Otter was just fine when I get home at 6 tonight. Yes, I have to also learn to leave earlier.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Word to the Wise...

Never blindly put your hand  inside a diaper to check if it's wet.  It could end badly.