Monday, August 31, 2009

Food For Thought

All in all, I consider myself a pretty laid back mother, perhaps too much so. I don't mind reinserting the pacifier after it's hit the floor, or if my kid eats Cheerios from under the table. I can live with the knowledge that she's going to fall, sometimes hard and it doesn't stop me from letting Otter crawl into other rooms, only following behind after some time has passed.

But I admit it - I have stress triggers regarding SB. I suspect that all parents have them, and that they vary for each of us, depending on both external circumstances and personality. So whether it's my inner Jewish Mother rearing her head, or the fact that Otter's in the 5% for weight, but feeding her, and more specifically, making sure she's getting enough food, has been the bane of my existence for the past 12 months.

It was hard enough when Otter was on a liquid diet. Figuring out how much milk she was actually taking in (and, in her pukey case, keeping down) was wild guess-work on the best of days. Once we added in solid food, I thought it would get easier, as I could now somewhat control the variety and amounts of food that she consumed. And it was, initially.

But as Otter has grown, her once adventurous eating spirit has been curbed. And now we are once again negotiating through the 5 acceptable foods in all their limited combinations. On the GOOD list are:

bananas, yogurt, cereal, Cheerios, rice, apple and pear sauce, lentils, tofu (mostly), bread, pancakes, scones, muffins, peas, corn, and, inexplicably, almost anything with Indian style spicing (curry, cumin)

On the BAD list is:

Pretty much anything else. But especially meats, cheeses, eggs, other veggies, other fruits.

What complicates matters is that on top of the lack of variety, should an offending food be introduced, Otter may go on strike, refusing ALL food.

For a while, I thought this feeding dynamic was my fight to fight. It seemed that when it came to others, Otter was far more accommodating in what she considered an acceptable lunch, accepting potatoes from my mother, allowing Bree to feed her things she had squarely rejected when I fed her, and eating virtually anything given to her by Susana. But this past weekend proved that I am not alone in my struggle. Saturday afternoon, I got the following text from Bree:

"We're freaking done! Now after three spoons she won't eat PEAR sauce. Whatever kid..."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Birthday Girl!

Don't you call her a baby! As of this morning, SB has officially become a toddler. Or is that a t'otter? Technically, she should have waited until 3:23 pm, but she's an impatient lass these days, and she wants it now, now, NOW!!!!

It's hard to believe that a year has gone by already. In fairness, I should say "It's hard to believe that the last 6 months have gone by already," as I was painfully aware that the first 6 months lasted about 3 years. So much has changed for all of us. So here, is a quick Then and Now look at where we were, and where we've come to:

Height: 19 inches
Weight: 6 pounds (or, 5 pounds, 16 ounces as the nurse put it)
Favorite Food: Booby Milk - girlfriend fed like a piranha
Sleep: Yes. Except for when she didn't, which was usually at night.
Favorite Word: Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
Favorite Sound: The kitchen vent set to high.
Movement: Minimal.
Us: Happy, overwhelmed, confused, frustrated. And tired.

Height: 29 1/4 inches
Weight: 17 pounds, 13 ounces
Favorite Food: Bananas. Acceptable at all times and in any consistency. Other acceptable foods include fried potatoes, bread, pancakes, Cheerios, scones, apple sauce, pears, tofu and Indian spiced dishes.
Sleep: All night and 2 naps. Except for when she's being a grown-up and only takes 1 nap.
Favorite Word: Doggie. And Mama (which, I suspect, means "I want. Give me.")
Favorite Sound: Foster (our pittie) bounding into a room.
Movement: Crawling, climbing, bouncing off pillows and the headboard, bopping, cruising.
Us: Happy, excited, much more confident, in love, occasionally frustrated. And very, very, very tired.

Happy, happy, happy birthday SB!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Beer Island

Every girl needs an island getaway from time to time so Otter and I descended upon Beer Island in Brooklyn, NY to bid adieu to a close friend. Apparently, the bar was chosen based on it's somewhat suspect policy of allowing drinking (which we all prefer to do) to mix with babies (which most of us have in tow these days).

Unsurprisingly, Otter took to Beer Island right away - frolicking on the sand, sampling some cupcake and cruising between the plastic chairs. And since it seemed to be a BYOB (baby, not beer - though that would have been WAY ironic) event, she had plenty of l'il peeps to keep her busy. Even a brief downpour didn't dampen our spirits (get it? ha, ha) as we hid under umbrellas in socialized in the soon-to-disappear, slightly-sketchy remnants of old skool Coney Island.

Looking around at all of us with our variations on diaper bags and Maclaren strollers (a must-have among NYC yuppies, I've learned), I couldn't help thinking of a Talking Heads song -

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a
large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house,
with a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself-Well...How did I get here?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Almost Birthday

Being in the NYC afforded Otter a chance to milk the birthday thing for all it's worth. Which I am a strong proponent of any day.

We gathered at my aunt/grandmother's and plied SB with gifts, toys and the world's biggest piece of chocolate cake. Which, Otter-fashion, she rejected. After a rousing rendition of off-key Happy Birthday, SB busied herself with crawling around and pulling things off the tables.

Of course at this stage she can do no wrong and the manic beating a banana took at her hands was met with oooh's and ahhh's of familial appreciation.

Going home, Otter passed out in the car, perhaps dreaming of what goodies her other birthday celebrations will bring.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pumped Up

I should know better than to expect the indignities to stop just because I'm quickly coming round the 1-year bend with Otter. And after the flight over, I figured karma owed me. And while nothing quite beats the airplane bathroom fiasco, SB is by no means letting me coast.

For the past 3 days she's been adjusting to her new surroundings by having replaced my normally crazy-independent, easy-going kid with a needy, clingy alien who has suctioned herself on to my legs, begging to be held 24/7 and crying dramatically if I so much as go out of sight-line.

I shouldn't be too hard on her - I get her confusion of being in a new place with new people while her dad and dog have inexplicably disappeared. I am her only constant and she'll be damned if she falls for the blink and miss it trap. Still, after living for close to 12 months with a baby who happily crawls off to a different room to entertain herself, it's a bit unsettling to suddenly spend time with a child who falls into hysterics if I go to the bathroom (which, I'm sad to say, I can't seem to do alone any more) without her.

But the coup de grace came today, as I valiantly tried to begin prepping milk bottles for our return journey. With my mother and aunt sitting on the bed to keep SB from exploring her way over the edge, I pumped, while attempting to keep up the nonchalant banter that was supposed to distract them from the fact that I am sitting on a bed with my boob attached to a mechanically whirring suction cup.

And I would have pulled it off too, had Otter not seen the pump, and gotten terribly concerned at the destination of the milk (which was clearly not going to her mouth). She voiced her displeasure by rather vigorously climbing into my lap and giving the invasive pump some light pushes. In bar culture, this should have been a sign to the offending pump to get the fuck out of dodge, before things got really, really serious. For my part, I wasn't willing to be put off my goal by a pissy baby (since it'll take several sessions to reach my 6-hour flight quota as it is). Some mediation was clearly needed.

Like a skilled diplomat, I assessed the situation: baby wants boob (for proprietary, not nutritional reasons); pump needs boob; baby willing to kick the living daylights out of pump to get boob; me unwilling to lose drops of milk literally wrung from my body by some territoriality. It looked dire.

Solution? Keep pumping the full boob while giving Otter access to the other one. Continue to remind self that this isn't for ever, and I'm doing a good thing by donating my body to others. Be interrupted from self-congratulatory musings by baby who, annoyed by the fact that the pump still seems to be coming out the winner, uses her 2 rather sizable bottom teeth to deliver her message. Watch as aunt flees the room. Refrain from cursing. Plan drunk-fest for the day I'm done nursing. Keep chatting with mom.

So, whatchya gonna throw at me next world?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Taking Flight

Today, SB made her second trans-continental journey in under a year. Unfortunately for both of us, someone needs to make a respectable living in our family, so Bree stayed behind to mind the store. Unfortunatelier, traveling alone with a nearly 1-year-old is about 10 months of development and mobility worse than traveling with a 2-month-old. One is like going on holiday with a turnip in baby clothes. The other, is like traversing the country with the Tasmanian devil.

So here is the synopsis of the trip:

1. Carrying enough luggage to permanently set up camp in an uninhabited jungle, I arrive with the airport. Specifically, I'm carrying a stroller, car seat, collapsible bed, suitcase, diaper bag, bag of toys, and my own bag where I've foolishly packed some magazines for when I have "time to read."

2. Bree comes with, and manages to steer my plethora of bags through the insane crowd (where ARE all these people going on a Tuesday morning????), while I get stuck trying to cross a stream of oncoming travelers, none of whom seem to think that a frazzled looking chick with a stroller and baby are worth stopping for.

3. The self-check machine won't let me register a suitcase AND a car seat. I go through the options twice before just checking the luggage and hoping one of the helpful attendants will talk me through getting rid of the rest of my crap.

4. Helpful attendant takes it all, and directs me to yet another long-ass line to actually hand off my luggage. After negotiating through another stream of people, I manage to chase down Bree and leave him to dispose of my bags while I do a 180 and go find an elevator to the second floor security checkpoint.

5. Security line is short. Awesome. Stand in line, prep my bags (being a seasoned traveler and all), remove my shoes, and am trying to unstrap Otter with one hand and collapse her stroller with the other when a woman (ok, I'll say it - a rude bitch) pops ahead of me by declaring "I'm just going to cut in front of you," as if that makes it ok. I'm too dumbstruck to even say anything. Upon going through security, it is discovered that RB is also a moron who doesn't know to remove her dvd player from her bag. Now her shit is being sent out a second time (interrupting my flow AGAIN). I shoot her death ray looks.

6. Make it to the gate to learn that the empty seats and room in the bulkhead that I was assured of by the reservations clerk were a figment of his imagination. Accept my fate of having SB in my lap the entire flight. See that RBwhoisalsoaM is on my plane and resist the temptation to ride over her toes with the stroller.

7. Take what I hope will be my only bathroom break with Otter parked in the stall in her stroller. Think of dignity falling away.

8. Get on the plane and find that I am in a row with another woman with a lap child and a kind, sweet, patient man who was stuck between us. Apologize profusely for what he is about to experience.

9. Learn that we are breaking FAA laws by having 2 lap children in one row. (Something about a lack of oxygen masks.) Have lengthy, confusing discussion about which of us should move. Have the flight attendant discover a free seat up front and move the sweet and no doubt relieved gentleman. Thank the universe profusely.

10. Sit in my seat with an overtired, squirmy girl. Buy a $3 chocolate chip cookie for brunch. Pray that she goes to sleep soon so I can inhale it.

11. Realize that Otter needs changing after her nap. Wait interminably for a bathroom to become available. Gather my boatload of baby paraphernalia and totter my way down the aisle. Get in the bathroom and use it with the baby sitting in my lap. Realize how naive and stupid any thought of having lost dignity back around point 7 really was. Realize soon after that there is no changing table in this lavatory. Manage to change Otter in my lap with about 2 inches of room to work with. Promise myself to never assume I've hit bottom.

12. Manage to entertain child for the duration of the flight by allowing her to play anywhere she wants, including in the leg space of the middle, unused seat. Hope that the person in front of me doesn't use this moment to lean back.

13. Arrive at the airport and wait for an extra 1/2 hour at the gate to retrieve my stroller. Which is of course at the very bottom of the pile when it does finally arrive.

14. Retrieve my luggage and realize the bed isn't there. Panic. See a luggage carrier bringing it over. Run to her and choke down the impulse to kiss her.

15. Realize that no matter what happens from here on out, I can do this.

There are some people I want to thank - Bree, for carrying my bags; the gentleman at LAX who actually stopped to let me pass by; the woman behind me in line who called RBwhoisalsoaM out on her shit; the kind flight attendant who valiantly attempted to reassemble my stroller after the security gate; the man in the middle seat on our plane who was rewarded for his kindness by getting the hell away from us; the other long-suffering mom who shared toys and goldfish with me, and her husband who mesmerized Otter for a full 15 minutes with an Elmo video; all the people who chatted and smiled.