Saturday, September 26, 2009

Small Steps, Giant Leaps

Today, Otter turned 13 months and is officially into her 2nd year of life. Kinda crazy and wild. The last month has been a series of leaps that seem huge in retrospect, but which snuck up on us so that we barely noticed they happened.

Somewhere down the line, SB was weaned. It happened gradually, beginning, perhaps, when I first went back to work (when she was 5 months old) and she began getting her milk from the bottle rather than from the tap. Sure, it was still breast milk, but the separation of boob and food had begun. Then came the days of milk cocktail, with cow milk gradually gaining a presence until finally, all that remained was a morning feeding that was symbolic at most. Once Otter realized that she could get the good stuff much faster out of bottle we now offered in the morning, she dumped the boob like yesterday's newspaper. Suddenly, I had my body back.

Our breast feeding journey ("journey" - how La Leche League of me) had been at times painful, frustrating, at times shockingly bonding, often humbling, occasionally hilarious. We've made it a year, weaning on Otter's schedule without her ever having tasted formula.

In other breaking news, Otter took her first unassisted step today. Initially, she tried walking on the bed while holding a pillow, which led to a long debate as to what exactly constituted a first step. Were pillows allowed? Did it have to be on the floor? But Otter saved us from further argument by repeating her milestone on the floor. Lest we get too excited though, she promptly fell to the floor and continued crawling.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Who ARE These People???

Sitting at work and waiting for some edits to be completed on a Saturday, I decided to kill some time by checking out what babycenter had to say about the world today. Looking back, I realize that I had it coming. Why am I even looking at this site, written by and for suburban uber-soccer moms with huge baby-related anxiety that the site apologetically exploits? (Being a suburban mom myself, I feel totally free to criticize and alienate here.)

I found myself perusing "Forty-two things that change when you have a baby" to take stock of how much of the misfortune has already befallen me, and what horrors may still lurk around the corner. And while I won't bore you by reprinting the entire article (hell, just follow the link to it, if you're so inclined) I will share with you some of my favorite, and most horrifying comments. Personal acerbic editorials included, of course...

You finally stop to smell the roses, because your baby is in your arms.
Who has time to stop? With a baby in my arms, all I can think about is getting my ass home as quickly as possible, before she decides to cry or wiggle out of my embrace. Besides, roses have thorns. If you're going to smell anything, go for a safer plant, like a daisy.

You lose touch with the people in your life whom you should have banished years ago.
What kind of losers are you hanging out with? Hasn't the average adult already done this sorting thing sometime in her mid-20s? Unless you're barefoot and pregnant straight out of Jr. High, if this statement truly applies to you, you have some serious-soul searching to do.

You finally realize that true joy doesn't come from material wealth. — Anonymous
Seriously? You're just realizing this? Did you miss that after school special, you greedy bitch?

Your heart breaks much more easily.
I must 'fess up - this one is spot on. Where I once only put my cynicism away for the 4-legged set, now tales of children in harm's way get me all teary-eyed.

Every day is a surprise.
I work in TV. Every day's been a surprise for the past 13 years.

You become a morning person.
No you don't. You're still a night person. Who is now forced to wake up at the crack of dawn.

Your love becomes limitless, a superhuman power.
I wish that it were so. I'm afraid my love runs a little thin right around 7:15 every evening.

You realize that although sticky, lollipops have magical powers. — Roxanne
I haven't had to test this yet. I pray you're right, Roxanne.

You don't mind going to bed at 9 p.m. on Friday night. — Kellye
Don't mind?! I start planning my bedtime the moment I open my eyes in the morning.

You give parents with a screaming child an 'I-know-the-feeling' look instead of a 'Can't-they-shut-him-up?' one. — Jaidyn's mom
Forget Superman and Wonder Woman. You also realize that the true hero is that parent traveling alone on a plane with 2 kids.

Your dog — who used to be your 'baby' — becomes just a dog. — Kara
These are the people who, after having a dog for 4 years dump it off at the pound, because they've got a new, human toy to play with. I hate them.

You finally find out the real reason you have those breasts. — Anon.
Then you find out, that according to the baby, those breasts aren't technically YOURS.

No matter what you've accomplished in life, you look at your child and think, "I've done a GREAT job!" — Anon.
God bless you, self-satisfied one. Oh, but to have your unfaltering belief in your own fabulousness.

Where you once believed you were fearless, you now find yourself afraid.
In all seriousness, this is something I think about quite often, and I have to say I disagree. I think the hardest yet most vital thing we can do is to not live our lives from a place of fear.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Facts of Life

A few days ago, I was talking to a co-worker about his kids. Several years ago, he and his wife were surprised to find that they were becoming parents again, so soon after they'd had their first baby. It took them a while to adjust, but they did.

"So, sticking with the two, or going to have more?" I asked.

"Well, there's actually another one on the way," he replied. "It was kind of unexpected."

To which I say, seriously? I mean, I was willing to give you a pass on the first "surprise," but a year and a half later you're shocked to discover it happened again? And the same way to boot? What kind of crazy, topsy-turvey world is this?

Without even trying hard, I can think of three people who took no precautions, and were shocked to discover that they were knocked up. And I have to wonder - is the miracle of immaculate conception all around us? Did all of them miss that day in health class when it was explained how babies are made? Or did they just think the rules of biology did not apply to them?

What's even more interesting, these people are smart, educated professionals, at the top of their various games. Yet when it comes to making babies, especially the second or third time around, they all seem to have blinders on. So, for the record people - breastfeeding is NOT birth control. Neither is "We only have sex once a month."

But before I throw too many stones, I suppose I should look back on my own glass house. Unable to face the reality that we were Trying To Have a Baby, I opted for the self deception of We Stopped Preventing A Baby From Happening. And several months later, I, a fairly smart, decently educated semi-professional, who is at least in the middle of her game, was shocked to SHIT when the Baby Happened. There it was - the faint + on the stick, and a soon-to-become familiar nausea. Yet I sat there, trying to calculate all the ways in which this was sheer impossibility.

What is it that causes us to abandon all logic and previously accumulated knowledge in favor of delusion? Perhaps it is the fear of admitting to ourselves the very thing we secretly want but are afraid to covet.

image by [177]

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pretty As a Picture

So what I'm supposed to be blogging about is Otter's successful 1st birthday party, filled with cake, pizza, friends and new toys (all of which doubtless make some kind of battery-fueled noise). But alas, due to an unexpectedly under-the-weather dog, we've had to postpone...

Instead, let me share my tale of professional baby photos. I know, you're probably saying "What? Isn't that just so mother-of-the-yeary?" And it's true - most photo sessions (my wedding included) send me into an anxiety-ridden tailspin. Granted, my exposure to professional photography has been limited to the school picture/Sears/Babies R Us set. And while I applaud their efforts, pictures of my offspring lying blissfully on pink fluffy pillows or looking mischievous wearing nothing but some angel wings and a bow in her hair are decidedly not for me.

But through friends we found (what we hope is) a really great photographer, Jamie. And since I'd decided to forgo both the requisite pregnancy and newborn photos, a 1-year portrait seemed to be in order.

We arrived at the Santa Monica beach promptly at 9am, Otter in her picture-day best, Bree and I in whatever we had time to throw on, and our beach-illegal dog in his best red collar. SB loved the sand, was mesmerised by the ocean. "This will be so easy!" I thought. Our worst problem was going to be keeping the lifeguards from throwing Foz off the un-pet-friendly beach. Otter took one look at Jamie and frowned.

As the session progressed, so did Otter's displeasure, and what began as uncertainty, quickly turned into loud wailing and a refusal to let go of me. For his part, Foster allowed us to position him with a look of grim resignation, and a silent regret that he had not been adopted by a different family. We struggled through photo after photo of Otter looking despondent, while Jamie valiantly tried to entertain and distract our pouty baby.

"Maybe there's a song she likes?" she suggested, helpfully.
The Poopy Otter Song didn't seem appropriate.

"What happens if you blow on her, or tickle her?"
A whole lot of nothing, apparently.

"Does she like the water?"
Why yes, she does. Until the wave comes in and freaks her out, as she didn't expect her entire bottom to get soaked.

"Does she know the Happy Birthday song?"

"Any games that make her smile?"
Yes, yes there are: throwing her in the air, throwing her on the bed, pelting her with pillows (PILLOW AVALANCHE!!!!), chasing her around on all fours while fiercely growling, shoving Monkey in her face (MONKEY ATTACK!!! THEY GO FOR THE FACE!!!!!). All of which didn't seem right to mention, let alone do in public.

In the end, it was a combo of granola bar and being allowed to climb all over Foster (who lay down morosely as sand was liberally sprinkled on him) that brought Otter out of her tailspin. And we may even have gotten a few photos with a smile. But as we made our way home, all Bree and I could think about was, apparently families have songs and games that make their toddlers giggle. What's wrong with us, that all of our go-to stunts run the risk of getting us taken in for child endangerment?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Bad Mommy Files - Working Mommy

Back in the days of marry-straight-out-of-high-school-or-if-you're-very-progressive-straight-out-of-college, most women went directly from living with mom and dad, to living with hubby, to having a kid hanging off each boob and wondering what happened. But becoming moms in our mid-thirties has left me and a lot of my friends in the position of having a "before" (like, a real, grown up life) to compare with the "after".

And while I won't speak for all of us (as some of my friends have happily embraced their new, full-time mom role - which, by the way is SOOOO a full time job - with patience and joy) for the rest of us (ok, for me in particular) the count-down to returning to work began on the heels of the first, bonding nursing session. Which isn't to say that I haven't enjoyed my time off with Otter immensely. But, truth be told, it was always with the understanding that there would be a parole period sooner or later.

Frankly, doing the kind of work that earns me a paycheck is about a billion times easier than working at being mom. And it allows us to remain in our house AND have food to eat. And while someone who hauls cement for a living might disagree, after the rigors of feeding, bathing, chasing, catching, and playing with a toddler for some 8- 10 hours, a day at the office has almost vacation-like calm.

I'd like to believe that working makes me a better mother when I AM home. But recent evidence suggests that even that may need some work. After a particularly early show morning (I had to be in at 6:30 am), I returned home in time to walk the dog child and the baby child in 100+ degree weather. After haplessly maneuvering dog, stroller and baby through the blazing hot street while trying to avoid stepping on my floor-length work dress (which I didn't have time to change out of) or running over said dog with said stroller, I struggled home, wilted and exhausted mentally calculating how soon I could put my put my dear baby (whom I had only spent some 60 minutes with all day) away, once and for all.

As I gathered bath supplies and accessories, Otter began protesting loudly to being put in her chair while the dog followed me around, well in my personal space, making sure I didn't overlook any portion of his dinner. I wish I could tell you how I rose above, basking in my baby's desire to be with me at all times, flattered by my dog's devotion. Instead, I stalked into the bedroom, and what I hope was out of their collective earshot and unloaded. "Shut up!" I whisper-yelled. "Shut up! Just shut the fuck up!"

After a few minutes, I walked out, my best Stepford Wife smile plastered on my face and chirped "Bath time, honey!" all the while dreaming of the moment Otter went down to sleep, the dog gave up his endless quest for food, and I would be rid of them both for the evening.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Can one seamlessly combine a monkey and a dog theme?
How many kids do you need to justify a bouncer?
What does one put in goodie bags?
What does one do with a group of kids, ages 6 months - 13 years, when it's 150 degrees outside?
Does marker come off of furniture?
Does one need both ice cream AND cake?
How much tequila is it appropriate to drink at your child's first birthday party?