Three-Four Good Buddy: 34 years of me and a year of mommy

So, it's been a year for me too. Forget the beast. I've been stretched, bled, stitched, prodded, pierced, milked, bitten scratched, and subjected to some pretty mad emotional highs and lows.

My own inner child digs into her smash cake



Let me gaze into the oh so fuzzy omphalos of my giddy little experience.

People often talk about parents - women in particular, because even in judging women being judged, we really like to judge women (you cannot win) -  "losing themselves." Or losing their "adult identities" when they become mothers.

If we're not failing through some major lapse of neglect, then of course we're probably caring too much. You don't love your child enough, or you've obviously totally lost yourself in loving your child. Middle ground? You're selfish in focusing too much on yourself. You're selfish in conflating your identity with your child's. You are a selfish martyr who's simultaneously negligent, grandiose, and codependent. Pshaw. I will find a way to judge you whether you be pliant or impervious to the social pressures I also judge.

But, yes, losing oneself in parenting. There is some risk of this, of course. One can lose oneself in nearly anything. We're a society of -oholics, here. Work? Hobby? Nothing partways of course. The parents lose themselves is also a misattribution to a fairly common phenomenon. Whenever you immerse yourself in an intense experience, or even not so intense, you buy into a certain culture and pick up the markers of that culture. You  endue yourself with certain totems, acquire an argot, and mores that identify you as part of that group. So, yeah, becoming a mommy is somewhere between joining a clique and a cult. But so are a lot of things.



Ballroom dancers can't imagine dating somebody who doesn't dance. They have praticum shoes and know the difference between rhythm, swing, character, and smooth shoes (yes, they have at least a pair each). They know American versus International styles, and have opinions about various schools' strengths. They have complicated rules about asking others to dance or being asked, and about whose invitations are accepted. They can name drop like an A-Bomb better than even the most proficient Dancing With the Stars afficionado. They wear gauchos, maybe, and have possibly spent more money on a bespangled fringe bikini than their car and a month's rent. They spend shocking fortunes to tan themselves within an inch of their lives, shellack their hair, and drag-queen themselves up in various hotel rooms during competitions.



Tango dancers don't live in Buenos Aires, necessarily, but they know which nights are the hot nights to go to El Beso versus La Viruta versus Canning (or which sequence to attend them in a single night), the fine differences between neotangos and comme il fauts. They wear (or did, I shouldn't predict fashions after a few years of being out of the scene) drop crotch pants and complicated tops. The know every luminary between Singapore and Bangladesh, and strategically drop references to their pilgrammages to Buenos Aires. They have an odd fondness for empanadas and maybe drink mate to keep themselves up into the wheeeeee hours of the morning. They probably own a small silo of shoes, have heated debates about milonguero versus nuevo versus salon. When they travel, they spend hours looking up old partners and renting out gym spaces to practice. They have twenty different versions of the same Di Sarli tune, interpreted by all the other masters and sung by all the major singers. They may speak a pittance of Spanish, but are constantly saying "abrazos" to their friends.



Swing dancers... you get the idea.



Runners...



Cyclists...



Law Students... ok let's not even begin with that whole rollercoaster into attorneydom. Or, heaven forbid, Johnies!



Wherever we go and whatever we do, we eventually simmer ourselves in a stewpot of teeny tiny stringent signals and customs and a certain frame of mind that revises the world in its image.

Just like with anything, there are always subsets of parents. Not exactly the Helicopter versus the Free-Range simplicity, but the preferences and practices of your particular group of surrounding parents. That's age sensitive. It takes parenting philosophies into account. It takes region and cultural backgrounds into account. It's complicated. And you amass this incredible amount of expertise in these areas. I know more about teething, sleeping, pooping, babywearing, and lactating than several bestselling experts. My LCs ask me for input sometimes. And I have passion about that. Being a "low supply mom" (even one who had domperidone) will cast me in a certain group of advocacy and pride similar to how being an infertile woman placed me in a separate spot of perceived-weakness-turned strength.



 It's a lot more than baby talk and googoogaaagaas. There's a drive to understand myself and then reach out and help/connect with others. And I get a lot of energy from being able to help new moms and be a part of the reticulate support network of similarly positioned women. Our experiences are vast and varied, but they inform each other's and connect us in ways I wouldn't have anticipated.

That can reshuffle friendships and priorities, which may be the root of the complaint about parents losing themselves. People who don't have kids - people who aren't moms - don't understand that any more than most moms understand what it is like to be unable to become a mom. Or any more than a non-dancer gets the obsession with the elusive "tango high" in a sweet abrazo. Or anyone who didn't go to lawschool understands why suddenly your old friend is a total wanker with a drinking habit and forty extra pounds of contentious argumentation. There's a regrouping. It happens naturally, but it's important to remember that parenting isn't the only thing that's changed. Time passed. People are constantly evolving towards and away from each other. It's one of very few constants in this world. The best friendships endure and hibernate through the extremes.

But sometimes the intensity can leave one a little lost. And naturally you do give up parts of yourself while sorting out the new self that is to come. I certainly had those struggles.


It was a quick delivery (in a sense) and in that sense I was "lucky," but the condensed intensity of the experience most likely took a heavier toll on my body than a slower labor may have.


I had no idea how weak I'd be after being so fit through pregnancy. Or how little activity constituted "overdoing it." I stubbornly railed against my helplessness, exacerbating said helplessness in the process.

Andrew was home and really wanted to help out, but he's not the thaumaturge who seamlessly intuits what needs to be done and fills the cracks. He needs direction, and I just wasn't in a headspace to give that. Sometimes it feels easier to do things yourself than to try to explain when you're tired. But in this case, it was probably not the right approach. If I'd any idea how wrecked I was, I would have tried more to let go, to stay in bed, and to just stop already. He was so great with Chaya. He loved her so much, but all she did was nurse and sleep. It shut him out quite a bit at first.

It was a tough beginning in a way where I didn't even realize it was tough. Andrew and I had more "difficult conversations" in the first few weeks than six to twelve months of normal talk-it-out-edness. We both felt totally sotten with love, but also completely restless and at loose ends. I wasn't depressed, but I think I may have had postpartum anxiety. I remember feeling such adrenaline and stress at a certain point during a family visit that I was shaking and short of breath when everyone left to grab a meal.

It was just a day or two later that Chaya started losing weight and my milk started drying up. Perhaps that was a wake-up call in its way. Andrew encouraged me to seek help while dealing with the complex emotional labyrinth of lactation failure. But at that point I had so much help. Perhaps it was before that point that I really needed the help. The next few months of pumping and bottle feeding was intense, but so much more manageable: I was back at work with my mom; I had the Bellingham Center for Healthy Motherhood helping and Facebook support groups; I had a distinct grief and anxiety to name and address, and an action plan to do so; and Andrew was really present as I stepped back and made space for him. I felt less like an exhausted-walking-boob and more like a mother.

There were milestones that corresponded with Chaya's. When I stopped working, I again felt like more of a mom. At times, I was panicked to be left alone with Chaya for too long. Even if my mom was working in the other office, being "at home" was terrifying. Driving. Going out. But the more we got into a groove, the more human I felt. The more I forced myself to extend outwards and immerse myself in the parenting schtick, the less isolated and flailing I became. Playdates and group events evolved.  I slowly felt less isolated and dependent. More in control, as Chaya became more her own little creature.

And although I admit that my life is still dictated by baby poop, leaking boobs, and the ever shifting NAP (not my own), I feel like me again. Not lost or adrift. Perhaps still seeking a balance when it comes to putting myself out there. Still the introvert who can talk herself into staying home with the slightest provocation (because I'm not going to blame being a parent for being lame - I've always been kind of lame in those ways). But me. And part of me is Mommy of course. More so than ever. And part of being mommy is not being the same entity as my child, because mommy is an externally defined outside influence. Mommy is being a home base that allows these little lives to grow further away every day; it's encouraging our children to have their own heartaches and defeats without taking them onto ourselves; it's modelling skills, but also staying out of the way as they develop in their idiosyncratic ways. And that's a role that takes skill, support, and ever evolving groundedness. It's something to be proud of in its own right. It's a daily challenge of self-regulation and constant openness. And it is very, mother-friggin' grown up. It's takes a big woman to crawl around on the floor singing Pollywaddle-Doodle all day while secretly listening to the 538 Podcast and googling "childhood developmental markers in Botswana" on my cell phone.

But don't worry. Mentally I'm still a five year old. I haven't lost that part of myself. It's going to be awkward when Miss Chaya outgrows me so early in her life. But she's a clever one. She'll handle it just fine.



Happy thirty four years to me and one whole year to mommy-me!

I don't always get it right, but I most often get it (W)right enough.

The Chay-B-Day Eve Extravaganza: Doobie Doobie Dooo Date Delirium



A year ago today I had an appointment with my OB. It was my "due date" (amorphous and misleading term, but Chaya took it semi-seriously). An exam indicated I was no further along than prior weeks. I declined to have any mucus stripping (don't ask), and we discussed the next steps if I went too far "past term."



 The exam itself left me a bit uncomfortable, as they sometimes do. I thought little of it. That evening, we went out to Super Buffet for my very last meal there. I was uncomfortable to distraction - curt, cramping, digging my nails into the chair. Again, I'd had contraction-type things after exams before and thought little of it except "everyone is very boring, this food is annoying and OWW". That night I slept in uncomfortable twenty minute jags. The next morning, I thought maybe I had food poisoning. It took my mom coming over to confirm I was probably in labor. And of course by the time I went in, I was almost fully dilated. 

And here we are at fifty-two weeks of peak (and pique) Chayosity. A pittance of a day before Miss Chaya's grand appearance on The (W)right Scene. Boy has it been a month of an approach. 




The eleven month sicko-slump persisted beyond those first two weeks. Her Grandpapa Wright did indeed fall ill with our little lurgy. And in turn he shared once more with the family. Chaya relapsed. Gramma Pam had a day or two of dyspepsia. My gutsy guts did a few cartwheels. And we shelved, once more, any delusions of dairy, fiberful foods or tidy diapers. As for that sleep schedule thing? Pshaw!

Another week of miserable baby and rancid diapers and peradventure things began to ... settle? We hope! But cannot be certain. And with a whole new petri dish of peripatetating family to swap sick with, who knows? That's right, Chaya has met her (genetic) match:



The Falconers are back in town. 




Oh heck yeah. And we can't confirm that they are truly the pesky harbingers, but it's very possible that they were the peripatetic Patients Zero who imported Chaya's brand new head cold to our humble home. Or... she chewed on something pretty much anywhere in public... But we'll blame family and call it a birthday gift. As a result, of course, Chaya no longer has any appetite. Oh I take that back. An appetite for mayhem, an appetite for waving her fork and spoon around, an appetite for stacking utensils and food and cups, and an appetite for distributing the contents of her plate with some inscrutable discrimination between the floor and her seat. I don't blame her. No matter the torture we undertake with saline drops and aspirators, she continues to have a plugged up nose. 



She's currently down to actually eating freeze dried strawberries. Hey, all five calories of them were definitely worth the half hour sitting at the table, the half hour to clean up and the half hour to try to figure out anything else she might just feasibly eat just in case... But hey... vitamin C.
This is why toddlers live off of McDonald's 

Oh and she kind of stopped sleeping. Our Friday evening was a traumatic three hour ordeal of sleep untraining. I'm pretty sure none of our measures to sooth and comfort her deserve the credit for her eventual eight hours of restless sleep. I'm pretty sure she just cried herself out. But we tried fruitlessly And there was much sobbing. I currently live in terror of bed and nap times. Though I'm hoping the fact that she no longer has any appetite should curtail her vexatious habit of pooping herself awake during naps. Fingers crossed. 



And so without further ado (but many sneezes and sniffles), she slips right out of infancy and into the terrifying and terrific toddler years. Toddler! Yikes! It's so different now. It's hard still, but in such a distinct way. Caring for a young infant is so primal. Even the terror is the most basic and primordial of tremors - it's all ounces: ounces of baby weight, of milk pumped, of coffee shot directly into the eye to keep partially conscious).



Dealing with an older baby is fully cro-magnon. It's about handling a teeny tiny little person hellbent on destroying herself, and digging up every imaginable emotion and personality conflict that could roil under the stew of our human egos.



 It's running, laughing, crying, and trying to remember that they totally understand shockingly complex words and emotions. They're in your head and they haven't developed the capacity for empathy yet! And that - little person though they be - they have not mastered some of the moderating abilities of mental processing that make this crazy life tolerable. Constantly ambushed by new and confusing feelings, sensations, desires, and drives. Both delighted and surprised and truly distressed at things we silly grownups imagine are old and tedious. It's a rush going through that again with your own flesh and blood. While trying to handle your own raging ego and screeching inner child. It's different. 

One years old! Toddler! Ack! Personhood. Albeit a little person who does not talk or walk like I was promised she might at this age. Seriously, I thought she'd be walking by now, after she popped up and starting tromping around with such determination 



Chaya may in fact not be particularly exceptional in any objective way. She is a bit bigger than an average female her age, though after this month of constant ailing not by much. She's been ahead on some milestones and behind on others. She pulled herself up and started walking with help on the early side, but has pretty well stuck with honing that skill for the past couple of months. She was determined to crawl at four months, but waited until eight to really do so with any skill. She scales stairs like an expert, but doesn't climb the couches. She made a series of complex syllabic and intoned sounds months ago, but still doesn't appear to have identifiable words (except "mamamaama" happens when she wants something or is unhappy and the ever popular "bababu" which clearly means something but we have no idea what). She's just sort of in the middle.  




 Not particularly social or anti-social. Neither fully independent, nor clingy. Yes, people have commented on what an attractive baby she is ("and not like with other babies where I don't mean it... she is genuinely attractive"), but she also has cradle cap and funny hair and isn't exactly 100% gerber baby. A baby who gets sick, but not more than average. Not an easy baby, but certainly  nothing like the truly difficult babies. Regardless, she is absolutely the hands-down best Chaya Wright in the land. She's so aware. So bright. So engaged. So willful and determined and full of humor and wonder.  Brash and bold, yet sensitive. She of the alacritous eyebrows and So very... Chaya. I couldn't ask for a more Chaya baby ever and I wouldn't settle for anything less. 

I love my little crazy fiendish snotty drool bugaboobabe. 



So today, on this anniversary of something quite surreal and spectacular,  I think of fortune cookies and wontons and very uncomfortable chairs and raise a glass of jasmine tea to my snotty, underslept bobbling little toddler. May she one day remember how to sleep and eat.



Twoddling Beastie Bested by the Belly-Bugaboo

The (W)rights have not been feeling quite so (W)right of late. 

Chaya's eleventh month has been much like her eleventh hour: full of mushy mephitic nappies, lots of crying, and a household of very tired Wrights.






 Our adorable little disease-etui inaugurated her first flow blown lurgy on a Friday. Just over a fortnight ago.

Prior to this, we'd been gradually easing her into a bonafide sleep/nap schedule. Predictability!?! What? All this with the goal of pushing said schedule back a little at a time until Chaya's daddy could once again have a full meal with the Missy-Chai before bedtime.

It seemed so promising. She was sleeping past six reliably. Even to the point where I was having to wake her to keep her "on schedule." I even ever so optimistically suggested we were at a point of pushing her schedule back a good ten or fifteen minutes.  

And there we were. That Friday, she was sleeping in. Pretty late. Probably a little past 6:30. But oh man was she not ready for any new schedules. She was miserable, clingy and exhausted. She didn't nurse much. She didn't eat at all. She passed out in the ergo during a morning walk then transferred to the crib without any ado (unheard of). She napped. Oh did she nap. Two hours. Then was up for a while and napped again. She was overwrought by bedtime. In between, she cried at random and needed snuggles and a thorough thumbsucking. She approached mealtime with an abstemious howl, mostly distracted by gnawing on a spoon or fork from time to time.

The next day brought on the poonami. First a small warning shot. Then the first of a cornucopia of blown out diapers and epic laundry cycles. The most impressive diapers I've ever changed, incidentally. Mixing the liquidity and tang of a breastmilk diaper with the rancidity and chunkiness of a solids diaper. Leaking everywhere. Adhering to everything. And always straight up and out the back, simultaneously leaking out and down the leg!

Sunday was the same: clingy, low appetite, sleepy, and alternating between frisky and miserable. She never spiked a fever, but I'd already been giving her tylenol and motrin for teething pain. That weekend, she was so scrofulous that she didn't even want her delicious sugar shots. I nursed her constantly and tried desperately to get her to drink electrolytes. Or anything.

Monday, I woke up somewhat nauseous and cramping. At first I figured it was some little hormonal hullabaloo of another week of dropped domperidone. Then Andrew mentioned that he was starting to feel unwell. Then he texted that he was really sick. Then he asked if anyone could possibly pick him up from work (an hour and ten minutes away). My mother jumped in to the rescue, as I fell febrile and thoroughly crampy just about on my store to conquest some Pepto Abysmal.

Andrew returned around lunch time and dozed for several decades. Turns out he also was experiencing massive caffeine withdrawal, since he was afraid coffee would upset his stomach and refused to drink it. Neither he nor Chaya ate much. I tried to eat my usual. It was clearly not a good idea. At some point, Chaya popped an upper incisor. I'm not entirely sure. It erupted absent any fanfare, given all the other illness. I just noticed a sharp little thing in her mouth at some point.

Tuesday, Andrew stayed home and I succumbed to massive cramping that brought back unfond memories of early pregnancy. As Chaya - still diarrhetic and gassy but far more energetic - crawled all over my prostrate cramping corpse - and as she ripped out large chunks of my hair with gleeful pterodactyl CAW-CAWS - I just kept thinking  "THANK GOD I'M NOT  PREGNANT!"

Though damn, I rocked the pregnancy 


Gramma Pam, of course, fell ill. She threw up and convalesced and had to cancel the rest of her week's plans.

Wednesday, Andrew went back to work. His appetite was about that of a normal person's, a truly disturbing turn of events for a man of his typical ravenousness. Chaya was starting to eat plenty again. Great for my peace of mind, but such avaricious eating presented dire delirium for our laundry baskets. We moved her to more and more of a cautious BRAT diet, which bored the crap out of her but there we go. I was still pretty ill, but feeling on the mend at least. There were only a few times where I needed to collapse on the ground.

Thursday through Saturday, we now had naps being disrupted by blow outs. Sunday we had our first fairly clean diaper day. Tuesday, there was even a little pellet like poop that seemed like constipation. It didn't last. Monday, I also apparently had a relapse. It was nasty, but began to clear on Tuesday afternoon.

That Wednesday, everyone seemed on the mend.

Thursday we had MORE MUSH diapers. Three delicious (albeit more contained) little treasures. This would be Thursday the eve of a fortnight following her first convalescence.

Friday, there was still some mush but nothing horrible. Chaya's Grandpa Tom (the original Daddy Dubya, one of at least three Toms to possibly lay claim to the Grampa Tom appellation).




 By this Sunday morning he is reporting he had a bit of a stomach bug and didn't feel well... We are emptying all the leftovers, Lysolling the house, and hunkering down for a caravel of potential infectious re-infections.



 It never ever ever ends.

Of course, this has permanently stalled any plans of introducing a wider array of dairy into the wee one's diet. It's also necessitated a fairly abrupt change of course in dietary choices. Previously dealing with a baby who tends towards constipation, I've been suddenly rooting through a list of forbiddens and nixing all the delicious roughage and fiber that once was necessary. Flax and wheat bran in her eggs? Try the whitest of white rice flours. Bring on the bananas. Hide the prunes! Bye bye juice (darn, she really likes her yippee health-consciously placated veggie/fruit juice).

It's caused a bit of a revision all around, but I'm finding some new and clever little staples.

Eggs remain, of course. As does yogurt (probiotics, baby).  Nut butters remain as well, because, well... I want her to actually eat things and slathering nut butter on something is the magical means of making it edible in Chayalandia.

I've discovered the absolute amazingness of mashed banana and peanut butter. Mix with a little applesauce and sweet potato and put it on plain bread and it's like dessert.

Even better, I've discovered the wide world of mug cakes. I started with a banana peanut butter mug cake. Basically, banana, pb, egg, and a few tablespoons of rice flour with baking soda and a microwave. Delicious. Alternately, mashed carrots and parsnips instead of banana.

Even better than better, sweet potato plus peanut butter (did I mention there's a nut butter theme to Chaya's tolerance for most any food) plus an egg. It's like pumpkin pie but more durable.

And then there's "Happy Baby Rice Puff Baby Crack" - this stuff is insane. Chaya will sit there for hours on end eating these little puffs of air and added nutrients. It's kind of like the world's most labor intensive multivitamin. And pricey. Of course. Baby crack. How could it not be? Twenty-five calories in a mound, but some sizable percentage of your RDA of choline. Needless to say, I have been enjoying the weirdly suggestive almost-taste myself. I think the crunch helps with her sensitive gums as well.



And then there's nursing.




We're still doing that.

Previously, I had made my peace with what appeared to be a mutual weaning. I was wrong. Or at least, things got more complicated when Chaya got sick. For a few days, she wouldn't eat or drink anything. She would, however, nurse a bit. I nursed her eight times a day one day. While she was reluctant, she did take a fair enough amounts of sips to stay hydrated.

Since that time, she's been catching up perhaps. Eating heartily, but nursing fairly concertedly as well. Five times a day, including a rather vehement middle of the night nurse.

And of course with the hesitation in weaning-weal, my entire wean-will ebbs a bit. I know I said I'd start spending more "me" time when she was one. One year being my arbitrary date for when she'd be weaning and taking more reliable naps. We're working on the naps. I'm pretty sure I could figure out a schedule to have a little more time to myself. And I will. But it's surprisingly hard to muster the motivation. Doing things has always taken some pretty rigid self-discipline. I have scads of natural inertia, so the only way to get out is to really charge forward, set-a-schedule, and not give myself a chance for excuses. I'm super organized usually, so that's not a problem. I am fabulous at helping people achieve their goals because I have to do so much for myself. But with Chaya complicating things, it's harder to plan and easier to just not want to get out.

So I'm thinking about where I'm mutable.

Aaaaand where I'm not.

Yet.

1. I am not bailing on bedtime for at least the first few years. A majority of the moms I speak with feel equally that this is a sacrosanct time to be with their child. Chaya nurses to sleep or I sing her to sleep. I swear I see the face of the universe in all the tritest rococo parental dazes every night after the battle to get her to drink and drowse. I want to be there sending her mommy vibes if she tosses and turns. And frankly, I want to go to bed. The kind folks who've offered to watch my sleeping baby while I go out and do something "fun" perhaps don't understand that my version of amazing is having a fudgsicle, finishing a crossword, and turning in early. And that this was already becoming true a few years before Chaya was born. With Chaya still nursing once in the middle of the night, and getting up pretty early in the morning, the sleep deficit is even harder to make up if I go to bed late. I know Andrew keeps wondering if I'd like to do some kind of away trip that involves overnights (did I mention I'm not a huge fan of travelling with Chaya?). And someday we will, but I'm going to need a lot more time, sleep and energy to even think that sounds appealing without the Chaya-beast around.

2. I still want to put Chaya down for naps for at least another six months. I'm a little more confident that somebody else could get her to fall asleep. Though not 100%. As I may have alluded to, I've doffed all pretenses of effective sleep training for naps. She falls asleep in my arms as I sing to her. It's another really intimate moment to share. And besides, naptimes are when I get shiznet done. It's a flurry of cleaning, cooking, and occasionally regrouping. If it turns into a long nap, then I have some much craved downtime in the kitchen.

3. It's hard to give up my little sliver of morning before she wakes up. I get up before the baby. Theoretically I could use that time to work out or something minor like that. But that's when I prepare for breakfast, slowly wake up in my quiet space, and generally gear up for the day. It already is my me-time. And when she does wake up, I nurse her.

3. We're still nursing usually two other times a day (not counting bedtime and overnight).When Chaya first wakes up, about a half hour after her first nap mid-morning, about a half hour after her second nap afternoon. And she hasn't been taking a bottle or much from a cup. Sure, she doesn't need to nurse all those times probably. I'm wary to do anything too sudden, though. Both for her sake and for my own boobs. I expect to drop another midday nursing session in a month or two though. When she's well and eating solids, one of those is always brief. But which one isn't super constant yet. We'll see. That would certainly eliminate one blocker to a solid chunk of time.



4. I really enjoy having meals with Chaya. I usually am the one preparing her food and taking the active role in feeding her. Somewhat it's a soothing transition from nursing and providing her nutrition that way. Chaya also is a distractible baby. That counts for meals too. Even just having another person around can often be too exciting for her to eat. Forget eating out with her. We have to scurry home after meals out and get some food in her at home. But this is certainly more negotiable.

5. I'm ok being away while she's napping. Except that she nurses somewhat shortly after she wakes up.

6. It's probably easiest to be away for the occasional hour when she's awake between nursing and her meal.  But of course, talk about missing out! This is when she plays. I love playing with her. I love watching her play. I'm occasionally jealous that her other close attachment figures get such a proportional concentration of fun happy baby play time. Not that I'll let go of any other time. But, of course this is the bane of having childcare. When you're at your wit's end, exhausted and just done being "mom" you're on your own. But when baby's delightful and friendly and the apple of your adoring uvea, that's when the sitter's coming over.



Such is life. We'll always miss something.

As things stand now, I could probably now carve an hour and a half for myself without missing (too) much. And we do sometimes. My mom comes over to watch Chaya while Andrew and I have some time together. And I could be a little flexible on the nursing on one end or the other.

Probably having Andrew take Miss Chaya for a little daddy-daughter playdate once in a while would be good all around.



But what on earth would I even want to do with that time?

Massage? Physical therapy to fix my totally warped postpartum back and core? Workout (oh god, then we have a shower and changing before and after to deal with... how dreadful!). Seeing my non-childed friends? Spend a more concerted time on the blog? Go to a store and actually be able to stand still and/or try clothing on all by myself. I'm having a minor spot of choice fatigue.

Because a lot of the time, I really just want to hang out at home and chop my veggies. I know I'd benefit from working out. And from some physical therapy. And probably a few visits to the dentist.

In the meantime, I'm still pleading "not quite a year yet!" And keeping a watch on those mushy marvelous little nappies that define the highs and lows of my current existence. Some day, she will take in dairy in all its glorious milky (and most likely strawberry-sugar-crack-chocolatey-Quickety-doo-dah) forms.

Until then, we pray for a spell of razor sharp baby fangs, and a mild case of constipation or twenty.

The Toothish Twoddler Tramples Eleven Month Markers!

Holy Moley, I have a twoddler! She's not quite toddling on her own, but at eleven months, Chaya is a whole different beast than any baby I might have sprung from any loins of mine (let's be honest, she pushed herself out with her iron quads). So much is coming together now so rapidly. I have a teeny tiny (crazy) person on my hands. With more and more personality every single day.




Time to figure everything out all over again! Because every month it's a whole new baby-game.



I know much of my recent palaver just invites kibbitzing. No doubt, you all have to sit on your hands to resist swooping in and rescuing me from my rabid crazed self. And I want to say, I appreciate that you silent internet forummers resist the temptation. Because, I understand the urge. Just browsing friends' baby registries provokes all kinds of detailed opinions I wish nothing other than to unleash upon the world in long form. My attendance at the Bellingham Center for Health Motherhood's Nursing Cafe is rife with newer moms just sitting on all kinds of unlearned lessons I know too well. I've learned so much. I have so much valuable whatnot to impart. Enlightenment here I come. I desperately, if nothing else, have a huge talking-to I'd love to give to my slightly younger self for navigating the earlier stages of parenthood. And I'm already rolling my eyes at my "helpful" future self's pointed opinions.

A shame we can't learn from good little nuggets of hard-won reason. But really, it's just impossible most of the time.



Reasons I am unlikely to take your very well-meaning and helpful parenting suggestions (and why you probably shouldn't take mine either):


1. Your baby is not my baby and has never had my baby's set of challenges and talents. If your baby slept through the night by two months, then I don't care how well essentials oils helped the one time she didn't. If your baby woke up one morning with five teeth after briefly fussing an hour before bedtime the night before, then I am skeptical that the amber teething necklace is what's helping. If your biggest breastfeeding concern is that you leak whenever you drink a light beer, please do not start telling me about fenugreek and plenty of water.

2. Your baby is just as bad as mine and/or differently as bad and/or worse! Your baby only sleeps between midnight and five a.m., naps midday in a carseat for an hour while you drive around, and you aren't giving me tips on how to brew stronger coffee. 

3. You don't have a baby or your baby has not been my baby's age in several years. Trust me, I barely remember two months ago. You may think you have a crystal clear memory of what it was like having a little munchkin, but do you really? Really? Are you that confident about your memory? If so, I suspect you haven't read enough psychological studies on the fallibility of memory.

4. Just like parents always learn (if they heed any advice ever at all or remember from their own childhood), many lessons need to be learned firsthand. Sure, my mom could have told me to go to law school when I was fifteen. Sure, my dad was right that maybe I looked good in long flowy clothing and artsy jewelry. Either could have instructed me on the helpfulness of outlining, keeping a schedule, knowing when to follow through on my intentions, and prioritizing a balance between life and work. And I'm sure both of them could have told me several of my prior paramours were flat out horrible ideas. But I had to do some serious living before I could realize these things for myself. And the more pressure to do the right thing, then more inclined I was to do the wrong. They demonstrated admirable restraint all told. 

5. If you told me to "chill out," my brain iced over so very much that you are now on mute. I'm sure, as above, that's really helpful advice... to nobody ever, because nobody who needs that advice is ever going to do anything but escalate in the face of that kind of pat pablum. If you literally pat me on the head, your hand is comin' off. And as for "cherish the moment..." I do, truly, I do. But that's not helpful. Sometimes the moment also sucks. And I didn't have PPD or PPA, but some moms do. The first year (decade/lifetime) is magical, but also a massive struggle. Let's skip the pleasant minimization of that ok? 

6. I've read the same website as you, and can recognize a direct quote. If it's on kellymom, I've probably memorized it. Possibly every baby sleep site. And probably Dr. Sears as well. I've also probably read twenty other "expert" opinions casting shade on or questioning the research and information sited in that first source. And then seen the fine print about every baby being different. I'm also familiar with the concept of confirmation bias. Some weird internet advice "worked" for you? You sure you actually needed it? Sure it wasn't something else? 

7. You prefaced your advice with a condescending smirk and something adorable about "first time moms." If you haven't learned humility after having a litter of children, then you obviously haven't really learned much from having children. As such, your advice is likely to be fairly useless. Also, I'm using all my energy not smashing you in your smirky, self-satisfied face, so I can't actually hear your "helpful" counsel. 

8. Your comment ended with "and we/they're/I'm ok!" Usually prefaced by having done something that I don't want to do to/with my child. So here's what I think your greater point is: (1) we all start out parenting with a list of unrealistic goals for our children, go through a few periods attempting to pretzel ourselves and our children into these little ideals, and eventually make compromises. Yes that vegan baby I was never going to feed juice to and who would sleep on the go in the ergo until she was four...? Now she only eats hotdogs and cheezits and I'm willingly forcing juice ("liquid crack") on her because it's the only way to make her poop, and did I mention we did the dreaded crib-training years ago? (2) parents these days are privy to a staggering amount of information, pressure, proclamations and official edicts that can just make it all too much to handle sometimes. We know too much. We have google at our fingertips. And doctors are probably a little paranoid ... except when they're dismissing every little concern. So yes, again, this is kind of the relieving little sister revelation to "chill out." I concede your point. 

But: How does it sound to you when somebody says, say, "I had unprotected sex with multiple partners all through my twenties and never got pregnant or had an std." Or "my father smoked five packs a day while we were roadtripping in a closed car with him... and I'm ok." There's  certain deafness to basic statistics regarding risks and results. It's the opposite of those confirmation-biased correlations we sometimes draw. Essentially "I did something risky and turned out to be in the 30/10/1% who suffers no adverse effects from having done that." Not a ringing endorsement. And we do have a lot more information now. Some of it is well-researched and worth heeding. Will my child die if I take a few risks? We can consult the statistics. Probably not, but weighing likelihood of risk together with severity if risk manifests against burden is a prettyrational approach to these things. Let no-one say I learned nothing in law school.

9. Our entire life philosophies clash and everything you stand for is abominable to me... Just saying, if none of the others quite apply, you might want to consider this option. 






So that really encapsulates a number of reasons that I may have ignored any well-meaning unsolicited nuggets in my ongoing struggles. And again, I thank you for your restraint even as I test it once again.

That said, if you know of the holy grail of sippie cups, please let me know. Preferably one that will easily transition of breastfed baby into a champion cup-o-milk drinker in seconds flat.

The quest to drink, baby, drink persists with modest progress. Chaya, it appears, rocks the straw. As least as much as she's interested in just about anything. And we still have yet to find the perfect straw cup. I purchased yet another strawption. This one was a Haggen's impulse buy, but it turns out to be one of the most successful so far. By sacrificing some nifty gadgetry, the Oxo Tot Straw Cup comes with a straw from which it is actually possible to suck liquid. Novel idea! The downside is that it's somewhat broad and lacks handles. Chaya can drink from it if she pulls it towards her on her food tray and pushes over it. Or if - heaven forbid - somebody helps her. But she's deadset against using both hands to use a cup. Lord knows why.

I also made another go with the Take and Toss cups. They are pretty incredible. Easy to suck from and quite tidy. At least until they are thrown from a high chair at just the right velocity and the lid comes undone. It is easier to grip than the Oxo, but still not ideal for one hand. Chaya likes to hold it by the straw. Which doesn't always leave the straw in good position to contact the water. Occasionally, she'll drink from it though. And only mostly dribble a bunch of either water or drool down her mouth afterwards.






Another success for straw drinking has been the almighty juice box. Best feature is that Chaya can actually hold one in one hand. I also suspect that it might help a bit with her occasional constipation. At least it's either the middling amount of juice she has been drinking (watered down and mixed with virtuous veggies) or she has an idiosyncratic response to an increase in dairy. Cottage cheese and yogurt are becoming quite popular in babyland.

Downsides include the fact that when she squeezes it, juice comes squirting out. And the fact that the straw comes out when pulled on. It's messy. Very messy. As I alluded to, she doesn't drink much at a time. It takes a few days to finish off whatever of the six ounces is not squirted onto the floor.




It doesn't seem like she's apt to just take to the straw cup for a nice full serving of milk. To wit: earlier this week, she waged a semi-nursing strike. I suspect this is teething related. Chaya is a superlatively SLOOOOOOOOW teether. After many eons of false alarms, she popped the first one as June alit. The second one was quite visible and seemed to be in ardent pursuit. Alack, no. No, only last week did any of the tooth erupt. And as the swollen gums ebb and flow, so does the prominence of any tooth. I can still barely feel when I attempt such foolhardy ambitions. It "cut through" a few days ago, but she continues to behave in full drooly faucet.

And since that first tooth, Chaya has nursed ever so poorly. At least at times. It gets better and worse. But frequently uncomfortable for both of us. The last few days she's been intermittently active, moody and restless, and not particularly interested in nursing during the day. After waiting nearly five hours, I decided to pump and offer her a variety of options for her milkies - sippie cup, water bottle, and take and toss. The first sippie cup wasn't on correctly, so she dribbled a fair bit all over from just waiving it in the air. She had no interest in even trying the second sippie cup. She actually expressed some interest in the water bottle, and did take a few good gulps before attempting to turn it upside down and chew on the bottom. The straw cup was good for waiving around by the straw for a while, before taking and tossing upside down and... of course... trying to chew on the bottom.

I know, I've read Kellymom. I should nurse before meals and not let her drink too much etc. etc. And babies under one year rarely self wean and their primary nutrition source should be breastmilk.. Did we mention that the average global age of weaning is 4 years and there are still many benefits to breastfeeding past a year??



But...

I'm taking a hormonal-scrambler in order to shove my boob in the face of a perpetually disinterested teething beast of a baby who has already winded me up with some pretty hefty medical bills after a few claw-assaults. We're close to crunch time here.

I've dropped another pill from my domperidone dosage this week (50 mgs from my acme at 120). I think I'll still hold out supply, but parts of me have panicked that Miss Chai seems obstinately anti-cup. After being a bottle junkie, she now won't take milk other than on tap. And that is less interesting. I'd gotten it into my head that unless she could take a good several ounces of milk for every feed she's dropping then I must fight to make sure she gets any and all and ever feed.

And it's truly a fight. Perma-teether that she is, Chaya has maybe been in some form of mini-nursing strike for several months now. Or maybe she genuinely is self-weaning. I decided a few weeks ago to stop fighting and go with her flow. That dropped us down from 7 feeds a day to 5. And the last couple of days, she's been shaky on one of her midday feeds. I might also mention that I'm still dream-feeding her. I don't entirely know if she'd sleep through the night without my interruptions. I actually will start waiting to see soon. But I am in tandem panicked about her getting enough milk and my breasts not exploding in cloggy abscessy mastitis again.

And of course, it would all just be so much easier if she drank liquids in any regular pattern. Sure, she may well do so if she's getting less booby juice, but what if she doesn't? We'll survive. She'll survive. On hotdogs and High-C, I'm sure.

And in the meantime we march (and/or stumble in shrieks and staggers) towards a mobile walking imp of a dervish of a personality conflicting little being. Mommy is remembering all those ambitions to practice meditation and foster her positive energies... you know, those goals that people have before they become parents that were probably good ideas but kind of well... hot dogs and juice boxes!

OOOOOMMMMMM

Sleepwars: The Tubular 3-2 (cha-cha-cha) Transition

For a girl who picks up most developmental milestones pretty quickly, she's glacially dilatory on the sleep transitions and the teething nonsense. Guess she's putting all those resources into the world-conquering mobility.



Or is/was it that Mommy wasn't pushing it enough? Does the mantra about babies almost always being awake too long... about never missing the nap window... about striking fast and hard right at the first sign of drowsiness... about waiting too long being the deathnell of a good sleep schedule... was that maybe a little absolutest? Maybe targeted at younger babies?


Turns out that during a "nap transition," babies might need to be stretched a little. That babies can actually develop a "habit" of having shorter wake times. Maybe a baby will go right out if you start to sing to her, but that doesn't mean she needed to absolutely go down that instant. Who knows. Babies are hard to figure out. Miss Chaya especially. She's never given clear "drowsy signs." She gets worked up about things and fusses randomly. She glazes over and nods off if she's so drastically underslept that it finally becomes obvious. Sometimes she gets a second or third wind that could be roses-and-sunshine-energetic or overtiredness. And it changes by the day. Chaya's sleeps are like a box of chocolate - gooey, covered in crinkly paper, and prone to melting down in warm weather.






On the first day of her 44th week (so like mid-June), Chaya was fighting her morning nap. This had become a not-so-unusual event. As I mentioned, it's often hard to tell whether fighting the nap is a symptom of overtiredness or undertiredness. Her reaction to beginning the nap routine can vary dramatically from day to day regardless of otherwise identical circumstances. Usually, if I'm doggedly patient with my lullabying, she'll fall asleep in my arms. Sometimes, like that morning, patient persistence involves stemming any reaction to her attempting to climb me and grab onto my earring and/or throat (I swear she will vulcan nerve pinch me into unconsciousness one of these days) while hooting "HUHUHUHUHU" (her, not me) about two seconds before she either (1) starts to cry, or (2) passes out in my arms.

BUT, I just was not in the mood. As I'd started to do the prior week, I decided that it wasn't the right time to force a nap. To heck with it, it was time to try a longer window of wakefulness in the morning. The books all say 2 - 2.5 hours. I'd started going up for 2.5 hours between the occasional 2 hour window when she was ill or had slept poorly. But Andrew was home. If it all blew up in my face (or worked out right), we could bring out the big guns: AN EARLY BEDTIME! (DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN)

I have detested the damned morning nap for several weeks to months now. Always a half hour. Just enough of a time suck to make the third nap painfully awkward. I've pined for a schedule that somehow sidesteps the awkward jiu jitsu involved in getting Chaya down for three naps as she gets increasingly wakeful throughout the day.

 But an early bedtime? That's a daunting thing.

Yes, I have to admit, I'd been avoiding the real push for a nap transition because I was afraid of hitting thatearly bedtime milestone. After the switch to daylight savings, we had this wonderful window in which Andrew could come home and have dinner with Chaya before putting her to bed. It removed so much stress of will-he/won't-he-get-home-in-time to put her to bed. It meant that he got to see plenty of her. I abhor being the person making a judgment call that daddy doesn't get to see Chay-chay that evening because Everett traffic sucked a bit too much. Some part of me was holding out hope that Andrew would be commissioned for his exciting secret project in El Segundo for a few weeks, so I could get down to some serious baby nap and early bedtime adjusting.

But daddy was home that day, and thus the commute was not a factor. If we had to put her down at 5:30 p.m., well so be it. If she woke up the next day at 5 a.m., then obviously she'd just have a nice three nap day.

And thus, the experiment began. I kept her up three hours. And she slept. Forty-five minutes. Not a half hour. Not an hour. That teetered on the edge of promise and disaster. So we waited for the second nap. The real test. I often have kept her up for three hours between the second two naps, so this was less unprecedented. Kept her up just shy of three hours and down she went again. This time she slept for an hour and a half. There was no longer any time for a third nap. Not by a long shot.

And so, it was time to bring out the early bedtime. And so we did. We had our entire nightly routine an hour earlier, leaving Chaya to fall asleep about four hours after she woke up.

The most amazing thing was that an early bedtime led to a longer sleep. Chaya woke up later the next day than the day before. I didn't sleep nearly at all, so fully convinced she'd be rising in a tither any second and so mentally stirred up at the possibilities and schedule oddities that may arise if the transition stuck.

The next morning (Sunday): Her first nap of the day lasted an hour and a half. Then another nap for an hour. I was starting to feel a little cocky. It was a whole revelation. All this time, Chaya just needed longer wake times! We'd space her naps out, slowly stretch her wake times so she'd be able to still have daddy-daughter time.



Nice thinking of course, but the course of true baby never did run smoothly. The next-next morning (Monday) she was up early and unhappy. Possibly writhing with baby gas. Probably not teething. Because it's only teething that one time that already happened.

The next few days were a little in upheaval. We were out on Wednesday avoiding the cleaners. Chaya slept uneasily in a foreign crib. Chaya was highly fussy on Monday and Tuesday. Friday, we were set to spend the midday in Mukilteo. And I might have wussed out a few times, opting for shorter wake times in order to have the option of a third nap. Keeping her up longer risks losing the third-nap window without necessarily leading to better naps. And we hadn't really sussed out what to do if Chaya had a two-nap day while Andrew was off working.

Thus the first three days reverted to three nap days.

Then Thursday, Chaya made the decision for us. After a middling first nap, she slept until 1:45. This was perhaps the most conceivably awkward timing on her part. There just wasn't time for a nap, but it also meant a bedtime that far pre-dated Andrew's returning. I tried twice to get her to fall asleep in her nursery. I tried to walk her to sleep for a catnap to bridge to dinner time. It didn't work. And eventually, I put her to sleep ten minutes before Andrew (who naturally had been stuck in bad traffic) got home.

In a sense, it was a relief to know that it just wasn't worth trying by that point.

On Friday, we stumbled into freakishly good BBQ-going luck. Chaya slept in (for her - this means 6:20 instead of 5:30). Then she took a looooong nap. It fit us in just perfect stead to drive down to Mukilteo (me throwing a bag's worth of baby toys over my back and onto Chaya's head every five minutes so she would momentarily be distracted from wailing before inevitably dropping the toy and recommencing a bored ten month old howl of indignation), meet some coworkers, throw the baby at THE BIG BOSS, see some projects, and head back just in time for Chaya to be ready to pass out in the car.



On Saturday of her 45th Week, she got up earlier again. I thought we were abutting that awkward boundary 'twixt 3 and 2 naps yet again. But we carried on with longer wake times. And indeed, she had a long first nap and a mid-range second. We put her to bed an hour early. And she woke up on Sunday #2 at exactly the same semi-early time. But her morning nap was short... would it be a three nap day? Another awkward twilight zone nap day and early bedtime?

Never a dull baby moment.

She lasted until 2. Early bedtime.

Monday #2, an extra fifteen minutes! All the way to 6 a.m.! (or 5 a.m. if we don't include daylight savings, which must never, never, never ever end please god). Then took a long nap. Then another one... Then... she fought bedtime like the Dickens (if Dickens were a wriggling pile of worms hopped up on Red Bull and ketamine), then woke up on Tuesday #2 at 5:10 a.m.!!! Took a short nap, then a long one... stretched her beyond her abilities so Andrew could put her to bed, which led to a massively overtired baby unable to actually fall asleep until nearly her regular bedtime... and she woke up on Wednesday #3 at 5:30 a.m.!!!






And on we merrily stumble. There is no way of knowing what comes next. Will she adjust to an earlier bedtime too, too well? Will we be able to gradually shift her schedule back so that she'll wake up later? Will Andrew ever see his daughter again? Will Chaya dig the idea of dropping a nap that she'll just rush on to the infamous 2-1 nap transition? Or will she be back to four naps in a matter of days?

Basically so far I've "learned" this:

1. Chaya acts tired after being awake for a couple of hours. She also gets bored, frustrated, angry, etc. etc. Mostly, she just needs to re-set after too much exertion or activity. That means more being held and sucking her thumb than it does immediately going down for a nap. When she is like that, she can also fall asleep without a huge fight, but it often means less sleep. Despite all the insistence that keeping your baby up longer is absolutely the wrong thing to do in order to get a baby to sleep longer... well there's always an exception to the rules.

2. She still definitely gets overtired, but it takes longer than I think. As always, yawning, looking away, and the classical drowsy signs rarely apply and crop up at random throughout any waking period. And, as always, there's no consistent rhyme or reason for why one nap is short and another long.

3. The sleep experts are actually helpful en masse, but it's usually best to mix and match to suit your baby.

4. Screw "drowsy but awake." I'm all about singing her to sleep. I know she can put herself back to sleep, and does when she wakes up at night.

5. There's no clear connection between how much Chaya fights falling asleep and how well she sleeps. There may even sometimes be a bit of a bigger nap per bigger fight, but that's also hit or miss.

6. Sleep begets sleep, but only to a point. If Chaya naps too well during they day, she naps less well at night.

7. Meanwhile, Chaya is less interested in nursing and I'm offering at less insistent frequencies. Perhaps it's her discovery of almond butter and yogurt. Perhaps it's some ephemeral "teething" discomfort as the first one slowly debouches into prominence. Perhaps, it's just that she's getting older, more active, and liking solids better. Who can say. I don't have nearly the success nursing her to sleep recently, so I'm glad she can be lullabyed. It also means our eating schedule around naps was already changing around a bit.

8. There's still no clear consensus about getting a baby onto a schedule versus going by wake time. But probably Chaya can be awake between 3-4 hours without going totally ballistically overtired. And there's some advice that if a baby is on a semi-consistent schedule, you can slowly push it back over the course of a few weeks (Like, say, when DST tragically meets its end). This remains to be seen.

9. The extra time between naps (especially with a little less nursing) is very freeing, although it also increases pressure to keep a very active baby occupied. Not only am I ready to get out and do more, but it's kind of necsesary. Mommy is terribly boring.

10. It's ridiculous that her early risings wear on me so much, since I have been getting up before Andrew recently anyways (that damned alarm is so startling that I think I'd rather just be up and out of the room). But they really do. Almost as much as those painful battles over three naps. But really more, because I just don't get any down-time to steel myself for a fussy little creature and her all day carousel of assisted stumbling around the kitchen island in between tantrums. It would be lovely if she'd get some more sleep and meet the day bright eyed and dampy diapered.

Hallmarks of Having a Ten Month Old (You Might be a Big-Babe-Slave If...)







Time gets wonky when you're raising a manic pixie dream baby. The first day of parenthood flows like sotten molasses. 




The first week feels like years. The first month is a minor hop-skip-and-jump over eternity.

 But then, the engines start revving. You scale the parental Alps to peak at a few months. 





Then you slam straight into six.






 And then all the sudden you're mopping up mascara rivulets at little baby girl's PhD graduation. Holy whatsit, how old is my child? How old am I? What day is it? Where is my flying car and sassy robot housekeeper?

Ok, we're not there yet, but time flits and flutters about enough that you might need a little checklist to recall where you are.  





A ten month old is an interesting creature. Not quite an infant; not yet a toddler. I guess they're like pre-toddlers? Twoddlers?? 

There are a few surefire symptoms, though, that might help give you a clue if you happen to have one of them. 

A few quick ones include: 

Body By Baby-Pacing:

They're vergingly mobile in ways that you don't even want to fathom (hazard seeking missiles that they already are)



Verging on the precipice, they long for nothing more than the absolute perfection of their mischief. And that means walking, climbing, and spelunking. And you are on the hook. Once upon a time, you had horrible back problems from the havoc wreaked on your pelvic floor during delivery (well hopefully only if you're the mom - I don't know what happens in the delivery room to wreak havoc on daddy's pelvic floor, but it's best not to imagine).

Now, that's all healed. And instead, your back is permanently twisted from (1) helping baby run-stagger marathons around the kitchen island all day, and (2) sitting a frustrated and probably injured baby on your dominant hip when she needs a reboot. My left arm is getting ripped and I'm starting to really get the teenage hip-jut out. Did I mention Chaya often wants to be held for hours on end, but strongly believes that using a baby carrier to "hold" her is cheating.

Yes, even my little munchkin has a little bit of separation anxiety now. It's really sweet when she protests as I leave the house or wants mommy and only mommy in the morning. But it's also kind of exhausting when that carries over to wanting to be held by mommy without being put down for a second during a bad teething/tummy/sleep day.

Oh yeah, so you know how in the television show House, M.D. it's never lupus... except that one episode where it actually was? With Chaya it's still never teething... except that one time where she went and popped out her first little fang. There's another one quite visible under the gum, but it's been threatening to pop for nearly a month now. This girl teethes at a glacial pace. I'll still arbitrarily blame teething for any manner of maladies, though. Regardless of what they are, they occasionally require a lot of kitchen laps with a thrashing baby clinging to my neck and sliding down my hip.







Having a purse (pocket/car/bag/chair/floor) full of "toys"





They are toys. Not trash. Not refuse. Toys. A chopstick. An empty gum wrapper, the nipple of a bottle, shreds of parchment paper. Empty tubes of lipgloss. A ziploc bag. A paper cup. A tragically masticated roll of toilet paper.


Toys.

Amassed by a canny mommy and strewn about the curtilage like so many rose petals at a coronation.

This is my version of "nesting" - like a gull pecking at a dumpster, I immediately case a space for anything that might hold my little pumpkin's interest for a spare minute. Or, if I'm truly fortunate, maybe five minutes. If a candidate holds even the slightest glimmer of viability, it goes in the purse and gets a desperate audition with the big baby somewhere along the road.

I have actual toys in my purse as well. And my car. And the cupboards. And pretty much anywhere you could imagine. Actually, I really don't have much other than toys and a spare diaper in my purse. Most of the time I have a wallet in there too, but not always.

Diaper bags? For amateurs and maybe for travelling.



Curating your own museum of beverage containers






Chaya nurses less and less, and eats more and more. This is great since I want to wean off the domperidone pretty soon. But she's not always getting enough liquid when she nurses less. She's not dehydrated, but she does tend to get - er - stopped up. I am convinced that I will find the perfect cup to encourage her to drink. And that this drinking will help the flow go. And that I'll have more faith that once she weans, she'll ever have liquids again. Because that's kind of important to me.


By god, I will find the Holy Grail of sippie cups. Some day, Chaya will not just sip but slurp and guzzle from a damned cup. In the meantime, I'll spend a minor fortune attempting to nail it.

So far she's flirted with the following:

(1) A Nubie No-Spill Super Spout and Grip with handles and a soft plastic nozzle. She's had this one since five months old and occasionally drinks from it. Possibly by accident. She seems to mostly get liquid from it when she's in a reclined position. More often she favors the valve for intensive chewing.

(2) A Boeing themed sipper with a hard plastic nozzle that her daddy brought home from his super top secret mission to their El Segundo site (seriously, I have no idea, but perhaps they are engineering the perfect sippie cup?? If so, they have a ways to go). It pours water really quickly. Her favorite thing to do is upend it and bang it on the floor until there's a massive puddle. There's a theme here (prolepsis!)

(3) Another munchkin brand sippie cup with a similar chewie spout as the nubie but without handles. Ok, I found this on the trail by our house and thought she might like the variety. Her favorite thing? To drop this repeatedly, since it's kind of hard to hold. Then to fling herself about in a desperate attempt to escape the bonds of her seat.

(4) A Munchkin Click Lock with a weight at the end of the straw so it can be tilted. This thing is impossible to suck water out of. I've turned myself blue attempting to do so. She enjoyed chewing on the straw for a while and... then updended it and banged it on the floor. This continues whenever it comes back into rotation.

(5) One of Andrew's water bottles. Actually, this is one of the more successful drinking apparati so far. She goes through phases in which she allows somebody to help her by holding it to her mouth. And she enjoys pushing the stopper in and out.





(6) A regular house cup. She's fascinated by this and enjoys putting her hand inside to play with the water. Then she tries to lap up the water. Then she turns it upside down, chews on the bottom and starts banging it racuously until she drops it on the ground and falls into a rage.



(7) A "Doidy cup" - So apparently this is totally awesome. The cup is a regular open cup with little handles and a slant. It's cute. The idea is that the "unique slant lets children to drink easily as they can see the contents without thrusting their heads forward and downwards. They also learn to put the cups down properly." And it can be started as soon as three months. Chaya tries to lap water out of it. Then chews on the rim. Then turns it upside down. Then bangs it to a thorough cacophony before probably dropping it and falling into a rage. When empty, it makes a great floor-toy. I also bet that when she's college-aged and wanting to drink to excess, that will make a pretty awesome cup for such skewed debauchery.




(8) Dr. Brown's bottles. We only have a few of these left after buying a few dozen back in the early days. They still have the preemie nipples. I don't even know if she'll drink from them or not at this point. She did when I had mastitis, but that was a while ago. When she crawls across rooms to wrest Sebastian's bottle from him, she usually only chews on the nipple and expresses no interest in the formula inside. I suspect if we gave her a bottle, she'd upend it and bang it on the ground until she dropped it and became irate. Just a random guess.

(9) Some Take and Toss straw cups. She hasn't tried these because I can't get the plastic straws through the plastic lids.

(10) Some fancy bottle we got for our baby shower that has never been opened. It's still upstairs.

(11) Other babies' Nuk Learner Cups. Babies are sippie cup sluts. They swap their fluids like little libertines in one big orgy of nozzle-chewing and flailing infant arms. It's a good cup. Every one of Chaya's friends has one. She's tried several. I don't think she actually drinks from it either though. 



(12) An Apple & Eve Fruitables Berry Berry Juice Box - Yeah, I went there. She's not super interested in the juice itself. Perhaps because it is only half liquid sugar and half some veggie stuff. That said, she has used that straw to taste it. Now, though, she wants to pull the straw out of the box an play with that, then grab the strawless box and squeeze juice all over the floor. I've been slowly making my way through the juice box that we opened together.


Oh well. One of these days...

Holding two conversations at the same time... all the time.

I'm desperate for adult conversation as often as not. I get my fix bloviating on the internets about politics/science/philosophy/religion/nutrition/gender-issues/whatever-else-often-belies-that-humans-have-tendencies-towards-evangelicistic-asshattery-but-also-deep-thoughtfulness. But I also just like having conversations with those who visit.

There are usually two ways these conversations go for the people around me:

1. They are immune to the presence of a little baby and just barrel through despite the increasing efforts of Miss Chaya to garner attention from "new" (and therefore more interesting) person.

2. They are stunned in a tractor beam of baby cuteness and fall into babbling parentese.

Either way usually involves a sort of stichomythic pitter patter of my two conversational selves. Most of which go something like this (imagine interlocutor either continuing on unphased or totally mute staring at cute baby):

- Uh huh (to the interlocutor). Yeah, that's interesting, tell me more about ____. What did you mean when you said ______

... BLLLLLLLAAAAAAARG (raspberry)

- right, of course.

- Do you have a LION!?! ROAAAAAAR momomomomomo.

- But I was wondering about what you said the other day when _____

- Do we want a sippie cup? No? C'mon. Just a li' ... ok, we can throw it on the floor...

- (in a sing-song voice that obfuscates which individual i'm speaking with) Uh-huh. Yeaaaaaah. I can seeeeeee that.

- HUHUHUHUHUH HUHUHU


- So a lot like that passage from Augustine's Confessions where...

- Oooooooh pooop baby, poooop, c'mon, you can do it! Oh sweetie poooooop. 

And so on. 


Never Using the Bathroom The Same Again:


Ok, the days in which I can sneak into the bathroom and leave a self-contained baby alone in the minefield of havoc are coming to a close. Between her absolute talent for finding peril, and her occasional separation anxiety, Chaya is not really somebody to be left alone. 

I remember telling Andrew that I'd made it to the store only to realize that I'd forgotten my purse, so I just used the bathroom and left. Struggling through a mien of perplexity he finally asked "where was Chaya?" I was, of course, wearing her at the time. Sometimes she comes with me in a stroller. Most often, I just give her a toy and hold her on my hip. Occasionally I let her just crawl and wander around the bathroom, but then it gets into the awkward situation where I'm either struggling to distract her from various attractive nuisances (toilet paper, plunger, whatever else you never realized is not baby proofed). 

Even when I do actually manage to solo it, I have fallen into the habit of leaving the door slightly ajar. Just in case there's a crash and a howl requiring rapid action-mommy action. Because the way I'd be leaping into said action, a closed door would likely leave me concussed. Sometimes I do use the bathroom, say, during a nap or when I'm out on a date with my husband. But I still never quite feel alone. 


Food Ort is Your Most Prominent and Prolific Accessory:

I think my little baby has a budding eating disorder. A bunch of makes makes it in or near her mouth. A bunch more comes right back out. It's kind of like Christmas when we take her out of her seat - an untold trove of goodies
It sheds from her clothing, hands and hair like little baby fair dust all over anything she touches. And if I don't hug it right into myself directly, I'm likely to roll in it when I'm on floor duty (all the time - do people still sit in chairs these days?)

And, yes, I'm learning too much from my baby. First instinct when I happen upon a crumb in my hoodie or elbow crease? To eat it. Though, unlike her, I usually manage to keep it in my mouth.

...

These are only a few symptoms of course, but if several apply, I'd check your home for ten month olds.