Saturday, July 26, 2008

Never Say Never

A few years ago when my first child was still an infant, I was visiting a friend with two kids. Her son was a few months older than my daughter and I saw my friend pat his diaper to see if he needed a change yet. Then she said, "There's a little pee in there, but I'm going to wait until there's more."

Oh, I was in such self-righteous, mortified shock. Waiting to change a wet diaper?? And then later I was such a snob. I remember telling my playgroup of first-time moms about it, and everyone gasped and said they would never do that.

I SO do that now though. I feel like it's such a waste when I change a light diaper, and am so proud and thrifty feeling when a diaper is totally saturated.

There are so many things that I thought I'd never do. I'm embarrassed sometimes about how snooty I was about them too. Things like:

- store-bought jars of baby food instead of home-made
- Co-sleeping
- Saying, "No" too much instead of using positive words
- I leave my 3-year-old unattended in the tub with the door open so I can hear her for her once/week bath (I always said I'd do daily baths). I make her sing so I can hear that she's okay.
- Sometimes when my husband is working late I call ahead for a pizza and then when I run in to pick it up I leave the kids in the car. (I fret mightily about this one, but the walls are windows and I can see the car the whole time and it's under 2 minutes that I'm gone.)
- I let my baby play with pens from whatever institution I'm at - the bank, the gym office, the grocery store, the hospital. Disgusting, I KNOW! And I didn't think I would ever do that, but I do.

Of course there's the binky dropping, and while I'm not at the stage of washing it off every time, I do still at least eyeball it for visible contamination. I'll never be one of those moms that just tells the kid to pick it up and put it back in.

Or will I?

At this point, I never know just what "terrible" thing I'll do next. I haven't done the child "leash" yet, for example, but instead of viewing them with horror now, I find myself admiring how practical they are.

What have you done as a parent that you swore you'd never do?

Thursday, July 24, 2008


I hate to digress from the baby-talk on this post, but I no longer have babies, just a couple of four year old runts and an 11 year old who's the at the event horizon of the black hole of attitude.

So I had two choices, I could think about my daughter growing into a teenager and all the parental angst THAT particular line of thought brings about. I could write about my sons and their desire to drive me crazy, what between Turbo's "Don't Kiss Me Mom" rule and Bear's daily morning sour puss, there's a lot of insanity. Then we could go straight into why it's not a good idea to jump from the coffee table to the couch or why you can't wake mommy up at 5:30 a.m. I'm sooo SOOO sorry, but then, there was another choice.

Vampire or Werewolf?

If you are a female above the age of 15 and you haven't read Twilight, well, what planet have you been on? Get thee to a book store now, and don't give me 'feel good' stories about how you'll pick it up at the library. Every Teen Girl in America has already snagged all the copies. Go, read it, realize it's like, totally Romeo and Juliet and a bit Heathcliff (even if you haven't read Wuthering Heights, you HAVE to had read the cliff notes version) and more modern, only without sleaze.

So, for the rest of us.

Vampire or Werewolf?

Edward or Jacob?

Peach cobbler or Apple?

Oh sure, Vampire seems the obvious choice, because we've been conditioned by society to find Vampires sexy and attractive, and Werewolves furry and hungry. But, it's just not the truth. So look beyond societal portrayals of what Vampires and Werewolves should be, give it a fair go, and reconsider.

Bella is torn between Edward, the Cold Marble Vamp, and Jacob, Hot Soft-n-Furry Werewolf, although she doesn’t realize she’s torn. Teenage girls are notoriously oblivious to their hearts.

But the saga gives me the opportunity to consider, by merits, which, really is the best lover.

Consider the Vampire. Cold, marblesque and calculating. Top of the predatory food chain. A loner, mysterious and dark. These are appealing characteristics that attract the danger-lovers in all of us, but think about the nights. On a cold, long, dark night do you want to be cuddled up next to a cold, hard, dead body? In this particular instance, I would choose the Werewolf. Who doesn’t want to snuggle up against something hot on a cold dark night? And if that hot happens to come in the shape of a wolf-rug, well, hey, all the better.

But that brings into consideration another problem with Werewolves. They are ferocious. Then, Vampires are as well. The difference is that with a Vampire lover, the worst that could happen is your lover accidentally drinks all your blood and turns you into a vampire, too. You’d have an eternity to hold that against him. It’s like, an ‘I win shut-up' card. He accusing you of only dining on young male models and actors? Well, if he didn’t DRINK ALL YOUR BLOOD, you wouldn’t have to dine on anyone. With a werewolf, well, he can in the heat of a moment mistake you for the tastiest dinner he’s ever had. You could potentially lose a limb.

So both of them can kill you. There is a difference though, a key difference. The Vampire is constantly trying to NOT drink his lover’s blood. The Werewolf only has to worry about losing control once or twice.

This is why the Werewolf is more attractive. Think of it. Dogs are domesticated wolves. A Werewolf is semi-domesticated, a cross between man and wolf. So when your lover is in wolf mode, some obedience training can go a long way in assuring you won’t ever turn into your lover’s midnight snack. Vampires, from what I understand, mythically, are notoriously hard to train.

Not to mention, you can have a relatively exciting but somewhat normal life with your werewolf. I mean, they don't change THAT often, and it's not like they can't hold down a decent day job in construction or shoot, even walk out in the sun with you. And he still has the protective abilities some might crave for in a Vampire. A ampire can only work the night-shift. If you don't find a financially smart one, you're gonna be the bread-winner while he dozes all day, and you'll hardly EVER see him in the summer. Even if he is a 'day-walker' sort, his best moods are at night. And forget about being 'friends' with his friends. Vampires make short-term alliances. Not to mention, some of those 'friends' may view you as a future source of nourishment. Where a Werewolf is emotional and passionate, capable of feeling and oh, living, a Vampire's emotions take decades to bring out. You could spend the better half of your life trying to re-teach humor to your mate.

As much as I love the idea of the Vampire, realistically, I think Werewolves would make better long-term relationship material. Vampires can be a drain, literally. At least you can go to a Werewolf party without being considered the entrée, and you know you'll never freeze on a cold dark winter night, or find yourself the beverage of choice at a Vamp soiree.

As for Edward vs. Jacob? Well, Edward's got the control thing down, the gentleman thing, but is it really a good life for Bella, to constantly be 'protected' and taken care of and told what she can and can't do? With Jacob, who, admittedly is childish and petulant, at least she has 'fun.' I mean come on, when, with Edward, has Bella ever been able to just let her hair down and do something for the fun of it? I'm just saying... I mean, hey, I like Edward as much as everyone else, I just think he's the summer lover you end up having to ditch for the crazy fluffy guy...

Not to mention, with Jacob, Bella gets to keep her heart beating...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Breastfeeding - Give It Thirty Days

To continue with a variation on a theme Rainy mentioned yesterday, allow me to provide for you the essence of no less than four books entirely about breastfeeding and easily three dozen books with chapters on breastfeeding. Here it is, stripped of the Madonna imagery, the propaganda, the drama, the guilt, and the science:

Try it for thirty days before you give up, because for a lot of people, it kind of sucks until then.

Oh, sure, there's a little more to it. For example, the basic latch. All the books emphasize how much of your dainty bits have to be shoved into the gaping maw of an infant, and you still won't do enough shoving without advice and help from either an experienced mama or a professional consultant. In the hospital I never ever fed him without calling a nurse to come check my latch. And afterwards I had Rainy help me, and I had 24/7 advice from another dear friend, and I still had trouble getting the hang of it.

And certainly the pain aspect gets underplayed. It hurts at first for a lot of people. It certainly hurt ME. The second week was the worst. He was constantly nursing in order to jack up my supply, but neither of us had the technique quite down, so I was chafed and tender and ready to sob whenever he wanted to eat. I DID sob more than once. Lanolin ointment helped, but not with the pain. He would take 20 minutes or more per side, and you know how the books say most new babies need to eat every three hours or more? That's measured from the start of one feeding to the start of the next. So if you feed the baby at 1 PM, he will again want to be fed at 3 or 4 PM. Never mind that he didn't detach until 2 PM.

Oh, and my good gracious, but the books are all so filled with lies about how fulfilling and romantic it is for every good mother. You can be a good mother but not feel like you've achieved bliss. I felt like a cow. A trapped milk cow, who had to sit in one posture in one place for most of my waking hours while an unappreciative unresponsive little squaller sucked my poor dainty bits into raw hamburger.

Because I have a job, I started using a pump relatively early so the baby would learn to take a bottle as well. That was week three. And I got darn little milk from it, with my sole consolation being that it hurt less than the baby's jaws of death.

This was all run of the mill breastfeeding stuff, too! I didn't get mastitis (like a virus with fever and pain, but for your boobs), I didn't have engorgement, I didn't have cracked or bleeding nipples, I didn't have supply problems either over or under. Once I had a plugged duct, but I just followed the advice in one of the books and it was clear in a day. Still, overall, I would have to say that on Day 28, I felt that breastfeeding sucked so hard it could have removed the paint from my car.

And the La Leche League people, well, they mean well, but with some of the groups, there's more than a little judging going on. And the last thing a new mom needs is judging. Also, their literature makes breastfeeding into a holy calling. I'm very suspicious of holy callings. Besides, no way could I make it to meetings in those first weeks. I couldn't figure out how to leave the house, let alone go to a meeting full of strangers. I was in pain, and tired of sitting up all night every night, and wondering why anyone would ever bother.

BUT THEN... Day 29 of the thirty day trial arrived.

I'm not kidding, Disney birds practically flew around us. He got big enough that we could nurse lying down, and Mama Cow suddenly started getting a lot more sleep at night. He got efficient enough to get a whole meal out of me in a few minutes, without my arms or behind getting numb. He figured out how to get the milk without gnawing, to the point that I see the pump now and cry because it hurts literally a million times more than he does. When I do pump I can get three or more ounces per side because my supply is so well established. We go anywhere, do anything with no fuss or muss or mess. He never has to wait for me to prepare his food, I just feed him the instant he's hungry. His food is free and I never worry about spoilage or bad ingredients. He's fat and healthy.

He smiles at me during feedings.

So... yeah. Give it thirty days. And get help from a woman who exclusively breastfeeds her baby. And if you give it thirty fair days, and decide that you want to use formula? It's not rat poison. Go for it. Save the guilty feelings for something really awful, like the fact that you're going to dress your baby in clothes too silly to put on a miniature poodle.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What Babies Want

With so many baby products on the market, if you're a pregnant mom there isn't enough time to sort through it all, let alone get to the store to buy it. Not to mention that most of us can't even afford half of it. Don't worry though, you aren't a bad mom if you don't have the latest and greatest of everything. Babies really don't need that many things.

Babies need: SLEEP.

No one tells you that during those first couple of weeks most babies wake up if they aren't being held. Don't feel bad or worry that if you hold your baby while she sleeps that you'll never get her into her crib. Hold her, and fix in your memory how it feels to kiss that sweet little innocent head while she sleeps. My most used piece of baby gear is our giant rocker/recliner. It reclines almost flat and the arms are supportive. I think I spent the first month sleeping in it with the baby on my chest.

Swaddled babies sleep longer because they can't flail around and do that random face smacking thing. I think they feel safer and it's a more familiar feel to them to be swaddled. People tell me their babies don't like being swaddled or they can get out of the swaddle. Well, your baby can't get out of this blanket, and I personally believe that babies do like it. Too bad we can't ask the babies and settle this once and for all. My advice though? Give swaddling a chance.

Babies need: NOURISHMENT.

If Cylons can do it so can you!

Your body provides custom, free, portable, sterile, CUTELY PACKAGED meals for your baby. I know some babies don't take to it right at first, but give it a chance and get help if it doesn't come naturally. This is something most babies can learn if you help them, and it's so worth it.

Some frivolous but valid reasons to breastfeed:
Ease (lazy factor): You don't even have to get up.
Mommy brain: When you forget the diaper bag, you've still got food for the baby.
Time: You don't need to wash or mix bottles, or shop for formula.
Sleep: After a month or so you can feed your baby while you BOTH sleep. I swear.

If you are scared of trying to go back to work and pump, you don't have to be. Once your milk is well established you can have someone give your baby formula during the day and still breastfeed in the evening, during the night and in the morning. Your body and your baby will adjust.

Babies need: A HAPPY MOM.

You spend so much time getting things ready for when baby comes home from the hospital, get a few things ready for yourself too. Good pads and granny panties, one-handed snacks like frozen yogurt, cheese, muffins, granola bars and fruit - prunes, you'll need 'em. :) Lansinoh nursing pads and comfy clothes. Bring home that big water bottle from the hospital, and grab an extra squirt bottle too (it's great to keep at the changing table to squirt on washcloths for baby wipes).

A few other favorite baby things are:

Skwish toy. If I could only have one toy for my baby, this would be it.

It has wooden balls connected by rubber bands. It makes a nice sound, is fun to chew on, is easy to hold onto, and doesn't put out an eye when the baby smacks himself with it.

A Snap and Go stroller . It's $60ish and you just snap your baby carseat in and baby faces you. I LOVE it. When they grow out of that, follow it up with the 8 lb. $100 Maclaren Volo stroller that folds down so tiny you can fit it anywhere, plus it has a strap so you can carry it over your shoulder when your 2 year old insists in walking "my SELF." It doesn't recline, so you can upgrade to a slightly heavier stroller if reclining is important to you. (I could just eat up that chocolate color. NUM NUM NUM!)

Yes, it might be kind of tough when they're 2 or 3 and it's time to give them up. But really, isn't it worth a few sad nights if you can have something for a few YEARS that will calm them down almost instantly? We all have our own little dirty secret comforts. Let your baby have a binky. It doesn't make you a bad parent.

Our first and favorite game is changing diaper KICK time. I take the diaper off and the baby starts kicking. I start giggling, and the baby starts laughing and kicking harder. Sooo much fun. Sometimes I forget, but then I'll be changing a diaper and the baby will kick both legs so straight and then look me in the eye and laugh.

Journaling. Yes, that belongs on this list, because if you don't write about your babies now, you will forget. Write about how they smell and what silly noise they made and how it feels to hold them and how you felt the first time your baby smiled a real smile at you. You think you can't forget it, but you will. If you don't have time for a journal, print out these beautiful pages and make notes like, "She laughed at the cat today and tried to grab his tail." Or, "During his nap his lips were moving. I wonder if he dreams about me."

Good luck to you all. Every family is different, and you know (or will discover) the right things for your baby. Just follow their lead and don't let all the baby products get between you and your little one.

Test: booster seat

I Don't Even Want To Think About The Google Ad For This One

I almost don't want to make this post. Automatic ad keyword sensing is a blessing and a curse, I tell you.

My mother in law, blessings be upon her, calls it a birdie. Since my girlhood nickname was "Bird," you can imagine how I feel about that.

My mother calls it a peepee. Lots of other people do, as well. Witness the PeePee TeePee, for example.

Most people don't want to call it by its name, as evidenced by the many people who snicker at names like Peter Johnson and Dick Cox. I know a Dick Cox, actually, he's a nice guy.

But I swore that I would use its proper name, as I do for all his parts. I sing "Head Shoulders Knees and Toes." I tell him that I'm going to kiss his knees, and hold his hands, and wipe his chin.

And yet somehow, today, during the cleanup of the epic poop, I said in a high sing song voice, "Hold still, I gots to clean the poop off the winkie!"



Did I say winkie?

I am not going to be the kind of person who says winkie. I refuse. I have standards to uphold.

I carried him outside to get the mail, chanting "Penis penis penis. It's a penis. Penis penis penis."

That's when I saw the meter reader. Man, my dogs are USELESS at this guarding thing.