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Archive for December, 2012

Flying Baby Circus

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I couldn’t help myself. I walked up to the woman holding a dazed-looking baby and said, “It’s a special kind of Hell, isn’t it?”

We were in LAX, with dozens of travelers streaming by unseeingly and/or madly texting during their rush to baggage claim. I felt compelled to acknowledge our membership in a club nobody really wants to join, but generally does anyway. Sometimes it’s the peer pressure that gets you, or in my case, the urge to be with far-flung family.

I joined the Flying With Babies Society for Christmas — smart, right? And we left town on the busiest travel day of the year — smarter still! And of course Baby Baboo was entering another round of teething. Awesome.

After some debate, our pediatrician’s blessing, and a few trial doses at home, we had decided to give him Benadryl in hopes of guaranteeing him some sleep. On both flights, he slept like an angel for precisely half an hour and then woke up bitching about not being able to sleep longer. He also flung himself about like a possessed rag doll, occasionally pausing to squeal at some new delight, such as the light-up penguin pinned to my mother’s shirt.

Side note: If you can arrange to travel with both your partner and a helper, do. Having a third pair of hands means someone can come help you change the baby while your beloved goes to get all of you a painfully overpriced sandwich/coffee/water for a bottle. Most importantly, non-parents of stressed babies are better positioned to provide comic relief. If you feel you have to travel by yourself with a baby, just… stay home. Or get a scrip for Valium.

But I digress. Once we had successfully negotiated check-in, security and boarding for our outbound flight, I was feeling pretty good about keeping my shit together while the baby slowly fell apart. (Nothing has made me feel as guilty as knowing I am the cause of my baby’s misery.) And then I sat down and thought, “Damn, I forgot how small these seats are.” And then my husband handed me the baby, and my inner dialogue ran to much saltier words.

The next four hours were a blur of trying to get the baby to sleep and trying to keep him happy while he was awake. To his credit, he did his best to get to sleep, but it’s been so long since he slept in my arms that it was really hard for him. Also, there was a baby four rows up who knew exactly when my baby was about to doze off. I know he knew because he started screaming every time my little angel’s eyes were about to droop shut.

For the record: We felt terrible for that baby and his mama, who was traveling alone with him. Also: I feel the need to commend myself for not getting up to offer her some of our Benadryl for him. On the other hand, maybe she had given it to him only to have it cause a paradoxical effect.

My brother and his wife live in LA with their two awesome daughters, and I feel the the hassles were a fair price to pay to see our boy playing with his cousins during his first holiday season. Generally, though, I wouldn’t recommend flying with a baby, and I’d be hard-pressed to do it again while Baboo is pre-verbal and in diapers. Wrassling with wipes, diaper cream and a wriggly, upset baby in an airplane bathroom is truly the seventh circle of Hell. Or the first. Whichever one is worst.

And yes, Virginia, you read that right: There are changing tables in airplane bathrooms.

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Verbatim

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Actual dinner conversation from earlier this evening:

“I’m going to build a robot.”

“I think you should.”

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I forgot a few things when I was writing that last post.

– Babies shouldn’t have toe jam.

– Neither should they have ear wax.

– I don’t know the word for it, but they also shouldn’t have that gunk that accumulates in their armpits. Basically, their little bodies should be as fresh as that bouquet up there.

I sure hope you weren’t eating, dear readers.

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The Way it Should Be

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When mamas are sick, babies should sense it and go into Sleep Mode for the day.

Alternatively, the mama’s mama should be available to come over so the mama can sleep.

When mamas of teething babies have nasty cramps, their babies should take a 24-hour break from teething.

Alternatively, the state-sponsored Doula could come over to draw the mama a hot bath and keep the baby in Melba toast and frozen bagels for the duration.

Babies should come with some sort of easily understood external indicator so everyone knows when another round of teething is starting. You know, like the pop-up thermometer on a turkey.

A non-stick baby butt coating would be nice. Imagine what you’d save on wipes! And diaper cream!

Grocery stores and pharmacies should offer free deliveries to households with babies under a year old.

All mamas, not just nursing mamas, should be able to lose weight while subsisting on a diet of cheese and white bread.

Self-cleaning floors, please.

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First steps, first word, first solid food. These are all very exciting, but there are smaller milestones that really should be covered in baby books because of what they mean to a parent.

– The first time your baby feeds you. This happened in our house this morning. Best damn Cheerio I ever tasted.

– The day your baby can sit up in the front of a shopping cart. No more lugging that unbelievably heavy car seat into the store if you can’t find a parking spot next to a cart corral that has a cart in it. No more extended positioning sessions to figure out if it’s better to perch it on the front of the cart, or put it in the cart and wedge your groceries in around it. Even if he’s strapped in tight up under his armpits and slumping a little to one side, this scenario is vastly preferable to playing Sherpa every time you need a carton of milk. Apparently this was a big one for me.

– The first time your baby understands that he can open a cabinet door. This happened today. I might have cussed.

– The first time your baby understands that his fingers can get pinched by a cabinet door. Also today. The baby definitely cussed.

– The first time your baby stretches his arms out to you when you reach down and say “up.” Even if those little arms go out to the sides instead of in your direction, you know what the baby means. Yes, please, up, I want to see, I want to be with you, let’s go. Oof!

I’m sure there are some I’m forgetting, and more coming, but these will do nicely for now. And honestly, I’m a little scared about the whole walking thing.

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I Have Nothing to Add

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I feel like people will expect me to address Sandy Hook in this space, but the only things I can think of to say are things that have already been said. So I’m just going to offer this photo of a peace-focused sand mandala that includes the icons of many religions.

It was put together, grain by grain, over the space of a week or so, by Buddhist monks who visited St. Louis a while back. And then they swept it away in a ceremony I was lucky enough to attend.

Peace and love to all of you.

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The lamp by which Goodnight Moon is read. And read. And read.

Yesterday I was chatting with my dentist about how great it is that babies are snuggly and how fun it is to love on them. My tooth-driller, who is 50ish, I think, said when he was a kid, he thought it was weird that his dad would smother him with hugs and kisses. But of course he completely understood what was up with that once he had kids of his own.

It reminded me of how, when Baboo was a newborn, he would fall asleep on our chests, a compact bundle of peaceful trust. His breathing was soft and sweet and I loved nothing better than tuning in to hear and feel it. His 3 a.m. feedings were drowsy, rocking affairs that made me feel gratifyingly maternal. I’d┬áchange his diaper in the near-dark, stealthily feed him and put him back down already half-asleep.

These days, all his sleeping happens in a crib, and he’s often restless as he’s winding down. He takes his bottles facing outwards on my lap, one foot banging on whatever he can reach with it. He snakes out of my arms as soon as he’s done, because CRAWLING! PLACES TO GO! THINGS TO GRAB!

He wakes up pointing to the pictures on his walls, reaching for the blinds, wanting to talk about everything. ┬áBut during the morning’s first bottle, I still get a few minutes of peaceful, snuggly rocking.

I’ll take what I can get.

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