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Archive for March, 2013

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In a recent post I mentioned that Baboo had enjoyed playing with a baby doll at a neighbor’s house. A few days ago, I made good on my promise to let him pick out a doll for himself.

Here I will pause to link to a song I hope is no longer revolutionary: William Wants a Doll, from Marlo Thomas’ excellent TV special and children’s album, Free to be You and Me.

As it happens, there weren’t a ton of choices at Target. No boy dolls, for starters, and only a few options that looked like actual babies instead of Disney characters or anime princesses in physical form. There were, however, tons of “companion dolls,” whatever the hell that means, and accessories, because God forbid your dolly go out without her cell phone and matching purse.

Anyway. He seemed to gravitate toward a standard sort of doll, reaching out for her and smiling at her and so on. I stuck her in the front of the cart with him, and he continued to touch her face and babble at her as we finished shopping.

Once we got home, I took her out of her box and handed her to Baboo. He smiled at her, and then gave her to me. Over and over. And gave me her bottle, because true to her newborn form, she is always hungry.

A friend who is wise to the ways of babies and a doula said he’s doing this because he knows I’ll take care of her. Aw. How sweet. But how am I supposed to get anything done? I can get him to wave the bottle near her face occasionally, but he really, really wants me to hold her. Usually when I’m trying to get a round of bottles washed or do some food prep.

I’m hoping he’ll relax about her care needs now that she’s made at least one friend among the toys:

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I could talk about inner and outer journeys and kick-ass writing and laughing and crying, but here’s all you really need to know about this book:

Wild by Cheryl Strayed is so good that I finished it instead of napping on a day when the baby was teething and I had cramps.

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If you want to read a real review, this one is darn good.

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Recently a friend who was helping care for her toddler niece and colicky baby nephew asked me via text how moms have time to brush their hair or get a cup of coffee. I laughed and wrote back that those things happen when nice Aunties come to visit, but it did get me thinking about how my personal time management has changed since the baby.

Probably the most significant difference is how I use baby-free time. Specifically, there have been occasions when the following things were more important to me than showering:

– sleep

– food

– coffee

– writing

– a chat with an old friend

– cleaning (I’m a Virgo, remember?)

– a quick escape, i.e., a visit to my favorite websites

– quality time with my husband

– quality time with a heating pad

And yes, I do occasionally put the kiddo in the pack-n-play for five minutes while I shower. I know he’s safe in there, and I leave the door open so I can hear him and talk to him. But that also means I rush through the process, which takes a lot of the pleasure out of it. And yeah, I know, that sounds weird, but when you haven’t showered for a few days and you know the kid is going to be asleep for at least 45 minutes, there is a whole lot of joy to be found under a stream of hot water.

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As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the baby has gotten very interested in putting things away and taking things out of bins. He’s also gotten very picky about what he will eat. So when he expressed interest in the grapes I was washing this morning, I sliced a few up for him and put them on his tray.

He picked up a piece and held it out to the side, as if to throw it on the floor. I asked him if he wanted to put it back on the cutting board, and held it out to him.

He put pieces of grape on the cutting board and took them off the cutting board for the next five minutes. He was very deliberate about which pieces he wanted to pick up and put somewhere else, as well as exactly where he wanted to put them. I was unable to discern any outward logic, but to him it was very serious business.

He did not eat any of the fruit, but it sure was fun to watch him wrangle those grape bits with the gravitas of Bobby Fischer.

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You are 13 months old.

You think the best feature of a sippy cup is the noise it makes when it hits the floor. But watching what the liquid inside does when you shake it is cool, too.

You did not recognize fruit leather as food when a friend’s mama offered it to you.

You loved that friend’s baby dolls, though, going to them and hugging them over and over. So very soon, you will get to pick out a doll of your own.

You will shred paper towels, newspaper, or circulars for a good long time, shaking the little bits off your hands and then tearing another piece in two.

You still have only six teeth, but every day, two more get closer and closer to the surface.

You are still not walking, but you’re doing more independent standing.

You think all the kitchen cabinets belong to you. Which they more or less do. Your favorite kitchen toys are the metal strainers.

You recently figured out how to take socks off your hands very quickly. So now we clean your hands after every diaper change.

You know where your nose is. You’re a little hazy on the location of your other features.

You have figured out that if you stand on tiptoe, you can reach the countertops. And the tabletop.

You watch the garbage truck in still, silent rapture.

You will put things into your toy box and take them out and put them in and take them out for a good 10 minutes. You are very serious about this.

You hand everything to us: food; toys; tiny pieces of stuff from the floor.

You are 13 months old, active and happy and funny and healthy, and delighted by the world.

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I’m so sure! Like, she’s totally rad in that blazer!

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And she went to college, so she totally knows not to flush that dirty diaper down the toilet:

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I have a feeling I’m going to piss a few people off with this one, but that’s okay. It’s all true, and I have extensive experience with both puppies and babies, so I’m qualified to hold forth on this topic.

So: 12 ways in which puppies/dogs are like babies — and vice versa.

1. Consistency is key when disciplining them.
2. They look at you adoringly, often when you’re just about to lose your grip.
3. It would be beyond awesome if you knew what they were thinking.
4. Drool.
5. Shredding paper products is a favorite pastime.
6. They make you very mindful of what you leave on your counters.
7. Parts of them are so soft that “soft” is an inadequate descriptor.
8. They trip over their own feet.
9. They bring unparalleled joy and wonder.
10. They occasionally make it necessary to end the day with chocolate and wine.
11. Sometimes they smell more wonderful than wonderful. Other times, not so much.
12. Teething toys. Chew toys. Gnawed-up books. I rest my case.

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First, some housekeeping: This post is partially about boobs and what they were made to do.

For the record: I am pro-breastfeeding. But I am neither pro- nor anti-formula, despite having raised my kid on it.

For the non-parents: When a formula baby turns one, it’s time to switch to cow’s milk. This blessed event happened recently at our house, and man. So great. No more measuring, carefully jiggering sticky powder into a bottle, shaking like mad, hoping it all dissolved. No more calculating how many bottles I’d need over the next 24 hours (they turn to poison after that!). And a bit more ease in the budget — even though the price of milk is way up these days, formula is still vastly more expensive.

I did not plan to use formula. For reasons including an unexpected C-section and other events around the birth that left me rattled and sad, and perhaps the simple, hard fact of my age, my body never produced what my baby needed to thrive. This, despite trying everything I had the energy for while caring for and worrying about my newborn: Pumping around the clock. Going to a lactation consultant when the baby was two weeks old. Drinking a certain tea. Eating certain foods. Keeping the baby in skin-to-skin contact as much as I could, so much so that I dozed off with him on my chest a few times and scared the bejesus out of myself.

Now, if you’ve met me, you know what a cruel irony this is. I am built like a peasant. I broke an underwire bra last week, for crying out loud. And still, I could not get my inborn faucets to turn on.

For a long time, I couldn’t think about this intensely personal failure without crying, which sounds dramatic, and was dramatic. But it was just one more disappointment, one more baby-related thing that didn’t go the way I thought it should have. So being bitch-slapped by the reality that my body was once again not going to do what it was designed to do was heartbreaking, and infuriating. The one consolation: Baboo didn’t give up on my boobs until he was five months old.

All of this, the totality of my experience, is why I am neither pro- nor anti-formula. I didn’t want to use it. I called it horrible names. But I needed it. My baby needed it. I am grateful for it.

I still believe breast is best, but if that’s not the best option for whatever reason, then go Ye with my blessings and spend your precious ducats on formula. I will not judge you, not only because that’s not my job, but I judged myself so harshly, and guess what? It didn’t help, and it didn’t change anything.

And if you do use formula, oh Honey! Call me on the day you get to ditch it for cow’s milk — I’ll come to your house and cheer as you crack open that first, liberating gallon of milk.

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Don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about poop in this post. Really, I don’t see the point of doing so unless it’s for comedic effect, and there ain’t much comedic about this topic.

Baboo remained blissfully rash-free until he started solids, at which point he, like many babies, developed a wee rash that was easily dealt with. And then, during our Christmas travels, he spent 14 hours in an overnight diaper only meant for 12 hours. A few nights in a row. And that’s when the real nastiness began.

Opening a diaper to find a big red rash in full bloom not only on my baby’s backside but his frontside remains one of the saddest moments of my mom career. After trying what had worked before (a prescription ointment meant to combat strep and staph), and trying something else that had worked before (Lotrimin), I took him to the doctor. He didn’t seem particularly bothered, but I was disturbed on his behalf.

Yep. That’s right. I took my kid to the doctor for a diaper rash. Or as he says, diaper dermatitis. His recommendation was to try Lotrimin on one side, hydrocortisone cream on the other, and see which cleared it up faster, and then use that on both sides moving forward.

So I did that, and switched diaper brands, and started using the super-thick Desitin. But then I started thinking: If dryness begets a happy bum, then let’s get serious about getting that bum dry:

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Yep. I pointed a fan at my baby’s junk. And for a while, he seemed to like it. Then he didn’t, and I started patting him dry using my ridiculous stash of old bandannas. But I’m ready to get the fan back out if that’s what it takes to keep my baby’s bottom as smooth as, well, a baby’s bottom.

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