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Archive for the ‘Ugh’ Category

My view on laundry day.

It is a truth universally acknowledged: children need clean clothes to wear, at least sometimes. Also true: children have a gift for generating dirty laundry.

Back in the days when I could carry my son with one arm, his particular gift was spitting up. He was a happy spitter, but before I understood that concept I took him to our pediatrician, who chirped, “This is a laundry problem, not a medical problem.” We have since switched pediatricians, though not because of that particular occasion of pithiness.

It was stunning, the number of sullied onesies that stacked up in the course of a day. Also, the bibs, oh Lordy, the bibs, which were nearly beyond number and I felt must be folded, to which a friend (who is still a friend) remarked, “You have too much time on your hands.”

Our washer and dryer were in the basement, at the far end of a small and very narrow utility room I called the laundry cubby. The furnace and water heater were at the front end, and blocked most of the passage to the machines. I must have shinnied past them thousands of times. Getting to and from the laundry room was often the only exercise I got, but because of the stairs and the sheer amount of laundry generated by my baby boy, doing the laundry actually helped me lose my considerable baby weight.

These days we live in a different house, with a laundry room that allows me to turn around while carrying a laundry basket. My kid is far beyond his days of happy spitting. I’m working outside the home again, and I exercise like a normal person. But still, there is the laundry, piling up, waiting to be moved, waiting to be folded. T-shirts and jeans have replaced bibs and onesies, and I look for small things in pockets instead of spit-up stains.

Laundry is the only constant.

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Does this haircut make me look old?

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Because last week, a nun flat-out called me my baby’s grandma. And I’ve been told I have nice skin, and I was not dressed in old lady clothes. So surely it must have been the haircut.

As background: In celebration of Baboo’s 18-month birthday, we delivered thank-you snacks to the nurses who took care of us when he was born. I had meant to do this earlier but never got around to it, so I decided to make an occasion of the day.

So we went into the (rather Catholic) hospital with our snacks, and the nurses got all happy, and I got a little weepy, and we were standing around chit-chatting, and up walks a nun. (Sadly, she was not in full habit. The story would be better if she had been, but no, she’s a modern nun and the only way to tell she’s a sister is her name tag.) I explained why we were there, and she leaned over the baby and cooed, “Aren’t you lucky to have such a nice grandma?”

I’d like to say I pondered my response, but I didn’t. It just popped out, albeit with laughter. “Actually, I’m his mom.”

That poor nun. I’ve never seen someone say so many nice things so quickly to try to fix a verbal blunder. I did not tell her she was the first person to stab my ego to bits with that assumption, because A) I like nuns and B) I try really hard to be nice, generally. I assured her I wasn’t offended, and that I knew it was inevitable given the color of my hair.

It seems inevitable that this will happen again no matter how chic my coif is, because I love my grey hair and do not plan to color it again, ever. Also, people are quick to judge and not necessarily well-filtered when they speak. I’m steeling myself for that, but in the meantime I’ve had it cut into something more youthful. (Nikki Wright, y’all, is the business.)

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So if I get called “grandma” again soon, I guess I’ll just have to start wearing skinny jeans and, um, whatever the teenagers are wearing these days.

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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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The Inevitable

The baby has had a cold for the past four or five days. And so I added snot-wrangling and extra cuddling and gentle back-thumping to my usual routine. (He is much better today, and it was never serious, just sneezing and coughing and weepiness.)

I also added extra hand-washings and preventive neti pot sessions to my days. With a show coming up, I was determined not to catch this bug. And gig or not, I don’t like being sick. I mean, duh, who does, but when you have a baby to look after, you know that unless you are unable to crawl out of bed, you will still have to feed and diaper and play and wash and chase the baby. Only while foggy and grumpy and sneezy and weepy. Yay.

So there I was, scrupulously avoiding touching my face and nose, washing my hands after every few nose-wipings, keeping his snot-rags sequestered on a remote corner of the kitchen counter, resisting the urge to smooch his face, turning my head or holding my hand up to the baby’s mouth when he coughed near me.

And then yesterday, around 2:30, he sneezed into my mouth.

I’m still not quite sure how it happened. It was during a diaper change, and for some reason putting him flat on his back spurs sneezing and coughing, so I should have been on high alert. But usually he draws in a little breath before a sneeze. Not so this time. And I must have been singing or making a funny open-mouthed face to keep him from breaking down, because — this is gross, sorry — I felt sneeze particles land on my tongue.

I went off to sing feeling tired but not sick. I had fun and one glass of wine, woohoo! I went to bed late but not horrendously so. I woke up with a sore throat.

Next time the kid gets sick, I’m wearing a surgical mask during diaper changes.

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My coping mechanism of choice.

A few years ago, I tended my father during an 11-day ICU stay. When he regained consciousness, I asked if I could bring him anything.

“Yeah,” he said, “a seven and seven.” Possibly, he asked for a Cuba Libre. Can’t quite recall. Either way, I laughed and reminded him we were in a hospital.

“Well, there’s gotta be a bar in here somewhere,” he replied.

Now, granted, he had had a massive stroke years before, and was pumped full of 80 different drugs and battling septic shock, but still, he had a good point: Why aren’t there bars in hospitals? Why must the stressed and grieving stow flasks in their purses and hide bottles in their pants? (For the record: I have not done either of those things. But I have seriously considered both options.)

I thought a lot about all of this this yesterday while sitting in the kitchen, staring into the middle distance and sucking Nutella off a spoon. I had just put the exhausted, sad baby down for a nap following his one-year checkup, which included four shots. FOUR. IN A ROW, not simultaneously, which would be the smart way to do it. Just sayin’.

Anyway. It seems to me that traumatized parents in need of comfort beverages and/or snacks are a gravely underserved niche market as well as a huge business opportunity.

I’m completely serious.

Just think: If you were anticipating having to hold your child’s arms while he got jabbed with needles and screamed, wouldn’t it be nice to know you could have the adult treat of your choice, in the foyer of your pediatrician’s office, either before or after? You could pick up a vodka shot of some sort to consume as soon as you got home, or order a cab if you were unable to wait that long.

Taking the idea beyond alcohol: Nutella-banana crepes, or a Nutella latte, or, for purists like me, a giant jar of Nutella and a spoon. Or perhaps you would prefer a chunk of Valhrona chocolate as big as your head, or an extremely mayonnaise-heavy chicken salad sandwich on a croissant.

I see this as a concierge service. Would you like a violinist to serenade your family as you’re driven home in a limo stocked with Champagne and Valium? Not a problem. Five different flavors of macarons in a gorgeous box tied with a bow, flown in from Ladurée this morning? With pleasure. A nursemaid to tend the cranky baby, and a beefcakey dude to draw you a bubble bath? Done. Perhaps you long to lounge in a vat of rice pudding. You’re weird, but you’re the customer, so, okay, enjoy!

Of course none of that would make up for the agony of knowing you must see your child in pain; the idea is to prevent the day from being a complete horror. But until such time as someone snaps up this idea, I’ll make sure I’m never short on Nutella when Baboo is due for shots.

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A few weeks back, I caught Drew Barrymore on Ellen. Charmingly daffy as always, she nattered on about her angelic baby girl and whipped up some vegan pasta for her hostess.

A few days ago, while trolling one of my mental check-out sites (you know you have a few), I read a few excerpts from this article.

In it, she talks about tie-dyeing her baby’s leggings during naps and developing a line of cosmetics for Walmart while she was pregnant. Because, you know, that’s what you do when you’re pregnant, right? But none of that bothered me nearly as much as this:

“When my daughter was born, I thought to myself, ‘How do I go past infinity with my efforts and care?’ “

Um, Drew. Honey. We all love you and understand that you’re not terribly hooked into reality, but come on. Throw us real mamas a bone. Talk about being exhausted at least once. Whine about something other than how to shield your daughter from the media’s glare. Acknowledge the mind-numbing, repetitive, occasionally terrifying drudgery of the first four months of caring for a baby.

I can only hope she did talk about those things and that they got edited out. I know she’s a celebrity with tons of hired help and organic grocery delivery and whatnot, but I’m still hopeful that underneath all her “mommyhood is a non-stop delight train” mumbo-jumbo there’s just a little bit of realness.

Bahahahaaaaa!

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Well, dear readers, in this breathless post I promised you an update on bifocal contacts. So here it is: They pretty much suck and are worthless.

See, pun intended, if you correct one eye for distance and one eye for reading, there’s a lot of territory left uncovered by both corrections. So if I wanted to see clearly far away, no problem. If I wanted to see clearly about 18 inches in front of my face, again, no problem.

But the middle distances, like, oh, across the room where the baby might be plugging his fingers into an outlet, were fuzzy and hazy and a lot of work to bring into focus. And the very close range, such as my baby’s sweet face? A total loss.

Also: I had no idea how much tiredness my glasses frames were covering for me.

And so, dear readers, that’s how I ended up with perhaps the grooviest pair of bifocals ever:

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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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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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Santa Baby

I can hear this baby's inner dialogue: "Mama!"

The distress on this baby’s face hurts my heart.

It’s the classic thing to do. Put your kid on Santa’s lap, get a photo for the record books and say, “How cute!” if the baby ends up crying. One more thing gets checked off the holiday to-do list, no harm, no foul, right?

I disagree. So does this smart mama.

Here’s my short, sweet take on this: My baby cries enough. Actually, he cries very little, and I’d like to keep it that way.

Furthermore: I don’t want to be the cause of him crying more than he has to. He’s already into stranger anxiety, so I doubt plunking him on some stranger’s lap will go well or be nice for him. I don’t care if we never get a shot of him with Santa. I really don’t. I want his Christmasses to be filled with happiness and fun times with family and awesome food. That’s it.

Now, that said, I have a plan involving me as the filling in a Santa-and-baby sandwich.

Is it just me, or does that sound wrong?

Stay tuned, dear readers, to find out what happens. And rest assured, if he starts looking like that baby up there, I’ll get him outta there post-haste.

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