Not My Baby

So when you get pregnant and have a baby, everyone you know suddenly has a ton of totally well-meaning advice that they lovingly heap upon you (whether you’ve asked for it or not). I received my favorite bit of pre-baby advice from a dear friend, who told me to “ignore all the advice and just listen to that baby.” Ahh, my lovely lady; she spoke directly to my rebellious, boy mom heart with those sweet words, and it’s the advice I’ve most often heeded, because my baby boy is the mother loving exception to every mother loving baby rule there is.

One sure fire way of calming and soothing baby is to swaddle him tight and pop in a pacifier. Babies enjoy the comfort of a tight swaddle because it reminds them of the tightly packed womb. Babies also have an automatic sucking reflex, so sucking a pacifier keeps baby calm. Except, not my baby. My baby hates being swaddled, preferring instead to let his arms fly high day and night, startle reflex be damned. Try to swaddle my kid and he screams bloody murder until you unwrap him, then he smiles and coos. Try to give my baby a paci and he scrunches his nose and spits, as if to scoff “that is not leaking milk at me, mom.” True son, true. I like to think his aversion to these typical baby-soothers means he’s simply an advanced specimen who can’t be tricked by non-womb and a non-milk-giving substitutes.

Baby’s belly will grow in the first several weeks of life, and at around 5-6 weeks, baby’s tum can hold up to five ounces of milk at a time! Baby therefore will begin to eat more in one sitting, and will go longer between feedings by approximately 2 months of age. Except, of course, for my baby. From birth to five weeks my baby eats approximately 1-1.5 ounces every hour, around the clock. Around five weeks old, my baby begins to eat anywhere from 1-2 ounces at a time, and at 2 months of age he has stretched out to 2-2.5 ounces per feeding, eating every hour and a half (sometimes every 2 hours at night!!). I am very tired. I like to think my baby is simply keeping trim by enjoying several small meals throughout the day, as all the best trainers and nutritionists advise. Well done, baby. (Haha jk, he’s huge.)

Once baby begins to eat more, he’ll sleep longer stretches. Nope! K to be fair, my baby doesn’t eat more than 2.5 ounces in one sitting, so I have no idea if he would sleep longer if he ate the 4+ ounces common for other babes his age. And no amount of begging, praying, or dream feeding gets the kid to eat more, so all of this is the sort of advice that makes me burn with a fiery hatred.

Formula takes longer to digest, so formula fed babies stay full longer and, consequently, sleep longer. Except my guy. My babe eats pumped breastmilk pretty exclusively, but there have been a few times when he gobbled up food (an ounce at a time) faster than I could pump it out, so I’ve supplemented with formula. Baby boy sucks down an ounce or two of formula (and no more, despite my aforementioned efforts), and an hour and a half later, day or night, he’s asking for more. I like to think he just wants to hang out with mom and dad all the time because we are super cool. You’re cool too little bud! But please sleep.

Put baby to bed in his own crib, awake but drowsy. Ha ha ha yea. If that actually works for your two month old, I hate you with the aforementioned fiery burning. But please tell me your secrets.

You can’t spoil a newborn and you can’t create any habits during the newborn period. You can’t spoil a newborn, that my boy and I agree with. Love up that squishy babe all you can!! But “you can’t create habits through the newborn stage” does not apply to my baby. My baby boy got in the habit of 1) being rocked the eff to sleep, and 2) napping in my lap, which means I now rock my 16 pound boy to sleep for each of his seventy-eight daily naps, and once that cherub love finally does sleep, I can’t put him down anywhere but on my lap, lest he wake up and we have to start all over again. I like to think he just loves me too much to sleep anywhere else, and my lord it’s cute to have my little love curled up in my lap, but it is not fun when my butt falls asleep. Every time. I heard this wonderful “no habits are forming” advice from multiple sources, and I blame them all equally. Fie!

Your baby should always eat, then play, then go to sleep, and when he wakes up you should repeat that cycle. This follows baby’s natural pattern of wanting to eat when he wakes. Hardy har har, not my baby. My baby wakes up, stretches, giggles at the ceiling, coos at mama until I get up, smiles, and spits at the bottle the second it gets near his face. If I do manage to get the bottle into my guy’s mouth, he chews on it while staring at the ceiling fan, but he does not eat. No amount of begging, praying, or forcing gets the kid to eat, play, then sleep. So I have given up, and I just feed babe when he’s hungry.

The one piece of advice I have gotten that does work for my baby is playing white noise during naps and at bed time! Turning the noise on immediately calms my bubba, and he sleeps soundly despite the neighbor’s leaf blower or that dog who always barks. I have, however, recently been told that I definitely, definitely shouldn’t use a white noise machine to help my baby sleep, because when he grows up he’ll be a super light sleeper, which will suck. Again with the fiery burning hatred.

So, obviously I do everything wrong. If you’re a really good boy mom like me, please take heart and allow me to give you some advice (whether you want it or not): go with your gut, because every baby is different. Especially my baby.

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Mom Brain

There is this thing that happens to some postpartum women where their brains go a bit fuzzy, so words and ideas and thoughts are vague or buried or missing altogether, and this makes these women feel dumb. This phenomenon is often times referred to as Mom Brain, and I have it big time. I can’t do much about the vague ideas I have, or my thoughts getting buried, but, luckily, I am a really good boy mom, so I am able to come up with replacements for the words that go missing from my brain, and I have become pretty damn creative.

For example, bubba recently finished a feeding with a big healthy burp and a grin. We laughed and blew zerbers at each other as he laid on his back for a change. I sat him back up and nuzzled his nose with mine, and he barfed all over my face. I screamed and husband laughed, so I shouted at him to shut up and grab me a… uh… one of those… you wrap the baby up… a startle stopper!!! Which is a swaddle blanket.

Another good example: since my boy loves music, and mama loves dancing, we often sway to Disney songs or booty shake to some Beyoncé. Recently we were listening to a kids Pandora station, and a rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” began to play, which I love, so I swooped my little puppy boy up into my arms and cuddled him to the tune. My mind immediately and violently flashed forward to a vision of my son, a head taller than I, clad in a dark suit as we danced at his wedding. Irrational as it may be, I of course began to sob, so I handed baby off to a bewildered daddy. I explained myself to Husband as heavy tears and snot dripped down my face, then I asked if he had washed those… uh… my things… the boob guys… the milk suckers?!?! Which are breast pump flanges.

I have a million, and not all of them are baby related.

Need another chair? “Babe, can you bring in an extra… uh… So we can have more people at the table? You know? One of those… a sitting spot!”

Baby needs a change? “Oh ma gawd that’s the most poo I’ve ever seen! Babe!! I’m out of… can you open a new box of… those things for the poo… a baby bathroom thing…a poop catcher!!!” (That’s technically 2 very creative and descriptive word-replacement phrases. Feel free to use if needed. No charge.)

Looking for your car keys? “Baby have you seen my… jingley… little… starter things?”(Best when used with a “turning the ignition” hand motion.)

Sports bra? Booby tightener. “You know, for work outs?”

Bottle brush? Baby cup scrubby washer.

Deodorant? Stink stick.

Fork? Food stabby.

Decent night’s sleep? Ha Ha yea right.


I could go on, but my Mom Brain is kicking in, and I can’t remember the talky sayings that have gone missing from my head organ, let alone the creative instead-users I’ve come up with. This mama needs some energy-making bitter water and some yum wafers before the baby wakes from his nap. (No creativity needed there – all hail nap time.)

On Accidents

When you’re a really good boy mom like me accidents happen a lot and at random, and they are hard, but they teach you a great deal about yourself and about life. 

Sometimes you go for a walk but you accidentally forget baby’s bottle. You’re on a nice evening stroll, breathing fresh air and holding hands with your hubby because life is grand. Then poor little bubba starts crying. You pick him up to provide comfort, but you realize that he wants food not cuddles and that you’re a horrible parent because you have no food. Plus you’re a half a mile away from home and you’re walking, so getting food will take a while, and you feel you’d like to cry along with your child right about now. You swallow hard, hold baby close, and speed walk home, hoping to keep your little love semi-calm, while Husband runs with the stroller, hoping to get home for the milk a bit faster than you can. You avoid eye contact with nosy neighbors who most likely assume you have stolen this baby, and your inner thighs start to chafe, and you are reminded it’s time to start working out again. Then baby screams louder and pitifully, and your heart shatters, and you give yourself a mental slap on the wrist for thinking about yourself and not baby. You begin to wonder where the hell Husband is with the milk, but it doesn’t matter because you’re at your front steps. Husband opens the door just in time for you to rush inside. You burst into tears because baby has stopped crying, and you’re positive that he’s never going to trust you again. Husband hands you the bottle and you pop it in bubba’s mouth, and he guzzles down a few ounces and falls happily to sleep. You have just learned that you internalize blame and participate in negative self-talk and that it may be better to take deep breaths and remain calm if this situation is to ever arise again. You make a mental note to be kinder to yourself and to always check the diaper bag for backup food.

Sometimes your baby’s diaper leaks. It’s 2 am, and your shift with the baby doesn’t end for another hour. You’ve just finished feeding bubba, and he is cradled in your lap dropping peacefully back into sleepyland as you sit drowsily on your bed wishing he’d hurry. You finally lift that angleface off your lap, ever so gently, to place him back in his bassinet, when you realize his diaper is squishy and your legs are all wet. You scream vulgarities in your mind and weigh the pros and cons of ignoring a diaper leak. You feel bubba’s sleep sack, which is soaked through, and decide he must be changed, 2 am or no. Luckily the pup is a champ at quick night changes, so you lay him on his back, sound asleep, and let loose his diaper. He immediately pees and it hits you in the face and gets all over your sheets. You curse your gamble and quickly grab a rag to cover baby up. You complete the change one-handed while blocking more pee, you get bubs into a fresh onesie and sleep sack, and you marvel at his miraculous ability to sleep through a diaper change even this eventful. You lay the sweet boy down in his bassinet and crawl your weary body back into bed. Your head hits the pillow as warm wetness begins to seep through your pj shirt, and you’re too tired to care that you’re laying in baby urine. You have just learned that you cut corners when you’re tired, which just creates more work for later, and it may be better to prepare ahead of time as this situation is likely to arise again. You make a mental note to change your sheets and stain treat your mattress tomorrow.
   
Sometimes you drop the baby. It’s 12:10pm and you’re heading out the door for your 12:30 appointment, feeling pretty great that you’re on time. You look awesome (despite hanging on to some pregnancy weight) because you’re wearing the fancy new shoes hubby bought you as a surprise. You get little bubba secured in his carrier, and, rather than wait for Husband to grab baby, you strain with the weight of baby-and-carrier and start down the stairs. You hold onto the railing and lean hard for stability, and you feel your new shoe slip and your balance tip before you’ve even begun to fall. The rest happens in slow motion, except for your terror: you lose your grip on the railing, your toe catches the edge of the stair, you pitch forward, you try to bend your elbow to secure baby-and-carrier in the crook of your left arm but your winter coat is too stiff so the carrier remains perched on the back of your wrist, you cock your left hand to keep the carrier in place, you instinctively tuck your right shoulder and bend both knees, your body crashes to the floor, you try to set baby down gently but the carrier still clatters against the hardwood, your shin knocks a stair step and your shoulder crunches against the ground so you yelp and roll to your back. Baby is silent. Husband yells down the stairs to see if you’re OK but your breath is gone and you can’t immediately answer, so he hurries down to you. Husband again demands a reply, and you gasp your answer and struggle to sit so you can check the baby. The baby coos and smiles in his seat, and you are flooded with relief  like you have never known, and pain, and you cry and wince and rub the knot on your shin. You have just learned that you sometimes try to do too much and go too fast, and that it may be better to slow down and ask for help if this situation is to ever arise again. You make a mental note to ice your bruises later tonight and to scuff up the tread on the bottom of your shoes for more traction. And to try not to drop the baby again.
  
As in all situations in which you feel you could have done better, you replay these scenarios in your mind, laughing off the absurdities and dissecting the concerns for deeper meaning. You make a mental note to strive to reframe your definition of accidents as “lessons” going forward, and to try to be more forgiving of the lessons baby boy, Husband, and (especially) you are sure to learn in the future. Then you eat some mint flavored Oreos (nom), and pump some breast milk, and move on, because you’re a really good boy mom and accidents happen.

Nails

Babies have these ridiculously sharp, papery little fingernails that you (I) as the parent have to cut short to keep your (my) sweet babe from shredding up his cherub face.   
But babies also flail about with no concern for your agenda; synapses are firing in the brain, mom, this world is bright and noisy and supercool, and baby boy ain’t got no time for tiny nail clippers. Not to mention playing airplane is way more fun for mama than tending to baby nails that, let’s face it, when left to grow, will peel off in their own. So, naturally, nail clipping goes on the back burner. 

Whatever, my boy has not scratched his beautiful face once since birth.

But Grandma recently came to town and remarked upon those long ass, dirty nails. (Sidebar: how do baby nails get grimey??? Unaccountable.) I made some excuse about how I can’t keep up with his nail growth, but ultimately I was shamed into grabbing the clippers and settling in for a trim sesh. That’s when I noticed my own nails and it became a game of who wore it better, aka who’s nails are worse. 

  


The answer is mine. My nails are worse. They are long, they are chipped, they are dirty, and yet they are the nails of an adult woman who has no excuse. Is anyone with me on this? I want to be hot; I want to project a she-has-it-together image, but it’s like I blink and I’m messy again. One time I got a set of acrylic French manicured pretties, and I walked around gesticulating like the sexy beast I was, until I realized it had been 4 weeks and I was missing the pointer finger nail on my right hand. When I was pregnant I kept my nails painted a powdery periwinkle blue, with toenails to match, and I felt beautiful and elegant and maternal; an ethereal boy mom. 

I still have some of that polish on my toes, because I’m not ethereal, I’m a really good boy mom.

  

So, pregnancy is over and now I have postpartum nail growth and no time for polish (clearly), plus there are twenty new baby nails to manage and Grandmas to throw shade. I am still beautiful and maternal, but also haggard. Everyone keeps telling me it will all get easier, but I don’t think I believe that’s true. 

I use the baby clippers to snip my nails to the nub and I move on to tending to bubba’s nails, and I drink coffee and vow to do better, and perhaps to find a nail salon that offers childcare and lattes. (And if that sort of thing doesn’t exist, someone should invent it so I can give them my money.)

Top 10 Effects of Staying Up All Night With Your Newborn

During the newborn period the days and weeks fly by you in a whirlwind, but the nights are painfully slow and sleep deprived. Below, I’ve compiled a list of stuff to look forward to now that you’re staying up all night. You’re welcome!

   

1. First off, because you’re co-sleeping and because baby likes to snuggle, “all night” begins at (minimum) 7pm, so you get really friendly on social media in the evenings.

2. Late at night you get super creative ideas for products to launch and movie scripts to write. (Currently working on a prototype of a flat breast pump flange that siphons milk into bottles over on the counter so I stop spilling on my bed. Also brainstorming superhero movie ideas. I have something about a cow-woman hybrid. She can milk herself and hoof bad guys, but she tips over easily when sleeping. It’s a work in progress.)

3. Since your infant must sleep cradled in your lap, you have at least one hand free to dominate Candy Crush on your phone. (Holla at ya girl, level 126)

4. In the stillness you begin to hear odd noises throughout your house. Something shifts in the shadows; your eyes dart to the spot, and your pulse quickens. You look at husband and blink hard, willing his darkened features into focus, shuttering at the twisted grimace you think you see on his face. You do mental math trying to determine the time; 3am is the witching hour and you swear you just felt something touch your foot. Scenes from horror films flash in your mind so you squeeze your eyes shut and sing songs from The Sound of Music in your head. The hairs on your butt and back and arms stand on end, and when baby hiccups in his sleep you jump with a start and wake him up and have to get up and bounce him so he settles back down, and your pulse races, and you’ve just thought of another movie idea.

5. You have time to read up on the baby “norms” for your child’s age, like sleeping longer and eating more, which your child does not do, so you second guess every boy mom move you’ve made thus far and feel like you’re failing. (#5 is fun)

6. Cuddle sessions with your significant other retain their intensity but not their length. Your wonderful parenting partner feeds and burps baby, and changes him if he needs it, and you sit and pump, and when you both finally settle back in to bed (and at roughly the same time) you are each hit with a wave of deep gratitude, love, and admiration for the other, and you hold one another and love one another in thanks. And after about 2.5 seconds you each let go because the baby is sleeping and you both want to be, too.

7. You are extra ambitious in the wee hours, so your To Do list is now a mile long and includes mundane activities like “go to dmv” and “get groceries,” but also more enthusiastic wants like “learn Spanish” and “become more proficient at Photoshop” and “take singing lessons” and “find a dance instructor” and “write your novel” and so on.

8. Hunger hits hard at 3am, but baby is cuddled by your side so you try to sleep it off. Your tum still rumbles and you end up Pinteresting in the dark, seeking yummy recipes to try, and you add them to your To Do list.

9. You now know all the words to Beyoncé’s new song because it’s stuck in your head and you sing it on repeat all night, even when you wish your brain would just shut off, but damn if that song isn’t catchy! I slay, OK. If he hit it right I might take him on a flight on my chopper! 

10. Possibly because of the chronic sleep deprivation, and certainly because it’s nice to have a friend in the middle of the night, you swear your breast pump is talking to you, so you respond, and the conversation you have in your head is hilarious, and you can’t contain your laughter so you stuff your face into a pillow. (“Apple, Apple” “What’re you still hungry, ya greedy little bitch?” “Hush up, hush up” “Uh excuse me, this is my room, you can gtfo.” “We pump, we pump” “Ah crap, you’re right. My bad, pump” “It’s cool, it’s cool” “Hey you’re pretty cool too!” “Not you, not you.” “Alright ya cheeky ass pump.” “Ha ha, ha ha” “Lololololol!” – No? Just me?)

BONUS: You are cuddled up with a living doll of your very own body’s creation, and it is thrilling and sometimes feels miraculous, so during those early morning hours, despite burning eyes and deep exhaustion, you hug your sweet dollop of baby and breathe in his scent. You memorize the curve of the bridge of the boy’s nose and the way he sucks his bottom lip in his sleep. You silently press your lips to the top of his head and long to touch the soft skin of his baby cheek, but you don’t because your baby’s need for sleep already comes before your desire for closeness. You lie down to watch your boy’s peaceful slumber, your heart sings sweet lullabies, and you beam as you close your eyes in rest because you are a boy mom and these are the moments to cherish.

Shot Day

I took my bubba to his 2 month well baby check up, aka shot day. Being a really good boy mom, I was wearing my game face despite intense nerves about needles poking my baby. I parked and pulled my cooing bub out of his car seat, clutched his face close to mine, and walked through the sterile glass doors. The front desk staff must have sensed my trepidation because they said hello and gave me sad eyes as I checked in. I walked to the back waiting area to prepare for certain doom. 

Then I noticed my hand was wet. I investigated further and discovered my bubbie’s back was wet, as were his butt and the backs of his legs, because my kid had massacred a diaper. Those weren’t sympathetic, sorry-your-angel-is-getting-a-shot eyes the front desk gave me; those eyes said ew-that’s-poop. I made for the bathroom, but the world’s unfriendliest nurse called our name and led us back to be seen instead. I apologized for the mess and tried to be quick with the cleanup, but Nurse Grumpy could not be bothered with bedside manner. I hastily wiped up the kiddo and got his soiled clothing tied into a scented laundry bag just in time for him to be stabbed to death. In that moment two rights of passage were taken: baby boy endured the pain of his first round of shots and will be healthier for it, and mama endured the pain of her heart exploding inside her chest while she remained calm and emotionally available to comfort that sweet babe as he held his breath for a silent scream in reaction to immense and terrifying pain. 

      

 
 
I mean, what are shots?? For real. Have they not figured out that babies can feel pain? Come on science, is there not a better way of administering vaccines? I digress.

I hugged my boy close and swallowed the massive lump in my throat. I pulled out the adorable ducky sleeper I had brought as a backup for the bubba to wear, and my heart sunk when I realized it was at least a month too small. Bubs sobbed and sighed and burrowed into my neck, asking me nicely to get us the hell out of there already, so I quickly shoved my little love’s feet into the even littler footies. The boy wailed, telling me nicely that too-tight jammies were a no-go right now. I thought for a minute about taking him home in only a diaper, but it’s winter and much too cold for naked baby man boobs, no matter how cute. I silently cursed the missed opportunity to see my little ducky properly fit in this precious outfit; I asked for a pair of scissors, allowed myself a few seconds of mourning, and I cut off those ducky footies. 

  

Baby boy cooed in his car seat as I sang nursery rhymes on the way home, proving shot day is way harder for mama than baby. He smiled when I fed him his bottle, and I smelled his head and snuggled his neck and rocked him long after he had fallen asleep. I laid my baby down for his nap, and I laughed as I cried thinking about his ducky sleeper because being a good boy mom means becoming emotional at surprising absurdities like ruined clothing and your boy handling pain better than you can. Then I ate some cookies, drank some coffee, and (as always) pumped some breastmilk. I sighed, and I chuckled, and I let go of shot day, brushing off another emotionally taxing milestone in this mom life, as has become my daily, exquisite norm

  

Life Has Changed

When you have a baby everyone you love wants to meet him, which makes you feel popular and proud, and then one day company comes to town, and you try to coordinate going to dinner. Your friends laugh at you when you ask them to eat at 5:30 p.m. because they are not 100 years old or parents, and you love your kid, but your heart still sinks a little at the idea that this is what life is going to be like for the foreseeable future. But your out-of-town guests are super great people who understand what they signed up for with this visit, so they accommodate your early bird needs. You pack up some wipes, several diapers, a change of clothes, baby-wearing device of choice, and all of the hand sanitizer (lest strangers put their germs on your babe), and you tuck your little puppy into his car seat. You layer on blankets and hats, pile everyone into the car, and head to the sushi joint. You order a large Asahi because you’re feeling brave.

  

And the little dude does great! He sits in his seat and alternatively coos and snoozes, and you sit in your seat, warm with alcohol and love, and alternatively stare at and talk about the baby. And, again, your friends are cool, so they don’t seem to mind all the baby chat one bit, though they do introduce their own topics on occasion. The Asahis flow and sushi and good laughs are shared, and you feel like you have this parenting business down! You look at your little handsome and secretly ache for more tiny babies.

  

Then suddenly, and quite out loud, bubba tells you that dinner is over. You grab the check and head to the car, but it’s not good enough and now the puppy is screaming. Your heart breaks for baby, and you are somehow embarrassed because you feel like you’re not a good boy mom right now. You curse the red lights and speak soothingly to your love, as you pray for the car ride to end. There’s tension in the air because nobody likes a crying baby, and you can tell your friends feel awkward as they swear that they’re fine. You hate that this is how life is going to be for the foreseeable future, and having these visitors is the last thing you need.

You get home. You throw an air kiss at your friends and run upstairs with your sweet boy, and you begin your nighttime routine. You’re hot and thirsty, and you chide yourself for having that beer as you bounce and sway and sing. You pass the baby off to Husband and cry and strap yourself to your breast pump, trying to decide if you still feel the effects of the alcohol. You cry more and you pump and you watch Husband masterfully soothe that sweet babe to sleep in no time at all, which makes you cry again, but with relief, and you thank the heavens for their strong daddy-baby bond.

   
You sit in the quiet dark as your pump chugs. You wonder how anyone ever has a second baby. You feel bad that you’re not a better boy mom. Husband comes over and wipes your tears and massages your shoulders, and you breathe and try to calm down. You send a text to your friends thanking them for their understanding. You look over and see your tiny baby sleeping soundly, silhouetted in moonlight from the window, and you marvel at this little being that inspires such love, and you remember that time is not slowing down ever. Then the baby toots in his sleep, and you and Husband laugh out loud and try in vain to shush each other. Inexplicably, here in this hard and sweet moment, while your breasts are drained of their milk and your mascara tears dry on your cheeks, your battered heart soars at the idea that this is how life is going to be for the foreseeable future, and you smile because you are happy.