Sunday, May 31, 2009

Aw, Nuts

It was only a matter of time before my little pioneer dredged the depths below to find the buried treasure otherwise known as the twig and berries. Bait and tackle. Package. Junk. Family jewels. Whatever term you fancy, the bottom line is that Nate has discovered "himself".

It all happened last week during bathtime. He was playing with a squirt toy between his legs and I assume either his hand or his toy brushed against the [insert figurative language here]. The sensation must have been enticing because from that point forward, he refused to let "it" escape his grasp. He engaged in pinching, twisting and pulling his anatomy as I winced in sympathy. I was an innocent bystander, beholding my 10-month old son treating his goods like a Stretch Armstrong doll.

I didn't stop him from his exploration. I realize it is a perfectly normal, healthy - and inevitable - part of development. Especially male development. I don't want him to grow to be ashamed of his body or embarrassed. I don't want him to think of masturbation as dirty or disgusting - only that it should be something done in private.

I had a flash-forward moment, envisioning Nate as a hedonistic teenager and walking in on him in an American Pie-esque scenario. I must have turned seven shades of red as I pondered what I would do in such a situation. I promised myself I will always knock before entering.

I guess I was just caught a little off guard. He had never shown any interest in the past, despite countless diaper changes and naked time. I thought it would be awhile before the time I had to explain the technicalities of our body parts.

Every bathtime since has involved some sort of penile reconnaissance. Some of the expeditions last longer than others. But it is now a part of our routine, like shampooing.

I now have the dilemma of what to officially call "it" down there. Should I call "it" by the proper biological names? Or should I assign "it" a cutesy nickname, like "pee-pee", "wee-wee" or "willy"? I am strongly leaning toward proper terms. My reason being because, well, the parts are what they are. Why add to the confusion with various nicknames that will only be replaced eventually with their respective anatomical definitions?

The joys of raising a boy. It's only just beginning. That I'm sure of.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Double Digits

That's right. Nate turned 10 months old on Tuesday.

As I think about how close we are to his very first birthday - 59 days and counting - I am a bit wistful. I wax nostalgic about the teeny tiny newborn days and part of me misses that period. Not the colic so much. Dear God no. But the little things that are noticeably gone forever. The uncontrollable, jerky movements. The limpness and fragility of his body. How he used to fit lengthwise in one arm. It's hard to imagine he was ever really 7 pounds and a mere 19 inches.

But it's also exciting to see my baby grow. Everyday, it seems he changes. As if he awakens as a different boy each morning. Not just physically but developmentally. He is so interactive and playful. How could I not look forward to the coming days when I know they will eventually include infectious smiles, hugs and giggles?

I've been occupying my recent days with party planning. The hardest part for me is keeping it simple. I want to give him everything under the sun, although I know that doing so would be disastrous on more than one level. I'm probably overdoing a bit with the finer details but I am having trouble binding and gagging the Type A-ness. We've decided on a cowboy theme. Outdoor event, weather permitting. Menu will be BBQ - thinking pulled pork sliders, burgers and hot dogs on the grill. Chips and pretzels in cowboy hats. Horseshoes - the game and the cake. My mind is bursting at the seams with so many ideas that I have to write them down in a notebook. DH has even hinted I should consider a career in event planning and coordination. In jest. I think.

Okay, enough about me. Back to the guest of honor. At 10 months, my little man:

Walks! After courageously taking several unassisted steps a few weeks ago, he now insists that crawling is more convenient and thus his preferred method of travel. However, he adores his new push toy and longs for unlimited space to walk in perpetuum, hand in hand with his lion pal, to his heart's content. I admit his tenacity is quite amusing, if not admirable, when he encounters a wall and grows increasingly frustrated as he tries to turn it around in the opposite direction. I can't help but take pity on him and remove the impediment. But this leads to a day-long game of "chase me, now help me" that wears on the 'ole latissimus dorsi.

Can go from sitting to squatting to standing without help. Quickly. He is also much less wobbly in the standing position and can easily stand for a minute or two. Probably could go longer if only there weren't so many distractions. He has always had strong legs and continues to demonstrate his vertical aptitude.

Can climb the entire flight of stairs. With Mommy playing the role of safety net. Hence, the purchase of this baby gate to be installed ASAP.

Can clap and wave goodbye. He is more consistent with the former since he loves playing pattycake but we are making progress with the latter.

Has limited his naps to once a day, much to Mommy's chagrin. He used to take two hour-plus long naps but lately, he will take a longish nap (hour+) in the early afternoon and a 20 or 30-minute catnap a few hours later. However, the catnap is optional. He often stays up until the start of our dinner/bedtime routine.

Is generally sleeping at least one 5-hour stretch at night. If not longer. Of course, now that I've written this, I am sure to have jinxed myself. I'm just waiting for him to revert back to the 2-3 hour wakeups. *shudder* I still believe sleeping entirely through the night is an urban legend. But we are worlds away from where we were just months ago. And for that, I am ever thankful. I don't know how to act now that I'm not drained of every ounce of energy I possess. I can also get him down 99.9% of nights without a fight, which gives me the warm and fuzzies.

Is jabbering more and more. He finally slipped us a "dada" for the first time today, as a matter of fact. We'd been waiting for this welcome addition to the ever-present "mama". I question whether he says them discriminantly and while I am not yet 100% convinced, he is no longer addressing his Cheerios by the maternal mantra so I have to think he is somehow associating me with the proper term. Nonetheless, he is surely trying to imitate more of what we are saying these days, whether it be "bye-bye", "hi", "baby", "more", etc. Guess it's time to scrutinize our hip-hop song selections and limit our own sailor vernacular. I admit my tongue is guilty of assaulting my ears more than I'd like. I shall henceforth substitute the sweeter nouns of Fudge and Sugar in the event of verbal whiplash.

Is eating more table foods. In addition to the usual suspects (steamed veggies/fruit, puffs and cereal), we've explored deli meat, saltine crackers, pasta, cheese, chicken nuggets, waffles, pancakes, soft pretzels and more. The list goes on and on. We still use reliable purees, especially if I'm in a time crunch and can't find the time to fix a solid meal. But finger foods are being offered more readily.

Is learning to drink from a sippy cup. He hasn't quite gotten the hang of it yet but in all fairness, we haven't introduced it regularly so he isn't all too familiar with this foreign object. He still bites the tip of the sippy to draw out liquid, rather than sucking. And he loses interest quickly, tossing the cup aside for a more interesting toy. I bought a straw cup with the hopes he would catch on but so far, the results have been equally blase.

Has a newfound fascination with books. I've invested in several board books that he will ruminate over again and again. His favorite right now is his baby bible board book. He will flip the pages himself and run his hands along the pages, as if tracing the illustrations. Such a little intellectual.

Listing all of his accomplishments illuminates me with sheer pride. I almost feel undeserving that I get to witness miracles on a daily basis. I still don't know why or how I got so lucky. But boy am I glad I am.

Monday, May 25, 2009

You've Gotta Fight For Your Right

I spent my holiday researching jogging strollers. Given our recent time spent ogling flora and fauna, it seemed like a worthwhile investment. Not to mention considering how underwear shopping at Victoria's Secret nearly brought me to tears, this could be the ticket to a more esteemed body image.

So, I packed up the boy and headed to a popular baby superstore with the intention of taking a few for a test drive.

Nate fell asleep on the trip there and remained asleep as I transferred him to the stroller. I walked around and viewed their disappointing selection - only 4 floor models were available in-store - before recoiling to the baby gate aisle. Audible whimpers of a nearby infant woke Nate, who then decided to showcase his imperial vocal endowments. Arching his back in protest and chomping his forefinger in frustration, I could plainly see it was feeding time at the zoo.

One of the fringe benefits to the shopping experience at this particular outlet is an appointed nursing room, complete with changing table, hand sanitizer and homely, floral textiles. The decor may remind me of a funeral parlor and the odor of diapers and spit up pollute the air but I applauded them for accommodating breastfeeding mothers and allowing us a quiet place, free of distraction, for those like my nosey wiggleworm.

As I came upon the door to said room, I obeyed the sign that read "knock before entering" and rapped on the door gently. I overheard some whispers coming from inside but tread lightly, slowly turning the knob and peeking in. I caught a glimpse of a woman wearing a nursing shawl and a man sitting beside her. The man quickly bumrushed me, shouting "someone is in here!" and slammed the door in my face.

I was dumbfounded.

Was/Is this not a public room? There are no locks on the door. There are two substantial couches lining the walls. Surely, there is enough room for more than one nursing mother. I, myself, have welcomed many a nursing mother whilst occupying the room on previous excursions.

Instead, I was banished. Rejected. I stood in the hall, trying to soothe my hungry baby as I formulated Plan B.

I must have swallowed a bitter pill at that moment because the anger and frustration began to build inside of me. My son needs to eat as much as their child. It is my right to breastfeed. Who the hell did this guy think he was? Who anointed him as door guard? I had half a mind to excuse myself and enter stubbornly. But ever the submissive, respectful gal, I decided not to raise a ruckus. I chose not to involve management, fearful that I would again be shunned or told to wait in line. That would rile me up even moreso. And I didn't want to be branded as that mom. The one that gets up in arms about any political cause.

My inner lactivist stirred, urging me to relax in one of the display model gliders and whip out a boob in plain sight to breastfeed. State law doesn't prohibit me to do so. Go ahead, do it. Make a statement. You will not stand for this.

I was just so sick of hiding from the world, perpetuating the social delusion that breastfeeding is a dirty, disgusting habit that must be hidden. I've been so tired of fighting a loosing battle with Nate to keep him under wraps as he eats his lunch. I always try to be as discreet as possible but it is damn near impossible to shield all human anatomy while balancing a 10-month old acrobat. Not that I can blame him. I wouldn't want to dine with a blanket over my head either.

I was this.close to letting it all hang out - for standing up for what I believe in - but in the end, I couldn't. Instead, I departed to the car to feed my baby. With the door open to afford more leg room. After beads of sweat pouring off us in the 80 degree, hot, humid weather, I buckled Nate in, turned on the A/C and drove off, defeated.

I understand that the couple in the room may have been breastfeeding novices and perhaps they were a bit shy. I've been there. Once upon a time, I would have fainted at the thought of baring a nipple within arm's reach of a stranger. But you know - I had to adapt. I came to realize that every two hours - or less - comes quickly. Privacy is not always an option as nature calls. In my 10-month stint, I've breastfed on park benches, mall fountains, bathroom toilets, restaurant booths. You name it, I've probably done it. More than once. Sure, it's not glamorous. But if my son needs to eat, he needs to eat. His nutrition and well-being is decidedly more important than worrying about societal expectations. Now, I hardly think twice before stopping to nurse in public. With or without a cover. It comes naturally.

It is a beautiful, enchanting moment when I can look down at my son, seeing and feeling our bodies connect through nourishment. People often forget that the foremost purpose of breasts are feeding mechanisms. Objects of sexual desire lastly. If only everyone could see it for what it is rather than an eyesore.

I remember the first time I saw a nursing mother as a young girl. It was in a bookstore. The mother was breastfeeding her infant daughter, watching her so intently and stroking her face. I admired her from afar. I was too young to completely understand the process but I could sense there was something special about what they shared. That admiration has grown tenfold since I've been able to experience it firsthand. I nod knowingly and smile as I gaze at others cradling their babies and fidgeting with their tops. I personally enjoy the company. Knowing there's more of us out there. We're a community.

Would reporting the incident to management, begging them to clarify their nursing room policy, really make things better? Doubtful. The public mindset is still there. Whipping out my boob may have garnered some local buzz but it would hardly suffice to erase all ignorance from society.

I'm not looking to change the world. I'm not trying to be a martyr. I just want a fair shake. I don't want to have to retire to the car or some remote place to nurse just because people are ashamed. Because I'm not. I'm unabashedly proud to produce milk for my son. I've worked hard to make it this far and if I have my druthers, I will not be conceding anytime soon.

I regret my lack of assertiveness. For not holding true to what I believe. I regret slinking into the shadows, cowardly. I feel like in some ways, I've failed us. I had the opportunity to educate and foster patronage but I let it pass me by. I was too frightened of the consequences.

I guess it is true what they say: well-behaved women rarely make history.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Friendly Rivalry

Perhaps my latest admission is a bit of a faux pas. But here goes anyhow.

Parenting sometimes feels like a competition. There. I said it.

The coveted prize: the MVP trophy. Most Valuable Parent, that is.

Sure, DH and I are cordial. We realize it is of the utmost importance that our son bond with each of us, equally. And we respect that. We may even enjoy witnessing said bonding with the auxiliary parent. For a moment.

But at the same time, we vie for Nate's affection. We secretly want him to prefer us. Selfish? Yes. Wrong? Probably. But true regardless. After all, who wouldn't want to be the center of his world? When he smiles and giggles, it's like a natural aphrodisiac. Neither of us can get enough. Especially when we're the wizard behind the curtain, evoking those delightful grins and squeals.

So, what exactly is the scoreboard status? It seems we're tied for today. 1-1.

I was in an early lead, as Nate woke for the day, babbling "mama" incessantly despite numerous fruitless "dada" cues. But my lead was soon shattered when DH returned home from work. I was mincemeat as he was greeted with unbridled jubilee to which I have never been a part.

We just volley back and forth. One point here. One point there. Neither a clear victor although we both keep a mental count.

You are probably mulling over how appalling we are. Deeming us unfit parents. But the old adage goes, "competition breeds success". By observing our significant others (or alternative caretakers) with our precious little ones, we can strive to be better. Watching from the sidelines, I discover new parenting tactics and strategies. Watching him quiet down as Grandma swings him to and fro. Spotting him nodding off as DH bounces him just so on his knee. Seeing him laugh while playing peek-a-boo with a friend. Without those "wish-I-had-thought-of-or-done-that", enviable moments, I may never grow to be the mom I aspire to be.

And while our petty jealousy will most likely continue to bubble under the surface, the bottom line is we are both winners.

The final score? Love-love.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

When Storytime Goes Bad

Times have changed. Or perhaps I'm the one who has changed over time.

At the suggestion of our pediatrician in an effort to extend his vocabulary, Nate and I trotted off to the library to rent a few children's books for storytime. I scoured the shelves for traditional, tried and true classics. The Very Hungry Caterpillar - check. Goodnight Moon - check. As I was browsing the alluring, illustrative covers for a suitable selection, I came upon a collective book of lullabies and nursery rhymes. This is perfect, I thought as I mused about reading and singing to him while breathing in his fresh, clean post-bathtime baby scent. I nonchalantly checked out the variety of titles tucked under my arm and retired home to get a head start on our new activity.

After a brief playtime, I decided to spice things up with a bit of literature. I retrieved the lullaby book from the pile. Innocent enough, right?

WRONG. Warning: all things are not what they appear.

My adult perspective was horrified at the contents of these so-called "classics". I could not believe the twisted, violent, somewhat macabre material that had eluded me in my childhood. Take for example:

Goosey Gander

Goosey, goosey, gander
Where do you wander?
Upstairs and downstairs
And in my lady's chamber
There I met an old man
Who would not say his prayers
I took him by the left leg
And threw him down the stairs Christian is this? Throwing someone down the stairs for refusing to pray? That's a great tale to share with our children on how to tolerate and respect others' beliefs, even if they are different from our own.

Still not convinced? How about these nuggets of consternation:

The Old Woman in a Shoe

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe,
She had so many children, she didn't know what to do;
She gave them some broth without any bread,
She whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.

Wonderful. Yet another welfare slob popping out kids she can't afford. As if that isn't offensive enough, this terrible excuse for a mother takes out her frustrations on her poor victims by way of abuse and starvation. If this story teaches anything, it's why the field of psychiatry still proves to be lucrative.

The Three Little Kittens

Three little kittens
They lost their mittens,
And they began to cry,
Oh, Mother dear, we sadly fear
Our mittens we have lost.
What! Lost your mittens,
You naughty kittens!
Then you shall have no pie.
Mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow,
No, you shall have no pie.

Ok, yes, they lost their belongings. But hello?! It was an ACCIDENT! Would you rather your children use methods of deception or subterfuge out of fear for the consequences? What is this teaching them? That there are no rewards for being honest? How unfortunate.

Peter, Pumpkin Eater

Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater,
Had a wife and couldn't keep her;
He put her in a pumpkin shell,
And there he kept her very well.

WTF? Number one, isn't this a wee bit illegal? To hold someone against their will? And secondly, why would you want to teach you child to stay in a relationship where the feelings obviously aren't reciprocated? Again, shameful.

Little Polly Flinders

Little Polly Flinders
Sat among the cinders,
Warming her pretty little toes.
Her mother came and caught her,
And smacked her little daughter
For spoiling her nice new clothes.

Has this mother of the year nominee ever heard of childproofing? Where the hell were you when your kid was sitting a spit away from a fire? Parenting at it's finest, people.

Now I fully recognize the irony of Grimms' fairy tales. These stories are downright alarming. I'm shocked that all of us don't have homicidal tendencies after being exposed at the most vulnerable, absorbent points in our lives. You know, being sponges and such.

I threw aside the book in favor of Goodnight Moon. And I have no regrets on the matter.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Nate's baptism went off without a hitch yesterday.

It was an especially joyous, momentous occasion for me.

As I was dressing my son in his pristine, white romper, I remembered how we were seemingly called back to the church, after years of repudiation. I reminisced back to this service. The flood of emotions that renewed our faith. How our relationship with the Lord has evolved over the past two years.

We came to the church when we were in a dark place. A painful hole that had swallowed us. We were suffering and in great need of solace. I wasn't expecting much by attending but I was ever hopeful of finding an outlet to carry my heavy burden. Someone or something to serve as my map, guiding me out of my personal hell and into a brighter, more purposeful place. Little did I know, that night would be the first step toward achieving peace and happiness. The first missing puzzle piece to be put back in its place. The first step to feeling whole again.

I tied Nate's bonnet and took a step back, beaming at my miracle. The baby I prudently thought was beyond my grasp. And how grateful I was to be proven wrong. A few finishing touches and a photo shoot later, we were on our way to celebrate. Celebrate life.

As the ceremony began, I listened carefully to the pastor's words, reciting my pledge to raise my son with Christian values. My solemn vow to do whatever possible to denounce evil that may try to thwart him along the way. I promise, I will. I'd rather die a thousand deaths than allow anything to hurt you or lead you astray. My animalistic maternal instincts were revealed and I abruptly felt overprotective. I flashed forward fifteen plus years, imagining dilemmas he may encounter and how I hoped he would respond. I silently prayed to lead by example and surround him with those who would also be worthy. By doing so, he could deliver on those promises justly.

The water poured over his head, matting his downy hair. In one act of effusion, he was cleansed of sin. He was saved.

And so were we.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The First Step

Nate took his first steps yesterday. Unassisted.

He was in rare form the night before with a temper tantrum the likes of which had never been seen. At least not in our house. This lead to a rough night of sleep for baby, which equated to a rough night for Mommy. DH was kind enough to run to Mickey D's and treat me to a hot mocha so I could jump start my day. As he returned and handed me the cup, Nate pulled up on a nearby TV tray and took a step toward me. After that first step, he couldn't quite discern what had just happened and he plopped down on his butt. Cheering erupted from the sidelines as DH and I couldn't contain ourselves.

Sure, he has been crawling and cruising (or attempting to cruise) for almost 2 months. And pulling himself up even longer. But it was still unexpected and surreal that my little boy just took his first step. It was quite exhilarating.

Of course, I had to test his abilities and ensure it wasn't a fluke. So after much enticing, I was able to get him to take two more unassisted steps. It's official. It's the real thing. We have a walker. Or we're at least on the brink of one.

I'm still unsure if I should celebrate or cry.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Greatest Show on Earth

Step right up, folks. Don't be shy. You will not believe your eyes. See sights beyond your wildest imagination. Grab your inflatable novelties and a bucket of popcorn as you take your front row seat to the greatest show on earth.

There are no elephants or white tigers at this performance. No motorcycle cage riders. Think Cirque du Soleil: The Breastfeeding Saga.

Watch my son defy gravity and logic as he contorts his body around my bosom into unthinkable positions. His aerial stunts will leave you spellbound, your mouth gaping with wonder and amazement. How is it possible that one could eat comfortably while simultaneously writhing into a downward facing dog stance? Have I been fooled into believing the coveted peacefulness at night is instead spent studying advanced yoga postures? More importantly, how can a human nipple be stretched and twisted to infinite proportions and not snap clean off?

It's a bit redundant to state there's lots of action going on under this Big Top.

Nursing has become quite the acrobatic feat these days. Ever since Nate learned how to crawl/pull up/cruise, he's been too lively to hunker down and eat a meal. To his defense, who can be bothered with sustenance when there is so much to observe? So many exotic places to travel? The cradle position is much too restrictive.

What started off as endearingly comical is now dreadfully aggravating. Especially at 3am when my motor functions are greatly delayed. I'm surprised he hasn't yet vaulted himself to the opposite end of the room. At this point, nothing short of a straight jacket can save us.

Will I be able to continue the juggling sideshow act? Stay tuned.

Monday, May 11, 2009

M Day Revamped

So, most of us know yesterday as M_ _ _ _ _' s Day. You can fill in the blanks here. A day of appreciation and tribute to the women who have birthed and raised children. Flowers. Candy. Cards. Sappy, sentimental commercials. Reminders plastered on every street corner. Reminders to forget a gift at your own peril. Reminders to some of what they long to have - long to be - but haven't attained.

If infertility has taught me anything, it is just how painful this holiday can be. As if the rest of society hadn't excluded us due to our childless status, there was now a special day in history each year during which we were extra specially antagonized.

Please understand me. I'm not suggesting that mothers shouldn't be recognized for all they do. Not at all. I am one of the fortunate ones that understands how our efforts - no matter how tiny or large - are often overlooked or expected. I just happen to believe it should be more of a softly spoken year-round thing as opposed to one obnoxiously in-your-face event a year. Perhaps I'm low-key like that. I would personally rather have someone do something thoughtful for me out of the blue than because a holiday obligates them with the showering of gifts.

And while this year is the first year that I could officially celebrate the day for myself, I still found myself waking yesterday morning with a tear in my eye. For those of us who still haven't reached the Holy Grail of IF. As my husband rolled over and said "Happy M_ _ _ _ _'s Day", my mind flashed back to the days when I was the outsider. When I watched everyone else accept their handmade gifts with the glimmer of unconditional love in their eye and kiss their squealing, rosy-cheeked children.

I longed to be a part of this elite club for so long and now that I had been inducted, it honestly just felt like any other day. Complete with nosebleed (this makes #3 this week), vomit and poop. I'm grateful every single day for my blessings so it wasn't the magical epiphany I thought it'd be.

I did receive some lovely flowers from Nate (can you believe that at a mere 9.5 months old, he can already log into and place an order? The eloquency of his notecard was easily on a 7th grade level.) and DH cooked me breakfast. We visited the in-laws and had dinner while the cousins played. But my mind wandered, as it tends to do. When people look at me, they see me and DH and now Nate. They have no idea of the scars and wounds I carry or the cross I bear from IF. The two angels I've lost, whose only tangible memories reside in the gemstone bracelet that gingerly caressed my wrist throughout the day.

The lovely, talented Liv came up with the most faboosh idea to stick it to IF and take back the day. To transform the feelings of dread to anticipation. And so OMG You Rock Day was born. I just had to participate and give back to the community that helped me work through all those rotten times.

I received the most lovely goodies from Stacie, whose blog I just recently discovered and lurve. I can't believe I've been missing out on her story. I must have been living under a rock. Her gifts were way too awesome not to share for Show & Tell:

The hilarious card, which Nate ripped from my hand and mangled before I even got the chance to open it

The sweet message inside

Opening my box of treats

Aren't the wrapping paper and bows so cute?

The Willow Tree Angel's Embrace ornament. The interpretation reads "Hold close that which we hold dear." PERFECT.

All of my loot, including new reading material

Does this girl rock or WHAT?! Thank you, Stacie, for your generous and thoughful gifts. I love them and will definitely be putting them to good use.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday: Crime Scene Investigation

I was startled by the sound of screaming coming from Nate's bedroom at naptime. Upon entering, I discovered this grisly scene. And almost suffered an anxiety attack.

Who could commit such a heinous act?

Our one clue: a ring of blood around Nate's right nostril.

We phoned the pediatrician and made a hasty trip into the office, fearing the worst. It was at our destination that the perpetrator was confirmed. An abrasion in the nasal cavity. Remedy is Vaseline applied nightly.

Mommy's heart can resume beating.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cinco De Mayo and Other Celebrations

Note: I started writing this post on 5/5 but I was embarrassingly lame and fell asleep midway through. Hence why I am not publishing until 5/6. What can I say? Mommy is exhausted. The college days of pulling all-nighters escape me. I feel old. But without further ado...

I'm celebrating Cinco de Mayo the "mommy way" tonight. Indulging in a strawberry daiquiri wine cooler and watching Bridget Jones' Diary on cable while the little man snoozes away in his crib and the hubby works. All alone. Some people may consider this mundane - I admit its no kegger - but to me, it is quite sensational. The 3.5% alcohol by volume isn't nearly enough for one to become inebriated but it does allow a breastfeeding mommy to feel like an autonomous adult without much guilt.

It's nights like tonight when I catch a glimpse of my former single, childless self. It's almost like seeing a childhood friend you've long grown apart from. She doesn't recognize me so I admire her from afar, thinking of the days I used to idolize her. And while I still have much love for her, I look around at my life now - toys scattered on the floor, laundry overflowing - and how I wouldn't trade in a thing.

As if I need another reason to celebrate...

The past two nights have been a raving success in the sleep deprivation department with 5+ hour stretches. Last night, I put Nate down around 8pm. He woke at 2am and 6am. At 6am, I brought him back to bed with me where he slept until 730am. It was pure bliss. I didn't know what to do with myself.

I just hope I don't become spoiled should this be a new trend. A girl could get used to this thing called sleep.

Nate had his 9-month appointment last week. He was 19 lbs, 13 oz and 28.5 inches long. I could have sworn he weighed more. Or perhaps my biceps are just reaching the peak of their strength, as my arms are giving out much faster than in days past. I was shocked he had dropped percentiles (now approximately 35th for weight and 50th for height) when he's always been in the upper 60-80th range. The pediatrician assured me that this decline in growth rate is common around this time and it is expected once they become so active. I asked her about his limited vocabulary and she seemed unconcerned. She said we would revisit the topic at 12 months but in the meantime, to continue storytime every night.

She examined his mouth, complete with now *eight* teeth. She asked if I had been brushing or wiping his teeth after meals, which I admittedly had not been doing. I was embarrased that I had no idea I should. She advised that I should at least wipe his teeth with a clean cloth after milk feeds, as those are common culprits for cavities. So, we went to the grocery store and picked up a baby toothbrush and some flouride-free, baby-safe toothpaste. I expected hysterics at the first introduction but the brush piqued his interest. He seemed to enjoy the taste of the gel. He even let out some chuckles as I glided over his gums.

After a clean bill of health, he got his long-awaited 6-month vaccinations. He did cry with each jab in his pudgy thigh but my tough little guy stuck it out and was back to smiling before we left the office. We will go back in a month or so to get the 9-month shots that will bring us up to date. ________________________________________________

Today, as I was cleaning up the living room, Nate was crawling on the floor and playing with some toys. I glanced down and noticed a dark spot on his skull. Initially, I thought it was a spot of dried blood but didn't recall him tumbling or bumping his noggin earlier. Being a blondie, it would be hard to miss something like that. Upon further inspection, I noticed it was not blood or dirt. It was a tick.

After a minor freak out, I conquered the eek factor and grabbed a credit card from my purse. I slid it along his hairline and the tick crawled onto the card. Whew, I exclaimed. It hadn't embedded itself yet. I ran the card into the bathroom and drowned it in the sink.

Crisis averted.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Rest In Peace

I'd always heard it happens in threes. But I didn't want to believe it. Not after this post. So, I dismissed the myth as foolish.

Turns out I was the foolish one.

I woke up on Thursday morning, a bit groggy from the lack of sleep the previous night. I nursed Nate, changed his massive wet diaper and turned on the morning cartoons while I logged onto FF. It was an ordinary day. That was until I saw the tragic news.

One of my fellow August DD mommies - my friend, Kelli - had lost her precious baby girl, Maggie.*

Infant death is always deplorable. But this particularly hit too close to home. I was in shock and denial. This was a friend. Someone I knew. We had never "met" but we had gone through our pregnancies together. We shared our special moments and milestones over the past year and a half, from our BFPs and gender announcements to labor/delivery stories and baby pictures. We shared our innermost fears and joys. We were connected. United.

I feel as if I've lost a family member. A niece perhaps. Grief has consumed me for days, ever since I found out. I can't go a few minutes without thinking of Kelli and her family. What they must be feeling, doing or saying at that very same moment. How one moment she was putting her girl to bed and the next, she was burying her. Is she reliving the nightmare over and over again inside her head? How would she explain the loss to Maggie's 5-year old sister, Piper? How do you tell a kindergartner that she will no longer kiss her baby sister goodnight?

She posted photos of Maggie's last days. Smiling unknowingly. I just lost it. How could this happen? Why? A mother should never lose her child. Never.

No matter how many prayers for strength and peace I sent their way, I couldn't feel at ease. I had wicked insomnia and couldn't sleep. I would just lie awake in bed at night, heartbroken. Crying tears of sadness. I was so restless with survivor's guilt. I got to hold and kiss my baby today. I can push this aside, pretend it is all a bad dream while I run errands or do chores. I've been touched by this - significantly - but I can move on. This is her reality. Her family is forever changed. No escaping the catastrophe.

My "new mommy" paranoia has escalated to Code Red. I've been on high alert for anything that might lurk in the shadows, threatening Nate's life. I've been reconsidering my decisions on that quilted bumper in his crib and that fleece blanket I give him to cuddle as he sleeps. I'm extra careful about feeding him table foods so he doesn't choke and watching him as he cruises so he doesn't fall and injure himself. I hold him closer and tighter, even if against his will. I feel like it is my duty to live this day as if I won't be given a next.

Maggie was just a week younger than Nate. She would have been 9 months old today. My mind, there it goes...wandering again.

I've been quiet lately. Truth is, I haven't felt much like writing. All of my drivel about sleeping or food or whatever seem so grossly unimportant compared to my friend's suffering. I can't imagine how she feels. And I hope I never have to know firsthand.

Another angel too beautiful for earth. Gone too soon. Maggie Amelia Rose. Sweet dreams, little one. You will never be forgotten.

*(I won't go into the minor details I am aware of about her passing. It's just too delicate a subject. And to be frank, it doesn't matter. So please don't ask out of respect to her family.)