How does a baby say ‘I love you’? By sneezing on your face

Jacob has a cold.  Which, according to the laws of mommydom, means that I also have a cold because the first indication that we had that he wasn’t feeling great was when he sneezed.  On my face.

sick mom

At ten months old (and CRAWLING!  YAY!!!!!!!), this is our second cold, and this one is milder than the first.  No fever, just stuffy with a very runny nose. No biggie and he can still go to daycare.  (Although I feel seriously guilty sending him to daycare, both because I know he doesn’t feel great and because wiping snot is disgusting when it’s my OWN kid. I can’t imagine having to do that to someone else’s kid!  Gross!)

sick child daycare

When he got his first cold, we panicked.  Jacob had a slight fever, so I sent hubby to CVS for infant Tylenol.  He returned 20 minutes later having spent $70 buying EVERYTHING in the baby care section.  He’s not allowed to go to CVS anymore.

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Actual picture of what $70 buys you at CVS

We took turns taking the day off of school to stay home with him and rushed him to the pediatrician twice, only to be told both times that it was a cold, that babies get colds, and that he’d be fine.  (They DID give us antibiotics for his ears the second time we went, although they said they weren’t infected, they just looked like they COULD get infected as the cold continued.  Insane first-time parents like us are probably why everyone is developing antibiotic immunities these days.  Honestly, they ought to just give parents pink, bubblegum-flavored sugar water to give babies and tell us it’s medicine so we can feel like we’re doing something to help.)

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So this time, in the absence of a fever, we didn’t worry.*

*Okay we worried.  But I sent frantic texts to my brother, who is a doctor, instead of rushing Jacob to the pediatrician.  Because instead of giving me antibiotics, he tells me I’m an idiot and to stop it, which actually probably does more good than the antibiotics.

And by now, we’re old pros.  We have an arsenal of infant Tylenol and Motrin (in case he develops a fever), a good baby thermometer, nasal mist, and a battery-powered aspirator (Sorry Nose Frida fans, that thing is gross.  That little blue piece of sponge that they call a filter is NOT enough to convince me that baby snot is not going into my mouth.  It’s disgusting.  Plus, when I’m sick too, I can’t generate enough suction for it to actually do anything other than freak Jacob out that I’m trying to suck his brains out of his nose.)

nose frida

The biggest problem when he’s sick (other than my hypochondriac fear that it’s actually RSV, will turn into pneumonia and require hospitalization) is how to keep him hydrated.

I’m prone to horrible post-nasal drip and know that drinking when I’m sick sucks.  But I do it, because I know I need to to feel better.  While I don’t know yet if Jacob has inherited my sinus problems (and I’m praying he doesn’t!), I do know that he doesn’t feel like taking his bottle and we have not yet mastered this sippy cup situation.  And I can tell him that he needs it to feel better until I’m blue in the face, but I might as well be telling the schnauzers to stop barking at the mail lady for all the good it does.  (She’s their worst enemy.  She attacks our house EVERY DAY and we do nothing to stop it.  They are outraged and do their very best to let her know that they’ll murder her if given half the chance.  Except for the days when she actually comes to the door, because then she gives them treats and they love her.  Seriously, all you’d need to do to rob our house is feed our dogs.)

dog mailman

He normally takes five six-ounce bottles a day and we’re working on trying to add in some water as well on days when he doesn’t finish those.  But when he’s sick, it’s a struggle to get three ounces in him.  And a quick Google search told me that a baby can dehydrate quickly when sick.  (I also found a result that said babies don’t want to eat as much when sick and are fine as long as they’re producing 3-4 wet diapers a day.  But we’ll ignore that because dehydration sounds scarier.  I also sent my brother a video of him playing and my brother told me he’s fine and that I’m an idiot.  We’ll ignore that too.)  

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So Jacob needs fluids.

I know the current advice is to only offer formula or breastmilk from a bottle and water should come only from a sippy cup, but despite our daily efforts, Jacob thinks the sippy cup is a teething toy.  He also enjoys grabbing it by the handles and flinging it off of his high chair onto the poor dogs, who hang out there hoping for Cheerios.  But drinking from it?  That’s a no go.

sippy cup

Desperate times call for desperate measures.  And our parents’ generation gave us water and juice in a bottle and all of us eventually learned how to drink from cups.  So Pedialyte in a bottle it is for now.  We had some success with that, and then I used an oral syringe to get a little more in him, which he actually liked.  I guess it’s pretty hard to drink from a bottle when you can’t breathe through your nose.  Poor little guy.  But on the plus side, with me pushing fluids like a psycho, at least he’s pooping well!

Am I being ridiculous?  Absolutely.  And I’m fully aware that when eventual baby #2 gets sick, I’ll probably be like, eh, suck it up, you’re fine.  But I guess there’s a reason that first-time parents have a reputation for being nuts.  

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Time to babyproof. Too bad MC Escher designed our house!

Jacob is finally almost crawling!

I know that sounds like a dubious milestone to parents whose children are already crawling because everyone we talk to is like, “NO!  Savor this time before they’re mobile! Crawling ruins lives!”  And while I know that we’re going to face a whole new host of challenges once he’s actually crawling (especially because the dogs track disgusting yard debris everywhere that Jacob will be crawling), I cannot wait to start this next stage.

crawling baby

Partially because we’re on the late end of the milestone, which is normal with a big baby, and chubadub over here counts as a big baby, coming in in the 87th percentile for weight.  (He’s tall too.  I shouldn’t call him chubadub.)   But mostly I’m so excited because we’ve felt so behind in milestones with the torticollis, so finally getting there and (just barely) within the average time frame feels like a huge victory.

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Of course, it will also come with its challenges.  Namely, figuring out how to babyproof my house.

Houses tend to fall into one of three categories when it comes to stairs: ranch (no stairs), colonial (one staircase), or split-level (two half staircases).

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Obviously, a ranch-style house is ideal for babyproofing, because it requires zero baby gates, but you also run the risk of your child not knowing how to go up and down stairs when he or she starts school. (My husband grew up in a ranch-style house.  He still seems to have difficulty navigating stairs, especially when his mouth is full.  I grew up in a colonial-style house, so I can walk up and down stairs backwards, forwards, and Exorcist-style, all while eating spaghetti.)  A colonial is the next best because it requires only two baby gates, and baby will eventually learn to walk down stairs. A split level is less than ideal because you’ll need four baby gates, which does tend to get annoying and expensive.

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Then there’s our house.  

I get that the ’70s, when it was built, were a feel good, groovy time.  Yes, there was disco, but the ’70s gave us Born to Run and Star Wars.  What’s not to love about the ’70s?

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Our house. That’s what.  

Don’t get me wrong, I love our house.  It definitely needed updating, much of which we’ve done and are still doing.  We replaced the rickety wrought-iron banisters.  We painted over the hideous brown brick wall.  We put in recessed lighting and are even in the process of finishing our super scary basement.  (Seriously, it’s the basement from the first season of American Horror Story right now.  Don’t go down there.)  Our house is lovely.  And until we got close to Jacob crawling, we had no problems at all, other than the haunted basement.

scary basement

So what’s the problem now?

It’s a colonial.  We should be able to get two baby gates and call it a day.  But apparently I live in the house that MC Escher built and I basically need baby gates on the ceiling.

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Here’s the issue: we have a sunken living room and family room (they’re connected), each with its own staircase consisting of four steps each. Not terrible, but considering my grandma almost wiped out on them the other day after 90 years of successful stair walking, I think it’s safe to say that we need to gate those off for the baby.  So that’s four baby gates.  We have a normal staircase too, so that’s two more gates.  And then, because the first two bedrooms are over the sunken rooms and the other bedrooms are over the non-sunken kitchen and dining room, we have ANOTHER set of four steps upstairs.  Which means to babyproof our house, we’re going to need EIGHT baby gates.

didn't fall down

As daunting as that is, it gets worse. Three of those landings are opposite banisters, so we can’t use pressure mounted gates there, and one of the sets of four stairs is open and doesn’t have a wall at all, so we need to find a baby gate that wraps around to connect to other walls (because I don’t trust a freestanding baby gate.  I feel like he’s going to pull up to stand on that and it’s going to smush him like a bug.  The cutest little smushed bug in the world.  But still a smushed bug).

squishy

And then there are the dogs.  

The dogs are also my babies.  Don’t @ me. They just are.  (Have I been spending too much time with my students?  For the slang-challenged out there, or anyone who doesn’t have a teenager, that means don’t call me out about that because I stand by what I said.  I think the etymology is from the Twitter.)

in your 30s

The strict dog trainers out there are cringing, but our dogs have free reign of the house.  They never liked being crated as puppies, so despite not being perfectly behaved, we let them roam free.  

But, if you needed proof that the dogs are my babies, both of them seem to have inherited my anxiety.  Rosie has pretty bad separation anxiety.  She does NOT handle being away from me well at all.  She manages for the school day and all, but shutting her in a room completely freaks her out.  We’re pretty sure she’s going to claw through our bedroom door one of these days when we’re getting work done in the house and have to shut her in there for her own safety.  

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Sandy has social anxiety (she is my spirit animal) and new people freak her out.  She’s on meds for it and is much better these days (except when she sees my brother.  She freaking hates my brother.  We have no idea why, as every other dog, cat, horse, llama, bald eagle and iguana on the planet loves him.  He’s like the male Snow White. But Sandy hates his guts.), but she feeds off of Rosie’s anxiety and gets very upset when they’re shut in a room together.

Which means the baby gates are going to be particularly traumatic if we’re shutting them in an area or out of an area.  

In other words, all of our baby gates have to have doors that can stay open for the dogs when we’re not using them for the baby because I will cry if I think my other babies are unhappy.

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I’m not even going to tell you how much money I just spent on gates.  You don’t want to know.  To be honest, I don’t want to know either.  But at least all three of my babies will be safe and happy.

Now I just have to get rid of my old death trap Ikea dresser and plug up nine billion electrical sockets.  Isn’t babyproofing FUN?

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Forget FOMO, I’ve got FOLM. Thanks Obama–I mean Facebook

I am a crazy perfectionist.

Which may sound strange if you know me in person, because I’m also a mess.  My desk at school is currently a raging dumpster fire of papers, my car looks like I live in it, and let’s not even get started on my closet. But I’m an organized mess.  I know where everything is at all times and I don’t let my mess get in the way of my quest for perfection.

hot mess

I’m also insanely competitive, which, if you’ve spoken to me for even three seconds, you already know.  I’ve joked before that that’s why I like eBay–not only do you get to shop, it tells you you win when you buy something.  And I love winning.

Combining being a perfectionist with my competitive nature, however, has been a disaster in motherhood, especially once we hit the torticollis and helmet bumps in the road. Because that helmet feels like a giant neon sign saying that my baby isn’t perfect, and as he is an extension of me, it feels like it’s screaming to the whole world about one of my flaws.

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Yes, I know I’m ridiculous.  But it’s still how it feels.

And it all ties in to the latest feeling of failure, which I’m calling FOLM–Fear of Late Milestones.

Much like FOMO or Fear of Missing Out, FOLM has always existed, but is exacerbated by the social media era.  I’m sure that moms hundreds of years ago worried when they went to the park, or factory, or public execution (hey, hundreds of years ago, people had pretty sick forms of entertainment) and saw that other babies who were the same age as their babies were walking already and freaked out that there was something wrong with their baby. But it’s worse now that it’s all broadcast on social media.

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Last weekend, I saw videos from two different friends, whose babies are within a couple of weeks of Jacob’s age, and their babies were crawling all over the place.

Jacob is not crawling.  Nor does he seem anywhere close to it.

I cried. I Googled. I cried some more.

The reality is that babies are expected to start crawling between six and ten months, and Jacob is eight months old.  So it doesn’t mean he’s behind.  According to our physical therapist, part of that is disposition; Jacob is the most chill baby ever (which he certainly did not get from me, the anxiety queen), so he’s content to sit and watch the world.  He’s also huge, weighing in at over 21 pounds at eight months, and bigger babies tend to reach some of the gross motor skills milestones later, as they have more weight to lug around with them.

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He also seems to have no desire to crawl yet, which may be my fault.  He’ll reach his hand out for something (which really looks like he’s using the Force.  Mama’s inner Star Wars nerd is so proud of her little Jedi!), and one of us usually gives it to him.  Who needs to crawl when you have a mommy slave?

star wars hate jar jar

But I crawled at six months, walked at nine months, identified letters on the fridge at 18 months, and wrote my first novel at 22 months.  

Okay, that last one was more like at 25 years.  But still. I was exceptionally precocious with all developmental milestones.  

And Jacob was supposed to be even better than me with all of that.

I’m fully aware that my competitive nature has not won me any friends.  In fact, it’s cost me a lot.  Because not only do I try to be the best at everything, I succeed just enough to be insanely annoying.  My mom was only in labor with me for eight hours (which is considered supersonic speed for a first baby).  I told her I’d beat that, and I did, giving birth to Jacob six hours and one minute after my water broke.  She lost eight pounds off her pre-pregnancy weight with me.  I lost nine after Jacob was born.  Etc.

not a competitions

Do you hate me yet?  I kinda hate myself reading that.  (And I bet I hate me more than you hate me!  Okay, okay, I’ll stop…)

So watching Jacob not be the first to do everything is difficult, because there’s nothing that I can do (besides continuing his physical therapy and doing as many of his exercises with him as I can) to catch him up.

And even more upsetting, our physical therapist showed us a scale of things he should be able to do, and he’s definitely behind in a few areas.  Even though the tilt from the torticollis is gone now, he still has residual shoulder strength issues.  She said it’s really the chicken or the egg here–did his weak shoulder strength cause the torticollis, or did torticollis cause shoulder weakness.  

She did assure us that there was nothing we could have done to prevent it either way, but I still feel like it’s my fault.  Torticollis CAN be caused by low amniotic fluid, which I had.  Yes, I know that wasn’t my fault on the logical level, but if it’s possible that my body did this to Jacob, I still feel like I did this.

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On the plus side, our physical therapist assured us that he’s making progress, that we’ll keep working, that we’ll get him to where he needs to be, and that the age that babies walk and crawl at has no correlation whatsoever to the age that they hit any other developmental milestones at.

She also recommended I get serious professional help because I’m actually competing with myself for what age Jacob does things at.

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Not really.

But that’s another one of those hard first-time parenting things, because what my brother and I did is my only real basis of comparison for what Jacob should be doing. And I hate worrying that he’s not exactly where a chart says that he should be.

Until then, feel free to keep reminding me that just because he’s not the first one to do something doesn’t mean he’s actually late. It does take both early and later babies to make up those average age ranges after all.

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Happy holidays, folks!  I’ll see you in the new year!