Mom Life

The baby is supposed to eat what I eat–what food group is coffee in?

At Jacob’s one year doctor’s appointment, his pediatrician told us we can throw out all of the pureed baby food and give Jacob table food exclusively.

“He should eat what you eat,” she said, smiling.

Crap.

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I can’t admit to the pediatrician that I survive on the super healthy mom diet of coffee, a protein bar (breakfast), more coffee, a handful of almonds (snack), coffee, a salad or a yogurt (lunch), some random junk food scavenged from the English office or stolen from another teacher’s candy drawer (I’m the worst.  I’ll literally walk in while he’s teaching, take candy out of his drawer, laugh at the kids when they ask for some, and walk back out) when I’m starving sixth period that I then spend the rest of the day feeling guilty about, Diet Coke (not every day–but when we’re going through a sleep regression, I’m allowed to do whatever I need to in order to survive), a handful of crackers (snack), and then chicken and veggies (dinner).  

love food don't want to be fat

In fact, looking over my daily diet, I’m shocked that I don’t have scurvy.  When did I last eat a piece of fruit? I didn’t even eat a purple donut, so Homer Simpson’s logic that purple is a fruit doesn’t apply.  

purple is a fruit

That is NOT a balanced diet for a baby toddler (he’s not quite a toddler yet.  I can’t call him that. But he IS a baby toddler).

So as I see it, I’ve got two options.  I can either adopt a balanced diet for myself and then feed him bite-sized pieces of what I eat, or I can keep doing what I’m doing and feed HIM a balanced diet.

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In a perfect world, I’d go with option A, but I’m working full time, tired, and trying to keep weight off without having time to exercise.  Judge me if you will, but until the scurvy sets in, I’m sticking with what works.

(Actually, I put low sugar craisins in my salad for today.  That counts as fruit right? If purple is a fruit, red is definitely a fruit!)

scurvy

So I need to figure out what to feed Jacob.  His favorite foods so far: grilled cheese, french toast, veggie straws (which, despite clever marketing, are not healthy.  They’re slightly less unhealthy potato chips. They’re basically Baked Lays, but yummy), and freeze-dried yogurt drops.

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He’ll eat almost anything if it’s pureed–the only things he won’t touch with a ten-foot pole are beets (tried a baby food mix that had beets in it and he gagged on it, spit it right out, then looked at me distrustfully and wouldn’t let me feel him again until I made him grilled cheese two meals in a row.  I can’t blame him. Beets are pretty gross) and mangoes.

Whole foods, however, are providing slightly more challenging.  Both because he’s not always a fan of textures (he’ll put something in his mouth, decide he’s not into it, and pull it right back out) and because he’s discovered he has a favorite game. I’m calling it “Hungry, Hungry Doggies.”

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Both schnauzers began camping out under his high chair shortly after we began using it.  At first, they laid next to it, hoping for thrown Cheerios. Then Jacob started dropping toys and sippy cups on their heads, so now they take shelter under him.  But when he throws food, two dog heads pop out and scrabble for it, like it’s a marble in the board game. And he laughs hysterically.

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Meaning that his food has become their food.  (Of course, he’s also gone after their food now.  I’ve pulled three pieces of dog food out of his mouth before he could swallow them so far.  Mangoes he won’t touch, but kibble? Delicious.)

i want what the dog's eating

In other words, it has now become a challenge to get healthy food in him because the only four dishes that he won’t throw to the dogs are grilled cheese, french toast, veggie straws, and freeze-dried yogurt drops.

So I went to the experts: my mom friends. “Help meeeeee,” I begged.  “How do I get Jacob to eat healthy foods?”

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And I got a plethora of things to try, most of which Jacob summarily rejected because all babies are different and Jacob is smart enough to know that if he throws enough green beans to the dogs, I’ll eventually cave and make him something yummy.  

One of my mom friends also tagged me in some Instagram posts from moms who do “kid food-spiration.”  (Yes, that’s a thing. The internet has officially gone too far and I think society has been destroyed.)  And I was like, oh cool, I’ll follow these pages and get great ideas about what to feed Jacob.

instagram food

But the more I’m seeing, the more convinced I am that these moms all live in Brooklyn and appear on HGTV shows with multi-million dollar budgets without any discernible source of income. Because no, I’m not making vegan quinoa, tofu and avocado “deconstructed tacos” with gluten-free, homemade bean chips and chickpea and sunflower butter cookies for dessert, all packed in an eco-friendly, BPA free, recycled lunch tin with compartments specifically for their non-GMO, locally sourced, organic pomegranate seeds.  

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WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?

Dude, I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on Pepperidge Farm cinnamon raisin swirl bread every day from K-12 for lunch and turned out fine.  Granted, I didn’t grow up to have the healthiest eating habits, and I’m hearing that peanut butter is banned from most elementary schools now because of food allergies so that probably won’t be an option for Jacob, but still.  I never brought anything green for lunch and I’m pretty sure no one ever called social services on my mom.

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With that said, Jacob seems to be a fan of broccoli.  I found “broccoli tots” at the grocery store, which he loves (like tater tots, but broccoli instead of potato).  We’re still using some of the food packets to supplement his fruit and veggie intake on days when the dogs get a feast.  And considering his doctor mentioned that we can give him chicken nuggets (he hasn’t had that particularly delicacy yet), I think we’re doing okay, despite the lack of organic, locally sourced kale and quinoa.

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Of course, now that I’ve admitted to my terrible eating habits, I’m making myself feel guilty about the example that I’m setting and am thinking I should start bringing an apple to school to avoid the sixth period candy run.  It’s probably a good idea to model healthy eating habits.

wish this was pie

And to avoid scurvy.  I don’t even know exactly what that is, but if it’s a disease that pirates got, I’m thinking it’s not pretty.  

 

 

Mom Life

Pinterest is making me feel like a terrible mom

It’s no secret that I love the internet.  Google is my BFF. Siri and I fight sometimes (she pronounces my last name as Con-FIN-o, not Con-FEEN-o.  Like she should really have a feature where you pronounce something for her and she learns it. It’s not rocket science.), and I don’t currently have Alexa running my house, but I do love me some internet.

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Used by permission. Thanks boss!

Except Pinterest.  Screw Pinterest.

I’ll admit, I’ve never truly understood the appeal of Pinterest.  To me, it’s vaguely like the idea of Tumblr (which is NOT a real blog.  This is a blog. It has writing AND stolen pictures. Not just reposted pictures.  Just reposting pictures without the writing does NOT make you a blogger!). You just post other people’s stuff to save it for later.  That’s never done much for me.

pinterest electronic hoarding

Granted, it was helpful when planning my wedding–only because after I had a nightmare dress experience at the first store my mother and I went to, my mother looked at my Pinterest, saw that I’d pinned the same dress three separate times, and called around for a store that carried it.  She found one, we went in, I tried it on, we bought it, the end. (I also watch zero reality tv*, so I had no desire to cry and be like, “Oh my god, I’m saying yes to the dress!” Gag.)

wedding dress stress

*I fully intend to hate watch the hell out of the Jersey Shore reboot.  

So why do I hate Pinterest after it found me my wedding dress?

Easy.  It’s the Disney movie of motherhood.  Yes, I love Disney movies. But realistic expectations of men are not their forte.  Like if a dude comes up to you and starts dancing with you without your consent and tells you he met you in a dream so he already knows you in real life, that’s creepy AF.  I’m sorry, but no one is battling Ursala when he doesn’t even know your real name. Nope. And don’t even get me started on all of those princes kissing unconscious princesses.  But in a Disney movie? Oh my god, it’s so ROMANTIC! No, I’m not being sarcastic there. I don’t care how date rapey Prince Phillip is on paper, in Sleeping Beauty he’s awesome!

singing fixes everything

And that’s how Pinterest is.  You look at all these motherhood posts and you’re like “Wow, motherhood is SO dreamy.”  I’m almost a year in. Motherhood is not dreamy. It’s far from dreamy. In fact, what’s a dream?  Who sleeps anymore? What?

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Pinterest is fine when you’re setting up your nursery (you know, pre-baby.  When you have time to do cutesy stuff). But once that little guy or gal is born?  Especially if you’re working full time, who has time for all of that?

pinterest busy

Which brings me to the real problem with Pinterest (only took me 450 words to get there… oops): I am a surprisingly low maintenance mom.  I know, I know, no one who knows me would ever put the word “LOW” in front of maintenance when describing me as a person. But as a mom, I’m pretty laid back.

good mother alive

But Jacob is turning one in another week and a half.  Which means I have to plan a birthday party.

And all of these Pinterest moms are making me want to tear my hair out.

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The original plan was to invite close family and a couple of friends who have kids (because why would friends WITHOUT kids want to go to a one year old’s birthday party?  I certainly didn’t pre-kids!), get a couple balloons and a cake from Costco, make a small smash cake for Jacob and call it a day. No fuss, no muss, no problem.

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Apparently that’s not an acceptable solution for anyone involved.  Costco cakes, which incidentally, were good enough for my high school and college graduation parties, as well as my engagement party, my father’s 60th birthday party, etc, are apparently not good enough for Jacob’s first birthday because everyone I told that plan to said, “You’re really not going to make the cake yourself?”

Some background: I am an AWESOME baker.  It’s probably the only reason I have friends at school as I am also snarky beyond belief.  And in my younger and more vulnerable years, I used to decorate cakes. My grandma used to make all of our birthday cakes as kids and I eventually started “helping,” then ACTUALLY helping, then started making my own.

Cake ecard

The last time I cared enough to do that was 15 years ago though.  So I turned to Pinterest. And somehow, in the last 15 years, cake decorating went from “cut a monkey head shape out of a sheet cake” to spending eight hours sculpting the perfect cake and using fondant at home.  I’m not doing that. A) Fondant is gross, as I learned from wedding cake testing and B) WHAT MOM HAS TIME FOR ALL THAT?

decorating cake

The problem is, now that I’ve seen all of these fantastical Pinterest creations, I feel like my cute little monkey cake plan will be pathetic and everyone will think I’m a bad mom. And my old cake decorating books from the 90s were no help at all because THIS was what passed for a monkey cake back then.

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That’d be a bigger fail than those “1” penis cookies that made the rounds a few years ago.  (Side note, we went to a friend’s daughter’s first birthday party about a month ago. And the hubby pulls me aside, points in the corner and whispers, “Why do they have a dick balloon?”  I looked and it was supposed to be a pink “1,” but it would have fit in beautifully at a bachelorette party… we may not be emotionally mature enough to be parents after this many years of teaching high school!)

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So I’m compromising.  I ordered a monkey-shaped cake pan.  I’ll decorate that, make a banana-shaped smash cake for Jacob, and call it a day.  

My sanity is more important than looking like a perfect Pinterest mom.  

motherhood sanity    

Programming note: I’ll be in California for spring break next week, so I probably won’t have a new post for you until the week after that.  See you then!

Mom Life

Baby’s first flight will be 5 1/2 hours long. This should be interesting

My brother and his wife had a baby in December.  But because they live in LA and we’re in DC, I have yet to meet my only nephew.  This tragedy is finally going to be remedied in a week and a half.

Which brings me to today’s post: flying with an infant.

crying baby

Jacob will be one week shy of a year when we make the trip.  And I don’t do things by halves, so instead of trying a nice, two-hour flight to Florida, we’re diving right in and doing five-and-a-half hours for our first trip.

We’re also teachers, so we’re poor and therefore are bringing him as a “lap infant.”  Pray for us.

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I feel like the lap infant plan would have been easy a couple of months ago. But right now, all Jacob wants is to crawl, stand, and cruise.  So five-and-a-half hours of holding a squirming baby who wants to do anything BUT sit on a lap is going to be an experience. (Maybe you shouldn’t pray for us, maybe you should pray for whoever has to sit next to us…)

screaming infant

So as the research queen, here’s what I’ve discovered so far.

  1. Bring your own car seat.  In my Googling, I’ve seen all kinds of horror stories about people reserving a car seat from the rental car company, only to find that they were out of them that day.  Or the car seat in question was covered in puke. Or was rusty. Or broken. Or any number of other unsafe factors that meant people had to then leave one spouse at the rental car place while the other drove to the nearest Buy Buy Baby or Target to buy a new car seat.  Nope. That bulky Britax is coming with us!car seat
  2. Airlines will actually let you use your car seat on the plane without buying a seat if your flight isn’t full.  And with just under two weeks to go, our flights aren’t full (I’m sure I just jinxed myself…keep your fingers crossed for me).  So we’re planning to haul our car seat through the airport. Yes, that sounds like the biggest pain in the ass ever, but we bought a wheelie cart thing that it attaches to and you can apparently safely put the baby in the seat and use that as a makeshift stroller, so we can check the stroller before security at least. car seat stroller
  3. It’s actually cheaper to Amazon Prime a Pack N Play to my brother before we go than it is to bring our own.  While airlines let you check a stroller and a car seat for free, the Pack N Play would run us $25 each way and they’re $47 on Amazon right now, without having to shlep it through the airport.  No brainer there. if-my-wife-was-a-transformer-her-name-would-be-amazon-prime-c6296
  4. Get an Airbnb with a kitchen and washer/dryer instead of staying at a hotel.  The closest, non-shady hotel to my brother was $180 a night. We found an Airbnb for $124 and is walking distance to restaurants, shops and the beach.  While I’ve never stayed in an Airbnb before (and think it’s a little creepy when it’s someone’s regular house), I’ve got to say, the washer and dryer are crucial when traveling with a little one.  What do you do if there’s a poop disaster otherwise? babies poop on your pants
  5. Everyone I know drugs their kids on the regular.  Every single parent that I talked to who has flown with a one year old has told me to give him Benadryl.  EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. Which I guess makes sense. My parents were slipping me Benadryls to travel as late as three years ago when my mom and I flew to LA for my sister-in-law’s bridal shower.  But in my case, it wasn’t because I’m squirmy, it’s because I get more motion sick than anyone else on the planet. And if I’m sleeping, I’m not puking. baby benadryl
  6. TEST THE BENADRYL THING FIRST.  Oh my god, apparently on like 25 percent of kids, it doesn’t knock them out, it makes them insane.  And the last thing I need for five-and-a-half hours on a plane is a raging Hulk baby climbing all over everyone and everything on the plane.  (Hulk baby mad! Hulk baby crawl!) Urban legend? Maybe. But not worth the risk. Plus, testing the Benadryl beforehand gives mommy time to pack. tantrum

To be honest though, I’m not sure how I feel about the Benadryl thing.  Like I’m sure it’s fine. Dr. Adam says it can’t hurt. His pediatrician gave us the green light (although she also warned us to test it before we go to avoid Baby Hulk). And my parents did it to me for YEARS and I’m (mostly) normal.  But the box says not to give it to children under two. And I spend so much time and energy making sure that nothing non-organic touches my child’s lips, am I really going to dope him up for ease on a flight?

kid eats dirt

Yes.  Yes, I am.  But I’ll still feel mom guilt about it.  

And HOPEFULLY if he conks out for most of the flight, he’ll stay up a little later once we get there and adjust better to the time change.

Who am I kidding?  He’s waking us up at 4am every morning when we’re in LA and I know it.

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With that said, I’m actually really excited for this trip–and not just because I get to squeeze my adorable little nephew finally!  We’re planning to take Jacob to Disneyland, which yes, he’ll be too young to remember, but I still want to see his face when he sees real-life Mickey and Winnie-the-Pooh.

disney

Wish me luck!  And to all of you parents who have done a long flight with a little one before, what am I missing?  What advice do you have?

Mom Life

The only thing better than Dr. Google? Having a doctor for a brother

I hate going to the doctor.

You wouldn’t think I’d feel that way considering how many doctors I have in my family, but I think that my hesitancy to go to a doctor actually stems from that.  My mother’s brother was our go-to phone call as kids when something was wrong, and he can be kind of a jerk. I remember asking him about a rash I had one time (it turns out I’m allergic to sunshine.  Seriously. If I spend more than three days on the beach, I get bumps on my fingers and a rash on my legs. Dr. Google, however, told me the correct combination of vitamins to help me stay in the sun longer.) and he said amputation was the only answer.

rash blowtorch

As a teacher, it drives me up a wall when people who have never done my job try to tell me how to do my job.  So I’m fully aware that my tendency to self-diagnose via Google is the single most annoying thing on the planet to doctors.  I decided a few weeks ago that Rosie, my oldest dog, had a mast cell tumor based on Dr. Google, rushed her to the vet, crying hysterically, only to be told that it was a “waxy comedone,” aka, a “schnauzer bump.”  (To be fair, my vet is awesome and DID agree that the bump seemed suspicious until she did a fine needle aspiration and looked at the cells under a microscope. That or she thinks I’m completely psychotic and was humoring me.  There’s a distinct possibility that that was the case.)

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And the fact that I correctly diagnosed Jacob’s torticollis using the internet when our pediatrician thought he was fine both makes me extra convinced that I’m good at using Dr. Google and makes me extra annoying to doctors.  So I always feel like a doctor is not going to understand how good I am at Googling and not believe me when I tell them what the problem is. Yes, I could just describe my symptoms and let them figure it out, but my doctor is NOT House, MD.  And I don’t feel like getting poked and prodded when I already know what medicine I need.

dr google

But now I have my own personal family doctor because my brother is one.  When I was younger, the idea of my brother as a doctor terrified me. Partially because he’s my kid brother, but partially because he went out to observe at my other doctor uncle’s hospital when he was sixteen, saw a surgery, then claimed he could take my gallbladder out through my belly button and chased me through my parents’ house with an X-acto knife trying to prove it.  My parents thought this was cute. I did not.

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With that said, my brother has become my knight in shining armor since having a baby of my own because I can run my Dr. Google ideas by him to determine if a visit to the pediatrician is necessary or not.  This works well because A) no matter how much I annoy him, he’s my brother and he can’t get away from me, and B) I know he loves his nephew to pieces and therefore is giving me the best possible advice. (Although when I called him about a lump in my hand, only 30% convinced I had hand cancer, he told me it was a ganglion cyst and to slam a book on my hand as hard as I could to get rid of it. I’m not sure he loves me as much as he loves Jacob*.)

google hypochondriac

*BUT when I had an adverse reaction to the motion sickness patch while in Greece two summers ago and my vision got too blurry to even use my phone to Google what was wrong with me, he took my call at 4am his time, told me what was happening, why I was having the reaction, and what to do for it. So in the spirit of giving credit where credit is due, he’s a pretty awesome brother/doctor.

Meaning that when Jacob was taking less of his bottle than usual last week, then threw up, that felt too dire for Google and I called my brother.

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“Sounds like a stomach bug,” he told me.  “Rest and Pedialyte and keep an eye on how much he’s peeing.”

When that answer didn’t satisfy me, he asked, “What are you afraid of here?”

“That he’s sick,” I said.

sick wants dad

“And?”

“That’s all.”

He sighed.  “Babies get sick.  It sucks for a few days, then they get better.  He’ll be fine.”

“Can he throw up in his sleep and choke on it and die?”

vomit-catch

No,” he said.  “Babies are good at being sick.  He’s fine, you’re fine, have a glass of wine and chill.”

See why this is better than Google or going to the doctor?  Jacob’s pediatrician is nice and all, but she’s not going to prescribe a glass of wine when I’m freaking out.

doctor wine

Of course, I called him back the next day to tell him his diagnosis was wrong because Jacob hadn’t thrown up again, but was still refusing his bottle and fussy and I thought he was teething.  And Dr. Google told me that teething can sometimes make a baby throw up even though pediatricians always say it’s a stomach bug.

“Okay, then he’s teething,” he said. I could hear him rolling his eyes through the phone.  

google doctor

Then, a day later, when Jacob was still refusing his bottle, we went to the pediatrician, who told us it was either a virus, teething, or constipation.  Which was a pretty broad spectrum of issues, but at least she ruled out an ear infection, strep, and a bowel obstruction (none of which I thought he had).  

That afternoon, Jacob woke up from his nap with an insanely runny nose and we had our answer.  I still think he’s teething too, but based on the sore throat that I woke up with the next morning (yes, he sneezed on my face again.  Thanks, kid.), I felt confident that I had solved the medical mystery of why Jacob wasn’t taking his bottle.

Sick kid humor

With a little help from my brother and Dr. Google.  Thanks guys!

 

Mom Life

I’m literally Googling baby poop. What happened to my life?

I know that I’m a total stereotype for being a Jewish mama who worries about everything, but I feel like the fact that I have a diagnosed anxiety disorder gives me a bit of an excuse.  

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Either way, there is a whole spectrum of issues that I never anticipated worrying about prior to beginning the parenthood journey.

Like baby poop.

poop machine

If anyone in the NSA is monitoring my internet search history (or Facebook.  I see you Facebook app, spying on everything I do!), they’re really going to think I’m obsessed with poop because now that we’re done with the baby helmet, I think poop queries make up 85 percent of my search history.  The other 15 percent are comprised of Queen Elizabeth trivia (because I’m fact checking The Crown as we watch it), baby food recipes, the weather for possible snow days, and how little sleep you can survive on before you start creating underground fight clubs and making soap.

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In the beginning, his poop was unconcerning.  Jacob was kind enough to cry when he needed to poop, so when he stopped crying and got all happy, we knew he had a squishy tush.  This typically occurred when I was in the shower. When my husband went back to work after Jacob was born (He really is the best baby.  He made his arrival at the beginning of April, ensuring that I had the maximum amount of leave time. I was able to take off all of fourth quarter at school and then got the summer too), I’d feed Jacob and then plop him in his bouncer seat in the doorway to the master bathroom so I could see him while I showered.*

*Our master bathroom is freakishly narrow.  Apparently our house was built with Slender Man in mind.  Navigating it while pregnant was… interesting.  

On good days, he’d fall asleep and I’d actually get to put on makeup and get dressed after I showered.

mom shower makeup

Most days, however, he’d cry a little bit when I got in the shower, then get happy and chatty.  Which I dreaded.  Because it meant he’d pooped.  And not like a tiny, cute amount of baby poop.  I’m talking like elephants would stop and point and be like, “Wow, that’s a lot of poop even for us!”  Remember the scene in Jurassic Park?  It was like that but with a baby in a diaper on top.

jurassic park poop

And the happier he got, the more poop it meant there was.  My little guy somehow managed to have poop-splosions so enormous that what came out of his diaper could fill the entire bouncer seat.  And there he’d sit, happy as a pig in–you get where I’m going–wiggling all around as the poop slopped down onto the carpet.  

We may have lied a little when we had our carpets professionally cleaned a couple months ago and told the guy that the dogs had accidents in our bedroom.  While that’s true in some spots, we definitely had baby spots in other places!

baby poop

If you told me I’d miss those days, I’d have called you a liar.

But now that we’re on solid food, which my little chunky monkey loves, the poop isn’t flowing as freely.  So I find myself Googling baby constipation remedies.  Which was kind of embarrassing when I accidentally left that on my screen at school and then projected my screen for the kids to see an assignment.*

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*I’m totally lying.  Not about doing that, but about feeling embarrassed.  That’s one of the downsides and/or perks of motherhood that I’ve discovered.  I no longer have shame.  I’m too tired to feel shame.  We’re doing baby swim classes with Jacob and while I was always the one who was like, “Why do old ladies walk around the locker room naked?  Why?  Why?” Now, I’m like, eh, I’m holding a baby while trying to get dressed.  What do I care if someone sees a boob?

naked locker room

So after massive amounts of Googling about the consistency of his poop (it’s not usually the rabbit pellets, it’s more of a poopy wedge), possible culprits and possible remedies, we tried everything.  Prunes, prune juice, tummy massages, bicycling his legs, putting him back in that bouncer seat while I shower, taking him out in the backyard (hey, it works for the dogs!), coffee, etc.  No dice.  

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Which means that the most likely problem is that he needs more water in his diet.

Cool.  We’re working on sippy cups.  I bought 17 different kinds (actual number, not hyperbole).  Which my husband keeps trying to drink from, then proclaims too difficult and throws over his shoulder into a growing heap of rejected sippy cups.

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Which brings us to our next problem: teething.  Jacob’s four front bottom teeth are all in. His four front bottom teeth, however, are all poised to come in at the same time. Literally.  You can see all four just below the gums, but they’re taking their sweet time making an actual appearance.  

And those lovely sub-dermal chompers are making it hurt for him to drink be it from a bottle, a sippy cup, a straw, a stream etc.  He seemed perfectly happy to drink pool water at his baby swim class last weekend, but I draw the line at water that has a measurable urine content in it.  Literally though, he looked like one of those whales inhaling water. Not okay!

putting_the_pee_in_pool

So short of sitting on him and squirting water into his mouth (which a. makes me think of that Shel Silverstein poem where the babysitter thinks she’s supposed to sit upon the baby and b. will probably make future water drinking rather traumatic), I’m at a loss until those teeth come in.

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Note to self: Google how to make baby teeth come in faster!

Mom Life

What to expect when you’re expecting… a baby helmet

Hi, I’m Sara, and I’m a Google addict.

My baby also wears a DOC band for positional plagiocephaly (a word I learned in my frantic googling when my pediatrician first told us that our baby had a flat spot) that was the result of undiagnosed torticollis (which I caught, thanks to Google).  

when in doubt, google it

But there was a lot of stuff that Google wasn’t so helpful with when Jacob first got his helmet and I had questions, so now that we’re almost finished (THANK FREAKING GOD! We officially have two weeks left of him wearing it, but we had our “graduation” appointment already, so we’re pretty much there!), I figured a blog post (aka adding to the world of Google for other paranoid mamas) outlining all that stuff could help anyone who just got a baby helmet and was frantically trying to figure out if everything was okay or not.

learned more from google than school

Let’s start with how it all works at the very beginning.  In case you haven’t gotten your helmet yet, Cranial Technologies will go over most of this part with you.

Days one and two, you’ll leave the helmet on for three-to-four hour intervals, then check for red spots.  If the red spots go away in an hour or less, cool, put the helmet back on.  (They give you a paper to write down timing on.  Use it.  It helps.  Especially if you’re like me and spending the early days weeping about the helmet and can easily lose track of time.)  If the red spots take more than an hour to go away, call Cranial Technologies.  

Warning: probably not in those first couple days, but you WILL eventually get red spots that don’t go away immediately.  Try not to panic (I’ll get to that in a minute).

panic attacks online

IF your baby’s red spots all go away within an hour after like three of those checks, your baby can sleep in the helmet.

I figured that would be the worst part, but honestly, Jacob adjusted just fine.  He never even seemed to notice it was on.  We did freak out the first couple of nights when we heard loud thuds on the baby monitor, only to find he’d banged his helmet into the side of the crib.  Which also made me wonder how often he’d banged his unprotected head against the crib and it hadn’t made a loud enough thud for me to notice.  But at least he’s protected now when he does it, right?

no clue what we're doing

The first couple of weeks, you’ll need to take off the helmet and wipe your baby’s head down at diaper changes/any time he or she seems hot.  THIS IS A BIG ONE.  That sucker is an inferno!  It’s like wearing a Russian fur hat indoors at all times.  Your baby is going to get sweaty and gross.  So dressing him or her in ridiculously inappropriately cool clothes is important.  (Learned this the hard way.  We had our guy in a warmish car with a hoodie on and he got super fussy.  Turns out his whole back was drenched with sweat. Baby is going to be a little fireball with that helmet on.  Keep him or her cool!)

george sable hat

We did great the first week once we started dressing him cooler.  Then, Friday afternoon, Jacob got a red spot that didn’t go away in an hour.  And it was right after Cranial Technologies closed for the weekend (of course).  

So I did what any rational person would do: I panicked.  

Actually, I took the helmet off, because I Googled “DOC band red spots” and saw that red spots can lead to skin breakdown and I FREAKED that he was going to get a bloody head and we wouldn’t be able to wear the helmet until it healed and by then he would have grown out of it and then we’d have to spend another $2,500 that we don’t have out of pocket for a new helmet.

freak out and panic

But the take-the-helmet-off plan sucked too because we paid $2,500 for this hunk of junk and, damnit, it wasn’t going to fix Jacob’s head sitting on the counter!

That piece of plastic and foam was going back on his head, no matter how much I hated it.  So I slathered Aquaphor on Jacob’s head and the red spot was better by morning.  I also ordered some British “nappy rash” cream that the helmet mamas across the pond rave about for red spots off of eBay, just in case–which is currently sitting in a drawer because the Aquaphor worked beautifully. Cranial Technologies said to use a little cortisone cream, but the Aquaphor did much better for an irritation spot.  Just make sure you wipe the excess off before you put the helmet back on because it can *supposedly* damage the foam.  (I kind of think that’s like the airplane rule of shutting off electronics for takeoff and landing.  There’s a zero percent chance they’d let you have electronics on a flight at all if there was even the most remote possibility of them interfering with the plane’s equipment.  TOTAL BS.  But whatever.)

airplane mode

We got Jacob in for his appointment and they shaved down the spot that had been rubbing (by the velcro opening of the band), and the red spot there got better.  It did come back closer to adjustment number two, but the tech said that red spots tend to get worse when the band needs adjusting and that’s “good” because it means there’s been growth.

Their method of determining where to shave for red spots is… well… interesting.  They put lipstick on your baby.  Not on his mouth, but on the red spots, then put the helmet back on, wiggle it around, and shave where the lipstick rubbed off on the helmet.  Which seems legit.  I mean, nothing screams “medical professionals” like lipstick on a baby.

no-i-have-not-seen-your-lipstick_o_882524

All was well.

Then I went back two days later for another adjustment because we got red spots that wouldn’t go away again.

That was by far the most frustrating stretch of wear in the helmet so far.  And by then, I was pretty disillusioned with Cranial Technologies because A) they didn’t do any measurements at his official adjustment, just told us “oh, wow, it looks great,” and B) I had to take off work TWICE in the same week to get Jacob up to Columbia for adjustments.  Like, I do have a job other than shuttling him to the helmet store! (Yes, I’m calling it the helmet store.  Because they’re not doctors.  They sell helmets.)

And I got even more disillusioned when they shaved a little more foam out and then told me Jacob had heat rash.  It was 40 degrees out, which yes, was better than last week’s polar vortex-nado thing, but it was still cold.  How do you get heat rash when it’s 40 degrees out?  

things-that-are-dangerous-when-left-out-in-the-heat-RAa

In my frustration, I spent a while reading everything I could find on that 2014 study that claims the helmets don’t do anything and was thinking I’d just wasted 16.6 Springsteen tickets worth of money on this thing that was hurting my baby.  (Who am I kidding?  I don’t go to concerts right now.  I have a baby!  But that’s still my unit of measurement, soooo… maybe someday I’ll be going to shows again.)

springsteen-tickets

They told us to keep it off until everything was totally skin-colored and to put a little cortisone on the “heat rash.”  They also said that in areas where babies have “stork bite” birthmarks (which I totally didn’t think was a thing when our pediatrician said it at first… I had to Google!), heat rash is more common.  And Jacob has a tiny stork bite under his hairline, right next to the helmet-induced red spot.  So we went home and followed directions.

I will say this–Cranial Technologies deals exclusively in baby helmets, so they do know their stuff.  The spot that they shaved out stayed skin-colored and the other spot WAS heat rash.  It went away in a day, but started creeping back if we let him get too hot in the helmet.  We were out of it for about 30 hours that weekend before I realized (thanks Google) that baby powder helped.

baby powder lost freedom

Now I know baby powder is the current baby antichrist, but if your DOC Band baby has heat rash, it’s a miracle cure.  The Johnsons and Johnsons kind is cornstarch now, not talc (meaning don’t use the old bottle from the 80s that’s under your sink!), so it’s less bad. Just make sure you shake it away from the baby and just use it in his or her hair where baby gets sweaty/heat rash.  And if your mom guilt won’t let you use it for that, just remember, all of our moms used the bad talc kind of baby powder on us and liberally shook it right from the bottle onto us and none of us have powder-related breathing problems.  

good mother.jpg

Heat rash crisis averted.

Last, but DEFINITELY not least, the smell.  I Googled HARD to figure out the best way to combat the smell before we even got the helmet because my lovely pregnancy sense of smell decided to stick around postpartum and I do NOT want a baby who smells like a foot.  And not a cute little baby foot, I mean a stinky husband foot!

smelly-gif

Google didn’t disappoint.  One random mama on BabyCenter’s messageboards posted that she used wintergreen rubbing alcohol.  So I ordered some from Amazon (then later discovered that Safeway carries it for much cheaper.  Oh well).  And that stuff WORKS. Granted, he now smells like a stick of gum when he goes to bed, but his head is mercifully stink-free the rest of the day.  

face smells like peppermint

So my method is to put the wintergreen rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle (it’s like absinthe green, which definitely leaves a green tinge on the foam over time, but… well… who cares?), spray it in the helmet, scrub with a toothbrush, then wipe out with a towel. Let it dry for the full hour the helmet is off, then back on it goes.  Between the wintergreen alcohol and the baby powder, we’ve had zero smell issues, and we definitely have a sweaty baby, so I can attest to this stuff working.

Happy helmeting!

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Mom Life

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.

not competitive as long as i'm winning

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.

craziest-thing-since-leaving-facebook-ive-had-nomo-fomo-71338

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.

oh-i-am-getting-so-much-done-around-the-house-now-that-my-baby-is-crawling-said-no-parent-ever-73f8c

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.

b9bc468442efd28423fa6abadc1ebafc--shitty-moms-shitty-mom-quotes

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.

upon-closer-inspection-your-issues-are-not-the-type-that-can-be-easily-fixed-you-may-want-to-seek-professional-help--ebfd8

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.

everyone-is-always-happy-when-youre-above-average-unless-its-your-weight-f9998

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