Mom Life

Jacob is a year old already–here’s what I’ve learned this year

I must have blinked sometime recently (blinking counts as sleep when you’re a parent, right?) because, suddenly, my little baby is a year old.

one year old

How did THAT happen?  

I swear I was pregnant like last week and he was born yesterday, wasn’t he?

My best friend (and mommy guru, oracle of all things motherhood) told me when I felt like I was drowning in the early days of maternity leave that, when you have kids, “the days are long, but the years are short.” Boy, is that accurate!

baby destroys your life

So what have I learned this year?

I’m not going to list everything because I’d be writing that list until he was two, then need to start the list of things I learned in that year.  But there are some big ones worth mentioning.

One of the first things I learned: I don’t know that I could be a stay-at-home mom.  Maybe when kids are a little older, but those first couple months when the hubby went back to work before summer started were ROUGH.  Don’t get me wrong: being a working mom is ridiculously hard.  I miss Jacob all day and wish I were with him, but if I were home with him all day every day with no breaks, I think I’d go insane and start writing “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” on the walls.

stay at home mom crazy

With that said, I have TERRIBLE SAHM FOMO (Stay-at-home mom fear of missing out).  I 100 percent WISH I had the means to be a stay at home mom and I’m DESPERATELY looking forward to my summer home with him. DESPERATELY. I absolutely NEVER want to go back to work when it’s time. But I also recognize that having some adult time is good for me.  (Granted, I’m not sure teaching in a high school counts as “adult time,” but I’ll take what I can get.)

work full time mom

However, I also could never afford to be a stay-at-home mom either.  So maybe some of this is my brain tricking me so I don’t spend all day crying.  But in one sense I’m a better mom to Jacob when I’m absolutely dying to see him at the end of the work day.  (Like literally.  When they spring a meeting on me at the end of the day, I will cut someone to get home to my baby!)

i-d-rather-sit-in-this-faculty-meeting-than-read-the-same-info-in-an-email-said-no-teacher-ever-d0050

I could, however, be a stay-at-home dog mom quite happily. But I’d be able to go to the gym, go shopping, shower, pee with the door closed, etc with just dogs.  Despite what I thought prior to having a child, babies are a different ballgame altogether.

stay at home dog mom

I learned to try to sweat the small stuff less. I know that everything feels catastrophic in the moment, but the reality is, we’ll get through whatever it is.  Whether it’s the baby not gaining enough weight or a flat head or physical therapy or whatever pain in the ass is coming next. Is it going to suck at the time?  Yes. But we’ll figure it out and come through on the other side.

no-no-i-can-handle-it-throw-it-to-me-im-a-working-mom-i-will-get-it-done-and-hopefully-without-harming-someone-21f21

I learned that I can’t be perfect.  That doesn’t mean I’m going to give up and stop trying, but it’s okay if people see the flaws. I’ve spent so much of my life trying to hide all of my imperfections from everyone, but that stupid helmet taught me that I can’t do that anymore because I’m no longer just me.  I’m a mom. So there are going to be times when I get to school with scrambled egg in my hair (happened yesterday) or spit-up on my shirt (thank god we’re past that phase!) or other general less than perfectisms. And that’s okay.  And if anyone judges me for that, they’ll understand when they have kids. Or not. Who cares?

perfect nails

The cool thing is that I DO care a little less about that now.  I laughed about the hair eggs and asked if the kid who pointed them out was hungry.  And on a serious note, I have to admit that the responses that I got when I posted about Jacob’s helmet helped me realize that, despite what you see on social media, no one’s life is perfect. Everyone has all kinds of crap, most more serious than mine, that they’re dealing with. They’re not all broadcasting theirs in a blog, but I’m not broadcasting ALL of mine either. (Yes, dear reader, I keep secrets from you.  #sorrynotsorry.)

i-hope-to-raise-my-kids-to-be-as-great-as-i-say-they-are-on-social-media-IaM-share-image-1492627717

I’ve learned that being a mom is one of the hardest things in the world.  I was NOT sympathetic enough to my friends with kids before Jacob was born.  Like oh my god, this is HARD. I’m feeling a lot of delayed-reaction guilt that I made my best friend drop everything and come to the Jersey shore for my bachelorette party when she had a four month old and an almost three year old at home.  She fell asleep pumping at the kitchen table after we went out one night. Now that I’ve been there and get it, I can’t believe she loves me enough to have dropped everything for me that weekend and I can’t believe I was a big enough jerk to ask her to. I also have NO idea how people do this with two or more kids.  How does that even work? I’m exhausted just THINKING about a second baby!

one baby multiples

I’ve learned that planning doesn’t work.  I’m a big planner. And prior to pregnancy, those plans were beautifully executed because I was good at planning.  Babies, however, are plan kryptonite. Breakfast yesterday? I planned to be on time for work with food-free hair, but I was late with hair eggs instead.  If I plan to go somewhere, I can virtually guarantee that Jacob will poop right when I’m about to leave, or refuse to eat, or find some new way to prevent that from happening.  But I keep making those plans, beating on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly into the hands of a plan-destroying baby (toddler? I guess he’s not TECHNICALLY a baby anymore.  BRB crying forever).

perfect mom

I’ve learned nothing is THAT gross.  Okay, maybe that’s not technically true, as lots of things are REALLY FREAKING GROSS when you have a baby.  But you deal with it. My mother loves to tell the story (no really, she LOVES to tell this story. Like in front of my friends, boss, cashier at TJ Maxx, you name it) of the time she took me to the grocery store in a primitive 1980s baby carrier and I pooped down her shirt and she didn’t even notice until she went to put me back in the car.  As Forrest Gump and the shirts say, it happens. And you clean it up and you deal with it. And if you make fake gagging noises when you’re cleaning something super gross, Jacob will laugh hysterically. (My brother and sister-in-law were horrified when we were trying to get Jacob to smile for a picture with his new cousin and we started gagging at him.  It worked though!)

gooey-mothers-baby-niceleodeon-moms-ecards-someecards

I’ve learned that I need to find time for myself.  There are three main components to keeping Sara happy and sane.  Reading, writing, and exercise. All three of which are INSANELY difficult to find time to do when you’re a new mom.  The exercise part was fine when it was warm out because I would take long walks with Jacob, but once it got cold out, that got much harder.  I can’t work out at night because I’ll never sleep if I do it that close to bedtime (I’m the world’s worst insomniac). Mornings are out because I already have to get up an hour earlier this year than I did pre-baby to get him ready and I’m not yet getting enough sleep at night to get up at 4am to work out.  So I am HEAVILY (no pun intended when I’m not exercising) anticipating the return of warm weather.

wearing-workout-clothes-all-day-does-count-as-exercise-right-4dbb4

Reading wasn’t that hard to reinstate because I just added in 20 minutes at bedtime.  I love my Kindle because it tells me how long it’ll take me to read the chapter that I’m on, but it gets hard when I’m reading something that I love because I’m always like, well, I could read ONE more chapter.  And then suddenly it’s midnight and I want to die. But that’s only happened a couple of times so far because the desire to sleep still wins out most nights.

i-was-thinking-about-cleaning-and-starting-the-laundry-and-doing-the-dishes-but-then-i-found-this-book-to-read-instead-11ab7

Writing has been a challenge, but that’s why I started this blog.  I also just signed with a new agent for my new book and she seems awesome, so I need to start revisions ASAP.  That’s going to be tricky because I don’t work well in short chunks of time. I work best when I have a couple of solid weeks of time to sit down and focus.  But it’s important enough to me that I’ll find a way.

mom blog

And finally, I’ve learned that motherhood is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.  I love Jacob more than I ever thought possible and I’ve learned that THAT makes all of the rest of it worth it.   

mom worth it

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.

img_0520
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?

make-sure-you-sleep-when-baby-sleeps-great-advice-should-3376246

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.

all-these-moms-are-on-pinterest-making-their-own-soap-and-reindeer-shaped-treats-and-im-all-like-i-took-a-shower-today-and-kept-the-kids-alive-4f873

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.

baby-first-birthday-no-friends-party-excited-baby-ecards-someecards

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.

img_0313

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!)

yes-i-am-that-mom-who-will-text-her-children-inappropriate-and-often-offensive-jokes--2854e

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

I’m not like a regular dog mom, I’m a cool dog mom

A long time ago in a condo not that far away, I became a mommy.

No, I don’t mean Jacob–we bought our house before we had him.  I mean Rosie.

Okay, technically, Rosie is a schnauzer, not my biological child. But she’s still my baby. And she DOES look more like my dad than my actual human baby does, so I think that counts.

img_1901
The schnauzer resemblance is strong in my family

I know there are a lot of people (including my mother–just remember mom, you’re still Rosie’s favorite person, even though you forget all about her the second you see Jacob. She loves her grandma unconditionally) who get irrationally irritated when I say my dogs are my babies, but there’s a logic behind this argument.

thanks-for-being-a-mom-to-me-and-a-grandmother-to-my-dog--46285

My parents met in college and got married at 24.  They had me five years later.  

At 24, I was a hot mess. To be fair though, most of my generation was similarly messy, and of those people I know who got married around 24 years old, almost none of them are still together now.  And oh my god, if I had married my college boyfriend–let’s not even go there.  I’m gagging just thinking about it.

when-i-was-young-i-wanted-to-be-married-by-25-and-have-children-by-28-lets-all-laugh-together-48cde

So by the time I got to the age where my parents’ generation was having babies, I was not exactly ready to have a baby.  But I WAS ready to love a tiny creature unconditionally, and the first time I saw Rosie, I knew it was her.  

img_9756
Baby Rosie!

I think that’s the reason so many girls in their 20s get dogs.  They’re not ready to settle down and have a baby yet, but those maternal instincts are starting to kick in.

favorite family member dog

And I have to say, in a lot of ways, having a dog is GREAT training for having a baby.

Why?

Well, I’m glad you asked that!*

*I’m aware you didn’t ask that.  But you’re here now, so let’s just pretend you did.

#1 I already have baby gates.  Yes, that’s the stage we’re at right now, and yes, I forgot that I had them until we started cleaning out our basement because we’re getting it finished to create a playroom, but that just saved me about $60. Thanks past Sara and my un-potty-trained dogs!

i-look-forward-to-the-day-i-no-longer-have-to-hurdle-a-baby-gate-to-go-to-the-bathroom-4ccee

#2 I am now fully prepared to clean up poop, vomit, pee, and any other bodily fluid that can come out of a baby or small animal.  In fact, dogs are grosser than babies when it comes to bodily emissions because I have yet to see Jacob eat something, throw it up, eat it again, then poop it out and try to eat it again.  So when Jacob was a newborn and turned to face me then spit up Exorcist-style down the side of my head, I wasn’t even that grossed out.  

And an added bonus? The dogs aren’t picky about whose puke they eat, so when Jacob pukes on the floor, I don’t even need to clean!

dog eats poop

#3 I am totally used to being woken up in the middle of the night.  My dogs, as much as I adore them, are not so good at letting me sleep.  They’re both bed hogs (Hubby argues they shouldn’t be allowed to sleep in our bed, but Rosie has been sharing my bed longer than he has, so that one is non-negotiable), and it’s truly amazing how much space two small dogs can take up in a king-sized bed.  It’s like they ate the Alice in Wonderland growth drug before they get in bed at night and turn from miniature schnauzers into sprawled out woolly mammoths.  

Sleeping-With-Pets

But between Rosie, who jumps down in the middle of the night (when I toss and turn too much, it offends her), then barks repeatedly to announce that she would like a formal invitation to rejoin us on the bed, and Sandy, who perceives every imaginary noise outside as an imminent threat to our immediate safety that must be dealt with in the loudest possible manner (although you can literally walk into our house and get all the way upstairs before she notices you most days), I was used to waking up multiple times in the night long before Jacob was born.

bark in the middle of the night

#4 I understand non-verbal communications.  I am now fluent in schnauzer, which, at least in our house, is freakily similar to baby.  Jacob may be spending too much time around the dogs because he definitely copies their growling from when they play tug-of-war with a toy and happily yells along with them when they bark at the mailman.

But I can differentiate between a bark that means Milo, the dog from across the street, is peeing on our lawn or a bark that means the deer are in our backyard again.  I can tell when they’re barking because their water bowl is empty or because Sandy is misbehaving and Rosie is telling on her (it happens).  And I can tell when the squirrel that torments Sandy by coming right up to the window and shaking his tail at her is back at it.  

Which means that interpreting different baby cries isn’t that hard.  Especially since he seems to be speaking schnauzer instead of English.  Oops.

can-you-distinguish-your-babys-cries-well-does-he-smell-like-poop-oh-yes-thats-the-i-crapped-my-pants-cry-c905b

#5 I can say no.  Dogs beg all the time, meaning that I’m going to be a pro when Jacob is a toddler and wants something that he can’t have.*

*I’m lying.  I never say no to the dogs.  I’m the worst.  I share all of my food with them.  I’m why they’re fat.  My vet totally judges me and the husband wants to kill me when we’re eating chicken and they start demanding their share, which they know I’ll give them.  Jacob will tell me he wants a pony next year and I’ll be like, “Okay honey, here you go!”

spoiled dog

#6 I know how to put someone else’s needs first.  Okay this one is true.  Whether it was learning to leap out of bed in the middle of the night when one of the dogs started puking or accidentally breaking an iPhone screen when another dog went after Rosie, becoming a dog mommy first helped me learn the kind of selfless behavior that you need to care for a tiny human.  And while I’m sure that mommy instinct kicks in just as strongly even if you’ve never felt anything like that before, I’m glad I got years to practice before Jacob came along.

puppies-babies-are-truly-one-in-the-same-for-all-moms-just-more-work-patience-and-love-to-be-doled-out-each-time-you-add-one-to-the-family-da698

And Jacob gets the benefit of growing up with two older sisters who love him even when he doesn’t fling handfuls of Cheerios onto the floor for them.

Everyone wins.

Mom Life

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.

img_7535
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.)

antibiotics

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.)  

google dispute facts

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.  

first child third child

Mom Life

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.

PYxgIKchubby-thighs-new-baby-new-baby-ecards-someecards-share-image-1479837854

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).

the-best-lesser-known-movie-lines-1

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.

exorcist steps

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?

star-wars-favorite-things-created-70s-funny-ecard-SH7

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.

cartoons-from-eine
https://collapseofindustrialcivilization.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/cartoons-from-eine.jpg

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.  

a4e8cbada5c343a0b3d8b9e80a8938a0--crazy-dog-lady-crazy-person

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.

2ed0e9d7f73c51600c37d19b172a3e76--dog-quotes-love-baby-quotes

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?

babyproofing-home-remove-self-new-parent-funny-ecard-V7z-share-image-1479838012

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.  

img_9257

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.

facebook-email-stalker-app-cry-for-help-ecards-someecards

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.*

MjAxMi00NTMwYTQ5MmJjYjcwMWRl

 

*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.  

img_9271

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.

thor another gif

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.

-that-moment-at-300-am-you-dont-know-if-your-baby-is-teething-or-needs-an-exorcism-4c219

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

Mom Life

No more baby helmet! Just residual mom guilt

And we’re done with the DOC Band!

img_9031
Bring on those hats!

It was actually a little anticlimactic, to be honest.  Officially he was supposed to wear it for another week, but we asked for our last adjustment appointment to be our “graduation” appointment so that we wouldn’t have to drive 45 minutes each way again just to get pictures taken. So they adjusted the band, gave us a little certificate, and sent us on our merry way.  We were thrilled to not have to go back and they were thrilled to never see my face again.

But then, just under a week later, Jacob started getting red spots that took about five hours to go away, which meant we’d outgrown the helmet and were done early.

Which we celebrated by…questioning our decision to remove the helmet.

stupid-questions-reminders-ecard-someecards

Well, that’s how I celebrated.  My husband had zero qualms about being done early because either dad guilt isn’t a thing or it’s much milder than mom guilt.

As adamantly opposed as I was to the idea of a second helmet (and yes, I still think that’s a money grab in many cases), Jacob DOES still have a flat spot.  So am I being selfish for wanting to be done?  But on the flip side, it’s a DIFFERENT flat spot than the one the helmet was correcting, so did I cause this new one by helmeting him in the first place?

The reality is that no one but me (and I suppose other moms who have dealt with flat heads and are now hyper alert to them) is ever going to notice that his head is anything but perfect.  While I now have flat-head-dar and look at the shape of everyone’s heads (it’s terrible.  I look at my students and am like, “wow, you should have had a helmet!”), there are people who I looked at every day for years without ever thinking “Wow, your head looks like the east building of the National Gallery!”  

800px-National_Gallery_of_Art_DC_2007ex
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Gallery_of_Art#/media/File:National_Gallery_of_Art_DC_2007ex.jpg

Pre-helmet, Jacob’s misshapen head was noticeable.  It isn’t anymore unless you’re really TRYING to find imperfections (and looking at him directly top down.  He’s got a tall daddy, so I’m thinking that won’t be the case for most people for the majority of his life).  By all accounts, the helmet was very successful in reshaping Jacob’s head.  And what it didn’t fix will most likely round out by his second birthday on its own.

So I guess what it really boils down to how to live with the mom guilt.

Pre-baby, it was just guilt.  Which I suppose comes with the territory.  I am Jewish after all, and if our people are known for anything, it’s guilt.  You’re welcome.  (See what I did there?  I learned at the knees of the masters!)

jewish guilt

I automatically assume everything is my fault no matter what.  I should have tried harder.  Been better.  Gotten more people out.  Yes, I was born decades after the Holocaust, but damnit, I should have done more!

So now that the helmet is done and his head isn’t a miraculously perfect round orb, I need to find a way to let it go.  I’m trying to tell myself that that’s the lesson I’m supposed to learn here.  A couple of people said to me, after I went public about the situation with Jacob’s head and neck, that we get the baby we NEED, not necessarily the baby we WANT. On the surface, that sounds terrible, because of course I WANT Jacob!  He’s the absolute best part of my life.  

But I get where those people were going because I think I needed to learn that I can’t control everything.  And if I can’t control everything, then not everything can be my fault.  Some things just happen and I need to learn to roll with it.

lesson-i-learned-from-my-dog-no-matter-what-life-brings-you-kick-some-dirt-over-that-shit-and-move-on--83c71

That’s really a struggle for me and was part of why the inability to exclusively breastfeed Jacob was so devastating as well.  I had found something that I couldn’t control.  My mother called me arrogant when I expressed that to her, and she’s not wrong.  But up until motherhood, I lived a life where I was largely able to say I was going to do something and then find a way to make it happen, come hell or high water.  Failure simply wasn’t in my vocabulary.

img_2734
For example, I said I was going to dance on stage at a Bruce show. And I did.

It’s been humbling to have to change that without seeing it as failure. In my mind, Jacob was supposed to be the Galahad to my Lancelot (yes, I know only like three people got that. But I took an Arthurian legends class in college and it was cool.  And I’m a nerd. Get over it).  He was supposed to be perfect in all of the areas that I wasn’t.  He would have no flaws.  And while my mother will tell you he’s the most perfect baby ever, I’m still freaking out that he isn’t crawling yet.  And still blaming myself, because if I’d caught the torticollis earlier, wouldn’t he be?

Back to everything being my fault.

my fault

But I’m learning.  If eventual baby number two* isn’t gaining weight with breastfeeding alone, I’m not going to stress about supplementation because I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can’t control that.  And that, as much as it felt like it was the first time around, it’s neither the end of the world, nor my fault.

*I am not pregnant.  I am not planning on becoming pregnant any time soon.  I have a nine month old.  I’m tired.  I do want a second child in the future, but if you read into this to assume that that’s coming soon, I may slap you.

I definitely know more now about keeping baby number two’s head round as well.  I know the signs of torticollis, but the reality is that that may be unavoidable too.  I had low amniotic fluid the first time around, which is again out of my control.  But an earlier diagnosis, if that is an issue again, could be key in the flat head battle.  I know to reposition, I know more about tummy time, I know to wear the baby more.

I also know that if future baby number two needs a helmet, we’ll do it. And I’ll do my best not to beat myself up about it too much.

dont-beat-yourself-up-for-making-the-same-mistakes-instead-just-start-calling-them-traditions-2ba1b