Thursday, June 30, 2005

Fortunately, he looks good in white.

So Jake has now ventured into the world of solid foods, apparently against his better judgment.

He was happy enough with our original arrangement, which would generally find him lounging contentedly on a big comfy pillow where I would bottle feed him til he became drowsy. Then he would snooze for a bit on the pillow, smiling to himself in his sleep, til I carried him off to his crib. I have to admit, the whole situation does sound very relaxing.

Now, thanks to the advice of his meddlesome pediatrician, Jake's cushy arrangement is disintegrating right before his eyes. He is now forced to sit in a high chair, slowly sliding down in his seat like an old man in a wheelchair, til I readjust him to a respectable posture again a couple times per meal. On top of that, I keep coming at him with spoonfuls of white goo which he is often accommodating enough to allow me to stuff into his mouth, but not so crazy as to keep it in there. He treats the whole situation as if he believes I am clearly insane, and it's best to humor me in the hopes that this ugliness will pass. He good-naturedly wears the offending white goo on his face, bib, hands and clothes for the remainder of the "meal," ambitiously seeking out new places to smear it, til one or both of us tires of this charade and Jake gets his comfy pillow and bottle feeding once again. In the evenings, when his temper is a bit shorter, he won't tolerate this scenario at all, immediately getting cranky at the first sighting of the spoon. At this point, I'm doing the whole "let's work together to get your face and body covered in baby cereal" thing with Jake generally three times a day, and just bottle feeding the rest of the meals. As per the instructions of the meddlesome pediatrician, we will move on to vegetables in a week or two, at which point the pictures and the laundry will no doubt become a lot more colorful.

Friday, June 24, 2005

I can't hear you; there's pee in my ear.

I'm really glad Jake is four months old now, because at this age he no longer has a loaded gun in his diaper ready to go off at any moment. When he was younger, any time you took his diaper off you risked being hit with geyser. Actually, that's not true...usually he turned his powers for evil against himself. He would routinely unleash a stream of pee on his own face, and lay there looking completely unphased, as if to say, "So I've got pee on my face. Don't act like you've never been there." Diaper changes were all about speed, dexterity and preparation. Only a foolish, foolish individual would thoughtlessly remove Jake's diaper without first laying out all the tools necessary to complete the change in record time. Jake would lay there looking all innocent, as if to say, "Go ahead, take off the diaper. I'm done peeing for now." Then the split second the diaper came off, Mr. Peebody would turn on the waterworks. Once, I had to text message my husband at work to apprise him of the latest development: "Jake just peed in his ear." Then, about 2 hours later, a second text message: "Jake just peed in his other ear." Often the pee would somehow miss Jake's head and get on the sides of the basinette, calling for a quick linen change. We eventually learned the art of snatching off the diaper at superspeed, swiping the offending unit heedlessly with a Wet Wipe, and slapping on a fresh diaper, all with a sense of urgency befitting of calf ropers.

Don't think advancements aren't being made in the science of diaper changing, though. You can now order Pee-Pee TeePees to cap your baby's little hydrant with. Seems kind of silly to me; I think simple speed is the best solution to preventing your loved ones and your world from being soaked in urine. But I am thrilled to note that from about the age of 3 months or so, maybe sooner, Jake lost his passion for urinating on himself and his immediate surroundings.

I, however, still enjoy doing it myself.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The soundtrack of my life

I've always been a little cursed in that music--particularly Bad, Catchy music--gets stuck in my head and replays on a seemingly infinite loop until I think I'll go mad. I actually lay in bed at night unable to sleep because some horrid Madonna song that I had the misfortune to catch 15 seconds of is running through my head like a slow torture. When I hear a Bad, Catchy song start playing on the radio, I rush to change the station before it implants itself in my pliable brain--but I'm often too late; just a couple seconds is all it takes. Frantically I call up a good song from my mental catalogue and try to start humming that before the bad song takes life, but that doesn't always work. Sometimes a Bad, Catchy song will continue to eat away at me for several days, til I want to shove a fork in my ear to stop any more bad songs from getting in.

That's where Pop Goes The Weasel comes in. Before I had Jake, I had no experience with children whatsoever, aside from having been one in the very distant, fuzzy past. No younger siblings, no babysitting jobs, etc. Now that I have a child, I'm discovering that every single toy on the face of the earth plays a goofy tune. What's worse, they play them OVER AND OVER until they get drilled into my head even more so than your garden variety Bad, Catchy tune would if I only caught a single dose of it. And these songs are an insult even to lovers of Bad, Catchy music.

Pop Goes The Weasel
(How the hell does a weasel pop? It sounds vaguely pornographic.)

The Farmer In The Dell (What's a dell, and who cares if the farmer's in there?)

London Bridge Is Falling Down (Are kids really that concerned with faulty architecture?)

B.I.N.G.O (Are we seriously that concerned with teaching kids to spell a word that really won't be useful to them til they're in their seventies?)

Three Blind Mice--and here I really must protest. This song is just plain evil, and responsible parents should instinctively shield their children from this kind of sickness. This is a song about mutilated, handicapped mice and a bloodthirsty, animal torturning sadist. Dig this:
"Three blind mice, three blind mice
see how they run, see how they run.
They all run after the farmer's wife,
who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
have you ever seen such a sight in your life
as three blind mice."

Can this really be a children's song? This sick bitch was close enough to these mice that she clearly could have killed them or shooed them out the door, but she chose instead to hack off their tails--not an easy trick to pull on a small, fast-moving rodent, and it would take some serious time and dedication to accomplish it on THREE. And the poor buggers were blind to begin with, as if having their parts lopped off wasn't bad enough. Speaking of which, what are the odds of having three sightless rodents in one house? The only explanation that makes sense is that they were test rats who escaped from a lab. So these poor little mice are tragedy survivors, and they've managed to make a life for themselves in spite of their handicap, and this psychotic farmer's wife is slicing them up for her own amusement.

And where the hell is the farmer in the midst of all this gore? Out in the goddamn dell?

I should just put the kid in therapy now and get a jump start on things.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A leash for my baby

Jake was born 6 weeks premature, which surprised everyone--I'd had an obscenely easy pregnancy with no problems at all, not even any nausea or mood swings. (Well, no problems unless you consider it a problem to morph into something the size of a cruise ship.)

Things were going so well that when I started feeling some pains in the depths of my colossal belly, I assumed they were just Braxton-Hicks contractions, the "false" ones you're supposed to get well before the actual labor contractions. I started getting them around noon at work, and although they were uncomfortable/painful, I figured there was no point in going home, where I'd presumably feel equally crappy but have nothing to take my mind off of it. So I worked til 6, as the contractions went from being kind of random to coming pretty steadily, about 30 minutes apart. When I got home I made pork chops and cleaned the house as they got closer together, and then I went to bed, where they got worse and closer together, keeping me from sleeping. (Actually it was probably the sound of my own voice moaning in pain that kept me from sleeping.) At 3 Am they were about five minutes apart, and here's where I finally had my genius revelation: I'm in labor. (I know, all you ladies who've been through this before are thinking I should have realized this about 200 contractions ago, but hey, I'm a first-timer, and maybe not too bright. Plus I have a fairly high tolerance for pain, added to the fact that my water didn't break like I was expecting it to.) I woke Brian up (no easy feat, let me tell you), and we went to the hospital, where incredulous delivery nurses mocked me for not realizing I had been in labor for hours. Jake was born about 4 hours later, and because he was premature, they whisked him immediately to the NICU, letting me take a one-second peek at him rather than hold him. Which, really, was fine with me; I felt like I'd been beaten with a meat tenderizing mallet, and was in no shape to cuddle, especially with Mr. Slimy Purple Yelling Thing.

Jake stayed in the NICU for two weeks, although it didn't appear there was much wrong with him. He weighed 5 lbs. 7 oz., a good size for being so early. (I shudder to think how big he'd have been if I had carried him to term. As it was, it felt like I had pushed a Volkswagen out my hoo-ha.) They put him on oxygen for one day, and after that he had to lay under a bright light for several days to get rid of the jaundice that, if unchecked, might have made it look like he had a Muppet for a father. But otherwise, they mostly kept him there because he was a lazy eater. He would nod off in the middle of a meal like a heroin junkie, stubbornly ignoring their requirement that he consistently eat x amount of food in x amount of time before they'd release him. After a very frustrating two weeks of us begging him to just eat, for crying out loud, so we could take him home, the NICU doctors finally just gave up and released him to us in spite of his spotty performance. Because he was already on his way to becoming a smartass, he decided to start eating pefectly immediately after he was released--that very day, in fact--consuming the amount of food in the amount of time allotted. Little prankster.

He had, of course, been on a monitor while he was there, like all the babies, which kept track of his heart rate and breathing. When a baby's heart rate drops below a certain number, the monitor beeps and the nurse swoops in to pick the baby up or move him around to stimulate him and get his heart rate back up. Jake had a few instances in which his heart rate dropped, so they put him on elixophyllin, a central nervous system stimulant similar to caffeine. (Already taking after me; soon he'll be spending half his income at Starbucks, just like mommy.) They also put him on Zantac and Reglan for acid reflux. As a precaution, they sent him home on a monitor, a less complex and more portable version of the monitor they had him on in the NICU. It was about the size of a cereal box, and came with a purse-like bag you could sling over your shoulder while toting the baby around. A chord ran from the monitor to electrodes on Jake's chest, snaking out of the bottom of his onesie and looking a lot like a leash.

He had to stay on the monitor for 3 months, during which time there were several madcap incidents in which one of us would pick up the baby and start to walk off, only to be yanked back by the leash. Anyone wanting to hold Jake was basically tethered to his basinette. It felt a lot like when you ask to use the bathroom at a gas station, and they hand you a key attached to a wire with a wooden block anchoring it on the other end.

So now the leash is off, and we have what passes for a normal baby. Although when he starts crawling I may wish I had the leash back.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Likes Vs. Hates

What Jake Likes
The mobile over his crib. Every morning when he wakes up, he entertains himself by smiling at his mobile and chattering. This can go on for half an hour or more. Reminds me a little of his father, who babbles in his sleep. At any given point, you might find either of them lying in their respective beds, chattering away and making no sense whatsoever. Here's Jake's view of his favorite thing in life:

The blinds in our living room. Presumably it's the contrast of the light coming through them that attracts him. He can stare at the blinds, or the lights on the ceiling, or any other light, forever. When he first came home from the hospital, he refused to look us in the face no matter how diligently we bobbed in front of him; if we zigged, he'd zag, looking for a light to stare at instead of us. Now that he's a little older and his vision is a little more mature, he is interested in peoples' faces. Of course, by now, we're sick of looking at him. (Just kidding.)

The bouncy seat in the master bathroom. He is riveted by the light bulbs over the bathroom sink, so he can sit in his bouncy and gaze adoringly at those bulbs for an hour or so, breaking every so often to stare at the plastic fish swimming in the water at the front of his bouncy seat. Between the fish and the light bulbs, I practically have my own babysitter. I just have to come back in every so often to mop the drool up off his double chin. Here's Mr. Good Mood in said bouncy:

Staring at himself in the mirror. He must be aware of how goddamn cute his is, because he smiles every time he sees himself in a mirror. Mr. Vanity also likes it when I bathe him in the bathroom sink, so he can admire his supreme cuteness while I bathe him.

What Jake Hates
Tummy time. His doctor says he should be put on his tummy for a bit each day to strengthen his neck muscles. Jake tolerates this for a few minutes, then begins making little "eh, eh" grunting noises with a tinge of whine to them, as he thrashes his arms up and down like he's drowning. It's my job to take that cue and turn him over immediately, before he gets really pissed and and makes it his mission to punish me and my eardrums for the next hour. Here's what it looks like in the few minutes before Tummy Time goes bad:

Me working out. Jake doesn't want one of those skinny waif moms who weighs about a hundred pounds and looks like she's fresh from a modeling shoot. He wants a mom with some meat on her bones. Or that's the impression I get every time I start to work out and he promptly goes from dead asleep to wide awake and ready for some play time. He can nap forever if I'm doing laundry or dishes or just about anything else, but as soon as I get about 4 minutes into a Pilates DVD, it's Jake Time.

Early evening, between 7-9 PM. Something about this time of day turns my sweet, lovable baby into Satan. He fidgets, he squeaks, he squalls. Ocassionally he howls. He wants neither pacifier nor bottle. He declines both the swing and the play gym. Many potential remedies run through my mind at such times: Tape his mouth shut? Put him in the garage? Drop him off at the bus station? However, I'm more interested in something that won't get me reported to Child Protective Services. I usually end up parading him around the house in my arms. He gets distracted from his screaming and gets caught up staring at everything as we pass from room to room. However, the moment I stop, it's game on again. See for yourself:

Being put in his car seat. Actually, he doesn't mind sitting in the seat, it's the two buckles that he hates. Once I get those snapped over his chest and tummy, he gets cranky. If I want to keep him quiet after that, I have stand up, hunch over and swing the carseat back and forth by one arm like I'm a gorilla. This only entertains him until I put the carseat into the car, though, and then the complaining starts up again. It's short-lived, however, because the moment the car goes into motion, he's out like a chubby little light. Here he is, still sacked out after a ride home in his car seat:

So cute.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Swing = Baby Heroin

If you're having a first baby and are trying to decide which baby items you can skip in order to save some money, let me just tell you that a baby swing is NOT one of those items. Our Fisher Price Ocean Wonders Swing is like baby heroin. My kid is extremely good-natured 95% of the time, but all babies have periods of time when they cry for no apparent reason. Jake's time is usually from 7-9 PM, which is when you'll find me and my husband running through our mental catalog of baby-calming tricks. Do you want to be held? (Jake screams his answer, which is apparently "No.") Do you want to be walked around? (Jake's purple face contorts into a fresh scream.) Do you want to be swaddled? (Jake screams as he kicks the blanket into submission.) Do you want to look in the mirror? (No one, not even Jake, is cheered up by that screaming purple face.) Do you want to sit in your swing? (Jake answers with a peaceful snore.) It's amazing, and it's the the single most important thing you can get for your baby, with the possible exception of food. Already I'm dreading the day when Jake outgrows it. My friend Gena's daughter is now over 20 lbs, which is the weight limit for most swings. Gena said it was so sad when she put Fallyn in the swing one day and turned it on, only to hear the motor make a pitiful "rrrr...rrrr...rrr," as it labored unsucessfully to push the baby's weight. Fallyn just sat there looking dejected. I can't let this happen to Jake, and more importantly, to me. That swing is what's kept me from tearing off my own ears to escape the screaming. I've got to find a way to get an adult-sized, motorized swing that Jake can use well into his high school years.

Who would ever guess that this cheeful little thing can scream like a cat in a wood chipper? Posted by Hello

Sunday, June 12, 2005

That's not food.

I thought being a mother would be hard, which is why I put it off (or more accurately, dodged it fervently) for years. Turns out it's simpler than I thought; the bulk of my day with Jake is spent explaining to him what isn't food. He tries to catch his onesie in his mouth as I'm trying to pull it over his big head, and I tell him, "That's not food." I'll find him in his crib trying to gnaw on the mirror attached to the crib bars, and I'll tell him, "That's not food." He even makes a swipe at his diaper (the clean one, luckily) as I'm attempting to change him, and I tell him, "That's not food." When he's hungry and no food seems to be on the way, he will often snack on his hand, and I have to admit, I admire his resourcefulness. He's making do with what's available to him. But as I've explained to him countless times, it's a quick fix that has long-term drawbacks. For instance, when it comes time to learn to tie his shoes, he'll find it difficult, if not impossible, without hands. Then he'll be doomed to a lifetime spent wearing men's slip-on shoes, most of which look downright fruity, in my opinon. When I outline the potential dangers of hand consumption, however, Jake stubbornly ignores me and continues to gum his little fist. But I'll be ready with an "I told you so" when he's trying to look cool in a pair of mocassins at the senior prom.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

This is Jake at almost four months. Too young to defend himself against tickling, he yells out in vain for help. Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The optimism of babies

Jake is almost four months old now, and when he gets hungry, he snacks on the most available thing to him, his hand. But for the first couple of months of his life, he did one of the most optimistic things imaginable. He would wake up from a nap, decide he was hungry, and just open his mouth and turn his head repeatedly from side to side, Stevie Wonder-style, waiting for some food to drop in.

THAT'S optimism. (But it was well-founded, I guess, because some food always did drop in, just like he expected.)

Here's Mr. Optimistic at 16 days old, waiting for food to fall from the sky. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

I need a meat bathmat.

And I can get one here.

Naturally this is a great relief to me, because I was almost ready to abandon my dream of remodeling my guest bathroom with a raw meat theme; I was just finding it too difficult to find the appropriate accessories.

But now I have hope again.