Sippy Cups vs. Shots

There’s a phenomenon that I’ve noticed since becoming a mother.

To some, I have become invisible. Non-existent. Frumpy looking woman + baby in stroller = invisible to many.

I took Nellie to the mall tonight to wander a bit while waiting to pick up Josh from work and I realized that there are pretty much just a few different types of reactions I get from people. They either grin at Nellie or coo at her and comment on how lovely she is, they glance down at her and go about their business without so much as a hint of a smile, or they don’t see us at all. They walk by us, walk around us, or in the case of this evening they wander out of a store single-file, directly in our path to the point where I have to stop with my stroller waiting for them to pass out of my way. This trio walked from the store, looked directly at me, and sauntered one by one to the point where I actually had to come to a stop. There was no getting around them. It was like I didn’t exist in their world. They took their sweet time getting out of our way and I shot them a nasty look once they’d passed.

Before I had a child, I would walk around the mall aware of the other people like me. Women, couples, handsome men. I would wonder how I looked to them. Even though I was happily married, I still hoped that I caught an appreciative glance or two because let’s face it: what woman doesn’t like to be ogled at just a little bit? And now I consider it a good day if I’ve had a shower, and am wearing clothes without baby barf on them.

Those people are on an entirely different planet from me. I may be invisible to them but to me, they are alien. I see the well-dressed, young, carefree girls linked arm-in-arm giggling their way across the mall and I cock my  head and watch them as I push my baby daughter in her stroller. I think back on a time where my life revolved around what I was going to do on a weekend night. It was nothing to go out to eat, see a movie, then go to a friend’s house and drink the rest of the evening. To be out until 2 AM was the norm. Now? Home by 7, or all holy hell will break loose because the baby will be too tired.

It’s not a bad thing, it’s just curious to me. I feel like my life before Nellie was lived a thousand years ago and by a different person. Josh and I have discussed this. What in the hell did we do before we became parents? We wasted a lot of money, took a lot of naps, and saw a lot of movies. We had pretty active social lives. Now, we’re usually in bed and asleep by 10 PM.

When I’d see a noisy or screaming kid at the mall in my previous life, I’d shoot the parents an annoyed glance. Now when I see a toddler in mid-tantrum, his parents on either side of him looking desperate and holding out a coat, I shoot them an entirely different look: a look of sympathy. We haven’t reached the tantrum phase but I know what it’s like to wrangle a squirmy, noisy child. I understand how much time an outing takes to plan. I realize now that you have to bring the baby’s entire world when you want to go out for just a few hours. It’s funny to me, sometimes, to see the contrast in the carefree couples flouncing through the mall and the pleading parents of the yowling toddler in such close proximity to one another yet neither really acknowledging the others’ presence other than in a passing glance.

It’s funny when your life changes. When you shift gears. When you become a grown-up… It feels like yesterday that I was celebrating my 21st birthday; taking shots and dancing in a cage at a gay bar. Having children wasn’t even within the realm of feasible to me then. Now, my schedule is determined based on nap time and whether I have enough cereal puffs and juice to last an outing of more than an hour.

It’s not a bad change.. Just sort of surreal. Inside I feel like I always have; young, silly, just me. But outside? I’m a mom. Invisible to some and a reflection of others. A glimpse into the future, or a warning sign of what someone never wants to be.

Really, I’d take the sippy cups over the shots any day of the week.

Most of the time.

Moments of Motherhood

Last night in the first four hours that my daughter was asleep, she woke up three times. At 9 and a half months old, this is pretty unusual for her. Each time I went to her room, putting the pacifier in her mouth and giving her a pat was all it took.

On the third time, I became frustrated. I can’t play this game all night, I thought. I put the pacifier back in her mouth, walked out of the room and sighed in frustration as she began crying again. I went back to her crib and I realized the reason she kept spitting the pacifier out was because she was congested.

I knew what to do.

I picked her up and calmed her. I grabbed her saline drops and her blue nose sucker-thing and carried her to the living room. I braced myself, because I knew she’d fight. I knew she’d cry.. And I was right. As I gently put the drops in her nose, she began to wail. I went after her with the blue sucker-thing, and she cried harder. It broke my heart but I knew it would help her. I cleared her nose out best I could and I went back to her room to hook up her Vick’s plug-in. We headed to the bathroom, my daughter and I, and I turned the shower on as hot as it would go. I closed the door and held her against me, her chest against mine. She watched the water falling in the shower beside us and she rested her head against me and that’s when it hit me:

I’m a mommy. I’m the one who makes things better. It’s not that I didn’t realize before that I’m a mother.. It was just one of those surreal moments where I became hyper-aware of the gravity of my title and the responsibility that comes with it. I’m the one who is supposed to know what to do. And in this situation, I did.

We sat in the bathroom like that for a while, her sleepy head on my chest and my hand rubbing up and down her back. After a few minutes we retreated back into the nursery, which was filled with the menthol scent of the plug-in. Daddy had made a small bottle and it was waiting for us. I relaxed back into her glider and handed her the snack. I  smoothed some Vick’s on her chest while she ate and after she was done, I held her the same way I did in the bathroom. I put her pacifier back in her mouth and we rocked. She curled up against me, nuzzled her head close and fell asleep. I lay my cheek down on top of her head and closed my eyes and we rocked together until she was breathing better.

In this moment together, I felt the awe of motherhood so strongly it was overwhelming. The beauty and the pain of loving a child was enveloping me and I just held her and let it swallow me whole for a few precious moments in time.

I lay my daughter back in her crib and she stayed asleep for the rest of the evening. I went back to bed, humbled and in love with the beautiful creature that came into my life 9 months ago.

These little Moments of Motherhood are what make my life. Stress from work, stress from parenting, stress from finances just doesn’t seem to matter anymore when life hands me one of these beautiful moments.

Do you have a Moment of Motherhood that sticks out in your memory?

What Would You Say?

If you could go back to right before you had your first child and tell yourself one thing..

What would it be?

I think if I could say just one thing to myself before I had Nellie it would be..

Enjoy every second, because this is going to go faster than you can possibly imagine.

If I could say two things, I think the 2nd thing I’d say is..

It’s okay to feel sad. Or scared. Or helpless. It’s okay to cry.

So.. What would you say?

Fridays of Yore

I work in an office full of women. One of those women, T has a daughter, J who is 18. She works at a popular place to eat buffalo wings. You could say that those wings are wild.
Fine, she works at Buffalo Wild Wings. This particular BW3 is located downtown, which is a popular area to patronize on the weekends.

By the way, why the hell is it called BW3? The title of the restaurant only has two W’s. Can anyone shed some light on this?

While ya’ll research that for me I’m gonna go ahead with my post. So T asked her daughter J, who stopped by the office, when she had to go in to work. J replied, “5:00”. All of a sudden, I was swept back about 6 years to when I used to wait tables at Chili’s. I remembered how my job wouldn’t start ’till the early evening and how I would be there until 1-2 in the morning. I vividly remembered the dinner rushes, slinging the drinks, carrying trays of food to tables. And then I suddenly realized that it was Friday night and it hit me:

Friday nights don’t really exist in my world any more. I mean obviously, they do. Fridays didn’t just poof out of existence when I became a mom but in the sense that they used to be for me, they really did. Every other weekend, my husband works Friday-Sunday so our weekend evenings are usually spent at home. On his weekends off we will sometimes go out but it’s in a very different sense now. Everything we do is Nellie-centered. Will it be too loud? Too hot? Too cold? Will she be over-stimulated? Has she slept enough, or will she get cranky halfway through the activity and we’ll have to scurry home?

We used to go out every weekend. Every. Single. Weekend. Dinner, movie, drinks at my brother-in-law’s house. Sometimes, we would go out Friday night AND Saturday night. Don’t get me wrong, we still do go out and do things. It’s just that the Friday nights that I’ve known my entire adult life don’t exist in my world anymore. They’re new, they’re different, and my old Fridays feel like they were lived by a different person in a different life.

Sometimes I feel as though I’m on another planet; when I see teenagers laughing at the mall or a group of single women strutting confidently down the street and heading into a bar I feel so detached from these people it’s ridiculous. I feel as though I’m a scientist observing some wild and exotic species that’s a mystery to mankind.

I’m not saying that I am sad to lose my old Fridays.. It’s just that sometimes, I am still taken aback at the surreality of being a mom. How much these little people change every single aspect of your life.

Not bad. Just different.

P.S. Did anyone figure out why BW3 is called BW3? It’s gonna drive me insane now. Sigh.

Mommy Road Rage

I think that it’s safe to say that I’m not alone in my assumption that I’m the only one on the face of the planet who doesn’t drive like a bleeding idiot. That is to say, each of us thinks at one point or another – and may even vocalize out loud – that we are the only people capable of competently operating a motor vehicle.

This morning, I almost got into a car accident and if I had, it would have been through no fault of my own.

I was driving home from dropping Josh off from work. I was cruising in the left lane when I saw a line of cars ahead of me, waiting to turn left to get onto the interstate. I decided to move over to the right lane so I wouldn’t get stuck behind the row of cars turning. I flipped on my blinker like a responsible driver and made my move. I safely reached the right lane and continued on my way. I was approaching an intersection and the light was green. Right as I was moving under the traffic light, a car zoomed DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF ME. It was turning left from the opposite direction, and the line of cars waiting to turn onto the interstate had blocked the offending car’s line of vision. They didn’t have a green arrow to turn; just a green light and there had been a gap in traffic between myself and the car in front of me so I’m sure they thought they could cross the intersection REALLYFAST and everything would be fine.

Everything was thisclose to not being fine. I literally had to slam on my brakes, and I also laid on my horn. They passed in front of me and went on their merry way and I was overcome with the overwhelming urge to completely abandon my route and follow them. I was filled with anger and I wanted to drive behind them, run them off the road, pull them out of the car and beat their asses, yelling, “WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU? I HAVE A BABY IN MY CAR. WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING??”

Now, I am guilty of yelling at people and calling them lots of colorful words. I don’t usually flip people off where they can see it, because I’m paranoid that some crazy bastard will pull out a gun and shoot me. However, since becoming a mother my road rage has reached all new levels. I’ve had a few close calls with other cars, and each time I am overcome with a sense of outrage that makes me want to drag their stupid asses out and yell at them until I’m blue in the face.

How DARE these people drive so recklessly? Some of us have very, very precious cargo in tow. Don’t they realize that?

I guess it’s a whole “protective mama bear” thing. I still want to track down that stupid dark green  Jeep, find the driver, and punch them in the eyeball.

Sigh

I hear you wake on the monitor. A coo, at first, followed by fussing. I lay in bed, waiting to see if you put yourself back to sleep.

You do not. I look at my clock to check on the time.

3:38. I have to be up in two hours. I get out of bed, and I sigh.

I make my way into your room. You’re on your back, and your pacifier is beside you. I roll you to your side and put the pacifier back in your mouth. I give you your stuffed fox and wait to see if sleep takes you.

It doesn’t. You roll back, look at me and whine. You’re not going back down without a fight. I pick you up from your crib, and I sigh.
I carry you over to the glider, sit, and begin gliding back and forth. It makes a soft whooshing noise in the darkness of your room. You begin to squirm and cry. I stand up and start bouncing you and you quiet down. I sigh as you fight me.

Bouncing always puts you to sleep. You struggle a bit more before your limbs begin to hang, your tiny hand no longer flailing about and seeking something to grab. I sit back down with you in the glider and we rock.

Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh; accompanying the sound of the air conditioning running in the apartment. I sit and rock you, waiting for the right time to put you down and head back to sleep.

And suddenly…. you sigh. A sigh of perfect contentment and love. You snuggle your face against my chest and you succumb fully to sleep. I cannot make out your face in the dark but I look down at you anyway. I’m suddenly hyper-aware of you; the weight of your body against mine. The way your pajamas feel against my skin… I find your hand and kiss it. You sigh softly again, and I realize that this is but a fleeting moment as time hurtles by us with breakneck speed. I have waited for the day when you no longer cry out in the middle of the night needing comfort because it will mean a full night’s sleep, and I realize that soon, those days will be here and this evening will be but a tiny drop of water in an ocean of time, and memories. When I am old, and you are grown, will I remember the whoosh of the glider, the hum of the air? Will I remember the warmth of you, the way you felt in my arms on this night? Will I remember the sound of you breathing in and out, the feel of your fingers curling through my hair as you fell asleep?

I sigh. This time with tears in my eyes and I hold you close. I am taken by the urge to hold you until the sun comes up, until I am forced to wake you for the day…. To hold you forever. But we both need our sleep, so I rise from the glider and settle you back down into the bed that you were once so small in. The bed that you grow into more and more each day. I look down at my baby, (it seems like yesterday just came into this world), and I say a silent thank you for coming into my life and making me your mother.

It’s all about these fleeting moments in time.

‘Cuz She’s Got…

My friend Michelle blogged recently about how her son Liam has sprouted this little personality, seemingly overnight. I got to thinking about Nellie and how her personality has evolved and emerged in the last few months. I had always anticipated her as being mellow and easy-going because she was never very active in the womb. To an extent, I was right. When we’re out with her she just sits back and watches the world. Her big eyes just drink in the sights, the faces of the people she meets, the colors that the world has to offer. When people talk to her, she almost always gives them a smile. Not a big, open-mouthed grin (those are saved for her favorite people) but a smile and people comment on how easily she goes to folks she doesn’t know.


Nellie has recently begun to emit this low, gutteral, growling/grunting noise. The first time she did it I was convinced she was pooping, because it was so close to her “poopnoise” but when I checked her diaper repeatedly it was dry as a bone. She kept doing it, and I figured it was just one of those weird baby things. Either that, or she was turning into some prehistoric beast.

Another thing that she will do is pull her pacifier out of her mouth and then blow raspberries on it and it looks and sounds like she’s playing it as a trumpet. When you pick her up and she is facing you, her hands immediately go onto your face. She examines you silently, her eyes poring over the details of your features and then she likes to rake her nails down your cheeks and pull on your lower lip until you scream.

Nellie loves my hair and she is lightning-quick when it comes to pulling it. Before I can react, her little fingers whip out and grab hold of either side of my head and she pulls me like you would a horse’s reins. I started making a game of lightly shaking my hair over her face and she would giggle. I stopped when she snatched a handful of my curls and tugged so hard I thought blood was going to come out of my head.

Nellie can sit unassisted now. It, like every other milestone she’s achieved, seemed like it happened overnight. One day she couldn’t sit and then one day, she could. She can also stand if she’s leaning back against something, or if you are holding her hands and helping her balance. There aren’t any signs of actual words yet and I suspect she’s going to be a mover before she’s a talker.

In the past two months, I feel like the post partum fog has finally lifted. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy Nellie before about two months ago. I just feel like I’ve finally gotten into this whole “Mom Groove” and have really become confident in myself as a mother. The other day at work, I was looking at a picture of her and I began to cry because I was just hit with this sudden and overwhelming sense of missing her. My heart was filled with longing and I just wanted to hold her in my arms and snuggle my nose into her neck and smell her sweet baby scent.

This girl.. This girl is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me, the greatest thing that I’ve ever done. She’s growing so fast. This year has gone by so quickly it’s terrifying. We packed away her swing in favor of an Exersaucer. We said “bye bye” to her bath seat, and hello to her “big girl” tub (a yellow Munchkin duck; she’s not quite ready for the actual tub yet). Her newborn and 3 month clothes are packed away and she’s almost grown out of her 6 month clothes.

Yes… My girl is growing up faster than I can keep up with. Every day with her is precious, because every day is a step closer to her needing us less and less.

This post has gotten really long, so I leave you with some recent pictures of the love of my life, just two weeks shy of 7 months old.



Mommy’s Log: Operation Sleep

Mommy’s Log, Star Date 07282010.

6:00 P.M. Mother in law drops self and child off at home after picking me up from work. Force child to take a nap in arms. Child fights, screams, kicks. Nothing out of the ordinary.
7:30 P.M. Wake child from nap and place in activity center. Prepare for bathtime and dinner for child.
8:00 P.M. Run to the store to retrieve forgotten sustenance for feline companions.
8:30 P.M. Initiate bedtime routine. Feed child.
8:45 P.M. Bathe child.
9:00 P.M. Wrap child up in pink swaddling contraption. Rub chest with thick, minty petroleum gel in hopes of combating chest congestion. Feed child bottle.
9:15-10:00 P.M. Fight child to sleep. Hold tight while child squirms, thrashes, writhes, and screams in arms. Bounce child in arms. This method works. Stop bouncing once child is asleep.
10:05 P.M. Note: if you stop bouncing, child will wake up.
10:15 P.M. Put child in car seat, still swaddled, in hopes the elevated position will help ease congestion. Set car seat on ottoman and rock ottoman with foot, making sure car seat does not topple off ottoman.
10:25 P.M. Method seems to be working.
10:27 P.M. Child is screaming. Method does not work.
10:30 P.M. Take car seat (with child still strapped in) into lavatory. Turn on hot shower in the attempt to loosen chest congestion. Place car seat on floor. Turn off lights. Sit on toilet while rocking car seat with leg.
10:34 P.M. Develop cramp in leg from rocking. Switch to other leg.
10:37 P.M. Rescue screaming child from car seat and inspect for snakes, which are also on fire. That is the only logical thing that could cause child to scream at such an alarming decibel.
10:38 P.M. Upon inspection, there are no flaming snakes in car seat. Curious.
10:45 P.M. Make child a bottle for comfort. Not probable that child is hungry, as she consumed 8 ounces of formula approximately an hour and a half prior.
11:00 P.M. Transferred sleeping child to crib. Child drank all 4 ounces hungrily and eagerly.
11:07 P.M. All is quiet. Child was hungry the whole time. You are an idiot.

Signing out,

Mommy

Baby Wheezy

If you are a good and loyal reader, like I know that you are *COUGHevileyeCOUGH*, then you know all about me coming down with a nasty cold over the weekend. Why the HELL do the worst colds have to come on over a weekend? Or during summer vacation. I remember as a kid I used to get the worst frigging colds over summer vacation WHEN THERE WAS NO SCHOOL TO MISS.

WHAT THE HELL, VIRUSES?
What the hell.

Anyway, it seems that my nasty little bug has decided to jump into my daughter. Namely, her nasal passages and chest cavity.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen.. My daughter has her first cold.

It effing blows. As any parent with a sick child knows, it actually defies the laws of physics by both sucking AND blowing. Nellie’s cold started with a few sneezes that made me go, “hmmm”. By the next day she was snorting and sniffly. No fever, but definitely had the stuffies. So on Sunday we bought her a vaporizer (like, a Vick’s thing, not a gun from the future). It takes these little pads and plugs into an outlet; no water required. It’s kick ass, and smells really good. So we propped up one end of her crib, let her sit in the bathroom with me while I showered and it got all steamy and during bedtimes Sunday and Monday nights she did very, very well.

Well.. The cold seems to have migrated into her chest. Tonight she had one of the worst meltdowns I’ve ever seen in the 6 months that she’s been here. She was screaming so hard I thought her lungs were going to come flying out of her mouth and onto the floor and flop away in terror. She would fall asleep fine in your arms and once you put her down, she’d start coughing. It’d wake her up and she’d start to scream.. Then it would take 20 minutes of rocking bouncing and shooshing for her to calm down enough to fall back asleep. After the third time of this, I finally said screw it and am now camped out on the couch with a passed out and snoring baby in my arms. My poor little sweetie is so congested, and I hate it. I’ve done all I know to do and still my daughter is sick. This sucks, and not because I can’t sleep and am uncomfortable on the couch but because she is uncomfortable and there’s not a damn thing I can do except try and make her less uncomfortable.

I’m off, my friends, to try and catch a few zzz’s while holding my wheezy little lady.

Down With the Sickness

It started yesterday with some sneezing.

I went to work yesterday (Friday) feeling okay. No problems, a little sinus pain but that’s been going on for a while now. About an hour into work I felt a slight tickle/itch in the back of my throat. As the day wore on, the sneezing continued.
And continued. Until I couldn’t walk around without some form of tissue in my hand for fear of my nose running like a leaky faucet. It was simultaneously dripping, and clogged.

I didn’t feel poorly at first, but the later it got in the day the more I felt like I was coming down with something. By evening, I felt full-on sick. I was worried. Josh had to work the next day and I’d be on baby duty… Alone.. with a cold. I haven’t been sick since Nellie was born, so this was uncharted territory.

We got her to bed around 9 or so, and I climbed into bed once we knew she was down. I couldn’t sleep, thanks to awesome sinus drainage and general feelings of malaise. She woke around 11:30 and I re-paci’ed her and she went back to sleep with minimal fuss. I dragged my pillows and a blanket out onto the living room couch and managed to snag a couple hours of fitful sleep before she woke up yelling and carrying on around 3:30. I tried to comfort her back to sleep but I suspect she’s going through a growth spurt. Josh made her some more food and she had a bottle, and finally went back down around 4:30. I crept into the bedroom in tears at the thought of having to take care of a baby while feeling so badly and asked Josh if he could take off work. He has no paid time off right now, so he couldn’t. He told me to call the in-laws and ask for their help tomorrow. I was hesitant as they’d just kept Nellie all day the day before while I was at work.

Nellie woke for the day around 6:30. I fed her a little and she was still acting tired, so we napped together on the couch for another hour. By that time it was late enough, so I called my mother in law and asked her if she would mind taking Nellie for the day so I could rest. She agreed, and came to my rescue around 10 AM. I was so relieved because the simplest tasks that are normally no big deal while caring for Nellie seemed too big for me to handle, and draining. I had planned on taking her out and shopping for an Exersaucer, groceries, and clothes and the thought of that was laughable, now. After my mother in law and she had gone, I crawled into bed and slept for almost 5 hours. When I woke up, I was very hot and dizzy but at the same time, didn’t feel as bad. After some chicken noodle soup and a hot shower, I felt semi-human again and ready to have Nellie come back home.

She came home around 6 and the rest of the night has been pretty good. We’re having some sleep issues which is frustrating, but at least I’m not feeling as bad as I was last night.

To all you mamas out there who take care of your little ones when you’re sick: I commend you. I’m very lucky that I have my in-laws to call for help when I’m feeling under the weather, and I know there will come a day when I’ll be sick and they’ll be busy. But today, I lucked out and was able to take a sick day.