Archive | Baby RSS feed for this archive

Hello from us

family_emswedding.jpgIn case we haven’t seen you in a while:)

“Rear-Facing Car Seats Advised at Least to Age of 2”

This article appeared in The New York Times last week, a few days after my birthday and a week before A.’s first birthday. The gist of it is that the powers that be have revised their recommendation on when to turn babies’ car seats around to face front. It used to be age one. Now it’s two. This is not good news and I think they should just take it back. It’s our birthdays, for Pete’s sake. Have they no consideration?

Here’s the thing. I had a plan. It was a good plan, a birthday plan. A pre-party plan.

A.’s birthday is tomorrow, on a a party-unfriendly Wednesday, so her party isn’t until Saturday. So what was I planning to do to mark her actual birthday? I’ll tell you: stuff that she would actually notice like turning her $#*&$! carseat around so she can see where we’re going and not recline backwards in the backseat with the sun in her eyes, that’s what. I was also planning on feeding her eggs, honey and nuts all at the same time (which you’re not supposed to give them until they’re one ’cause of that whole allergic anaphylactic shock nuisance). And maybe sushi. And give her a set of nice kitchen knives.

OK, maybe not so much the knives. But the other stuff.

Goddamit. Stupid National Highway Safety Transportation Board and their dumb ideas.

A. hates facing backwards and I get it. It makes me carsick just thinking about it. And paranoid. I hate not seeing where I’m going. I never take the back-facing seats on trains. and I always take the seat in restaurants where I can see the door. It’s like I was in the mob. I want to see who/what is coming and I want to know how to get the hell out of here when and if I have to. Don’t freak out: I’ll take you and A. with me if you’re there. I just know you’re not casing the joint as well as I would, so just give me the seat already and order your sandwich.

You know that scene in movies where the agent/assassin ticks off all the cool stuff he knows just from walking into the diner? Like how many windows there are, the license plates of all the cars outside, the weight of the guy at the counter, who’s carrying a gun, and why that lady is crosseyed? That’s some mad skills and I want ’em. I used to memorize the license plates on the cars next to us when my mom left us in the car to run an errand when I was, like, eight. Seriously. You know, in case I was interviewed later by the police.

Speaking of which, maybe they’d be interviewing me because my mom left a couple kids in the car while she ran errands.

Anyway, I’m just saying, A. might be better protected in a car accident if she’s facing backwards but is she better prepared for a carjacking where she’ll need a clear view and access to those kitchen knives? Am I right? The article doesn’t mention that scenario anywhere in their assessment. They just go straight for the Swedish stats on babies’ injury and survival rates in rear-facing seats being the best in the world since they force their kiddies to sit with their legs up the backseat until they’re two. Which is weird ’cause the Swedes are tall, so their kids have gotta be basically sitting in a V position by the time they turn them around, right?

Oh, and for the record, I wasn’t going to flip her around because of some misplaced sense of milestone achievement like the interviewees imply. I was going to do it out of concern for A. being able to see where we’re going and my elbow joints which have to bend the wrong way to give her even the tiniest snacka. They don’t have to be such jerks while they’re ruining our birthday plans, do they? No. They don’t. Thank you.

So here’s what it shakes out to: I spend another year reaching over the top of the car seat to feed A. pieces of cheese and driving only west in the morning and only east in the afternoon so she isn’t blinded by the sun coming in the back window. Or I get tinted windows. Like on the immaculately white CSI SUV that came after we were burglarized. (They parked it laterally on a street where you’re supposed to park perpendicular. Bad ass, right?)

Hey. Maybe that’s the birthday plan. Instead of getting A. a puzzle with farm animals and turning her car seat around, maybe I’ll get her an armored Escalade with blacked out windows. Awesome. That’ll come in at about the same price point, right? You only turn one once, right? I’m totally doing this. It’s going to be great. Happy birthday, A.!!!

Staying at Home

The first member of my tribute band goes into “share care” today, making me think about how lucky I am to be able to stay at home with little A.

Before we get to that though, let’s talk about my tribute band. It might be in my head. But here’s the thing: friends of ours named their daughter Emma. They say it had nothing to do with me – family name, blah blah blah – but I’m just saying, she’s named Emma, I’m named Emma… You do the math.

There are a lot of other tiny Emmas floating around out there too: “Emma” has been a top baby name pick for four or five years now. Some of them are bound to meet up with each other eventually, some of those are going to take up the tambourine and what not, and voila: my tribute band. They don’t have to know me for it to be a tribute band: my influence as the older Emma is just a felt thing, don’t you think? Yeah. It is.

Until that time though, Emma’s headed to a share care while her mom goes back to teaching. (Share care is where two or more kiddies’ families hire a single nanny who watches the kids together in one of their homes.) Most moms I know were upset to head back to work and I would’ve been too, especially since I’d have been heading back to a job I didn’t feel was that important to the world or my identity. (I mean, yes, who doesn’t want a potato ricer? But let’s not pretend world peace depends on it. Also: I don’t like to cook, so there goes the global and the personal relevance.)

I hope most of us believe firmly that moms should be able to head back to their jobs without a burden of guilt about leaving their kids to be cared for by others. (For every piece of research suggesting worse outcomes for kids in day care, there’s another one saying that’s bunk, so clearly there’s no one conclusion.) That set aside, even the moms I know who love their jobs have had a hard time heading back, a lot of them an unexpectedly hard time. Babies are much more attractive than you think they’re going to be before you have them. They’re interesting companions and they need a lot of attention that – surprising to some of us, myself included – you actually would like to give them. So heading out the door for most of their waking hours five days a week is a big adjustment after months of full-time care and company.

I never thought I’d want to be a full-time mother, but that’s mostly because I had a lot of hang-ups about being a mother at all. (“Had” might not be 100% accurate, but the ones I have now are about the “how” not the “at all.”) But through coincidence and choice, I am. I won’t lie: taking on a high-stakes 80-hour/week job with little to no supervision or guidance is a hard transition when you’ve been a successful professional in a completely different field for several years. There are days when the learning curve seems too steep to climb, and it seems like the sane choice for everyone would be to hand off my responsibilities to the real professionals. You know: the ones who like to cook tiny meals and know how to check for broken bones.

But parenting is about the long game, not the six-month project. You’re going for a general target of “happy and healthy” which is tough to define and hard to measure as you go. Mistakes are inevitable, and, disconcertingly, the ones you can identify are rarely the ones that your little ones remember to hold against you. So, as far as I can tell, you’re shooting for generalities, best of the current choices, and constantly trying to loosen your grip, ease up, just be with the baby, let her be who she’s going to be.

It’s a good lesson, that grip-loosening, for someone like me – one I anticipated as being the most challenging and beneficial for me specifically, in becoming a parent. Growing up with as much uncertainty and conflict as I did, I have a preference for “safe and certain” on the home front. I like reliable people. I don’t, in general, like surprises. (At least not in scheduling. Expensive gifts are fine. Parties? Yes. Last-minute changes to plans? No. Unless it’s a party. With presents. Then go ahead. Don’t let me stop you. Really. My birthday’s in a month. Go for it.)

I’m not an iron grip girl. Privately though, between myself and myself, I like to know where my hand rests steadily. It took some years to sort that out and still takes some time and quiet to reassure myself that I’m on-course, especially after a destabilization, a panic, or a surge into new circumstances. I just wasn’t raised to feel naturally steady, so it takes some work.

Babies aren’t big on the steady though, nor on the quiet and reliable. And panic is a big thing when you’re trying to keep someone small, fast and interested in electrical sockets alive. Flexibility is the name of the game. It’s a very hard game. For anyone, I imagine, and especially for people like me. Going back to work, getting my bearings a few hours a day, being in a predictable familiar environment would be very welcome. But I decided to leave the work I used to do and take on something more important to me, writing, and then, almost immediately something else important, parenting. So on we forge, creating a new career, a new set of bearings, while simultaneously flexing (almost flat sometimes) with good-natured A.

It’s a heavy lift all at once. I’m struggling, particularly with the move to a new home thrown in. But it’s a good choice for me, for us, for A., I think. For now. We’ll see what the spring brings, besides flowers and earlier sun, which will both be welcome.

So to the moms heading back to work, bon voyage and good luck. All will be well. To the moms staying home, let’s sort out our schedules to get some coffee because this new job is keeping me up nights.

To The Mean Lady in the Bathroom

dark_light_clouds.jpgI noticed you before in the gallery. You were being loud and sounded angry even though it was a Maira Kalman exhibit. She’s not loud or angry. She’s all about being good-natured and wry and taking things in stride. And being amused. You didn’t seem amused.

I don’t know what’s up with you today. Maybe it’s every day. You are in a wheelchair so maybe it’s that. That would be difficult. I don’t know what I’d do if I were in a wheelchair. I hope I’d be one of those inspirational people who take up extreme skiing or sailboarding and get profiled in People or on Good Morning America. I think it would take me a really long time to get there though. I mean the being great about it, not the sailboarding. The sailboarding might take me forever. (I’ve never had very good balance.)

Whatever it is that’s bothering you though, it’s not nice for the rest of us if you take it out on a stranger who didn’t know you were waiting for the mom-with-kids/handicapped bathroom stall in the really nicely designed ladies room at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. Honestly, I didn’t know you were waiting when I took my time sorting A. out. Do you think I would’ve kept you waiting on purpose? I hope not. That would be a tough way to go through your day, thinking people who don’t even know you are purposely being rotten.

Not to sound like a mom, but you really didn’t need to take that tone with me. If you’d just politely said you were waiting or made your presence known – a slight cough, an amusing note under the door – I’d have been just as obliging, I promise, but you wouldn’t have put that little bit of unpleasantness into the world by making me and little A. feel bad. I know you can’t feel good about it either. No one does when they’re mean, however justified they feel they are. It backs up on you. I know. I’ve been there.

Please, next time give me a little more credit for being a person who doesn’t knowingly inconvenience strangers. And remember: other people don’t think about us as much as we’d all like to think that they do. Which means that when they drive by you in their cars, even if they seem like they’re looking right at you, they probably didn’t register your amazing ensemble, the one with the alluring hat and the matching socks that you wore specially. (Don’t worry: the people who love you did and that’s what matters.)

But it also means they didn’t mean to cut you off in traffic. They were probably thinking about something else entirely. Like how their boss yelled at them this afternoon or that maybe they married the wrong person. Or maybe they’re rushing to save a kitten, one of the really adorable ones.

Of course, there’s a very slight possibility that you’re right, that that person really did mean to intentionally rain on your day. I’m sorry if that happens to you regularly. That has to be difficult to bear. But take a moment, just today, to consider whether that’s really true, even if you really, really believe it is deep down inside. Think hard. Is the world really not on your side on purpose? Between ourselves, I doubt it. You know why? Because I wasn’t, even though you thought I was.

We – everyone, all of us – are exceptionally bad guessers. It’s the scared part of us that thinks we’re great at guessing and tells us our worst guess is the correct one. The fact is, most of the time, we just don’t have any idea what’s going on with other people, so we may as well decide to believe the nice thing, right? Because in the end, it will make everyone’s day, including yours and mine and tiny A.’s, a little brighter. And we can all use a little sun.

Have a nice afternoon.

Thanks to numupdraft for the photo.

Nine Weeks

starburst_jellybeans.jpgLittle A. is nearly nine weeks old. Let’s see where we stand:

A.’s accomplishments, relative to starting point of birth:

  • Can almost hold her head up.
  • Can almost roll over.
  • Smiles.
  • Laughs a tiny laugh.
  • Eats mostly without help.
  • Sleeps four hours at a time.

My accomplishments, relative to starting point of last week:

I know, right? Sing it, little baby: your mother has mad skillz.

Slowly But Surely

me_a.jpgAll right, all right, yes: I’m back. A. is nearly seven weeks old – a shocking development – and I’m back. I know in this day and age I shouldn’t have been gone this long, but there it is. New motherhood and lots of visitors are my excuse. I read Andrew Sullivan‘s utterly unhelpful remark that, “A blog is a a broadcast, not a publication. If it stops moving, it dies,” somewhere a few weeks back and had a pang of (intended, I’m sure) guilt, but there’s nothing like a good-tempered adorable baby to make you forget all about Andrew Sullivan.

I admire the bloggers who send updates from their delivery rooms at the hospital and get back on track with their work immediately, but, alas, I was not destined to be one of them apparently. Aran over at Cannelle et Vanille makes me nearly ill with her level of post-baby productivity. I had take-out sushi and donuts my first week home, thank you very much, not Sweet Potato, Yogurt and Hazelnut Cakes that she #$&#$! made the next week.

To our credit A. does already have a.) her own email address, and b.) her own web site, although we’re keeping both to ourselves and relatives for now to protect her tiny privacy. No Twitter account as yet – I’m leaving that to Tilo, Swiss Miss’ little man. For now, I can barely manage to update my own Twitter, Facebook and blog pages, let alone managing A’s.

That said, I’m coming back online slowly but surely. A. is sleeping in four-hour stretches now (although only one of those falls overnight as yet, sadly) so things are getting slightly more predictable and my mind is clearing out of its emergency alert mode.

Thank you all for your well wishes, kind comments and gifts. We’re doing well and love our new roommate.

Baby Talk

Me: Grab me a onesie, would you?
R: What’s a onesie?
Me: Not the shirt, the one that’s a full body suit.
R: That snaps in the crotch?
Me: Yeah.
R: Why don’t they call it a crotch-sie?
Me: Yeah, they should definitely do that.