Saturday, September 23, 2006

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble

Miss Baby is now three and a half months old. I'm going back to work before Christmas, and The Dada is starting his parental leave. As we are exclusively breastfeeding until six months, and plan to continue b-f until one year, my absence from the familial home for gainful employment will necessitate some technological intervention.

I'm gonna hafta pump.

I splurged on the 'daily use' Medela backpack dual-pump with multi-phase pumping action. Um, 'woohoo'? It's all so clinical.

Here's me boiling all the components, a witch's brew of plastic mommy-replacement devices. It's easy enough to pump (mooooooo!), but the whole idea is just so undignified. Now, I'm really excited to go back to work (I miss grownup company, and I miss my job, actually), and, in a way, I'm really really excited that someone besides me will be able to feed Miss Baby. This will lengthen my leash considerably.

On the other hand, I was kind of pleased when Miss Baby utterly and with great hurling cries refused to take the bottle. I sort of, deep down, don't want to be rendered obsolete or expendable just yet. Yes, it's grueling to be the only food source, and the comfort of first, second, and last resort; it is sometimes less than cheering to discover that Miss Baby will holler inconsolably from her crib, only to fall fast asleep after a token three little sucks at the magic boobie. But, it's also kind of empowering: I'm The Mama, and she needs me, me, and only me.

However, I know that with December really coming up fast, the right thing to do is to introduce the occasional bottle now, just so that she gets used to it and won't freak out when The Boobies aren't around all the time. But you know, as much as I want her to take it, deep down I want her to reject it, too. Because otherwise, even though it's silly, I'll feel a little bit like she's rejecting me.

True Story: Cat Edition

"Look! I fit in the sling, too! Maybe you can carry me around
all night, instead of Miss Baby!"

Poor Crazy Kitty is having a bit of a hard time adjusting to life with Miss Baby -- all the new noises and smells and, let's be honest, the lessening of attention from The Mama and The Dada. She hasn't even made it into the blog yet! That's one neglect I can rectify right now ...

True story. A couple of weeks ago, when Miss Baby was still on her 11:00 pm bedtime schedule (I know! So gruelling!), Pynchon managed to sling her (that is, carry her around in the sling) to sleep and while I was in the shower, managed to put her down in her crib, pull up her blankets, untie the sling, turn on the baby monitor, sneak out and close the door. Without her waking up. A miracle. I mean, at this point, we pretty much wept from exhaustion every time we finally put her down, and immediately went to bed ourselves, for fear that our conscious breathing would rouse her.

How is this a story about the cat? Well, in the shower I had the secret knowledge that PCK was actually asleep on the nursing rocker in Miss Baby's (dark) room. When I came out of the shower pleasantly surprised that Miss Baby was in bed, I had to break the hard news that the cat was latched in there with her.

Thus began Operation Cat Extraction: I was nominated to turn off all the upstairs lights, open the door, sneak into the room (on all fours, natch, so Miss Baby might not chance to see me), and somehow get PCK off the chair and out of the room without her meowling in protest. And start fast, because the odds were good she'd soon enough get out of the chair herself, find the door closed, and meowl in protest anyway.

High dignity parental manoeuvring ensued. PCK was successfully extracted. Miss Baby remained asleep. Only to wake up from unrelated causes about 10 minutes later.

True story.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Tales from the Crib

I offer the following for your consideration:

Here's Miss Baby waking up from her (shortish!) morning nap yesterday. Please note that her feet are hanging out through the bars of her crib. Obviously, I did not put her down like this, but you can see she's not terribly distressed about the situation (although, if I were to caption this, it would probably read 'Put down the camera already, The Mama, and make with the rescue operation'). Basically, she's perpendicular to how she started. And she's managed to remove all her blankets, while keeping her comfort-diaper (that's another post) artfully draped over her shoulder.

Maybe her new name should be 'Baby Houdini'.

But that's not really the point. Here's the point. Do you ever look at a photograph and suddenly see things that weren't apparent to you in real time, in real life? For example, for all its comedic gold, this photo is alloyed with signs of Dangerous, Sloppy, and Unsafe Mothering Practices I am afraid to publish for fear the CAS or at least the BabyCentre gurus will come to pillory me. Notice the stuffed animal in the far right! The dangling ribbon at the top right! The profusion of bunched up blankets around the baby! And, the pillow, my god the PILLOW! Basically, this setup is just begging for a smothering to take place, according to all the experts.

I think the Modern Mother-to-Be spends most of her pregnancy learning about all the different, inadvertent, clearly negligent ways that she can kill her as-yet-unborn-miracle once it makes its way out of the womb (the guilt trip they pull on you while it's still in the womb is also, alas, another post). It's a world of 'never', 'don't do', 'avoid', and 'no': never put your baby to sleep on her tummy; don't leave baby unattended; avoid placing on a soft surface; no crib bumpers no pillows no stuffed animals no duvets no bedsharing no couchnapping NO NO NO.

If having a baby is about, fundamentally, saying a resounding YES to new life and new love, baby care is all about death-avoidance, stridently and righteously proclaimed by experts aplenty.

Don't get me wrong. I think the 'back to sleep' campaign conveys some useful information about avoiding potentially smothering your baby. And it's good that safety standards mean Miss Baby can only wedge her legs and not her skull between the bars of her crib. But aren't we all getting a little crazy with the safety proclamations? The pillow (eek!) in Miss Baby's deathtrap, um, crib, is a backrest for her: she goes to sleep on her side (ack!) because that's how she always fell asleep after feeds when we were bedsharing (horror!). She's got blankets at each end of the crib (yelp!) because she goes down in whatever direction she was facing to eat -- and the blanket from the foot end comes up to cover her, lightning quick, before she can freak out. The ribbon and the toy give her something to look at when she's considering whether to sleep or to wail. And all of these things contribute to a happy, well-napped baby.

Really, I have to give the credit for most of these innovations to my mom -- who put me to sleep on my tummy, under a duvet, with an electric heating pad for god's sake. Who bottle-fed me, propped me up on the no-doubt flammable couch with pillows, and watched me make my first roll ... right off the bed and onto the floor. And I survived. This generation of Grammas are horrified that we are horrified at their parenting technique. And maybe they should be. I think we're a little overcautious now, perhaps because we've become such a litigious society, or maybe because so many of today's new moms are operating a gazillion miles away from their families without much mentoring or support, or maybe because the baby gear has gotten so complicated and our lives so rushed we need terribly explicit directions to save us from ourselves. I don't know. But I sure am tired of worrying so much about Miss Baby's certainly imminent catastrophic death from a change-table-fall, car-seat-tipover, pillow-smothering, cat-attack, toy-choking incident.

You know what? No matter what you do, Miss Baby is going to spin herself silly in the crib, and wind up with her feet wedged through the bars. And she's likely going to be fine, and you'll likely take a bunch of pictures to laugh at with your friends. Everyone should just calm down. And maybe laugh a little more.

"Are you going to kill me, mobile? I just want to chew on you and love you!"

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Things I don’t want to forget …

Here are some things about Miss Baby at 3 months old that I don’t want to forget:

  1. The way she gives a big half-asleep sigh when she gets drowsy breastfeeding
  2. The way she kicks her feet straight up in the air when she first sees me in the morning
  3. The way she has become frowningly obsessed with staring at the barnyard-animal pattern on the nursing pillow
  4. Her undying love of ceiling fans, with whom she shares all her secrets
  5. The way she looks like a little baby bird when The Dada holds her up on his shoulder, all raised eyebrows and skinny little neck and too-big head
  6. The way she’s starting to shriek really loudly, just for the fun of it
  7. How she looks when she’s asleep in the sling: squashed, fetal, peaceful
  8. The way she fits against me, curled up tummy to tummy, when nursing
Hm. There's a lot of boobie-related items on this list, I see. Well, that seems fair, as I spend a lot of time in the nursing chair with Miss Baby. Staring. Dripping. Letting the hormones kick in ...

I'm still hip enough to realize that these are not things that Miss Baby is going to want me to reminisce about out loud, let alone in front of other people, once she gets to be, oh, I don't know, seven. I can just see it -- "Mom, tell me again about when I was a baby!" says Miss Baby. "Well," reply I, "you spent a lot of time with your face buried in my boobs, and made the weirdest rasping breathing noises! My boobs were so big I thought I would suffocate you! Dad was worried he could never see your nose." What that anecdote has is naked Mommy, Miss Baby doing something icky, and Daddy looking at naked Mommy and icky baby behaviour. A surefire recipe for averted eyes, and then later, rolling eyes.

So I'll just share with the Internet ... she'll never be three months again, and I just have to write it all down.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Well before I ever became pregnant with Miss Baby, I had spent a fair bit of time in the baby care trenches. Explosive breastmilk poops, spray pees, reverberating burps, and mommy-must-pick-‘em boogers were not unknown to me. I thought I was quite sophisticated, so far as baby bodily emanations went.

Ha. Enter the powerburf.

I have to say I was totally unprepared for the volume and force of the vomit (it’s certainly not ‘spit up’) that Miss Baby can produce. From about 10 days old to about 8 weeks, she would quite regularly issue forth a cone of destruction soaking everything in its path: nursing pillow, sleeper, mommy’s shirt, bra, pants, the rocking chair, daddy’s work clothes, the dishwasher and kitchen counter, the playpen. And the weird thing is it’s never just one shot: she always gives us a reliable four-shot barf. BLRWAH! … BLRWAH! … BLRWAH! … BLRWAH! We are powerless to do anything but watch, and, maybe, aim her away from the carpets.

Thank god we own our own washer and dryer. Here’s a pretty typical shot, where Pynchon is wearing most of the devastation – what you don’t see is the puddle on the floor as well. And yes, she’s smiling in this photo. Barfing makes her cheerful.

It’s amazing what you get used to, though. Like the flaming jets in the fire swamp, each eruption is preceded by an odd gurgle and a very particular kind of grimace, so we’re getting pretty good at minimizing the collateral damage. Visitors to our home who have witnessed the spectacle say that they wonder why mommy and daddy suddenly freak out, and why 10 seconds later, it’s like The Exorcist. However, last night, when I was giving her her pre-bed feed, I leaned her over my shoulder to burp her, and then leaned forward to get out of the chair. I guess we were getting used to her less-burfy 12 week old behaviours, and I let my guard down ... The happy part of this story is that my pre-baby skinny low-riders fit me again. The tragic part is that when you lean forward in low riders, you leave a little bum-exposing gape at the back …

Into which Miss Baby proceeded to powerburf. Check the photo. I yelped out for Pynchon, who laughed and laughed, especially when I snivelled about my ‘hot, wet ass’ while trying to stand up without just making the mess worse. Once upon a time a hot wet ass might have been sexy, but now I’m referring to the puddle of vomit pooling inside my pants. I got undressed in the bathtub. Miss Baby didn’t get a drop on her own outfit, and, of course, was quite pleased with herself for clearing room for second supper in her little baby tummy.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Back to School

Every September since 1977, the Tuesday after Labour Day has always meant one thing: back to school! A new year, with new clothes and new pencils and a new grade and new books to read (remember, I’m a lifelong nerd) and maybe new friends and new beginnings. It’s all fresh and new and exciting and soooo much more meaningful than January 1st as a ‘new year’ to mark as a special occasion. I have never missed a back-to-school until right now. I went to the mall on Saturday, and instead of stocking up on my favorite pens and some new binders and paperclips, I bought a load of fall-weight baby outfits.

Wow. Feels weird – school and the scholastic year have always really defined the rhythms of my life and are a big part of my self-image. Now, as I watch my neighbourhood welcome back the hordes of frosh and upperclassmen to the local universities, and as troops of grade-schoolers march past the house at 8:30 and 3:30, I feel a little left out.

For now, my life has a new, different rhythm, of more- or less-full boobies and baby tummies, of two-hour periods of wakefulness and drowsiness signs, of bedtime rituals and midnight changes, of those wonderful early morning and midafternoon periods of baby good cheer, when we play and laugh and I get all those gummy little smiles, of portioned out mommy-breaks and daddy-breaks. It’s a rhythm that’s at once slower but more intense, more in-the-home rather than out-in-the-world. It moves in days rather than seasons. It’s full of learning and changes that surprise me – when did she stop singing her satisfaction while eating? When did she start wiggling her whole body to say hello with a smile in the morning? When did all these clothes get too small? But – a September without new classes, new faces!

There was a time in my life, probably not so long ago, actually, when this change would have really thrown me for a loop: I am very much a creature of habit, and this is a 29 year habit, after all. But you know what? I’m okay with this. Miss Baby is such a wonder and a joy, and my sense that this time with her is fleeting is very acute. Back to school will always be there, for both of us, but our time to be so engrossed in each other is going to run its course, probably faster than I can imagine right now. So as the school bells ring and new shoes walk new paths to new classrooms and challenges, Miss Baby and I will stroll the neighbourhood to watch the wonder of the changing leaves. Maybe we’ll wave at some buses and give some money to the Shine-a-rama volunteers in face paint.

Whaddaya mean I'm getting on one of those buses someday?

Monday, September 04, 2006


I’m blogging from Starbucks, watching the university crowd move back in. (Have you noticed, suddenly, everyone is wearing their fall clothes? With wee little purses you could never fit a diaper / wipes / change pad / outfit change / books / rattle into …)

Anyhow … I’m drinking a grande nonfat latte, I’m wearing lipstick, and my shirt has no spit on it. The freedom! Miss Baby is at home with The Dada, who shipped me out for some quiet time because I was having something of a meltdown – nothing dramatic, just low-grade simmering frustration and bad moodedness.

Here’s what I’m thinking about: people always say how important it is to take some time away from your baby, so that you can recharge and refresh in order, essentially, to come back as a better mother. So the ‘break’ is not really a break, because it’s really intended to gear you up for more mothering. I guess I buy into this too, because I’ll say things like, ‘when I get an hour to myself in a coffee shop with the Sunday paper, I’m really glad to see Miss Baby again when I get home.’

But you know what? Sometimes I’m just really glad to read the paper, with no one hanging off my boob.

I wonder if that makes me a bad mommy.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Who we are ...

Now that you've been properly welcomed to the breach, let me take this opportunity to introduce the cast of characters ... we are primarily and for the moment a mommyblog and thus our main players are:

Mimi, aka 'The Mama' (um, me), a 30-something newish professor with a love of expensive shoes, books books books, and reeling with love and shock from the birth of ...

Miss Baby, 3 months old, a teeny-tiny tyrant full of laughs, poop, and vomit, who keeps us very busy while growing at a truly phenomenal rate. If she had her way, she would spend half her life in the baby sling, marching us around the house at top speed. The other half she would spend engaging the ceiling fans in delighted conversation.

Poor Crazy Kitty, our beleaguered tabby, who has long been on anxiety medication to dampen her unnatural desire to be near us all the time, and is still reeling from the competition represented by the arrival of Miss Baby.

and featuring special appearances by

Pynchon, aka 'The Dada' or 'Husbandman', who is about to launch his media career as a participant on a reality television show, thus freeing me from any quandaries regarding the loss of personal privacy writing about him might otherwise have landed me in. He picked his own nom-de-blogue, btw.

Anyhow, as I while away the maternity leave with Miss Baby and her erratic schedule, the momosphere has helped with loads of advice while never minding that I've often slammed down the laptop screen in the middle of a read to attend to a powerburf, or a wail, or the sudden overpowering need to sleep. Socializing here doesn't involve leaving the house, putting on makeup, wrestling Miss Baby into the car seat, breastfeeding in a food court, changing poopy bums on other people's counters, or interrupting anyone's naps. Hooray for asynchronous communication!