Archive for Babies

Poem of first words

Hi, bye, turtle kitty aaaah-oooo (meow).
Ball, please! Mama, Daddy, Mommy, Ma-moo.
Eggy eggy apple out, hat, oh boy!
Bow wow, oh wow! No no, more.
Outside, purple tree. Bird, up, hot.
Diaper, nurse, hello. Baby, all done.

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Bow wow ow.

Hey, wanna hear my Awesome Mama moment of the day? Prepare yourself, because it’s really pretty awesome.

We went to an outdoor latin music concert at the art museum, where there were lots of kids and dogs. Robin saw a smallish dog he liked and zoomed straight over. “We don’t know that dog, honey,” I said as I began dragging him away by the heels. “Oh, she’s a sweetheart,” the owner assured me. The dog let go of the bone she was chewing on and wagged her tail. I let Robin pet her. The dog snuffled his face and wagged some more. Robin reached for the bone. “NO, baby,” I grabbed his wrist. “Doggies don’t like that.” “It’s fine,” the owner said, “we actually trained her to be okay with that by taking her food dish away.” I was mollified, but still thought it was a bad idea for a kid to grab a dog’s bone. Robin pet the dog again. The dog snuffled him again. Robin reached for the bone again. I was about to go for his wrist – more slowly, because it was just a matter of teaching Robin that this was generally a bad plan, not a safety concern – when the dog growled, lunged, and fucking bit him. In the face. So fast I couldn’t prevent it.

At first I thought maybe the dog hadn’t actually bitten him, maybe it had just snapped very close to him. There was no visible blood, and his face was so red from screaming that I couldn’t see whether there were any marks. Then he opened his mouth to latch on (I offered him a boob for comfort) and I saw that his gum was bleeding a little. Not a whole lot, but clearly contact had been made. Later, after he had calmed down – which actually happened surprisingly quickly – I could see red marks where the teeth had closed on him, on his cheek and above and below his mouth. He’s really fine, and the dog owner was shocked and very apologetic, and followed after me to make sure Robin was okay.

The way I see it, this incident was really my fault. I fucking knew better than to let him go for the dog’s bone, and I stupidly listened to what the owner said instead of trusting my instincts. Of COURSE the dog bit him. When the owners take the dish away, well, they’re the alpha dogs, and what they say goes. But my kid? Not an alpha dog. Not even a beta dog. Probably not even a pack member. And I have owned four dogs in my lifetime and I KNOW these things.

Like I said, Awesome Mama. Robin’s okay, and learning experience blah blah blah, but I still feel pretty shitty about it.


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I hear the secrets that you keep.

2am: Wren sits bolt upright, opens her eyes, and announces “wa be roh ahm du.” Her eyes close, her head drops to her chest, she begins to sway a little. Her eyes fly open again, and she lifts her right arm as if gesticulating to make her point. “Ma zo eh gub! Buh.” Her eyes close again. She falls over. She snores.

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Children should be seen and not heard, I guess.

I got in a fiiiiiiiiiiiight at the Farmer’s Market again yesterday (the last one was nearly a year ago, when some lady snapped at me to cover up while nursing). We had brought the kids over to have brunch. Robin was unhappy with A) food not coming fast enough, B) being in the stroller, C) the way we kept feeding the other baby instead of him, WTF, and D) everything else. He yelled periodically. Not constantly, and it’s not as if we weren’t doing our best to address it. But two asshole women at a nearby table kept glaring at me, and when I smiled apologetically at one she sneered, “I’m not smiling.” And they kept glaring. And glaring. Finally I went over there and said, “Hey, so, I’m getting a lot of nasty looks from over here, and it’s really bothering me.” Ms. I’m-Not-Smiling told me, unsmiling, that my children were disrupting her meal. “I’ve been watching you,” she said, “and every time he yells you pop food in his mouth. You’re rewarding his bad behavior.”

“Let me get this straight: he’s yelling because he’s hungry, so you want me to . . . not feed him?”

Well, they had come here to have a peaceful lunch. I pointed out that this was the Farmer’s Market; it was filled with kids and loud people. But all of the other kids near us were behaving perfectly, they answered.

“All of the other kids near us are older and capable of speech.”

Ms. I’m-Not-Smiling told me that she was a high school teacher, so she knew how kids like mine were going to turn out. I asked her if she really thought her badly behaved students were bad because their parents had fed them when they yelled for food when they were one year old.

There was more. Too much more. Husband came over and I informed him that we had been doing this whole parenting thing wrong all along and THANK GOD SOMEONE WAS HERE TO SET US STRAIGHT.

Oh, the whole thing was a freaking trainwreck. At the same time that their rudeness made me angry, it also reinforced my anxiety about bringing the kids out in public. It’s true: sometimes they’re loud (especially, I’ve noticed, when they are in loud environments). I’m already completely embarrassed by it even before the kind contributions of Ms. I’m-Not-Smiling. But what am I supposed to do, keep them locked away until they’re six?

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Warning: This post is largely about poop. Lots and lots of poop.

Ah, Rotavirus, my new mortal enemy.

Wren started vomiting on Wednesday the 4th, and I brought her to the ER in the evening after the vomit turned bright yellow and she became listless. They did an ultrasound to check for intussusception, and found none. They said she was dehydrated, stuck in an IV, filled her up like a little water balloon, and sent her home after a few hours. The next day she didn’t vomit, but she just wouldn’t stay awake. At times, I couldn’t wake her up at all, even with flicking her feet and rubbing her chest. She wouldn’t nurse, she wouldn’t eat or drink anything. She wouldn’t whack her brother with blocks, even when we put the blocks in her hand and sat him right next to her. This alone told me that something was Not Right.

I called her doctor, who asked me, “When she’s awake, is she coherent?”
“Um, she’s one year old, so I’d have to say no.”
“I mean age-appropriate coherence.”
“Well, she said ‘kitty’ a couple of times, but not like she meant it. If you mean does she seem focused and aware, that’s still a no.”
“You should probably bring her back to the ER.”

The ER doctor, a sombre man with a dark beard, tossed around the possibility of meningitis, and did a lumbar puncture to rule it out. Immediately after the puncture (and probably in revenge for it because Holy Mother of All That Blows was that traumatic), she developed explosive diarrhea. He admitted her to the hospital, where she was soon diagnosed with Rotavirus, the baby stomach flu from hell. The baby LoJack on her ankle and the IV machine plugged into the wall meant I couldn’t even take her for a walk, so the only time I got to leave the room was when Husband and Robin came to visit. I bathed only with baby wipes and deodorant. Wren kept pooping on me. I was sticky and smelly and my hair fused into one big puffy dreadlock. When Husband brought me a change of clothes I nearly cried with joy. Wren pooped on them an hour later.

We came home on Sunday. I showered immediately. Wren improved over the next couple of days. Her last diarrhea was on Tuesday morning. That same morning, I got a serious case of The Puking, which – thank heavens – lasted only about twelve hours. Phew! All done.



Through all of this, Robin had been running a fever between 101 and 102, and he developed a really fancy rash and got kinda cranky, but seemed basically okay. Until this Wednesday. As soon as he saw that his sister was better and his mother had stopped throwing up, my kind and considerate little boy started having diarrhea. A lot of it. Everywhere. And that’s where we are now, still mired in the poopfest. This morning I changed his diaper, and in the .05 seconds between one diaper coming off and the next going on, he sprayed the changing table, the wall, and part of the window with liquid poo.

At least we’re at home, where I can shower.

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I think I’ve got a plan.

Me: Ow! No bite, Wren! Ow! Quit it!
Wren: [grin, with teeth still clamped down on my nipple.]
Husband: What are you going to do about this biting thing?
Me: FedEx her to Japan.
Husband: No!
Me: What? I’ll put airholes in the box!

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In which I make myself unpopular.

The woman in the grocery store smiled at my two shrieking monsters. “Two is perfect!” She lowered her voice to a confidential whisper. “Eight is too many.”

We’ve been getting so much of this sort of offhand remark, I’ve started to call them “octuplet-bys”. And I get it, I do: eight is a lot of babies. Fourteen, with the six already at home, is REALLY a lot of babies. Since the news broke, though, I’ve found myself awkwardly defensive of Nadya Suleman and her prodigious reproduction. Not because I think having eight children at once is a good or even neutral idea. I think it’s a terrible idea. But some of the criticism leveled at Suleman in this case seems to me to be misplaced and unfair.

It is totally valid to point out that having octuplets (or even the septuplets everyone thought she was carrying) is incredibly dangerous for the mother and all the babies. Any doctor who agreed to put eight embryos in the uterus of a woman – any woman, much less one with a proven history of successful pregnancy – should have his license taken away and maybe be hung up by his toes, or some other small, roundish, dangly bit. If, as has been widely speculated by Those Who Know About Such Things (meaning infertility bloggers and commenters), the woman obtained fertility drugs in some shady manner and got herself very knocked up and then refused to reduce the pregnancy, then it was incredibly stupid and irresponsible of her to do so, because of the above-mentioned risks to everyone’s health.

Much of the criticism I’m reading, though, has less to do with the health risks and more to do with moral outrage over the financial aspect. How dare this woman, who appears to be unmarried and not wealthy, proceed with a reproductive process and end result she can’t pay for? The internet is initially aghast at the prospect of the state footing the bill for these children. THEN word emerges that Suleman has obtained a publicist and is in negotiations to give interviews, and suddenly the focus of the fury shifts. A “famewhore,” some call her; there is rampant speculation that she had all fourteen kids for the money she would one day reap in reality show residuals.

We’re in the midst of some scary, scary economic times, and frankly I think this woman is catching backlash from a generalized anxiety about money right now. No matter how she ended up mama to a bajillion babies, she now has to support them and I do not blame her one tiny bit for doing whatever media gigs come her way in order to pay for those children.

It’s unfortunate, no, worse than unfortunate – it sucks that cases like this become the face of infertility. It makes it harder to persuade insurance companies to cover fertility treatment and increases the general public bafflement and hostility infertile people already encounter (we’re selfish, why don’t we just adopt?). And that’s another valid reason to criticize Nadya Suleman. But the Welfare Mom/Famewhore catch-22? I think we can ditch that little bit of nastiness.

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The worms will save us all.

Before you have babies, you think you’ve got a handle on how the parenting thing works. You feed them, you change them, you keep them clean. What’s so hard about that? And honestly, the answer, so far as I can tell from eleven months in the twin trenches, is nothing. Except for everything. Most particularly, the last item on the list.

Clean? Ha. My kids have mashed banana glued behind their ears from breakfast, and some chicken in their hair from last night. Robin is rubbing his nose on the couch to get out the booger that he won’t let me touch with a tissue. Wren is chewing on something she found in her stroller seat. After I scoop it from under her tongue, I can only guess that it was once something attached to a plant. A leaf? A piece of bark? Maybe some bird poo?

Thankfully, according to the New York Times, we are just good parents.

In studies of what is called the hygiene hypothesis, researchers are concluding that organisms like the millions of bacteria, viruses and especially worms that enter the body along with “dirt” spur the development of a healthy immune system.

I’ll buy the first round of tequila shots. Worms for everybody!

Dr. Ruebush deplores the current fetish for the hundreds of antibacterial products that convey a false sense of security and may actually foster the development of antibiotic-resistant, disease-causing bacteria.

Rhinovirus Microbe

Rhinovirus Microbe

At the Farmer’s Market, we see mothers diligently scrubbing the tables with sanitary wipes before setting down their trays. They douse their children’s hands in antibacterial gel. They probably use those stupid shopping cart covers. They may think they’re doing good, but when the superbugs rise up to enslave us all in their germy armies of the End Times, you’ll know who to blame.

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Husband was up until 4am or so (as per usual), so when I woke up this morning I asked him, “was I imagining it, or were the babies up EVERY TWENTY MINUTES last night?” I was not imagining it. Somebody was wriggling and fussing every twenty minutes. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they were awake, but they were unhappy enough to require my attention.

There is not enough coffee in the world.

Edited to add: Hey! Look at that! In my sleepless daze, I put on the pair of pants that Robin and Wren covered with yogurt the other night! I am wearing yogurt pants at work! A helpful colleague made me aware. Loudly.

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Them pokes fun as shouldn’t.

I joke about my little Robin’s hypersensitivity, but it turns out he’s really quite brave in the face of actual carnage. Last night he pulled up on the coffee table, which I have begun to pad the edges of but have not quite finished, and – you see where this is going, right? – down he went! Bonking his face and cutting the inside of his top lip.

He yelled for about a minute, then got bored with that and wanted to play some more. But the blood, it continued to flow. So there’s my happy little boy, crawling around and blowing raspberries and smooshing his hands over his face just like always only now with more blood! and it looked like our living room had been the scene of some terrible crime that would rivet you to your evening news because OH MY GOD THE BLOOD. It stopped bleeding after a little while and a lot of gauze pads, and then he stuck his hand in his mouth and went waba-waba-waba and OH THE BLOOD.

We were planning to go to the grocery store, but I thought that it was maybe not such a good idea to take a grinning, blood-spattered child out in public. What’s that, Officer? No, we are the best parents ever, why do you ask? Hey! Where are you taking that baby?

We ruined two onesies (I stopped changing him after the first time he reopened the wound) and one of my favorite t-shirts. An ice cube stopped the bleeding in the end, though it did start again when he nursed to sleep, which I thought was kind of funny because it looked like the baby was eating my boob. Okay, maybe that’s not really funny so much as horrific, but it’s a little funny too, right? Right?

He’s fine. But I need to wash the floor before anyone comes over.

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