Tag Archives: baby

How Small Children Complicate Life

Ed. Note: I love my kids, truly.

Okay, so yesterday was my birthday, and since I’ve been six years old and learned that I wasn’t allowed to keep the white rabbit the magician at my party pulled out of a dusty top hat, I’ve tried to downplay the importance of the occasion. I’m not the only person around who’s fretted over having a rainstorm cross their special day. Or the birthday breakup unfortunate coincidence. (Or was it really causal?) You know, birthdays aren’t guarantees that the course of the twenty-four hour period will shine with perfection and happiness. Not only does isht happen, but it happens devoid of thoughtful timing.

I would have enjoyed relaxing yesterday, with some kind of nap on the couch in the new living room, but there were several problems with this scenario:

  1. I’m between case managers at the office right now, so I needed to work all day.
  2. There are still 12,287 boxes in our new house that need unpacking.
  3. Lucas doesn’t like any position other than “being held by mommy or daddy,” which is difficult to do whilst lying down on a sofa.

Read More…

Express Delivery

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second part in the story about Lucas’s birth. Also, I really wanted to write “EDITOR’S NOTE.”

me holding LucasIt’s strange to me to spend time in a hospital these days. I logged so so many hospital hours when I was growing up—between my epilepsy, nighttime seizures, and a bout with the once-named pseudotumor cerebri, I knew the floor plans of at least three medical centers—that there are strange factoids about these places that persist in my knowledge. Rounds happen way too early. Vitals are taken every four hours. Every fifth blood pressure cuff sucks. And nurses come in a vast variety of specializations and competence.

When I spent a week at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, I learned I had two clear favorites, though at this point their names are lost to me. One was taller than a Redwood pine, the other a stout, short woman who cast fear into the hearts of doctors. The tall one always had a compliment. The short one always told me the truth. And when the line of residents came into my room to see how messed up my retinas were, all carrying their own blinding penlight, short nurse was there to steer them away after a couple of minutes.

I realized early on that hospitals are spaces of contradiction. They make people well, even as they’re the easiest place to catch a cold or communicable disease. They’re full of kindness in the light of progressive, inescapable illness, which is anything but kind. Their personnel have a wealth of knowledge about physiology, hematology, pharmacology, surgery, and so on, and often they don’t know anything at all related to an individual’s specific problem. Health care providers have been asked to absorb the latest and greatest in the scientific literature and retain their fundamental training. And because they work the middle of a normal distribution like flies to a cherry pie, an outlier’s power to confound is heightened. Read More…

Forget the Waiting Game

Humans love patterns. I don’t mean a Scottish plaid or a pink paisley (although those of course have their place in the world), I’m thinking more of the repetitions and unrandom occurrences that permeate our lives from which we derive meaning, seek comfort, glean knowledge, etc. Some play Sudoku, reveling in combinations of numbers, or look to discover new patterns in math, Fibonacci sequences being old hat and all. Others love fractals, genetic sequencing, a field of clovers, the lines that a purebreed dog is supposed to exhibit, whatever strikes their interest and fancy. There are patterns of things and histories and people out there to suit every interest. And beyond patterns there are trends, or pattern forecasting, if you will. Once we start talking statistics, it’s a whole new world of hit and miss—is this thing a pattern or isn’t it? can we count on this pattern to continue?—and though experts may collude that a given pattern is definitely, absolutely, perfectly true, well, I think we all know better.

Here I turn to pregnancy. Show me a woman with a 28-day cycle and I’ll show you thirty more who cycle in a different pattern, or via no pattern at all. (They live with an annoying label of “irregular.”) If Western medicine loves a broad pattern on which to base its practices, women’s reproductive systems are the proverbial fly in the ointment. All of science still fails to understand how the start of labor is even triggered. Is the uterus like, “I’m done?” Is it a sign from the fetus? A signal from the placenta? Somebody’s hippocampus? Ted Cruz? Despite all of the not knowing going on, we are presented again and again as hopeful parents to be with the same ill-fitting narrative: most women will experience X. If a given woman experiences X+2 or even Z, that’s on her.

We’ve  seen Susanne get some symptoms of pregnancy and not others, some for a longer or shorter duration than the Mayo Clinic’s book suggests will happen, and she’s had different experiences over both of these pregnancies. Why do these things change or vary?

Who the hell knows? Read More…

Befrazzled

I’m working on two grant applications for work and I’ve nominated myself (I know, how ostentatious of me) for the Lambda Literary Foundation’s emerging writer award, the application for which is due by March 7. I’ve already applied for two writing grants, am looking at three submission deadlines at the end of the month for short work, and submitted two other pieces for consideration in anthologies. Meanwhile Susanne and I have cobbled together the new baby’s nursery, hesitatingly accepted an invitation to a baby shower, and put together various things for our second kid. Her physician tells us that the baby could come at any time, even though we’re two weeks away from the due date. We have a backup plan in case labor begins before her mother flies into town. I’m trying to get my office ready for my short absence, and manage to keep a semblance of a writing schedule up until the rush to the hospital. And oh, my debut novel is due to be released in a little more than a week.

I’m not sleeping through the night anymore. Please don’t worry for me. It makes perfect sense, after all. There’s a lot going on. (See: preceding paragraph.) I’m no longer the French vaudeville guy spinning plates on sticks in front of a hostile audience. I’m spinning plates and juggling fire-torches at the same time. Or something. Forget it, it’s a sucky metaphor. In my 90 minutes of insomnia a night I play a little sudoku, read twenty pages of a novel, and roll over like a hot dog at 7Eleven. Once or twice I’ve groped my way out of bed to try to write a little and I wind up deleting the disaster the next day. I remember going to an exhibit in DC several years ago about women artist and insomnia, and there was this one wall—seriously, the whole gallery wall—that was a series of pen points that created a behemoth picture. I can’t even recall what the picture was. It could have been pugs dancing in tutus for all I know. The thing that stuck with me was the three gazillion dots on the wall. Dot. Dot. Dot. Dot. Dot. It was intricate, and mad, and just under the threshold of out-of-control.

My insomnia is nothing like that. It’s not tortured or angsty. It doesn’t feel like the edge of a precipice so much as it feels like I’m about to emerge out of a long tunnel that is curved just enough to keep from letting any light reach my retinas. It’s traveling through a space just dark enough to inspire or frighten one’s trust. So far I’ve got that trust, layered with excitement. I’m thrilled for the family to grow. I’m stressing over the external sleeplessness I know comes with round-the-clock feedings. I wasn’t worried when Susanne was laboring to bring Emile into the world that she’d be unable to walk for more than a month, but now I am. Knowledge is maybe not always power.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m happy, I’m fulfilled, I’m chocked up with anticipation, and the kinetic energy I contain on a daily basis this month is too much for my brain to get me to a decent sleep level. And so, I look forward to her labor, to my moment of giving her my best support, and the time when they lay a little body on her chest and she falls instantly in love with her newest child. I just have to get a ton of shit done before then, because there’s no way I’ll care about it afterward.

It’s Week 22 and I Haven’t Blogged About the Next Offspring

pacifiers with skulls and crossbonesLet me just come right out and say a couple of things: I love you, unborn second child. I know we often refer to you as a parasitic fetus, but we did that during the first pregnancy too, and look, we’re really super nice to Emile, so it is totally not a sign that we’re unexcited about you. But for my second point, I have to say, I’m sorry. I should have plastered your photos from the ultrasounds all over the Internet by now, and I haven’t. I should have written at least nine blog posts wondering what kind of person you’re going to be someday, and here we are, more than halfway through the gestation process, and here is blog post number one.

In my defense, little fetus, I’ve got a lot more confidence this time around, and if you look at the litany of blogging I did before Emile was born, a lot of the content was really about my insecurity. I wasn’t even sure before Emile if I could effectively swaddle a newborn. Boy was that a non-event!

Also, Emile took a lot of doing and a series of rejiggered logistics to get conceived. We racked up the fertility visits, invoices, sperm donors, and awkward conversations with medical personnel in the 18 months it took us from getting started to getting knocked up. You got all zygotey on attempt number one! You didn’t give me any time to sweat about it, fetus. Where’s the drama in getting what you want when you want it? That’s not going to get a lot of blog attention, you know? Read More…

Somnambulism Seems Easier

Emile sitting in a pumpkin patchMy weekday schedule is something of a failed attempt at ye olde work/home life balance:

7AM — wake, shower, dress

7:30AM—head to office (stopping at post office M&Th)

7:45AM–10AM—work

10:20AM–1PM—childcare for Emile/work out/run errands/housekeeping

1PM–3:30PM—work

3:45PM–4:50PM—write (a.k.a. suck down a latte and try to think)

4:55PM—pick up Susanne

5PM—home/make supper/childcare for Emile/pick up 17,238 small toys/crash on couch to a stupid show like House Hunters

If it’s swim class night, spend one full hour packing a diaper bag, wrestling Emile into a swim diaper, heading to gym pool, splashing for 30 minutes with Emile, wrestling Emile out of a wet bathing suit, driving home, getting Emile to bed. If it’s not swim class night, trying to make and eat dinner and clean up while Emile plays, gets a bath, and asks to read 3,844 different books that you’ve already read more than 98,000 times so far (plus or minus 100). Read More…

Conversations with Emile

Emile in cowboy hatThe following are excerpts from actual conversations with my kid.

EMILE: I having a baby.

ME: You are? You’ll be a big brother and a daddy?

EMILE: No dad, I be a big brudder, a daddy AND a mommy.

#

“Daddy?”
“Yeah, buddy?”
“I saw a horse.”
“You saw a horse today? What else did you see?”
“Tennis. And a horse.”
“You did, yes. Did you see a cow?”
“Uhh, no.”
“You didn’t see a cow? Did you see a sheep?”
“Uhh, no. No sheep.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah.”
“I’m pretty sure we saw horses, and cows, and sheep, and goats. What sound did the sheep make?”
“Oink.”
“Come on, the sheep said ‘oink’?”
“No. Emile funny.”

#

EMILE: (after waking up an hour beyond bedtime and looking outside) It’s dark outside.

ME: Yes, the sun went down.

EMILE: Is bedtime outside.

ME: Yes. And it’s bedtime inside, too.

EMILE: Daddy, why so dark outside?

ME: (I grab a piece of cereal and hold it up close to the dining room overhead light) We are on a planet out in space, and we move around the sun, but we also rotate, so sometimes the bright light is on the other side of us. (I move the cereal around deftly, rotating and revolving at the same time) When it’s on the other side, we are in nighttime and it is dark outside.

EMILE: That’s a Cheerio.

ME: Yes. It’s a Cheerio. It’s a metaphor.

EMILE: Emile have it?

ME: It’s stale.

EMILE: Emile want it, daddy. Daddy please.

#

[LATER THAT EVENING]

ME: Okay, it’s time for bed.

EMILE: I want some milk and cracker. I want some milk and cracker, Daddy.

ME: Okay, I’ll get some for you.

EMILE: Daddy be right back.

ME: Yes. (exits to kitchen, returns with a fresh bottle of milk and one round cracker. hands them to EMILE.)

EMILE: Thank you, Daddy.

ME: You’re welcome, buddy.

EMILE: I eat in crib.

ME: Okay.

EMILE: Daddy sit in chair.

ME: You want me to sit in the chair?

EMILE: Daddy rock.

ME: You want me to rock myself in the chair?

EMILE: Yes.

ME: Okay. (starts rocking)

EMILE: I lost the binky.

ME: It’s right next to you.

EMILE: Where binky go? Where binky at?

ME: (stands up, goes to crib) Emile, it’s right here. (picks up binky and hands it to EMILE.)

EMILE: Thank you, Daddy.

ME: (sitting back down) Okay, buddy. Drink your milk.

EMILE: I lost the cracker. Where cracker go?

ME: You cannot have lost the cracker. You just had the cracker.

EMILE: Where cracker go?

ME: Emile, I am not going to hunt for things all night.

EMILE: It’s a game, Daddy.

ME: Oh (laughs)

Susanne tells me I have made a very cute monster.

Parental Skill Sets: Action Interpretation

Our 17-month-old has been babbling since before his first birthday, with the initial declaration of “Hi!” one day when I went to greet him in the morning, the both of us freshly awake. He’d been standing in the corner of his crib, and he gave me a wave as he said it, which made me think that I know plenty of 30-somethings who never achieve the synchronicity of those two actions, and here he’s doing it at ten months.

Emile touching a playground bouncy horse

Since then his verbiage has unleashed on us like a wide pipe, flowing out during nearly ever waking moment. Often the words are garbled or an approximation of the words adults use — his tongue and mouth have some more forming to do, so things like Ss, the “th” sound in English, and words that end in “age” or “ege” are his biggest challenges. One of Emile’s favorite objects is a black spatula, which he pronounces as “zhezhi,” and the only reason I know zhezhi means “spatula” is because he’ll hold up the object and say the word, and point. Yes, I’ve tried repeating the word “spatula” to him, but he has yet to get that enunciation under his belt. Read More…

Lighting the Uh-Oh

Emile has lived through a holiday season once before, but last go around, he didn’t notice much of it. Holding up a 14-month-old to a Christmas tree bursting with colored lights is a bit like holding a moth up to the sun, except for the lack of fluttering. For me it just isn’t December if there’s not a tree bedecked with garland and sentimental ornaments, but we worried about setting anything up in the same space as our new walker of the household. I hatched a plan to hide the tree behind our click-clack futon so that until Emile learns to climb, direct access would be prevented. This also means that the lowest third of the tree is obscured by black vinyl, but whatever, for the wee one this Kmart brand 6.5-foot tree is like an amazing magical fortress.

Now then, for the sake of context, let me point out that for a 14-month-old, Emile is quite verbal. His vocabulary now includes the following:

  • Ow
  • Mama
  • Dada
  • Mommy
  • Daddy
  • Woof (usually said to dogs or puppies)
  • Meow (usually said to cats or dogs)
  • Hi (his actual first word)
  • ‘Lo (short for hello, usually said to anything resembling an electronic device, always positioned in his hand at the back of his skull where naturally these devices reside)
  • Uncle
  • Apple (used for apples but also oranges and pears)
  • ‘Nana (for bananas, not grandmothers)
  • Bye-bye
  • Mwah (said in conjunction with a blown kiss)
  • No, or no-no-no (said with increasing frequency)
  • Yesh (often said with a nod that makes my heart explode because cynics like me can’t handle the cute)
  • Uh-oh Read More…

Explosion in the Produce Aisle

Several scientist type people insist that between our first and second years, humans set up their palates for the rest of their lives. Give your toddler too much sugary stuff and it’s all she’ll eat later on. Lean toward too many processed foods and you’ll have trouble getting him to eat macrobiotic, more nutritious food when he’s entering grade school. Nothing beats the tension of worrying that during those exhausting days after the infant stage you’re merely preparing for culinary disaster. Thus I attempt to balance the following when figuring out not only each and every meal for the baby, but my overall nutritional and taste goals for Emile:

  • Include whole grain and fiber, protein, vegetables, and fruit
  • Put out a melange of shapes and colors, some finger foods that he can wrestle on his own, and some spoon-fed
  • Keep everything in rotation so he doesn’t get bored by the same stuff
  • Make each piece of food easy to swallow so he doesn’t die
  • Ensure only organic, homemade, or all-natural food passes his tender lips

Above all else, however, is this:

Show no stress about trying to remember all of the above rules. Read More…

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