Archive | birth

A Baby Bash

Not for me. That store is closed, closed, closed. But for the amazing Alison, of Mama Wants This.  She is having her second child sometime this month and three of my favorite bloggers have put together an online baby shower for Alison, who (in)conveniently for the rest of us lives in Malaysia.

Erica, the most-excellent curator of yeahwrite (and a great writer in her own (w)right), wants us to guess the incoming baby’s arrival stats, so because my most recent child (he’s almost 8, so “recent” is a relative term) was big and late, I’m going to wish for Alison that her second baby is small and slightly early: so let’s say 8 May and 6 pounds I mean, 2.7 kilos. (Damn that U.S. school system and their failure to teach me metrics.)

Stasha the best list-maker (and photographer) in the Pacific Northwest asks us to find baby presents for Scrumplet on Pinterest. Okay, I don’t pin. No clue how to pin, don’t really need to introduce yet more screen-related interactions into my life, so I will add my gift here, the way we used to do it in the good-old-fashioned steal-a-photo-and-paste-it days.

My favorite baby read-aloud book, which I read to both my boys until the book’s edges were frayed and curled. Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,  As they rocked in the wooden shoe, And the wind that sped them all night long, Ruffled the waves of dew. The little stars were the herring fish, That lived in that beautiful sea—Now cast your nets wherever you wish—Never afeard are we”; So cried the stars to the fishermen three: Wynken, Blynken, and Nod…”  It’s a lovely little poem, just the right thing to put little babies (or their big brothers) to sleep.

Ado, from The Momalog, is currently on a screen-free week, which makes her not only a better mom than I am, but a better person too. Of course, I sort of knew that already but now she’s proved it. Something about a screen-free week campaign and an organization called Commercial-free childhood . AS IF. Okay, true, my kids basically watch no commercial TV but that’s because  A) we’ve always just watched taped programs or videos, so we either skip the commercials or it’s “just” a video w/no ads.  And now we don’t really have “tv” here in Abu Dhabi other than a variety of streaming soccer channels. Plus, B) my kids would rather play computer games, which is why achieving screen-free space is something I’m just too weak to attempt. More on that later.  For the shower, Ado asks for our favorite baby photo and quote about parenting, so I give you my sweet Caleb, about a week old:

And given that this is an online baby shower, it seems appropriate to use a blogger’s comment about parenting. I read this comment a long time ago on Mom-101; I think maybe it was her mom who said it, or perhaps she got it from somewhere else, but the advice is this: “remember that everything you do as a parent will be right and everything you do as a parent will be wrong.” I figure that about sums it up: we do the best we can with what we’ve got; we’re bound to screw up hourly some of the time, but mostly, if we get down on the floor and play with our kids; if we (yes, Ado, I hear you) look up from our screens long enough to pay attention and listen, then probably (fingers crossed) everything is going to be okay. Well – all of that and lots of naps. Maybe the occasional Pinot, too.

Happy baby, Alison; happy shower; and many thanks to our lovely internet hostesses (which I’m afraid makes you all sound a bit like you work for an escort service).

Continue Reading · on April 30, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, birth, Books, Kids, Parenting

Monday Listicles: 10 Photos, 10 Wishes

This Monday’s listicle comes at the request of Kim, at Zook Book Nook: she’s having a new baby, maybe even right this very minute, and she wanted to create a series of blog posts about “the senses.”  This week’s series is about “sight,” so we were asked to put together our ten favorite photos.

The people who really know how to work this here newfangled internet thing did pinterest and instagram and all that stuff, and others simply posted lovely, wonderful photos, probably culled from their immaculately cataloged digital archives.

Yeah. Well. Yay for them. Me, not so much.

Husband has done an admirable job of cataloging many of our photos but many (most?) are scattered around any number of hard drives, any number of photo file systems.  So some things are right there where they should be but, for instance, most of 2005 is missing.

So I can’t put my hands on my favorite photos, or not all of them anyway, but here are some photos that could be seen as wishes…

1. May your diapers never account for most of your total body weight:

two year old Caleb

2. May you know the joy (mostly) of an older sibling:

boys, City Palace in Jaipur

3. May you know the joy of silly hats (and silly walks, also fart jokes):

4. May you have the gift of imagination and the empty time in which to exercise that gift:

5.  May you have the gift of music:

Washington Square Park, NYC, 2010

6. May you have the gift of art:

sand painting, Union Square Park NYC, 2011

7.  May you have adventures:

8. May you have mysteries…

a screened window, Humayan’s Tomb, Delhi

9. …and beauty…

Rub-al-kali, The Empty Quarter

10. …and peace:

Sedgewood, New York State

Continue Reading · on November 28, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, birth, Children, family, Monday Listicle, NYC, NYUAD, Travel

Monday Listicle: Tips for New Parents

It seemed like a good idea in theory, this having babies thing, right?  A dimple-cheeked bundle swathed in cuddly rompers and you getting to join the  Bugaboo-bumper car game in the grocery store.  Your partner would gaze at you (adoringly, of course) while you nursed, in a scene straight out of some Renaissance Pieta painting; and then you would push your (adorably) sleeping baby through the streets in the pram, in order to walk off that wee leftover baby poochy bit that’s still preventing your size 4s from zipping.

Or that was the theory, anyway. Welcome to the reality of Monday’s Listicle topic, hosted by Stasha and dreamed up by Cookie: tips for new moms.

1. Here’s the first tip: disregard all tips and advice. New parenthood equals survival mode. Do what works. If that means you live entirely on mac-and-cheese, go for it. If it means all you want is spicy doritos, make someone hightail it to the store and get it for you now.  There’s a reason the first three months of a newborn’s life are called the fourth trimester. You have needs and they should be met immediately. Logic and “appropriate” have absolutely nothing to do with it.

2. There is no such thing as “sleep training” a little baby and particularly not a newborn.  Other parents will (smugly) announce that their little baby was sleeping through the night from birth and shake their heads pityingly at you, who obviously gave birth to some lower life form.  Here’s a thought for those smug parents: fuck ’em.  If their kid is sleeping through the night now, fine, but you know what? That’s gonna change, because…

3 …nothing stays the same with a new baby.  You think you’ve figured out the rhythm, you think there’s a sleep pattern, a feeding pattern, a crying pattern.  And there is.  For about a week.  But then that little squiblet grows, or gets a shot, or you enter the dark of moon, and everything goes straight to hell. You’re back at the beginning again.  Try not to let this constant cycle of change make you cry, because…

4.  … new parenthood is designed to teach you an important lesson that you should carry forward into the rest of your parenting life: you may think you’re in control, you may want to be in control, but you have given birth to another person. This person will, eventually, achieve autonomy and independence and language.  All of these things are a mixed blessing.

5.  Get outside. Even if you’re in the middle of winter (or the middle of summer or it’s raining or it’s snowing or it’s that you don’t want to leave the couch), get the hell outside. Breathe some fresh air, look at the sky. Maybe even without the baby. Walk around the block, down the street, across the field, wherever the hell you live. If you have to take the baby with you, take the baby with you, but better if you can find someone who will watch the baby so that you can be vertical on your own, without being attached to this new life you’ve spawned.

6.  The new life you’ve spawned will be okay if you are not there twenty-four hours a day.  Seriously. Would you want you hovering over your face every waking minute? No. You would not. You look like hell, your hair is unwashed and because you’ve been living on mac-and-cheese and doritos, your breath is pretty atrocious too.  You can leave the baby unwatched, in a car seat, in a crib, in another room, for the length of time it takes to shower, for example. You do not need to lug the child into the bathroom while you shower; you do not need to have the child in the room when you take that first post-partum poop.  If you must, bring the baby monitor into the bathroom with you. But everyone will be happier if you can remember that the physical attachment part happened in utero, and now the cord has been cut.  Separating also means…

7. … let other people help you.  Other people can hold babies without dropping them; other people have even been known to change diapers. (Okay, not my own father, but that was a different era, so he gets a pass. Sort of. I’ve worked it out with my therapist, so it’s all good).  You are allowed to ask for help, you are allowed to cry, you are allowed to say “this sucks shit and I’m bored and tired and fat and my ass hurts.”  Being a new mom is not like being in the military: there are no gold stars for bravery; there is no oak leaf cluster for being stoic. Stoic is for the ancient Greeks. And lok what happened to them. Met any ancient Greeks recently? Exactly.

8. But by the same token, remember that, in fact, there have been other babies in the history of the world. Yours may be the most beautiful, adorable genius that’s ever puked milk down a shoulder, but that notwithstanding, other children exist in the world–and have rolled over, spat up, smiled, farted, sneezed, and been generally “amazing ohmigod let me just show you this twenty-five minute video of her sleeping and then look, wait for it, she twitches! Isn’t that just the cuuuuuuutest thing ever??” Resist the temptation to tell everyone everything that your little darling has done. Save it for your mom, or maybe for twitter, where you can’t see people roll their eyes and hit delete.

9. If your baby is seriously ill, god forbid, or has to spend time in the NICU, god double forbid, find some comfort in the fact that the bond between parent and child can–and has–moved mountains. You will be able to withstand just about any amount of pain if it means getting your child well.

10. Don’t be surprised by how much you love that little blob of human flesh. All the books, all your friends with kids, will say “everything changes” once you have kids, and you probably nodded and said “yeah, yeah, sure, it changes, I can’t go out drinking until all hours any more, whatever.”  What they don’t say is that when you look at this baby, your entire world view shifts from somewhere in the front of your brain, where intellect resides, into somewhere deep in the reptilian brain, where instinct lives.  Suddenly you–your shoe collection, your thoughts about a new car, a new iphone, a promotion–don’t matter. Your happiness will now be directly correlated to the happiness of that mewling blob. As a parent you will now be always wrong and always right, frequently simultaneously (I read that somewhere on Mom-101, can’t remember exactly where, but I can’t take credit for those words of wisdom).  This contradiction is just another manifestation of the dizziness you’ll feel the first time you look into the eyes of this… .being… and feel your world shift on its axis. The dizziness doesn’t every fully leave you, either. You’ll be going along just fine and one day, when the baby is a little older, maybe ten or eight or something, you’ll look at the kid out of the corner of your eye and whammo, the love you feel will almost flatten you.  That whammo? That’s parenthood.


Double-dipping again today because when it’s List Day followed by Lovelinks Day, well, one column will have to serve for both!  So click over to The Good Life for other tips for new moms and click over here for lovelinks #28 (for virgins!)

Continue Reading · on October 24, 2011 in birth, Children, family, Monday Listicle, Parenting

Wordless Wednesday

So I know there aren’t supposed to be words, but without words, you won’t know what I’m holding: these are the diapers we used on Liam when he was first born. I’d forgotten that I’d saved a few of these and they surfaced when I was packing for the move.  Amazingly, these diapers swamped my tiny boy’s body.

Continue Reading · on July 13, 2011 in birth, Children, preemies, wordless wednesday


That foot you see on the left is Liam’s foot on November 18, 2000, the day he was born. The right foot is his one-year foot print.  The tiny burrito-sized baby, born two months early and 5 ounces shy of two pounds, turned 10 today.

The doctors predicted possible respiratory problems, developmental delays, vision problems, motor skill deficiencies…none of which came to pass.  Liam became known as the smallest, healthiest baby in the NICU–and it’s still true.  He’s the smallest kid in the fifth grade (boy or girl) by a good few inches – but he also set the all-time gym record in a long-distance endurance run a few weeks ago.

The body that used to fit comfortably in the palm of my hand now barely fits onto my lap and when he hugs me, I can feel his muscles clenching. Instead of a little baby tummy, he’s got the proverbial “six pack” (he looked at Caleb’s tummy and said, consolingly, “you’ve got a four-pack, Caleb,. You can’t get a six-pack until you’re at least eight.”)

The milky-soft baby smell has been replaced, alas, by an odor that would make a long-distance trucker blush, and when he’s in the bathroom, it’s private!

The NICU baby is long gone, I know–and somehow I’ve been a mother now for a decade, and counting (can I say I’ve been mother for sixteen years, given that Caleb is six? These years shouldn’t overlap; they should count sequentially. And if you’ve got more than two kids? Then add up all those years. That’s mommy math).  Mostly I don’t think about those NICU days any more–they’re a decade away, after all–but on Liam’s birthday, I remember that handful of baby and I look at the boy he’s become–really, it’s remarkable that we have this gift of a boy–this boy of remarkable gifts.

Ten! Those tiny feet are ten! I can’t wait to see what’s next on your journey, ten-year-old boy. It’s going to be a marvel, whatever it is.

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Continue Reading · on November 18, 2010 in birth, growing up, Parenting

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