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Archive for May, 2006

Parenting PSA #312

If you choose to indulge in multiple pitchers of sangrias this summer, please remember to wait the appropriate amount of time before nursing your infant.

A drunk baby is no lauging matter.

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We bought the flag in the above picture at a dollar store earlier this week. As I was walking back into the garage after hanging it, I caught Nathan staring intently at the flag as it waved in the breeze.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I’m just making sure you’re not in distress,” he said.

“What are you talking about?” I asked.

“If you hang a flag a certain way it’s a signal you’re in distress. I just wanted to make sure you weren’t sending out a distress signal.

I sighed. “Nathan, this is the suburbs. If we’re in distress, we dial 911.”

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Having your baby sacked out while you drag your junk out to the garage to sell…priceless.

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Fortunate Son

Yesterday both of my parents spent some time with their own mothers. My mom went to the flea market in Shipshewana, Indiana with her mother and her mother’s friend and my father went to the cemetery with his.

I’ve not always gotten along with my paternal grandmother. It’s a long, complicated story that involves us not speaking to each other for five years. We both can be difficult and bull-headed. At one time we were like two rams charging at each other with neither one coming out as the winner.

Things are good between us now, thanks to Autumn. We’re much more relaxed when we’re together now that we can focus our attentions outside of ourselves. Grandma is so busy being in love with her great-granddaughter that she all but forgets about everyone and everything that irritates her, including me. It’s like in those submarine movies when the missiles are headed towards the sub and the captain yells “release the countermeasures!” and the little thingies spit out and shake in the water to deflect the blast away from the sub. Autumn is my countermeasure.

My father, on the other hand, is not as lucky. He hates conflict but often finds himself facing the missiles without a countermeasure in sight. Thankfully Grandma doesn’t seem to get mad at him as often as she does everyone else, but he still hates having to try and put out a fuse that’s been lit no matter who the target is.

So yesterday he and my grandmother visited my grandpa’s grave. Grandma brought along a wreath to place in front of Grandpa’s crypt. From what I heard, it was a very nice wreath complete with little flags to honor Grandpa’s status as a veteran. When they arrived at the crypt, however, Grandma was horrified to see the exact wreath she held in her hands already sitting in place in front of Grandpa’s name.

She instantly fingered my dad’s uncle, Grandpa’s brother, as the culprit. He had no right, she said. Grandpa was her husband and it was her duty to decorate his grave. She picked up the wreath already there and replaced it with her own identical wreath.

Grandma and Dad made the rounds, next visiting Grandma’s sister. Grandma, still fuming and still clinging to the offending wreath, decided to place the decoration on her sister’s marker. Since her sister wasn’t a veteran, she enlisted my dad’s help in plucking the little flags out of the wreath.

All the while my dad was becoming more and more uncomfortable. There they were pulling apart a wreath that, while identical to theirs, wasn’t theirs at all. Someone somewhere had taken the time and spent the money to honor Grandpa. Grandma, on the other hand, figured the party involved, obviously family, deserved to have his wreath taken apart for not respecting her place as Grandpa’s widow.

The last stop was to Grandpa’s parents, my great-grandparents. There my dad and grandma observed markers without decoration or flowers. It was at that point that Grandma started to question the origins of the other wreath. Had Grandpa’s brother placed the wreath at Grandpa’s crypt, he would have surely also placed something at his own parents’ graves.

“Oh. Maybe the VFW brought that other wreath,” Grandma said.

My dad learned a long time ago that it’s sometimes best to just keep your mouth shut.

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After a three week absence, we finally made it to church yesterday morning. We decided to leave Autumn in the nursery this time because she’s been getting a little noisy. She babbles, screams and farts very loudly to the point that we’re not as quick to claim her as ours. Instead, we’ll turn our heads from side to side with annoyed looks on our faces as though it was someone else’s child making the rude noises.

Much to my relief, she didn’t seem at all traumatized by her stay in the nursery. She had Conner (Ryan and Marla’s boy) to hang out with not to mention a room full of brightly colored toys at her disposal.

When we picked her up after the service, I noticed the nursery coordinator had put a name tag on Autumn’s back but the “n” at the end of her name was crossed out so that it read “Autum.” I went over to the nursery log where I had signed Autumn in and, sure enough, I had misspelled her name.

Autum

The crossed-out letter on the name tag was evidence that someone knew the correct spelling of my daughter’s name but that someone was not me. I do that a lot. I’ll leave letters off words or insert them when they’re not needed. I am totally spell check’s bitch, but there’s no such tool when you’re checking your kid into the church nursery.

The lost “n” bugged me so I tore the name tag off Autumn’s back and went over to the log to insert the missing letter. Even though we’d already picked her up, I couldn’t let the church people think Autumn’s mommy was an illiterate slob, or worse, some fruitcake who would actually name her daughter Autum.

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I hate peas.

I know I’ve mentioned that before, but I’ll say it again.

I hate peas.

I think this hatred stems from memories of being held hostage at the dinner table until every pea was eaten. I couldn’t stomach them and would gag obnoxiously with every spoonful I was forced to swallow. Eventually my parents told me I didn’t have to clean my plate all the time, but that was when I started getting fat and they figured forcing me to eat anything was probably not a good idea.

Yesterday the pediatrician gave us the green light to start feeding Autumn fruits and veggies. I’ve been buying little jars of food for a few weeks now in preparation for this. Considering how passionate I’ve been about my pea hatred over the years though, my mother worried that my attitude would filter down to my daughter, thus denying her the full rainbow of baby nutrition. I think Mom had visions of me sticking a spoonful of peas in Autumn’s face saying, “Yucky peas taste like poo. Blech!”

Since I didn’t want to be blamed for raising a second generation pea-hater, I decided we’d try Autumn out on peas first. That way if she actually ended up hating them, I would be vindicated but couldn’t be held responsible if she really did think yucky peas taste like poo. I could claim I tried to get her to eat them and spend the rest of my life content to know a single pea, pureed or otherwise, would never again enter my house.

Wouldn’t you know she just loves them? I wanted to gag as soon as I popped the lid off the jar, but Autumn seemed quite happy to consume many spoonfuls as you can see here in this video:

 

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Today Autumn is six months old. Hello! Are we in some weird time/space flux because I could have sworn I was holding a newborn just yesterday. I can now understand how my mother feels when she says “I can’t believe I have a daughter who’s thirty-four!” Mom? You can say that a little less often, thanks.

In honor of this day, I was going to re-tell Autumn’s birth story in more detail than I did just days after she was born, but I got a ways into writing and found the story to be utterly and completely boring. Part of that could be the way I was writing it, but when you’re robbed of the drama of telling your husband “its time” because your daughter doesn’t care to leave her cushy sac of amniotic fluid, there’s really no way to punch things up into an interesting story.

Instead, I want to tell the story of the first night Autumn and I were left alone together. It was Thursday night, the day after she was born. I told Nathan to go home and get some rest because neither of us had slept much since Monday night, so he picked up Molly from Ryan and Marla’s and went home to sleep.

He left about 9 pm, right around the time “Alias” was starting. It was the one where Sydney was on an op with Rene in Rome, all decked out in a leopard print coat and Marilyn Monroe wig when she runs into her professor from college who’s all “Sydney Bristow? What are you doing here?” Right about that time Autumn started crying.

What is it? Hungry or a wet diaper? Oh. Dirty diaper.

It was still very hard for me to get out of bed and nigh impossible for me to bend over. I waddled over to the plastic bassinet and loosened up the swaddled blanket to change her diaper and then tried to re-wrap her:

The nurses make this swaddling look so easy. Ok, start with that flap and cross over, pull up the bottom and then cross the other flap over. There we go! But wait, her little foot’s sticking out there. That’s not right. Try again. Now she’s crying again. I just changed her diaper so it can’t be that. Maybe she’s hungry. I’ll go with that.

Now how should we do this? Cradle hold or football? Or cross cradle? What about lying down on my side? Nope, that one’s not going to work, but oh it feels so good to lie down. Wait, don’t fall asleep with the baby next to you. Try the football hold again. Football is good for big busted moms who’ve had c-sections. Ouch! Ok she’s latched. I think she’s latched. No wait, she off again. Let’s stuff that Boppy under the arm here for support. Ok, let’s try that again. C’mon. It’s right there. There you go! Ouch!

At some point during all this I managed to knock the telephone over. Remember how I said I couldn’t bend over? Previous experience with the call button told me that a nurse would be awhile in coming, so I just left the phone where it was and hoped Nathan wasn’t trying to call. Yep, he tried to call. When he couldn’t reach me on the hospital phone he tried my cell phone, which was conveniently packed away in my purse and stuffed in a cupboard. So there I was trying to watch “Alias” while keeping Autumn latched on with the theme from Harry Potter ringing throughout the room.

Are you done? It’s so hard to get out of bed with you in my arms. I think I’ll just hold you for awhile. But I’m so tired. Maybe I can just shut my eyes and rest my head against the pillow. Nope. Better not. Don’t want to drop you. Better put you back in the bassinet and call them to take you to the nursery. I’m sorry, but I haven’t slept since Monday night. I know you can’t possibly care about that, but I’ll be a better mama if I send you away for now.

By the time a nurse came to retrieve Autumn, I had changed her diaper two more times and had my first “what the hell am I doing with a child?” moment when I tried to gently move the bassinet by pushing it with my belly and got Autumn’s foot caught in between my body and the plastic. She cried indignantly, probably wishing she had never seen the outside of a uterus.

I’m sorry! Oh, I’m sorry. Mommy didn’t mean to hurt you. Oh please don’t cry.

In spite of my exhaustion, I couldn’t fall asleep after Autumn was taken away. My mind was racing with thoughts of what my life was going to be like when I took my child home.

Do I have everything I need for her? When is my milk going to come in? What’s Molly going to think of the baby? Will I ever get to sleep again?

Eventually I nodded off only to be awakened about an hour and a half later by a nurse wheeling in Autumn in the bassinet. “Somebody’s hungry,” she said.

It was at that point I started to think this whole thing wasn’t going to be that easy. I wanted to call Nathan and beg him to come back. I didn’t want to be alone with this tiny little being who pooped black tar and didn’t understand that I really, really wanted to get more than 90 minutes of sleep. But she needed me. Even if she didn’t know who the hell I was, she needed me.

I guess we’re kind of stuck with each other, huh?

When I had finished nursing, I pressed the call button again for someone to take Autumn back to the nursery. Ten minutes went by. Then twenty. After a half hour I decided to seek out the nursery myself. It was the first time since I checked into the hospital that I walked more than the few feet from my bed to the bathroom.

Wow these lights are bright, aren’t they? Uh oh, someone’s baby is unhappy. Ok, where’s the nursery? You’ve been there, kid, give me some direction. Ah, there it is. Nope, that’s the door to a maintenance closet. This is the door to the nursery. Bye bye, sweetie.

I was able to sleep almost three hours before they brought her back to me for another feeding. By that time it was morning and the beginning of my last day in the hospital.

And you know what? I still have that episode of “Alias” saved on my DVR. I set it to record the night I left for the hospital. I just can’t bring myself to delete it.

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