colic

Coughing Up Your New Favorite Swear Word

Ah 3am, my fickle little friend, I wish I could say it’s good to see you.

I’ve been spending a lot of time with 3am recently, and while there is a certain beauty to the world at an hour where the only sounds are those of drunken college kids parading down the street singing the Canadian national anthem, it’s really a time I’d prefer to know on a less intimate basis. Lately, 3am has been even worse, as my friendly neighbors to the North are being drowned out by an even more unfavorable sound: Coughing. (more…)

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Colic – Less Fun Than A John Tesh Concert, More Fun Than A Lobotomy

Pretty soon after bringing little Baby 1.0 home from the hospital, it was clear she was what these days is tastefully called, a “spirited child.” She was incredibly alert, with a light in her eyes that conveyed an intensity we weren’t expecting. An intensity that, unfortunately, was expressed by shrill crying for seemingly no reason, for several hours a day, every single day, for three months. After ruling out there was a physical cause for this crying, it was determined she had colic, which is essentially a catch-all term to describe cruel and unusual punishment of caregivers through the art of inconsolable, unrelenting crying spells.

Before having her, we had been lulled into a false sense of security by other people’s newborns who spent most of their days sleeping, and who, when they cried, sounded like kittens mewwing. Baby 1.0 barely slept, comparatively, and spent many of her awake hours announcing her displeasure with us in a volume that would put a flock of 747s to shame. So we did what any set of new parents would do: We totally panicked.

This kitten is totally panicking, but in a really quiet, cute way.

This panic turned into a game show called “What If?” where we made up reasons for why she was crying, then used the internet to support our reasoning. It went a little like this: What if the reason she is crying is because she is hungry, even though I just fed her for 45 minutes? Internet survey says you have clearly overfed her, and she is crying because she has horrible stomach pains. Or she is still hungry, in which case you should feed her again, because a baby should never be denied the breast. Unless of course she is full, in which case by offering her another meal where she will only eat for a few minutes, you will be giving her too much foremilk which will make her gassy, and will destroy your foremilk/hindmilk ratio. So you should not feed her. But if you deny her request for food, you will damage the fragile mother/daughter bond irreparably. But if you give in, and feed her again, she will never get on a good schedule, and everybody knows a happy baby is a baby on a good schedule!

This is nothing but lies. Lies, I tell you!

We played this awful game everyday, for every round of crying that started up, and never got anywhere. In hindsight, this seems like grounds for admitting both my husband and I into an institution, but extreme sleep deprivation, coupled with living with an unpredictable tornado siren in our house drove us absolutely mad. And in our defense, at least playing the “google and panic game,” made us feel like we were doing something. Because otherwise, after trying the antacids and gas drops per our pediatrician’s recommendations, our only option was to wait it out, which felt about as helpful as telling someone dying of dehydration to try drinking their tears.

So we continued googling, and changing things here and there. I cut certain things out of my diet, we swaddled and shushed our way through most summer sunsets well into the night. My bedtime routine looked like a combination of Tae Bo and somebody being electrocuted, as I swayed, jiggled and bounced Baby 1.0 until she would finally peter out hours later. Then, I would carefully, oh so carefully, creep over to her bassinet, and then slowly, oh so slowly, lay her down on her back. Half the time she would wake up immediately, and the cycle would start over. The other half of the time, I would make it into bed myself, lay my weary head on my pillow, whisper “see you in 10 minutes to my husband,” and then she would wake up and we would start the whole cycle over again. It was hell.

Billy Blanks. Putting babies to sleep and toning your thighs since 1976.

And her crying wasn’t just at night. It would start-up at unpredictable times, or if I did something she didn’t approve of. Like, for example, put her in her car seat or stroller to leave the house (gasp!). So I didn’t. I locked myself up in our apartment, sat down on my couch, and nursed her for hours on end because it was the only way to keep her quiet. But in the process, it absolutely destroyed me. Mentally I was a wreck, living in fear of upsetting her, scared it was something I was doing that was causing this, afraid I was already a failure of a mother, depressed without knowing to call it that. Physically, I was in so much pain I would cry every time she latched on. We finally broke down and got a lactation consultant who at least helped the physical aspects of our problematic relationship. And I connected with a fellow colic sufferer who could at least offer a shoulder to cry on via a series of very thoughtful emails (thoughtful on her behalf, as my emails pretty just consisted of “but whyyyyyyy?”).

Those three months were the longest three months of my life. I came out on the other side with some buff buns, and a new appreciation for the saying “It takes a village.” I am so thankful for the friend who opened up and shared with me how hard it was for her too, and I can only hope that I can repay the favor by reaching out and making a difference in the same way. I guess my only piece of advice would be if you are struggling, say something. It doesn’t have to be so hard.

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The Big Bang: Thoughts On How I Became A Mother

For however different the birth of Baby 1.0 was compared to how I thought the birth was going to be, actually holding her tiny body and gazing down upon her perfect face induced a feeling I couldn’t have imagined I was capable of. While she was technically my first human child, she was hardly my first mammalian infant responsibility, as I’ve fostered enough baby animals to claim dual-citizenship with the animal kingdom. When they look up at you, their little paws clutching your fingers while you bottle-feed them, your heart swells. Or at least mine did. But when cradling our little babe for the first time, my heart didn’t just swell; it did the human equivalent of the Big Bang (the cosmological event, not the T.V. show, or the South Korean pop band). And from that explosion, a new state of being was formed: A giant emotional gas cloud composed of sticky, intoxicating love, a hefty smattering of fear, a few black holes of depression, and countless little glimmers of pure joy. This new feeling, which will henceforth be referred to as “Motherhood,” was completely and utterly life changing from the very first second she was set in my arms.

bigbang1

thewestsidestory.net

This is my heart, exploding all over, making a big ol’ mess out of motherhood.

Speaking of which, from the very first second she was set in my arms, Baby 1.0 started crying. It was to be expected, in those first few seconds, or minutes I suppose. But it continued. For a long time, which is a story for a later post, but I’m mentioning it now  for the 15 people who read this regularly, so they won’t say “but you didn’t mention the crying after she was born!” She cried, y’all. From the get-go. Aside from the monsoon of baby tears, there were a few other unexpected discoveries right from the beginning. Perhaps one of the most shocking, our baby was born with what could only be described as troll toenails. They were tiny, or at least they had the capacity to be tiny once trimmed, but they were long and pointy, and caught me by surprise, literally. They would snag my very chic hospital gown when I was awkwardly maneuvering her about to give her the proper amount of “skin-to-skin”, or nurse her. Even with my new galaxy-sized mother heart, the feeling of them scraping across my abdomen was enough to gag me a little. “Learn how to trim toenails” was quickly bumped up to the top of the extensive list of ‘Things To Learn How To Do.’

Cute baby toes! I googled “Troll Toenails,” which I regretted immediately. Don’t do it. I dare you.

 Our two days in the hospital flew by. The nurses were extremely attentive, and would happily do anything from bring you a juice, to join you in the bathroom once you discovered you had peed and couldn’t get up. They offered a smorgasbord of great pointers, many of which contradicted each other, but at least then you always felt like maybe you weren’t doing it wrong. For two days we ooh’d and aww’d Baby 1.0’s every movement, and diligently recorded her meals and corresponding diaper deposits (turns out there is an app for that). We put up the requisite “Meet Our Baby” Facebook post, and received more well wishes than we knew what to do with. It was an idyllic time, minus of course, the crying. Our comfort level grew from fear on par with handling a dangerous snake, to a place where we could safely determine which end was up, and which end was most likely to spray liquid on us.

And then, just like that, our stay was over. At 11am on the dot, our nurses switched from caring best friend mode, to border patrol guards and booted us with the efficiency of a fast food line cook. It wasn’t until after I’d dressed in actual clothes for the first time that I wished I’d heeded the unsolicited advice of a client a few weeks earlier. “Bring baggy clothes to go home in,” she’d said, with a knowing smile. In my head I’d sneered and thought, “I will be skinny again then, you insufferable clown.” But after wrestling my bread loaf-sized combination ice-pack/pad into my yoga pants, I understood what she meant. We collected our things and waddled our way down the hall towards the car, half expecting a slow-clap, but instead being fully ignored. I’m not sure if maybe everybody there didn’t know I had just birthed a freaking human, or if they just didn’t care, but either way, I think at the very least, I deserved a slow-clap.

Put this in your pants. Or use it to make French Toast, but definitely don’t do both.

We walked out of the hospital into the hot, July, midday sun, and my mind was flooded with a wave of unexpected worry. The sun! Get her out of the sun! The pollution! Oh dear God, why do we live in a city? It’s so loud! WHY ARE YOU HONKING, ASSHOLE?! We got her in the car, and very slowly and very nervously drove away. My husband was at the wheel, admittedly more nervous than when he took -and failed- his first driver’s test (for the record, he is an exceedingly safe driver, and passed his test on the very next try). Fortunately, we lived about 4 minutes from the hospital, so our journey home was very short and uneventful, even when going 15 mph.

And then we were home, and we were three (or six if you count our three pissed-off cats, seven if you also include my mother-in-law who was staying with us for the week. Also we had a fish. Eight. We were eight). Just like the Big Bang, there was no going back now. Life as we knew it was brand new, and hurtling towards an unknown future at an immeasurable speed.

IMG_1015 Little Baby 1.0, pondering the meaning of life. Or pooping.

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I am not a science person, or at least in the sense that I know all the ins and outs of the Big Bang Theory. I’ve done a bit of googling about it over the last week, but I’m sure I made a mess of it when using it as a metaphor. Maybe the speed is actually measurable. Maybe black holes didn’t happen right away. I dunno. But just go with it. Or feel free to tell me about it.

 

Why We Should All Be Village People (And Not Just For Halloween)

Today something crazy happened. Between the laundry, the lasagna, and the toddler vacillating between sheer joy and then rage-planking on the kitchen floor for no identifiable reason, I came across another blogger whose essay “Dear Stay-At-Home Moms, Shut The Eff Up” is currently trending. Rarely do I read things like this, knowing full well they are just inflammatory and will serve no purpose other than raising my blood pressure, but after noticing she has over 300k views on this post, I (jealously) took the bait. I wasn’t surprised to discover it was mostly what I thought it was going to be, though her overall message of being thankful for what you have is right on. But I was surprised to see how well received something so hurtful, judgmental and offensive can be, especially by other women.

I am very new to the blogging world. I actually have food in my fridge that pre-dates the start to my blogging career (if I can even call it that). But in a very short amount of time, I have been able to see how powerful and far-reaching words can be. I have also seen how someone who seems to be one thing on the surface, can actually be someone very different once you take 20 seconds and hear (or read) what they have to say. I say this after recently coming across a parenting blog so full of flowery, pink, frilly language it nearly made me gag, until I read her blog and saw it was about her baby who died. Her blog was a way for people like her to speak about their experience and help each other heal. Even writing this gives me goosebumps as I think about all she’s been through, and how quickly I judged her based on her name alone.

This is exactly what bothers me so much about this other woman’s blog. She is making broad, judgmental assumptions about what these weary woman have gone through. And even worse, she’s doing it on a very public platform.

When I started this blog I was very firm in sticking to one rule: I will not preach. And while I wrestle with whether or not this is indeed just that, I think it bares mentioning that sometimes we need someone to remind us, by preaching or not, to be human. There is a good chance that many of the greasy haired, yoga pant wearing whiners knocking on her door have been through some shit. Maybe she had (or has) postpartum depression. Maybe her colicky baby has drained the life out of her, and she is just barely hanging on by a thread. Maybe her friend died or her dad is sick. Or maybe she’s just having a bad day. But instead of tooting your horn, and preaching about how “you should be thankful for your blessings,” maybe consider just listening to her? Or bringing her a coffee? Or sitting with her colicky baby while she takes a shower to deal with that greasy hair you seem to have found so offensive? There is a good chance that even though she’s blaming the toilets she has to clean, there is actually a deeper issue brewing.

In a world where we are connected by emails, texts, Facebook and twitter, having up to date information on our 500 closest friends at our fingertips has done nothing to really bring us closer. Instead it has created a false sense of community, and tricked us into thinking we actually know what is going on with our friends, which, spoiler alert: we don’t. Having our baby has been an absolutely incredible experience, with moments so bright and beautiful I actually say in my head “If I died right now, I would be content,” and I mean it. But it has also been achingly difficult at times, and isolating in a way I wasn’t prepared for – something I would never feel comfortable sharing publicly in a way that would reveal just how dark and down I was really feeling. It wasn’t until I started opening up on this blog that I discovered how similar my feelings and experiences really are with woman across the world. Once, when I was really struggling, one of my friends came by with a latte and a crepe. She didn’t judge me for my greasy hair, or my yoga pants. She just fed me, gave me a hug, and squeezed my colicky baby. That kind of kindness, the humanity of that small action, makes all the difference.

I think in today’s pseudo-connected society, it’s time to bring back the old adage “It takes a village to raise a child.” We would all benefit from putting the village to use, rather than using it to publicly shame those who are struggling, or using it to flaunt your temporary victories. So let’s all be village people, or at least let’s try to be. From what I hear, the village has this club, the YMCA? They say it’s fun to stay there.